Dark Seed by bugs

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Dark Seed by bugs

Book I

Book II

Book III

Dark Seed cover

Dark Seed

TITLE: Dark Seed

AUTHOR: bugs


URL: http://urw.simplenet.com/bugs

SIZE: 30 chapters, 680K


DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT: Please contact me before archiving, but I’m happy to oblige.

SPOILER WARNING: Constant references to episodes through Season 6 and FTF. No true spoilers, although CC & 1013 seem to have liked the story idea enough to use it for themselves. Many ideas will run parallel to events in Season 7.

RATING: NC-17 from word one. Please read content warnings carefully and heed them.

CONTENT WARNINGS: This story contains mature subject matter, including graphic sexual content, violence, and especially, situations and imagery that may be disturbing to sensitive readers.


SUMMARY: Caught in the center of a desperate plan by the remaining members of the Consortium, Mulder and Scully struggle to deal with the new, intimate relationship that results.

AUTHOR’S NOTES: A project like this takes a lot of help. Branwell, amazingly, stuck through the whole thing. Ambress foolishly volunteered when Janet F. Caires-Lesgold was unable to continue after Book II. All sorts of people, from Skinner and LGM fans, to women who’ve had children, gave me tons of valuable information. Oh, and frogdoggie let me know about men’s beards. Their constant input gave this story its life and depth.

Book I

Chapter 1: The Box


Dothan, Alabama June 9th, 11:50 P.M.

Scully was having a nightmare. She was trapped. Her limbs were numb. She was blind. Faint memories of another confinement flitted like dark, laughing ghouls across her memory. She fought them back. She forced herself to concentrate, to break through the power of the dream.

In the dream, she was lying on a man’s chest. They were both naked. Their arms and legs were intertwined. His chest hairs were tickling her nose. She grumbled and shifted to escape the irritation. Her hips encountered his penis. She panicked again and began to struggle. She couldn’t break free—their bodies were melded together.

Like a sharp spear slicing into her befuddled brain, consciousness returned to her.

When she realized none of it was a dream, Scully had to fight the rising panic that threatened to overwhelm her.

Suddenly, she was calmed. It was Mulder. As horrifying as the situation was, she found a ridiculous comfort in the knowledge Mulder was with her.

She was in total darkness. She was left with only her tactile senses to assess the circumstances.

Mulder lay beneath her. He was unconscious and naked. She was bound hand and foot around his limp form.

She had some sort of collar on. When she shifted her body she could hear a chain rattle. She lifted her head and felt a tension. She realized she must be fastened to Mulder by the collar.

Her arms were wrapped around his torso. Her hands were bound behind his back and were numb from his weight lying on them. Her legs were around his hips. Her ankles were fastened together and pinned under the backs of his knees.

His heavy arms were around her shoulders, pressing her to his chest. She could feel the rough rope that bound his wrists against the tender skin of her back. She assumed that his legs, lying between her legs, were tied together as well.

Taking a few deep breaths to steady herself, she forced herself to assess their surroundings rationally. It was pitch black and hot. The thick, muggy, southern air made it feel as if they were trapped in an aquarium.

She listened carefully. Their labored breathing echoed as though they were in a small space.

The sensation of being trapped in a claustrophobic enclosure revived the shadowy images of pain and fear. She tried to move in some direction but was bound too tightly to Mulder to get anywhere.

He moaned slightly under her wiggling form and she felt something brush her thigh. God, no. Don’t let this be happening. She knew he wasn’t awake, but his body was following its own course. His hips bucked up, seeking her warm body. She could feel his erection, pressing between her legs and up the crack of her butt. She must wake him somehow.

She had to risk making a sound. “Mulder,” she whispered in his ear.

He only grumbled slightly and continued rubbing against her. She closed her eyes for a moment to try to stop her own body, still feeling numb and drugged, from responding.

She needed to do something drastic. She wiggled up to his ear, took the lobe in her mouth, and bit down hard. He woke with a quick, mucus-clearing snort in her ear.

She whispered urgently, “Mulder! Keep quiet…it’s me, Scully.”

“Scully?” His voice was rough and embarrassed. “What’s going on?”

“I don’t know. Can you see anything?” she said.

Facing upward, perhaps he could see something she couldn’t with her face buried in his shoulder.

Her hair had settled across his face, and he had to spit it out delicately to answer. “No, can you?”

“No.” She was frustrated.

She could feel him shifting to try to get his hard-on away from her sticky center. Suddenly, she could remember exactly how many days it had been since she’d been in this position with a man. Four thousand, one hundred and twenty-eight. Until that moment, she hadn’t realized she’d been keeping track. She prayed he would merely assume it was sweat on her damp thighs.

She forced herself to concentrate and asked, “Can you get your hands free?”

He tugged at the bindings. “No, can you?”

“No, I don’t think so—roll over on your side and I’ll try.”

He rolled them and his erection came down on her thigh. It hadn’t gone away. She felt her back brush against a surface. “Damn, I think we’re in a small box,” she said.

She wiggled her hands, trying to ignore the feeling of the smooth skin of his back.

“I think I can get my arms up high enough to get at the collar,” he said.

He pulled his arms up and she was forced even closer to him. Her breasts were warm and heavy when pressed against his firm chest. His fingers fumbled at the collar. “It has a buckle—that’s odd.”

“It’s as though whoever did this doesn’t mind if we escape. They just want us to work at it,” she mumbled.

“This is definitely work,” he agreed as he pulled at the buckle until it opened.

Her neck was free at last. With a sigh of relief, she lifted her head and arched her back, causing her crotch to rub over his pubic hair and rest on his lower abdomen.

A faint moan escaped his lips. “Sorry,” she murmured.

She tried to sound businesslike. “All right, let’s see. If I can scoot down your body I should be able to slip free. Does that seem right to you?”

He gave a stifled grunt as an answer.

She began her descent. And immediately realized this was a very bad idea. First she had to drag her hips across his large erection, wiggling from side to side to move. There was no where to go in this box, her feet had already hit the wall. Her heart began to beat wildly in panic as the dark walls closed in on her.

He sounded close to a sob. “I’m sorry, Scully.”

She stopped for a moment, her belly pressing his hard-on flat against her sweaty flesh. His chest hair tickled her nose again.

She kept her tone dispassionate. “Mulder, it’s okay. This is a perfectly normal bodily response.”

Her scientific explanation seemed to calm him. “You’re right. Just give me a moment, all right?”

She tried to keep the hysterical chuckle out of her voice. “Maybe this is like taking off a Band-Aid— we should just move as quickly as possible.”

“I like that idea,” he groaned.

She could do this. She got a grip on the warm floor with her toes and grabbed her lower lip between her teeth. She started to shimmy as fast as she could, but her legs couldn’t fold up any tighter at the bottom of the box.

She was trapped with his penis between her slick breasts. She had to stop and she was overwhelmed by the tangy odor of his groin. Four thousand, one hundred and twenty-eight days equals ninety-nine thousand and seventy-two hours…

He was panicking. “Scully?”

“I can’t go any further. You’re going to have to scoot up,” she had to tell him.

“Oh, god. Okay…” he moaned, and started his own shambled wiggle.

“Stop!” she was forced to hiss.

“What?!” He was frantic and didn’t bother to keep his voice down. She didn’t shush him.

She didn’t know how to word it delicately, so she just said it. “Mulder, my necklace is stuck on your penis.”

He couldn’t help himself. He started to laugh, with high barks like a strangling seal. She didn’t see what was so funny. His laughing caused his erection to brush against her cheek.

She made her voice harsh. “Mulder!”

He was instantly serious. “Okay, let me concentrate.”

They lay there for a few moments and she could feel the tension on the chain slacken. She was dying to ask him what he horrors he conjured up to make that happen, but she didn’t want to distract him.

“Okay,” she said.

His voice was remote. “Let’s go.”

They both writhed and squirmed as best they could. A bony knee struck her breast, knocking an ‘oomph’ out of her. The toenails on long toes scraped her belly. For a brief moment, their hips seemed to have will of their own, and surged together, contact narrowly avoided.

As though the box was suddenly flooded with light, Scully was able to illustrate the scene using her catalogue of images of Mulder’s body parts.

They were free of each other at last, and she heard the rasping of his breath as he dragged his body to the other end of the box.

She reached out to him. “Here, give me your hands.”

Their hands fumbled and then found each other in the darkness. Her small hands were able to wrench his bonds loose and then he pulled hers free.

They each worked at the bonds on their ankles. When she had them undone, Scully began examining the lid of their prison with her fingertips. She found a small latch, flush with the edge.

“Mulder, what’s up with this?” she said as she snapped it open.

“Who knows? Let’s just get out of here.” His voice still sounded distant and remote.

She carefully opened the lid a crack and peeked out. The box was lying in what appeared to be the middle of a large empty warehouse. The faint light shining in through the window caused her to blink. She could see the bundle of their clothing.

They watched and listened carefully for a few moments.

“We have to risk it,” he suggested and she agreed.

They lifted the lid and jumped out. Somehow they managed to separate their clothes and pull them on quickly without looking at each other.

Mulder found his watch in his pants’ pocket. “It’s been about 28 hours since I can remember anything,” he said as they hurried across the warehouse towards the doorway, swiveling their heads to search the shadows. Scully missed her gun like missing a limb. The door was unlocked and when they slipped through it, their car was sitting there, keys in the ignition. They hopped into it.

She glanced at the car’s clock when Mulder turned on the engine and furrowed her brow. “The last thing I remember was sitting in your hotel room— going over the case file— eating dinner. You had fallen asleep on the bed…”

He was backing the car away from the warehouse. “That jibes with my memory. Eating, falling asleep…now the question is, do we alert the local authorities?”

In the dim orange glow of the car’s interior, their eyes met. She spoke slowly. “I hate to falsify a police report, but I’d really like to have possession of that box. Go over it really well. Sweep through that warehouse. I just don’t relish the nudity part of the report.”

He nodded. “We haven’t exactly bonded with the local PD. It could be something as simple as their idea of a practical joke down here.”

Her eyes turned cold. “I don’t think it was funny. Let’s report it. I want that box.”


When the roar of the agents’ car died away, three men stepped out of the shadow of the looming building and into the harsh light of a single fluorescent lamp by the doorway.

“Kenneth, dispose of the box and begin the clean-up,” said the shadow-laced man in a baggy dark suit.

The handsome, slim young man at his side nodded obediently and entered the warehouse.

“Alex, do you have the next dosages prepared for Kenneth to administer?” he asked as he lit a cigarette.

Alex Krycek ignored him and glanced over to watch the blond man dragging the box through the door. “You need some help with that, Kenneth?” he asked.

“Alex?” his voice had a hint of a warning.

Krycek whirled to face him. “Don’t push me, old man! We’re full partners now, remember? Besides,” he said with a small smile, “I told you this wouldn’t work. I think Mulder has issues.” His voice was like a velvet scarf, swirling in an evil dance with the blue coils of cigarette smoke.

“Everything has gone exactly as I planned. Unlike you,” his look of contempt bore into Krycek, “Mulder was brought up to be a gentleman. I will admit, this plan seems crude. But trust me, it will be effective. He is a man after all.”

The old man’s grim smile hit Krycek with the deadening warmth of an injection of heroin.

Krycek held back a shudder. The bastard sounded like his Nana Olga telling him about the facts of life. He forced himself to look into the man’s death mask of a face.

“Now, do you have the dosages ready for Kenneth?” he asked again, this time with a subtle warning in his tone.

Kenneth paused by the two arguing men, casually propping the large box on his shoulder. He watched them silently.

Krycek conceded. “Yes. Everything is ready.”

He nodded benevolently. “Good. Now help Kenneth,” he glanced at Krycek’s stiff prosthetic arm, “as best you can, to get that box into the van. Let’s go over the warehouse quickly. I want to get the samples back to the Factory as soon as possible.”


Dothan Township Police Station June 10th, 3:35 A.M.

The sheriff leaned against his desk, smirked down at the two tired agents, holding themselves rigid in the hard plastic chairs in his office. “Nothin’ there, hate to tell you.”

Mulder had been avoiding Scully’s eyes since they’d arrived at the police station, but now they exchanged irritated glances. Mulder glanced over Sheriff Wilton again. He wasn’t the stereotypical red-necked Bull Sheriff. Instead he had the oily decadence of a Tennessee Williams’ character.

The man continued. “Ya’ll be headin’ on home now, I assume. You’ve finished your inves-tee-gation?”

The man’s sneering drawl on the last word caused Mulder to bridle. Without looking at him, Scully laid a calming hand on his forearm.

She spoke up before he could. “I would say our investigation has reached a dead-end. Do you have any theories as to who may have perpetrated our abduction?”

Wilton watched them silently; a hard smile playing on his lips under his thick black mustache, showing his tobacco stained teeth. He reached behind himself onto the desk and grabbed a pack of Morleys, lighting one. “Oh, we got some bored folks around these parts. And ya haven’t made yourself welcome here with ya snoopin’ around. I’m sure it was just someone’s idea of funnin’ ya.”

His dark eyebrows rose as they continued to sit, unmoving. Mulder felt a threat from this man, as if the flickering, jaundiced light reflecting from the single overhead bulb off the sweating yellow walls turned him into a mustache-twirling villain from an old serial movie. He had a strong urge to get out of there.

“Thanks for everything, Sheriff Wilton,” Mulder said ungraciously as he pulled himself painfully from the chair and touched Scully’s shoulder to signal her to rise as well. The storming gaze she shot him held a challenge. Regardless, she rose to join him in exiting the small room.

In the hall, Scully swung to face him. “Damn it, I knew we shouldn’t have left the scene!”

Exhausted, Mulder leaned against the wall. “What were we supposed to do? We had no phone. The kidnappers could have been there and we didn’t have our guns. And we know nothing. It still could be a prank, just like he said.”

She gnawed on her lower lip. He took the moment to enjoy watching the gears whirl in her brain.

“I want to get back to DC as soon as possible and have some tests done on us. Have you noticed any needle pricks, any incisions on your body?”

“Not right off the bat.” He reached for her and let his big hand lift her hair off her neck. He gently rested it on the spot where her chip lay.

“Is it still there?” His finger lightly ran over the slight lump under her soft skin.

She glanced away from him as she said, “I think so. I’ll have an X-ray done, first thing.”

He nodded and forced himself to pull his hand away from her neck. “Let’s get back to DC. I want to get started on our new inves-tee-gation.”

Chapter 2: The Kiss


FBI Headquarters Laboratory June 11th, 2:45 P.M.

When Mulder entered the room, Scully was bent over a microscope, taking notes from her findings. She glanced up and smiled slightly at him as a greeting, then went back to her work.

He watched her as he often did in these circumstances, admiring the efficiency of her actions. This time was different, of course. Everything was different now. He closed his eyes briefly, trying to block out the images that rose up to blind him with their erotic power.

It had killed him to finally shower and remove her scent from his body. He had assumed the smell of arousal was all his doing in the box. But as he sat on the toilet waiting for his shower to warm up, he had carefully catalogued the odor left on his skin and found something else. The sticky residue on his abdomen and legs could only be one thing.

He had sagged back against the cold porcelain of the toilet tank and grasped his sudden erection with desperate acceptance. From the first moment he’d looked down into Scully’s calm, professional gaze, he had sworn he’d never do this.

He got the business over with as quickly as possible. It was as empty and transparent as a discarded plastic bottle. He had thrown himself into the shower to wash everything away, his shame and the now tainted memory of her warm skin and smell.

‘Once, just that one time,’ he had promised himself as the hot water pummeled his sore muscles.

But now he had a vivid film running on a continual loop in his mind. Her hair, tucked behind her ear, fell loose as she leaned over the paperwork to make a note from her findings. The sweep of the red lock of hair dissolved into the images created from the feeling of her skin, slick and warm, sliding down his body, from the pleasurable scrape of her nipples down his chest, from the sweep of that hair across his cock. He took two deep breaths and this caught her attention.

She glanced up before he could take the hunger out of his eyes and she looked first confused and then frightened. He chastised himself. He never wanted her to be scared of him.

He had locked desire, hope, even love away in monastic cells, and they had taken a vow of silence, a vow they broke only in times of prayer—prayers said as soon as he saw pain in her eyes or a fleck of red blood on her polished surface.

“I didn’t do that to us, you have to believe me,” he said.

“What?” she asked with shock.

“Just in case you were wondering…” he continued, “I may enjoy some things…anyway, I didn’t tie us up…” He shuffled his feet and stared at the wall. Suddenly, she was beside him, grabbing his hand tightly to get his attention.

She was passionate. “I would never think that of you. It never even entered my mind.”

This was a mistake, Scully realized—standing this close to him. She had always enjoyed the smell of him, all the little pieces that made him: equal parts salt, sweat, Ivory soap, Paul Mitchell shampoo, leather and gun oil. But now it all spun a different image in her mind. Now she had a new odor to add to the list and it made her knees weak.

When she had finally gotten back to her apartment, it seemed she couldn’t strip her clothes off fast enough to scrub it from her body. Now she was regretting it. She had never allowed herself to have sexual fantasies about Mulder but perhaps, just one time, she should have gone to bed, naked, with his odor clinging to her and allowed herself, just once…

He whispered to her, even though they were alone in the room. “I would never do that. If I wanted to seduce you,” he smiled at her cocked brow, and stumbled on, saying words she dreaded and desired. “If we decided to make love, I would take you to a bed and breakfast somewhere, and there would be candles…”

She had to stop him. She turned away and grabbed her paperwork. “I’ve found some unusual readings in our blood.”

Mulder understood what she was telling him and shut the hell up. “Yes?”

“Present in both of our blood samples are low levels of hormones. I don’t recognize them and can’t find their composition in any directory. The hormone present is different in each of us, but the common factors are: they’re unidentifiable and synthetic.”

His brow creased as he looked at the chemical patterns she showed him.

“I’m assuming these hormones were administered to us through the needle pricks found on our backs.” Her words were calm, but she looked a little frightened and he reached out for her. She moved just enough to be out of his reach and went on. “We each show signs of rough treatment— abrasions, slight contusions— however, there is no sign of severe trauma or incisions.”

“Well, that’s something,” he offered.

She leveled a cool gaze at him. “I’m not finding any assurance in that fact. I was returned from my abduction without a mark on me, and look at everything they did to me.”

He looked worried. “The chip?”

She nodded. “It’s still there. Or at least something is there. The scar tissue is in place. There’s nothing more I can do.”

He wanted to change the subject. “Now what?”

“I can keep working on these hormones. Obviously they have a purpose…”

“Could they simply be part of our sedation?” he suggested.

“That’s not likely…” she shook her head with frustration.

“What can I do to help?” he asked.

She looked hopeless. “I don’t know what we can do. The warehouse was clean. The box is gone. Our bodies have been examined and as much data as possible has been collected…”

He gave the report of his findings. “The hotel manager saw Nothing. There was no evidence in the rooms. Sheriff Wilton has assured me he will notify me if anything turns up.” He nodded as she grimaced. “For what that’s worth.” He sighed. “Shall I open an X-file?”

She went back to shuffling through her papers. “Well, I am going for a world record…”

He grinned broadly and she smiled back, dropping her gaze so her lashes covered the concern in her eyes. Everything was going to be all right if he could just stop that warm sensation from spreading through his bloodstream whenever she did that. They had to find a way to get things back to normal.


FBI Headquarters June 16th, 4:35 P.M.

The road back to normal seemed to be blocked. They sat in their office day after day, working on cases, eating lunch together on the park bench every afternoon. They were both determined to prove to each other that nothing had changed.

But they could no longer hang out in hotel rooms in the evening, nor could Scully let herself drop by Mulder’s place to continue their yearlong Scrabble game. Any situation where their clothing might be loosened or removed had to be avoided. And it seemed ridiculous to sit fully suited up on Mulder’s couch to play a board game.

As the days of summer began and the stuffy office heated up, they tried to concentrate on their work, but often their thoughts drifted to running through every detail of their relationship up until this point.

In their suddenly too small office, Mulder turned his chair so that he didn’t have to watch Scully’s small white teeth chew on her pencil. He wondered if when the whirling tape in his brain finally broke, there would be no sound in his mind but the slapping of the torn end.

He pretended to be looking across the spines his reference books, but he was actually back in the hallway of his building, remembering leaning in to kiss her; that moment was the one that wouldn’t go away. Since then he had been ridiculously gratefully, due to her trauma, that she seemed to have no memory of it.

He had decided kissing her would have definitely been a mistake that would have shattered their working relationship. He had never thought he would be beholden to the Smoking Man for doing him any favors, but this was one. Scully stared stupidly at Mulder’s broad back in his chair. It took her a moment to realize he was turned in his chair. She was so tired. She wondered if she would ever be able to close her eyes again. She would only sleep when exhaustion overcame her. And only one image would come to her, again and again.

In that weak moment, afraid of losing him, she had grabbed the back of Mulder’s neck in the hallway of his building, pulling his face down to hers. If she ever had anything to thank the Consortium for, it was shooting Mulder in the head so that he had no memory of her desperate slip. But the curiosity— wondering what it would have been like— had returned with a vengeance…

His chair creaked as he turned back to pull a file out of a stack on his desk. His lips pursed in thought as he glanced over the paperwork. Her eyes were drawn to his mouth. Perhaps she should have been more forward, grabbed him sooner, it had seemed to take forever for her to pull his head down towards her, and look what slow and steady got her…

She shook the thought from her mind. ‘Remember what you learned,’ she scolded herself.

When she had first started to work with Mulder, she had noted she was developing a bit of a crush on him. She had caught herself misinterpreting his every touch and glance.

Purely as research, she had glanced through the magazines he kept in that lower drawer. Once, when she’d gone over to his apartment to feed his fish, she had looked over the covers of his videos. Not a single one featured a red-head, let alone a short, normally endowed red-head.

That research had been incredibly beneficial. Whenever moments like this arose for her, she would remember what she had now knew about his taste in women and harden her resolve.

“Huh?” She shook her head to clear it. Mulder had been speaking to her.

“I said, we’re going to need to work on this through the evening if we’re going to get the report ready for a presentation tomorrow,” he repeated.

She looked at him closely, and answered slowly, “Okay.”

He began shoving files into his briefcase. “Why don’t we go grab some take-out on the way to my apartment?”

She felt stupid and slow. The heat of the room had overcome her. “Your apartment?”

He rooted through his drawers so she couldn’t see his face. Casually, he said, “Yeah, we might as well work there, it’s more comfortable than pulling an all-nighter here.”

She bit down before she said, ‘all-nighter?’

Instead, she sat and looked at him, listening to the loud, slow, ticking of the clock on the wall. She felt the sensation of standing at a cross-roads, whipping her head from side to side to watch for traffic, but knowing no matter when she chose to step off the corner, a semi was going to come out of nowhere and flatten her.

He stopped filling his briefcase and finally met her eyes. He looked terrified. That made up her mind for her. “Sure. You’re right. Chinese or Thai?”


Mulder’s Apartment 7:45 P.M.

Scully and Mulder leaned in to examine the report at the same moment. She tried to move back quickly, but he had created a barrier with his long arm draped across the back of the couch.

Scully was forced to stay tipped forward, and she made the mistake of looking up into his eyes. They were soft and warm, like a cashmere throw, luring her to crawl underneath them and nestle down on his soft lips. His tongue lightly licked his lower lip.

She felt overwhelmed. “Mulder…”

He acted nonchalant, but she could see the slight vibration in his arm from the tension of holding his muscles still. “What?”

If she said the words, the issue would be out there. She was so tired suddenly. She needed to rest. “We can’t…” Her voice sounded weak. She must be strong, strong enough for both of them.

His long lashes swept down and cleared the want from his eyes. It was replaced by disappointment. “Why not?”

At least he wasn’t going to play dumb.

She was shocked. “Why not? You have to ask?”

He tilted towards her only slightly, but her heart began to beat a hundred times faster. “All I want is a kiss. Don’t you?”

Oh, he had such a way about him, able to convince her with his sneaky, wheedling ways that his idea was best. Like right now. Just a kiss. One little kiss. “We can’t,” she said with regret.

He pulled back slightly and she was bereft. “Scully, we both know things haven’t been the same since we got back from Alabama. There’s been a tension between us that was never there before. I don’t like that. I think this could be a way to right the situation.”

He was good. He was damn good. She cocked an eyebrow at him to let him know she wasn’t fooled for one moment. “And how is a kiss going to solve anything?”

His gaze was on her lips and she had to concentrate not to lick them. “Well, it could be all this tension we’ve been experiencing is in our minds. Probably we’d kiss and nothing would happen. We just need to get it over with and clear the air.”

She felt an odd sense of anger. Nothing would happen? Clear the air? Was he suggesting she was a cold fish? Or was this a trick? She squinted at him, trying to read him. He looked at her with his bland, open face.

She spoke slowly. “There is some logic in what you’re saying. The very fact we, a man and a woman, have been able to work together so closely for so many years without anything happening, would suggest any feelings we may currently be having are merely curiosity triggered by an intimate situation.”

It sounded so dispassionate. Good. She had to remain in control of the situation. She never could count on Mulder to be.

He bit down on his lower lip and it squeezed out around his teeth in protest.

Scully had always been the good girl. She shared her candy, even with Bill and Charlie, even if they’d been mean to her that day. She would divide up equally any treat she had.

But now, at this moment, she was overwhelmed with feelings of greed. She wanted to eat the red-hot candy in front of her, lick it until it was slick with her saliva and dissolved on her tongue, leaving a burning trail down her throat.

He matched her detachment with his own calm voice. “True, and we don’t know what will happen. But I have faith in our friendship; that it could survive a test like this.”

A test, this is only a test of a sexual relationship. Your regular programming will return momentarily…Mulder leaned in towards her mouth and her bold thoughts flitted away shyly. She moved back slightly, and hit his arm. He stopped.

His voice was gentle and she hated it. “I’m sorry. Too fast?”

He was coddling her. She was a tough girl. She should be able to take it. She felt her cheeks burn with flames of cherry red. She shook her head in denial.

He nodded, seeming happy. He took her face in his hands and she welcomed his cool, slightly damp hands. They chilled her heat. His face became larger and larger as he moved towards her mouth.

She couldn’t think at all and she wanted to be thinking.

She hated herself, instantly transported back to her first fumbling with a boy on her parents’ couch. “Mulder…” Her breath swept across his lips and he paused.

Mulder let go of her face and forced himself back into the depths of the couch. She didn’t want this. She was just being kind. He needed to let her go.

Her gaze roamed the room with a frantic energy, as though searching for an escape. He shifted his body away from hers, to let her know he didn’t mind if she left.

She turned back to him and looked at him with suddenly calm eyes. “Mulder…I want to do this…it’s just hard, you know?”

No, he didn’t know. “You’re just nervous, that’s all.” He was suddenly determined as a teenager on prom night. He didn’t understand why it was suddenly so important after six years, but tonight, dammit, Fox Mulder was going to get a kiss, even if it killed them both.

He had to stop thinking like that. He had to be sensitive. “I understand. It’s been a while. I’m not going to force you. Why don’t you kiss me first? When you’re ready.”

He sat and waited. She sat beside him, looking straight ahead. His stomach began sinking slowly, like the last crescent of the tangerine sun setting outside his window. A full two minutes passed, as he counted the ticks of his clock.

She finally twisted towards him, leaning in. He held his breath. She seemed to be concentrating on his lips. Good, that was good.

She tipped her head to her left and he tipped his head to his left. She moved in slowly, but her brow was furrowed. She tipped her head further to the side. He forced down a groan.

It was his large nose. Women didn’t seem to notice until they got this close. It always took a little work to find the right position…now that he was this close to her face, he couldn’t help but notice her nose was a tad…proud, too…

She pulled back quickly, giving out a shaky laugh. “This is stupid,” she said with the bravado of a mean little girl during a game of Post Office.

A horrible thought occurred to him. “You aren’t sexually attracted to me?” He started fumbling for the words to get them out of this humiliating situation. “I’m sorry. I’ve been pushing and you’re just trying to help me…”

She touched him for the first time, a light hand way back down his arm at his wrist. “It’s not that, not at all…” It was her time to stumble. “You’re a very attractive man, really.”

Thanks. This was so embarrassing. He squirmed under her warm gaze.

Her voice came into his head, low and fast. “It’s just that…I’ve been working really hard all these years. If a…thought came up, I repressed it. It’s hard to turn myself on.” Now it was her turn to be embarrassed. She stumbled on. “So to speak.”

He couldn’t find the humor in her words. He was slightly offended. He was turned on when she coughed. There’s something about the shape her mouth makes when she inhales…

He had to get away from the heat rolling off her body. He started to get up off the couch. She kept her grip on his wrist and he looked down to meet her eyes. They were pleading.

“Please, Mulder, I’m sorry…I’m being a baby.” He shook his head, but he was thinking the same thing.

Her words came out slowly and she seemed to be examining the back of his hand intently. “Do you mind? I have an idea…It’s stupid…Can I…kiss your hand instead?”

He was dumbfounded. “What?”

She rushed on. “Girls practice kissing that way…you kiss the back of your hand. You must have done that as a kid.”

Actually he never had done that, but he wasn’t going to stop her now. “Uh, sure.”

He sank back down beside her so she wasn’t intimidated by his looming height.

She held his hand lightly, in the small cradle of her two white hands. His hand looked huge and dark in the refined company of her grasp. Her hands were so soft. He always saw her applying lotion to them; she said the surgical gloves made them dry.

He realized his hands were dry and rough, probably tearing the silk of her skin.

Her hands disappeared under his large paw, and he was horrified. He was too large for her delicate frame…this was never going to work…They wouldn’t ever be able to fit together.

She took in a hesitant breath and then her head dipped to descend toward the back of his hand. Her hair fell forward and stroked his skin lightly. He couldn’t help the jerk that passed through his body and she paused, glancing up at him, questioning.

He found his voice. “It’s okay,” he whispered.

She began to descend again and everything slowed down for him. It was all over in the few seconds that it took her to press a light kiss to the back of his hand, but he processed all the information as it came in, with the speed of a Super Computer.

In the shadow under her hair, the colors of her face became deep and rich. The shining pearl of her skin, the shifting dark tides of her eyes, and the glow of her moist, red lips.

Her lips parted and he could feel her fast, shallow breaths on his goose-pimpled flesh.

First, her upper lip touched down. He was fascinated by her upper lip. It was a Baroque work of art, with its crisp, sharp edges rising to proud tips under her nose.

This lip she could control and manipulate to show her emotions, whether it was anger or disappointment with him. She worked it like a tool.

Her lipstick made her upper lip slide easily across the fine hairs standing on end on the back of his hand.

Another warm puff of breath…

Her lower lip pressed down…If her upper lip fascinated him, her lower lip was his obsession. It was a primitive form, calling to his dark, inner core. The swollen flesh was bursting with the plumpness of a ripe tropical fruit, and he always wanted to bite into it.

This lip had a will of its own. She couldn’t control what it showed him about her. When she wanted to be taken seriously, it would tremble with fear or swell and pout with desire.

The tip of her tongue slipped out briefly, to touch his now burning skin. He could feel every taste bud on its surface. Then the lips met, the convergence of the two worlds that made up Scully, rational and primal.

He had a sudden image of her other lips. The orderly pleats of her folds, the throbbing, swollen nub of her clitoris, dripping with glistening moisture, waiting to be picked by his Adam in Eden.

His hand tensed to control the urge to force one of his fingers between the lips he could reach. He wanted to bury his middle finger in her mouth, to the knuckle. He wanted to feel her strong, pink tongue wrap around his digit and have her suck hard.

He was instantly, completely, aroused, his hard cock fighting its confinement in his suddenly tight trousers. He swore he could hear the pulse thumping out of his cock, backed by the treble of his tense balls. He was afraid to move. He was afraid to breathe. He was one breath away from creaming his pants like a horny schoolboy.

Scully had raised her head from the kiss and placed his hand carefully down on his thigh, her eyes averted. He took light, shallow breaths to keep his control. He looked away too, finding sudden fascination in the stately swimming motion of his fish as he settled his hand over his lap to cover his erection.

The cushion shifted as she lifted herself from the couch. He could hear her mumbling low words, saw her picking up her coat from the chair, noticed her moving towards the door.

He should stop her. She was misunderstanding his response. She was completely wrong. But, if he moved now, followed her, it would be to throw her up against the wall and fuck her hard and fast. He knew that wasn’t what she wanted, so as she slipped out through the door, he remained rooted to the dark cushion of his couch, terrified by his riotous emotions.


The sharp click of her heels taunted Scully as she hurried down the dingy hall of Mulder’s building towards the elevator. ‘Well, that was humiliating,’ commented a sour voice from somewhere in the back of the classroom of her mind.

She punched the button to call the elevator and leaned her head against the cool wall as she waited. Her treacherous ears were pricked, listening for the sound of an opening door from the direction of his apartment. Nothing.

‘This is for the best,’ said the good little girl sitting at the front of the class. It was for the best. They had tested their attraction and it had…failed.

She dove into the elevator, but waited a long moment before she pushed the button for the ground floor. Now it was over and things could only get better. She was good at putting on a stiff upper lip. Sure, it would be uncomfortable for a few days, but now things could go back to normal.


Mulder was fumbling to insert a video in his VCR, trying to calm his racing thoughts and heartbeats. As the moans from the film filled the room, he threw himself down on the sofa, pulling his straining penis through his fly.

He watched the flickering images with his eyes held wide open until tears poured down his face from the burning pain. He refused to blink because he knew his traitorous eyes would stay shut, turning on the images they really wanted to see. His hand blurred in his lap until he was tearing at his tender skin. He didn’t care. Release finally came, as empty as before. This was not a solution. Normal was nowhere nearer than it had been ten minutes ago.

Chapter 3: Durango


Washington D.C. June 17th, 9:25 P.M.

Krycek rolled over in bed and landed on the warm spot left by a recently departed body. “Where’re ya going?” he called out into the dim room, suddenly awake.

In the shadows across the room, Kenneth was bent over but straightened up when Krycek spoke to him. “I’m due on surveillance in an hour, sir.”

Krycek pushed his torso up with his one arm, propping himself up on the headboard, relaxing again. “You have to stop calling me that.” He smirked as he rubbed his bare stomach.

He examined the young man in the cold light. His face was taken from the surface of a silver Roman coin; the proud nose, full, pouting lips, strong jaw, and flat soulless eyes.

“Sir?” Kenneth asked, as he buttoned his shirt.

“Yes, that,” Krycek cocked his head to one side and watched the young man through slit eyelids. “It’s…well…not seemly.”

“What would you prefer?” The young man spoke in a barely interested tone.

“My name is Alex,” Krycek offered.

“I am aware of that…Mr. Krycek,” Kenneth said as he sat down on a velvet-covered stool to tie his shoes.

Krycek suddenly exploded in laughter, rolling on the bed in his merriment. Kenneth sat and watched him impassively.

“You’re no fun at all,” he scolded, but with a cold undertone. “I might have to get rid of you if you don’t learn to play nice.”

The young man looked properly concerned. Good. It wouldn’t do for Kenneth to take on airs. And he had to get better control of his emotions as well; he couldn’t turn into one of those pathetic old queens who would develop feelings for Kenneth’s sort.

Like a gossamer silk curtain, his voice floated on the dark air. “So, what do you think?”

“Sir?” Kenneth was back in form, standing rigid at attention before him by the bed.

Krycek sighed. “About the likelihood of this plan’s success.”

“That’s not my place, sir,” Kenneth replied.

Krycek reached out and grasped Kenneth’s hand in what could have been an affectionate gesture until he tightened his grip. This was actually a risky move for him. His prosthetic arm lay on the bureau and he knew the other man was strong enough to overpower him. This thought excited him, and he grinned as he continued, “Think. Try it, just this once. What do you think the possibility is that Mulder will finally let the old dog out to play?”

Kenneth could not keep the look of distaste from his perfect features before carefully pulling his hand free. “I think…I think perhaps you are underestimating both of them, and Agent Scully in particular.”

“Oh, her!” Krycek gave a dismissive wave of his hand.

“Yes sir, her. From what I’ve seen, reviewing the files made available to me, she may not react as passively as you two would like if you are able to carry the plan out to the end.” Kenneth spoke the most consecutive words Krycek had ever heard from him.

“Let her try. They’ll end up as they always do, wailing in the roaring wind,” he finished with a chuckle.

Kenneth murmured, “As you say sir. Will there be anything else?”

Krycek squinted up at the young man and kept his voice as low as a snake. “No. That will be all.”

He watched Kenneth slip silently from the room. He rubbed his stomach again. The young man was a cipher, completely empty. Why did he cause the short hairs around Krycek’s navel to stand on end in warning?


Durango, Colorado June 19th, 6:54 PM

Everything was not going as Scully had assumed it would. Rather than things returning to normal, the tension was building in infinitesimal increments. She was dreading out-of-town assignments, when they would be forced to spend every waking moment together.

So, of course, that’s what they were doing right now. Durango, Colorado was nestled high in the Rockies. It was charming, quaint, but with reports of possessed teens. Run-of-the mill stuff— unfortunately, no distraction whatsoever for the agents.

A local deputy had suggested the Silver Lode Inn for dinner.

The moment they entered the old brick railroad hotel, Scully realized she had made a horrible mistake by pressuring Mulder to go there. She was just so tired of eating at the greasy diner by their motel out on the freeway.

The Inn had been converted into a bed and breakfast, and it was necessary to pass through the sumptuous lobby to enter the restaurant. The partners diverted their eyes from the wide, sweeping staircase and the welcoming, dim hallway leading to the rooms.

When they entered the candlelit dining room and were ushered to an intimate table in a dark corner, Scully was very sure this was a terrible mistake.

They both seemed to make a silent agreement and began shoveling their dinners down as quickly as possible.

She couldn’t look at Mulder. Good God, he was relentless! He exuded the quivering energy of a big dog; begging at her side, his cold, wet nose on her thigh, nudging her. She knew better than to look him in the eye. If she did that, she’d have to give in to his beseeching gaze.

She had regained control of her tumultuous emotions since their aborted kiss, but apparently he hadn’t. She would have to be the one who kept them in line.

She took a quick swallow of the cold water and almost choked. She could feel his body tense across the table. Oh, great—now he was going to perform the Heimlich maneuver.

She kept her eyes on the plate, dissecting her food into perfect little squares. Was it true what they said? If you didn’t have sex, after a period of time, you could call yourself a virgin again? That was certainly what she felt like right now. Perhaps her physical hymen hadn’t grown back, but she felt that a tough mental skin had developed as a barrier. It was keeping her locked in the bathroom on her wedding night…where had that thought come from?

Mulder realized he loved Scully in candlelight. It brought back a rush of the memory of that first time he’d seen her body under the light of a flickering flame—when he hadn’t made a move on her as she dropped her robe for him with so much trust. For some odd reason, he had thought that it would be his one and only chance, and he hadn’t found the courage to try since.

He carefully wiped his lips with the thick napkin and his damp brow as well. Okay, so he was anxious. Signals and messages were being received at a phenomenal rate, and he couldn’t process them all yet. He had come to the realization that he was in love with her a while ago. That was fine. He could deal with that. It was a higher concept, like quantum physics: something he could look at and mull over at his leisure, and congratulate himself for understanding.

These new feelings frightened him, lusting after her, wanting her, wanting to fuck her like an animal, wanting to eat her alive…his gaze was drawn to her mouth, swiveling a bite slowly around as she looked around the room, seemingly intent on the huge, ugly paintings on the walls. This was a sudden, blinding, confusing experience. He didn’t have the slightest idea what to do.

Resisting the pull of Mulder’s quivering energy, Scully finally shifted her gaze back to the table, but down, firmly on the tablecloth. She still would not look at him. She would not wonder how dark his eyes could go before she was swallowed in the blackness. She would not wonder if that golden glow of his skin was a reflection of the candlelight or if it came from within him. She would not allow herself to be mesmerized by the way the condensation from his glass clung to his bottom lip. And she would not reflect on the unspoken question emanating from his body.

She gave a start when Mulder stood up suddenly. “I’m going to the restroom.”

She sighed in relief and put her fork down. The evening was almost over. They would go back to their separate hotel rooms and lock the doors.

Mulder returned all too soon and began chatting about inconsequential things. But then his fist rested on the table and opened to drop a large old-fashioned key on the expanse of ivory tablecloth between their plates. His gaze shifted up to meet her eyes.

She sucked her lower lip in sharply and forced herself to meet his eyes. She was shocked when the answer to his unspoken question was clearly written in bold letters across the dusty chalkboard in her mind. Yes.

She motioned to the waiter to bring the bill and picked up the conversation as though nothing had happened.

Mulder’s eyes became greener rather than darker. Warm as a comfortable velvet robe, wrapping around her, enveloping her. She had to close her eyes against the onslaught.

They walked out of the dining room and into the bright lobby, keeping a clear foot of space between their bodies. They entered the tight old elevator and Mulder pushed the button for the fifth floor. It began a creaky ascent.

All he had to do was brush free a strand of hair that was clinging to her cheek and she turned her body into his. He paused for just a second in which she feared she misunderstood. Then his head dipped slowly towards her.

She lunged up on her toes, grabbed the back of his neck and drew him down to her mouth with force. He wasn’t prepared and gasped, allowing her to invade his dark, warm, mouth with a purposeful stroke of her tongue.

His hands fumbled but then found her hips to lift and press her against him. It seemed to her everything was moving very slowly: the groaning elevator, his big hands on her buttocks, her hands through his hair and down his cheek and slowest of all, the rapture of their tongues, lolling with decadent ecstasy back and forth between their mouths.

Then the elevator arrived with a bump and everything was going too Fast: their breathing, their shifting eyes, their heartbeats, his hand slamming the door violently back, wrenching her from the tiny space and down the hall.

He somehow managed to get the door to the room open on the first try. She had to lean against the wall to regain control of her breathing and then threw herself into the dark room, pulling him behind her.

Mulder flicked on the bedside lamp and paused long enough to look into Scully’s eyes. What he saw frightened him. It was a want so deep and painful it brought tears to his eyes and through the glistening drops he realized he was looking into the reflection of his own need.

Their bodies crashed together again, their lips tearing painfully at each other. He pushed her backwards and lifted her up on the high colonial bed. He had to get their clothes off somehow…

“Mulder, oh Mulder!” He had heard her cry out in pain before, but nothing this deep. “I need…”

He knew what she needed. She needed the flow of pain to be stemmed. She was yanking his belt open and his zipper down. They both moaned in relief when she reached through the fly of his boxers and pulled his erection free from its confines.

He was pushing her skirt up just to be able to feel the heat of her sizzling thighs, but she urged him on. “Yes, oh God, Mulder-”

“Scully?” He didn’t know what he was asking. His head was buzzing and his cock was throbbing in her tight grip. He thought both were going to explode.

She reached down between her thighs and frantically tore a hole in her pantyhose, yanking the cotton crotch aside. She grabbed his hand and forced it through the opening and he was touching her hot and drenched panties. She was right. They didn’t have the time to undress.

Her pupils were dilated, almost blacking out her pale irises, and she was gulping for air like a drowning woman. She could barely squeeze out the words, “Oh, Mulder. Please.”

Her hand was tugging his ready cock closer to her center. He pushed aside the crotch of her panties and gently slipped his fingers among her slick folds to find her opening. Both their hands guided the tip of his penis there, and as soon as he was in position, she fell back on the bed and wrapped her legs tightly around his hips, pulling him into her.

He groaned with the first deep thrust and she smiled up at him with delirious eyes, arching her back to welcome him inside. The heels of her shoes bit into his ass, spurring him on.

He could hear himself chanting, “Oh, Jeez, Oh Scully, I…Oh Scully…”

This wasn’t what he wanted and he never wanted it to stop. They were toppling off the side of the dark mountain looming over the hotel and there was no stopping their painful fall.

He rammed into her again and again. Their hands fumbled and found each other and she pulled him closer. His swollen cock was trapped in her hot, wet grip and he couldn’t possibly hold out any longer.

His head fell from side to side as though he was being beaten. Every muscle contracted and held iron tight as he pumped on. Her body had begun to quake and the grasp on his cock became impossibly tight. He sobbed with gratitude.

Suddenly Scully’s body became still and quiet under him. The pain in her eyes was silent and deadening. He had to stop, something was wrong. But he couldn’t stop his orgasm. He tried to pull out, but she kept her legs tight around his hips.

As he kept slamming into her, he begged, “Oh God, Scully, let me go, I can’t…I can’t stop…” He was weeping and lost all the strength in his legs as he was finally spent.

Her legs let go of him at last and he slid to the ground, limp. He rested his head against her nylon-encased thigh, the tears falling unchecked.

She stroked his head, cooing to him. “It’s okay, Mulder. Everything’s okay…”

He struggled to his feet and sputtered out, “It’s not okay. I hurt you.”

She looked up at him with blank eyes. “I’m fine,” she whispered as she pushed her skirt back down carefully.

He looked down at the mess of her garments in horror. “Let me get you something, some water…”

He fled to the bathroom, stuffing his penis back into his pants. With shaking hands, he filled a glass and wet a washcloth. He had probably torn her with his banging—

When he dashed back into the room she was gone. He ran into the hall and noticed the light on the elevator descending. Tossing aside the glass and cloth, he hurried down the stairs, getting to the lobby in time to see a flash of red hair jump into the back seat of the local cab.

He sagged against the reception desk, oblivious to the stares he was attracting. He had fucked up big time.


When he finally summoned the courage to return to their motel, he wasn’t surprised to find her waiting in his room. He had almost chickened out and stayed at the inn. He knew she would be there.

She had obviously showered quickly and sat quietly on his bed in her robe and pajamas, her small white feet pulled up under her.

He just stared at her for a moment. He loved her hair wet. It was the color of dark, ripe strawberries and he had always wanted to suck a strand into his mouth to see how it would taste. That was never going to happen now.

The pain of her remoteness before was nothing like the searing bolt that shot through him now when he looked into her eyes.

She began, “Mulder, I want to straighten this out right now.”

He dropped into the chair by the small desk and nodded.

“I think we’ve made a terrible mistake.”

He shrugged. What else would she say?

“But not a mistake we can’t rectify.”

He stared at the horrible painting hanging on the wall behind her head.

“I want you to know that I in no way blame you for what happened. I don’t want you to think you forced me into anything I didn’t want to do.”

He quickly met her gaze. It was steady and cool, without any of the desire of just an hour ago. Where had that woman gone?

With a wry twist of her lips, she went on. “I don’t blame myself either. I’ve had some time to think, and I think I know where to place the blame.”

She had his interest now. She continued. “The hormones in our system. They’re there for a reason. The placement of us in that box. Perhaps something was supposed to happen then, only we controlled ourselves.”

He raised his brows. She looked at him seriously. “Mulder, have you noticed a heightened level of sexual arousal lately?”

He stifled the urge to giggle. “You could say that,” he drawled.

She averted her eyes and blushed. “I have as well. And I think those injections are to blame.”

He tightened his lips and thought, ‘Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt, my little sweet potato.’ Out loud, he asked, “Shouldn’t a single injection of a substance have worked its way out of our systems in two weeks?”

She shifted her eyes to meet his steady gaze. “Yes, that’s true. But I can’t think of anything else to explain us acting so out of character.”

It took every ounce of self-control Fox Mulder possessed to not answer that statement.

Instead he asked, “I’ve been wondering…how did you know it was me?”

She was confused. “When?”

“When we were in the box…it was pitch black but you knew it was me,” he answered.

She gave him a look of hard steel and he realized he wasn’t playing the game right. He never had played well with others.

Carefully, she said, “Who else would it be?”

Oh, she was good. He could only nod in agreement.

She nodded back with confidence. “I want to get us back to DC and take another blood test.”

“Don’t you think Skinner’s going to be a little pissed at us running home from a case again, leaving it unsolved?” he queried, suddenly overwhelmed with exhaustion.

She rose from the bed and hissed with a passion he remembered with an ache, “I don’t care. I’m getting sick of being fucked with,” as she passed him on the way to the connecting door.

Poor choice of words, Scully. After the door closed he allowed himself a humorless chuckle. He had to have the worst luck of any man on the face of the earth when it came to the fairer sex. After six years of a frighteningly vague desire, a tear in his heart so deep he thought he would drown in his bleeding soul, he had made love to Dana Scully.

However, those words could only be used in a technical sense. He had not seen her naked. He had very briefly touched her genitalia and she had very briefly touched his. He had not seen, touched or kissed her breasts. They had kissed for a total of perhaps forty-five seconds.

Oh, and there was the part where he couldn’t be bothered to help her come. Somehow, someway he had hurt her. Hurt her so bad she was actually forgiving him. It could not have gone worse. It should be incredibly easy for him to jump on her ‘let’s forget it’ bandwagon.

But of course he couldn’t. He was never one to take the easy road to anywhere.


FBI Headquarters June 21st, 10:20 A.M.

Scully entered their office in a high fume. She found that was the best state to be in lately: it burned all the other emotions away, those emotions that threatened to create their own infernos if she let them.

Mulder sat at his desk, very still. He’d been that way ever since it had happened. It was as though he didn’t trust his legs to hold him up anymore.

“Mulder the latest results are back and hormones are still present,” she reported.

He squinted his eyes and looked up at her like a mole. “So?”

He couldn’t do this now. He couldn’t crawl into that hole of his, not when she needed him. “It means that someone, somehow,” she looked around the office, “is slipping us a Mickey.”

He quickly looked around the room, too, and put his finger to his lips to shush her.

She ranted, “I don’t give a shit who hears me! This has got to stop!”

He jumped up from his chair and tried to pull her into his arms. She put a hand out to his chest and gave him a warning look.

He sagged against his desk, his eyes on fire. Message received. Good.

She slapped the report down on the desk and looked around the office again. She strode over to the coffee machine and yanked the half-empty carafe out and picked up the coffee can. “Pull the bottle off the water cooler—we’re taking this stuff to the lab.”

He followed her down the hall, dragging the heavy bottle behind him. “They could be doing it in our homes.”

“This is a good place to start as any,” she spat out as she stomped along.

When the test results came back, they showed the coffee grounds contained yet another synthetic hormone.

Mulder shook his head. “I knew I should switch to decaf.”

Scully gave him a withering glance. “I think we should show this chemical work-up to the Gunmen. They may recognize something and I don’t feel as though I can trust anyone here. It’s obvious someone here is working for Them.”

“You take the information over. I’ll join you after I find out who our coffee boy is,” Mulder said.


Mulder was losing patience with Gloria, the refreshment coordinator. She was finally in the presence of the famous Fox Mulder after five years of working in the Bureau, and she was enthralled.

He was having difficulty keeping her on the subject. “Yes, yes, as a matter of fact I have seen a ghost. It was.interesting. Anyway, as I was asking, who supplies the coffee to our office?”

Now is a huff, she said, “As I explained, you get the same coffee everyone else does.”

“Does the same person drop the coffee cans off to us?” he pursued relentlessly.

“Well, no, we have several people who perform that task,” she blustered. She had obviously been spending too much time around fibbies, Mulder thought to himself.

He managed to keep his voice calm. “And those persons would be…?”

She blinked her heavy lashes at him. “Bob Graham, Trudy Kwan, Kenneth Bond, and Doug Glass.”

Mulder reached out and patted the back of her hand lightly before asking, “May I see their files, please?”

She gave a deep, pained sigh and heaved herself from her chair to go to her filing cabinet.

He sensed the explanation that came out of her before he heard it. He knew what that meant. They had gotten there before him.

“That’s odd. The files are gone.” Her ample bosom swung around and into his face. He leaned back in the chair and peered up and over her breasts to look at her with a tired acceptance.

“Gone? When did you see them last?” he asked as a formality.

“Well, Trudy started with us just last month, when she got out of school. I put her paperwork in the files then. Everything seemed to be in order.” Gloria was beginning to fuss, peering behind her cabinets and furniture, her large buttocks now finding their way into his face.

Mulder eased out of his chair and moved behind her desk to access her computer. “But their files will be in the database.”

Her hot, moist breath was on his neck. She was a tall woman. “Actually, I don’t think much will be there. I mean, they just deliver coffee.”

He stifled a sigh. “Surely they have to pass some sort of security clearance…” The computer told him what he already knew. The files were neatly wiped clean. He held in a curse. “Gotta go. Let me know who never comes back to work. I think I can safely assume that’s the perpetrator of this crime.” He could tell she appreciated the cop talk as he stormed from the tight, warm office.


Headquarters of the Lone Gunmen

Byers looked up from the sheets of paper that showed the different chemical compositions of the synthetic hormones. “Well, Agent Scully, I can’t tell you anything definite for right now. I’m sure you noticed the level of testosterone in some of the samples?”

Scully nodded. “That’s what first made me suspect they were hormones.”

Frohike leered, “Although the level is much higher in Mulder’s happy little samples, it’s nothing to sneeze at in yours. Noticed any unsightly body hair lately?”

Scully cut through him with two blue lasers. “When I need someone to pluck me clean, I’ll know who to call.”

He backed off with a look of horror on his face. Good. She knew she wasn’t acting like herself but she had the feeling she had left that Dana behind in the black box.

She pulled another sheet of paper from the file. “And these readings, from the coffee grounds, are another substance altogether. Some of the components are the same, but…” Her frustration was apparent in her voice.

Langly suggested, “There’s been all those performance-enhancing hormones developed recently for use by athletes.”

Scully rubbed her forehead to try to clear her mind. “I can’t imagine that someone is plotting to make Mulder and I into a team of ringers for pick-up basketball games. I just don’t know…”

Byers’ mild tones interrupted her thoughts. “I’ll need some more time to investigate, if this isn’t too urgent.”

Scully shook her head. “No. It’s more of a mystery than anything else.” She sounded as though she was trying to convince herself more than the three men when she said; “No serious damage seems to have been done.”

Chapter 4: The Test Results


The Factory June 24th, 2:15 P.M.

Krycek walked swiftly down the aisle of large tubes, avoiding looking at the contents floating in the green liquid within them. As he reached the end, he silently cursed the old man for calling him into this room.

He was sure the bastard knew how he felt about being around the experiments, therefore summoning him here was an attempt to put Krycek on the defensive. He hated the smell of the fluid used in the experiments. He had thrown up the first time he’d smelled it, and he’d decided that its stench must have been that of the primordial ooze.

A low voice came out of the shadows to interrupt his pacing. “You must find a way to calm yourself.”

“What do you want?” Krycek had no patience for the older man’s manipulations.

He lit his ubiquitous cigarette. Krycek had given up asking him if it was dangerous for the experiments to be exposed to smoke. Frankly, he hoped the whole thing would explode—he just didn’t want to be there.

“What is the status of our agents?” the cool tone asked.

Krycek’s eyebrows rose. “They have completed the next step.”

Through the blue cloud, there was a brief flash of his wet tongue licking his flat lips. “And you doubted Mulder.”

Krycek allowed himself a chuckle. “From where I was sitting, it looked as though she was leading the charge.”

The smile disappeared. “Well, it doesn’t matter. The point is, the next step has been completed.”

Krycek began pacing again. “I said it before. I don’t think this is the best method. Why didn’t we bring them here and complete the work under our control? I’d feel much more comfortable if the merchandise was in our possession.”

The older man took a deep drag on his cigarette. “I’ve been working on this project for fifty years, and I must say, I’ve seen very little success. The scientists were trying too hard. Now is the time for simplicity. It’s time to let nature take its course.” He almost laughed, but it came out as a hard, short bark.

Krycek shuddered. That old man wouldn’t know a natural act if it bit him on the ass.

He continued. “Kenneth has left his position with the Bureau?”

Krycek nodded and was suddenly intent on the form floating in the nearest tube.

“He knows to remain at the apartment?” the older man kept probing.

Krycek swung back around and glared at him. “Yes. He’s obedient.”

He turned away and before he melted into the shadows, tossed over his shoulder, “I certainly hope so.”


FBI Headquarters

Mulder sat at his desk, reviewing their case file and trying to keep his lunch down. The nausea was rising again. He had already thrown up his breakfast. Why had he bothered to eat again?

Scully came back from the lab. She spent a lot of time there now, ‘working on their blood tests.’ How much of that was a burning need to find the truth, and how much was staying away from an obvious troll with absolutely no sexual technique?

He had to stop having those thoughts. They were getting him nowhere. He was convinced that he had manifested these feelings of guilt into psychosomatic health problems. He raised a shaking hand to his clammy brow. Not good, not good at all.

His flipped through the latest information aimlessly. Three of the coffee delivery persons had eventually come to work. Kenneth Bond was the only one missing. None of the other workers knew anything about him. He was polite, but kept to himself. He hadn’t shared any personal information. His locker was empty and wiped clean of fingerprints. Finally, Mulder had been able to isolate the young man’s image in a security tape. He looked at the grainy photograph that the lab had sent over.

Kenneth Bond appeared to be around five feet, ten inches tall, one hundred and fifty pounds, trim, with an athletic build. He seemed to have straw blond hair, kept in a short, neat haircut, and was clean-shaven. His eyes were light-colored, and he could be described as attractive, with angular, regular features.

“Scully, I got this photo back today. Do you recognize him?” He passed the picture across the desk to slide it under her bent head.

She lifted the picture up and looked intently at the black and white image.

“There’s something familiar about him, but I’m sure I’ve seen him in the halls at some point.” She flipped it back to his side of the desk without looking at him.

Mulder stared at her deep gold cap of hair, willing it to rise and reveal her eyes. He went on with his report. “Gloria, his supervisor, remembers little from his job interview. He was one of those blank people, she said.” He smiled ruefully. “All she can recall is that he said he was attending college, was studying to be a scientist. I’ve got a search going through all the local schools, but that will take a while.”

Frustrated, he stuffed the photo back in the file and flung himself against the back of his chair. It groaned in protest.

Scully lifted her eyes from her paperwork for the first time since she had returned and creased her brow in worry. “Are you all right, Mulder? You haven’t looked well for the past couple of days.” She rose to move to his side of the desk, reaching a hand out for his forehead.

He let her touch him. He was such a whore. He would let her think he was dying if it meant she would touch him for even a second longer.

“You have a fever. Are you having any other symptoms of illness?” she asked.

“Yeah, nausea, body aches, sleeplessness, weakness…” he mumbled.

She caused him to jump. “Mulder! We’ve been drugged with an unknown substance for weeks now, you’re showing signs of illness, and you haven’t said anything?” She went from looking angry to looking terrified.

He shrugged. “I just thought I was feeling down.”

She averted her eyes quickly. “Let’s get you down to the clinic and see what your vitals are.”


Later, after her battery of tests, Mulder buttoned his shirt back up as she looked over the results, frowning. “What about you, Scully? How have you been feeling?”

She glanced up and her eyes were suddenly open windows to him, sad and troubled. “I’ve been feeling…unsettled. Weak. Like you I just put it down to ‘the blues’…” She shuttered her gaze again, and he felt lost. “Sometimes I just feel that way. It’s nothing.” She sounded determined.

He said, “I’m sure that’s all this is. Nothing—just the flu.”

She glanced back down to the paperwork and shrugged. “Well, you have a slight fever, you’re dehydrated, and I don’t like the way your glands are swollen, but the hormone levels are back down to normal.” She blushed.

Scully didn’t want to remember her behavior three nights ago. She had been overcome with a panic attack after barely choking down her dinner. First she had filled garbage bags with all of her food, cleaning out her refrigerator and emptying everything digestible from her cupboards. She even threw away her toothpaste—anything she would ingest. She went down to the basement and checked all the water valves.

This should have been satisfied her, but if anything she was even more paranoid. She had jumped in her car and had raced over to Mulder’s place to repeat the procedure there, with him chasing her from room to room, begging for an explanation. He must have thought she had gone mad.

She had to find a way to distract herself every minute of every day. She couldn’t do much about her sleeping time, when her cruel memory could weave its intoxicating spell, dissecting every moment of their physical encounter as she would take apart a human body. It always ended at the same point, the spot when she went dead.

The need for completion, for resolution, was going to kill her. She knew better than to try for relief though, something told her the act would destroy her with its emptiness. She felt trapped between circles of hell.

She shook her head and returned to the present. “I just don’t like this whole thing. It stinks.”

“Have the Gunmen come up with anything?” he asked.

“No. Not yet.” She slammed her palm on the table. “Dammit, if we don’t come up with some answers soon, I’m going to lose my mind.” She chose not to reflect on the thought that perhaps she already had.


Mulder’s illness worsened until he was bedridden with a high fever for two days. He refused to be hospitalized.

“There’s nothing there, Scully! The tests show nothing! What’s the point? At least I feel safe in my apartment,” he protested when she tried to get him to leave his bed for the hospital.

He watched her pace around his bedroom in a furious state. “Any leads on the coffee delivery people?” he asked.

She looked at him with an annoyed, distracted air. “I’ve sent out some agents to the colleges to show around the photo of Bond, especially in the science departments. But it’s hard to justify a full-blown investigation for acts against us that still seem pointless.” She sat down on the edge of the bed, pushing his damp hair back off his hot brow to feel it. “Are you going to leave me?” he asked.

“What!?” She snatched her hand back.

“Are you going stop working with me because of what happened?” he went on. She grasped her hands together in her lap. “‘Cause, you see, I’ve had a lot of time to think here…”

She cocked a brow and cut in. “And some very lucid thoughts, I’m sure.”

He looked her square in the eye. “As a matter of fact, I’ve had some moments of great clarity. We still haven’t come up with a reason for Them to do this to us.”

She shrugged and looked hopelessly around the room.

He was determined to ignore her evasion. “They’ve been trying to stop my work for years. First they sent you to me, but then you joined my quest. So they took you away to break me.” She stopped him with a wide-eyed look of amazement. Had she never seen her abduction in this light? “The Smoking Man said he gave you back because he liked you and I would’ve taken his word for that, but for your cancer. Then I had to watch you suffer.”

“So it is all about you,” she said dryly, shifting on the bed to get more comfortable.

He shook his head in frustration. “I’m trying to look at this situation the way They would. They know how dangerous we are together, so they’ve tried a dozen different ways to separate us. Will They succeed this time?”

She blinked, once, slowly. He held back a satisfied grin. Nothing like suggesting they were under attack to get her protective instincts going. He lowered his voice and leaned his mouth close to her ear to murmur in it. “Will They win at last? Was this a plot to make it so we’re never comfortable working together again, to break our trust in each other?”

She was as fierce as he hoped. “I will always trust you.”

He leaned back on his pillows. “I’ll hold you to that.”


Within a week, just as he was feeling better and had returned to work, Scully began to exhibit symptoms. Hers were not as severe and she didn’t develop the high fever, but Mulder was concerned nevertheless.

“Scully, have you seen a doctor?” he asked, trying to keep the worry from his voice.

She raised an eyebrow. “I am a doctor.”

Scully…” he warned her.

“I think you said it yourself, Mulder, there’s nothing for the doctors to do. I have to go do an autopsy.” She gathered her things up and left the office before he could protest.


He was called over to the autopsy bay within the hour. Her assistant was fussing over her sprawled form on the floor, covered with a sheet. Mulder’s heart stopped for a moment at the image.

“What the fuck are you doing? Get her up off the floor!” he yelled.

The assistant babbled, “She struck her head on the way down. I’m not sure—she could have a neck injury.”

Mulder fell to his knees beside her. “Shit! What happened?”

The assistant could answer this with confidence. “She was doing the Y incision and she just turned green. That’s not normal.” Mulder glared at him. “And then-Boom!—she went down!”

Mulder smoothed the damp hair from her clammy brow. “You think she fainted?”

“I guess,” he said doubtfully.

Just as the paramedics arrived, Scully regained consciousness. She protested adamantly that she didn’t want to go to the hospital, she had only grazed her skull and the injury wasn’t serious.

Mulder put his foot down. “We are taking you to the hospital. Something is wrong with you.”

She was angry and wouldn’t speak to him in the ambulance or the waiting room. He insisted that he wanted to be with her when the doctor came to review her test results.

Scully grudgingly agreed. “This concerns you as well. Perhaps something new will appear in the tests that can explain what’s going on.”

Mulder spent the time waiting caressing the back of Scully’s hand. She didn’t seem to be enjoying it, but she didn’t pull her hand away either.


Dr. Nancy Carpenter pulled the curtain aside and looked at the couple. This was going to be a tough next few minutes, she could tell. Even though she was only a second-year resident, she had learned to read people quickly. She kept her sigh to herself. They looked angry with each other and the world. She had the feeling the test results were not going to make things any easier for them.

“Dr. Scully, how are you feeling now?” she asked as a courtesy.

The female patient pulled the blanket aside as though to rise from the bed. “Much better, thanks. Can I go home now?”

Her male companion shot her a dark look and they briefly wrestled over her blanket before she lay back down.

Dr. Carpenter allowed herself that sigh. She addressed him. “Mr. Mulder, perhaps you should wait over there while I go over things with Dr. Scully.”

He answered just as she knew he would. “I’m not going anywhere.”

She glanced over to Dr. Scully. The woman looked away for a moment and then back, straight into her eyes. “He stays. We’re concerned that we have both been injected with a substance that is resulting in these health problems…”

Dr. Carpenter cut her off. “I’m sure as FBI agents you’re used to looking for the most nefarious of explanations. However, there’s a very simple reason for Dr. Scully’s condition.”

The couple looked at her with a mixture of curiosity and concern. She let herself have one more sigh and said, “Dr. Scully is pregnant.”

Their reaction was not at all what Dr. Carpenter expected. The man’s face split open with a grin. He tightened his grip on the woman’s hand. “Scully, oh my god! Oh Scully, oh…” He grabbed her around the shoulder, trying to pull him close to her.

Scully would have none of that. She remained stiff in his grasp and stared right back at Dr. Carpenter. “You must be mistaken. There’s no way I can be pregnant. I’m sterile.”

Mulder interrupted her. “Scully, how do you know They didn’t find a way to fix the test results? Just make you think your ovaries were damaged? It could have just been another one of their mind fucks.”

She turned away from the doctor and hissed at him, “You think I settled for the first test results? You don’t think I didn’t go over and over them? Had more tests?”

He wouldn’t let go of her hand and they struggled briefly. “Scully…”

“No, Mulder. It can’t be.” She turned back to Dr. Carpenter. “You have to do the test again.”

Dr. Carpenter raised her eyebrows. “Dr. Scully, I’ll be more than happy to run the test again. I’m just telling you what’s there. Shall we pull another blood sample?”

“Please.” Scully whispered. Dr. Carpenter swept the curtain closed as she left them alone.

Mulder chewed his lower lip frantically. “Scully, all that’s neededis one egg. You could have had one egg left…”

“What were the odds? The first time I have sex in nearly a decade, it last barely two minutes,” Mulder winced, “my one egg just happens to be there waiting, and I get pregnant. It just couldn’t happen that way, no matter how much you want to believe.” She sank back into the pillows.

He was silent with his tumultuous thoughts. She went on. “No, I see something much worse. This was all a set-up to make us believe this is our child. They put something in me while we were in their custody. They set us up, perhaps hoping we would have sex and allow this…pregnancy to continue.”

He didn’t give up hope. “It could still be our child. They have your eggs. They could have gotten a sperm sample—”

“They decided to do us some big favor?” she burst out.

He tried to calm her. “No, I’m sure not, but perhaps they found some way to reverse the damage to your ovaries—”

“Again, to do us a favor?” she was starting to cry, a trickle of moisture spilling over her lashes.

The technician arrived to take a new blood sample and she wiped the tears away quickly.

Mulder made his voice resolute. “Can we at least have some tests Done— get a new sonogram of your ovaries?”

She looked up and met his pained gaze. “All right. We have to start somewhere. I’m just…” He nodded and grabbed her hand again. This time she gripped his hand back.

Her next cold words struck his heart like bullets. “No. It can’t be true. No.”

Chapter 5: Old Friend


July 1st, 1:25 P.M.

Doctor Anita Mui was shocked when she returned the urgent page from Scully and heard her say she was pregnant. She was shaking her head, even though she knew Scully couldn’t see her over the phone. “Dana, I did those tests myself. It can’t be possible, perhaps…”

Scully cut her off. “I know, I know, but I’ve had them do the test twice. There are some more recent developments though, that could explain this. Do you have time to see me this afternoon?”

“Of course I can. Anything for you,” Anita said.

Dana let out a big breath she must have been holding. “Thanks, I appreciate it. I’ll bring all the data I’ve collected so far, and some people who might be able to shed some more light on this. I…I’m probably going to need some help on this…as a friend, too.” She sounded so scared.

Anita spoke warmly. “Of course. We’ll find out what’s going on, don’t worry.” Dana gave a frightening laugh at her words.


Scully switched off the cell phone and slipped it back into the pocket of her trench coat. Mulder was leaning against the side of the car, waiting, his eyes hooded and unreadable under his drooping eyelids.

She got into the passenger seat without a word to him, and he opened his door to get behind the wheel. He pulled away from the curb, and for a brief moment, she thought he was going to let her have some peace.

His first words were a blow directly to her solar plexus. “Don’t you want a baby?”

She moved to protect herself. “I don’t want to talk about this now.”

He was relentless in his assault. “I think we should. I think this is important.”

She reached over to adjust the air conditioner. The confining interior of the car was sweltering. She leaned back against the sweating vinyl seat and muttered, “I don’t want to get angry right now.”

“Maybe you should get angry,” Mulder suggested through tight lips.

She spit back: “You don’t want to see me angry.”

“Yes, I do—” he protested as he turned across the intersection.

She clutched the armrest to keep herself from sliding towards him. “No you don’t—”

“Yes I do!” he demanded. He took a deep breath and said, “Just once. Just once I want a response from you that hasn’t been considered, evaluated, and delivered precisely. Just once I want an honest emotion.”

Blindly, she started swinging with her words, not caring if she hurt both of them in the process. “Fine. I’ll show you angry. I’m angry because my choice has been taken away, again. They keep using us, again and again. What now, what have they done now?!” she demanded to know. “How much of this can I been expected to take? When I can’t imagine a greater pain, they find a new place to probe.” She moved in with a low blow. “You seem accustomed to being manipulated by these bastards, but I’m not as comfortable with the idea.”

