Title: Deep Breath
Author: Catherine M.
Rating: PG-13 for occasional violence
Keywords: MSR and a healthy dose of angst
Spoilers: Hasn't happened yet, undoubtedly never will but REQUIEM would be the biggest reference.
HOMEPAGE: The X-Files Touchstone URL: http://www.geocities.com/touchston3/
Disclaimer: The characters used in this story belong to Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny and Chris Carter. Also those at Ten Thirteen productions and Fox Television. No infringement intended, just borrowing them for a while.I promise I'll have them back before midnight.

Summary: A post Requiem fic written in September 2000 long before the 8th season premiered.

Predicts the events surrounding Mulder's return and Scully's baby when there was still a shred of hope that the child was conceived the old fashioned, fun way with M&S doing the naked pretzel.

Dedication: This story is for Karen and Allie. Life-long friends that I only just met.

Long Live Clan X!

Scully was paralyzed, unable to reach out, to touch his face and pull him close to her. The apparition spoke, mouthing the words she could not hear. His eyes stared blankly past her and she was reminded of a similar image she once had of her late father. She strained to focus in the darkness of her bedroom as the image started to fade. The hairs rose on the back of her neck as she pulled herself up from the bed in a desperate attempt to stop him from leaving. The feeling was coming back to her body, her limbs responding as she reached out her hand, but there was nothing. "Mulder," she whispered. The sound of the phone ringing jarred Scully back into reality. Disoriented and suddenly cold she found herself kneeling at the bottom of her bed, unable to remember how or why she was there. Had she been dreaming? The phone, where was the phone? What time was it? She fumbled over the tangled sheets and found the night stand, knocking the alarm clock to the floor, the red display flickered as it landed, 03:1Oam. "Hello."

"Agent Scully, It's Skinner...Mulder's been found."

"What? Wh...um...where?"

"He turned up at Bellefleur Memorial Hospital as a John Doe. The doctors have been unable to tell me his condition other than that he is in a coma and that they have him stabilized on life support. I suggest you get yourself on the first flight to Oregon in the morning."

"Uh, yes Sir, I'll, um, I'll meet you there."

Replacing the receiver, Scully turned to look again at the foot of her bed. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and tried in vain to slow the heart that pounded beneath her chest.

Scully fought hard to repress the urge to just run out the apartment there and then, barefoot and clad only in her pajamas. Realizing that running all the way to Oregon was not the way to go she attempted to regain some composure and get herself organized properly. Pulling her overnight bag from the top of the wardrobe she grabbed haphazardly for clothing and toiletries, turned on the shower and stubbed her toe as she ran back through to the bedroom.

"Damn it!" she winced at the pain but somehow welcomed the clarity it brought. She had been waiting for that phone call for too many months. She had dreamed about it on those rare nights when she slept deeply enough and now the pain in her toe was there to let her know it was not a dream, not this time.

Scully was close to breaking point when the plane finally touched down in Portland, Oregon. Every step of the journey had been problematic, with each little delay compounding the last. She felt like screaming at the world. Didn't they know? Didn't they understand that each administrative cock-up was keeping her from seeing Mulder? Once into her hire car she drove the relatively short distance to Bellefleur with the gas pedal flat to the floor and her gaze fixed on the road ahead. At one point she wondered if she had blinked at all in the last half hour. On her arrival at the hospital she felt every last modicum of control leave her as she made a bee line for the first person in a uniform she came across.

"Excuse me, there was an FBI agent taken in here this morning, can you..." Scully was interrupted by the male raising his hands.

"I'm sorry ma'am, you'll have to ask at reception, I'm just the cleaner," the bemused male pointed at the nearby desk.

"It's okay," Scully said, "Thank you." The nurse at the reception seemed prepared for her arrival and was already standing when Scully reached the desk.

"Agent Scully?"

"Yes." replied Scully, managing to muster a brief smile. "Mr. Skinner is waiting for you, if you'd like to come this way." The nurse ushered her through a set of double doors into a long corridor. At the far of which Scully could see Skinner speaking to a male doctor. Even from this distance she could see the concern in his facial expression. "Were you here when he was admitted?" Scully asked the nurse who was now several steps ahead of her.

"No, I'm sorry, that would have been my night shift colleagues. It was very busy at the time and there was a lot of confusion surrounding your partners arrival," she stated as they neared the end of the corridor, "I really don't know much about it."

Skinner acknowledged Scully's approach with a somber nod in her direction. "Agent Scully, this is Doctor McQuade, he's been dealing with Mulder's case."

Scully reached out to shake his hand. "How is he?" her shaky voice betrayed her outer calm but she remained stoic.

"It's hard to say. We've run all the tests we can think of but there's nothing obvious to indicate why he's in this coma. Also," he paused, "There's an unusual amount of activity in the frontal and temporal lobes of his brain that we've been unable to explain."

Scully nodded, trying to take in what the man was saying while trying to suppress her need to just push past them into the room behind. "I'd like to take a look at those results if you don't mind, I am a doctor" she paused, "Can I see him now?" she asked.

"Of course, this way." the doctor smiled reassuringly as he led her into the room.

Scully braced herself before following the doctor. The distance from the door to the side of Mulder's bed seemed like miles and when she reached his side her senses began to shut down. She couldn't see the tubes and lines running from his nose, his mouth, his arms. Couldn't hear the sound of the ventilator pushing the air into his lungs or the rhythmic tones from the monitors counting the beats of his heart. She was unaware of the warm hand placed gently on her back by Skinner who was now at her side. He spoke softly but the words were lost to her.

The world was reduced in that moment to encompass only Scully and the man that lay before her. She reached out to touch his hand and collapsed to her knees as fatigue and overwhelming emotion finally overcame her. She sobbed unashamedly now, releasing all that was within. The exhaustion, fear, hope, and anxiety that had been pent up for far too long flowed out through her tears as she rested her cheek against his still hand. As she collapsed to the floor, her free arm rested protectively over her swollen belly. She resolved there and then that this child was going to know it's father.

At some point, Scully realized, Skinner must have asked the doctor to leave them alone, for the next time she looked up he was gone. Skinner was squatting down next to Scully gently rubbing her back.

"Scully, do you want me to leave?" he asked. Scully sniffed and shook her head in response.

"No, please stay."

"Let me help you," Skinner said as he pulled a chair over behind her. She acquiesced to his gentle ministrations and without letting go of Mulder's hand eased herself into the chair.

"I'm sorry," she whispered.

"For what?" Skinner frowned.

"Losing it like that, I couldn't help it," she said as she wiped her tear stained face with a tissue.

"Don't be sorry, it's understandable," Skinner couldn't altogether hide the emotion in his voice and it made Scully look up and actually see him for the first time that day. He looked tired, his eyes blood shot and puffy. She couldn't help the smile that came across her face as she realized that he had been crying too. It had surprised the hell out of her that day he came to her in the hospital to confess that Mulder had been lost. He was the epitome of maleness, the type you'd have a hard time believing had tear ducts. Yet here he was again, with raw emotions laid bare for all to see.

Skinner cleared his throat. "The doctors here have no idea what they're dealing with, no idea where to begin or how to treat him," he paused. "We may have to employ some unorthodox methods to get him through this."

"Whatever it takes," Scully said softly.

"You look exhausted Scully, get some rest. You're no use to Mulder in this condition,"

Skinner laid his hand on Scully's shoulder, smiled and walked slowly out of the room.

Now alone, the cacophony of sounds in the room finally invaded Scully's consciousness. Her senses reawakened and with them came an overwhelming sense of hopelessness that settled in the pit of her stomach. She took in all that was before her. His eyes were taped shut, his chest rising and falling with mechanical precision. The sounds were somehow soothing in their regularity and before long she found herself being lulled to sleep, her lids becoming heavy and her breathing matching that of her partner's. She didn't resist, and let herself rest awkwardly against the edge of the bed. His hand rested in hers and she held it to her cheek, part of her never wanting to let go of it for as long as she lived.

He was back again, standing before her, smiling wistfully. This time she could hear his words.

"Scully...I'm here Scully...don't give up on me...I'm right here with you...I'm not going to leave you again...can you hear me Scully?"

Scully snapped awake with a sharp intake of air and a searing pain in her back. "Jesus!" she exclaimed. Her body protested the sudden return to consciousness and it took a few moments for her to realize where she was. The room came back into focus and her eyes rested on the face of Mulder, unmoving and unchanged. She frowned and reached up to stroke his face. "Mulder, I'm here, I can feel you with me, but you have to fight. D'ya hear me Mulder? Fight!"

