Title: Existessence
Author: WildwingSuz
Author's Page: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/1810316/
Category: X-Files
Genre: Drama/Adventure
Completed: 04/05/2009
Rating: R
Spoilers: Alternate storyline to "Essence" and "Existence" - starting partway through "Essence" (scene 16). The entire show up to those two episodes.


Summary: A more realistic IMHO rewrite of the season 8 episodes “Essence” and “Existence”.

Author's Notes: I never thought I'd write a babyfic because I never cared for the William storyline and thought it shouldn't have been done. But after participating in a discussion on The X-Philes Fan Club YahooGroup about which plot device the show would have been better off without, William or killing off the Gunmen, this came to mind. After writing thirty-some stories about these people, I thought I knew what Mulder and Scully might realistically do and hopefully this works.

HUGE THANKS to Alia for helping me figure out the ending; I simply could not write without your help, my friend. Also to my wonderful husband Joe for writing the newspaper articles with his much more succinct and professional style and picking out the correct plane in addition to Bonnie Robb and her pilot husband Dave for help with the airport parts.

Though I listened to a lot of music in the three weeks it took me to write the outline and first draft of this, I listened to Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 "Romantic" to write the ending (pre-epilogue). Between that and Stravinsky's Three Symphonies, the ending turned out to be everything I'd hoped when I began writing this to Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation, and Breaking Benjamin.


Previously on the X-Files:

At 33:44 into the episode "Essence", Mulder helps Scully down the back stairs of her apartment building and towards the street. That is where this story diverges from the filmed episode:


Part I: Escape

Hitting the auto-unlock tab on his keyring Mulder hissed, "Get in my car, Scully, it's down the block there—see the lights flashing?"

"I can only move so damn fast," I whispered back, waddling as fast as I could. Without thinking I'd slipped my feet into a pair of good work pumps and the two-inch heels weren't helping. Where I could have run at top speed in them eight months ago, I could barely walk now.

Mulder was glancing nervously over his shoulder, but we reached the car without incident and I was barely inside before he squealed away from the curb. I glanced back over my shoulder while fastening my seatbelt as we flew around the corner. A long black car with tinted windows was pulling up in front of my building and I caught a glimpse of a figure coming out of the front door, but that was all I saw before we sped away into the dark.

"Okay, Mulder, where are we going?" I said tiredly, folding my hands over my huge belly. Junior gave a kick or two, then apparently went back to sleep which was a good thing because he was dancing on my bladder. Luckily I'd used the bathroom shortly before Mulder had shown up at my door though I knew it wouldn't be long before I'd have to go again. "What's the plan?"

"No plan," he said, turning onto the 95 on-ramp south and accelerating onto the freeway. "I was going to take you to Skinner's office, but on second thought nowhere we normally go can be safe. After talking to that Gill woman I don't think you dare even go to a hospital."

"What?! And just how do you think I'm going to deliver this baby?" I demanded furiously. "I'm not delivering myself! What if something goes wrong or, God forbid, there's something wrong with the baby? I have to go to a hospital, Mulder!"

He turned to stare at me briefly and in his face, despite the darkness, I saw worry, anger, and fear. "Would you risk losing your baby to the Lizzy Gills and Billy Miles of this world?" he said quietly. "Let me know now and I'll just turn around and take you back to them if that's what you want."

I huffed out a breath, so sick and tired of this entire mess I wanted to just lay down and cry. But even nine months' pregnant I couldn't do that; I had decisions to make that would effect three lives immediately and probably more in the future. "Maybe… maybe we can find a small clinic or hospital in the middle of nowhere that I can deliver in," I said, thinking hard. "Even a nurse-midwife would be better than nothing."

"What's that?" he asked as we flew along the mostly-deserted expressway.

"Nurse-midwives are very popular in rural areas, they're trained to assist in normal childbirth at home," I said, stressing the word normal. We both knew that despite the sonograms and amnio, my delivery and/or child might not be. "If we showed up at the door of a small hospital or emergency clinic and said we were traveling or something and I unexpectedly went into labor, they—"

"What about ID and/or insurance?" he pointed out. "I've got a second set of ID, but we never did get you one. Never thought you'd need it. Would they take you in without ID?"

I ground my teeth. He was right. "They would, but they'd probably put my description on the wire," I admitted.

"I have an idea," he said in a slow, thoughtful voice. "Let me work it out and I'll tell you once I know more."

Oh, no.


Part II: Excursion

I know she thought I was crazy to do this, but what was new about that? As long as it kept her and the baby safe I'd do what I had to no matter what that was. This certainly wasn't the greatest plan since it was no plan at all, but at least I'd gotten her away from those who were determined to hurt her, steal her baby, or stop her from delivering.

"Mulder, I really need to stop," she said in a warning tone of voice. "I'm not going to last another five miles. If you don't take the next exit we'll be pulling off to the side of the freeway and giving everyone a free show—unless you'd rather have me pee all over your car seat."

"Okay, okay, I get it," I said, putting on my turn-blinker and heading down the next ramp. I watched carefully as I made a right turn onto the road at the bottom, but I saw no one following unless they were either invisible or in a black helicopter and I couldn't do anything about either of those. No, I was pretty sure we'd gotten away clean; no one or nothing had followed us from Scully's street and I suspected that whomever was in the black car I'd seen in front of her building had gotten in the way of whomever had chased us, or at least I hoped that. It might have been Doggett or Skinner but I couldn't know for sure, and I dared not contact them.

I spotted a familiar blue and white sign in the distance and asked, "Can you wait until we get to the Wal-Mart? We can pick up some supplies while we're there too."

"Yeah, I should be able to. Supplies?"

"I think our best bet for right now is to hole up somewhere in the middle of BFE and figure out what we're going to do," I told her. "Contacting the Gunmen is a thought, maybe they can get you a set of ID. In the meantime, I want to be prepared just in case you go into labor early."

"Early?" she said in a disbelieving tone, folding her hands over her round stomach almost protectively. "Mulder, my due date is day after tomorrow. Up to two weeks before or after is perfectly normal."

"Really? I thought you had more time." I did the math swiftly and realized that something that had been nagging at me was going to be confirmed if she had this baby in the next few days.

Once in the store she arrowed straight to the restrooms and I stood in the hallway just inside the main doors and watched her go; I'd never ever tell her but I loved to watch her late-pregnancy waddle. It was so different from the way I'd watched her walk during all our years together as partners and yet still the same that it tickled my heart. Hell, just about everything about her touched my heart in one way or another and I was just about done with fighting it. I knew I'd hurt her with my distancing myself from her and her pregnancy when I came back from the dead, but the last few days had begun to make me realize my priorities. And my fear of becoming a father was the worst one, the one I'd have to come to terms with very soon. No matter how many jokes or smart remarks I made, I was pretty damn sure I knew who the father of Scully's baby was—and it wasn't the pizza guy or even Skinner. It was me. And whether I liked it or not I was about to become just as responsible for this new life as she was and I had to face up to that no matter how her pregnancy had happened.

She returned a lot slower than she went and when she reached me, she grabbed the collar of my leather jacket and pulled me down to her level and all but whispered in my ear, "Mulder, I don't have any cash on me and we don't dare use our credit cards, you know."

"I know," I said, inhaling the soft citrus and soapy smell of her hair which brushed against my face. She must have showered when she got back from the hospital earlier as she smelled very fresh and clean. "I've got it covered, don't worry. Just get what you need, okay?"

She eyed me uncertainly as I stood up straight, but I just smiled reassuringly—or so I hoped—and went to get us a basket. I wished she could use one of those electric cart thingies to ride in as I was worried about her being on her feet for so long, but I didn't even suggest it—I knew she wouldn't without bringing it up.

