Title: Fiducia e Verita - The Collector's Edition
Author: BlueRose
Scully and Mulder aren't mine. They belong to CC and Co. and I'm only borrowing them so please don't sue me - Really, I mess with their heads 'cos I love 'em! Besides, you guys can hardly complain - you're the ones bashing them up, giving them terminal illnesses, abducting them by aliens and killing off their families, not to mention *killing* them. Do you see ME doing that? No! Okay, well, actually, come to think of it... Anyway, the moral of the story is that it'd be pointless suing me 'cos I haven't got any money. Lyrics from Mariah Carey's "Fantasy" used without permission. So are about a billion other things. That's life. Accept it. In short...
Rating - PG-13
Category - SRA and a little H (I tried :-)
Spoilers - everything up to Elegy
Keywords - Mulder/Scully romance
Category: Um... a bit of humor, a bit of Mulderangst, a fair amount of Scullyangst, (IMHO anyway. sorry, I can't help it if I find Scullyangst so much easier to write)... a little UST... basically just MSR
Rating: PG-13 - a hell of a lot of swearing - you'll have to excuse my filthy mouth g no detailed sex scenes or anything - I've been so vague that you most probably have no idea what the hell is even happening...
Spoilers: Everything up to and including Elegy. Some things that happened before Elegy are not included. I had a HUGE problem with the dates and I've kinda changed the calendar to fit in with my story since I can't change my story to fit in with the calendar :-) so please just ignore the dates and, in Mulder's words "Go with it." (Yeah, I know that sounds really pathetic. Don't blame me. Blame John Shiban. everyone else does.)

Summary - Mulder and Scully try to help an alien abductee.

I know there are too many plots and subplots all getting tangled up. So sue me.

This is scientifically inaccurate. I flunked science, so anything remotely scientific in this fanfic comes from the X-Files or the encyclopedia, and it's still all probably untrue.

PLEASE Note: If, at any point during this fanfic, you think any of the following: 1) "Oh, puh-lease! This is soooooo unbelievable!" 2) "Jeez, these guys have got more angst in their lives than those guys from Party Of Five!" 3) "Shit this must have taken a hell of a long time to write!" 4) yawn

please keep these replies in mind: 1) and chasing UFOs and little gray men isn't? Just think of this as an abridged season of the show 2) same as above. Mulder and Scully do have very angsty lives you know. It's NOT just my imagination 3) it did. Don't ask how long. I've lost track how many months. I'd say at least a year, though... 4) keep reading. It might get better. If it doesn't, just keep reading anyway.

I know this Disclaimer is long - sorry, I can't help it. Anyway, I've figured out that there's a ratio of length of fanfic to length of Disclaimer, so cos this is a long fanfic, it has a long Disclaimer. Well, it makes sense to me...

ANYWAY, here it is: Hope you enjoy it! Please send me comments - good ones welcomed, flames hesitatingly accepted, death threats will be eaten... I LOVE getting E-mail!!!

* 'Fiducia e verita' is Italian, meaning 'trust and truth'. after all, those are the main elements of the whole M/S relationship, right? C'mon guys, how about a little enthusiasm here???

Scully leaned back in her chair. The office seemed quiet without Mulder. Lonely, which was very weird, because since Mulder had told her last night he'd be a few hours late for work she'd been looking forward to having a nice, quiet morning at the office, catching up on all the paperwork that had built up on her desk during the last few days. That was right - HER desk. After - what was it? Four years? Five? She finally had her own desk. Her own place in the office. It wasn't new - it was as battered and beat-up as Mulder's desk and the rest of the furniture in the office, but it was hers. She even had her own desk label - with DANA SCULLY printed on it in neat, bold lettering. Now all she needed was her name on the door, but somehow she didn't think she'd get that for at least another five years of so...

She surveyed her desk proudly, the neat stack of reports and case files perfectly aligned. She couldn't stand messiness. It was a habit that she couldn't shake, a kind of chronic compulsion for neatness...

What now?

She could take up the finished reports to Skinner right now, but normally she and Mulder handed theirs in together - that was, of course, after she'd proof-read his (trying not to acknowledge that his far out theories came closer to the truth than her scientific explanations- well, they didn't... did they?!) and Mulder wanting to know why she couldn't accept his theories after all they'd seen... She glanced over at Mulder's desk. It was littered with papers, photos, case folders - how on earth he ever managed to find anything amazed her. The only thing that wasn't covered was the picture of Samantha grinning down from a climbing frame.

Scully pulled herself out of her chair and strolled over to the desk, flexing her stiff muscles. Sitting on top of all the paperwork she could see his notes on the Gale-Lewis case - the case she'd typed her report on this morning. The report that was due this afternoon. If Mulder didn't get here soon...

She started as the familiar figure entered the office.

"Mulder. You're late."

Mulder immediately responded with his best wounded puppy dog expression. "Sorry Mom."

He dumped his briefcase on the floor, knocking over his trash can and spilling torn up paper and sunflower-seed shells over the floor. Ignorant to the mess he had just caused, he looked at her, grinning. "Hey Scully, guess what?"

Scully studied his face intently. It was good to see him smiling - everyone had been so concerned, so sympathetic to her recently that it was starting to get on her nerves. Mulder's attitude now was a relief to her. She didn't know where he'd been, but wherever it was, he should recommend it to her mother. Mom was so irritating! She meant well, but that didn't compensate for the fact that she was driving Dana crazy.

If only Scully reflected grimly, Mom knew that her worrying isn't making me feel any better...

Mulder snapped his fingers. "Hello? Anyone there? Earth to Scully?"

Scully pulled her gaze away from Mulder's face reluctantly. The was something soothing about the familiarity of it...

of course it's familiar Dana. You see that face every day. You see it in your dreams... er, ahem...

"Um... Yeah, sorry Mulder, I was just thinking... Could you run that by me again?"

Ohhhhhhhhh crap...

Mulder instantly became caring and concerned. The reaction was almost like pushing a button.

"You okay Scully?"

As sweet as it was, Scully couldn't help getting annoyed at Mulder. Ever since she'd found out about she had cancer everyone had treated her as if she were a toddler facing the world for the first time. She was sick of being mothered by everyone. But she had to admit, being coddled by Mulder was better to being treated unsympathetically and distantly by him, and recently it had been either one or the other...

She froze Mulder with a stare. "I'm fine Mulder. I was just daydreaming."

Mulder seemed unconvinced. "You sure you're okay?"

She gave him her famous "Ice Queen" look. "Honestly Mulder, I'm fine."

She settled back into her chair.

"Now, you were saying?"

Mulder reached down and pulled something out of his briefcase, then he pushed some papers aside and perched himself on his desk.


Scully interrupted him with a sarcastic sigh. "Let me guess Mulder. We have a new case. Another crashed UFO being secretly transported to Area 51 perhaps?"

Mulder faked a surprised look. "Really Scully, have you developed psychic abilities?"

Despite giving Mulder the look again, Scully was glad that her was teasing her again. She never thought she'd admit it, but she'd actually missed it the past few months. She was struck by a sudden thought.

"Anyway Mulder, where were you this morning? You don't seriously expect me to believe that you were at a brunch party held by Senator Matheson..."

Mulder put on an innocent expression. "But I was... well, kinda." He grinned. "Actually, I was in Skinner's office. He gave me this."

He held out a red-tabbed folder.

Scully looked at it warily. "What'd we do now?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, whenever Skinner gives us a case we always end up risking our li- oh, it doesn't make any difference. We do that on all our cases."

Mulder ignored her and opened the folder. As he read an evil grin spread over his face.

Scully looked at his expression uncomfortably. "What? What is it Mulder?"

She grabbed for the folder but Mulder pulled it out of her reach.

"Naughty Scully" he scolded. "Didn't your mother ever tell you not to grab?"

"Several times" she retorted. "Didn't yours tell you not to get involved in government conspiracies?"

"Oh, you wound me" Mulder said with a pout.

Scully took a sunflower seed from the bag on Mulder's desk and threw it at him. He picked it up off his desk where it had landed and threw it back, hitting her in the forehead. Scully let out a small shriek as it hit her. She couldn't help it. Maybe it was just being able to have fun with Mulder again but she was definitely high.

"You realize, Mulder, that this is war" she informed him with a slight smile.

He held up his hands in mock-defence.

God she was beautiful. Her eyes were sparkling and lips curved up in a smile - rare but most definitely beautiful. It was hard to believe that she was sick... dying...

Their eyes met.

It seemed to him that he was looking into her eyes for the first time as someone who didn't *just* love her, but was *in* love with her...

He'd known for a long time that he loved her, that he cared about her and would put his life on the line for her, but it hadn't been until the case with Eddie Van Blundht that he'd realised that he was just as much in love with her. He'd been jealous. Of himself, that was basically what it boiled down to. But also the fact that Eddie had gotten further in a few hours than he had in five years. Since that realisation he'd avoided eye contact with his partner - any contact that wasn't necessary.

But now here he was, staring into her eyes. It scared him, but he refused to pull away. For what seemed like an eternity he stared into the depths of her deep blue eyes. He saw her determination, her strength and her courage. But there was something else - maybe... love?

He whispered impulsively "Dana, I -"

The phone rang.

Scully flinched away and Mulder picked up the receiver, silently cursing it.

"Hello?" he answered half-heartedly.

What the hell had made him do that? God, if the phone hadn't rung... What was he thinking? Scully didn't love him. Sure, they were partners. And she probably had the same platonic love for him that he'd thought was all he had for her. Maybe she looked on him as an older brother. God knows there'd been plenty of times when he'd thought of her as a little sister.. kinda like a replacement for Samantha. That was one of the reasons he'd always been so overprotective of her - he'd felt as if he'd been given another chance to be responsible for someone he loved. He knew Scully hated it when he was overprotective of her but he couldn't help it. She'd tell him that he wasn't her father or her big brother or whatever, and to treat her as an equal rather than a junior. But he still cared for her, so deeply that it rankled his soul to see her unhappy or in pain.

How could he have been so blind before this, thinking that she was only like a sister? He was so head-over-heels in love with her. He wanted to hold her close, to kiss her, to feel her bare skin against his own. How did Scully feel about him, he wondered. Did she love him, was she in love with him, or did she just think of him as her partner? That thought hurt him, even though he knew logically that it couldn't be entirely true. Scully must care for him to some degree, musn't she? Otherwise she wouldn't have stuck with him for so long, wouldn't trust him so much. "Mulder, I wouldn't put myself on the line for anyone other than you." Surely that had *some* meaning? Why would she say that if it wasn't true - if he wasn't important to her? Maybe she was in love with him, but was afraid he didn't feel the same way. Neither of them had had a proper relationship for years. His last long-term girlfriend had been Phoebe, almost fifteen years ago. Since then he's had a few dates and the occasional one night stand, but it hadn't been satisfying. He knew that, despite his reputation as 'spooky', he was popular among the females agents and secretaries. He'd always liked it to have females turning as he walked by, flirting with him... but now that all seemed so immature and childish. He and Scully had such a deep relationship that sometimes it scared the shit out of him. They were so incredibly close to each other, could communicate through looks, or body language. He knew all her different moods and she knew his. She knew when to be sensitive and caring, when to be playful and teasing, when to agree with him and when to disagree. He loved her mind, her compassion, her strengths and weaknesses.

But what they had now, their partner-best friends relationship just hadn't been satisfying recently. He wanted more - to wake up with her in the morning and go to sleep holding her at night. He wanted to be able to find refuge in her arms when something went wrong. He wanted to be able to tell her that he loved her freely. He wanted to make love to her. He wanted her.

But did she want him? Surely she must have *some* need for male companionship. She'd had, what - two dates in the past few years? He'd been undeniably jealous, but at the time he hadn't called it jealousy, but overprotectiveness. He'd interrupted the first of the two dates - called her for help on the Jersey Devil case in the middle of dinner. The second date had ended up in disaster, and Mulder felt that if he ever laid eyes on this Ed Jerse he'd strangle the life out of him.

Was Scully satisfied with the life she was leading - with her non-existent sex life? He sure as hell wasn't satisfied with his.

Sex was meaningless unless it was with someone you cared about and loved. He wondered what sex with Scully would be like. He could picture her naked, her pale skin with all the dips and curves. Maybe she thought about him like this sometimes - fantasized about being with him and sleeping with him. Maybe she dreamed about him.


Damn. He was getting so sick of maybes.

"Mulder, are you listening to me?" The voice of the assistant director on the other end suddenly pulled him out of his thoughts.

"Um... yes Sir"

Scully felt her head spinning. Dana??? Surely... he couldn't mean... God, she'd loved him ever since... well, ever since she'd first stepped into his office. Love at first sight, you could almost say. Not that she believed that that was possible, of course. Nevertheless, she'd fallen in love with him the first time she'd seen him, and since then her love for him had grown greater and greater. But lately she'd felt as if it couldn't go on much longer. It was as if she was finally near breaking point. Who could blame her? After almost five years...

She loved him.

And looking at him she realized with surprised how completely and utterly she loved him.

But she'd always known that the only person he cared about was his sister. She'd been content with that, she'd respected him for it. So many times she had pictured the two of them *together* - and she knew she wasn't the only one. Her mother loved Fox like a son and had been scheming for years to get them together... oh hell, I'm probably just imagining it all...

She pulled herself away from her fantasies and tried to listen to Mulder's side of the phone conversation.

"Well, actually, we, um, haven't actually had time to look at the case file yet..."

Mulder looked at Scully with a slight smile and Scully smiled back tentatively, feeling like a shy teenager.

"Yes sir... Thank you very much, sir."

Mulder replaced the receiver demurely and sat back down on the edge of his desk, his face cast downwards. "Well Scully," he said, trying to recapture his teasing mood. "Shall we have a look at the case now?"

Yep Scully thought, her heart sinking, I was just imagining it.

Mulder forced himself to get his mind off her... focus he repeated to himself. Focus! Picking up the folder which had slipped onto the floor, he suddenly remembered what he'd read - it must have only been five minutes ago, but it seemed like centuries ago to him. He cleared his throat and opened the folder with a grin.

"Hey Scully! Ever been to Australia?"

Scully looked up, startled. "What?!"

Mulder grinned at her reaction. "You know, Australia. Kangaroos, koalas, bushrangers and funny accents."

Scully raised an eyebrow. "What, aliens are abducting them?"

"Ha ha" Mulder retorted. " Actually, there's a huge conspiracy..."

"Mulderrr!" The patented Scully skeptical look appeared.

He loved how she did that to him - just that look drove him wild with desire. He'd always taken his reaction to that look as being a natural male reaction to a woman's teasing, but now he had to admit that it turned him on. There was one was of relieving the heaviness of a subject that he always fell back on, a particularly brotherly trait. Teasing.

"Well if you're going to be like that..."

"Mulder, just tell me!" Scully tried to glare at him but her glare somehow ended up as a lopsided smile.

Mulder smiled back. "Okay, okay... why don't you read it for yourself."

He handed her the folder and she spread it out on her desk, skimming through the report. "Genevieve Miles... 17 year old student... claimed ---- Mulder, what does this have to do with us? This should be investigated by the Australian police, not us."

Mulder explained. "Genevieve Miles is an Australian citizen, but she grew up here in Washington. Three years ago she started claiming that she was being abducted by aliens, being tested and experimented on and then returned. Exactly one year ago from last Wednesday she was found, disoriented and without memory, by the side of the road somewhere. "There was no sign of sexual or physical abuse and, as no clues were turned up on her disappearance, the case was closed... "The exact same thing happened last week - she went missing on the Tuesday and was found the next day, 50 miles from her home with no memory of what had happened."

Scully was confused. "I still don't get it - what has that got to do with us? I mean, she's over *there* and we're *here*. How did we get jurisdiction over this case? How did this even become *a* case?"

"Well... it so happens that the girl's uncle is Senator Matheson..."

"Uh-huh. So he's pulling some strings on her behalf, and we get the case."

Mulder grinned at her. "First thing tomorrow, bright and early. 7:45 flight. Don't forget to bring your sunscreen."

Mulder rolled over and fell on to the floor. He was lying on his couch... or at least he had been. Something had woken him up... his alarm clock?

Couldn't be.

He didn't have an alarm clock.

Of course! His phone was ringing.

He reached out his arm and his hand fumbled around on his coffee table. Where was the damn thing? Ah, there it was... wait, that was his gun holster... aha! Gottit!

"Hello?" he mumbled.

Scully's voice came clearly. "Hi Mulder, It's me... did I wake you?"

"Um, yeah..." Mulder opened one eye and looked at his wall clock. 7:04 am.

And they had to be at the airport by 7:45...

Scully heard Mulder cursing through the phone. She surveyed the half-empty suitcase sitting on her bed. She knew it was summer in Australia, but what the hell was the weather like over there? She shouldn't have waited until the last minute to pack, but she'd spent last night on the phone talking to her mother, who'd practically refused to hang up. Mom did that a lot these days.

"Mulder, you there?"

She heard the sound of a shower being turned on. "Mulder?"

She heard the thumping of bare feet across a wood floor and the phone was picked up.

"Um, Scully, I've kinda gotta get ready..."

Scully sighed, trying not to visualise Mulder preparing for a shower. "Okay. I'll pick you up in 15 minutes."

After a muffled response from Mulder, she hung up.

But what the hell should she take to wear?

Scully rubbed her eyes and yawned. "So, Mulder, you slept in this morning huh?"

Mulder shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Yeah"

"Wish I could have." She yawned again.

She looked out the plane window at the never-ending ocean below them.

Mulder broke the silence. "You know, Scully, I really think that hardworking Federal Employees, such as us, deserve to travel in more style... the truth is that people with long legs, such as myself, just can't fit into coach..."

She gave him the Scully patented look again and his insides flipped.

"If I can fit then there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to! Anyway, where exactly in Australia are we going... was it Sydney or Melbourne?"

"Sydney" Mulder replied promptly.

"Okay... I guess we better review the case before we get there..," she said reluctantly.

Mulder agreed and soon the two of them were poring over the notes on the case.

Half an hour later Scully lifted up her head and yawned.

"Sorry Mulder, but I'm a bit tired to work on this at the moment... let me have a little nap and then we can get back to it, okay?"

Mulder nodded and packed away the folder.

Scully curled up in her seat and closed her eyes. She could feel Mulder's eyes on her. She remembered how their eyes had connected - he had such gorgeous eyes. That had been what she'd first noticed about him. Huge hazel eyes. Sure, the rest of him was cute too okay, admit it Dana, downright gorgeous but his eyes...

Mulder watched as Scully finally fell asleep. Her face was relaxed and peaceful. He knew that he should probably get some sleep too - they had a long flight ahead of them, but he couldn't draw his eyes away from her face - she was like a innocent sleeping child. God, she was beautiful... He leaned forward so that her face was only a few inches away from his. She was so close that it would only take a slight movement for his lips to be on hers... No dammit! he forced himself to pull away. It wasn't right. He couldn't do that to her, or to himself.

In a dark room the silhouette of a young man could be seen rummaging through a filing cabinet. In his hand he held a flashlight, the beam ricocheting around the room.

Suddenly he was interrupted by a tall, balding man wielding a gun.

"Stick 'em up" the man ordered.

The younger man reached for his gun but he was too late.

Three shots cracked out.

Scully's eyes snapped open. What the hell was that? She looked at Mulder with alarm. "What was that Mulder?" she asked, her voice quivering.

Mulder put a supportive hand on her back, resisting the temptation to turn it into a backrub. "Don't worry, it's just a movie. Go back to sleep."

Scully sunk back into her seat, feeling relieved but nevertheless pretty foolish. And she'd been having a nice dream too...

Mulder let a little smile play on his face. But then, who could blame her? That sort of reaction came naturally to a good agent. He, on the other hand, would probably just have slept through it. Sleep... it sounded good to him. He felt his eyelids getting heavier and heavier until he drifted off.

The large airport was a welcome change after the cramped plane.

Mulder stretched his arms out. "You got all your stuff?"

Scully held up her laptop carry case and pointed to the suitcase by her side. "Yep, you?"

Mulder nodded, slung a backpack over his shoulder and picked up two suitcases.

"Hey" Scully teased, "I thought I was supposed to be the one bringing lots of luggage! What did you bring? Your entire wardrobe?"

Mulder looked guilty. "I packed in a hurry! I just threw in everything I could find..."

Scully smiled to herself but tactfully changed the subject. "What's the time over here?"

Mulder looked up at the electronic board situated above the baggage conveyer belt and read "3:23am."

The airport was relatively quiet and they got past customs without a hassle. As they stepped out Scully forgot where they were and expected to be hit by freezing air or snow, but instead they were embraced by the warm, humid night, cooled by only an occasional breeze. Scully looked around her, tall, posh looking hotels loomed up on both sides and there were cars parked in every available parking space. Taxis slowly circled the block waiting for passengers.

"So, where to now?" she asked, feeling suddenly very exhausted.

"Well, I had made reservations at a motel near where Genevieve and her family live - but I think that it would be a lot more convenient if we got a couple of rooms around here for the night. I've already arranged a rental car..."

Scully nodded enthusiastically. Anywhere would do. She just wanted to stretch out somewhere and fall asleep.

Half an hour later she was lying relaxed in a huge antique bath. Her room was huge and expensively furnished and the bathroom was ideally luxurious - right down to the complimentary bottle of bubble bath, among other things. She stared at the ceiling and wondered how they would explain this on their expense account - Mulder hadn't told her of the cost but she was sure it was a pretty expensive place.

She heard Mulder knocking on the communicating door between their rooms.



She heard him carefully open the communicating door. "Where are you?"

"Um, I'm in the bath... I'll be out in a minute-"

Mulder quickly cut her off. "No, don't worry about it. Um... well.. I'm going to bed now, so, um... Goodnight."

She popped a bubble with her finger and said loudly enough for him to hear "Yeah, 'night Mulder," then she sank deeper into the water and whispered "I love you."

Mulder lay flat on his back. A bed was a rare luxury for him, especially one like this. It was past two in the morning over here, which was what at home?... he couldn't be bothered figuring it out. He felt too restless to sleep - he'd slept on the way over here and he only ever got about 5 hours of sleep a night - sometimes even less...

He jumped up and strode over to the window. He flung it open and warm air from the outside rushed into the airconditioned room. That was better.

He flopped back down on his bed and picked up the TV remote which lay beside it. He found the power button and pressed it, and the TV sprung to life. He quickly turned down the volume so he wouldn't disturb Scully and he started channel-surfing. The woman in the lobby had said something about cable TV, hadn't she? Aha! A movie channel! Even more luck, one of his favourite black and white movies was on. He settled back to watch.