Just then, the door opened and in walked three familiar figures. Langly, Frohike and Byers shuffled towards the bed with their heads bowed. They looked uncomfortable, like clowns at a funeral. Their arrival lifted Scully's spirits momentarily for she knew that when anything unorthodox and underhand needed doing, these guys were ideally suited to the job. Frohike picked up the metal chart suspended from the end of the bed frame, "They haven't go a clue, have they?" he asked flipping through the pages.

"There's no training in Medical School that prepares them for alien abductees. They have nothing to go on here," Scully explained. "Skinner figured we could maybe help out," said Langly. "Called us this morning."

"Whatever it takes," added Byers. "We're here for you, and for Mulder."

Scully smiled and nodded appreciatively at them before returning her gaze to Mulder. Somewhere in the distant reaches of her subconscious she was sure she heard his voice again. Barely discernible, she picked out an expletive and what sounded like a reference to The Wizard of Oz. She stifled a giggle as she turned to The Lone Gunman "Mulder says hi." Their puzzled expressions forced her to explain herself.

"I can hear him," she said. "I don't know how but he's communicating with me. It might have something to do with his altered brain activity, I don't know." Skinner made his entrance then, nodding at the assembled group.

"Glad you could make it, we have a lot of work to do," he said. "I just spoke with Doctor McQuade and he admits he's at a loss. They're going to do another MRI scan in about an hour and we can hopefully compare the results with those obtained the last time he exhibited these symptoms."

"It's different this time," said Scully. "He's at peace. It's as if his body has just shut down to allow his mind to heal. I don't think he's suffering or in any pain."

"That may be so, but they still have valid concerns regarding his physical condition. They're going along the lines of some kind of brain injury caused by oxygen starvation," Skinner looked at the floor as he continued. "They're not ruling out the possibility that even if he comes out of the coma he may remain in a permanent vegetative state." Scully sighed, "Let's just hope they're wrong."

The next few days passed in a blur for Scully. She lost all track of time, the division between night and day became obsolete and sleep was taken when and where it consumed her. Skinner and Frohike poured over the results obtained from a myriad of tests and Byers and Langly were tasked with researching the effects of drugs such as Phenatoin and Haldoperidol on abnormal brain function.

Scully tried to educate Doctor McQuade on the finer points of alien/human hybrids and theories of extra terrestrial progenitors. Not surprisingly, she was met with blank stares and brick walls. Mulder's condition remained stable with activity in his parietal lobe continuing to spike, but usually only when Scully was in the room. She reasoned that this was due to that area of the brain being used primarily for cognitive abilities and perception. She continued to hear his thoughts and became convinced he was aware of everything going on around him. What troubled her the most was the doctor's insistence that he was not going to recover from this unscathed and that his quality of life would be minimal. Scully heard the words but refused to believe them no matter how many times it was discussed. With each passing day the reality of the situation did start to register and there was talk of next of kin and living wills.

"I can't believe I'm hearing this from you Sir," Scully said softly. Skinner had led Scully away from Mulder's bedside to the corridor outside.

"We have to consider all possible outcomes Dana," Skinner replied. "You are the witness to his living will, you know he doesn't want to live like this. I'm just being realistic."

"Aren't we getting a little ahead of ourselves here Sir? We still don't even know the full extent of his injury or how it will effect him in the long term. Surely he deserves..."

"Dana," Skinner interrupted. "He's still not breathing on his own, none of the drugs have had any effect, he may never come out of this coma. How long are you prepared to wait Agent Scully?" Scully was surprised by the change in his tone and could no longer look him in the eyes as tears appeared in her own. "As long as it takes Sir, I'm not ready to give up on him just yet," she said as she turned back to the room, leaving Skinner alone in the corridor.

He was dying, slowly, piece by piece, shutting down, and there wasn't a damn thing she could do about it. The latest test results showed steadily decreasing levels of activity in his brain more fitting for a man in a deep comatose state. Scully could no longer here him, no longer felt his presence in the room. Apparitions of his soul still visited her while she slept but they were weaker and more indistinct with every passing day. She could literally feel him slipping away.

"Agent Scully?"

Scully hadn't even noticed Doctor McQuade enter the room and his voice shook her from her reverie.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you," he said.

"It's all right, I was miles away," she smiled. "You don't look like you're here to give me any good news."

"I wish I was," he sighed before continuing. "Agent Mulder's condition has deteriorated to the extent that he now falls below the criteria specified on his living will."

"I know," she nodded. "I helped him set the criteria four years ago."

"Then you know what I'm going to say next." Scully swallowed hard. "Yes, I think I do."

"You have power of attorney, so the decision ultimately falls to you." Scully closed her eyes and rubbed at her temples. "I need some time."

"Of course," he said, as he backed away, almost reverently, out of the room. "Take as much time as you need."

"No spirit has she now, no force, she neither hears nor sees. Rolled round within Earth's diurnal course with rocks and stones and trees."

This line from a Wordsworth poem had entered Scully's thoughts as she woke that morning from another fitful night of sleep on the chair in Mulder's room. She had studied the poem at school many years before and had never thought of it since. It described the death of a young girl called Lucy and this was the only part she could recall. She did remember the tragedy of it though, the sense of loss and wasted life. How, in the grand scheme of things, all life, in death, returns to the state from whence it came. Gas and matter. Scully's spirit was pervaded by an ever increasing sense of despair and impending grief. With each passing moment Mulder's life-force ebbed away. She leaned over him now and planted a gentle, lingering kiss on his forehead. "You are my constant..." she whispered as she stroked his hair.

The door to Mulder's room opened slowly and Scully stood at the threshold. "I'm ready now," she said.

The group assembled in the corridor entered the room in single file with their heads bowed. Frohike, Byers and Langly gathered at the foot of the bed, with Skinner on the right hand side. The doctor took up a position next to Scully on the left. There was nothing anybody could say and they stood in silence for several minutes. Scully took a deep breath and with a nod from the doctor reached for the life support monitors. She hesitated over the switch, blinked away the tears that obscured her view and finally, with an audible click, terminated the lifeline. Mulder's lungs filled his chest one last time and the beats of his heart diminished until the steady rhythm was replaced with a single, flat tone. Doctor McQuade silenced the monitor and the air around them became oppressive and still. He reached out and grasped Mulder's wrist below the thumb, stared into the distance for a moment before turning to face Scully. "He's gone..."

"Stop what you're doing!" The door flew open and in the entrance stood one breathless and sweating Billy Miles. Behind him was an equally breathless nurse.

"I'm so...I'm sorry doctor, I couldn't stop him," she stammered.

"Billy?" Scully gasped.

"Who is this man?" demanded Doctor McQuade.

"A fellow abductee," replied Skinner. "You're too late Billy."

"Maybe not," he retorted. "You have to let me help him." Billy advanced towards the bed, his eyes fixed on Mulder. There was a momentary confusion amongst the assembled group until Scully stood back allowing Billy access to Mulder's side. He looked at her pleadingly. "Let me do this, please." Scully simply nodded. Billy placed his left hand over Mulder's forehead and his right hand hovered over his heart. He closed his eyes, bowed his head and began breathing slowly and deeply.

"What does he think he's doing?" McQuade asked Scully.

"Sshh!" she replied.

"This is ridiculous. Nurse Reid, call security!" but his order was cut short by Langly as he pointed towards Mulder's rising chest.


Scully walked slowly round the bed, open mouthed. "Oh my God..." She came round to his right side and leaned in close. "Mulder?" she whispered, as she noticed the movement beneath his taped eyes. "Doctor, give me a hand here," The stunned doctor stood for a moment unable to move. "Doctor!" she repeated, louder this time.

Scully gently peeled the tape from Mulder's eyes and McQuade moved in to detach the hose from the mouth piece of the ventilator, his hands visibly shaking as he did so. "How is this possible?" he asked quietly.

Billy staggered back from the bed, a little unsteady on his feet. He paused for moment, surveying the scene before him and slipped out of the room unnoticed. He made his way down the corridor and took a sharp left at the end through an emergency exit. As he emerged in the stairwell he looked around him ensuring he was alone and out of sight. In the time it took him to exhale he was no longer Billy Miles. His face and body shifted effortlessly to that of an altogether different man...