I had never been in a Wal-Mart before and had more fun than I'd realized by making snarky observations to Scully, many of which she returned. Even at ten o'clock at night the hicks were out in force and I was seeing first-hand a side of Americana I had only imagined. Fat women in stained muumuus with dirty-faced shrieking children and baskets full of two-liters of Mountain Dew and black velvet Elvis paintings wandered the aisles, while tall skinny men with beards wearing coveralls haunted the automotive and home improvement departments. It was like being plunked into the middle of an episode of "Roseanne". I may have been exaggerating, but not by much.

After a lot of discussion and urging on my part, she picked out two changes of clothes, several nightgowns that she said would be easy to nurse in, and we bought enough towels in different sizes and shapes that the cashier probably thought we were opening a motel. She also picked out a selection of baby blankets and newborn outfits in yellow and green, insisting on not knowing the baby's sex until it was born. We agreed to get diapers and a car seat and a collapsible umbrella stroller, having no idea what we might or might not need and trying to be prepared for any contingency. Then I insisted on getting some childbirth and baby care books, especially one on Lamaze though Scully told me that it was far too late for that since we'd only gone to one class.

Although I was hesitant to let her know, I had withdrawn all of my savings in cash not long after 'returning' and had been carrying much of it on me for the last few days as well as having some stashed in my car, which the Gunmen had equipped with a kill switch long ago so I had little worry about it being stolen. So money-wise we were fine. I also had my usual last-minute travel bag in the trunk along with a basic emergency kit and case of bottled water, so with the Wal-Mart purchases I felt we were pretty well set for almost any contingency that I could think of. Although, of course, it was the ones we couldn't think of that would be the ones that came up.

And although I hadn't told her yet because I knew she'd stop me, I did have a plan for a safe way for Scully to have her baby.


Part III: Haven/Nesting

I knew there was a reason I fell in love with this man.

Despite the sudden and bizarre way we'd had to run from my apartment Mulder was unfazed and calm and competent, clearly trying to think of everything we needed and how best to handle my safety. I knew damn well that if I went into labor before we found a way to get me to a hospital all that would change and fast, but in the meantime I was impressed and touched.

After we left the store I dozed off in the car and while I was sleeping he found a very remote, cheap but not sleazy motel in a town called Gingham, West Virginia, not far from Beckley. Gingham appeared to have a population of perhaps three hundred, tops, but also had a 24-hour gas station/mini-mart and, to my surprise, no police station. We later agreed that they were likely serviced by the state bears or Beckley city police, which actually fit our parameters nicely.

The motel was the Gingham Court Lodges and what made it perfect was that it was a series of small two-room cabins—main room and bath—scattered in a small forest not far from the main road. When Mulder enquired it was no problem to get the furthest and most remote cabin which was a good five hundred yards or more from the closest one. It had a decent-sized bathroom with an old-fashioned claw tub as well as a shower stall, and a kitchenette with an under-the-counter refrigerator, tabletop stove and microwave, though no oven. Still, it was far better than I had expected us to get in the middle of Appalachia.

We had come over five hours from D.C. and that was about as long as I felt comfortable sitting in the car this far along in my pregnancy as I told Mulder after we left the Wal-Mart; it was a lot longer than I would normally allow but I knew I had to risk it to keep us safe. Gingham looked to be remote enough that we felt somewhat safe, though both of us were still on alert for anything suspicious.

I fell asleep somewhere on I-64 and woke to a fait accompli. The motel office wasn't open 24 hours but did open at six a.m. and Mulder actually carried me into our cabin after he got us checked in. I didn't ask, but suspected that we were Mr. & Mrs. George Hale—if he used the Petrie alias I would likely kill him and worry about who'd deliver my baby afterward so I was better off ignorant of the fact. He got me into the room and I was barely awake enough to hit the bed like a ton of bricks. I woke around ten o'clock to use the bathroom and Mulder was curled around me, both of us still mostly dressed in the clothes we'd worn on the race from my apartment though minus our shoes. I took off my stretch pants and blouse, leaving on my white t-shirt and ugly maternity underwear. Ah well, I wasn't exactly centerfold material at this point and Mulder had certainly seen me looking worse over the years. I cringed every time I remembered what I'd looked like after he'd rescued me in Antarctica and even with a giant belly out front I knew I looked nowhere near that bad now.

When I went to crawl back in with him I saw that while I was in the bathroom Mulder had gotten up long enough to remove his sweater and t-shirt and jeans, now wearing only his familiar heather-grey boxer-briefs. He was sprawled in the middle of the bed on his back, the covers kicked down to his knees, dozing, as I returned from the bathroom. I hadn't seen him this undressed in nearly a year and I was surprised at the strong feeling of sexual arousal that surged through me. It might just have been pregnancy hormones and the timing was horrible, but as I got back into the bed I was damned tempted to start something with him. Even if I couldn't have intercourse there was plenty of other things we could do, but as soon as I laid down he curled around me again and I went right back to sleep, having only a moment to enjoy the feeling of his long, lean body against mine before I was out like a light again.

I awoke for the day near one o'clock, aghast that I'd slept so long, with a sore back from not having all my pillows to prop my belly on and a bladder so full that I was afraid to move. Luckily Mulder wasn't in the room so I risked it, barely making it onto the toilet before I let go. I also had mild diarrhea which concerned me briefly but after only one incidence and no cramps I forgot about it.

When I came out of the bathroom I found a scrawled note on a scrap of paper bag saying that Mulder had gone to contact the Gunmen about ID for me, not to worry and he'd be back with food and more supplies soon.

After showering, and thank goodness for the shower stall because I was well beyond the challenge of the tub, I changed into one of the maternity outfits I'd gotten at that disgusting Wal-Mart—I was never going in one of those places again!—and sorted through the stuff we'd bought. I wasn't very hungry though I thought I should be starving, and my back was really hurting no matter what I did be it sit, stand or recline. Mulder had brought the case of water in from the trunk of his car and put most of it in the little dorm-room-type fridge and I drank several bottles during the afternoon. It also held a few cups of yogurt, a prepackaged gas station turkey and Swiss on white sandwich, and two empty ice cube trays which I filled and set in the tiny freezer.

I thought about calling him on his cell then decided that I didn't need to bother him and fussed around the room instead. I put all the towels in one large bag, the blankets and baby outfits in another, and set them neatly at the foot of the bed where they were out of our way but within close reach should we need them. I went through Mulder's travel bag and put both of our clothes in the long, low, circa-1970s dresser which, despite its age, worked fine and was unmarked by water rings or cigarette burns.

As I unpacked I found Mulder's old grey Knicks t-shirt, which I had often worn around his apartment after we'd made love and didn't want to get dressed. I lifted it to my face and inhaled—he must have worn this to run or play hoops in before tossing it into his overnight bag and it smelled strongly of his clean honest sweat, which reminded me of the times we'd made love. My body went on red alert again but the pain in my back countered it; regardless, I set it aside so I could wear it tonight. Even as huge as I was I knew it would hang loosely down to my knees.

Just as I was restlessly looking for something else to do, I heard a car door slam outside and peered carefully out the window beside the door. Mulder, looking so damn handsome and masculine that I wanted to leap on him bodily, was walking the short distance from the car to the cabin carrying a bag. I opened the door, smiling at him, but was rather dismayed to see his expression. "What's wrong?" I said, stepping back as he walked in. "Is there—"

"Nothing serious, it's just that the Gunmen can't get you ID; the contact they use for the forging isn't available and they don't have another right now," he said heavily, setting a large paper sack on the counter next to the stove. "Without it a green rookie could spot the ID as fake. Frohike thinks we should try to take you to a hospital with no ID. I asked him to try and make something anyway but he's not sure what they can do. I'm afraid, Scully, we may have to deliver your baby ourselves right here in this room. It looks to be the only safe thing to do, otherwise those goddamn Super Soldiers or replicants or whatever the fuck Billy Miles is now will find you."

Oh, shit.