Mulder opened his eyes. Sunlight was streaming through the open window and hitting him right in the face.

He definitely wasn't at home.


Where was he?

Thinking... thinking...

Ah! That was right! He was in Australia - Sydney - The Hyatt Regency Hotel. Scully was in the next room.

Satisfied with his deductions he rolled over... and came face-to-face with a beside clock... and jumped out of bed.


Damn! He'd overslept.

Why hadn't Scully woken him? They'd agreed to be out of the hotel by half-past eight so that they could be at the Miles' by nine.

He knocked on the communicating door. They often got adjacent rooms these days and it made him feel safer to know that Scully was sleeping just through the wall. Safer for him, and for her. "Scully?"

No response.

Maybe she was downstairs at the cafe getting breakfast... he knocked again. "Scully?"


He turned the door knob. Tiptoeing over to the huge double bed he saw her small figure curled up asleep, her bright red hair sticking out from under the sheets. Mulder shifted from one foot to the other uncomfortably. He should wake her, but she looked so peaceful... But they *were* here for work...

He whispered "Scully!"

She didn't move.

He reached out his arm and shook her gently. "Scully!"

Scully stirred. Somebody was shaking her but she didn't want to wake up yet. She was so warm and cosy in bed...

She heard Mulder calling her name. Mulder...

She unwillingly opened her eyes. "Mornin' Mulder." i was just dreaming about you

Mulder was jiggling from one foot to the other, but was obviously relieved that she was awake.

"Um, Scully, I don't mean to rush you, but... do you know what the time is?"

Scully looked at the bedside clock.

"Mulder, why didn't you wake me?!"

"I only just woke up myself... I guess my body clock is all out of sync."

Scully threw back the bedclothes and stood up, stretching. Mulder tried not to stare at her, but she looked so... well, admit it Mulder sexy in her purple pajamas that it was hard not to.

"Um, I'll... um, be in my room changing and packing... and um... yeah" he mumbled, escaping through the communicating door.

"Work" he reminded himself. "We're here for work, not a vacation."

But that was going to be pretty damn hard when he could only think about Scully.

Scully quickly and methodically dressed in her navy blue pantsuit and packed all her things away in her suitcase. She went through to Mulder's room. He'd obviously just finished showering and shaving. He was tying his tie as Scully approached him - A pink orange black tie, Scully noted.

"Hurry up Mulder!" she said impatiently.

She looked exasperatedly around at the clothes scattered all over the room.

"Mulder! This place is a pigsty!"

Mulder picked up an armful of clothes and unceremoniously dumped them in his suitcase.

"Don't worry, I'm good at packing quickly." He smiled at her engagingly.

True enough, soon the room was spotlessly devoid of any of Mulder's clothes and Mulder was squeezing his suitcase shut.

"Okay, I'm ready" he announced.

Scully looked at her watch, which she'd adjusted to the right time, unlike Mulder, and spoke. "C'mon Mulder. We were supposed to be there an hour ago and it takes at least half an hour to get there, doesn't it?"

"Yep... but what about breakfast?"

Mulder licked his lips. "Yep, nothing better for breakfast than an egg McMuffin!" he declared.

Scully watched as Mulder ate his breakfast hungrily. Somehow he'd managed to make himself look quite presentable... not that he isn't sexy even when he looks like hell Pity she hadn't been as successful - she must look like hell...

She sighed, then sipped her coffee and took a small bite of her hotcakes. They had a long day ahead of them and she needed all the energy she could get.

If only, she mused, she'd bought some cooler clothes along...

They stepped out of the air-conditioned restaurant into the scorching sun.

"God, Mulder, you didn't tell me it was going to be so hot here!"

"You think you're hot?" He indicated his longsleeved shirt and suit.

Scully shifted uncomfortably in her light silk blouse and navy pants, trying to ignore the flies buzzing around her.

"I'm just glad I didn't bring my coat - that would have been a waste of suitcase space..."

Mulder grinned sheepishly. "Yeah..."

Scully looked at Mulder with amazement. "You packed your - Oh my God. You must have packed your entire wardrobe!"

"Well, I told you I had to pack in a hurry..."

Scully laughed, sending shivers down his spine. "C'mon Mulder."

Mulder pulled himself out of his daydreams and automatically walked to the front door on the left of the car. Scully noticed this action with a subdued giggle. Hell she thought to herself impishly. It's time I get to drive again anyway.

The Miles' home was a small, cosy, suburban house in the western suburbs. Genevieve's mother, Loretta Miles, was clearly doing her best not to burst into tears and her daughter was comforting her.

Scully noticed a red rash up one side of the girl's face.

Genevieve put her hand up to it self-consciously when she saw Scully's curious gaze. "I've had it since... since they started abducting me. It's all over me. Sometimes it's really bad and sometimes it almost disappears."

Scully nodded understandingly. "Are there any other physical side-effects?"

The girl glanced warily at her mother before answering. "Sometimes I'll get really dizzy and I almost collapse. And I get migraines, which I never got before. But that's only been since I came home from the hospital on Friday."

"And you can't think of any reason why you in particular are being abducted?" Mulder probed gently.

Mrs. Miles shook her head. "I know it sounds crazy... when Gen first started being abducted I went to the police, but they didn't believe me. I'm just so glad that someone finally believed us."

She flashed Mulder and Scully a grateful glance, lighting up her sad face.

Their attention was diverted by the entrance young boy, maybe nine or ten years old, dressed in a cub scouts uniform.

"Mommmm" he whined impatiently. "We have to go now or we'll be late for cubs!"

Mrs. Miles rose uncertainly. "Oh dear, I completely forget... oh dear..."

Genevieve stood up and took her younger brother by the hand. "Don't worry Mom, I'll take him."

Mrs. Miles threw her daughter a grateful glance and beckoned her son. "Now Matt, you be a good boy for your sister, okay?"

He nodded cheerfully. "Bye Mommy!"

Loretta Miles watched fondly as the two children went out of the room.

"Are they your only children Mrs. Miles?" Mulder asked gently.

Mrs. Miles started. "What? Oh... yes, I only have two... now..." She smiled sadly.

Scully noted her words. "You had another child?"

Mrs. Miles spoke with a dreamy voice, her face staring out the window at the cloudless sky. "Daniel and I married young. We had four beautiful children - Genevieve, David, Rebecca and Matthew. My husband Daniel..." she faltered but quickly regained composure. "Daniel was killed when Matt was just two months old. In an accident at work. That was when things started going wrong. We moved here, to Australia, after he died - my sister was living out here and with Richard always so busy with his work and with both my parents dead, I had no-one else to turn to. We were finally managing to get our lives back on track when Rebecca, my angel Rebecca, was diagnosed with leukemia."

She sighed and absently picked up a teddy bear sitting on the couch beside her.

"She was only five years old when she died - the doctors couldn't do anything for her."

The phrase struck a familiar chord within Scully. Oh God, Missy...

Mrs. Miles continued sadly "I think that David took it worst of all - we all adored her, worshipped the ground she walked on - but she was his little princess. His best friend. Maybe it was because of their closeness in age - they were only a year and a half apart, but they were like twins. When she died, he distanced himself from the family. He never spoke about her, but I knew how deeply he missed her - I caught him one day, looking through her photo album, tears streaming down his cheeks. I tried to talk to him, but he just shut himself off to the world. He refused to go to school... at first I relented, thought it would help the healing process, but he became more and more withdrawn... I tried to take him to a psychologist, but he locked himself in his bedroom and refused to come out. He was so - so wrapped up in his own pain and misery... when he was eleven, he killed himself - hung himself."

Mulder sat frozen. He could remember how he had felt when they had taken Samantha. He'd been so engulfed by his pain and misery that he'd wished that he'd died. But he had survived. He was a survivor.

Scully glanced on his face, watching as he relived his pain and torment. She reached across and gave his hand a quick squeeze.

Mrs. Miles bit back a sob. "Now I only have my Gen and my Matt" her voice quivered "and there is no way in the world I'm ever going to let either of them go. Ever."

Scully took the woman's hands in hers and spoke earnestly. "I assure you, Mrs. Miles, that we'll do the very best that we possibly can."

Scully plugged in her laptop and modem and listened to the familiar Series of buzzes and clicks. She looked over her shoulder through the communicating door to Mulder's room where he was spreading the case notes out on the carpet.

"So Mulder, what exactly CAN we do? I mean, there really isn't anything that we can do..."

Mulder grinned slightly at Scully's muddled question. Then his face grew serious.

"Hey Scully, do you think that the deaths of Daniel Miles and the two kids have anything to do with this?"

Scully considered what Mrs. Miles had related to them that morning. "No... I don't think so. The leukemia and the suicide couldn't have been caused by whoever is abducting the girl... although the death of the father could be suspicious. Maybe we should dig into that a bit, you think?"

Mulder was thoughtful. "Maybe later if we don't get any other leads... but I have a feeling that we're going to find out much more very, very soon."

Scully looked at Genevieve Miles' x-rays, her mouth hanging open. The x-rays showed three metal implants: in her nasal cavity, abdomen and at the back of her neck.

Keeping her voice calm she asked "Are these -?"

Mulder nodded his head.

"You knew that she was going to have them, didn't you?" Half accusing, half wondering.

Mulder nodded again. "As far as I can tell, that's how the aliens manage to locate her - the first time that they abducted her they implanted these, so that - that next time they know exactly where she is so that - so that they can find her easily."

Scully sighed. "Mulder, I'm not even going to *try* to believe that.."

Mulder sat impatiently in the hallway, tapping his feet. Beside him sat Scully. Mulder was glad that Scully was beside him. He hated hospitals. And, unfortunately, he always seemed to be in them. St. Albert's Private Hospital was exactly the same as all the other hospitals he'd ever been in. Walls painted a hideous color, equally disgustingly colored linoleum, the smell of disinfectant... it reminded Mulder of death and loss.

Still, today he wasn't here because of death or pain, but to help another avoid it.

He rose as a tall man with slightly greying hair came towards them, obviously excited.

"Dr. Blacksworth?"

The doctor nodded and spoke in a somewhat conspiratorial whisper. "I have something that I think you really ought to see!"

Scully and Mulder exchanged curious glances.

"Well" Mulder asked, extremely tempted to burst out laughing at the doctor's extreme paranoia; the way he kept glancing suspiciously down the hallways, and the way he held the folder closely to his chest. This guy was as bad as the Lone Gunmen. "Can we see it then?"

"Come this way."

He led them along the corridor to what was obviously the staff lounge room.

"I'd never believe it if I didn't have such absolute proof in my hands" he muttered excitedly. "It's absolutely amazing! I've never seen anything like it before!"

The doctor sat down and spread the notes in front of him.

"Proof about what?" Scully asked slowly.

"We did a uh, blood work-up on Genevieve and I found something... something quite disturbing."

Mulder asked eagerly, "What did you find?"

The doctor cleared his throat and continued. "There was an unidentifiable toxin in the girl's bloodstream. I've never seen anything like it... to tell you the truth - it just isn't normal" he ended lamely.

Mulder leaned forward, his eyes shining. "It's extraterrestrial?"

Dr. Blacksworth grasped the word.

"Exactly - it's extraterrestrial."

"Mulder, that's - that's completely implausible" Scully argued.

"Scully, how can you deny that? You've seen these chips. You've had one removed from your own neck, for Christ's sake! Why can't you just accept that they exist?"

"Mulder, the chip removed from my neck" she said unsteadily "was man-made. It wasn't manufactured *or* implanted by extraterrestrials."

"So you're saying that you think this girl was abducted by humans?"

"I think that's a lot more probable than her being abducted by aliens."

"Okay, I'll consider that, but what is the point of the implants?"

"I can't explain that. I'm sure you can though. What's your theory? I'm sure you have plenty."

"Actually, sorry to disappoint you, but I only have one. But I'm pretty sure that it's right."

"Tell me."

"Well, what I figured was that they were using one to trace her, so that they could find her easily if the family tried to move away to stop the abductions, another one to catalogue her - remember Duane Barry, Scully?"

Scully shivered and Mulder patted her tenderly on the back. "Sorry... And that the third chip - the one at the base of the neck... well, we've assumed from what we've discovered of these particular chips is that they're used to 'collect thoughts' - to record what the person is thinking."

Scully sat still, her face a perfectly clear mask, hiding her inner turmoil.

Finally she said "Mulder, that's only speculation. I think that until we find out more about the toxin in the girl's bloodstream -"

"What do you think it is?"

"I don't know... I mean - It has to be made of something and there has to be a reason why it was found in her bloodstream, so I think that's what we should set about getting it analysed and finding out."

Mulder stood up and picked up his briefcase. "Okay. But even if you don't believe that aliens took her, whoever did is probably going to try again, so we have to figure out how to stop them."

"Where are we going?"

"To visit an old friend of mine."

Dr. Paul Everick was a young man with sandy hair, a faceful of freckles and a faint British accent. As Mulder and Scully were shown into his lab he rose, a grin spreading across his face.

"Well, if it isn't Fox Mulder!"

Everick and Mulder greeted each other with very 'male' hugs and Mulder introduced her.

"This is Dana Scully, my partner."

Scully saw Everick give Mulder a questioning glance and Mulder hurried to explain.

"We, uh, work together at the FBI."

Everick whistled.

"FBI! Mulder... Well, I can't say I'm surprised - you always had a knack of making sense of muddles."

Mulder grinned at Scully's bewildered face.

"We were at Oxford together."

"Oh" Scully nodded comprehendingly.

"So Mulder, what are you doing here? You on a case?"

Mulder cleared his throat. "Actually, Paul, we are - and we came here because we need your help. I heard from Julian Bells that you'd come up in the world of unidentifiable toxin and enzyme researching and it sounded too good to be true."

"Always willing to oblige an old friend" Paul Everick said easily. "But I didn't know that the FBI dealt in matters like this."

Mulder eyed his partner.

"Uh, Scully and I believe that a certain scientific... er... abnormality... may figure in our current case." He pulled out the page of the data gathered on the toxin found in Genevieve's blood and handed it to Everick.

Everick whistled again. "Where did you get this?"

Scully answered him before Mulder could. "It was found in the bloodstream of an 17 year old girl named Genevieve Miles."

Mulder added, "We managed to isolate the toxin but this was all we could find out about it."

As though struck by a sudden thought, Everick rummaged around in his desk drawer and pulled out a somewhat crumpled exercise book, flicking through it.

"This is the diary of a Dr. Alan Parker... Ah! Here it is!"

He slid the book across the desk to Scully and Mulder.

Scully stared at the diagram glued in the middle of the page. It certainly didn't look like anything spectacular.

Everick spoke in a pleasant, slightly droning voice. "Dr. Parker - a colleague of mine - was researching this toxin - it was discovered in the bloodstream of an elderly man who died under rather suspicious circumstances - and whose life story is actually quite intriguing... Anyway, Alan was obsessed with the toxin - he was determined to find out all that he could about it - he spent every spare minute of his time experimenting with it - he'd kept a sample of it as he was one of the original doctors who'd isolated the toxin. I remember - he told me once - 'The secret's there, Paul, and it's up to me to find it.'"

He stared at the ceiling absently.

"Could we borrow this?" Mulder asked.

Everick waved his hand. "Sure, sure... Alan found a way to destroy the toxin - destroy it, or so he said..," he sighed and pulled himself out of his reminiscences.

"You say was" Scully pointed out. "Why did he stop the research?"

Everick made a vague gesture. "It was one thing or another..."

He stood up abruptly. "Say, would you to like to come get something to eat with me? There's a great pizza place I know near here..." he looked at Mulder devilishly then turned to Scully "... and I can tell you plenty of stories about Mulder back then..."

Scully smiled. "That sounds wonderful, right Mulder?"

Mulder smiled wanly.

Everick grinned. "Great! I have to finish everything up here first so how about I meet you there in half an hour?" He scribbled down the address and gave it to Scully. "You can go in and get a table and you can order if you want."

Scully and Mulder rose.

"We'll be looking forward to it" said Scully with a grin.

They stopped back at their motel to change and Scully was relieved to get out of her hot and sweaty clothes. She stood in the shower, letting her muscles relax in the hot water, breathing in the steam. This wasn't quite as luxurious as last night's bath, but it still took all her self discipline to turn the water off.

She dressed quickly and knocked on Mulder's door.

"Hey, Mulder, you decent?"

Mulder opened the door, a towel wrapped around his waist. "I don't know - is this what you call decent?"

Scully laughed. not quite decent but it's fine with me "Mulder! If you don't hurry up we're going to be late!"

"Okay, okay... but it's not as if Paul's the most punctual of people..." He reappeared wearing jeans and a plain black t-shirt.

Scully eyed his outfit. "Glad to see you got dressed up" she said with playful sarcasm.

She looked down at her own outfit - a skin-tight white t-shirt bit too tight for you Dana. a bit too transparent...? and the long black skirt her mother had given her for her birthday last year. Mom was always hopeful that she'd dress (and act) more feminine, but Scully had never been a good little girl wearing dresses and playing with dolls - that'd been Missy. Dana had been the tomboy.

Yet tonight she felt different - she wanted to look beautiful, to make Mulder sit up and notice her...

Little Italy's Pizzas was an informal little shop specialising mainly in take-out or home delivery. There were three tables and only one of them was occupied - by a group of excited young boys and a hassled middle-aged couple trying to keep them under control.

Scully heard snatches of the conversation as they walked over to the counter. "Billy - No, don't do that! Ben, honey, don't eat it if it's been on the floor! Where's James? He's gone to the bathroom? What's wrong Elliot? I'm sure Billy didn't mean to..."

Mulder was looking up at the menu painted in large lettering on the wall. "The supreme sounds good" he commented.

Scully looked up at the board. "Well, personally *I* prefer Hawaiian... how about we wait until Everick gets here and then we'll order..."

At that moment Everick arrived. He spotted Mulder and Scully at the counter and came over.

"Sorry I'm late" he apologised with a grin.

Mulder gave Scully his I-told-you-so look. She hid a smile.

Everick didn't notice. "So, what are we ordering? I'm starving!"

"Well..." Mulder and Scully answered simultaneously.

Scully blushed. She and Mulder always seemed to be doing that - saying or thinking the same thing at the same time. Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiit

She remembered Mulder saying jokingly: "So Scully, should we be picking out china patterns or what?"

He'd said it off-handedly, but the thought of it had made her stomach churn... Maybe he hadn't been altogether joking... No, Dana, don't do this to yourself. Hell! Hell hell hell hell helll!!

Everick's voice pierced her daydreams.

"Well, I though that we could get a large pizza and share it... it makes things simpler..."

Mulder and Scully agreed.

"And" Everick continued "we can get a free garlic bread as well - its a special deal...so what toppings do you guys want? They've got basically everything here... "

Mulder shrugged. Whatever they wanted was fine with him, as long as there was some meat on it.

"I'm going to have vegetarian..." Everick announced.

Okaaaaaaay Mulder thought. Maybe I won't get what Everick's getting... He and Scully exchanged glances.

Scully spoke up "I'll have Hawaiian and Mulder'll have..."

"The same."

Scully looked at him curiously and he flushed and shrugged. dammit Scully. why do you look at me like that? do you know how hard it is to act normal with you beside me looking so damn sexy?

"Right." Everick caught the attention of a large woman in an apron who was chopping capsicum. "Hey, Ellie!"

The woman came to greet Everick and spoke with a very faint Italian accent. "Paul!"

He introduced Scully and Mulder. "Ellie, I'd like you to meet two friends of mine - Fox and..." he hesitated.

"Dana" Scully supplied with a smile.

So it's Dana tonight, is it? Mulder was thoughtful. This situation had potential...

"This is Ellie Maveroni - she and her husband live in the flat above me and I eat here basically every night. We're one big happy family!" he said with a grin.

Ellie smiled broadly at them and shepherded them to the table furthest away from the noisy boys (who were now apparently up to dessert, if the yells of "I want more ice-cream!" were anything to go by).

Once they were settled on the red plastic covered chairs, Ellie pulled a tiny notepad out of her apron pocket. "So, what would you like?"

"We'll have a large pizza with a third vegetarian and the rest Hawaiian, and a garlic bread, thanks."

Ellie made some cryptic symbols on her notepad. "You want the $16. 90 deal? A large pizza, garlic bread and two gelatos - of course" she said with a charming smile "we can always make that three gelatos..."

Everick grinned. "Thanks Ellie. Owe you one."

"And to drink? Some wine perhaps? Or champagne?"

For some reason Everick and Mulder both looked at Scully expectantly. "Um... white wine'd be nice thanks... If that's all right with you two..." she ended lamely, wondering why the hell they'd asked her.

Mulder nodded and stored the fact away. White wine. So Eddie Van Blundht had been wrong in his choice of wine - Mulder had seen an empty bottle of red wine sitting on Scully's coffee table and he knew Scully didn't keep that sort of stuff at her place...

Dammit Mulder, why do you have to keep harping on it? It's over and done with. Forget about it!

"That'll be great." Everick smiled, showing a row of white teeth.

Ellie drifted away, calling over her shoulder "Your garlic bread should be ready in a few minutes."

Everick leaned across the table to look at Scully. "Now what I'm dying to know is whether Mulder's been doing since college!"

Scully took another sip of her wine. The pizza was almost gone - just one piece left - Hawaiian. She was still hungry but... she tore her eyes away from it and tried to pay attention to what Everick was saying.

"And so here's Mulder standing there, wearing this bright pink tutu and tights" Everick laughed.

Scully laughed, but she was painfully conscious of Mulder's exclusion. She felt a rush of pity for him. He looked like Queequeg used to when he'd wanted attention and she'd been to busy to give it to him. Poor Queequeg. Poor Mulder.

"So, Everick -"

"Call me Paul" he interrupted.

"Sorry - Paul. How did you come to live here in Australia?"

Mulder noticed as Scully deftly changed the subject. She and Everick had been getting along really well this evening and he'd been feeling... well, left out. Jealous. Well, not jealous... okay, so he was jealous because his partner and his friend were getting along brilliantly. What the hell was wrong with him? i love her and she likes him

He lifted his head and found that Scully was looking at him. She smiled at him encouraging and he felt as if he were five years old again.

"...And I've been working there ever since" Paul ended, adding regretfully, "Rather boring I'm afraid."

"Not at all" Scully replied with a polite smile.

"So, what about the case you guys are working on at the moment? It's not top secret or anything, is it?" Everick asked with a slight laugh.

Scully laughed. "Not particularly... maybe Mulder better explain."