This earned her a few miles of silence. She was so drained she couldn’t even cry, she just stared out the window at the buildings whipping by.

He felt trapped in the hot metal box of a car. Confined, his head felt as though it was swelling to the point of bursting in the heat. He watched her fingernails restlessly claw at the armrest. Her lips were firmly clamped shut. She was through talking.

He had forgotten the flashes of cruelty that happened in a sexual relationship. It sometimes seemed as though the urge to give out pain was equal to the urge to give pleasure. Not that he’d know anything about that, he mused darkly.

He was like a terrier with a bone, he knew that, but he wanted a resolution before they picked up Byers. He broke the oppressive silence. “So you don’t want the baby?”

She gave a huge sigh of exasperation. “I don’t know what I want. I know—I want my choice back. First, they took my right to choose away, but no, they haven’t given that back. They are still using me and my body for God knows what purpose.” She took a gulp of the cold air that was roaring from the vents. “I’m terrified and I don’t like that, Damnit!”

He was stubborn. “I can totally understand that, but you still haven’t said if you want this baby. Are you avoiding the question because having my baby would mean you’d be stuck with me?”

He glanced over and saw her looking at him with resignation. That wasn’t the expression he wanted to see right now.

She sounded exhausted when she answered. “Right now, I can’t think about this as a baby. I can’t.”

He noticed she hadn’t said anything about their relationship. He struck out. Peevishly, he said, “It’s not healthy for the baby for you to remain emotionally detached.”

Her voice lowered until it was a frightening dark roar coming from deep inside of her. “Don’t you dare tell me—so this is what I’ve become to you? The vessel that may hold your child?”

He protested, “That isn’t what I meant.”

She was cold. “You’re right. I shouldn’t get upset. Let me out of this car.”

Good lord, how had this happened? How many times had he witnessed this scene from the backseat of his parents’ wood-paneled station wagon?

He ignored her demands. “There’s Byers.”

John Byers was waiting for them on the curb in front of his building, the files clutched to the front of his neatly pressed suit.

‘Polyester doesn’t crumple in the heat’, Mulder thought sourly. He shook his head like an irritated bear, trying to clear his buzzing, confused thoughts.

Fortunately, Scully did not jump out of the car when he pulled up to the curb beside Byers. Instead, she greeted him politely and put on a show of civility for the drive to her doctor’s office, explaining to the astonished man the latest details. Mulder gripped the wheel with sweaty fists and played along.


Fairfax Hospital, 2:20 P.M.

Anita Mui had attended medical school with Dana Scully. They had been drawn to each other, despite Dana’s reserve and Anita’s exuberant nature. Anita always said the two of them had to stick together and take turns standing on each other’s shoulders in lab classes to see over their taller classmates.

Dana hadn’t needed to stand on anyone’s shoulders. She was always at the front, right at the edge of the gurney, peering into the body cavity. Anita should have known she would go into forensic medicine.

Anita herself preferred interaction with live human beings, but Dana was a lot of fun when she allowed herself to let loose. Anita would force her to go out to the Irish pubs and they would try to convince men they were sisters. With Anita’s freckled face and red highlights on her hair, sometimes they could pull it off.

Men were attracted to Anita’s bubbly, exuberant nature at first, but they always seemed to be fascinated by Dana, wanting to draw her out of her shyness, and make her laugh. Dana had a great giggle, one that she hadn’t heard a lot in a long time.

Anita had been Dana’s gynecologist since she had entered the FBI. Although Dana hadn’t chosen to practice, they had stayed in touch. In the early years after school, they’d even gone out to those Irish pubs every now and then. Now it had become a friendship that could be crushing for her at times.

She had always admired Dana’s reserve, but at sometimes it was difficult to reach her as a patient. She wondered if she could do more for Dana if she only would be more open with Anita. It had been hard to watch the vibrant young woman Dana had been in college become more and more remote, with each passing yearly check up and a negative answer to the question, “Are you currently sexually active?” Anita had started to wince even before she heard the answer.

In those ensuing years, Anita herself had been married and divorced twice, had to have a restraining order put on a third man, contemplated a lesbian fling: all while Dana had just developed a worry wrinkle between her eyebrows. So she had found herself babbling all these details of her life over Dana’s knees in the stirrups, receiving only grunts as replies. Dana told her the barest, necessary details of her life, a simple statement like, “I have cancer.”

She tried not to think of that day as she pulled Dana’s file out of the cabinet with a shaking hand and turned to answer the knock at her office door. She blinked when she saw Dana’s entourage which was comprised of a tall, dark, and yes, handsome man and a shorter, well-groomed, awfully cute man. Both had soulful eyes, in different ways.

Scully introduced her to the shorter man with the beard first. “This is John Byers. He’s been kind enough to work on some things we’ve found.”

‘Oh dear, here I go again,’ Anita realized as she held John’s hand a moment too long and smiled with all her teeth at him. He blushed under his beard, and his palm went damp in her grip.

“This is Fox Mulder, my…” Scully seemed confused.

Anita felt a female friend’s prickle of animosity towards this man. This was the first time they’d met, but it was always Mulder on the other end of the cell phone when Dana had to leave gatherings early. And, Dana’s ‘dry spell’ was roughly as long as she had worked with this Mulder.

“…My partner at the FBI…and…friend,” she ended weakly.

Mulder looked as though he was sucking on a lemon, but just shook her hand without comment. Oh dear, this was going to be complicated, she could tell. She felt herself warming to him despite her concerns.

They all sat down, Mulder and Scully side by side in front of her desk, and Byers in another chair towards the rear of the room. Anita looked at the results of the pregnancy test. “I can do this again…” she began.

Scully briskly cut her off. “That won’t be necessary. I have no doubt there is a embryo in my uterus.” Both of the men looked distressed.

“However, the question is, whose embryo, or even what creature’s embryo it is,” she said coldly.

Anita gasped in shock and Mulder reached out blindly to grab Scully’s hand. She lets him lay his hand on top of hers, but she didn’t turn her palm up to return the grasp.

“Dana, how can this be?” Anita asked as calmly as she could.

“Mulder and I were abducted recently. We were both unconsciousness for over 24 hours. Blood tests show…” Scully nodded for Byers to hand Anita his paperwork. The doctor looked it over. “We had traces of synthetic hormones in our bloodstream. Since then, even after we returned to DC, we seem to be have been administered more hormones.”

Scully paused for a moment and glanced at Mulder. Holding his gaze, she continued, “Mulder and I engaged in sexual relations once, Anita. Once. The first and only time. The timing of that sexual encounter would correlate with my pregnancy.”

Anita interrupted her, noting the horror in both of the men’s faces. “Where did this encounter fall in your cycle?”

Scully ground her teeth. “During my fertile period. If I happened to have working ovaries and was producing an egg,” she protested.

“Scully,” Mulder murmured. She seemed to ignore him and went on. “It’s my theory that this is a deliberate ruse to make Mulder and me believe that we are pregnant.”

Everyone in the room looked amazed at Scully’s use of the word, ‘we’. She went on, “I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see my old test results now saying there is no damage to my ovaries.”

Anita dug out the paperwork from the file on her desk. “That I can’t help you with. The results from the three separate tests are here and they all show the same thing.” She slid the photographs from the sonogram across the desk and Mulder leaned in to look. She traced the misshapen organ with her finger. “Severe, permanent damage to the ovaries as a result of radiation.”

Scully spoke in a low passionate voice. “Anita, they have my ova.”

“What?” Anita was stunned.

“The damage didn’t result from my chemo. I was abducted by persons—a group—in 1994. They are the ones who damaged my ovaries. But before that, they removed my ova. They have made a genetic child of mine before—They could do it again,” she said fiercely.

“Dana, do you know what you’re suggesting?” Anita asked. She looked from Scully’s cool face to the two men. They both nodded at her. They believed this was true too.

“They could be performing a new experiment. They could have taken one of my eggs and made another embryo and put it in me.”

“Would that be a bad thing?”

“My genetic child—” she stumbled. “Her name was Emily. She died a painful, horrible death at the age of three. They make…They do experiments, Anita. They don’t make children.”

Mulder had raised her hand to his mouth and was pressing it to his lips. All Anita could think to say was, “Oh, Dana. I’m so sorry.”

She shook her head. Dana had come to her as a doctor and as a friend. She had to be strong in both roles.

Briskly she said, “The first thing I want to do is do another sonogram of your ovaries, for my curiosity if nothing else. Any chance you’ve been exposed to a miracle lately, received a cure?” Mulder opened his mouth as though to speak, but Scully shot him a squelching look. Byers, in the background, stifled a gulping sound. These were very odd people.

“At around twelve weeks we can do the first sonogram on the fetus that will show us see what—how the fetus is developing,” she plowed on, “and at sixteen weeks we can possibly draw blood from the fetus to make a DNA test.”

Mulder gasped in relief at these words.

“I know there’s nothing worse than sitting on your hands and waiting. That’s all we can do for now,” she finished.

Scully brought a chill to the room with her next words. “At sixteen weeks, I can still receive an abortion?”

Anita answered carefully, “Yes, Dana. It would be a late-term abortion and they are currently still legal with a doctor’s request. But let’s not think about that until it’s necessary.”

Scully whispered, “It’s all I think about.”


Immediately Anita procured a machine and did the sonogram of Scully’s reproductive organs. They pored over the grainy photographs. Mulder seemed entranced by the one that showed the tiny beginning of life.

Anita said, “It’s not much to look at now—it could be just about anything, even an elephant.” She immediately regretted her lame joke, but he gave her a smile nonetheless. Scully didn’t look at it. Instead, she scrutinized the pictures of her ovaries and shook her head.

“This doesn’t make any sense,” she sputtered.

Anita had to agree. “Your right ovary seems to be perfectly healthy. Don’t ask me how they did that without making an incision, but there it is.”

“What’s the point? There are no eggs to go in it,” Scully asked.

Byers finally spoke. “Here’s a thought.” They all turned to listen. “They wouldn’t be able to replace your ova in your ovary. However, theoretically, if They can clone whole humans, it seems to me they could reproduce new eggs for you.”

Mulder looked relieved at another vote cast in favor of the possibility of the child being theirs, but Scully protested. “To what end? So let’s say They somehow create more eggs, and God knows how, they were placed in my rejuvenated ovary. And then I even have sex when I’m fertile. Having sex for two minutes, once, could hardly be guaranteed to result in pregnancy.”

Byers seemed to make a concerted effort not to look at the red-faced Mulder. “Mulder was given hormones as well. Dr. Mui, do you know much about the recent low levels of fertility among Western white males?”

Anita nodded. “Yes, it’s a subject of great concern. A variety of factors are resulting in low sperm counts and reduced motility.”

Byers became excited. “Yes, exactly. I’ve seen some reports lately about work being done to find a cure for this problem.”

He pulled the chemical composition from Mulder’s first blood sample for everyone to look at again. “It’s my suggestion that this is a compound meant to ensure optimum activity in the male sperm.”

A big grin spread across Mulder’s face for the first time since they had entered Anita’s office. Scully ignored him and shook her head. “That explains the initial injection, but what about the substances in the coffee? We both ingested those. What was their purpose?”

Byers looked embarrassed. “Actually, I isolated the purpose of them fairly early on. I just didn’t feel they were relevant to your concerns.”

“What is it?” Mulder asked.

“Uh, the best I can figure out.most of the components are commonly found in aphrodisiacs.” Byers ended his report with a gulp.

A deadly silence fell over Scully and Mulder. For the first time since they entered the office, she looked as though she wanted to cry. Mulder reached out to her but she moved just far enough away so that he couldn’t touch her.

She spoke slowly. “That just completes the whole picture. Perfect.”

Anita tried to change the subject but her choice was no better. “Mr. Mulder—Fox—I don’t want to concern you, but something about the configuration of these chemicals worries me.”

Byers nodded, shifting his eyes to her. Mulder asked him, “What’s wrong?”

Byers spoke calmly. “Listen to the doctor, Mulder.”

“Mr. Mulder, I’d like you to undergo some more tests. Tests that require a sperm sample,” Anita said.

Mulder looked horrified and Scully glanced up from the paper work, instantly frightened. “Anita, what is it?” she asked.

“Like I said, let me just get the tests and see if my concerns are justified,” she answered.

After he was finished giving a sample, Mulder reentered Anita’s office, and caught Scully looking at the print of the image of the embryo. She glanced up, blinking to focus on him. “Mulder, what’d she say?”

He ran his hand through his hair. “Nothing yet. She said she’d have something to tell me by this afternoon.” He moved behind her to look over her shoulder at the photo.

She slid it carefully into her file. He had to say something. “Can you tell anything from it?”

“There is something that I suppose we can find some hope in. The embryo is the right size for fertilization having taking place on the 19th and not the 9th, when we were abducted,” she said slowly.

He couldn’t stop himself from placing his hands lightly on her shoulders and he rejoiced when her muscles didn’t tighten under his palms. He murmured, “I want to hang onto that hope.” He had to say it, whether she wanted to hear it or not. “I want this baby to be ours.”

He didn’t think she would say anything, but when she did, he remembered how brave she could be in the face of adversity. “I want this to be our baby, too,” she whispered.

They remained still for a few moments, the only motion being the sweep of his big hands across her back and neck. She leaned into his ministrations, allowing him to give her comfort.

She shook her head as though to wake from a dream, and said, “Well then, I guess we should go back to Headquarters.”

She pushed all the papers into the file folder before continuing. “I need to talk to Skinner.”

“Oh?” Mulder said carefully.

“Yes. I have to give him my request for a transfer,” she said, her body stiffening under his touch.

He exploded. “What?!”

She stood to face him, silencing him with an upheld hand. “Yes. If this pregnancy is some experiment,” she stumbled on her words, “I could be a danger to you and others. If it’s our child…” she continued fiercely, “I don’t want to do anything that could harm it.”

“Don’t go far, please. I want you close so I can keep an eye on you,” he murmured.

She shot him a hard look and opened her mouth to rebuke him, but stopped, suddenly looking resigned. “Okay, I guess I’ll go back to teaching at Quantico again.”


FBI Headquarters

Skinner sat staring at Scully across his desk, stunned. The woman was in front of him was cool as always, despite the fact she had just asked him to transfer her away from her long-time partner and was offering no explanation.

He tried to stay calm. “Agent Scully, frankly, I’m at a loss. What’s this all about?”

“I’m sorry, sir. I can’t tell you at this time. All I can tell you is that it concerns something of vital importance to me.”

Skinner kept pressing. “Has it something to do with you two being abducted in Alabama?”

“Sir, this is not a guessing game.” Scully sounded as though she was trying hard to control her temper. “You just have to trust me. As soon as I can, I will tell you more. I only have one thing to ask of you.”


“For Mulder. Find him a partner he can rely on.” Her voice caught. “A partner who will back him up and take care of him.”

Skinner couldn’t stop himself from saying, “No one can do that as well as you have, Agent Scully.”

She burned him with her bright gaze. “Try, sir. Try.”

Chapter 6: Tiff Davis


FBI Headquarters July 1st, 4:50 P.M.

Scully was packing up her personal possessions from the basement office with automatic motions. She was tiring of this, the constant disruptions in their lives and work, but she had a sinking feeling it was only the beginning.

Mulder came in, closing the door behind him softly. She didn’t want to look at him and see the sorrow in his eyes, so she kept hurriedly stuffing her things in the box. He threw himself into his chair.

He started speaking, his voice a monotone. “Anita called me, so I went over to get the results of my tests—”

She faced him and cut in. “What! I was going to go with you! Why didn’t you call?”

He looked at her with flat, empty eyes, and went on. “I didn’t want you there in case there was something that might upset you.” She gasped with exasperation. He continued, “Her concerns were well founded.”

She moved quickly to his side, and clutched his shoulder. “What?”

He laughed humorlessly. “Well, I’m gonna give Them points for a sense of humor. The high levels of hormone—this cure for sterility—there’s a reason they aren’t marketing it yet. The ‘treatment’ has a severe side effect. It’s left me sterile.”


“Apparently, that fever I had was an indication of a reaction to the ‘treatment’, like having the mumps. My sperm motility is at such a low level now it would be nearly impossible for me to impregnate a woman naturally.” He laughed again, a sharp, empty bark.

She gripped his shoulder tightly as he tipped his head to brush his cheek against her hand. “I’m so sorry,” she soothed.

He reached out to caress her abdomen lightly. “Each day, the stakes are raised.”

She covered his hand with hers, warming his cold fingers. “Was there anything else?” she murmured.

He smiled at her. “Well, there is good news. Other than their dead tails, my sperm were perfectly healthy. No abnormalities.”

“That is good to hear,” she said.

“But,” he continued, “Anita wants to do some more tests on you.” He sensed her tension. He hurried on. “She and Byers continued to work after we left,” he smiled again, and she had to join him. “They are interested in doing a brain scan to see if what sort of activity is taking place in your hypothalamus and pituitary gland.”

Scully had to remind herself that this man was a trained psychologist who would know something about brain function. “But without eggs for the FTH hormones to affect…?”

“Anita and Byers enhanced those ultrasounds she took of your ovary. She thinks she sees immature eggs present.” Scully gripped his hand tightly and he stopped to glance at her. “She also wants to extract an egg and then they can check the DNA, see if it’s your tissue.”

She started to protest again and then stopped. She settled down on the arm of his chair and he slipped his arm around her waist to help her balance. “You know, a few days after our abduction, I felt abdominal pain for about a couple of hours. Nothing serious, just symptoms I would put down to cramps. But now, I wonder.”

“What do you think it was?”

“It could have been.I used to get what they call ‘mittelschmerz’ when I ovulated. I knew it couldn’t be that, so I never considered it…” He tickled her ribs with his fingertips, but she ignored him.

“Mittelschmerz sounds like some odd Viennese dessert. One with lots of whipped cream on top,” he said.

She slapped the back of his head lightly and he looked bewildered “What?”

She grumbled, “Somehow, I got the feeling you were having a dirty thought.” Nevertheless, she settled back against his chest.

His hand moved up from her waist to rest under her breast and his fingers began to stroke her sensitive skin through her blouse. She stiffened and pulled herself away from him. “I should call Anita and get the tests done ASAP.” She rose and went back to packing her box.

She mumbled, but he was still able to catch her words. “And I want to know where that ovary came from…”

He said the last thing she wanted to hear right now. “I think we should be hypnotized.”

“Why?” She sounded so tired to her ears, weak and unsure. She swore she could feel the dark circles that she knew were under her eyes, like bruises. It had been a very long day.

“To try to remember what happened. It could really make a difference. If we could even find out where we were taken, it would give us,” He stumbled and changed his words. “Me—a place to start my investigation.”

She glanced away and then finally met his eyes for the first time since he had entered the room. “I’ll think about it.” He nodded, seeming to be satisfied for now.

She lifted her box and shifted it to her hip, like a baby.

He jumped up to take the box from her but she wouldn’t let him. “I’ll call you,” she said, her voice sounding insincere.

“That’s what all the girls say,” he said to himself as the door shut behind her.


Tiff needed to find the right rhythm to catch his thrusts. Ah, there it was. Now she could sit back and relax and get some answers out of him. “So tell me what I can expect from this Mulder,” she demanded.

The man under her just gurgled. Her brow furrowed. “I’ve heard all the crazy stuff, of course, but that can’t all be true.” She shifted her weight to her knees, lifting herself off his hard cock so that her grip on him wasn’t so tight.

He gasped and said, “He’s a good agent, brilliant actually—don’t believe everything you’ve heard.”

“Even if it came from you?” she asked as she tunneled her long, dark fingers through his thick, gray chest hair.

“I have the highest respect for Agent Mulder,” he moaned.

“Better make that the highest respect for Agent Tiff, Big Dog,” she growled as she rolled over on her back and pulled him on top of her. It was difficult to find a man big enough for her, but still small enough that she could toss him around in the right circumstances. She decided she had hit the jackpot in Walter Skinner.

“Yes, Ma’am,” he said in his best Marine voice. She expected him to salute, but instead he started pounding into her hard enough to grind the questions about her new partner out of her mind. She grasped his firm, square ass to help him along.

Later, she was picking her hair back out to its smooth short afro when Skinner came up behind her to plant a kiss on the back of her neck. The romantic fool.

“That better hold you, Bulldog,” she said as she put in her hoop earrings.

The look of dismay on his face was comical, but she was serious. “I wanted to be the first one to say it, so I didn’t get all feminine and misty-eyed when you said it.”

“I wasn’t going to say that,” he protested. “This isn’t in violation of any rules. You aren’t technically under my command,” she lifted a brow at that statement. “Well, you aren’t. You’re on temporary assignment from Violent Crime. If anything, you’re doing me a favor— looking after Mulder— so I should be rewarding you.” He reached for her again with his big rough hands.

She evaded him. “Temporary? How temporary? You’ve been very mysterious about this.”

He sighed. “The thing is—Mulder’s partner has asked for reassignment under…stressful circumstances.” She shot him a hard look, but he just looked stubborn. “I can’t tell you more than that right now. I just need you to keep Mulder on an even keel and get the cases solved. I don’t trust anyone else in the Bureau to do that for me.”

Now she was getting misty-eyed. That was the sweetest thing he had said to her in their eighteen-month relationship. “You know you can trust me,” she said fiercely.


FBI Headquarters July 5th, 9:15 A.M.

Tiff wasn’t feeling quite as noble as she wound her tall form through the shelving and stacked boxes to pick her way to the basement office. She rapped sharply on the door and heard, “Come in!”

She entered and looked around to find the source of the voice. She found it. Oh boy. What was Skinner doing dropping her in the middle of this patch of clover? He was cute, perhaps just a little too cute. He was giving her a very charming smile and approaching with an outstretched hand.

Tiff didn’t trust men who were better looking than she was. She was concerned that they spent too much time on personal grooming. It was possible he was born looking like this, but she doubted it. It would make him too good to be true. His darker side would come out soon enough.

“Agent Davis? I’m Fox Mulder. Please call me…well, whatever you’re comfortable with,” he finished lamely. The warning bell began to toll in the back of Tiff’s mind.

“You may call me Davis, or if you prefer, my friends call me Tiff. I will address you…well, that’ll depend on my mood, I suppose.” She looked him in the eye. As she was over six feet tall, she could do that. He smiled weakly.

She spent the next hour trying to raise her office chair a foot higher and find a way to position it along the back of the one desk, sorting through paperwork and setting the voice mail. She watched Mulder out of the corner of her eye. He sat perfectly still, staring at the wall. Occasionally he would suddenly whirl in his chair, make some furious notes on a pad of a paper and then go back to ‘work’.

Finally everything came to a head. He had been playing a flipping game with his pen. It flew out of his hand and landed under the desk. He was down on his hands and knees before she could even speak, his soft hair brushing her knees. She said slowly and carefully, “Agent Mulder, I will be putting in a requisition immediately for another desk.”

Only muffled words could be heard. It sounded like, “Boof, Skoolly nebber gob aba doosk!”

‘I’ll bet she didn’t get her own desk, if your hot breath on her knee was one of the perks,’ Tiff thought to herself as she answered the ringing phone.

Before she could speak, a whispering woman’s voice started, “Mulder, what time can you get away?”

She didn’t want to hear more of this conversation. “Excuse me, this is Agent Davis. May I help you?”

The line was silent and then the voice was brisk. “Where’s Mulder?”

Tiff was getting mad. “He’s not currently available. May I help you?”

The voice continued to be impolite. “Where is he?”

That was it. “He’s under me right now. Can I help you?”

She had to give her credit, the mystery woman knew how to put a lot of venom in a few words. “Put him on the line.”

Tiff slammed the receiver on the desktop and tapped Mulder’s back. “Mulder, someone’s on the phone for you.”

His tousled head popped out from under the desk and reached for the phone with an apologetic grin. “Mulder here.”

She watched his face with interest. Fear— pain— anger–– angst- – whipped across it. He whined, “Scullee…But…I didn’t know…that’s why…”

Tiff tried to act like she wasn’t listening, although she could make out the now sharp high tones of the woman’s voice coming down the line. Scully. That would be the missing partner. Her neat, concise handwriting was on a number of the reports Tiff had glanced through. The name Skinner had not mentioned.

He interrupted her thoughts. “Excuse me, what’s your first name?”

She knew she had told him, but she played along. “Tiffany,” she said loud and close enough to the receiver that she knew Scully could hear. Thus she was able to hear the slam of the woman hanging up her end of the line.

He winced and then carefully put the phone back down on the cradle. He glanced casually at his watch. How long was he gauging it would take her to get to the office? Was she still at the Bureau? Damn Skinner and damn Mulder! When she said she didn’t want to play in the little boys’ club, this is just what she meant.

Mulder escaped the office while she brooded. Great. That meant Scully would arrive under full steam any moment.

When the door swung open, and the woman Tiff assumed was Scully burst into the room, she was stunned. This isn’t what she expected at all. From her quick, highly subjective, judgement of Mulder, she had envisioned a dark swan, tall and brunette, bitchy-looking, perhaps.

This woman looked just like the porcelain doll her Aunt Petty had given her when she was ten. Small and delicate, with china-smooth white skin, bottle-blue eyes, thick black lashes, and red-gold shiny hair. Tiff had thrown that doll against the wall in a fit of pique. She had wanted the black Barbie. Come to think of it, Aunt Petty was the one who pressured her mom into naming her Tiffany, saying it would give her class. Tiff ground her teeth.

Scully strode in and her hard gaze raked the room. “Where’s Agent Mulder?”

Tiff tried again. “I’m Agent Davis. May I help you?”

Scully looked surprised and then let her gaze sweep over Tiff in assessment. Oh, it was gonna be like that, huh?

Tiff got up from her chair and towered over the little red hen.

When Scully spoke, Tiff was shocked. “Do you play basketball?”

Oh, boy—some white people… “What makes you think that?” she said coolly, her hands on her hips.

Scully blinked, then blushed. “The size of your hands and your height. Coaches look for those sorts of things. I know…” she glanced down at her perfect little lily-white hands, “‘cause I didn’t have those things,” she finished wistfully.

Tiff had to laugh. Suddenly she liked this woman. “Yeah…I played ball through college. It was the days before the pros or I might not be speaking to you now—”

Scully grinned evilly. “Great. Mulder loves basketball. Bring a ball to work. Suggest a game at lunch. You’ll have fun. I guarantee it.”

Tiff grinned back. “I’ll do that. Thanks for the tip.”

Mulder came up behind Scully, Skinner in tow. “Scully?” He acted surprised.

She turned and shot him a nasty look. Skinner pushed past them both. “Dr. Scully, what are you doing here?” he asked.

“Oh, I thought I’d drop by and give some advice to Agent Davis here,” she said, giving Skinner an assessing look.

He pulled her arm gently to draw her away from Mulder and Tiff. Tiff watched him bend his big head down to Scully’s bright cap of hair. Oh boy, indeed. He kept his hand lightly on her elbow as he whispered in her ear.

Mulder was busy pretending not to watch either, shuffling through some papers. Everyone seemed to be paused in an awkward tableau until Scully’s voice rang out. “Thank you, sir, for your concern. Mulder, may I speak to you for a moment? It’s important.”

With that, she grabbed Mulder’s arm and dragged him from the room, slamming the door behind them. Tiff turned and noticed Skinner was still staring at the door.

She believed in being up front. “Just so you know, Dog, I’m not partial to other women’s sloppy seconds.”

Skinner looked startled, then confused, then realization spread across his broad features. “Don’t worry, you’re not getting any.” Tiff nodded after a moment’s reflection.

“Just so you know, Agent Davis, you may want to be careful down here. There’s a lot of bugs.and they bite,” he said briskly as he exited without looking back at her.

Tiff settled back on the edge of the desk. Maybe this wasn’t going to be the romp on the spooky side she had envisioned. She was already feeling choked by the entanglements.


As Scully roughly pulled him towards a supply closet Mulder found himself suddenly aroused. He had to find a way to stop these reactions; they were not helping the situation at all.

She pushed him through the door and he let her toss him against the shelving. If he wasn’t mistaken, there was a sparkle of excitement in her eyes, too.

She paced in front of him. “You like your new partner, Mulder?” she hissed at him.

“Just met her. She seems as though she’ll work out.” He couldn’t stop himself, “—if properly trained.”

He watched her eyes close to angry slits and he felt an erection beginning to develop in his loose dress pants. She wouldn’t be able to miss that, even in the poor light from a forty-watt bulb.

He hurried on. “But don’t worry, you’ve got me trained.”

She raised a brow and his dick hopped up another notch. “Oh?” So much in that one word.

“Yeah,” his voice sounded drugged and lazy. “I’m a good puppy. I’m eager for your every command.”

Her lips trembled and she looked as if she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. She tilted her head back and caught him with the edge of her sharp gaze. He felt himself begin to slowly bleed, the throbbing pain centered in his cock. He pushed himself off the shelving and approached her. God, don’t let her push him away again.

She looked away and he moved closer until he was as near as he could be without touching her. Then she rolled her head back on the slim, strong column of her neck, and he couldn’t stop himself from bending down to run his tongue lightly along the fluttering pulse. She was so alive.

Her hand came up to cradle his neck and he took that as encouragement. She had said nothing so far, so he continued. He didn’t want to mark her, so he kept caressing her neck with his tongue, his mouth moving down to her heaving chest. His tongue lifted the chain of her necklace from her collarbone and ran along the length until he came to the cross.

He paused for a moment with the small charm resting on his tongue. He felt as though he possessed her spirit in his mouth. He tipped his head back to look at her and she was gazing down at him with a mixture of desire and pain. He gently sucked on the cross until the chain became taut, pulling her closer to him. A slow, loose, aroused smile formed on her soft lips.

He knew she was remembering the last time the chain was tight and he was this close. Only then did he push her against the wall. She moved willingly. He lifted her and pressed his hips against her skirt-confined thighs so she could feel his erection. He heard the faintest of gasps from her and his cock throbbed even harder.

He let go of the cross and quickly clasped his mouth over her parted lips, smoothly sliding his tongue between her teeth. Her tongue greeted it and they rolled like children playing in the fresh grass after being confined indoors for a long, dark winter.

He reached down and pulled up her skirt to give her some more mobility. His hand felt hot on her cool thigh, and she gasped and pulled their mouths apart.

“Mulder, stop!” He had known that was coming. He was surprised she had let it go this far.

He lowered her and stepped back. She pushed her skirt down. “I must check your coffee again, this is ridiculous.”

He exploded. “Why would They be doing that? You’re already pregnant. Mission accomplished. No, I’ve got a news flash for you, Scully. I wanted you before the spiked coffee. I wanted you ever since I met you.”

She cut him off. “But you only decided to act on this overwhelming desire at the exact moment you were having aphrodisiacs forced down your throat. Pardon me if I don’t find any reassurance in that.”

He was exasperated. “Believe what you will, Scully. Ask yourself This: Why didn’t I just go out to some bar and jump the first woman I saw?”

She looked as though she was going to speak and then stopped herself. He goaded her on. “Go ahead. I saw you wanted to say something.”

“I was going to say—you could have any woman you want, anytime you want. You just choose not to. So I doubt any aphrodisiac would suddenly make you a hound dog in the bars. You went with safe,” she said with a cool, logical tone.

He was so mad at her he didn’t know if he could stand to look at her for another minute. “Did you want something? I mean besides a fuck in the supply closet.” It was a cheap shot but it was all he could afford right now.

She bit down hard on her lower lip and then snapped, “Yes. I got the test results back. There are high levels of activity in my brain, and the DNA of the tested egg is mine. It seems to me They probably administered the necessary hormone to release the egg, put it in my yogurt on the correct day, something like that. It seems possible to me now that this could be a perfectly normal pregnancy.”

Mulder was overwhelmed with regret. He had fucked up. If he had just kept his mouth shut… “Oh, Scully, that’s great.” He reached for her, but she had turned to open the door.

With her back to him, she spoke. “It’s another ten weeks until the next sonogram. It’ll give us a stronger clue as to my impregnation date, a better look at what this thing is. I’m let you know when the appointment is.”

He started to speak and then silenced himself. He had to let her get comfortable with this situation. She was the one who had to live with it every moment. He let her go.

Chapter 7: Visions


FBI Headquarters July 5th, 10:30 A.M.

Returning to the office, Mulder threw himself back into his chair and ignored Tiff’s inquiring look. He had gotten distracted from his search for Kenneth Bond, but he had to get back on that. He had to feel like he was doing something.

The file was gone. He frantically pawed through the piles of papers on his desk. They had taken the file.

Tiff asked, “What’re you looking for?”

“A file,” he said as he craned his head to look under the desk.

“The background check on Bond?” she queried.

She was shocked at the cold look he gave her. His voice was soft and dangerous when he answered. “Yes. Do you have it?”

She bristled. “Yes. I thought I’d help you with it. It seemed as though it was very important.”

He put out his hand. “It is important. I’d rather you not work on it, however. It could be dangerous for you.”

Exasperated, she replied, “That’s my job. I’m your partner and a fully qualified FBI agent.”

His face was suddenly sad. “This is outside the realm of the FBI. It’s something that goes beyond the boundaries of justice.”

She raised a brow. Well, wasn’t he a melodramatic thing? “Agent Higgins brought in some information. I merely put it in the file.”

He snatched the file from her. “What is it?”

“They’ve identified this Bond person as a student at George Washington University, in the Chemistry department. The school sent over his records and an address. Do you want to go pick him up?”

Mulder scanned the paperwork furiously. Slowly, he said, “No. I don’t want to tip Them off. Let’s go talk to some of his fellow students, try to get a fix on this guy.”

“What’s he’s done?” Tiff asked.

“I’m not sure, that’s one of the problems.” Mulder flipped the file closed. “I’m more interested in the organization he works for.”

His gaze burned into her. “This is a matter of life and death, Davis. Any false move may spook his employers and sent them underground. I have to find those men, do you understand me?”

“Yeah, I got it. I won’t let you down, trust me,” Tiff tried to reassure him.

He looked as though she had slapped him. His eyes shifted to a small photograph pinned to the bulletin board. It was of him and Agent Scully. “I can’t give my trust easily, Davis. Don’t be offended. Too much is at stake for me.”

She nodded. She understood the sentiment, even if the causes evaded her. “Shall I send out agents to the campus?”

“Yes, thank you. Have them report directly to me, however,” he said, returning to the file.

She willed herself to not be offended as she reached for the phone.


7:35 PM

It had been a very long day. Scully sank into her couch, carefully placing the steaming cup of herbal tea on the table in front of her.

She was tired in a way she had never felt tired in her life. It frightened her. It seemed to take over her body and her will. She felt a slight fluttering in her abdomen, like the stroke of moth’s wings.

She gently laid a hand on her stomach. It must be the fetus. She had allowed herself to review some of her textbooks on the early stages of pregnancy.

She closed her eyes for a moment to visualize a growing child inside her. Instead she felt as though she were seized by the throat and pinned to the couch by some heavy unseen hand.

Her breathing became shallow and frantic. She opened her eyes, but all she saw was darkness through a sickening, swirling haze of green. She was back in the tube.

She could feel the fluttering again. She remembered feeling the movement then, confined in the freezing liquid. This wasn’t her and Mulder’s child. It was one of those.things—growing in her, feeding off of her until it was ready to rip itself free from her body.

She managed to shake her head hard enough to break the spell. She was just regaining control of her breathing when Mulder opened her door, unannounced.

She attacked him. “What the hell are you doing?”

He must have been numb enough not care about her rudeness. “We need to talk.”

He sat down beside her on the sofa, tossing a file on the coffee table, and she went stiff, staring straight ahead.

He mumbled, “You’ve gotten plenty of chances to speak your mind, set the rules. Well, I thought I’d come over and put in some words of my own.”

“Would you like some tea?” She played the little hostess.

He was firm. “No. Stay here.”

They sat next to each other in silence. She had almost fallen into a trance when he spoke and startled her.

“I think we should get married.”

Perhaps that’s why she had been avoiding him. She had known he would say this at some point.


His voice was calm. “We’re having a baby and we love each other. Why shouldn’t we get married?”

She turned to give him a hard look. He raised a brow at her and his eyes dripped dark moss. “You don’t love me?”

She snapped her gaze back front and center and pressed her lips together.

He gave a bitter chuckle. “I always assumed the problem was that you didn’t want to love me, not that you didn’t love me.”

She had to be rational. “Mulder, you’re moving ahead too fast. We have to find out what’s in me first, then we can make decisions for the future. If we get married and something goes wrong…”

She was surprised he hadn’t tried to touch her yet. Maybe he was serious. “Scully, sometimes in life you have to take a leap of faith. I believe this is my child. I know it is. I love and want to protect the two of you.” She had never heard such conviction in his voice.

That’s what broke her. She could barely hold in the tears as she said, “I know you want to believe, but that’s not enough. I have to have the proof first. I have to know that whatever is in me won’t hurt you.”

He sat silent, shaking his head, and she reached out to grasp his hand.

“I know you. You’re not strong enough for what it’ll be like if something goes wrong. And then you’ll leave me.”

He didn’t argue with her assessment of his strength and this vaguely disturbed her. “So this is all about how you don’t want to be alone? I hate to tell you, you are alone. You just want control.”

She had to swing back at him. “And you want to take away what little control I have left.”

He finally faced her and his eyes were black. “That’s how you see my love? Taking something away from you? I want to give you what little pathetic support I have to give.”

She dropped her gaze under the weight of his darkness. “You think love’s enough, and maybe it is for you. But for me, it isn’t. There are too many confusing issues: there’s my career, our work on the X-files—just because we’re having a baby doesn’t mean we’d have a good marriage—”

He leaned in close to whisper in her ear with a small smile playing on his lips. “So you love me?”

He always found the one thing he wanted to hear and hung onto it. She turned her head slightly so that her mouth was next to his neck. She murmured one word, branding it into his skin. “Yes.”

He bent his neck, pressing her head into his shoulder, surrounding her with his warmth and hard muscles. “Yes too,” drifted into her ear.

She had to stop him from seeing this as such a simple issue. She pulled away from him and pushed her hair away from her face in frustration. “If everything goes all right with the tests, and this is our baby, I’ll marry you. I believe a child should be raised by two parents whenever possible. And I know you would be a wonderful father.”

He stopped her with his big, beautiful smile. “Yeah?”

She had to reach out and trace those lips with her fingertip, memorizing that moment of pure joy. “Yes. But…”

The smiled disappeared. “But?”

She chose her words carefully. They needed to be said but she didn’t want to hurt him any more than she had already. “Mulder, I won’t have time for your emotional baggage. If this is our child, the train has left the station and is going full speed ahead. I’m gonna kick your steamer trunk full of crap off the back.”

He laughed, and this time it was rich and deep. “I’m keeping you to your word. You’ll marry me.” He grinned impishly. “This went better than I thought. You met me halfway.”

“Are you suggesting I’m rigid?” she asked, reaching forward to pick up her cup of tea.

“Yes, but in a wonderful sort of way,” he mumbled as he brushed the soft hair from her neck and touched his lips gently to her scar. Mulder rested his mouth on the soft skin of Scully’s neck, his breath lifting her tiny pale hairs. She didn’t move away and he rejoiced. He sucked a piece of her skin between his teeth and bit down gently.

She pulled away, but only to twist her head and search out his mouth, grabbing his lower lip between her own teeth and biting harder than he would dare. He gasped and she invaded his open mouth with ease.

He always had been aware at how small she was, but only now, when he covered her body with his own, did he realize how delicate she was. He spanned her waist with his great paws, feeling like some bumbling brute as he pulled her up to feel his arousal.

She was a fairy, all light and shimmering skin, while he was the big dark tortoise, grumbling and groaning his way through the forest. He was fumbling at her breasts and hips, stroking her face with a shaking hand.

He was frantic. He didn’t know where to start. He was too large. He didn’t fit on the couch. He didn’t fit on her.

She was able to slither out from under him and reluctantly pull her lips free. He let his glowing face fall to the cushions. He had to let her know that he would never hurt her.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to push.” He rolled over to watch her slip down to the floor beside him. “I want you to know, if it’s what you want, this can be a marriage in name only.”

She burst out laughing which would have exhilarated him were he not so humiliated. “Oh God, Mulder, I’ve haven’t heard that term since I spent the summer I was 15 reading nothing but Harlequin Romances.”

He pushed himself up on his elbow, trying to be suave, but feeling perturbed. “I just want to be sensitive to your needs.”

She gave him one of her soft, devastating smiles. His body went lax and his dick went hard. She reached out and ran her fingers through his hair until it stood on end to match his erection.

He gulped. “I understand if you have some problems you need to work through—”

She looked puzzled. “What?”

His voice squeaked. Oh, yeah, he was ready to be married. “I mean, with sex.”

Her face went still and her tone was cool. “Excuse me?”

He wasn’t going to back down. He’d done all right so far this evening. “When we were—having sex—I came—” He finished in a rush. “And you didn’t.” He touched her shoulder lightly. “I’m sorry, it was hardly a roses and moonlight encounter. I’m not normally that bad.”

She looked as though she was trying to control a grin.

He hurried on. “Not that I’m bad. Not to say I’m great. Well, I mean, it’s hard to judge oneself—”

She must have taken mercy on him. She began to explain. “Mulder, has a woman ever told you what goes through her mind sometimes when she feels the man about to come?”

He shook his head.

She let her head drop back onto the cushion beside his knee. “You’re having sex, everything feels wonderful, the guy is coming, you’re coming…but I don’t care how many forms of birth-control you’re using, when you feel that man about to come, there’s this moment of panic. What’ll I do if I get pregnant?”

He stroked her soft hair, brushing it back behind her ear.

She looked embarrassed. “It’d been a long time. A really long time.” He smiled. “I hadn’t had to confront my sterility in that situation. So I was coming and you were coming and the thought popped into my head.”

She rolled her head over to look at him. “Suddenly I was overwhelmed. I wasn’t going to get pregnant. I wasn’t going to have your child. The grief just shut everything down.”

He couldn’t stop himself. “There’s an irony in here somewhere.”

She wasn’t upset with him and laughed. “Yeah, that’s occurred to me.” Her voice was lazy and gentle, like a warm summer breeze.

“So there’s nothing wrong?” he whispered as he leaned in again to stroke her lower lip with his damp tongue.

“Mulder,” she moaned right before he sealed her protest off with a kiss. He was folded in half like a clam to reach her mouth. Her little hands were running through his hair, creating static electricity that caused his skin to jump.

“Mulder.” She pushed him away gently and he thought he would cry. Here it comes. “I don’t think we should do this.” Yep. There it was.

“Why not?” He couldn’t keep the whine from his voice.

She began rearranging the magazines piled on her coffee table. “I think we need to sort out if these feelings are residual, left over from our drugging.”

He hurried to correct her. “Scully, I meant what I said at work. I’ve always desired you—in a general way.” She looked at him and cocked a brow, but her eyes were hurt-filled. He grumbled, “You know what I mean. I didn’t acknowledge the realm of my feelings, but the drugs certainly gave me some clarity.”

He lightly gripped her shoulders and squeezed them. “Byers did some more work on the composition of the drugs, and it’s his opinion that they would only lower inhibitions, opening us to feelings that were already there, rather than create new feelings.”

She broke in. “Oh? You and Byers talked about this?”

He winced. “Yes—he said he thought most of the chemicals were intended to have an effect on my sperm and your eggs.” He tried to inject some humor into the situation. “I wondered why the whole floor was coming to drink our coffee. There’ll be plenty of playmates for our kid in the FBI daycare center.”

He could see he’d gone too far when she rolled her head back on her neck to look at him, her expression overwhelmed and hurt.

“Scully—” He tried to kiss her again, but she lowered her head, blocking his descent.

She started to talk as though he hadn’t said anything. “This is all too much, too fast. If this isn’t our baby, if we have to go back to normal—we shouldn’t have any more complications than we already have.”

He sucked his lips into his mouth and bit down hard. He had prodded her enough for one night. If he meant it when he said he loved her and wanted to protect her, he wouldn’t break down her reserves while she felt vulnerable. She had said she needed her strength.

“Can I at least stay here tonight, though? I’m so worried about you, I can’t sleep,” he asked.

She thought a moment, and said, “Okay, I’m worried about you too.” She glanced over the couch. “You’ll have to share my bed, though. You can’t fit on this.”

She pursed her lips when he couldn’t hold back his grin. “Goody.” He raised his hands in surrender. “I promise. I’ll be a good boy.”

All he got for that wise-ass remark was the raised eyebrow.

‘How come I feel like the virgin on her wedding night?’ he thought as he sat, ridiculously stiff, against the headboard of her bed. His eyes roamed the room. No TV. What to do, what to do…

He strained his ears. There were all sorts of soft, feminine sounds coming from the bathroom. Splashing, sponging, wiping, applying…He rolled over onto his side quickly, pulling his knees up to his chest, squeezed his eyes shut and willed himself to go to sleep.

He got himself in such a deep meditative state reviewing his mantra, ‘thou shalt not touch Scully’, that he jumped a foot when she laid a light hand on his shoulder. “Mulder, you’re on my side—or is it your side too?”

He opened his eyes and almost died. She was leaned over him, her hair a cloud of gold from vigorous brushing, her skin damp and glowing from its scrubbing, her breath minty fresh…all he could find to do was pant like a sad puppy.

“Sorry,” he mumbled as he scooted to the other side of the mattress. “I don’t have a side. I can go either way.”

“God, I hope not,” she murmured as she slid under the covers.

He did a mental Homer Simpson slap, ‘D’oh!’ on his forehead. If he got any smoother tonight he was going to have to beat her off with a stick.

She burrowed down into the covers and whispered, “Oh, warm sheets…”

His confidence returned. She needed him. He reached down with his long arms and found her cold little feet with his big, warm hands. He rubbed them lightly. “I’ve got my advantages—” he muttered into the little bit of hot soft skin peeking out between the collar of her pajamas and her hair.

“Mulder—” she warned but she wiggled her toes in his palms happily.

“I’m just offering comfort to a friend in her time of need. No sex,” he stated.

She reached out to snap off the light, and the room was plunged in darkness. Perhaps it gave her the confidence of being in the confessional. “Mulder, I have desires too, you know. I’m not pushing you away because I don’t want you. I’m pushing you away because I do…”

He slipped up against her back and pulled her tight against him, happy beyond reason, and enveloped her tiny form in his warmth. He breathed in her ear, “Don’t worry, I’ll be strong for both of us. You try anything and I’ll make sure you regret it.”

“Oh, trust me. I already do,” she said in a sleepy voice.

‘Why does she always have to have the last word?’ he thought with irritation as he slipped away as well.


July 6th, 6:45 A.M.

Mulder was normally an early riser, so he was surprised at the brightness of the light when he awoke.

Where was he? Scully’s bed. Oh, yeah.

What was that sound? Someone…Scully? —Throwing up. It must be Scully.

He leapt from the bed and hurried towards the bathroom.

Scully was having her morning prayer session in front of the porcelain altar when Mulder burst into the room. Great. She’d forgotten for a minute that she had left something big and warm in her bed in her rush to the bathroom.

She was embarrassed, but there was nothing she could do. He wet a washcloth in the sink and got down on his knees beside her on the cold floor.

Mercifully, the heaving stopped for a moment, but she only had the strength to rest her cheek on the edge of the bowl. He carefully lifted her head and kept it away from the toilet. He brushed the hair away from her clammy face and wiped the tears away from her red cheeks.

“Don’t do that, Scully. You’ve got a man using that toilet now,” he admonished her.

Now, that was a pleasant thought. She could only groan.

He was worried. “Is this normal? I mean, I understand it’s morning sickness, but should it be this severe?”

She nodded and felt it coming up again. She pushed at him, but he wouldn’t go away. He didn’t leave and she tried to decide which was worse, him seeing her like this or being alone to suffer.

When she finally pushed herself away from the toilet, she groaned, “That’s all there is, thank God.” He helped her to her feet and gave her face a final wipe with the cloth. She staggered to the sink to brush her teeth.

She noticed him shifting from foot to foot, glancing down at the toilet. She beat a hasty retreat, hearing the seat clang up against the tank. This was going take some getting used to.

She stopped herself. He had stayed one night and she was already mentally arranging things in her bureau to make room for his socks. This was exactly the type of thinking she needed to avoid at this time.

Listlessly, she went out to the kitchen and started the coffee, although she had lost her taste for the stuff since the incident with the drugging at work. She heard the phone ring. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw him heading towards it.

“Don’t answer that! It’s probably my mother,” she said as she quickly reached for it.

He looked at her, questioning. “You haven’t told her what’s going on?”

She turned her back on him as she picked up the receiver. “I don’t want to worry her unnecessarily.” She heard him gasp in exasperation.

It was her mother. She put off their usual lunch date for the coming weekend. It wasn’t uncommon when she thought a case would take her out of town. Her mother suspected nothing, although she usually didn’t have a disapproving half-naked man standing behind her, aimlessly scratching his armpit.

“She’ll know you were lying,” he chided.

“Thanks. I need that right now,” was her retort. She changed the subject. “What do you want for breakfast?”

He looked surprised. “I’ll get something on the way over to my apartment.”

She sniffed, offended. “I’ve got a refrigerator full of food. Someone should eat it—I’m certainly not.”

He was immediately concerned. “You should eat. Something bland, perhaps, oatmeal?”

The thought of that coming up made her vision swim. She just waved a hand at him as though to ward him off.

He came close and said, “Can I move in permanently? You can toss me out anytime you…need to.”

Well, there was no beating around the bush for him. Give him an inch and he was going to take a mile. She thought about it—for a whole two seconds. She couldn’t imagine why she would seem an appealing roommate at this point, but she said, “Okay,” as she ambled back into the kitchen.

She couldn’t cook for him after all. The smell of the eggs was too stomach-turning. She sat on the couch, chewing on dry toast and sipping tea, as he banged around in her kitchen. She flipped through the file he had brought over that had been abandoned and forgotten last night.

“I’m still trying to place Kenneth Bond,” she yelled to him.

Mulder came in to sit in the chair, with his scrambled eggs in a bowl and his orange juice in her nephew’s Flintstones mug. His boxers gaped open when he sat down and she forced her gaze back down onto the photographs.

He peered over at the picture. “Do you think you’ve seen him around the Bureau or could it be a memory from our abduction?”

She shook her head in frustration. “I don’t know. It’s as though I’ve seen the face, but I just can’t remember where.”

Mulder picked up the file and flipped through to the latest additions to Bond’s paperwork. “Perfect. Is there such a thing as being too perfect?”

“Oh, definitely. Doing those background checks taught me that,” she said with a smile.

“Good family, military father, scholarship in water polo,” Mulder grimaced at this point, “working at the Bureau to earn a little extra cash for college, straight-A student, lives in cheap studio apartment—” He shrugged.

He stood up and stretched, giving her a nice view of his long, muscular torso. “I think Tiff and I will stake this guy out for a while, see what a perfect life is like.” He gathered up his dishes and went back into the kitchen. “Do you think we can trust Tiff? I realize Skinner picked her personally…”

He wasn’t able to see the wry expression on Scully’s face. “I believe we can trust her. Mr. Skinner takes our concerns very seriously.”

He appeared in the doorway with a little frown on his face, made all the more sexy by his five o’clock shadow. “Yeah, Skinner seems really concerned about you.” With studied indifference he added, “When are you going to tell him—or have you already?”

She stopped him cold. “I haven’t told him a thing. And I won’t until absolutely necessary and not without consulting you.”

He looked properly ashamed. “I guess I better go home and get dressed. So…I’ll bring some things by after work, okay?”

“Okay,” she was worried what his reaction was going to be to her next words. “And I don’t want anyone else at work to know about this—about us—even if we do tell Skinner. We don’t know who is reporting to whom, we don’t know how this is going to end… What we’ll do if the baby turns out…” She rubbed at her eyes in frustration.

He spoke slowly. “I understand. You’re right. We don’t know what’s going to happen, and if things end up…going back to normal, we don’t want your career to suffer.”

She was relieved and was going to thank him, but he’d already headed back into her bedroom.

When he returned to the living room with his wrinkled clothes back on, he came towards her like he was going to kiss her goodbye. She jumped up to open the door for him, avoiding the contact.

He went past her, looking dejected, and she suddenly felt cruel. She tugged at his arm and pulled his rough cheek down to give it a peck. Now she felt stupid. The grin he gave her made her feel less stupid, but not much.

Chapter 8: Surveillance


July 6th, 8:45 A.M.

Tiff shifted in the seat of sedan. She glanced over at her partner, who was staring out into space. She certainly hoped he was capable of running on several planes of existence at once, or she was in deep shit.

“Mulder, why are we staking this guy out?” Bond was swimming laps at the community pool down the street from his apartment. Through the chain link fence, she watched his gleaming pale back slice through the water.

“Just a routine investigation,” he said.

“Hey, bud, I’m your partner, remember?” she shot back.

He started to say something and then stopped. She said it for him. “Scully’s your partner. I know that. But she’s not here right now. If I’m going to back you up, I need to know what to expect.”

He turned to face her. “I’m sorry, Tiff. Understand that I meant it when I said I’m being secretive to protect you. Take these people very seriously. They play for keeps.”

“Who’re they?” she asked.

“Someone I thought was dead and now…I don’t know. I’m afraid of the dark, you know why?” He was being spooky again. He answered before she could ask. “You can’t see what’s there in the dark.”

She decided to cut through all his mumbo jumbo. “Is that why you have so many flashlights?”

“Huh?” he asked.

“They’re everywhere.” She opened the glove box and pulled out a large flashlight and two small ones. “Here. All over the office. The trunk.”

He looked at her blankly. It was going to be a long day.

Bond came out of the swimming pool, dressed, but with his hair dark and slick from water, unlocked his bicycle and pedaled away. Mulder pulled away from the curb to follow at a distance.


The Factory

In the part of his attention that he always reserved to observe activity around him, Krycek heard his partner end his conversation on the phone and hang it up. The he heard a lighter flick on as the man lit a cigarette. “This was to be expected.”

Interrupted in his task of reviewing some reports, Krycek looked up at him, bored. “What?”

“It was only a matter of time before Mulder found Kenneth. We may have to dispose of the young man.”

“No.” Krycek’s tone was low and tight.

“I certainly do not relish losing expensive merchandise like him, but may be necessary, for our protection,” he continued as though he hadn’t heard the younger man’s coiled serpent word.

“It won’t be necessary. Stay calm. It’ll all be over soon,” Krycek answered.

Now the older man was on the defensive. “What do you mean? There are eight months until delivery of the merchandise.”

Krycek coolly looked him in the eye. “When was that decided, partner? My understanding was we would collect it at sixteen weeks.”

“Don’t you dare do anything without my permission. You’ll regret it.” A threat filtered his thick blue cloud of smoke.

“I think our current employers would be interested in your changes in the original plan. I think you may find them more desperate for results than their predecessors,” Krycek hissed back.

The two men regarded each other for a few moments, testing each other’s mettle. The older man nodded first. “Perhaps you’re right. Kenneth can still be of some use to us.”

Krycek grinned saucily and relaxed. “Oh, yes—we can find many uses for him.”

The sloped shoulders of the figure behind the desk straightened. “Don’t push it. We don’t make these things for you to have a whore.”

“If they aren’t whores, what else are they?” Krycek asked, unruffled by the man’s contempt.

“I suppose it takes one to know one,” the other man murmured as he lit another cigarette.

His lightning fast temper ignited, Krycek snarled, “What the fuck do you mean?”

“We’ve used your…talents…in the past for such purposes,” he answered easily, with the ghost of an empty smile.

Krycek blustered, “I never sold myself—” He pulled himself up, and finished speaking, covering his agitation with his sharp grin. “I look at it as one of the perks of the job. At least I use this position to its full advantage.”

Slowly and carefully, the man said, “I have my needs taken care of without jeopardizing my work.”

Krycek had the sudden, horrible vision of his bent, wrinkled body laboring over a deluxe model of a blow-up sex doll, the ashes falling off the end of his cigarette as he grunted, threatening to explode the doll before he finished.

He squeezed both his eyes shut to burn that image from his mind.

He had to concentrate. He wanted to regain control of this situation, regardless of whatever agreement he had made with the cold-hearted bastard. Obviously his partner had one of his crazy plans going again, and those plans always cost him. He squeezed his fake arm reflectively. Damn that man! He would get his money and be rid of that old fool, once and for all!

He kept his voice bland. “I’ll contact Kenneth and tell him it’s time to disappear.”

The death skull in the shadows tipped forward, nodding at him.

As Krycek exited the small, dark office, he heard behind him, “I’ll continue to monitor the situation.”


Mulder pulled the car up across the street from Bond’s apartment building.

“Why don’t you watch his window? I’ll go in and arrest him,” he said as they watched the young man maneuver his bicycle through the doorway.

Tiff was worried already. “I don’t like that. Let’s call for backup, or let me follow you in.”

Mulder shook his head. “No backup.”

They got out of the car and as they watched traffic for a chance to cross the street, Tiff’s palm caressed the gun at her side, reassuring herself with weapon’s warmth and weight.

He mused, “I guess you can come in. The window doesn’t look easy to get out of.”

They glanced at the grill covering Bond’s low, narrow window, down at pavement level as they passed it on their way to the front door. Mulder rang the manager’s apartment to let them in.

Tiff hated apartment buildings in the afternoon. They were too quiet, with just the occasional, muffled moans of a soap opera seeping from under a doorway. Quiet gave no cover for a sneak attack.

They moved in unison to the short stairwell that led down to the basement apartments. The light streaming in through a window at the end of the hall shone in their eyes, momentarily blinding them. Tiff was spooked.

They took up positions on either side of Bond’s apartment door. After a nod from her assured Mulder that she was ready, he rapped sharply on the door.

“Open up, Bond—FBI!” Mulder’s voice was tight and controlled.

Nothing. Again, he pounded on the door.

“Do you think he went through the window?” she whispered.

He shook his head. “I don’t think so.”

He moved to the front of the door and prepared himself to kick it in. Tiff shook her head to stop him. She reached out and tried the knob. It turned in her hand. They exchanged questioning glances. She was really spooked now.

The door swung slowly open. They both waited for a moment, their backs pressed against the wall outside the door. Nothing. Their eyes met and Mulder nodded wordlessly.

He swung around the doorjamb, and Tiff held her breath as he ducked into the room. Nothing. She slipped around the door and ran right into Mulder’s back.

As she peered over his shoulder, she saw Kenneth Bond in the middle of the room, sitting very still on a chair. For a minute, she thought he was dead, and then she saw his eyes blink, slowly.

She noticed that Mulder seemed transfixed and had lowered his gun. Quickly, she moved around him and leveled her gun at Bond’s head. This activated Mulder.

“Don’t shoot him!” He yelled in her ear.

Bond nodded and said calmly, “I don’t want to hurt you.”

Tiff could feel the tension coming off of Mulder in waves. She was confused. She motioned at Bond with her gun. “Get up.”

Bond remained in his chair for a moment and then seemed to make a decision. He rose slowly, and began to walk towards them.

Mulder yelled one last command. “Don’t shoot him, whatever happens!” He had holstered his gun, and pushed her aside to block Bond’s escape.

She gave a grunt of exasperation as she holstered her own weapon. Two of them, one skinny guy—this should be easy.

She wasn’t thinking that two minutes later. Bond had looked at them both with a cool contempt as they advanced on him. First, he had planted his palms in Mulder’s chest and had pushed him aside. Tiff was amazed at the distance Mulder’s body had flown, but then she turned her attention to the business at hand.

She had planted both feet solidly beneath her and had twisted her body to bring a low swing of her right fist towards his solar plexus. The blow connected, but there was no give to his flesh, no expulsion of air.

Instead, he backhanded her easily across the face, sending her reeling. She caught a hip on a chair and allowed a moan of pain to escape. Spitting out the mouthful of blood that had instantly accumulated, she jumped back into the battle.

Mulder had grabbed Bond around the middle, trying to pin his arms down. Tiff snapped out a hard, sharp jab to his nose, but Bond whipped his head back, slamming into Mulder’s face, getting a brief yelp from her partner.

Bond elbowed Mulder’s midsection and the man had to let go. Bond advanced on her, and for the first time in her life, Tiff felt fear.

Bond must have seen it, and a look of concern passed across his face. This infuriated her for some reason, so she went for the old street-fighting standard, the lunge at the body, grabbing him around the middle and trying to wrestle him to the ground. Nothing happened.

He continued towards the door, dragging her 165 pounds behind him. She felt ridiculous, and then her skull was caught on the doorjamb. She saw stars, and had to let go. She heard Mulder staggering past her in pursuit.

She tried to call after him, to make him give up, but he was gone. She hauled herself to her feet and followed. She found Mulder in the hall, limbs askew like a fallen puppet. She crouched by him, but he motioned at the stairwell. “Go! Get him!”

She didn’t care what he’d said, she drew her weapon and sprinted up the stairs. As she burst through the door, she saw the flash of blond hair as Bond leapt into the back of a black van, license plate missing, naturally.

She allowed herself a string of colorful curses and worked her way through the traffic to their car. On the walkie-talkie, she called in an APB on the van, knowing it was useless. Bond had escaped.

Skinner arrived to find the two of them picking through Bond’s apartment for clues, occasionally stopping to sop up the dripping blood from their injuries.

“What happened here?!” he bellowed as he stared at her swollen, cut lip. She cautioned him with a sharp gaze.

“The suspect resisted arrest,” she said dryly. She noticed Skinner and Mulder’s eyes meet across the room, and Mulder gave a very slight nod.

She was furious. “By the way, partner, boss: What the fuck was that thing, anyway?” she roared.

They both looked stunned and then Mulder played stupid. “What do you mean?”

“That little boy tossed us aside like trash. My cousin Ray-Ray from the PJs couldn’t have taken that thing,” she pointed out.

Skinner and Mulder looked confused, and then Mulder shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. The thing is, he got away. I’m back to square one.”

Skinner steered the conversation in another direction, ignoring Tiff’s imploring gaze. “What have you found here?”

Mulder was frustrated. “Zippo. Nada. Bubkus.”

Tiff had to agree. “There’s no sign of a life whatsoever. But somehow I doubt that thing had the same needs as you and I.”

Mulder pulled a neatly folded tee-shirt from the dirty clothes hamper, wrinkling his brow. He lifted it to his swollen, bruised nose, and a look of resignation crossed his face.

“What is it?” Skinner asked.

Mulder shook his head. “Krycek. I’d know that stench anywhere. Don’t ask me why a guy who’s doing the Secret Operative Man act would bathe in Homme, but he does.”

“Who’s Krycek?” Tiff questioned, dropping the empty address book back down by the phone.

“A guy I’ve had the misfortune to smell a time or two. Don’t worry about it,” Mulder said as he turned to throw the shirt back into the basket.


Scully’s Apartment 4:30 P.M.

Scully had left work early. She was tired, her feet hurt, there were no interesting bodies in the drawers, and Mulder wasn’t answering his cell phone. It was going to be a long eight months. She was bored stiff already.

She had spent the last hour sorting through her closets, drawers and shelves, making room for Mulder’s things. She instantly regretted it. It would make her appear a little eager if she flung open her closet’s door and pointed to the area on the pole ready for his suits. It would look as though she was desperate.

She decided to take a break. She had just settled in a chair with a tall glass of cold iced tea when she heard a muffled thumping on the front door. Curious, she got up and peered through the peephole.

Gasping in shock, she flung the door open. He didn’t appear as bad as he had through the distortion of the peephole, but Mulder’s face did look as though he’d come in contact with a frying pan at some time during the day.

As he staggered past under the weight of a large box, she asked the obvious question. “What happened?”

He dropped the box in the middle of the floor and threw himself in her chair. Large, dark sweat-stains had formed under the arms of his blue tee shirt. He pushed damp hair off his brow and leaned over to take a deep swallow from her glass of tea.

Her brow furrowed in irritation as she watched him spit an ice-cube back into the glass.

He sighed dramatically and finally said, “We went to get Bond. He turned out to be a clone with a nasty head-butt in his repertoire.”

“Oh,” She said as she propped herself up on the arm of the sofa. Feigning indifference, she asked, “So he got away?”

He gave her a withering glance, rendered comical by his faint raccoon markings. “Yeah, he got away. Tiff put up a good fight,” he defended his new partner.

Scully felt ashamed. “Is she okay?” she asked.

He took another gulp of her tea and offered her the glass. After a momentary hesitation, she accepted it and took a discreet sip. “She will be. She’s got a nasty split lip and a big bump on her head. She can’t seem to keep her cranium from getting cracked anymore than you could.” She frowned at his use of the past tense and he hurried on. “She wants to know more, but I’m stonewalling her.”

She nodded. “That’s for the best.”

He hauled himself up from the chair and picked up the box again. She trailed after him fretfully as he staggered down the hall towards her bedroom, bumping into the walls, chipping the paint.

He dropped the box in the middle of the bedroom and turned to address her again. “So we’re officially out of leads.” Stubbornly, he insisted, “I think we should get hypnotized. We need to know where to find these guys.”

She chewed on her lower lip, absentmindedly noticing that his body odor had turned from earthy to sour. Slowly, she said, “Yes, I suppose you’re right.”

He clapped her on the shoulder. “Great! Let me go get the rest of my things, before someone steals all my suits out of my backseat, and then I’ll call Dr. Werber.”

She called after his long figure as he hurried out of the room. “You don’t have to worry. This is a much better neighborhood than yours.”


FBI Headquarters July 8th, 11:30 A.M.

Skinner entered the office without knocking and Tiff glanced up, oddly irritated. He scanned the room. “Where’s Mulder?”

“He had an errand to run,” she answered carefully.

“Scully isn’t on the job either,” he said.

“I didn’t realize she was still under your command,” she whipped back at him.

He regarded her. “You’re spending too much time with him. You’re starting to sound like him.”

She knew he was pissed because he wasn’t getting any, but he better start treating her a little better, or he wasn’t ever going to get any again.

“Was there something I could help you with, sir?” She might as well watch him squirm. She made her gaze fix firmly onto the area four inches below his belt. She let herself grin at the corresponding swelling behind his fly.

In a completely businesslike tone, he said, “Yes, as a matter of fact. I was wondering if you could assist me in the supply room. I can’t seem to find the glue sticks.”

She contemplated him for a minute. She had told herself she was going to hold firm to her convictions, but she rose from her chair anyway. “I’m not sure sir, but perhaps I can assist you in your search.”

She loved those big thighs of his; they gave him so much strength to lift, for example, her size fourteen body right off the floor as he drove into her. She bent her knees and wrapped her legs around his thick torso up high, under his armpits. She breathed through her open mouth, letting him knock the air out of her as her brain spasmed from the lack of oxygen. She came with a hard grunt as he made his Bulldog snorts in her ear.

As they hastily tried to straighten their clothing to its original appearance, he began to question her. “What’s Mulder working on?”

This pulled her up short. Was this what the quick, hard, delicious fuck was about? Finding out what the hell Mulder was up to? He didn’t know either?

She heard herself saying, “I don’t know, sir. I just follow his instructions.”

Skinner moved in close and caressed her full lower lip with his big callused thumb. “What happened to Bulldog?”

“I’ll start calling you that when you start acting like my Dog again, not some cop,” she retorted as she stormed out, pushing his tie into her pants pocket. That would keep him busy for a while.

Chapter 9: Memories


July 8th, 11:05 A.M.

Dr. Heitz Werber held the door open for Mulder and Scully to enter his office.

“I’m so happy to see the two of you again,” he said. They both nodded self-consciously.

He motioned to the black sofa and they settled onto it. Scully let her palm run along the smooth surface of the cushion. This was good. She always felt comfortable on a black leather couch. She let out the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. Dr. Werber addressed them.

“So, Fox told me what happened, and how you want to explore the events. Which one of you wants to go first?” he asked as he settled into his own chair.

They exchanged glances. Mulder quickly said, “I think I should go first.” Scully was a little perturbed—he was protecting her again.

She nodded though and Dr. Werber shifted his chair until he was in front of Mulder. Quickly, the doctor reminded him of the procedure.

When Mulder was relaxed and calm, Werber began to ask him questions. “Fox, concentrate. You’re back in Dothan, it’s the 9th of June.” Mulder nodded. “You’re in your motel room at The Roadside Inn. You’ve eaten your dinner— you’re on the bed. Now what?”

Mulder furrowed his brow as though he was trying to see something in the distance. “I’m sleepy…The room is dim. Scully’s at the table, reading the report…”

“Yes,” encouraged the doctor.

Mulder smiled as though a revelation had come to him. “She’s pretty.”

Scully looked surprised, but the doctor gave her a reassuring smile. “Yes, she is…What happens next?”

Mulder looked worried. “It’s dark.”

“Are you asleep?” he was asked.

“No. It’s just dark,” Mulder answered.

“Can you see anything at all?”

Mulder shook his head, frustrated.

“All right, can you hear anything, smell anything?”

“There’re voices, but I can’t make out the words…I can smell…” He wrinkled his nose in disgust. “It’s Krycek.”

Dr. Werber gave Scully a puzzled look, but she nodded. “And smoke, cigarette smoke…~he~ must be there too…”

Mulder began to pant with quick, shallow bursts. Scully reached out to take his hand.

Dr. Werber prompted, “What is happening now, Fox?”

Mulder’s voice was faint. “Someone, something is…touching me.”

“Where?” The doctor asked as Scully tightened her fingers around Mulder’s cold fingers.

Mulder lifted his free hand hesitantly, and pointed to his lap. “There.” His voice cracked and he sounded as frightened as a little boy.

Scully shot Dr. Werber a worried look, but he was intent on Mulder. “What are they doing?”

Mulder shook his head as though to shake off a nightmare. “I don’t know. It hurts…” he protested.

Scully hissed at the doctor, “Stop this, dammit!”

He glanced at her, and shook his head ‘no’.

Mulder rambled on, “It hurts, it hurts…” Tears were leaking between his closed lids.

Scully leapt to her feet, still clutching Mulder’s hand. “Stop this!”

The doctor rose to his feet too, and gripped her shoulder to silence her. He murmured, “Let me start slow—”

“No, I want you to stop hurting him,” she demanded.

