Beyond The Truth: 03 Elegy for Origin

by Neoxphile

Feedback: neoxphile@aol.com


Website: www.mulderscreek.com/

Archive: Anyone may link my fics to their pages (an e-mail to let me know where would be appriciated), but please seek permission before uploading.

Series: Beyond the Truth story #3.

Orginally Posted: August 11th 2003 to March 2nd 2004

Spoilers: any episode of the nine seasons is fair game, probably will spoil parts of the first two BtT fics as well.

Timeline: This story takes place post-season nine, beginning three months after the events in High Stakes. (In other words, beginning the first March following "The Truth")

Rating: PG-13 to R (for language and/or violence)

Summary: Reyes, awaiting the birth of her baby, becomes obsessed with knowing where she came from.

Disclaimer: These characters all belong to 1013 who, though they probably don't realize it, have lent them to me.

 

March, 2003

It was a nice day, especially for March. Reyes stood in the middle of the bright, airy, and utterly empty kitchen, watching the parade from the window by the sink. She volunteered to get everyone drinks, but she'd really just wanted to get away from everyone for a little while. It was becoming harder to not resent the fact that no one was letting her do anything useful. I don't blame Scully for waiting so long to tell Doggett she was pregnant, she thought.

Eventually she turned from the window and opened a cupboard. Though the moving in had barely begun, she'd insisted that the first things into the house would be plates and glasses, since it was inevitable that someone would get hungry or thirsty. She was just pouring glasses of soda when she heard someone at the door.

She let Scully and the kids in. Though Mulder was part of the amateur moving crew, Scully had planned to arrive later, so the kids wouldn't be underfoot. Unfortunately she'd over estimated the guys' motivation. Reyes didn't mind though, she could an ally at the moment.

Emily and Will were all smiles, and she noticed that the little boy was holding a brightly wrapped package. He scampered over and pressed it into her hands. "For your new house!" he exclaimed. Then he turned and gave his mother puzzled look. "This house?"

"Yes, this house." Scully laughed, giving his head a fond pat. "I don't think he really understands the concept of moving yet."

"Give him time, he's not quite two, after all," Reyes told her. Then she asked William, "Should I open this now? Or should I wait for John?"

"Wait for John," he said, with a definitive nod of his head.

"Oh, ok. Guess what? There's a TV upstairs in the baby's room. Do you want to go watch TV?" she asked as she set the gift on the counter.

"Sure," Emily said, taking her brother's hand, and following Reyes. When they got to the stairs, Reyes bent to pick William up, but Emily stopped her. "Are you sure you should do that?" she asked her with a concerned look.

Reyes picked him up anyway. "Oh no, not you too. Emily, do me a favor. Let me worry about what I can pick up, ok?"

"Ok," the little girl said, looking sheepish.

"Thank you! Now, if only it was that easy with all the helpful men in my life…" She said with a shake of her head.

Scully appeared behind them on the stairs. "So they've being bossy, I take it?"

"You know how they are." Reyes sighed, as she put William down and showed the kids which room.

"I remember quite well, yes." Scully smiled.

"Scully, do you mind putting the baby-gate in the doorway? I was supposed to be getting people drinks when you arrived"

"No problem."




Doggett smiled to himself as he watched Mulder and Scully carry their sleeping children out of the house hours later. All the boxes and furniture had been moved in, so unpacking and setting things up was all that remained to be complete. Not that either were small tasks. As he watched the other family leave, he couldn't help but think that in a short time he'd be a father to kids those ages again. Not that he'd ever had an eight-year-old before.

Reyes came up behind him and touched his shoulder. "What are you thinking about?" she asked as he continued to watch from the doorway.

"Baby-sitting those two back before Christmas," Doggett told her with a rueful grin.

"It wasn't that bad, was it?" she asked him with a concerned look.

Doggett thought about it. Mulder and Scully had brought the kids by late, so they were both sleeping when they got there. William was carried in, and Emily was just awake enough to stumble in under her own power. Doggett took the baby from Mulder so Mulder could set up the playpen for Will, and lead Emily into Gibson's room. He figured that it would be a quiet night. With Will still sleeping, and Emily looking like it would take mere minutes to fall asleep, what could go wrong? Emily crawled into Gibson's bed and was already asleep by the time Doggett turned off the lights. He left the room happily, he might have to forgo the beers he'd planned on, but at least he'd still get to watch TV.

Within fifteen minutes of Mulder's departure, Doggett relearned a very important fact about children: asleep now does not mean a likelihood to stay sleeping. William woke up first, and immediately showed his disapproval at waking up in a strange place. "Daddy! Mommy! Where Daddy?!"

Doggett rushed back to the room, hoping to get him before he woke Emily up. His hope was disappointed, because Emily was already sitting up, bright-eyed. "William, lie down," Doggett said sternly. The toddler ignored him. Doggett shrugged, then went over and laid him back down in the playpen. Within 30 seconds he scrambled back to his feet. Doggett tried again, with the same results, except this time Emily giggled at him.

After twenty or so minutes of issuing commands for them to go to sleep, along with intermittent attempts to get William to lay down- Emily at least laid down though she continued to giggle at him- Doggett finally admitted defeat. He never did end up watching the races, since the Disney channel ruled the rest of the night. Though he was bleary-eyed when Mulder picked the kids up the next morning, you'd never know that the children had only slept 15 minutes.

Reyes poked him. He startled, shaking his head to clear it. "No, it wasn't so bad."




On Monday afternoon, only Reyes and Scully were still in the office. Since it was temporarily a testosterone-free zone, the two agents felt free to indulge in a little girl talk. Reyes put a hand on her swelling belly as she got up to get a file. "I can't believe how much weight I've gained already," she complained.

Scully shrugged. "Some women start gaining a lot at the beginning of their second trimester, others don't even show until they're almost to their third," she told her, delving into the facts she learned in med school.

"But I've gained almost twenty pounds and I'm only four and a half months," Reyes said, grimacing. "You only gained around 30 pounds all together, didn't you?"

"Yes. But you were very thin to begin with," Scully pointed out reasonably. "Some thin women gain more"

"Oh, and you were such a moose yourself before getting pregnant, right?" Reyes retorted, giving her petite friend a measuring look.

Scully shrugged. "Maybe your baby will be bigger than William was"

"I hope not! He didn't seem so little when you were in labor." Reyes shuddered. "I guess I'll have to talk to my doctor about my weight at my appointment this week. Is the doctor going to scold me? Mama said that they scolded her mother something fierce for gaining forty-five pounds." She fretted, thinking about her adopted mother's stories; none of which made her feel any better.

"Probably not. They stopped giving women a hard time about putting on too much weight a couple decades ago, since they concluded that worrying women caused them to gain too little and have small babies," Scully said. "You'll be fine, you know"

"I hope so," Reyes said, but, like all first time moms-to-be, she was still worrying. The fact that she didn't have any of her birth family's medical history at hand didn't help matters any.




Reyes looked at the screen in disbelief. This didn't keep the doctor from smiling at her, however. She'd taken the afternoon off, leaving Doggett to work on a case involving a woman who claimed to have a talking goat, so she could come to what was supposed to be a routine doctor's visit. Up until the ultrasound, everything had been normal except the doctor's concern about the baby's size. He didn't scold, however, so Scully had been right.

"Do you think it's possible that you're farther along than we initially thought?" Doctor Brooks had asked at the beginning of the appointment. She'd picked him because he seemed perfectly innocuous; a nondescript sort of middle-aged, dark-haired man you'd see anywhere. Now he was beginning to annoy her, or maybe worry her.

She shook her head in response to his question. "Absolutely not." She and Doggett hadn't planned to abstain before they were married, but with the wedding planning and trying to be there for Scully and Mulder during Emily's illness, it had just worked out that way.

Doctor Brooks nodded, and made a note on her chart. "Yes… in that case, I think it would be best to test your blood sugar and do an ultrasound. A big baby can be a sign of gestational diabetes and I don't think we should take any chances. "

"Whatever you think is best." Reyes hoped that she didn't sound as nervous as she felt. Come on, she chided herself, you'd faced much scarier things than this. Fortunately the doctor didn't notice her internal dialogue.

A few minutes later, she found herself lying on the table, her exposed belly covered in a chilly goo. She'd seen ultrasound pictures before, of course, but instead of helping her interpret what she saw, it made it harder to comprehend. It didn't look like anything she'd seen before.

The doctor, however, was unfazed by the image on the monitor. "Oh would you look at that?" Brooks exclaimed. "Twins! Would you like to know the genders? I'm sure if we wait a few moments, they'll move so we can see. Oh yes. There! Did you want to know?"

"No, that's all right," Reyes said quickly, starting to sit up.

"Maybe next later, then," he said, patting her hand. "I'll mark it on your chart that you asked not to be told today, so no one will accidentally let it slip until you call and ask. You can do that any time you like."

"Ok," she answered distractedly.

"You'll need to gain more weight now, you know," Doctor Brooks added as she put her sweater on. "Instead of one big baby, you have two that are currently a bit small. Not to worry, I'll have the nurse give you a booklet of weight-gaining advice for mothers-to-be expecting multiples."

She didn't really hear him because her head was spinning. Twins. Twins!




Meanwhile…

The goat nibbled on Doggett's scarf as he talked to its owner. Annoyed, Doggett gave it a disgusted look and tugged the scarf away from the inquisitive lips. Fortunately, the goat hadn't had a chance to damage to it. He tapped his foot as he and the goat waited alone in the living room. The room was ugly. He particularly disliked the afghan thrown over the couch, both of which had goat hair spouting from them.

The goat's owner, a large florid woman with big hair, bustled back into the room with store-bought cookies and mugs of milk. Doggett took a mug and a cookie, but gave the woman an exasperated look. "Ma'am, with all due respect, I don't understand why you don't give the goat away if its talking bothers you."

Doggett had spent 45 minutes trying to convince her that it would not talk in front of him, despite her desperate prompting, because goats don't talk. This didn't sink in, and he admitted defeat. At least to himself.

The woman gave his question a shocked look. "Oh no, I simply couldn't," she told him with a sharp shake of her head.

"Why not?" he asked patiently.

"Because Frans is my business partner," she explained with a vapid smile.

Doggett was afraid that his composure slipped then, because he was sure he wore a shocked look on his face. "Your business partner?"

"Oh yes," she said, nodding emphatically. "When my husband, Ted, was alive he, Frans and I were all partners, but since Ted passed on, it's just been Frans and I. 50-50"

"Do you mind me asking what sort of you and business you and Frans have?" Doggett asked without cracking a smile. That took a Herculean effort.

"Oh no, dear, I don't mind at all. There are certain people with more of a concern for the environment than brains." Doggett swallowed a snigger. As if she was one to talk about brains. "They're vain too. That's where Frans and I come in. We offer a guilt-free outlet for that vanity. Frans is a 100% environmentally safe lawn trimmer." She gave the goat's side a fond pat, and the goat bleated. Whether the goat was expressing happiness or complaint, Doggett couldn't tell.

He didn't know what to say to the woman about the business. Or anything else. Finally, he looked at them both and said, "Ma'am, I'm afraid that if the goat has not committed a crime, there's nothing the FBI can do for you. If perhaps he'd said something lewd, we could pursue sexual harassment charges, but this doesn't seem to be the case from your account. All I can suggest is that you sit down with him, and uh, discuss your differences." Doggett felt the whole dream had a surreal, dream-like quality. No, a nightmare one.

The woman nodded sadly. "Well, thank you for your time, Agent Doggett."

When he left, he kept being overwhelmed with an urge to pinch himself. Just to see if he was really awake.




When Reyes got home, she was relieved that Gibson had told her that he was going to a basketball game after school. Given her mixed emotions, being around a mind-reader was just about the last thing she wanted.

The house seemed to have new charm, however. Doggett had liked it more than she right from the start, and she suspected the big old farm house reminded him of his boyhood home. It reminded her little of where she'd grown up in Mexico, so she had no fond memories to color her view of it. It was only after the former owners repainted it a gleaming white that she began to think more favorably about it. That and it was only four blocks from Mulder and Scully's house. Now, knowing that there were to be twice as many babies than anticipated, she was glad of the five bedrooms.

Before long, she found herself wandering up to the room they'd assigned as nursery, planning. The TV she'd entertained Scully's children with days earlier had been removed, moved into Gibson's room, so the room stood completely empty.

Looking around, she decided that the room was large enough to accommodate two cribs and any other furniture the babies could ever require with a great deal of room left over. There was, she reasoned, no sense in rooming them apart before they'd left babyhood. It was supposed to comfort multiples to be near each other when they were small.

As she thought through the practicalities of preparing for twins, her shock wore off enough that she was able to begin to think about how she was going to tell Doggett.




Hanging up his scarf and coat, Doggett was already talking to Reyes before the front door was entirely closed. "You wouldn't believe the nutcase I talked today. I swear it's Mulder's fault that we have to investigate any crank with a story about a talking pet..." He drifted off when he realized that she was staring at him. " But we can talk about that later. How'd your doctor's appointment go?"

"You know how we said we might like to try for another baby someday?" she asked.

Something in his belly twisted, and he wondered if she was trying to find a gentle way to break the news that there was something wrong with this baby to him. "Yeah..." He tried to keep his voice steady.

She smiled weakly. "Well...it's going to be a lot sooner than we thought. The doctor did an ultra sound because he was concerned that the baby was too big, and surprise! We're going to have twins."

Doggett's jaw dropped, and his mind was flooded with relief. "Twins?! You're sure?"

"I'm sure."

"Wow! That's fantastic!"

"It kind of is, isn't it?" she asked tentatively.

"Boys or girls?" Doggett asked eagerly. "Or is going to be one of each?"

"I don't know. I didn't ask." Reyes admitted sheepishly. "I was so flustered by the idea of there being twins and we hadn't even discussed if we wanted to know the gender..." She glanced sadly at the clock. "I don't think anyone will be there now."

"Well, there's no harm in trying." Doggett smiled, reaching for the phone. He looked at the list of numbers by the phone and quickly dialed. "You don't mind, right?" She shook her head. To his surprise, someone answered. "Hi, this is John Doggett. My wife Monica came in today and found out that we're having twins, but she was too flustered to ask their genders..." Doggett paused for a moment and spoke to Reyes. "Do you have your card on you? They want to know your patient ID number." She fished it out of her purse and handed it over.

Doggett read off the number and waited. "That would be great." He listened. "You're sure? Thanks a lot. Bye." He was looking very happy when he hung up the phone.

"Well?"

"The nurse says people who say they don't want to know usually change their minds when they get home, so she wasn't surprised to hear from us."

Reyes gave him an expectant look, and when he didn't say anything threw a dish towel at him. "Out with it John, the suspense is killing me."

"And here I thought you didn't want to know," Doggett drawled, ducking out of her reach.

"John!"

"Ok, ok." He laughed. "In a few short months, will be the proud parents of two bouncing baby......girls."

"Two girls?" Reyes said sounding awed.

"Two girls," he replied with a foolish grin.

He hadn't been entirely truthful when he'd answered Mulder and Scully's question with "doesn't matter as long as it's healthy," since he really had had his heart set on having a daughter. He hadn't even told Reyes that because he knew she'd know that it was because girls wouldn't remind him as much of his lost son. The idea of twin girls thrilled him beyond reason, which he happily told his wife as he wrapped his arms around her.




That night...

Emily put down her cup and gave Scully a curious look. They were having a Mother-daughter dinner in honor of the good grade Emily got on her science project. They were having sandwiches in an upscale deli which Emily had discovered she liked better than the seldom allowed fast-food places.

Scully endure approximately thirty seconds worth of scrutiny before saying anything. "Did you want to tell me something?" She prompted.

The little blonde head shook. "I wanted to ask you something."

Scully resisted the urge to argue about semantics. Emily might not be Mulder's natural child, but she acted like it at times. "What did you want to ask me?"

"I wanted to ask you about babies, like Reyes' baby," the girl confessed shyly.

Scully looked around the busy place and resisted a sigh. It wasn't where she would have picked to continue the lecture series on the birds and the bees. "Ask anything you want."

"The baby is going to be Reyes and Doggett's baby, and it's growing in her tummy, right?"

"Inside an organ called a uterus, yes."

"And William grew in yours, right?"

"Right," Scully said, beginning to sense the direction the conversation was taking.

"But not all babies grow in their moms?" Emily asked, looking puzzled. " because I didn't."

The question reminded Scully that although her daughter was very bright, she was only eight years old. Furthermore, Doctor Calderon and his staff had been shockingly remiss in regards to giving the children even the most basic information about human reproduction. They probably were worried that it would lead to the types of questions Emily now had. " Do you remember when we talked about how babies are usually made?"

"With ovens and stern?"

"Cells called ovum and sperm, right. Like I told you then, the ovum come from the mommies and the sperm from the daddies. Usually when a baby is made it happens inside a mother's body, but it doesn't have to."

"Oh..."

"Have you ever heard of a 'test-tube baby'?"

Emily's eyes got wide. "I grew in a test tube?"

"No, not exactly." Scully grinned at her. "What happens is they put those cells from the mom and dad together in a little glass dish for a few minutes, and once a baby starts and is still too little to see without a microscope, they can put it in a woman's body to grow."

"The mom's body."

"Well, it can be the mom, or it could be another lady all together. Which is what happened with you. They call that woman who helps out a 'surrogate mother' because she's not the baby's real mom, but she let the baby grow inside of her like other mothers do."

"She must have been a nice lady."

"I bet she was. I don't know who she was though."

"Are there lots of kids like me?" Emily asked, suddenly looking anxious.

"Not a real lot, but there are quite a few. Your friends Brian and Georgie, for example."

"Oh good." Emily said, then impulsively gave Scully a hug. All she wanted was a reassurance that she was normal. At least that's all she wanted for the moment.

Scully hugged her back, wondering how long she and Mulder would be able to keep her real father's identity a secret. They promised him they'd wait until he was ready, but it probably would come up sooner than any of them would like.




"What's with all the shouting?" Gibson complained when he walked into the house.

Doggett and Reyes looked puzzled for a second because they hadn't been talking, then realized what the teenager meant. "Sorry, we're excited," Doggett apologized.

"I guess! Our team won by 6 points, by the way," he added in an offhand manner. "So, twins, huh? That's pretty cool."

"Are you sure you're going to like having two little girls chase you around?" Reyes teased.

"As long as they're not like Scully's daughter," Gibson said wryly, thinking about how the little girl half his age enjoyed bossing him around.

"Awww, how could Monica's little girls be anything but sweet?" Doggett asked, giving Reyes an innocent look.

"Right." The boy grinned.

"What do you say to going with me to pick up another crib?" Doggett asked him.

"Now?" Gibson asked, thinking that he hadn't eaten yet. Not to mention the other crib was still in a box in the hall closet.

"No time like the present. After dinner first, though," Doggett added. He didn't have to read the boy's mind to know that he was probably starving.

"You've got a deal," Gibson said, wishing hard that neither of the little girls was like Emily. Not that she was a bad kid, but... if not, there was always college to escape to.




 

 

A small voice at Mulder's elbow piped up. "Daddy, read me story." Mulder smiled down at his small son, and turned off the TV.

"What should we read?" Mulder asked him.

Instead of answering, William dashed out of room. He soon returned clutching a colorful book. "Click Clack Moo!"

Mulder approved of the choice. There was something deeply funny about the most unorwellian farmyard revolt. Mulder thought of himself as one of the cows, and Scully as the duck. He never decided who the farmer was, since the man wasn't as evil as the syndicate or the grays. Not that he would ever say that aloud, people already thought he was strange enough.