Mulder related the story of Genevieve Miles while Everick listened intently.

"Jeez. I never knew the FBI was interested in that sort of stuff" he said when Mulder had finished his narration.

Mulder looked at Scully before saying "Scully and I work on special cases - called X-Files... we investigate UFOs and... er... other paranormal occurrences."

Everick said incredulously "You're kidding! You get paid to chase little green men? I should join!"

Scully cleared her throat. "Well,we do investigate other things as well... not just... er... extraterrestrials."

Everick asked her quickly "You don't believe in aliens?"

Scully opened her mouth to speak and Mulder jumped in. "I'm afraid Scully is the see-it-then-believe-it type."

Scully did her best to glare at Mulder but didn't succeed.

Mulder pointed to the last piece of pizza. "You want it Scully or can I have it?"

"We'll share."

Mulder cut the slice of pizza in half down the middle, took a piece and quickly devoured it. Scully didn't eat hers as quickly. She took a small bite and a felt a strand of cheese sticking to her chin. Before either of the two men noticed she managed to pull it off and put it in her mouth, chewing slowly.

There was a silence in the room - the group of young boys had finally left and Scully could hear the radio playing softly.

"When you walk by every night Talking sweet and looking fine I get kinda hectic inside. Baby, I'm so into you Darling if you only knew All the things that flow through my mind But it's just a Sweet sweet fantasy baby when I close my eyes You come and you take me..."

Scully suddenly felt sick. She stood unsteadily and looked at the two men who were in deep discussion about a former classmate of theirs who had done something or other.

"I'll be back in a minute" she mumbled and escaped to the bathroom.

She let the water run, splashing it on her face. The diziness was subsiding now, but the though of Mulder sitting out there with Everick brought it back. Pull yourself together Dana! she ordered herself. She'd been fine this evening up till she heard that damned song...

Everick watched as Scully left the room then commented "Mulder, where do you get these women?"

Mulder didn't hear him, his eyes were glued to Scully's figure as she disappeared into the ladies bathroom. God, she looked so sexy tonight. He could see the outline of a lacy black bra through her white top and her hair was actually up - not just in a pony tail but actually piled up on her head in some weird way. It was as if she was trying to impress someone...

Jesus, not Paul! It all clicked. Scully must be attracted to Paul. That was probably why she'd agreed to come along tonight - usually when they were on cases together they had takeaway, just the two of them, while they discussed the case. But tonight she'd gotten dressed up, and kept throwing him these glances that said to him that she wished he wasn't there. Christ, not Paul... how cruel could fate be?

Mulder suddenly realized that Everick was waiting for him to say something.

"Sorry. What were you saying?"

Everick repeated his comment.

"What? Scully? We're partners. Work partners. That's all."

Everick looked at him disbelievingly. "Yeah, right. You're seriously telling me that you and she aren't-" His face changed to a oh-damn-have-i-put-my-foot-in-it look of dismay. "God, you're not married are you?"

Mulder laughed and Everick let out a sigh of relief. "Thank God."


It was Everick's turn to laugh. "Me? I don't think so!"

"No girlfriend?"

Everick went red and Mulder inwardly sighed in relief. "Um, well... actually, there's a girl - Lily - we've been, you know, seeing each other for the past few months... nothing serious... she's Ellie and Bob's daughter... Anyway, what is the situation between you and Dana?"

"We're just friends... I guess..."

"You guess? The way you were looking at her before it looked like you were more than friends. WAY more."

"Was it that obvious?" Mulder asked slightly disturbed. He'd always been good at keeping a poker face but... The truth was that now *he* wasn't even sure what the relationship between himself and Scully was. He knew what he wanted but... was it what she wanted?

He tried to explain himself to Everick. "Scully and I are... well -"

Everick cut him off. "You call her Scully? Why not Dana?"

"Well... we work together - we're work partners... besides I make her call me Mulder and so she makes me call her Scully..."

Yeah, that sounds logical enough - and it's true, anyway.. I wish it wasn't, though

"She's pretty good looking" Everick commented, waiting for Mulder's reaction.

"*Pretty* good looking? She's goddamn gorgeous!" Mulder bit his lip. What the hell had brought that sudden outburst on?

Everick sensed Mulder's embarrasment and tactfully changed the subject. "So, how long have you worked for the FBI?"

"Uh... basically since I left Oxford..."

"You must be pretty important to be given your own division... I mean, I've never heard of 'X-Files' before."

"I guess I have some friends in high places" Mulder said wryly. "X-Files have been around for years... it just took someone like me to dig them all out."

"So, you've seen lots of flying saucers and stuff like that?" there was a touch of playful sarcasm in his tone.

Mulder was saved from answering him by Scully's return. She looked slightly pale and as she sat down he asked her worriedly. "You okay?"

She nodded - she didn't trust herself to speak.

Everick didn't seem to notice the silence since Scully's return. "You guys want dessert now?"

Mulder nodded and Scully stared vacantly out the window at the passing traffic.

He nudged her. "Scully? You okay?"

She turned back to face him "Huh?"

"You want some dessert?" he spoke slowly, as if he were talking to a young child.

She stared noncomprehendingly for a moment then suddenly a smile broke out on her face and she became lively and animated. "Sure" she said brightly. "What do they have?"

Everick passed her the gelato menu.

She looked at the pictures of mouthwatering gelatos on the page. Pineapple, mango, choc mint, passionfruit...

"I'll have the passionfruit" she decided. "What are you guys having?"

Mulder scanned the page. All of the deserts looked delicious. Hell, he'd go with Scully on this one... "Same."

Everick nodded and called out to Ellie "Hey, Ellie! Could we have dessert now? Three passionfruit gelatos."

Ellie drifted over with the three gelatos, deposited them in front of Scully, Mulder and Everick with a smile and drifted away again.

Mulder attacked his gelato - it was covered with a thin layer of dark chocolate. He watched as Scully took a small bite and savored it before swallowing it. That mouth, those lips... God knows he'd dreamed about having her lips on his own... sucking them, nibbling them...

Everick was chatting incessantly, taking quick bites between sentences. Mulder yawned and looked at his watch. Scully had made him adjust it to the right time. It was only just past nine. What time had they gotten here? He couldn't remember. Maybe seven? Seven-thirty? He yawned again and finished off the last of his gelato. It was beautifully rich and fruity. He left the liquor- chocolate ball - he wasn't in the mood for anything as strong as it was bound to be.

He looked over at Scully. Her sudden fit of energy had dissipated and she was staring absently out the window again, her half-eaten gelato in front of her.

He pushed his dessert bowl away from him and rose.

"Well, Scully, I think we better get back to the motel and uh, look over all the information we collected today."

Scully smiled tiredly. "Yeah Mulder... that'd be a good idea..."

Everick looked slightly disappointed but recovered his good mood quickly. "Well, I had a great evening" he declared. "It was great being able to catch up old times, eh Mulder?"

"Hilarious" Mulder said sarcastically. "How much do we owe you for dinner?"

"Nothing, it was on me."

"If you insist. Well, Scully, you ready to go?"

"Um... yeah..."

Everick walked over to the counter and paid for the meal while Mulder looked concernedly at Scully, who was leaning against the wall, her face blank.

He was about to speak when Everick returned.

"God it's hot!" he exclaimed as the three of them stepped out into the fresh air, Mulder with his arm around Scully, gently guiding her toward the car. Everick chattered on uncomfortably, conscious of something being wrong and not knowing what exactly.

"It's been incredible hot here the past few weeks - it doesn't normally get this hot until January..."

He fished around in his jeans pocket and handed Mulder a business card. "Here's my card... it's got my home address and number on it as well as my work ones so if you need any more help just give me a ring... okay?"

Mulder reminded him "We have to return that diary anyway - we'll stop by your lab sometime before we go."

"Okay... so I guess I'll see you sometime...It was nice meeting you Dana."

Scully smiled with an effort. "You too."

"Well... bye."

"Catch you later" Mulder called out as he got in the car.

Everick stood watching them as Mulder reversed the car and waved as they drew out into the street.

Mulder looked at Scully. She looked pale and listless and it terrified him to see her like that. "You all right Scully?"

Scully turned her head slightly toward Mulder. She was feeling drained of energy... moving, talking, even thinking, took so much effort...

"I'm fine Mulder" she managed to creak out. "Just a little tired, that's all"

The bright lights on the road blurred together... her eyelids felt heavy...

Mulder stole a glance at her - he saw her body relax as she fell asleep.

What had happened to her? She'd been fine earlier in the evening - laughing and joking with Paul, and then...

she has cancer. she tires easily. she's not as tough as she likes people to think

He parked the car in front of the motel. Scully was sleeping soundly and he didn't want to wake her... He got out of the car and went across to her side, opening the car door.

"Scully" he whispered in hope that she might not be completely asleep, but she didn't stir. He found her purse on the floor beside her feet and picked it up. The key to the motel room was large and chunky - especially designed so that it couldn't get lost easily.

He shut the car door quietly and opened the door to Scully's motel room. He found the light switch and soon the room was flooded with bright light. Too bright. He switched them off and turned on a lamp. That was better. Soft light... romantic... damn it mulder. stop thinkin' that way! He left the room and went back out to the car.

Scully was still curled up in her seat. He gently undid her seat-belt and lifted her up, carrying her into her motel room, where he lay her carefully on the bed. God, she was so light. He wondered if she was eating enough. She seemed definitely thinner than she had been before. Ever since she'd found out about her cancer... He knew that she would be more comfortable in pajamas than in what he was wearing, but he didn't want to wake her, and he knew that if if he allowed himself to get into a situation like that, he might not be able to control himself...

He turned off the lamp and the room was pitch black. As he was tiptoeing out of the room he bumped into a table.

"Damn!" he swore as quietly as he could as he hopped around, clutching his leg.

"Mulder... is that you?" he heard Scully ask sleepily. She was so sexy when she was sleepy, her voice was kind of husky. It was something he wanted to wake up to every morning...

He walked back over to the bed, rubbing his thigh. There was going to be a huge bruise there tomorrow... "Yeah, it's just me" he whispered.

Scully sat up on the bed, peering around in the dark. She looked down at her clothes - her black skirt was already twisted and some of the buttons had come undone.

"I can't sleep in these..." she decided hazily. She looked at Mulder's outline before her. "Mulder, could you do me a favor?" she asked him.

"Sure thing" he answered readily. anything for you. anything

"Could you" she yawned "get my pajamas out of my suitcase for me? No, not those ones, they'll be too hot..," she said as her held up the pair of purple pajamas she'd worn last night. "I've got a summer pair in there - blue ones."

Mulder sorted through the suitcase carefully. Pants, shirt, lingerie... ahem

He held up blue silk boxershorts and a matching camisole, his hands trembling slightly. "These the ones?"

Scully yawned again. "Yep."

Mulder handed them to her and started moving back toward the door. "Well, 'night Scully" he whispered.

There was no reply. If he'd looked back at her he would have seen her lying asleep still fully clothed, clutching her pajamas in her hand.

Scully woke up the next morning feeling energetic, wondering why the hell she was still in last night's clothes. After a quick shower she dressed in the coolest clothes she could find - a short marrone skirt and short sleeved cream t-shirt.

She knocked on the communicating door. "Mulder!"

No response.

She looked at her watch impatiently then recoiled in dismay. 9:23. Damn. She'd overslept. Again. And Mulder had let her. She was going to kill him.

She walked over to the TV, where she'd put her cel phone and her gun. As she picked them up a slip of white paper fluttered to the floor. She picked it up and read it.

"Scully, I thought it would be better to let you sleep in after last night. I got you some breakfast - hope you like blueberry muffins. I'll be at the Miles's place talking to Genevieve till about 10:00, then I'll come and pick you up from the motel and we'll go up to the hospital. I want to try something with the toxin. Mulder."

Last night? What'd happened last night? Scully couldn't remember. She and Mulder hadn't -?

No Dana, don't be absurd... you couldn't be that lucky... what the hell did you mean by that?

What *had* happened last night? She remembered... She and Mulder had had dinner with Paul Everick and... memories came flooding back. She'd been feeling really strange last night - abnormally tired... she'd fallen asleep hadn't she? In the car on the way to their motel... she must of woken up before they got there though because she'd woken up in her motel bed this morning...

She peered in the white paper bag sitting on top of the TV. Inside the bag was a huge blueberry muffin. She pulled a piece off and tasted it. The crust was hard and crunchy. Delicious. She looked around the motel room Mulder had suggested he'd pick her up at ten, but that was more than half an hour away...

Making a decision, she picked up her briefcase and muffin and headed out of the motel.


Mulder had taken their rental car...

She went to the front office of the motel, where a bored looking young woman was reading the latest issue of 'Dolly'.

"Excuse me" Scully said, raising her voice above the heavy metal playing on the radio.

The girl looked at her. "Sorry, we haven't got any vacancies" she said, and returned her attention to her magazine.

Scully tried again. "I'm already staying here - I was just wondering if you have any maps of the local area?"

A gleam of what could almost be described as intelligence appeared in the girl's eyes.

"Maps? I don't know... you could try the street directory..." she pointed to a pile of thick books. Feeling that she had done her duty, the girl turned the radio up and buried herself in her magazine.

Scully looked at the girl with distaste. She'd never been like that... had she???

God, she hoped not!

She walked over to the stack of books next to the payphone. Phone book, phone book, cooking book cooking book?... aha! Street Directory.

Scully looked up the street in the front of the book and opened to the page, tracing her route. It would only be a ten minute walk to the Miles's residence and she felt she just had to dispel all that excess energy...

At about half-past nine Scully was walking up the Miles's front path. She could see the car where Mulder had parked it in the street, and she was glad to see that he was still here. She pressed the doorbell and waited. She could hear voices inside but nobody was answering the door.

She tried the knocker.

This time she was successful - the door was opened by Matthew Miles. He was wearing mismatching pajamas - a Superman pajama top and Batman pajama pants. His hair was flattened on one side and sticking up on the other and his face was covered with chocolate.

"Hi!" he said cheerfully.

Scully bent down so that they were the same height. "Hi Matthew. Is Agent Mulder here? Or your mother?"

Matthew grinned. "Yep." He opened the wiremesh door and let her in, then turned and hollered "Mom! The lady's here!!!"

Loretta Miles appeared and scolded her son. "Her name is Agent Scully, Matthew."

Scully smiled slightly.

Mrs. Miles addressed her. "Agent Mulder is in the lounge room talking to Genevieve."

Scully followed her into a large, beautifully decorated room.

Mulder was sitting next to Genevieve Miles on the couch and looked up when Scully entered, a surprised expression on his face. He was about to say something to her but the held up her hand slightly and mouthed 'later'.

Scully sat down on the white leather sofa opposite Mulder and the girl.

"Hi Genevieve" she said softly.

Genevieve smiled at her, a sad smile. "Hi."

Scully knew that smile well - it was one which she herself frequently wore.

Mulder explained "Genevieve's just been telling me about dreams that she's had about when she was abducted."

"Oh... have you managed to remember enough to make sense of it?" Scully asked, feeling uncomfortable asking such questions and at the same feeling a strange bond with the girl.

Genevieve shook her head.

"I remember being in a really bright place - it's so bright that it hurts my eyes and I get this sharp, shooting pain in my head. And I remember - there's this kind of drill thing... I don't know what it is exactly..."

Scully closed her eyes briefly as she listened to the girl. This all hit too close to home.

Mulder seemed to have run out of questions and was staring at the ceiling. His face was blank but Scully could see him turning over theories in his mind, selecting or rejecting ideas.

She nudged him. "You found out all you need to know?"

Mulder nodded. "I think so."

He rose.

"Thanks for talking to us Genevieve. You've helped us a lot."

Scully stood up. "I'm sorry I didn't get here earlier, but I'm sure Agent Mulder will fill me in on what you told him." She smiled encouragingly at the girl.

They went down the hallway on the way out and as they passed the kitchen Mrs. Miles called out to them cheerfully "I don't suppose you fancy a cup of coffee?"

Scully and Mulder exchanged glances.

Scully spoke. "We'd love to, but I'm afraid we're due at the hospital soon. We'll call you as soon as we find something out" she promised her.

Mrs. Miles smiled. "Thanks."

Once in the car Mulder scolded Scully gently. "You didn't have to come along, you know."

"I wanted to. You should have woken me" she replied, slightly annoyed.

"Sorry, I thought it'd be better to let you sleep, you know, after last night - are you feeling better?" he asked.

"Yes..." she spoke grudgingly. "But I really didn't need to sleep in."

"Okay, okay. Next time I'll wake you up and drag you along with me."



"So how did you get there anyway?" Mulder said, breaking the slight tension.

"I walked."

"Walked? From the motel?"

"Why not? There was no other way - I couldn't find a bus timetable and I couldn't be bothered catching a taxi. Besides, it was only a mile or so. Probably less. It's not as if I'm a cripple or something" she said icily.

"I didn't mean to imply that... Sorry..."

They drove on in silence, Mulder sneaking occasion worried glances at Scully, who noticed them all too well, and was becoming more and more irritated at her partner.

"Will you stop that?!" she finally snapped.

"What?" Mulder looked innocent.

"Stop looking at me. Stop being so damned overprotective. I can take care of myself."

Mulder looked hurt. "I never said that you couldn't" he said stiffly.

"You didn't have to say it. I can tell by the way you always look at me and I want you to stop. It's driving me nuts!"

She slumped down in her seat, obviously not wanting to continue the conversation. They were silent for the next few minutes until Mulder burst out "Jesus Scully, what's wrong with you?!"

"Nothing" she said sullenly.

"Don't tell me nothing, because we both know damn well it is something!"

"Look Mulder, it's PMS, okay? Now stop badgering me."

"I thought your cycle was at the beginning of the month" Mulder said with a slight frown.

"Christ, you know my cycle?!"

Mulder shrugged and Scully slumped further down in the seat. "This is my life" she muttered. "My life."

The hospital labs were on the fifth floor, according to the woman at the front desk.

When they got there Mulder checked his watch. "We're a few minutes early. We might as well sit down."

"Who are we waiting for?"

"Um... a Doctor Reg Whaley."

"Why?" she asked grumpily, wishing that her head wasn't aching. Wishing that Mulder's presence by her side didn't infuriate her.

"Dr. Blacksworth said that he was probably the top authority on this sort of thing at this hospital."

"So you don't know what he looks like?"

"Not a clue."

Scully sighed, trying not to get frustrated and failing dismally. "Great."

At that moment they were approached by a tall blond woman wearing a lab coat.

"Agents Scully and Mulder?"

Mulder and Scully looked at each other.

"Yes... and you are?"

"I'm Reg Whaley - Dean Blacksworth said that he thought I could help you" she answered competently.

Having recovered after her initial surprise Scully reached out and shook hands with the woman.

"I'm sorry. it's just that we assumed that we were male" she said apologetically. Be nice Dana.

The woman laughed. "Don't worry - that happens a lot. My name's actually Regina, but everyone calls me Reg..."

She led them to desk plainly marked "Dr. R. Whaley" and sat down behind it, motioning for them to sit.

"So, how can I help you?"

Mulder produced a copy of the list of toxin properties and the diary Everick had given them. "You perhaps knew Dr. Parker?" he ventured when he saw recognition on the doctor's face.

"No, no - that was before my time... I knew about him, of course - he was a brilliant doctor."

"A friend of mine said that Dr. Parker had actually found out a way to destroy the toxin... but that he stopped his research for some unknown reason," Mulder said.

Dr. Whaley looked across at him curiously. "I never knew that he actually figured out how to destroy the toxin... although I didn't really ever hear much about it..."

She leaned forward eagerly. "Is it true that the government bribed him to discontinue his work?"

"What?" Mulder exploded.

Scully rolled her eyes. Honestly!

Dr. Whaley shrugged. "It was just a rumor that went around after he left here... he did leave rather suddenly though..." she mused. "But as I said before, it was before my time. I've only been here for two years and I believe that he left about six months before I came."

Mulder's mind raced. If Dr. Parker had stumbled onto a government secret (which government?) he could have been forced to give up his study of the toxin. But obviously this government didn't know about the diary - or it would have long since been destroyed.

"Which government?" he asked Dr. Whaley.

"I don't know - although I can't believe it would be ours... maybe the American government? I know that they have a lot of interest in these things. I've heard plenty of stories of corruption and bribery... oh, I forgot - you guys are FBI, aren't you?" She pulled a face. "You won't tell anyone I said that, will you?"

Mulder laughed. "Don't worry - we have the same amount of faith in our government as you do."

Dr. Whaley looked at the toxin on the slide through the microscope. "You sure that this will destroy the toxin?" she asked Scully.

"That's what Dr. Parker said in his journal" Scully replied with a slight shrug. "I just hope he's right."

Using an eyedropper, Dr. Whaley added a watery mixture to the toxin on the slide.

The three of them watched anxiously as the mixture fizzled.

"I hope we put enough on it" Scully murmured.

Once the violent reaction had died down, Scully carefully peered into the microscope.

"Oh My God!"

Mulder and Whaley crowded around her. "What?"

"It's completely evaporated... I don't understand..."

Whaley shook her head in disbelief. "I can't believe that - insulin! Of all things!"

Mulder looked thoughtful. "So he was right."

Scully looked at him curiously but didn't say anything.

"I'll keep this here with me, just to keep an eye on it, to make sure there's no repercussions" Whaley said briskly.

Mulder nodded. "That's fine with me"

Scully agreed. "Just make sure you call us immediately if something does happen."

They said goodbye and as they left the building Mulder looked at his watch. "Half-past eleven... and I'm starving. Let's see what there is to eat around here."

Scully wandered into her partner's motel room, marveling at how he seemed completely ignorant of the high room temperature.

"You're weird" she announced as she switched on the air- conditioning. "I don't know how could stand it in here without the air-conditioning. It's like being in an oven."

Mulder shrugged. "Doesn't really bother me."

She rolled her eyes and peered out the window at the sunny parking lot.

"Whatcha doing?"

"I'm just going to send some E-mail"

"To who?" she asked curiously. "Skinner?"




Scully gave up - he obviously wasn't going to tell her.

Fifteen minutes later, after being shoed away from Mulder's room, Scully was trying to type up her case report. After a dozen false head-starts she gave up, frustrated. There wasn't even much that she could write about in this case - nothing much had happened.

She shut down her computer angrily and started pacing around her room.

A loud shout from Mulder's room startled her and she raced to his room to find him hunched over his laptop. "I was right! I was right!" he repeated exhultantly.

"What?" she asked.