Suddenly Mulder began to gasp and gurgle. Realizing what was happening, Scully glanced around the room and quickly snatched up the wastepaper basket. She was able to position it under Mulder’s bent head just as he started to throw up.

The action brought him out of the trance. “Whaaa? What happened?” he asked after wiping his mouth on the handkerchief offered by the doctor.

“Do you remember anything?” Doctor Werber asked as he took the basket from Scully’s limp fingers and set it away from them.

Mulder shook his head as he wiped the tears from his face. “No, not really. It was all jumbled and dark.”

Dr. Werber had called in a nurse, and she gave Mulder a glass of water and removed the wastepaper basket.

Mulder had slowed his breathing to his normal rate, and Scully wiped his face with a damp towel the nurse had brought in.

Scully was still furious. She wanted to leave, now. Mulder looked at her, concerned. “I don’t think you should do this,” he said.

Suddenly, she changed her mind. She wanted to know what they had done to him. Perhaps the answer was locked in her memory. “No, let’s do it.”

It took Dr. Werber half an hour to get Scully calm enough to have her in a trance. Mulder never took his eyes from her now-placid face.

The doctor started with the same questions. “It’s the night of the 9th…” She nodded. “You’re at The Roadside Inn with your partner, Fox Mulder. You’ve eaten dinner. You’re reviewing the report. What do you see now?”

“Mulder.” Her voice was soft, but sure.

“What’s he doing?” was the next question.

“He’s fallen asleep, like he always does. I have to wake him. Make him go to his room,” she murmured and Mulder smiled at her chiding tone, even in a hypnotic state.

“I don’t wanna, though…” she continued.

“What do you want to do?” The doctor’s voice was soothing.

“I want to go to sleep too. On my bed. Next to him.” She sounded frightened of the prospect even in this relaxed condition and Mulder had to give a slightly bitter chuckle.

Dr. Werber steered her back to the task at hand. “Does anyone come to the room?”

She furrowed her brow. “No. I must…I think I fell asleep. It’s dark.”

“Can you smell anything?” She shook her head. “Can you hear anything?”

She stayed silent for so long, Mulder thought she hadn’t heard the question. Dr. Werber remained still and waited.

Finally, she shook her head. “No. I can’t make anything out. I hear things. I don’t know what they are. I smell…a hospital. That’s all.”

Mulder chewed his lower lip in frustration.

Suddenly, Scully’s eyes shot open, but he could tell she was still in the trance. Her voice sounded distant, as though she was calling to him from the bottom of a well. “Someone’s coming.”

“Can you see them?” Dr. Werber leaned closer to her, intent.

“Someone’s coming,” she repeated.

“Can you see them? How do you know?” he asked.

She seemed not to hear him, concentrating on the moment in her memory. “I see…” she screwed her eyes shut. “I see a hand, a white hand.”

“Is someone touching you?”

She shook her head violently. “I don’t know. I can’t move. I can’t feel my limbs. I can see the hand.”

“What is the hand doing?”

“It has…It has a syringe. It’s gone.” She cried a sudden, startled, animal sound. Mulder jumped in his seat and grabbed her hand to cradle it in his grasp.

“Have you been stuck with the syringe?” the doctor asked.

She clutched her lower abdomen over her right ovary. “I think so. It hurts. It burns.” She seemed to be intent on isolating the sensation.

“Can you see anything else?” he pressed on, ignoring Mulder’s pleading eyes.

She opened her eyes again and looked over at Mulder, but he could tell she did not see him. “There’s a white circle.”

“Is it close to you? A light perhaps?” suggested the doctor.

“It’s close, it’s getting closer.” In triumph, she said, “It’s a face…It’s Kenneth Bond.”

Mulder gripped her hand tighter to reassure her.

She went on. “He’s leaning in…He’s speaking…”

“Can you make out the words?” The doctor was intense in his questioning now, carried away by the experience.

She stopped herself just as she started to give a negative shake of her head. “He says…he says…‘I won’t let them hurt you.’” She looked puzzled.

“Are you still in pain?” Werber returned to his original track.

Mulder became concerned. Scully didn’t speak, and sank back into the sofa, her head falling back into the cushion.

“Dr. Scully?” The doctor’s tone showed his concern.

Scully’s breathing suddenly became rapid and her body rigid. Mulder swung on the doctor. “Bring her out, something’s wrong!”

“Yes, of course,” the doctor said as he reached out to grasp Scully’s free hand. “Dana, Dana, listen to me.”

Scully suddenly took a great gasp of air, as though she was drowning, and went limp. Dr. Werber lunged out of his chair to check her pulse.

Mulder had felt her cold hand go still and he swore he could feel the blood stop in her veins. He helped the doctor hurriedly lower Scully to the floor. Even as he saw the doctor place his ear to her chest, he knew she had stopped breathing.

He adjusted her neck for artificial respiration to begin, and the two men labored silently for the excruciating minutes it took to revive her. She gasped again, this time, back to life.

Dr. Werber hauled his now rumpled form up off the floor and frantically reached for the phone.

“No!” Mulder barked out, as he gathered Scully’s weak body against his. She was slowly moving, as though she was trying to swim in molasses, and her could see her eyes were trying to focus and comprehend.

He hissed out, “We don’t want EMTs. I’ll take her to a doctor to be checked out. She’ll be fine.”

Dr. Werber looked at him as though he’d lost his mind. “I can’t do that. I have a license!”

Mulder decided to play hardball, even as he gently caressed Scully’s head. “You won’t for long if I tell the ‘truth’ about this session. Let me write you a check and we’ll leave.”

The doctor plopped himself in his chair and turned it away from the couple. “I’ll send you a bill.”

Mulder carefully helped Scully to her feet, and was supporting her towards the door when the doctor’s tired voice called after him.

“I think you and Dana were given a ‘kill switch’ of sorts, to stop any attempt to retrieve your true memories of the events of what happened to you. I’m not sure how it was done, but from what you’ve told me of these individuals, I think it’s possible. I wouldn’t trust any of what you remembered as the absolute truth.”

Mulder merely nodded as the two of them slipped through the door.

He helped her into her seat in the car, slid behind the wheel, and then took a few moments to regain control of his breathing.

He thought she was still out of it until she spoke drowsily. “I was back there.”

“Where?” he asked.

“I was back in the tube. I couldn’t breathe. That thing had to breathe for me. And then I was free and you were there, again.”

He turned and grinned at her as he started the car. “Always.”

As he pulled the car out of the parking structure, he asked, “Do you think you should go the hospital?”

“I feel fine,” she replied as she propped her head up on the window of the car.

Dryly, he responded, “I didn’t ask that. Is it your opinion as a physician that you should seek medical attention?”

She gave him a soft smile. “Nah…I’ve suffered worse than dying for a few minutes.”

He gripped the wheel until his knuckles showed white. “I know. Do you feel up to a visit to our own personal crime lab?”

He’d piqued her curiosity, he could tell. She smiled. “You mean go to see the Lone Gun Men?”

He grinned, happy to have his partner back with him. “No—better. When I moved out, I didn’t see the point in trying to get out of my lease—I might need the apartment later.” He hurried on when he saw the shadow cross her face. “So I set up a center of sorts there, for Byers to be able to work in peace, away from the other two, on whatever scraps we manage to find.”

“Good idea.” She rewarded him with a pat on the shoulder and he felt ridiculously proud.

He took a long, slow route to his old apartment, keeping the interior of the car cooled against the oppressive heat and humidity outside. He didn’t pull up to his building until he was satisfied that her face had returned to its usual white peach tone.

Mulder knocked on his own door, and this struck Scully as odd. A moment passed and Mulder had his fist raised to rap again when the door was wrenched open.

John Byers stood there in a state Scully rarely saw him in: disheveled. He was down to his dress shirt, collar open, and it was wrinkled as though someone had wadded it up in a ball before he put it on. His belt buckle was only on the first hole. He looked surprised to see them, not a happy surprise.

“Mulder…Agent Scully…what are you doing here?” he squeaked out.

Mulder raised a brow to this question. “We have some new information. Thought we’d deliver it.”

Byers said with obviously false enthusiasm, “Oh, good—well…come in.” He moved aside and swept his arm out as an invitation to enter.

As soon as Scully moved into the room, she saw the source of his discomfort.

Anita was curled up on the black sofa like a half-grown kitten, loose-limbed and sleek. Her downcast eyes shifted up to meet Scully’s. Scully gave her one quick shake of her head to show her disapproval. All she got in return was a wrinkle of Anita’s little freckled nose, capped with guilt-free dark sloe eyes.

Byers was bumbling behind them. “Uh, and Anita—that is, Dr. Mui is here. Helping me. She’s been very helpful.”

Mulder beat Scully to it, saying, with a leer she would have left out, “I bet she is.”

Anita rose from the couch, smoothing her own disheveled, rumpled clothing, and casually said, “Yes, I took the afternoon off to come over and go over some details with John.” She steered the conversation away from the awkward scene they’d stumbled on. “What’s the latest?”

They all found somewhere to sit in the small room, which had been transformed. The walls were now covered by push-pin boards, with neat rows of printouts tacked to them. Two computers were set up on the desk, and other computer equipment lurked in the shadows. The blinds were firmly drawn.

Mulder and Scully explained what little they could remember of their hypnosis, ending with Dr. Werber’s warning. Scully said, “I don’t understand. Perhaps they were extracting a sample of his sperm somehow…But why would they need to do that?”

Byers crossed his legs. “It could be they just needed to test it to make sure it was viable.”

Scully didn’t look satisfied. Slowly, she said, “True. Or something else…”

Anita gave her a glass of heavily sweetened tea she had prepared. “Drink this. I don’t like your color,” she said briskly as she sank back down on the couch next to Byers. He shifted slightly away and this earned him a raised brow. “If you’re suggesting that they took sperm samples from Mulder to create embryos with, then why go through all this with the two of you?”

Scully shook her head in frustration. “Too many pieces are still a mystery.”

Mulder asked the doctor, “What about the injection they gave Scully?”

“I’ve been going over some journals and reports since our initial conversations. I’m not an expert on infertility, that’s not my specialty. John suggested that the work being done with tissue regeneration may be the key.” Anita gave Byers a warm glance and he wiggled like a fish on a hook. “Theoretically, in the future, it may be possible to repair damaged tissues with injections of fetal tissue. He said that the people you suspect are responsible for this situation have advanced medical knowledge, true?”

Mulder and Scully nodded in unison. “Well, perhaps it’s a case of what the evil bastards took away, the evil bastards gave back,” she finished.

Scully grumbled, “I want to find them so we can thank them properly.”

Byers spoke. “Anita…Dr. Mui…has another thought.”

Anita gave him another smile. “Yes, John, thank you for reminding me. The reason the two of you weren’t merely robbed of your genetic material and dumped by the side of the road could be very simple. Artificial fertilization is still only about 20% successful. It could they were going with the method that is still the most successful—the ever-faithful woman’s uterus.” She shrugged.

Scully found no reassurance. “Where did the egg come from? I still don’t trust it.”

Byers soothed her with his words. “Through cloning technology, it’s possible to take another woman’s eggs and ‘wash’ the DNA out to be replaced with yours. I’m sure that’s what they did. I’m sure this is your child.”

Mulder looked grateful, but Scully still wasn’t convinced. “We’ll see when we get the DNA test back. And there’s the sonogram in eight weeks. Why? We still come back to, ‘why create a child from us?’”

Everyone looked concerned, but Anita dismissed her worries. “But there’s no sense imagining the worst until we get those answers. You’ve got to take care of yourself, get rest, drink lots of water, eat more…”

Scully tuned her out. She didn’t understand. None of them knew what this felt like, the constant fluttering of…something, a beating in time with her anxious heart.


They arrived at her apartment, suddenly exhausted. She could tell the day had been very draining to Mulder, although he wouldn’t say anything to complain. He lay himself out on her couch, curled up like a napping little boy and instantly fell asleep.

She roamed the apartment, rearranging the knickknacks, doing a little light dusting, alphabetizing her CDs. The light faded from the room, but she didn’t turn on a lamp.

She thought about making some dinner, and rejected the idea. Her stomach was in such a tight knot, there was no room for food.

Finally, she managed to push herself into a small area on the cushions that Mulder’s frame wasn’t covering, and snuggled in like a nut into its shell. She wasn’t comfortable and she didn’t care.

Hours passed and she didn’t sleep. She found comfort in the steady deep breaths from Mulder, warming the back of her neck. She counted each one, committing it to memory like the notes of a symphony. Just as dawn began to light the room, she slept.

Chapter 10: Doors


September 14th 5:45 P.M.

For the third time that week, Scully got up on a ladder and dusted the upper shelves of her bookcases. She didn’t have to worry about Mulder chastising her. He was away on assignment again. Scully had moved past bored to lonely. Technically, she was living with Mulder. But he was as busy as he always was, so consequently, she never saw him.

She missed him. She hadn’t realized what a habit his company was for her. She was beginning to wonder if they had been in a romantic relationship already and simply hadn’t realized it.

Her days were puttering by in a monotonous pattern. Up in the morning, to work by nine, autopsies all morning, classes in the mid-afternoon, perhaps some consultations before she left for the day.

Then, home by five to stare at her walls until it was time to go to bed. She found herself listening to old Aretha Franklin CDs a lot. She seemed to find some solace in the intimate, blues-dripping words of the Queen of Soul. It was another such evening. Her tea cooled in the mug balanced on her knee, as her grandmother’s clock ticked off the wasted minutes.

She couldn’t take it anymore. She decided it was time to visit the new neighbors. Pay a call as the welcome wagon, so to speak.

Right after Mulder had moved in, the Finches, who had lived the building nearly as long as she had, had begun to complain about cockroaches. Their apartment seemed to be the only one infested, and no amount of exterminator’s gas could get rid of the insects.

So the Finches had left, and a Richard Starkey had immediately rented the apartment.

At least that’s what the card on his mailbox said. Scully had yet to see him. It was time to change that. She hauled herself out of the couch, ran a quick hand through her limp hair, and strode purposefully out her door.

There was no answer to her sharp rap on the door across the hall. She waited patiently a moment and then pounded loudly. Nothing.

She put her mouth up to the crack of the door and bellowed, “Ringo Langly, open this door! I know you’re in there!”

There was another moment, and then the door opened a crack to reveal the sheepish gnome-like features of Frohike. Apparently, Langly had decided to send their ringleader into the mouth of the lion first. “Something I can help you with, Agent Scully?”

“Yeah, I’m bored. You and Langly need to come over and keep me company.” Without waiting to see if they would agree, she turned and stalked back to her open doorway.

The two men followed her and stood in the middle of her living room, shifting nervously from foot to foot.

Langly asked, “How did you know it was us?”

She answered with an exasperated explanation. “I, like every other girl in America, went through my Beatles phase. I know who the hell Richard Starkey is.”

Langly blustered, “Mulder’s gonna be pissed.” He shot Frohike an accusatory look. Frohike shrugged his shoulders in reply.

“No, he’s going to be too busy groveling to come after you,” Scully said as she began rooting around in a drawer.

Frohike tried turning on the charm. “He just wanted to make sure you were looked after. I mean…”

Scully popped back up and pushed the hair off her face. “You mean—in my condition?”

Frohike and Langly looked uncomfortable.

She excused them. “It isn’t on a need-to-know basis or anything. I think you guys have earned our trust more than once.” She carried the board game she’d found in the bottom of the drawer over to the kitchen table. “Now perform your assigned duties and come in here.”

The two men trailed into the dining area, curious.

Langly looked horrified. “Scrabble? On a board? Don’t you have the computer version?”

Scully went into the kitchen to fetch some drinks for the men. “I prefer the tactile experience of feeling the tiles. Live with it.”

She returned to find the two men seated at the table, seemingly resigned to their fate.

She incorporated their presence into her new life pattern. The gentle purr of the VW bus followed her to and from work. Frohike brought home-cooked hot lunches to her office every afternoon, and she managed to appear grateful. She was almost able to ignore the constant presence of the variety of their odd, nerdy little friends who followed her around when she went out shopping.

Langly dusted the top shelves for her now. And every evening the three of them gathered around the kitchen table for more board games to keep her occupied until her eyes burned and she could fall into bed, exhausted.

The only time they weren’t by her side was when Mulder returned from his assignments. But as much as she missed him, she didn’t quite know what to do with him when he was there. He reminded her of a very large, very clumsy, but painfully well-trained, St. Bernard.

He sat at attention, but with his eyes bashfully downcast at all times as though he was waiting for her commands. And he had a tendency to bump into her furniture.

She’d never realized how small her apartment and possessions were until a much larger person was moving through them, sitting in a chair with his knees under his chin, or bending over to look in a mirror.

When he was in town, he would take over Frohike’s job as chief cook and bottle washer, a role that shocked her, ‘Kiss the Chef’ apron notwithstanding. He wasn’t a particularly good cook, but he made up for it with his enthusiasm. Her crockery suffered, but she was past the point of caring. She spent her time trying to distract him from noticing how little she really did eat.

It always seemed as though he didn’t want to impose. He kept a good twelve inches of space between their bodies when they were in bed. She took to wearing his shirts to bed, and wrapped in the warmth and smell of his body, so that she felt as though he was holding her instead of gripping the edge of his side of the bed to keep himself from rolling to her.

He was using up his entire backlog of six years worth of apologies. It got so that if she heard the words ‘I’m sorry’ come out of his mouth one more time, she was going to slap him.

“I’m sorry.” The words wafted over her shoulder as she sat hunched over her bowl of bland cereal. She managed to control herself, telling herself she was merely suffering from a hormonal reaction.

“About what?” she asked.

“Going out of town again,” he mumbled through the piece of toast he’d shoved into his mouth. She noticed he’d cut himself shaving and had a corner of toilet paper stuck to his chin. The romance was dead, and it hadn’t even begun.

“It’s your job.” She choked slightly on the word ‘your’. She had an almost uncontrollable urge to stow away in his suitcase. The pain of missing their work was unbearable.

“My job is to take care of you,” he dared to say. She raised her eyes, shooting flames at his gentle face.

The hurt in his eyes reproached her, and she dropped her face to her hands to calm herself. She had to accept the possibility that she would not be able to do this alone.

“There’d be nothing for you to do here, anyway, except to sit here staring at me, and Frohike and Langly have that covered.” She gave him a weak smile.

He fretted, “The sonogram’s Friday. I’ll be back by Thursday, at the latest.”

“Of course you will,” she soothed him. She pulled herself out of her chair, wondering why the less she did, the more tired she felt. Her greatest accomplishment now was making sure her socks matched before leaving for work.

He picked up his suitcase and with hunched shoulders, shuffled to the doorway. Instead of giving him his usual peck on the cheek, she pulled the toilet paper free from his wound, and went up on her tiptoes to lick the dried blood from his skin.

Now it was his eyes turn to flame, only this fire was passionate. She shifted her gaze away and chose to ignore the large hand that lingered on her hip before slipping down to grasp the handle of his suitcase again.


St. Joseph, Missouri September 17th, 9 A.M.

Tiff watched Mulder pace the airport waiting area. He had reached a fever pitch of anger, venting it on any airline personnel who unwittingly crossed his path and any airline representative he could reach on the phone. He had foolishly tried to get snippy with her and she had knocked him back on his ass. Now he kept to himself and avoided her questioning gaze.

All she knew was this had started yesterday, when the case had dragged on into the evening. Their suspect’s confession had fallen apart. Mulder had begun having whispered conversations on his cell-phone, each one becoming more agitated.

He had worked through the night, pulling together the scraps of evidence with superhuman determination to find the actual perpetrator. The morning had seen a new suspect booked but also the descent of a pouring rainstorm. All flights were canceled until further notice.

She watched him pull the cell phone from his trench coat pocket again and speed dial a number. Her curiosity overruled her decency and manners. She got up painfully from the hard plastic chair and sidled up behind him to eavesdrop on the conversation.

“Scully—It’s me.” His voice was low and full of pain.

Scully leaned back in her chair, listening to the latest report from Mulder. She tried to reassure him. “I don’t want you taking risks to get here. It’s more important that you stay in one piece. I can’t lose you now.” She had to stop because the sudden lump in her throat had made it difficult to speak. “I’ll call you as soon as I have the results. The minute.”

There were no words from his end. “Mulder?”

“Yeah—I’m here.” He sounded so defeated. “What are you going to do if the fetus is—what are you going to do?”

She choked out, “I’ll have an abortion.”

“I don’t want you to be alone with this. Promise me you’ll call your mother. Don’t go alone. Promise me.” His voice sounded thin and distant on the crackling line.

She managed to swallow the lump. “I promise.” Drowning in a wave of swirling emotions, she felt suddenly uninhibited. “I love you.” She barely gave him time to respond in kind before she cut the line off.

She knew she couldn’t call her mother.

Two weeks ago she had opened her door, expecting one of the Gunmen with her dinner, only to find her mother, with a set, angry face. She had been avoiding her mother for weeks and now, with a sense of dread, she knew the game was up as her mother’s eyes swept over her. She hadn’t thought she was showing yet, despite the tightening waistline on her pants, but there were things she was sure a mother would know.

When she had watched the fear and then the blankness of a sense of betrayal sweep across Maggie Scully’s face, she knew she was right. She had heard herself babbling, “Mom—I couldn’t—I didn’t want to put you in danger…”

Maggie Scully had gripped the doorjamb to keep herself upright. “Come inside, Mom. Sit down.” Scully had led her shocked mother into the apartment. She’d fussed over the silent woman, wanting and dreading her words at the same time.

She’d started speaking, slowly and carefully. Scully cringed. She knew that tone from many a childhood dressing down. “What’s happened?”

“I was abducted again. This time, They fixed the damage to my ovaries somehow. We’re not sure what happened—we won’t know until some more tests are done.” She had so much she didn’t want to share with her mother that she didn’t know what to tell her.

Maggie had seen right through her. With tight lips, she’d said, “Is this baby your own?”

Scully had to be honest. “I don’t know. We won’t know that until a DNA test can be performed on the fetus. Until then, I wait.”

Maggie had looked around the apartment. “Where’s Fox?”

Scully had to give her mother credit. She was good. “He’s out of town, working.”

“Is that safe? What do these people hope to gain by doing this to you?” Maggie had pressed.

“I’ve got guards.” She’d decided not to tell her mother they were the Gunmen. “We have no idea what They’re up to this time. I guess we’ll find out eventually.”

“What can I do to help?” her mother had asked.

Scully had been overcome by frustration. “There isn’t anything any of us can do but wait.”

“And you’re not good at that, are you?” Her mother had looked at her sharply. “Or asking for help and support? You want to know what frightens me even more than what may be happening to you?” She didn’t wait for Scully to respond. “It’s that you think you can keep something like this under control all on your own. How many more times will you do something like this to our relationship before our life together is over?”

Scully had realized she deserved a reprimand, but it didn’t make it hurt any less.

When her mother had left promising support, Scully could see she was still holding back her anger at Scully’s betrayal of her trust. She had known her mother would come to peace with this eventually, but she didn’t want to see the woman hurt any more.

She realized she couldn’t ask her mother to come with her for the sonogram. She couldn’t expose her to what might be a horrible sight. She put on her trench coat and picked up her purse. It was time to go.

As she pulled her door shut behind her, the door across the hall opened. Frohike peeked out. “Mulder didn’t get back?”

She knew that he knew Mulder wasn’t back. She played along anyway. “No, he’s trapped out of town by a storm. I’m going alone.”

“Not taking your mother?” Frohike asked.

She pulled her purse up onto her shoulder and avoided his searching gaze. “No, I don’t want to expose her to something…bad.” She shook her head to clear the images that leapt forward from the catalogue of six years of horrors.

Frohike suggested, “I could go with you. I could stay in the waiting room, or…I wouldn’t mind coming in with you—as a substitute for Mulder. I did a tour in Vietnam. I’m used to bad things.”

Scully met his eyes and saw warmth and strength there. All she could find to say was, “Thank you. I’d appreciate that.”

If Scully’s attendant surprised Anita, she didn’t show it. Frohike was cold towards the doctor, however, and Scully shot him a questioning look as she crawled up on the table to wait for the sonogram to begin.

Frohike pulled a chair up beside her and settled his squat form on it. With a surprising gentleness, he lifted one of her hands from where it was clawing at the paper cover on the table and nestled it between his two hands.

She noticed he was wearing his half-finger gloves, a black wool pair. Good. Her cold hand wouldn’t chill him.

She wondered about his attitude concerning Dr. Mui and then realized she hadn’t ever seen Byers at the apartment across the hall. She decided to probe. It would take her mind off of the coming procedure.

“Byers has been so much help in our work on this case,” she said.

Frohike grunted down deep in his barrel chest. She continued, feeling slightly ridiculous, like she was gossiping in the girl’s bathroom at school. “He seems to have moved in over at Mulder’s apartment.”

Frohike couldn’t hold back. “That’s for sure. He’s behind on his columns for the newsletter—”

Scully interrupted. “I hope we haven’t distracted him from his work.”

He reassured her, giving her hand a squeeze. “It’s not you guys— that work is important—it’s—”

Anita reentered the exam room, and Frohike stopped, but his burning glance over at the doctor finished his sentence. Scully felt a giggle rising in her chest and nearly choked on the sensation. It would be obscene to laugh right now.

Anita took her other hand and began to quietly reassure her, seeming to be able to ignore the dark, accusing eyes under thick brows glaring at her over Scully’s gown-draped form. “This will only take a few minutes to get ready.”

Scully nodded, and then tuned out everything else she said. No words could reassure her, only the image of a healthy human fetus would do that. She had to ask the question. “If it’s bad—you could do an abortion today?”

“Of course, Dana. But let’s not jump ahead of ourselves. You have a tendency to do that,” Anita scolded her as she pushed Scully’s gown up and smeared jelly on her abdomen.

Scully chose to ignore the comment and turned her head to stare intently at the screen. The image flickered and dark shadows appeared. A form became recognizable. Frohike burst out, “It’s a baby!”

Anita confirmed his statement. “So it would seem.” She patted Scully’s shoulder and kept moving the wand.

Scully realized she couldn’t allow herself to feel relief. This was only the first step. She noticed her hand in Frohike’s grip was aching and glanced over at him. His eyes were misted over as he stared at the floating fetus. “It’s a baby,” he said again, this time in a whisper.

She felt twice as bad. It wouldn’t be just their dreams shattered if this didn’t turn out to be their child. Everyone seemed to be investing a part of themselves in this creation.


9:15 P.M.

Mulder thought he would never be as happy to see anything as he was to see Scully’s door. Although she had called him with the good news, it did nothing to alleviate his overwhelming need to be with her right now.

When he let himself into the apartment, all the lights were off except for a floor lamp, glowing dimly by the couch. As he crept forward, he could see Scully curled up under an afghan, asleep.

As he approached her, he must have startled her. Suddenly, she reared up, tossed her head back to clear the hair from her eyes and leveled her pistol at him. Quickly he dropped his bag and raised his hands, but she had already lowered the gun. She shook her head as though clearing a nightmare away as she carefully placed the weapon on the table beside her.

“I’m sorry,” he said, which earned him a hard look. He was trying to ignore her moodiness. The pregnancy books he kept hidden in his desk at work said this was normal, but frankly it was becoming annoying.

She struggled out from under the throw. “Have you eaten? Let me get you something.”

He settled a hand on her shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. Do you have the video?”

“It’s in the VCR already,” she said as she pulled herself into a corner of the sofa, rearranging the throw over her legs.

Loosening his tie with one hand, he pulled the TV cart closer to the couch. He turned on the set and started the tape with a shaking hand. This was it. He would be able to see for himself, reassure himself right now. He sank to the floor in front of the TV, propping himself up on the couch.

The film flickered and then a shape began to appear out in the grainy darkness. He couldn’t make anything of it. He rubbed his eyes in frustration.

He was startled by the light touch of Scully’s hand on his shoulder as she pushed herself off the couch to join him on the floor. Her slender white finger began to trace the shape on the screen, her calm voice creating a reality out of his confusion.

“Here’s the head—and an arm. See, the arm is bent…” He nodded, overwhelmed. “The legs—now the fetus is shifting around, the buttocks—”

He stopped her, stabbing at the screen with a shaking finger. “What’s that thing?”

Dryly, she answered, “The genitalia—a penis.”

Numbly, he responded. “Oh…does that mean it’s a boy?”

She sucked her lips into her mouth to control her mirth in the face of his obvious befuddlement. “That’s generally what a penis indicates. However, we’ll have to wait for the DNA test to give us final conformation.” Her face darkened at the reminder. “The DNA test will tell us everything we want to know.”

He tried to divert her. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t here today. I would have loved to see this with you.”

She pulled herself up off the floor. “It went all right. Of course, Anita was there, and Frohike came along.”

He couldn’t control his jealousy. “Frohike?”

She ruffled his hair as she plopped back down on the sofa. “Yes. He was a great comfort.”

Mulder stabbed the stop button on the VCR. The joy of the vision of his son was lost. “I’m going to quit the X-files, the FBI if I have to. I need to stay close to you. Today proved that. I can’t expect a couple of computer nerds to look after you.”

She exploded. “What? Dammit, Mulder! The Gunmen are doing fine, I feel perfectly safe, and in case you’ve forgotten, I’m a trained Federal Agent, perfectly capable of looking after myself!”

He ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. “I know, I know—”

“I wonder if you do. I’ve had to give up my career, work I really, really love—” she spit at him.

She continued, “If this is our child, I’ll have to abandon that career anyway, and that wasn’t my choice. But you don’t care— you seem to be fitting me for a little white apron and string of pearls. That’s not what I want. I don’t want this to be happening,” she muttered, pulling the afghan up under her chin.

He twisted around to look at her with astonishment. “You can manage to kill the happiness in every gain we’ve achieved during this experience, can’t you? What’s it going to take? What if this is our son, but he’s born less than perfect anyway? What will you do then?”

Her eyes were huge and dark on her white face. “What are you trying to say?”

He couldn’t stop himself. “Your love always seems to have conditions attached. I can live with that, but how can a baby?”

Her head rolled back on the sofa cushions. Her voice was distant. “I can’t take this anymore—”

He hauled himself up off the floor with a jerk as his knees screamed in protest. Damned body, falling apart—he stormed back to the door; now it was mocking him.

He was through the door and had slammed it behind him before Scully had a chance to stop him. Now what? He looked at the door across the hall with resignation and raised a hand to knock on it. It swung open before he could strike it.

Langly looked out at him, shaking his head. “We could hear you guys in here. Man, I’m surprised someone didn’t call the cops on the two of you.”

Mulder brushed past him. “Thank you for the support, bud. How much beer do you guys have?”

Frohike came out of the kitchen carrying three bottles of beer. “Damn boy, you’re a bastard.” His tone was affectionate, however, and he slapped Mulder on the back after he handed him his drink.

Mulder trailed after then into the dark and cluttered living room. He looked around with approval. This was more like it. No Navajo white walls, or crisp linens. He noticed a monitor showing her blank and accusing front door. He threw himself down on the sofa and turned his eyes away from the image.

All three men jumped when Byers opened the front door. His brow wrinkled with confusion as he joined them in the living room. “What’s wrong with you guys? What are you doing here, Mulder?”

Frohike was snide. “A more important question might be, what are you doing here? Don’t you have some research to conduct?”

Byers said stiffly, “I came over to deliver my column for the newsletter and I wanted to apologize for its lateness. I’ve been distracted lately.”

Langly handed Byers his half-drunk beer and headed towards the kitchen. “So she threw you out on your ass?”

After glancing at the warm bottle with resignation, Byers settled on the edge of a chair. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Mulder nodded in agreement.


When the phone rang, Scully realized she had been sitting on the sofa the whole time Mulder had been gone, staring unseeing at the snowy TV screen. She snatched the receiver up, expecting Mulder but being surprised to hear Anita’s voice instead. This irritated her, though she couldn’t say why.

“How’s it going?” Anita asked.

What could she say? “Fine.”

“I was really pleased with the sonogram today. I have a really good feeling about this,” Anita’s voice held all the cheerfulness she possessed.

“Yeah,” Scully said listlessly.

Anita rambled on with more pleasantries for a while longer, and then arrived at the point that Scully suspected was the original intention of the call.

“You’ve known John awhile now, right?” Anita asked.

Scully felt dread fill her. “Yeah—”

“You think you know him well?” she went on. Scully hedged. “Well, I’ve known him a few years, but it isn’t like we hang out or anything…” She suddenly wondered how close to anyone she was anymore. How much more depressing would this evening get?

Anita hit her with a bombshell. “Do you think John’s a virgin?”

“What!?” Scully gasped.

“You heard me.” Anita was brisk. “Well?”

Scully was firm with a sharp tone. “I really wouldn’t know. That’s none of my business. What I’m sure of is that I would hate to see him hurt by anyone.”

“What are you saying?” Scully heard her own tone echoed in the other woman’s voice, and she didn’t like the hurt she heard there.

“I’m saying, what does it matter if he is? He’s a wonderful person. That’s what counts,” she said.

“True,” Anita mused. “It’s just so…frightening—I mean, where do I begin?”

Scully found some humor in this ridiculous situation. “Look at the positive. If it’s true, you get to train him from the ground up— so to speak.”

Anita squealed and Scully was suddenly glad to have the distraction of this conversation. “True! Oh, Dana, I’m glad I called you, I was beside myself.”

Scully was overcome with exhaustion. “Anita, if you don’t mind, I really need to get to bed.”

The doctor came out. “Of course, and are you drinking enough water?”

Scully managed to eventually get Anita off the phone and wandered into her bedroom. Once she was in bed however, she found herself unable to sleep, her ears trained for the sound of Mulder’s return.

She was almost asleep when his bulky shape was outlined in her bedroom door. She smelled the beer on him.

She was overwhelmed with the memory of those few dark years when she was a young girl, doing chores around the house and gagging at the odor of stale beer on her parents’ sheets. She would always connect that smell with the sound of her mother’s soft sobs on late nights spent waiting, wanting her father to return and dreading it at the same time. She heard her voice, sharp and shrill. “Take a shower. I don’t want you in my bed smelling like that.”

The dark shape, bent in the act of undressing, wavered on one leg, and then moved to the bathroom without a word.

Grateful, she closed her eyes again. In thirty more days, when they were able to have a DNA test on the fetus, all this uncertainty would be cleared away, one way or another.

Chapter 11: Ignition


The Factory October 18th, 7:45 A.M.

Krycek found Kenneth waiting for him in the shadows between the glowing green cylinders outside the offices. He stopped for a moment to examine the young man unnoticed.

The ghostly glowing light emanating from the tanks danced across his face, and Krycek was reminded of the first time that he’d seen him floating nude in the ooze. Krycek had crouched down to stare at his perfect features, willing his eyes to open, like Sleeping Beauty. An empty smile crossed his face at the thought.

“Do you and Kirk have everything in the van?” he asked.

The blond head turned and bobbed obediently.

“Good,” he said with malice glee. “It’s time to pick up the merchandise. What about the hospital? Everything ready there?”

This time Kenneth spoke. Tipping his head towards the closed office door, he said, “What about the gentleman?”

Krycek looked at him coolly. “He’s left me in charge of this project.”

The young man paused before he spoke again, and then seemed to choose his words carefully. “As you say, sir.”

“Yes I do,” Krycek said cheerfully as he grabbed Kenneth’s arm and pulled him down the corridor of tubes. “Let’s get going. Today is going to be a busy day.”


Fairfax Hospital 9:15 A.M.

Mulder paced nervously in Anita’s office, talking to Byers on his cell-phone.

“When are you going to get here?”

“Actually, I think I can be of more use working on the current data. I’ve started to develop a theory—”

Mulder cut in sharply. “What?”

“I don’t want to get your hopes up at this point, not without more proof,” Byers answered primly.

Mulder sighed with exasperation. “Byers—” he warned.

Byers remained firm. “The theory is in a very preliminary stage, I need to examine all the data. And it relates to the situation only if things go well with the DNA collection today. It won’t make any difference if things don’t fall in place on your end. As it is, I have to go over to the Starkey apartment right now. I seem to have left an important piece of data there.”

“So I can reach you there?”

“Yes. And I want to wish you and Agent Scully luck today,” Byers said.

“You too,” Mulder replied. He hung up just as Scully and Anita entered the office.


Listening to his tap on Mulder’s cell phone in his van on the street in front of the hospital, Krycek cursed quietly as the call between Byers and Mulder ended. Kenneth and Kirk sat impassively, waiting for his commands.

“Kirk, keep listening to the trace on this line of Mulder’s. I don’t want little Mr. Science to tell him anything that may ruin our plans,” he hissed.

“Yes, sir,” Kirk replied as he adjusted the settings on the scanners.

He glanced over at Kenneth’s blank face. “Are you ready to rumble?”

“Sir?” The single word in an insolent tone came out of the pouting mouth.

He wondered if the young man was baiting him. He moved in very close to the chiseled features. “Are you with me on this, Kenneth?” he hissed.

He saw Kenneth’s eyes shift from his to meet Kirk’s uplifted gaze. “Of course, sir,” he answered smoothly.

Krycek leaned back, suddenly hating the slightly antiseptic odor that seemed to cling to the skin of the clones. Sharply, he barked, “Let’s go then.”


Mulder concentrated very hard to understand the words coming out of Anita’s mouth. He was sure it was solely for his benefit. He knew Scully would have read everything on the procedure. He hadn’t been able to make himself do so, and now he regretted it.

Anita was wasting time with this when she could be starting. He forced himself to hold Scully’s hand with a light grip and concentrate.

“I’ll be doing a PUBS—that means I’ll insert a needle into the umbilical cord and extract a blood sample. There is a risk to the fetus, as with any invasive procedure…” Anita shifted her eyes from Mulder to Scully.

Scully nodded slightly, so Anita continued. “The procedure is simple, if I can get the needle into the cord. This may take a few tries. We’ll take our time and remain calm. I understand this is very important—”

Scully interrupted. “Can we start?” Mulder realized a crack was showing in her calm manner.

Anita nodded. “Of course.” The three of them stood up together and moved a shuffling single file line towards the door to the examination room.

The procedure went smoothly, with all the predictability of a training exercise. Mulder knew what his role was. He sat quietly by Scully’s side, letting the creases of her palm now become familiar patterns under his fingers. He found himself tracing her lifeline lightly with a fingertip, as though he could draw the length out by his own sheer will.

With Scully lying on her back, he was able to see the slight swelling to her belly and he had to force himself to watch as the needle was inserted into it. She watched too. The blood seemed so dark as it filled the vials.

Anita spoke the first words heard since they entered the room. “I’ll hurry.”

Scully chuckled, an odd sound, as though she had a mouthful of dry crackers. “Do.”

Scully dressed slowly, seemingly trying to draw the activity out to fill the silence. Mulder waited for her to speak because he couldn’t think of a single thing to say. Apparently, neither could she, so she pulled a chair up to join him, and they linked hands again.

Anita popped her head into the room, calling them back into her office. They rose in unison from their chairs, and he found his hand resting in the small of her back, leading her ahead of him. He was surprised how quickly the time had passed, considering they had done nothing but stare at the odd medical diagrams on the wall.

They gathered around the lab results. Mulder’s brow furrowed at the smudges on the DNA bands. Anita’s voice sounded faint above the rushing of his blood in his head.

She began, “I don’t recognize these patterns…”

Scully’s low tone was like the thumping of a drum. “I do. I’ll need the abortion.”

Mulder gripped the edge of the desk and leaned on it to keep himself from falling. He blinked his eyes rapidly to clear his vision and look at the report again. “Maybe…”

Anita broke the news to him. “There are signs of a massive number of anomalies. And there are these other patterns which I’ve never seen in human DNA…”

Scully interrupted. “Now. I want you to do it now.”

Mulder turned to look at her set face. He swallowed all the thousands of protests that were rising up from his gut, and the bile burned on the way back down his throat.

He met her eyes and held her gaze. “Anita, Scully wants to do this right now. Can it be done?”

Anita carefully suggested, “Perhaps you should wait a day or two. Having the procedure today will be very draining to Dana.”

Scully’s voice was gentle but with the subtle insistence of a Southern belle. “No, Anita, I would prefer to be done with this whole business—today.”

Anita relented. “Of course. Let me arrange things now, quickly.” She left the room to give them some privacy.

Mulder quickly pulled out his cell phone, taking the coward’s refuge in a familiar activity.

“Davis here.”

“Tiff, it’s Mulder. Come to Fairfax Hospital. I think that the suspects, Kenneth Bond and Alex Krycek may appear,” he said.

Her voice crackled, irritated. “Where are you going to be? What does this Krycek look like?”

“Pull his file, you’ll find a picture. I’ll be at the hospital, but I’ll have my phone off. I’m leaving this duty up to you.”

Exasperated, she asked, “And what do I do if I see them?”

Mulder spat out, “Shoot them on sight.” He disconnected before she could respond. He could feel the reproach in Scully’s gaze, but he couldn’t trust himself to look at her.


Starkey Apartment 11:00 A.M. Byers looked up from the paperwork he’d been scanning when Frohike entered the apartment. The little man sneered at him and said, “What’re you doing here?”

Byers took in a breath to maintain his patience. “I have work to do here. I think I may be getting close to resolving this mystery.”

Frohike was immediately interested. “What is it?”

Byers moved to the phone. “I’ll need to double-check my data when the latest test results come back today.”

Frohike’s eyes narrowed to slits as he observed the tidy man from under his bushy eyebrows. “You’re loving this, aren’t you?”

Byers rested his hand on the phone receiver. “What?”

“The chance to play the hero, even if you’re just wearing a three piece suit instead of a pair of tights and a cape,” Frohike suggested.

Byers picked up the receiver. “I don’t know what you mean.” He dialed Mulder’s cell number.

His brow creased. “The voice mail is on—I hope things are going all right…” He waited for a beep. “Agent Mulder, this is John Byers. Please call me right away. I’m very interested in seeing the DNA results.”


Back in his van, Krycek listened to Byers’ words on the scanner, chewing his lower lip. He ordered Kirk, “Erase that message, Damnit!”

The two young men seemed to wait with limitless patience while he thought furiously. “I can’t risk one of those trolls getting the information to Mulder and Scully. I’ll have to go take care of them myself. Kenneth?”

He turned and looked into the clear, pale eyes of Bond. “I’m trusting you to pick up the merchandise. Can I do that?”

“Of course, sir,” was his mechanical answer.

Krycek slid open the door of the van and paused for a moment uncertainly. Finally, he hopped out and got into a waiting car. He twisted his head to watch the young man now crouched in the doorway of the van as the car sped away.


The elevator doors opened. Anita, Scully, and Mulder emerged and began to slowly walk down the hall. The sign on the entrance of the ward read, ‘Labor and Delivery’.

Anita said, “I’m sorry. This is the ward where the procedure is normally performed. It’s usually considered better for the women to feel as though they’ve given birth to their child—we could try to procure another room elsewhere…”

“No, that’s all right.” Scully seemed calm.

Anita hurried them past the reception desk to enter a room. They were in the hallway long enough for Mulder to notice the brightly colored murals on the walls, of storks with pink and blue bundles in their beaks. He heard the faint cry of newborn babies and saw several heavily pregnant women pacing the halls.

It was all enough to cause a crushing weight to descend onto his chest, and he had to concentrate to keep himself from hyperventilating in an effort to breathe.

He had to remain in control for Scully, even though she seemed as calm as always. Scully undressed again. Anita waited patiently as Mulder helped her up on the bed.

“I’m going to giving you a painkiller. Then we’ll wait about twenty minutes for it to take effect and I’ll give you the Pitocin to begin contractions.”

Realizing that Mulder probably didn’t know what was going to happen again, Anita turned to him. “This is the same medication that we give to women who are past their due date. It will cause contractions to begin. As this is Dana’s first pregnancy it will take longer than it would take a woman who has already given birth.” She faltered. “I’m sorry…this may only take several hours, but it could take several days, just like a regular birth.”

Mulder was afraid to take Scully’s hand, for fear he would crush the fragile bones. His voice sounded shaky to his ears. “Will there be pain?”

Anita soothed him. “She won’t be in pain. I’ll make sure of that.”

Scully was abrupt. “Hey, I’m here.”

Both Anita and Mulder instantly reached to touch her and she shrunk back on the mattress, suddenly tiny. “I’m sorry, Scully, I just don’t want to see you in pain.” In the face of everything that had happened to her recently, he realized how ridiculous the statement sounded as soon as the words left his mouth.

Scully asked Anita in a businesslike tone, “You’ve set up the proper disposal techniques for the fetus per my suggestions?”

Anita stroked Scully’s arm gently. “Yes, honey, I’ve taken care of it. I don’t want you to worry about that.”

Fortunately, Anita’s pager went off so she didn’t see the burning look Scully gave her as she reached for the phone.

Anita turned back from checking her message, distressed. “I’m sorry. There’s an emergency. I don’t know…”

Scully cut her off. “Don’t worry. A nurse can begin administering the Pitocin. It doesn’t matter.”

Anita leaned in and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll be back as soon as I can. You know what?”

Mulder watched Scully force her eyes up to look at the doctor. “What?”

Anita choked the words out. “You’re the bravest person I’ve ever known.”

Scully didn’t seem to know what to say to that, and Mulder could only nod. Anita squeezed his shoulder as she turned to leave, and then they were alone.

Mulder pulled his chair up as close as he could to the bed.

Scully lay back on the pillows and gave out a long, shattering sigh. It was the first sign she’d shown him that suggested she wasn’t perfectly calm.

Her voice was as strong as ever when she spoke. “It isn’t as though we’re aborting our child. We’re simply disposing of mutated tissue.”

He had to agree. He had to support her. He nodded slowly, so the tears trapped at the edge of his eyelids wouldn’t be jarred loose.

She was right; it wasn’t their child that was dying today. Their child had never existed. But their dreams were dying and he was sure he was going to lose her as well.

Her voice continued, a swelling drone, like a swarm of bees coming to sting him. “Don’t worry about me. I’ve seen an abortion before.”

He cleared his throat and tried to match her flat tone. “Yes, I’ve seen films too.”

He noticed she had begun to tremble slightly. He took her hand again, and it was cold. He rubbed it lightly, hoping to restore the circulation.

“Not films. I was there. Melissa, my sister, had to have an abortion. I went with her.” The words came out in gasps as Scully stared at the ceiling.

Mulder was surprised. “When was this?”

Scully seemed to have to concentrate to come up with the answer. “Uh…she was twenty and so I was…I had just turned eighteen.”

He tried to keep the shock from his voice. “Oh—I mean, to be so young and go with her…”

Scully burst out, “My sister had to kill her baby! She couldn’t go alone. We couldn’t tell our parents—it would have killed them…”

He tried to calm her, reaching out to smooth the hair clinging to her sweaty brow. “That was good of you to go with her—”

Scully rambled, “I had to be the strong one…I always have to be the strong one…she needed me…”

He leaned in and laid his head on the pillow beside her. She still stared up at the ceiling. He whispered in her ear as though the room was full of people. “You don’t have to be strong today. I can be strong for you.” He cursed himself and his false bravado when his traitorous tears began to fall.

He watched, fascinated, as a single tear slipped out of the corner of her eye. He reached out to gently stroke it away, and all the others that followed.

“I wasn’t strong. I was a coward. Mom found out and she was furious with Missy. They were never close again because of it. But Missy never told her that I was there—she always wanted me to be the good girl…” She started to struggle up off the bed. Wildly, she said, “I gotta call Mom. I gotta tell Mom, now.”

“No, no—please, Dana!” This got her attention, and she finally looked at him. He pushed her back down on the bed. “Not today. Tomorrow. Later. Not now.”

She seemed to be absorbed into the mattress. Her flat voice started again. “That’s why I wanted Emily to be Missy’s child, more than I could ever make myself want her to be mine. I grew to accept the fact that she was my genetic child, my responsibility, but I wanted her to be Missy’s little girl so much. You know what I mean?”

“I understand,” Mulder managed to say. “You’re a very generous person.”

Scully choked on an empty laugh. “I don’t know about that. I don’t know if I could have ever cared enough, because of what she was.”

He curled his arm around her head and stroked her neck. Her skin had become papery in the dry air of the room. “You’re too tough on yourself.”

There was no reproach in her voice as she replied, “You said the same about me after the sonogram.”

He damned himself to hell and back a few times as she gasped on harsh breath after harsh breath through chapped, pale lips.

A throat being cleared drew their attention. A nurse stood in the doorway, and Mulder could see a cluster of cheerful men behind her in the hall, slapping a new father on the back in congratulations.

The nurse nodded to them, as though answering the question that hung in the air.


Tiff strode down the hallway in the bowels of the hospital, cursing first herself for being a fool, then Walter Skinner for being a bastard, and finally Fox Mulder for waking up that morning. She’d seen no sign of the suspects and doubted she would.

Her cell-phone rang, its sharp cry bouncing off the walls. “Yeah?” she bellowed into the phone, expecting Mulder.

It wasn’t him. A flat, emotionless voice said, “Agent Davis, proceed immediately to Labor and Delivery to find Dana Scully in Room 10. Stop her from having the abortion.” Tiff gasped at the word, but the voice didn’t stop. “Hurry!” It urged her. She started running, the phone still pressed to her ear. “Tell her the tests are wrong. And if you don’t get there in time—” For the first time, the voice faltered. “Tell her they’ll pay for what they’ve done—they’ll pay.” The line went dead.

Tiff allowed herself the one moment of complete confusion and then went into action. She grabbed a passing orderly, slamming him against the wall.

“What floor is Labor and Delivery on?” she barked.

“Three,” he garbled out. She dropped her grip on him and scanned the hall for the entrance to the stairwell.

Three floors, no problem. She dove through the door, her long legs loping up the stairs four at a time, and her arm grabbing the rail to pull her higher, faster. She didn’t allow herself to think of anything but keeping her balance.

Chapter 12: Believe


Starkey Residence October 18th, 12:15 P.M.

Frohike tried to peek over Byers’ shoulder as he shuffled the papers into a file. “Good news?”

Byers fussed, “I won’t know until I see the report from the test at the hospital. Why haven’t they called me back?”

Frohike shrugged. “I’m going out to get some lunch. You want anything?”

“I suppose. Chinese?” At Frohike’s nod, Byers said, “I’ll have Kung Pao chicken with extra peanuts.”

After the little man left, Byers decided to lie down in the bedroom until he returned. This might be the only peace he’d have the rest of the day.

He must have dozed off accidentally, but something woke him. It wasn’t a sound, but an unsettling feeling. Unsure, he crept through the doorway to the dim front room.

A man was standing at the desk, gathering up his reports. His leather coat caught the reflection from the desk lamp. He turned as though he had been expecting Byers.

Byers noticed a small object sitting on the desk beside the man’s stiffly held left arm. He recognized it as a US Army CE-17 incineration device. Only after absorbing this information did he raise his eyes to meet the man’s gaze.

The man smiled slightly. “You must be John Byers. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Alex Krycek.”

Byers let out a sigh. “I see.” Frohike had armed all of them, and had insisted that they practice daily. Byers didn’t have particularly good aim, and had fallen behind in his target practice.

He was sure the man could easily outshoot him, but Frohike had said the person who got off the first shot was usually the one who came out ahead. And he had the element of surprise.

He flipped his jacket back to yank the pistol free from the hip holster and did allow himself the moment of satisfaction at the look of shock that crossed Krycek’s face.

He heard him snap, “You little bitch!” and his heart dropped as he saw Krycek whip his own gun out smoothly. He started firing blindly.


Labor and Delivery Ward

Tiff burst through the swinging doors into the ward, scanning the hall for room 10. With her pistol in one hand and her identification in another, she pushed the babbling masses of personnel aside.

She slammed the door to the room open and all the figures in it froze. Scully lay in a hospital bed, Mulder holding her left hand. On her right side, a nurse was preparing to push down the plunger of a syringe whose needle was inserted into the IV tube connected to Scully’s hand.

Tiff pointed her gun at the nurse and roared, “Freeze!”

As she watched in horror, the nurse gasped and with what seemed to be an automatic action, pushed down the plunger on the syringe.

Scully wrenched the IV needle out of the back of her hand before the medication could be delivered into her system. Blood spurted out of her vein, but she just pressed the bed sheet down on the back of her hand and briskly began questioning Tiff. “What’s happening?”

Tiff had to lean against the wall to calm her racing heart. She gasped, “I got a call. A man said you were having an abortion, something about the tests being wrong.”

Mulder’s hand settled on his own pistol and his eyes shifted to the frightened looking nurse. “Who was it?”

Tiff shook her head. “I don’t know. Male, sounded white, sounded young.”

Anita burst into the room, startling everyone again, and gaining herself two guns trained on her head. “What the fuck is going on?!”

Scully was struggling out of the bed, but the painkiller had taken its full effect and she had to hold herself up on the rail to stand. “Someone is claiming the test was false. We have to test another sample. This may be a ruse.”

Anita looked around at the collection of drawn faces. “All right, let’s go get the blood sample I held aside for John. But I was there while the blood was tested…”

Grimly, Mulder said, “Tiff, go to the lab and check things out. I don’t want to leave Scully.”

“Of course,” Tiff said as she hurried from the room.

Scully began to pull her clothes on with all the coordination of a drunk. Mulder tried to help her, allowing himself a chuckle or two and the first prickling feeling of hope.

They proceeded to the lab and found Tiff there with several security guards. She greeted them with the news. “The lab tech, one Jake Murphy?” She looked to Anita for conformation and got a nod. “He was found dead, broken neck, in the supply closet down the hall. I don’t think they wanted to pay him.”

Mulder scanned the room. “Is it safe to use this lab?”

Anita rubbed her eyes with frustration. “I guess so. I was in the room, guys—he must have palmed a tainted sample. I can’t imagine they would mess with all the equipment for something like this.”

Scully had plopped down on a stool, woozy, but her eyes were bright with excitement. “Let’s do it. I want to see what they didn’t want us to know.”

Tiff left to deal with the dead body, but the remaining three gathered around the new results.

Anita announced the words the other two were too overwhelmed to voice. “Using your DNA samples for comparison, it appears that the fetus is a perfectly normal human male, the genetic child of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.”

Mulder felt as drugged as Scully. He moved behind her on her stool, and swooped down to envelop her with his long arms, nestling his nose into the crook of her neck. “Hey, Mommy—” he whispered in her ear.

She gave out a little gasp of a sob, and he was sorry he’d made her cry. They had both cried too much this day. He tipped her head up with a fingertip, and smiled down at her oddly inverted features. Sure enough, a single tear had escaped her glistening eyes. He carefully kissed it away.

Anita said, “I think the two of you have had a long day. Why don’t you go home, get some rest and try to absorb all of this tomorrow.”

Mulder cleared his voice and spoke. “Good idea. Let’s get out of here before the police want to question us. We gotta find out what Byers is up to as well.”

Anita just rolled her eyes, but kissed their cheeks as she pushed them out the door.


“We’ll have to get a house, with a yard, and a big tree for a swing—” Mulder was babbling as he steered the car carefully through traffic, but Scully remained silent.

Her body was still trying to overcome the effects of the narcotics and the shock of the events of the day. She felt loose and boneless. But for the first time in many weeks, she didn’t feel as though dark glasses was obscuring her vision.

“We’ll need a lawn mower. Do you have a lawn mower?” Mulder asked.

She raised an eyebrow, but then decided to humor him. “No, Mulder, I don’t have a lawn mower.”

He didn’t seem to hear the smile in her voice and continued seriously, “Okay, then we’ll have to get one. I don’t like the environmental damage caused by the use of a gas-powered motor. I guess I would have to decide if I have the energy for a push mower, or if I should go electric.”

As she pulled one of his hands loose from the steering wheel to grip it between her palms, Scully realized Mulder was behaving in a way that she would never have imagined: Like some long-legged heron, he was carefully constructing a nest for her and their egg.

She pressed a kiss to the back of his hand and innocently said, “I’m sure we can find something else to do with your excess energy on the weekends.”

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, and she saw his eyes shift in her direction, she realized her statement sounded provocative. Suddenly, she didn’t care. Perhaps she had meant it the way it sounded.

He kept his eyes firmly on the road, his free hand gripping the steering wheel tightly as he kept the car’s speed a prudent five miles an hour under the speed limit.

But the hand under her mouth trembled slightly and she could feel sweat form on the palm. She kept her lips pressed to his skin and swore she could feel the blood beat faster in the tiny veins close to its surface.

As she let her lips slide across the fine hairs on the broad, warm back of his hand, biting his knuckle lightly on her journey to his fingers, he trundled onward. “I’m not opposed to lawn gnomes, either. Or would you prefer pink flamingos? Anyway—that’s not important—”

She bit down on his finger, relishing the feeling of the firm, small muscles between her teeth. He was breathing quickly now. “Three bedrooms or four? I suppose we should go with four to be safe—”

“Uh-huh…” she breathed onto his skin, feeling as though she should participate somewhat in the conversation. The tip of her tongue flicked out to play with the end of his middle finger.

He gasped out, “And Berber carpet, I think it’s better than shag— “

The scream of sirens coming up behind their car interrupted their separate trains of thought, and Mulder carefully steered the vehicle to the curb to let the fire truck pass. As he pulled back into traffic, he continued, “We need everything don’t we? Dishes, furniture, a car, oh my god,” he finally allowed himself to look at Scully, his eyes panic-filled. She tried to look serious, but it was difficult with the end of his middle finger in her mouth. “We need a car, hell, we need two cars!”

She decided he needed to calm down. She drew his finger all the way into her mouth, sucking lightly, absorbing his salty taste. Her tongue pressed his digit up against the roof of her mouth, and he moaned, finally.

She grinned around his finger as she twisted her body to lean back against the door. She enjoyed watching his face as he tried valiantly to keep his attention on his driving while she ministered to his hot flesh.

She liked this. She liked forgetting about everything but the feeling and taste of his skin. She was floating free from her body for a few minutes, away from the problem held within it.

Mulder might think everything was now reduced to an endless list— beginning with finding financing for a mortgage and ending with deciding minivan versus SUV. She had a shorter but more urgent list. What was the purpose of this child? Why had They wanted him dead? When would They try again?

For now though, she only wanted to live in this car, have their whole world exist within the four doors and the blood swirling in their three bodies.

Mulder pulled the car over again, this time for an ambulance. He didn’t rejoin traffic, but leaned over, yanking his finger from her mouth with an audible pop. She widened her eyes in an attempt to look shocked, but had her mouth open and waiting for his lunging mouth.

They met over the armrest between the seats, straining against their seatbelts, and their mouths tore at each other until her lips felt raw. Scully pulled away first and now she was the one gasping. She whispered, “Let’s go home.”

Mulder couldn’t seem to answer verbally, but an odd gulping sound came out of his throat. Nodding like a loose-necked Chihuahua, he forced his eyes back onto the road, and turned the car back into the traffic.


They found out where the emergency vehicles had been rushing. Scully’s apartment building was in flames.

Mulder pulled the car up as close as he could, and they hurried towards the police barriers. Frohike was up on his toes, straining to see around the wall of bodies. A bag of take-out food dangled from one gloved hand.

“Frohike!” Scully reached him first, and grabbed his shoulder.

He turned to face her, and his face was dark with soot, rivulets created by tears running into his beard. He sobbed out, “John— they can’t find John.”

Scully pulled the grimy little man into her arms and looked at Mulder with fear-filled eyes over his shoulder.

Mulder joined them, wrapping his arms around both their bodies. He tipped his head back to stare up at the building engulfed by flames.

Today they had won a battle, but the war was just beginning.

Book II

Chapter 1: Embers


Washington Hospital Center October 18, 11:45 P.M.

“John Byers was found in a service stairwell, unconscious, with multiple gunshot wounds, including a serious injury to the head. He is also suffering from smoke inhalation and burns. He remains unconscious at this time, unable to make a statement. It appears he was assaulted in the apartment of a Richard Starkey, but somehow escaped as fire engulfed it.” Tiff paused to check the face of A.D. Skinner. His brows were rising above the frames of his glasses.

She plunged onward. “The neighbors report hearing multiple gunshots coming from the apartment right before an explosion that appears to be the source of the fire. A…” She checked her notes. “Arthur Foseman, in apartment 38, actually went to the door of the Starkey apartment when he initially heard gunfire. He says he hammered on the door and threatened to call the police.”

Skinner pushed his cheek out with his tongue in disbelief. Tiff nodded in agreement. “I know. Old fool is going to get killed with this attitude. He says he heard nothing and then a single shot, coming from somewhere close to the door. Frightened, the crazy fucker finally scampered back to his place and made the 911 call. At that point we’d already gotten four other calls and personnel were converging on the address. A man emptying his garbage at the back of the building reports seeing a man answering the general description of Alex Krycek coming through the back door. He seemed agitated.”

With a grim grin of satisfaction, she said, “This area of the building wasn’t heavily damaged and we were able to find blood stains. It looks as though Byers hit him.”

Skinner finally broke in. “John Byers was armed?”

She checked her notes again. “According to Melvin Frohike, the residents of the Starkey apartment were armed in the capacity of protecting Agent Scully.”

Skinner crossed his arms and as his biceps expanded, the fabric of his suit groaned in protest. “What’s going on, Tiff?” His words were deceptively casual.

She paused before answering. She was suddenly confused. She felt a flash of fear and she didn’t know why. Mulder had obviously decided not to tell Skinner about Dana Scully’s pregnancy or any more than sketchy details about Kenneth Bond.

Tiff had been spending her lonely evenings going through the backlog of reports that dealt with Fox Mulder and his career within the department, but had gained little insight into the situation.

The X-files themselves seemed oddly sparse. There were few case files dating from before 1998, yet she knew for a fact the division had been in existence since ‘91. At last she’d found the small notation reporting the destruction of their office and its contents in an arson fire.

One thing she had been able to surmise from the data she collected: Skinner often reprimanded Mulder and Scully. They had even been removed from duty on occasion. And for some reason they didn’t completely trust him now.

She needed reassurance, but when she tried to look into his eyes, the light struck his glasses in such a way that they were obscured. All she could see was the reflection of her own concerned face. Schooling her features to blankness, she heard her voice carefully saying, “I wouldn’t know, sir. I’m just reporting the findings from today’s investigation.”

He let out a slow breath and dipped his head. Now she saw his eyes were filled with pain and betrayal. “Please continue, Agent Davis.”

She hurried on. “I confiscated the weapons of this Frohike and one Ringo Langly. Frohike told me Byers was carrying a Colt .45 automatic, which seems to be what we found as a melted lump in what was the living room of the apartment. We were unable to determine if this is where Byers was shot because of the extensive damage, but neighbors’ reports would suggest he and this Krycek engaged in a gun battle within the apartment.”

Flipping the page of her notebook, she took a deep breath, and resolved not to look into Skinner’s eyes again. “Byers has three gunshot injuries, including one to the thigh, shattering the femur. This would have knocked him down. I’m going to suggest this Krycek went in for the kill shot, but the neighbor’s pounding surprised him and caused him to miss slightly. Byers has a deep temple graze. Lots of blood, but didn’t pierce the skull. And it doesn’t look as though Krycek took the time to check if he’d actually killed him. The arson squad found the remains of an incendiary device. I think he set that off and split.”

“Any ideas why Krycek decided to do this?” Skinner asked coolly.

“At this time, Mr. Frohike and Mr. Langly have refused to cooperate,” she said with a sigh, ” and I’ve been unable to interview Agents Mulder and Scully.”

“Where are they?”

She realized she had to get to them first and find out what was going on once and for all. “I wouldn’t know, sir.”

As he looked up and down the hall to make sure no one was watching, Skinner reached out and ran a fingertip down her forearm. “Find out. Okay?” His voice had a gentle stillness to it, and her blood ran cold again.

Watching his bulky form stride away down the hall, she waited until he got into the elevator. Only then did she start her search.


She spotted Mulder’s tousled hair and slumping shoulders hurrying

down the end of a hall off of the ICU unit. She didn’t want to shout out, so she followed as quickly as she could walk. She had almost caught up to him when he ducked into a doorway. Without checking the sign on the door, she pushed it open.

Mulder had stopped right on the other side of the door and was staring at a small form slumped in the pews. Tiff quickly checked the door. ‘Chapel’.

Scully had fallen asleep with her hands resting on the back of the pew in front of her, still clasped together in a loose prayer. Her head lay on the cradle of her upper arms and her face was turned towards them. Tiff could see that her brow was wrinkled with worry even in slumber.

Tiff said nothing to alert them to her presence. Mulder moved slowly towards Scully. He slid along the pew to sit next to her and lift her gently to his lap. He turned and swung his legs up onto the long seat. She grumbled and stirred slightly, but didn’t wake. Instead, she nestled down into his lap like a swallow into its tight nest. He rested his head on top of hers and his eyes met Tiff’s for the first time. His gaze was fierce and she dropped her eyes. Quietly, she stepped back out the door and left them.

“Mulder?” Scully murmured.

“Hmmm…?” he answered.

“John?” she asked, stirring to try to lift her head.

He lightly pressed it back under his chin and she relented. “He’s the same. I lost you.”

“No. I was here.”

He scolded gently. “I didn’t know where you went.”

Logically, she asked, “Then how did you find me?”

“I made a good guess.”

She sighed in exasperation, but didn’t move to free herself from his arms. “I was all right.”

“No.” He was firm. “We need to decide on a plan. Frohike and Langly have started the wheels in motion. As soon as we’re sure Byers is all right, we’ll disappear.”

That got her moving. She struggled free from his grip and twisted her body to look into his eyes. “What!?”

He was insistent. “Scully, we have to protect the baby. They made him for a reason, and I think they’ve proved they’ll do anything to get him at this point.”

She shook her head. “When Krycek attempted to kill John, they were trying to stop us from finding out why our baby was created. We’re very close to finding out the truth, I know we are.”

“So what? The important thing is to keep them from killing you or the baby.” He pulled her face around so she was forced to look into his eyes. “Scully?”

She was silent for so long he thought she was in agreement. Then she spoke. “Mulder, I won’t live like that. In the first place, that might not be the safest way. Cut off from friends and family, we’ll be isolated and vulnerable. Second, even if we’re still alive, and the baby is safe, those bastards have still won. They hurt us, they hurt others and they just keep doing it. We disappear. So what? They’ll find someone else to do it to. We have to stop them.”

Although fear for her and his child now was beating in time with his heart, he didn’t want to upset her by fighting about it. He could see the logic in her words, but a primitive past was boiling up, threatening to engulf him. He wanted to throw her into a cave and pace at the opening with a club swinging from his hand.

She wiggled free from his loose grasp. “I need to go check on John again.”


When they left the chapel, Tiff was waiting in the hall. She motioned to Mulder with her head and he nodded. Touching Scully’s back lightly, he said, “Go on ahead, I’ll join you after I get a report from Tiff.”

She nodded and continued on down the hall as he turned to Tiff. “Any new developments?”

She was blunt. “Yeah, A.D. Skinner is chewing my ass. He wants to know what’s going on.”

“Individuals with whom Skinner’s had experience in the past have struck again, injuring a dear friend and destroying Agent Scully’s home. That’s all he needs to know,” was Mulder measured reply.

Tiff shot him a frustrated look. “Damn it, Mulder, that’s bullshit! There’s a lot more going on here, and neither of you feel as though you can fill me in. So I’m caught in the middle, and I don’t like that one bit.”

Mulder gave her shoulder a squeeze of reassurance but her hard muscles tightened under his touch. “Davis, I’m telling you. You have all the information you need to run this case. You know who your suspects are and you have the evidence that links them to the crime—”

She cut in with, “But I don’t know why!”

“Evil?” Mulder suggested, only somewhat facetiously.

Tiff was not appeased. “Fine. I can help you. Skinner can help you. You have to decide if you can handle this on your own. Look what happened to your friend when you thought you could.”

He nodded. “Exactly. And I don’t want to see it happen to any more friends.” Leaving her fuming, he went in search of Scully.


Scully quietly entered the room where John Byers lay, his shape distorted and inhuman under a maze of pale tubes and bright cords. A drape was tented over his broken leg. His head was swaddled in a dressing. The right side of his beard had been burned away and his exposed face was blistered and shining from ointment for his burn.

Anita sat slumped in a chair at his bedside, her fingers tracing up and down one of his I.V. lines, as though encouraging the flow of the medication.

Scully touched her shoulder lightly and she turned her head slowly, as though moving under water. Her eyes were huge dark drowning pools in her round face.

“Honey, you should take a break,” Scully gently suggested.

Anita shook her head. “No. I can sit here just as easily as sitting in the waiting room.”

“I mean go home, get some rest, eat some good food,” Scully replied.

With an even more furious shake of her head, she said, “No! What if something happened while I was away?”

Pulling up a chair to join Anita at the bedside, Scully lifted her hand away from the tubing and rubbed the cold fingers in her palms.

Before she could say anything more, Anita began to speak in low, ragged tones. “How do you do it? How do you sit here, powerless? You’ve had to do this a time or two with Fox, right?”

Scully gave her a pained smile. “A time or two, yes.”

She asked again, “How do you do it? How do you stop the regrets for everything you haven’t said and done?”

Scully spoke slowly. “I always believed Mulder would come back to me. That’s what you need to do now, believe in John.”

“What if he doesn’t?” Anita whispered. “What would you have felt if he didn’t come back to you?”

She couldn’t even comprehend the question so she lifted Byers’ hand from the cool sheet and placed Anita’s hand on top of his. “Give him your strength—he needs you. That’s what I do in these situations. It’s all I can do, and first I have to accept that.”

She heard Mulder tap lightly on the glass window of the room. She left Anita with Byers and went out into the hall to join him.

He lifted her hand, cradling it in his light grip, and smiled down at her. “How’s he doing?”

She shrugged, though the effort almost did her in. “No change. Anita’s not doing well either.”

He seemed to understand. “It’s always hardest the first time.”

She found herself grinning through her sadness. “I remember.”

He pulled her down the hall out of the ICU ward. “I didn’t do it on purpose.”

As he wrapped an arm around her shoulders, she snuggled under, reveling in his warmth. “I hope not. I’d hate to think you went through all the trouble of nearly dying just to get your hand held.”