They could only stand and stare at the miracle that lay before them and the perpetrator of this miracle was long gone before Skinner had even noticed his absence. "Where did he go?" he asked as he looked around the room. Frohike, Langly and Byers barely registered his question and Skinner was half way out the door before Frohike said, "Who?" Once in the corridor Skinner headed for the nurses station at the far end. Nurse Bell was behind the desk.

"That man that you tried to stop, did you see him leave?"

"No sir, I'm sorry. Only one person has passed this desk in the last half hour and it certainly wasn't that man," she replied.

"What did that person look like?"

"He was a very large chap, tall and thick set. He had blond hair slicked back, kinda mean looking face. Never even looked at me as he passed," she added. Skinner simply nodded and walked back the way he came.

"Sir!" she called after him. "Sir, what should I tell security?" Her answer was given with a dismissive wave of his hand.

Mulder felt as if he was drowning in darkness. He felt smothered and trapped. There was a strange warmth in his chest and a growing awareness of chaotic, fragmented noise all around him. Nothing made any sense in his head. She was here, that much he knew, but there was something different in his knowledge of her now, something more. He became aware of a tugging sensation in his throat and the warmth in his chest was replaced by a sudden rush of cold air as his lungs began to spasm involuntarily. He heard his name, felt a hand fall gently on his face and opened his eyes as her soft lips brushed against his own.

Doctor McQuade stared vacantly and shook his head, unable to believe what he had just witnessed.

"What just happened here?" he mumbled to no one in particular. Skinner appeared at his back, his glasses held in his right hand as he rubbed his eyes with his left.

"I think that's going to be a little hard to explain, doctor," he said. "Nothing that can be understood in medical or scientific terms at least." McQuade had an incredulous look on his face as he backed out the room. "Indeed," was all he managed to say as he bumped into the door frame. Skinner gestured to the Lone Gunman and without the need for words they followed him out of the room, leaving Scully alone with Mulder.

Mulder's vision was starting to clear now, although his definition was still a little fuzzy. One thing that was clear to him the moment he opened his eyes was the face of Scully looking down at him. She was smiling despite the tears that streamed down her cheeks and clutched his hand to her heart. Mulder got that odd feeling again as he regarded her. That sense that she was different somehow. Try as he might, he couldn't put his finger on it. Then he felt his hand being moved from her chest to her lower body as she stood up from the bed. It didn't register at first what his hand was resting against as it was not a contour he was accustomed to. He looked to her face for some hint of explanation and was met with an image he would not forget for as long as he lived. Scully's eyes were shining in a way he had never seen before and she looked for all the world like a child with the greatest of secrets. A child...

"You know, don't you?" she asked softly. A hundred questions raced through Mulder's mind but he could not express them in any coherent manner. His facial expression must have said it all as Scully smiled and said, "Birds do it, bees do it" Mulder surprised himself when he found his voice, gravelly and weak as it was.

"Even educated M.D.'s..." he coughed.

Mulder's recovery was slow and painful. His muscles were weakened and his motor functions needed retraining with intensive physiotherapy but all in all he was doing pretty well for a dead man. Doctor McQuade had a hard time explaining the miraculous recovery to his superiors and Mulder became the subject of intense speculation and scientific debate between the hospitals senior consultants. Various theories were put forward but none of them held any water. This was not something that was going to be easily quantified or categorized in any medical journal. Mulder was oblivious to it all. He had more pressing matters on his mind.

He was going to be a father.

By the end of the week Mulder was well enough to come off the drip and on to solid foods. He was sitting up in his bed on a particularly beautiful day when Scully entered his room pushing a wheelchair.

"Your chariot awaits," she beamed. "The doctors say your well enough to go outside today." Mulder slowly got dressed with Scully's assistance and with some help from a male nurse was eased into the chair and wheeled out in to the sunshine. Scully found a particularly idyllic spot within the gardens at the rear of the hospital.

"I have something for you," said Scully as she pulled a small envelope from her pocket. "My last ultrasound scan." Mulder took the slip of paper from the envelope and traced the image with his finger.

"You're having a blob," he said with a straight face.

"Can't you see the head?" she indicated as she moved in closer. "There's an arm just....there and I think, no hold on," she flipped the image upside down. "There, can you see it now?"

"I see a blob," he repeated without looking away from the image.

"Fine, whatever," she said, snatching it back playfully. Mulder smiled broadly but there followed an awkward silence between them.

"We still haven't discussed how this was made possible Scully," he said, breaking the silence.

"I know, I've thought a lot about that myself," she replied. "Initially I had such a hard time believing it, I wasn't looking for explanations. I was taken aback by how happy I was to be pregnant," she reached over and took Mulder's hand. "With you gone, my thoughts were elsewhere."

"And now?" he asked.

"And now..." she looked into the distance for a moment and breathed in the fresh air. "As much as it pains me to say this..."

"Go on," he prompted.

"I think the Smoking Man had something to do with it." Mulder let go of her hand. "What?"

"I never told you, but that time I was with him, I woke up in the morning with no recollection of getting into bed. I accused him of drugging me but he said I was so tired and delirious..." she trailed off.

"You think he did something to you? Why? Why would he do that?"

"He did speak of his loneliness, his regrets. I don't know, maybe this was his way of giving something back."

"Undoing a perceived wrong," Mulder added. Scully merely shrugged and again the silence grew between them.

Skinner strolled towards them, a vague smile spread across his face.

"Good to see you out and about," he said as he neared them.

"It's good to be out Sir," Mulder replied.

"The doctors are saying you should be well enough to travel back to Washington. You can continue your convalescence in Georgetown Memorial," Skinner said as he lowered himself on to the bench. Mulder groaned. "I just want to go home,"

"One step at a time Agent," Skinner narrowed his eyes in the bright sun. "I've had some rather disturbing news from the Bellefleur Sheriff 's department. They've discovered some remains in the woods where you disappeared."

"What type of remains?" Scully asked.

"Charred human bodies, in shallow graves."

"How many?" asked Mulder.

"Six so far, they're searching the area for more as we speak."

"Have any of them been identified?" asked Scully.

"They've had to rely on dental records. The only one they've got a match on so far is Billy Miles." Mulder and Scully exchanged glances as he continued. "It's a safe bet that the other bodies will turn out to be your fellow abductees, it's just a matter of time." Mulder gently shook his head in disbelief. "What's the estimated time of death?"

"At least 3 weeks, they died about the same time you turned up here, possibly burned alive." Mulder rested his head in his hands and Scully placed a protective arm around his shoulders. "For whatever reason, you were spared. It wasn't Billy Miles that saved you that day..."

"I know," said Mulder. "It was Him. He told me I was different from the others, that I had a special purpose."

"The Bounty Hunter?" Scully frowned. Mulder looked up then, a sudden wave of realization hitting him square on. "This child..." he said under his breath, then more emphatically. "This child is the special purpose."

"What are you talking about?" Scully couldn't hide the fear in her voice.

"Just think about it. All that's been done to us over the years..." he struggled to clarify his thoughts. "The tests, our exposure to the alien virus and the vaccine. Don't you see?" Scully's mind reeled and she was unable to speak.

"On a genetic level..." Skinner began.

"They must have known," Mulder took Scully's hand in his own again and gave her a look only she could interpret. Scully returned the gaze. "That any child we conceived would be unique in it's genetic make up."

"How? How would they know?" Scully's tone was angry as she bit back tears. "Are you trying to say this is all part of some Master Plan? Like we're rats in a lab?" she instinctively clutched at her stomach.

"Scully don't..."

"Don't what?" she snapped

Skinner shifted awkwardly in his seat. "I think I'll leave you two alone," he said. "I'll liase with the Sheriffs Department, see what kind of progress they've made." He rested a hand on Scully's shoulder as he stood to leave. "I'll check in on you later."

They both watched him as he walked away and once more a silence fell between the two Agents.

Skinner spent the rest of the afternoon with the County Coroner, Karen Bell. She had the grim task of identifying the blackened remains found in the woods and by the time he arrived at the Coroners office she had autopsied four of them. Skinner averted his eyes from the corpses laid out on slabs in the morgue but could not ignore the thick smell of seared flesh that hung in the air.

"Assistant Director Skinner, F.B.I."

"Oh yes, I was expecting you," Doctor Bell said extending her hand. "I was hoping you would be able to shed some light on what we're dealing with here."

"I don't know that I can," he said.

"This is all way outta my league, I never seen anything like it before," she dabbed at beads of perspiration on her forehead with the back of her hand. "I mean sure, I've seen plenty burn victims in my time, but this..."she shook her head.