"Dr. Alan Parker was found killed in suspicious circumstances in his hotel room in Singapore on 19th July, 1995. No suspects or evidence found. Investigations ceased only two weeks after the murder," Mulder read. He looked at her meaningfully.

Scully looked skeptical.

"This is a - a whole big government conspiracy Scully - they're covering it up!"

"What about the aliens?" she asked sarcastically.

"That's just it - the government are covering up the existence of aliens, of alien abductions..."

Scully looked at him. He was so earnest.

"What do you think Scully?"

"I... I don't know..," she said truthfully. She patted him on the back and slowly walked out of the room.

Back in her own room she turned on the TV and threw herself on the bed.

Daytime TV. Ugh!

She found the remote and flicked through the channels. Talk show...soap... talk show... cooking show... She threw down the remote in disgust. Why was she in such a revolting mood? Why did she suddenly have the inclination to yell and scream at Mulder and tell him how absolutely preposterous his theories were? God, she was getting emotional now. WHY?? Why had she been acting so strangly recently? She didn't know why... Despite what she had told Mulder, it wasn't PMS, she was sure of that. She held back the tears she felt welling up in her eyes. She was a wreck.

She looked at her watch and realized with dismay that they had learn't absolutely nothing about their case so far, except a very vague connection to a dead guy.

"Well, that's definitely worth flying us all the way out there" she muttered to herself.

She went into the bathroom and turned the shower on. This'd make three showers in less than twenty-four hours. At least she'd be clean. She stepped out of her clothes and into the steamy water.

Soon all her anger was washed away, she felt soothed and relaxed. What had she been upset about anyway? She couldn't remember. Above the noise of rushing water she heard Mulder calling her name. Reluctantly she turned off the water, dried herself and put on a bathrobe.

Mulder stood on his side of the communicating door. Not her side. Why not her side? Because her side was locked. She'd locked him out. She'd done it accidentally, he convinced himself. Not that it should matter to him. It wasn't as if he were her husband, or even boyfriend... He was just Mulder, her partner Mulder. Her WORK partner Mulder.


He couldn't help feeling slightly betrayed by the one small action - they never locked the communicating door. It was just a little thing that proved their trust in each other... and now Scully had taken that trust and thrown it out the window.

No Mulder, that's being ridiculous! She only locked the damn door - you can't take that as her saying she doesn't trust you...

"Scully!" he yelled again.

Just when he was about to knock the door in it opened. Scully was dressed in a white bathrobe and her hair was wrapped up in a towel.

She gave him an angelic smile. "Yes?"

"I.. um... I thought something might have happened to you... that's all.. you know, when you didn't answer me..." He could feel his face turning red. oh jesus, she's naked under that bathrobe... oh christ

Scully laughed. She was in a good mood now and she wasn't going to ruin it. For any reason.

"I'm fine, I was just in the shower" she said, stating the self-evident fact. "I'll just get dressed and dry my hair and we can do a bit of work on what we've got so far. Okay Mulder?"

"Sure, sure. Whatever you want."

She shut the door again. This time, Mulder was pleased to note, he didn't hear the sound of a bolt being pulled across.

"But how would this be connected to Genevieve Miles and her family? From what you're theorized she doesn't come in anywhere..."

"I'm not exactly sure, but I *am* pretty sure about this-"

Scully interrupted him. "Dr. Parker figured out how to destroy the toxin and when they, whoever *they* are, found out he was getting too close, they killed him."


Scully raised an eyebrow. "Well, I admit that it is within the bounds of possibility, but why? Why would they care about an unimportant toxin? Who are they?"

Mulder shrugged. "Government maybe? I'm not sure. But you and I both know that these people exist Scully. Besides, if that toxin is extraterrestrial, which I'll bet it is, it's not at all unimportant. They'd quite happily kill for it."

"So if it was so important, why didn't they destroy the doctor's journal?"

"I guess they didn't know it existed. And if they did, they mustn't have been able to find it."

"Okay... but we still have to figure out how Genevieve is involved. She *is* the reason were out here, remember Mulder?"

"How could I forget? But seriously, if this toxin is extraterrestrial, that's proof that Genevieve is being abducted and that they're injecting it into her bloodstream."

"Why would they want to do that?"

"Why do they do any of the things they do? Most people agree that they're experimenting on humans, using us as guinea pigs. I try to keep an open mind about their cause."

"Do you have any ideas what we could do to 'save' her, then?" this is kinda ridiculous Dana. you're practically agreeing with Mulder. it's scary

Mulder shrugged woefully. "Nope. You?"

Scully stared out the window, unable to think of anything to say.

At the sound of a shrill ringing they both jumped.

Mulder reached for his cel-phone but Scully stopped him. "It's mine. I'll be back in a second." She raced into her room and picked up the phone.


"Agent Scully?" she heard a quiet voice on the other end of the line.

"Yes, what's wrong?" she recognized the voice; Loretta Miles. Sounding scared.

"Gen - she collapsed about an hour ago - just after you left."

"Are you at a hospital?"

"Yes. St. Albert's. The doctors say that she's going to be okay, but I thought you should know..."

"Yeah, thanks. We'll be there in ten minutes."

Scully hung up quickly and recounted the conversation to Mulder as he shut down his laptop and they left the motel.

"What do you think happened to her?"

Scully shrugged. "I can't be sure until we get there."

They drove to the hospital in silence.

"Mrs. Miles?"

Scully took a step forward into the small hospital room where Genevieve Miles was lying, pale but asleep.

Mrs. Miles turned her head and smiled softly. "Agent Scully, Agent Mulder. Thank you for coming."

Scully pulled up a chair and Mulder did the same.

"I know this must be a difficult time for you" he started, but Loretta Miles shook her head dismissively.

"It's okay..," she said quietly.

"Did the doctors explain to you what caused Geneveieve's collapse this morning?"

Scully scanned through the girl's chart and then handed it to Mulder, wishing that by some small miracle it hadn't confirmed what the doctor had told them only a few minutes ago.

Mrs. Miles shook her head. "They only just finished running tests. Why, do they already know?"

"I'm afraid so" Scully said apologetically. "Your daughter's blood sugar level is very low, and this morning she collapsed because of a condition called hypoglycemia. It means that-"

"She had diabetes" Mrs. Miles said quietly, neither her voice nor her face registering any surprise.

"Yes, type 1. Her body doesn't produce enough insulin naturally to keep the blood sugar at normal levels."

"But why did it only start this morning?"

"That... no one can explain."

"Can you think of any way in which this could be connected to the abductions?" Mulder asked.

Mrs. Miles shook her head. "I honestly wouldn't know..."

"I should have noticed - she didn't look well this morning and the symptoms - I should have known -" Scully thumped the car window angrily.

Mulder put his hand on her arm to calm her. "Scully, stop blaming yourself. The girl's fine and nobody's blaming you, because you didn't do anything wrong, okay?"

"I know. I just feel responsible somehow..."

"From what the doctor said, there wouldn't have been anything you could have done anyway Scully."

Scully massaged her right temple with her thumb, trying to drive away an impending headache. "Mulder, do you know what diabetes is?"

"A low blood sugar level, right?"

"Not exactly. There are two different types of diabetes mellitus: type one, which Genevieve has, and type two. With diabetes the body can't use sugar normally. It's caused by an insulin deficiency - the pancreas for some reason can no longer produce the hormone insulin, and so glucose builds up in the bloodstream."

"Insulin..." Mulder looked at her, his excitement growing. "The toxin in Genevieve's blood is causing the diabetes, and if insulin destroys the toxin-"

"Then her blood sugar level will return to normal."

"Leaving no-one the wiser" Mulder said quickly.

"So they've experimented on her, but kindly arranged that she'll be cured?"

"I guess these guys do have a conscience after all."

"Mulder, why are we here?" Scully demanded for the fifth time as they walked along the hospital corridor.

"Because I don't think this is over" Mulder said honestly. "I think that Genevieve's still in danger."

"But why? We've agreed that they don't want to kill her, otherwise she woul- oh my God Mulder!"


"If Genevieve continues recieving insulin injections after her bloodsugar level returns to normal, then she would have an insulin shock -" she looked at his blank face and hastened to explain. "Extremely high levels of insulin cause the bloodsugar level to drop down so low that the patient has an insulin reaction, or insulin shock."

"Is that fatal?"

"It could be. Mulder, we have to see Genevieve's doctor, right *now*!"

"Maybe I *was* right about these guys in the first place..." Mulder mused.

Then his wry smile vanished as he remembered something; most alien abductees died because of what was done to them...

As they entered the hospital room Mrs. Miles rose and faced them, slightly surprised.

"Have you found out anything more?" she enquired.

Scully cleared her throat and recounted the conversation she and Mulder had just had.

"So you think that the aliens have been - been experimenting on Gen?" she looked disturbed, as if the idea had only just occured to her.

"I'm afraid so, but you'll be pleased to know that there shouldn't be any long-term side-effects... as far as we know" he added hastily.

"You look tired. Why don't you go home and get some sleep," Scully suggested.

Loretta Miles nodded. "Yes, thanks, I think I will." She kissed her daughter on the forehead and left.

Mulder slumped down in the chair Mrs. Miles had just vacated.

"Well, Scully" he said softly. "Now we play the waiting game."

Scully looked at him. "You know Mulder, you look as if you could do with a rest too."

Mulder waved his hand. "I'm fine. I just didn't get much sleep last night. Listen Scully: they're trying to kill Genevieve, and this way it'll look like basically natural causes, or maybe hospital negligence. But if we stop that, then they might be forced to take more extreme measures..."

"You mean like murder?"


Scully sighed. "Go back to the motel for an hour Mulder. You can't do anything here. When Dr. Blacksworth gets here I'll explain everything to him."

"I know, it's just..."

"What?" She looked at Mulder's pained expression and her face softened understandingly. He'd never forgiven himself for letting Samantha be taken and now there was another young girl in his care needing protection...

"She'll be fine, Mulder. I'll stay here" she assured him. "Now go!"

Mulder obeyed her meekly. "Okay... I'll be back in an hour. Call me if anything happens."

As if she wouldn't he thought to himself with a slight chuckle as he left the room.

Scully looked her watch. 2:15. This had been a really long day...

She cast her mind back, trying to remember *exactly* what had happened last night - it was all hazy in her mind...

She remembered dinner - Everick telling her stories of Mulder at college.. wasn't there one about a dare to jump off a bridge or something...?

She stood up and strolled out into the hallway. Her stomach growled quietly, reminding her that she'd missed lunch.

A hot drinks machine stood at the end of the hallway. She dug in her pocket and pulled out a handful of coins. Coffee was $1.50. She sorted through the coins. A dollar coin, two twenty cent pieces and a ten cent piece. Weird money.

She put them in the slot and held a styrofoam cup underneath the spout. Hot, frothy liquid poured out.

She sipped it thoughtfully as she headed back to Genevieve's room. On the way she passed a waiting room, where she spied a pile of magazines. She went into the room and flicked through the pile. Junk, junk and more junk.

With a sigh of resignation she picked up the newest edition of 'Woman's Weekly' (roughly five months old) and a science journal.

When she returned to the girl's room she almost collided with a male orderly, who muttered an apology as he moved back against the wall to let her pass.

Scully stood frozen to the spot, puzzled. Surely she recognized that face...

She shook her head, scolding herself. She was getting as paranoid as Mulder!

She sat down and flipped the pages of 'Woman's Weekly' over.

Fergie's new boyfriend... 'Mother tells: My neighbour stole my husband and turned him into a drug addict'...

Scully shut the magazine with a snort. Who read these things? Probably the same people who watched soapies on TV all day...

She picked up the 'Australian Science Journal'. This was more like it...

Mulder didn't return to the hospital until almost five, smiling sheepishly but looking much fresher.

"Sorry I took so long. I fell asleep."

"'s'okay." Scully smiled. "So Mulder, do we actually have a plan? We can't spend the rest of our lives by this girl's side making sure nobody comes in with a gun and opens fire."

"I know" Mulder looked grim. "I've been thinking about that a bit."

"Do you think that we should call in the police?"

"What do you think?

"Would they believe us?"

"Probably not. But it's worth a try. If we can get some protection for the girl... Oh, I almost forgot - what's happening with the insulin problem?"

"It was pretty easy convincing Dr. Blacksworth of our theory - I have a feeling he's wholeheartedly into believing all this stuff with the toxin - and I rang Mrs. Miles, who's agreed, and when I talked to Genevieve before she was all for it - somehow I think that the risk pales in comparison to being a diabetic for the rest of her life. I thought it would be best not to mention the uh, fact that her life may be in danger. No need for her to be terrified when we're not even sure. The hospital staff are doing blood tests every hour and when the toxin has disappeared they're going to stop the insulin injections - she's recieving three a day at the moment, in small doses - but if anything goes wrong they're going to recommence the injections immediately."

She settled herself down in one of the hospital chairs which was sitting along the wall.

"But Mulder, I don't know how long this'll take. I mean, it could take days, or even weeks, for the toxin to completely disappear. We can't stay here for that long."

"I don't think that it'll take that long. Remember how fast the toxin evaporated when we did the test? It should have already worked."

"Well, it hasn't," Scully said with a shrug. She looked at her watch. "They'll be here to draw some more blood soon. What's our plan?"

"How do you feel like spending the night here?"

"Mulder, you can't be serious?"

"'Fraid so. We can go out and get ourselves something to eat now, then maybe pick up some stuff to keep ourselves entertained."

"What sort of stuff?" Mulder's idea of entertainment was eating sunflower seeds while watching porno movies. Fun

"You'll see."

"Check." Scully smugly moved her queen so that it was on the Mulder's king's diagonal.

Mulder was thinking furiously. If he moved his king forward then Scully could capture it with her rook... If he moved it diagonally then that'd be okay... wait- she could get him with her knight then...

He moved it backwards and realized that he'd fallen into her trap.

Scully moved her pawn up one space towards him, so that he was surrounded on all sides.

"Checkmate' she said softly. "I win. Again."

"Okay, okay. You don't have to rub it in." Mulder started packing away all the tiny magnetic chess pieces. "How about we play something different now?" he suggested. He snapped the lid shut and put the box in the bag beside him.


"Well... there's the Travel Checkers, - and if we play that I'll let you win this time - Travel Guess Who... or cards" he said, holding up each box as he mentioned it.

"We already played.. what, ten? games of checkers tonight, Mulder. Besides, you didn't win all of them! I won at least four games, if not more!"

She yawned, looking at her watch. "It's almost midnight Mulder. You sure we're not just both ultra-paranoid?"

"Hope not."

Scully yawned again. It was getting incredibly hard to keep her eyes open. "I think I'm with Genevieve. You can keep watch but I'm going to sleep. If you want you can wake me up in an hour and I'll stay awake while you get some rest, okay?"

Mulder nodded. 'sure."

Scully squirmed in her chair, trying to make it more comfortable. This was better than sleeping in a car at least. She tucked her head on her shoulder and soon felt herself drifting off...

Mulder yawned, his head drooping slightly. "Dammit Mulder!" he scolded himself. He had to stay awake for at least another hour. At this rate he didn't have the slightest chance of being able to do that.

He stood up abruptly. Coffee. That was what he needed. Some strong black coffee.

He walked out into the silent, brightly lit hallway and brought himself a cup of coffee at the vending machine, as well as a packet of M&Ms from the machine beside it.

He was on his way back to Genevieve's room when he was blinded by a bright light. So bright that he took a step back, dropping his coffee and M&Ms.

The bright light was then joined by a humming, which started quiet and monotonous but built up until it was almost unbearable, pounding on his eardrums. He instinctively put his hands up to his face, but they did nothing to stop the light, which surrounded him, choked him. His head throbbed and he felt himself frozen to the spot. The light flashed even brighter. He felt it burning into his brain, an intense, searing heat that ripped through him. The humming grew even louder and the light flashed, again and again and again. And then...

It all stopped.

Mulder cautiously pulled his hands away from his face, blinking. Had that been what he thought it was? It must have been. There couldn't be another explanation...

He heard a faint cry. He tensed. Genevieve!

Jesus! How could he have been so stupid as to leave her alone?

Suddenly, out of nowhere appeared two figures, carrying between them the struggling girl as they ran.

He sprung to life, his legs pumping as he chased them down the corridor. They reached the stairs, he followed them down in leaps - four, five steps at a time.

They were having difficulty with Geneveive, who was putting up a fight. He was almost up to them - just around the corner... He stopped at a landing.

Where the hell were they?

His instincts told him that danger was close. Very close.

He turned but not quickly enough. He felt an explosion at the back of his head and then he was plummeted into darkness.

Scully woke with a start. Something was wrong, she could sense it. Something was very wrong.

She looked at the hospital bed where Geneveive Miles should have been. The sheet had been pulled back off the bed and the IV tubes were trailing across the floor.

A cry rose up in her throat.

She didn't bother looking beside her at Mulder's seat - she knew instinctively that he was gone.

She pulled out her gun and held it close to her, ready to shoot if necessary.

The hallway was empty, save the puddle of coffee on the white linoleum floor and a pack of chocolates.

She made her way cautiously along the corridor. Where were Mulder and the girl?

She passed the door to the stairs. It was slightly ajar.


No answer.

She tried again. "Mulder!"

She heard two shots ringing out.

"Mulder!" This time she screamed his name, terrified. She ran down the stairs and saw him sprawled out on his back on the landing. For a few seconds she was frozen to the spot with fear, then she ran to his side, checking for a pulse.

Mulder stirred slightly, looking up at Scully's worried face.

"Scully..." he murmured.

"What happened Mulder? Where's Genevieve?" she asked frantically.

"There was a light.. then there were two men. They had Genevieve... I couldn't stop them. Somebody whacked me on the back of the head and knocked me out. I don't know what happened then." He tried to sit up but fell back in agony.

Scully ran her hands lightly over his body. "No broken bones. Just stay there. I'll go after her... Do you have your gun?"

Mulder nodded slightly, raising his right hand to show her his weapon.

Scully cautiously held her own weapon up beside her face as she ran quickly down the stairs. She probably had no chance of catching them now, but she wouldn't give up hope yet. She couldn't. She stopped short at the next landing, her nose warning her of the faint odor of gunsmoke.

She heard a faint whimpering and saw Genevieve Miles huddled, bound and gagged in the corner. She rushed over to her, removing the gag and loosening the ropes which were tied tightly around the girls wrists and ankles.

The girl burst into tears, sobbing on Scully's shoulder.

"Shhhh... everything's okay." Scully comforted her. "You're safe now... you're safe now."

When Genevieve's sobs had died down Scully asked her gently. "Are you hurt?"

The girl shook her head numbly. She got up shakily and tested out her ankles. "I'm okay."

"You sure?"

Genevieve nodded. "I'm just a bit sore, that's all." At that moment Mulder appeared, gingerly rubbing the back of his head. Scully asked him worriedly. "You okay Mulder? I told you to stay where you were."

"Yeah, I'm fine... I've got a splitting headache but that's all."

Scully looked at him. "You sure?"

"Positive." He saw Genevieve. "Is she okay?"

Scully nodded. "She'll be fine. Just a few cuts and bruises."

Mulder asked Genevieve "Can you walk?"

She nodded. "I'm okay. Really" she insisted with a shaky laugh.

"Okay, I believe you. Let's just get you checked out by a doctor anyway" Mulder said gently.

The two of them supported the still-shaking Genevieve as they climbed up the stairs and went out into the deserted hallway.

They eventually reached Genevieve's room.

"Genevieve, can you tell us what happened?" Mulder asked her gently as she sat on the bed, hugging her knees and rocking back and forth.

Genevieve took a deep breath then spoke, her words rushing out. "There were two men and they... they tied me up and... they said that they were taking me away to the place of light. They said that they had to, that it was the only way..."

"What happened then?" Mulder asked, his eyes shining.

"There was another man. He had a gun, and he... he shot them. He shot them and told me to run away but I couldn't. I couldn't move."

"What happened then?" Scully asked her.

"He... he took the bodies away... and then he left..."


"The man, the one who shot them. He killed them and then he took the bodies away! He killed them! He killed them!" she screamed, becoming hysterical.

"Hey, it's all right..." Scully soothed her. "Everything's going to be fine..."

"Mulder - I'll see if I can find a doctor. You ring Mrs. Miles and the police."

Loretta Miles pushed past the huddle of police and doctors to her daughter.


"Hi Mom."

"Are you okay, sweetheart?"

Genevieve fought back her tears. "It was terrifying, Mom. This man - he just killed them. Shot them in cold blood... I want to go home. Can I Mom? I want to go home now!"

She pulled away from the nurse who was bandaging her ankles.

Mrs. Miles spoke soothingly. "Honey, you're hurt. You have to stay here for a little while longer until you're better."

"I'm not hurt! I'm fine. I want to go home!"

Mrs. Miles looked helplessly at the two agents.

Scully took control of the situation. "Why don't you have a little sleep Genevieve? I'm sure the policemen can come back and ask you the rest of their questions in the morning."

She nodded at the nurse who came forward briskly. "Now Genevieve, how about I give you something to make you sleep. Would you like that?"

Genevieve shook her head violently. "No, I don't want a sedative! I can get to sleep by myself. I don't want a sedative! I'm not a little kid, okay? You can stop treating me like a little kid!"

The nurse said calmly. "Okay. You don't have to have a sedative if you don't want one. But if you change your mind just give me a call, okay?"

Genevieve nodded, slightly calmer. "Okay." She turned to her mother. "Mom?"

"Yes sweetie?"

"Will you stay with me? Please?"

Mrs. Miles sat in the seat beside the bed and stroked her daughter's hair. "Sure honey. I'll stay here."

Mulder tactfully shepherded everyone out of the room.

A young man in police uniform approached him. "Excuse me sir. I'm Constable Adams. Were you the one who made the call?" He looked down at his notepad. "A Fox Mulder?"

Mulder pulled out his ID badge. "Agent Fox Mulder. I work for the FBI. This is my partner, Agent Scully."

A gleam of interest flashed in the policeman's eyes. "FBI... And how are you connected to this?"

"We're investigating the kidnapping of Genevieve Miles."

Scully looked at him with a surprised expression on her face. She thought that Mulder would still be going for his alien abduction theory...

Another cop came up to them. "We couldn't find anything on the landing. No drag marks, footprints, fingerprints- nothing to support the girl's story."

Constable Adams introduced them. "These are two FBI agents - Agents Mulder and Scully. This is Constable Garrison. Agents Mulder and Scully were investigating the... er... well, maybe they ought to tell you. I'll be talking to the boss if you need me..."