“And a smile,” he added as he kissed the top of her head, “sometimes you gave me a smile.”

She furrowed her brow with concern. In the past, had she been that remote in her attempt to maintain her boundaries?

He led her into the garage and to his car. “Tiff told me most of your things were damaged by smoke or destroyed by fire.”

Darkly, she said, “Doesn’t matter, I’m not going to fit into those clothes for a long time anyway.”

He gave her an inventory. “Your bedroom wasn’t destroyed. Although everything is smoke damaged, most of your shoes are fine since they were kept in their boxes.” He returned her grin of happiness. “Anything kept in a garment bag also seems fine too, including this.” He unlocked the car doors and reached into the back seat. He pulled out her green suede coat from the backseat.

She gasped in amazement and her eyes filled with tears. She realized she was being silly for crying over a jacket, but Mulder didn’t seem to mind. He wrapped the garment around her shoulders, opened her car door and settled her into her seat.

She cleared the dampness from her eyelashes as he pulled out of the parking space. She asked, “Most of my furniture was a loss?”

“Yes. But if it helps, I never did like that couch,” he answered.

She shot him a withering look. “Yes, we’ll have to get a house full of furniture.” Her head whirled at the sensation of being in some odd time rift. Wasn’t this where they were when the conversation had been cut short by their arrival at her fire-ravaged apartment building?

“We might as well go ahead and buy a house now. Something tells me we got on some sort of landlord’s blacklist with this latest incident.”

She allowed herself a chuckle. “I’ll get my Mom looking. She’ll love that. It’ll make her feel like she’s doing something. I’ll be busy finding out what Byers was working on that made it necessary to try to kill him.”

He nodded. She looked over and noticed unfamiliar emotions flicking across his face. Every day new, unknown situations arose for them to deal with, even things as seemingly innocuous as deciding on a home.

She continued slowly. “We should find something in a neighborhood close to the Fed building, but still a detached house with a yard. I don’t like the idea of commuting long distances.”

“That’ll be expensive.” He held up his end of the conversation with the bland, flat tones of a prepared statement.

She suddenly felt as though she was the mouse sent out to put the bell on the sleeping cat. She trotted carefully forward. “Yes, I have some investments I can cash out, about $10,000 in savings—”

He interrupted. “I inherited my father’s house in West Tisbury,” he stumbled. “That is, it was left to Samantha and me. But I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if I sold it.”

She stroked his shoulder, suddenly understanding. “We don’t have to do that, we can manage—”

He was firm. “No, but perhaps we should keep the house, subdivide the lot and sell the land. Then we’d have the cash but also a vacation home. You know, a place to take the kids in the summer.”

She was overwhelmed by the sudden vision of a clear summer day with the ocean breeze in her face, teaching their son to swim. “That sounds nice.”

He nodded. “Yeah, well, wait until you see the property tax bill on that place. It hurts to write that check, let me tell you. My uncle, David, advised me to keep my hands on that property as an investment, but I don’t think he was taking a situation like this into consideration.”

She stared out the window in confusion. The loss of her home hit her like a sledgehammer. “Where are we going?”

“Home, my home,” he said carefully.

“Okay. I guess it’s all we have left,” she said with a sigh.


The Factory October 19th, 2:30 A.M.

Krycek found Kenneth sitting ramrod straight on a chair in the office. He closed the door behind him and Kenneth glanced up, impassive as always, to meet his furious gaze.

Shaking with a cold anger, Krycek asked, “Okay, boy, what happened back there at the hospital?”

“I don’t know what you mean, sir. I reviewed the plan with the gentleman, and he instructed me to collect the blood sample from the DNA test of the fetus. You must been mistaken when you ordered me to deliver the corrupted DNA reading to Mulder and Scully.”

Taking another step towards the young man and slipping his hand into his pocket to touch the plam he always carried with him, Krycek asked, “Did you tell the old bastard that?”

“Of course not, sir. I would hate for a simple misunderstanding to escalate to a…situation,” was the cool answer from Kenneth.

“Yes, of course…” he replied.

The door to the office swung open and Krycek whirled. The action pulled at the stitches on his bullet wounds, and he grimaced.

“I’m happy to see you too, Alex,” The older man said as he walked past him to sit behind his desk.

After settling in, he continued. “I’m very pleased with the test results on the DNA sample that Kenneth collected for us yesterday afternoon.”

Krycek fought to ignore the dull throb of his injuries and forced himself to concentrate on his nemesis. The old fool seemed almost giddy, a smile refusing to stay off of his lips. He said, “What are they?”

“The child is has indeed developed the traits we had hoped. The portion of the plan left with the agents has progressed perfectly.” He paused to light a cigarette. “Which is good news considering our failures in the past and those we’re currently experiencing.”

Krycek had to cut in. “You never give the experiments time to develop fully. You always assume failure and push onward. If I were to be given another chance with my sperm sample, for example—”

The older man raised his hand to silence him. “You were given a chance and you failed.” The smile returned. “As I would expect. You obviously have weak, inferior seed.”

As he started to lunge towards the desk, Krycek was held fast in the benign grasp of Kenneth. “You son of a bitch!” He shook himself loose and spat out, “I guess you would know.”

A cold silence was the response to his words. He forced himself to remain calm as he changed the subject. “I need to go back and finish the job I started on this John Byers. He must be stopped from—”

A raised hand stopped him again. “No need.”

His fury whipped up again, Krycek snarled, “Let me finish! What if they find out the reason that we want the baby? They could keep us from taking possession when the time comes.”

After a long, irritating moment taken to suck down more lung-filling smoke, the man answered. “They are already aware that we desire the child. That could not be avoided. Our objective is to secure the child when it’s necessary, and I cannot imagine how they could thwart us. Our original plan is still in place. We have no need to make any changes at this point. Do you understand, boy?”

Krycek breathed the single word like fire, “Yes.”

“Good,” the shadowed man replied. “So I suggest you continue your surveillance—making sure you don’t suffer any more close calls, of course.”

Krycek stormed from the room, driven forward by the malevolent chuckles rolling from behind the desk.

Chapter 2: Arid Pleasure


October 19th, 2:15 A.M.

Mulder and Scully dragged themselves into his apartment. He led her into the bedroom and nodded towards the bed.

“There you go,” he said as he headed into the bathroom.

She glanced around the rarely-seen bedroom and wondered how much had been Mulder’s and what Byers had changed. Everything seemed too neat and tidy to have been the result of Mulder’s touch.

Rummaging through the bottom drawer of the dresser, she found one of his remaining tee-shirts and quickly slipped into it.

When he reentered the room, she self-consciously pulled the shirt down to cover her stomach as his gaze slowly moved over her. He furrowed his brow before his eyes darted away.

She brushed past him and escaped into the bathroom. When she came out, he was already under the covers. On his side of the bed, she was happy to note.

Overwhelmed with exhaustion, she could barely crawl into bed. She noticed the sheets were freshly laundered and felt a pang for Byers as she drifted off to sleep nestled up to Mulder’s warm back.

The creature was moving under her skin, spreading its green poison through her bloodstream like tentacles. Its iron grip tightened until her body was forced to curl up like a bug burnt under a shard of glass in the sun.

She awoke with a gasp of pain and fear, drenched in sweat but shaking with cold. She desperately reached out for Mulder but his side of the bed was empty.

In a panic, she struggled free of the tangled, damp sheets. Where was he!? She stumbled around the room, unable to find the door in the dark and her disorientation.

She gripped the doorjamb to the living room, clenching her jaw to keep her teeth from rattling too loudly. Her eyes adjusted to the dimness. She realized her gun had been in her apartment. She had to get another one as soon as possible.

Finally, her gaze found him. He was stretched out on his dark couch, asleep. She moved in closer to look down at him. Caught in the illumination from the streetlight streaming into the room, his relaxed features were as calm as a child’s. No worry creased his brow.

She crouched down beside him and watching him sleep, noting his peace and comfort. It made sense. His things, and everything that was familiar to him, surrounded him. He was back at home.

She stroked the warm leather of the cushion. She would have touched him, but she didn’t want to disturb him. He was cradled and comfortable in the worn palm of his couch.

She pulled herself up off the floor and spun away to hurry back to the bedroom. Diving under the covers, she pulled the clammy, cold sheets up under her chin.

She had always liked his apartment, felt comfortable in its cluttered rooms. But now she saw it as a rival for his affections.

She could see the threads of their tenuous relationship beginning to unravel. He would pull away from her under the spell of the beauty of the dark walls. He would go to bed with her at first, but slowly would draw away as the days passed, falling asleep under the mesmerizing blue gaze of its eyes, his television and his computer monitor.

Despite her quaking body and her struggle against tears and fear, she was exhausted, and fell asleep as though drugged.

She was awakened in the morning by his attempts at stealth as he moved around the bedroom. She pushed her hair out of her eyes and fixed a blurry gaze on him. He gave her a pressed-on smile.

“Get enough sleep?”

She wondered if he was going to act like he’d slept with her the whole night. “No, but that’s okay.”

He looked concerned. “Try going back to sleep. You need your rest.”

Determined, she rose from the bed. “No, I need to get going. We have a lot to do. No more dilly-dallying.”

He gave her a surprised look, but trailed after her as she stomped out of the room. “I got up to pee and I must have gone back to the couch by mistake.”

“It’s not a mistake. You usually slept on the couch, right?” She asked as she slammed through the cupboards, looking for anything that seemed appetizing for breakfast.

He sat down with a cup of coffee and began talking slowly and carefully, inflaming her irritation even more. “I think I should go to Boston as soon as possible, see about getting the land sold in West Tisbury. It should sell fast, but it is the off season—”

“You’re sure you want to do that?” she interrupted.

He looked as though he was struggling to remain calm. “What?”

She sat down across from him and met his gaze, forcing her voice to remain as cool. “Maybe everything is going too fast for you.”

He shook his head. “What do you mean?” He suddenly looked worried. “We’re getting married as soon as possible, right?”

“You tell me,” she said as she sipped the orange juice she’d found, only a week past its expiration date. She knew she could thank Byers for that.

“Scully, what the hell is going on?”

“I think we just need to decide if we’re on the same page. I mean, what do you want?” she asked.

He was confused. “Huh? I want you and the baby to be safe—”

“I know that, how do you see us in the future? After the baby is born.”

He ran his hand through his hair and it stood on end like a prickly forest of pines. “I still don’t see what you’re getting at.”

“You seem to only be looking at what’s right in front of you.” She changed the pitch of her voice to a sing-song quality. “Scully’s knocked up. I guess I have to marry Scully.”

He exploded. “You’re not being fair at all! You know I love you, first and foremost. Are you worried about the future? Well, I can’t help you with that. I have no idea what’s going to happen in an hour, a day, a week. I don’t try to wrestle for control over those things I know I can’t control.”

“You’re avoiding the question.” He gasped in exasperation, but she pressed on. “What do you see us doing in the future? I mean, we can’t work together any more. That’s for sure.”

“Scully, you will always have a career in the FBI. In fact, you’ll probably have that distinguished career you would have had if you hadn’t hooked up with me.”

She banged her glass down on the table in frustration. “Do you think I stuck with you and the work on the X-files because I had some crush on you? Well, I didn’t. I did it because I found someone who felt as passionately about pursuing the truth as I did. I believe we really helped people. I love field work. I love being your partner.”

As he stared at the top of her bent head, he realized she would never say “I love you” enough for his taste and he’d have to accept these scraps of sentiment when he got them.

She was still grumbling. “I can’t see sitting behind a desk as distinguishing myself, but now I guess that’s where I’m stuck.”

“You can go back in the field after the baby’s born…” She shook her head violently. He didn’t understand why she was resisting. “Your father was away a lot, but you knew he still loved you.”

She whispered, “I hated it. I hated him being gone and when he was home, everything was just too much. We fought for his attention while he wanted to spend time with Mom. I just don’t want my son to go through that sort of turmoil.”

Glancing up at him at last, she asked, “How was it for you with your father?”

He could only remember slamming doors and long silences. “I hated it too. I hated when he was away.”

She nodded.

Fiercely, he added, “Don’t worry, I’ll be there for the two of you.”

Bitterly she said, “I hope so. Now that you’re going to be a father, perhaps you’ll finally stop looking for one yourself.”

He rose from the table with the sudden urge to follow in his father’s footsteps and walk out of the room without looking back.

The phone rang.

He listened to the words coming over the line, but his mind was cataloguing her movements around the room as she gathering the few dirty dishes with abrupt jerky movements.

“John has come to. I think we should get down there before Tiff does,” he said to her rigid back.

She tossed down the sponge. “Okay, let’s go.” She brushed past him without meeting his eyes.


Washington Medical Center, ICU Unit 10:20 A.M.

Anita entered the room where John was, pushing aside a nurse. A technician was just finishing extubating him. He was gagging and sputtering, looking around the room in a panic.

She pressed in among the medical personnel and touched his shoulder. He turned his head and focused on her, his eyes unrecognizing. She gave him a smile and he slowly returned it. She could see that he remembered her.

After everyone left, giving her various warnings she decided she would ignore, she settled on a chair by his side and began feeding him ice chips for his sore throat.

“Don’t talk—let me do the talking,” she ordered him briskly, fighting back tears.

His soulful eyes blinked once. She took that as an agreement.

“Are you in pain?” She knew the answer to that, but she wanted him to be able to express his anxiety.

He nodded, his eyes filling with tears of his own.

She nodded back. “It’s okay, I’m sure it’s a bitch to wake up feeling like someone’s been beating you with a small car.”

He choked on a laugh and she grabbed a tissue to wipe his mouth. “Sorry,” she murmured.

He raised a shaking hand to touch his face. She stopped him. “You don’t want to do that. You’re burnt.”

His eyes filled with panic and he rasped out, “See. Want to see.”

“Of course,” she said as she rooted around in her purse for a compact.

Holding the mirror up to his face, she said, “See, it’s not bad. Just—”

“Beard. My beard…” he gurgled.

“Yes, honey, I know,” she tried to soothe him. The beard had been burned off the right side of his face, leaving red, angry, blistered skin. “It protected you. Your burns would’ve been much worse.” She tried to find a good side in his lopsided appearance.

He put the mirror down and glanced away.

Understanding dawned for her. “You’ve had that beard a long time, haven’t you?”

He nodded, still looking away.

She began going through the bedside cabinet. “Well, maybe it’s a sign that it’s time for you to make a change.”

His eyes snapped to hers, filled with indignation. He tried to speak, but she silenced him with a finger to his lips.

“It’s going to be months before your skin has healed enough to grow back the beard. Are you going to walk around with half a beard until then?” She realized she was sounding like a mother.

He managed to gasp, “I won’t be walking anywhere.”

It was her turn to laugh. “Okay, whatever you want.” She went for reverse psychology.

He sighed. “Give me the razor,” he whispered.

“No. I can do it. Do you trust me?” She realized she was holding her breath as she looked into his fear-filled wide eyes.

He half-nodded and half-shrugged.

She gently stroked his remaining beard, noticing the flecks of gray strands mixed into the warm chestnut hair. “Can you remember a time when you didn’t have a beard?”

He shook his head with short, nervous jerks and she couldn’t stop herself from smiling.

She pulled the shaving supplies out the bedside table drawer and set them in her lap.

First, she found her surgical scissors in her lab-coat pocket and began to carefully snip away the longer, coarse hairs of his beard. He looked worried immediately, and she reassured him, “Don’t worry.”

Setting aside the scissors, she filled her palm with shaving lotion, and said briskly, “Remember, I’m a professional. Although, I do usually leave this part for the nurse…” She smoothed the foam over his left cheek carefully, massaging it into his neck, making sure she didn’t miss any spot. “But when I’ve done it, I haven’t gotten any complaints.”

The wide blue eyes shifted towards her again, but she kept own eyes firmly on her task. “In the past, I may have left a nick or two, but I care too much about you to do that.” Slowly she dragged the razor up his neck and under his chin.

To divert him, she asked, “How long have you had it?”

The ‘huh?’ that burrowed up his throat almost caused her to cut the tender skin of his Adam’s apple.

“The beard?” She kept her eyes innocent.

“I can’t remember—” he said.

As she tipped his head to give her access to his cheek, she commented, “I’m sure this must feel strange…you’ve only done it yourself before, right?”

“Um-huh—” came out of his tightened lips as the razor slid over his face, cleaning away the stiff hairs.

“Well, there’s a first time for everything,” she decided as she leaned back to examine her handiwork.

When she asked, “Do you want to go all the way?” she thought she’d lost him. If he hadn’t had that broken leg, she was sure he’d have leapt up from the bed and fled.

Hurriedly she added, “The mustache. Take it or leave it?”

He shrugged with an attempted casual manner. “Might as well. What the hell.”

Wondering if that was the first curse word he’d ever used in the presence of a woman, she spread the foam on his upper lip with a fingertip. Leaning in very close, she whispered, “Now, hold still. This part is tricky.”

Somehow, she was able to shave his mustache off while diving deep in his dreamy blue eyes, taking time out to snuggle down into his laugh lines for a rest. She decided she did it all by feel.

As she wiped his cheek with a damp towel, she said, “I know it’ll feel odd for a while, then you’ll get used to it.”

He nodded in agreement, but as she turned away to put the shaving tools back, she heard him whisper, “I feel so exposed.”

She wasn’t able to comment on that statement. Mulder was pushing open the door and Scully was peeking around his arm, looking concerned and grateful. Pushing away an impatient grimace, Anita rose to greet them.

Scully moved past Mulder to hurry to John’s side. Her eyes quickly swept over the panel of equipment, seeming to take in all the readings in a glance. She leaned over to place a peck on his cheek.

His fresh skin blushed and she gave a little mew of approval. Anita felt Mulder bristle beside her and wondered if she should be as concerned as he seemed to be.

“How are you?” Scully asked.

Anita broke in before he could answer. “He should rest.”

Scully raised a brow at her.

“What happened?” John had raised a hand to tap Scully’s arm.

“You don’t remember?” Scully looked concerned.

He creased his brow. Mulder had moved to the foot of the bed, and leaned over the footboard to give him a searching look.

John said slowly, “No…I remember wanting Kung Pao chicken.”

Scully gently prompted him. “You went to the apartment in my building. You had left some papers there…”

John cast his eyes down to his lap, looking frustrated. “I can’t remember why I was going there.”

Mulder probed. “You don’t remember what papers were missing?”

“I know I was working on the results of the various tests. I remember really wanting to see the results from the latest test—” His eyes immediately shot up to Scully’s face, questioning.

She smiled at him. “Yes. Everything is all right.”

He grasped her hand tightly. “I’m so happy for you.” He nodded to Mulder as well. “Both of you.”

Scully placed her hand over his. “Thank you. But the important thing is that you get some rest.”

He protested. “I need to remember…”

Mulder stopped him. “We’ll figure it out—”

As though on cue, the door swung open and Frohike and Langly poked their heads in.

Croaking, John greeted them. “Gentlemen!”

Anita smiled to herself.

They joined the group, crowding the tight space. Both friends took turns patting John’s uninjured leg, in the awkward way some men show deep emotion.

Frohike spoke first. “Hey!” That seemed to be all he could think of to say, and stepped back, blushing under his heavy stubble.

Langly tried next. “Hey!” Then his eyes widened behind the lenses of his eyeglasses. “Hey man, what happened to your face?”

John put a hand up to his burn, seeming self-conscious. “I was burnt.”

“No, I mean—man, where’s your beard?” Langly glanced around the room as though he would find it lying on the floor.

“I…Anita shaved it off,” John admitted stiffly.

Both of his friends looked uncomfortable, then Frohike said, “I like it. It’s a good look.”

Anita decided to play with the little man. “Perhaps I can do the same for you sometime.” She realized she’d gone too far with John’s delicate ego when he frowned and then grimaced from the pain of moving the muscles of his face in that expression.

She didn’t get a chance to correct her mistake. The door swung open once again and Mulder’s tall partner and a very pissed looking nurse pushed their way into the room.

The nurse took over. “All of you have to leave. Mr. Byers needs his rest and this government agent needs to talk to him.”

That was that. In a flurry of salutations, the group made their way out of the room. Agent Davis watched them with a set mouth, shaking her head at the innocent expressions directed her way.


Anita showed them to a private waiting room and they regrouped.

“Do you think he’ll spill anything?” Frohike asked.

Anita shook her head. “He doesn’t remember anything to spill.”

Scully looked frustrated. “True. Frohike, did he say anything that day that would give us a clue as to what he was working on?”

As Frohike shook his head, Mulder cut in. “I got up early this morning and went over everything still in my apartment. I found this note.”

He pulled a scrap of paper out of his pocket. Out loud, he read, “FWM-DNA sample, childhood.”

Scully knit her brow in concentration. “He was working on the test results…” Everyone nodded. “He was needing the baby’s DNA sample to complete his work. Krycek switched those samples and destroyed John’s work.”

She suddenly looked exhausted and sat down. Mulder moved to stand beside her, seeming concerned. She shifted away as his hand reached down to her shoulder, and he settled it on the back of her chair.

She continued. “They created this natural child from the two of us for a reason. The answer could be in our DNA. John wanted a past sample of your DNA for a reason. Could it have been changed at some point?”

Mulder shrugged, looking bewildered. “Perhaps that’s what the note means.”

Frohike added, “They’ve had their slimy hands on you from time to time. Maybe They slipped you the whammy.”

Scully looked frightened. “Do you have something that we could use as a past DNA sample? A baby curl? Baby teeth?”

He shook his head. “No—wait. I remember seeing an envelope with baby teeth in it. From Samantha and me. I didn’t see the point of keeping them, but my mother can’t throw anything away. They’re in a safety deposit box in Boston.”

“Can you have your mother send them down?” Langly asked.

A little too quickly, Mulder said, “No, that won’t be necessary. I’m going up to Boston to facilitate the sale of some land. I can pick them up.”

Scully looked startled and then said with stilted casualness, “Are you going to see your mother while you’re up there?”

Mulder tensed his jaw and said tersely, “No.”

Anita looked quickly from one to the other. Something had hardened between them since she’d last seen them. The two Gunmen looked concerned as well.

Frohike suggested, “I can start to go over Byers’ work with you, Agent Scully. I think I can be up to speed quickly.”

“Good idea,” she responded. “I want to feel like I’m doing something.”

Turning to Anita, Frohike added, “And you, Dr. Mui. I’m sure you’d be a great help as well.”

Touched by the extended olive branch, Anita nodded. “I want to do anything I can to help.”

The door suddenly flew open and Agent Davis filled the doorway. “I’ve interviewed John Byers and he says he doesn’t remember a thing. Any of you want to add to your previous statements?”

They all stared at her blankly, and a look of deep fury settled on her strong features. “Fine. I’ll be going to make my report to A.D. Skinner now.”

The cold wind of the agent’s exit blew through the room, sending everyone fluttering off on their appointed tasks like dry fallen leaves.


FBI Headquarters 1:40 P.M.

Skinner was loitering outside his office, apparently waiting for Tiff. She felt her backbone stiffen. He ushered her in, his hand heavy on the small of her back.

He moved around his desk and sat down. As she seated herself in a chair before his desk, she set her face in a blank expression. He reacted with a frown.

“Agent Davis?” His voice was cool.


“Your report?”

“I have some preliminary findings. I haven’t had time to type up a report. Sir.” She finished on the downbeat.

“And your findings are…?” He remained controlled.

She made it short and sweet. “There’s nothing. John Byers remembers nothing. Agents Mulder and Scully have nothing to add to their statements. Those Frohike and Langly persons have nothing to say. Nothing.”

“But you have something to add to your previous reports?” His tone was casual, but he was watching her carefully.

Again she felt a sense of danger. She had been avoiding this confrontation for weeks. She was suddenly overwhelmed with anger. Her temper had always been her downfall and she’d fought long and hard to learn to control it. Every now and then it could be useful as an intimidation tool.

“Sir, are you asking me to choose sides?” she challenged him.

He looked surprised at her bluntness. “I thought we were all on the same side.”

She shook her head. “I want to find out the truth. That’s the side I choose.”

His next words hit her like a fist. “Come over tonight.”

She worked to control her breathing, to keep her voice from becoming a growl. She couldn’t seem weak to him. She wasn’t some soft cunt, just waiting for him. She had to be as hard as he was.

She kept it simple. “No.”

His voice softened. “I want to know the truth, too.”

She suddenly wondered what he’d do with it if he had it. Out loud, she said, “If they wanted you involved in their business they’d have brought you in by now.”

He leaned back in his chair, which groaned in protest. He gripped the arms of his chair and his pectorals strained against the thin fabric of his shirt. “Their business is very dangerous.”

He leaned forward suddenly while she forced herself to remain still in her chair. “I’ve seen individuals lose their lives. Dammit, I’ve nearly lost my life!” He rapped his chest with his knuckles for emphasis.

She remembered the first time she’d run her lips over the tangled scar on his torso and had asked where’d he’d gotten it. His body had stiffened and all he’d said was, “I got in the way.”

He laid both of his hands on his desk, palms down. “I don’t want to see you hurt,” he said flatly.

“I can take care of myself,” she protested.

“You don’t have to, though.”

They sat in silence for a moment. Finally Tiff said, “Will that be all, sir?”

Skinner ran the tip of his tongue along his stiffened top lip as he stared at her. After a sigh, he replied, “Yes, Agent Davis. That will be all.”

She could think of nothing else to say. She rose and left his office without looking back.

Chapter 3: Perfect Strangers


Boston, Massachusetts October 20th, 11:20 A.M.

Mulder felt as though his life up until this point in time was a house he’d left in a rush, leaving all the lights on and the doors flung open. Going to Boston was his first step towards locking that house down tight.

As he hurried down Washington Street, he realized he was watching for his mother. She didn’t come into the city often, but he wanted to be prepared with a bland explanation if he did run into her.

Going into his bank, he found himself in the safety deposit vault opening his box. He’d been paying the fees on this box for twenty years but this was the first time he’d opened it. He and Samantha had shared the box when they were children. Canceling it would be turning off one of the lights he’d left burning. It was like a time capsule for that period of his life, sealed up shortly after she was taken away. The card showed that the last time he had visited it had been with Uncle Isaac on January 16th, 1974.

His wife, Aunt Sis, had died the previous June, and Uncle Isaac had wanted to put her wedding rings in the box. “For Sammie, Fox. For when she comes back. You give them to her.”

Uncle Isaac had been the only one who spoke of Samantha like she was going to come back. When he died suddenly of a heart attack eight months later, Mulder realized he was truly alone. No one else believed. Gladly, he’d gone away to prep school, to hide in the company of strangers.

He cracked open the lid of the box and sifted through the contents until he found the ring box. Looking down at the dim diamonds and tarnished platinum rings, he wondered what it signified that he was now getting ready to give them to Scully. Had he given up hope?

Uncle Isaac had lost his only child, Allan, in the Vietnam War. Mulder could remember sitting Shiva with him, his small hands hanging on for dear life to the huge hairy-backed paw of his uncle. The big hand, usually so comforting, was shaking and weak, barely able to return the grip of the boy.

The older man had leaned over and rasped in his ear, “A part of me is missing, Fox. A part’s just missing now.”

Perhaps that’s why he could understand what Mulder had felt when Samantha disappeared. He understood the loss of completeness that the younger man would carry with him for years.

He pulled the rings out of the box. They felt warm despite the fact that they hadn’t been on a body for years. He allowed himself to roll them around in his palm and watched the light catch on the stones. He was all grown up now. It was time to act like it.

He shifted around some more things in the box searching for the envelope holding their baby teeth. He lifted out the flat velvet box that held Samantha’s seed pearl necklace, the one she had gotten on her eighth birthday and was supposed to wear at her debut. He had to open the box and stroke the smooth pearls; he couldn’t stop himself.

He asked for a large envelope and emptied all the contents into it, putting the envelope with their baby teeth in his pocket. He closed out the account and walked out of the bank without looking back.

He continued down the street to the shop run by Guy Mayer, the family’s jeweler, to have the rings cleaned. Guy propped up his tall, thin body with his bony elbows on the counter. Looking over the rings from under impossibly bushy eyebrows, he sighed. “Ike, he had good taste in stones—not so good taste in settings.”

Mulder looked at the rings again and had to agree. The setting was old-fashioned, tangled as the climbing rose outside Aunt Sis’ kitchen window had been and as fussy as the cluster of Hummel figures in her china cabinet. But he also remembered the rings buried in the fleshy wrinkles of her finger as her hands ruffled his hair or patted out dough for huge, yummy sugar cookies. Those were good memories and he wanted to pass on the love represented in the rings. He just didn’t know what they would look like on Scully’s hand.

“Is there anything you can do?” he asked Guy.

“Well, I could pull the stones out, melt down the metal, you could pick out a new design. What sort of woman are these for?” Guy asked.

Mulder couldn’t stop the small smile that formed on his lips. He nodded towards the rings lying on a velvet pad on the counter top. “Not this sort. She’s got a simple style. Classic, I guess…She has very small hands…” He saw Guy’s bushy brows raise and he heard the unspoken word, ‘shiksa’. He shrugged his shoulders in apology.

Guy grinned, showing all of his big white fake teeth. “I’d like to meet this girl sometime.”

Mulder returned his grin. “I’ll bring her by, maybe at Christmas.” Both men chuckled. “Although I doubt she’s going to let me shower her with jewels. As I said, she has very simple tastes.”

“Simple? Simple I could do with these stones. Small hands you say…” Guy pulled a pad of paper out and began to sketch quickly.

The jeweler suggested he cut and arrange the stones in a narrow, long row to run from knuckle to knuckle. The stones wouldn’t pinch the sides of her fingers when her hand was squeezed. He would build them up high enough so that the narrow wedding band could slip under them.

Mulder’s only concern was that it might seem too ostentatious to Scully but perhaps that would slip by her with the set’s simplicity.

Guy nodded, not looking up from his work. “I could make you a ring too. You’ll be needing a ring, right?”

He blinked. A wedding ring. This would mean he was married. “Yes, make me a ring too.”

Guy lifted his shaggy head and grinned again. “Scared, eh?”

Mulder shook his head a little too quickly and Guy roared with laughter. Then he asked, “Any inscription?”

Mulder was overwhelmed—Too many things to decide. “Uh…‘I love you.’”

Guy’s eyebrows knitted in confusion over his nose. “That’s it? No poetry? That fancy Oxford education and that’s the best you can do?”

Mulder was determined. “No. That’s enough.”

As he turned to leave, Guy bellowed after him, “That’s what you think! Wait until you’ve been married a while!”

Mulder was at the door when Guy added, “And I’ll engrave a silver spoon for you!”

Mulder could only nod at the older man’s astuteness as he went through the door.


Mulder’s Apartment October 20th; 11:30 P.M.

Scully threw down her shopping bags as she pushed Mulder’s front door shut behind her with her foot. After dropping him off at the airport for his flight to Boston, she’d gone shopping for replacements for their destroyed clothing.

She’d never been one to spend hours in the mall trying on garments and now with the pregnancy, she was forced to find a whole new style of clothing. She was exhausted.

Back in his bedroom, she moved Byers’ things out of the bureau and unloaded her bags. She had to hurry, her mother was arriving any minute to begin looking at houses.

Ruefully she glanced down at what she was wearing now. She imagined the expression on the face of the realtor who had to show a house to a woman dressed in a pair of rolled up men’s khakis, an oversized faded man’s shirt with tattered cuffs and pumps. She stripped them off quickly.

Pausing for a moment, she turned to examine her body in the full-length wall mirror. In the last two days, it seemed to have become suddenly aware of its pregnancy.

Gingerly, she touched her breasts. They felt sore and tender as if she was suffering from endless PMS. It wasn’t even noon yet and she already wanted a nap. Her bones ached.

She moved her hands down to her belly. She could see the swelling all the time now, not just when she lay on her back. She furrowed her brow in curiosity as she pressed her palms against the smooth bulge. She expected it to be soft and pillow-like. Instead it was hard. When she tensed her abdominal muscles, her uterus pushed back. It was strong.

It was as though her body had let loose all the sensations and signs that it had been holding in when she stopped denying her pregnancy. She was officially a pregnant woman, complete with sore feet and small bladder. Nude, she wandered into the bathroom to relieve that pressure.

When she sat on the toilet she looked down at the rounded belly now resting on her thighs. She ran her hands over it again in wonder. This was really going to happen.

First she would marry Mulder: they would buy a house and a car, no—two cars. Then they would have a honeymoon—no, they didn’t really have time for a honeymoon, they needed to stay at work because she really wanted to use her vacation time for her maternity leave. They needed furniture and she wasn’t able to find any bras she liked today, her breasts were larger already. She’d heard they needed to put the baby on the waiting list for a pre-school now, and there was the little matter of the shadowy figures waiting to do something with her or the baby, God knows what…

She covered her eyes with her hands to stop the rushing thoughts. This was all happening too fast. She didn’t believe in making choices in haste and here she was deciding to marry Fox Mulder just like that, especially when she wasn’t so sure he wanted to marry her.

She thought about his preponderance to jump forward without looking, his capacity for kindness to the downtrodden, particularly women and children. Well, she was both in one package, she thought as she washed her hands and went back into the bedroom to dress in a sensible corduroy jumper and turtleneck.

Looking at her dumpy ensemble, she moved on to the subject that she’d been avoiding for weeks now: sex, or lack thereof. It seemed to her this was just one issue too many for them to handle right now, especially since he hadn’t seemed that gung-ho on the idea since his initial forays.

She nodded at her reflection in the mirror. She’d seen more desirable looking nuns, she thought, as she looked disparagingly at the thick black tights she’d put on. Better to wait. Perhaps after she’d had the baby and returned to normal dimensions Mulder would be comfortable with a sexual relationship.

The knocking on his front door caused her to glance at the clock. Her mother. Right on time.


Six hours later, she barely dragged herself to Mulder’s couch to throw herself down on it, shucking her shoes along the way. Her mother had nearly killed her.

She could still hear the woman’s voice, droning on and on in her head. “Tyson’s Corner will be perfect for the two of you. Libby Flaxham lives here, and Tracy Collins too. You remember them from high school? Well, their mothers still play bridge with me and they say it’s wonderful. They’re just so happy for you, by the way…”

She’d been staring out her mother’s car window, watching the beautiful, bland houses whip by and tried to make her mind whip her mother’s words by just as fast.

Of course all the old gang had been ‘worried’ about Dana. Obsessed with her career. Whispers probably suggested she was obsessed with her partner. Poor thing, couldn’t get him to marry her. And look now! She found a way to get her man!

She forced herself to respond because she hated the direction that her thoughts had been taking. “I don’t think we should be this far out, Mom. We’re going to be commuting.”

Her mother’s brow furrowed. “But honey, do you think Fox is going to stay with the Bureau? I’m sure he could start to practice psychology, he would have a successful practice…”

Scully had to leave this conversation again. She began considering what her survival chances would be if she flung herself from a speeding car.

Her mother pulled up to the first house. Too far away, cupid statuary in the front yard, floral patterned wallpaper throughout. She heard her voice parroting after her mother to the realtor, “It’s lovely.”


Mulder pushed his front door open with a sigh of relief. A long day, but he was home just in time. He hadn’t missed any of the Flashback to the ‘80’s program on the radio.

He refused to listen to the new stations that had begun to play 80’s music all the time. He didn’t want to know he was getting old enough that the music of his youth was now a nostalgic radio format. Baldness was next for sure.

But he would allow himself to enjoy the guilty pleasure of an hour’s worth of music when he got home in time from work. He found the remote in the darkened room, flicking the music on. Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’. Perfect.

As he kicked off his shoes, he allowed himself a twisting, twisted little dance step. His body remembered all the moves learned as a teenager. Every Friday afternoon he would make his escape, taking the train down to New York from his Connecticut prep school. He had made a few friends in the dance clubs there. He spent the weekend catching naps at their apartments during the early morning and dancing the two nights away until it was time to catch the train back to school, exhausted.

It was more than music to him. It was a potent memory of one of the few carefree times in his lives.

He did a little shimmy with his hips as he loosened his tie and just about had a heart attack when Scully rose up from under the crumpled blanket on his couch.

“Shit! Sorry. I forgot you were here.” That was totally the wrong thing to say, he could see that petulant expression that had become so familiar this past week spread across her face. Time to turn on the charm.

He wiggled towards the couch, adding a little heel to toe action. He extended a hand to her, an offer.

She settled back into the couch, shaking her head. Negative response or amazement at his bad dancing?

He tried harder, which he’d always found resulted in the dancing becoming worse.

A double shot of Blondie, now here’s ‘Rapture’.

She smiled. “Your favorite song, I presume?”

He had to grin. “Maybe.”

Her gaze scanned up his body. “I can see you now. New Wave Boy…”

He squinted at her as though he was trying to really see her. “And you…you were a Rocker Girl…”

She turned her face away and he enjoyed her profile before continuing. “Yep. In a tight, tight pair of Lee jeans. One of those little bitty tee shirts with the scoop necks…” He had to pause to reflect on the imagined memory of Scully’s young breasts. “Long hair…” He checked to see if she was looking at him yet, but she was just licking her lips as though to lap up the giggles before they could escape. Damn. “With those flipped back bangs all the girls had. And a cherry red pickup your Daddy bought for you. Roaring down the California freeway with the stereo blasting. Tom Petty’s ‘American Girl’? Or one of those ‘80’s hair bands? Bon Jovi? Winger?”

He had stopped dancing and was standing in front of her. She finally looked up at him and shook her head one more time. “Nope.”

“Oh?” He goaded.

She rolled her head back onto the cushion and met his gaze. A challenge lurked under her heavy, sleepy eyelids.

He allowed himself to loom over her, enveloping her in a shadow. He whispered, “You know, New Wave Boys always had a secret lust for Rocker Girls—”

“Too bad,” she said casually. “Because I was a Punk Girl.”

He was overcome. “No way!”

Her lids opened wide and she gave him her eyes, open and completely honest. “Way.”

He could only repeat. “No way!”

She crooked a finger at him. “Come closer. If you look carefully, you can see the scar where my nose ring was.”

He quickly snapped on the table lamp and adjusted the shade to boldly light the side of her face with a chiaroscuro effect. She tipped her head to give him a better view, holding her lips tight to keep from laughing at him.

The tune changed to ‘Lips like Sugar.’

He leaned in close. He concentrated on focusing on finding the scar among the freckles and tried not to notice her warm, sleepy odor or the light caught in the soft tangle of her hair.

Breathlessly, he said, “You know, New Wave Boys always had a secret lust for Punk Girls-”

She let the grin loose to play. One small hand gripped his tie, hanging like a panting dog’s tongue between them. The other ran restlessly through his hair, making it stand on end. “I know.” Regretfully, she added, “But New Wave Boys were such dweebs. Even if they were awfully cute with their big hair and skinny ties.”

She tugged on his tie and he took that as a signal to steal that smile away. Her mouth tasted like a Pez candy, sweet and tart at the same time, and gone regrettably fast.

He had to win. “No way.”

Her face fell. “Okay. It was for only one summer. Then my father came home and put a stop to it.”

Hurriedly, he said, “We don’t talk much like this, do we?”

She got a strange look on her face, part fear, worry, and a bittersweet amusement.

“No,” she whispered before she pulled him back to her, to kiss him deeply. He didn’t have a problem with that, even if his arms were aching from balancing over her body so he wouldn’t crush her.

The phone rang. Her hand pushed him off, and she ignored his grumbling protests as she snagged it. He fell down on the couch beside her, snuggling into the blanket and propping up his head on her shoulder. This felt much better than tension.

Then he felt the muscle under his cheek tense. Uh-oh.

“Mom? Yes, he’s home.” Scully pushed her hair behind her free ear. “Uh, no. Not yet.” She grew exasperated. “Because he just walked in the door.” She rose from the couch suddenly and he fell over in the warm spot left behind. He watched her, now sideways, start to pace. He noticed for the first time that she was wearing a fuzzy cute little dress thing. What were they called? All he knew was they were fun to remove because of the big buttons holding the straps in place. His fingers flexed in anticipation.

She had found a way to end the conversation and was staring at the receiver as though she was contemplating hurling it across the room.

He played his role. “What’s wrong?”

She did toss the phone onto the couch beside him. “My mother wants me to start hounding you to buy some house she found in the ‘burbs.”

“Is it nice?” he asked.

“If you like that sort of thing.” She brushed a hand across tired looking eyes. “How did things go at the bank today?”

“I got the teeth for the DNA sample. Uncle David seems optimistic that he can get three hundred thousand, easy, for the land. Of course, our little house will have some New York nouveau money building a mansion next door, but that’s the deal we make with the devil.” He tried smiling, but she was obviously thinking and didn’t notice.

“How soon does he think it will sell?”

“He said not to worry about that. He worked out some complicated deal where the bank will use the land as collateral on a loan to pay the down payment until it’s sold. He said buy something as soon as we find it.”

“Don’t tell my mother that,” she warned.

“Why not?”

“Oh, she’s got the perfect place all picked out. With a built-in Sunday after church neighborhood barbecue.”

He had to shudder at her words. He thought for a moment. He felt so overwhelmed by all this and he was sure Scully was as well. “Perhaps we should listen to your mother. I mean, she’s got experience with all of this.”

The glare she gave him would have knocked him unconscious if it were a fist. He tried a different approach. “What do you want to do?”

She fell down onto the couch beside him. Whining, she said, “I don’t know. I just know I don’t like being told what I’m supposed to want.”

He nodded. “Maybe we can go out this weekend. Look around for ourselves.” He was obscenely pleased at the sweet reward of a smile that suggestion earned him.

Her eyelids drooped again and he decided to take her to bed. She didn’t even protest as he lifted her off the couch and carried her into the bedroom. The buttons were fun to undo, but her fumbling hands stopped him before he could pull the jumper down.

He backed away from the bed and her eyes thanked him. “Uh—I’ve got some work to do.”

Her expression solidified to a blank wall. “All right.”

He escaped to the living room. What the fuck was going on? He didn’t know what he was doing or should be doing from minute to minute. He didn’t know if he should be making a move. He was never good at the move. Women always seemed to be the ones making the move on him, that is until he met Scully.

It had been so simple. Scully must not desire him; she’d never made a move on him. Well, somehow she’d ended up pregnant, so there must be some desire in there somewhere.

His mother had always told him, “Ladies like a gentleman, Fox. Not some animal pawing at them all the time.” He was going to be a fucking gentleman if it killed him.

He pulled a blanket and pillow out from the hall closet and placed them on the couch for later. He wanted to be sure she had the space he knew she desperately needed now. He only pushed her when he believed strongly in his cause. He’d pushed in everything but his love for her. Until now, only desperation and drugs had ever made him cross the line.

But he felt as though they were at square one. He had to stop being so impatient. They were getting married. They had the rest of their lives. He’d passed his sexual peak a long time ago. She wasn’t going to be missing out on anything. It was only sex after all. He’d gone—how many years had it been?—without a regular sexual partner. He could be a big boy now.

He felt very mature as he got on-line to notify Frohike and Langly that he had the DNA sample. He pushed the little devil off his shoulder as his gaze avoided the pornography spam that filled his mailbox if he left it for a day without checking the contents. The evil devil that claimed he didn’t even need to have sex with her. Damn it, he would be satisfied to see her naked!

He rolled his head back and squeezed his eyes shut in frustration. One step at a time. Get a house. He was sure Scully would feel more comfortable once they had a place of their own. Prioritize, that’s what she was always telling him. Everything would look better once they were on the right track.


Pinecrest, Virginia October 24th

It had seemed so simple. But now Mulder was discovering what it felt like to have a motherin-law. A displeased one.

She was standing in the middle of the living room of the house Scully and he had bought that weekend. The house had everything they wanted and the price had been right. Mulder hadn’t felt anything but relief as he signed the papers.

Now he was being told he should have a case of buyer’s remorse. Maggie paced and gestured around Scully, who stood with her arms crossed tightly.

Maggie’s voice was rising. “I cannot believe you did this!” She was gesturing at Scully but her gaze settled on Mulder.

She cut off Scully before she could respond. “Don’t tell me you paid full price!” Gasping, she said the numbers out loud. “Eight hundred—fifty thousand—dollars.”

Mulder protested, “But if we didn’t they would have sold the house to someone else.”

Maggie’s glance was withering before it swept around the room. “Did you manage to get a structural evaluation done?”

Mulder stomped his foot on the hardwood floor. “It’s very sturdy, Mrs. Scully—”

“What about the lean on your front porch and the falling shingles?” she asked.

Scully was red-faced and her mouth gaped open and shut like a dying fish. Mulder plowed on. “It’s got a big tree in the backyard for a tire swing—”

Maggie interrupted again. “And crabgrass—”

Determined, he continued, “There’s a fireplace in the bedroom—”

“What does it matter if the plaster is cracked and dust is going to filter into the baby’s lungs—”

He was beginning to lose confidence. Mrs. Scully was right. He hadn’t had the house checked for Radon poisoning or the possibility of carbon monoxide leaks from the furnace. His gaze wandered around the room, noticing a crack in one of the windows for the first time. His nest was missing some twigs and mud, that was for sure.

Scully’s voice had joined the fray, low and cool. “Mom, this is our house. This is the one we wanted.”

Now it was Mrs. Scully’s turn to gape. Recovering, she said, “Dana, this is just not like you.”

Again, the tough, burning gaze of a protective mother settled on him. “Not like you at all.”

He had to fix things, fast. “Scully, maybe your mother is right-”

Scully shook her head. Mulder was retreating on her again. She took the moment to look into his confused and worried face. She couldn’t be angry with him, only exasperated. She suddenly realized he had probably spent as many years looking for a mother as he’d spent in a search for a father. The weight was heavy on her heart.

“Can we return a house?” he asked.

Her mother snorted behind her and that pushed her over the edge. Each word shot out of her mouth. “We’re not returning this house.”

She repeated. “This is our home.”

Mulder nodded at her. “Okay.”

Her mother was relentless. “So when are you getting married?”

Scully closed her eyes, wishing herself anywhere, doing anything but this.

Mulder was saying, “I’m arranging the wedding, Mrs. Scully.”

Her eyes snapped open. He was?

He nodded again and continued. “I thought we could drive down to North Carolina on a weekend. Something quiet and private, right?” His brows rose in an unspoken question as he looked at her.

She nodded back, struck speechless.

Her mother didn’t give up. “I thought we could have something—”

“No. Mulder’s right. I don’t want to waste a lot of time and effort in this. It’s just a simple ceremony. There’s no need to make a fuss.”

Mulder’s face took on the blank quality Scully knew so well. What did he want from her now? Irritated, she remembered the early years of their partnership, when she spent hours of her days trying to figure out how to please him.

She had thought they’d developed an unspoken communication over the years. She’d fought long and hard to learn to read his every nuance. It didn’t mean she liked everything she heard from him, or wanted to hear it all time. But it was there.

Now, closer than they’d ever been, she couldn’t read him anymore. She missed understanding him with an ache that unsettled her. She turned her back on the two of them to block out the expressions she didn’t want to see. His face confused and questioning. Her mother’s face disapproving and fearful.

She looked out the large windows into the backyard. It was deeply blanketed with multi-hued leaves from their large trees, covering the pool and lawn. She furrowed her brow. They needed to get a couple of rakes and a wheelbarrow.

Chapter 4: Wedding Day


November 13th 3:30 P.M.

The urban scene had given way, and now the Virginia countryside was sliding by the car window. Maggie Scully’s easy chatter bobbed around the car interior like rubber duckies in a bathtub.

Scully nodded a lot. Her brain was used to keeping track of conversations without really listening.

Mulder had been held up on a case again. He was working in southern Virginia and was going to meet them in North Carolina. Maggie had actually seemed pleased. As she squeezed Scully’s hand, she had said, “Oh good. We can have some quality time. Just us girls.”

Well, here they were. Scully wanted to ask her mother to stop so she could buy a cherry pecan log at a Stuckey’s, but decided that wasn’t keeping with the theme of discussions of decorating tips and decisions about breast feeding versus bottle feeding. She burrowed deeper in her seat, realizing suddenly that Mulder always stopped to buy her a pecan log. She never even had to ask.


Scully shook herself back to attention because she knew that tone with her mother. The woman was finally going to get down to the conversation she really wanted to be having.

Maggie said it again, with a brighter tone. “Well.” She smiled over at Scully so her next words wouldn’t seem as harsh. “I certainly never thought you’d be in this position, Dana.”

“What position, Mom?” Scully asked carefully, afraid she knew the answer.

“Pregnant and getting married.” Maggie chuckled uncomfortably. “Or even married and then pregnant.” She rushed on. “I’m very happy for you and Fox, of course.”

“Of course,” Scully echoed.

Her mother shot her a sharp glance. “Now, Missy…I wouldn’t have been surprised if this had happened to her…”

Scully felt a stab to her chest. She had an urge to confess. “Mom…”

She forced herself to look over at her mother and was shocked at what she saw on her face. Resentment and guilt. Her mother had known about Melissa’s abortion all along.

Scully forced her gaze back out the car window. She felt assaulted on all sides. Not only did she have to re-learn her relationship with Mulder, but she also realized that her thirty-five year relationship with her mother had changed in the ten seconds it had taken her to acknowledge her pregnancy to this woman.

She hungrily read a road sign as they passed it. Fifty-seven miles to Edenton. She sneaked a glance at the odometer, marking the mileage. She knew every mile was going to pass slowly. She started again. “Mom…”


Edenton, North Carolina, The Cupola House Bed and Breakfast

After checking into the bed and breakfast Mulder had selected, Scully and Maggie sat together in the swing on the front porch, waiting for him. The crisp fall air felt good on Scully’s cheeks. She counted the seconds ticking away with an unconscious tapping of her toe. She wasn’t sure if she dreaded their forward progress or if she was impatient to push them along.

Mulder’s car pulled up and he leapt out to jump up the stairs of the porch. Nervously, he asked them, “How are you?”

Scully squinted up at him. The late afternoon sun came over his shoulder in a sharp beam and hurt her eyes. With a neutral tone, she answered, “Good. We’re good. Is everything ready?”

He nodded quickly. “Shall we go?”

Maggie got up from the swing, straightened her dress and ran a hand over her hair. She gave Mulder a quick smile. “Of course. Are you going to drive?”

“Yes. Let’s go.” He offered his hand to Scully and after a moment’s hesitation, she accepted it. Slowly they climbed down the stairs towards the car.

As she settled back in the front seat, she wondered if the wedding was going to be as stilted as these first few moments. She didn’t need to be worried about remembering this day. Everything was happening so slowly that she felt as though she were viewing one of Mulder’s slide shows.

Mulder drove them out of town and her curiosity was piqued. Maggie asked first. “Where’re we going, Fox?”

He glanced quickly up into the rear view mirror to make eye contact with her and then at Scully. He looked worried. “I had made arrangements of with the local justice of the peace. He usually does the ceremony in his home, but…”

He turned off the highway and started driving down a sandy country road in the direction of the ocean. Through the crack in the window, Scully smelled the sharp tang of sea air and her heart gave an automatic leap.

He gave them a strained smile. “I heard about this place and thought it might be better…”

The road ended at a finger of land, all sand dunes and tufts of thick grass. Strong and stocky, a small, wood-frame white church sat peacefully slumbering among the dunes.

Mulder started rattling off his spiel. “It was a church used by fishermen and their families. It’s been abandoned. It isn’t even consecrated anymore. But I thought—”

He looked miserable as he turned the car off and silence settled over the car.

Scully laid a hand on his arm. “It’s perfect. Thank you.”

Maggie looked less enthusiastic but as soon as she got out of the car and the breeze caught her dark hair to lift it from her face, she gave him a warm grin. “Yes, Fox. What a wonderful idea.”

He led them to the doorway. “Uh…we have to hurry. There aren’t any lights.”

The interior was very dim. Some light filtered through the ventilation slates in the belfry and cast sharp bands of gold across the dusty floor. There were two simple stained glass windows behind the altar and a primary colored prism formed a spotlight for them to approach.

“Ah—Here you are,” was the hearty bellow from the shadows at the front of the church.

“Yes, Mr. Marlowe, we’re here.” Mulder was helping Scully out of her coat and nodded down at her, seeming to approve.

She smiled up at him, understanding. The heavy gray velvet dress she’d chosen matched his rich silver silk tie. It almost looked as though they planned this day.

The three of them hung back, unsure.

“Well, get on up here,” came rolling down from the front again.

They all looked at one another. Maggie seemed to reach a decision and reached to take each of their hands, leading them down the sandy aisle, three abreast.

Once they were at the space where the altar would have been, Scully could make out the stout figure of Mr. Marlowe, the justice of the peace.

He smiled at her. “Indeed, what a lovely bride.”

She supposed she should have blushed to fill the bill, but instead, she nodded. “Thank you.” She hated compliments on her appearance. She never knew what to say.

She was startled when her mother gave her a quick peck on the cheek and stepped to the side. A woman stood back behind Mr. Marlowe and she assumed this would be the other witness.

He had begun and she hadn’t been paying attention.

“Dearly beloved…”

Vows. She would be making vows. Her hand tensed in Mulder’s light grasp. How had her hand gotten there? She couldn’t lie. Would she be asked to make promises she could not keep?

“To have and to hold…” She could do that.

“In sickness and in health…” For the first time in her life, she was able to lie convincingly. For Mulder’s safety, she would lie now, all the while resolved to make sure he was never hurt, even if it meant she would have to leave him.

“Forsaking all others…” Her brow creased. When was the last time she’d looked at another man with more than a simple appreciation for his physical appearance? She suddenly felt an odd sense of resentment towards Mulder for making her love him.

“Until death do you part…” The only problem was her concern that the death would be coming sooner rather than later.

Something cold was slipping onto her finger and she looked down to see what it was. She had to hold her hand up into the colored light to see it. He had put two rings on her finger. One was covered with diamonds, now cast in the garish shades of a neon sign, the other, a plain band hidden under a crust of stones. Surprised, she glanced at him.

Mulder looked embarrassed. She suddenly felt an easy smile cross her face. With her mother murmuring praise in the background, she agreed. “They’re beautiful. Thank you.”

Shifting his gaze between Scully’s half-lit face and Mrs. Scully’s admiring eyes, Mulder nodded, suddenly relieved. He had to stop taking these risks. He should have given her the ring the night before, made sure she approved. He should have shown her the wedding band, pointed out the inscription.

Although, he was now glad he hadn’t. It seemed right that his pronouncement would remain hidden from view, but kept close to her skin.

All their vows were hidden in the shadows. Somehow it seemed appropriate to marry Scully in a shifting half-light.

He couldn’t comprehend the words coming out of his mouth, but that was all right. He didn’t need illumination or sound. He only had to watch the kaleidoscope of emotions cross Scully’s face as the justice of the peace prompted him and he responded. When he said he would love her forever, the colors whirled in a rainbow.

“I now pronounce you man and wife.”

Her lips were as cool as the ring he’d given her to slip on his finger.


The light was nearly gone by the time they stepped out of the church door and headed back to the car. The breeze off the ocean had become a stiff wind. Scully turned to the others and asked, embarrassed, “Do you mind? I’d like to look at the ocean.”

“Do you want me to go with you?” Mulder asked, although he could tell the answer already.

“No. I’ll be gone just a moment.” Without waiting to see if he agreed, she shucked her shoes, wiggled out of her hose, and padded between the high dunes with the quickened step of a sea-nymph answering a call.

Maggie watched her go with a smile on her lips. Her voice wrapped around Mulder like a soft scarf against the chill of the encroaching darkness. “Don’t worry. She probably wants a moment with her father.”

“I’m sorry.” Mulder felt that covered a number of possibilities.

Her hand, warm and dry, found his and grasped on tight. “Thank you.”

He found himself draping his arm around her shoulder. Her tone kept its soft ascent up to him. “I’ll be going back tonight after dinner.”

“What? In the dark? We’re not due back until Sunday night.”

She was firm. “No. I want to give the two of you some time alone.”

He was suddenly mortified. “That’s not…I mean…”

“I think it’s for the best,” she said with all her grace. He felt as though he had just received an assignment.

The moon was rising, large and orange in the navy sky, and as Scully reappeared between the silver dunes, pushing her now wild red curls back with an embarrassed laugh, he found himself saying slowly, “Perhaps you’re right.”

Chapter 5: Cupola


Edenton, North Carolina Cupola Bed and Breakfast 8:05 P.M.

“What!” Scully screeched. Fighting for control, she tried a more reasonable tone. “Mom, what did you say to him?”

Maggie continued to pack her suitcase serenely. “I simply told

him I was going home early so the two of you could spend some time alone together.”

Scully heard her ten-year-old self in her voice. “But he’ll think I asked you to go…he’ll think…” The idea mortified her. The last thing she wanted was Mulder believing she needed her mother to set up a romantic encounter for her.

Maggie arched a brow at her. “He’ll think what? He’ll think he’s your husband now? He’ll think that a marriage ceremony means he gets a wedding night?”

“Mom! He gets a wedding night! Do you hear how that sounds? I’m supposed to do him some favor?” Scully protested.

Maggie sighed and then gave her a no-nonsense look. “Maybe you should do yourself a favor. In case you decide that’s a good idea, there’s a belated wedding shower gift there on the bureau.” With that she snapped her suitcase shut, gave Scully a peck on the cheek and as she swept from the room, said, “See you when you get home. Use the time wisely.”

Scully couldn’t help herself. She went and slowly opened the box. A satin nightgown lay in gold tissue. She pulled it out and held it up. It was floor length, with the sheen of amber pearls, tiny spaghetti straps and an impossibly low cut back. It looked exactly like something Jean Harlow would be wearing while sipping a martini.

She held it up to her body and looked in the mirror. Yes, the high waist would accommodate her rounded belly, even hiding it somewhat. Had her mother actually asked for a maternity negligee?

Now all she had to do was find the guts to put it on.


In the adjoining room, Mulder paced and strained his ears to try to hear something in the next room. Had Mrs. Scully left yet? It would be really embarrassing to walk in ready for seduction and have her sitting there with Scully in their matching flannel robes.

He looked down at himself. Did this pass for suave? He hadn’t hoped—he hadn’t dreamed—he wasn’t prepared. He hadn’t brought anything appropriate for a wedding night. The closest thing he had were his black silk boxers.

He had shaved extra close, put on the boxers and placed a couple of bottles of mineral water in an ice bucket. It was the best he could do.

He paced and listened some more, then glanced at the clock. Nine o’clock. She had to be gone. He had to act before he exploded. He knocked on the connecting door. He heard a muffled ‘ugh’ through the door. It wasn’t promising, but he entered her room anyway.

He had to look around the room to find her. She had turned all the lights off but the small lamp by the bed. The rest of the room was illuminated with candles and the air was thick with the sweet odor of warm beeswax. A fire burned, the reflection of the flames licking in deep orange tongues up the ivory walls.

Scully was on the purple velvet-covered chaise lounge in front of the fireplace, looking as though she had been napping. Her hair was tousled and her lids at half-mast, the blue irises glowing out from under the sweep of her dark lashes. Her cheeks were pink and flushed from her nap, like a sweet baby.

She was wearing a nightgown that matched the glow of her skin. His eyes flitted so rapidly over her body his head hurt. He was trying to take it all in: the way the material swayed down between her breasts to reveal the edge of a pink nipple in a deep shadow, the shimmer as it shifted restlessly over her hips and calves when she pushed herself upright, and the slow descent of an incredibly thin strap slipping off a smooth cream shoulder.

He really didn’t know if he could do this. He had dreamed and planned and plotted for so long—yet here he was and he didn’t know what to do first. He just stood there.

“What’cha got there?” she asked.

He looked down at the ice bucket. “Something to drink.” He decided not to try swallowing anything right now—his throat seemed to be nearly closed.

“Put that down and come over here,” she ordered him. Thank god— she was going to take charge.

As he approached her with measured steps, Scully could feel her throat closing off just as slowly. At this rate, she would be unconscious by the time her got to her side.

He finally stopped next to her and she craned her neck back to look up at him. It reminded her of the first time she’d tipped her head back to look up at the Empire State building. Her head spun from the lack of oxygen. He was her own personal skyscraper and she had the odd image of herself as Faye Raye, scaling the building’s side to join King Kong on the top.

She found her mouth full of cotton, a good muffler to keep the words running through her mind like the moving letters on the side of the Goodyear blimp from escaping: ‘Mine, Mine, Mine…’ She couldn’t think of another single thing as her eyes swept over his body, so familiar and yet now, suddenly, completely foreign territory.

She reached up to draw him down next to her on the chaise lounge but couldn’t think what to do after that. He sat there by her and seemed content. Finally she tugged at the waistband of his boxers. “I like this,” she said shyly.

He shrugged in embarrassment. “I left my smoking jacket and silk pajamas back at my apartment.”

“Oh.” Boy, she was a font of stimulating conversation. She had to think of something…

He was lightly tracing his finger on her bare shoulder. “You’re pretty,” he whispered and that broke the tension for her.

She gave a shaky chuckle. “You sweet talker.”

He protested. “I mean it.”

Her lips trembled between a smile and laugh. “I know.”

“Wanna sit on my lap, little girl?” he suggested.

She nodded shyly and tipped forward so he could slip back into the corner of the couch, pulling her on top of him. Their silk garments made their bodies slide over each other in an agreeable fashion.

She curled up on his lap and he seemed content with this. She wasn’t. She reached up to draw his mouth down to hers but didn’t kiss him quite yet. She’d have time for that later.

She trapped his lower lip between her teeth. She had always wanted to do that. Not even to kiss him: she hadn’t allowed herself that fantasy. But the overwhelming stimulus of his lip was like a seeing a chocolate bon-bon through a glass counter that never failed to make her mouth water.

She suckled on the captured flesh while his open mouth gasped warm breaths across her flushed face, letting her tongue attack the plump piece of fruit.

Under her ass, she could feel his arousal and it wasn’t merely trying to find a better angle to his mouth that made her shift until he groaned.

He finally pulled his lip free and she grumbled in distress. She had to admit he had a better plan when his mouth slipped down under her chin to explore all the surfaces it could find.

His hands slid over her satin-sheathed body, never grasping or pressing, but using the slippery cloth to polish her goose-pimpled skin.

Her head lolled back on the velvet arm of the couch and she watched through blurred vision as his large, dark hand slid down the pale silk covering her shin. When his fingers reached the edge of the fabric, they danced there for a moment, seemingly unsure.

For encouragement, she rolled her head over and sucked his earlobe into her mouth to give it a tug. Finally, she felt the tentative stroke of his fingertips on her calf. She gave out a gasp of approval into his ear, and that seemed to spur him onward.

His palm joined his fingers in their journey back up her leg to where her two thighs were pressed together and squirming on his lap.

She glanced down to see the rough-hewn hand revealed her white thigh to his gaze. The edge of her panties appeared as he swept the negligee up to her waist.

He met her eyes and he seemed to be asking permission to continue. Feeling exhilaration at fear of the unknown, like being unable to watch a scary movie, she buried her face in his neck. She couldn’t watch anymore, she wanted to just feel.

He must have understood because she could feel the stealth steps of the pads of his fingers across the swell of her belly. She turned into his body again, hoping he wouldn’t be able to see how much her stomach was distended with her pregnancy. She couldn’t imagine a bigger turn-off for a man.

He managed to fit his arm down between their bodies, into the dark crevice that was made up of his large roving hand, his swollen, trembling erection under his shorts, her shifting thighs and the swell of their child’s home.

She allowed herself to peek and the sight of his strong, sinewed forearm disappearing between their bodies made her moan with a sweet pain. She indulged herself, licking and biting his hard bicep. The veins bulged and the tendons rippled in his long arm and she realized she’d never be able to look at his beautiful bare arms again without becoming wet.

She let out a shuddering sigh as she felt his fingers slip under the edge of her panties and burrow through her curls. He was almost there. She spread her legs a bit to give him access, but had to turn her face away again. If she looked it might all turn out to be a dream, and she didn’t want to wake herself if that was the case.

Confined by her underwear, his hand was pressed to her hot labia, but that was all right. He seemed content to let his fingers slide through her folds in their first tentative explorations of this new territory.

She realized she should be doing something. She should be kissing him, encouraging him, touching him, but all of her thought processes and energy was tuned to the nerve endings under his touch at this moment. It was as though she was travelling back all the months to the moment when her orgasm had died just as it started. It was back, ready, needy.

He pushed his index finger into her and as it traveled up her vagina, investigating all the soft nooks and crannies it found along the way, and she suddenly remembered why having a man was better than spending a lifetime masturbating: bigger hands, longer fingers.

Her body was completely liquid, incapable of action. She let her head fall away from the crook of his neck and onto the arm of the couch, her body arched back and exposed to him.

When their eyes met, she allowed herself to reveal her arousal to him in her lazy gaze.

The sight of her face stunned Mulder. Every Scully expression he had ever seen before had to be wiped away. This was the one he would remember on his dying day. He was reminded that Bernini had modeled his statue of St. Teresa in ecstasy after his mistress during an orgasm. This was what he saw forming on her flushed face: pure rapture.

She wasn’t turned on. That was too base a description. She was allowing herself to ascend to a spiritual place created from nerves and muscles and heat. And she was showing it to him.

He withdrew his finger and saw worry cross her smooth features. He shook his head to reassure her and moved his fingers up to her clitoris. He squeezed and gently rolled it between his thumb and second finger and began to stroke the swollen nub he had captured with his slick index finger.

He watched mesmerized as the flames of the firelight danced with the flitting emotions on her features. Her mouth was gasping for air and calling for her deity all at once.

“Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God.” was her plea. He saw the miracle happen, felt its power beneath his hand as she rose to meet it. At that moment, he shared her belief, he felt saved.

He realized he’d been sitting still for a few minutes watching her face. It looked like the setting sun, full and bright, then intense and deep as the rising night when her head sank back against the pillows.

He gently disentangled himself and stood up on shaken legs. She gazed up at him with wide, dazed eyes. He smiled and said, “Feel better now?”

“Uh-huh.” Her voice cracked over the few wordless syllables.

“I’m glad.” He carefully pushed her hair from her damp brow, grimacing only slightly at the pain of his own straining erection.


“Yeah?” He straightened back up and realized that that didn’t feel any better.

“Do you…” She glanced down at the bulge in his boxers.

He sounded very British to his own ears when he replied. “Really…that’s all right…not necessary…I understand perfectly…”

She was touching him. She had reached out and grasped the elastic waistband of his silk shorts while he was garbling and pulled them down to his knees. He stepped out of them but then continued to stand there in front of her, feeling slightly ridiculous. In his mind, there was nothing sillier than a naked man with an erection in the presence of a clothed woman. He realized he hadn’t even bothered to take off her underwear as he’d touched her.

She was touching him again. Just one finger was running up and down the underside of his thrumming cock, and her mouth was pursed as though she was concentrating on a medical examination. He expected her to diagnose a varicose vein any moment now.

As she touched him, Scully decided she wanted to get a good, long look. She’d always been amazed by conversations with other women where they revealed their disgust at the male sex organ. She didn’t share that view.

She found beauty in the slightly ridiculous appearance of the penis. The process that resulted in an erection and the effect that her ministrations could have upon it fascinated her.

This was her penis now. She decided it was a very beautiful penis at that. She gripped the shaft very lightly, testing the girth. Her fingertips danced along the smooth skin, discovering all the ridges and veins. She could hear his panting breaths above her, and noticed the quiver of his stomach, but she ignored them. She needed to concentrate. Very lightly, she used just the pads of her fingers to touch the head of his penis. She slid her thumb around, spreading the drop of pre-cum that had appeared as though she could soothe his heat.


She snatched her hand away and felt her face go beet-red. “I’m sorry—”

“No, that’s okay…ummm…so…” Now he sounded like a camp counselor to his ears. “Shall we get started?”

She sounded unsure. “Of course.” She struggled to get out of the cushions of the lounge.

He gently pushed her back. “No. Stay here. I’ve got an idea.”

He started gathering up the pillows strewn on the floor and on the bed. First he supported her back, then piled some under her hips. After a moment’s hesitation, he pulled her panties off carefully, and although she didn’t protest, he decided not to try for the other garment.

He stood back and surveyed his work. He decided to add another pillow under her hips just to make sure. He didn’t want any of his weight bearing down on her stomach.

Her voice, amused, whispered in his ear as he bent to his task. “And when we’re finished here, we can build a tower of furniture.”

He looked at her uncomprehending for a moment, but then had a sudden flash to her face that night, and realized as he looked into her yearning eyes now, that there had been an invitation in it.

He constrained himself from slapping himself on the brow, and knelt down between her raised and spread knees. He had more pressing matters to attend to than his past mistakes. He propped himself up with one arm over her body, gripping the chaise arm behind her head. She smiled up at him dreamily and he took that as encouragement.

With his free hand, he guided his penis, now quivering like a dog straining on a leash, to her opening, and carefully pressed into her. She was still warm, loose, and wet from her orgasm and his entry was easy. In unison, they both gave a long, low sigh of relief when he was fully enclosed in her heat.

As he settled his weight into his grip on the arms of the chaise, he decided he had it all planned out. He was going to go slow— none of that caveman pounding of their first encounter. He would give her at least two orgasms to make up for last time. It seemed the least he could do. The slow screw—that was on the program tonight, he thought as he gazed down at her rapturous, loose smile and gently kissed her soft lips. He kissed her again and again, with a half-closed mouth and open eyes gazing down into her warm pools of tropical blue.

In horror, he realized his hips had another idea. They were pumping madly into her. He took a deep breath and tried to slow down.

This worked until her eyes took on a devilish gleam and she pushed herself off the pillows to worry at one of his nipples with her tongue. He gritted his teeth and almost survived that, and then she bit down on the swell of his pectoral until he was forced to groan. His hips picked up their fast rhythm again.

“Scully…” he moaned.

“Hmmm?” was her reply as she began scraping at his chest with her hard cool fingernails.

“Scully…” he couldn’t remember the question.

She seemed to be distracted. He felt her press a finger into his belly button. He frantically concentrated on his breathing to keep from coming right that moment.

As he looked down into her confident smile, he realized he’d made a terrible mistake. By giving her an orgasm first, she was nowhere near the same stage he was. He needed to get her caught up and fast.