I sat down heavily on the bed and stared up at him. "Mulder… there are so many things that could go wrong I don't now where to start… and I'm pretty sure that if I'm in the throes of labor I'm not going to be able to tell you what to do."

"That's why I got those books," he said, pointing at a stack on the nightstand on "his" side. "There is a clinic with an ambulance service in Beckley, and that's only ten minutes away. If you don't want to risk it, Scully, I'll take you there but I think we should try it ourselves. I won't hesitate to call for help if we need it."

I thought it over as he put away the contents of the bag, not really noticing what he'd gotten, chewing on my lower lip. Finally I raised my eyes to him, heaving a sigh. "I'm afraid you're right, and I do mean I'm afraid," I said honestly. "This is insane and incredibly stupid bordering on dangerous for both the baby and myself, but I don't know what else to do."

He came over and sat down next to me on the bed, putting an arm around my shoulders and pulling me gently against his side. His other hand reached over and caressed my stomach over the brown maternity blouse, and he smiled down at it. "Hey—we can do this, Scully. You've delivered babies before, right?"

"As the primary just the one in Florida," I admitted, letting myself sag against him. His gentle touch and caring was exactly what I needed right now. "You'd better get to reading, Mulder, because I'm serious, I doubt I'll be able to help you while I'm actually in labor. And I could have this baby any time, or not for a couple weeks."

"All right, all right." He dropped an absent kiss on top of my head and got up, pausing to unlace and take off his hiking boots before going around to the other side of the bed. As he sat down and picked up a book I went to see what he'd gotten, and as I opened the fridge I had a sudden vision of a pint of ice cream. In particular, Ben & Jerry's "everything but the…" which is chocolate and vanilla with Heath bar and white chocolate chunks, peanut butter cups and almonds and maybe more I couldn't remember. I damn near drooled down the front of my shirt thinking about it, and I suddenly had to have some.

"Mulder… I need some ice cream."

"What, now? I just…"

I slammed the little fridge door and turned to glare at him. "You have missed most of this pregnancy, but I have not. For once, just once, you get to do the expectant father thing and GO GET ME SOME GODDAMN ICE CREAM—NOW!"

Twenty minutes later he returned with five different pints of Ben & Jerry's ice cream; he hadn't been able to find the one I was craving, but he did find Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch, Chunky Monkey, Vanilla Caramel Fudge, Peanut Butter Cup, and Butter Pecan and brought all of them back for me. I laughed so hard I was afraid I'd put myself into labor as he unloaded them onto the counter, and we ended up sitting on the bed reading the books together and eating almost all of that ice cream.

But as we got ready for bed and I pulled on his Knicks t-shirt I warned him that if he tried to get me to do or even so much as mention the Lamaze breathing one more time I was going to bean him with the book about it. And if he didn't believe me he would soon find out how serious I was. I was worried and nervous enough about this whole thing that I didn't need to think about my goddamn breathing!


Part IV: Kidnap

"Mulder... Mulder, wake up."

I rolled over and away, from the shaking hands, knowing it was Scully but not caring. "Just go back to sleep," I mumbled, burying my face in the pillow. "Will get you ice cream later."

"Mulder, it's started."

I froze, feeling sleepiness dissipate as the ice water of her words fell over me. "You mean... the baby?" I said slowly, rolling back over to see her sitting up against the headboard in the semi-darkness. The bathroom night-light was still on, giving me just enough light to see by.

"Yes. I've been awake about two hours and they've gone from fourteen to six minutes apart," she said. "I think I may have not realized that I was in the first stage of labor; that was likely why my back was hurting so much yesterday. That happens sometimes," she said almost apologetically as I sat up and switched on the lamp on the night table.

"How long do you think it'll be?"

"First babies are supposed to take a long time, but from how fast my contractions are speeding up it may not be more than a few hours," she said in a clearly worried tone. "I wish I could do my own pelvic exam and see how dilated I am."

Time to put Plan A into action. I swung my legs out of bed and shucked the sweats, already reaching for yesterday's jeans. "Okay, Scully, hang on, I'll be back shortly."

"You're leaving?" she all but screamed. I stopped myself from putting my hands over my ears by dint of will. "You can't leave me, Mulder, you have to help me deliver this baby!"

"I'm just running into town to get something," I explained almost desperately, slipping yesterday's t-shirt over my head.

"What did you forget?" she snapped then clutched at her belly, doubling over as much as she could and groaned, low.

"Oh, my God." I hurried around the bed to her side, brushing her hair out of her face as she laid back. She was already sweating. "Is there anything I can do?"

"Get this damn baby out of me without so much drama," she said grumpily, relaxing back against the headboard and kicking off the sheet, stretching out her legs. The huge bump of her belly looked even bigger beneath my old grey Knicks t-shirt that she had insisted on wearing despite the fact that it was dirty. "Would you take my underwear off? They're all wet and feel terrible. Can't whatever it is wait?"

She was right; her panties were soaked with a light bloody discharge that I, from my cramming yesterday, knew was normal. I tossed them in the wastebasket and covered her with the light sheet again, folding the bedspread back and out of the way. "What? No, but I'll be back in less than half an hour—you can wait that long, can't you?" I said desperately, sitting on the edge of the bed with my shoes and socks.

"It's not up to me, Mulder. This baby'll come when it wants no matter what we do," she said, watching me put on my old tennis shoes which I kept in my travel bag. She didn't mention that I had them on the wrong feet and I nearly fell over as I tried to walk. I knew I was far more nervous than I tried to show her; if this didn't work I'd have to deliver our child and that scared me far more than any mutant or monster ever could.

I leaned over and gave her a quick kiss. "I'll be right back," I promised. "Do your breathing."

One of the stack of books that had been sitting on the nightstand sailed past my head as I headed for the door and hit the wall just above my shoulder. "I'll breathe you, asshole," she snarled, and I made my escape while I still could.


Part V: Existence

I could have damn well killed him. I didn't know what he forgot, but I'd been laying here sweating and panting for the last forty-five minutes and he wasn't answering his cell. I wasn't sure if I'd peed the bed or my water broke, but I certainly couldn't get up to clean although I had managed to scoot over to the other side of the bed where it was dry so I wasn't laying in the wet.

The contractions were down to two minutes and I knew this meant it wouldn't be long. So much for the first baby taking hours; this one was going to set a land speed record. I was beginning to feel the urge to push, but had been panting through them. I needed Mulder to do an internal exam; I could tell him what to feel for before I started pushing to make sure I was fully dilated. Dear God, I'd never thought I'd be delivering my own child with Mulder's, of all people, assistance. Heaven help us all.

Finally I heard the rattle of a key in the door and all but screamed, "About time, damn you!" But it wasn't Mulder that came though the door; it was a heavyset woman with a deeply lined, jowled face who looked to be in her late sixties or early seventies, carrying an old-fashioned cracked black leather doctor's bag. He was right behind her and when I saw that he had his gun out and pointed at her, it all fell into place. "Mulder, you didn't?!" I yelled, then groaned over another contraction, panting through the ever-strengthening urge to push.

"Dammit, man, you dint tell me she was this close!" the woman said in a soft Southern accent, glaring over her shoulder at Mulder. "Put that damn thing away, I ain't deliverin' this baby with no gun pointed at my head."

"Who—are—you?" I gasped at her, panting through another. They were now no more than a minute apart and I could feel the baby pushing downwards. I knew I must be fully dilated and that the head was probably starting through my cervix.

"Alma Jackson, ma'am, registered nurse-midwife for over fifty years, but you go 'head and just call me Alma. Don't let the fact that your man here kidnapped me outta my house fret you none, we'll deliver your baby just fine," she assured me, walking to the side of the bed and placing her hands on my hard belly as she smiled reassuringly down at me. "Well, well, you ain't gonna take long, is you? This is an impatient 'un! He or she ready to come out and say hi."