The cop cleared his throat and said importantly. "I wonder if you two would mind coming down to the station with me and giving your statements."

Scully and Mulder looked at each other exasperatedly. It was past four in the morning. Couldn't they just go back to their motel and get some sleep?

Mulder said plainitively "Can't we give you them in the morning? We've been up all night."

Constable Garrison eyed them suspiciously then gave in with a slight smile. "What the hell. As long as it's first thing tomorrow morning."

"Thanks" Mulder said gratefully.

"Thank Go," Scully whispered to Mulder when the policeman had left. She laughed suddenly. "I bet he thinks we did it!"


"Well, Mulder, think about it. We were here protecting a girl from a kidnapping only *we* knew was going to occur."

"But it did occur" Mulder argued. "And Dr. Blacksworth and Mrs. Miles knew too..."

Scully continued "We just refused to give our statement.." she ignored a protest from Mulder "...and here we are whispering suspiciously. I can just imagine our Constable Garrison over there figuring out a scenario in which we tied up the girl, shot two men and then cleverly disposed of the bodies in the hospital incinerator, leaving absolutely no trace. Don't you think?"

Mulder stared at her. "You know Scully, I always thought *I* was crazy."


"Come on Scully, let's go back to the motel and get some sleep."

Back at the motel he flopped himself down on his bed. Then he screamed in agony.

Scully came rushing in. "What is it Mulder? What's wrong?"

"My head... I think I just thumped the sore spot."

Scully came over, peering at the back of his head.

"Mulder, you've got a huge bump there! Why didn't you tell me? We have to get you some ice or it'll swell and bruise."

Mulder shrugged. "It wasn't hurting before... I guess the adrenalin just wore off."

Come to mention it, his head felt like someone was pounding it with a sledgehammer...

Scully emerged from his bathroom with a wet cloth.

"Put that on it" she ordered. "I'll go get some ice."

He gingerly placed the wet cloth at the back of his head. "Oh fuck!" He clenched his teeth. God dammit that hurt!

"I'll be back in five minutes" Scully promised him. "Don't do anything stupid while I'm gone, 'k?"

"I'll try not to... Scully - I don't suppose you could get me an asprin? I've got a killer headache..." i don't suppose there's a chance that you could kiss it better...?

"Okay... oh, wait -" She went into her room and he heard her searching through her suitcase.

She reappeared, tossing him a small bottle. "Here."

"You sure you weren't ever a scout Scully?"

"What?" Oh, God she thought. Now he's delirious...

"You know... always be prepared..."

"Oh.. very funny Mulder."

She disappeared out of the door.

Mulder went over the night's events in his mind. What did it mean? It didn't fit... Unless... that was it! He sat up abruptly, a sharp pain shooting through his head. "Damn!" He picked up the asprin bottle and made his way over to the sink in the bathroom. The words on the side of the bottle blurred in front of his eyes in the bright light, so he gave up trying to read it and tipped out a couple onto his palm.

He threw them in his mouth, swallowed them and then thirstily drank several cupfuls of the cold tap water.

At that moment Scully returned. "Mulder?" she called out. He came out of the bathroom, holding the wet cloth on the back of his head painfully. "Hey Scully?" He held up the asprin bottle. "How quickly do these things work?"

She held out her hand and he passed the cloth. She tipped some ice chunks out onto it and wound it up expertly. "They're pretty strong... how many did you take? ...here."

She passed the bundle back to him and he pressed it against his head. "Ow! God Almighty this is cold!"

Scully watched him with slight amusement. "Don't be such a baby. Anyway, Mulder. What actually happened tonight?" she asked, adding mournfully "I slept through most of it."

His face lit up and he forgot about the burning pain at the back of his head.

"It was incredible Scully! There was this light - so.. so incredibly bright and there was this noise... I've heard alien abductees and UFO witnesses describe it so many times, but I never thought I'd actually experience it for myself... It was just so... so spectacular..."

Scully looked at him skeptically. "Mulder, that bump on the head did you more damage than I thought. Genevieve wasn't abducted by aliens - she was kidnapped by humans - who, I don't know. Why, I don't know. But she was *not* abducted by aliens. And we managed to stop that and that's all that matters."

"So that's your explanation Scully?"

"Ye," she said with an air of finality. "And I'm going to go to bed. Goodnight Mulder."

"Wait, Scully..."


"I just want you to hear my theory, now. Please?"

"Okay.." she came back grudgingly and sat on the bed.

"Well, Genevieve is an abductee - they would have performed experiments on her, and as a result of, or part of, one of those experiments, the toxin was introduced into her bloodstream. They returned her, and the plan all along was for her to die of 'natural causes' - undiagnosed diabetes or diabetic shock or whatever. They were finished with her, and she was a danger to them if she lived. She could start remembering things, people... that could get whoever's behind this in a hell of a lot of trouble, especially now that we were involved. Then we stepped in and messed everything up, and so they tried to use their back-up plan; kill her and dispose of the body. They were probably going to make it look like she was abducted for a final time."

Scully looked at him. "Mulder... there is absolutely nothing to support that theory..."

Mulder remained undisturbed by her skepticism. "That's *my* theory Scully. I allow you to have your theories and you allow me to have mine. But I think that after all that you've seen, you might want to seriously consider that. Even science agrees with me on this one Scully."

Scully stared at him for a moment, unable to think of a single response. Finally, she just got up and walked out of the room.

Mulder sighed and started undressing. Wearing just his silk boxers he pulled the sheets back off his bed and climbed in. He unfastened his watch and a strange expression flitted across his face as he looked at it.

He got up and knocked on Scully's door. The throbbing in his head had subsided now and he was starting to feel sleepy.


Scully opened t he door, rubbing her eyes. "What?"

He held up his watch in front of her face. "I lost four minutes."


"My watch was perfectly synchronized with the clock in here. Now it's four minutes off."

"Mulder..." She suddenly became conscious of her pajamas, the blue silk ones Mulder had gotten out of her last night... well, technically not last night - two nights ago... anyway, they weren't exactly the most un-revealing (was that a real word?) clothes she had. Then again, Mulder had seen her in less... She thought about that night in Oregon, when she'd... Oh God that had been embarassing!

Mulder's voice brought her back to reality. "Well?"

"Well what?"

well, how do you expect me to sleep when you're asleep next door wearing *those* pajamas??? "The time loss! That's something alien abductees report. You and I have even experienced it Scully! Can't you admit it?"

Scully glanced down at Mulder's boxers, than at her own pajamas, then back at Mulder's boxers... then she forced herself to look at his face and stop dreaming.

"Mulder, this is absurd. It's past four- past five in the morning. We'll talk about it in the morning, okay?"

They yawned simultaneously.

Scully started to shut the door. "Goodnight Mulder."

"'Night Scully... but what about-"

"Goodnight Mulder!" She shut the door in his face and stumbled into bed. She could think about it all tomorrow. All she wanted now was sleep.

The next morning both of them slept in late.

It was almost midday when Mulder eventually woke up. He put his hand to the back of his head and to his delight it only hurt slightly. And the bump didn't feel that big either.

There was a knock at the communicating door. "Mulder, you up yet?"


"Good. We're leaving for the police station in ten minutes. Will you be ready by then?"

"Um.. yeah.." He went into the bathroom and ran himself a cold shower. The day was already stifilingly warm. He sorted through his suitcase and found some light trousers a short sleeved shirt. He might be crazy, but he wasn't crazy enough to wear a tie in this heat.

When Scully entered his room she found him tying his shoelaces.

"Hurry up Mulder. We promised that *lovely* policeman that we'd be at the police station early in the morning. He probably thinks that we've done a runner..."

"Scully, what have you been inhaling?"



"Well what?"

"Are you high?"

"No! Why the hell do you say that?"

"I dunno... you're just acting pretty weird, that's all." not that I'm complaining... personally, I like weird. i like you weird. I like you any way

Scully put her hands on her hips indignantly.

"Come on Scully. We'll be late," Mulder said with a grin.

Scully came forward menacingly. "Mulder..."

Mulder escaped out of the door. "Well, are you coming or not?"

Scully sighed. Maybe Mulder was right. Maybe she was high. If so, she better calm down before the lovely policeman arrested them for attempted kidnapping...

The day passed quickly. After they had given their statements at the police station they went to the hospital.

"Genevieve appears to be absolutely fine," Dr. Blacksworth informed them with a jovial smile. "The cuts on her ankles and wrists are healing nicely. I did another blood test. I haven't got the results back yet but they should come through soon."

"Is she awake?" Mulder asked.

"Yes, a policeman is in there asking her some questions. I warned him not to overexcite her. She got a bit hysterical last night."

Scully and Mulder went into then room. The sun was poring in through the open window and Genevieve Miles was sitting on the bed. She smiled at the agents.

"Hi Genevieve" Scully said softly.


Constable Adams greeted them with a nod of his head. He cleared his throat. "Uh, that'll be all, thank you Miss Miles."

"He doesn't believe me" Genevieve observed when the policeman had finally left the room.

"I'm afraid nobody believes any of us" Mulder said with a wry smile. "But that doesn't matter."

"How are you feeling?" Scully asked her concernedly.

"I'm fine. My ankles and wrists are a bit sore but apart from that I feel okay. When can I go home?"

Dr. Blacksworth entered the room. "As soon as you want" he answered. "Your blood workup came up perfectly normal, your blood-sugar level has returned to normal and apart from a few cuts and bruises you're in perfect health and free to go home ...That is, of course, if Agents Mulder and Scully say it's okay" he added.

"Fine with me" Scully said. She looked at Mulder. "Mulder?"

"I think that whoever was trying to abduct you failed and isn't going to risk trying again" he said. "In other words, it's fine with me."

Scully glanced around the room and then asked Genevieve "Where's your mother?"

"She went to pick up Matt. He was staying at a friend's house."

"He missed out on all the excitement" Mulder said with a grin.

"Genny!" Matthew Miles ran into the room and threw himself on his older sister.

"Hi Matty" she said, fondly tussling his hair. "Did you have fun at James'?"

Matthew nodded enthusiastically. "Yep! We played on his Sega and on his Nintendo and we played Doom on his computer and I won and..."

Mrs. Miles stood watching her children. "Is it over?" she asked the agents quietly.

Scully looked at Mulder who replied. "It's all over."

"How do you know?" Loretta Miles asked fearfully. "Have the police found out anything yet?"

Scully spoke slowly and cautiously. "The police haven't managed to turn anything up... and I don't think that that will ever. I think that we'll just have to be satisfied by the knowledge that Genevieve is safe. It is extremely unlikely that another attempt will be made to abduct her. Extremely unlikely."

Mulder said earnestly, "Trust us, Mrs. Miles. It's over."

Scully looked unenthusiastically at her salad roll, then with a sigh laid it down and spoke. "So, Mulder, what are we going to do now?"

"Well, we've pretty much wrapped up this case, I guess... I was thinking maybe we could hop on the internet and talk to the Lone Gunmen, see what's happenin' in little ol' USA."

"Yeah, whatever, Mulder."

Mulder's grin faded as he looked up at her. "Um.. Scully.." He put his finger near his nose.

"What?" she asked, confused. Then she realized what he meant. Damn! She pulled a serviette out of the dispenser and held it up to her nose, stemming the trickle of blood.

"You okay?" Mulder asked her, fighting desperately to keep himself calm. Oh Christ... Jesus, no...

"I'm... I'm fine. I'll be back in a minute."

She rushed into the women's bathroom and cleaned up her face and fingers with a wet paper towel. "Damn!" she whispered to herself. "Damn, damn, damn!" Why did these things always have to happen at the most inconvenient times? It was so infuriating! Dammit! She couldn't let her cancer ruin her life. Or what was left of it, anyway...

She returned to the cafeteria and Mulder smiled at her, although the smile was a front for his inner heartbreak and terror. Scully's nosebleeds were a reminder of her fate. Something which he didn't want to think about. God, he couldn't lose her...

"You okay now?" he asked, his voice slightly unsteady.

"Yeah, Mulder. I'm fine."

He looked at her disbelievingly. "Scully..."

"Mulder, look, I'm fine, okay?"

dammit, you're not fine. even *i* can tell that "You want to get it checked out? I mean, just to be safe... you haven't been very well lately..."

She started to protest but gave in. Mulder was determined and when he was determined there was very little that she could do to stop him.

"Fine. Just let me finish my lunch and then we'll go."

Mulder smiled at her, satisfied and very relieved.

And to be truthful, she was rather relieved too.

Scully rubbed the almost invisible hypodermic needle mark on her arm as she hung up the phone. She'd never admit, it but she'd always hated injections and medicine. It wasn't exactly the way a doctor was supposed to feel, but nevertheless, there it was.

She was sitting on the end of her motel room bed, staring off into space, thinking. Thinking about the phone call she'd received, about herself, her life... about Mulder...

She was still in that exact same position when Mulder found her, forty minutes later.

He stuck his head around the communicating door. "Hey, Scully, I was thinking that..."

He stopped short when he saw her face.

"What's wrong?"

He felt an icy terror spreading through his chest. Please, God he prayed silently. Please don't let this be... Oh Jesus... He felt his throat constricting.

Without looking up, Scully said quietly. "Mulder, can I talk to you for a minute?"

Mulder felt his knees buckling and he heard himself utter a short cry.

Scully looked at his alarmed face and hastened to reassure him. "It's not bad news."

He walked over to the bed slowly, weak with relief. He forced his voice to stay calm. "Sure. What is it?"

Scully stared at her fingernails as he sat beside her. God, she looked so frightened and vulnerable. He felt a sudden urge to protect her, shield her from all the evil in the world. Don't be stupid. Scully doesn't need protecting. She's just as strong as I am. Maybe stronger. She doesn't need me...

After a moments pause she took a deep breath and said in a slightly odd voice "Mulder, I.. I just wanted to thank you - for being there for me when I needed you - there aren't many people in the world who would be able to support me the way you have" she felt the tears welling up in her eyes but ignored them "and I... I just wanted to thank you, and to let you know that I don't take you for granted."

Mulder sat quietly beside her. He said finally "Scully, you don't have to thank me."

Scully felt hot salty tears running down her face, being no longer able to fight them off, hold them back. She looked up at Mulder and he took her chin in his hands, relishing the rarity of the moment. It wasn't ever day that Dana Scully let him into her heart.

"I know that if the situation was reversed you'd do the same for me." He wiped away her tears gently with his palm. "Did you get your results back from the hospital?" he asked quietly.

"Yeah... I'm okay..."

He stroked her damp hair softly then with a slight sigh he stood up and fetched her a glass of water.

She sipped it gratefully.

"You feeling better now?" he asked as he took the empty glass away from her.

She nodded with a crooked smile. "I must look really awful."

He kneeled down beside the bed and ran his hands gently down the sides of her face.

"You look beautiful."

Scully looked at him uncertainly. Something in the way he returned her gaze confused her and she felt herself blushing and she hid her face in her lap. "Mulder!"

He smiled at her gently. "I'm serious Scully."

She stood up abruptly and walked into the bathroom.

The tension in there with Mulder disturbed her slightly. More than slightly. A hell of a lot more.

She looked at herself in the mirror. "I look horrible Mulder!"

Mulder came into the bathroom behind her. "You look beautiful" he insisted playfully. Mulder, what the hell made you do that? Fuck! ...But it did feel so good to be honest with her, didn't it?

Scully picked up the face washer and scrubbed her face. Her eyeliner had run down her face, leaving dark bluish streaks, and her hair was matted together with sweat on her forehead.

"You would've let me go out into the street like this Mulder, wouldn't you?" she asked him as she tried to get the knots in her hair out with her fingers. where the hell is my hairbrush?

Mulder grabbed her around the waist playfully and started tickling her below the ribs.

"Mulder!" she shrieked. "Stop it Mulder! Mulder!" She escaped from his grip and turned to face him.

He gave her his famous puppy dog expression and she grinned despite herself. "Mulder, when are you going to grow up?"

"Probably never... Hey Scully, we're both feeling pretty depressed. You know what always makes me happy?" Mulder asked her with a grin.

Scully eyed him warily. "What?"

He leaned toward her. "Shopping."

Scully took a step back. "You're kidding!"

"I'm deadly serious" Mulder grinned. "Besides, I really need to get myself some cooler clothes. This place is incredibly hot!"

Scully was still looking at him incredulously. "Mulder, you're -"

Mulder cut her off. "I know, I know. I'm absolutely crazy. So let's go shopping."

Mulder held her with a vice-like grip as he half-dragged, half-pulled her, protesting, through the large shopping mall.

"Come on Scully" he said. "Stop acting like an obnoxious little kid. You're a big girl."

Scully glared at him and pulled her hand away. "I'll walk *with* you Mulder. I just don't want to be dragged along."

Mulder shrugged. "Whatever." He led her into an expensive-looking womens clothing shop.

"Mulder..." she started, realizing what he was up to.

Mulder put his finger to her lips, held her gaze for a minute, and then turned away and hunted through a row of summer dresses.

Scully sighed. "Mulder, I don't know what you're up to, but we're not over here to shop 'til we drop."

Mulder thrust a small red sun-dress at her. "Try that on."

Scully shook her head. "No way."

"Please Scully? For me?"

Scully sighed in frustration, but before she could say anything Mulder was pushing her over to the changerooms, five small cubicles tucked into a small corner of the shop.

"Be quick. If you're not out, dressed in that thing, in less than a minute I'm coming in after you" he warned with a playful leer.

I wish she thought to herself with a faint grin. She shut herself in one of the cubicles, drawing the curtain shut across, then stripped out of her blouse and skirt. She pulled the dress on and looked apprehensively in the mirror.

Not bad Dana she thought, faintly surprised. Bra strap's showing... fix it... that's better...

"Scully, I'm coming in..." Mulder pulled the curtain across slightly and poked his head through. He swallowed.

Wow... God...

He'd been dying to see Dana Scully in something sexy, somthing tight and fitting, for years. Well, this wasn't exactly sexy, and not exactly tight and fitting (although it did hug her in all the right places), but the result was still breathtaking. And it proved at least one thing: Dana Scully looked beautiful in anything.

"Well?" Scully asked in a bored (or failed attempt to sound bored) voice.

"First time I've ever seen you in a dress" he said, non- committally.

"First and last" she smirked at him, trying to ignore the accelerated speed of her heart beat... trying to ignore the way Mulder was slowly moving closer and closer to her, making her move back further and further into the cubicle...

"Don't be so hard on yourself" he said softly. "You look..." he searched for words "you look gorgeous in that thing. Now-"

He put his hands on her waist and turned her around, forcing her to face the full-length mirror. "Repeat after me. I-"

Scully rolled her eyes. "Mulder..."

"Say it."

"I" she said reluctantly.




Scully felt her stomach twisting. Just say the damn word Dana! Say it and than maybe he'll stop invading your personal space... he'll take his hands away...

Then a mind-reeling question struck her.

Do I *want* him to take his hands away?

And althought she knew the answer, she'd never admit it.

"Say it Scully" Mulder crooned. "Say it or I'll tickle you again."

"Beautiful" she croaked out. Damn you Mulder! I hate you when you do this to me! You make me feel so stupid and so weak...

She mustered up all her remaining energy and pushed him away from her. "Go on Mulder. Get out of here and let me get changed."

"Oka," Mulder whispered. He grinned at her and left disappeared out through the curtain, leaving Scully feeling that her legs were made of jelly. It was times like this that she hated being a woman, hated the effect that Fox Mulder had on her, just by a look, by a word in that sexy, husky voice, by a little touch...

Snap out of it Dana! she ordered herself, changing back into her own clothes as quickly as she could with shaky hands.

She pushed through the curtain and handed the dress to Mulder roughly. "Come on Mulder. Let's get the hell out of here" she hissed.

Mulder looked at her, surprised. "But we only just started..."

Dammit Dana. Now he thinks something's wrong. Well, something IS wrong, isn't it? I'm going crazy, that's what's wrong...

"Sorry Mulder" she said shortly.

Oh Jesus, something's wrong? Is it what I said? Am I freaking her out? God, I hope not. I really want this to work out. I need it to. Gotta do something...

"Hey, come on Scully, we've got a few more things to get before we head home."

breathe Dana, breathe. raise an eyebrow? yeah, that might be a good idea. that's right; raise the eyebrow and look skeptical. good girl.

"There's more?" two words? well, it's not exactly a world record, but it's a start. good dana.

"Yep. Gotta get ourselves decked out in some summer gear."

"For the purpose of...?" that's good dana. just keep it comin'

Mulder grinned. "You'll see."

"I think I'd rather hear about it first" she informed him.

"Nope. It's my secret, and I'm not sharing" he folded his arms across his chest.

"Now who's acting like a little kid" she remarked. Oooo. good one!

Mulder shrugged and went up to the counter, handing the saleswoman the dress.

"This all?" the woman asked.

"No." Mulder smiled evilly. "My wife is also looking for a bikini, in red if possible. Something..." he paused for a second, giving Scully a sly glance "something sexy..."

The saleswoman gave him a curious glance, but replied promptly. "You're in luck. A new range came in just this morning. They're over here..." she started off toward the other side of the store and, before following, Scully glared at Mulder and hissed in his ear "I'm going to kill you."

Mulder grinned.

"Mulder, are you deliberately trying to annoy me? Because you're going the right way about it..."

He looked shocked at the thought of it. "Really, Scully!"

She laughed and gave him a friendly shove. *friendly* dana? you sure that was just a completely platonic, best-friends and partners who can work together without being disrupted by their feeling for each other friendly shove? God, why'd things have to get so difficult? "Where are we going now?"

Mulder glanced at his watch. It was almost six o'clock. "How about we catch a movie?"

Scully laughed. how the hell did I manage that? "What about out case?"

Mulder spoke with an air of carelessness. "I told you - our case no longer exists. The police investigation has been dropped - apparently because of insufficient evidence. And when I rung Mrs. Miles this afternoon she said that she 'just wanted to forget the whole thing'. So there's no case."

"Yeah, I know you told me but - there's a lot of things we didn't resolve and..." Scully felt extremely confused. Mulder was usually livid when this sort of thing happened, yet he didn't seem to mind at all what had happened.

"We've done what we were sent here to do, and that's all that matters."

"But.. but..."

"But what?"

"I just thought that...I don't know. I guess I just thought that you'd mind more than you do."

Mulder looked at her face earnestly. "I don't really mind... I know what happened and even if there was proof of it my theory wouldn't have been believed anyway," he added as an afterthought. "*You* don't mind, do you Scully?"

"I think that whoever is responsible for killing those two men should certainly not be allowed to get away with it" she replied with a rush of anger. "And I think that you should too!"