He dared to let go of the arm of the lounge with one hand and reach down for her clitoris. She stopped his hand with her own cool fingers.

“Please, Mulder. I’m still sensitive,” she said, to his dismay.

“What? Um…okay…you’re sure?” was his pathetic reply.

She settled back into the cushions and looked up at him with a purring cat’s satisfied face. “Uh—huh…”

He heard himself whining over the blood pounding in his ears. “But Scully…I can’t…”

“It’s okay…I want to watch…Show me, Mulder…” Her words were like cool silk running over his hot, straining body.

He shook his head like a bad-tempered little boy. “I can wait…”

She giggled and he had to visualize Mrs. Peacock’s face to keep from falling over the edge right then.

The devil grin was back. He had never seen this cruel side of Scully before. In horror, he watched as her slim arm slid down between their bodies and he felt her fingers searching…

“Scully!” he warned.

She just rolled her head back and grinned up at him. After sliding her hand up the backside of his straining balls, lifting the fine hairs to stand on end like startled bystanders, she began stroking his perineum with her fingertip. He was lost.

“Come on…Show me…I want to watch…I want to see…You’re so beautiful…” she coaxed.

He couldn’t possibly stop the orgasm roaring down like a landslide to envelop them. He hung onto the arms of the lounge for dear life to keep from crushing her. He had gotten a good grip on the cushion with his toes so he lifted her hips off the pillows with his deep thrusts as he gushed into her.

Her small hands swept over his hypersensitive muscles like lashes from a whip, encouraging him to wring that last bit of energy from his surging body.

Dimly, he could hear her laughing and it was a wondrous sound, almost as rewarding as seeing her come. Almost. He was still a little touchy about that subject.

As he pulled out, he struggled to keep his balance so he wouldn’t collapse on her. Instead, his trembling legs gave out and he fell off the couch with an undignified thump.

She rolled over and looked down at him sprawled on the floor beside the lounge. Pushing her halo of hair back from her eyes, she asked, concerned, “Are you okay?”

He parroted her favorite words. “I’m fine.”

“Did you hit your head?” She didn’t seem convinced by his reassurance.

“No…I just need to lie here for a moment, and recover.”

She rolled back into the pillows and grinned down at him. “That was incredible.”

He stared up at the ceiling and felt depression cool his tired muscles. “No. I was not incredible. You didn’t come.”

“Mulder, this isn’t some contest. I had my orgasm earlier. You had yours. One each. I think we’re even,” she chided him, poking him with a foot that had swung off the cushion.

He rolled his head over and looked at the foot. He quickly grabbed it and caressed it gently. Her toes wiggled like small fish trying to escape his grip.

The fire had died down to dark ruby coals, crackling and grumbling with its dying hope. His gaze traveled up her leg and settled on her exposed genitalia glistening like the center of a cherry pie in a shadow.

She hadn’t pushed her gown back down but as he stared at her, she reached for it.

His voice hoarse, he asked, “No. Please.”

She seemed uncomfortable, but stopped.

His fingers still stroking her foot, he continued to stare into his…nest…for lack of a better word.

When he was a little boy, he had always coveted the rose on the cake. He’d wanted the red rose, not the icky yellow, or sickening blue. He would lift it off his piece of cake and set it aside for last.

As he pulled himself up onto his knees and honed in on his objective, he knew she was going to taste and feel like that rose. His tongue would drag through the thick, smooth petals, melting their shape under his saliva. Then he would grip one of the outer petals between his lips until the sugar melted completely away in his mouth.

The look on his face made Scully nervous. He looked like he was going to devour her. Scully heard her voice sounding far away and schoolmarm-ish. “Really, you don’t have to…I’m fine…I said I was fine…”

As his tongue traveled up the inside of her leg, she decided if this what he wanted to do, if his fragile male ego needed the reassurance, she wasn’t going to deny him…maybe she would fake it to get this over with…

And then his mouth settled onto her and she had to grip the arms of the chaise to keep from flying away. Maybe she did have something more to give tonight.

He didn’t start slow or tentative, as she had expected. He sucked her clitoris into his mouth forcefully and began to press on it rapidly with his tongue. The contrast between the suction and the stimulation was excruciating—in a wonderful sort of way.

He had to stop or she was going to die. If he did stop, she would die. She didn’t know what to do, so she did nothing.

He had draped her legs over his shoulders and she was still hanging onto the arms of the sofa, so at least she wasn’t worried about physically falling. Instead, she felt as though she was wavering at the edge of some pit. Her stomach rose and fell in fear and anticipation.

She was frantic and fought to keep back tears of frustration. Someone was asking her a profound question, but the answer was just out of her reach, hiding somewhere in the folds of her overheated brain.

As she tipped over the edge, she realized she could not see the bottom. This was never going to end. He was keeping her floating on a pocket of air created by his incredible mouth.

She was free at last. She had no weight, she had no body. Her worries and fears were left back on the sharp rocks at the edge of the precipice.

It was as though he had flung open the door to the office and a strong wind was blowing all her paperwork of the desk. Shattered, at first she tried to gather up all the scattered papers, running frantically about the room. Then she sank down, allowing herself relief at the loss of the burden of her need for control.

Her tears broke away, but she began to cry with gratitude for her release, great sobs shaken loose with her orgasm from the tight ball in her stomach.

As the orgasm attacked her brain, rendering it immobile, her last realization was that every sexual encounter she’d ever had before was merely going through the motions. Now she had an answer to a question she never realized she was asking.

She wondered if she lost consciousness or if her brain had just decided to shut down and not record any events for a while. Mulder was standing over her, pushing her hair back and wiping the tears from her face. “Scully?”

Words, he wanted some words. The back-up computer gave the correct response. “I’m fine.”

He shook his head, his mouth thin with worry. “I shouldn’t have…”

She almost giggled, but that would take more energy than her reserves held. Instead she repeated, “You shouldn’t have…”

Mulder winced at the words coming from her lax mouth. Her eyes seemed to be having trouble focusing and he almost contemplated calling the front desk for a doctor.

Instead, he lifted her gently from the cushions and carried her to the bed. As soon as he slipped her under the covers, she fell asleep.

He crawled in beside her, suddenly exhausted. But his brain was still going a mile a minute, processing everything that had just happened. He had done it again. He had hurt her and upset her. She had cried, as he had never seen her cry, not even when she thought he was dying or when she was shot. He must never do that again. From now on, he would treat her with all the tenderness and care she deserved.

As he slipped away too, he realized he still had not seen her nude.

Chapter 6: Fete Galante


2630 Hegal Place Alexandria, Virginia December 7th, 5:46 P.M.

Mulder glanced both ways as the elevator doors opened on the floor of his old apartment. Pausing, he momentarily forgot if it was to the right or left. He shook his head to loosen up his memory and headed for number 42.

He used his key to open the door. Langly, standing closest, his back to the door, automatically reached for the weapon he kept tucked in the back of his pants. Mulder would have laughed at the bravado if he didn’t appreciate the gesture so much. His gaze found the reason for his concern.

Scully was curled up in the wing-backed chair, glasses perched on the end of her nose, and an open file propped on her rounded belly. He moved forward to give her a kiss on top of her bright hair. Her eyes didn’t rise from the paperwork, but a hand absently rubbed his cheek.

“You need a shave,” she murmured.

Frohike gave a snicker and looked over at Byers, reposing on the sofa, his broken leg elevated, slumbering lightly. Byers woke with a snort, as though he instinctively he knew he had become the butt of a joke while asleep. He quickly looked around the room as he rubbed his still-smooth cheek.

“Mulder, I’m glad to see you here at last. Held up at work?” he asked as he pushed himself up on his pile of pillows.

“Yes. Again. Scully sounded excited on the phone. What do you have?” He shed his trench coat, added his suit coat to the wall hook, and started to roll up his sleeves.

Scully finally closed the file and gave him her full attention. He could tell she was containing her excitement. She nodded towards Byers, allowing him to hold court.

Byers began. “We’ve been piecing together what we have from what data remains, the new information, and what I can remember. We believe we’ve finally brought it all together to construct a plausible scenario as to the intentions of these forces.”

Mulder settled on the arm of Scully’s chair. Langly and Frohike took positions on the arms of the sofa like perching birds. “And?”

Byers’ healing pink cheek flushed red and he motioned towards Scully. “Dana is the one who really did all the work, perhaps she should make the presentation.”

Dana? As he took in the warm gazes of the three men towards the small form beside him, Mulder dryly thought there was nothing more seductive to a bachelor than a ‘helpless’ pregnant woman.

‘Dana’ demurred. “No, John, you’ve been doing this work since the beginning, you can be the most concise.”

Mulder lost patience. “Someone!”

Byers gave a start. “We started by searching for a motive—trying to find out why this fetus was created and to what end.”

Attempting to stay focused, Mulder shook his head slightly. Byers was talking about his child, not ‘this fetus’.

Byers proposed, “We’d thought that the threat to human life from the alien virus had passed with the extermination of the Consortium at El Rico Air Force Base. And yet it would appear the two of you are being used in another attempt to create a resistance for humans against the virus by forces we can only assume are made up of the remaining members.”

“But Cassandra Spender was a successful hybrid. A resistance has been developed,” Mulder suggested.

“And lost,” Frohike quickly commented.

Mulder nodded in agreement, but added, “But it’s possible to create the hybrid. Our baby is something new and different.”

“A hybrid or clone isn’t a human being. They aren’t real people,” Scully broke in.

Mulder shifted away from her warmth and focused on the corner of the room for a moment, letting the shadows reassemble into his sister’s long braids, to a group of young girls with his sister’s face.

Langly asked, “Can those things even breed? I mean, what’s the point of saving us if we can’t reproduce? Are they like mules— sterile?”

Byers had become impatient. “Exactly. If a human could develop resistance—”

“They had developed the antidote I used on Scully—”

“But if humans could acquire a natural resistance to infection, one they could pass on to their children—” Byers pushed on.

Byers had Mulder’s attention. He queried, “Does Scully show resistance? Or did the antidote only cause her body to reject the organism?”

Regretfully, Byers said, “I believe the antidote only solved the immediate problem of her infection—”

Scully slapped the pile of folders on her lap in frustration. “In working to find the pieces to this puzzle, we discovered that most of the evidence and tests we’ve collected over the years have vanished.”

Frohike gave Mulder a look of mock surprise. He said, “We have some information on our hard drives from our participation in your investigations, but—”

“But it’s not much. And it’s the evidence that would mean we could have conclusive results today.” Scully finished through tight lips.

Langly wagged his head. “But wouldn’t the stolen evidence only prove that we’re on the right track?”

“True. But it doesn’t give us any way to move forward on an investigation. Being morally right is only doing so much for me,” Scully muttered as she hauled herself from her chair to begin to pace. She rubbed her lower back with annoyance.

Mulder motioned her to come close to him and took over the massage. “Why us? Why a baby? To what purpose now that the threat of an alien invasion appears to be over? Let’s go back to those questions.”

Frohike cut to the chase. “We think the two of you are carrying recessive genes that have been passed on to the baby. He should have the gene that could offer resistance to the virus.”

Mulder gave him a grin of thanks. “Can we prove this?”

He could tell Scully was frustrated by the way her shoulders tensed as she said, “No. This is only a theory.” Frohike put a contrite expression on his face and showed it to her. “As I said, most of our past DNA samples are missing. Even if we had the test results, we weren’t examining them with a powerful enough microscope to get the results we got this time.”

“This time?” Mulder asked.

Langly hopped off the arm of the sofa and rummaged through the paperwork. “We got access to this bitchin’ power machine that showed every little corner of your strands, man!”

His enthusiasm was infectious. Scully’s shoulders wiggled free from their knots. “Yes. The actual blood sample from the tests after I returned from my abduction is missing. The results were with the Gunmen, but those aren’t conclusive. I did store a dried blood sample in my home from the test to determine Emily’s parentage. We used the childhood tooth for your ‘before’ sample. Both of those samples show us to be free of a gene that now is present as a germ-line cell in our DNA.”

Mulder let his hand still on her back as he sank into thought. “Germ-line cells can be passed onto our offspring. But I haven’t heard of any scientific success with this type of gene therapy.”

Byers noted, “These individuals have created effective retroviruses in the past. This particular experiment may very well be within Their abilities.”

“Do we have anything we can use as proof that this is the purpose of our baby? Do we even know if the DNA changes in Scully and me are a result of Their machinations?”

Flipping quickly through the papers in his file, Langly said, “We’re assuming the antidote changed Scully’s DNA. It could very well have happened during her abduction, but the branched DNA proteins present at that time were missing when she had tests done during her treatment and for the conformation of Emily’s parentage. So we’re going with these latest tests. You—”

Scully broke in. “I was never satisfied with the test results we gathered after you returned from your imprisonment in Siberia.”

Mulder shrugged. “I was fine. I felt fine.”

She swung around to give him an exasperated glare. Her hands swirled rhythmically around her belly, and Mulder was reminded of a witch stirring her brew. “Mulder, you were exposed to the black oil. And nothing happened. Apparently. That seemed odd to me at the time, it seems odd now. For one thing, your exposure could explain why you had such an extreme reaction to the artifact.”

Frohike asked, “It was only men being used for the tests, right?”

Mulder said, “Yes, but I was told by the other prisoners that the tests were to determine the exposure level that humans could tolerate.”

The little man gave a gasp of exasperation. “And they would tell their guinea pigs the truth?”

Mulder sighed. “You’ve got a point.” He was silent a moment and then continued. “If the black oil changes DNA, why bother using me? They have at least one person right in their midst who’s been possessed by the oil. Alex Krycek.”

He heard Scully give out a hiss and reached blindly to grasp her hand.

Frohike commented quickly. “Obviously They wanted the impregnation to happen naturally—”

Scully’s harsh tone cut through his reassurances. “Are we certain of my impregnation date?”

Byers said, “As certain as we can be.”

Mulder hurried back to safe territory. “It looks as though they realized the altered DNA may create an individual with resistant genes.”

Scully nodded. “It would seem. The new genes we now have are different from each other. I assume they’re recessive and need the other gene to be effective. Assuming this is the child’s purpose. It could all mean nothing at all,” she finished while letting out a big puff of air.

He protested, “The child has to be for something—”

She plopped back down in the chair. Langly had brought her a glass of water without her asking and she smiled in thanks. Mulder mentally chided himself for not thinking of it first.

She spit out, “We only know an unmapped gene with an unknown function is present in our child. Dammit! If only we had the DNA codes that we found last year in Gibson, my virus, and the claw from that creature!”

“Everything’s gone?” he asked.

“Everything. The ice core samples from the Yukon. The organism from Dr. Sacks. The proteins I found in my blood while I had cancer. Everything that could connect this puzzle together.” She took a deep gulp of her water.

Frohike posed the question, “Does it matter? We know they’re up to something, that’s the important part.”

“But is our child really healthy?” She gave him a blazing look and the little man pulled himself up higher on the arm of the sofa.

Byers tried to calm the scene. “Nothing would lead us to believe otherwise—”

She was on a roll. “Then why did they want him dead? Didn’t he turn out the way they wanted? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”

Byers voice was low and soothing. “If they wanted to collect his genes, they wouldn’t need the child alive. They only needed the tissue. Apparently they decided to take possession of the fetus as soon as they could confirm he had the qualities they desired. I would say they were taking a risk, hoping they could gather the sample they needed from the fetus. If they had the live baby, they could perform any number of experiments…” He let his words die out. Mulder felt the body next to him stiffen.

“Yes,” she said coolly. “I’m sure that was the case.”

Frohike got to the point. “Whatever. The important thing is, the kid’s got the stuff—Let’s assume someone hopes to turn that virus loose on all of us anyway—that stuff’s going to get us out of harm’s way.”

Mulder, who had remained silent during the fiery exchange, said with wonder, “Well, I can see Scully in the role of Mary, but I don’t know about me as Joseph.”

Looking down at Scully, he realized he had said the wrong thing. Her face was very still. She spoke carefully and slowly. “Our child is not the Savior. He is a baby. He will play and laugh and be happy.”

“Scully…” Mulder began.

“No. I will not have you locking him up somewhere, poking at him with needles. That would make us no better than Them.” She craned her head back to look at him with flaming eyes. “Your parents were forced to make this sort of choice and look what happened to your family!”

The other three men found anywhere else to look in the room but the quarreling couple. She burned on. “I’ve been closer to this sort of situation than any of you! I’ve been in Their power—I’ve been terrified—”

Mulder was frightened to see all this emotion pouring out of her. He stroked her shoulder ineffectually.

Ignoring him, she went on, calm now. “When he’s born, you can have a tissue sample. Find a scientist you can trust.” she nodded to Byers and he nodded back solemnly. “Do your experiments. Get the genetic samples you need from that tissue. Leave my baby alone. If there’s a problem duplicating the gene to create a retrovirus, then we’ll talk.”

Mulder tried one last time. “Scully—”

Her voice rose again. “No, Mulder! I will not look another child in the eyes and explain why he’s being used as a lab rat.”

Mulder gasped in exasperation. “Scully, what if that old bastard is planning on selling the virus or taking power using it as a weapon? Our baby is the way to stop this from happening.”

She shook her head with impatience. “As always, this is just another one of your theories with no basis other than your instincts. I won’t have my son a pawn in what has always been a guessing game. We’ve been lied to, misled, sent on wild goose chases every step of the way.”

She settled back into the chair with determination. “I say we stay the course. Let’s decide what color to paint the nursery. Choose a pre-school. See what develops.”

The room fell silent. When someone finally spoke it was Frohike, and his tone was grave. “Agent Scully, I’ll respect your wishes with the baby. But I can’t allow you to take unnecessary risks with yourself at this time.”

Mulder didn’t understand what the little man was getting at, but he could tell from Scully’s shifting body that she knew where he was headed.

Frohike hopped off of the arm of the sofa. “I’ve acquired a very small transmitter. It doesn’t have much of a range, but it’s all we can put on your body. We’ve put transmitters in your vehicles, but that doesn’t do anything for us if you’re snatched off the street.”

Realization dawned on Mulder and he watched Scully’s face to see her reaction. Her face showed a moment of fury and then cleared to a hard mask. She said, “Yes,” in a tone that suggested she wanted to say much more, most of it profanities.

Seeming to choose to ignore the unspoken words, Frohike moved to the desk to pull open a drawer. “We’ll call Dr. Mui to come over and insert this under your skin.” He pulled a medical kit and small box from the drawer and set them on the top of the desk.

“You can do it right now.” Scully had risen from the chair.

Frohike swung around to face her, his bushy brows rising. “Me?”

“You have the basic medical training from the Army Medical Corps— you can do it,” she said briskly.

“I suppose,” he said slowly, “But I’ll need some local anesthetic—”

“No,” she cut him off as she reached around him and snapped on the desk lamp. “I don’t need anything. Just do it.”

“Where should I put it?” he asked as he carefully began setting out his instruments. Langly and Byers exchanged worried glances, but Mulder couldn’t take his eyes from the pair in the center of the harsh bright circle of light.

She lifted the curtain of blood-red hair to reveal the white column of the back of her neck. “Here. Next to the other one.”

Frohike nodded solemnly as he wet a pad of cotton with alcohol. Mulder had to give her credit. She really knew how to make a man feel like shit when she put her mind to it.


FBI Basement December 8th, 3:45 P.M.

Tiff had learned to read Mulder’s body during the past few months. After he picked up the ringing phone, she could sense tension grab his limbs.

“I’ll be right there,” he said quickly, dropping the phone back down to its receiver.

“What’s up?” She was already grabbing her purse as she rose from her chair.

He was half way out the door. “In the bullpen. Something’s up with Scully.”


The two came through a doorway to the bullpen abreast, to be confronted by a room full of agents. A few cried out, “Surprise!” Others said, “Shush! Not yet!”

As his eyes swept the room, taking the scene in, Mulder muttered to Tiff, “Find Scully. Stop her from coming here.”

Tiff was looking around the room too, first noting the sagging banner, reading, ‘Congratulations! Finally!’. Then she saw the bouquets of black balloons floating over a large cake with sickening green frosting and a plastic spaceship rising off of it. She furrowed her brow and realized the traditional bride and groom figures had been placed on the ramp ascending to the ship.

Too late. She spotted Scully across the room, being grasped by agents as she moved towards them. They must have lured her over from Quantico’s teaching labs in a similar fashion.

And Skinner. He had come through another doorway. This day was suddenly looking like it was becoming extremely complicated.

Mulder had made his way to Scully’s side, accepting pats on the back with half-hearted nods. Their eyes met and they seemed to make an agreement when they both tipped their heads together, once.

Skinner was in front of them. Tiff moved closer to hear what he had to say.

First, he shook Mulder’s hand. “Congratulations.”

Mulder nodded stiffly. “Thank you, sir.”

Then he turned to Scully who was trying to meet his gaze with her own imploring eyes. He seemed to be concentrating on a spot somewhere over her left shoulder. “Good luck, Agent Scully.”

She said quietly, “Thank you, sir.”

He turned away and ran into Tiff’s hard gaze. Behind him, Tiff could see Mulder and Scully being shown some plastic alien dolls, dressed in diapers, by laughing agents.

“Well.” His voice reminded her of being thrown against a solid brick wall.

“Sir?” She decided to play stupid for a few blissful moments.

Nodding towards the couple, he said, “You didn’t think this information was relevant to the investigation?”

Firmly, she answered, “No. I didn’t know they were married myself until now.” For the past month, she’d decided not to wonder about the ring that she had noticed hanging from a chain, outlined under Mulder’s shirt.

Skinner ground his teeth. “And Agent Scully’s pregnancy? Surely that was the reason for the incident at the hospital.”

He had her there. “I didn’t think it had a connection with the investigation. Sir.”

He let out a gasp of air, like a suddenly punctured tire. His reserve was gone. “You’re kidding! I’m thinking her pregnancy has everything to do with the case!”

She shook her head obstinately. “No, Sir. Agent Mulder did not put it in the reports. I assumed it was a personal matter of Agent Scully’s. And—” “Yes?” His eyes were still on Mulder and Scully. They had moved to stand by the cake. Seemingly unconsciously, as she gazed down at the cake, Scully’s hands swept around and around her distended belly.

Tiff shifted her gaze to them as well. “I would think if they had wanted you to know, they would have told you.”

He was silent for a few moments and she wondered if he was going to speak at all. Then he tipped his head as though accepting her winning a point, no matter how low the blow. “True.”

Without another word, he melted away into the crowd.

Determined, Tiff wove through the clumps of chattering agents to Scully’s side. Mulder had been cut away from Scully like a calf from its mother and was trapped in a tight pack of men by the water cooler.

Scully was in the process of opening packages with automatic motions. Tiff noticed that the men all seemed jovial, their deep voices ringing off the walls. The few women present were bunched around Scully, but rather than being protective they seemed like buzzards standing by a dying animal, waiting patiently for their turn to come. Beyond Scully’s view, their eyes, sharp and cold, assessed her body and from the twisting of their lips, found her lacking.

Scully set aside the fourth bib with ‘Little Green Man’ emblazoned across the front with a corresponding illustration and looked up to greet Tiff.

Tiff glanced around at the women, her own eyes hard. They all took a step back. With a completely insincere smile, she said, “Why don’t we give Agent Scully a break?”

As she led Scully away, the woman only had time to murmur, “Thanks,” before a booming voice called to them.

“Dana! Wow! I couldn’t believe it when I got the call to come to this party!”

They turned to look at the man approaching. Tiff always found this sort of guy unattractive. She called them ‘white rabbits.’ This was a classic example. His ruddy-skinned forehead was dangerously high, with his few strands of fair hair arranged carefully over his developing bald spot. Pale eyes with pink rims peered out of fat red cheeks. He was burly bordering on bulky.

A hand reached out to grasp at Scully’s limp arm. She seemed barely able to control her reaction of horror.

He continued, unnoticing. “Danes! How did this happen?”

Even Tiff couldn’t keep the expression of shock from her face. Seeing the blank door slam up over Scully’s face, she broke in, “I don’t believe we know each other—”

The man glanced over her with only slight interest. “Tom Colton. Anyway, Danes, I never thought this would be how your career would be going—”

Elaine from Fraud, whom Tiff privately had dubbed, Easy Lay, peered around the beefy arm of Colton. Her shrill voice joined in. “Ain’t it the truth? We always wondered what you two were getting up to down there in that basement, I guess we know now…” She let her words hang in the air like swamp gas, putrid and heavy.

That was it. The party was over. Tiff bellowed. “Okay! Everyone! I think the happy couple has had enough revelry for today!”

All the agents looked at her in confusion and then realization swept over their faces.

“So, why don’t we start cleaning up so they can go home,” she finished briskly.

As Tiff dumped another piece of half-eaten cake into the garbage can, Scully came up behind her. “Thanks.” She hadn’t spent much time around Dana Scully, but she could tell she was a woman of few words.

“No problem.” Tiff nodded to Mulder, who had joined Scully, his hand coming to rest at her back. “Go home, you two. Take a long, hot shower to wash yourselves clean.”

Mulder gave her a twisted smile. “Sounds good. See you tomorrow?”

She was watching them leave the room, making sure they weren’t accosted again, when she felt the pressure of a wide palm on the small of her back.

“That was nice of you,” Skinner murmured in her ear.

She swung to face him and discovered he was just an inch too close. She tilted her head back to give her some distance. “No big deal. Now it’s your turn to be nice.”

He looked surprised. “What?”

“You were a shit. You have to make up for that,” she said as she carefully dumped cups of punch into the trashcan.

“Huh?” Now it was his turn to play dumb.

She let him go with that slide, but she still wanted him to stay on the spot. “You didn’t bring a gift.”

He protested, “I didn’t know…”

Brushing her hands together to clean crumbs off, she gave him a glare. “That’s no excuse. We’re going to get a present and go pay a call.”


Tiff found a toy store downtown, one of those expensive places that doesn’t sell anything made of pink or purple plastic. Skinner had grumbled protests, but his large frame was weaving through the aisles behind her until she came to a stop at the stuffed plush animals.

“A bear. You can’t go wrong with a bear,” she said with determination.

He looked over the display with thinly disguised horror. Then his paw reached out and grabbed a stuffed ostrich by its long, skinny neck. “Okay. Let’s go.”

Exasperated, she snatched it from him. “Dog! Get serious! We need a cover. We can’t just show up and start questioning them.”

Two well-dressed women at the end of the aisle glanced their way, looking worried.

Skinner didn’t seem to notice and was digging through the display. “Here. This says Mulder and Scully to me.”

As he triumphantly held up a toy platypus, or at least what Tiff assumed was a platypus, the entire display fell from the shelves.

Tiff began snatching the plush toys off the floor, and he joined her, haphazardly tossing them into bins and slapping the soft forms onto shelves. She was losing patience. “Dammit, Walter!” That got his attention. “Get serious! This has to be for a little baby!”

She picked up a Gund bear, soft and conical in shape. “Here.”

He glanced over from his task. “It looks like a breast.”

The women at the end of the aisle took that as a last warning and scurried away.

Dryly, Tiff said, “That’s the point, Dog. I need to find it in brown, white won’t work at all.”

Holding up a brown bear in triumph, she added, “Okay, let’s go.”

Chapter 7: A Normal Life


Pinecrest, Virginia, 31 Bridle Path Way December 8th, 6:45 P.M.

As they waited for an answer to the ringing of the front door bell, Tiff was worried. Perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea.

Skinner’s face had taken on the expression of a man who’d ingested a tart lemon. His gaze was roaming over the clapboard front of the house. He commented, “You realize this place cost more money than both of our fathers—put together—earned in their lifetimes?”

She only had time to nod before Mulder pulled the door open.

He looked surprised, and not pleasantly. “Sir. Tiff. Did we forget something?”

This was her cue. “No, Mulder. We forgot something. Walter and I, that is…” Oh, great. “Mr. Skinner and I realized we didn’t have a present this afternoon, so we wanted to bring something by.”

As though joining the performance, Mulder mouthed the line, “You shouldn’t have.”

Skinner gave him a reason to be leery of their visit when he observed, “Quite the lean you’ve got here on this porch, Mulder.”

Appearing resigned to his fate, Mulder held the door open wide. “Yes, Sir. I know, Sir.”

Tiff glanced around the foyer as they removed their coats. She liked the house so far. It had that comfortable but shambled, please-stay-upright-until-we-can-qualify-for-a-home-improvement-loan sort of look.

Mulder led them into the front living room.

Scully was stretched out on an overstuffed, dark green couch before a crackling fire. She seemed to be snoozing.

Mulder gently grasped a sock-covered foot peeking out from under the afghan draped over her legs. “Scully?”

She woke with the jerk of someone afraid to be asleep. Her hands restlessly grasped at her waist. Tiff recognized that as the move for a gun. Instead her fingers explored the expanse of her belly of a moment. Tiff watched an expression of wonder and confusion shift through the drowsy blue eyes.

“Dammit,” Scully spit out. “I must have fallen asleep again. I keep doing that,” she finished with a slight bit of anger directed at a bewildered Mulder.

Skinner shifted from foot to foot behind her. Coward.

Tiff gave her a big smile. “That’s it, honey. You’re sleeping for two, you know.”

As Scully struggled off of the couch, brushing aside Mulder’s offered hand, the woman shot Tiff a sharp-edged glance.

Tiff felt the ‘going visiting’ smile freeze on her face. Perhaps her trepidation was well founded.


Skinner watched Mulder add another log to the fire. The ‘ladies’ had removed themselves to take a tour of the nursery. He had decided to give that a pass. He had a few things he wanted to go over with Mulder. The man was avoiding his gaze. He didn’t blame him. He knew his face was arranged in a sour expression. He couldn’t help himself.

The first words to come out of his mouth were as harsh as he knew they would be. “How do you expect to protect her sitting out here in plain sight?”

Mulder still had his back to him. He didn’t answer for a moment. Skinner could feel his face heat to red-hot anger. He was transported back to the time when he was in Mulder’s position, firmly behind the eight ball with his father. He wouldn’t answer either. He knew silence was the only power he had possessed with the overbearing man.

Mulder finally faced him and his tone was cool when he spoke. “This is the way Scully wants it. After some thought, I realized she might have the right idea.”

“You’re kidding!” Skinner burst out.

Stiffly, Mulder continued, “No, sir.” He swept his arm towards the long bank of windows along the wall. “On the right we have old Mrs. Kershaw. She hasn’t liked the look of us since we moved in. No, sir. She keeps a constant eye out her window, because you gotta be vigilant. When we finally make a move, she’s going to be right there, with her finger hovering over the phone touch pad, to dial 9-1-1. The only problem with Mrs. Kershaw is that she goes to bed early.”

He pointed toward the front of the house. “But that’s all right. Mrs. Lopps across the street has a terrible time with her knees and is up every hour in the night to take a walk around. She likes us, but worries about that pretty Mrs. Mulder. Won’t call her Scully, but we’re willing to let that slide because she feels it’s her duty as a good neighbor to take a peek out of her curtains when she makes the track around her house.” He stopped when he ran out of breath.

Skinner merely twitched his tightly held lips.

Mulder sighed in resignation. “I know it doesn’t seem like much, but it’s okay. We are followed all the time. We have tracking devices everywhere.” With a determined tone, he went on. “It’s all going to work out.”

Skinner was silent as he remembered the time he had said those words with as much forced confidence. He had thought joining the Marines would finally earn him the respect he had yearned for from his father. After his announcement, his father had only nodded and had lifted his paper to resume reading the baseball scores. It was his older brother who had spoken and it was with contempt. “You’re a fucking idiot. Only fucking idiots go to Vietnam. You’re gonna die.”

He realized his face had been held in the same expression of frozen resistance he now saw on Mulder’s face.

A low chuckle escaped him. After all these years, he finally could see where his brother had been coming from. Skinner felt his brother’s fear and concern now as he watched the younger man’s features harden to become obstinate.

“All right,” he said. “I’ll take your word for it.”

Mulder flopped down on the couch and pulled the afghan up onto his lap. “Thanks.”


Tiff paced around the nursery like a caged animal, but her words were all correct. “I love what you’ve done for the window treatment. It’s perfect!”

Scully was rearranging the pile of stuffed animals on top of the bureau to give the bear a place of honor. “Thank you.” She shrugged and glanced at the windows with her brow furrowed as though she was examining an odd specimen. “Uh…I wanted to keep the room sunny without worrying about it being too hot.”

Tiff nodded stiffly. “Yes, I see.” She flayed her arm up towards the ceiling. “And the borders! I think the stars and moons are perfect!”

When she turned to face Scully, the woman looked struck with astonishment, a brow raised. Tiff lifted her wide shoulders in defeat. “Maybe we’re not the right kind of women to pull this off.”

Scully nodded and moved a small lamp on the bureau top a quarter of an inch to the left. “Yes, I wonder about that question every day.”

When they returned to the living room, the men folk were chatting semi-amicably about power tool selection. Scully seemed to be willing to try again at her role. “Would you like to join us for dinner?”

Mulder nodded and looked at Tiff in expectation. She glanced over to Skinner and could see from his tight face that he was holding onto something that might burst if left to fester.

“Oh, I’m sure you both have had enough partying for today. We’ll be going.”

Mulder and Scully trailed after them, giving half-hearted protests as she and Skinner rushed towards the door.


Tiff and Skinner sat in her car. Despite the fact her hand was resting on the key, she hadn’t started the engine yet. She asked, “So that’s a normal life, huh?”

Skinner just nodded. Through the front windows of the house, the curtains still wide open, they could see Mulder and Scully beginning to rearrange their furniture.

When he spoke, the question came out of left field. “Did you ever smoke?”

“No,” she answered.

“I did. Started when I went to Vietnam. Stopped a couple of years ago, cold turkey. But every now and then, I have this overwhelming urge for a cigarette.”


“Yeah,” he said. “Well, come over to my place and I’ll make you dinner. Isn’t that what you do when you have an urge? Eat?” Tiff realized her cheeriness sounded forced and cursed inwardly.

He shrugged. She still didn’t start the car.

Through the window, bright now in the falling night, she could see Mulder pushing the sofa across the room as Scully directed him from an armchair.

Tiff motioned her head towards the couple. “How did this happen?”

He shrugged again. “I’m not a good storyteller.”

She urged him, “Come on, tell me how they got together.”

He turned in his seat and the whisper of his slacks on the upholstery seemed loud. In the dark interior, the flash of his teeth was a bright light. “I could show you.”

She turned too, and settled into her seat, feeling a coil of excitement and need begin to unbend slowly in her stomach. As his finger stroked her forearm, he murmured, “It’s my theory it started with a touch…”

He leaned in close, not to kiss her, but to whisper in her ear, “And a glance…”

After allowing a shiver to climb up her spine, Tiff gripped her car key tightly. “I have a meatloaf I can defrost.”

Skinner shifted back to the passenger seat. “That would be nice.”

As the tires spun the car around, she added, “And a couple of slices of my mother’s pecan pie.”

He allowed a chuckle out. “I’m looking forward to it.”


Mulder straightened the couch until it was parallel with the wall. “There.”

Scully stood back and surveyed his work. “I don’t know…”

He perched on the arm of the sofa. “What?”

She found herself becoming lost in thought. “Scully?”

She shook her head and glanced over at him. “I was thinking.”

“Should I move the table too?” he asked.

“No. I mean, no, that wasn’t what I was thinking about.”

He seemed to be concentrating on the arrangement of the furniture. “Hmmm?”

She plowed on. “I was wondering…how much confidence do you have in our theories?”

He blinked at her. “Which ones?”

She controlled her temper, barely. “The baby. Do you completely believe the baby is…all right?”

He laughed. “Scully! I can’t believe you’re still chewing this over!” When she didn’t response, his brow furrowed. “Can you ever just accept something you know to be true in your heart? Why do you always have to look at every possible awful scenario?”

Her words fell with the brittle quality of shattering ice. “So you completely believe everything is fine? This baby is ours? It’s healthy?”

“Why wouldn’t I? What do you think?” he asked.

She hadn’t been able to put her worries in words, and now, confronted with his challenge, she still couldn’t think of what to say. “I’m sure everything is fine,” she muttered.

“Do you feel anything different?” he asked as he came to her to stroke her belly.

“How do I know? I’ve never been pregnant before!” she burst out.

“Scully, don’t worry.” He lifted his hand from her belly to gently caress her neck. His fingers circled her new, healing scar. He murmured, “I know you love to worry. Don’t. I’m not.”

She lifted her downward cast eyes to search his. He smiled as he moved closer and pulled her into a loose embrace. “I have complete confidence in you. You won’t let anything happen to the baby. Or you. You’re my hero, you know that?”

She shook her head and stared down at her feet again. His lips were on her cheekbone. “Well, you are,” he whispered.

He reached over to snap off the floor lamp. “Let’s me make dinner. You’re just tired and hungry.”

She almost broke. She wanted to tell him all of her nightmares and visions. But as she watched him close the flume on the fireplace and pull the drapes closed, she went over what she would say, and the words sounded foolish. He was right.


The Factory 10:15 P.M.

When he followed the old man, Krycek had developed the habit of trying to keep in his blind spot. Just in case. He wasn’t sure what the case might be, but he wanted to be prepared. Unfortunately, the clone had picked up the habit from him, and was only a light footfall behind him.

He glanced back. Kenneth nodded at him.

All three men entered the laboratory assigned to Dr. Alvin Kurtzweil. The doctor seemed to be expecting them. He was seated in a straight-backed chair facing at the doorway. He sat very still.

The older man didn’t seem to notice the doctor’s odd behavior. Lighting a cigarette, he asked, “Doctor? You have a report for us?”

Kurtzweil blinked, once. His large, lizard-like eyes shifted from man to man. Finally, he spoke. “Yes.”

Krycek lost patience. He realized this man was being kept medicated so that even the simplest duties were a chore, but he didn’t have time to pull out every word. “What have you found?”

The doctor sighed deeply. He sifted through a stack of files on the table next to him.

That was all Krycek could take. He jerked his head savagely towards the doctor. Kenneth nodded and moved towards the seated man.

Looking alarmed, Kurtzweil leaned forward. “It didn’t work!”

One word drifted over to the doctor on a trail of smoke. “Oh?”

“No. We were unable to duplicate the gene from the blood sample.” Looking contrite, he added, “Sorry.”

The older man moved closer to the doctor. “I’m sure you are. You realize how important this work is?”

Like a robot, the man in the chair said, “Yes. It will save the human race. That is very important.”

Krycek had the oddest sensation the clone was holding in a laugh. He turned to look at him, but Kenneth’s face was as passive as always.

Krycek smirked and said, “So we need the baby.”

Kurtzweil looked alarmed, but nodded quickly. “Yes. We do. Bring Ms. Scully here. I can take care of her. And the baby.”

The old man shook his head regretfully. “No. We don’t need Mulder tearing this world apart looking for her. We wait.”

Krycek challenged him. “You’re sure the plan for recalling her will work?”

The sagging shoulders lifted to answer the question. “How well does anything work? It doesn’t matter.” He shifted his gaze to Kenneth. “I’m sure you’ll succeed if the first plan doesn’t.”

“Don’t hurt her!” admonished the quivering doctor. He still hadn’t gotten up from his chair.

Soothing, the old man assured him, “We won’t.” He turned to the other two men and dismissed them. “Dr. Kurtzweil and I have some business to discuss. I suggest you get back to work.”

Kenneth’s expression did register some surprise when Krycek merely nodded and motioned the clone to follow him out of the room. Krycek pulled the door shut so that it clicked loudly, but then gave it a slight, quick push back. The latch didn’t catch and the door was left slightly ajar.

He stood off to the side of the door. He could see Kenneth waiting for him at the end of the hall, but he ignored him.

He listened.

He could hear the old bastard, up to something as usual. He shook his head in wonder.

“You’ve confirmed the genetic match?”

The doctor’s quaking voice said, “Yes, but—”

Smoothly, he was cut off. “Good. That’s all. Get back to work.”

Krycek hurried away from the doorway before the his superior could exit, his mind furiously whipping through all the possibilities as to what the crazy old man could be up to. He couldn’t think of anything yet, but he knew he had to find some answers soon.


Mulder had decided to shower before getting into bed. He had left Scully tucked into bed and, he assumed, asleep. But when he opened the bathroom door into their bedroom, he heard her low conversation.

In horror, he said, “No! No, Scully!”

Big blue eyes, overflowing with innocence, met his. “What?”

“Don’t act ignorant with me!” he chided. “I heard what you said!”

She shrugged and pulled the comforter up higher under her chin.

“No, Scully,” he pleaded.

“I was just talking to the baby,” she said.

“I heard what you called him. I beg of you, Scully, as a man who’s spent his whole life with the name Fox—” She stopped playing stupid. “It’s just a pet name. A lot of people give the fetus a pet name. In fact, we haven’t discussed a name.” She patted his side of the bed invitingly. “Let’s name the baby tonight and I’ll start calling him that right now.”

He could tell from her serious, clear expression that she really believed what she was saying. In one flash of insight, he suddenly understood marriage. It wasn’t being deceived or lied to that broke a man down. It was his realization of the utter futility of attempting to gain the upper hand on even one issue.

They would discuss this. They would choose a name. They would get the silver cup engraved. And when it was all said and done, his son would go by the name Kit Mulder all his life.

Kit Mulder. Mulder could picture the boy at eighteen. He would be tall, with windswept blonde-streaked hair. Big, white Kennedy-esque teeth. He would do a little modeling for Ralph Lauren on the side. He would be All-American in some obscure WASP sport like lacrosse. By then, Scully would have aged gracefully, allowing a few gray hairs to twist in among the red. She would start wearing twin sets and a strand of pearls.

He on the other hand, would become fussy and musty—good lord, he would be nearly sixty when Kit finished high school!— by that time. He would be frantically trying to keep on top of an ear hair problem and would have taken to wearing tweedy cardigans. He wouldn’t be surprised if he took up the Kabbalah, studying for hours in a cluttered office.

This was not a pretty picture. His perfect WASP wife and child and then—him. All because Scully had it in her head to name their boy Kit.

But he knew he must play along for marital harmony. He had promised himself he would never whine in an argument and wasn’t going to start now.

He did allow himself a sigh, and lifted the covers to crawl in beside her. She curled up next to him, scratching his belly like a good dog that deserved a reward.

“Is there a family name you like?” she asked.

He chose his next words carefully. “I suppose we could go with William.”

Her hand stilled. Equally carefully, she replied. “I suppose. If you want—”

“No! I mean, if you want to—” he stumbled out.

“No. That’s all right. I just assume Bill and Tara will have another child someday and I think it would be nice to let them use the name if they want,” she answered sensibly.

He nodded, butting the top of her head. “Yes.”

She went back to the topic at hand. “What’s another family name?”

“You should choose—”

“Mulder, please don’t tell me you’re going to be one of those, ‘I don’t know, what do you want?’ men.”

He furrowed his brow. “No. I was being polite.”

She pinched his arm. “Well, stop it. A family name.”

“Okay. Isaac.” He lifted her hand and rubbed the rings he’d given her. “He was my uncle.”

“He’s dead?”

“Yes. A long time ago.”

“All right. Then it’s proper,” she said. He wondered when she was going to ask where his Jewish heritage was going to fit into their married life. She hadn’t mentioned putting up a Christmas tree yet. Well, he’d just outwait her on this topic.

“A middle name. Your turn,” he prompted.

She wiggled into the crook of his hip, her round belly surrounding his hard hipbone in a pleasing manner. “My turn? Okay, okay…”

He suggested, “A saint. What’s your favorite saint?”

“An inter-faith name?” He could feel her lips brush his bare chest as she grinned. “Uh…Patrick.”

“You’re sure? Brought Christianity to the dark northern pagans? Ran the snakes out of Ireland? That guy?”

She nodded vigorously. “Yes. Isaac Patrick Mulder.”

Her lips pulled together, but not to kiss him. To frown. “That bumps along—”

He reached over her to snap off the bedside light. “Then it’s perfect. It matches this marriage.”

Small, sharp teeth bit him gently. “Ike. I like that. A good, clean, masculine sounding name. Ike Mulder.”

He could tell she was falling asleep. Her body was becoming looser and spreading out over his like melted butter. He felt he could safely whisper, “Kit Mulder.”


Scully was flat on her back. She was cold, but she was powerless to find some way to cover herself. Her limbs weren’t responding to her commands.

She blinked. Bright light was shining in her eyes. But she didn’t want to close them. She was afraid of the dark.

A shadow fell across her face. A puff of cold breath swept over her cheek. She could smell leather and cloying cologne. Cool lips touched her skin. She couldn’t turn away, but repulsion shook her body.

A voice, low and husky, whispered in her ear. “See you later, love. When you come to me.”

She could scream. She knew she could scream. She opened her mouth as wide as possible and felt triumph as her vocal cords tore with the sound that she made.

“Scully! Scully!” The man was holding her tightly.

She fought him with all her strength. He pinned her to the bed nonetheless. She gasped with terror and unshed tears. The lips were on her temple. This time they were warm.

“Honey, it’s okay. It’s just a dream,” the low voice reassured her.

She nodded, clenching her jaw to keep her teeth from chattering. She forced her eyes open.

Shadows on the wall. The moon was full. The blinds created bands of light and dark like bars on a cell. The sheets were soft and whispered wordless comfort as she writhed.

Mulder was still holding her tightly. She reassured him with a shaking whisper from her sore throat. “I’m fine, Mulder. You can let go now.”

He loosened his grasp and she struggled out of the bedding. She had to use the bathroom.

He called after her, his voice heavy with concern. “Scully?”

“Everything’s all right,” she called back over her shoulder, forcing strength into her hollow tone.

Chapter 8: Parallax


Washington D.C. December 17th, 11:30 A.M.

Scully awkwardly wiggled out of her trench coat. Turning towards the manicurist’s station, she ignored the shocked gasps of the other patrons. She stole a glance into the mirror and frowned at her image. There was nothing more ridiculous looking than a pistol-packing pregnant woman.

Unsnapping her shoulder holster, she slipped it off and carefully set the pistol on the nearest chair as she settled in front of the manicure equipment. She smoothed her warm brown chenille tunic over her belly and placed her hand in the manicurist’s.

She gave a distracted small smile to the young, vacant-looking blonde, and began flipping through a glossy woman’s magazine as the woman worked. One of those magazines she wouldn’t be caught dead bringing into her home and averted her eyes from in the supermarket line. For some reason, they always seemed like completely appropriate reading material while at the beauty salon.

How to Get Your Man to Be Your Love Slave!

She flipped past that page with a furious twist of her wrist. If her man became any more of a slave she’d expect to hear the clanking of his chains in the dark of their bedroom.

The blonde gave a small sound that she took to be an attempt at the beginning of a conversation. She ignored her.

How To Get Your Man To Give You An Orgasm Every Time!

She lingered on the page despite the fact she didn’t need this advice. No problem there. Quite obviously, her pleasure was completely at the center of Mulder’s motivations in bed.

And therein lay the problem. How could she possibly complain when her husband seemed completely focused on her sexual needs? Or at least what he’d decided were her needs and how to satisfy them.

He approached her body with all the care and planning of a bomb defusing expert. He came to her only at night, slowly making love to her in complete darkness.

She had a horrible suspicion he didn’t want to see her nude. Every time she started to undress, he quickly looked away. He never took her nightgown off as he made love to her. If she came to bed in a snowsuit, she was sure he’d continue with business as usual.

Like a faithful pack mule, he carried her carefully to the top of the peak, his swaying gate lulling her into a hypnotic state, wheezing to a halt to allow her to take in the breathtaking view.

He touched her only where and when was necessary for a response. He made love to her, but never touched her deeply. Each step seemed to be carried out with the sole intent of giving her pleasure, taking nothing for himself.

How to Get Your Man to Read Your Mind!

That was it. Right on the head. She carefully unfurled the fist that was grasping the page and smoothed the crumpled paper. In the past, there were times that she swore he could read her mind. Many times she had felt she knew his thoughts.

Why the hell couldn’t he figure out what she wanted now? She wanted it back. That moment. After just one hit of the possibilities of that man’s mouth and her own body, she was officially an addict. And like an addict, she was afraid she was going to resort to sudden violence to get it.

She took a deep, calming breath. The manicurist was trying to get her attention to work on her other set of fingernails. As she changed hands, she changed magazines. The last one was too depressing.

How to Tell Your Man Your Every Desire! The words screamed off the dark red cover next to an impossibly thin model.

After skimming the article, she slapped the page. She shouldn’t have to tell him anything! He should just know! She’d be damned before she sat Mulder down and went through her shopping list of sexual needs.

After all, it was only sex. Penetration, stimulation, release. What was she expecting? Had there been some deep, hidden fantasy of Fox Mulder as a fantastic lover?

Aimee, her hairdresser, was motioning her towards the shampoo area. As she rose from the chair, Scully gave her body another once-over in the huge, wall-covering mirrors. If he wasn’t as desirous for her as she would hope, she didn’t want to know. She didn’t want to have that conversation at this point in her pregnancy. She was having enough problems keeping her self-confidence.

She wanted him to lurk behind the door, grab her, throw her across the bed…tear her clothes off…bite her until welts formed all over her skin…She had to shake her head furiously. She quickly shifted her gaze from her shape. She suspiciously resembled a round little hazelnut. She didn’t blame his trepidation. After all, she was always doing a double take when she saw herself in the mirror. Who was that?

But he was treating her as though she might break and she didn’t like it one bit. Was she no longer Scully? Was she just a woman?

Holding the arms to support her weight, she lowered herself into the low chair. She might take the initiative herself if she didn’t feel so out of form. She didn’t know this body. She felt like she was trying to play tennis with a pair of handcuffs on when she was in bed with Mulder. She couldn’t get her center of balance or a handle on the big, quick moving body shifting over her in that damned, pitch-black room—

“Dana? Dana!?” Aimee was bellowing in her ear.

“Huh?” Scully pulled herself back to the matter at hand.

Aimee ran her fingers through Scully’s hair and met her gaze in the mirror on the far wall. “It’s been a long time—”

Feeling the guilt that only a hairdresser could bring down on her head, Scully muttered, “Yes, I know. I’m sorry I had to cancel our last appointment. Something came up—”

“Obviously!” Aimee pointedly looked down at Scully’s belly. “So, you have news?” She picked up Scully’s hand to peer at her rings. “Nice. Very nice.”

Scully pulled her hand slowly into her lap as she leaned back in the chair for her hair to be washed. “Yes. I got married.”

Aimee seemed to be ignoring Scully’s awkwardness. “I didn’t even realize you were dating someone.”

Scully opened her mouth to try to explain her relationship with Mulder and then closed it again. “It all happened very fast.”

Aimee looked down and smiled at her. “I can tell. I always say, watch out for the quiet ones.

Scully grinned. “Yeah.” She sobered and said, “Aimee?”

“Yes, honey?” Aimee swirled the shampoo through her hair.

“If I come in, and I’m not pregnant anymore, but I don’t pull out a baby picture to show you—don’t ask, okay?”

A wet, soapy hand briefly patted her shoulder. “Of course, honey.”

Aimee forcibly turned the conversation to Capitol Hill gossip and Scully was grateful.


Scully was rummaging through her purse for a pen when she heard Aimee, standing behind her, say, “Hello, may I help you?” Those were the words at least. The suggestions and meanings in those words were much more.

Without looking up, Scully said, “Mulder, what are you doing here?”

His palm was at her back, rubbing the sore vertebrae at the base. “I had some time. I thought I’d join you and your mother for lunch.”

“Get me my coat, will you?” she asked as she gave up the search in her purse.

As he bumbled off to the coat rack, Aimee sidled up beside her. “Nice. Very nice.”

She had to practice. “Yes. He’s my…husband.” When would she stop putting that pause in the statement?

She watched him coming back with her trench, or rather, watched the other women watch him come back to her. Taking a grim satisfaction, she pulled his cheek down to give it a thank you kiss, feeling the rough cheek warm under her lips.

A search of the pockets of her coat revealed only a lone latex glove, long forgotten. Giving a sigh, she tugged at the glove, just to hear the rewarding snap.

“Here.” She thought Mulder was offering her a pen, but he was handing Aimee cash for her services. With a generous tip. Scully stood still for a moment, stunned. Her husband had just paid for her haircut.

“Scully, come on. Your Mom is waiting.” Mulder was holding the door open for her. She gave a mental shrug and joined him.


Mulder had excused himself to return to work, winding his way through the maze of tables. Scully was in no hurry to go back to Quantico, and her mother seemed to want to continue chatting.

Scully watched his back disappear through the door. “Dana? Dana!?” Her mother was talking to her. She really had to find a way to concentrate better.

“Yes?” She turned back to her mother with a vacant smile.

“How are things going, dear?” Maggie was smiling back, but it was smile filled with intent and purpose.

Scully felt her heart freeze in mid-beat, like a deer paralyzed under the beams of an oncoming semi tractor-trailer.

“Everything’s fine, Mom. Just fine.” To anyone who didn’t know her as well as her mother, her tone would have sounded normal. But it was just a smidgen too high.

Her mother’s smile warmed to a smothering blanket. She motioned to the waiter to refill her coffee cup and turned her gaze back to Scully. Maggie protested, “I didn’t say it wasn’t.”

Scully let out a long, shattered sigh. She wasn’t going to be getting back to work anytime soon.


Pinecrest, Virginia, 31 Bridle Path Way 5:45 P.M.

Mulder was mixing tomatoes, chopped green peppers, and mushrooms in a large bowl. The heating oven was warming the kitchen to a homey temperature. Checking the clock again, he pushed down concern.

Scully wasn’t late. He had to stop being so protective. Sometimes he got the distinct impression Scully was plotting his murder for his hovering.

Still, his heart settled down to comfortable rhythm when he heard the front door open. He called out, “I’m in here, Scully. Preparing a feast fit for a queen.”

It wasn’t Scully. Maggie was standing in the doorway, holding a covered pie plate.

He wiped his damp hands on a dishcloth. “Mrs. Scully, I’m sorry. I thought you were Scully. She’s not home yet.”

“She isn’t?” Maggie set the pie down on the counter and moved forward to give him a kiss. Before his heart took off on a mad gallop, she put his mind at rest. “Oh, yes. She said she had to stop at Graham’s to pick up some presents before the sale ends tomorrow. I’m sure she’ll be here any minute.”

He turned his attention to the pie. “Pumpkin. My favorite. Thank you, Mrs. Scully.”

Her hand was warm and dry on his bare forearm. “Fox, dear. Please, call me Mom.”

Slowly he said, “All right.”

Her face became contrite. “I’m sorry, if you’re uncomfortable—”

Quickly, he covered his embarrassment. “Oh, no! It’ll just take some getting used to—”

She patted his arm again as she leaned against the counter and peered into his bowl. “Yes. Marriage brings so many changes to your life. And the two of you have had so many things to get used to—”

He went back to chopping garlic. “Yes…Mom. But I think it’ll be worth it.”

That earned him a smile and he decided Maggie Scully’s smiles were at least as beautiful as Scully’s. “Good. Very reassuring for a mother to hear. But I must warn you that marriage never stops being a challenge, no matter how long you’re together.”

He nodded. This was very pleasant. In the kitchen of his lovely home in the suburbs, chatting with his motherin-law while making lasagna, pie for dessert…

She was chattering in the background. “I remember the first time Bill introduced me as the mother of his children. Of course I loved being his wife and adored my children, but—”

Mulder furrowed his brow and tried to follow where this conversation was going. “I went home and cried for two hours straight. I wasn’t his girl anymore. Now I was a mother in his eyes. A woman wants to feel desired…sexually, not just revered. Do you understand, Fox?”

Mulder felt a small smile fix on his face as his heart ground to a halt in his chest. He understood perfectly. Scully had told her mother he was a shitty lay. And he was about to get some sex tips from his motherin-law.


Scully shed her shoes as she staggered into the entryway of their house. “Mulder?” she called out. Nothing. Concern prickled at the back of her neck.

She set down the package containing the lamp on the console table and followed the wonderful smell of pasta towards the kitchen.

Mulder was sitting at the kitchen table, making a show of reading the newspaper. He didn’t lift eyes to meet her questioning gaze. Something in the set of his shoulders and his bent head made her not give him a kiss as she walked past him.

Fine. Let him have his mysterious little pout. She wasn’t going to play guessing games in her marriage. When he was ready to say what was bothering him, she’d be ready to hear it. She pulled the refrigerator door open to get a drink.

“Where did this pie come from?” she asked, puzzled.

“Your mother brought it by,” was his cool response from behind her.

“What was she doing here? She didn’t say anything about coming over while we were at lunch.” She was trying to balance the milk carton in the crook of her elbow while rummaging for the cranberry juice.

“She suddenly decided we needed…pie,” his words were measured out for her.

Scully didn’t want to turn around. She wanted to stay in the open doorway of the refrigerator until she froze solid. She was already halfway there. All her blood had stopped in her veins.


As it turned out, she didn’t need to spend the evening in the refrigerator. A night in bed next to Mulder had the same effect.

She was sure he’d spend the night on his old couch in the den, but his stiff body lying beside her was a more suitable punishment for her transgression of revealing marital confidences.

As she snapped the light off, he said coolly, “I have an early meeting tomorrow. I won’t be here when you wake up.”

She stifled a few choice words and nodded, the sound of her hair moving on the pillow oddly loud in the icy silence of the bedroom.


True to his word, he was gone in the morning. Scully flipped the coverlet back and struggled out of bed. Fine. She could outwait him on this childish…disagreement.

Shedding her flannel nightgown, she wandered into the bathroom nude. She scrubbed her body until it glowed red under a torrent of hot water, all the while muttering various replies to his phantom accusations.

Finally, she had to turn the water off and slammed open the glass shower door. As she groped for a towel, her hand came back empty. Cursing, she looked around the steam-filled room. All the towels were gone. The bastard must have picked this morning to do some housework. Too bad he hadn’t replaced the towels after taking them to the laundry room.

“Dammit,” she grumbled as she stalked out of the bathroom, nude, and now dripping. And stopped short.

Mulder was sitting in the overstuffed armchair, apparently waiting for her. Probably wanted to have a mature discussion. Well, he wasn’t going to get it.

It was his expression that pissed her off the most. He was out and out staring at her nude, round form. His eyes were completely blank as they shifted over her shape, continually coming back to her swollen breasts.

Fuck him, she thought furiously. She was pregnant and this is what pregnant women looked like, not some fashion model. “What are you doing here?” she sputtered, refusing to feel embarrassed or try to cover herself.

He gasped out, “Uh…the meeting was cancelled.”

“You took all the towels,” she accused him.

“Oh,” he said as his eyes continued to fixate on her body.

That was it. He was so horrified he was paralyzed. She was going to have to get her own damn towel. She turned on her heel to get her robe from the closet when his voice stopped her. “Where’s your tattoo?”

“What?” She hadn’t realized she was that close to him. One graceful finger was extended on the end of an impossibly long arm, stroking her bare back. She craned her neck around to look at him. Now his face was covered with puzzlement.

“Your tattoo,” he whispered. “It’s gone.”

“I had it removed. When they were lasering off the scars from my gunshot wound I had them go ahead and take it off too.”


“It’d served its purpose.”

Something in the way Scully said those words sounded like a slap. He’d had fantasies about that tattoo and now it was gone. He’d had plans for that tattoo.

He couldn’t stop his finger from tracing a circle on her bare, white back, imagining he could see the remnants of the brilliant red ink.

She made an odd, long sound. Like a hiss. Or was it a moan? The room seemed very still and quiet. There was his labored breathing. Her breathing sounded rapid and shallow.

He wanted the tattoo back so he could eat it off. That’s right. That was his fantasy. He heard the cracking sound of his knees making contact with the floor.

He grabbed her hips and pulled her back against his mouth. His teeth sank into her skin and when he pulled away, a satisfying red mark remained. He was immediately flooded with regret. He’d hurt her.

There was that sound again. It was definitely a moan. And her soft little ass was being shoved back in his face. A sweet smell was wafting up to his nostrils as he frantically licked his mark, hoping to clean it away.

The odor was one part lime body wash, another part vanilla shampoo, another, a perfume that had no name.

Mulder decided not to think. He decided thinking would be a mistake at this point. He couldn’t figure out why he was furious at her one minute, she was furious at him the next, and this minute she was grinding her ass in his face while he bit at it. While he made satisfied, snuffing noises, his nose stroked her soft skin. His tongue and teeth found nature’s markings to bite and lick, her collection of moles and freckles becoming landmarks for his mouth to map.

Fumbling, he unbuckled his belt and unzipped his pants, frantically shoving his boxers under his half-erect penis. Dimly, he realized he needed some sort of plan, even if he didn’t give it deep thought.

Hobbled slightly by his half-mast pants, he got back into the chair. From this position, he could reach forward and sweep his palms over those amazingly plump breasts, warming them while the nipples hardened under the pads of his trembling fingers.

Her back arched in response and the moans lowered in pitch. He liked that sound a lot. She hadn’t made this much noise since their wedding night. True, she hadn’t said a word yet, but he was going to take these sounds as a sign of her approval.

The little ass was now twitching in his face and seemed to be searching for his full and throbbing dick like a lap-seeking cat.

Yes, there was an idea. He pulled her down, his fingers reaching between her spread legs to open her hot, soft and slick folds for his waiting cock. As soon as she settled on him, he realized he’d made a fatal error. There was nowhere to go from here. The moans turned to grumbles as she saw her feet couldn’t touch the ground to get any leverage and he was unable to thrust because the chair was too low.

Good going, he cursed himself as he tried to keep a hold of the wiggling little round beetle on his lap.

Time for action! He never could figure out how he did it, but somehow he hauled himself out of the chair, kept a hold of her, pulled out, turned and set her down in the chair on her knees, bottom up.

He really had just intended to get his clothes the hell off and get a better grip to carry her to the bed. Then that back arched and that white ass twitched again.

She had draped her arms over the back of the chair and her bright lips, glistening between her spread thighs, looked so inviting…

Her hair was drying in a mass of curls and she had to sweep it aside to glance back over her shoulder at him. Her eyes narrowed and her mouth went slack, panting hot breaths. What did she want? He was going to have to guess right.

Suddenly, she spoke. “Get me a pillow.”

He frantically looked around the room. Must find a pillow. Scully wanted a pillow. Why did Scully want a pillow? Must not think. Get pillow.

Clutching his lowered pants with one hand, he scrambled to the bed, snatched a pillow off the end and hustled back to her.

He handed it to her and she gave him the gracious nod of a queen to her favorite subject. His fingers lost their grip on his pants as she pushed the pillow under her belly as support and settled her weight on it, raising her inviting ass up to him again.

Sidling up to her, he tentatively grasped her hips and pulled himself closer to her. The back dipped and then raised the hips to rub against his bobbing wet cock. Okay, maybe he was reading her signals correctly…

He guided his dick to her lips again. He had to bend his knees slightly for the angled entry but as he slid into her vagina, they both gasped out in amazement. He felt like he’d fallen down some deep, dark well and it was closing up behind him.

Scully leaned on her crossed arms, panting lightly, biting her own forearm. Was that a good sign?

She pushed back against him, taking him in that extra notch he’d always been terrified to go. Her slick thighs were now snugly pressed to his and he swore the pores of the skin on his balls were sending him detailed descriptions of the texture of her labia.

He realized he hadn’t moved yet until she started chanting, “Fuckmefuckmefuckmefuckmefuckmefuckmefuckmefuckmefuckme…”

Her words poured over him like honey from a silken comb. Words that sounded trashy coming from another woman were a holy command from her lips.

He could only respond by nodding madly. The most intelligent word he could manage to form was, “Uh-huh.”

Bending his knees again, he began to thrust into her. He took long, deep strokes, taking in a great gulp of air and then expelling it as he pressed into her, like free diving in the ocean.

His fingers traced the flush of arousal that washed like a red tide over her freckled skin, rippling over her shoulder blades, trickling down her spine as he tried to catch the wave.

She quickly picked up his rhythm and contracted her vaginal muscles around his cock when he was fully enclosed within her. As he pulled back they both moaned with the relief of the deep mutual caress.

She was whispering now, “YeahMulderyeahMulderyeahMulderyeahMulder…”

He could hear the hum and pop as a light bulb went off over his head. She liked this. She liked it this way.

He stuck with tried and true. “Uh-huh, Uh-huh, Uh-huh…”

She bowed her back to rub her nipples against the fabric of the chair, causing her pelvic bone to press down on his cock. He was certain it would look as flat and red as a tongue when he pulled back. She must have heard his squeak of pain because she gasped out, “Does that hurt?”

He moaned, “Yes. No.”

She just nodded and began swiveling her hips back against his thighs. They seemed to have made an unspoken agreement to make this last as long as possible.

His gaze roamed the room to distract the fitful little boy hopping up and down in his brain, wanting to come, and come now! His attention was caught by the image of two other people across the room. They were fucking too.

He lost his rhythm and Scully immediately noticed. “Whaa?” she asked, her mouth muffled on her upper arm where her head had come to rest.

“Look,” he gasped.

They were caught in the mirrors on the sliding closet doors. A woman’s tight little shape, crouched on her knees in an armchair, completely nude. A man, still dressed, madly fucking the woman. Only it was them. And he could watch.

“Nice, huh?” He was knocked off rhythm again. She probably wouldn’t find watching very erotic.

She rolled her head over to be able to see them. He watched a slow, dirty smile spread over the woman’s lush lips. “Oh, yeah,” moaned out from the lips.

As she ground back into him again, encouraging him to pick up his thrusts, she groaned, “Mr. Mulder, quick, give me those insurance estimates. My husband is going to be home any minute.”

“You tramp!” he grunted, trying to stifle a laugh. This was sex. He needed to be serious. None of his usual bullshit.

And then she giggled. “You want me to give it to you?” he asked breathlessly.

“Yeah.” She was bracing her hands on the back of the chair in anticipation.

He grabbed her hips firmly. He felt free for the first time. He wasn’t worried about hurting her or the baby.

He slipped a shaking hand under the crease of her hip. Collecting some lubrication from their joining, he found her clit and began rolling it vigorously. Immediately, she began the shake like a little russet terrier with a rag in its sharp teeth.

His strokes were sloppy and frantic now, but she didn’t seem to mind. The chair creaked alarmingly but neither cared. He felt as though he was stretching for the finish line of a race and turned to check the mirror. Sure enough, he was leaned over her, gasping and thrusting, going for the gold.

She was encouraging him, “Rightthererightthererightthererightthere…”

He wasn’t sure what he had right because quite frankly, he believed he’d lost complete track of any consciousness. Every thought and every ounce of energy was draining out of him as he came. He was just eternally grateful that she appeared to be enjoying her own orgasm, moaning endlessly now, words gone, leaving gibberish in its place as she thrashed beneath him. When they both finally stilled, he pulled out and fell back to his knees. Rolling over in the chair to face him, she reached out and grabbed his tie to pull him in for a deep, probing kiss.

She pushed him back playfully. “Thanks, Mulder.”

“Anytime,” he gurgled.

Cocking an eyebrow at him, she said, “You sure you want to make promises—”

He didn’t answer in words. He let his gaze, roaming over her expanse of white skin, peaked like meringue with goose pimples as her flesh cooled, speak for him. She was his own Paleolithic Venus, a fertility goddess whose exaggerated rounded shape was to be worshipped.

His head was still spinning from his release. He was a crazily blipping satellite, whirling around a white full moon.

He must have said it all out loud. “Oh, Mulder.” But she looked pleased.

Scully watched Mulder fumble with his tie, as though he wasn’t sure if he needed to straighten it or take it off. She would decide for him.

“Call Tiff and tell her you’re going to be late. Then take those clothes off. We need to shower again,” she said.

He looked up at her and narrowed his eyes. “First, I need to give you a lesson about Hanukah.”


Struggling to his feet, swooping her up into his arms, he carried her to the bed and dumped her on it. Stepping back as though to examine the tableau—Scully sprawled on the crumbled comforter—he said, “Remind me to take that pie plate back to your mother with a thank you.”

“Don’t you dare!” Scully mumbled as she crawled to the edge of the bed. She gave into an impulse as he bent over to pull his shoes and pants off.

“Ow! What’re you doing?” he protested as he twisted around to look down at her in confusion.

Settling back to admire her handiwork, a bright red bite mark square on his left ass cheek, she said, “I’ve always wanted to do that.” Only she hadn’t realize it until this moment.

“You should have. I wouldn’t have minded…” he was grinning at her as he shed his shirt.

She ignored him and asked, “Hanukah?”

“Yeah. You get one small gift a day for eight days, much better than the gluttony of Christmas morning. Better yet, of course, is celebrating both. Best of both worlds,” he added as he gently pushing her flat onto the mattress before falling to his knees at the edge of the bed.

When she settled back, her heart began to thud erratically in anticipation as he draped her legs over his shoulder and pulled her crotch towards his mouth. Perhaps she was in a holiday mood. At the moment she felt his hot breath on her aching lips, she felt a Hallelujah chorus rising within her.

Chapter 9: Fire and Ice


Pinecrest, Virginia, 31 Bridle Path Way February 8th, 2:30 P.M.

Scully lay down for a nap while Mulder was out playing basketball with Tiff. A spike seemed to be slowly driving itself into her lower back.

She couldn’t sleep. It didn’t matter. Now the nightmares came even when her eyes were open, suddenly seizing her just as she convinced herself they were gone forever. She didn’t bother to scream anymore. It solved nothing and made her throat sore. Recently, when they had been shopping at the mall, Mulder had chuckled as he glanced over at their bodyguard examining the scented candles at a kiosk.

“I don’t even notice we’re being watched anymore,” he’d commented.

Scully had nodded, but she didn’t agree. The eyes watching him all the time were inside her. The mass within her belly shifted as Mulder walked beside her, following his movement.

She’d grunted and he’d turned in concern. Weakly, she’d said, “The baby’s active today.”

The smile that lit up his face squeezed down on her heart as the baby pressed up with nearly unbearable force. His long hand reached out and lightly swept across the orb. His palm settled where a foot was kicking. “Good boy. Fight,” he had said fiercely.