I glared over at Mulder, who had set his gun on top of the dresser and was leaning against it. "I don't believe you," I snapped at him. "You kidnapped this poor woman out of her house?!"

"What was I supposed to do?" he said plaintively. His eyes followed Alma Jackson as she went into the small bathroom then we heard water running, and she returned drying off her hands with one of the cheap white motel towels which she tossed back into the smaller room. "I can't deliver our baby alone, Scully, I was terrified that I'd screw it up and hurt either or both of you."

"Ya coulda just come told me you needed a midwife, ya didn't need t'shove that gun in m'face," Alma said succinctly. I found myself liking and trusting her more and more by the minute.

"I didn't pull the gun until you wanted to leave a message with your service telling them where you were—" he began, but a really strong contraction took me over and I let out a long, loud groan as I panted through it. When I came back from it, Mulder was sitting behind me, legs on either side, holding me semi-reclining against his hard chest. "It's all right, Scully, let's breathe--"

"I'm going to breathe your ass into next week!" I snapped at him, but relaxed back into his arms while I could. At the foot of the bed Alma was tugging and rearranging the bedding. As I watched she dragged one of the straight-backed chairs to the end of the bed, sat down, and unpacked a stack of clean towels and baby blankets from the Wal-Mart bags at the foot of the bed, then opened her doctor's bag and laid out her implements beside my left leg.

"When did your water break, honey?" she asked softly, folding a thick yellow towel and placing it against my buttocks.

"Uh, about half an hour ago, I think," I said, unable to help clenching in trepidation of the pain as I felt the next one beginning. "Here we go again!"

"Pant through it, honey, relax as much as you can till I can 'zamine you," Alma told me, her gentle but calloused hands on my knees which were bent, feet flat on the bed. "Thatta girl, you doin' it just right. And you, gun-man," she snapped at Mulder, "You takes her hands and you let her squeeze them just as hard as she needs to. Least you can do."

"Did—did he tell you I'm a doctor?" I gasped out after that one had passed. Mulder wrapped his arms around me, resting his hands gently on top of my belly, and I laced my fingers through his. His calm strong presence, his warm breath in my ear, his silent encouragement, gave me more courage than I'd ever tell him.

"He did, honey, but that don't make no nevermind when it's you havin' the baby," she said, her gentle fingers reaching inside me, her other hand on the lowering slope of my stomach. "I had three and totally forgot all my trainin' during them an' I been a midwife since age sixteen. Well, good news, little momma, taint gonna be long at all. I'd say you go ahead and push much as you want to, now. Head don't feel too big so I'm gonna massage your perineum good and hopefully you ain't gotta have no episiotomy."

I did notice with the back of my mind how unusual her mix of back-country accent and correctly-pronounced medical words was. "Wish I could have drugs," I panted. "I—I—said I wouldn't but..."

"Don't we all," she smiled at me reassuringly. "It's almost over, though, so you just hang on, honey, won't be long now. Too late for anythin' anyway."

"Oooohhhh sssssshit!" I cried as the next contraction swept over me, letting go and pushing the way I wanted to. I was trying to keep my volume down not knowing who could hear us although I was getting louder each time. Part of me was absolutely amazed at how my body took over, but that didn't last long as I felt the baby moving down the vaginal canal.

"Hoo-ie! Honey, you is good at this," Alma encouraged me, smiling up at me over the mound of my belly. "Dang, you moved the little one halfway along. One more like that and we'll have us a baby here."

"I love you, Scully," Mulder whispered in my ear. "You are the most awesome, stunningly beautiful woman I've ever seen. Jesus, you're incredible."

"Okay, here we go," I ground out, bracing myself back against him and basking in his words. If I could finish this up with one more push I was going to give it everything I had. I concentrated on pushing, knowing I was screaming but hearing nothing but the roar of blood in my ears as I strained.

"Whoa, honey, stop, hold up, pant through the next one," I realized Alma was saying as the contraction ended and I relaxed for the moment I could. "Hang on, I'm gonna do an episiotomy. Don't want you to tear and he looks to be a bit bigger than I first thought. You won't feel nothing but a bit of tugging."

"Is it a boy?" Mulder said excitedly from behind me.

"Caint tell from the top of the head," she snapped, and I felt a tugging and pulling from down there. "Okay, honey, now go for it," she encouraged. "He's crowning, you's almost there."

The next one swept over me and I pushed and yelled for all I was worth, working with my body instead of fighting it and in one long, smooth motion I felt the baby's head pop out—the contraction was ending but I determinedly kept pushing—then the shoulders were through and then he was gone from inside me and a new voice cried out into the room. "You was right, daddy, you got a perfect, healthy little boy here," Alma said, but all I could see was the grey bun on top of her head as she worked over the baby. "He's just fine, let me get him cleaned up a little for you. Dad, you come on down here and take him while I gets ready to cut the cord. Momma, you lay back and relax for a bit, you'll have him in a minute."

Mulder untangled our hands and lifted me just enough to slide out from behind me, plumping up and laying me back on the pillows so I was still semi-reclining, then leaned down and kissed me with his teary eyes shining into mine, grinning widely. He went to where Alma was still working over our squalling son who hadn't stopped howling since leaving me and I reveled in the strong, lusty cries. I listened as she clamped off the cord and had Mulder cut it despite his deferrals, then next thing I knew he was standing next to the bed with a bundle wrapped in the yellow and pale green blankets we'd bought yesterday.

"Okay, let's do the afterbirth and then you can relax for a while," Alma encouraged me and I gave one last push as my body gently urged me on. "Oh hey, there you go. Good work, little momma. Looks complete; you are pretty durn good at this."

The baby had stopped crying but I could see a little pink hand waving from beyond the blankets. Mulder had the biggest damn grin I'd ever seen on his face as he gazed down into the nest of blankets. I saw tear tracks on his face, though he wasn't crying any more and I suspected he didn't even realize he had. "He's got your hair and my nose, poor kid," he said, leaning over and gently depositing the bundle into my arms. "He's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life next to you."

I brushed the blankets back and looked into my son's face. "Oh my God, Mulder, he looks just like you!" I said, startled. He did indeed have a thick mop of wet dark red hair, but I could clearly see Mulder's stamp on his little features. Despite all his joking about it I hoped that Mulder knew he was the father and even if he'd been serious about not being sure, this little face left no doubt. "Jesus, it looks like I cloned you!"

We looked at each other and then burst out laughing.

"Okay, daddy, I need your help here," Alma said. "Take the rest of these clean towels and put 'em over on top of the dresser there, then I'm gonna weigh the baby and give him his second Apgar."

I hadn't realized she'd done an Apgar. "How was his first?"

"Ten all the way, don't you worry, but I always do a second one after five-ten minutes even iff'n the first is high," she assured me. "Better safe than sorry. Plus I wanna clean out his airways, you know, clean him up a little."

I opened the blankets and checked him over; as she'd said, his pulse, respiration, muscular tone, and skin color were all good. I didn't check him for stimulation as his earlier crying told me all I needed to know though he was now resting quietly, blinking. He also had the correct number of fingers and toes with the tiniest nails I'd ever seen, as well as a perfectly formed penis and testes. Every other newborn I'd seen I'd thought rather ugly, even the one I'd delivered during the hurricane in Florida, but this was the most beautiful child I had ever laid eyes upon even partly covered in blood and effluvia, the dark red hair still mostly matted to his perfect little skull.

"What you going to name him, little momma?" Alma asked as she quickly sewed me up. I could tell by the way she was moving that she certainly knew what she was doing, deft and confident. Thanks to the miracle of the human body I felt nothing more than the occasional prick and tugging although I was starting to shiver from both cold and aftereffects. I'd be hurting later when the natural anesthetic wore off but for now I didn't feel bad at all. Mostly relieved that it was over!