Mulder looked at her concernedly. "I didn't realize that you'd mind so much, Scully. But we wouldn't have been able to catch whoever it was anyway. You know as well as I do the way these people work Scully. If they make a mistake they clean up after themselves and nobody ever knows that they were ever there."

"I guess you're right."

She stared absently at her shoes for a few minutes, then she roused herself out of her abstraction and asked him "So are we leaving tomorrow?"

"Well, actually..." keep it cool mulder.. oh crap "I thought maybe we could just, you know, hang around here for a bit - do a bit of sightseeing. That sort of thing..."

"Mulder, just when I think I know everything there is to know about you, you come up with a suggestion like this. It's so irritating" she said with a fond smile.

"What?" He smiled innocently.

She said challengingly "Okay, then, let's stay here for a few more days. And when Skinner wants to know why we took so long after everything was wrapped up we'll tell him that... that we were held hostage by a deranged psychotic homicidal maniac."

"Works for me."

She smiled at him. "So, what movie are we going to see?"

"That would have to be one of the worst movies I have ever seen!" Scully said when they came out of the cinema. "It was so... so incredibly stupid. Mulder, I really don't know why you liked it so much!"

"It was great, Scully. Admit it, you were laughing just as much as I was!"

"Mulder, I did *not* laugh at all!"

"Yes you did. Remember when Batman and Robin were arguing over which of them Poison Ivy loved best? You thought that was hilarious!"

"I was laughing at how *pathetic* it was Mulder. The entire movie was... was clich꤬ predictable and just plain silly. And the dialogue - I mean, "Chicks really dig a car"? Didn't you get a feeling of Brady Bunch deja-vu?"

"I admit that bit was a bit lame..."

"*Very* lame!"

"...very lame, but the movie overall wasn't *that* bad."

"Okay, okay.. but next time I get to chose the movie."

Why the hell did I say that? It's not as if there *is* going to be a next time. It's not as if we're on a date or anything like that...

"It's eight-thirty now and I'm starving. Let's find something to eat."

"Mulder, how could you be starving? You ate all the popcorn!"


"Do you always hog the popcorn Mulder?"

"No!" he said indignantly. "But if you want popcorn you can't just expect me to know instantly. I'm not psychic... unfortunately."

Scully laughed, trying to forget *why* she'd practically had to sit on her hands. "There's a food court over there. Let's see what there is to eat. Because *I'm* starving!"

"Tell me again why we're doing this?" Scully asked Mulder as she bent down to retie her shoelace.

She straightened up and Mulder surveyed her appraisingly. She was wearing the midriff top, shorts and shoes he had insisted on buying her yesterday, feeling extremely apprehensive, and, as far as Mulder was concerned, absolutely beautiful. Is there any other word to describe her? he thought happily. Well, I guess gorgeous and sexy and intelligent and witty and... the list could go on forever...

Scully looked at Mulder. He was looking perfectly comfortable in loose baggy shorts ah, I finally get to see those sexy legs... where the hell did that come from?! and his famous New York Knicks t-shirt, which was ripped and faded. He was wearing the masculine version of the shoes she was wearing, but his were old and scuffed.

"Relax" he assured her. "This'll be great fun."

He pushed open the glass door before them, letting Scully through first and then following her.

"A true gentleman" Scully murmured under her breath.


"Nothing." She smiled.

A young man, about twenty-five or so, appeared behind the front desk, and he and Mulder began discussing prices.

Scully looked around her with a weak smile at the huge room, the walls, about fifteen meters high, dotted with different colored artificial rocks, stuck there for one sole purpose.


"Mulder, do we *have* to do this?" she asked with a slight whinge.

He grinned evilly. "Yep. And what's more, we're going to enjoy it!"

He pointed to a blank form sitting on the counter. "Fill this out."

"What is it?" she asked cautiously, picking up a pen.

"A waver form. Which basically says that if either of us fall and break our necks this place takes no responsibility for it."


Scully skimmed through it, then filled it out quickly and handed it the young man. She then joined Mulder, eyeing him warily.

"C'mon Scully" he said playfully. "A little rockclimbing never hurt anyone."

"Mulder, do you know how big a lie that is?"

Mulder shrugged and handed her a harness. "Do you always have to be so skeptical about everything?"

"Yes" she grinned. "I believe that is the reason I was assigned to the x- files in the first place, Agent Mulder."

She pulled on the harness and pulled the straps tight, then went over to a moderately hard-looking climb.

Mulder looked slightly worried. "Scully, I think that one's a bit hard..."

She raised an eyebrow. "Oh, I don't think so. You want to climb first or can I?"

Mulder gestured at the wall. "By all means."

They both hooked their karabinas up. Scully took a deep breath and grabbed a handhold, trying to remember the last time she'd done anything like this. Probably the FBI training about six years ago...

Mulder watched with awe as she scaled the wall, climbing like a cat, moving so fast he had trouble keeping up with her.

Cute ass he thought with a grin. He wondered what Scully would say if he said it aloud...

She reached the top, reaching up and touching the roof. She belayed down smoothly and he applauded her as she reached the ground.

"Well done, Scully."

"Better than you'd expected," she teased, trying not to show her pleasure at his praise. She wiped her sweaty hands on her t-shirt, wishing the day wasn't so hot. It was only ten in the morning and she was already wishing for a cold shower. A cold shower with Mulder'd be nice... Dana! Stop dreaming! It's never gonna happen!


"Well, with all that FBI training..." she undid the karabiner. "You going to do this one now?"

Never let it be said that Fox William Mulder doesn't rise to the occasion "Yep."

He undid his karabiner and brushed past her to get to the wall, laying his hand briefly on the small of her back. At just the slight touch he felt as if a thousand volts of electricity were running through him. He felt alive, excited, exhilerated... in love...

Knowing my luck she didn't even notice he thought grimly to himself, forcing himself to face reality.

She had noticed.

Dana's heart was pounding and she could feel color rushing to her cheeks. She willed herself to stay calm, to relax, to stop making such a big deal out of such a small, casual touch.

God, it's not as if that's the first time he's ever touched me like that... why am I making such a big deal out of something so trivial? Why, dammit! Control your breathing Dana. Breathe... and breathe... and breathe...

She closed her eyes briefly and when she opened them she say Mulder looking at her. Not in the "Are you okay?" way which always drove her nuts, but with a staring, wondering magnetic gaze that unnerved her.

"You going to climb or not Mulder?" damn the voice. why the hell do I sound so hoarse?

Mulder nodded and turned away. I want to get you, Dana Katherine Scully he thought. And I think I know how...

"So, Mulder, where are we going now?" A faint smile hovered on her lips. just relax. calm down and relax. 'atta girl.

"You'll see."

Scully sighed in mock despair as Mulder stopped the car in a large indoor carpark.

"Mulder, if we're going shopping again then you can count me out..." she warned him.

"Nope, not this time" he replied with a grin.

He took her hand as if it were perfectly natural and led her out of the car park and into the street, into the sweltering heat.

"Where are we going?...." she persisted, wishing her hand wasn't sweating so much in his warm clasp.

"In here."

He turned into a small cafe and escorted her to a table, pulling her chair out for her. "Madam" he murmured.

Scully bit back a laugh as she sat down.

Mulder sat down opposite her and picked up the menu. "Let's see what the Golden Rose Caf顨as to offer" he murmured.

Scully drawled impulsively "Darling... I'm not sure what I want... What are you getting?"

Mulder looked up in surprise and Scully dropped her head and blushed. What the hell had made her do that? God Dana, you're really losing it...

"I'm not sure sweetheart" Mulder replied after a beat. Hey, if Scully was willing to take this step then he wasn't going to complain...

Scully felt unsure of herself but continued nevertheless. "Well, honey, maybe I'll just have a cup of coffee..."

"Dana darling, you need food for energy" Mulder replied with a sweet smile.


This was too much...

Scully's heart started beating faster and she replied a little breathlessly "What about a muffin and a coffee then, Mulder?"


Scully shifted in her seat uncomfortably. oh god oh god oh god oh god...

"Dana darling" Mulder drawled. "I'm hurt. Can't you remember my first name?"

Scully blushed again but was saved from answering from the appearance of a waitress. When she had taken their orders and gone Mulder looked at Scully expectantly. "Well?"

She lifted up her head and looked him straight in the eye.

"Fox" she said unsteadily.

Mulder leaned back in his chair, satisfied, while Scully studied the pseudo-marble tabletop as though it were a Picasso.

After about five minutes the waitress reappeared, depositing their food.

Scully ate quickly, avoiding eye contact with her partner. The tension between her and Mulder had escalated to an almost unbearable level and she was tempted to just throw her coffee in his face and get the hell out of there.


She looked up at Mulder, who was grimacing.

"What happened?" she asked coldly. She couldn't let her emotions get in the way. Even if they weren't working at the moment. She couldn't lose control...

"I cut my finger" he stuck out his lower lip and held out his hand to show her.

"Poor Mulder" she replied unkindly. There were times in the past when she'd so incredibly turned on by his poor-litle-me act, the way he stuck his lower lip out. God knows how many times she'd imagined sucking on that lower lip, biting it... But now she was filled with an indescribable fear. She was terrified of what Mulder was doing to her and to their relationship, forcing upon her something she so desperately wanted but knew she couldn't have...

A mischieveous glint appeared in Mulder's eyes.

In a babyish voice he demanded "Kiss it better."


"Pleeeeease?" His voice rose and several people looked over at them. Scully felt her face reddening.

"Mulder! People are staring at us!" she hissed.

"Then kiss it better and they'll stop staring."

"Mulder, that's illogical."


Scully sighed exasperatedly. "Fine, if it'll shut you up."

She took his 'injured' hand and kissed the finger lightly. "That better?" Her lips felt strange. Tingling. Burning. For Christ's sake Dana! You only kissed his finger!

He nodded. "Much better now."

Scully stood up abruptly. "I'm finished. Are you?"

"Um... yeah... I guess."

"Good. I'll go pay and we can get on with our itinerary."

They stepped out into the scorching heat. Scully grimaced. "Is it always this hot here?" she demanded.

Mulder grinned. "Well... Everick *did* say that they were having a particularly hot summer..."

"This is hotter than hot..."

"I guess... Hey, ya know, I have a brilliant idea!"

"What?" Scully asked suspiciously.

"You'll see." He grinned mischieviously at her.

They drove back to their motel in silence, the air- conditioning in the car turned on fully.

It wasn't until they reached the motel that Mulder finally spoke. "You did remember to bring your sunscreen, didn't you Scully?"

"Mulder, I'm getting a really bad feeling about this" she warned him. God, how am I going to get through this? God, help me. Help me!!!

He laughed and unlocked his door.

"What are you planning?" she asked him apprehensively as he dug around in a huge shopping bag.


Mulder grinned and threw her a small plastic bag. "Put them on."

Scully rolled her eyes. "I can't believe I'm going along with this" she muttered as she left the room.

Mulder's face darkened slightly as a worried thought crossed his mind. God, I hope I'm not making the biggest mistake of my life...

One mistake could cost him everything they had together.

He could live without Scully as a lover - he had for the past five years - but he couldn't live without her at all.

The beach was a heavily populated stretch of golden sand - actually a bay, according to Mulder's tourism board map.

The water was unbelieveably blue, lapping up against the sand, small children dressed in brightly colored surf- shirts jumping in the waves. Scully watched them with a slight sigh. Mothers with their children, playing and laughing. That was what she wanted, she realized with a twinge of sadness. She wanted a child of her own to love. To hug and play with and tuck into bed every night with a bedtime story.

Well Dana, unless you do something about it pretty damn fast, it's never going to happen...

She wiggled her toes in the hot sand.

Mulder watched her with a slight smile. "So, you gonna come in the water or not?"

"Mulder, we just got here!"

"Fine." He sat down beside her on the sand, picking up a handful and letting it trickle through his fingers.

"It's so hot here" she complained. "The sand is burning."

"Yeah, I guess. But you have to admit that it's pretty damn nice here, Scully."

"I'm not denying that."

"Then what are you denying? Your love for me?" he stared at her challengingly before he fully understood the effect that his words would have.

Ohhhhh fuck...

"Just kidding" he said hastily, but the damage was already done. Scully had turned away, studying the view along the beach with apparently great interest.

It wasn't the first time he's said things like that to her, not by a long shot. He was always making innuendos, but they'd always been meant as teasing, jokes...

He could see that the tips of her ears had gone scarlet. What did that mean?

Oh, dammit! How could he have been so stupid? Hell

He stood up awkwardly, pulling his t-shirt off over his head. "Well, I'm gonna go in the water. Are you coming or not?"

Scully took a deep breath and composed herself, hoping that her face wasn't as red as it felt.

She spoke a little breathlessly. "Yeah... I think I will. I'm getting pretty hot."

Her fingers trembled slightly as she fumbled with the buttons on her short-sleeved blouse.

God, what the hell was wrong with her? This was Mulder. Her best friend. The guy she trusted with her life.

Get a grip on yourself Dana!

She found her sunscreen and squirted some out onto her palm, rubbing it on her arms. Having such fair skin was really a trial sometimes.

Mulder had sat down again resignedly and was watching her as she rubbed the sunscreen on her pale skin.

The sun glinted off her necklace and as she turned toward him he caught it up in his fingers.

"You gonna take this off so you don't lose it? The water looks pretty rough."

"Um, yeah, I guess."

She reached up to take it off but Mulder beat her to it, undoing the catch carefully and pulling it gently away. Scully closed her eyes for a second, concentrating only on the exquisiteness of his touch on her skin. It lasted for only a second, yet it seemed like an eternity... God, I've been watching too many soppy romance movies... Dana girl, you have GOT to get a life!

As Mulder gently pulled away she sighed slightly. An impish thought flitted across her mind unasked, and she banished it reluctantly.

Dana! she reprimanded herself sternly. Control yourself!

Then she looked up Mulder beside her. God, he was so gorgeous. Standing there in those sexy, shorts...

Oh, hell! She thought rebelliously. You only live once!

Holding out the tube of sunscreen she asked him sweetly "Mulder, could you do my back for me please?"

Mulder looked slightly surprised but accepted the tube gallantly, unscrewing the lid and squeezing some out and smearing it on her back. He was feeling blissfully happy. This day was turning out unbelievingly perfect...

Then his smile disappeared as he ran his fingers along her spine and tapped gently on the tattoo on her lower back.

"Ouroboros" he said quietly.

He felt Scully stiffen and the color drained from her face. "Never again" she muttered, closing her eyes briefly.

Placing his hands on her bare shoulders, Mulder swung her around gently and cupped her chin in his palm, forcing her to make eye-contact with him.

"Scully, I need to know. Was all that because of me? Am I - am I making your life hell?" he asked quietly.

Scully looked indecisive, wishing desperately that they could go back to five minutes ago when everything was going fine. She shook her head.

"No. It was about me. I was trying to figure out who I was. I still am. You were a part of that, but it wasn't your fault."

Mulder looked unconvinced.

"I don't regret anything that has happened the past five years Mulder. You're my best friend. and I love you mulder. I just can't tell you that I'm sorry if I ever hurt you. It's just that - I thought that by now I'd be married with four kids and a dog, you know? I feel like the past few years of my life I haven't done anything - that my life is just standing still. And I don't want that. But I don't blame you for anything."

He smiled gently. "Forgive and forget?"

Scully laid her index finger on the tattoo. "Death and rebirth. That's what it's all about. Forgive and forget."

They smiled at each other and Mulder felt as if a weight had been lifted from him. He continued rubbing the cream tenderly into her back and then he massaged her shoulders.

Scully sighed with pleasure, returning to her former carefree mood. This made the hour she'd spent waxing, shaving and plucking earlier worthwhile.

Dammit, for once, just ONCE, I want to be a woman alone with a gorgeous, sexy and loving guy. Not an FBI agent with her 'spooky' partner...

"Mulder's magic fingers" she murmured. She could almost sense the smile spreading across Mulder's face. Oh, God! I can't believe I'm doing this! This had to be some kind of strange dream! That's it! This is all some weird, lifelike dream she convinced herself.

And in dreams, Dana, you can do whatever you want...

She pulled away from Mulder and stood up, smiling at him seductively. "C'mon Mulder, let's go in the water."

"You might want to take off your skirt" he pointed out with a laugh, his heart beating rapidly.

She pulled the sarong off quickly and skipped light- heartedly down to the edge of the water, Mulder watching her slim figure, exquisitely encased in the leopard print bikini. How could he have ever thought red would be the sexiest color?

"Well, are you coming or not?" she called out over her shoulder, the waves crashing against her legs.

"Yep, coming."

He grinned to himself. This day was turning out better than he'd expected. *Way* better.

The day passed quickly, like some kind of strange but fantastic dream. They swam in the surf, sunbathed and walked along the beach, flirting with each other shamelessly, both of them ecstatically high and dreamy. They spent hours staring in the little rockpools watching crabs scuttling about, jumping waves, drawing pictures and writing their names in the wet sand and yes, they had to admit it, making sandcastles.

The beach slowly became emptier as the day disappeared, but they were reluctant to leave. They bought fish and chips for dinner at a beachside diner and sat on the sand, eating in companionable silence. After they had finished their dinner Mulder suggested "Let's go for a walk."

Scully agreed readily and they wandered along the beach, hand in hand, watching the waves crash on the rocks. They walked around the headland and sat on the rocks, watching the sunset.

Somewhere along the track they'd lost touch with reality. They'd stopped being Special Agents Mulder and Scully of the FBI, and instead become a pair of friends, a man and a woman who shared a mutual trust... a mutual love.

"God, this is so beautiful" Scully murmured, looking at the sky in sheer amazement. Almost unconsciously she leant her head on Mulder's shoulder.

"You're hair's gone curly" he commented, fingering the red waves.

Scully laughed and rolled her eyes. "It always goes like that after it gets wet."

"It's nice."

"You like it?"

"Yeah... its kinda cute."

Scully smiled to herself. "Cute? Is that all?"

"Gorgeous, then."

"Getting better." Scully could hardly believe herself. This was MULDER, not just some guy. Mulder, her best friend. Her work partner. You could always change that situation Dana...

She pulled away reluctantly. "It's getting late. We better get back to the motel."

"It's only a quarter to eight!" Mulder protested.

Scully stood up abruptly "C'mon, I'll beat you back." She held out her hands and helped him up, then quickly rushed off before he could say anything.

Mulder watched her running wildly across the rocks with her hair streaming behind her. He sighed and started walking back slowly.

They got back to their motel at half-past eight and Scully quickly disappeared into her room. Mulder flung himself down on his bed, flicking the TV on.

"That didn't go too badly" he consoled himself, flicking the channels on the TV aimlessly and restraining himself from going into Scully's room and recapturing what they'd had earlier in the evening.

They'd talked - *really* talked today, and for the first time he realized how lonely Scully was - how lonely they both were. Their lives were so closely interwined by their work, yet they never - or at least, rarely - opened up to each other. Today they'd talked about their famillies, their ambitions, their hopes... told each other childhood jokes and memories. He'd felt closer to Dana Scully than he had ever before in his life, and he'd been loving every minute of it. She had been too, he was sure about that. Until... She'd barely spoken to him since she ran off along the beach, just a few very 'partnerish' remarks. It was as if she had realized what had happened between them and was shying away from it, denying it...

Scully was lying flat on her back on her bed, staring up at the ceiling and counting the cracks. It was incredibly boring and wasn't even achieving its aim; to stop thinking about Mulder.

"Dammit!" She jumped up and paced around the room. She'd been stupid tonight! No, Dana, you don't mean that! she corrected herself. Her head was spinning and she shook it, as if to clear it of all thoughts. Today had gotten too close to her fantasies. The closer she got to Fox Mulder the sexier he became to her, and the more she wanted him. But you can't have him Dana. You know that. Once you cross that line there's no going back. It's safer to keep things as they are. This way there's no chance of you losing him.

But that didn't want her wanting him so madly.

She prowled around the room restlessly, her muscles starting to ache and her skin burning. She could almost feel it starting to peel.

"Now you're getting paranoid!" she chided herself.

With a sigh she rummaged around in her suitcase until she found her skin moisturiser, rubbing it all over the hot, red skin.

"Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!" she exclaimed.

Then she realized why it had been so painful and almost kicked herself in frustration. She was still covered in sand and she'd just rubbed it into the raw skin. "Damn!"

Okay, just calm down Dana! she instructed herself. Where the hell was her cool, competent side when she needed it?

Hm, maybe off with Mulder's cool, competent side...?

She took a short, cold shower and then set up her laptop. The case report had to be written and she couldn't keep putting it off like this.

She opened the file and found where she'd left off... not that she'd exactly done much so far...

Then she heard a knock on the door.

Mulder opened the door cautiously. "Hey Scully?"

Scully turned and asked shortly "What?"

"Um... I just noticed that this motel has a... uh, a swimming pool and I was thinking we could maybe, you know, go for a swim..." he looked at her hopefully.

Scully raised an eyebrow. "You're kidding, right?"

Mulder shook his head. "It's still really hot outside."

"Mulder, we spent half the day in the water. I'm all sunburnt." and I'm gonna go all freckly. ugh

"There's no sun out there now" Mulder said with a nervous grin. "Wouldn't it be nice to have a swim and cool off for bed?"

"I just had a cool shower."

"Scully, stop being so stubborn. C'mon. I'll meet you outside in the pool area in ten minutes. Okay?"

With that he disappeared, without giving her a chance to reply.

With a frustrated sigh she shut down the laptop.

Damn! She hated it when Mulder bossed her around like that. It reminded her of her father. She had a good mind to not go...

Suddenly Scully grinned to herself.

Mulder was floating on his back, waiting lazily for Scully to come. Assuming, of course that she *was* coming.

He dove down under water, wishing the chlorine didn't sting his eyes so much. He stayed down as long as he could, then when it felt like his lungs were about to burst he surfaced, gasping for breath.

Then he heard something behind him.

He spun around in the water, the pool area shrouded in darkness save for the inadequate lights placed around the fenceline. "Scully?" he called uneasily.

No answer.

He forced himself to stay calm. It was probably nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Still, that didn't stop him from scanning the area again before diving under again.

He came up again and his throat tightened when he heard breathing behind him...


He jumped.

"Scully, you scared me!"

"Gocha!" Scully laughed and dove down, swimming toward the other end of the pool. When she surfaced she pulled herself up and out of the water, sitting at the edge with her feet dangling in the water.

Mulder pulled himself out and sat beside her.

"Did I scare you," she teased.