"Have you managed to I.D. any more of the bodies?"

"Yeah, two more," she reached for a clipboard on the nearest slab. "They were found together, their hands linked. We've identified them as Deputy Hosie and his wife Theresa," she flipped over a few pages on the chart. "Our Chief Medical Examiner made some reference to religious cults and mass suicides, would that concur with the F.B.I's findings?" Skinner suddenly looked uncomfortable.

"Are you okay Mr. Skinner?" she asked with genuine concern. "You look a little pale."

"Yeah, I'm fine. Just a little nauseous, I think it must be the smell in here. Would you excuse me for a moment?"

"Of course, I'm sorry. I guess I've gotten used to it. Please," she gestured to the back door. "Get yourself some fresh air." Skinner was glad of the opportunity to escape outside. The nausea was an excuse though it was certainly a valid one. He couldn't begin to offer up an explanation to the Coroner. If Mulder were here he'd have no problem but then he had nothing to lose, it was expected of him. Skinner however was a different man. If they wanted to believe that this was a ritual mass suicide then he wasn't about to correct them. It would be futile to try and convince them otherwise.

Mulder received the news he had been waiting for the following Monday morning. He was being allowed home. There were conditions of course, he would have to spend at least a week in Georgetown Memorial and the physio sessions were likely to continue for six weeks after that. Scully had been spending less time with him during the day and despite his protestations decided that she could be of use to the Sheriff's department and the Coroner. The night before he was due to be transferred back to D.C. she arrived back at the hospital looking exhausted and haunted having spent the entire day at the morgue.

"Hey Mommy," Mulder said brightly as she walked in.

"Urrghh," was the only response she could muster as she eased herself in to the chair.

"You're overdoing it Scully,"

"Sometimes I forget I'm pregnant but on days like this..." she kicked off her shoes. "My body won't let me forget!"

"Come here," Mulder pulled over another chair and sat down opposite lifting her feet into his lap. "Can I get you some ice cream and pickles, some Saltines perhaps?"

"A nice hot bath would suffice right now," she yawned and stretched, settling back to enjoy the welcome foot rub. She was sinking into bliss when Mulder said. "Come on, it's late."

A makeshift cot had been set up for her by the nurses but it hadn't been used in recent nights. They both undressed and settled into Mulder's bed. Mulder rested his head on Scully's ever expanding abdomen.

"I think I was just kicked," he looked up at her and smiled. Scully giggled and ruffled his hair. "I've taught him well."

"Him?" he raised his eyebrows in surprise.

"I don't know, I can't explain it. I just get the feeling it's a boy." Mulder nodded and laid his head back down. He smiled contentedly as images of his future son played in his mind. Sounds of seabirds and waves crashing on the shore... a little boy and his father building sand castles on the beach...

Once back in D.C. Mulder settled into an uneasy routine. He was becoming increasingly reluctant to attend his twice weekly physio sessions but Scully insisted on taking him there and back for each and every appointment. She was back at work tying up a few loose ends with Agent Doggett and Mulder was going out of his mind cooped up in her apartment. There was also no question of him returning to work, no matter how much he whined about it. Skinner had seen to that. Out of frustration and sheer bloody mindedness he decided to escape from the apartment late one Friday afternoon and drive to the F.B.I. Headquarters to pick up Scully. Yes, she had taken her own car that morning but he saw it as a way of getting around her work exclusion order while at the same time making himself out to be the dutiful partner.

Scully was already on her way home by the time Mulder left the apartment. She had considered phoning him to let him know she would be home early but decided against it in the end, preferring to surprise him instead. She already had her evening all planned out and for that matter most of her weekend. For starters she was going to have a long hot bubble bath. She smiled to herself as she thought of Mulder and how attentive he had been over the past couple of weeks. In all likelihood he would have a meal on the table by the time she got in and would run the bath for her without even having to ask. Scully knew he was bored, he had said as much, but he was turning out to be a surprisingly good house husband. He was a little over protective sometimes and would have swathed her in cotton wool given half a chance but secretly she was enjoying all the attention. Tonight she intended to tell him that she was finally going to take her long overdue maternity leave. Now he could have her all to himself. Scully pulled up outside the apartment a little after 6pm and saw a familiar silhouette in the window. Honestly, he was like a pet dog waiting for it's owner return! She didn't find it odd therefore, when she found the apartment door ajar, figuring he had just opened it for her. What she did find odd was the lack of response to her now familiar announcement. "I'm home..."

Mulder was disappointed when he realized he had missed Scully but he didn't leave the building straight away. He took the opportunity to check in to his office, finding it just as he had left it. There was an unfamiliar aroma though, a cologne he attributed to Doggett.

That in itself made him feel a little primal jealousy, like he needed to pee in the corners and reassert his male dominance. This was his territory after all. He flipped through a few recent case files, smirking at the conclusions of Agent Doggett. How the tables had turned, he thought. Mulder put everything back exactly as he had found it, switched off the lights and locked up the office realizing he had better get back soon before Scully got too mad at him.

Before long Mulder was trapped in the rush hour traffic and starting to regret this impulsive gesture. Scully was right, he wasn't up for driving yet. As he massaged at his cramping leg muscles the rain started to come down, adding to his misery. His back began to ache too and he had a knot in his stomach. It took a while for him to realize that this feeling was unrelated to his other physical discomforts. As he merged with yet another line of slow moving traffic his discomfort grew and he actually winced and clutched at his stomach. "What the hell was that?" Mulder felt trapped again and his agitation grew as he was surrounded by an endless procession of vehicles. He needed to get home. He needed to get home now.

As Mulder finally rounded the corner into Scully's street he was forced to take evasive action as an unmarked white van came speeding towards him. Narrowly avoiding a collision he spat out a curse and made eye contact with the driver. He was met by a cold stare from a man he had seen once before. A man who had shot him at point blank range, leaving him sprawled on the road more than three years ago. A man who had taken Scully from him...


Mulder was torn between pursuing the van and checking the apartment. He had no way of knowing which course of action was the right one to take. His worst nightmares were being realized as he rammed the car into the kerb and bolted up the steps towards the apartment. The sight that met him as he burst through the door almost stopped his heart and he felt his legs weaken beneath him. A pool of thick, dark blood trailed from the door to the other side of the room and Scully was nowhere to be seen...

Mulder willed his legs to move and crossed the short distance to where the trail of blood ended behind the sofa. There he found Scully lying in a bitterly ironic foetal position. His knees gave way and he slumped to the ground beside her. "Scully? Oh Jesus...Scully!"

Adrenaline and instinct kicked in as he scooped the barely conscious Scully into his arms. She was of course much too heavy for him now. Had he been in better health he would probably have found the strength to carry her all the way to the hospital himself. As it was, he only managed to lift her to the sofa. His mind could only focus on the blood. The sheer amount terrified him. Mulder scanned the room frantically for the phone and found it clutched in Scully's hand. The line was still open.


"Hello...can you tell me what's happening...we're on our way...is the lady okay? Speak to me sir."

"She's bleeding, please hurry. Please, she'll lose the baby."

"She's pregnant? She said she'd been attacked, is she conscious sir?"

"Uh, she was, she's um...oh Jesus, please just hurry."

"The unit's just about at scene sir, don't worry, is she your wife?"

"No, no, she's my partner." Scully opened her eyes briefly and moaned. "The baby"

"Hold on Scully," he said, gently pushing a stray lock of hair from her ashen face. Finally Mulder heard the wail of the sirens. "Just tell them to come in, the door's open," he said over the phone, terminating the call and throwing the receiver to the floor.

"We're in here!" he shouted and shortly after two male paramedics appeared in the doorway.

"Please, help her."

"What's her name?" the younger one asked.

"Scully, Dana Scully. Please, she's lost so much blood"

"Stand back Sir, let us help her." Mulder fell back awkwardly and sat, stunned on the carpet, his hands covered in Scully's blood.

"Dana...can you hear me...we're here to help you," the older paramedic said as he placed an oxygen mask over Scully's mouth. She had slipped into unconsciousness again and did not respond.

"What happened?" he asked, turning to Mulder.

"I don't know, I just found her like this. I think she was attacked."

"She's haemorrhaging, how far on is she?" Mulder blanked for a moment. "Uh, nearly nine months I think."

"Okay, we need to stabilize her before we move her." Mulder started to shut down as the paramedics hooked up an IV. His mouth was dry and he was physically shaking. "I'm going with you," was all he managed to say.