She sat up in bed, fitfully pushing away the coverlet. Shivering, she pulled on the red flannel robe Mulder had given her at Christmas.

Unlike other pregnant women, she was cold all the time. It didn’t matter how high she turned up the heat. Her skin felt warm to the touch, but the freezing cold radiated from inside her womb.

Shuffling into the bathroom, she cranked on the hot water to take a shower. It would heat her for a few minutes, relieving her distress. She turned to the vanity, but avoided looking at her frightened features in the mirror.

Before she could brush her hair, she had to clean out the red mesh that filled the bristles of her brush. Her hair was falling out. Her nails were breaking. Her joints felt loose and achy. Pressing her shaking hands to her belly, she tried to soothe the stirring beast.

Climbing into the shower stall, she plunged herself under the boiling spray. Gradually all her worries were washed away by the waves of heat and she gave a shaking chuckle. She was just suffering from anxiety. She had nothing to fear.


Scully was finishing her shower when Mulder entered the bathroom. He watched her bulbous form, softened by the steam on the glass door, twist under the spray.

She called out, “How was your game?”

He began to strip off his sweats. “Short. It goes by pretty fast when I can’t hit my three-pointer.”

The door opened and her rosy-pink form emerged. He wrapped her in a large fluffy body towel and she gave him a small, satisfied smile in reward. “So Tiff beat you.”

“Beat is such a final word,” he pointed out. “I like to think of it as just another chapter in an eternal battle for ultimate domination,” he said as he gently rubbed her all over with the towel. She writhed under his ministrations and kept her grin under control.

“I’m glad you have an activity to burn some energy,” she murmured as she slipped out of his grasp and snatched her red robe off the hook on the wall.

Before he could stop her, she escaped the room, and with a rueful sigh, he turned down the hot water for his shower.

When he finished, Mulder stuck his wet head out of the bathroom. His comment died in his throat at the sight of Scully delicately curled up on a low stool in front of the fireplace. He’d built a fire for her before he went in to shower and it crackled and snapped.

She had let her robe fall from her shoulders, leaving it gathered around her waist and he could openly view her heavy breasts resting on her swollen belly. According to the social norms, this wasn’t supposed to be an erotic sight to him. It was however, and he wondered what was he going to do when she wasn’t pregnant anymore.

She was carefully combing out her tangled locks, drying them slowly in the heat of the flames. She lifted her head and looked at him with concern.

“Mulder? Did you need something?” she asked.

For the life of him he couldn’t remember. He watched tides shift and rise in her eyes.

He just grinned foolishly and her head fell back a little so she could look up at him from under her golden lashes. She briefly tugged at her plump lower lip, let it go, and rasped out, “Come here.”

God, he hoped he wasn’t turning into one of those men who wanted to be ordered around and disciplined, but his cock thickened and the evidence seemed to be to the contrary. Like a shy little boy he clung to the doorjamb for a moment and then sidled into the room, looking at his feet and twisting his towel in his hand.

Mulder stopped in front of her and Scully felt her head whirl with anticipation. Good Lord, she had become wanton in the past couple of months! She was a bad girl, leaving her vegetables on her plate, and stuffing her face with treats.

He stood in front of her, unashamedly nude. Narrow streams of water still ran down the hard planes of his body. She reached up, captured one of the drops off the bottom of his right pectoral muscle and licked it slowly from her fingertip.

“You need to dry off,” she whispered.

He started to lift the towel but she put a hand over it to still him. She tugged him a little closer so she could stay crouched down on the stool and began to lick and suck the water from his warm skin like a mother cat with her kitten.

There was a dark part of her brain that wanted to keep and record these memories for the eventuality that she had to leave him. She wanted to always remember the taste of his flesh, its firmness, and the texture of his body hair, the spot where it went from fine and silky to coarse and wild.

Her hands reached around his hips and her fingertips traced long tracks on the bands of his back muscles before dropping to clench his strong buttocks. His groan reverberated out of his abdomen and down her throat as her tongue followed the swirling patterns of his chest hair to his navel.

His cock filled with blood and lifted from between his thighs, slipping into the tangle of her drying curls. She raised her eyes to his face and he was gazing down at her with a mixture of want and fear. She wet her lips quickly and his look switched entirely to fear.

She realized with a pang that she hadn’t yet been able to enjoy a long, leisurely oral exploration of her husband’s penis. Although things had improved in their sex life, a combination of her loss of mobility in bed and his damned noble behavior had kept her mouth above the navel most of the time.

Everything was so new and she felt a stab of anger at this whole situation. True, if none of this had happened they probably would still be sitting across from each other in the basement ordering pizza for a late night dinner. But it wasn’t fair that all these baby steps in a physical relationship had been jumped over. Would things ever just be normal for them?

As she reflected, she allowed her gaze to caress his half-erect penis. It glowed deep orange in the firelight and she liked the surreal effect. A slow smile formed when she noticed a single droplet of water clinging to the plump head. She glanced up to his eyes again and they were begging.

With just the tip of her tongue, she gently lapped it away and he moaned. Under her hands his ass tensed. She closed her eyelids briefly and took in a deep breath, gathering the smell and sound of him.

Keeping her tongue broad and flat, she ran it up the underside of his cock, urging its engorgement. She liked the moan she got from that move and couldn’t stop herself from smiling again.

Using the tip of her tongue again, she ran it all around the head, burrowing into the corona as she let one hand wander into the vee of his ass, pressing the bone where the two hard cheeks met. Her finger tried to slip between them but his muscles tensed to rock hard.

“Trust me. I’m a doctor,” she murmured.

“Uh—that’s okay. I’ve already had my check-up for the year,” he moaned. She decided to keep that little technique for another time down the road when he might be more receptive.

She scratched his firm buttocks just hard enough to feel the satin of his skin ripple under her nails.

His penis, brushing lightly on the softness of her cheek, jerked. “It’s okay,” she crooned. She could feel the heat radiating off his flesh and wanted to soothe him. She turned her head and blew a gentle cooling breath on his inflamed cock.

Brushing it up against his stomach with her hand, she began to rain light, sweet kisses, suitably chaste for a rough cheek, on his warm sac. When he whimpered slightly, she decided she could go a step further. Her hand was still lightly stroking his cock like a satin-coated puppy, so she nibbled on the impossibly soft skin that covered his balls.

“Oh Christ, Scully. Oh…” he panted out between lax lips.

Worried, she asked, “Am I hurting you?”

“Uh—” he gurgled, his fingers dancing at the back of her neck. She took that as encouragement.

She ran her tongue upward again, tracing the tight ligaments that were holding his now rock-solid cock taut.

His breathing became ragged with desire and she let her head roll back again and looked at him one last time. Up over the ridges of his abdominal muscles, slipping over the mounds of his pectorals, travelling the hard column of his neck, around the ragged edge of his unshaven jaw, past his moist full lips to rest on his closed eyes. His lashes fluttered, but he didn’t open his eyes to return her gaze. She had him enthralled.

With that thought, she pulled his cock down to her mouth, surrounded the head with her lips and then slid down his length, engulfing as much as she could. This time the long groan came out through his cock, or at least that’s what it felt like. She chuckled and that earned her a cute little gurgle of a moan.

She ministered to him, using care but perseverance to concentrate on the sensitive head. She could really get used to hearing the sound of that constant rumbling moan that came from his diaphragm above her head. Letting go of his cock, she let her hands wander over his butt again, finding a squeezing rhythm to match her sucking. Without her grip on the base, his cock was pressing against the roof of her mouth and she could tease the underside with her tongue.

His hands fluttered at her head, at her shoulders. They didn’t seem to know where to light or what to do, but she liked the sensation of an apparition urging her onward.

His balls were taut and hot when she brought a hand forward to grasp them. His moans became guttural groans and the hands were gripping at her shoulders.

She felt as though the fire had spread across her body and settled between her own legs. Although she had wanted to concentrate on Mulder’s needs, she couldn’t stop herself from slipping her hand over her belly and under its bulk to find her own desire ripe and aching.

She glanced up at Mulder and his eyes were finally open, watching her. She almost stopped touching herself until she noticed his breathing increase. He wanted to watch and she wanted to please him.

She would have to hurry to catch up with him. She slowed her rhythm on his length but began stroking herself furiously. The sweat ran down her belly and lubricated her hand.

He lifted the hair off the back of her neck to cool her skin, shifting the strands through his shaking fingers, drying it to a mass of curls.

Then he pulled her body closer to him. “I wanna…” he groaned as he reached down with his big dark hands. He grasped her breasts firmly, lifted their weight, and began squeezing them to match the rhythm of their bodies.

The heat and pain was unbearable. She couldn’t take it anymore. She pressed hard on her clit, finding the right spot. Her orgasm was a relief and she passed the gift onto him, pulling him over the edge into her abyss.

He tried to tug her off of his pulsing hips, but she was greedy, drinking every bit of him she could. She wanted to inhale his essence and strength.

He couldn’t even speak, just making raspy gasps of fulfillment. She delighted in his complete submission to her. As he fell to his knees beside her, her emotions whipped around so fast her head spun and she was his slave, draping her small body over his prostrate form to soothe him.

Her hands smoothed across his muscles, spreading the sweat that had pooled on his spine. The only word she could find to say was his name, over and over in the dim room, lit dark red by the dying fire, “Mulder, Mulder, Mulder… “


February 14th 10:45 A.M.

Scully woke with a start. Silence. It had stopped raining. The storms of the past two days had passed. The room was glaringly white. She crawled painfully from the bed to go close the curtains. She needed to sleep.

But as she gripped the fabric, the scene in the backyard struck her. A drop in temperature below freezing had followed the rain. Icicles hung from the bare dark trees like chandeliers. The dead lawn was tipped with white and the cover on the pool glistened threateningly like a black hole.

Suddenly she realized she was no longer cold. From within her belly, she could feel an unbearable heat growing. She felt as though a glowing red band of steel was slowly tightening around her abdomen.

She gasped as the sensation of a hand clawing at her belly from within racked her body. Frantic, she glanced around the room. It was time to go.


Mulder barely made the sharp turn down his street with. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Tiff grip her door handle, but she said nothing.

The shining black street seemed to buck to try to shake his car off. He stayed in control and steered into his driveway.

As he leapt from behind the wheel, Tiff called after him, “I’ll take the back.”

The call about Scully had found them staking out a possible location of the clone, Kenneth. He had lost faith in being able to find the man, but he had felt as though he should look into every lead.

Now he wondered if it had been a ruse to divert him.

He kept one hand resting on his gun as he passed through his front door.

Even though he knew she had left the house an hour ago, he called out, “Scully?”

Byers had made the call, his voice strained. “Scully’s dropped out of sight, Mulder. Her shadow thought she was going shopping, but she suddenly sped up on the freeway and got out of his range in heavy traffic.”

As he began babbling accusations and recriminations, Byers cut him off. “We have guys spreading out all over the area with receivers set to her coordinates. Why don’t you go to the house and see if you can find any clue as to why she would run? We’ll be in touch as soon as we find her.”

Byers had sounded so positive. Mulder wasn’t as sure. He checked the living room first. Looking out the large windows into the backyard, he saw Tiff checking the bushes.

A CD jewel case lay on the coffee table. He returned it to the wall cabinet. Elvis Costello. He slipped the case in next to Elvis Presley.

Scully had wrinkled her nose when he set up the CDs that way. “They should be alphabetized so we can find them easily.”

“They are organized. I’ll always know the two Elvi are beside each other. Strange bedfellows and all that.”

Bemused, she’d said, “Strange bedfellows?”

He’d grinned and had pulled her between his legs as he’d settled to sit on the back of the sofa. “We made them strange. And bedfellows. The joining of our two Elvi.”

Turning away, he crossed the room to the alcove that held their computer. He started it up, checking logs to see if she’d received or sent any messages. Nothing.

The schedule of their Lamaze class was posted on the corkboard over the desk. They would miss this afternoon’s meeting.

He was convinced everyone in the class thought they were odd and vocalized that feeling one night as they entered the meeting room.

At the edge of the mat, Scully had settled on her pillow. “Mulder, get a grip. Stop being so paranoid.” She’d quickly shaken her head before he could respond. “I take that back. It’s an insurmountable obstacle. No, why would they think we’re odd?”

“Besides the obvious answer?” He’d asked as he folded his legs into an origami of a resting crane to sit beside her on the floor. “We don’t fit in. Look at all of them.”

She’d glanced around the room. “What?”

“They’re all so happy,” he’d insisted.

She’d tipped her head to her shoulder to look at him intently. “And we aren’t?”

He realized he’d backed himself into a corner. “It’s not that. We’re just different than they are, that’s all.”

Turning her attention to the instructor who was calling the class to order, she’d muttered, “We always have been. Why should this be something new?”

When he moved to the kitchen, Tiff was coming through the back door. “Nothing in the yard. The grass is frozen solid. There would be tracks if anyone had crossed it.”

He nodded and she moved through the room to check elsewhere.

He opened the refrigerator. He didn’t know what clue he hoped to find in there. His gaze ran over the neat rows of bottles, cartons and dishes, all arranged by size and contents. No more finding something green growing at the back of a shelf while late-night foraging.

His gaze fell on a package of baloney, only two slices gone, tucked in the meat drawer.

Scully had been restless that evening, pacing the living room.

“Honey, do you need something?” he’d asked.

“No,” she said defiantly.



“What do you want?” He tried again.

Grimacing, she asked, “How can I have an urge for something I’ve never eaten?”

He shrugged. “What do you want?”

“I want a baloney sandwich.” Her hesitant tone suggested she’d just confessed to an extramarital affair.

Realizing they had no baloney, he had struggled up from the couch. “Let me go get you some.”

“No! My mother never allowed us to eat processed meat.”

He raised a brow at Maggie Scully’s extreme attitude towards baloney.

Scully muttered, “Let’s go to bed, I don’t need a sandwich.”

“I’m going to stay up for a few more minutes, wait for the ballgame scores on the news,” he had told her.

When he’d entered the dark bedroom half an hour later, a voice had drifted from the bed. “Mulder?”

In the act of pulling off his socks, he had said, “You want me to go get you some baloney?”


He slammed the refrigerator door shut and loped up the stairs to join Tiff in the bedroom.

She had the closet door open and was checking the contents. “It looks like the suitcases are still all here.”

His tone suddenly sharp, he asked, “Why wouldn’t they be?”

Her answer was as tired as her sad eyes. “You know the drill, Mulder.”

He insisted, “You don’t understand us. She would never leave me. Never.”

Tiff blew a breath from puffed-out cheeks. “Dammit, Mulder! I wasn’t born a heartless bitch!” She gave him a small smile. “I was made this way. I have to follow the procedure.”

He turned his back on her to continue searching. Scully’s hairbrush had been abandoned on top of the dresser. She’d been complaining about her hair falling out. He lightly touched the thatch of strands caught on the bristles.

He hadn’t believed her. She had the thickest hair he’d ever seen on a woman.

The first time he’d buried his hands in her hair, he’d been surprised at the weight, cradling it in his palms. It had always looked so fine and fragile to him.

He had said that out loud. Her warm sigh was followed by a chuckle, stifled to a moan when he buried his face in her neck. “Are you kidding?” she’d whispered in his ear. “I could lift a car with a strand of my hair.”

“But do you still believe in happy endings?” he threw over his shoulder to Tiff.

She didn’t answer for a moment. Then, “Yes.” He heard her open the bedside table drawer. “Did she keep her gun in here?”

He joined her. “Yes.”

“It’s gone,” she said as she shoved the drawer shut.

He could only nod, numbness beginning to filter into his limbs.

“What was she wearing when she left? Can you figure it out?” Tiff gently asked him.

He went to the open closet and let his gaze sweep over the hanging garments before flipping open the dirty clothes hamper. He found Scully’s exercise leotard on top of the dirty laundry. Purple. She’d called the color eggplant—he’d called it purple.

“Tinky-Winky,” he’d murmured one afternoon as he watched her stretching and bending around her bowling ball of a belly, following the instructions on her video.

“What did you call me?” she’d sputtered out between her deep, fill-your-lungs-feel-the-burn breaths.

“Tinky-Winky,” he’d said, settling back on the bed to enjoy the view of her plump ass rising and falling as she bent over.


“The Teletubbie.” He grinned at the mental vision of her with a TV screen on her belly.

This had stopped her. “Excuse me?” had been her dangerous words. Taking the moment to wipe sweat from her brow, she’d asked, “Since when do you know the names of the Teletubbies?” He’d opened his mouth, but she cut him off. “Oh, that’s right. They’re aliens.”

He’d shaken his head. “No, it’s not that. But I did feel I needed to research children’s programs to be able to make an informed decision.”

Returning her focus to the grinning, happy woman on the screen, she’d asked, “And?”

Definitely, he’d announced, “They’re evil incarnate.”

“I could have told you that,” she’d said dryly.

He’d rested his head on the pillow. “But you’re cute.”

Sliding the closet door shut so hard that it shook in its frame, he said, “She’s probably wearing a blue knit jumper. She usually wears a turtleneck with it and tights. And she’s been very cold. She’ll be wearing her heavy black coat.”

Tiff pulled out her phone.

“Who’re you calling?” he asked.

“The authorities.” Before he could protest, she broke in. “Mulder, this isn’t time for your motley crew of nerds. This is serious.”

“Don’t you think I know that?” he hissed.

“What harm will be done putting out an APB?” she pointed out.

They went back down to the living room as Tiff muttered orders into the phone.

“Is this the most recent photo of Scully?” Tiff asked, holding up a framed picture.

He forced himself to look at it. He nodded.

In the picture, he was looming behind her, reaching around to clutch her belly. He’d thought it would feel like petting a sheep, soft and plush. Instead her stomach felt as smooth and firm as his favorite old worn-out basketball.

He pushed out the word. “Yes.” She nodded and moved to turn on the scanner and send the image to the police.


He was sitting on the sofa counting the ticks of the clock when he heard the sound of tires in the driveway. His overjoyed flight to the front window was pulled up when he saw Skinner step out of his car.

“Did you call him?” he asked Tiff.

She looked out the window around his shoulder. “Yes I did. Is that a problem?

He shrugged, suddenly feeling overwhelmed by defeat. “No, I guess not.”

When Skinner joined them in the living room, they gave him what little information they had.

The blip of the fax machine drew Tiff’s attention away. She grumbled at the reports spitting out of the machine. “Nothing!” A flashing light pulled her gaze to the computer screen, left on after Mulder’s search. “You’ve got mail.”

Mulder quickly clicked on the icon. No subject line, but it was from Scully.

“She has e-mail on her cell phone,” he told Tiff and Skinner as he opened the message.

I love you were the three words.

“Fuck!” Mulder burst out, the frustration of the situation overwhelming him. With shaking hands, he grabbed up the phone and dialed the Lone Gunmen.

Byers picked up halfway through the first ring. “Yes!?”

“Mulder. Scully just sent an e-mail with her cell phone. Are you monitoring her phone?”

He could hear the painful shuffling sound of Byers dragging his body across the room. “I’ve been manning the phones, but we do have a monitor on her cell.”

The wait was endless as he heard Byers muttering and tapping on computer keys down the phone line.

“Here. She was heading out…” He heard Byers take in a breath.

“God dammit, Byers!” Mulder roared down the line.

Byers whispered the information. “Route 211. Towards Blue Ridge Parkway.”

“Skyland Mountain,” Mulder gasped.

Byers rushed onward. “I’ll get the boys headed up that way, start sweeping the roads for her signal.”

“Do that. We’ll be headed up now,” Mulder barked before slamming down the phone.

Skinner grabbed his arm as he started to hurry from the room. “I’m coming with you.”

Mulder paused for only a second to think. “All right. Come on then, both of you. We’ve got to find her. Now.”

Chapter 10: Woman’s Work


Blue Ridge Parkway February 14th, 5:25 P.M.

Screams echoed in the room, so loud that Scully pressed her hands over her ears. Only then did she realize it was her mouth open, emitting the sounds. She threw her body against the wall to break herself out of her terror. She registered nothing but pain beating out of her abdomen.

Panting like a frenzied animal, she paced the floor. The room was too small. But she welcomed the darkness. There was so much she didn’t want to see.

She didn’t want to see the green ooze that was now splattered on her thighs. She didn’t want to watch her stomach ripple and expand as the creature moved. She didn’t want to see the reflection of her fear-stained face in the black windows.

She had to remain strong. She had to remain conscious. She had to find the fortitude, one last time in her tumultuous, too short life, to fight one last battle.

She needed a weapon. She had her gun, but she didn’t trust her aim at this angle. A knife. A good knife. She knew where she needed to make the incision. She knew what she had to do. She knew her duty. She stumbled towards the kitchen to procure the necessary instrument.


Despite Mulder’s long right leg rigid and straight on the passenger side of the car, Tiff kept her speed careful in the seemingly innocent light snowfall. Skinner was no better, gripping the sides of her seat to keep himself pulled forward, his breath coming in sharp puffs to her ear.

Dusk had fallen and she navigated the slippery curves of Route 211 with trepidation.

Finally, she spotted their objective. Two vehicles pulled off the road. Scully’s car was askew, but not wrecked. A VW Beetle was snuggled up beside it, and a short, bedraggled man was waving them down. One of the searchers, this Gunman had called in his find.

Mulder jumped out before she could come to a complete stop. When she joined him at Scully’s car, the Gunman was babbling. “Yeah, so, Dude! So, I like, caught her sig for just a sec. Got my bead. And then, like, poof, gone! But I kept at it, and boom, it was back! But I got here. Nothing! The car, that’s all. I was so stoked. And then I found this.”

They gathered around the odd little man to look into his outstretched palm. The small transmitter that had been planted under Scully’s skin was covered with drying blood. Unnecessarily, he said, “I don’t think they want us to find her.”

Mulder moved to her car, his face shining a pale gray in the dim light of dusk. He wrenched the door open and stepped back at the sight under the sickeningly yellow glow of the interior light. Tiff and Skinner crowded in. The little Gunman peeked in through the back window. “Yeah, like, wow, when I saw that! I thought, shit!”

Tiff gulped and then asked, “What is that?” The driver’s seat’s pale beige upholstery was stained dark from some liquid. There were patches of a dark green mucus-like substance.

Mulder leaned in closer. Straightening up, he said, “Her water’s broken. The green substance is called meconium. To put it bluntly, the baby’s shit. This isn’t good. She’s in premature labor and the baby could be hurt by aspirating it.”

He looked frantically up and down the road, seeming uncertain as to where to start. The Gunman said dejectedly, “I know, man. I’ve looked for tracks, but the snow has covered everything.”

Tiff noticed that Skinner had wandered away. She figured he was going to take a leak along the tree line. Then she saw him flip on his flashlight.

He called to them, “Come on! This way.”

Mulder motioned to the Gunman to stay behind as he and Tiff plunged after Skinner into the woods.

As she followed the bobbing beam of his flashlight in the complete blackness of the forest, she wondered if Skinner was being driven by a need to look anywhere for anything. Then she saw that he was sweeping the trees with his light and checking the muddy ground. A strand of red hair here, on a branch. A heel print there, crushing a clump of mushrooms.

He was intent and sharp-faced, like one of her Uncle Job’s coonhounds. She recognized his expression. It was the same when he got carried away on the rare occasion he told her war stories. He pressed his large frame through the matted tree branches by slipping first one shoulder forward, then the other.

She followed closely and ignored the panting, stumbling Mulder behind her. She sensed Skinner’s excitement. They must be close to something.

All three fell out of the close-knit trees into a yard. A small cottage, dark and boarded up, huddled in the opening.


“Where the fuck is that woman?” growled Krycek.

Kenneth met his angry, inquiring gaze with his usual blank stare and Krycek had an almost uncontrollable urge to kill the clone.

Like a ship slipping from fog, the old man moved out of his blue cloud to stand in front of Krycek. “Control yourself. You’re accomplishing absolutely nothing with your outbursts.”

Krycek bit back a retort and instead shifted his intensity to examining his supervisor. He could tell the man was trying to keep his facade unshaken, but there was a tension under the dried leaf exterior.

He didn’t like that one bit. He needed everyone at optimum performance for everything to run smoothly.

“Well?” he asked Kenneth.

“Still nothing, sir. There have been no sightings since she eluded them in Strasburg.”

The yellow teeth of the man snapped like an old turtle. “Dammit, Krycek! She’s on her way here!”

Krycek found himself washed over with a gleeful sense of control in the face of the old fool’s anxiety. “But where the fuck is she…sir? She should have been here two hours ago. If I find out, after all this, that this stupid bitch ran herself off the road—”

Apparently tired of the sparring, the old man gave new orders. Turning to the waiting group of men, he said, “Get out on the back roads. Try not to draw attention to yourselves, but do a house-to-house search. Find that woman!”

Krycek nodded. Now they were getting somewhere.


Scully could feel the creature moving, pressing its way downward, out of her body. She pulled her jumper up and tried to focus on her shining white belly in the dark room. Her fingers carefully traced where she thought the body was positioned. Could she strike the heart?

She didn’t trust herself to remain conscious when it ripped its way outward. She remembered the body of that poor bastard in Phoenix.

Under the swell of her stomach, she swore she could feel the head in the birth canal. The torso would be right there—She’d found a butcher knife in the kitchen. Placing the tip between her navel and the crease of her groin, she sucked in a deep breath. She would have only one chance.

Just as she was ready to plunge the blade into her abdomen, she heard movement and voices outside. Someone was there.

She had been unable to fight the urge to return to Skyland Mountain. Certain that They wanted the creature, she’d decided to hide in this house. Foolishly, she’d thought she’d outwitted Them, but now They were here.

She laid down the knife and picked up her gun.


When he saw the cottage, Mulder charged forward. “You guys take the back!”

He ignored the protests of Skinner and Tiff and leapt up the front stairs. He quickly checked the shot-off lock on the door before pulling it open. He dodged to the side and then slipped into the dark front room.

He could hear someone panting in the blackness, rasping breaths like a chained dog.

“Scully?” he whispered. He suddenly realized this was probably the stupidest thing he’d ever done in his life.

The hammer went back on a gun, a loud crack in the stillness. He must be making a beautiful target, silhouetted in the doorway, the moonlight streaming through the door giving him a deadly halo.

Darting to the left, he fell into a shadow. The first shot ran out, whining by, burying itself in the doorjamb.

“Scully?” his voice sounded frantic to his ears.

Suddenly there was the sound of a scuffle. He rushed forward, momentarily blinded by Skinner’s powerful flashlight before it found its target, Tiff wrestling a gun from Scully.

“Help me, you fuckers!” Tiff roared at them.

Startled out of their shock, the two men moved in. Grabbing limbs, together they managed to pin Scully down. She fought with an unbelievable strength.

Mulder barely maintained control over his grief. “Scully! Scully!” he pleaded. He doubted she could hear him, even though his mouth was against her ear.

He didn’t recognize the woman he saw in the wild eyes revealed in the glow of the flashlight.

“Scully!” he sobbed.

Skinner said, “Mulder, something’s wrong with her.”

“I can see that!” he spit at his superior, finding his own reason slipping away.

“Scully! What’s wrong?”

She didn’t answer, just furiously shook her head and bucked under their grip.

Her mouth opened and he thought she was going to speak, but instead, she began to scream. The sound rolled out of her straining throat, beating at them like a wild surf.

Sounding frightened, Tiff muttered, “Jesus!” Then, more reverently, “Jesus help this woman.”

Skinner seemed to have recovered from his earlier shock. “Call for help.”

Tiff sat on Scully’s feet to hold her down and pulled her cell phone from her pocket. “Damn! I can’t get a signal!”

“Someone’ll have to go back to the road and try to make the call,” Skinner said with a businesslike tone.

Tiff glanced down at the now silent, writhing Scully in horror. Before she could protest, Skinner went on, “I’ll stay. I’ve been present at a birth. You go.”

Tiff shook her head. “Dog, watching some Vietnamese woman give birth in a rice paddy doesn’t count for much training—”

He cut in, “Sharon and I had two children. I was there. I took the classes.”

She sputtered, “Walter—”

“Go!” he insisted, turning his attention to Scully.

“Will you be able to control her?” Tiff asked Mulder. He nodded and she got off of Scully’s feet, hurrying to the door without a backward glance.

Before her pregnancy, Scully could never remember her nightmares when she woke shaking and drenched in sweat. She hadn’t ever wanted to remember. Now she recognized the visions like a face to which she couldn’t place the name to until this blinding moment.

The darkness became the white room of her dream. Men had tied her down. They had touched her. She didn’t want to be touched. They had exposed her genitalia to the cold air.

Stepping forward from the faceless figures, Alex Krycek had stood over her, looking down with detached interest like she was a moth pinned to a board.

A punk. That was the label she’d instantly attached to him when he’d followed Mulder into her autopsy bay. But she’d underestimated him.

In the dream, he wore that ridiculous skinny tie, but under his paperboy’s haircut, his callow face held the sneer of a man who had power over her. And now They had gotten her again. Inside, she sobbed with anger and fear. But she wouldn’t show these men her emotions.

A heavy pulse was thumping in her belly, an ominous drumbeat to her execution. She should just face it, let it take her. Then she could sleep. Finally, sleep without dreams. She felt all her hope drain from her heart.

Her cracked lips whispered, “Mulder.”

Mulder pushed her hair from her sweat-soaked skin. “Scully? Honey? Do you hear me?”

He looked at Skinner with frantic hope. “Sir?”

Skinner glanced up from his position at her feet and shook his head. He had put Mulder at Scully’s shoulders, his arms linked under her armpits to control her arms. He was at her feet, keeping her knees propped up.

“I don’t think she’s come out of it, Mulder. Do you have any idea what this is?”

Mulder pulled her limp form closer and tried to ignore her blank eyes. “Her fixed expression reminds me of when she was in the trance with Dr. Werber. But I don’t understand. If they got to her and put her under hypnosis, why did they abandon her afterwards?”

Skinner was distracted. “Pull her up higher, Mulder. Get her in a squat position. She’s pushing.”

“The muscles of the uterus will push the baby out automatically once the contractions have begun. I just don’t want her to be in any pain,” Mulder murmured as he pulled her torso up.

Skinner nodded. “We’ve got to get her out of this spell. Do you have any ideas?”

Mulder felt lightheaded with fear. “While she was in a trance with Dr. Werber, her heart stopped. I’m afraid this is part of their plan.”

Skinner nodded again. He’d pushed her jumper up and had his flashlight trained on her blood-red vulva. Mulder would have chuckled at the bizarreness of the scene if it wasn’t his Scully.

“Here’s another contraction, Mulder,” Skinner noted. When Mulder glanced down again, he noticed her belly had tightened and hardened. He could only nod and hang onto Scully’s dead weight.


Tiff jogged down the long driveway of the cottage towards the main road. She passed several other houses, equally dark in this cold, wet off-season. Her breath quickened when she saw a light in a house further along the road but something made her pull up short. Black cars were gathered on the roadside and flitting figures seemed to be searching the underbrush.

She ducked behind a tree and immediately, her arms were pinned to her sides. As she tried to struggle, a mild voice said in her ear, “You can’t escape me. Don’t waste your effort.”

She hissed, “Kenneth Bond, I presume.”

He didn’t answer. She could sense him watching the activity from over her shoulder. He asked, “You’ve found Dana Scully?”

She tried to struggle again. He squeezed her arms very slightly as a warning. “She’s not in her right mind?”

She tightened her lips and didn’t say a word. Some emotion finally entered his voice. “While she was in their control, They put instructions in her subconscious to come up here. If I’d known, I’d have warned her. You must go back to her.”

“How generous of you,” she spit out.

“No. I don’t want to see Dana Scully hurt. Or her son.”

“You work for them!”

His grip tightened again. “I’ve helped her before. You know. You trusted me then. Trust me again.”

He freed her suddenly. She swung around to peer into his blank pale eyes in the dimness. She saw no duplicity there, but no brightness of intellect either.

“I’ll call for help. They’re working their way down the road. If she’s in that direction, they’ll find her soon. You must go help.”

“How do we get her out of the trance?” she asked, not quite believing that she was going to listen to him.

“The kill switch phrase is, ‘I heard them lift a box and creak across my soul.’” He shrugged at her raised eyebrow.

“Go!” he urged her. “Hurry!”

She felt herself turning her back on him and began to lope back down the road.


Low, harsh whimpers were coming from Scully’s throat. The sounds appeared to be only a reaction to the pain. There was no other sign she felt the baby being pushed out of her body.

Mulder asked, “What’s happening?”

Skinner peered up at him from his post between Scully’s legs. “It’s coming.”

Mulder could feel hysteria knocking at his door. “I figured that! Is everything okay?”

Skinner just shook his head and gave him a withering glare. “As well as can be expected under the circumstances.”

He vowed not to ask that question again. He could feel her warm blood beginning to seep through his pants where his bony ass was numbly balanced on the cold floor.

He fumbled for his gun at the sound someone entering the cottage.

“It’s me!” Tiff called out hoarsely.

“Did you get through?” Mulder asked.

Hurrying to the window, she was peering out through the drawn curtains and he felt terror filling his heart.

Tiff glanced back at him and queried, “How is she?”

“She’s doing all right. What happened?” he pressed.

“I ran into our friends. And Kenneth Bond.”


“They’re on the way here. We don’t have much time. Can we move her back to the car?”

Skinner said, “No. Kenneth Bond talked to you?”

“Yes. He’s going to make the call. He sent me back here.”

Mulder couldn’t see Tiff’s face in the dark room. “He let you go?”

She cut him off in his rapidly galloping thoughts. “He helped before. At the hospital. I believe him.”

“Oh?” Skinner was watching her with suspicion in his eyes.

She begged, “This is our only chance! He said this trance was planted in her psyche. She was supposed to meet them up here. But something obviously went wrong.”

Mulder was cold. “And he suggested a way to get her out of this?”

“Yes!” Tiff was approaching them.

“I can’t trust him!” Mulder said. He didn’t add that he wondered if he could trust her. He turned to Skinner. “What do you think?”

Skinner looked up at Tiff. He shook his head. “I concur.”

Tiff looked furious. “What choice do we have!?”

Her head snapped back around at a sound outside the house. “They’re here. Now. We have to do it.”

“Tiff—” Skinner tried to stop her.

Loudly, Tiff said, “I heard them lift a box and creak across my soul.”

A strange, low hiss came out of Scully’s throat. Mulder pulled her closer to his chest, fury at Tiff overwhelming him.

Tiff was rushing back to the window, ignoring the sputters of Skinner and Mulder.

“They’re out there.” Her voice held doom.

Mulder could feel movement returning to Scully’s body. “Scully? Can you hear me?”

Her eyes fluttered and she seemed to be trying to focus. Her hands settled on her belly.

Skinner sounded oddly formal. “Agent Scully?”

She began to pant. Mulder hoped she was remembering her Lamaze training. “Scully?”

Tiff whispered, “Cloak that light.”

Skinner moved his body to block the light and supported Scully’s knees as she bore down.

Mulder could see silent shadows moving outside the window and they all seemed to be holding their breaths. Scully’s rapid breathing sounded loud as gunfire in the small room.

Tiff had pulled out her weapon. In the darkness, Mulder watched the flicking of the whites of her eyes as she followed the movements. Her head cocked at the sound of the door being tried. Muffled voices could be heard.

Skinner’s hoarse whisper caught Mulder’s attention. “It’s coming!”

He peered over Scully’s shoulder to see the baby’s head crowning. “Shit!” he uttered. “Try to help her! She’s going to tear!”

Someone was pounding at the door. Skinner looked up from his duty. “Dammit!” he hissed.

Tiff muttered, “I’m going around behind them. Block the door after me.” Skinner struggled to his feet to follow her as Mulder pulled Scully’s straining body higher so she could push down.

Skinner was back quickly, but took Tiff’s duty at the window. Mulder could only concentrate on the form sliding from Scully’s vagina. There seemed to be so much blood and mucus. He’d always been squeamish, holding it back as much as he could so Scully would have some shred of respect for him.

Now that it was Scully’s body being torn open he was close to fainting. Only the fact that these next few minutes would be the most important in his life kept him conscious.

A gunshot burst into the cold, dark night. A yelp of pain and then the muffled sound of a body sliding down the wall could be heard close to the door. Tiff must have taken one out.

There was the sound of running feet and shouts. Skinner strained to see into the darkness.

Mulder had to help Scully. He finally loosened his grip on her upper body and moved down to ease the baby’s last few movements as he freed himself from Scully’s body.

Scully lay quietly, still panting with exertion. He carefully lifted the slippery white baby from the puddle between her quaking thighs.

“Scully, are you okay?”

She didn’t answer. He believed she was out of the trance but now seemed to be under the power of a crushing exhaustion.

The baby was squirming, his mouth gasping soundlessly. Mulder turned him over, cradling Kit in his palm, and ran a finger up and down his spine until a little mucous ran out of his mouth and nose.

Another shot rang out, this one further away. He could tell Skinner wanted desperately to join Tiff outside.

“How’s she doing?” he threw over his shoulder to Mulder.

“The baby’s out. Now she needs to pass the placenta.” He placed Kit on his stomach on Scully’s belly, the umbilical cord still attached, shed his own jacket and draped it over the two bodies.

Her eyes seemed to focus for a moment in the dark, latching onto the bundle on her abdomen. “Yes, Scully. You did it. A beautiful baby boy.”

Another volley of shots made him jump. They were further away. “She’s leading them away from the house.” Skinner noted.

“Yes.” Mulder pushed Scully’s limp legs back up. “Scully, you’ve got to push some more.”

She struggled to prop herself up on her elbows and seemed to react automatically, bearing down. Blood gushed out and swirled to create a sticky puddle on Skinner’s jacket. Mulder fought his nausea again.

She gasped in pain. He encouraged, “Come on, Scully. Almost there!”

There was the sound of pounding on the door again. Skinner said, “Shit! They’re back!” He leveled his gun at the door as it quivered on its hinges.

Mulder couldn’t give the attack any more attention. He turned back to Scully. He could see terror in her eyes, and reassured her. “Don’t worry. Just push.”

The furrow deepened in her brow and she pushed herself higher to bear down again. She finally spoke. “Yes.”

He couldn’t stop a face-splitting smile. “There you are, Scully! I was worried for a minute.”

She just nodded and seemed to be concentrating. Finally he could see the placenta poking out of her swollen labia.

The door swung open violently and Skinner started firing. A dark shape dropped away from the opening and then another behind it. Another shadow darted away. Skinner rumbled forward to slam the splintered door shut.

Ignoring the commotion as best he could, Mulder had carefully picked up the placenta and set it aside.

He’d noticed Scully’s discarded coat in the corner and quickly fetched it. Sliding to the floor again, he pulled her and Kit into his lap. “Look, Scully. Look at our baby.” He draped her coat around her shoulders.

Skinner was at the window again, trying to make something out in the dark. Gunshots began to shatter the glass panes, sending him diving for cover. They could hear a single gun trying to pick out their attackers. Tiff was still out there somewhere.

An arm had come out of the bundle on his lap. “Mulder?”

“Yes, Scully?”

“What’s happening?”

“Nothing. Go to sleep.”

“Okay.” Her body seemed to dissolve in his grip, becoming light as a drifting cloud.

He reached down to rub the baby with the jacket, trying to help his circulation. He was answered by a faint cry. Good. His baby was a fighter.

Skinner was at the corner of the window, returning the fire that occasionally whined over their heads. “I’m running out of bullets,” he commented with a distant voice.

Mulder wiggled his gun free from its holster and slid it across the floor towards him. “There you go.”

A figure suddenly rose up in the window and the room filled with the flashes of ignited gunpowder as the man and Skinner shot it out.

The shape dropped away, but Mulder was left shaking, clutching Scully to him as they curled around the baby’s body.

Suddenly, he was blinking as bright light flooded the clearing outside the cottage. A helicopter was dropping down to the scene. A voice blared from it, “Drop your weapons!”

Shots were the answer and they were returned from the bushes. As rapidly as the scene unfolded, it fell silent except for the beating of the helicopter blades.

Skinner raised his head to peer out. “All clear. I think. I’ll check.”

He hurried to the door and cracked it open.

“Police! Come out with your hands where I can see them.”

Skinner bellowed, “I’m FBI! Who the hell are you?”

The voice sounded surprised. “State troopers!”

Tiff joined in from across the clearing. “It’s all right, Skinner! It’s the proper authorities!”

Skinner seemed to relax. “I’ll go check on an ambulance.”

Mulder nodded. He felt very close to tears. Pushing back the coat from Scully’s drawn face, he stroked her cheek. Her eyelashes fluttered. “Scully? It’s okay. Everything’s okay.” He fought down a sob.

She looked up his with hazy eyes. “The baby—”

“He’s right here,” Mulder told her. He pulled his coat free from Kit’s head to show her the baby but she had drifted off when he glanced down at her again. He lifted her hand and settled it on Kit’s head. Her fingers flexed in a reflex, cupping the small skull.

Mulder felt desperately weak and tired. Relief washed over him as he heard footfalls on the porch.

The room was suddenly filled with light and bodies. Skinner was ranting into a cell phone, arranging search teams and security. Tiff was filling in the local troopers as best she could. EMTs swarmed down on Scully, the baby and him.

He refused to let go of Scully and the baby. They were all he had in the world, and as the jabbering voices and jostling movements of the crowded room overwhelmed him, their warm bodies seemed to be his only anchor on sanity.

Finally, the three of them were loaded into an ambulance for the long ride back to Washington. They let him have a gun and he remained huddled beside the gurney holding Scully and Kit, gripping it with bloodless hands.

Chapter 11: Three Fathers


Washington D.C. February 14th, 10:05 P.M.

Tiff hadn’t expected Skinner to accept her offer to come up to her apartment after he’d driven her home. She felt awkward as they hovered together in the foyer.

“I could make some coffee,” she suggested.

“You probably want to go to sleep,” he responded.

“I can make some for you. Are you going back to the hospital?” She moved towards the kitchen.

He followed her. “Yes. I want to make sure the agents I assigned are staying focused on their job.”

“Can we trust those people?” she wondered out loud as she measured the coffee into the coffee maker.

“Yes, I’ve picked them myself.” He seemed definite so she nodded.

She still felt uncomfortable. She joined him in the living room. “It should be ready in a minute—I’m sorry.”

His brow creased. “What?”

“I’m sorry. About bringing up the baby thing. You’ve never said…” She was starting to stumble. “You never said anything about having children—”

He broke off her words. “No, I haven’t—”

She didn’t want him to feel he had to explain. “I mean, it’s certainly your business…after all, we’re just fuck buddies.”

Now he seemed pissed. “What!?”

She shook her head and for the first time since they’d gotten back from the Blue Ridge Mountains, she was able to look him in the eye. “That’s what we’ve always been.”

“Maybe to you.” Her heart squeezed down to a concentrated form at his words.

She was stubborn. “Are they with Sharon?”

He fell heavily onto the couch. “No.”

She lost her nerve. “You don’t have to—”

Removing his glasses to rub his tired eyes, he tossed them onto the coffee table. “They both died in infancy. Multiple birth defects. After the last one died we had some tests done.” Now it was his turn to look her in the eye. She sat beside him. “I…I may have been exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam. My sperm shows several severe abnormalities.” He looked down at his clasped hands. “Our marriage might have survived the first loss, but we didn’t make it though the second.”

All she could garble out was, “Oh…” Even though she was on the pill, he had always insisted on using condoms, carrying them in his wallet like a teenaged boy. She’d assumed that meant he had multiple partners or thought she did. Instead, it looked as though he was terrified of her becoming pregnant.

Her mouth was babbling on ahead of any thoughts of self-preservation. “We could adopt. There are lots of biracial and black babies needing homes…” In horror, she stopped. Somehow, in this whole mess, she’d just proposed marriage to Walter Skinner.

If it was possible, the air in the room got heavier, thickening to the consistency of sludge. When he turned to her, she could barely hold her head upright to keep her gaze level with his.

Diplomatically, he said, “That’s true.”

She let out a shattered breath, molecule by molecule. “What were their names?”

His jaw clenched down like a trap snapping shut to hold down his pain. Reaching out, she ran a hand along his tightly muscled jaw line, trying to free that tension. “Dog?” He didn’t answer. She leaned in to kiss him. Just gentle pecks on each cheek but when her hand came to rest on his chest, she noted his rapid breathing.

She pressed on. “What were they?”

He shook his head violently as though he was a baby himself. Her heart was breaking but she had to press on.

But when she leaned in again to kiss him more forcibly, he suddenly lunged at her, pushing her down into the cushions and frantically pulling at her slacks.

Unafraid, she joined him, pushing his suit jacket off, ripping his zipper open, using her strong arms to anchor herself to his body.

His face fell into the crook of her neck and his rasping breaths pounded at her ear as he fumbled with her underwear, his underwear. She let him do all the work. She whispered encouragement as her hands swept over his back.

She wanted him to feel as strong as a brick house, sheltering them from all their losses. She threw one leg up over the back of the couch so their two large bodies could fit on it. Her other leg wrapped around his hip, pulling him towards her weeping vagina.

He was trying to reach his pocket to get a condom. Now she was firm. “No!”

She grabbed his hand and forced it to her blouse-covered breast. “No.” He paused, but kept his face buried in her neck.

Her strong thigh pushed his hips back between her legs. She asked again, “What were their names?”

He plunged into her with no gentleness. She gasped through the brief flash of pain and then groaned slowly. She didn’t want him to be gentle. Not now.

He began to thrust into her, using the arm of the sofa above her head for leverage. She thought he was grunting but then she realized the sounds were forming a name. “…Peter…”

She couldn’t stop her tears from leaking out of her eyes. “Yes…yes…yes…”

“And…and…Nicholas. My sons’ names were Peter and Nicholas,” he gasped out.

“Yes, baby. It’s okay. It’s okay,” she heard herself promising. It wasn’t okay though. It was like falling down a crevice and being crushed as the walls tightened around her. She didn’t know if she could make this feel better.

She realized he was close. She felt the familiar straining of his neck tendons against her cheek. He was trying to pull out. She brought her other leg down and clasped her calves together across the tightened muscles of his ass.

“Tiff…Tiff…Tiff—” His despair was cut off by a deep groan. He’d never made that sound before and she felt dampness where his cheek was pressed to her skin, like a passing spring rain shower. For the first time, she felt herself filled with his seed. He had touched her everywhere now.

She kept up her empty promises. “It’s okay. It’s okay—”

He collapsed on her and she finally loosened her grip on his hips. He quickly disentangled himself and she pulled herself up into a corner of the sofa. He was pulling his pants back up without looking at her. “I’ve got to go to the hospital.”

He had his coat on and was halfway to the door. “All right. You’ve got a key.” She was glad to hear there was no plea in her voice.

He paused with a hand on the doorknob and nodded. Then he was gone.

She sat for a few moments until the chill of the cooling stickiness on her thighs woke her from her trance. She trailed a fingertip through the thick liquid oozing from her. She rolled her fingers together as though weighing the substance. It looked like any other man’s ejaculate. This one was empty at the least, dangerous to their hearts at the worst. The bittersweet promise of a big shy boy with pale eyes or an awkward, tall, skinny girl with glasses was gone.

The sharp smell of the percolating coffee dragged her from the sofa. She’d wait for him.


Fairfax Hospital 11:45 P.M.

Skinner saw Frohike and Langly first. He almost didn’t recognize Langly with a day’s growth of facial hair. Frohike couldn’t get any grubbier looking and gave him a half-hearted wave. Skinner nodded in acknowledgement but moved on. Quietly, he told the agent in charge to let the Gunmen stay close.

On the way to Scully’s room he was surprised to catch sight of Mulder slumped in a waiting room chair. He almost chickened out and passed by. It had been a very long, very emotional day.

Just then, Mulder looked up and met his gaze. Skinner had seen Mulder desperate and in pain before, but it was all overshadowed by the fear in his eyes now. He had to go to him.

“Why aren’t you with Agent Scully?” he asked.

Mulder looked away. “She’s asleep.”

Skinner couldn’t hide his surprise. “That’s never stopped you before.” Too late, he knew he’d let the lightning out of the bottle with his statement.

Mulder just shook his head like a surly teenager. Skinner fell heavily into the chair beside him.

Mulder asked, “What the fuck am I gonna do?”

“What do you mean?”

Mulder garbled, “I haven’t dared call Mrs. Scully. I don’t want her to see this mess. I’m so…” He stopped, a sob holding back his words. He got control and started again, this time with fury. “I’m so fuckin’ angry!”


Mulder looked at him with shock. “About?” He looked away and seemed to get control. “Maybe not what you think.”


“I can understand that those bastards got control of her mind, made her do those things. What I can’t understand—what I can’t find a way to forgive—is that, once again, she couldn’t tell me what was happening.”

“She didn’t say anything? No clues?”

“I just thought it was Scully. Being Scully. How do you know when to take a pregnant woman’s fears seriously? She said it was anxiety linked to the pregnancy. Why wouldn’t I believe her?”

Skinner began to feel the itch of irritation spreading across his skin. “What do I know about women? I’ve got one ex-wife and…” Christ, how did he get in these situations?

Mulder gave him a look filled with self-pity. “That’s okay, sir. I understand.”

Sighing, Skinner forced himself onward. Slowly he started, “I only know Dana Scully as an agent. She has always shown herself to be strong and capable, invincible almost. She has me completely convinced. But sometimes I’ll be standing beside her and glance down…and I have to look down and down to find her. Then I realize I could crush her like a bug.”

“As long as she wasn’t armed—” Mulder muttered.

“That’s not the point! I can’t believe she would ever break, but everyone breaks, Mulder. Everybody. I know. You’ve got to give her that right. And there’s such a thing as too much respect. It’s a long fall from the top of a pedestal.”

He grumbled, “So I’ve been told. But I want her to be open with me. She should have told me something was wrong—”

Again, Skinner asked, “Did she express definite fears to you?”

Mulder shifted his gaze away.

Taking a guess, Skinner kept talking. “Questioning her instincts is a good thing on a case because you need to look at all the possibilities, fight to find the answers. It’s not too good in a marriage. That’s the only thing I figured out after the divorce.”

Now the men exchanged a look of mutual self-pity.

Skinner found himself uncharacteristically rambling on. “She said to me, ‘You can’t be the man I need you to be. I love you, I always will. But I need so much more right now.’” He swung to the side to look Mulder straight in the eyes. “Don’t want to scare you, but all the songs are wrong. Sometimes love isn’t enough. I never could figure out what she needed, Mulder, so I don’t think I can be any help. For what it’s worth—” He shrugged in frustration. “Just try to give more.”

Bowing his head, Mulder said, “Thanks. I’ll think about what you’ve said.”

Anita approached. Mulder immediately jumped up from his chair. “Is something wrong?”

She shook her head and grasped his arm to give it a squeeze. “Stop worrying! Isaac is doing fine. Being premature, he’s a little underweight, but isn’t showing any of the signs you were concerned about.”

Mulder bowed his head in relief. The doctor continued. “Dana’s awake. I’ve checked her out and physically, she’s as good as can be expected.” She gave Skinner a worried look. “But she’s emotionally traumatized and is still suffering from memory lapses. Fox, I think it would be best if you were the one to fill her in.”

Mulder nodded. She asked, “Do you want me to bring Isaac to the room?”

“Yes. And we’re going to call him Kit.”

Anita smiled broadly. “I’ll go get him right now. Why don’t you go ahead?” She lost her smile. “And prepare her for seeing her son.”

Skinner clapped him on the back. “Go on, Mulder.”

“Thank you, sir.” Mulder gave him a shaky half-smile.

Wearily, he pulled himself out of the chair. “I’ve got to go. Good luck.”


When Mulder first entered Scully’s dim room, he thought she was still asleep.

But then he noticed her body shaking with tremors.


“I’m bleeding, Mulder.”

He hurried to her bedside. “Where?”

She pulled the sheet back and motioned below her waist. “There. The baby…”

She seemed disoriented and he leaned in the check her pupils. The orbs were the mystical blue of a Vermeer peasant’s gown. But her pupils were as black as wells, empty and bottomless with fear.

Her voice was small. “He’s gone.”

He rushed to reassure her. “Kit’s fine. The tests show him to be perfectly normal. He’s right here in the hospital. Anita’s bringing him to you right now.”

Keeping her lips tightly pressed together, she began to shake her head violently. He carefully settled his weight onto the bed. When he lifted her hand and wrapped his fingers around it, her returning grip was frantic but she wouldn’t meet his eyes.

He suddenly hated hospitals and their pale walls that drained her soul away. He wanted to pick her up and carry her out of here.

He could hear his voice, determinedly over-bright. “They want to keep him for observation for a few days, but he seems very strong. And you know what?”

She was staring at where her hand was lost in his grip. She shook her head.

“You realize we’ve won? It’s over. We have Kit. Blood samples have been drawn and given to the Gunmen. Those people have nothing to gain by taking him now.” He reiterated, hoping she could take some of his strength. “We’ve won. We have nothing to fear anymore.”

Her head shook violently again. He almost didn’t hear her whisper. “How can I—”

He stopped her. “I have to apologize.”

That got her attention. Her gaze snapped up to his face. He nodded, giving a shrug. “I wouldn’t listen to you and that almost cost me everything.”

Her gaze dropped again, but he could tell from the furrow in her brow that she was mulling over his words. “I vow to you, Scully—” He tipped her chin up so she was forced to look into his sincere eyes. “Tonight. Here. In front of no witnesses and no god, I swear to you with all my heart. You and Kit will always be my center. Forsaking all others.”

The black of her pupils warmed to velvet. He smiled in relief. “I see now. All these years—the culmination of my search—I need my family.” Her palm was warm against his cheek and he leaned into the comfort. “And now I have that.”

The door opened, and the brief spell was broken. Anita peeked around the corner. “Ah, she’s still awake!”

Holding the door open for the nurse carrying the baby, Anita babbled on. “Brought you a guest, Dana. Someone who’s quite anxious to see you again.”

Mulder felt Scully’s nails clawing at his palm and he hung onto her hand with all his strength. The nurse was approaching them, and he could see the bundle in her arms was squirming. Those odd little noises he’d heard come from other babies—but now that they were coming from his own child—were terrifying as they gurgled out of the blanket.

Anita plowed on, despite the fact Scully was staring at their hands again. “He probably wants his dinner, Dana—”

Scully’s damp eyes shot up and she shook her head violently. Anita reassured her. “You’d completed your lactation classes. Relax, your body will take care of business.” She patted Scully’s shoulder.

The nurse was waiting but Scully made no move to take Kit. She stared mutely at the bundle. Mulder finally reached up and took the baby.

“Why don’t you leave us alone?” With false cheer, he added, “We’ve got to get used to this. Might as well start tonight.”

“Of course,” Anita said. “I want to go over and check on John. He had a long day too and I know he’s going crazy stuck there. Give me a page if you have any concerns or questions.”

Mulder nodded. “Thank you, Anita.”

Scully finally spoke. “Yes. Thank you. And thank John too.”

“We were just doing our jobs.” Anita gave Scully’s cheek a quick peck and her arm another squeeze. “That’s what friends are for.”

She and the nurse slipped out of the room. Mulder became aware of the heat coming off of Kit. It reminded him this was a living being. Carefully, he pulled the blanket back from the small red prune face. His own face scrunched up in imitation. How could anyone hold their features that way for an extended period of time? It was so uncomfortable.

He heard a gasp of a giggle and turned to give Scully a grin. She glanced away quickly.

Pulling the blanket all the way off, he lay Kit’s squirming little body out across his thighs.

He started talking casually. “He’s a little underweight for his height but Anita’s not worried. Anyway, he’ll probably have these proportions his whole life. Might as well start out that way.”

Kit’s eyes finally opened and Mulder was struck by the solemn expression held in them. He had to shift his own eyes away from that gaze as he took the small cap off of Kit’s head. “No hair yet. Wonder why? With the two of us as parents, he should have a mop.”

Out of the corner of his eye he saw a tentative fingertip reach out to stroke Kit’s thigh. “Long legs. That’s not good. He’ll be able to reach the car pedals by eight. I was able to.”

The snort came from Scully again. He took that as encouragement.

“Why don’t you hold him?”

He’d moved too fast. The finger was snatched back and he could hear her hair rustle against the pillow as she shook her head.

Lifting the baby to his shoulder, carefully supporting his head, he said, “Okay. That’s fine. I’ll hold him.” He patted his back and he heard a small burp in his ear. “It feels nice. He’s so loose. It’s as though he spreads out and becomes a part of your body right away.”

A sharp breath was sucked in next to him.

In his other ear, he heard Kit begin to whine faintly. “What’s the problem, Captain?” He glanced over at Scully and the expression of longing on her face caused him to stumble. “Uh—I don’t know if I’m going to be able to handle this baby thing. I mean, how do you know what they want? I’m thinking eating will be his main concern in the beginning, but I’m sure his needs will become more complex as time progresses. However, it’s my understanding verbal communication is still a ways off.”

She nodded and her fingers lightly stroked the back of Kit’s head. She whispered, “No hair at all.”


The whine was beginning to rise in pitch. “Uh—Scully? I don’t want to push you—but I think this is where you come in.”

She started to shake her head, but then seemed to force herself to stop. He began to talk as quickly as possible to slip through the crack in her door.

“You didn’t do anything wrong, Scully. You don’t have any reason to be angry with yourself. No reason to feel guilt. You gave birth to a beautiful baby—”

Her raised voice sounded like the opening of a rusted trap. “No! I was going to kill him, Mulder!”

“No, Scully! You were under Their control! They wanted you to do those things—”

Furious, she burst out, “And I was going to do them! I was going to kill my baby, kill myself, leave you—”

“Scully, for once, please! Cut yourself a little bit of slack. Accept that you aren’t infallible and can’t be in control every second of the day.” He dissolved in anguish. “Or else it’s going to be a very long fifty years.”

Kit chimed into the argument, reaching a high note of a wail.

Mulder thrust him towards her. “If you want to be a superwoman— now’s your chance. Solve all your son’s problems, right now.”

Her eyes stormed and he was encouraged. Good. She had her fight back.

Carefully, she took Kit from him, supporting his head and cradling him close. The baby looked suddenly huge against her small body and Mulder was shocked to realize this little human had come out of her. He was in awe of the entire process.

She didn’t seem to want to let go of Kit to use a hand to get her gown open. “Mulder?”

“Sure.” He reached across, untied the bows, and pushed the fabric aside to reveal one heavy white breast. She looked confused and worried. “You want my help?”

A slow smile spread across her face. A finger from the hand holding Kit’s head stroked his cheek. “Think you can handle it?”

Slipping one long arm around her body, he guided the baby’s head towards her breast. “I’ve got to be good for something. And if there’s anything I know, it’s your breasts and all the techniques of suckling them.”

She let a full laugh loose this time.

With false seriousness, he chided her. “Give the kid a break. You’ve created a moving target.”

Scully couldn’t stop another giggle. “Sorry.”

Kit was ignoring both of them and his small mouth was leaving a drool trail on her breast as he tried to find her nipple on his own.

Softly, she said, “Here,” as she guided his head to its target and tickled his cheek to open his mouth. Her eyes widened as he latched on.

To her, it felt as though Kit’s surprisingly strong mouth wasn’t taking from her body, but giving her something. Something she needed so desperately at this moment—strength. Each tug of his lips seemed to be connected to her heart, filling the chambers and pumping warmth to her limbs. She could vaguely hear Mulder encouraging her, “Only remember the good things. Kit’s here. He’s healthy. Nothing else matters anymore.”

She nodded. “I’ll try.”

Scooting over a bit on the bed, she pulled Mulder the rest of the way on to it and he came willingly, curling his long body in beside hers. His head came to rest on her shoulder so he could watch every flicker of Kit’s drooping eyelids. Another pull on her nipple, another nerve brought back to life.

Her voice sounded normal to her own ears for the first time in a long time. “Yes, everything will be fine.”


The Factory February 15th, 12:50 A.M.

Krycek strode out of the old fool’s office, slamming the door behind him. His thoughts whirled as though they’d been tossed into a cyclone. He had to sort them out.

He was certain that someone within their organization was helping Mulder and Scully evade them. There was no other way things could get this fucked up this often.

He strode down the aisle of green liquid-filled tubes, sparing the forms floating in them barely a glance. He should pay more attention. It would seem those bodies were their last chance.

Their opportunity to make any money out of this deal was slipping away. All they could hope to do was get their own survival out of those experiments.

And yet the old man seemed satisfied.

Krycek ducked into a shadow and pulled from his pocket a small receiver for a bug he’d planted. His supervisor had seemed intent on hustling him out of the office, as though something was on his mind. He was sure he would be making a phone call.

At first, nothing but the old man’s labored breathing could be heard. He didn’t mind. He was patient.

Then he heard the rustle of fabric, followed by the beeping of cell phone buttons being pushed.

//It’s me//

//How is he?//

The silence was long. Krycek cursed quietly.

//All right. How much time do we have?//

He could hear the flick of the old man’s lighter.

//Don’t worry. I told you!// The rumble of the voice rose.

Out of the corner of his eye, Krycek saw Kenneth standing in the shadow of the nearest tube as though he was waiting for a bus, his eyes straight ahead. But he knew the clone was listening to everything. His heart hardened to stone. He almost missed the old man’s final words but the tone caught his attention. He’d never heard that man speak in such a voice, full of love and strength.

//Don’t worry. Daddy will take care of everything.//

Book III

Chapter 1: First Date


Pinecrest, Virginia; 31 Bridle Path Way April 30th, 3:45 P.M.

“Mulder, how’s everything going?”

Scully was on the cell phone for the fifth time since she’d left him with the baby to go shopping. Her first solo journey out of the house since Kit’s birth.

Mulder balanced the receiver between his shoulder and ear. “Fine. Everything’s fine.”

He glanced down at his son cradled in his arms. The baby cracked his eyes open but then let his long, dark lashes drop again. To Mulder, Kit’s eyes seemed huge, a swirl of blue and green and gray, depending on his mood.

Scully’s voice snapped him back to the conversation. “Has he been hungry?” She wasn’t satisfied with his assurances.

“I’ve given him a bottle, yes.”

“All right,” she said grudgingly. “I’m going to be at least another hour. The traffic is horrible! But take another container of my milk out of the freezer. Just to be sure.”

He was losing patience. “There’s still some left in the bottle. It’ll be fine. I’ve gotta go. Diaper change time!”

He cut the connection before she could go over that procedure with him again.

He swung the drowsing baby up onto his shoulder and began chatting. “You and me, Captain. We menfolk can take care of business.” Kit’s response was to latch onto Mulder’s neck like some toothless vampire, the baby’s drool pooling in his collarbone.

There were more immediate concerns. Recoiling slightly at the odor rising from his son’s diaper, Mulder hurried to the changing table they’d set up the laundry room off the kitchen.

He was just beginning to unfasten the pins at Kit’s hips when the front door bell rang.

Grumbling, he picked the now squirming baby up and went to answer it.

His heart plunged when he peered through the peephole.

Opening the door, he said, “Mother.”

Teena Mulder stood on the porch. Despite her perfect coif and smooth Chanel overcoat, her white knuckles clutching her purse strap betrayed her tension.

“Fox.” Her gaze immediately settled on the baby.

Mulder had to move aside to let her in. “Please come in. It’s cold. Kit needs his diaper changed,” he called over his shoulder as he hurried back to changing table. Kit had begun the low pig squeals that signaled his displeasure.

“Fox…” His mother was wavering in the doorway as he began his task.

Mulder didn’t know what to say. He concentrated on wiping Kit’s small buttocks clean.

She slowly entered the room, watching him. “Why didn’t you call me?”

He tossed away the soiled wipe. “How did you know?”

He turned to be able to look into her eyes. She raised her chin and met his gaze with her usual cool, bland gaze. “A friend thought I should know I’m a grandmother.”

He turned back to his task, his hands trembling slightly as he pulled a new diaper off the stack. He had his answer.

She peered over his shoulder to watch. “He’s not circumcised?”

“Scully doesn’t believe it’s medically necessary,” he muttered.

Archly, his mother commented, “Oh? And has she had him baptized?”

Gritting his teeth, he replied, “No. We’re going to let him decide those things for himself.” As he powdered Kit’s bottom, he reminded her, “You let Dad take Samantha and me to be baptized—”

She tossed her head back, dismissing him. “What was I to do to stop him?”

He could only shake his head as an answer. It was useless to challenge her.

She didn’t seem to notice. “What’s his name?”

“Didn’t your ‘friend’ tell you?” he retorted as he finished fastening the fresh diaper.

Out of the corner of his eye, he could see her hand reaching out to touch his child. He shifted his weight so his body blocked her move. She stepped back towards the doorway.

He knew what her response would be when he told her the name. “Isaac Patrick.”

Sure enough, she tossed up her hands, and shook her head. “Good Lord! That old rag seller!”

“Yes, Mother. That old rag seller.” He’d swung around to face her; Kit tucked up under his chin. Ignoring the scene, his son had fallen back to sleep, curling into his odd turtle-out-of-its- shell shape. “Was there anything else?”

She seemed stunned. “What?”

“Did you want anything? Because I think you should go.”

She hadn’t taken her overcoat off or put down her purse. She played at the buttons of her coat now, and let her eyes roam the room, lighting everywhere but on him. “I—”

He heard a cold, brutal voice cut her off. “Okay. Then I think you should go.”

Her head dipped in a royal nod of acceptance. “I will.”

He didn’t show her out. Instead, through the living room window, he watched her car pull out of the drive and slowly move down the street. He was surprised that there was no silhouette on the passenger side.

Kit began to fuss. Mulder rocked him, trying to settle him down. In the kitchen, he made a disturbing discovery. The milk level in the bottle was much lower than he thought.

The rest of Scully’s milk was frozen solid. “Dammit!” Glancing down at Kit’s perplexed face as the baby sucked the last of the milk down, he apologized. “Sorry, Captain. Maybe—”

He opened the door of the microwave and then hesitated as he prepared to shove the container of milk into it. No, that would kill the good thingies in the milk. Scully’s lactation lesson number 64, now only vaguely remembered.

“Now what?” he said out loud and got only some gasps of frustration from his warm bundle. He began to pace and then snatched up the phone. It rang before he could dial Scully.

“Mulder? It’s me.”


“I’m still on the freeway! Dammit! I’m stuck behind an accident!” she sputtered down the line at him.

“Are you all right?” he quickly asked, switching Kit to the arm furthest away from the receiver so his low cries couldn’t be heard.

No such luck. “What’s wrong?”

He put all of his powers of conviction in his voice. “Nothing—”

She growled, “Shit!”

Swaying in place to attempt to rock Kit to sleep, with no results, he asked, “What now?”

Sputtering, she said, “I had a let-down when I heard Kit cry. Dammit! Now I have milk all over my sweater.”

Mulder met Kit’s wet, sad eyes with equal despair. So close and yet so far!

“Just drive safely. We’ll be here when you get home, don’t worry.”

Again, he cut her off before she could protest. Kit filled in the protest, beginning to cry in earnest. Futilely, he patted the baby’s back, trying to soothe him. “You miss your Mommy, huh, Kit? So do I.”

As the minutes ticked by, he walked around and around the kitchen, staring at the frozen milk in its rubber tub, willing it to melt. A small puddle developed under the block, but it was freezing cold.

Kit’s cries became steady and strong. Widening his circle to include the living room, Mulder peered out of the blinds to see if his neighbors had gathered on his muddy front lawn, brought by the wails of a tortured child, ready to snatch this neglected baby from his incompetent father.

Upset, Kit began to spit up what little food he did have in his stomach. Mulder was nearly sobbing himself.

“Oh, Kit! What’d you do that for?” He lay the wailing baby down the couch and quickly stripped off his stained sweatshirt. When he brought Kit back up to his chest, the baby began mouthing at Mulder’s damp pectoral muscle.

At first Mulder was horrified and then a plan formed in his overwrought mind. Well, not that Kit could get any milk, but maybe it would calm him to suckle…Mulder tried to adjust Kit to this unfamiliar position. Scully made it look so easy…

“Mulder, what the hell are you doing?” came from behind him, startling him to the extent he nearly dropped the baby.

“Scully! Thank god!”

“Yes. I should think so,” she fussed.

She had stripped off her coat and was pulling off her milk-stained sweater as she approached him. “Give him to me.”

She settled into the armchair and Kit was immediately silent when he latched onto her nipple. She was shaking her head and chuckling. “Mulder! I’m concerned that your harebrained ideas will spill into parenthood.”

He plopped down on the sofa next to his crumpled sweater. “I forgot—”

Fascinated, he watched as she gently stroked the plump white cheek of his son. Fine dark hair was finally growing in, creating a tidy cap on Kit’s skull. She wasn’t listening.

Her face held the dreamy expression he used to be happy to put there on a regular basis. She was in that place she went when she was with their baby. A place he would never be able to go.

He noticed his lips were contracting in unison with Kit’s greedy slurping. Did it taste like normal milk or something more— better? The way his son acted, you’d think Hollandaise sauce, rich and almost forbidden in creaminess, was coming out of her nipples. He remembered the soft texture of her aureole, then the elastic nub of her nipple. How hard would he have to suck to get milk?

Leaping up from the couch, snatching up their soiled sweaters, he hurried from the room, telling her, “I’ll soak these sweaters.”

Her laggard tone followed him, “All right.”


Scully sank deeper into the tub of warm water. This house had been an extravagance, but she found it hard to feel remorse when she was in this elevated, deep tub built for two. It had been a long, cold day trying to find some clothes to fit her new and fuller figure. Sighing, she lowered herself into the water until only her head was poking out.

Also, she’d gotten her hair cut, at last, to a short, layered style. Now it would be a tumble of curls if she didn’t straighten it mercilessly. It didn’t matter. She still hadn’t decided when she would go back to work, or in what capacity when she did. For now, she couldn’t seem to summon interest in her career. All of her priorities had changed.

The reason entered the room, carried by Mulder, and she couldn’t help but raise her arms. “The water’s cooled enough. I’ll bathe him.”

He shook his head, but smiled. “Let me take his diaper off first. Enjoying your bath?”

She returned his smile. “Yes.”

“I was going to shower.” Handing the now naked baby to her, he asked, “Care to join me?”