"Nope" he grinned.

"Liar." She reached out and ran her hand through his hair before she even realized what she was doing.

He grinned again. "I never lie. I merely stretch the truth as far as possible within the realms of possibility."

"Shut up Mulder."

Scully tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and studied her thighs, wishing she had more opportunity to work out. Her only salvation was that she hadn't been eating much lately...

She caught her breath as Mulder laid his hand on her leg, running his index finger up and down. Lifting her head, she met his eyes, dark and mysterious in the blackness of the night. His gaze was almost hypotic - she couldn't pull away from it... even if she'd wanted to.

He picked up her right hand, rubbing it between his own, then he raised it to his cheek. Scully ran her forefinger along his jawbone, ignoring the part of her mind telling her to stop before she made a huge mistake...

And then she flinched as Mulder pulled away suddenly, diving back into the pool and doing a Series of quick somersaults.

Damn! she thought to herself angrily. Something had been going to happen but Mulder had chickened out. Damn!

Resignedly she slipped back into the water and swum back to the other end, climbing out and drying herself.

"I'm going inside now" she called to Mulder, who was now lapping, although the pool was so short that he could only do five or six strokes each lap.

"Yeah. See you tomorrow" he said slowly, watching as she dried herself and left the pool area.

He swum twenty laps, surging through the water with long, powerful strokes, pounding the water angrily. What the hell had he done? He'd been so close to everything he'd ever wanted and he'd blown it. Fuck! Fuck fuck fuck fuck!!!

He dove down again. Swimming outside at night wasn't something he did very often, but there was something exhilarating about speeding through the black water. He rose to the surface and floated on his back, looking up at the stars.

"Goodnight Dana..."

'Love. To hell with it.'

Dana Scully stared at the page in her diary, feeling somewhat satisfied.

It was messier than most of her journal entries but she was in no mood to be neat. Nor was she in any mood to be poetic, like she sometimes was.

She was pissed off, and it showed.

Who needs love? she asked herself. Not me... She smiled to herself and added cruelly:

'Romeo and Juliet is fiction. That stuff doesn't happen in real life. Real life sucks. There is no love. People get married because they don't want to die alone.'

Then her smile faded. Do *I* want to die alone?

Mulder threw himself on his bed and turned off the TV, then he turned the TV off and rolled on to his back. Closing his eyes, he saw her - Scully - Dana - sitting on the beach, wearing only the bikini and sarong. Her hair had looked more natural than it normally did, even more red than usual against her milky white skin. Something had looked wrong, though. She looked too thin. Her ribs had been easily visible - all her bones, in fact. He realized with dismay that she was letting herself waste away. She didn't eat properly, he was certain. And with their usually busy schedule they often missed meals...

It was because of her cancer.

He knew that. He understood that. But he still couldn't understand why she wasn't fighting it. She was working, but her old sparkle had gone, her determination and her force were fading. It was as if she were trying - and failing miserably - to deny its existence, and it's impact on her life. The fact that it was killing her and there was nothing she could do to stop it. He had to do something about it. He had to give her hope. Give her a reason to keep on fighting. Would her knowledge of his love for her be enough reason?

They both woke up early the next morning after a restless night.

Mulder sauntered into Scully's room and stretched himself out lazily on the sofa. "So, Scully, what are we doing today?" he asked her cheerfully.

Scully looked at him blankly, her hands mechanically folding clothes and packing them neatly in her suitcase.

"What do you mean?"

Mulder looked at her business suit and packed suitcase.

"We're not going today" he said.

"We're not? Why not?"

"The first flight I could get us back is tomorrow morning" Mulder explained. "I thought you knew that."

"Oh." Scully sat down on her bed feeling stupid and slightly uncomfortable. God, I can't handle another day like yesterday...

"So what are we doing today?" Mulder asked her again.

"Why are you asking me?"

"Well... I just though that you might have some things you wanted to, places to see..."

Millions of possibilities raced through Scully's mind. "I'll have to think about that for a while."

Mulder grinned. "You've got ten minutes. Start thinking."

He sat down on the bed and his eyes followed her around the room as she unpacked again.

"Mulder, will you quit doing that?" she finally snapped. "I'm trying to think and you're not helping."

"Sorry" Mulder said meekly. He stood up and left the room, a faint smile on his lips.

A minute later he reappeared, tossing her the red sundress. "Put that on."

Scully looked at him and asked in her best 'Pride and Prejudice' manner. "Agent Mulder, what *are* your intentions?"

"Come on Scully. You looked great in that thing" he said persuasively.

She rolled her eyes but couldn't help a nervous grin.

Mulder disappeared again and she stripped of the business suit thank god! I was frying in that thing and pulled the sundress on over her head.

Then she swore.

The price-tag hadn't yet been removed from the dress and her hair had caught in it.

She panicked for no particular reason and her hands were shaking as she strived to untangle the mess.

Oh God she thought despairingly. I'm really on the edge here... Oh God...

Mulder rapped on the door and came in without waiting for an answer.

She saw his entrance reflected in the mirror and asked shakily "Mulder? Could you help me untangle this?"

Mulder was at her aid immediately, his hands deftly pulling out the red strands. When the mess was untangled he found a pair of scissors and cut the pricetag off, pausing for a second to massage the nape of her neck.

"Thanks Mulder" she said quietly, trying to ignore the delicious shivers that had swept through her whole body. She blinked and did her best to click back into professional mode. "You ready yet?"

"I've been ready for nearly half an hour" he complained, but he didn't appear serious.

"Shut up Mulder."

She slipped on a pair of brand-new sandals and they locked their doors and walked out to the car.

"So where are we going?"

"You'll see."

"You know Scully, I'm getting the strangest feeling of de-ja-vu here."

"Whaddya mean?"

"Don't worry."

"No, really."

"Forget it."

They took a train into the city and spent the day wandering around Darling Harbour, they walked across the Harbour Bridge, spent hours windowshopping at The Rocks, where he bought her a glass-blown rose; and prowled through the Botannical Gardens.

The day wasn't quite as hot as the day before but they were both still relieved to flop down under the shady trees in the Botannical Gardens to eat lunch, lunch being choc-mint Cornettos.

Scully licked hers slowly, the melted ice-cream dribbling down her chin. "Mmm... delicious!" she murmured peacefully, leaning her back against a tree trunk.

Mulder lay flat on his back on the grass, staring up through the leaves and branches. "I could stay here forever" he said dreamily.

"Hey, your ice-cream's melting" Scully pointed out and he looked down at it. He'd completely forgotten he had it, and as a result he'd accidently dropped it on the ground, where it was a melted, sticky mess in a soggy cone.

"Ew! Why didn't you tell me Scully?"

"I just did" she said with a laugh.

Mulder stood up and kicked the soggy mess away with his shoe with a disgusted look on his face.

"Why didn't you tell me *before* it was like.. like *that*?!" He eyed her ice-cream mischieviously. "Scully, can I have a bite?"

He'd much rather lick the ice-cream off her chin, but somehow he didn't think she'd appreciate the suggestion.

"Um..." Scully tilted her head to one side considering.

"Puh-leeease?" Mulder begged.

"There's only a little bit left... Oh, okay. If you have to" she relented.

She held out the Cornetto and he took a bite. "Mmmm... this has *got* to be true love... Another?"

"Nope" Scully popped the last bite into her mouth with a grin.

Mulder stuck out his bottom lip and she laughed. "C'mon. Let's go and talk to the animals."


"The zoo. We can't visit Australia without seeing the wildlife. You know, kangaroos and koalas..."

"-And bushrangers" Mulder cut in.

"Very funny. So how, 'bout it?"

"Lead the way."

"You know, Scully, those koalas didn't look much like I expected" Mulder commented.

"What did you expect them to look like?"

"Well, you know... well, I guess I expected them to be cuter than they were."

"They were pretty cute, although they did smell pretty bad."

"They were ten yards away! I didn't smell anything."

"Well I did" Scully said defiantly. "Besides, what did you expect them to look like?"

"I dunno..."

They were walking along Circular Quay and Mulder suddenly stopped, going to the side of the walkway. Scully went to his side, linking her arm through his.

A feeling of surreality had settled over them and he liked it. It made him feel that they could act like a two human beings for once, instead of FBI agents. Partners. The moonlight was creating shadows on the choppy water and they stared at it, mesmerised.

"Dinner was delicious" Scully murmured in his ear.

"Mmm" Mulder agreed.

He turned to face her, and their eyes met.

Scully leaned forward slowly, her lips brushing his lightly, tentatively.

She stood back, studying his reaction, her heart beating rapidly. Why the hell had she done that? Was this some alternate universe or what??? But it had been so damn good... magical, and undeniably scary, but wonderful.

Mulder smiled.

Large rain drops sudenly started pelting down and Scully put her arms over her head as a shield. She started to move away but Mulder restrained her.

"Mulder, it's raining!" she protested with a laugh.

"That's all right. I love walking in the rain" he whispered seductively, his breath tickling her ear.

Taking her hand gently they walked along in the pouring rain in silence.

At their motel Mulder paused outside Scully's door, unsure of what to do. On the train back they'd sat together in silence, Scully staring dreamily out through the window at the blackness, with occasional secretive glances at him. And now they were standing outside Scully's motel room...

How cliched he thought to himself with an amused smile. The rain had stopped and the moonlight shone on the wet grass.

"I had fun today" he whispered softly.

"Me too" Scully confessed quietly.

"Scully, does this mean-"

"Mulder, don't ruin this" she begged, putting a finger on his lips.

Mulder leant towards her and kissed her gently on the lips. She pulled him close to her, kissing him back hungrily.

Then she pulled back with a sigh. "Goodnight Mulder."

"'Night Scully."

He watched with mixed emotions as she slowly shut the door between them.

Scully wandered into the office and poured herself a cup of coffee. Mulder came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist.

"Mulder!" she scolded, peeling his hands off her hips and hating herself for doing so. "We're at work."

He looked at her seriously. "Scully, ever since we came back from Australia-"

"Mulder, not now, please" she pleaded, trying to ignore his breath on her neck. Trying to forget the way his lips on hers had felt...

She picked up his report on the Miles case and skimmed through it.

"So, what did Skinner think of your report?"

"He hasn't read it yet."

"Why not?"

"I wanted you to read it first."

Scully raised an eyebrow. "You value my opinion that much?"

"You know I do" he said simply.

"Mulder.." she started.


"About what happened... you know... in Australia..."

Mulder looked up at her intently "Yeah?"

"It was... it was fun, Mulder. But it - it wasn't real." You'd like it to be real though, wouldn't you Dana? dammit...

Mulder sighed. "I was afraid you were going to say that."

"You agree with me then? I mean, haven't you seen 'Grease'? Unless I start wearing mismatching leather and red stilettos it just won't work out for us. It was - it was a summer romance. But that's all, and we have to work together so I suggest we just forget about it all." Damn you Dana!

"I guess... but - oh, doesn't matter."

He took his case report back from his partner. "I guess I'll take this up to Skinner now. You wanna come?"

"Um... nah, I've got an errand I have to run."

"Okay, well, see ya later."

He left room reluctantly and Scully stared after him thoughtfully.

"The future is always so far away - so distant and remote. You spend your entire life thinking about tomorrow... and then you realize that there might not be a tomorrow."

"Are you aware that you've been talking about yourself in second person again, Dana?"

Scully shook her head.

Karen Kossoff looked down at the folder laying in her lap, more out of tact than anything else.

"You're talking about your cancer?"

Scully nodded. "My time is running out, that is a fact that I must accept.... and I wonder sometimes whether I should be living more for the moment - for now - not for the future. My life..." she struggled with her words. "I'm afraid - not of death - but I'm afraid of my - my death hurting the ones I love most. I feel - I feel vulnerable..." she admitted.

"Your partner? What does he think about it?"

"Mulder?" oh god. how did she know that this is all about mulder? "Mulder - he's been a tower of strength through all this... I don't think that I would be strong enough to face things if not for him. He - he gives me strength, and support. And he's always there for me" she said simply.

"Has your relationship with Agent Mulder changed because of your illness?"

Scully wrung her hands. has it? HAS IT? "I.. I don't think so... I -" She stood abruptly. "I'm sorry. I have to go."

When she returned to the office Mulder was already back.

Seeing her troubled face he asked "You okay?"

She looked at him uncomprehendingly. "Huh? Oh, yeah, I'm fine. Um.. how'd it go with Skinner?"

"Fine and dandy. He asked for our help on a case."

"What type of case? An X-File?" Scully asked, interested.

"Nope, some secret hush-hush thing my involving corrupt politicians."

"Sounds fascinating. Why does he want our help?"

"I guess he needs our expertis," Mulder suggested with a grin.

"What do we have to do?"

"Well, he asked us to read over the case notes so far and see if we can shed any light on it."

"Wonderful" Scully said sarcastically. "I still don't get why he wants our help."

"Yeah, well..." Mulder shrugged, then smacked his forehead exaggeratedly. "You know, I completely forgot. My apartment is being fumigated and I was wondering if I could stay at your place for a few days..."

Scully looked at him carefully. "Wasn't your apartment fumigated only a while ago?"

"I live a messy lifestyle." Seeing her suspicious face he added. "Don't worry Scully, I'm not asking to move in with you. I just need somewhere to stay."

"Why can't you stay at a motel?" she asked, although she already knew perfectly well that she couldn't think of anything more appealing than sharing her apartment with Mulder for a few days. It would give her a chance to get used to dealing with Mulder on a more personal level.

"Motels are so impersonal. Besides, it's Christmas time. They'd all be booked solid."

"Very well then" she said with mock annoyance. "I suppose you can if you have to."

"Thanks Scully. I owe you one."

He showed up at her place that night after work with a bulging suitcase.

"How long are you going to stay?" Scully asked.

"As long as you'll let me" Mulder smiled at her devilishly. "So, are you going to let me in or what?"

Scully led him into her lounge room. "You are sleeping on the couch" she informed him coolly.

Mulder pouted and dropped his suitcase on the floor. "So, what's for dinner?" he asked, sniffing the air. "Smells great."

"Yeah, it does. Pity my neighbors are cooking i," Scully retorted. "We're having something much healthier."


That word wasn't something Mulder cared to associate with food.

"So, what are *we* having?" he asked warily.

Scully led the way into the dining room where the table was set for two.

"Pasta and salad."




Scully looked at him. 'You have something against healthy food?"

"No, no, of course not. Love that rabbit food."

"Good. Let's eat. I'm starving."

Scully was woken by the impatient ringing of the doorbell.

She rolled over and looked at her alarm clock.

5:48 A.M.

Who the hell would be at the door at this time?

She reluctantly pulled herself out of bed and, wrapping her robe around her, went out toward the front door.

Then she stopped dead.

Mulder was standing, yawning, beside the open door in his boxers and Skinner was standing stiffly in the doorway, looking disapproving.

Scully bit her lip. "Uh, good morning Sir..."

Skinner looked questioningly at her, then Mulder, then back at her again.

"Is there anything I should know Agent Scully? Mulder?"

Mulder hastened to explain. "My apartment is being fumigated and Scully kindly agreed to let me stay with her temporarily."

Skinner looked disbelieving.

Scully stared hard at him. "I assure you sir, that there is nothing between Agent Mulder and myself."

"I'm sleeping on the couch" Mulder added helpfully.

Skinner still looked unconvinced.

Scully prompted him. "You wanted something, Sir?"

"Yes, I did. I went to Agent Mulder's apartment but he wasn't there and I didn't want to use the telephone in case it was being tapped. I wanted to inform you that we have an important lead in our current case. A briefing is arranged for half-past six this morning and I was hoping that the two of you would join us."

"Um, yeah, sure." Scully nodded distractedly. "I'll - we'll just get dressed and meet you there in fifteen minutes."

"Good." Skinner nodded coolly and left.

As the door shut after him Scully laughed hysterically.

"Was it really that funny?" Mulder asked with a raised eyebrow.

Scully stopped laughing. "Not really. It was just a bit of a shock to see him - and you..." she broke off into laughter again.

Mulder bit his lip to keep from laughing. He couldn't see what was so funny but Scully's laughter was contagious. "So, who gets first shower?" he asked.

"Me!" Scully replied cheekily, dashing out of the room.

"I hate cases like this" Mulder complained. "Nobody tells you anything and yet they expect you to know what's going on. It's so damn irritating!"

"I know what you mean" Scully sympathized. "I still don't get why Skinner wants our help. All we do is stand around and get bored."

"Maybe they don't trust us by ourselve," Mulder suggested, his eyes twinkling.

Scully eyed him seriously. "Maybe you're right. But they have no reason not to. After all, as I told Skinner this morning, there's nothing between us."

"You sure about that Scully?"


Mulder sighed. "Okay, okay. So are you ready to go home?"

"Not yet, I have a few things I need to do."

"Okay, well, I'll see you back at your place."

Scully looked at him suspiciously. "Mulder, what are you planning?"

"Nothing," he smiled innocently. "Nothing at all."

As soon as she opened the door she felt apprehensive.

She shut the door behind her gently and flicked the light switch, but the hallway remained dark.

"Mulder?" she called out.


"Mulder?" she tried again. "Mulder, if this is some kind of joke it's not very funny!"

Her body tensed. "Mulder?" She pulled her gun out, cocked it and held it close to her face, moving slowly through the apartment. She heard someone fumbling at the door and she turned and pointed the gun...

At Mulder.

"Hey, don't shoot!" he called, dropping the grocery bags.

Scully lowered her weapon. "Mulder, you terrified me!"

"You were scared! I was the one with the gun pointed in my face."

"Sorry" Scully put her weapon away and started picking up the spilt contents of the bags.

"What happened to the light in here?" Mulder asked, glancing up at ceiling.

"I was about to ask you the same thing. The globe must have blown. Mulder, why did you buy all this stuff?"

"I'm cooking dinner" he took the bags away from her and shooed her out of the room. "Keep out of the way."

"But Mulder -"


Scully wandered around her bedroom, the novel she'd been trying to read lying face-down on her bed.

"Mulder! Can I come out yet?" she whinged.

"Just a sec. I'm almost finished... Okay, you can come out now."

He opened the door and she looked around curiously as he escorted her to the candle-lit table.

"Mulder!" she started, but he put a finger to her lips.

"Sit" he instructed.

"Mulder, you heard what I said to Skinner this morning. I get the feeling that if he saw us now he'd believe us even less."

"So what?"

Scully rolled her eyes. "Forget it. So what are we having?"

Mulder held up a finger and disappeared into the kitchen, reappearing with two plates, laying one before her.

"Well, what do you think?" he asked eagerly as he sat down opposite her.

"Toasted cheese sandwiches and omelets? An interesting dinner combination" she commented, sniffing it suspiciously.

"Try it" Mulder pleaded.

Scully took a small bite of the omelet. "Mmm... pretty good" she said at last.

"Try the sandwich" he prompted her, his eyes fixed intently on her face. Her eyes, her nose, her mouth... He remembered the thrill that had raced through him when she'd kissed him. It had been almost magical... Hell, it *had* been magical. He wanted more. God, he wanted so desperately to just...

Stop it Mulder. Stop torturing yourself. It's never going to happen. You agreed with her that it wouldn't...

"Mmm.. not bad at all Mulder, not bad at all" she said, chewing slowly.

"I'll take that as a compliment" he replied with a grin.

"How else would you take it?" she asked, meeting his gaze coolly, if not challengingly.

"You really want to know?" he asked, tilting his head to the side slightly.

Dana laughed suddenly. This pointless bantering was helping to ease the tension that had grown between them since the kiss in Australia. Undeniably *sexual* tension.

Mulder leant forward with a smile, cutting a piece of her omelet and holding the forkful up to her mouth.

"What, you want to spoonfeed me?" she asked faintly.

Partners didn't spoonfeed each other. She knew that. Mulder should know that too...

"What's wrong with that?"

"Uh..." She shrugged and accepted the piece of omelet, watching with fascintion as he then cut himself a piece and ate it. God, this is too erotic she thought dazedly. Mulder's mouth touching exactly where hers had... it wasn't exactly hard to make out the look on his face...

When the omelet was finished he leaned back in his chair, watching her carefully.

Her mind cleared slowly and her heart stopped pounding, and she quavered under his glance. She couldn't meet his eyes for fear of... for fear of losing control. For fear of letting him know that. Oh god, he's got me squirming. oh god...

She sat contemplating. The atmosphere was so romantic and erotic, and the wine was already messing with her head despite having only had one glass so far, the fact that she and Mulder were having a candlelit dinner in her apartment and doing very unpartnerish things... She was feeling tempted. Very tempted... and hell, why not?

She took a deep breath, smiling slightly. Then she slid her pantyhosed right foot out of her shoe and stretched it out under the table, stroking Mulder's calf gently.

Serves him right she thought with a satisfied smile as she watched his eyes widen.

Having achieved the required result she withdrew her foot, sliding it back into her shoe. Maybe next time she'd let her foot wander higher...

She reached up with her right hand to brush the hair out of her eyes and accidently knocked over her wine glass with her elbow, spilling it down the front of her blouse.

"Ow! Damn!" She jumped up and the spell was broken.

Mulder looked up in surprise, trying to catch his breath. "What- oh..."

He handed her a serviette. "You okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine.. I'll just go clean up. Back in a minute."

"You finished your dinner?"

"Uh, yeah, thanks." you spoonfed it all to me, remember?!!!

She left the room and Mulder blew out the candles and cleared the table, feeling that the atmosphere was *somewhat* anticlimatic.

When Scully returned he was kneeling in front of the VCR. "So, what are we watching?" she asked as she curled up on the couch, tucking her feet under her.

Mulder sat down beside her, a smile appearing on his face as he saw what she was wearing.

"Nice pj's Scully. Bed time already," he teased, fingering the black and white checkered flannelette.

"Oh, shut up Mulder!" She picked up a cushion and hit him over the head with it. god dana, why the hell did you have to put these on? why couldn't you have just changed into jeans and a sweater or something equally casual? pajamas imply bed. bed implies... oh god, mulder I want you so badly... "What are we watching?" she asked again.

Mulder held up three videos. "I picked ones I know you love - 'Rocky Horror Picture Show', 'The Exorcist' and 'The Exorcist II'. Sound good?"

"Sounds lovely."

"I knew you'd like it."

He smiled at her and she smiled back enigmatically.

Scully yawned and shifted slightly. "You know, Mulder, I think it's about time we called it a night" she remarked as the ending credits for Rocky Horror Picture Show scrolled down the screen.


Scully turned her head and realized why he wasn't answering. He'd fallen asleep.