William clambered onto Mulder's lap, and Mulder let him open the book himself. He had been trying to teach the little boy the importance of being gentle with books, and so far had mixed results. This time, however, William got the book open without damaging the pages in any way. However, it wasn't the first page he opened to. Mulder didn't mind, they had a game to play before starting the story anyway.

Mulder's big finger pointed at a tree. "House?"

"No! Tree!"

He pointed to a cow. "Cat?"

"Cow!" William shrieked happily.

"Dirt?"

"No, Daddy, it's grass!" William corrected with a giggle.

Scully didn't like the game. She told Mulder that it might mislead the child. Mulder, who reminded her of something he rarely did- that he had a degree in psychology while she didn't- pointed out that small children love to be teachers. Correcting his father's "mistakes" was a good way to help the boy cement the new vocabulary in his mind. While she still didn't like the game, she had to admit that William loved it, and it did seem to help him remember what to call things. He also seemed to talk a lot more than most little boys his age.

Eventually they got tired of naming things, so William leaned back against Mulder's chest as he listened to his father read his current favorite story.




Reyes dropped three thick books on a desk when she got back from her lunch break. "Lunch is just too short for running errands," she commented to Mulder, who was already back to work after eating at his desk. He seemed engrossed in writing up the report for the case he and Scully had solved the day before, but he wasn't. It was sulkyness, not diligence, that had him in the office- Scully had left him a note that morning saying it was his turn to write up the report, and that she was going to do the preliminary interview with the police also working on their next case by herself. He paused his frequent mutterings of "I can't believe she ditched me" to acknowledge Reyes' presence. "Three books of baby names? You're never going to narrow it down to one choice before the baby is born," he said. He only half-regretted missing out on the name picking business before William's birth.

"Well, we do have to pick two names," she said lightly.

"Oh, a middle name. I'd forgotten that."

She shook her head. "Four names, actually, if we're talking first and middle."

Mulder looked at her, wondering if she meant that they needed to pick a set of boy's names and girl's names because they didn't want to know what they were having in advance, but there was something about her expression that made him think that wasn't what she meant. "You don't mean you're having twins, do you?" he asked, expecting her to laugh, though not meanly, at him.

Instead she nodded happily. "Twin girls."

"Wow, congratulations! Does Scully know yet?"

"No, not yet. I'll probably tell her later today."

Mulder grinned. "I'm touched that you told me first."

"Sure, we're friends too, right?"

"Right," he agreed, realizing that it was true. "So… you're not going to name them after female relatives? That's the easiest way, if the one to produce the most arguments." He thought it was nice that his and Scully's dads both were Williams so all the angst had been avoided.

"I don't think so. I'm sort of fond of that trend to give little girls last names a first names."

Mulder wrinkled his nose, wondering what was wrong with more traditional girls' names like Monica and Dana. "Just don't give either of them your maiden name as her first name. Reyes would be a strange name for a little girl. And if anyone would know how it feels to grow up with a strange name…"

They both chuckled, and failed to realize that Skinner was in the hall outside the office.




"Agent Reyes, could I see you in my office?" Skinner's voice asked through the phone.

"Of course, sir," Reyes said, hanging up. Scully gave her a "what did you do?" look, but Reyes could only shrug. She didn't know.

When she got to his office, Skinner had his glasses off and was massaging his temples. An AD with a headache was no joy to speak to, so it made her hesitant. "Sir?" Her voice sounded timid to her own ears, and she hated it.

Skinner put his glasses back on before talking to her. "Shut the door and have a seat," he said flatly.

"Have I done something wrong?"

"I'm just going to be blunt, agent. A couple of days ago I overheard you and agent Mulder talking. Am I correct to interpret what was said to mean that you're having twins?"

"Yes, sir. John and I only found out a few days ago." She was puzzled as to why her admission put such a dark look on his face.

"I was almost certain of that, so I've been thinking through my decision since then. I wish you had thought to inform me as soon as you knew." Skinner told her. She didn't think from his tone that she's merely hurt his feelings by not telling him immediately. "Given this development, your leave will begin as of Monday"

"Sir! We agreed that I wouldn't go on leave until my eighth month," Reyes protested.

"That was when we thought you were carrying just one baby." Skinner barked. "Twins change things significantly. It's a higher-risk pregnancy than we thought initially."

"Scully's pregnancy was high-risk and-"

"And she ended up in the hospital more than once," Skinner interrupted grumpily. "I will not allow another agent to her to put herself or her unborn offspring at risk."

"But-"

"There will be three agents in the office, so you shouldn't feel guilty about taking the time off to take care of yourself and your babies. Your place in this office will be waiting here for you once your maternity leave is over," Skinner said firmly.

As much as she didn't want to listen, she knew there was validity to his concerns; no matter how careful she thought she'd be, Scully's problems were proof of the unforeseen cropping up. "Yes sir," she said resignedly.

"Maybe you can take up a hobby. God knows you won't have time for one after the twins are born," he said with a faint smile.

"If there's nothing else…" she ventured. He dismissed her with a nod of his head.




"Do you mind me asking what that was about?" Scully asked when Reyes returned.

Reyes sighed. "My maternity leave starts Monday."

Scully looked like she wasn't surprised. "I'm sorry it's starting sooner than you wanted."

"It's ok. Everything he said made sense."

"Maybe the extra time off will turn out to be what you wanted after all, you'll see." Reyes wasn't convinced. It was a lot of hours to suddenly have to fill.




 

 

A week into Reyes' leave, which seemed to be going well despite her pouting a little about being bored, Doggett woke up to the sound of snuffling. He couldn't figure out where the sound was coming from, until he noticed that the door to their bedroom was open. He walked out in the hall and saw that Reyes was sitting on the top of the stairs, leaning against the railing and crying. She didn't seem hurt or sick, so he sat down next to her and threaded one arm around her waist.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wake you," she said, brushing tears off her cheeks.

"It's ok. What's wrong?"

"You'll just think I'm being silly," she muttered, looking away.

"No I won't," he declared stoutly.

"I was reading one of those baby books we bought, the section on twins. It said that the tendency to have twins often runs in families."

"And?" Doggett asked, puzzled about what would be so upsetting about that.

"I don't know anything about my family! Some where out there I have a mother, grandmother, maybe aunts or even sisters, and I don't know a damn thing about them. They could all be happy and healthy, and glad that I'm not with them. Or they could all be dead. And if they're dead, I wouldn't even know what from. What if they had some sort of disease and I pass it along to our girls?" She sniffed and Doggett rubbed her back.

"Have you ever tried to find your mom?" Doggett asked quietly.

"Once. I was eighteen, and I had wanted to for years, but I didn't want to hurt Mama and Papa so I never asked them if I could. So I waited until I was in college. But the person who was going to look into it for me wanted a lot more money than I could afford."

"We make more money now," Doggett pointed out.

"You think I should try to find her?" Reyes said, surprise winning out over sadness on her face.

"I think that it will make you worry about the babies less, you should do it."

Reyes didn't say anything, she just put her head on his shoulder.




Scully hung up the phone with a small frown. Unbeknownst to Reyes, who was taking a shower, Doggett had just called Scully to tell her about Reyes' mood, and ask for advice. Mulder looked up from making pancakes and gave her a concerned look.

"What's wrong besides the fact that we have to get the kids up in fifteen minutes?" Mornings went with a varying degree of smoothness and it wasn't a good week so far.

"That was Doggett. He said that Reyes was crying last night, upset that she doesn't have any clue about her family history."

"So? We can help her track down her mother, if that's all that's wrong," he declared as he flipped a pancake too hard and nearly lost it.

She sighed. There was something she'd meant to ask Mulder a hundred times, but she never found a way to frame the question... "Mulder..." she began hesitantly. "Have you ever wondered..."

"Wondered what, G-woman? I wonder a lot of things," he teased.

"Have you ever wondered if Reyes is your sister?"

A pancake flopped onto the floor. "You're not serious."

Scully felt her cheeks burn, but she ignored it. "Actually, I am serious."

"First of all, she's at least two years too young. Second, Samantha was kidnapped at eight years old, and Reyes was adopted as a baby. Do I need to continue?" Mulder asked.

"You of all people should believe in false memories," Scully said, thinking of the time he called her to rescue him when he woke up covered in blood in a strange motel. "And people lie about kids' ages all the time. Well, not all the time, but it happens."

Mulder tried not to look amused. "But even if both those things were true, what would make you think that she's Samantha? Besides I saw Samantha, remember? The starlight? Ring any bells?"

"You could have been hallucinating, it wouldn't have been the first time." Scully shrugged. "Reyes...She's like you."

"She's like me? What's that supposed to mean?"

"You're both bright-" Mulder snorted, but she couldn't tell which one of them he disagreed was, and was sure she didn't want to know so she ignored him. "You both are way too open-minded for your own good, you're both true believers in the paranormal...and you have similar coloring." She finished her list lamely. "When you were gone, she felt a little like being around you, if you want the truth."

"You're right," he replied sarcastically. "When you put it that way, I don't know why I didn't realize she's my long lost sister sooner. Don't go giving her this crazy idea too, all that will do is hurt her when it turns out not to be true."

"I wasn't planning to. I mean, I wasn't going to say anything unless it's true."

"What are you planning to do, sneak up on her and draw a blood sample without her noticing?"

"I was thinking of pilfering from her hair brush," Scully admitted.

"Whatever. But don't tell her," Mulder warned.

"I'm not an idiot," she snapped at him. His look suggested he doubted the validity of the statement.




Scully arrived at Reyes and Doggett's house that afternoon, bearing a gift. One with approximately 3,000 calories. "Dana, you shouldn't have," Reyes protested, but her mouth watered from the smell leaking from the pair of white boxes Scully handed her.

"Yes I should have. Your doctor said you need to gain weight, right? I can't think of a nicer way to do it than by stuffing yourself with chocolate chunk brownies drizzled with white chocolate," Scully explained. "There should be enough to allow Doggett and Gibson a taste too, if you're feeling generous."

"But you're a doctor. Shouldn't you be advocating extra helpings of things like peanut butter and liver?"

"I'm a doctor, but I'm not your doctor," Scully pointed out gleefully. "If you like the brownies, I'll give Doggett directions to the bakery where I got them. People say homemade is the better gift, but then, they've never been subjected to my cooking."

"Your cooking can't be that bad," Reyes kindly objected.

"Yes it can. Why do you think I was so fond of the pizza guy before William was born? Emily prefers Mulder's cooking…my cooking is that bad!" Scully exclaimed.

She and Reyes joked for a few more minutes before she asked Reyes to excuse her while she used the bathroom. Scully did not, however, need to use the facilities. There were two bathrooms upstairs, and the one she picked was Reyes and Doggett's. In addition to being cleaner than Gibson's, it also only had the couple's things in it.

Fortunately, Reyes' brush was right on the vanity. Scully pulled out a small ziplock bag, plucked a couple of hairs from the brush, and thrust the bag back into her pocket. Then, to make things sound good, she flushed the toilet and washed her hands before rejoining Reyes, who was eager to sample the brownies.




Scully got the results for the DNA test back the next day. She'd put a rush on it, implying that the hair belonged to a possible suspect. She nearly felt guilty when the courier wished her luck as he handed her the envelope. It had all gone very smoothly, she reflected as she laid the image of Mulder's DNA on her desk and opened the envelope containing Reyes.

No fuss, no muss, and… certainly no match, she noted sadly as she compared the two images. Not a single point on them matched. They contained less similarities than the two fabled snowflakes. There was no chance whatsoever that Reyes was Mulder's missing sister.

Unless! She thought suddenly, Doggett had borrowed the hairbrush, and she'd accidentally had one of his hairs typed… she indulged herself in that fantasy for almost fifteen seconds before admitting that there could be no mistaking a strand from Reyes' long dark locks for one of Doggett's much shorter and lighter ones.

Still, she felt reluctant to let the idea go. It had been such a good one, and it would have tied up two painful uncertainties in one happy little bow. Unfortunately she knew all too well that the neatest and best outcomes are also the rarest; this hand just hadn't drawn one.




The other girl smirked at her. She was wearing a dark purple sundress that looked nice against her golden-brown skin, while managing to highlight her dark hair and darker eyes. "Your last name isn't really Reyes," the girl insisted again.

Monica was upset, but the girl was older, eight years to her six, so it was hard to stand up for herself against a bigger opponent. "Is so. Just like my mama and papa's," she insisted valiantly, while kneading the hem her own fuchsia dress. She didn't really like the color, but her mother did, so she wore it without complaint.

"Yeah, but they're not your real mother and father," Maria insisted. It wasn't an earth-shattering revelation; Senor and Senora Reyes had been talking to their daughter about her adoption since she was a toddler.

"So what?" she asked, not understanding what the girl was getting at.

"So your real last name is the same one as your real mother's, or father's if you had one," Maria added, thinking of her mother's theory on why her cousin's birth-mother had given her up.

Monica shook her head. "No. Mama said that she and Papa named me, because I went to them right after I was born. I never had another last name or first name. Never," she insisted.

Maria shook her head. "You're still not really a Reyes, though. You can't be, you're white." Monica didn't stick around to hear more, she ran home.

Senora Reyes called her sister a few minutes later, and had an angry conversation in Spanish, which little Monica understood almost all of; it was about teaching one's child to behave like a normal person, not a mean-spirited brat. She was eating an dish of ice cream slowly, still stung by her cousin's words. Even her mama's assurances that she had as much a right to her last name as anyone didn't make her feel much better. She worried that her cousin was right.

Reyes sighed, putting the ancient memory aside. The little doubt had never entirely left her, even as an adult. It made her feel disloyal to her adopted parents, who had loved her her entire life, that she wanted to know who had created her. The only solution she could come up with was to call her parents and ask their blessing before doing anything. It would be too painful for all involved if she stuck around behind their backs, and they found out later.




Senora Reyes, Maria to friends and family, was pulling a pan of cookies out of the oven when the phone rang. She turned off the heat and reached for the receiver. Her husband would just have to wait for her to cook the rest of the cookies.

"Si?" she asked politely, expecting to be greeted in Spanish.

"Mama, it's Monica," Reyes said unnecessarily. She was her parents' only child, so anything after "mama" was just habit.

"Hola, bebe," her mother answered warmly. "What's wrong? Your voice doesn't sound right. Are you sick? Is there something wrong with las ninas?" she asked worriedly. She'd been thrilled to learn that she was going to have two grand-daughters, but she worried more about Reyes and the babies.

"No, no. I'm fine, the babies are doing well...I have something to talk to you about." She twisted the phone cord in her fingers. Doggett preferred the cordless phone, but she liked to have something to fidget with while talking. Sighing, she said, "It's something I'm afraid will upset you."

"Upset me? When's the last time you said something that I didn't forgive you for? Words might sting, even said by loved ones, but you...you're never cruel. Tell me what's on your mind," her mother commanded.

"I..." Reyes faltered and tried again. "Since I found out that I'm having twins, I've been reading everything I can get my hands on about them. Twins. And all the books say the same things. Twins run in families. If one is schizophrenic or autistic or develops breast cancer the other has a much higher risk of developing it too... Do you see what I'm getting at, Mama?"

"I'm sorry," her mother said gently. "I'm afraid I don't." She realized her daughter was distraught, but why she wasn't sure.

"My family history. I don't know if twins run in my family, or mental illness, or cancer-"

"Then find out," Senora Reyes interrupted.

"What?" Reyes blinked, startled.

"If you don't know your birth family's medical history, and it bothers you, you should try to find out," her mother explained patiently.

"That's exactly what John said," Reyes said, still dazed that her mother had the same idea as her husband.

"I knew your Juan was a smart man." Maria chuckled. "That's obvious by his choosing you to fall in love with."

"John, Mama."

"Que?"

"His name is John, not Juan."

"You Americans, so touch about names..." the older woman moaned. "What I call him is not as important as the fact that I respect him. I don't understand the big deal about names," she complained.

Reyes snorted. "Oh, 'nombres no soy importante?' You wouldn't mind me introducing you as Marie Reyes then?"

"That's different!" her mother sputtered. "Besides, you would never introduce me by first name, you have better manners than that!"

Reyes rolled her eyes. She wanted to get the conversation back on track before it derailed completely. "Mama, you really don't mind if I look for my birth family?"

"Of course not. I'm surprised you didn't decide to look for them earlier.

"What about Papa?' Reyes asked, deciding not to share the inquires she made in her youth.

"If I tell him not to mind, he won't," Maria said firmly. Reyes knew it was true. Laid back by nature, her father tended to honor his wife's every wish. What she didn't understand was her mother's equally complacent attitude.

"Why aren't you bothered by this?" she blurted out before thinking of a more tactful way of putting it.

"Because I know they won't take you away from me when you find them," Maria said simply.

Tears pricked at the corners of Reyes' eyes. "I love you, Mama. Thank you for understanding me." She wished she could express her gratitude better, but she didn't have the words for it. But she knew her mother understood.

They talked for another couple of minutes before Reyes said goodbye and hung up, suddenly feeling much better.




When Doggett walked into the office, Mulder was completely engrossed in something he was reading. Taking the excited gleam in the other man's eyes as a bad sign, he suppressed a groan. Mulder being eager about a case was never a good thing in Doggett's opinion. "Where's agent Scully?"

"I think she said something about grabbing tea," Mulder replied without even looking up. " Maybe something about coffee too. I wasn't really listening."

"Don't let her know that," Doggett quipped.

"Yeah…" Mulder wasn't paying attention to him either, obviously. Doggett shrugged and went to his desk to work on a case file for the last thing he'd worked on.

Scully appeared two minutes later with two coffees and a tea. Mulder finally looked up then. "Oh, you're back. We need to discuss this file," he said, giving it a healthy shake.

"Why?" Scully asked dryly. She looked surprised that he'd even noticed she was gone in the first place.

"There have been two deaths, just like the ones that occurred shortly after you and I got back from Antarctica-"

"How did you get back?" Doggett interrupted to ask.

As usual, Mulder ducked the question. "- with people seemingly having their insides ripped out from within. Do you know what this means?"

"That I'm gonna have nightmares tonight?" Doggett offered.

"No. It's evidence that those…evolved pathogens we encountered are still in existence somewhere, and the one that bothered Gibson probably got away somehow," Mulder replied. Doggett made a mental note to ask Gibson what the hell Mulder was talking about.

"Mulder," Scully protested. "We haven't heard of anything like this for five years. Don't you think that a…organism like that would have killed far many more people in the intervening time than this?"

"Maybe it was hibernating," Mulder insisted stubbornly. "Not too many things burst out of your chest, you know."

Doggett was going to open his mouth to ask how many times Mulder had seen the movies in the Alien series when the phone rang, and Skinner requested them all in his office.

Mulder was the last to leave, giving the folder a sad look as he followed the others out of the office.




"I don't like this," Skinner said to the man on the other end of the phone.

"You don't need to. You just need to follow orders," Kersh hissed, hanging up on him.

Skinner sighed as he hung up. A moment later his agents trooped into his office. "Sit," he commanded.

"Are we in trouble, sir?" Mulder asked, a glint of humor in his eyes. "I've been a good boy this week, so your invitation up here is a surprise."

Skinner looked faintly amused. "I've called you up here because you are being assigned to a new case."

"All three of us?" Doggett asked, looking askance at Mulder and Scully.

"Yes, all three of you," Skinner said, looking directly at Doggett. "I'm sorry to do this to you, John-"

"Why sir? They're not bad to work with." He grinned, ignoring the dirty looks Mulder and Scully shot him.

Sighing again for the second time in as many minutes, Skinner removed something from his drawer and slid it across his desk. "Here are your plane tickets."

Mulder picked the stack up and passed them out. "Montpelier? What's in Vermont besides Phish, Ben & Jerry's and the Vermont Teddy Bear factory?"