I looked up at Mulder and smiled. "William," I said. "After your father."

The grin on his face rivaled any sun I've ever seen and I was ready when he leaned down and kissed me, returning it as enthusiastically as he gave it.

A short time later Alma came over and took William from me and covered me with the sheet and blanket, working over him at the dresser with Mulder standing by. I saw that she had a small portable scale and when she read off his weight and length I was pleased; seven pounds, eight ounces and twenty-one inches long was a good-sized baby for a small woman like myself, especially when the father was a lanky six-foot lug.


Part VI: Essence

I could not take my eyes off of our son.

It was true; as Scully had said, he did look just like me. Though I'd never really had any doubts despite my teasing—in fact by the timing I was pretty damn sure that she'd caught the very first time we'd slept together after her spiritual experience in the Buddhist temple—they were laid to rest looking at his little red face. He kicked and waved his arms and gazed about as Mrs. Jackson gave him a gentle sponge bath, his eyes still a nondescript slatey bluish-grey color but I was hoping they'd switch to Scully's clear blue eventually.

Speaking of—I glanced back at her to find her watching us with a smile, resting back against the pillows. I'd always known that Scully had the heart of a lion but I'd never realized how bodily strong she was until I saw her pop that baby out with steely determination—as usual, when she got her teeth into something she didn't do it halfway. I've always admired and respected her but even that ratcheted up another few notches after watching her give birth.

"Okay, here you go daddy, one nice clean William. Jus' don't let anyone call him Slick Willy like our prez," the midwife said in her slurry accent, grinning at me as she handed him over. Then the grin faded and she pinned me with a serious gaze. "I should be just about done here—you gonna take me home, I'm assumin'?"

I carried William over and put him into Scully's eager arms then turned back to her. "Mrs. Jackson--"

"Oh, jeez, just call me Alma," she said, going around me to Scully's side. "You ready to feed him, little momma? He do seem to be acting hungry."

I noticed that William was rooting around making smacking sounds. "Yes, I think he is," Scully agreed, then turned a light shade of pink. "But I don't think I can nurse him in this shirt. Mulder, can you get me one of the nightgowns out of the dresser? I've got the two top drawers."

It was then that I realized she was still wearing my faded grey Knicks t-shirt and I just nodded, my throat swelling with emotion. I found a lacy blue one and a pair of panties and took them to her, holding our son with my back turned for her modesty while Mrs. J—Alma helped her change. The baby was starting to fuss, waving his tiny fists and turning his head abruptly whenever one brushed his cheek. Clearly he was going to be a bottomless pit like his dad; I hoped that Scully had a lot of milk to feed this boy.

I sat on the bed next to them as Alma helped her get William nursing, though it didn't take much; he latched on once the nipple was presented as if he'd been doing it forever. Scully jumped when he did, then laughed with delight, brushing at his drying hair with her other hand as he began to suck strongly. But he didn't nurse for long before falling asleep, his soft little red-haired head cradled against her milky breast.

"Okay, daddy, I think it's time for these old bones to get some rest, and all three of you, too," Alma said, picking up her bag from the foot of the bed. "Little momma, you jes' call me if you think you need me; don't hesitate, now. For you or the little one, anytime."

"Thank you so much," Scully said, gazing over at the old woman. "I couldn't have done it without you, Alma--I owe you more than I can ever express."

She waved off the praise, but she was smiling. "It's what I do, child. It's what I do. I s'pect you be moving on soon?"

I hadn't told her much, just that we were passing through and wouldn't be staying long. "Yeah, hopefully tomorrow," I said, glancing over to see Scully nodding. "I really can't thank you enough as well, Alma, and I am very sorry about the gun."

She shrugged, then rotated her neck as if it was sore. "Don't worry none about that, you didn't hurt me none even if you did throw me one heck of a scare, there, at first. I left a list of things you goan need for the first few days over there on the dresser, you kin stop and get 'em on the way back here after you drop me off. And you be sure to either toss out or wash all the towels and beddin' within a few hours. Be stinkin' up the place if you doan an' that ain't good for all of ya. Mattress sounds like it gots a plastic cover so that be okay."

With no further ado she swept out of the room, jerking her head at me so I followed and drove her home, which was only a few minutes down the main road that went through town. When I had looked through the tiny Gingham phone book yesterday and found the nurse-midwife listing and then saw not only where she lived but how, I couldn't help but wonder if maybe Scully was right about there being a God watching over us. Mrs. Alma Jackson, LPN was in her sixties and lived alone with three cats and two dogs in a small house that stood alone in an acre or two of land, though it wasn't far outside town. It had been absolutely perfect for the abduction, though I had regretted having to scare the poor woman. Though she argued with me about it, I pressed a roll of bills on her and refused to take it back; I wished I could give her a lot more for what she'd done for us. Once I explained how important it was I trusted her not to tell anyone about us; after seeing how she cared for both Scully and William I had no worries in that area.

After dropping her off I stopped at the gas station-mini mart, finding most of what she had listed for me to pick up other than the Playtex natural nurser bottles which she recommended to use to give William water with. Those I could probably find at a store in Beckley or, if I had to, drive farther to Charleston which was an hour north. I'd pored over the road maps while watching for Alma to come home last night; I'd had a good half hour of sheer terror thinking I might not be able to find her but she'd only been out walking her dogs. And luckily they were a pair of small fuzzy ankle-biters used to visitors so when I did have to pull my gun on the old woman to stop her from calling her service they did nothing more than continue snoozing unconcernedly on the couch.

As I drove back I suddenly noticed that there was a lot of traffic on the main road for this early in the morning and when I turned onto the motel's dedicated access road, I clearly saw a line of cars coming towards me from the direction of our cabin. My heart began to pound and I stepped on it, suddenly afraid that I had been gone far too long.


Part VII: Interlude

I woke to the unfamiliar but welcome sound of our son fussing noisily and opened my eyes to see Mulder standing at the dresser with his back to me, talking and moving his arms. An open bag of the Pampers newborn size diapers we'd bought at Wal-mart were on the dresser next to him. "Here now, none of that," he was saying softly, then chuckled. "Aren't you an impatient little guy? But then you do come by it honestly because I can never wait to eat, either."

He turned and saw that I was awake, the smile on his face growing into a grin before he turned back to the dresser and scooped up William, who was about to go from a fuss to an outright cry I could already tell. "Hey, you're in luck, your mom's awake and, I'm sure, more than ready to feed you breakfast," he told the bundle of blankets in his arms as he walked over to the bed while I carefully sat up. Handing him to me he added, "How are you feeling, Scully?"

"Tired, about as sore as I expected, and badly in need of some coffee which I can't have," I said groggily. I could see that it was bright daylight outside but the mound of dirty bedding next to me hid the alarm clock on the other nightstand. "What time is it?"

"Two-thirty, you've both been sleeping like logs until about ten minutes ago when William woke up," he said, perching on the edge of the bed next to me as I cuddled the baby close. He had quieted when Mulder picked him up, but it sounded like he was getting ready to cry again. "I'm glad I read those books, because he darn near peed in my face. Luckily I was ready for it."

"Did you change him?" I said, surprised, opening the blankets enough to see that the diaper was, indeed, on correctly. I had some experience with babies from my nephews and godchildren, but I'd had no idea that Mulder knew how to take care of an infant. He hadn't dressed him, but William seemed to be warm enough in his nest of blankets.

"It wasn't too difficult to figure out," he said proudly as I moved the elastic top of the nightgown aside to bare my breast. His eyes were avidly watching as I moved William to it, jumping slightly as he latched on like a starving fluke-man. "God, he's hungry, isn't he?"

"Wouldn't you be?" I smiled at the baby's enthusiastic suckling, then up at his father who was all big round eyes. "This is his first real meal."