"How is she?" Mulder hadn't noticed Skinner's approach as he sat with his head in his hands outside the ICU at Georgetown Memorial. He looked up, his eyes glazed and bloodshot.

"They've taken her into surgery."

"What the hell happened?" Mulder recalled the words they had used. "A single blow to the abdomen with a blunt object, delivered with such force it dislodged the placenta" Mulder's voice broke.

"You can't blame yourself for this Mulder."

"Yes I can, if I'd been there this wouldn't have happened."

"The baby?"

"They're performing an emergency C-Section as we speak."

"We'll find whoever did this to her Mulder."

"No we won't Sir, you know that."

A surgeon emerged from the operating room adjacent to them and untied his mask.

"You can see her now," he gestured and held open the door. Mulder glanced at Skinner before following the surgeon through the double doors.

Scully was still unconscious. She looked so small and fragile amongst all the surgical paraphernalia. Mulder approached the bed cautiously but was stopped in his tracks by a plump nurse holding a small bundle in her arms.

"You have a son," she said, presenting him with the wriggling package. Mulder took the child into his arms, utterly speechless and trembling.

"He's going to be just fine, it was touch and go for a while there but..." Mulder reminded himself to breath and a relieved smile spread across his face. He looked over at Scully and then to the nurse.

"Your wife's stable but we had to give her a transfusion, she's lost a lot of blood. We got the haemorrhaging under control but she needs to rest," the nurse said. "Congratulations," she added.

Mulder carried his newborn son to Scully's side and crouched down beside the bed.

"Hey little man," he said softly. "This is your mom," The infant grasped his finger with more strength than he thought possible for something so small. His eyes filled with tears as he gazed at this little pink and wrinkled miracle. "And I'm your father," he whispered, placing a delicate kiss on the infants head.

Scully woke several hours later, tired, weak and sore. Her first thoughts were for her unborn child and she panicked when she noticed her stomach was significantly flatter than before. She grimaced in pain as she tried to raise herself from the bed.

"Woah there, it's okay," Mulder was by her side in an instant. "Lie back down, the baby's fine. He's right here." Mulder pointed to the small crib next to the bed. Memories of the assault flooded back to Scully but she pushed them aside for the time being, she just wanted to see her baby. Mulder scooped the child from the crib and Scully gently eased herself into a sitting position as he lowered him into her arms.

Scully cursed the tears that obscured the first glimpse of her newborn son.

"He's beautiful," she said as his eyes fluttered open.

"He's like his mother," Mulder stroked the soft downy hair on his head which had a distinctive strawberry blond hue to it. Mulder was loathe to break the magic of the moment and chose his words with care.

"Did you see the man that attacked you?"

"I didn't see a thing, he must have been behind the door. I just felt the blow...and then the...the pain was..."

"It's okay, we'll talk about it later. I'm just so happy you're all right, that you're both all right." Mulder leaned in and kissed her then. "I love you," he smiled. "And don't say oh brother this time." Scully laughed. "I won't, and I know. I love you too."

Scully reluctantly handed over her son when the plump nurse came in again to throw Mulder out.

"Dana needs her rest," she fussed.

"Okay, okay, I'm going." he surrendered, kissing Scully on the cheek as he left.

He followed the nurse through to the post-natal ward and watched through the glass as she placed his son into a crib alongside a dozen other screaming infants. Another proud dad stood next to him.

"That yours?" he asked.

"Yeah, that's my son," the words still sounded odd to Mulder.

"Those two in the corner are mine."


"Yeah, two girls, Hannah and Emily."

"Congratulations. "

"Thanks, same to you. Here have a cigar."

"Uh, I don't smoke."

"Neither do I, that's not the point. It's tradition." Mulder accepted the cigar and smiled. "Thanks." He slipped away quietly after taking one last look at his sleeping son.

Once outside he strolled round the grounds inhaling the cool, crisp air. A few stars peeked through the reflected glow of the city lights and as Mulder stared up at the night sky his mind wandered to more distant plains. This was not how he imagined this day, the day he became a father. Nothing could have prepared him for it and he felt a lump form in his throat as he contemplated what could have been. He took a deep breath and cleared his head of such thoughts.

On the periphery of his senses he became aware of an engine idling nearby. He turned in the direction of the noise and started walking towards the rear of the hospital. As he approached, the vehicle lights were switched on full beam forcing him to shield his eyes from the glare. He made out the figure of a man disappearing behind the vehicle, heard a door slam and the engine speed rise from its idle. There was something familiar about this vehicle and as it sped towards him he ducked behind a parked car. In the split second it took Mulder to recognize it he was up and running at full pelt. His lungs started to burn and a stitch formed in his side as he pushed his still weakened body beyond its limits. His legs gave way and he staggered to a breathless halt, doubled over with his hands on his knees. Mulder could only watch as the unmarked white van disappeared into the night.

"Please Sir, just calm down. If you could just-"

"I'm not going to calm down you idiots, they've taken my son!" Mulder screamed.

"He's where I left him, please"

"I'm telling you, they've taken him. Isn't anyone listening to me!?" Mulder pushed past the nurse towards the post-natal unit frantically scanning the room through the glass. He burst through the door and found his son's crib lying empty.

"Someone must have seen him being taken! There was a man here, his wife had twins, two girls, where did he go?"

"Twins? We don't have any twins in the unit just now. You must be..."

"Damn it! Jesus, I don't believe this! How can someone just walk out of here with a baby?"


Mulder's temper dissipated instantly when his eyes met those of Margaret Scully. Standing in the doorway, her face mirrored the sheer terror that he felt. He had been so consumed by the events of the day, phoning Scully's mother had never even crossed his mind.

Skinner stood in the corridor. "I called her," he said.

"Where's my grandson? What's happened?"

"They took him...I...I couldn't stop them."

"Who? Who took him, what are you talking about?" Skinner stepped forward. "Did you get enough for an APB?"

"It was the same unmarked white van, no plates."

"I want to see Dana, where's Dana?"

"I'll take you to her," Mulder's stomach lurched at the thought of having to tell Scully this news. She'd been through enough already.

"Is there anything we can do?" the nurse offered.

"You can help me," Skinner suggested. "I need access to all your CCTV tapes and I want to speak with all the staff. No one leaves, understand?" The nurse nodded and led Skinner away.

"Mom! I'm so glad you're here," Scully smiled and reached out to embrace her mother but instantly noticed the strained expression on her face. "Mom, what's wrong?" Margaret put her hand to her mouth in a futile attempt to hold back the tears. "Oh Dana..." Scully looked to Mulder for an explanation but he would not meet her gaze. The panic rose in her chest. "What's happened? " Mulder stared at the floor, his voice barely above a whisper. "They took him..."

Scully became silent and unresponsive. Her mother held her for more than an hour, rocking her gently like the child she had lost. Mulder returned and took Maggie's place having done all he could for the night. Skinner had relieved him of the burden, liasing with local law enforcement and utilizing every available man in the search for his son. Mulder knew in his heart that it would be a wasted effort but drew what little comfort he could from the situation.

Words quickly became redundant and meaningless and they lay all night in a silent embrace, crying for the child they barely knew.

Mulder slipped away as the first rays of sunlight pierced the room. He left with the intention of getting something to eat but soon found himself standing in the grounds outside the hospital. The frosted air caught in his lungs and his breath hung in a mist before dissipating. The world felt ethereal and dreamlike bathed in the fiery glow of the rising sun. But this was no dream, it was Mulder's own personal nightmare. A hell born of dark conspiracies and evil men, carrying out their demonic agenda with no concern for the lives they destroyed along the way. Mulder's involvement had always been personal. He used to feel assured by the knowledge that it was his commitment, his passion, and that any consequences would be his alone to bear. Now he lived every day with the guilt of all those who had died or suffered for his cause. Scully's suffering was a different matter though. The two of them had become inextricably linked over the years and were at a point in their lives where they could no longer function alone, they had become one. Their son was the ultimate symbol of this unification. For all too brief a time Mulder had known the true meaning of joy, only to have it torn from him. He felt barren and void. Closing his eyes, he immersed himself in the tranquillity of the new day, knowing all too well that it would be a long time before he would find such peace again.

Scully's ability to fight back and heal herself never ceased to amaze Mulder. He had seen her face death with stoicism, grace and sheer determination yet again. The physical scars were of course healing but he could see in her eyes that those of the mind would not heal until she held her son in her arms again.