"There have been some cattle mutilations. Occurring at the rate of approximately one mutilation a week."

"Aren't there more people than cows there?"

Skinner ignored the question, since Mulder was just asking it to annoy him. "Kersh promised the locals that we'd send the three of you there to look into it."

"Why does Kersh care about mutilated cattle?" Scully asked.

"Because one of the farmers who lost stock is a former general and friend of his." Skinner grumbled. "As I was saying, Doggett, I'm sorry to have to include you on this case because the instructions were ' I promised to keep them there until this damn thing is solved, so tell them to pack a couple of suitcases.'"

"But…" Doggett sputtered. "It could take weeks to catch something or one going after cattle. Monica-"

"Will have Gibson and I to look after her," Skinner interrupted. "Kersh is adamant that you go with Mulder and Scully- who I'm sure are equally reluctant to leave their children. But frankly, if you can't deal with this sort of thing cropping up, you should have stayed a cop." He concluded sharply.

"I'm not refusing the assignment, if that's what you're implying," Doggett said stonily. "I'll have to make her understand." But he continued to mentally fret about leaving his pregnant wife for an indeterminate time.

Scully gave Skinner a sharp look. He was rather rude given how little Doggett had protested. "I guess I better call my mother…" She said, wishing that their nanny hadn't gone home right before Christmas. Anita had been great with the kids, but she was up to her elbows in vampires at her real job, so Scully knew there'd be no persuading her to come back to DC. Up until this assignment, finding another nanny didn't seem to be necessary with Maggie's adamant insistence that she wanted to helping out, but she hated to ask her mother to take them for an assignment with such long-term potential.

"I was hoping for a vacation anyway," Mulder deadpanned.

"Good. You'll be leaving on Monday," Skinner said flatly. Since it was Friday, that didn't give them much time to prepare.

After a few more minutes of instructions, the agents trooped back out, looking far less happy than when they'd come in. Skinner picked up the phone and dialed Kersh. "It's done," he said shortly.




"Good." Kersh said tersely before hanging up on him.

It wasn't really his idea to send the X-files agents to Vermont, and he didn't know any general. Skinner, however, was not lying to them, because it's the story that Kersh had feed him on orders from someone else.

It still goaded him that Folmer was calling the shots. Once his subordinate, but now the new syndicate's figure head, he effectively had say over any matter that might compromise what they were trying to do in preparation for the invasion in 2012. Things like keeping Mulder from meddling with the reemergence of the evolved pathogen that he crossed paths with several years earlier.

Mulder's leap was the correct one, but he didn't have it quite right. It hadn't burst from the chest of the man he'd been sent pictures of; it had merely eviscerated the man. Nor had the pathogen had not been hibernating prior; it'd been contained. At least it had been until a fatally stupid attendant natural selected himself out of existence after allowing the creature to get too close to him- close enough to kill. Since that night three days earlier, they'd been looking for it.

To their horror, they learned that it evolved more than they'd known, time allowing for changes great enough it to infect others with the substance that had caused it to incubate in someone. Until then the black oil itself had to be present to cause infection, now it seemed as though the creature was secreting black oil all on its own. In retrospect they ought to have know this was a possibility- in a single season a flu virus can mutate several times, rending the vaccines used against it in the fall ineffective by the end of the winter. Their mistake had been to think of it as a creature alien yet like them, not as a virus.

The last thing they needed then, while they tried to deal with this mess, was an overzealous crusader mucking things up jumping into things blindly. For the first day or two they held hope that the pathogen would be recaptured before Mulder got wind of it, but that was before they learned it had infected two people and that some well-meaning cop had responded to Mulder's call for leads involving MOs matching open cases.

So it became necessary to remove Mulder, along with Scully and Doggett by extension, until they were able to contain the problem. And it was beginning to look like that might take quite a while now that there were two people, at least, infected. The old syndication might have let Mulder stumble around playing with the pathogen, hoping that it might kill him and get him out of their hair for good. Folmer knew better. Mulder was plan B. If their scheme for dealing with the coming invasion failed, they were counting on Mulder being there to pull their bacon from the fire. While it was impossible to keep Mulder from every life-threatening situation he put himself in without arousing his suspicion, Folmer would do his best to steer him away from any dangerous ones involving the grays and the invasion. The new syndication was also smaller, so their focus was solely on the aliens for now on; not that Kersh was all that grateful for the reduced interference.

In the spirit of keeping Mulder alive until 2012, Folmer had ordered Kersh to send the agents north, many states away from the last sighting of the pathogen. Not that it was a wild goose chase, there really was something worth investigating going on in Montpelier, it just was not as high a priority as they were making it up to be for the agents.

Thinking about his part in the duplicity, Kersh groaned quietly. He couldn't stand to be under the syndicate's thumb again, no matter who was running the show or for what reason. Folmer liked to think that the new syndicate had a noble purpose, but Kersh knew that the smoking man had thought himself justified in his actions as well.




Meanwhile…

Reyes put down her book, "Finding your birth parents for morons," and looked out the window. The clouds were heavy in the mid-morning sky; it hinted at the likelihood of rain, or even snow. She found herself thinking about Mexico, her thoughts were always closer to that country after speaking to her parents. It wouldn't snow there.

During the call earlier in the week Maria Reyes had not told her how they'd come to adopt her, because it was a story her daughter already knew by heart. It had been Reyes' favorite bedtime story as a little girl. If she concentrated, even know she could hear her mother's comforting voice recounting the tale.

Maria had met and married Carlos when she was eighteen years old. That was a little young to marry even then, but not so young as it's considered to be these days. Like all young couples of the age, Maria and Carlos set out to provide their parents with grandchildren. They learned that this didn't come easy to all couples, as their third anniversary came and went with no change to the size of their family.

At first this was devastating to Maria, the hints her parents gave just making things worse, so she cried with each and every passing month. Eventually she began to get over it, at least accepting it anyway, and decided to put her energy towards helping others instead of mourning the baby that it was becoming increasingly obvious that she and Carlos would never have. With his encouragement, she began to volunteer at the local hospital.

Working through fate or coincidence, it was her volunteer position that lead her to the infant that would eventually become their only daughter. Maria cheerfully helped out doing whatever asked, but she would not help on the floor that held new mothers and their babies. It seemed to her that it would just make it harder to get on with her life, and the nurses respected her feelings after she explained her reason for avoiding the maternity ward. Which is why she initially said no to a request to give one of the babies a bottle for an over-taxed nurse.

But because she had a kind heart, she finally gave in when the nurse pleaded her case, "Maria please! The poor little thing needs to be held. I don't have the extra time to do that."

"Why doesn't her mother spend time with her?" Maria asked, not wanting to let on that she was already being swayed by the phrase 'poor little thing.'

"She doesn't have one," the nurse answered with a sad shrug. "Imagine being one day old and having no one in the world."

Maria sighed. "Bring me a bottle and the baby," she said, settling into a chair.

She'd expected to have been brought a baby that would look like her, at least in coloring, so she was shocked to be handed an infant with skin as white as snow. "Una Americana?" she asked as the nurse showed her how to hold the baby, not that she didn't already know how to from dealing with nieces and nephews.

"Probably. The mother signed away her rights to her and checked herself out of the hospital this morning. Never even asked to see the baby. Never said anything, actually, not even her name. Juana Doe."

Maria nodded, so engrossed in studying the baby as she took her bottle that she didn't notice when the nurse left. She thought the baby was beautiful. Her fair skin made a startling contrast to her hair, already as dark as Maria's own. When the nurse returned, she handed the baby back with reluctance.

"What's going to happen to her?"

The nurse shrugged again. "I suppose she'll be put up for adoption like the mother asked. If she'd been an orphan, the hospital would look for relatives in the US, but she's not. She'll go into the system like all other babies given up. It's a shame though, sweet baby, but who'd want to raise a white child?"

Maria had nodded, but she'd gone right home to tell Carlos about the beautiful motherless baby. What came next was surprisingly easy. Perhaps shocked by the interest in the little Americana blanca, or thrilled not to be saddled with the need to place the child, the adoption was unopposed by anyone official and went through swiftly.

The couple never met the mother, who signed papers through the agency she'd picked before leaving the hospital. Five-day-old Monica Reyes went home with her new parents and didn't leave their home until going to college.

Reyes still loved the story even as an adult, but now retelling it to herself this time, she became aware of the holes. She didn't know her birth mother's name, nor did her parents. The only ones who could tell her were her birth mother herself, who wouldn't because she didn't know Reyes was looking, and the agency who would probably refuse. It had been a closed adoption.




When they were about to leave for the day, Mulder quietly asked Scully if she'd meet him at the car. Glancing over at Doggett, who'd been acting out of sorts since the meeting, she declared that she needed to use the little agents' room and excused herself.

Doggett, looking grim, seemed about to bolt when Mulder spoke up. "John, are you ok?"

He startled. Mulder rarely used first names. Shrugging he said, "I can't believe he's sending me away from Monica, now of all times…She's over five months, for god's sake. And twins rarely go to term," he fretted. Mulder gave him a sympathetic look. "You know how it is, not being there-"

"Well, in retrospect." Mulder smiled wryly. "I wasn't exactly in a position to know what I was missing during."

"But Skinner knew! He saw what it did to Scully, not having you there… I can't believe he'd turn around and put Reyes though the same thing."

Mulder scowled. "Someone's pulling his strings, Doggett. You can count on that." With that their conversation ended uneasily.




"But why, Mom?" Emily asked as they drove to the movie.

When they got home Mulder had suggested that they go to a movie before dinner. The kids clamored to see Spirited Away, which had recently returned to local theaters. William, upon hearing the word "movie" repeated the demand, "Dragon, Daddy, dragon!" approximately 87 times while Emily offered a litany of friends who said it "was the coolest movie ever." The adults gave into the choice without protest.

On the way there Scully broke the news that she and Mulder were going to be leaving for an indefinite amount of time. Emily seemed more curious than upset, which was either a blessing or insulting.

"Because our jobs sometimes requires that we go to where things are," Mulder explained. "And this time we're going somewhere too far away to drive home at night."

"Oh…" Emily said sadly, then brightened slightly. "Can Anita come stay with us?"

"You're going to spend the time we're away with your grandma," Scully said firmly.

"Ok," she said in a tone that suggested that she'd expected that answer. "I know writing for Buffy must keep her real busy. Wonder if she'd write for Angel now that Buffy is gonna be over." Scully shot Mulder a look, and he shrugged innocently with an 'I have no idea' expression. "Will you bring us back a souvenir?" she wheedled.

Mulder laughed. "You drive a hard bargain. But yes, we will."




Meanwhile…

Doggett's sour mood must have been written on his face because when he got home the first words out of Reyes' mouth were "John, what's wrong?"

He tried to smile, but wasn't successful in the attempt. "Bad news at work."

"Oh?"

Deciding that she'd probably like up front rather than beating around the bush, "Skinner is sending all three of us to investigate a series of cattle mutilations in Vermont…we leave bright and early Monday morning." Doggett sighed heavily.

"Oh," she repeated in a different tone.

He captured on of her hands in his own. "I'm sorry."

"Why? We knew this could happen. It's part of the job."

"I knew it could, but I didn't think it would, not now before the babies are born," he said anxiously. "I don't want to leave you alone."

"I'll be ok. And I won't be alone, Gibson will be here."

"I know, but…"

"John, I'm a big girl, and I can take care of myself. You know that." She looked him in the eyes as she spoke. "Even when the sight of my feet is a distant memory, I'll still be better able to protect myself than most women and many men. On leave or not, I'm still a trained FBI agent who can handle most threats."

"Of course," he said quickly.

"And this is not like when Scully was pregnant with William."

"Gibson told you I was worrying?" Doggett sounded betrayed.

"No. He didn't have to. It's an obvious conclusion. But no one is after me or the babies. We'll be just fine."

"I know." Irrationally he continued the statement internally, and that's what I'm afraid of. He chalked it up a momentary worry that she didn't really need him.

"Not that I won't miss you, though." She put her arms around him.

"How much will you miss me?" he asked in a petulant way that was belied by the fact that his hands had gone to her waist and he was nuzzling her neck.

"Come upstairs and figure that out for yourself," she invited.




There wasn't much time to get ready for the trip, but Doggett and Reyes took the time the day before to have a farewell argument.

He'd remembered what he'd thought of the night they found out they were expecting, and decided that they definitely had to have a dog. Immediately. Before he left. He started in on Friday night, calling the local pounds to find out the hours, and it was all he talked about on Saturday – going to find a dog.

Gibson didn't say much either way, he just sat there like Buddha, seeing to be willing them to come to their senses but Reyes had a strong opinion about it. She didn't want one. So they spent an hour trading "We're getting a dog!" and "No we're not getting a dog!" before Reyes called a time out.

"We're being ridiculous. Maybe we'll reach an agreement if we explain our feelings."

Doggett resisted rolling his eyes at the word "feelings" because she had a point. "Ok. I think we need a dog because dogs are good at teaching kids responsibility. That will be good for the girls, and to a lesser extent good for Gibson too."

"I respect that, and I think you're right. It'd be good for them to have a dog at some point. But why get a dog this weekend?" she asked.

Doggett shrugged helplessly. "I'm going away on Monday, so you and Gibson will be alone. It makes me worry."

"I don't think you'll worry much less if we had a dog while you're gone. And there's the problem of caring for a full-grown dog while you're gone. While I'm sure that Gibson will help out with it, he's going to be in school most of the time you're gone. Dogs need to be walked during the day, and fed, and… I just can't see being dragged down the street by a dog."

He knew she was being practical, not manipulative. "Ok, you've got a point…"

"I'm not trying to say I don't think we shouldn't get a dog someday, just not now," she said placatingly. "But I'd rather wait until the babies are two or three and get a puppy they can grow up with, learning at a young age how to be gentle with something smaller than them."

"I wouldn't mind if we waited," Gibson added quietly.

"Okay, okay. We'll wait to get the dog. But Gibson, while I'm away look after your-" Doggett stopped himself. He'd almost said 'mother'. He had no idea why. "–self and Monica while I'm gone," he covered.

Gibson nodded, but his look didn't suggest that he'd been trying to read Doggett's mind. Or if he had, he was too polite to bring it up.

"Good," Doggett said, doing a passable job at smiling. He felt miserable inside, though. But Reyes was right. A dog probably wouldn't have made him feel much better.




Monday Morning

"Mommy don't leave! Mommy don't leave! Mommmmmmy!!" William howled in anguish as Maggie held him. Fat tears rolled down his cheers and he held out his arms imploringly. Nothing Maggie or Emily said to him made him any less hysterical. He fought hard to get away, but his grandmother held on tightly, worried that he would run out into traffic if he broke free. Mulder hugged him and Emily anyway, and told them to behave for Maggie over the little boy's screams.

Scully herself hung back, feeling like the worst mother in the world. Despite the experts being at odds over how much babies and toddlers could remember, she was absolutely certain that William could remember the day she gave him away. He was too young to understand what had happened then, but he was old enough now to grasp the implications of suitcases and Mommy and Daddy saying they'll be back soon. Soon could be never as far as a 23-month-old child was concerned given they couldn't tell time.

William thought she was abandoning him.

"No leave!"

She was trying desperately to hold back her own tears as she and Mulder left to meet Doggett for their plane.




Monday Afternoon…

After a flight and a long car ride to the local PD, which turned out not to actually be in Montpelier, but in a small town thirty-five miles away, they were exhausted. Unfortunately their day was far from over. The sheriff who met them was square jawed and grumpy looking, and didn't seem terribly thrilled to see them.

"You must be the Feds."

"I'm agent Mulder, and this is Agent Doggett and Agent Scully," Mulder said with as much cheer as he could muster at that moment.

"I suppose you'll want to take a look at the cow," he said with a sigh. "You won't be able to until the morning, though. The farmer is pretty upset about are asking him to freeze it so you folks could have a little looksee. He goes to bed pretty early, so I don't want to keep him up." He smirked.

Scully didn't appreciate his condescending tone. "I was under the impression that someone from this office requested us coming up here, so I'm not sure where the barely veiled hostility is coming from," she said bluntly. While she was usually the most diplomatic of the three she was tired, didn't want to be there, and annoyed to have gotten such a cold welcome when being there kept her from her children.

The sheriff frown. "I made the call, but only after being pressured into it. I'm sorry that I'm not glad you're here, but I'm just not."

"Thank you for your candor," Mulder said gravely. "If we can't get started today, do you think you could recommend a hotel?"

The sheriff shook his head. "There aren't any where you're going."

"Where we're going?" Doggett asked, puzzled.

"The mountain," the sheriff supplied. "The investigation is supposed to take place there. All the farms that have been bothered have been on them." The agents exchanged a look. How could you farm a mountain? They didn't asked.

"It's a little cold still to be camping," Mulder protested mildly instead. It was thirty-seven degrees out, and guaranteed to be colder during the night.

"You accommodations are taken care of." The sheriff assured them. Mulder didn't like the look of grim mirth in the man's eyes when he said it. "I'll show you to it now, if you like."




It seemed like they drove forever, but it had really only been 45 minutes to an hour. When they followed the sheriff's car up the dirt road, Scully's heart began to sink. The sheriff had said there were no hotels, so she'd imagined a motel, or perhaps a motor lodge, since the mountains were prone to attracting tourists. No indoor pool, but that was ok, they were there to work, not vacation. But very few motels or even motels were situated on dirt roads in the middle of the woods.

She nearly groaned when their "accommodations" came into view. It was a log cabin. Mulder must have noticed it at the same time, because the first thing out of his mouth was "If there are any killer glow bugs in there we're out of here."

"Killer glow bugs?" Doggett sniggered.

"I thought you read all the files," Scully said archly. "In fact I seem to recall you saying something to that effect more than once."

"Yeah, well…" A dull red crept up his cheeks.

Mulder decided to take pity on him. For once. "A few months after Scully joined me on the X-files, we had a case out in the middle of the woods involving missing loggers. The culprit turned out to be an ancient bioluminescent insect species that had been released from hibernation when the tree they were in was cut down. These bugs just happened to enjoy spinning webs around people and sucking all the moisture out of them, leaving them a leathery mummy-like husk."

"Oh, is that all?" Doggett asked, looking a little green.

They parked and climbed out of their vehicle, going to join the sheriff, who was already waiting for them. "Come on in, folks."

The inside of the cabin could have been worse, but it also could have been much nicer, too. There was a large room with a fireplace that served as both living and dining room, a small kitchen stocked with dry and canned foods, and two small bedrooms which were the main source of their consternation. "I always wanted bunk-beds as a kid," Mulder commented wryly as he looked in one room, then the other. "I call top bunk!"

Scully rolled her eyes and gave the rooms dismayed looks. Doggett, on the other hand sighed deeply and grumbled, "At least we have indoor plumbing." Since he'd been the one to investigate the bathroom.

Mulder was in the middle of a quip about the joys of out houses when the sound of gravel crunching in the driveway alerted them that another vehicle had arrived.

"Oh, good," the sheriff said, "Looks like the last member of our party is finally here."




Meanwhile…

The printer made a whining noise that hurt Reyes' ears as it printed out a single sheet of paper. She'd never noticed how annoying the sound was before, but she wondered if she was just feeling irritable because she was pessimistic about her odds. The paper finally spit out of the printer, and she picked it up.

While Maria and Carlos didn't know the name of her birth mother, they did know the name of the adoption agency the arrangements had been made through – Los Ninos Angelico, which was Catholic like the name hinted at. Having gone to a catholic elementary school, Reyes knew of tight-lipped nuns could be about private matters, so she wasn't very hopeful about getting answers.