"I'm glad you're breast-feeding," Mulder said, leaning over my outstretched legs and bracing an arm on the bed, his other hand resting gently on the covers over my hip. "Not just for the view, but because it's so much better for you both."

I had the feeling that I was really going to regret having him read all those books. "My mom breast-fed all of us despite it being discouraged in the 'sixties and she said it was the best experience of her life," I said, brushing my hand through William's thick red hair, which was now sticking up like a rooster's comb. We'd all been bald babies so this newborn hair had to come from Mulder even if it was my color. He truly was a mixture of us both and I was deeply relieved that there was no longer any question of who his father was in Mulder's mind. I had, of course, done a paternity test as soon as I could after finding out I was pregnant so I'd known Mulder was the father, but I wanted him to come to that realization on his own rather than forcing him to it. From the way he was looking at his son I knew I'd done the right thing.

We spent a relaxing time just sitting and talking, letting William sleep on the bed beside me after he finished draining both breasts of colostrum and gave a hefty burp that made us both laugh and then dozed contentedly off to sleep. Mulder helped me to the bathroom for my first urination after having given birth which I knew could be painful but, thankfully, wasn't too bad. He also made sure I had sanitary supplies and witch hazel pads in the bathroom to gently wipe with that he'd gotten for me on the way back from taking Alma home. Although I suspected that I perhaps should have been, Mulder's obvious concern and caring for me made any embarrassment unnecessary. He had, indeed, studied those childbirth books and knew as much as a male layman could of what I was going through. It was clear that he wanted to be involved and help me, and I was in no position to refuse. Besides, stopping this man when he's determined to do something is akin to halting a moving train with a toothpick as I well knew.

"When do you think we can leave, Scully?" he asked as he helped me get back into the bed. I noted that the fouled bedding was gone and that he'd spread a clean flat sheet over the mattress while I was in the bathroom though I had no clue where he'd gotten it from. "Those damn freaks know where we are and I keep expecting them to come back."

"I don't think they will; they just wanted to see him and I think they'll leave us alone now," I said thoughtfully as I squirmed around, finding comfort in sitting up with my legs crossed Indian-style of all things. "If they wanted to take or hurt him or me, we were fully at their mercy; I don't even know where my gun is at this point. They began showing up only minutes after you drove away but they just took turns staring in the windows."

"I still don't feel that you're safe here. The car seat's installed and if you think you can handle the drive I think we should get going as soon as possible," he said, frowning slightly at me. "We don't have to rush back, we can stop when you need to, but I think we should leave soon."

"Think I can eat something first?" I said, feeling my stomach rumble. "I'll even go for that nasty gas station sandwich if it's still in there, I'm starved."

"No, I ate it while you were sleeping," he grinned, getting up and going to the little fridge. "How about a cup of yogurt to start, then I'll heat you up a bowl of beef barley soup? The books said you should eat a lot of soup and protein and fats to help your milk come in."

"Dear God, I've got Dr. Spock on my hands," I couldn't resist saying, smiling up at him as he handed me the cup of Dannon strawberry (he knew my favorite) and a plastic spoon, putting a bottle of water on the nightstand next to me. "Think I can manage another nap before we go? I'm probably going to be too uncomfortable sitting up in the car to sleep."

"Yeah, it'll take me a while to clean up and pack everything," he agreed, moving around across the room at the counter by the microwave. But just as he was bringing the Styrofoam bowl of soup to the bed William woke up with lusty howls and my meal had to wait; I knew that this was just the first time of many. This time I got to change him, seeing that he hadn't had his first bowel movement yet and secretly hoping that Mulder got that diaper. After another strong but brief nursing he went right back to sleep; he was barely twelve hours old and already eating as much as his father, I thought as I laid him at my side.

Mulder sprawled on the bed around my feet and gazed at William as I spooned in the now-lukewarm soup, too hungry to wait for him to heat it up again. "God, Scully, he is so beautiful," he said in a wondering tone, reaching out to run a finger over the soft, bare little arm which was outside the blankets. "We made an incredible child, didn't we?"

I smiled at him tremulously, too choked up to speak until I had another spoonful to clear my throat. "We did," I agreed softly, smiling at him. "No matter how it happened."

"What do you think, Scully?" he asked, still gently stroking the baby's soft arm but now looking at me. "You were verified barren, with no ova at all, and the AI didn't take—plus that was months before you actually got pregnant going by his birthdate. So how do you think he came about?"

I shook my head, dipping the spoon into the bowl as I yawned. "I don't know, Mulder. But it's clear that he's our child no matter how he came to be created."

"That he is—between that Scully hair and a miniature version of my schnozz there's no doubt, not that I ever really had any despite your obvious attachment to the pizza guy," he agreed, smiling up at me. He then heaved himself to his feet, giving my knee a soft squeeze. "Our stuff isn't going to pack itself," he sighed, looking around at the disorganized room and raising his eyebrows at me. "And I can't just sling all this junk into a spare room like at my apartment. I guess my messy bachelor days are over, huh?"

I wasn't sure what he meant by that and didn't want to get into it right now; I was still so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open. After drinking down the last of the soup I put the bowl on the nightstand, took a long drink of bottled water and carefully laid down, wincing at how sore my lower half was as I carefully curled around William, laying a hand on his gently moving chest. "Wake me in a couple hours and we'll get going," I said sleepily, feeling my eyelids droop despite myself.

"Sleep well, Scully, I'm here," I heard him say before dozing off, unable to keep my eyes open any longer. Despite the danger we both knew we were in, I was content to let him watch over us for the time being and knew we would be safe as long as he was nearby.


Part VIII: Return

I woke to see a pair of small bare feet walking past my face and for a moment was confused, thinking I was eleven again and sleeping under my bed to hide from Samantha who tended to crawl in with me when she had a nightmare. Then everything snapped back and I rolled over to see Scully heading into the bathroom, moving quietly with William in her arms. "What're you doing?" I rasped, then cleared my throat and sat up. I had laid down on the floor with a pillow and blanket so I wouldn't risk rolling over on William in my sleep since he and Scully had the bed.

"Oh, Mulder, you're awake," she said, pausing. "I really wanted to take a shower and made a nest of pillows and towels for William in the bathtub so I could hear him if he woke up," she said. "But it would be better if I could leave him out here with you."

"Of course," I said, getting up with a groan. "God, I'm too damn old to be sleeping on the floor like that. The forest in Florida was more comfortable."

"How long did we sleep?" she asked with some concern, carrying William to the bed and laying him near the middle as I sat on the edge and scrubbed the sleep from my face with both hands.

"Few hours, I guess. The car's all packed except for the perishables and you were sleeping so deeply I didn't want to wake you; I figured William would do that soon enough," I smiled up at her, reaching over to pick him up. I couldn't get enough of holding him and every time I did, I was freshly amazed that this was myson, and Scully's. Ours. "Go take your shower, then I'll have mine and we'll get going."

To my delighted surprise she leaned down and kissed me, and not a friendly peck but a long, sweet lover's kiss with tongues dueling and warm breath passed back and forth. She backed off just a little, cupped the side of my face and looked into my eyes like she was going to say something, then smiled a little and turned away, going into the bathroom and closing the door behind her. I wanted to tell her how I felt about her, how I wanted us to be a family, and yet so much had come between us over the last few months that I couldn't quite bring myself to… yet.

William got one final diaper change and feeding before we left and after both of them were in the car I returned to the room one last time and left a hundred dollars on the nightstand, which I hoped would make up for the horrible mess we'd left the room in. I figured that the maid deserved it more than the manager or owner, and I left the key on the dresser before locking and closing the door behind me.

We made a slow journey back to D.C., stopping several times so Scully could use the bathroom and once in a roadside park so William could have yet another meal while sitting in the unmoving car. It was this diaper change that I got stuck with; it was the first messy one and I didn't find Scully's amusement at my disgust at all funny. Especially when she told me that she'd hoped I'd get the meconium one, which is like loose, smelly black tar and excessively gross. However I didn't really begrudge her shunting this one off on me; I was sure she'd get her share of messes over the years to come. But I didn't, of course, let her know that.