“No, I’ve got my man.” She gently lowered her son into the warm water, dunking him up and down.

Mulder looked disappointed, but said with a grin in his voice, “My waterbabies.”

She had drawn her knees up and propped Kit’s head up so he could see her as she made funny faces at him. “Yep! Wanna go for a boat ride, Captain?”

Kit only gurgled in reply, then screwed up his face in his now familiar, me-hungry, expression.

Quickly, she brought him to her breast and dribbled water on his fat belly as he fed. She glanced up at Mulder. Like a large toad on his stool, he was perched on the toilet; his long legs pulled up, watching them with a strange look on his face.

“What?” she asked in a low voice, the room suddenly seeming very warm.

Jumping up from the toilet, he tossed over his shoulder, “I’ll shower downstairs. Don’t want to disturb you.”

She shot a questioning look down at Kit, who ignored her in his greed. Reviewing the past few moments, she thought she could figure out the source of Mulder’s discomfort. She was pretty damn sure she’d seen a huge erection tenting his baggy sweatpants as he rushed out of the room.

The now familiar lethargy that came with breast-feeding overcame her and she settled her head back on the edge of the tub. Sex. What was that? So far, things hadn’t been going well at all in that department.

She’d torn somewhat in the frantic birth and, for once, she’d been slow to heal. Despite the doctor’s okay, their first attempts had to be aborted. Now she was sure she was physically fine, it was just a matter of finding time and energy. They’d gotten pretty far the other night, hands and lips traveling down all the old roads, before Kit’s cry had taken her away. By the time she’d gotten back, Mulder had been sound asleep.

Hardly flattering, but she didn’t blame him. He’d started back to work, although only on deskwork. Still, he gamely would get up to retrieve Kit for her every two hours in the night, settling back to his side of the bed with the baby nestled between them like a bundling board.

Kit was finished eating. Bringing him up to her shoulder, she whispered in his ear, “Maybe tonight, Captain. Do I feel lucky?”

By the time she’d dried and powdered him, rocked him to sleep, and had done her few nighttime rituals, Mulder was in bed with the light out. Slipping under the covers, she wiggled up behind him, letting her hand creep over his hip, under his pajama waistband, along his groin to encounter…a flaccid penis.

“Where’d my friend go?” she asked, slightly taken aback.

Half asleep, Mulder mumbled, “Oh. Uh…I took care of that myself. I didn’t—”

Fury and frustration on three hours of sleep brought quick tears to her eyes. “Fine.” She flipped over faster than a McDonald’s hamburger, and pulled the coverlet up tight under her chin.

His remorseful tone followed her. “Scully? I could…what do you want?”

“Nothing. Forget it. Go to sleep.”

Now that she was royally pissed off at him, Mulder figured he might as well tell her what had happened. “My mother came by today.”

“What!?” She flipped back over and her could see the whites of her eyes gleaming bright panic in the dark room.

“Yes. I think that old smoking bastard told her about Kit,” he said.

“You hadn’t called her?” Scully was stroking his arm now, her anger apparently forgotten.

“No. I couldn’t think of what to say,” he muttered.

Her voice was low and strained. “Do you think we should be worried?”

“I’m assuming he’s just mind-fucking with us. He can’t let go of his ‘family’. I’m sure that’s all.” He hoped he sounded confident.

She pulled his arms around her and burrowed her head under his chin. “Okay. I hope so.”

Her body felt strong and lithe under his touch, the slight tension still in her muscles. He squeezed the long muscles running down her stiff back. “I know so.”


FBI Building May 4th, 5:05 P.M.

Mulder checked his calendar again for the twentieth time that afternoon. Yep, he didn’t have it wrong, 7:30 PM, tonight.

Scully had dropped by the office with a bawling Kit after a doctor’s appointment.

Tiff had seemed to pretend not to notice and then had to stifle a chuckle when Scully had passed off the squirming, whining baby to him, with, “Take him. He’s cranky and so am I.”

Scully herself had written the numbers in red as she leaned across his desk, her torso pressing his stilled hands down on his paperwork. It had been just before she’d left, after Kit had spit up on his tie, after she had breast-feed the baby in front of a horrified Skinner and a continually bemused Tiff and after she had thrown a stinky diaper in his waste basket. As she’d written the time, she’d whispered in his ear, “Our first date.”

He knew what she meant. It was time to resume marital relations. Or to put it more concisely, to start marital relations properly, with Scully’s belly flat and firm again.

No more of this ‘fooling around’ they’d been doing; the term he and the other boys used in high school when they didn’t want to admit they weren’t actually having sex with their girlfriends, only petting.

He laughed suddenly and Tiff shot him a worried look. Scully and he were finally going to have sex. How long had it been? He broke out in a sweat. Should he stop and get some wine? He should have sent flowers. He dialed the florist frantically. Too late. He would have to pick up a dozen roses on the way home from work. It was their first date after all.

He could see Tiff watching him out of the corner of his eye. She just kept shaking her head. Fuck her. He was a man with a few things on his mind.


He was at his own front door with his arms loaded down with champagne bottles and flowers and had to stop himself from ringing the bell. He wasn’t arriving for a real date, for Christ’s sake!

He was greeted by Kit’s siren-like wail as he entered the foyer. Scully was walking the baby around the living room, trying to calm him.

Mulder stopped in the entryway and watched her. Well, she had been beautifully coordinated at some point this evening, he was sure. She was wearing a long, tight velvet dress, a dark deep red, the color of desire. It was cut low in the back to show off her gorgeous string of pearls spine. He couldn’t see the bodice, she had a squirming red-faced baby pressed to it right now, but he was sure it was cut low too. She was barefoot, but he saw the high Fuck-Me shoes tossed aside.

Scully suddenly realized Mulder was watching her and she jumped with a start. Having a baby had dulled her instincts and she didn’t like that. She couldn’t stop her voice from being snippy. “You’re finally home.”

He looked stunned and then said, “Yeah, I’m sorry—” He glanced down at his offerings.

She just couldn’t stop herself. “I already have wine and flowers.”

“I’m sorry,” he repeated as he tossed his things onto the console table and came into the room.

She took a deep breath. “I’m sorry too. Could you take him for just one minute so I can check on the dinner?”

“I’d be happy to take him,” Mulder said stiffly.

She bit back a bitter comment about the diaper-changing scoreboard of late and handed him Kit before fleeing to the kitchen and the smell of burning lasagna.

As she threw the casserole dish up on the counter, she noticed Kit had spit up on her dress. That was pretty. It wouldn’t come out of velvet; that was for sure. She wiped off as much as she could and sighed. This wasn’t going the way she planned at all.

Mulder joined her in the kitchen. “We could order take-out,” he suggested.

She was still in the snippy mood. “I guess. Where’s Kit?”

“I put him down.” Mulder reached for her like a hungry baby himself.

“He’ll be crying again in a second, I tell you,” she warned as she moved away. She saw the hurt expression in his eyes.

She took a deep breath and forced herself to try to get in the mood. “Why don’t you order some food? I’ll go check on him.”

Mulder called after her as she hurried from the room, “I told you. He’s fine. You’re just going to get him stirred up.”

He didn’t understand. She had heard other women say that about their husbands but she’d thought a man as sensitive as Mulder…

He didn’t understand that she knew if her child needed her. He would never have this connection.

Kit was lying in his crib, gulping back quiet sobs. She quickly picked him up and moved to her rocking chair. They rocked for a few minutes and she started feeding him. Before he could finish eating, he finally went to sleep. With a slight, pained grimace, she rearranged her breasts in the bodice of her dress.

She found Mulder in the living room, with the TV on, flipping through the channels. Great. Now she had to seduce him out of a pout. She came up behind him and ran her fingers through his hair, massaging his scalp, and he purred like a jaguar. Well, that was easy.

“Where did I leave those shoes?” she said, putting some sexiness in her tone.

He chuckled. “Oh, yes. Please.”

She wedged her feet into the shoes with pain. They fit a year ago. She had to admit it was no longer swelling and realize her feet were now larger. She almost sobbed out loud at the idea she was going to have to replace all of her beloved shoes.

She must put on a brave face for Mulder. She pivoted and sauntered towards him. He seemed to appreciate the show. He reached up and drew her down onto the couch. Immediately, his tongue went into her mouth and his long fingers slipped down the cleavage of her dress. Finesse appeared to be gone, replaced by over-due need. She gave out a gasp of pain as he gripped her breast. They were still too sensitive. She reached up and tugged at his wrist.

He looked at her with drugged eyes and then saw what was wrong. “Sorry,” he mumbled as he pushed the strap of her dress down to reveal the offended breast, the blue veins pulsing under the white tissue. He dipped his head to gently lick away the soreness.

That was better. She moaned in encouragement and let her eyes drift shut, cradling his head as he began to suckle. He gave out a ‘glug’ and pulled away in surprise.

“What?” she asked.

He looked embarrassed and his lips were pursed as though he needed to spit but didn’t know where.

“What’s wrong?” she asked again, and then realized what had happened.

She started to laugh, but he said, “Uh, nothing,” as he quickly gulped down the mouthful of her milk.

If he wasn’t going to keep his sense of humor, this wasn’t going to work, she thought with fury. Wait until he found a few other surprises she had hidden under these clothes, including scar tissue and stretch marks.

Just then, the doorbell rang with the food delivery and Kit resumed wailing. They both jumped up from the couch to go to their duties.

The three of them sat around the table, the adults disgruntled. Scully hadn’t bothered to light the candles. They shoveled their dinners into their mouths as Kit fussed and whined in her ear, draped over her shoulder.

Mulder kept shooting her looks as though he wanted to say something. She dared him, she just dared him. The tension became thicker than the congealed, fatty sauce on her pasta.

He waited until she had a stomach full of food to clench down on. “You know, I think you’re clinging to him too much.”

Taking a deep breath, she shot back, “Is that your opinion as a psychologist?”

He didn’t say anything for a moment, obviously at war with his better judgement. It failed, as usual. “No, my opinion as a psychologist is that you’re trying to compensate for your perceived ambivalent feelings during pregnancy and your fear of losing him now—” he stopped himself.

She dared him out loud. “And?”

He looked her right in the eye. “And I think you use him as a buffer against intimacy because you’re still not comfortable with the fact that you somehow ended up married to me without all your usual careful planning.”

Chapter 2: Heaven and Hell


Pinecrest, Virginia; 31 Bridle Path Way May 4th, 11:25 P.M.

Mulder felt lucky to just be in the den. Scully’s expression as he’d delivered his opinion as a psychologist had suggested she had the hole in the backyard halfway dug and his fresh carcass lying in a wheelbarrow beside her as she worked. A retreat had seemed like the best tactical move at that moment.

A retreat. With a laugh, that’s what Scully had christened the den as the movers arranged his old dark couch, fish tank and desk. It was a retreat all right, right back to Before.

After he’d skulked to their bedroom for a tee shirt and sweats, there were muffled sounds from the other rooms. He’d refused to try to identify them. It had been silent for a while, which would suggest Kit had finally gone down for the night but he certainly wasn’t going to leave this room to find out.

A ringing interrupted Mulder’s dwellings on self-pity. He picked up the phone but heard only a dial tone. The ringing continued. He realized it was coming from his trench coat, hanging on the coat tree in the corner. His cell-phone.

His brow creased in curiosity, he pulled the phone out of the deep pocket and pushed the talk button. “Mulder.”

There was a moment of silence. Then a low voice came to his ear. “Mulder, it’s me.”

He was hit with a punch. “Uggh?” was all that came out of his mouth.

The low voice continued, “Mulder, can I come over? I have something to show you.”

His eyebrows raised and he stared at the closed door of the den. “Uh…what about the baby?” He hated himself for shattering the fantasy so soon, but he didn’t want to be disappointed again.

“Tiff has taken him until tomorrow. Can I come over? It’s important.” Her voice pulsed with a rhythm that was beginning to vibrate throughout his body.

He jumped up from the sofa like he was being called to order and barked into the phone in a ridiculously high voice. “Of course! Come as soon as possible!” He dropped back on the sofa, covering his eyes. Idiot.

The voice held back a laugh. “Oh, I will.”

He better do all he could to make sure this went well. Quickly, he threw in, “I’m sorry about my remarks,” before hitting the ‘end’ button and throwing the phone in the general direction of the desk. He pulled his legs together to try to hold his already throbbing dick down. Mustn’t look too eager.

Minutes were ticking by. He strained his ears. What was she doing? He heard nothing. He glanced at the clock. Fifteen minutes! Then he chuckled. On a good day, it would take her forty-five minutes to get to his apartment.

He was chewing on a lint-covered breath mint he’d found in his coat pocket as he impatiently flipped through a magazine when he finally heard a knock on the door. He forced his voice low, in what he hoped was a sexy tone. “Come in.”

Tossing the magazine aside as the door swung open, he had to grip his knees tightly to stop his legs from jumping up and down. Scully stood in the doorway in her long black trench coat, holding her briefcase. She had smoothed her hair back down into its helmet of gold and red. Her make-up was professional.

“Thanks for letting me come over. It’s really important,” she said as she strode into the room. He shrugged in what he hoped was a nonchalant manner.

She began slowly unbuttoning her coat. He leaned forward, expectant. She would be naked underneath. He just knew it. The black coat swirled away from her figure to reveal…she wasn’t naked. She wore one of her suits. The periwinkle blue one that made her eyes almost plastic in the intensity of their color. Sensible length skirt. Two-inch heels on her black pumps. The peek of a blouse under the blazer. Wasn’t naked under there. Cross nestled on the collarbone. Nothing in the least bit provocative. Then why was he so turned on?

She settled in a chair across from him and put her briefcase up on the coffee table between them. She leaned over to snap it open and his eyes went right to the slightest bit of cleavage revealed. She caught him and raised an eyebrow. Bad boy. Oh. It was a game.

A slow grin crossed his face. She pursed her lips in disapproval and his cock twitched. “I brought the latest reports from the blah, blah…” He’d lost his focus already.

He blinked, forcing himself to concentrate. God, what if she was serious? No sex tonight, Mulder, so I thought we would do some paperwork. He nodded to her and tried to look like he was listening. How many times had he done that in the past when in reality he was listening to the hiss of her hosiery-encased thighs rubbing together when she crossed them? Like he was right now.

She switched from her right leg over her left to the left over the right and the skirt edged up just a bit. He leaned his head over slightly, trying to look up the skirt. Panties?

“Mulder?” She interrupted his inspection.

“Huh?” She had a small smile on her coral lips. Caught. All those years she must have believed he was thinking such deep thoughts and sometimes the thoughts weren’t any deeper than her core. Her tight, wet…he crossed his own legs, quickly.

“What do you think?” She was laughing at him inside, he could tell.

He summoned all of his powers of concentration and started in. He could play too. She had been going over all the information from their X-file and about Kit. “I think this was a very good idea, Scully. A full review of the material is in order. We need to look at everything, assess the current threat to our child.”

She looked slightly perturbed.

“It could take all night.” He tried for that sexy voice again and from the way her plump lips rubbed together, he thought he’d hit it.

“Yes, that’s right. I like your enthusiasm,” she purred.

He grinned foolishly again and thought, now what?

What would he have done if he had ever been able to summon up the courage to make a serious move on her? He really had to thank the Smoking Man for this. He sure hadn’t had the guts to go that one step over the line. He barked out a laugh.

“What?” Scully asked in her low voice.

One step over the line…“Why don’t you come over here and sit next to me? That way we can look at the reports together.” He tried to keep his voice bland. Must keep the game up for as long as possible.

She paused for a minute and gnawed on her lower lip until it swelled out of her small teeth. He had to look away or he knew he’d burst. He didn’t want the game to end too soon.

The hissing of her thighs drew closer and he was enveloped by her scent as she settled next to him on the sofa.

He had summoned the courage to get her there beside him on the couch—now what? He reached out with a fumbling hand and she sucked in a breath. He chickened out at the last moment and snatched up the bowl of sunflower seeds from the coffee table. Please god! Let her think he was being coy!

What the hell was wrong with him? This woman was his wife. He had a child with her. There was no baby between them now, literally or figuratively. With a start, he realized he was intimidated because that meant she was Scully again.

He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye and she was rolling her tongue in her cheek with exasperation. She looked back at him out of the corner of her eye.

He quickly snatched a seed out of the bowl and lifted towards his lips. Before he could get the seed to his mouth, her head dipped in and the tip of her tongue reached out to lift it from his fingertips, her hair brushing his frozen hand as she moved back.

“I always wanted to try one of these—secretly,” she murmured. She worked the seed to grip it in her jaw and he heard the faint crack of the shell. After working the meat free, she balanced the empty husk on the end of her tongue and spit it out, managing to hit the other bowl on the table he kept for this purpose.

He knew his mouth was still hanging open and probably his tongue was flapping too. If she had ever done anything like that before he would have had the courage to make a move. He wasn’t good at the move. All the other women he had been with before had made the first move. Although he would hardly put this up there with Phoebe sticking her hand down his pants two minutes after they met, it was enough to encourage him.

Her gaze traveled lazily around the room, caressing the worn leather of the couch and the varnished surface of his old desk. He noticed her pale skin and eyes were reflecting the green light from the fish tank, and he was back in the spaceship holding her limp form. Her skin had been green then too; her eyes glassy and her lips parted, gasping for breath. He remembered being immensely turned on by her at that moment and then horrified with shame. He welcomed the desire now; it would give him courage.

She broke into his thoughts, somehow reading them. “There’re a lot of secret desires from our past I have stored up,” she whispered, almost too low for him to hear.

He tentatively put a hand on her thigh. She shot him a very Scully look, freezing and heat-filled at the same moment. He wasn’t discouraged, though. He had the confidence gained by knowing they shared a crushing mortgage and retirement fund. He let his hand slip up her thigh and under the thick fabric of her skirt.

He liked this a lot. He was glad she had started this. This was a good place to make a new beginning. They were Scully and Mulder finishing something they should have cleared up a long time ago.

Where next? What had he wanted to do next, say two years ago? She sat back in the couch, her eyes inviting him to go on.

He pulled his hand off her thigh and she gave the slightest moan of dismay. He quickly reached for her blazer. He opened the buttons with an audible popping sound. This thing was tight. She had to wiggle her shoulders to get out of the blazer. He stared at the black bra she was wearing under the sheer white blouse. She followed his gaze down.

“Sorry, it’s the only one I have that still fits and isn’t a maternity bra,” she said.

“That’s okay,” he stammered.

His fumbling fingers frantically worked the small buttons loose on her blouse. “You want me to do that?” she asked.

“God, no,” he said feverishly.

He slipped the blouse down, using it to caress her silky skin.

He stared again. Her creamy white breasts were pouring out over the top of the black lace bra. She shrugged and he thought they were going to topple out.

“I think it’s a good look,” he offered and she shot him a quelling look.

She put her arms around her back to unfasten the bra and he quickly stopped her. “No. Please, I want to see the whole picture.”

She raised her brows but got up, a bit unsteadily on her heels, and reached behind to unfasten her skirt instead. He helped her, gently easing the zipper down over her round, firm bottom.

He slipped the skirt down her thighs, reveling in the hum of the fabric against her hose. She stood before him in the black lace underwear, blue hose and black pumps. He flopped back in the couch and examined her with what he hoped was proper reverence.

The slow smile that formed on her lips told him he had made the right tribute. It was a humble offering, his silly grin, glazed eyes and large lump in his sweatpants, but she looked like she would take it.

She sat on the edge of the coffee table and he heard that seductive whisper again as she crossed her legs, propped her head up on her palms with her elbows on her knee. She gave him one of her straightforward looks.

He tried not to stare into the deep shadow between her breasts. Instead he let his gaze slip over the curves of her thighs where they intertwined. He wanted to become a small furry mouse and slip into those shadows. Make that a large furry mouse, he thought with a groan as she sucked her plump lower lip into her mouth.

“Mulder?” she broke into his thoughts.

“Huh?” He wondered if he sounded as stunned as he felt.

“Do you have any ideas?” she asked.

“Ideas?” he moaned as his headed rolled to the side.

“Yeah, ideas. About what to do next.” She looked worried.

“I could take my clothes off,” he suggested.

She out and out grinned. “Can I do it instead?” she asked.

“Of course!” he gushed. That high voice was back.

She reached down, giving him that view into the valley of desire between her breasts and grabbed his foot. She tugged first one sock off and then the next, gathering his feet in her lap. He dared to wiggle his toes, feeling slippery fabric and the damp heat of her body under them. She shook her head slightly as she grasped his narrow long feet tightly. Was he being too forward?

She got a good grip on the cuffs of his sweatpants and arched an eyebrow at him. He got the idea and lifted his hips as she yanked. He felt a little ridiculous sprawled on the couch in nothing but a tee shirt and a bobbing half-mast erection. She returned to her pose of the thinking woman and he had to glance away in embarrassment.

He could hear her breathing. He swore he could hear her heart beating. He had to look back. Her gaze was intense and was examining his body.

“What cha doin’?” he asked, even more embarrassed.

Glancing up, she pinned him with a gaze that suggested he was a fool. “I’m looking.”

“I know that,” he said, exasperated.

“I like to look,” she said and her voice was slightly drunk.

“Don’t we have this the wrong way around? I didn’t think women were visual, sexually.” Damn, he was talking too much!

“Visual was all I had. I’m just…allowing myself to finish something,” she said calmly.

“You’ve seen me naked before.” There was something melancholy about her manner right now that disturbed him.

“True. But not as Scully.” She looked at him for understanding.

He was going to argue the nudity point and then he realized what she meant.

He wanted to return to the game. “I guess we should wrap things up,” he said in his most professional tone.

She gave his a quick grin and rose from the table. “Yes, I think so.”

This time when she reached behind her to unfasten her bra, he didn’t stop her. Her heavy breasts fell free and swung for a moment and he had to let out a ragged, deep sigh of contentment.

She balanced on first one leg, than the other, like some sexy little bird, to remove her shoes and then shimmied out of her hose. He liked the way her hair dipped and slid around her head, a curtain of flame, when she bent over. She slid the panties slowly down off of her hips and he let the sighs turn into groans.

She quirked a brow at him as she stood in front of him nude, her hands balanced on her hips.

“Huh?” he realized he hadn’t been keeping up. He quickly shed the tee shirt and reached roughly for her. She wouldn’t break; he didn’t have to worry about squeezing too hard, pushing too deep. His breathing quickened…

She fell across his lap and started clutching at his hard body with as much enthusiasm. She was probably just as happy to be back in fighting form, so to speak.

She wiggled to straddle his hips and his penis was trapped under her, tight up the crack of her ass. She bounced lightly on him like a seesaw and he whimpered in her mouth as their tongues wrestled.

She laughed out loud and reached down to adjust things. He stopped her, “God, no. It’s a good hurt.”

She burnt him with her blue flame. “A good hurt? I gotta try that—”

“Where?” he gurgled as his big hands couldn’t stop squeezing her waist.

She reached down and lifted one of her heavy breasts up to him. “I pumped myself out to send milk with Tiff. Just don’t suck very hard.”

He couldn’t believe he found the courage to suggest, “What if I want to try it again…”

She looked surprised and then her eyes warmed. “Sure,” she murmured.

He didn’t have to hear that twice and lifted her up until he could slip her large nipple into his waiting, wet mouth. She braced herself on the wall behind the couch, rising up on her knees to support herself.

At first, he suckled tentatively until he finally tasted her milk. Rich and sweet. How perfectly Scully. He hadn’t allowed himself to truly taste it earlier but now he savored it, absorbing the flavor, like letting the center of a creamy white truffle melt in his mouth.

She must have been enjoying this as well. Her low peals, gasping sounds from deep within her, drifted around his head like rose petals. He had to share. Pulling her face down to his mouth, he passed the taste to her and she moaned with greed. They giggled around their tongues as her milk continued to pump out, sticking their skin together.

The smell of her desire was rising like smoke and drugging him further. As he released her mouth to begin to lick her chest clean, he let his hand wander down between her legs. Two fingers slipped easily into her warmth and he made slow, lazy grinding motions on her clit with his palm as his fingers stroked the swollen walls of her vagina.

He glanced up at her face and reveled in the beauty of it. She was chewing on that bottom lip of hers so hard he was afraid it would burst like a ripe berry. Her nostrils were flared from trying to suck in enough air to live. Her sooty eyelashes fluttered on her red cheeks like trapped sparrows. Her eyes slowly opened, she must have been aware of his gaze. She returned the intense inspection and then sank down.

He pulled his fingers out as she descended and used them to hold her folds open as he aligned his eager, hard cock with his other hand. They came together in a perfectly synchronized movement.

She settled there in his lap and gave him a soft little smile. Okay. It was going to be like that. Loving. Slow…

She suddenly gripped his shoulders so hard he thought the bones would break and began to buck on him like a wild pony. Okay, maybe not.

He planted his feet to get leverage and met her frenzy, thrust to thrust. Their gasps sounded as though they both were going to die in the next few minutes. She ground down onto his pelvis with moans of exquisite pain. He didn’t know if he could give her everything she needed, but he would try. He pushed and pushed, deeper and deeper. Her moans turned to groans of approval and he flushed deeper red, pleased with himself.

“Yeah, Mulder, oh yeah, right there…” she growled into his ear before she bit down hard on the lobe. He was urged on further. He grabbed her slippery ass and pulled her down even tighter and ground harder and harder into her softness.

She arched her back and gripped his shoulders again to give him a different angle and he gasped out. He couldn’t get a breath in at all anymore and he was afraid he was losing consciousness. He had to stay with her. He pounded on, crying now from the fury of the storm.

As suddenly as she began, she finished in a rush of tears and moans, her head a whirling vortex of pink skin and red curls. He could only watch her through his own tears, unable to give her anything more as his thrusting hips raged on to completion and he gushed like a burst pipe.

Scully thought she might have been clunked on the head with one of Mulder’s big flashlights. She had to decide if she’d been unconscious or not. She managed to focus her eyes on the flat male nipple under her eyeball. Feeling like she had a hangover, she wanted to ask him to stop breathing. The movement was giving her motion sickness. Instead she began to groom him like a cat, her tongue licking the sweat from his body with businesslike efficiency.

“What cha doin’?” The chest rose with the rumbling speech.

“Go to sleep,” she admonished him as she continued. She had to wiggle off of his flaccid penis to reach his stomach and giggled at the odd sucking noise that went with that action.

“Don’t wanna—” he grumbled.

“What cha wanna do?” They sounded like a couple of stoned teenagers.

“Wanna stay here forever. Just like this,” he said.

She didn’t know how to answer that.

In a moment he said, “What time is Tiff bringing Kit back?”

She stopped what she was doing and looked up at him, but his eyes were still closed. “She said take all the time we need. We can pick him up anytime we want.”

He opened his eyes and looked down at her with a little smile. “How early do you think she gets up?”

She blinked rapidly to clear the tears from her eyes. She kept her words simple and to the point. “I love you, Mulder.”

He let his lids close again and pulled her so close she couldn’t continue her grooming. “Good thing. Otherwise I have no idea how you would put up with me.”


May 5th, 7:25 A.M.

Scully and Mulder shared one last, deep kiss before getting out of the car in front of Tiff’s condominium complex. She teased, “That’ll have to hold you a while. I don’t know how many times we can impose on Tiff.”

He grinned. “Yeah. Skinner’s still my boss. Don’t want to get on his bad side by putting a crimp in his sex life.”

She shuddered. There were a couple of places she never wanted to go and giving Skinner’s sex life deep thought was one of them.

They rode up in the elevator holding hands. At Tiff’s door, he gave her one last peck before knocking.

There was no answer.

“Are you sure she’s up this early?” she asked.

He knocked again.

Scully could feel a tickle of fear begin to creep up her spine. She reached out to try the knob. It turned easily in her hand.

She and Mulder pulled their guns out as she pushed the door to swing open. She could hear a pounding in her ears, like a distant, approaching storm.

There were signs of a struggle in the front room but they moved quickly through the dim apartment to check all the rooms. She opened every door, even looking in the space that held the water heater.

They met up in the living room. Mulder stood by the couch, his gun loose at the end of his limp arm as his head swiveled to take in the scene. An overturned lamp. Tiff’s purse left on the table. Kit’s diaper bag was gone but his portable crib was still set up by the couch.

Scully said the words. “Our baby is gone.”

He said nothing.

Running to the door, she flung it open and hurried first one direction, then another in the hall. Nothing but blank, beige walls stared back at her. She ducked back into the apartment. He was coming out the kitchen, seeming to drift like a cloud.

To catch his attention, she raised her voice even more. “Someone took our baby!”

He began to shake his head as though he could make it all go away. She was screaming now, her hand slamming against the wall for emphasis. “Our baby is gone!”

Mulder still hadn’t looked at her but he pulled his cell phone from his pocket. He punched a rapid dial button. “AD Skinner. It’s important.”

The room was silent as they waited, all but her rasping breaths, the breathing of a runner struggling towards the finish line.

“Sir? It’s Mulder.” His voice began to fail him. “He’s gone. They’re gone.” He gulped a ragged breath and tried again. “We’re at Tiff’s. She and Kit are missing. There’re signs of a struggle. Yes, Sir. We’ll be here.”

She didn’t wait for him to speak to her. “Can we trust him? Can we!?”

He shrugged half-heartedly as he pocketed his phone.

She had to move. She couldn’t stand still in these small, dark rooms. As she paced, she rapidly asked, “Can we trust Tiff? What do we know about her?”

He finally looked at her with bleak eyes. “I don’t know.”

“Your mother! Do you think your mother had anything to do with this?” She fired at him.

“I don’t know,” he whispered.

She slammed the wall again until she could hear the bones in her hand groan but she felt no pain. “We can’t trust anyone! Not now. It’s too important to fuck around! We have to do this alone.”

He nodded obediently. “Yes.” His gaze pleaded with her. “We can trust the Gunmen.”

“All right. No one else. Not Skinner. Not now.” She was pacing again.

She looked at him, really looked at him for the first time. His glazed eyes, limp body, hunched shoulders. She rushed to him and grabbed his arm. “Don’t you dare do this now, Mulder! You can’t shut down! We need to find our baby!”

He seemed to force himself to meet her gaze. He parroted, “Yes. We have to find Kit.”

In horrific frustration she raised her hand to slap him, when Skinner burst through the door.

“What’s going on?” he bellowed.

Scully advanced on him. “Our baby’s gone. Kit’s gone.”

Skinner nodded quickly. “And Tiff?”

Mulder came up behind them as officers began to fill the room. “She’s gone too. Do you know anything, Sir?”

Skinner shook his head. “I came by last night. She had Kit.” He shifted his eyes between them and said with embarrassment, “She told me to go home. Said she had her hands full.”

She ignored his discomfort. “Did she seem uneasy? How fast did she try to get rid of you?”

He paused before answering, seeming to be thinking over his response. Finally he said, “She was as she always is. Rude. Curt. Nothing out of the ordinary.” Sharply he asked, “What are you suggesting?”

Coldly, she replied, “Nothing. Sir. Mulder, we have to go.” She grabbed his arm. “Please contact us if you find any evidence in here.”

As they entered the elevator, Mulder asked, “Shouldn’t we have waited to see if they found anything?”

She punched the ground level button. “They haven’t left any signs. As usual. No, we have to come at this from another direction.”

His brow creased as though he had to concentrate to think. “The Gunmen?”

“That smoking bastard made Kit for some purpose. He wanted him and he took him. I don’t even want to guess what he’ll do with him next. But we have to go about it the old fashioned way.” The elevator doors open and Scully hurried towards their car. “Have the guys set up searches for all babies turned in to social services, hospitals, abandoned behind supermarkets. Maybe we’ll get lucky. I think we can reasonably trust the police APBs but I don’t want any finds routed through the Bureau. I want to hear about it from the Gunmen.”

Mulder’s voice started sounding strong as he answered, “Yes. That sounds good.”

Chapter 3: Waiting


The Factory May 5th, 7:45 P.M.

Tiff woke suddenly, violently. Her head rang, and bile rose in her throat. She forced it back down and glanced around her surroundings. A cell. A bed bolted to the floor. A single door; smooth and steel, no handle. No window.

No sounds other than the low purr of an air-conditioning unit. The temperature was cool but not uncomfortable.

She forced herself upright on the bed. Something told her she had to be ready.

Within five minutes, the door swung open and her muscles tensed in anticipation. She wasn’t the least bit surprised to see the clone, Kenneth.

He came bearing food on a tray. “How do you feel?” he asked as he placed the tray on her bed. She stared out the open doorway, weighing her chances.

“No, Agent Davis. You’ll be shot before you reach the end of the hallway.”

She shrugged. “I’m sure.” Her stomach twisted as she looked at the food.

He seemed to note her expression. “Are you certain you feel fine? I believe they had to restrain you forcibly.”

“Damn right! What have you fuckers done with Kit?” she spit at him.

As always, there was no reaction to her outburst.

“Kit is well.” For the first time, she felt as though she sensed an emotion from the clone. It was concern.

Frustration overwhelmed her. She was certain the room was bugged.

Slowly she said, “Good. And he’ll stay that way?”

“Of course.” Kenneth was smooth again.

She had to trust him. He’d helped her twice before and she had to believe he would do it again. And she wanted to know what was in store for her.

“Kenneth, what are they going to do with me?”

He looked at her, uncomprehending.

She grasped his cool arm. “I know what they did to Scully. Are they going to do that to me?”

He shook his head. “They only use Aryans.”

She felt a snake of fear uncoil in her stomach. “I kind of figured that. So why am I still alive?”

He met her eyes and the concern was there again. “They can always use material.” He rose quickly from the bed. “I must go. Ring the bell if you feel unwell.” He motioned to a button on the wall.

“Thank you, Kenneth. For everything,” she called after his retreating back. Her only answer was the click of the closing door.


Krycek pushed himself back from the table, turning down the volume on the listening device. He waited for the old man to speak.

As always, the man lit a cigarette before he began.

As he expelled the first lungful of smoke, he said, “We can’t afford any more errors at this time. Do you understand me?”

“Not entirely, sir,” Krycek replied.

All he got in return was a narrowing of sharp eyes.

He continued. “I know I’m committed to acquiring the desired genetic material. All along, that’s been my goal. Yet we seemed to be foiled time and time again—until now.” He made sure he had the old man’s attention and said, “We’ve got the merchandise. We can’t fuck up now.”

The smoothness of the old man’s tone chilled him. “Of course not. But we must realize that not everyone among us shares our commitment. Diligence will be required. We’re close. Very close.” He rose from the table and leaned towards Krycek. “Be sure nothing happens. Be very sure.”

Deep in thought, Krycek hardly noticed him leave the room. The old bastard had it right. Not everyone was committed as he was. And his list of untrustworthy persons started at that fool. He had regretted joining this quest more than once, but now that he was close to seeing some money on this job, nothing would stop him. Not even the old man himself.


Greenwich, Connecticut May 11th, 11:20 A.M.

Mulder waited for his mother to bring in the tea. He was used to her diversionary tactics. He was patient. He automatically rose from his chair when she returned, tea set carefully balanced in her hands.

“Let me take that,” he offered.

She gave him a small, tight smile as he took the tray and placed it on the coffee table.

“Thank you, Fox.” She drifted to her favorite chair, positioned by the window so he couldn’t make out her features as the sunlight streamed through in the late afternoon. “I’m very glad you came here today.”

He came to stand beside her and looked down to her face. “Perhaps you won’t be when I’ve finished what I’ve come to say.”

Her shoulders instantly tensed and her hands grasped together but she didn’t speak.

He forged on. “Our son has been taken, Mother.”

Her eyes immediately shot up to meet his. “Fox!”

He took a deep breath and continued. “Do you know anything, Mother?”

“What do you mean?”

“Have you heard from your friend?” Her eyes dropped again and he resisted an urge to grab her face and force her to look at him. “Did he say anything when he told you about Kit?”

She shook her head. “Kit?”

Her diversions were no longer allowed. “That’s what we call him. He’s been forcibly taken, Mother. A FBI agent is gone too. This isn’t a time to play stupid.”

Her gaze was as flat as the surface of a frozen lake. “I’m not stupid.”

“Oh, no, Mother. I was mistaken.” He was furious. “You’ve never been stupid. You’ve always known exactly how to take care of yourself. It’s the rest of us who were stupid enough to wonder what was going on.”

“So what’s going on?” She was on one of her rare offensives.

“That’s what I was hoping you could tell me.”

She said nothing.

Desperate, weak, he sank down beside her, letting his head fall to rest on her knee. “My wife…my Scully. She needs her baby back. You have to know how that feels. Anything, Mom. Anything at all. A name. A phone number. An address.”

Her cool hand stroked his head as though she was soothing a pet. “I’m sorry, Fox.”

He stared at the ceramic figurine frozen in her dance across on the mantel. He’d seen the Baroque figure all his life, but until this moment, he hadn’t noticed the mocking smirk on her face as she glanced back at her partner. “I know you are, Mother. But this time, it’s not enough.”

He hauled himself to his feet and walked out of the room without a backward glance. She didn’t call after him.


Pinecrest, Virginia; 31 Bridle Path Way May 11th, 5:48 P.M.

Scully slowly unbuttoned her blouse. The pain had become unbearable and she’d begun to leak milk from her nipples. But she hated to do this. Hated the way it made her feel. Hated how she cried every time.

She fit the pump to her aching breast. The pressure lessened, but the real pain began, washing over her in waves. The cold, unforgiving surface against her cracked and chapped aureole. His tiny mouth—gone. The warmth of his body, nestled close—gone. His low sighs and gurgles—like his father, he wasn’t a quiet eater—gone.

Her sobs were low, but ragged, tearing at the already tender tissue in her throat. Their bedroom was dim. Another day had passed with Kit gone.

“Scully?” Mulder had entered the room.

Her voice was tired. “What?”

He said nothing, just sank into the chair.

Her tone was sharper. “What?”


She knew he was going to say something that would make her angry.

“What?” The word dripped from her mouth like a drop of blood.

“Scully…maybe you shouldn’t do that,” he mumbled. Rushing on as she went to protest, he added, “If it upsets you so much. I mean, I’m sure Kit will be on the bottle when we get him back, so- -”

“So what!?” she hissed. “I don’t care if it upsets me!” Her voice rose and he buried his gaze in his lap with his twisting hands. “I should be upset! I’m fucking overwhelmed! My baby is gone!!”

He shook his head, mute.

She heard herself screaming, but the voice was distant to her ringing ears, like listening to her former neighbors down the hall squabbling. “Gone!! And I’m not going to be like your parents. I’m not going to pretend it didn’t happen and just wander off through my life in a haze!” He seemed unmoved under her assault. She told him, “This isn’t Samantha. I’m going to get my child back.”

He whispered so low she could barely hear him, “But are you going to blame me too?”

“What?” she asked for what seemed like the hundredth time.

“If I hadn’t wanted…to be alone with you. If you hadn’t had to take him to Tiff’s—” he said.

“Jesus! Mulder!” She towered over his slumped figure and pelted him like a wild storm with her words. “This isn’t about you! I get so sick of your self-absorption sometimes! Our baby has been taken! That’s what’s important. Not you!”

“Scully—” He was reaching out for her and the last thing she wanted was his damp, cold touch right now.

“I’m going to actually do something.” She quickly buttoned her blouse. “I’m not going to spend another minute, crying, sitting in these dark rooms.”

She rushed from the room before he could say another word.


Lone Gunman’s Residence

Scully brushed past Frohike and entered the warm, stuffy space crammed with machinery. Byers and Anita were cuddling on the couch and she had a sudden hatred of people close enough to the ones they loved to touch them.

Anita asked, “Are you all right, Dana?” and then immediately looked ashamed.

Byers stroked her friend’s arm understandingly and Scully wanted to scream as Anita rushed on to clarify her words. “Of course not. That was a stupid question. What can we help you with?”

Scully shook off the comfort in her friend’s words. “I want to work. What are you working on?”

Langly popped up from under a table, brushing dust from his hands. “Boring stuff mostly—”

“Boring is fine,” Scully said curtly, moving to join him at the bank of computer terminals.

He nodded and held out a chair for her. As she settled in, Frohike joined them. He said, “We’ve been double-checking all current records of any activity with babies. Social services— police station reports.” Shaking his head, he continued, “Not much to be found. We’ve got some of our guys out covering the baby supply stores. Seeing if any men in black have been making large purchases.”

Scully’s lips twisted at the bizarre mental image. He was saying, “But it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.”

With her strongest voice, she said, “Then I’m the perfect person to help. I know that needle. I’ll know him when I see him.”

She could tell Langly and Frohike were exchanging worried glances over her head, but she ignored them and logged onto hospital records.

Langly said, “We’ve already checked those over.”

“All right. But I want to check them again,” she said with determination.

Now the men exchanged shrugs but left her to work.

As the hours passed, Byers snoozed on the couch, Anita was called away for a birth, and the other two men busied themselves cooking a late supper.

Scully’s eyes ached. Too many salty tears had burned her pupils and she was exhausted. The screen danced and wavered before her.

A name formed. Isaac. “Look!” she called out.

The cooks came running from the kitchen and Byers struggled out of the couch, hobbling to her side.

Langly reached her first and helped her bring up the entire record. Gently he said, “No, Scully. The baby is the wrong age. He’s seven months, not three.”

She quickly scanned the material. “But look at his weight. Eighteen pounds. Only a pound heavier than Kit. The hair and eyes are right. Blood type too.”

Frohike read aloud, “Jared Isaac Leonard.” His gloved hand settled heavily on her shoulder. “Scully. Honey. It’s just a coincidence. This child has a heart defect. He really is sick. He’s in for a transplant.”

She shook his hand off and rose quickly from her chair. “I’m going to go check it out. To be sure.”

Byers sputtered, “We’ll call Mulder.”

She was at the door already. “Don’t bother. I’m sure you’re right, Frohike, and it’s nothing.” As she slipped into her coat, she repeated, “I just want to be sure.”


Children’s National Medical Center; Pediatric ICU 8:50 P.M.

Scully forced herself to slowly approach the nurses’ station with the amble of an investigating officer.

Wearily, she dug her badge from the bottom of her trench coat and showed it to the shift manager.

“Special Agent Dana Scully. I’m looking into a missing child case.”

The nurse immediately went on alert. “Yes?”

“Yes. I’m interested in seeing Jared Isaac Leonard.”

The nurse’s heavy brow furrowed. “See him?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Scully swallowed her impatience. “Now.” She checked the woman’s name badge. “Ms. Wiggins.”

The nurse blinked and began to come out from behind the desk. “But I don’t understand,” she said as she headed down the hall. “Jerry is a very sick child. I’ve seen his parents every day. There’s no way he could have been abducted.”

“I understand.” Scully forced herself to keep her manner nonchalant. “But we must follow up every lead.”

Flipping aside the curtain in the room, Scully moved quickly to the edge of the crib and stared at the baby through the thick plastic. The baby lay under an oxygen tent, his breathing labored between blue lips.

It wasn’t Kit.

“Well?” Nurse Wiggins was at her elbow, insistent.

“His chart, please,” Scully asked, reaching out blindly, still staring down at the baby. Dark hair, beginning to curl around his pale ears. Huge eyes, shifting between gray, blue, and green.

“I’m not sure—” The nurse began.

Scully turned quickly and bore down on her with her gaze. “I’m a doctor. The chart. Please.”

As the woman moved to pull the chart from the tray outside the door, Scully lifted the plastic drape. Her fingers touched the wide, full mouth under the cannula inserted in the baby’s nostrils.

“I still don’t understand.” The nurse was back. Scully ignored her as she flipped back the cover to read the information.

Concern raised during a twenty-week sonogram. Fetal echocardiography revealed Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. Frantically, Scully added the numbers up. Isaac’s sonogram was on May 25th. She and Mulder were kidnapped and drugged within a week.

Blood began to pound in her ears, like thundering waves against the hull of a ship.

“I’m Jared Leonard’s doctor.” Scully had to turn to acknowledge a man hurrying through the door. The nurse must have contacted him as she fetched the chart.

She forced her bland, professional expression back on her face. “Special Agent Scully. FBI.”

He shook her hand. “Dr. Collins. What’s this about?”

She moved ahead swiftly. “This child. Has he been in your care his entire life?”

The doctor looked surprised, then said, “I was brought in after Mrs. Leonard’s initial sonogram and the fetus’ diagnosis.”

She pushed him. “What’s his prognosis?”

Doctor Collins pursed his thin lips, seeming to be holding back.

She pushed harder. “Doctor Collins—”

“Poor. Extremely poor. He’s currently on a list for a transplant.”

Carefully Scully lay the chart on a nearby table. A baby’s heart. She’d held them in her hands before. As light and small as a chicken’s liver. Flashing memory: cutting open a deformed baby’s chest to see the malformed, withered organ. For this child, for his family, a healthy heart was worth its weight in gold. Her child’s body was a piece of trash to be thrown away after it was mined.

She managed to form the words. “Is Jared the Leonards’ only child?”

The doctor looked confused, then shrugged. “They have three daughters.” He gave a small, pained smile to Scully. “Mr. Leonard wants his son to live. Understandably.”

She dipped her head to encourage him. “But you’ve received a call. A heart is available. A match.”

The doctor’s pale, bushy brows shot upward. “How—” He nodded slowly and she saw the familiar crafty expression of a collaborator slide across his face.

Deliberately, she pulled open her coat, propping her hand on her hip so her weapon was revealed.

He gulped and continued. “We’ve just been contacted. A heart is expected to become available very soon. A brain-injured child is about to be taken off life support. We’re to be preparing Jerry for surgery.”

Her body began to feel weightless. She felt as though she was floating above the room.

The doctor’s attention was diverted. “Mrs. Leonard.” He began to babble. “Thank goodness! You’re here! We need to clear something up.”

Scully whirled and her gaze settled on the familiar-faced woman hovering in the doorway. Her weak voice drifted across the room to them. “What’s going on? Has something happened to Isaac?”

She didn’t know how she got across the room. Scully only knew she was standing in front of the woman, watching fear fill her eyes.

She couldn’t feel the woman’s neck under her hand as she forced her body to the wall. Each breath came out as a hiss. “Where’s my baby!?”

The woman’s large green eyes blinked, once. She could only gurgle under Scully’s grip.

The doctor and nurse were rushing towards her. Scully whipped out her pistol to hold them off. “Get back.”

She returned her attention to the shuddering woman. Again. “Where the fuck is my baby?!”

She realized the woman couldn’t answer. Her grip was too tight. She let up the pressure very slightly. And again. She moved her face in so close her spit dotted the woman’s face. “WHERE-IS-MY-BABY?”

She whispered hoarsely, “Who are you?”

Scully could manage a dry chuckle. “Who am I?” She turned the gun to the woman’s head and watched her body tremble harder. “I’m your fucking sister-in-law, Samantha. Now—where’s your father hiding my baby?”


Washington DC Police Station May 12th, 12:15 A.M.

Scully concentrated, tracing a deep crack in the wooden table with her fingernail. The police officer sitting in the corner of the interrogation room seemed fascinated by her task, his watery blue eyes following the track of her finger as she dragged it back and forth through the groove.

Her head snapped up. Mulder was there. His face was framed in the small window of the door. His eyes, dark and blank, stared at her. She dropped her gaze first, returning to her finger’s journey, her view blinded by gathering tears. That was that.

No one would talk to him. Mulder had been shunted from officer to officer, up and down the food chain of command. He concentrated very hard on breathing slowly and deeply. Now was not the time to go apeshit. Something was horribly wrong. He’d known that from the moment the Gunmen had called, telling him Scully had rushed off to Children’s Hospital. Arriving there, he could only hurry off to follow the patrol car carrying her to the station.

His sharp gaze picked out the badge of the hospital security guard, huddled on a bench, waiting to give his statement. The young, overweight man had large sweat stains growing from his armpits, and had yanked his tie loose to reveal a fleshy, white, damp neck. He sipped nervously on a soda as his pig-small eyes darted around the room.

Mulder made eye contact and gave him a tentative smile. It was weakly returned. Mulder slid down onto the bench beside him.

“What happened?”

The security officer seemed relieved that someone was finally talking to him, but was still cautious. “Who’re you?”

Mulder quickly flashed his badge. “FBI. What happened?”

“This woman came in and went crazy!” the man burst out.

Mulder lay a calming hand on his arm. “What’s your name?”


“Joe, what happened?”

Joe took another sip of soda and continued, quietly. “I get this call. A woman’s up in Ped ICU, with a gun. I go up. Sure nuff—”

“Dana Scully? The red-haired woman?” Mulder asked, his burgeoning fears finding soil to grow in.

Joe nodded rapidly. “Yep. That’s what her ID said. She just kept asking this curly-haired chick, ‘Where’s my baby? Where’s my baby?’ But the chick wouldn’t say nothing.”

“Is that woman here? The woman she was holding the gun on?” Mulder continued to probe.

Joe jerked his head towards the far corner. “Yep.”

When Mulder scanned the room, he discovered a woman he hadn’t noticed previously. Samantha. Of course. After all these years of false trails, he wasn’t even surprised.

She was watching him and he wondered if she had been doing that the whole time. A tall, lean blonde man sat beside her, her hand firmly grasped between his hands. His eyes were on Mulder too, a cold, pale stare of a wolf.

Mulder forced his attention back to Joe. “What did that woman say?”

“Nothing. She wouldn’t say nothing!” his voice was rising again. “Just stared at her like she had no sense. I mean, that woman had a gun on her. She shoulda said something!”

Mulder agreed. “Yes. Then what happened?”

“It’s like the red-haired woman just gave up. She put down her gun and said, ‘Call Mulder.’” Joe looked helplessly around the room. “But I don’t think nobody’s called this Mulder person and now we’ve all been dragged down here.”

Mulder soothed him. “I’m sure it’ll all be straightened out soon. Thank you,” he said as he rose from the hard bench.

Samantha kept her gaze level as he approached her, but the man with her got up from his chair to block Mulder’s view. “Can I help you with something?” he asked aggressively.

Mulder tried to read this man, but his face was empty as a blank sheet of paper. He resisted the urge to hit that face hard enough to crumple it. Scully was expecting him to get answers. He had to try.

“I guess I should introduce myself. Or would you like to do the honors, Samantha?” he addressed the small form behind the body in front of him.

He glanced down at the gold band on the man’s finger when he got no response. “I’m Fox Mulder. I believe I’m your brother-in- law.”

This seemed to satisfy the man. “Ah! That explains a thing or two! You’re married to that nut!?”

Mulder lowered his voice to the hiss of a cracking iceberg. “Excuse me?”

That got Samantha off her damned chair. “Fox—”

“Yes, Samantha?” Mulder controlled his aggression as best he could. He had sworn he would avoid hearing his first name spoken until she was back, but now her weak intonation mocked his dream. “At the hospital, they told me my wife assaulted the mother of a baby. That she had been looking for a baby. That your baby needs a heart transplant. I’ll put that together with the fact that our baby is missing—and Samantha?” He stared into the reflection of his own eyes. “I don’t like what that adds up to.”

The man pushed his way in between them. “I don’t know what fucking delusions you have—”

“What’s your name?”

Blinking, the man responded, “Jeffrey Leonard.”

Mulder found himself becoming calmer as this person became more agitated. “What do you do, Jeffrey?”

Leonard’s brow furrowed in confusion, but he answered never the less. “I’m a biotech engineer.”


“Herbst Cooperation.” Too bad Leonard blinked, or Mulder might have let him off.

He took one of his wild stabs. “Which is a subsidiary of Roush Technologies?”

Leonard blinked more rapidly. Mulder was reminded of trying to communicate with a speech-impaired person. He went back to questioning his sister.

“Did your father tell you he would help you find a heart for your son?”

She tilted her fine chin up and looked him in the eye. “No.”

That’s what broke his heart. He had to back up and lean against a desk. Her face had the exact expression she’d always had as a girl, when she’d lie to him easily and with no conscience, comfortable in the assurance that she deserved the biggest piece of cake, the last Pixie Stix, the front seat beside Mom on a car ride.

Leonard was speaking to him, suddenly smooth and professional. “What support do you have for the wild idea that your son was taken to give our son a heart? How would we even know if he was a match?”

This was something to concentrate on while he collected his thoughts. Mulder said, “My wife was infertile. A year ago, we were abducted and unconscious for a period of time. She was pregnant within the month. We subsequently discovered her reproductive function seems to have been cured.” He addressed Leonard. “Any ideas on that one?”

Huffing, the man replied, “I can tell you that, depending on your wife’s infertility, it’s nearly impossible. You’re as crazy as your wife.” He crossed his arms with his last statement, as though that settled everything.

Mulder kept speaking to his sister. “Samantha, did your father tell you he could get you a heart?”

She hedged. “That wouldn’t mean it was from your son. Like Jeff said, how could we even know it was a match?”

Mulder thought for a moment, rolling around the events of the past year. “A genetic test was done. We were concerned about possible…defects after his unusual conception. The same forces who were responsible had access to those tests.” He glanced back and forth between the couple. “My wife wouldn’t just attack someone. She has to have seen something in your son’s records that makes her believe this is true.”

Leonard’s thin lips twitched, then a wide, false smile opened on his face. “Listen. Fox. I’m sure your wife is distraught.” He nodded at Samantha. “I’ve seen how all of this has hurt Sam so I have some idea of her torment.” Mulder had to grip the underside of the desk to keep from rapping his hands around this Neo-Nazi’s neck. “We’re family. We can settle this all right now, have a chat with the arresting officer. You can take the little lady home and I’m sure the police will find your kid.”

Mulder felt a horrifying, irrational cackle rising from his diaphragm. He could see it now, as he was tossed in the cell beside Scully, for exactly the same crime. He wanted desperately to give this man a necklace of bruises to match the purple stains he’d just noticed on Samantha’s neck.

He was saved by the approach of a burly, short detective. Motioning to Mulder, he asked, “This your lawyer?”

Smoothly, Leonard interjected, “No. This is Dana Scully’s husband.”

Mulder was still watching Samantha’s face. This is when she would play the drama queen, roll her eyes and say, ‘Okay, Fox. You can have your way, this one time.’

Maybe it was the child’s face on a woman’s body that made him believe she was going to do it. But her eyes were shallow and weak. With a start, he realized his sister was really dead. This body stood in front of him, but the vital, strong-willed, brave little girl must have died a long time ago.

“Sir?” The cop had been talking to him.

“Huh?” The lethargy of the past five days descended on him again, making him sink down onto the desk for support.

“Your wife is going to be taken to court to be arraigned. Do you have an attorney?”

Mulder should his head. “I need to call one. She didn’t ask for one?”

Wryly, the policeman replied, “No. But she didn’t need one. She hasn’t said a damn thing.”

Probably expecting her husband to ride in on his white horse and rescue her. Well, it hadn’t happened.

Chapter 4: Family Ties


Tiff woke suddenly, blinking to see in the low light. She whispered, “Who’s there?”

The answer was a cool hand on her forearm. She understood. Swinging her feet onto the floor, she groped for her shoes. It was time to go.

Kenneth led her into the dim hallway and she could feel her heart begin to beat faster despite her silent admonishments to it to slow down. She needed to be calm and ready. She sensed she would only have this one chance for freedom.

The clone slipped around behind her, and she could tell he looked behind them often. He only spoke once, directing her to turn. “Here.”

At a secured door, she waited as he punched in a code to the wall pad. She kept her back to the wall as she strained her ears and eyes for any activity. He held the door open when the lock was released, but didn’t join her as she slipped through the opening.


His face was still as ever. “I need to get Kit.”

She was torn. “Should I wait?”

“No. In case I fail, someone has to go for help.” For the first time, he smiled at her and she marveled at his perfect, white teeth. “Divide and conquer.”

Nodding, she said, “Yes. Which way?”

He pointed to a gate in the chain link fence. “Through there, right and up the road, Highway 32. About a mile and a half, there’s a pay phone. I couldn’t use the phones here—”

Briskly, she responded, “I understand.” She still found herself lingering. “Good luck, Kenneth. And thank you.”

He tipped his head in acknowledgment like a valet, and pulled the door shut.

The moon was high, white and three quarters full, lighting her way, and the crisp air spurred on her reluctant, sluggish muscles. She had to get to the phone.



Scully lifted her head from the table and forced herself to focus on the older uniformed officer. Apologetically, he held out a set of handcuffs. Nodding, she rose from the chair.

He led her from the interrogation room, holding the door for her like the courteous gentleman she was sure he was. Quickly, she looked up and down the narrow hall. A small group clustered at one end. Samantha and a tall man Scully immediately distrusted. By their side in the tight space—Mulder. His eyes shifted away when she tried to read them and then he turned his back as he fumbled for his cell phone in his pocket.

She stumbled and the beefy hand of the policeman was right there to steady her. Her trust had never been handed out easily and now, it shattered and she felt as though her spine had been cut, dropping her like a shot.

In a trance, she allowed herself to be escorted down the narrow passage and into an elevator. The cop decided to make conversation. “We’re rushing you through processing to arraignment at night court.” He gave her a small smile. “You being on the job and all.”

Her manners were good too. “Thank you.” He nodded.

When the doors opened, they were in the basement. Pleased, she discovered she could still raise an eyebrow.

He shrugged. “That damn press.”

“Oh.” The single word could barely croak out of her throat.

As he hustled her towards a dark doorway, she realized she should be afraid. She clung to that much awareness. She just couldn’t summon much interest in survival.

A single unmarked cop car sat in the alley, the engine idling. The skin on her neck prickled as she peered into the dark interior.

“Ted?” Her escort called to the still figure behind the wheel.

“Yep,” came out of the shadows.

“Okay. Well, good luck, Ma’am.” He even tipped his cap and she had no recourse but to stick out her hands for an awkward handshake.

Ted had come around and opened the door for her. After she settled in, he reached across her chest to fasten the seatbelt. He didn’t make eye contact. Apparently he didn’t share his comrade’s loyalty to a fellow law enforcement officer.

As the car slowly pulled out of the alley and past the crowds of reporters, she was grateful for the smoked glass of the windows.

The early morning streets were nearly bare of cars but Scully stared out the squad car’s window nonetheless. Each turn of the vehicle’s wheels took her further from Kit. If he was still alive. A mother would know if her child had died, wouldn’t she? If he were here, Mulder would be able to pull out a number of cases of mothers sensing their child’s death. She decided not to think about him and went back to counting the number of turns of the tires.

She had worked herself into a trance and didn’t really notice the large, shiny black van beside the car until it began to push them out of their lane. Ted sped up, but the van matched their speed.

Scully stared at the black smoked glass windows in the van, and felt a surge of hope. These people had Kit. If they took her, they would take her to her baby.

The van bumped them hard. Ted swore as he corrected the steering and sped up again. Scully gripped the armrest. Hope—she could smell her baby’s clean skin, feel his light tracing touch as he grasped at her teasing lips when she kissed him—she felt the now familiar let-down of milk wet her blouse.

The van matched Ted’s increase and bumped them again, forcing him to turn down an alley. It raced after them, blocking their escape.

As Ted slammed on the brakes, wrestled free from his seatbelt and groped for his gun, he yelled at her, “Stay put!”

Ignoring him, Scully was already working her seat buckle loose.

A voice called out in the dark alley. “Drop the gun, Officer.”

Ted hesitated. The voice told him calmly, “Do you want to live?”

“Frohike?” she whispered, disbelieving.

She pressed herself between the brick wall and the car side to come around the back.

Langly squeaked at her ear, “Are you all right? Fro—he wanted to drive.”

“I’m fine, thank you,” she said automatically as she hurried towards the van.

Ted called after her, “Ma’am?”

“Thank you, Ted.” She suddenly felt oddly giddy and frivolous. “It’s been real.”

The side door slid open on the van and hands reached out of the inky depths to pull her in.

Mulder smelled like he needed a shower and his breath was sour in her ear, but she didn’t really mind. She doubted she was a contestant for a beauty contest right now.

The van began to roar back down the alley and they rolled around the open area of the back, wrapped in each other’s arms.

He laughed first. She couldn’t stop herself from joining him.

She stopped suddenly and asked, “Where are we going?”

Mulder laughed harder. “I dunno. Where are we going, Frohike?”

“Don’t worry,” wafted back from the glowing cab.

She could feel his shoulders raise to shrug. Just then, his cell phone rang in his coat pocket. His eyes glistened like a cat’s, the look of a curious hunter. He fumbled, then found the phone.

“Mulder.” She leaned close so she could hear and he tipped the phone for her head to fit in.

They both reacted to the tired voice on the other end. “Tiff!”

“Yeah, it’s me.” She cut to the important part. “I don’t have Kit.”

“Where is he?” They were still in chorus.

“I’m out on Highway 32, in an industrial area, I think close to Annapolis, the area code on this phone is 443.”

“Have you seen him?” Scully asked.

“Kenneth said he was still alive. I have to believe him,” was the response. They could hear the stress in her voice.

“What are we looking for?” Mulder had rerouted Frohike’s course and the van was increasing in speed as it roared up a freeway on-ramp.

“A large, gray factory-warehouse type of building. It has Breckenridge Chemicals on the side. I’m at a pay phone at a closed Shell gas station about two miles north of it.”

“Guarded?” Scully could feel Mulder grope for his gun at his waist.

“I didn’t get a sense of a lot of men, but I was kept in a cell. It had the feeling of some sort of research facility. But I have to assume there are standard security measures.”

Mulder was brisk and smooth. “All right, we’re on the way there. You stay put.”

Tiff asked, “Should I call the police?”

“No, we’ll take care of everything and come to pick you up later.” Scully let Mulder do the lying.

As soon as he disconnected the call, she queried, “Is it a trap? Can we trust her?”

Mulder shook his head in frustration as his hands, fumbling, found a pair of wire snips in a toolbox. “I don’t know.”

Holding out her shackled hands for him, she completed his thought. “But we have to chance it.”


The Factory

Krycek found Kenneth carefully searching the cell that had held Tiffany Davis.

His sharp eyes flicked around the room. “So she escaped, eh?”

The young man straightened from peeking under the bed. “Yes, sir.”

Krycek could feel fury start to boil through his body, pounding his blood to all extremities. “What did the old man say?”

“We are to abandon the Factory, sir.”

“He had no ideas how she did it?” he asked with little interest.

“Not that he shared with me.” The clone was standing with his hands clasped lightly in front of him like a schoolboy waiting to receive his punishment. Only a shine in his pale eyes suggested he might be sensing danger.

Krycek let his gaze roam the room again. “There’s plenty of guys to clear the place out. We’ve got some time.” He forced a casual air to his tone.


The clone was focusing on a spot to the side of his ear and hot blood flooded his groin, filling his cock like a kinked fire hose.

“Get over here and down on your knees.” He was amazed that he continued to sound unaffected.

Of course the creature obeyed. But he didn’t move after assuming his requested position, simply kept his gaze on the ground.

Krycek fumbled for his fly with his one hand, all the while seething down at the still, blonde head.

He pulled his already half-erect cock out of his boxers and up against his trembling abdomen. “Go on!” he ordered.

Obediently, Kenneth gently eased Krycek’s scrotum from its dark cave in his leather pants and shoved-down boxers.

Gentle. Krycek hated gentle. He began to stroke his livid cock roughly, pressing it against his belly and rubbing it against his body hair.

“Do it!” he hissed.

Kenneth leaned down, craning his neck to take his left ball in his mouth, and Krycek let himself rest back against the wall, his furious breath coming in hard, sharp pants.

He began to work the head of his penis, rubbing the foreskin against the swollen bulb until his vision swam.


Kenneth widened his mouth and fit both balls in, increasing his suction, the back of his mouth humming automatically on the crepey skin.

Staring down at the end of his now completely hard dick, he focused on the white jagged scar above the foreskin and his fury increased.

These fucking beasts! Marita had nearly bitten the end of his dick off and now he didn’t trust these things to have his cock in their mouths.

With blood dribbling out the corners of her mouth, her eye swelling shut from where he’d cuffed her, she’d still managed to giggle cruelly. “You need to get that thing cut. It’s filthy.”

He never did dare stick his dick in one of them and certainly wasn’t going to let one of them stick a dick in him, so she’d taken one of his remaining pleasures from him.

All he had left was some pathetic ball sucking.

Violently, he yanked his cock down from his belly. “Take it!”

Kenneth released his testicles and glanced up at him. “Sir?”

“You heard me!” He jerked his hips towards the clone’s beautiful red lips. “Come on!”

Those lips parted slowly, like an opening blossom and Krycek nearly came at the sight of the moist, soft tongue lying within. He gripped the base of his cock to hold it off. As he felt the tip slide in, he grabbed the back of the clone’s head and pulled him close until he could feel the panicked breaths shooting in and out of the young man’s nose against his groin.

He leaned back against the wall again, and let himself briefly revel in the sensation of suction and release, suction and release, a swirl around the head. He eased his hips back and whispered, “The tip…”

The tongue found its way under his foreskin and he had to stare up at the bare white ceiling to regain control. This loss was going to be such a shame.

He fumbled in his coat pocket briefly and closed his hand around his plam. His fake arm settled on the back of Kenneth’s head and began to force him down onto his cock again. More. He needed more.

He tipped his hips forward and began to jerk into Kenneth’s mouth in earnest. He grinned at the gagging sounds forcing their way around his cock. Yeah, clever boy, choke on it.

Somehow, the young man found a way to relax his throat muscles, and Krycek was as deep as he yearned to be, pressing and jerking over and over, as his good hand warmed the cool metal of the plam.

He could see the clone’s whole body was shaking from the exertion and his obvious terror was just what Krycek needed.

He crowed, “Yeah, you little fucker!” as he pumped his release into that pretty mouth.

Slumping back to the wall, he gazed down on the sputtering and gagging man, feeling almost some affection in his post-orgasmic haze. “Good boy,” he murmured and then corrected himself. “Oh, bad boy! You missed some!”

Kenneth was silent, his hands resting on his thighs as he fought for his breath.

Krycek motioned with his stiff arm. “There. On my boot.” A spot of creamy white semen was on his black toe. “Lick it off.”

He dared the boy to hesitate but the bright head leaned over and that lovely tongue came out to lap up his last little bit.

He crooned again, “Good boy,” as his good arm swooped down, plam blade extended, to meet the rising, shining white neck.

Forcing himself to action, Krycek slammed through the door and locked it behind him to avoid the toxic fumes as that thing disintegrated. Cool air made him realize his wet dick was still hanging out of his pants, and as he stuffed it back in and fastened up the fly, he let loose with a wild laugh.

Another stupid little backstabber taken care of. With purpose, he began to stride down the hall. Time to take care of another.


Frohike stopped the van outside the chain link fence of the warehouse bearing the name, Breckenridge Chemicals, and Langly jumped out to open the gate. In a strained voice, Frohike stated the obvious. “Not locked.”

Mulder, leaning forward from the back, agreed. “It could be a trap, guys. You don’t have to come in. But Scully and I need to risk it.”

As he hopped back into the passenger seat, Langly replied, “We’re in, man. Aren’t there some guns back there?”

Scully had been poking around in the piles and boxes and had come up with three guns and four flashlights. “We’re set,” she called out as Frohike pulled to a stop by a door.

The smell hit their noses as they entered the dark building. Mulder recognizing it first, could barely ask, “Scully, do you know that odor?”

He could hear the tension in her voice, “Yes. Emily—”

“Found a switch, should I turn on the lights?” Langly whispered hoarsely behind them.

Dread was beginning to overcome Mulder. “Yeah, hit the lights. I think they’re gone.”

The scene exploded in sickening vivid color as the large room was illuminated. Red and green. Thick green liquid was pooling on the bare floor, oozing out of the rows of shattered tubes and tanks. Red blood didn’t mix with the substance, but swirled perversely in curled patterns. The blood was escaping from human carcasses and small limbs, scattered among the wreckage.

Mulder breathed through his mouth to keep himself from throwing up. Brown hair. All the bodies had brown hair. The closest one was too small to be Kit. The next one was a female. Next, he noticed a leg, with the five toes on the pudgy foot extended like a bird’s claws. He forced himself to lean over and examine the severed limb closely. Not his Kit.

He could hear Frohike’s voice behind him, calm and low. “We’ll look here. Mulder, you and Scully look in the other rooms. Okay, Langly?”

Out of the corner of his eye, Mulder saw Langly’s already pale face go a shade whiter, but he nodded. “Sure,” he said weakly.

Mulder reached out for Scully’s hand. She was moving slowly from body to body, carefully turning them face up with her foot. Without looking up, she said, “I have to—”

Frohike was forceful. “I’m sure he’s not in here. They need him alive for their experiments—”

Her emotion was quick and bare. “That wasn’t the purpose!”

He was firm with her. “Well, then, he wouldn’t have cut his heart out here. His body isn’t here, trust me. Langly and I are just going to check. Go look around the other areas.”

Thankfully, she listened to him and nodded. But she wandered down the hall without sparing Mulder a glance, so he decided to check the other direction.

Scully moved automatically from empty room to empty room. The air hung heavy with the sterile atmosphere of a laboratory, with no whiff of baby powder or a sour diaper.

Then she heard a low cry, the bleating of a baby. Without thinking, she hurried towards the sound.

A closed secured door. With her hand resting on her gun, she turned the lock and pulled it open.

In the dim room, an adult body was slowly twisting and writhing on the ground, fair hair glistening in the beam of light from the hall. Unfocused pale eyes stared up at her and then she saw recognition.

She set her gun on a nearby chair and crouched down. “Kenneth Bond?”

The young man nodded.

“Are you ill?”

His breathing was a low hiss and he managed to shake his head. As his neck twisted, she saw a dark bruise at the base of his neck.

Shifting her weight back, worried, she asked, “What’s happened to you?”

He gasped, “Don’t worry. We’ve adapted—so we won’t be a danger. No more airborne toxin…”

She tried to rise. “Let me get help—”

His hand, wet but burning hot, grabbed hers. “No! Not much time.” She settled back down on her haunches and he seemed to take a moment to gather his breath.

“Krycek probably has your son by now. He will go into hiding—”

She couldn’t stop herself from interrupting. “Kit’s alive?”

“He was an hour ago. I don’t believe he’ll hurt him. For now. But you must go after him.”

