Title: Child of Fate
Author: Gerry Hill
Written: May 1996
This will contain relationship material, maybe PG-13 at the most.
Disclaimer: This story is based on the characters and situations created by Chris Carter, the Fox Network and Ten Thirteen Productions. As such, the characters named are the property of those entities and are used without permission, although no copyright infringements are intended. The following work is for the distribution and entertainment of newsgroup members only. Any further distribution of this work without the author's consent is in violation of federal law.

Summary: A mysterious child has an effect on Mulder's and Scully's lives

The quiet little "tap-tap" at Special Agent Fox Mulder's apartment door was heard only because Mulder happened to have his hand on the doorknob, ready to leave to pick up his FBI partner, Dana Scully. He took a quick look out the peephole, but saw no one. Puzzled, he unlocked the door and slowly pulled it open.

Looking gravely up at him, a little girl stood primly at his feet. She had reddish curly hair, hazel eyes, a flowery dress, and couldn't have been more than five years old.

Mulder smiled down at her and then looked left and right up the hallway for her parents or some adult. The hall was deserted, however, so he squatted down more or less to her level and asked, "Are you lost?"

She shook her head, then put her tiny hand into his considerably larger one, and said, "My name is Melissa."

The hand in his was so tiny, his heart melted immediately. He gravely introduced himself, then asked, "What can I do for you, Melissa?"

She withdrew her hand and walked past Mulder into his apartment, saying, "I'm thirsty. Do you have some water?"

Mulder got to his feet and said, "Sure. I'll get you a glass of water, and then we can call your Mom and Dad to come get you."

She gave him a glorious smile, then said, "I can get the water. I know where the kitchen is." She had to pull a chair up to the sink to reach the faucet, but did manage to help herself.

Mulder was enchanted, but then looked at his watch. "Oh, hell."

He looked down guiltily at Melissa, and said, "Sorry. I mean, darn. I was supposed to be at my partner's place by now. We're going to be late. We need to locate your parents so that I can go."

He went into the living room and picked up the telephone receiver.

As he turned back to say, "Do you know your telephone number?," he only got the "Do you...." out before realizing that Melissa was nowhere to be seen.

"What's going on here?" He spent some time looking everywhere a little girl could possibly be, but Melissa was gone. The glass of water sat on the counter and the chair she had used was still in the kitchen; otherwise Mulder would have thought he had imagined the whole thing.

"She couldn't have gone by me to reach the front door," he was thinking. "Even though she's only as tall as my knees, I would have seen her."

The phone rang, startling him. "Mulder," he answered.

"Mulder, where are you?!" His partner's voice was sounding pretty exasperated. "We can't make that flight to Massachusetts anymore. You were supposed to have been here twenty minutes ago."

Distractedly, Mulder replied, "Yeah, Scully, I know. There was a little girl who was lost and needed a drink of water....oh, hell, I'll tell you later. Why don't you call and get us on the next flight? I'm leaving now."

Without waiting for a response, he disconnected and headed out.

Scully answered her door half-dressed to travel; her blouse was out of her skirt, she was in her stocking feet, and her hair was looking a little wild.

"Hi," she said, and motioned him into the apartment. "I was looking for some earrings I think I may have dropped under the bed, but I can't find them."

"Those little pearl things?"

She seemed surprised he would ever notice even that much, and just said, "It doesn't matter. They're around somewhere; I'll just get my diamond studs. You might as well give me your jacket. There's no rush anymore because the next available flight won't leave for three hours."

She motioned toward the sofa. "Kick off your shoes if you want - I did. I'll get you a drink or something."

He let her confiscate his suit coat and gratefully loosened his tie and collar as he sank back into the sofa cushions.

"Where's Rambo?"

"Over at Mom's. She takes care of Spritzi when I'm out of town. And stop calling him Rambo and Ratboy."

Mulder had happily propped his unshod feet on the coffee table with a sigh, then turned on the tv with the remote. "Going to watch the news," he called out to Scully, who had disappeared into the kitchen.

When she returned he was clicking from channel to channel, impatiently trying to find something of interest.

"Here's an iced tea. Now I want to hear your reason that we are going to be arriving in Waring, Massachusetts, at an ungodly hour of the morning."

Obediently, Mulder told her the story of the little girl, and Scully frowned when he got to the part where she disappeared. "So this five year old child was left wandering around on her own?"

Mulder protested, "I didn't just leave her! I looked everywhere I could think of before coming over here."

"Shhh. Be quiet." Scully held her hand up to stop the talking, then reached for the remote to turn up the volume on the news program.

The screen showed emergency and police vehicle lights flashing, people running, and an agitated reporter in the middle of everything, saying, "It's just horrible. No one could have survived this crash."

The screen cut to the main newscaster in the studio, who was saying, "For those of you just tuning in, there has been a terrible tragedy near Dulles airport tonight. A 747 has crashed shortly after takeoff, and many eyewitnesses are saying that it blew up in the air before crashing, which experts say means the likelihood of a bomb on board." The newscaster seemed to listen to her headphones for a second, then added. "We are displaying a phone number for people to call if they had friends, family, and loved ones flying on Delta #229, from Dulles to Logan in Boston. We don't know yet if there could have been any survivors."