When we were just a few miles out from D.C. she called Skinner, letting him know that all was well and that we were coming in. She then called her mother, whom I could hear yelling excitedly over the phone, and finally hung up as we crossed the Potomac. "Do you think I'm doing the right thing, Mulder, bringing him back here?" she said worriedly. "They know where I live, and I may be doing nothing more than delivering both of us into danger."

"Regardless, it's not just the two of you," I told her, keeping my eyes on the road as we entered the maelstrom also known as DuPont Circle. "You're stuck with me, Scully, unless you don't want me around. Like I told you when we did the in-vitro I'm not going to be a weekend father—I want us to be a family like I've never really had. I want to make you both happy and give William a good life, a good start with two loving, caring parents. And one way or another, I will."

I glanced over to see tears streaming down her face as she gazed over at me and for a moment was horrified that I'd said something wrong. Then she said tremulously, "Try to get rid of us, Mulder. Just try."


Part IX: Escape Again

"Sir, are you sure?"

Mulder's tone said what I was feeling as we both stared, aghast, at Walter Skinner.

"I'm positive." He turned to me. "Agent Scully, the information I have assures me that both you and your child are in grave danger from more than one source. The only thing I can recommend is for you both to leave the country immediately. I'd recommend the Witness Protection Program but I know you don't trust it."

"I agree, Scully," Mulder said, turning to me. We were sitting on Skinner's couch with me holding sleeping William in my lap and sitting sideways against the arm. Reyes and Doggett had been by earlier to see the baby but left to keep an eye out for any possible invaders while we were here. Billy Miles was still out there somewhere and we didn't know how or if CSM and/or Krycek were involved as well. "We can keep you safe better if you're as far from here as possible."

I knew he was saying something else but I wasn't sure what it was. Still, I trusted him. "Okay, then, what do you suggest?"

"I'm going to call the Gunmen for new ID for you both," he said. "If you're leaving the country it shouldn't be that much of a problem for them; it doesn't have to be perfect."

I turned to Skinner. "Can I contact my mother?" I asked almost desperately. "I'd like her to at least see her grandson before I go."

"We should be able to arrange something but we can't wait too long," he said. "Call her now and have her get over here ASAP."

I wanted to cry but forced the feeling back with the steely reserve that had served me well over the years. I passed William over to Mulder while I made the call and couldn't help but notice Skinner's raised eyebrows at how easily he handled the baby. Skinner himself hasn't seemed too comfortable around a newborn, quickly declining to hold him and peering at him from some distance away. His jaw had hit the floor when we'd told him the story of William's birth and he'd laughed out loud when Mulder had explained how he'd kidnapped the nurse-midwife out of her house. He had also remarked, somewhat gingerly, at how much William looked like Mulder and then looked baffled when we'd both laughed.

While Mulder was on the phone with the Gunman he cupped the receiver and asked me, "How's Montreal? Or Nova Scotia?"

"I speak rusty German and a spattering of archaic Greek, Mulder, not French-Canadian," I said. "If we're looking at Canada how about the Pacific Northwest? Vancouver? Or maybe Toronto?"

"Toronto is doable—and a lot closer," he said, then went back to his call.

I sighed as I looked down at our sleeping son, then up at Skinner who hovered nearby. "Do you think we'll ever be able to come back here?" I asked.

"Depends on what Reyes and Doggett can turn up," he said, taking off his glasses and rubbing the bridge of his nose with one hand. "And Mulder, of course, even if it's not official I'm sure he'll be able to help."

I froze. Mulder was staying here? Not coming with us? I had assumed… but that did make more sense, I thought with a sinking heart. Even having just given birth I was a trained federal agent and well able to take care of us; we didn't need another person along, especially one as high-profile as my partner/lover/whatever he was now.

Mulder snapped his phone closed and came back over to the couch, sitting down heavily next to me. "It's all set. They'll be here in forty-five minutes to an hour with your papers, which should be fine to get you into Canada. How we get you there is another story entirely." His cell rang and he got up, moving away to talk.

"I've got a friend who has a light plane and can fly you direct to Toronto, I believe," Skinner said, snapping his fingers. His glasses were back on his face and he turned to pick up his desk phone. "He's an ex-agent and eminently trustworthy. Let me find out, I think that would be a lot better than any other way."

William stirred and I gently bounced him until he dozed off again; he'd eaten shortly after we'd gotten here and, I hoped, was good for another couple hours. Mulder was still sitting at the conference table on his cell but looking at us as he talked. I could only hope my mom got here fast; I had the feeling that the sooner we left, the better.

Just then there was a stir in the outer office and I saw Mulder reaching for the pocket of his jacket but then my mom burst through the door and arrowed straight to me. I was so glad to see her that I unexpectedly burst into tears as we hugged each other desperately, William still sleeping between us even as our tears fell on his face.


Part X: Endings

The Gunmen arrived just a short time after Scully's mom, all bearing wrapped gifts that it was unlikely she could take with her though I assured them we'd get them to her no matter where she ended up. Skinner had been on the phone a good half hour before finally hanging up and turning to all of us, who were clustered around Scully and the baby on the wide black leather couch.

"Okay, Agent Scully, you are all set. I'm not going to say where you're going since the walls may very well have ears, but I think we should accompany you. I'm driving."

There was a tearful farewell in the parking garage between Scully and her mother while I stood nearby with William, the rest of us looking around nervously. But finally Margaret moved away, sniffling, and the rest of us continued on to Skinner's car, which was a large black SUV.

"So where are we going?" Scully asked as I strapped William into his car seat.

"Washington Executive Airport in Clinton, Maryland, about half an hour from here," Skinner leaned over and said low, just loud enough for us to hear. "My friend Larry is heading out now to get the plane ready and should be prepared to go when we get there. Do you have everything?"

I had come down here earlier and transferred everything for Scully and the baby from my car to his although I left the stroller behind due to its size. "Pretty much," I said, helping Scully in and climbing in after her. Frohike got in the front seat, ignoring Skinner's startled look as he pulled on his seat belt. I saw Byers and Langley trotting across the garage to the Westphalia which was parked not far away.

Our little caravan pulled away and I saw Scully's mom sitting in a small compact not far from the exit, watching us with tears streaming down her face. I vowed then and there to do everything I could to bring them back as fast as possible; Margaret Scully was a wonderful woman and I knew this was tearing her apart.

The ride passed in tense silence. Scully sat in the middle seat between William's carseat and I, and we held hands tightly the whole time. In the front neither Frohike nor Skinner spoke, though I saw both of them looking around frequently. The Westphalia trailed us at a good distance, switching lanes every so often and sometimes disappearing but always coming back in sight. It was nearly midnight and once we left the greater D.C. area the freeway was mostly deserted, though the surrounding hilly countryside was dotted with the lights of civilization.

The airport was small and dark and came up out of nowhere. Skinner had to key in a code to get us through the gate which stayed open long enough for Byers and Langley to follow; sloppy security, I thought. But I doubted that this little airfield saw much intrigue and skullduggery so it was probably more to deter casual thieves than a real security measure.

Skinner drove between a series of dark and quiet single-engine-plane hangars, which looked like small square warehouses with large folding doors. As we passed the last ones I saw dim lights further up and soon made out a small office building sitting on the edge of the taxiway with a blue and white two-engine low-wing airplane sitting silently out front on a long cement apron. Several other, smaller planes were parked a few yards beyond it but I saw no other people or lights.

As we pulled up beside the plane the office door opened and a tall, thin man stepped out carrying a large flight bag in one hand, flicking the lights off with the other. It was dark but there was just enough ambient light to see well enough to move around safely.