They had both returned to work albeit on enforced light duties. They had a singular goal to pursue the truth which required resources only the FBI could provide. All other investigations were pushed to the side and Skinner gave them special dispensation despite the protestations of Deputy Director Kersch.

But where to start? How do you begin to search when those you seek spend their lives hiding in the shadows? Men without conscience or remorse, answerable to no one. Men like Alex Krycek.

He had spent his life on the fringes, never staying on one path for very long. His allegiances changed as often as his socks, depending on the amount of secrets he could sell. Money always tended to be the motivating factor for those without souls. Men like Alex Krycek live one day at a time, no ambitions, no ties, no need for direction. They tend to admire men driven by a passion, those determined enough to overcome all that's thrown at them and still fight the good fight. Men like Fox Mulder. Not to suggest that Krycek was envious of Mulder, only that he realized that at the end of the day his own life was meaningless. If he died tomorrow, no one would give a rat's ass. He had no legacy to leave behind, no sense of immortality. As he held Mulder's son in his arms something buried deep inside wondered what it would be like to be a father. To be grounded, settled and committed to the life and wellbeing of another. Krycek realized he was far too selfish for such responsibility but none the less it was a curious thought.

The elegant figure of Marita Covarrubias appeared at his side. "They're ready for him now," she said.

"Good, let's get this over with," was his ominous reply.

Krycek knew that this child, born of genetically altered parents, was potentially The Holy Grail. The possession of the secrets encoded in the infant's DNA would make him the most powerful man in the world. They had the ability to defend all of mankind against the impending alien holocaust as a perfectly engineered alien/human hybrid. Krycek couldn't help but be amused by the irony as he considered all the work that was done over the years to artificially create such a chimera. The procedures had been flawed all along but now they had a naturally born savior delivered into their hands. It was all so eloquent and simple. He and Marita looked on from an overhead viewing room as the masked surgeons began their work.

"I'd love to know how you can justify this in the eyes of God Alex," she said coldly.

"That's not an issue for me."

"Why, because you're an atheist or because you're an unimaginable bastard with no conscience?"

"Both," he stared blankly back at her. "Besides, if you feel that way about it, why are you still here?"

"I'm not a fool, I know what this child represents. But unlike you I'm here for the benefit of mankind, not for the money or the glory."

"How noble of you." his voice was dripping with sarcasm. Marita gave him a look of contempt. "Let me know when they're ready for me."

Alex nodded once and watched her walk away, he liked the view. Turning his attention back to the work in progress his thoughts returned to Mulder and the sacrifices he had made over the years, most without his consent. Even after all this time he still had no idea just how integral he was to the project. Most people have the means to shape their lives by their own free will but Mulder's destiny was preordained. Like an intricate tapestry, he would only ever understand parts of the truth, the odd thread here and there. It would be so easy to just tug on one of these threads and watch his whole universe unravel. Krycek was the type of man who would take perverse pleasure in doing just that.

All in good time...

Marita felt suffocated. She needed to escape, from Krycek at least, and remind herself exactly why she was willing to give her body over to the very men she despised. Men who had subjected her to barbaric tests and left her a mere shadow of her former self. She may as well have been a cadaver the way they treated her. She still felt violated and dirty to this day, nothing more than a guinea pig in their eyes. Although she had recovered physically, she was forever tainted by the alien pathogens that she had been exposed to. That very fact made her an ideal candidate for this stage of the renewed project. Marita had agreed to donate her ovum, to be used in the creation of a new breed of human/alien hybrids, spliced with the DNA extracted from Mulder and Scully's son. She felt sick to her stomach at the very thought. Part of her wanted to run away as far as she could while another part of her knew that her contribution could ultimately save mankind from the impending alien holocaust. The dichotomy lay in the fact that unlike Krycek, Marita had a conscience. Right now, it wouldn't shut up no matter how much she tried to silence it. This was an innocent child they were violating now. No matter what the ultimate goal was she could not justify putting such a helpless being through the same hell she had endured. She vowed that once the procedure was complete she would endeavor to do what was right and return the child unharmed.


Mulder and Scully sat in silence over their evening meal. Neither of them had much of an appetite for food or conversation. They had spent yet another soul destroying day chasing shadows and false leads. More sightings of white vans that briefly elevated their hopes and then dashed them against the rocks once more.

"You okay?" Mulder asked.

"I'm fine." Always the same answer. It was an automatic response for every eventuality no matter how she was actually feeling inside. She was staring into space, absent mindedly pushing food around her plate. It was heart breaking to watch. He could see that she was starting to lose hope.

They both jumped as the phone rang. Scully stood to answer it.

"It's probably just mom," she said reaching for the phone. "Hello?"

"Agent Scully."

"Who is this?"

"It's Marita." Scully signaled for Mulder to listen in on the other line.

"Agent Scully, I have put myself at great risk contacting you like this-" Mulder picked up the receiver as delicately as he could.

"Is this line secure?" Realizing that Marita had heard the click, Scully did her best to reassure her.

"Yes, of course."

"I need you to listen carefully. I have my reasons for doing this but I'm not in a position to disclose too much over the phone, do you understand?"


"Meet me in the underground parking facility at the Watergate Apartments, 2100 hours. I'll explain more then," the line went dead.

Scully sat alone in the darkened car park, her heart racing in anticipation. At exactly 9pm she heard a screech of tyres as a dark saloon navigated the ramp to the first level. She shielded her eyes as the car positioned itself directly in front of her. Marita Covarubias exited her car, leaving the engine running and the headlights on. Scully stepped out to meet her.

"Agent Scully, are you alone?"


"Good," she looked about her before continuing. "I realize you have no reason to trust me but you have to believe me when I say I'm sorry."

Scully was somewhat taken aback. "Sorry for what?"

"Everything. All that's been done to you and your child."

"What do you know about that? Where's my son?"

"You have to understand-"

"No, YOU have to understand. If they've harmed him in any way I swear to God I'll..."

"We don't have time for this, just listen."

Scully breathed hard and gave her an icy stare. "I'm listening."

"You have to protect him. They have what they wanted now but it's not over. It will never be over."

Scully licked her top lip. "What do you mean?"

"Have you named him yet?"

"We barely had the chance to even think of names."

"They have. They call him Purity Control - Alpha One. He's a very special little boy with the potential to save all of mankind. What he represents..."

"I just want my son back. Why don't you cut the crap and tell me why you're here."

Marita looked about her once more and moved back to her car. She opened the passenger door and reached inside.

Mulder stood in the shadows nearby. He slipped his gun from its holster and watched as Marita returned to the car. His view was obscured by the lights but he suddenly heard a muffled cry that made his heart jump into his throat. Mulder strained to see through the glare and decided it was time to make his move. Ducking behind a large pillar he moved round in a crouched position, navigating the parked cars until he was on the opposite side of the level. Now he had the advantage.

Scully stood open mouthed as Marita emerged from the car with a small bassinet and advanced towards her. She reached out her arms to receive the bundle as waves of emotion threatened to engulf her and buckle her cool exterior.

"What have they done to him?"

"Not as much as they wanted to. They've extracted a sample of his DNA, conducted a few standard tests. They planned to start more invasive procedures."

"But you wouldn't let them, why?"

"I have to go. You must protect him, never let down your guard."

"You haven't answered my question" Marita backed away. "I have to go" Never taking her eyes off the baby now nestled in his mother's arms, she got back into the driver's seat and sped out of the car park.

Marita emerged on to the street and breathed a sigh of relief. Her conscience was silenced for the time being. As she started putting some distance between herself and the Watergate Apartments she started to get an uneasy feeling, like she was being watched. The hairs rose on the back of her neck as she realized that she was not alone in the car. She froze as she felt cold, hard steel press against the side of her head.

"You keep driving and you take me to the son's of bitches responsible for this."

"I can't do that Agent Mulder, they'll kill me."

"Take me there NOW or I'll do it for them." Mulder released the safety.

"I'm trying to help you."

"As you said, we have no reason to trust you. Personally, I question your motives."

"What do you think you're going to do to him anyway?"


"I thought you knew..." Marita made eye contact with him in the rear view mirror. "Krycek..."

"Krycek?" Mulder slumped back in his seat and thought for a moment. "I'm gonna kill him..."

Marita drew up to the rear of the Department of Defense building and slipped her keycard into a slot, releasing the barrier. They headed underground and traveled down to the subterranean levels. When they finally came to a halt Mulder got out first, opened Marita's door and hauled her out by her arm.