She agreed. “Yes.”

The clone rolled over onto his back and took in some more deep breaths. He could only manage a whisper now. “I’ve planted a tracking device on Krycek. Under the bed—”

He had to bite down on his words and his body began to convulse. His voice expressed genuine shock when he moaned, “It hurts—”

She pushed his sweat-dampened hair off of his forehead. His face was as burning hot as his hand.

In a burst, he quickly said, “Under the bed, a Palm Pilot. Will track him…”

She was down on her hands and knees instantly, shining her flashlight under the bed until she spotted the device.

As she reached for it, his head fell back to the floor and he began to whisper, “Hurts. Hurts. Hurts…”

When she had retrieved her prize and turned, his hands raised from his sides. She could see this his hands had swelled and blackened. She gasped, “I need to go for help—”

He rocked his head from side to side. “Nothing—”

He seemed to be conserving his energy with shallow breaths. He whispered, so low she almost couldn’t hear him. “Please.”

She felt the familiar frustration of a doctor. There was nothing she could do.

“Please.” She could only shake her head.

He managed to focus his pale eyes and make eye contact. “Please,” he asked one more time, with conviction.

Realization melted all her confusion away. She could barely form the word. “Yes.”

His contorted features immediately became peaceful. He gasped out, “Mother.”

She watched the mirrors of her eyes sink into his sockets and the whites boiled to black. Her mother’s—Melissa’s, wide mouth opened in a silent cry and bared white teeth in a gruesome grin. Charlie’s corn silk blond hair blackened like burning summer grass and broke off. A masculine version of her round chin and Roman nose caved in like volcanic cones.

Her own eyes began to burn and she felt the prick of danger. Struggling to her feet, she fled the room as the familiar toxic odor filled the air.


Krycek slipped out the back door of the warehouse. Even as Mulder, Scully, and their friends had arrived, he’d been forced to remain close, searching for his objective. He was very close to getting everything he’d worked for and he was as focused as a sharpshooter’s sights.

At last, he found the old man in the back parking lot. Having finished buckling a squealing Kit into a car seat in the back seat of a dark sedan, the stoop-shouldered figure was sliding to the driver’s door.

Krycek called out the name that he’d been warned never to say, that had always earned him a sharp slap when he’d slip as a child. Now he spit it out as a taunt, daring the old man to react. “Father!”

Krycek’s gun was already leveled at the man’s head as he turned. The wrinkled face shone gray under the harsh overhead lights. Surely he must be feeling some fear, but the old fool didn’t even try to keep the contempt from his features.

“Step away from the car, Father,” he demanded, matching contempt with contempt.

Finally, the bastard looked worried. “Don’t be an idiot. Don’t hurt him.”

“Oh, don’t worry. I’m going to take very good care of my little gold mine,” Krycek sneered.

The man insisted, “No! I’ll give you the damn money! But my daughter needs him!”

Shaking his head, Krycek asked, “Is she really your daughter, old man?”

The man wasn’t down for long. The crafty expression returned to the sagging features. “That isn’t your concern. You’ll get your money, like you always do.”

Krycek was suddenly furious in a quick flash fire. “It’s my business! Why, Daddy? Why haven’t you ever given me anything you give the others?”

The familiar sneer spread across his lips, cutting with their knife-thin edges. “You? What man would claim a prancing queen like you?”

Krycek choked out a dry chuckle. “Me? What tune do you think Jeffy-Boy was dancing to? Christ, he wouldn’t even take easy pussy like your Diana whore.” Raising an eyebrow, he asked, “You know I fucked her? Your whore, Daddy?”

With a weary shrug, the old man said, “That woman should’ve had a turnstile installed in her cunt. She was disposable. To be used and discarded,” bleak eyes swept over him, “Just like you are.”

Red rage washed over Krycek and it was all he could do not to pull the trigger. In a quick moment of insanity, he wondered if the old bastard would dissolve in a swirl of smoke when his body was pierced by the bullet. He motioned with his gun. “Get away from the car, Father. I need to get going.”

Krycek was satisfied to see the slightest flash of fear in the deep recesses of his father’s dark face as he moved away from the car door. “Don’t worry, old man. Unbelievably, I’ve always had the tiniest shred of loyalty to the man who gave me life, despite never being shown the least reason. I’ll leave you to Mulder. I’m counting on him, and hope the next time I see you, this queen will be dancing on your grave.”

Passing the tall thin shadow of a man, he jumped behind the wheel of the car and sped away without a single glance in the rear view mirror.


Scully stumbled into the main room. Mulder had rejoined Frohike and Langly and they all turned at her entrance.

“Find anything?” Mulder asked immediately.

She schooled her voice and was surprised at how bland it sounded. “The clone. Kenneth. He’s dead. He put a tracking device on Krycek.” She held out the Palm Pilot.

As Langly grabbed the pad and began to examine the data, Frohike’s eyes lit up under his bushy brows. “We should go then.”

Langly nodded. “I need to get to our equipment and pump this thing up. It’s not receiving a signal yet.”

Mulder was staring at her with his inquisitive gaze, something she didn’t need right now. But he said, “Yes. Tiff will have called the police by now. Ready, Scully?”

She leveled her gaze to his and nodded. “Yes. Let’s go after our baby.”

Chapter 5: Turning Wheels


Highway 50, Virginia May 12th, 5:20 A.M.

Mulder tried to read Scully’s blank, white face when the headlights of passing cars pierced the dark interior of the van. Frohike and Langly said nothing and he couldn’t think of a thing to break the silence, either.

A cell phone rang, shattering the oppression like thunder with its brittle tone. Langly jerked the wheel and then righted it.

Frohike snatched the phone out of his vest pocket. “Yeah!?”

His worried face looked back at Mulder and Scully. “It’s Byers. I’ll put him on for all of us to hear.” He punched a button, and then Byers’ voice, worried and thin-sounding, echoed in the open van.

“Hello? Am I on?”

“Yeah, what’s happening?” Frohike asked.

Byers’ reply was more questions and Mulder felt his already chilled skin prick with anxiety. “Are Mulder and Scully there?”

They both answered the affirmative and then Scully, sounding impatient, pressed him: “What’s going on, Byers?”

He cleared his throat. “They’ve put out an all points bulletin for you. Broken into local broadcasting. Fortunately, it’s still early, but come morning—”

Frohike stopped him. “Because of an escape?”

Mulder could anticipate Byers’ response. “No. The footage from Agent Scully’s escort’s dashboard-mounted camera shows the two of you helping her escape…and then the officer is shot and killed.”

Mulder nodded and saw Scully’s head snap around to look in his direction but she didn’t speak.

“They’re looking for you for capital crime murder, the killing of a law officer in the line of duty.”

Langly said with awe, “Man, those fuckers are good.”

Scully was cynical sounding. “Yes. Very. You’ve got to join us, John.”

Fretting, Byers said, “Yes, I know. But I’m stuck here. I have Anita coming over, hopefully they won’t intercept her—”

Scully shook her head and then asked, “Where are we going, anyway?”

“We have a…place. Secure. Private,” Frohike replied smoothly.

She kept pounding at him. “We’ll be able to set up the tracking system for Krycek and get on the road? There’re vehicles?” Mulder watched in amazement.


She cut off Frohike and addressed Byers again. “Have Anita bring me some clothes. Jeans, tee shirts, simple stuff. Underwear.” Glancing up at the cab of the van, she added, “I don’t relish the thought of wearing Frohike’s boxers.”

Mulder had to snort in laughter. Frohike opened his mouth, probably with a snappy retort, then must have decided it was inappropriate. He closed his mouth again.

“Oh, and one more thing.” Pain flitted across Scully’s face. “See if she can bring me a breast pump.”

The uncomfortable silence thickened. After a moment, Byers said, “Okay. I think I’ve got everything noted. I’ll call her right now. The sensors aren’t detecting any suspicious vehicles outside yet. We may have a jump on them.”

“Skinner will tip the cops off about you. Get moving,” Frohike ordered right before he snapped off the connection.

Mulder asked, “Could we trust Skinner? Tiff will probably go to him first.”

“She’ll know we left her out there by that payphone,” Scully mused. “She’ll lose the trust she had in us. She has no reason to protect us anymore.” Looking frustrated, she pushed her limp hair back behind her ears. “I told you. I don’t want to trust anyone but us and these guys.”

Mulder nodded. “All right.”


The busy highway had quieted down to the countryside. The house lights were few and far between as Langly carefully drove a narrow country road before turning to journey up a long drive. He pulled the van to a halt and then activated an electronic gate. The wall around the property was high and solid. If she hadn’t been so exhausted and drained, Scully might have been curious.

When she looked over at Mulder, he looked equally numb and unquestioning.

After Langly stopped, the two of them tumbled out of the back of the van, wobbling to get their balance, clutching at each other. Frohike was holding the front door open for them. “You need some sleep,” he suggested.

Scully immediately protested. “No! We need to get to work—”

He shook his head. “No, you guys will just be in the way. Get some rest until Byers gets here.”

She couldn’t fight anymore. She trailed after the little man as he strode down the dark halls, their footfalls echoing in the empty space of the grand old home.

She had to ask. “Where are we?”

Langly was still behind her. “My place.”

Frohike was holding another door open for them. He grinned evilly. “Like all rebels, Langly’s a trust fund baby. This house is our little preserve.” His animated features grew crafty. “For when the time comes.”

Mulder said, amused, “Oh, so you’re going to wait out the End Times in style?” He glanced around the dim, cobweb-laced room. A double bed was pushed up against the wall and the sheets looked dusty.

Scully stumbled towards it. “Thanks, guys. You’ll let us know the moment Byers and Anita get here?”

“Yeah,” both men answered in unison and they hurried from the room.

Scully glanced down and realized she’d begun to unzip her orange prison jumpsuit with them still in the room. She shrugged and finished the job as she sank down onto the mattress.

Kicking off the canvas shoes that completed the ensemble, she wiggled out of the jumpsuit, and scooted up to prop herself against the wall.

She peered into the dark and saw Mulder was mechanically pulling off his clothes down to boxers and tee shirt.

He seemed to be avoiding looking at her. She asked the question that had been tumbling around in her mind for hours. “Why did you help me escape?”

He righted himself after pulling off his socks. “Huh?”

Pissed at his avoiding techniques, she aggressively pressed on. “I can think of plenty of reasons for you to leave me there to rot.”

His eyes looked bleary and he seemed to be focusing on a spot an inch beside her head. “I don’t understand.”

“Go on! Say it! None of this would have happened if I’d let you put that tracking device on Kit! Or let you lock him away! You’ve been dying to say it this whole week!” The furious waves rolled out of her and she felt drained but triumphant.

His brow furrowed. He spoke slowly, as though to a child. “I told you. You and Kit are my center. Above all others. I owe you everything. You gave me Kit.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “You gave me yourself. How can I be angry with you?”

As her arms wrapped around her bare torso like bands of steel slowly tightening, her fury found his tender spot to attack. “You don’t owe me anything! Our lives aren’t a business transaction! I’ll give you anything you need freely!”

He didn’t seem to hear a word she said. His voice remained toneless and his gaze dropped to study the filthy floor. “You can go if you want.”

She was confused. “What? Go where?”

He mumbled, “Are you going to leave me?”

Dumbfounded, she gasped again, “What?”

“I know we aren’t really married…you don’t have to stick with me…do whatever you have to protect yourself. My family caused this mess. I understand—”

She railed, “You think I married you because I was pregnant? I married you because I love you! Didn’t I make that clear?”

He was silent for long, painful, seconds. Then he whispered. “No. You didn’t.”

Her shame was overwhelming, but she couldn’t quite make herself give in. “Okay. Fine,” she sputtered. Then, “Come here. Don’t stand across the room.”

He glanced up quickly, with fear. “Why?”

She flicked her eyes to the crease in his loose boxers. “Because you want to fuck me.”

Mulder sucked in a breath at her words. He could barely release the word. “No.”

She looked like an old rag doll some fitful child had tossed on the bed and forgotten. Her hair was mussed, its natural curl coming out. The prison issue bra and panties didn’t fit right. The bra was too small and her breasts were swollen, the nipples large and dark under the thin fabric. The panties were too large and had slipped low on her hips, with vivid red pubic hair peeking out everywhere. Of course he was turned on.

He remembered the first time he’d seen her in her underwear, in that dark motel room in Oregon. He’d found her attractive at their first meeting, instantly intellectually stimulating. But the moment she dropped her robe, his desire had fled. With her clean face and damp hair, she looked exactly like a teenage girl. Her little soft body had excited him and in the next instant, he’d felt like a dirty old man. It had taken a few more years of maturing on her part before he could look at Dana Scully as a desirable, sexual being.

At this moment she was that and more. She was frighteningly sexual. She shrugged a glaringly white shoulder, and those empty, blue plastic doll eyes glanced over his shivering body again. “Okay, I want to fuck you.”

He stuttered, “No.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Why not?”

“I don’t think it will solve anything,” he protested.

She shook her head in apparent disgust. “I do. It’ll make everything go away for half an hour.”

He realized he hadn’t touched her sexually since Kit had been taken. He fought on. “I don’t want it to be like that between us.”

Her upper lip curled up. “Oh, that’s right. Every time is going to be amazing and tender and warm and romantic…” She stopped and lowered her voice to a growl. “You think I don’t know about all those sex manuals you have hidden away in your den? That you study how to satisfy me? Can you imagine how that makes me feel!?” She didn’t give him a chance to respond. “Like I’m some scientific experiment for you to conduct!”

He had to close his eyes against the assault. His wife’s voice was gone. His mother’s was there. Slurred. Low. Taunting. ‘You’re not man enough to satisfy me! You limp-dicked drunk!’ His father’s howl back. ‘Bitch!’ The slamming door. Silence.

Scully’s voice rose again. It was like a turning wheel, going around and around. “If you don’t let me see this part of you, the pissed-off, just want to fuck part, we’re never going to be truly married. It will kill us to try to maintain perfection and politeness. That’s not a marriage! It’s a photo spread in a magazine!”

His eyes snapped open. Her eyes were wet and she looked completely defeated. He staggered towards the bed and she let out a desperate, oddly happy sob.

As he sank into her open arms, she murmured hypnotically, “Yes. Yes. We need this.”

He laid his head on her breastbone, listening to her thudding heart for a moment before nodding. Her hands were in his boxers, finding his cock like it was a lifeline. His mouth fell open and he groaned against the soft skin of her breast.

He heard her whimper in pain, and he glanced up, confused. His hand was on her other breast and as he squeezed, she flinched. He snatched it away, mumbling, “Sorry—”

She sounded nearly hysterical. “No. Please. Please, Mulder,” she groaned as her nails raked along his ass.

He had to help her. She wanted to be in enough pain to forget their loss. He unsnapped the bra and began to bite down her collarbone, grinding his pelvic bone against her damp panties.

When he latched onto her left nipple, the pitch of her groan deepened to a primal level, like it was rising from a dark cave. His mouth was instantly flooded with milk. He almost stopped. Then her hand that had been scratching along his back settled on his hair. Cooing in the way he’d heard her as she fed Kit, she began to stroke his hair. Reassured, he allowed himself to swallow before pulling on her nipple again.

She rolled over on her side, no longer able to support his weight. He came with her, throwing his thigh over her hip, sheltering and warming her shaking body. Propping his head on his hand, he switched to nurse at her right breast.

Her low sounds finally became a chant as both their bodies went slack and they slipped into drowsing. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”


Federal Building; Washington D.C. 6:45 A.M.

Tiff had snatched a few hours napping on Skinner’s receptionist’s couch. She knew her afro was crushed and she suspected, despite her attempts to bathe in the women’s washroom, that she smelled funky.

Pushing past the knot of men outside his office, she entered Skinner’s inner sanctum with only a quick knock.

He was leaning back in his chair, his glasses tossed onto his desk, fists buried in his eye sockets.

“Walter?” she said.

When he turned his head, his neck vertebra loudly cracked. Sounding dead tired, he replied, “Yeah?”

“What’s the latest?”

“Officers got to the Lone Gunman’s Headquarters too late. No sign of any of them. Dr. Anita Mui is unaccounted for. A search of her residence would suggest she’d left on an extended trip. She has since contacted her practice to report that, yes, she has left town unexpectedly. Leaving no forwarding address or phone number,” he reported automatically.

She propped her hip up on the corner of his desk. “So where does that leave us?” she asked.

He finally looked at her and she started in surprise. His expression was careful. Guarded. “Let’s go over your time at this warehouse again.”

Trying to fight a rising sense of alarm, she said, “I’ve given my full report.”

Carefully, he said, “Yes. I thought perhaps, with some sleep, new details had surfaced in your memory.”

“Like?” she challenged.

“Like why you think they let you live? Why they let you go to report their location,” he fired back.

She spit out, “I refuse to defend myself again! I’m not the one who choked a woman in a hospital! I’m not the one who’s disappeared! I’m not the one on tape killing a cop!”

He rose from his chair, and she was almost frightened for a moment as he loomed over her. Then he shook his head and she could see the door shutting on his face.

She jumped off his desk and roared, “Dammit, Dog! Don’t you see how they use you!? Sure, when they need you, they hold you close! But now?”

He looked confused. She motioned to the phone. “Where’s the call, Dog? Where’s their trust now?”

Grabbing his arm, she implored, “You gotta see. They treat you like a Negro—”

Wrenching it away, he protested, “Why are you bringing race into this?”

“Fuck it! It’s an analogy! Being treated like a Negro mean that someone will let you into their life, give you their trust, demand yours, and your time and your blood and your life…” She was spinning away. She took a breath, and quietly finished. “And then, when it comes down to it, there’s a wall you can’t get over. Their side of town and yours. You’re a Negro. Not a friend. Not a trusted co-worker. They just trust their own.”

His eyes were still blank. “You don’t understand.”

She’d kept that rising dread down but now it flooded her senses, washing her vision away. She choked, “Oh.” She began to back towards the door and gurgled out, “I get it now. Okay, I see. I’m the Negro. Well, sorry…I gotta go…”

She felt so fucking stupid for giving herself to this man. She wheeled, grabbing for the door handle. She had to get out of here. Out of this cold office, away from the dark walls and the oppressive stare of Janet Reno’s portrait.

Hands pinned her to the door, and for the first time ever, Walter Skinner used all his strength against her. She struggled, but she was tired, weak, and in no position to get a proper move on him. He had her.

His voice was low and careful. “No, Tiffany. You’ve got it wrong. I trust you. Only you. But I’ve watched Them for a lot longer than you have. I’ve seen what They do to people.”

As suddenly as the hands had been there, they were gone and the voice was back by the desk. Dizzy, she leaned against the door and listened.

“I…I owe something to Agents Mulder and Scully. I…haven’t always helped them.”

There was so much weight in his words, she had to turn. His expression shocked her. She’d seen it on young, regret-filled men confessing to murder. She feared his words, but she had to ask.

“Walter, what did you do?”

His chuckle was completely mirthless. There was a long moment before he responded, and then his answer was forced out from his tightly held lips. “I did my job. I followed orders. And they took Agent Scully and raped her and ripped her apart…”

She was at his side in time to catch his slumping body. He buried his heavy head in the crook of her neck and she had to reassure him. “Okay. I see. I see now. It’s going to be all right. We’ll find them. We’ll protect them. I know we can.”

His arms came around her, and he nodded, mute. His warm tongue touched her cold neck as he licked his lips. She shivered, remembering the chill of the Factory. Had she barely escaped Scully’s fate? How many more times would she be at risk while involved in the X-files?

She forced those thoughts away. Bending her head as she felt him find his balance again, she whispered in his ear, “And I love you too.”


8:16 A.M. Scully woke with a start at the warm hand on her bare shoulder. Instinctively, she pulled the sheet up her naked torso, and groped for her gun as she tried to shake the hair from her eyes.

Anita’s low voice soothed her. “It’s okay, honey. It’s me.”

Scully nodded, willing her heartbeat to slow. Mulder began to thrash beside her, trying to free himself from the binding sheet.

“It’s Anita, Mulder,” she calmed him.

“John is helping the boys get everything ready. I thought I’d bring you some fresh clothes,” Anita said as Scully struggled upright.

She nodded again. Her head was pounding and her eyes burned from lack of sleep. Normally, she was able to subsist on her quick, but deep cat naps, but she was never truly asleep now. A part of her brain was always listening for her baby’s cry.

“Shower,” her friend urged her.

She managed a shaky grin. “That bad, eh?”

Anita grinned back. “Yes.”

“I’ll just be a moment,” she promised her husband and Anita.


Everyone was crowded around monitoring equipment a few minutes later when she entered the men’s workroom, pulling a comb through her wet hair.

“What do you know?” she demanded.

Mulder answered first. “They’ve got him,” he said triumphantly.

She hurried over to stare at the readings on the screen. “Where?!” She asked frantically.

Frohike calmed her down. “He hasn’t gotten far. He’s only outside of Knoxville on Interstate 40. He must be in a car. Remember, he’s on the run too. He doesn’t want to draw attention to himself.”

Byers chimed in. “Yes. How many young, leather clad, prosthetically armed men with babies have you seen lately?” Langly cackled. “Exactly! He has to stop often to change diapers and give Kit his bottle.”

“If he does!” Scully protested. Mulder’s arm found its way around her waist and she leaned into the warmth.

Anita assured her, “This about money, right? About how much money he can get for Kit—”

Langly’s enthusiasm got the best of him. “Yeah! If Kit was worth anything dead, Krycek would have killed him a long time ago. He wants him alive.”

Scully shot at him, “Do we know he’s alive? Or are we chasing our baby’s murderer?”

She’d never heard Mulder’s voice as cold as it was at that moment. “Either way, we’ve got to find that bastard and kill him.”

She laced her fingers into his taut fingers clutching her waist. “Yes.”

Frohike nodded and got up from his chair. “Are you ready?”

She was astonished. “Do you need to ask?”

He grinned at her with admiration. “Okay, let’s show you what we’ve set up.”


He led the group outside the dark, shuttered house, and Scully and Mulder blinked in the morning light. Mulder glanced around, feeling exposed in the open space. They were in a large, garbage-strewn, fenced yard.

He had to tease. “Disguising your sophisticated underground group as white trash, guys?”

All three men looked confused. Langly hurried ahead to a dangerously leaning shed, and flung open the doors. Crouched in the building was a gleaming Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Scully raised her eyebrow to Frohike, and Mulder had to agree with her skepticism. “Guys?” he asked.

The little man puffed out his chest. “It’s the perfect disguise. Biker couple on a tour.”

Scully asked, “Won’t that bike draw the police’s attention?”

He waved his hand in protest. “That’s the ‘70’s! This is now! No one looks twice at a bored suburban couple trying to regain their lost youth.” Mulder noticed Scully’s mouth pursed in a sour expression and then realized his own mouth was making the same shape. Frohike continued, unnoticing. “People expect them to ask questions. Or to lose their friend—the guy with the baby. If I could have swung it, I would have gotten you an RV, but this will have to do.”

Mulder could see the plan working, but his heart sank anyway. “One problem, great thinker. I can’t drive a motorcycle.”

Scully was approaching the bike with cat-like interest. “I can,” she mused.

Frohike’s bushy brows rose.

She glanced at him, a challenge in her eyes. “I can. My brothers rode dirt bikes for years. I was always sneaking off to steal rides on them.”

He said patiently, “This isn’t some little 50 cc dirt bike. This is a Hog.”

Mulder watched in amazement as, for the first time in days, a huge grin spread across his wife’s face.

She smoothly flung her leg over the saddle and settled on the leather seat. Her small hands curled around the handlebars. Color flushed her pale cheeks as she breathed, “Yeah, I know.”

The engine roared to life as she kicked it over, and Langly jumped back. She gave it enough gas to shoot from the dark shed and it was Byers’ turn to hobble out of the way as she carefully made a circuit of the large yard.

She turned the bike and came straight at Frohike and Mulder, frozen in their shoes. As she applied the brakes and stomped her heels down to balance the huge machine, Frohike mumbled to Mulder, “May I presume to tell you, after all these years, your wife is still hot?”

Mulder could barely nod, staring at the way Anita’s too small tee shirt was binding Scully’s swollen breasts and exposing her tight white stomach as she dismounted the bike, yanking it up to put it on its kickstand. “You may,” he gasped.

Under Anita’s burning gaze, Byers gulped and seemed to be trying to help the huddle of awe-struck men focus on the serious subject at hand. “We have your things packed. Langly…Langly?” he asked desperately.

Langly’s long neck wobbled like a turkey’s as he nodded. “Yeah!” Mulder wondered what he was agreeing too.

But then Langly rallied. “I’ve got the helmets ready to go.” He scurried over to a table in the shed. “They’re wired for communication between the driver and passenger, pretty standard stuff in motorcycle helmets. But I’ve added reception for our communiques. We’ll track Krycek and keep you posted.”

Frohike had been mounting bulging saddlebags over the seat of the bike and now added a backpack to the high backrest.

“It’s not much,” he said regretfully. “You have to travel light and stay in campgrounds. You don’t want anyone to get a good look at you. Your faces have been plastered all over the TV already.”

He tossed a worn leather jacket at Scully. Gruffly, he told her, “It’s given me good luck. It should fit.”

She held up the small jacket. It was emblazoned with faded designs on the back. The center was a gold triangular Army insignia with a black horse head over a diagonal black bar. ‘1st Cavalry Rode Through’ was written along the top, and below the picture, ‘Vietnam – ‘68-72’. Briefly, she grasped Frohike’s hand and gave it a squeeze. “Thanks.”

Langly’s silver studded black leather jacket was a bit tight on Mulder, but he didn’t complain. “Are we ready then?” he asked.

Looking around the circle of concerned faces, Mulder felt like he should say something. Nothing came to him. He felt Scully’s fingers lacing in his again.

“Yes,” she murmured. He glanced down at her open, shining face and couldn’t stop the romantic gesture of a kiss before they slipped on their helmets.

The group still didn’t say anything as they carefully mounted the bike. Scully’s voice sounded like she was calling down a pipe to him. “Mulder?”


“Okay, you’re going to have to help me keep this thing balanced until I get the hang of it. Then we’ll see about training you to drive,” she said.

He couldn’t resist. “You were shitting Fro, weren’t you?”

She laughed, a burst bubble that sounded rich and true inside his bowl of a helmet.

Frohike’s voice crackled in his ear. “Testing, testing.”

“Got you,” he answered.

“Good,” the man said. “And good luck.”

Scully responded with Mulder, “Thanks.”

She steered them out the gate and Mulder glanced back to watch it swing shut. The empty country road stretched ahead, and the blacktop whipped dizzily under his feet. He leaned forward and tightened his grip around Scully’s small waist.

“We’re really doing this? It isn’t a dream?” He didn’t mean those words to come out as a question but now they hung in the air.

She must have known what he meant. Through the helmet speaker, her voice resonated inside his head, saying, “Yes, this is real.” She continued, “We aren’t helpless. We know who we’re after and where he is. It’s just a matter of time.”

He watched her gloved hands tighten on the handlebars and then shift gears to increase speed. Putting her booted feet on the footrests, she leaned back against his chest and he laid his hands on her thighs, feeling the power of the motor under her strong muscles. She was right. Each turn of the wheels was carrying them closer to Kit.

He knew it wasn’t appropriate, but he still found himself beginning to laugh with a hysterical joy. He wasn’t surprised when he heard her join him.

Chapter 6: Follow the Moon


Meramec State Park, Missouri May 12th, 11:25 P.M.

The shower’s water pressure was only slightly stronger than a mouse pissing, but Mulder decided beggars couldn’t be choosers.

As he tested the water’s temperature, he glanced down at Scully. She sat slumped on the narrow wood bench in the campground’s shower room, head bowed.

They had finally stopped. Even alternating turns driving, they were both dangerously exhausted. It was impossible to nap on the motorcycle and they’d been on the road since 9 A.M.

Krycek had had a 300 mile head start on them when they’d left Virginia that morning, but he’d stopped often, probably because of the baby, and they’d gained on him. He’d finally appeared to stop for the evening. His tracking device hadn’t moved in two hours, so Scully had agreed to rest.

Following Frohike’s suggestion, they were in a state park campground. Mulder had fumbled at putting up the tent and now they needed to try to wash 800 miles of filth off.

“Why don’t we share, Scully? I don’t think the hot water is going to hold out,” he said.

She nodded and began automatically to shed her clothing. Mulder decided to get started and clambered into the stall.

Her small body wedged into the rickety fiberglass enclosure behind him. “Soap?” she asked.

He handed her the slimy bar and she began to lather his back. He could barely hold in a whimper.

He was too damn old for this. Motorcycles looked great in movies, but now the reality was clear in bone-jarring detail. His teeth were still vibrating and his balls seemed flat as pancakes between his quivering thighs. His lower back felt like a spike had been slowly driven into…“Oh, yes, Scully…” he moaned as she found just that spot and began to rub it earnestly.

“God, yes!” He wailed as her hands moved down to his ass. He leaned against the thin wall and pushed his glutes back against her ministrations. He needed that ass in working order by dawn. He practically wept at the idea of settling it back on the saddle.

Her tongue licked at his shoulder blade. “Feel good?” she asked ridiculously.

He had to be a good husband. “Your turn,” he said.

Her damp face tilted to meet his for a quick kiss. “Thank you so much,” she said as she turned her back to him.

Kneading her shoulders, he let his thumbs press her neck until her back arched like a kitten’s. Now it was her turn to moan. “Oh, Mulder…”

When she collapsed against the wall, he ran his thumbs down her spine as she shuddered in happy agony. Remembering how his ass felt a few moments ago, he squeezed hers until she whimpered. “Mulder, Mulder,” she panted.

“Yeah.” He agreed to nothing in particular.

She shattered the mood. “We’re getting old.”

He withdrew his hands and turned to get the shampoo. “Thanks for reminding me.”

Ever practical, she insisted, “It’s true.”

Pouring some shampoo into his palm, he rubbed his hands together to build up lather. “Turn around again. I don’t want to get it in your eyes.”

She complied, and he swirled her hair until it was a cap of froth. Pulling some off for himself, he quickly soaped up his hair too. They twisted and turned under the spray together, in a slick, sliding close dance, trying to get the soap out of their hair before the water cooled.

Their eyes met and she reached down to grasp his heavy, thickening cock. Her lips played at a smile. “Mmmm…you’re not too tired.”

He agreed, “Never,” as he bent down to lick water off her cheek.

They walked hand and hand back to the tent, following the beam of their flashlight. By the time they crawled in, Scully was shivering in the cool evening air.

He assured her, “I’ll warm you up,” as he pushed their packs back to make room on the unrolled sleeping bags.

But it was Scully who took the initiative. He was slightly taken aback by the gleam in her eyes, glowing bright in the dim light. She pushed him over on his back and reached for the waistband of his boxers.

Nervously, he stuttered, “Ummm…Scully?” but she was lightly raking her nails up his thighs and had her gaze zeroed in on his barely fluttering cock. Following her inquiring look, he said, “Oh. Perhaps I am getting old.”

She was on her hands and knees between his splayed legs, her head brushing the ceiling of the tent. “That’s all right,” she murmured. “We can take our time.”

He suggested, “Turn around, Scully. I want to get at you too.”

Raising an eyebrow, she nevertheless complied, wiggling around in the confined space of the narrow tent. He pulled down her shorts and managed to get them off her ankles with only minor thrashing. Lifting the flashlight with one hand, he used the other to separate her moist folds for his inspection.

She’d been nibbling at his sensitive stomach, but stopped immediately. Hissing, she said, “First, Mulder, I don’t need a gynecological exam. And second, turn out that flashlight. I don’t want to give the neighbors a shadow puppet show.”

He whined, “Aw, Scully. There aren’t any tents close by—”

She squeezed his thigh painfully. “Mulder! It’s pitch dark out there. We’re like a beacon with that light on.”

“Okay, Okay.” He extinguished the light and was immediately gratified. His senses of touch and smell ratcheted up. Her skin was soft as silk and smelled so fresh.

He could feel the rough papillae on her tongue as it inched closer and closer to his now rigid, begging hard-on. The swirls of her fingers’ pads branded the delicate tissue on his balls, rolling their weight, pulling gently at the sac. A drape of her hair lightly brushed his abdomen and thighs as she moved over him.

Sliding a finger into her, he let his thumb lazily roll her clitoris. Even painfully craning his neck, he realized he couldn’t get close enough. He decided they’d need some adjustments to pull this position off.

“Scully,” he mumbled just as she slid her wet mouth down his cock.

He fell back on the sleeping bag, forgetting what he was going to ask her.

Her light touch was delicately stroking the underside of his cock as her mouth fiercely worked at the head. The contrast was exhilarating and frightening. So much for taking her time.

He started his low, drawn out chant. “OhScully…OhScully…OhScully…”

She chuckled around his organ and as she began to pull at his sac more roughly, he gasped again.

His hands had fallen way from her, and were gripping the sleeping bag for dear life. He had to get back to his task. “Scully! I wanna—”

Scully dragged her tongue up his length, swirled around the corona before saying, “What?”

“Scoot back, honey. I can’t get to you.” He was whining again.

Heat throbbed between Scully’s thighs and she felt heavy and dripping. But she could only concentrate on one thing at a time and she believed in finishing a job when she started it. “I’m all right,” she said as she plunged back down on his waiting cock.

She could hear his faint groan from between her knees, but he did manage to let go of the sleeping bag to grip her thighs again. He began to massage her still aching muscles and she truly thought she would come from the relief. She had to moan in time with his squeezing hands, and soon they found a rhythm together. His strong thumbs coursed up and down her hamstrings in time to her draws, rising and falling on his shaft.

She let him do the vocalizing for them. She squeezed his balls roughly, spreading the saliva that was dripping from her mouth. Then, she stroked up the tight tendons holding him erect, bringing her fist to meet her mouth. Again and again, until he couldn’t keep his rhythm.

Finally, she’d found a way to get him still and reasonably quiet. At this moment, she bet he’d agree to clean grout, string Christmas lights, and paint her toenails at the end of the long, hard workday.

He grunted, “Gonna come. Gonna—Shit!” His hips bucked wildly off the ground, throwing her like a cowgirl. Suddenly, the world collapsed on them and Scully found herself swaddled in clinging polyfiber.

Mulder was aware of a few things. With each gasping intake of breath, his mouth filled with fabric. Scully was thrashing and cursing on top of him. But frankly…frankly he didn’t give a damn. All his stiffness and soreness had drained out of him with his orgasm and he was ready to go to sleep.

His sweet love called him home. “God fucking dammit, Mulder! Find the damn flashlight!” she cursed.

He could only mumble, “I thought you didn’t want the flashlight on.”

“Mulder, I swear, I’m going to kill you.”

He fumbled and found the flashlight, flicking it on. Her delicious white ass was wiggling in his face and he couldn’t resist planting a kiss on one cheek.

Her hand reached back and yanked the flashlight from him. She shuffled away, still cursing, leaving the tent to settle on him like a shroud.

“Get out, Mulder. Help me!”

That was odd. She still sounded muffled, even out of the tent. He crawled free, dragging his boxers back up as he staggered to his feet. She was shaking her head and peering around the campsite.

“What’re you looking for?” he asked stupidly.

“The towel,” she grumbled.


She shook her head again and wiped at her nose. “Because you ejaculated up my nose, that’s why.”

He was amazed at his ability to control his reaction. Maybe he was getting the hang of this marriage thing. Saying each word with careful calm, he suggested, “Let me get this tent back up.”

He hadn’t fooled her. Her voice dripped with threatened violence. “You do that. We need to get to sleep. I’m setting the alarm for 4 A.M.”


Interstate 40, Texas May 13th, 8:50 P.M.

Krycek had started moving at 6 A.M. but over the course of the day, they’d gained another 150 miles on him. Remembering he’d stopped for the evening at about this time yesterday, Scully gave the bike more gas and pushed them onward.

Tonight. Tonight, she’d have her baby back in her arms. The dark ribbon of the freeway swam before her stinging eyes, and as if he knew her thoughts, Mulder’s grip tightened around her waist.

His voice was low and reassuring in her ear. “Tonight.” He did know.

Frohike’s triumphant crow broke in through their earpieces. “He’s stopped.” There was a pause. “Vega, Texas. Sounds lovely. You’re 24 miles away. Go get that fucker. For me. Please.”

Grimly, Mulder answered, “No problem.”

The speedometer dial inched closer to 90 mph as Scully increased their speed again.

Frohike directed them to Harriet’s Cottages, a string of sagging shacks on the edge of the tiny freeway-serving town. Inside the dingy cottage marked Office, a huge, sweating man loomed behind the cracked, Formica-topped counter. At first he smiled warmly at the couple. The smile disappeared when Scully began to question him aggressively.

“You’ve had a man check in. He has a baby. What room is he in?”

Mulder put a quieting hand on her quivering arm but the damage was done. The man’s small, bird-bright eyes became suspicious slits. “Who you people, anyhow?”

Deciding to take a risk, Mulder fumbled for his FBI badge. Scully shot him a warning glance, but he only gave her an imploring look before sliding the ID across the counter.

The large man examined the badge for agonizing moments, his labored wheezing echoing off the mold-tinged walls, while Scully hurried back and forth from the counter to the window, peering out into the garden courtyard. He finally said, “You folks sure don’t look like no FBI agents on TV.”

Somehow, Mulder remained calm. Gripping Scully’s arm to still her, he agreed. “Yes, I realize that. We’re in disguise. This is an uncover mission. What room, Sir?”

The eyes became crafty. “Number 13. Last one in the back. He wanted quiet.”

Scully was already through the door, leaving the bike by the office to rush up the twisting walkway through the barren garden the cottages surrounded. Mulder’s long legs carried him to her side, and he yanked out his firearm to match her.

“Let me take the back first,” he ordered as she bore down on the rickety door. She only nodded as she reached for the knob.

In the back the parking space was empty. Mulder couldn’t believe Krycek would carry the baby from some other spot. He hurried back around. She was pounding on the door but whirled when he appeared.

“Get back there! He must be going through the window!”

Over her shoulder, Mulder noticed a blue sedan whipping out of the side drive of the motel to get back on the street. He spotted a dark-haired head in the stream of the streetlight. “Fuck!” he yelled.

Grabbing her arm, he sprinted back towards their bike.

As they passed the open door of the office, the large man and an equally huge woman who must have been Harriet filled the space, blocking the light. Mulder noticed their smirks as he and Scully quickly remounted the motorcycle. He swore to return and burn this dump down as the engine roared to life.

Scully yanked the bike around and got them back on the street. He babbled to Frohike, “The bastard was warned! He’s on the move! Help us out here, Fro!”

There was silence on the line. “Fro? Melvin Frohike!”

Scully was bent down over the handlebars, dangerously darting between vehicles, trying to catch the blue sedan. He spotted it on the on-ramp to the freeway and tapped her shoulder to get her attention. She nodded and gave pursuit.

He tried to communicate with Virginia again. “Anyone there? Byers? Langly?”

Frohike’s voice, sounding distant and tense, filled their heads. “I’m here.”

Mulder lectured him. “Hey! Keep on the job, dammit! This is important.”

Frohike only said, “Yep. What’s up?”

“He got a jump on us. He’s fleeing in a car…” Mulder concentrated on the sedan. “He’s in a navy blue Contour. Maryland license, 4TYL228.”

Frohike agreed. “Yep, he’s moving fast. Do you think he’s spotted you?”

Mulder thought about it. “I don’t think so. You, Scully?”

Terse, Scully said, “No, I don’t think so. I think that bitch Harriet called while we were talking to her husband. Told him a man and woman were asking about him. With any luck, he doesn’t know we’re on a motorcycle and we still have a chance to get the drop on him.”

Agreeing, Mulder said, “Yes, we can’t risk letting him spot us. Let’s hang back and follow until he stops again.”

He could hear a grunt from Frohike. “You don’t agree?” he asked.

“Do what you think is best,” was the reply.

For another 45 miles, they kept a cushion of about ten miles, letting Frohike guide them. Krycek seemed to have decided to get off the freeway, and had taken to the narrow county routes through the dark countryside. Scully dropped back even further so he couldn’t see their headlight on the empty roads.

Finally, Frohike got excited, his words nearly lost in a grateful gasp. “He’s stopped! You’ve got him! Maybe he’s broken down!”

At those words, Scully spurred the bike forward and they tore down the dark road. Frantically, they both raked the empty roadside.

Scully spit out, “Nothing! Frohike, are you sure!?”

He sounded worried and distracted. “Yes! I tell you, the signal is stopped.”

Dread began to fill Mulder. “Did he find the tracking device?”

Scully whispered in despair, “No…”

Frohike’s tone was flat. “You’re there. He’s got to be right there.”

She lay on the brakes and the bike skidded to a stop. They both dismounted slowly, pulling their weapons as they searched the thick shrubbery and strip of blacktop.


Frohike insisted. “Right there. Your signal and their signal overlap.” He sounded utterly desperate. “He has to be there!”

A flash of white caught Mulder’s eye and he hurried towards it.

Sick, hysterical laughter overcame him when he realized what it was.

Frantic, Frohike asked, “What?!”

Sinking to his knees, Mulder examined his find as Scully stared over his shoulder. Lifting Krycek’s prosthetic arm, he said, “He found the tracking device. He’s dumped it.”

Furious, Scully slapped the object from his limp grasp. Suddenly, her voice became sharp. “Frohike, what’s going on there?”

Mulder noticed a banging coming through the earpiece.

Frohike’s voice was flat. “They’re coming.”

“What?” he asked.

“Some sort of security forces are busting down the door as we speak. They’ve gotten the others already. I don’t know how long I can stay on. I’m destroying everything. This is it.”

Mulder rose slowly and stared down the empty road. This was it. They were completely alone.

Scully spoke as cordially as a hostess giving leave of a guest at a garden party. “Well, thank you, Frohike. And goodbye.”

The little man forced cheer. “Hey, anytime. I’ll be seein’ you soon!”

The line went dead.

She tugged at his arm. “Let’s go.”

He shrugged her grip off. “Where?” he asked in despair.

She tipped her head forward. “After that man. We’re investigators. We’ll just use our old-fashioned skills.”

Shaking off his low spirits, he nodded and headed back to the bike. “I’ll drive.”


Route 246, New Mexico May 14th, 2:35 A.M.

They rode the flat desert roads blindly, simply following the moon. Scully felt on the edge of hysteria. There was no rhyme or reason to their choices when the road changed routes. They would let the bike idle for a moment while they glanced both directions.

“Right or left?” Mulder asked at one junction.

She worried her lower lip and then said, “Right.”

He didn’t move the bike. “I think left.”

Then, he lifted his feet to the pedals and pointed the bike forward. She had to bury her face in his back, willing him to be correct again.

They had seen one piece of proof. Scully had spotted it and made Mulder stop.

A discarded, used baby diaper.

Clinically, she pulled it open and examined the contents. Grimly, she said, “He’s not giving Kit enough fluids.”

Hanging back, Mulder asked, “How do you know it’s Kit?”

She was already heading back to the bike. “I just do.”

She kept her eyes trained to the side of the road for these pathetic crumbs but her vision blurred and jumped from exhaustion.

She realized it wasn’t just her. Mulder kept having to correct the front wheel’s course as it wavered back and forth between the cracked edge of the blacktop and the faint yellow line.

She’d have to be the one to say it. Mulder would drive them off a cliff to keep her satisfied. “Let’s stop for a few hours. We need sleep and some food.”

He immediately applied the brakes. “Here?” His voice was hopeful.

Looking up and down the empty road, she said, “Why not? We’ll just unroll our bags for a bit.”

He nodded and pulled the bike over to the sandy shoulder.

Slowly, they eased over the sagging wire fence on the roadside and climbed a slight rise until they were on a smooth knoll overlooking the wide, moonlit desert.

Bags opened, they both pulled their boots off and stretched out, groaning in unison. Scully let her eyes drift shut under the glare of the moon.

A few minutes passed, and she realized she wasn’t falling asleep. Her mind raced as her thoughts chased each other around and around.

“Dammit,” she mumbled.

Instantly, Mulder asked, “Scully?”

“Sorry, Mulder. Go back to sleep.”

Sighing, he said, “I wasn’t.”

“You too?” she asked. “We’ve got to get some sleep.”

“I think I’m too tired,” he said, then chuckled without humor.

She agreed. “I know what you mean. We need someone to come knock us unconscious.” She turned her head to look at his profile. “We must get rest,” she mused, an idea forming.

He nodded, and sensing her gaze, turned his head to meet it.

He smiled sweetly and she suddenly fell in love with him for that day. She’d noticed that she could pinpoint a specific moment every day when this happened, but found it too odd to mention. Perhaps now was a good time.

“I love you,” she said.

It was the right moment. His eyes glistened in the silver light. “I love you too, Scully.”


She unzipped his leather jacket and his eyebrows rose in surprise. “Scully?”

Drolly, she answered, “Yes, Mulder?” as she pushed his tee shirt up to expose his strong belly to her seeking mouth.

He gasped, and then continued. “What’re you doing?”

“I thought of a way to tire us out.”

His chuckle vibrated under her cheek as she nibbled his pectoral.

“I like the way you think.”

“Yes, great minds do think alike,” she noted as his hands wound through her hair.

They shed their clothes slowly, letting their exhaustion set the pace. The sleeping bag’s slick fabric whispered under her bare back, calling back and forth with the breeze that stirred the fragrant sage around them.

Mulder eased up and down her body, ignoring her protests that she wasn’t getting to touch him enough. Finally, she simply lay back and opened her knees to welcome him in. His smiling face appeared over her and she draped her arms around his shoulders.

Wonder filled his voice. “Oh, Scully…” he moaned as she traced the tracks of his ribs and then let her nails drag up his spine.

Her tone sounded dreamy even to her ears. “Yes, Mulder?”

His forehead touched her breastbone and his back bulged with his thrusts. “I’m trying not to call to a god I don’t accept,” he gasped. “So, I’ll pray to you.”

Chuckling, her head rolled back and she stared at the white moon until her eyes burned. His body—her body—was gone. They were floating upward. The platinum stars fell closer and closer to earth until her raised fingertips could touch them.

The earth didn’t move; the universe moved. At this moment, Scully could swear she could feel the rotation of the galaxy itself. They weren’t exploding in orgasm; the constellations were imploding into them.

Suddenly, a huge owl, great wings humming in the wind, flew across the moon, blocking the bright light out. Her body gone, she felt as huge as the darkness. Teeth chattering, she cried out, “Mulder!”

He was there, heavy and panting, lying over her. She clutched at him compulsively.

He sounded worried. “Scully?”

“Yes. I’m all right. It’s just…” She felt embarrassed. “I’m sorry, Mulder. I was kind of ignoring you there—”

She met his eyes and was surprised to see him smiling. “No, Scully. I was with you. I saw it all in your eyes.”

Pulling him closer, she gasped into his neck, “Good. Good. Because I saw the truth.”

“Yes?” he asked.

She was back in her body, but now the universe was within her. She’d never felt so strong in her life. She grasped his face so their noses met. “Yes. Tomorrow, for sure. Tomorrow, we’re going to get our son back. I can see it.”

His teeth gleamed as a huge smile cracked his face. “Yes, Scully. I trust you.”

He rolled off of her, but they still stayed wrapped in each others’ arms, falling asleep immediately.

Chapter 7: The Right Words


State Highway 70, Arizona May 14th, 4:30 P.M.

Krycek was hot. The damned air conditioner had broken in this crappy car 300 miles ago. Even with all the windows rolled down, the interior of the vehicle was stuffy. Sweat caused his shirt to adhere to the seat and made his hands slip on the steering wheel.

Glancing in the rear view mirror, Krycek saw that Kit was slumped in the car seat behind him in the back seat. The baby’s round face was flushed and damp, his fine hair curling in the heat. His eyes were at half-mast and he’d been making a low, whining sound for the past 50 miles. It was getting on Krycek’s nerves.

He decided to tell the kid a story. That should work. “Don’t worry, Isaac, we’ll be in Phoenix tonight. Then you can meet my friend, Kip. And he’ll just snip off a few little bits and use them to make lots and lots of money. It won’t hurt a bit.”

The child’s eyes had opened and he appeared to be listening. Krycek went on. “You want Uncle Alex to make money, don’t you?”

Using his knees to hold the steering wheel steady, he picked up the water bottle from the seat beside him, checking the contents. Damn! Not much left. He’d have to stop again. And he was running low on diapers.

“You shit too much, kid. And it stinks.” He shuddered. He had to toss the diaper aside as soon as he changed it. He’d done demeaning crap in this work, but wiping a baby’s red, chapped ass took the prize.

“Yeah, you owe me, big time,” he directed towards Kit. “I’m tired and cranky.”

As though to answer, the baby instantly began to whine. “You just shut the hell up!” Krycek snarled. “I’m sick of that, you hear me?”

He mused out loud, “I need to get laid.” Forcing himself to ignore Kit’s fussing, he said, “You’re going to like Auntie Kip and he’s going to love you.”

A motion in the side mirror caught his attention. Something was approaching from behind, fast. He squinted to make the vehicle out, his hand tightening on the wheel.

As it drew closer, he relaxed. It was only a motorcycle.

After a few more miles, he could make out the driver. Tall, with lanky legs. Dusty black leather outfit. With the glistening dark helmet on top, the man resembled a long, black dick. Krycek grinned to himself. Oh, he definitely needed to get laid. Perhaps this would be the guy.

The bike was within twenty yards. He could see that arms were wrapped around the driver’s torso and a helmet occasionally bobbed out to peer ahead. His lurid imagination filled in some more details. Was it a small guy or a woman? He liked the idea of a woman right now. He hadn’t had pussy in a while. And he liked the way women cried when he did that little trick to their clit.

He slowed his car, now avidly watching the pair in mirror. They appeared to be in communication, their heads tipping together now and then. He glanced at the kid, hoping he was asleep and was startled to see the boy staring at him in the mirror. Kit’s expression was unsettling, clear and with an oddly malicious curiosity.

Entranced, Krycek wasn’t paying attention until the bike’s roar was close. They were pulling alongside. He dragged his gaze away from the baby and forced a big grin on his face, turning it to the open window.

“Shit!” he yelled.

The passenger was leaned over, peering into the car’s interior at a now bawling Kit. The driver was intent, pulling the motorcycle within a foot of his window, waving his hand at Krycek, motioning him to pull over.

“Fuck you!” Krycek screamed as he pushed down on the accelerator.

The bike matched his speed, the driver bend over the handlebars to give the passenger a better view.

Krycek was having a hard time keeping giving proper attention to the road, the bike, and its two riders. The passenger leaned forward, pulled a pistol out, and pointed it at him.

Okay, this had to be fucking over. Twisting his mouth, Krycek yanked the steering wheel to try to hit the motorcycle. It dropped back long enough to avoid his car’s fender, but then whipped up on the other side, pulling close to the open back window.

Amazed, Krycek watched as the passenger reached in and grasped the inside of the window jamb. “Fuck!” he roared again, yanking the wheel violently. This time he had the satisfaction of hearing the squeal of metal against metal.

He cackled and continued to steer into the pressure, until it gave way and he felt a bump of his back wheels running over something. He only had a brief moment of glee to watch the whirling, twisting, crumbled mass of the machine and splayed figure in the rear view mirror before it was replaced by horror.

His own car was out of control. He tried to correct, but it was gone, going into a spin. In of the corner of his eye, he could see that the passenger had managed to keep a grip on the window and was falling into the vehicle right before he felt the car’s wheels leave the ground. They were airborne. The baby’s wails were a soundtrack for his own terror, the sky was under him, and then, blackness.

When he came to, the vehicle was balanced up on the driver’s side. He was facedown out the open window and the smell of gasoline was strong. He could hear the hiss of escaping steam. Kit’s screams were only a blubbering now.

With a groan, he tried to wiggle around. His legs were held in place by the caved-in dashboard and his arm was pinned under the steering wheel. “Fuck!” he cursed.

Another groan caught his attention and he stilled, listening carefully. Then he began to struggle in earnest. He was able to turn his upper body just as the other person pulled upright from behind the seat and yanked the helmet off.

“Dana Scully,” he breathed.

She pushed her hair from her eyes, but only gave Krycek a slight glance before reaching for Kit. The baby’s carrier was still secure to the back seat and he was held fast by the straps.

Her grimy hands gently stroked the baby’s flushed cheeks and he immediately quieted, his pink mouth opening to form an ‘O.’

“It’s Mommy.”

She could barely choke the words out and Krycek was filled with hate for a woman who could put all her love in two words.

His seeking hand had found his gun tucked in his belt. He whipped it out but when he raised his gaze to point it at her, the muzzle of her gun was facing him.

They stared at each other.

She still had one hand on her son’s cheek and out of the corner of his eye, Krycek watched her stroke it even as her eyes never strayed from his face.

“Drop it.” She probably only asked out of habit. Hell was going to freeze over before he gave in to her.

He suddenly laughed, the sound echoing in their tin prison. “Slow down!” he admonished her. “We’ve got all the time in the world to think this over.”

He watched the now familiar curl form on her upper lip.

Lowering his voice, he oozed the words. “I can give you so much. I’ve already saved your son from that old bastard. Now let me save you.”

He could see her natural curiosity at war with her intuition. “I saved you before, Dana. I watched over you. I protected you. Remember?”

Scully hissed down low in her throat. She had put both hands on the gun handle to control it as a sudden flash of a memory over washed her at this bastard’s words. His hands, touching her. His cool voice, down by her ear. ‘I’m here, Dana. I won’t leave you.’

She met his eyes and noticed his twitching lips under his bright gaze. He was reading her thoughts. Fuck him. She steadied the gun again. “No,” she said firmly.

The destructive seduction was there in his green eyes— swirling like a whirlpool, trying to pull her down into that mesmerizing chase for the truth.

His words floated on the still, hot air in the car. “Mulder’s gone. Accept that.” She bit down on an exclamation, remembering the scream of the motorcycle as it dropped from under her. The last transmission from Mulder. ‘love you.’

“You can still save the world, Dana Scully.”

She stared at him in amazement. He was insane if he believed that was her paramount thought at this moment.

He smiled warmly. “You and I, Dana.” Nodding to Kit, he said, “He’s just the beginning. Mulder was useless to you anyway. I can help you have more children. Children who will save mankind.”

She shook her head and leaned against the seat, bringing her gun in line with his left eye. Sneering, she said, “Krycek, you forgot the wild laugh and the, ‘Together we shall rule the world!’”

She finally felt calm. He was just another coward with a gun.

He flicked the muzzle of his gun away from her and pointed it at Kit over the back of the seat. As cool as always, he said, “One bullet and you do need me. Desperately.”

Her breath coming fast again, she leaned forward to touch the tip of her gun to his cheek. “I will do it.”

Their faces were inches apart and he said the most shocking thing possible.

“I love you, Dana Scully. Don’t do it. Let’s not hurt each other.”

He actually said it like he meant it, she thought, disgust battling with her fury.

“What?” She allowed only the single word out, biting down on all the curses. She had to remain in control.

Nodding, he started to explain patiently, “I used to think I wanted Mulder but I can see it was you all along. A projection. I hated you because I couldn’t have you and so that made me reach for Mulder. But it was you—”

She had to cut off his meandering drivel, contempt dripping from her voice. “You don’t know what love is! Don’t soil the word!” His face became blotchy and purple with anger. “I made your son eat my cum as he died, bitch. Don’t think I won’t make you do the same.”

Her hatred roared up like a sudden storm, howling winds drowning out common sense. Before she could stop herself, she spat in his face. Clenching her jaw to stop its shaking, only the hiss of her harsh breathing echoed in the silence of the twisted car body.

He let the spittle drip down his cheek. He didn’t relax his grip on his gun to wipe it away.

She expected to see hate in his eyes, or hear more threats. Instead, his gaze seem to warm and soften. As much as this turn of his emotions terrified her for its dark implications, it convinced her of his feelings for her more than any profession of love.

Taking the greatest leap of her life, she dared to tuck her gun back into her waistband and turn away from him. Putting her attention to Kit’s car seat, she began fumbling with the straps.

Ignoring Krycek completely, she murmured to her son, “Mommy’s here, Captain. Mommy will get you out of here. Are you hot? I’m hot.”

Over all her chatter, she could hear Krycek cursing and grunting as he yanked at his pinned legs. Glancing up, she assessed the crumpled door above her. The window was still open.

“If you leave, you’ll never know what happened to you,” Krycek gasped, struggling to free himself.

Standing on shaking legs, she managed to lift Kit and balance him on a hip as she stuck her head out of the open window. How could she pull them out?

“Think about it, Dana. I can tell you everything. Every moment of your imprisonment—” He was returning to the moment he saw weakness in her.

She had to shut him up. His oily voice was drowning her. “Fuck off, Krycek,” she said calmly, as she propped an elbow on the outside of the door, and began to heave them out. Calling to her, he jeered, “You call yourself an investigator? What about Mulder’s precious truth?” He continued to taunt her. “You don’t really love him. You’re too frightened to serve his truth.”

She was free. Sitting on the window jam, her legs still dangling into the interior, she looked down at his furious face. His arm was limp; his gun nestled in his lap, forgotten.

Briefly, she closed her eyes. The white room appeared again. The men touching her. The smell of smoke, mixed with Krycek’s cloying cologne. As though she had risen from the icy slab, crossed the cold room and found a switch to flick, the room went dark.

Eyes still shut, she said, “Some truths aren’t worth their price, Krycek. I care only about my future. Not the events in my past.”

Quickly, before he could change his mind, she swung her legs out of the car and jumped to the ground. Kit gave a yelp of surprise, but he seemed as happy as she was to be out of the confining wreckage.

Her legs wobbled and then she began to stride away, swinging her son up to her shoulder. His face settled into her neck and she welcomed his sweaty cheek’s warmth.

Like the breaking of a bough, the click of a gun’s hammer cracked the still heat of the air.

He didn’t raise his voice. The gun was speaking for him. “Stop, Dana.”

She stopped, but didn’t turn. From the direction of his voice, she realized he must have freed himself from the mangled car.

“This is your love, Alex?” she tossed over her shoulder, refusing to look at him.

“Turn around and come back,” he ordered.

She started walking again. She felt no fear. Fear had left her days ago.

His shot nipped at her bicep, inches from Kit’s head.

Her free hand had been resting on the butt of her pistol, waiting. Without a backward turn, she yanked it free, held her arm straight back, and fired.

The explosion of the gas tank rode over her like a wave of heat and power, knocking a gasp out and causing her to stumble. It was a low rumble, but she heard a faint, high, long shriek like tearing metal. It was Krycek’s death scream. Hurrying away from the flames, Scully clutched the whimpering Kit to her chest. His small body was uncomfortably hot, but she didn’t care. For herself as much as him, she started chattering again.

“Let’s go find Daddy, shall we? Where could Daddy be?” Horrified, she remembered how her mother used to play that game with her as a small child, whirling the globe on its stand, pointing out her father’s ship’s position for her. This was no game.

She spotted a sickening narrow plume of smoke in the distance, oil black as the billowing clouds coming from the car behind her. Somehow, she found the energy to begin a hobbling run, Kit’s heavy weight jostling up and down in her leaden arms. The hot blacktop shimmered and buckled in the repressive furnace heat.

“Wait until Daddy sees you, Kit.” She shouldn’t be saying these things to him. She never wanted to promise her child anything she couldn’t deliver.

The smell of burning vinyl, metal, and engine fluids became so strong her eyes burned. At first she thought it was her blurred vision and the reflected heat that made the road seem to be moving towards her.

Then she realized it was Mulder’s black leather-clad body, slowly crawling towards her. He was leaving a dark slick of blood behind him and large, buzzing flies danced on the surface.

He was pulling himself forward on his elbows, his helmeted head bowed. His left leg was spewing blood from a long gash and the ankle was at an odd angle.

“Mulder!” she screamed to stop him and suddenly found the adrenaline to run. “Mulder!”

He must not have been able to hear her. He didn’t even lift his head as he crawled onward.

She stopped directly in front of him and dropped to her knees, grasping his shoulder to get his attention. “Mulder!”

As she fumbled at the helmet with one free hand, he finally looked up. He gasped, “Scully?”

“Yes. Yes, we’re here,” she assured him.

His pupils were unfocussed with pain. She fell down to sit and pulled him over to lay his head in her lap. “We’re here,” she repeated.

Kit had stopped whining and looked down at Mulder in wonder. His small, white, pudgy hand reached out, fingers stretched wide, seeming to want to grab Mulder’s nose.

Scully actually heard her voice correcting him. “No, honey. Daddy needs his rest.”

She had to laugh but it sounded hysterical to her ears. Mulder’s breathing was labored, sucked in through his open, gaping mouth. His eyelids had fallen shut.

“Mulder, Kit’s here. We got him.”

His eyes flew open and she realized Kit’s face must have been looming over him, ringed by the bright sun. His dirty, scraped hand reached up to touch Kit’s cheek lightly.

“Got him,” he repeated.

“Yes,” she assured him. “It’s over.”

He nodded. “Over.” His voice was weak and she was flooded with panic. She couldn’t lose him now.

“We need to get help. You have to hang on, Mulder.” She tried to evaluate his injuries without moving him or herself. His breathing concerned her and she worried about internal bleeding.

He was still stroking Kit’s face, and Kit was trying to grab his finger, a look of concentration furrowing the baby’s smooth brow.

Fumbling, she pulled her jacket open, pushed up her tee shirt and settled Kit into the crook of her elbow. He latched onto her nipple as though he’d been missing nine hours, not days. Overwhelmed with concern for Mulder, she didn’t allow herself to feel exhilaration.

“Where does it hurt, Mulder?”

He let out a short, rusty laugh, followed by a moan, and she started to join him, when a thumping filled the air.

An approaching car? She swiveled her head and tried to make her burnt eyes focus into the distance.

Mulder clutched at her hand and she turned her gaze upward. The sound was coming from the sky. It was the beat of chopper blades. As she stared up into the sun, like a huge, black wasp, the helicopter was silhouetted, growing larger and larger as it dropped towards them.

Instantly, she rolled out from under Mulder and transferred the baby to his arms. She crouched beside him and drew her gun, pointing it skyward in a hopeless gesture of defiance.

It touched down, the rotation of the blades pushing her back. Mulder had turned on his side, covering Kit with his body.

Large, dark forms where moving towards them. The light of the setting sun gave them halos of fire. Scully adjusted her aim. “Stop”!” she yelled.

A smaller form separated from the group. “Agent Scully, it’s me.” She recognized the rough, low tones of Frohike. One of the large forms was rushing forward, getting bigger and bigger as she felt herself becoming smaller and smaller. She was sinking into the earth.

Tiff’s strong voice said, “It’s over, honey. It’s over.”

She couldn’t stop her body, suddenly drained of strength, from dissolving. She found herself draping over Mulder, Kit’s grumbling noises at her ear. Clear and deep, Skinner was saying, “I need medical support here, now!” as though he were standing in her head.

All the voices blurred and swirled confusingly and her world became the silver snap on Mulder’s leather jacket. Hands lifted her and she felt like she were the baby, cradled in her mother’s arms. As though she was being soothed after a bad dream, she turned her face towards the soft chest and let herself sob until she slept.


Phoenix Regional Medical Center; Phoenix, Arizona 6:45 P.M.

Mulder felt a comfortable warmth, not the horrible heat of the burning sun and broiling blacktop highway. It was body heat and smooth skin. It was Scully with a slightly squirming Kit sandwiched between them.

He whispered to his son, “Be still. Mommy needs to sleep,” as he rubbed a hand over his eyes to get focussed. Kit blinked his heavy eyelids slowly. Then they drifted closed and he went still in that unsettling way children fall asleep.

Mulder lay a hand on Kit’s chest to check its rise and fall, and satisfied, moved his hand to settle it on Scully’s arm.

She was on her side, facing him, in her deep sleep state. Brushing her damp hair back from her flushed face, he watched her eye movements under their lids, but they didn’t flit in panic as they had since Kit disappeared.

They had been airlifted to a hospital in Phoenix under heavy guard. Even with all the assurances of their friends, Scully had refused to leave him and Kit. After his injuries had been attended to, she had finally been allowed to shower in his room, Kit lying beside him under his heavy arm. While feeding the baby, she had curled up in bed beside him, tucking Kit between them. She had fallen asleep instantly, apparently satisfied, but Mulder found himself feeling oddly alert.

A shadow moved by the door and the old man stepped forward. Mulder’s fingers tightened on Scully’s arm before he forced himself to relax. He reached for the call button, his eyes never leaving the cragged features of his visitor.

A hand went up, an unlit cigarette dangling from between the knuckles. “Wait.”

Mulder allowed a brief chuckle. “No,” he hissed, dropping his gaze to him wife and baby to make sure they were still sleeping.

The man was suddenly at his bedside and leaned close to whisper back. “Don’t you want to know?”

“What could I possibly want to know from you?” was his rasping answer.

“About your sister. Your nephew’s condition. Your wife’s past. Your past.” There was a flash of tainted teeth that Mulder supposed could have been construed as a winsome smile.

His voice was low but defiant. “No. I want you out of our lives.”

The response had the power the old man always mustered. “You know I can’t do that—”

Mulder cut him off. “Until I give you what you want?”

Finally, the lined features registered a genuine emotion. Surprise.

Mulder let his eyes drift closed. He willed himself to feel no fear and anger. To put all of his heart in his words. “Please. Please, Father, don’t hurt us any more.”

At first there was nothing, and then the smell of stale nicotine was overwhelming as he felt breathing at his ear. “I never meant to hurt you. I only wanted what’s best for my children. I can give you—”

Fear was returning and Mulder battled it. “No.” Again he pleaded. “I beg you. Leave us.”

The lips were at his ear again and he listened.

Scully was having a nightmare. The old man was there, a specter of death with his black robes and yellowed skin. She felt the stirring of terror and tried to struggle from the horrifying vision. The old man bent in close, his shriveled lips at Mulder’s ear.

She watched Mulder’s features, still as an ivory carving, as whispers, like the buzzing of hornets, whirled in the air.

She heard a single word, the word that had drawn her to this place. “No.”

The old man turned. Was that all they had needed to do all these years? Say, ‘No’ to him and he would have gone?

It couldn’t be this easy. It truly was a dream. The shadows, a rumbling wave, swallowed evil and then covered her like a blanket.

Kit stirred in his sleep, causing Scully to wake and driving Mulder out of his drowsing state.


“Moo, you too,” he said, just for a brief silly moment.

Obligingly, she pinched him in the ribs.


Her small warm body snuggled closer, her leg twining with his uninjured one, her arms pulling slumbering Kit closer, tucking the baby’s small, hot head under her chin. “Oh, please,” she hissed. “They’re pumping enough painkillers into you, you shouldn’t feel anything.”

He didn’t answer, pulling her head close, his fingers sinking into her dried, curly hair. His actions were her answer.

Sounding frightened, she asked, “Mulder, what happened?”

He just started in. “He came here. He was in the room.”

Predictably, she started to struggle. “Wha? Here? I thought it was a dream—”

He pulled her close again. “It’s okay. He’s gone.”

She protested, “For now!” Her arms reflexively tightened around Kit.



“No! I gave him what he wanted.”

Dread covered her words. “Mulder, what did you do?”

He repeated, “I gave him what he wanted. It took me thirty years but I finally just grew up.”

Her small, warm hand stroked his cheek. “What was it?”

He shrugged. “Just a word. The secret password.”

“How did you know the right word?” she asked.

“I added everything up. Ten years of cases have one common denominator. Replication. Procreation. Protection of the young.”

“That’s more than one word,” she said, her voice heavy with concern.

He shook his head. “But the theme is all the same. And the word came easy.”

His palm dropped to cover Kit’s head. “I was a father to my son. I did what I needed to do.”

Turning to meet her gaze, he expected to see a satisfied expression on her face. Instead, he was shocked to see tears gathering. After everything, she was going to cry now?

“What’s wrong?”

“Oh, Mulder,” she gulped out. “It’s over. There’s no going back, is there?”

He couldn’t pretend to not know what she was talking about and he couldn’t hide his frustration. “I thought this would make you happy,” he said as he cradled Kit’s jaw, tipping his cheek up so he could drop a kiss on it.

She draped herself over his bent head and he was imprisoned in a dark, warm circle of their heat and scent. Her lips traced his exposed nape and he could feel the dampness of her tears on his skin.

She whispered, “No matter how bad things got these past seven years, I’ve hung in there because I don’t believe in doing things half-ass. Now it seems as though the situation has closed the office for us. Is our work done?”

He rolled his head back onto his pillow, hers dropped down beside his and they were eye to eye. He said, “I like to think we’re intelligent beings. That we have a higher purpose on this planet, can make a difference. But when it comes down to it,” he stroked a finger along Kit’s downy cheek and the boy instantly opened his eyes, the mossy depths swallowing them both, “This is it. Replication. Procreation. Protection of our young. We just can’t screw it up. It’s a very important job.”

She blinked slowly, as though processing the information. “Yes,” she said carefully. “I can’t deny I’ve had the same feelings and thoughts.” She gave a humorless chuckle. “I just didn’t want to seem feminine and weak by saying them.”

He traced the line of her bare forearm with his fingertip, then reached over her body to pull the blanket up to cover her. “Can you let yourself be feminine and strong, or is that selfish of me?”

Her eyes darkened and she pulled his chin close, giving it a nip with sharp teeth. “You’ve always got to have the last word, eh?”

“Must be hereditary,” he grumbled, his gaze traveling to the dark doorway.

Her tone was instantly worried. “You didn’t take one of his offers, did you?”

He didn’t bother to put out a denial. “He offered, I refused.”

Lightly, she touched each of Kit’s limbs, as though she was making sure they were all accounted for, and said, “It can be hard.”

He glanced at her again, and shook his head. “No. I told him some truths aren’t worth their price. Today, and the future, are all I want.”

She looked as though he’d dropped her from a great height and all the wind was knocked out of her.

Frantic, he asked, “Scully?”

She reached over, clutching his head to pull him close again. Her words were rapid breaths. “Yes. Yes, you’re right. We have our truth.”

The End, thanks for reading!

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