Scully turned to Mulder in shock. "That's our flight."

He took the remote out of her hand and lowered the sound, looking just as incredulous as Scully.

"If that kid hadn't delayed me...." Then he added, "She said her name was Melissa."

Scully just stared at Mulder for a long moment, and said, "Mulder. Don't you dare. If you're going off on one of your alien, monster or ghost theories, especially one involving my dead sister Melissa, you will regret it. I will personally shave you bald and use your head for my makeup mirror if you pursue this ridiculous idea."

"But, Scully....there was a family resemblance, and her name, and then disappearing like that..." He stopped talking at her furious expression and backed off a little.

He tried a different tack. "It does feel good to be alive, anyway. All those people on that plane..." He looked back at the tv, where chaos still reigned at the airport.

Scully agreed, "Yeah, it gives me a weird feeling to have come so close." She took a deep breath and turned on the sofa so that she was nearer to Mulder and faced him.

Maybe it's because we've come this close to dying, Mulder; I really have to talk with you about something that I don't want to put off anymore."

His slightly questioning gaze held hers for a moment, and she sighed. "Mulder. I need to call you Fox temporarily, OK?"

His expression changed to quiet amusement, as he nodded.

"Fox, I don't know quite how to say this, but, well, it's getting harder for me to work with you day after day and not clear the air."

"Uh, oh. Sounds major. What have I done now?" he asked.

She waved a hand out to the side. "It's not that you've done anything, exactly. Oh, rats, how do I say this and keep your ego no more inflated than it is already?"

He looked puzzled.

"Fox. I...more than like you. It's a much stronger feeling, and it seems to strengthen as time goes on."

He looked like he might be finally getting the picture.

"But it's not just friendship. I'm...physically attracted to you, too." She looked into his eyes, and added in a strained voice, "And there's nothing we can do about it."

He is mesmerized by her beautiful hazel eyes, but manages to say, "Dana." He gently touched her cheek, and said, "I think we've both known for a long time what we could have together, but we had to let common sense prevail."

His hand was still on her cheek, and she turned her face into his palm and kissed it. That did it. Restraint broke he put his arms around her and he pulled her against his chest. Their kiss was long and lingering, each marvelling at how soft and wonderful the other's lips were. The phone rang. (It always rings at moments like these, right?)

The answering machine kicked in, then they heard:

"This AD Skinner, Agent Scully. We just found out that you and Agent Mulder never got on the flight that crashed tonight. We had thought you were both dead." There was a pause, then he said, "Call me." Click.

From an inch away, Scully and Mulder looked at each other for a moment, then mutually pulled apart.

"Ooops. I guess we should have called him," Mulder said. "Didn't even think of it," Scully replied, trying to straighten out her clothing. She couldn't bring herself to look at him again.

"Scully? You're not embarrassed now, are you?" He looked with concern at her, and lifted her chin up with his finger.

She smiled and took his hand into hers. "Well, Skinner's voice sort of jolted me back to real life."

Mulder wrinkled his nose. "Yeah, me too. What do we do now? Got any ideas?"

Scully looked mischievous and said, "Well, we could go back into my bedroom and do it all night long, to hell with the job."

Mulder looked startled, then pleased, then wary. "Uh, Scully, much as that appeals to me...."

"I know. I'll call Skinner."

She was on the phone for at least five minutes, wherein Mulder took advantage of her semi-helpless situation and let his hands wander around her body in a thoroughly x-rated way. He was just beginning to tug at her bra fastenings when she finally hung up.

She slapped his hands away, and held him off at arm's length. "Mulder, behave yourself. Skinner said the case we were supposed to cover in Massachusetts has been superseded by a more urgent one right here in D.C."

"Great." He slouched over to the sofa and flopped down again, patting the space next to him in a clear invitation to Scully.

She shook her head, and said, "I knew I should have held my tongue.

I've created a monster. Listen, Mulder, we have to behave professionally or we'll both be out of the FBI before you can blink."

He looked repentant, but he could feel the electricity between their bodies like it was a huge beam of light, drawing them together. Now that he had felt her soft lips on his, felt her marvelous curves and valleys, he was lost. He was aware of her physically before, but now it was acutely intensified, and would not play dead at will.

"What's Skinner want us to do?" He attempted to get his mind back to the case at hand.

She seemed relieved that he was behaving himself, at least for the moment. "He talked with someone who knows what happened to Krycek."

Mulder's interest instantly clicked into high gear. "Skinner said that this guy named Bill Hallstead was involved with some men in high government positions who, he feels, are going way beyond what he considers moral. He's ready to talk."

"Let's go, Scully! Where do we find this Hallstead?" She was tucking her blouse into her skirt and slipping her shoes on as she talked. "Over near embassy row, in one of those posh brownstones."