She dialed the number anyway. When someone answered, she said, "Hi, I was placed with a family through this agency, is there any way I can get some information about my adoption?"

The person answering spoke English, which made Reyes wonder if they only did because she had spoken it first. She didn't really care either way. The woman asked for her name, then put her on hold. Predictably, she came back on the line saying, "I'm sorry, the records of your adoption are sealed."

"But I'm over eighteen, doesn't that make a difference?" Reyes asked gamely.

"I'm sorry- "

"Look, Sister… I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name."

"Corazon."

Reyes stifled the urge to laugh- Sister Heart, how original. How inappropriate for someone who seemed so cold. "Sister Corazon, I'm expecting myself. Twin girls. I just want to find out my birth family's medical history-"

"We can't give that sort of information," the nun told her. "Over the phone."

Reyes was about to ask her if being there in person made a difference, but the dial-tone sounded in her ear. She decided not to call back.




The three agents uneasy looks; they hadn't known that they'd been waiting on anyone. The fact that the now all-too-familiar smirk was back on the sheriff's face did nothing to reassure them.

Two minutes later the cabin's door banged open and a man lugging a dufflebag bustled inside. "Hi!" I'm Barry Lutz," he introduced himself breathlessly, struggling with his bag.

Scully stared at him until she realized that she was, then looked away, embarrassed by her lack of manners. Barry didn't seem to notice her scrutiny, so she dared another short look at him. The most striking them about the man was that he was tiny. Even Scully was a few inches taller, so at most he was five foot even. He was saved from appearing twelve years old by the presence of a bad fu manchu that was much darker than his blond hair. "Glad you could join us," the sheriff told the little man.

"I'm glad to be here, Sheriff Davis," Barry replied happily. "I'm sure the good sheriff told you what I do." He addressed the agents.

"Actually no," Doggett replied.

"Oh." Barry looked slightly disappointed. "I'm a cyptozoologist."

Scully and Doggett exchanged unhappy looks but Mulder seemed pleased. The sheriff took that moment to announce that he was leaving. Barry waved good-bye, but the others barely heard him.

"So, who am I bunking with?" Barry asked.

"Me," Doggett said. "But I'd prefer the bottom bunk if you don't mind."

"No, that's fine. I like the top bunk. It's one of the few times I'm up higher than other people," he said with a good-natured chuckle. Then he turned and gave Mulder and Scully an appraising look. "So I guess you two will be in the other room…are you married?" he asked, giving Scully an admiring look.

Mulder was momentarily flustered, and tried to think of an explanation, but Scully spoke right up. "Yes, yes we are. And we have two kids. Would you like to see their pictures?" she asked sweetly. Mulder blinked, but he didn't realize she was sick of all admiration from men whose titles ended in ologist.

"Maybe later," Barry said. "I think now would be a good time to get something to eat, if you all don't mind."

"Sounds good." Mulder agreed. "Why don't I help you with that?"

Scully demurred. "I'll join you in just a minute. First I want to call my mom and let her know we got here ok."

Barry looked dismayed. "But you can't."

"Why not?" Doggett asked. He'd been thinking of calling home before dinner too.

"There's no cell phone tower," Barry explained. "And no land-line either. I thought that the sheriff would have told you that before sending you up here."

"He didn't explain much," Mulder said unhappily. "How do we keep in touch with our families then?"

"Mail?" Barry shrugged. "The mailman trucks up here every day. Or when we're not busy you could drive into town and use a pay phone, I guess." Neither option seemed terribly appealing.

"Doggett, you and I are driving into town first thing tomorrow morning," Scully said in a tone that made neither Mulder or Barry protest the time they'd lose because of it. Doggett nodded, but he wished that he could call Reyes sooner.




"So what do you think of this Barry person?" Scully asked Doggett the next morning while they drove back to town.

"I think he snores," Doggett said sourly. He hadn't gotten a great night's sleep.

"I'm asking you a serious question," Scully insisted.

"And I think he seriously snores." Doggett yawned. "I don't know yet. He seems friendly enough, but how irritating he is is going to depend on how zealous he is about his 'calling'."

"I don't even know what he thinks is mutilating cattle," Scully complained. "I thought that was just something aliens 'did'."

"I'm sure we'll find out sometime today," Doggett replied.

Scully called dibs on the phone. She explained that they'd be in and out of contact due of the lack of phones where they were, and Maggie assured her that the kids were both fine. Scully had trouble asking about William, but Maggie told her that he'd calmed down not long after they left. Then both kids got on the line, so she was able to hear for herself that they were ok. After telling everyone she loved them, she hung up and handed the phone over to Doggett. "Take as long as you want, John. I'm going to go across to that little market and see if I can get us something decent to eat. Pancakes from a mix are ok, but they'll become boring quick."

"Ok, but get some meat," Doggett called after her, already dialing his number. Scully wrinkled her nose.

To Doggett's relief, Reyes picked up immediately. "Hi, Honey. I'm sorry I didn't call last night, but we have a problem. There are no phones up where we're staying. In a friggin' cabin if you can't believe that."

"I can believe it," Reyes told him, thinking about the place where William was born. "I'm glad you got there ok."

"Yeah, all four of us got there safe and sound."

"Four?"

"Yeah… We've got a cyptozoologist up there with us for some fool reason. He's my roommate, lucky me."

"He? Guess I shouldn't be jealous, then." Reyes laughed.

"Uh, uh, no way. There's no one I'd rather share a room with than you," Doggett told her sweetly.

"None of that!" Reyes admonished. "You'll make me really miss you."

Scully returned with the groceries, including meat, a few minutes later, and they began the long drive back to the cabin.




Later that day…

"Who wants spaghetti and garlic bread for lunch?" Maggie Scully asked her grandchildren.

"Me!" they both chorused.

"Ok," she said with a fond smile. "Emily, why don't you take your brother out into the yard to play while I cook?"

"Sure, grandma," Emily told her with a smile. She and William got their coats and boots on, and went out to play in the late season snow. Cold snaps were more common up north, but occasionally the weather down that way cooperated to provide a child's winter dream once more in April. Last night had been one of those times, and they'd gotten an unheard of eight inches of snow.

They tromped happily to the middle of the yard, occasionally throwing handfuls of snow at each other and giggling. Emily really did mean to look after her brother, but almost two-year-olds are unpredictable. Especially ones like William.

Her back was turned to him for just a few seconds as she followed a weather-confused squirrel with her eyes. It seemed rather surprised to be out in the snow, when just two days before the ground was bare. "Look, Will, a squirrel!" she called to him.

"Icicle." She heard him say softly. She whipped around, sure that he couldn't have gotten back to the house that quickly. The biggest icicles she'd ever seen were hanging from the roof.

One of largest of icicles was already on its way to William when she called for him to get out of the way. Part of her mind insisted that icicles couldn't hurt anyone, but this one in particular reminded her of a sword.

There was a look of joy on his little face as it fell, pleased that he was able to make the object come to him, from where it was hanging all the way up on the roof. He tilted his head back to get a better view of it coming down. Then it hit him, knocking him off his feet.

Emily was already halfway to him when it skewered him. His eyes fluttered when she said his name, which is the only way she knew for sure he wasn't dead. "Hurts Em!" he cried in anguish as she crouched down next to him.

There was already so much blood…the snow beneath him was already covered in it. She felt faint as she looked at the icicle that was stabbed firmly through his belly. It was bigger around than Will's forearm. "Grandma!" she screamed, forgetting that her grandmother was at the opposite end of the house. "Grandma!" When she didn't hear Maggie coming she screamed "Help!" instead, hoping that to attract a neighbor's attention. She stopped yelling when William stopped crying.

"Come on Will, wake up," she pleaded with him, he was so pale and still. When that didn't get any results, she tried slapping his cheeks gently, like they did on the TV shows, that didn't help either. The snow was growing redder beneath her knees, and she became convinced that he was going to die before anyone helped him.




Unbeknownst to Emily, Maggie had heard her when she'd switched to screaming "Help." She abandoned the food, and rushed out the door. Her heart caught in her throat when she saw the blood pooling under her baby grandson, and her granddaughter kneeling over him, asking him to be ok. It was at that moment she witnessed a miracle.

Emily grabbed William's wrist, wondering how you took someone's pulse. Something jumped under her fingers, so she began to feel a little less scared. You have to get better, she willed him, gritting her teeth and closing her eyes. It felt warmer to her suddenly.

Maggie was at that moment three feet away from them. In one instant she could clearly see where the icicle pierced William's jacket, and was imbedded in ragged flesh in his poor little belly. When she blinked the icicle was falling away, and the color was returning to his face.

"Grandma, he's hurt," Emily howled, not noticing at first that William was struggling to sit while Maggie tore off his coat, which was covered in blood. She lifted his torn shirt to get a better look at his belly.

There was a scratch. It was fairly deep and caked with blood, but there was no ragged, torn skin, and nothing that would account for the blood their boots squished in. "Oh my God…" Maggie breathed. It was impossible.

She carried her squirming grandson while leading her sniffling granddaughter into the house, wondering if they could salvage their lunch; wondering how she was going to explain what happened to Dana and Fox.




The dead cow was so cold that frosty steam rose off of it as they all peered down at them. Scully's expression was one of detachment, and Barry's was one of interest, but Mulder and Doggett looked a combination of disgusted and horrified.

"I uh…" Mulder began in a slightly strangled voice. "I don't think this is the work of aliens." He'd been expecting a cow with out eyes, perhaps slightly flayed. The dead cow they were looking at wasn't like that. One entire side of it had been torn apart, as if it had angered the Hulk.

Scully and Doggett were about to reply to Mulder's assessment, Scully to say it was always unlikely that aliens were involved in their cases, and Doggett to protest that aliens didn't exist, but Barry spoke up first. "Of course not. The thing that did this is an ordinary earth creature."

Doggett shot the little man a surprised look, but Scully figured his idea of ordinary was probably different than theirs, given he was a cyptozoologist. "Which ordinary earth creature?" she asked impatiently, as she looked at the shards of what had once been ribs.

"I has many names-" Barry warmed up, managing to sound nearly as pompous as Mulder did in lecture mode, but squeakier.

"Names like what?" Doggett cut him off. He didn't feel up to a lecture, not while standing in front of a slowly defrosting bovine.

Barry's face filled with reluctance, and Mulder shot him a sympathetic look. He knew what it was like to know that most people are unlikely to believe your theory. He just had more practice at accepting it – he hadn't asked Barry his age, but he pegged him at no older than 27.

Taking heart from Mulder's sympathy, he stopped looking so sheepish. "Like Bigfoot."

Doggett covered his face with his hands, and Scully just sighed deeply.

Mulder, on the other hand, looked excited. "Really? I haven't heard of them being carnivores. "

"They're not," Barry explained. "They're omnivores like you or I."

"Actually," Scully corrected him. "I think Mulder might be a carnivore."

Mulder smirked at her. "If you don't like the menu choices on my nights to cook, you could offer suggestions."

"Like you'd listen to them," she muttered.

"Maybe if it was pasta based and I thought the kids would ea– "

"Could we get back to the cow please?" Barry asked, looking annoyed for the first time since they met him.

"Please," Doggett added. "Not that it isn't fun to listen to you bicker."

"Are we going to be able to see this Bigfoot of yours?" Scully asked snidely.

"Possibly," Barry replied, either missing her unpleasant tone or ignoring it. "But not for a couple of days. The cows are always found on Saturday morning."

"Why Saturday? "Doggett wondered.

"Oh, that's easy," Mulder told him. "There's never anything good on TV Friday nights." Then he winced, because if looks could kill he would have keeled over on the bisected cow.




Two days later…

There was a knock on the door, which startled Reyes into dropping the baby name book she was reading; she was beginning to think Mulder had cursed her, and they'd never find names she and Doggett agreed on. It was 11:30 in the morning, so she wasn't expecting anyone, since most everyone she knew was at work, or in Gibson's case school, not that he'd knock unless he forgot his key.

She made her way to the door, and remembered Doggett's request that she be "very careful" while he was gone, so she looked through the peephole for a change. What she saw made her smile.

"Hi!" she said, bending slightly to address the smaller of her visitors. "I didn't think I'd see you until your mom and dad got back"

"Daddy and Mommy at work," William said solemnly, as Reyes took his hand. "Hadda go away."

"I know, Sweetie. John's with them."

"Gibson at school?" he asked, looking slightly disappointed that he didn't see him. He loved playing with the teenager, since he was the only person he knew that could also talk without opening his mouth. "Em at school too." Reyes swore he would have sighed if he knew how.

"I hope we're not intruding," Maggie said, looking a little hesitant.

"No not at all," Reyes replied, gesturing for the older woman to take a seat. "I'm just a bit surprised to see you," she confessed. "Nothing's wrong, is there?"

She saw something flicker in Maggie's eyes as she quickly glanced at William, but it was gone in a flash. "No no. Everything's fine as far as I know. The day they left, Fox asked if I would stop by and see how you're doing now and again," she explained.

Reyes was a bit surprised by "Fox" for a second, but then she remembered Scully telling her that her mother got away with calling him by first name. The reason for the visit, however, was more startling. "Mulder did? I guess it wouldn't surprise me if your daughter had, but…"

Maggie smiled gently. "Between you and me, I think he still feels guilty that he wasn't there for a lot of Dana's pregnancy."

"Well, he couldn't be, what with the abduction and premature burial," Reyes protested.

"Oh, I know. But guilt can't be expected to listen to logic. To try to soothe his a little, I did promise to check in on you. Just this one time, though, unless you need something."

"I appreciate that," Reyes told her. "But I think Gibson and I will be fine."

"I expect so. But I'm serious, dear. Don't hesitate to call if you need someone."

"Thanks," Reyes said, meaning it. It was nice to know there was someone willing to help out if an emergency arose.

William, not content to be ignored, stood in front of Reyes and lifted his shirt. "My got a bad boo-boo."

"Oh, that does look pretty sore," Reyes agreed, looking at the scratch, which looked partially healed. From the slightly pink cast to his grandmother's cheeks, she thought she knew why she'd hesitated earlier when asked if everything was ok. It didn't look that bad, though and kids always manage to injure themselves.

William shook his head. "No, I brave. Doesn't hurt. Much," he assured her with a wide grin.

"Just like your Daddy and Mommy," Reyes told him, ruffling his hair and making him giggle.

When Maggie and William left a while later, she couldn't help but think she was glad her babies were going to be girls. They were usually slightly less accident prone. But only just. With two of them, any edge was enough to be thankful for.




As they stood shivering in the woods, Scully had the urge to smack someone. She wasn't really particular about who, either Mulder or Barry would do nicely. And if Doggett kept grumbling about the stupidity of the assignment, she might add him to the list as well.

It was ten thirty on a Friday night, and they were all crouched behind trees that lined the pasture of a man's farm. It was not how she wanted to spend her night. If she'd had her druthers she'd be at home right now, watching a movie, any movie with Mulder. They would have had a nice dinner and read to the kids before tucking them in for the night. Instead she was worried that the tree bark her cheek was up against would scratch her, and she was beginning to think they might freeze to death before they saw anything of interest.

Barry, however, was fully confident that they would soon see Bigfoot. She also suspected that the man was laboring under the illusion that he was fated to make a big find, and make himself a household name. Mulder could have told him how difficult it is to get people to accept even the most solid of evidence, but he didn't seem inclined to crush the kid's dream. Maybe not kid, she reconsidered, since she wasn't much more than a decade older than him, but he was still young. Young enough to make her hold her tongue too.

Which was hard, because Barry had spent the majority of the day trying to convince her and Doggett that it was remotely possible that such a creature existed. She let Doggett argue with him, because she felt she'd wasted too much breath over her career trying to reason with people with firm, if decidedly odd, beliefs. Nothing was ever gained by it.

"Wouldn't we have found evidence by now if there were such a creature?" Doggett had demanded at one point.

"Not necessarily, Agent Doggett. There have been many large mammals discovered within the past one hundred and fifty years. Some even within the past decade," Barry replied. "There are considerably larger animals that are able to more or less keep themselves hidden from people, such as moose."

"But we still would have found dead ones, or some other sort of evidence," Doggett stubbornly insisted.

Barry nodded, but he wasn't really agreeing. "You would think so, but maybe that isn't necessarily the case. If there aren't very many of them, there is equally little evidence of their existence. And what little evidence there ever is, it's probably overlooked, since no one is looking for it. There must be dead and decomposing animals in the woods everywhere, but few people ever make a fuss because there isn't really anything unusual about that. Animals live and die, just like us, and to the majority of people, bones are bones.

"On the other hand, we have to take into account that while man is the top of the line as far as intelligence, there are some other creatures in the world who are no slouches in the brain department. Look at dolphins and chimps. One theory is that Bigfoot is also a large primate, and generally speaking, all our primate cousins are pretty smart. Even if they're not as smart as us, they might know enough to avoid detection by hiding their dead and so on, much like our primitive ancestors did," Barry concluded, looking pleased with himself.

"Are you trying to say you think that Bigfoot is the missing link? One of those proto-humans they're always going on about on the discovery channel?" Doggett asked peevishly. He was unhappy that he couldn't deflate Barry's theory.

"I don't think so. While it's a fascinating theory, generally speaking the creatures humans evolved from all died off. It'd be extraordinary if there were any leftovers."

Eventually the long night ended, and the four of them stumbled back to the cabin, without ever having seen anything. Scully was slightly disappointed, because she'd been hoping they'd apprehend the guilty party. That's how she thought of it, the guilty party, because despite Barry's entertaining ideas, she was still sure it was a human killing the cow. Her private theory was that the person who killed the cows was using a very weapon, perhaps an ax or a pick. That would account for the enormous damage done to the dead animals. As soon as her head hit the pillow, her theory was forgotten for the time being, but she was planning to share it soon.




Gibson was just waking up, still wearing his pjs, when Reyes handed him a glass of orange juice. "Thanks," he said, taking a deep gulp.

Reyes nodded, and gave him a searching look. She was better than Doggett at blocking her thoughts, so he couldn't really figure out what for. "Did you have any big plans for vacation?" she finally asked.

He shrugged, it was the first day of vacation so he hadn't given it a lot of thought yet. "I don't know, maybe read a little and rot my brain a lot by watching too much TV and too many movies."

"You wouldn't happen to know where your passport is, would you?" Reyes asked lightly.

"Sure, it's in my desk." He really wished she hadn't gotten so good at veiling her thoughts. They only slipped through now when she was excited about something, like finding out there was going to be twins, or worrying about Doggett.

"What would you say to taking a little trip to Mexico?"

Gibson raised an eyebrow, reminding her of Scully. "I'd say it beats the cold, but I'd wonder why you wanted to go."

"Well, I called my doctor, and he said I could fly up through the end of my seventh month, since twins aren't earlier than that too often. So right now is a good time to get away while I'm still smaller than a whale, and not looking after two screaming babies," she told him with a smile. "And to be honest, I'm hoping if I make an appearance at the agency that handled my adoption they'll tell me my parents names."

Gibson didn't really need the convincing. "Can I drive us to the airport when we leave?" Doggett didn't let him drive much, even though he'd had his license for months.

Reyes gave him a hug. "If you help me pack."

"Deal!" he exclaimed. "But… if I need help shutting the suitcases, maybe you can sit on them. You're heavy enough now," he added with a grin.

"Hey!"




The sun was shining brightly when the sleeping agents and pseudo-scientist finally woke up. They'd slept until mid-afternoon, which wasn't unexpected, given they were out in that field until sunrise. After a lot of stretching and yawning, they gathered for yet another meal of just-add-water pancakes and coffee. Even Scully had some, because she felt like she could us something with more kick than tea.