While everyone was getting out of the vehicles I leaned over and kissed Scully almost desperately, wanting us to have this goodbye in private. "Come with us, Mulder," she whispered against my lips as we slowly parted. "I want us to be a family just like you do."

"I wish I could," I said, then kissed her again briefly. A glance out the windshield showed Skinner, the pilot, and the guys standing by the plane talking and glancing frequently at us. "But I can do more to bring you back by staying here and helping Reyes and Doggett get rid of the danger to you and William."

She heaved a sigh but didn't argue. In the darkness I saw one crystal tear spill over her lower lid, then she whisked it away with her fingertips and squared her shoulders, moving away from me. "We'd better get going, then," she said in a carefully neutral voice. I squeezed her hand one more time and forced myself to reach for the door handle and get out—it was one of the single most difficult things I had ever done in my life.

Langley came over to help me carry the bags and Frohike got the car seat after Scully took William out of it. We loaded her few bags—mostly from that damn Wal-Mart!—into the belly of the plane, then I made sure that the car seat was correctly secured in the back seat. The pilot, Bill, had wax earplugs for the baby which he gave to Scully, explaining that he would need them to mute the loudness of the engines.

Still carrying William Scully went around saying goodbye to everyone, hugging them with one arm around their necks and whispering something in each of their ears, even Skinner. Finally she moved to the side of the plane, its passenger door open, and turned to look at me. Although I couldn't see her expression from where I stood by the tail due to the darkness, I knew what it was and it about broke my heart to know what I was doing to her.

I walked over and she handed William to me as the others moved away. Feeling his warm, soft, trusting weight in my arms for what I knew was to be the last time in God only knew how long almost had me in tears but I held it back—I didn't want to make it any tougher on Scully than I had to. I held him close for a moment, breathing in his warm baby scent, nuzzling his fuzzy hair with my nose and kissing his soft cheek gently. "I'll miss you, buddy," I whispered to him then handed him reluctantly back to her.

Without looking at me she carefully climbed into the plane with him and I watched through the rear windows as she strapped him into the carseat and carefully worked the earplugs over his little ears, covering him warmly with a blanket. She backed out and once she was on the ground, uncaring of who was looking—and they all were—I grabbed her and pulled her against me and kissed her long and hard, feeling her soft yet firm body press against mine in return, her arms around my waist holding me close. I didn't want to hurt her and yet I needed to show her how I felt, how much I needed her, how desperately I would miss her. A throat clearing nearby made me break the kiss and I leaned my forehead against hers whispering, "I love you, Scully. I'll get you both back here as soon as I can."

"For once, Mulder, I'm not going to argue with you," she said, letting go of me and moving away slowly. The pilot was already in the plane and I saw him adjusting instruments on the dash; he'd probably done his preflight while we were saying goodbye. I helped her into the front seat of the plane and as I was about the close the door, she leaned over and said, "I love you too, Mulder. And don't you forget it."

I tried to smile as the door closed and she pulled the seat belt over her shoulder, but simply couldn't do it. Instead I just stepped back as the engines roared to life one at a time, stirring up a powerful wind that I ducked away from. I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked to see Skinner standing next to me, shaking his head. He was the only one of us whose hair wasn't being buffeted all over the place. "What?" I yelled over the engine noise.

"I didn't think you'd let them go without you," Skinner hollered back.

"Neither did I," Frohike yelled. "Why are you staying here, you jerk? She needs you!"

The others nodded and I turned to look back at the blue and white plane still sitting in the same place as the engines warmed to their task, getting louder by the moment. The thought hit me: Frohike was right; what in the hell was I doing, letting Scully and William leave without me? I was nothing without her; I'd known that for a long time even if I didn't want to face it.

Without even thinking about it I broke free of Skinner's hand and ran back to the plane fighting the wind from the engines, banging my hand on the end of the wing. I heard the guys' voices calling from behind me but ignored them. Scully's startled face with a green aviator headset on over her rich auburn hair peered at me from the window, then she turned and said something to the pilot. The engines died and I strode to the door, yanking it open. "Get in the back, Scully, I'm going too," I said as she took the headphones off. "I may be many things, but I am not crazy enough to stay here when my place is with you and William."

Her smile would have put the sun to shame had it been up. "Larry—can the plane take all of us?" she asked, turning to the pilot who had also taken his headset off.

"This puppy can carry six full-sized adults and three hundred pounds of luggage and still make it to Toronto without refueling from here," he said proudly. "The more the merrier. Come on, Mr. Mulder, hop on in."

I helped Scully into the back in the seat across from William who, thankfully, was still sound asleep; the earplugs obviously worked. The pilot passed another set of headphones back to her as I settled in, putting on the headset she'd taken off and buckling in. The engines started again and I glanced back at Scully, who was smiling at me, one hand on the car seat. I smiled back, then turned and looked out the window as the plane began to roll, the clear blue runway lights out in the field coming on as the pilot keyed them with his mike button. In their faint gleam I saw Skinner and the guys waving, Frohike jumping up and down like a deranged elf and Langley pounding Byers on the back. I waved to them, then turned forward with a clear mind and light heart, ready to start the next phase of our lives together.


Epilogue: Beginnings

May 6, 2000

BUFFALO, NY – A small, twin-engine private aircraft crashed yesterday in Lake Ontario claiming the lives of three people including an infant. The pilot of the plane managed to escape before the wreckage sunk in 500-foot water 60 miles northeast of Buffalo. The FAA has not identified any of the accident victims yet pending the notification of families.

FAA spokesperson Jeff Wisener said that the aircraft, a 1964 Beechcraft Baron, was traveling from Washington Executive Airport in Clinton, Maryland to City center Airport in Toronto, Ontario. The aircraft was operating under visual flight rules, according to Wisener, and was not required to be in contact with air traffic control.

Wisener stated that a distress call was received by FAA personnel in Buffalo, and that a Coast Guard helicopter was dispatched to the position given where the pilot was found clinging to debris from the sunken plane. In a statement to rescuers, the pilot indicated that the passengers had been rendered unconscious by the impact of the crash and that the plane had slipped below the water before he could provide any assistance.

Officials of the National Transportation Safety Board declined to speculate on the cause of the accident, citing the ongoing investigation. However several aviation company officials operating aircraft in the area indicated that weather was unlikely to be determined as a factor.


June 29, 2000

SAULT STE. MARIE, ON – Algoma University today announced the appointment of Dr. Michael Hayle to the Alphonse Dexter Professorship of Clinical Psychology at the School of Medicine, effective immediately.

Dr. Hayle received a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and Doctor of Clinical Psychology from Balliol College at Oxford University, and has been serving as an associate professor of psychology at Trinity College for the previous six years.

His wife, Dr. Sandy Hayle, is a doctor of pediatrics and intends to join the staff of Sault Ste. Marie General Hospital within the next several weeks. She and their 8-month-old son, Will, join Dr. Hale in their new home in the Soo.

Finis


Post-story notes: For those who may think that newborn William looking just like Mulder is a work of fiction you haven't seen my children and their father. When my oldest was born and I first saw her I said the exact line that Scully says to Mulder, though it didn't mean the same thing to us as it does to them! To this day (my daughter is 29) the older two still look just like him, though the third favors me a bit. Also, I had my first one in exactly four hours so Scully's fast labor is not pure fiction, either. I just wish my husband had been as calm as Mulder; he was the classic pass-out-on-the-floor father and never made it into the delivery room with me although we had planned to have him there.

And just FYI, legend passed down in my father's family has it that my great-great-grandparents helped found Beckley, WV which I couldn't resist using in this story although I have, unfortunately, never been there. Gingham is a figment of my imagination although based on Sherrard which is just outside Wheeling, where I have been.

One final note: Alma was my maternal grandmother's name and Jackson is my maiden name although the character is a figment of my imagination.

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