"Don't think for a moment that I wouldn't kill you," he pushed his gun into her back. "You just need to take me to him, that's all."

Marita glared back at him. "We have to get past security first."

"I'm sure you know a way to bypass them, don't bullshit me Marita."

"We have to go in through Level 4."

"I'm familiar with it. Just lead the way."

After what seemed like a never ending maze of passages and locked doors they finally arrived in an area Mulder had explored once before. He had come here on a mission to find a promised cure for Scully's cancer more than 3 years ago.

"We're near the Pentagon," he said.

"Yes, only the rats live down at this level."

"Alex should feel right at home then." Marita gave him a half hearted smile. "He should be in here." Marita slid her keycard through the slot giving her the green light. The sign on the door read "Cryogenics Lab - Level 4 Access Only." As the door slid open Mulder pushed Marita ahead of him with the butt of his gun.

"After you..."

Marita stepped into the lab a little too cautiously for MuIder's liking. He got a gut feeling that he was walking into a trap and turned on his heel just as Krycek lunged forward from behind the door. The two men crashed to the floor in a tangle of limbs. The element of surprise acted in Krycek's favor briefly and he slammed Mulder's head against the concrete floor. Mulder struggled to regain the upper hand and lifted his knee sharply into Krycek's groin, rolling him off as he doubled up in agony. Mulder got to his feet and dragged the whimpering Krycek up by his hair, pinning him against the wall with his arm against his throat. He jammed his gun into Krycek's mouth and poised over the trigger.

"I can't quite work out whether I want to see you die a slow and agonizing death or if I should just blow your head off here and now," Mulder growled, breathing hard. He pulled the gun from Krycek's mouth and pressed it to the side of his head. "What would you prefer?"

"You're giving me a choice?" he hissed, still light headed from the blow to his groin.

"I used to think you were a scum sucking invertebrate Krycek but that's obviously not fair to the invertebrates. You working on babies now, huh? Is that how you get off?"

"If you'd kept your dick in your pants in the first place this would never have happened, ever thought...hmmpphh." Krycek was doubled over again by a blow to his kidneys.

"What the hell gives you the right..."

"Agent Mulder!" Mulder had all but forgotten that Marita was still in the room and spun round to face her, leaving Krycek to drop heavily to the ground. "As much as I'm enjoying watching this I suggest you get Alex to hand over the samples taken from your son. He's the only one with the access required," she said. "He won't be much use to you if you beat him into unconsciousness."

Mulder looked down at Krycek, now slumped on the floor. "You heard her. You give me what I want, and maybe you don't die today," Mulder pushed his gun into the back of Krycek's head.

"Then again, maybe you will." Krycek coughed and spat out blood, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "What makes you think that will help? You take the samples now and they'll just make sure they get them again. You can't be with him 24 hours a day."

"They've violated an innocent child. My child. Do you really think I would just let them keep what they've taken from him?"

"Don't you get it? You and your son hold the key. Everything in the X-Files, the global conspiracy that you foolishly claim to understand. You can't stop what has already begun, no one can. Trust me, you're wasting your time."

"Trust you? Is that supposed to be a joke?"

"You're the X-File Mulder, it all starts with you," Marita chimed in. Mulder stood for a moment and looked at them both in turn. "Give me your car keys," he said to Marita. "Give me the keys and get out of here, and you," giving Krycek one last kick for good measure. "Get up and take me to where they hold the samples."

Krycek staggered to his feet and squared up to Marita. "You're gonna pay for this," he sneered.

"See you in hell Alex," she said as she handed Mulder the keys. "Don't let him trick you. The samples are held within the Advanced Research Projects Facility within the Pentagon. Blood, tissue and DNA. Code name Purity Control - Alpha One."

"Yeah, I heard. But I think he might get picked on at school with that name, you don't mind if I change it do you?" Mulder said dryly while pushing Krycek ahead of him.

Krycek led Mulder through another maze of corridors and into the aforementioned facility. He experienced a wave of deja-vu as he entered the gloomy confines of the Pentagon storage rooms. The musty smell from endless rows of boxed files filled his nostrils and he realized that this was the very same place he had found the chip that had cured Scully's cancer.

"Do you think the answer to the meaning of life is housed in here somewhere too?"

"You should know that one already...42." Krycek stopped mid-way along the aisle and pulled a sliding ladder towards him. "This is pointless you know, unless of course you have doubts over the paternity. You seem to take it for granted that you're the father."

"I have no reason to doubt Scully."

"It's not Scully that you should be worried about," he said handing down several small vials from one of the boxes.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"It's just..." Krycek was cut short by a deafening klaxon. Red lights began flashing overhead. Over the din Mulder heard Krycek laughing. "Trust no one Mulder!" he shouted. "Marita's activated the intruder alarm. You have about five minutes before this place is swarming with security personnel."

Mulder dragged Krycek off the ladder and to the ground. "Give me your card! Give it to me NOW!" Krycek tossed the card at his feet.

"You'll never get out of here alive!"

Mulder aimed his gun at Krycek and fired a single shot. "Then neither will you..."

Scully breathed a sigh of relief as she pulled up outside her apartment. She was still shaking, partly with fear, partly in anticipation. She unstrapped the bassinet from the passenger seat and carried her son inside. Marita's words repeated over and over in her head, sending chills down her spine. It was obviously too much to expect anything resembling a normal life for her child. Nothing was ever easy for Scully after all. Determined not to fall into the same trap again she drew her weapon before entering. Finding everything as it should be, she switched on all the lights and double locked the door behind her.

Mulder was thankful that the route out of the building was familiar to him. His eidetic mind laid out the map for him and before long he was nearing the exit. But he was stopped in his tracks by the sound of approaching footsteps and the crackle from radio transmissions. Ducking out of sight round a corner he froze, barely able to breath. He listened in as the guards passed.

"Roger, that's acknowledged."

"Copy that."

Mulder waited until he was sure the guards were out of range before moving again. The worst of it was he knew that most of the locations he was moving through were covered by security cameras. He was wearing casual clothes and there was no one else going about. He realized their was no point trying to blend in and began running down the corridor. As he slid Krycek's card through the last door he heard a shout and felt his blood run cold.

"Stop right there! Step away from the door and put your hands where we can see them!" Two burly guards were advancing towards him from the far end of the corridor, guns raised. Mulder looked back down to see the light change from red to green.

"Don't move or we will open fire! STEP AWAY!"

The door slid open and Mulder hesitated before turning and raising his hands in mock defeat. The guards were within five metres and the door was starting to close behind him again when he lunged backwards through the gap. The guards opened fire, peppering the glass without shattering it. Mulder sprinted forward waiting for the bullets to pierce his back but they never came and he burst through the final emergency fire exit. The last thing he saw before entering the underground car park was the ironic sign, "PENTAGON - KNOW YOUR EXITS".

Now in a blind panic, Mulder scanned the area for Marita's car. "Damn it!" he was on the wrong level. He almost lost his footing as he navigated the oil slicked ramp and quietly prayed that the next level was the right one. His prayers were answered but as he fumbled in his jacket pocket for the keys they dropped to the ground behind him. Scrambling on his hands and knees he heard a door slam nearby as more armed guards closed in on his position. Fighting to regain his composure he slid the key into the lock, opened the door, set off the alarm, cursed, silenced it, got in, started the engine and floored it out of the car park. Gunning towards the ramp, two figures suddenly jumped in front of the car and opened fire, shattering the windscreen. Mulder plowed ahead forcing them to jump clear. Shards of glass skittered off the bonnet as he rounded the last corner and drove straight through the exit barrier. A few more shots ricocheted off the bodywork but he was moving too fast and was too far out of range for them to do any real damage.

He was out and he was alive.

Mulder took a deep breath and checked his rear view mirror. There was a fleeting image of a shadowy figure standing in the middle of the road but when he looked again it was gone. He could swear a curl of smoke hung in the air where the figure had been. Mulder blinked, shook his head and headed back home to Scully.

Scully was just putting down the phone as Mulder walked in. An expression of relief mixed with concern spread across her face as she rushed forward to greet him.

"What happened? Are you okay? You're bleeding." she reached to tend to the small cuts on his face.

"I'm okay. It's nothing," Mulder caught her hand and gently kissed the palm before pulling her into an embrace. "Just let me hold you for a moment."

"I phoned my mom. I think she's coming over."

"That's okay."

"And I phoned Skinner. He's ordered us to take an extended vacation," she looked up as Mulder took her face in his hands.