"So now what happens?" Doggett asked, voicing the question all three agents had.

Barry shrugged. "I can't believe we didn't see anything." If he'd been ten his pout would have been cute, but with his terrible facial hair it wasn't endearing to any of them.

"Maybe it's over," Mulder said brightly. "Maybe whatever it was only felt the need to kill a few cows, and is now going to hibernate."

"You think it has a taste for liver?" Scully teased, and the joke went over the other two men's heads. She knew Barry wouldn't know what she meant, but she was beginning to wonder what Doggett had meant when he claimed to have "read" all the x-files. Briefly skimmed?

A knock on the door interrupted their sleepy attempts at conversation. Barry was the closest to the door, so he went to get it. The sheriff looked sour as he entered the cabin. "We've got another dead cow. I thought you feds were supposed to be here to put an end to this crap."

"No sir, you were misinformed. We're here to keep out thumbs up our butts," Mulder said flatly. "We went where Barry told us the creature was going to attack. He's the one with the knowledge of the situation, so we trusted his judgment since he'd done the research on where it was going to strike."

The small man squirmed under Mulder and the sheriff's scrutiny. "I guessed wrong," he said defensively.

"Guessed?" Scully asked, glaring at him. "What do you mean 'guessed'?"

He continued to look like he wanted to flee. "It hadn't been to that farm yet, so it seemed like a likely target."

"So basically you just thought of all the likely farms and picked one at random?" Doggett asked in disbelief.

To their surprise the sheriff spoke up. "There's been no rhyme or reason to the choice of farms. The perpetrator hasn't picked the biggest farms, or the most secluded, or the ones closest together. This is something that is impossible to profile-" He said while looking directly at Mulder, who suddenly got the impression that the good sheriff had looked into the agents backgrounds. "So what would you have done differently?"

Neither Scully or Doggett said anything, so Mulder answered him. "I don't think we would have done differently in the absence of a discernible pattern, except perhaps to ask for police assistance so we could split up and watch two possible locations at once."

"Why would we have needed police back up for that? There are four of us, that'd of been two pairs of two," Barry said, apparently looking past the fact that they might have done just that if he had been up front with them.

"Because you're not an agent or a cop," Doggett said bluntly. "Only one armed person isn't adequate."

Barry muttered something under his breath about having a gun permit.

Before the bickering continued, Scully sighed. "Mulder, why don't you and Doggett take Barry to the latest farm that was hit and looked for evidence? I've got another dead cow to look at."

"Do you want a ride?" the sheriff asked Scully grudgingly.

Since she was past worrying about inconveniencing the prickly law enforcement agent, she took him up on the offer. Doggett and Barry were already at it again before she and the sheriff were out of hearing. It made her glad that Mulder would be with them to mediate.




The sheriff dropped Scully back off at the cabin around seven. The boys had beat her back, and since none of them appeared to have a scratch, the arguments must not have lead to blows. The thought of them fist fighting over Bigfoot amused her.

It seemed as though they'd even been semi-productive while she was gone. Mulder and Barry were looking over the "evidence" they'd gathered at the farm and chatting excitedly about what they'd found. Doggett was pointedly ignoring them, and seemed to be writing field-notes on a yellow notepad.

Noticing Scully, Mulder waved a ziplock baggie of what looked like fur. "Look, Scully," he called to her as she walked in. "We need to send this to the lab to be analyzed right away."

"Maybe then they'll finally believe it's bear fur." Doggett sighed.

"The bear would have huge feet," Barry retorted, studying what looked like the plaster cast of a foot print. A very big foot print.

"A fake foot." Doggett snorted derisively. "You can buy fake feet to make fake foot prints, you know."

"Don't I know it," Scully said under he breath, thinking of the case She and Mulder had been working on when she'd lost her poor little dog. A teenager had used fake feet to make prints to impress a girl at school.

"Scully, you did more work than any of us today," Mulder told her in a placating tone. Why don't you relax with a book or something for a while?"

She gave him a suspicious look. "What will you be doing?"

He looked slightly guilty. "I was thinking of driving down to the Fed-Ex place I noticed on our way up here."

"Can't it wait until the male man comes tomorrow?" she asked, exasperated.

He shook his head with an eager pleading look on his face. "I think it's important to get this to the labs as soon as possible." He glanced at Doggett. "Plus I was thinking that Doggett should come too, so he can call Reyes and let her know it's going to be at least another week until we get home. I'll call Maggie too, of course, but I really think in Monica's state-"

"Fine, whatever. Just get back as soon as you can," Scully huffed, stalking out of the room. A couple of minutes later, she heard Doggett and Mulder leave, so she didn't expect any interruptions when she pulled out the novel she'd thought to bring along with her.

Which is why she was surprised when Barry shyly came to her room a little while later. "Mulder and Doggett left?" she asked, when he made no move to speak.

"Yeah…Is agent Doggett ok? He seems really anxious about his wife, and Mulder said she's in some sort of state… is she sick?"

Scully shook her head. "No, she's just pregnant. They're expecting twins some time this summer."

"Oh, wow, that's enough to make a guy anxious about being away," Barry affirmed. "But that's not really what I wanted to talk about. You said you had pictures of your kids, would now be a bad time to look at them?"

She smiled wanly. She didn't think he remembered. "Sure, they're in my purse."

Fishing through it, she finally unearthed the photo she and Mulder had had taken a couple of months earlier. "My daughter Emily, who's eight, and William, who'll be two soon," she told him as she passed the photo over.

Barry grinned when he saw it "They look like you. Except for the little girl being a blonde."

"I wonder if it might darken when she gets older. With my red hair and her dad's dark hair, blond is a little surprising," she admitted.

He nodded. "But it probably wouldn't get as dark as Mulder's anyway, would it?"

She blinked once, forgetting for a moment that most people probably did think that Mulder was her daughter's father. Spender didn't object to that, so they let people think what they wanted. "Probably not."

"They must miss you," Barry commented.

"I'm sure I miss them more," Scully declared. "We'll be done with this case before William's birthday next month, that's the important thing."

She expected Barry to agree with her, but he looked more than a little doubtful. Recalling Kersh's order that they stay on the case until it was solved suddenly made her very sad.




Doggett tapped his foot as he watched Mulder excitedly bother the person in the fed-ex place. He seemed to be having trouble deciding on which shipping method would be best for the very important fur sample.

Finally, Doggett's call went through, so he turned his guilty attention to the phone instead. "Hello?"

"Monica, it's John…"

"Did something happen?"

He hated how alarmed her voice sounded. "No no, everything's fine. Well, not fine, but there haven't been any accidents or anything."

"Oh, you just sounded like there's something wrong."

"We didn't catch the perp last night, and whoever it is slaughtered another cow. Looks like we're going to be up here at least another week," he concluded apologetically.

"Thank you for letting me know," Reyes said. "I'm sorry that you're still up there, since being in a little cabin with four people sounds like no fun. But don't worry about me, ok? I'm fine. Gibson's fine too."

"We'll be back as soon as humanly possible. I love you," Doggett said, noticing that Mulder was finally paying the clerk.

"I know you will and I love you too," Reyes told him.




Gibson's look was faintly accusatory. "You didn't tell him," he told her, not pretending he hadn't been listening to the call.

She shrugged. "You know John. If I told him we were going to Mexico, he'd only worry. He's got enough to be concerned with right now."

He did know. Doggett would worry no matter what.




 

The following day…

"Are you sure you don't want the window?" Gibson asked. "I don't think they'd care if we switched seats."

Reyes saw that he was just being polite, and she didn't blame him for wanting the view.

"Thanks, but I'm sure. When I ordered the tickets, I asked for the isle. These kids are hard on the poor kidneys, so I'm bound to check out the lovely bathroom at least once before we get to Mexico."

A couple of minutes after they took their seats, a flight attendant brought Reyes a seatbelt extender, and carefully explained that she ought to fasten the belt under her belly, for the babies safety if there was turbulence. She dutifully followed directions, but the thought of needing the extender didn't do much for her self-esteem. Then and there she vowed to join a gym when the babies were a couple of months old.

Her rueful thoughts about her missing figure were abruptly interrupted by a heavy pressure on the back of her chair. Glancing up she saw a man staring down at her. He grinned broadly, acting as though he were doing nothing rude by looming over her.

"The kid your brother?" the man asked. "I know he can't be yours, not when you're so young and pretty." His smile was suggestive.

Reyes stared back at him in disbelief. Did the idiot hitting on her not notice that she was pregnant? At first she wanted to point out to him that she was indeed old enough to be Gibson's mother, if she'd had him right after high school, but she thought the attempt at enlightenment would be wasted on him. Then she thought of telling him that Gibson was her husband, just to see his reaction, but she reluctantly decided against that figuring it would prolong the conversation. "He's my nephew," she finally told him. "He lives with my husband and me."

The man seemed to deflate at the word "husband." She found it odd that he seemed to have no qualms flirting with a pregnant woman, but finding her to be a married one had him mumbling about how nice that was and sinking back into his chair. Shaking her head slightly, she decided that men were inscrutable.




"Are you ok?"

Reyes turned her head, and looked at Gibson. His eyes were full of concern. "I'm fine."

"You're really pale."

"This flight has just taught me a lesson, that's all. Unborn babies don't like turbulence. They can kick hard enough to hurt," she told him with a faint smile. Boy could they kick hard.

"Did you hear the announcement a minute ago?"

She shook her head, it hadn't even registered.

"They said we're going to be landing any minute."

"Thank God," she blurted out. The surprised look on Gibson's face made her grin in spite of herself.

Twenty minutes later they were off the plane and in the cavernous airport. It was nothing special, but Reyes was thrilled to be there. Mostly because it was on the ground.

Gibson looked a little stunned by the hustle and bustle of people rushing by, most speaking Spanish, a few like them speaking English. She wondered how long it had been since he'd been in an airport of any size. He must have when he'd first come to the states to play chess, but that was when he was very young.

"What do we do now?" he asked, his voice barely betraying the anxiousness that was plain on his face.

"First we go over there," she told him, pointing at a sign that said COCHE. "So we can rent a car." She glanced down at her belly. "But not a compact car."

"Ok." He seemed to relax a little knowing that she had a game plan.

"Then we'll find a hotel, since it's night time, and no one is likely to be at the agency before tomorrow."

"Do you think we'll find a place with a pool?" he asked eagerly, sounding his age for once.

"Maybe. And if not, we'll spend time at the beach."

"Wow, a beach in late April…" The happy look on his face suggested that he was pleased by the impromptu vacation plans after all.




It didn't take very long to rent a car and find a suitable hotel. The room was nice enough, with a pair of double beds and a private bathroom- which wasn't always the case in reasonably priced hotels. The hotel also had a nice dining room, and it amused Reyes how wary Gibson was of ordering. She eventually ordered for him, and he picked at his food until he realized that he actually liked it.

Later that night, after they'd taken turns changing in the bathroom and turned off the light, she was almost asleep when Gibson's voice pulled her back to the edge of wakefulness. "Monica?"

"Hmm?" Reyes opened her eyes, glad that she didn't have to roll over to see him on his bed. Though lying on his belly, he was propped up on his elbows.

"Why do you want to find your birth mother?"

"I want her –our- medical history," she told him, stifling a yawn. "I've been healthy so far, but it's better to know, especially if something comes up with one of the babies' health."

"Is that the only reason?" he asked then.

She thought about it for a little while before answering him. "I'm not looking for someone to know. Not someone to know, not someone to complicate my life, or me to do the same to theirs. I have two wonder parents, and I don't need another."

If Gibson had been older, he might have accused her of adopting that attitude to protect herself against possible rejection. But he wasn't yet that cynical about people he cared about, and instead reserved doubt only for those he felt had earned it. So all he said was "Yeah."

"What about you?" she asked gently. "You never talk about your parents."

He shrugged his shoulders. "I haven't seen them since I started playing chess – and winning– when I was nine. Agent Scully was going to call them when I was twelve-" His voice was wistful." But I got taken away and operated on before she got the chance to."

"You didn't know the number to call yourself?" Reyes asked, finding it hard to believe he wouldn't have known his own phone number unless it had been changed without his knowledge.

He shook his head. "I knew it. The men who took me thought bad things…My parents wouldn't be safe if I was with them, and if they knew where I was they would want to come get me. So I never called. They're better off without me, and I don't remember them very well anyway."

Reyes eyes shone with tears. "I'm sorry, Gibson."

"I'm not. I'm happy with you and John, and they're safe. What's to be sorry about?"

When she finally fell asleep that night her dreams were strange. There were lots of people in a room, and the floor split, cleaving the room in two. She ended up on one side of the divide with Gibson, Emily and William, and all their parents were on the other. Even though she'd never met them, she could tell Gibson's parents from her own. They were happy where they were, and so were she and Gibson, but William and Emily cried and cried. So she and Gibson picked them up, and threw them across the divide, into their waiting parents' arms. Then there was no more crying, and everyone was happy. When she remembered the dream later, she decided that it didn't take a degree like Mulder's to figure out the symbolism.




"I knew it!" Mulder's shout woke everyone from their hard-earned sleep, and they all came out to glare at him.

Noticing the trio of grumpy, sleepy faces staring at them, he had the manners to look sheepish. "Uh…sorry."

Doggett gave him a sour look and scratched his belly. "Now that you've woken us all up, you mind telling us what you were yelling about?"

Instead of answering, Mulder handed him a piece of paper. "See? Right there." He pointed.

Doggett gave him a surprised look. "The mail man came already? It's not even seven o' clock."

"Fed-ex. I sort of bribed the store guy to get someone to bring it as soon as it came, before the driver did the rest of the route," Mulder confessed, not looking up to see what their reaction would be to the news about his use of money.

Well, what does it say?" Barry asked, looking like he was tempted to get up on his tippy toes to read over Doggett's shoulder. Not that even on his toes he'd be that tall.

Doggett gave him a puzzled frown. "Something about the sample you and Mulder collected not being able to be identified."

"Don't you see what that means?" Mulder asked excitedly, "It's from an unknown species, so it must be Bigfoot!"

"It has to be," Barry agreed, nearly wriggling with excitement.

"Wait a second!" Scully exclaimed, once again the voice of reason. "All it means is that they can't identify the sample. Damage from temperature extremes and weather exposure make biological evidence unreliable all the time. There could be all sorts of reasons that the sample is invalid, and many of them have nothing to do with what animal they might have come from. And even if it is an unidentified creature, why would you automatically think it was Bigfoot?"

Mulder gave her a mild look. "You think it's easier to believe it's another unidentified animal? That no one else has even reported seeing yet?"

She doesn't answer him, but instead exchanges a quick look with Doggett. Neither of them is convinced, nor any less determined to prove Mulder and Barry wrong.




Thursday afternoon…

The woman's steely glint was getting on Reyes' nerves. After being told that there was no one on staff who could possibly speak to her until Thursday, she'd held the faintest of hopes that someone would actually speak to her when she finally was able to see them. It was apparently a naive hope.

"I'm sorry," the woman said, not sounding it in the slightest, "But as I explained on the phone, we're not allowed to give that sort of information out. It's regretful that you've come all this way for no reason."

"You said you couldn't give that information out on the phone," Reyes pointed out, barely holding on to her temper. "If being on the phone made no difference, why would you have worded your statement that way?"

The woman sighed. "Haven't you ever misspoke? If I somehow gave you the impression that being here in person would make a difference, I apologize. "

Instead of speaking to the woman any longer, Reyes turned to leave, and it was only Gibson's presence at her side that kept her from crying or screaming. She'd been so sure that the woman meant something by mentioning not being able to give the information out over the phone. It wasn't really the woman's fault she jumped to that conclusion without demanding clarification, but she was an easy target for her disappointment.

They were half way down the building's long sterile hallway when a small dark-haired woman blocked their path and made them stop. "Why are you here? Giving up your baby?" Her question was more curious than rudely intended, but even so if she hadn't reminded Reyes of her mom, she might have snapped at her.

"No no. I was adopted through this agency, and I came hoping I could find out who my mother is."

"Oh," the woman said, her large dark eyes filled with sympathy. "When were you born? Maybe the answers are in the stars."

Normally happy to speak of determining destiny, Reyes was in no mood to discuss astrology. But something about the woman's desire to make her feel better got to her. "I was born September 25th, 1968."

"Ah. A Libra," the woman said, nodding.

"Well…We'd better be going," Reyes said, when the woman added nothing to the conversation.

The woman stuck out her hand. "Isabella Charves."

Reyes was nonplused, but the woman seemed harmless enough, so she shook the woman's hand. "Monica Reyes. And this is Gibson." He gave the woman a shy, puzzled smile as well.

"You take care of yourself and your baby," Isabella told her.

"Will do," Reyes replied.

"Well, that was odd," Gibson proclaimed once they were outside again. She agreed wholeheartedly, but then she realized she'd forgotten to be depressed while speaking to the odd little woman.




" Gibson…what did that woman want?" Reyes asked, thinking about the visit to the adoption agency earlier in the day.

He shrugged. "Nothing that I could tell. She was just curious. I got the sense that she was only wondering why you wanted to give up your baby since you didn't look the type. Whatever 'the type' is."

"But I don't want to give the babies up," Reyes protested.

"She didn't know that before you told her." he pointed out.

"So… she wasn't singling me out for any particular reason."

Gibson stared at her. "She's never had a child, Monica."

"Oh! I didn't think she was. I mean, not really," Reyes mumbled. But she had wondered that very thing. "I thought you said I was getting harder to read."

"Harder, but not impossible," he replied with a grin. "You need still thicker mental walls to keep something like that hidden."

"Great."

"I'm sorry. I wish someone had been able to help you today." His voice was soft.

"So do I. So do I." She wasn't ready to give up, but she didn't know what to do next.




Friday 9pm…

"Thank you for coming, Officer Davies," Scully said politely, but without enthusiasm. There was nothing wrong with the sheriff's choice of which officer to send off with them, but she was really not looking forward to another night out in the freezing cold.

"So, how are we going to divide ourselves up? Perhaps Barry, I and officer Davies at one farm, and Doggett and Scully at the other?" Mulder suggested with the zeal of a kid picking kickball teams.

"The romance is dead." Scully muttered to herself. Two kids ago he might have made all sorts of blue remarks about them being alone together on a stakeout, but now he was more eager to hang out with a the kid with similar ideas. She'd have to do something about that when they got home…

"Scully?" Mulder asked, giving her an expectant look.

"What?"

"Did you hear anything that Doggett just said?"

She gave Doggett a puzzled look. He'd spoken? "No. Sorry."

"I said that maybe it would be better if I teamed up with Barry and the good officer, and you with Mulder. That way there would be…an expert about these alleged creatures on each team."

"You didn't say expert the first time," Mulder said with a smirk.

Scully could imagine what he'd said instead. "I think I agree with Doggett."

Mulder gave the young cyptozoologist a rueful look, but agreed to go along with the plan.




Mexico

Meanwhile…

The phone on the desk in the room gave a shrill scream, startling Reyes and Gibson out of the TV-watching stupor. Since she was closest, Reyes picked it up. "Hello?"

"Ms Reyes, you have a call. May I connect you?"

She had no idea who would be calling her, but she agreed, fearing that someone had tracked her down because of an emergency. "Yes, please connect me," she quickly replied.

"Is this Mrs. Reyes?" A woman's voice asked. It sounded vaguely familiar, but she couldn't quite place it.

"Yes."

"Oh good. I should have asked which hotel you were staying in when I spoke to you yesterday."

Reyes suddenly realized that it was the odd woman she'd spoken to in the hallway. "What can I do for you?"

"No no, it's what I can do for you," Isabella corrected.