Mulder put his shoes on, grabbed his jacket, but had to wait a minute while Scully went into the bathroom to fix her hair. He idly opened the door, ready to take off, and was astounded to see Melissa patiently sitting in the hall, seemingly waiting for him.

He was at a loss for words. Hearing Scully coming up behind him, he turned and wordlessly pointed into the hall. She peered around his shoulder to see what was of interest, and her eyes widened.

She moved around Mulder into the hall, stooped down, and held her hand out to the child.

Melissa looked up at her and gave her a beautiful smile, then took her hand, got to her feet, and followed Scully into the apartment. Mulder looked wonderingly at the two similar females. Melissa had more reddish tints in her hair, it was curlier, but all the other features were so alike that it was obvious they were closely related.

He asked Melissa, "So, what did you do, hide in my car when I drove over here?"

Her eyes were wide and innocent. "I really need to go to the bathroom."

"You notice she didn't answer my question, Scully. Hmmm. First a drink at my place, now a bathroom at yours. Sounds like a logical progression."

He noticed that Scully's face was paler than usual as she gazed at the child. She said, "I'll show you," and led her to the hall. Mulder was deep in thought when Scully came back.

"She looks just like...." Scully stopped, refusing to go down that road.

"I know," Mulder said. "We need to contact the police to see if they can't locate her family. I'll call Pete Marris and see what he can do."

After a few minutes' conversation, Mulder said, "OK. He said to bring her by the station and he'll take care of everything."

Scully nodded, and went down the hall to check on Melissa. After a moment, she came back with a curious expression on her face.

"She's not gone again, is she?" Mulder asked.

"No. She said that a bad man hurt your car after you left it parked outside. I asked her what she meant, but that's all she could tell me."

"What the hell? OK, I'll go down and take a look, while you keep an eye on her. Be right back."

Mulder quickly reached the car, but could see nothing on the exterior that looked different. He started to put his key into the doorlock, then stopped, got down onto the pavement, and looked under the car. It was dark, but the well-lighted street gave him some illumination. There was nothing he could see out of place there, either.

He stood up, unlocked the door, reached inside, and released the hood. "So far, so good," he thought.

When the hood was halfway raised, he stopped dead in his tracks. Gently and very carefully, he lowered the hood and backed away from the car. Then he ran.

Scully was startled to see Mulder come barreling into the apartment, making a beeline for the telephone. Re-dialing, he explained, "Bomb. Big one. Under the hood. Get Melissa, and you two back off from the front of the apartment in case it should go off."

The FBI and local police arrived in record time. They evacuated nearby buildings while the bomb squad attempted to dismantle the bomb; they weren't taking any chances. After Mulder explained what little he knew about the situation, he and Scully decided to take Melissa over to Pete Marris' office.

In the taxi, Scully tried to draw Melissa out and get her talking, but no luck. The child was a master at changing the subject or just ignoring you when she didn't want to answer something.

Scully leaned toward Mulder, who was in the front passenger seat, and whispered, "Mulder, she saved our lives twice tonight." Her eyes were very big. Mulder smiled and touched her nose lightly with his forefinger.

"Did anyone ever tell you that you are beautiful when you're upset?" Then, before Scully could take exception to his sexist remark, he added, "Yeah, it's really odd. We should be mincemeat several times over, but here we are. Thanks to who, or what?"

"What do you mean, thanks to what?"

"I mean, Scully, that something is just not normal here. I'll make you a bet that they never find her family, that they never identify her, and that she disappears on them, too."

Scully glanced back at the very solid-looking little girl who was presently asleep on the seat.

"Mulder, this is not a ghost." She turned back to Mulder, and saw

that they had arrived at the police station. "Besides, who would 'appear' to save us? Are you back to my sister again?" The last question was in a threatening tone.

Mulder just shook his head, paid for the cab, and helped Scully get a half-asleep Melissa out of the taxi.

They found Pete Marris waiting for them, and he listened while Mulder filled him in on what little he knew about Melissa. Pete, who had five kids of his own, all under the age of 13, took Melissa's hand and assured her, "I'll take care of you, darlin'. I'll bet you're hungry and could eat a horse about now."

Melissa solemnly nodded.

He said, "OK, then. Let's go get some eats."

Scully knelt down and held her arms out. "'Bye, Melissa."

Melissa willingly went to her and was thoroughly hugged. Scully's eyes threatened to brim over with the tears welling in them.

Then Melissa ran over to Mulder and tugged at his pants leg.

Mulder obediently squatted down, and Melissa hugged him fiercely around the neck and gave him a big kiss on the cheek. He swallowed and blinked back some suspicious moisture from his eyes as he returned the embrace. "Goodbye, Melissa. Maybe we'll see each other again."

As Melissa returned to Pete, she said knowingly, "We will."

Scully and Mulder said, "'Bye," and turned to leave.

They never heard Melissa's whispered response, "'Bye Mommy and Daddy."

The End

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