"That'll be nice," he said simply.

"Are you sure you're okay Mulder?"

"I am now." he smiled.

"Good," Taking his hands in her own she walked him backwards towards the sofa. "We have no diapers, no formula and no idea what we're doing." Mulder leaned over the back of the sofa and gazed at his sleeping son. Oblivious in his serenity. "And we don't have a name."

"My mom suggested William."

"Nah, too obvious," he shook his head. Scully raised her eyebrows and folded her arms. "I'll let you explain that one to her."

"No problem, as long as you explain it to your brother. At least your mom won't kick my ass."

"Don't be so sure."

Just then there was a knock at the door and they both looked at each other wide eyed.

"That can't be her already!" said Scully. Peeking through the spy hole she turned to Mulder and mouthed the words "it is" before opening the door to her mother. She was laden down with bags and parcels and struggled to squeeze through the door.

"Mom, what is all this?"

"I thought you might be needing a few things," she said laying the packages on the kitchen worktop. "Formula, diapers, all the essentials. That's what Nana's are for right?"

"Thanks mom, you read my mind," Scully started to empty the bags. "Fox, it's good to see you're safe. I hope you don't think you can just run off that like and leave Dana holding the baby anymore. You have responsibilities now."

"Mom!" Scully chided. "It's okay," Mulder smiled. "She's absolutely right," he looked to Scully. "Things will have to change."

"Well, I don't intend to stay for long. I just want to see my grandson."

"Stay as long as you like mom."

Maggie settled herself on the sofa and lifted the little boy from his bassinet. "Oh Dana, he's perfect," she cooed. "He looks like a William to me." Mulder and Scully exchanged an amused look.

"We haven't..."

"Hand me one of those diapers will you Fox." Mulder got an "it's not worth it look" from Scully so he didn't bother finishing the sentence and obediently went to fetch the diaper.

Maggie began to undo the poppers on the infant's sleepsuit, all the while blabbering baby talk. She suddenly stopped and looked up at her daughter. "What's this?"


"This mark, here on his arm." Scully moved in for a closer look. "Oh my God," she instinctively looked at the back of his neck too. "Mulder, take a look at this." Small red marks punctuated each point. Mulder closed his eyes and shook his head in disgust.

"What's this all about Dana?"

"It's hard to explain..."

"Try me." Mulder shifted awkwardly trying to find the right words. "It's the reason I ran off, as you put it. I was trying to get back what they had taken from him."

"I don't understand. Why would they want to do this to a baby? What kind of sick people would..."

"Mom, please." Mulder crouched down so that he was at eye-level with Maggie. "Remember all the things that have been done to Scully, to Dana and myself over the years? The abductions, the implant, the tests? It means that your grandson is of great interest to them. I don't know how to explain it to you but we may never be able to have what you'd call a normal family life." Maggie listened to his words but it was clearly too much for her to take in.

"Mom, he's a very special little boy. Even we don't know just how special he might be yet. But we have to be very protective of him or this might happen again."

"I can't believe I'm hearing this. Just what exactly have they taken from him?" Mulder reached inside his jacket pocket. "These samples," he passed three silver vials and a small yellow box to Scully. "DNA, blood and tissue." Scully examined the unmarked vials, gently pulled the stoppers from each of them and peered inside. Tapping the contents into the palm of her hand she looked questioningly at Mulder. "They're empty. There's nothing in here." Finally prying open the yellow box. "Nothing." Mulder dropped his head into his hands. "I should have seen this coming. That bastard..." he sighed deeply. "Maybe it's for the best..."

"How can you say that?" Scully asked.

"Because they might leave us alone for now if they have what they want."

"That doesn't change the fact that they are conducting experiments on innocent children and doing God knows what with the DNA they've extracted."

"No, but it might buy us some time."

"I don't want to listen to any more of this. The most important thing is that this little boy will be loved and given as normal a life as possible." Maggie was shaking as she finished changing the diaper.

"He is loved mom, you know that."

"Yes," she smiled. "I do. I just wish your father was here to see him. He'd be so proud of you Dana."

"I know mom, I know," Scully felt the tears welling up in her eyes again.

"I'm going to leave you two alone now."

"You don't have to go Mrs. Scully, please..."

"I do, and it's Maggie." she kissed her grandson on the forehead. "I think someone's hungry," she tickled the wriggling little bundle on her lap before handing him over to his mother. "You've been given a very precious gift. Never forget that."

"We won't," Mulder walked Maggie to the door. "I'm trusting you to look after my daughter and my grandson Fox," Maggie said as she embraced him like a son. "Don't let me down."

"I'll do my best."

Mulder closed the door and stood silently for a moment just taking in the view. Mother and child. He felt so overcome with emotion he thought his heart might burst. Such perfection. The two most precious things in his entire universe, safe, happy and beautiful. Mulder moved in behind Scully and wrapped his arms around her, nuzzling into her neck. "Mulder, have you thought about just how special our son could be? What if he's like Gibson Praise?"

"Gibson? Now there's a name."

"A middle name perhaps. I was thinking of Samuel."

Mulder thought for a moment. "Samuel Gibson...what? Mulder or Scully?"

"Is that your idea of a proposal?"

"Maybe..." he smiled. "Do you want me to make an honest woman of you Miss Scully?"

"Well we are living in sin you know."

"True..." he nodded with false sincerity.

"I'm just kidding Mulder..."

"No, no you're right. We have to think of our future."

"So where do you want to go on vacation?" she asked, quickly changing the subject.

"I always fancied seeing Scotland myself."

"Why Scotland?"

"Well, we could hide away in some remote hunting lodge in the Highlands. Miles away from civilization. Surrounded by rolling hills and lochs and heather, the odd sheep."


"Yeah, no mobile phones, no mutants or global conspiracies. Just you and me and this little guy."

"Sounds romantic."

"Doesn't sound like us though does it?"

"Well, maybe if you play your cards right we'll take a trip to Loch Ness." Mulder's eyes lit up like a kid promised a trip to the toy store.

"You know, just so you don't get any withdrawal symptoms. I'm not making any promises though."

Mulder turned her face to his and kissed her, softly at first, then deeper and with more passion. A small cry from Sam interrupted them. "Hey," Mulder said. "Don't worry little man. Daddy's not hurting Mommy, okay?" a toothless smile spread across the infants face. "Did you see that? He smiled at me."

"Sorry to disappoint you Mulder, but that was probably just wind. We have to get him something to eat. And will you please let me see to those cuts on your face?" Mulder reluctantly broke the embrace and looked at his watch. "Have you seen the time? I'm gonna take a shower and hit the sack."


"It's okay, we'll get up bright and early, call in to see Skinner, get ourselves organized and then..." Mulder made a little plane taking off gesture with his hand. Scully just shook her head. "Sure, fine, whatever. But before you go you can help me get organized here first."

The two of them busied themselves emptying the packages that Maggie had brought. Soft toys, adorable little outfits, booties, Johnson & Johnson's entire baby range, bottles and a sterilizer. Mulder stuck his head inside the last bag. "Hey look!" Scully peered into the empty bag. "The kitchen sink." Scully dismissed the comment and rolled one of the bottles in her hand. "I always thought I would breast feed."

"What's stopping you?"

"I don't even know if I can now." Mulder gently rubbed her back. "You can do anything you want."

There was something a little odd about this scene of domestic bliss. Agents Mulder and Scully, F.B.I. fussing over their newborn son? They both felt it but pushed it to the back of their minds. Things were changing, and they would adapt. They felt happier now than they had done for months but underlying it all was the knowledge that this happiness could be destroyed again in the blink of an eye. Moments like this would have to be cherished.

Within the hour they were ready to drop. The events of the day were rapidly catching up with all of them. They placed Sam in the middle of the bed and cuddled in either side, linking their hands beneath him. Both of them were unable to take their eyes of him as he slept. Sam's eyes flitted about behind his eyelids and his little hands twitched intermittently.

"What do you think he dreams about Mulder?"

"I have no idea. Maybe it's the same thing that I like to dream about," he said, giving her a little eyebrow wiggle.

They would never know. But in the young child's mind he heard their voices and their thoughts. They meant nothing to him as his senses were so new, but they made him feel safe and secure and his thoughts were indeed ones of contentment. He smiled again in his sleep...


Any and all feedback welcome at Touchston3@btinternet.com

Author's note: I am Scottish but have written the above fic in American English. If you find any cultural inaccuracies or errors on my part please let me know. Thanks for reading.

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