"I'm not sure I understand," Reyes told her. Gibson shot her a questioning look, but she could only shrug. "Could you hold on a second?" She covered the receiver and asked Gibson to go and get her a soda.

"I work there, at the adoption agency. Nobody important, but I have keys to clean the offices," Isabella explained when she put the phone to her ear again.

"Oh." Reyes failed to see where the conversation was going.

"I think I found the file on you and your mother. Same birth date, baby girl…" Isabella said happily. "I made a copy, and I can give it to you after church on Sunday. Meet me for a bite to eat at Pasteles. It's right down town."

Reyes' elation dampened immediately. She wanted the file more than anything, but she and Gibson were leaving in the morning. "That's a nice offer," she said finally, wondering what to do.

She was thinking about brick walls when Gibson returned with her drink.




Vermont

10pm

Crickets merrily chirped in the dark. Off in the distance a dog barked angrily, probably at some four-legged intruder. There was no sign of Bigfoot or an axe/pick wielding crazy person.

"Mulder, stop pouting."

"I'm not pouting." His voice was sullen.

"This case is important. Sort of. You'll have plenty of time to hang out with Barry once we solve this."

"No I won't," he declared. "He lives in Vermont, and we live all the way in DC. I'm never going to see him again. Unless we moved-"

"We are not moving to Vermont.'

"I knew you were going to say that," he replied glumly.

Scully shook her head in the dark. She'd had a conversation like this once before, but then she'd been six and arguing with her father about some other child she'd met while they were camping.

"You can keep in touch with him through e-mail," Scully said. "Maybe we can bring the kids up here on vacation this summer."

"Yeah! That's a good idea. I don't know why I didn't think of it."

Because you were too busy pouting, she thinks. "Mulder…"

"What?"

"You ever think of having another baby?" she blurted out. It had been on her mind off and on again since the doctor confirmed that she was still fertile after all, back before Mulder returned from hiding in the desert.

Mulder blinked. "Sometimes… Has hanging out with Reyes gotten you biological clock ticking?" he asked with a grin she could see in the dark.

"Something like that," she agreed. "I'm thirty-nine, Mulder, so it's getting pretty close to now or never time."

"I know…If we did have a baby, would you want a little boy or little a girl?"

Instead of saying either as long as it's healthy, which is what he'd expected, she promptly said "A girl."

"Why a girl?" He was consumed by curiosity.

"Because I never had a baby daughter."

That made him quiet. It still hurt, and not just her. Even though Scully had miraculously gotten Emily back, she'd still missed almost eight years of her daughter's life. They both had. Back when they'd first discovered that the little girl existed, he'd harbored secret daydreams about marrying Scully if it was necessary to give her a better shot at gaining custody. Then they'd raise her together…but the dreams had died when Emily had gotten sick and had been taken from them.

"You wouldn't name her something silly, would you? Like Hope, Joy or Promise."

"We'd name her something we both liked. Not Bambi."

Mulder laughed. "But what if we had another boy?"

"We'd love him too," she said with conviction.

"Let's talk about this more when we get home."

"Whenever that is." Scully sighed.




A stick cracked with a shotgun report.

"What was that?" Davies asked nervously. He and Doggett had hit it off after he discovered that Doggett had once been a cop too. Barry on the other hand, seemed to feel left out, and barely said anything.

Before Barry or Doggett could answer a loud 'whuff' came from the trees about a hundred yards from where they were huddled.

Doggett searched the area with his flashlight, and nearly dropped it when the light fell on something large with dark fur.

"Bigfoot!" Barry exclaimed in an excited whisper.

The thing heard him and swung its head towards them. It then lunged up on two legs and let loose a warning roar.

"Not Bigfoot, you idiot," Officer Davies said, forgetting to censor himself. He knew Barry's reputation, and thought he was a flake. "It's a f'ing bear!"

"How do we get rid of a bear?" Doggett whispered urgently. He'd never spent any time in the woods, so he was clueless.

"We make a lot of noise." Barry and Davies said at the same time. The simultaneous response did not bring a sense of camaraderie.

Following their lead, Doggett also grabbed up a thick fallen branch and began pounding on a tree while shouting entreats for it to "go away."

Eventually the bear gave what seemed like a very derisive snort and lumbered off.

"Well," Barry said glumly, watching the retreating creature. "I sure hope Mulder and Scully had better luck because all the noise we just made probably scared off every wild animal for a mile."

Doggett grated his teeth and wondered which really would have been worse, being eat by a bear or having to spend another week up there. For his sake it was good that Barry didn't mention that brown and black bears are rarely dangerous.




Mexico

10am Saturday

When they get to the airport, they sit there in the car for a moment, making no move to get out. A brief glance at Gibson's face tells Reyes that he already knew, despite her having gone through the motions of packing and checking out of the hotel room. Loud thoughts.

"What do I tell John when he calls?" Gibson finally asked her.

"Tell him I'll be home as soon as I can," she answered with a brittle smile. Not knowing how long it would take made her feel guilty and helpless.

He nodded. "I hope you find what you're looking for."

Reyes hugged him once they got out of the car. "Listen, if I'm not home before the tenth, all of the bills for the coming month are in the top drawer of my desk. They're all written out and stamped, so all you'd have to do is drop them off in a mail-box."

"Ok."

"And if you have any problems, or don't think you can handle being alone at the house, I'm sure Skinner or Mrs. Scully-"

Gibson rolled his eyes. "I'm seventeen, you know. You don't have to worry so much about me."

Reyes shook her head slightly. She remembered seventeen; it wasn't as grown up as Gibson seemed to think. "I'll try…I'm sorry to ditch you like this, but you have school on Monday…"

"It's ok. Really. You'll be home as soon as you can, I know that."

His affectionate trust nearly broke her heart as she watched him board the plane alone. From a distance he seemed so small.




Sunday 9am
Vermont

"What's wrong?" Scully asked as Doggett took the bags from her to put in the car. He'd been eager to call home, even volunteering for shopping duty, but now that he had, he looked completely out of sorts.

"I called home and talked to Gibson. Monica's not there."

"Maybe she's running some errands," Scully suggested.

"Oh, she's running an errand," Doggett said flatly. "She's in Mexico."

"What?"

"It seems that she talked to someone at the agency that handled her adoption, and the woman gave her the impression that showing up in person would make a difference when it came to getting her parents names from them. So she took Gibson with her to Mexico last week during his school vacation. She never even mentioned it when I spoke to her the day before she left."

"Did she find out their names?"

Doggett shook his head. "No. The people at the agency refused to give her any information. But Gibson said they met a cleaning lady or something who took an interest in them, and offered to help…if Reyes met her today. So Monica sent Gibson back alone and told him she'd be back as soon as she could."

Scully gave him a measuring look. "Are you mad?"

He sighed, but shook his head. "How can I be? I'm the one who initially suggested she try to find her birth mother…After Maria and I encouraged her to look, how could we fault her methods?"

"Still…That's very understanding of you."

"Yeah. So far. Who knows how long she'll be gone? Every night this week I laid awake wishing we'd solve this damn case so I could go home to her, but she wasn't even there."

"I'm sorry."

"We are never going to solve this case. If it wasn't for those poor dead cows, I'd swear that this is just a wild goose chase to keep us out of the way," Doggett gripped.

"Now you're starting to sound like Mulder."

"You really know how to kick a man when he's down." But despite his wounded tone, he cracked a smile.




Sunday 10am
Pasteles

When Reyes got to the bakery Isabella asked to meet in, the other woman was already seated. Isabella looked up and gave her a bright smile; it did not put her at ease.

"You should try una totra," Isabella advised her.

Reyes' stomach rebelled at the thought of eating cake so early. "If it's all the same to you, I think I'll just have un chocolate caliente. I'm not very hungry, but I miss those."

She was referring to the bitter version of hot chocolate that was rarely found in the US due to its near lack of sugar.

"Maybe when you go home to the states you'll have to bring some back with you."

"I don't know, it'd go bad pretty fast." Reyes pictured carting a thermos through customs.

Isabella grinned and slapped the table. "Not made, Nina. A new company is offering it in powered form, just like those loco commercials with the bunny you have."

The thought of powered chocolate caliente startled Reyes. Things had changed a lot since she moved away from Mexico. "You said you found a file?"

"Yes. I think it's on you." Isabella reached into a canvas bag at her side and pulled out a cheap cardboard folder. "Unfortunately, the original was blurry on one of the lines." She gave Reyes an apologetic shrug.

Reyes' hands trembled as she took the sheets of paper from the other woman. There in black and white was the name of the woman she'd been looking for. "Debra Jacey." She whispered.

The name so captivated her that it took her a moment to even realize that there were other words on the page. Three of those words were "Robert Jacey – Deceased." She blinked in shock. Up until she'd read the name listed beside "father" she hadn't given the man a second's thought.




"My father is dead."

Isabella nodded sympathetically. "Before you were born. It's very sad."

"But it does explain a little why my mom gave me up," Reyes said, but she wasn't sure she meant it. Raising a baby alone was hard, but it seemed manageable if you had friends and family. Scully had been doing ok until…She shook her head. She didn't want to think about Scully.

"And she was young," Isabella pointed to the woman's date of birth. It was barely twenty years before Reyes' own.

Reyes nodded absently, but her eyes were drinking in the printing on the document before her. When she got to the blurred line, her heart skipped a beat. It said "Address: 207 Quinn street, _______dy, Texas." And there was no zip code.

She stared at _______dy, willing it to become a name, but there was no way to read it. It looked like someone had once spilled water on it, and the water had leeched the ink away.

Isabella looked sad. "I looked through the other papers too, for another address, but there's nothing. I'm sorry."

Staring at the woman's worried face, Reyes felt a pang of guilt. The woman had nothing to apologize for, she'd been so helpful…she bravely pasted a smile to her face. "You've been such a help, I don't know how I can ever repay you."

"You just take good care of your baby." Her tone was oddly urgent.

All of the sudden she got the impression that she knew why Isabella had helped her. For a fraction of a second she could clearly see a little girl of six or eight cowering away from an upraised hand, the child's dark eyes filled with fear… Maybe there were worse things than not knowing who your parents were. She was suddenly certain there were.

"I will, believe me. My husband and I are thrilled that we're having twins. Both little girls. We plan to love them to pieces."

Isabella seemed to relax a little. "I'm sure you will."

"Thanks again for giving this to me. There can't be many towns in Texas that end in 'dy' so I'm sure that I'll find my mother soon."

"You will, I can feel it." Isabella smiled just a little.

Reyes picked up her bag and pawed through it until she found a pen and a small notebook. "Here. Write down your address. I'll send you pictures of the babies, and let you know what happens when I find her."

Isabella looked touched. They said good-bye, and Isabella departed a couple of minutes later. Looking at the haunted woman's slightly slumped shoulders, she didn't blame her mother at all if she thought she couldn't take care of her.




The following day (Monday)
Washington DC

"Are they back yet?" Folmer's demanding voice crackled over the phone line.

Frowning, Kersh resisted the urge to hang up on him. "No sir."

"Well, you can call them back any time now. The problem has been contained." Folmer had lost five men in the process, but the evolved pathogen had ultimately been captured and destroyed. The loss of the men was regretful, but it could have been much worse.

Kersh nodded, then remembered he was on the phone. "The thing is, Sir, that their case has turned out to be an actual x-file. Since I told them to stay up there until it's solved…"

"That's fine. They can say up there as long as you like. Keeps them out of my hair." Folmer said with a chuckle.

"As you wish."

Kersh gave the phone a disgusted look as he hung up. Folmer might not care that the case was tying up his agents, but what the hell were they tracking in Vermont?




May 20th

Vermont

Much to everyone's chagrin, the case remained unsolved by the time William's second birthday arrived. After realizing that this was going to be the case, Scully was inconsolable, which made Mulder decide to ask Maggie to bring the kids up on William's birthday as a surprise for Scully. She was so depressed she thought he was just being nice when he and Barry went to do the shopping, and never stopped to think that he might have been going to make a phone call.

The little party was a success, and William charmed everyone, except when he smeared cake on everything. Maggie had even thought to stop at their house first to get the presents Scully had picked out and bragged about to her. William loved them. Almost as much as he loved the wrapping paper.

The little cabin didn't seem so desolate with the two happy, bright children there, so they could almost forget how miserable they'd been before then. Sadly, it eventually came time for Maggie and the kids to leave, so they could get to a hotel halfway between there and home before Maggie got too tired to drive.

"Dana, Fox…before we go, there's something I need to talk to you about." She glanced at the kids, and stopped.

Doggett realized why she'd trailed off. "Come on guys, I want to show you something outside before we you go. I wish I could show the babies, but they'll have to settle for a picture." William and Emily trailed after him, demanding to know what he was going to show them.

As soon as the door closed, Maggie turned to Mulder and Scully with a grave look. "The day after you left, William had an accident. A very bad one." Their faces paled as she told them about the torn flesh and all the blood. "But while I watched, he got better. Thirty seconds later, when I'd gotten his shirt and coat off, all that was left was a cut not serious enough for stitches. That isn't natural." She shivered.

"Did you bring him to the e.r.?" Scully asked anxiously.

Interpreting the question the opposite of its intention, Maggie was slightly defensive. "He was ok. How would I have explained his rapid and nearly complete recovery? I bandaged what was left of the wound and he was fine. Four days later there was nothing left of the injury."

"How do we explain it to ourselves?" Scully mused quietly.

Of the three of them, Mulder was the one not at a loss. "We know that William is an unusual boy, and that some of the grays are healers…maybe it's one of the 'gifts' my father left us when he injected me with that DNA. These things have always come out more naturally in Will"

Maggie shook her head. "Fox, he was unconscious. Even if he could heal himself, don't you think he'd have to be awake to do it?"

"Maybe, maybe not. Do you have another theory?" he challenged, but not unkindly.

She hesitated, not really wanting to suggest what was on her mind. "I know you probably don't want to hear this with all you've gone through with her-" Both of their eyes widened at the word 'her'. "But I think Emily might have had something, maybe everything, to do with his healing. I'm not positive, but it looked like he started to get better when she picked up his wrist… I'm sorry, I know how happy you were when it seemed like she was a perfectly normal child now…" She looked as apologetic as she sounded.

"There's no way to prove which one of them did it," Scully said reasonably. "We'll have to watch them if anything comes up, so we can figure out which of them is able to heal"

Later, when Maggie and the kids were gone, Mulder wondered which child he'd prefer to be the healer. The implications if it was William were less frightening, but- Doggett and Scully's calls to him that it was time for dinner broke his thoughts.




May 22nd, 2003

Kennedy, Texas

In the end it took her three weeks.

Three long weeks wandering from town to town that ended in "dy" asking if there was a Quinn street because she didn't trust Mapquest after it told her to go on 115 North East and no such route existed, just 115 North and 115 East, which took you different places.

Three weeks of calling Gibson every three or four days to see if he was doing ok, and once to make sure that he'd sent out the bills. Even after he said he had she still imagined him in the dark and cold with no water. They never spoke about John. Every time she started to tears swarmed into her eyes, so she stopped trying.

Three weeks of finding Quinn streets in __dy towns that didn't go to 207. She finally found the right street in the right town.

In the end, when Reyes found the house at the end of Quinn Street, she almost cried. It might have been a nice house once, but now… the paint had long since peeled away, leaving the cracked and weathered boards to the mercy of the elements. All the windows were boarded, and they stared blankly at the street. Worst of all, a thick rope was strung across the porch, barring access. From the middle of the rope hung a wooden sign that pointed out the obvious – the house was condemned.

She stared at the sign long enough to read it eighteen times over, but her eyes didn't really see it. It was the end of the road. Her search had come to nothing. One hand went to her belly, reminding herself why this had been so important to her. She'd let them, and herself, down.

"What are you doing?" a voice called, startling her out of her paralyzing gloom. Thinking about it, she vaguely recalled hearing a door open. Turning around slowly, she saw that the speaker was an older woman standing on the porch of the home next door.

"I was given this address," Reyes told the woman after walking a few steps closer to her.

"Can't imagine why," the woman remarked. Reyes realized that she was older than she'd initially thought. Probably in her early sixties. "No one has lived there for more than thirty years." The woman sounded annoyed that Reyes had obviously been deceived by the address giver.

Thirty years. Thirty years. Reyes mind repeated it, stunned, or maybe mockingly, she couldn't tell. She finally realized that the woman was waiting for an answer to her question. "Someone from the adoption agency. This was the address I was given for my birth mother," Reyes told the woman, her voice trembling.

The woman looked stunned. "You're Debra Jacey's daughter?"

"Did you know my mother?" Reyes asked tonelessly. Her brain was buzzing too loudly with confusion to settle on an emotional reaction.

The older woman closed the rest of the gap between them, and gently took Reyes' arm. "Come in, and we'll talk." She let herself be led as docilely as a child.

When they were inside, the woman pour her a glass of water." I'm Lillian, by the way," she said, handing the drink to her.

Reyes took a grateful sip. "Monica."

Lillian looked fascinated. "I always wondered what happened to you. When Debbie came home from her impromptu vacation from Mexico alone, there were a lot of questions, but she didn't answer a one."

Finishing her drink, Reyes wondered what people would think if she came home no longer pregnant, no babies with her. It was too hard to imagine. Then she wondered if she'd get the chance to ask her mother that very question. She wanted to be polite, but it was too hard. "Please, is my mother still alive? I know my father isn't, but is my mother?"

Lillian's eyes filled with pity. "I'm sorry."




Somehow she'd known, ever since the moment that Lillian uttered her mother's name. Knowing didn't make it much less shocking, though. "How long ago?"

"Just a few months after you were born," Lillian said sadly. "There was a storm coming, so she went out to do some last minute shopping before the weather turned foul-"

"A car accident," Reyes guessed, trying to picture this mother she never met behind the wheel of a car.

"No dear, although that might have been kinder. You see, the store had wiring problems, and there was a fire after a blown-down tree landed on the power lines… your mom was the only one who didn't get out. A few busy bodies said she didn't get out of that fire because she didn't want to, but Debbie wasn't the kind of girl who'd take her own life, nor passively let it be taken. She'd of gotten out of there if she could have." Lillian fiercely defended the dead woman, as if the reassurances made a difference to her child.

"Why would anyone think she didn't try to get out?"

"She was depressed. Your father and her had had such plans, but then the war took him less than a year after they married. It was an awful thing for a pregnant woman to learn. She never said, but I always suspected that she gave you up because she didn't think she was strong enough to raise you on her own. The world wasn't like it is now, and single women with children usually had a much harder time putting food on the table…Anyway, when she came home without you, she was a shell of her former self. All the joy went out of her. Some people think that adoption is the easy way out, but that girl suffered-" Reyes thought not of her mother, but of Scully crying the day she gave William up. It was easy to imagine a mother suffering after giving her baby up. "I hope you had the good life she thought she was giving you the chance to have."

Reyes thought of her mostly-happy childhood, and gave Lillian a gentle smile. "I did. I do. The people who adopted me made sure that I knew I was wanted and loved, and I love them dearly for it, and for who they are. Now my husband and I are looking forward to welcoming twins to our family, and our foster child is growing up to be a fine young man as well. It's been a good life, better than many," she told the older woman, meaning it.

"I'm so glad to hear that. Debbie would be so happy to know that…" Lillian trailed off. "Do you mind me asking why you were looking for your mother?"

Reyes wanted to lie to her sweet old face, because it was obvious that she thought highly of her mother, but she couldn't. "I was hoping to speak to her to get her medical history. It seemed irresponsible not to at least try to get that information for my babies' sake."

"I see," Lillian said, not unkindly despite Reyes' lack of sentiment. "I could help you with that."

"How?" Even if they'd been good friends, it didn't seem likely that Lillian would know the ins and outs of Debra Jacey's health.

"I'm retired now, but for forty years there was an MD attached to my name," the older woman explained proudly. "Debra was one of my first patients, and I was her doctor her entire life. I have all her medical records."

"Aren't there rules against giving someone another person's medical files?" Reyes asked nervously. She desperately wanted the records, but not if it was going to get the kind woman sitting before in any trouble.

"First of all, I'm no longer a doctor, so it's unlikely anyone from a medical board would ever find out and chastise me for impropriety. Second, your mother is dead, so doctor patient confidentially hardly applies now. And last, your mother would have wanted you to know. She didn't give you up to make you suffer needlessly, she wanted you to be happy."




It was about an hour before dark when Reyes' car pulled up along side of Cedar Grove Cemetery. On the seat across from her sat a thick folder, bound with rubber bands. True to her word, Lillian provided all of Debra Jacey's medical records, and even had Robert's from the time he moved into town as a freshman in high school. Which of course is where he met Debra.

Reyes had listened politely to the stories about her parents' brief romance, but she felt a disconnect. It was like listening to someone talk about the lives of any other strangers; even knowing it was her parents being talked about didn't make it feel the slightest less alien or special.

Still, she did decide that she should go to the cemetery as Lillian suggested. Something in the older woman's eyes hinted at closure, and Reyes felt that she could use that. So as soon as she left Lillian, she drove to the nearest greenhouse. Not knowing either of her parents favorite flowers, or even colors made her choice hard, but finally she settled on white rose bushes. Some how that seemed appropriate, white roses being a sign of innocence and putting one in mind of babies. Even if she hadn't been their daughter, she'd once been their expected baby. Surely they'd felt something for her then, just as she felt for the daughters she was anxious to meet.

The cemetery was empty, which suited her well. She'd feared that someone, trying to be helpful, would insist on doing the work for her, and she didn't feel helpless. She liked using the small trowel that she'd also bought to disturb the soil, making a place for the two rose bushes, even if her belly did get in her way. Soon the bushes were firmly in place, and she stood, brushing the lose dirt from her knees, grimacing slightly as the babies announced their unhappiness of her sudden movements with small firm kicks.

It looked less lonely, a little less forsaken, with the bushes planted there, one on each of the graves. The twin-hearts stone still looked dull, though, and she wondered how long it had been since anyone had visited the graves. Lillian had further dashed her hopes by telling her they'd each been only children, whose parents had all passed years before. But had they had friends? Someone, anyone to cry over their graves, the way she couldn't bring herself to do?

When she walked back to the rental car, her eyes were still so dry they burned.




Later on, lying on her bed in the final hotel room, Reyes could scarcely believe it was over. She hadn't found her mother because there had been no mother left to find. Nor a father either. All of the nights she'd wasted as a girl wondering what her real mother was doing right that second had all had the same answer- rotting in her grave.

Reyes thought she ought to feel badly that the woman was dead, her father too, of course, but she didn't, not really. While she did owe them her gratitude for giving her life, she didn't seem to owe them a debt of grief. There were a hundred people she'd feel more grieved to know they were dead. It was hard to mourn people you never even met. It felt empty.

At least it was over. She'd gotten what she'd come for, even if in a round about way, and she could go home. She missed Doggett desperately, she missed Gibson and Scully, and she was even beginning to miss Mulder.

Maybe Mulder was someone to talk to about the whole thing. Of anyone, he knew what it was like to look for someone only to find out that they died long before you started looking. Or maybe she wouldn't talk to him, because it'd hurt to remember. After all, he'd loved his sister.

Sighing, she fell asleep wondering where she could buy train tickets in the morning; there was no way she was going to fly home, not after the last flight.




May 23rd

The three men stood in companionable silence for what they hoped would be the last time. It wasn't if the cop, the FBI agent or the cyptozoologist disliked each other, it's just that they hoped that this would be the night that they solved the case so they could all go home.

Insects buzzed. Then a louder sound broke the night air.

"Muffy! Muffy! Where are you?" a plaintive voice cried out.

The caller jumped s foot when a hand shot out and grabbed him, dragging him into the dim light of a flashlight pointed at the ground.

"Be quiet!" Doggett hissed. The young man shook with fear as the three glowering people surrounded him, but he did as he was told. "What are you doing out here at this time of might? We're trying to track the thing that been killing cattle around here."

"Oh…" the man moaned. "I have to find Muffy, I just have to."

"Look, I know you're worried about your dog or cat, but this thing isn't after pets, so maybe you should just go home-" Davies suggested.

"You don't understand," the man protested. "I'm not worried about Muffy being eaten, I'm worried that Muffy is going to be doing the eating. Again."

"How's that?" Barry asked, his mind still on a cat or dog, a killer house pet.

"What exactly is Muffy?" Doggett demanded to know.

"A bear. I raised her from a cub," the man admitted. "She got loose months ago, and I've been trying to find her ever since. I never meant for any of this to happen."

Barry gave the man a puzzled look. "Even if you did find a cub and raised it, black bears don't go after anything as big as cows. They prefer fish and berries."

The stranger continued to look miserable. "I didn't find her, I bought her from a breeder out west. She's not a black bear."

"What kind of bear is she then?" Davies asked.

"A hybrid. Black bear and…grizzly."

"What?" Barry squawked. "You brought something like that up here, and let it get loose? With all the dairy farms up here?"

Davies gave the man a stern look. "It's against the law to introduce species into non-native habitat."

"I'm lost," Doggett confessed. "What's one bear type verses another?"

Barry explained it to him, "Black bears are more or less harmless, unless you bother their cubs. They paw through dumpsters and open up cars that people foolishly leave food in, but that's about all the damage they ever cause, and you can avoid it by locking trash up. Grizzlies, on the other hand, go after sheep and cattle. It's so common that there are set rates to reimburse ranchers who have proof of bears killing their stock."

"But no one ever considered a bear part grizzly being responsible for the damage since grizzlies aren't found in this part of the country," Doggett summarized.

"Exactly. Part grizzlies aren't even supposed to exist, never mind be in New England," Barry agreed. "What does this 'Muffy' of yours look like?"

"I don't see why I should tell you," the man answered sullenly." You're going to arrest me either way," he added, noticing the handcuffs officer Davies was holding.

"It might go easier on you if you cooperate," Davies pointed out. "Shows a willingness to assist in it's capture so less damage is done in the long run."

Sighing, the man nodded. "She looks like a black bear, but bigger. Sharp claws. Much stronger than a black bear her size."

Doggett pulled out his walkie-talkie and radioed to Mulder and Scully to tell them what they were looking for.

"Why Muffy? That's a pathetic name for something capable of killing a full grown cow," Barry remarked as Davies snapped on the cuffs.

"I didn't name her, the breeder did."

"Sure," Davies snickered.




May 24th, 1pm
Train Station (DC)

Driving very carefully, Gibson pulled up to the curb, where Reyes was already waiting with her bag. As soon as he parked the car, he hopped out and grabbed her bag.

She was about to tell him that he didn't have to, and she could manage it herself, but it was a pointless protest, he was only being nice. "Thanks." She was so tired she didn't really feel like arguing. She'd expected the train ride to take less than a day, but there'd been no direct trains from Texas to DC, so she'd had to spend another, unexpected, night in a hotel while she waited for a connecting train in a charming town with a sparse train schedule.

He slammed the trunk shut and grinned at her. "I'm really glad you're home."

"I thought you were old enough to stay by yourself," she said archly. "Were you scared?"

"No, it's not that. It was just…lonely without you and John there."

"I'm sorry." Reyes made her first apology of the day knowing full well it wouldn't be her last.

"It's good practice," Gibson replied. "For school, I mean," he added when she looked blank. "I'll have to be used to it in a year or so."

"You don't have to be used to it. You could commute."

"I could, but…"

"You can do whatever you want once you graduate from high school. Just as long as you know that you'll always have a home to come back to when you want to."

Gibson smiled at her. "I always know that. You and John are good to me."

"You're a great kid. More people should have been good to you while you were growing up," Reyes insisted.

"I guess sometimes the family you make is better to you than the one you're born into," he said, making her nod in agreement, even though she never got the chance to find out what the family she was born to would have been like.

"Oh!" Gibson exclaimed. "John called this morning. They solved their case last night, so they'll be home tonight."

"I'm so glad. Was it Bigfoot?" she asked, trying to bury her apprehension about seeing Doggett. She could only hope his happiness to see her would over-rule his dismay that she'd been gone for weeks without consulting him about it.

"Not exactly…"




May 24th, 4pm

Airport (VT)

"So, Doggett called us, and told us that they caught someone out looking for a bear hybrid he'd been in illegal possession of, before the thing escaped. He'd been hoping to recapture her before someone else did," Scully said, covering one ear to hear the reply in the busy airport. "The lab results had come back inconclusive, since until now no one had actually cross-bred these two bears before."

"And you caught it?" Skinner asked.

"Yes sir, we did. It actually showed up on the farm Mulder and I were staking out, and Doggett stopped off at a vet's for the doctor and some tranquilizers. We brought her down before she had the chance to kill another cow."

"Was the bear…destroyed?"

"No sir. As I mentioned, up until now cross-breeding of bears was theoretical rather than proven fact. As soon as we reported what we found calls poured in from scientists wanting to study her. At the moment she's in a cage while they decide where her new home is going to be."

"Speaking of home, I'm sure you're all anxious to be home yourselves."

"You better believe it," Scully replied reverently.

"See you next Monday," Skinner said, dismissing her and hanging up.

Scully went back to join Doggett and Mulder, who were saying good-bye to Barry and Davies. Scully said good-bye too, but she was so glad she was going home.

 

(article about the possibility of bear crossbreeding http://www.cryptozoology.com/articles/mysterybears.php)




Doggett dropped his bags as soon as he stepped into the house. For a moment Reyes wondered if he'd be angry with her, since she thought anger would probably be justified. She might have been upset, and thought her careless, even selfish if their roles had been reversed.

There was no expression on his face as he walked towards her, but he held out his arms. Reyes pressed herself as closely to him as her belly would allow and nearly fainted from the joy of having him hold her tight. His lips brushed against her forehead, and when she looked up at him, he looked happy.

"I don't think I've ever been so happy to be home."

"That's fitting, because I don't think I've ever been so happy to have you home," she quietly joked. "Are you mad at me, for going off without telling you?"

She had time for a anxious searching look while he thought about his answer. "Did you find them?"

"They're gone, both long gone." Reyes sighed. "I met one woman who helped me find where my mother lived, and when I got there I met another who explained what happened. They'd wanted me, but my father died in the war, and my mother couldn't bear to raise me alone…she died in a fire a few months later."

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry." His hand rubbed comforting little circles on her back. "It must be terrible, knowing they're both gone."

She gave a tiny shrug. "I want it to feel terrible, but…they never seemed real to me, like characters in a box I started to read but lost. It's hard to grieve for people I never met."

Doggett nodded. "But don't be surprised if it does hit you some day. Maybe you won't mourn who they were, since you never got to know, but you might feel a sense of loss for what might have been."

"Maybe. At least now I know why they never looked for me. That's the only thing I wondered growing up, why didn't they want to know me? But obviously they couldn't. It wasn't me that was the problem."

"I hope you didn't spend too much time dwelling on things like that." Doggett remarked, suddenly feeling pity for the child she'd been who'd thought she'd done something wrong.

Reyes gave him a crocked grin. "Like Maria would let anyone under her roof spend much time feeling bad for themselves. Fear not, I wasn't terribly wistful as a child."

"Good to know. Speaking of Maria…Does she still want to come for a couple of weeks after the babies are born to help out?"

"I should call and find out. But later." She decided, not ready to leave his embrace.




"Mommy and Daddy stay home," William stated as he and Emily watched a video that night.

"Well, they do have to go to work on Monday, Will."

"No Em. Mommy and Daddy stay home. No more Gramma's." His voice took on a note of anxiety.

"Oh! Right. Mommy and Daddy will be home after work. They're not going away again. We'll stay home too. They'll be home to tell you bedtime stories."

"Good," he replied, popping his thumb into his mouth.

Listening to them from another room, Scully's face crumpled. A couple of tears trickled down her face.

"What's the matter?" Mulder asked, gathering her into his arms.

"I remember that," she whispered.

"Your father going away?" he asked, and he felt her nod.

"I missed him so much."

"It's a good thing we only go away on cases once in a while," Mulder said slowly, so she'd register how the two situations weren't parallel.

"Yes…"

"He's fine, really. They both are. You shouldn't worry so much."

"How can I stop?"

"We'll have to work on that," he said, kissing her on the forehead. "If we don't, Will might turn out like your older brother."

She gave a strangled laugh in spite of herself, and figured that Mulder was probably right. They would only be required to leave the kids for long, and they really hadn't been damaged by it.

"If he turns out anything like Bill, we're saving up for military school," Mulder added, earning a real chuckle from her.

"Deal."




Three days later…

Reyes squirmed her uncomfortable seat, and mentally damned whoever it was that had picked out the chairs for the car dealership's office. They'd just become the proud owners of a 2003 van. Not a wussy minivan, Doggett pointed out, but a real van. All they needed was the keys, and they could go. Or so said the salesman before disappearing fifteen minutes earlier.

Reyes was beyond caring one way or another what they'd bought, she'd leave in a station wagon if it meant that they could go home now. Two hours of sitting in an uncomfortable is hard on anyone, never mind someone in her advanced stage of pregnancy.

"John… if we don't leave soon, you're going to need the Jaws of Life to get me out of this chair," she whispered in a hiss.

Unperturbed, Doggett just covered her closest hand with one of his own. It was a nice gesture, but she didn't see it helping her get free of the chair.

While it seemed like an eternity, they eventually drove their new purchase home. Getting home renewed her sense of energy, and she was quick to waddle up the driveway. "Do you want me to make us something for dinner?" she asked as soon as he put the key in the lock.

Doggett shook his head. "No. I want you to stretch out on the couch while I start on dinner. Gibson should be home in a couple of minutes, and he can help me."

"I don't want to lie on the couch. I just spent hours sitting, why would I want to lie down?" She called as he walked into the kitchen.

"Because I asked you to." She found the faint note of challenge in his voice interesting, and wasn't surprised when he added, "You've done a lot of running around this pregnancy, so could you humor me, and take it easy?"

Her first instinct was to snap that her doctor hadn't said anything about bed rest, but she thought better of it. He was just being anxious, and it really wouldn't hurt her to take it easy until the babies were born. "Yes. Just so long as you don't try to tie me to our bed to make me stay put."

He poked his head back around the corner. "I wouldn't dream of that. At least not until the babies are a couple of months old," he said straight-faced.

"John!" Reyes gave him a shocked look, and then burst into laughter, Doggett was soon laughing as well.

It was that very moment that Gibson came in the house. He immediately grimaced. "Could you think about baseball or something?" he asked plaintively. That made them laugh harder.




June 13rd

"Dana, I need your help," Reyes said, from her reclined spot on the couch. They'd been watching romantic comedies all day, because Doggett, Mulder and Gibson had taken the kids to an amusement park. They'd been invited, more to Reyes' surprise than Scully's since Doggett was serious about the take it easy business, but they'd opted to stay home instead of walking 10 miles from uncomfortable ride to uncomfortable ride.

"What do you need?" Scully asked, expecting a request for a drink or a pillow.

"I need you to help me get in your car, and drive to the beach. Then push me in the water. Whales aren't supposed to be on dry land like this."

Scully gave an unlady-like snort. Tempting as asking if she ought to play some whale songs so Reyes would feel more at home was, she held her tongue.

"Aren't you supposed to disagree with me, and say I'm not as big as a whale?" Reyes asked, sounding petulant.

"If you think lying to you would help…" She ducked as a couch pillow whizzed at her head.

"You've been through this, tell me the truth, does it even end?"

"Since I know you've seen my son several hundred times over the past two years, I'm sure you know it does."

"I don't get to moan and abuse dramatic license? Some friend you are." Reyes pouted.

"That's what happens when you befriend a scientist."

"Ha."

Scully patted her leg. "There there, it's probably less than a month now."

"But I'm not due until the third week of July."

"And if you were a turkey, your timer would be just about ready to pop," Scully replied with a grin. "Twins are almost always early."

"But not too early," Reyes fretted.

"Even if you had them today, they'd probably be fine. A month early usually isn't that big a deal any more."

"Usually."

"There are no guarantees in life," Scully replied primly. "But I'm positive they'd be fine. You're not in labor or anything today, right?"

"Right."

"So you'll probably not have them today, and I didn't tempt fate by suggesting you would. Besides, irony usually only likes to punish the speaker."

"Funny thing for a scientist to say, I didn't think they were supposed to have senses of humor. Good thing you don't, or they'd send you for reprogramming."

"You don't think I'm funny? Mulder thinks I'm funny," Scully replied, sounding wounded.

"Yeah, but he's in love with you," Reyes pointed out with a smirk that didn't remove the half-hurt look from Scully's face.




 

June 27th

Doggett thought that the TV in their room was a good idea. Placed on a bureau, it was at a perfect height for Reyes to see when lying in her side, which was good since her belly obstructed her view of everything if she was on her back. For some reason, she hadn't thought it was funny when he'd presented her with a photo of her feet after she complained she couldn't see them for the fifth time. Mulder had thought it was funny when Doggett told him about it.

The TV was at a good level for him too, when he was spooned against her back, like he was as they watched a DVD he rented.

"Oh no," Reyes said quietly, not taking her eyes off the movie.

"I thought you liked this movie," Doggett said. "If you want to watch something else instead- "

"I don't think we have time for a movie," Reyes told him.

"Why not?" Doggett asked stupidly.

"Because it's time to go to the hospital." Reyes grimaced, mourning what was likely to be the destruction of her favorite quilt.

"Oh…" he said. "Oh!"

"Listen, before you panic, we've got plenty of time. Before you do anything else, write Gibson a note."

"About what?!"

"To let him know that we've gone to the hospital, and he should go there once he gets home from school," she said calmly, then grimaced in pain.

"We could get him released early."

"We have time, but not that much time," Reyes said, rolling off the bed. "Red tape at school takes practically forever. The babies could be in kindergarten by the time we got him out of class."

"Ok, right," Doggett muttered, grabbing a piece of paper and pen, and scribbling down instructions for Gibson. Then he folded it up and put it and a roll of tape in his pocket, feeling proud that Reyes didn't even remind him about the tape.

Reyes, however, wasn't paying attention to his wit, because she was on the phone to the hospital.

A few minutes later, after she'd changed out of her soggy clothes and he'd thrown the wet bedding into the washing machine, all there was left to do was grab her bag and pause to tape the note to the front door. Then they were out of the house, and on their way to the hospital.




It all happened so fast. Well, Reyes probably thought differently, but it seemed fast to him. As soon as they got to the hospital Reyes was plunked into a wheel chair and whisked away.

He wanted to run after her but a nurse with a nazi-like glint in her eyes insisted that he go with her to fill out the paperwork in admitting first. His hand shook as he filled out the forms, making his already not very legible hand-writing worse. He couldn't even blame the fact on a desk set for righties since the writing surface wasn't biased. It was just anxiety.

As soon as he filled out the form he shoved them back at the nurse, and demanded to be brought to his wife. The doctor was already with her, and was in the middle of announcing that it probably won't be long when he burst into the room. When the door swung back behind him with loud clatter, he turned red, but no one seemed to think his enthusiastic entrance was anything to be embarrassed about. The doctor just continued to talk to Reyes about how things might go more quickly than a singleton birth since twins were smaller and the second baby usually seemed anxious not be left behind for long.

After that things were hazy, blurred by dueling anxiety and elation. He knew that he held her and talked softly to her, saying encouraging things, but for the life of him he couldn't recall a single thing anyone said until the doctor held up a red squalling infant and proclaimed her a healthy girl.

She was so small. That scared Doggett for a moment, since he'd never seen a baby that small before in real life, but then he remembered the doctor saying twins were smaller. And when he thought about it, he remembered he'd known they'd be small all along. It was just that her realness startled all rational thoughts from him. He was this tiny person's father, and it awed him.

"John? Could you come here?" the doctor asked, holding out a pair of scissors. "Just cut between the clamps."

Reluctant to leave Reyes' side, Doggett took the scissors and cut the baby's cord with trembling hands. He had expected the doctor to do it, but he was proud to do the honors. Reyes only held their daughter briefly, before the nurse took her to be cleaned up. When she was clean, she was placed in Doggett's waiting arms. He knew that Reyes would have liked to hold her more, but she was a little busy to.

The baby had dark hair, and he had to watch for over a minute before she opened her eyes wide enough to catch sight of their ocean blue. He didn't mind waiting, though, cradling his little girl in his arms was fine by him. As wrapped up as his attention was on the first baby, he nearly forgot about everything else until he heard the doctor encouraging Reyes. Feeling sheepish, he returned to her side, but her look said she wasn't mad. She understood.

"Ok, here comes baby B," the doctor said, sounding excited. "One more big push Monica…Good!" A baby's thin mewing cry pieced the air. "It's a beautiful baby-" The doctor paused. "Boy."

"Boy?" Doggett asked, shocked.

"Boy." The doctor nodded. "Aren't you a surprise!" he cooed to the baby before holding out the scissors to Doggett to cut that cord too, but with his hands full Doggett declined with a head shake. The doctor shrugged, cut the cord himself, and handed the baby over to a nurse before returning his attention to Reyes.

"The OB must have been wrong," Reyes said as the nurse brought her son to her.

Still holding his daughter, Doggett gave his new son a bemused look. "A son and a daughter then," he said, sounding dazed.

"The OB was wrong," the doctor said as he completed his exam of Reyes, who was so distracted by the babies that she didn't even notice what he'd been doing. "But probably not about you having two daughters," he added.

Reyes' brow wrinkled in confusion. She was about to ask him what he was talking about when the next contraction hit her.




Three hours later…

Doggett returned to Reyes' room after he walked Gibson out to her car, which he was going to take home for the night. He was still slightly nervous about him driving, and had requested a call as soon as Gibson got to the house. (Then he tried not to let his relief come out in his voice as they spoke a half-hour later. He chalked it up to new parent's nerves, but when he told Reyes about it later, she replied that it was probably natural to be concerned that way about his 'nephew' by marriage, given that he was their responsibility too.) It took less than ten minutes to see the boy off, but it felt like forever.

She didn't notice his absence, she was as sound asleep as she'd been when he and Gibson had begun the trek to the parking lot. The nurses had wanted to put the babies in the nursery while she slept, but she had protested that she wouldn't be able to rest peacefully if they weren't in the room. So the row of bassinets was against one wall of the room.

He stood over them, looking down. One blue knit cap, and two pink ones. He was still feeling stunned that their children were triplets rather than the expected twins. Reyes was thrilled, instantly accepting their surprised son into her heart.

As much as it killed him to admit it to himself, Doggett was of more mixed feelings. He thought it might had been different if the "extra" baby had been a girl like his sisters. He'd so been looking forward to his little daughters, knowing that they'd be sweet and beautiful- and they were, he thought, reaching down to touch them each gently- and only capable of reminding him of their mother. Not Luke.

Which was his newborn son's only flaw, being male like his lost brother. The doctor had explained that he must have been positioned behind his sisters en utero, which is why Reyes' one brief sonogram hadn't detected him. Another later in the pregnancy probably would have revealed him, but Reyes' journey had precluded opportunities for them. The doctor had also said it was remarkable for that reason that the pregnancy was sustained long enough to allow for all three babies to weigh just over five pounds at birth. Which meant, coupled with their fully developed lungs, that they were not facing the long hospital stays that many newborn triplets had. Exhausted but amused, Reyes thanked everyone's insistence that she eat more for that. Doggett found it hard to adjust his thinking to the view that these babies were actually "big" not "small" like they looked to him.

Doggett frown, angry at him self for thinking that word. Flaw. It wasn't fair. Sighing nearly inaudibly, he reached into the third bassinet and picked the little boy up. Gently cradling his head and neck, Doggett hugged his son to his chest and walked slowly to a window. One of the nurses had told Reyes she'd gotten deluxe accommodations since there were three windows in the room rather than the standard two. Doggett had to smile thinking about it; extra window, extra baby.

It surprised him a little that the stars will still out. Together with the moon they provided enough light to examine the tiny form he held in his arms. The baby didn't look like Luke. Luke had been born with wispy white-blond hair and sky blue eyes. This son had blue eyes too, like his sisters and most white babies at birth, but they were already so inky that they suggested that blue was not the color he'd end up with in a few months. And his hair was already dark, though not as dark as Reyes'. Looking at the baby he realized that he was being supremely unfair. If he didn't remind Doggett of Luke in looks, there really was nothing to suggest that he, any more than his sisters, would remind him of Luke later.

Which, he thought as he slowly rocked the baby in his arms, was something he really needed to work on. He hadn't lied to Reyes shortly before he'd proposed, he really had moved on enough to love again. But not so much that thinking about his slain child brought anything but pain. He wondered if one of the triplets reminding him of Luke might actually be a good thing; perhaps it'd be made less painful by frequent repetition, eventually attaching more joy than sorrow to the memories.

Looking at the innocent baby snuggled against him and lost to sleep he silently vowed at that moment to never mention his momentary resentment to anyone. It had already left his heart and mind, so he didn't think it would be a promise that'd be hard to keep. "Well," he whispered. "You're a lovely surprise…Daddy and Mommy's third little angel."




The room was crowded the next morning even though the Doggett grandparents' flights were not due until evening; The Reyes wouldn't arrive until it was time for the babies to go home. Gibson had arrived as soon as family visiting hours started, which was very appropriate in their opinion, since as far as they were concerned he was. It took a little fibbing to the nursing staff, though.

The others had arrived the minute that regular visiting hours started, which made Reyes suspect they'd been waiting before hand, perhaps pestering the staff to be allowed in early. She wouldn't have put it past Mulder, at least.

Since the hospital was more progressive about visitors than the one Emily had been in for her bone marrow transplant, Mulder and Scully had brought William and Emily with them. Skinner and Kimberly completed the visitors from the Hoover building, although Kersh shocked them all by sending a bunch of balloons. Reyes' friends Sita De Brabant, Kate Queen and Lee Murasaki completed the visitors who stopped by first thing.

The babies were utterly unimpressed by the people who'd come to admire them, and slept through being held. To Doggett and Reyes' surprise, Skinner was the one who'd asked the question they'd been expecting; they'd been sure one of the women would have asked first.

"What are their names?"

Doggett and Reyes exchanged a look, thinking about the discussion hours before.




"I want two minutes," Doggett repeated.

"They can hold out a little longer than that," Reyes insisted. "I'll go with five minutes."

"Boy, you're an optimist," Doggett drawled.

"Maybe," she allowed. "We've got three hours before they get here, and only one until Gibson does, although he'd probably not even bring it up. But you know as soon as everyone else does they'll be asking their names." She wrinkled her nose as she said it.

"Hence the bet," Doggett said with a grin. "And what's to worry about? We've already got the girls' names picked out," he said lightly. "All we need is a name for the young man."

"Right. That's all." Reyes smirked. "John… I heard you talking to him last night-"

"You were supposed to be asleep!" Doggett scolded, embarrassed that his 'talk' to their son had been overhead.

"Whatever. Angel can be a boy's name, you know. Not just Hispanic babies, either these days, thanks to the TV show," she pointed out.

Doggett shook his head. "I don't want to name my little boy after a vampire with a girl-y name."

"It was just a thought," Reyes said, surprised that he his reaction hadn't been more negative, since she'd been pulling his leg. "It's your turn to come up with a suggestion, though."

"Give me a minute…" Doggett's thoughts returned to angels.

Reyes gingerly leaned forward when his eyes lit up. "You have an idea," she stated.

"Yeah," he said with a broad smile. "Did you ever watch a show called 'Highway to Heaven'?"

"No."

"It was a show from the eighties about two male angels who helped people long before Della ever touched anyone."

"And?" she asked, wondering where he was going with it.

"And Michael Landon was the star of the show." He paused. "What do you think of Landon as a name? I think it'd go well with the girls' names," he offered.

"It's perfect!" Reyes exclaimed. "Little Landon…Landon what? John?"

"Do you know the bible story about Job?" he asked her.

"Yes. God took everything from a man on a bet from the devil." She frown.

"But in the end everything was restored to him. I feel like that some times," he confessed.




"The young lady Scully is holding is Jacey Anne Doggett, and Skinner is holding Quinn Reyes Doggett," Reyes told them with a smile.

"And this fellow," Doggett said while holding his son. "Is Landon Job Doggett."

"Funny names," William remarked from his vantage in Mulder's arms.

"Unique names," Scully corrected, more for the adults' benefit than her son's.

"We thought so too," Reyes said, not insulted by the toddler's honesty.







The following day…

More than slightly dazed, Doggett wandered the baby department, picking up everything that was blue. Fortunately Mulder was there to put half of it back. Doggett barely noticed.

Sitting in Mulder's carriage, William observed Doggett's behavior with amusement. "Uncle John is funny, Daddy." Bill Scully Jr. had been outraged when he'd heard William refer to Doggett as "uncle" during the last family gathering so naturally, Mulder encouraged him to think of Doggett that way. Scully even thought of it as cute.

"Uncle John has not slept in two days," Mulder corrected. It was because of this that he'd volunteered to drive Doggett to do the shopping he had to do right that second, even though it would probably be almost a week before the babies came home from the hospital. The realization that they only had things for the girls seemed to be driving him crazy, so Mulder just rolled with it.

Mulder felt a small tap on his elbow. An elderly woman wearing a concerned expression peered up at him. "Is your friend all right?"

He gave her a crooked grin. "He and his wife were expecting twin girls. They had triplets, one of them a boy, instead. Surprise."

"Ah. That would come as quite a shock," she said with a smile, then wandered off.

Meanwhile Doggett was standing in front of a display, muttering "Bottles. Weren't gonna use them, now we've got to because women don't have three…"

Swooping into to the rescue before Doggett finished verbalizing his thought, Mulder pointed out where the newborn bottles were. Then he whispered to Doggett. "Formula or a breast pump?"

"Huh?" Doggett asked, clutching at several packages of bottles like they were a lifesaver.

"You need to buy one or the other," Mulder explained patiently. "You know, so there's something to go in the bottles."

"I don't know." Doggett looked close to tears.

"That's ok," Mulder told him, picking up a deluxe electric pump and canister of Enfamil. "If she just wants to use formula you can return the pump as long as it's not open. Exchange it for more formula."

"What if she doesn't want to use formula at all?" Doggett fretted.

"Oh, I'm sure it'll be used at some point. Baby-sitting or what-not."

Doggett didn't look like he thought the possibility of the babies ever having a sitter was plausible. "How do you know all this stuff?"

"Well, before I ended up having to leave, Scully and I thought I'd stay home with William after he was born, since she had a job and I didn't. I read a lot of those books in the parenting section."

"I should remember this stuff better," Doggett insisted. "I've had a baby before."

"It's been a long time, and not everyone has a photographic memory," Mulder assured him. "It's normal to forget the ins and outs of babies. That's why people have more than one."

"We'd better not have any more…" Doggett grumbled.

"Blue! Blue, Daddy!" William shrieked when he caught sight of a toy display featuring the Nickelodeon icon. "I want Blue!"

"Three infants is probably enough for anyone," Mulder agreed, putting a stuffed Blue into the carriage. It wasn't a hill he wanted to die on, so he gave in without complaint. William instantly grabbed at the blue plush dog and hugged it to his chest. "Just think, in a couple of years they'll be William's age. And really really demanding." Mulder looked around, seeing if there was something Emily might like too if he was buying William a toy.

"Don't remind me!" Doggett groaned. The thought of three babies was overwhelming enough, he couldn't wrap his mind around the idea of three toddlers, three children or three teenagers.




Meanwhile…

"Emily? Emily!"

"I'm in the attic, Mom!"

Scully resisted a sigh when her daughter's voice floated down to her. She'd been trying to figure out where the girl was for the past five minutes, and had been about to look outside.

Scully climbed the attic stairs and spotted Emily sitting on the floor in front of her old doll house. "Hey. What are you doing? I thought you liked the one we got you for Christmas better."

"I do. Remember how you said it'd be ok if I gave this away someday?"

"Yup," Scully said, sitting down on the floor next to her.

"Do you think Monica and John's babies would like it? Probably not Landon, but Jacey and Quinn?"

"Maybe someday, but they're way too little for a toy like this now," Scully pointed out.

Emily rolled her eyes. "I know that, Mom. I mean when they get big enough to play with toys like this without trying to eat the people and the furniture."

"They probably would like it," Scully agreed. "But what if you had a baby sister? Wouldn't you rather give it to her?"

"Are you going to have a baby?" Emily asked, wide-eyed.

"Not right now, no. But Daddy and I are thinking about it. We think it might be nice to have three kids, instead of just two. What do you think about that?" Scully asked. She and Mulder were fairly certain that they did want to try for a baby, but she wondered what the kids would think, mostly Emily since William was too young to have much of an opinion; at least one he could verbalize.

"I dunno."

"You don't know?" Scully teased, tickling her.

"No!" Emily giggled, worming away from her mother's fingers. "I've never had two brothers or a brother and a sister, so how could I know if I'd like it or not?"

"Now you sound like Daddy." Scully half laughed, half sighed.

"Good!" Emily exclaimed, launching a counter attack on Scully's ticklish back. "He's a good person to sound like."

"Just as long as you don't tell kids at school all about aliens," Scully cautioned.

"Oh Mom…"




Four days later…

The night before the babies were to go home, Reyes sat at the kitchen table with a box of stationary and a pen. She'd been released from the hospital three days before, and it had been really difficult to leave without the babies, but the doctors insisted that it was hospital policy that all multiples stay a week, no matter what their weight. There was logic and rationality behind the rule, but it was hard to apply to your own babies, because being a new parent doesn't involve a lot of stoic acceptance.

As anxious as she was to go and get them in the morning, she was a tiny bit grateful for the time she had before they came home and took over the house. Right now she could write the letters she promised; she didn't know when she'd have another chance.

Holding the silver pen Doggett had given her for her birthday the year before, she thought for several minutes with it hovering above the paper. The paper was light blue, with a faint drawing of sunflowers on it, and she distracted herself by thinking about when she'd been given the set by someone she'd barely known in New Orleans. At last ready to put aside meandering thought, she began to write.

 

Dear Isabella,

I don't think I'm ever going to fully understand why you decided to help me, and I'm grateful that it didn't put your job in jeopardy when you took on that selfless act. Thanks to you, I found out what happened to my mother, and my children will not grow up as ignorant of their biological history as I did.

I'm sure you noticed that I didn't say I found my mother, because sadly, she too is gone, just like my father. Please don't be sad for me, you gave me a great gift- the truth. I don't think anyone else has ever given me something so important, except perhaps my husband giving me our children, and my adopted parents giving me their love.

I told you that I was going to have twins, but that turned out not to be the whole truth. I'm now the mother of triplets, surprise! My two daughters were hiding their brother, and we didn't find out about him until he was born. It's quite a surprise, but it's a blessing too. I guess now my husband and I won't have to try again for a boy. I'm enclosing a picture of them with this letter.

Thanks again. Please don't hesitate to tell me if there's ever anything I can do for you.

Love,

Monica Reyes (Doggett)

 

Smiling, she folded the pages and put them into the envelope she'd already carefully written the address on. The second letter would be easier, because the other woman was insistent that they keep in touch.

Dear Lillian,

Thank you for your last letter. John and I have surprising news. We didn't have twins as doctors predicted, instead we had triplets, two girls and a boy. Our little surprise was named Landon, because it put my husband in mind of angels. The girls, though, I named with his approval. Jacey we named after my mother; I didn't have an intimate relationship with the woman, so using her first name was too uncomfortable, but we did want to honor her. And Quinn we named after the street where my journey ended; It reminds me that with their birth a new journey entirely has begun.

All three of them are healthy, and they'll be coming home in the morning, so please forgive me for the brevity of the letter; I think my husband and foster child would like to do something tonight before all the feedings and diaperings begin.

I'll write again when I can.

Love,

Monica Reyes (Doggett)

As soon as she'd put the letter in the envelope, she felt a hand on her shoulder, so she looked up and smiled.

"Are you ready to go to the movie?" Doggett asked.

"I didn't know that we decided on a movie. Did you want to see Finding Nemo?"

Doggett shook his head. "No. We're going to spend the next ten years going to Disney movies, let's go see something rated R."

"Something violent," Gibson insisted. "Like 28 Days Later."

"Gibson! I thought you were peace loving," Reyes said in mock-surprise.

"I told you she doesn't pay attention to my video games," Gibson told Doggett with a smirk.

Laughing, they sat down with the paper, and began to argue their cases of what would be the best movie to see on a nice deemed "the last night of freedom."




Homecoming day…

They looked so small. Not that they realized that their bemused parents were looking down at them, since they were each fast asleep, engulfed in baby carriers of a proper size for a newborn. But most newborns were a couple of pounds heavier, so it made the space they didn't take up very noticeable.

Although Doggett and Reyes looked half-panicked about the idea of leaving the safe confines of the hospital, Gibson was calm.

"Which one would you like me to carry?" he asked, indicating the carriers with a casual wave of his hand. A glance at the clock made him wonder who would get to the house sooner, them, or Maria Reyes.

Doggett looked puzzled for a moment, as if he'd been asked why 42 was the meaning of life, but eventually an answer came to him. "Why don't you take Quinn's carrier?"

Gibson grinned and reached for its handle. He knew why Doggett had picked Quinn; she was the heaviest of the three babies and somehow seemed the least fragile. He thought of pointing out to Doggett that his thoughts were wide-open, but he didn't have the heart to.

"So are we ready to go, then?" he asked instead.

Reyes gave a helpless shrug and tentatively reached for Landon's carrier. All of the babies' things were in the van, and they'd been checked out ten minutes before. "I think so."

"Ok, let's do this then. Everything will be fine." He picked up Jacey and made for the door.

It took them fifteen minutes to get out to the car, because they were stopped every few feet by hospital staff who wanted to say good-bye and good luck. They were even talked into letting them take a picture before they left. Gibson asked if they had to keep the hideous teddy bear someone insisted he hold while the picture was taken, but neither Doggett nor Reyes would answer, so he shrugged and threw in the van, where it would spend the next six months before someone found it and threw it out.

At last, though, they strapped the carriers into the van and drove off, heading for home. Reyes turned in her seat so she could look at the babies. Landon was still asleep, his head cocked to one side as he slept through his fist car trip. Jacey was wide-eyed, and sucking hard on the pink pacifier that Doggett had popped in her mouth reflexively when she'd fussed as she was loaded into the van. Quinn looked at her for a moment, but then fixed her gaze on the fists she'd managed to bring into her line of sight.

They were perfect, they were hers, and she couldn't wait to get to the house where they'd immediately get their first lesson on how to be a family.

The End

P.S. Here's a real family who expected triplets but ended up with a bonus baby come delivery http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/02/17/identical-quadruplets-triplets-mississippi/5567673/



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