She yawned again and snuggled up beside him, falling asleep.

Mulder woke up the next morning, wondering dazedly where he was.

He was on a couch - that he could tell. After all, a couch was a couch was a couch, but he was pretty damn sure that he wasn't on his couch. And why was half his body numb? He opened his eyes fully and remembered where he was.

Scully's place.

But that still didn't explain why he couldn't feel the right side of his body...

He turned his head gingerly and suddenly everything became crystal clear - he and Scully had stayed up late watching movies and... and he'd fallen asleep! He moaned silently to himself in anger. God, that was so typical! He'd had great plans for last night, but all those sleepless nights had caught up on him. Damn!

He reached out impulsively and ran his fingers lightly over Scully's hair, burying his face in it. It smelled faintly like roses. With a sigh, he lifted his head and slowly eased himself out from under her and headed into the kitchen.

Scully walked into the kitchen, massaging her neck and flexing her shoulders.

"Mmm... I smell pancakes" she announced.

"Nice day outside" Mulder commented, looking out through the window.


They were silent for a few minutes as they ate the pile of pancakes Mulder had cooked. If Scully wasn't going to feed herself properly then he considered it his duty to take over. Besides, a man just couldn't survive on rabbit food.

Mulder may not - and, let's face it, will never - be a topnotch chef, but he sure knows how to make pancakes Scully thought to herself. Delicious!

"Um, Mulder?" she asked at last.


"We didn't, you know... do anything last night, did we?" she asked apprehensively.

Mulder laughed. "Not that I can recall. I fell asleep during Rocky Horror and when I woke up this morning I had a dead leg from *someone* sleeping on it."

"Oh." A faint sigh of relief escaped her.

Mulder asked deliberately "Do you wish something *had* happened last night?"

"Mulder!" she cried indignantly. She stood up and dumped the dirty dishes in the sink.

"C'mon. We better hurry up or we'll be late for work."

Mulder took another handful of sunflower seeds and leaned back in his chair.

"So, the way I see it is that the only reason they want our help is because we aren't authorised to ask the classification level of questions that need to be asked. It's just basically a huge cover-up, not even particularly elaborate or well planned. You agree?"

"Uh-huh" Scully replied absently as leafed through her diary.

"Scully, did you just hear what I said?"

"Um, not exactly... Sorry Mulder... I'm just... Oh damn!" She jumped up.


"It's my mother's birthday today. I completely forgot! And I'm supposed to go over to her place for dinner tonight. I'll have to ring her and arrange something else."

"Why don't you go tonight?" Mulder asked.

"Well, you're staying at my place and..." she argued.

"So what?"

"But... Okay, listen, I'll just ring my mom and figure something out. Okay?"

Mulder shrugged. "Whatever. I just don't want you to miss out on your mom's birthday because of me."

At that moment they were interrupted by the shrill ringing of the phone. Scully grabbed it.

"Hello? Oh, hi Mom... I'm fine Mom...No, really... Mom..."

She looked at Mulder frustratedly as her mother rambled on worriedly. "... No, but-... Listen, Mom, I'm fine. Okay? Yeah, I'm still coming tonight.... Um, yeah, I guess... Seven-thirty? Yep, that's fine... okay, bye Mom." She hung up the phone with a heavy sigh.

"My mother is driving me nuts!"

"She's worried about losing you" Mulder reminded her.

"Nobody's going to lose me" Scully said, so softly that he could barely hear her.

She put her head down on her desk, suddenly feeling exhausted.

"You okay?" Mulder asked gently.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I'm just a bit tired."

"So, you're going tonight?"

She lifted her head up and met his gaze. "Yeah, seven-thirty. Um, I was just wondering - well, actually, my Mom wanted to know if... if you would like to come along tonight..?" she asked him, nervously twisting her fingers, feeling like a teenager again.

Mulder looked at her for a moment before replying. "I'd love to. You sure your Mom wants me to come?"

Scully smiled, relieved. "You're like one of the family. I know that she thinks of you as one of her sons. The one who she actually sees."

"I'll be looking forward to it," Mulder said with a pleased grin.

"Good. Now, back to work...." that's right Dana. work. you can handle work. you can handle aliens and ufos and mutants and other weirdos. The question is: can you handle mulder?

"Do I look okay?" Mulder asked, straightening his tie.

"Mulder, this is just my family. You're not meeting the queen." "Yeah, well I want to make a good impression" he said, looking at his distorted reflection in the frosted glass door.

"You look fine" Scully said, rapping sharply with the knocker.

Margaret Scully opened the door and smiled warmly.

"Happy birthday Mom" Scully said as she hugged her mother.

Mrs. Scully looked past Dana with a look of surprise. "Fox! Dana didn't tell me you were coming. What a lovely surprise!"

Mulder handed her a bunch of carnations. "Happy birthday Mrs. Scully."

As they filed through the door he leant over and whispered to Scully "We'll talk later."

They entered the living room and a young man rose and came toward them.

"Charlie!" Dana crowed delightedly as she hugged him. "You've gotten so big!"

"Hey big sister. Long time no see!"

A tall, blond woman came up to them, linking her arm through Charlie's.

"Hi Dana. I haven't seen you in years!"

Scully blinked. "Lynette?"

She suddenly remembered Mulder, who was standing self- consciously beside her.

"This is my younger brother, Charlie, and this is Lynette. She is - was Missy's best friend. This is Fox Mulder. We - uh.. work together."

Charlie shot her a questioning glance but she ignored him.

"Aunt Dana!" a young girl, maybe twelve or thirteen, Mulder estimated, came rushing up to Scully.

"*Aunt* Dana?" Mulder looked at her.

"Hi Amy" Scully replied cheerfully as Amy hugged her tightly. She explained to Mulder "She's Bill's daughter."

"Uh-huh" Mulder quickly digested the information.

"Are your parents here? And Josh?" Scully asked, looking around for her older brother.

"Nope, just me. Josh has gone with his friend Brad to their holiday house in Florida. Florida! Can you believe that?!" She pouted.

Scully gave a relieved grin. "No more 'Babe'..."

"Actually, he's progressed from 'Babe' to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Ten times worse" Amy informed them.

"Mighty Morphine *what*?"

"Power Rangers. One of the greatest tragedies of all time" she announced mournfully.

"Uh-huh. So where are Bill and Anyse?"

"Mom and Dad went off on a cruise and left me here with Nanna for winter vacation. It's their anniversary present to each other."

"A cruise? That wouldn't be much of a holiday to Bill."

Amy grinned. "Yeah, but he doesn't have to do any work this time. Besides, it was mainly Mom's idea.. Don't ask me why. She gets seasick."

Dinner was pleasant, Maggie and Mulder dominating the conversation and Dana making occasional comments. Charles and Lynette were talking quietly and seemed wrapped up in each other, and Amy was watching them with avid interest.

At the end of dinner Charlie stood up, tapping his wine glass. "Everybody, Lynette and I have an announcement to make."

Lynette rose and stood beside him.

"We're getting married" she said quickly.

Maggie was the first to react, jumping up and embracing them both. "Oh Lord, it's about time! Congratulations."

Scully hugged her brother. "I can't believe this! I'm so happy for you!" when am I going to be happy for me, dana?

"Can I be a bridesmaid?" Amy asked instantly. "Please?"

Maggie laughed. "Have you set a date yet?"

"Well... we want to get married really soon-"

"Really, really soon" Charlie interjected.

"Yeah... so we decided on Saturday the 20th...late in the afternoon"

"Of... December?"

"Yep" Charles said cheerfully.

"But that's... that's only a week away!" Maggie protested.

"Ten days, Mom" Dana corrected her.

She glanced at Mulder, who was standing beside her looking slightly ill at ease. At least he had an excuse - this was essentially a family occasion and he didn't want to intrude. She, on the other hand, had no excuse for feeling as uncomfortable as she did. It was like when she met with old college and high school friends with successful businesses and family lives. She felt displaced in what was practially her own home. Was it jealousy? Was she jealous because her baby brother was getting married - to her older sister's best friend, nonetheless - while she hadn't had a steady relationship since... since Ethan Minette. Not that that particular relationship had been steady -they'd constantly argued and she doubted if she'd ever even loved him. It had just been fun. She'd thought he was attractive then, but now, looking back, he was too.. too short. Too blond and easygoing. Always joking, never serious. The exact opposite of Mulder.

She realized with a start that she'd completely fazed out. Her mother was speaking. A calm, quiet voice, as usual. Mom had never raised her voice. Never yelled. Dad, on the other hand... Ahab had always been loud. Not the loud drunken type or anything - she'd never seen Dad drunk in her entire life. Just bossy and commanding. She and Melissa had both inherited their father's bossyness and sterness, but Melissa had managed to combine that with her mother's quiet strength..

C'mon Starbuck. Attention! Listen to your mother. Yes sir, Ahab

"Why so soon? Why can't you wait until next year? You'll never be ready in time!"

"We have plenty of time" Lynette said calmly. "All we have to arrange is the bridal party and the dresses and stuff. It's easy."

"And the cake and the flowers and the invitations and -"

"Mom, stop worrying! We've already fixed up the cake and Lynn's got a friend who's a florist so she can provide the flowers."

"What about the invitations?"

"We can just ring people up. Mom, I really wish you'd stop worrying! We've already talked about all this and we know what we're getting into."

"Uncle Charlie's right, Nanna" Amy said. "Now, about the bridesmaids...."

Everyone laughed.

Mrs. Scully started clearing the table but Lynette stopped her.

"Dana and I'll do that Mrs. Scully" she said, ignoring the other woman's protests. "It's your birthday. Go and sit down and relax."

"If you're going to be my daughter-in-law than you better start calling me Maggie," Mrs. Scully scolded her with a smile. "You're just as bad as Fox."

Mulder grinned. "Sorry Mrs. Scully."

Scully collected an armload of dishes and followed Lynette into the kitchen, leaving Charlie interrogating Mulder and Maggie and Amy arranging flowers in a vase.

As soon as the were in the kitchen Lynette asked Scully timidly "You're okay with Charlie and me, aren't you Dana?"

Scully was surprised. "Yeah, it's great news. Why wouldn't I be?"

Lynette shrugged. "You just looked a bit distracted this evening."

"Sorry, I've just been thinking..."

Lynette said slowly "Your mom told me about your cancer."

"She shouldn't have done that!" Scully said angrily, accidently dropping the glass plate she was drying. It hit the floor and shattered into tiny pieces.

"Oh God..." Scully bent down and started picking up the shards of glass with trembling hands as her mother and Mulder came rushing in.

"What happened?" Maggie asked anxiously.

"Nothing... I just... um... dropped one of the plates..." Scully said shakily. "It's okay, it's not one of the good ones."

Lynette started sweeping up the pieces and Mulder helped Scully up.

"You okay?"

She nodded. "I'm fine. You can go."


"Yeah, go on, get out of here" she said trying to sound cheerful. "You too Mom."

Mulder left slowly but Maggie remained.

"Mom, go and sit down" Dana insisted. "We're fine here. It's your birthday, go an enjoy yourself."

"Dana, honey, did something happen?" Maggie asked, looking concerned.

"No, Mom, I'm fine. How many times do I have to say that?"

"Sorry honey." Maggie left reluctantly and Scully picked up a dish and started scrubbing it dry.

"I'm sorry Dana" Lynette said softly. "I didn't mean to upset you."

Scully was silent.

"I know that Missy would -"

Scully interrupted her, laughing bitterly. "It's just not very pleasant to be constantly reminded of your mortality. I - I don't want your sympathy."

"I'm sorry.."

"Can we change the subject? Please?" Scully asked abruptly.

"Sure... so what's the thing between you and Fox?"

"Mulder. He hates being called Fox."

"It's a pretty weird name. Are you and he... you know...?"

"No, we are not *you know*."

"You really are the queen of denial Dana, you know. Remember how Missy used to call you that? Anyway, God, the way you guys were sneaking glances at each other all through dinner was so cute..."

"We were not!" Scully cried indignantly.

"Denial, denial, denial. So how far *have* things gotten between you two, then?"

"You really do like concerning yourself in other people's business, don't you, Lyn?"

"I was just asking..."

Scully sighed and leaned against the pantry door. "The truth is that I don't really know myself..."


A dreamy smile appeared on Scully's lips. "We were in Australia on a case a few weeks ago and... we kissed" she confided.

Lynette squealed. "I can't believe you two! You *kissed* and you still act like there's nothing between you?"

"Well, I mean, we kinda agreed that what happened in Australia wasn't real and..." she shrugged.

"Dana!" Lynette looked aghast. "How could you do that?"


"You let him go!"

"I didn't 'let him go'. I never 'had' him!"

"Dana..." Lynette put the last dish away and placed her hands on her hips. "You've worked with this guy for what - four years, five? You've been in love with him for the entire time and he's probaby been lusting after you for just as long, so what's stopping you?"

Scully sighed. "That's what I want to know."

Mulder looked up briefly as they returned to the living room. "You okay?" he mouthed.

Scully nodded. Turning to her brother she asked brightly. "So, you been giving Mulder the third degree?"

Charlie grinned. "Yep, and you'll be pleased to know that your boyfriend has passed with flying colors."

Scully picked up a cushion and swiped her brother with it. "He's *not* my boyfriend."

Charlie and Lynette exchanged knowing glances and Scully groaned.

"You guys are pathetic." She strode out of the room and returned with a small box. "I almost forgot. Happy birthday Mom."

Maggie unwrapped the package and held it up with a cry of delight. It was a small crystal swan, finely crafted with intricate detail. She and Mulder had gone shopping for it after work and it had been Mulder who had actually picked it out.

"Thank you Dana" she said. "It's beautiful."

Scully smiled. "I thought you'd like it."

Maggie rose and placed it carefully on the shelf. She stood back, admiring it, and a book at the end of the shelf caught her eye. She picked it up and sat down on the sofa beside Mulder.

Charles and Dana both saw what it was and they groaned simulataneously.

"Not the photo album, Mom. Please!" Dana begged.

Maggie ignored her children's complaints.

Mulder patted his knee. "Come sit here, Scully."

"Mulder, I am *not* going to sit on your lap."

"Why not? I won't bite."

Scully glanced at Lynette who stared back meaningfully.

"Oh, fine" she said with feigned exasperation.

She took a deep breath and sat gingerly on his lap, willing herself to calm down and relax.

"Ouch! You're heavy!" Mulder joked.

"Shut up Mulder."

"Okay" he said meekly. He slipped his arms around her waist and pulled her back against him, half expecting her to pull away, but she didn't.

Maggie opened the album, flipping through the older pictures. "We just have to get to the interesting ones... Aha! Now, this-" she said, pointing to the picture of a sleeping baby. "This is Dana as a baby..." She turned the page. "And here's Missy with Dana.... And this is Dana's first step..."

She turned the page again and Scully groaned. "Oh God, not *that* photo!" She put her hand down over the picture.

"You looked very sweet Dana" her mother reprimanded her.

"Mom, I looked very naked!"

"C'mon Scully. Let us have a look" Mulder teased.

He prised her hand away and looked at the photograph. Dana, maybe a year and a half old, was curled up asleep on a white rug holding a brown teddybear, completely naked.

"I can't believe you put that photo in there!" Scully moaned. "It's so embarrassing!"

"It's nothing to be ashamed of" Maggie said calmly.

"Yeah, nothing at all" Charlie teased.

"There's one in here of Charlie too, somewhere..." Maggie started flipping pages but Charlie pulled the book away from her.

"Um... maybe another time, huh Mom?"

"Your family are so energetic Scully" Mulder commented as they drove home. "It's exhausting just being around them."

Scully laughed. "Yeah, I know what you mean. I still can't believe my mother put that photo in there!"

"That was a cute photo Scully."

"Mulder, not you too!"

"Just be grateful she didn't have it enlarged and framed."

"I don't think my mother is quite *that* cruel."

"You know, Scully, some parents must really hate their kids."

"Whadyya mean?"

"I don't know. Just some people give their kids really awful names."

"I guess... Who were you named after?"

"Fox... I have no idea. I don't think I want to know. William was after my father, of course. What about you?"

"Dana after my aunt - Dad's brother's wife. Katherine was my grandmother."

"Your mom liked keeping names in the family, huh?"

"You bet."


"Hey, Scully?"


"Um... you wanted me to along tonight, didn't you?"

"Well, yeah, but-"

Mulder interrupted. "No, just listen to me. You and I - well, there is obviously somthing between us - I'm just not quite sure what it is exactly..."

"Mulder, I'm not ready for this" she said, forcing herself to not panic. "We'll talk about it later."

"You can't just keep postponing this Scully. We really have to talk" he argued, putting his hand on her shoulder gently.

She shrugged it off.

"Mulder! Listen Mulder; it's late and I just want to get home and to bed. Okay?"

Mulder ran his hand through his hair in frustration.

"Fine" he surrendered, slumping down in his seat.

Scully stared straight ahead angrily, her fingers gripping the steering wheel tightly. What had happened to the days when she and Mulder could have conversations without getting into a fight? The tension in the car was killing her and when they finally arrived at her place she felt physically and emotionally exhausted, falling into bed and asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.

They spent an uncomfortable day in their office, doing paperwork and tidying up loose ends on cases. Generally Scully hated days like this - they were so unbelieveably, mind-numbingly boring, but today she found paperwork soothing and familiar. Mulder was drifting in and out of the office, bringing her updates of 'the 'top-secret hush-hush thingmy' as he called it.

She glanced at her watch. It was half-past two and she had an autopsy at three. She downloaded her E-mail, glancing quickly at them. Work, work and.... work. I really have no life she thought to herself miserably.

She was about to disconnect when there was a small 'DING' and a new E-mail appeared.

Scully clicked on it and read through it eagerly.

Hi Dana!

I'm just E-mailing you to let you know that we've figure out a few things about the wedding.

Bridesmaids are you, Amy and Sasha (my younger sister. You remember her, don't you? She's five years younger than me). Best man is Michael Barnett and groomsmen are my cousin Eric (he's only a few years older than Amy so we figured we'd pair them together) and (please don't be angry with me - it was your mother's suggestion and Charlie backed her up - not that I don't think that it would be a brilliant idea g) Fox. We're pairing you with Fox because you make an INCREDIBLY cute couple (sorry, but its true), Sasha with Mick and Amy with Eric.

We have dress fittings arranged for Sun 13th (afternoon) and it would be GREAT if you could make it, because we don't have much TIME!!!

Is that ok?

If not please let me know ASAP.

Luv Lynette

P.S: the flowergirl and pageboy are my little cousins (they're twins) Rachel and Jack. They're three years old and they're sooooooooo adorable!

Scully felt slightly annoyed. Everybody seemed to be playing matchmaker with her and Mulder and it was starting to get on her nerves. Not that the idea of herself and Mulder was particularly abhorrent- quite the opposite. It was just the fact that everyone was pushing them to get together, and if they were going to she wanted to do it the way she wanted, at a pace she felt comfortable with.

She typed out her reply quickly.


Hi Whose idea was it to ask Mulder at all? Not that I don't want him there but I'm getting sick of everybody trying to get us together. He is moving out tonight - thank God! I don't know if I could stand another night sharing my place with him. It was fun before but things between us aren't very good at the moment.

Sunday 13th is good for me. Where?

I have to go now but I'll ring you tonight.



Mulder walked into the office as she was sending her reply. "Hi" he said uncomfortably.

She stood up. "Perfect timing. I have to do an autopsy and I'm a bit late. Could you shut down my computer please? ...Oh, and there's an E-mail there that you might want to read" she said, striving to sound natural.

"Sure" Mulder said, sounding tired.

"You okay?" she asked him, looking at him concernedly.

"Yeah, I just didn't get much sleep last night."

"Oh. Well, see you later," Scully said uneasily, feeling guilty about the fact that *she* was probably the cause of his insomnia.

Mulder watched with a sigh as she left the office. He felt worn out and tired. Things just couldn't go on like this.

He wandered over to the computer and read the E-mail through half-heartedly, not really taking any of it in. His eyes rested on one sentence "you make an incredibly cute couple" and he frowned angrily.

"I wish!" he muttered.

He threw himself in his chair and stared moodily at the ceiling. Why the hell did life have to be so hard for him? And why did some people get it easy? It just wasn't fair!

Scully dialed the number and waited impatiently. "C'mon, hurry up, hurry up..." she murmured.


"Hi Lynn, it's Dana."

"Oh, hi Dana. How are you?"

"I'm fine. Did you get my E-mail?"

"Um, yeah. You and Mulder had a fight, huh?"

"Not really... He - he keeps wanting to talk about us - our relationship."

"So what's wrong with that?"

"I don't want to talk about it. I'm not ready."

"Dana, you're never going to be ready" Lynnette said wryly.

"I know, but he just keeps bugging me and pressuring me, and wanting to talk really seriously, and it just feels weird, because he's normally so flippant and cracking jokes when I'm trying to have deep and meaningful conversations."

"Maybe that means that he's really serious about you" Lynette said softly.

"Yeah... maybe," Scully whispered. "But I - but..."

"But what?"

"I'm scared that if it doesn't work out between us I'll lose him forever."

Lynette was silent. Finally she said "You and Fox are made for each other Dana. I don't think that that could ever happen."

"But what if it does?" Scully persisted. "How can I be sure that it won't?"

"You can't. But you have to go for it anyway."

"You think so?"

"It's your life. You're the one who has to make the decisions. But that's what I would do. And that's what Missy would have done."

Scully asked quietly "Do you ever think about Missy?"

"Every day. We'd been best friends our entire lives. We still are."

"What do you mean?" Scully asked, although she already knew the answer. Missy and Lyn had both been into the whole spiritual world stuff: crystals, incense, the whole shebang.

"We talk sometimes. She gives me messages."

"What does she say?" Scully asked, forgetting for the moment to be skeptical.

"She says that she's happy, and that she doesn't blame anyone for the past." Lynette gave the wall opposite her a sly grin. "She told me the other day that she knew that you and Fox were meant to be together."

"What? You made that up!"

"Nope. She said that. And she said that she misses all of your family, but she doesn't want them to grieve."

"She - she died for me. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if - if I'd died, and she'd lived..."

"Dana, you can't think that way."

"Can't I? I don't know anymore. Normally I can handle things - I'm in control of my life. But I feel so incompetent and helpless... I just don't know what to do."

"Everyone feels like that at one point in their lives Dana. You've just got to accept it, and find a way to move on."

"I guess... Hey Lyn?"


"How do you know when you've met the right guy? I mean, how do you know that Charlie is the right one for you?"

"You've been asking yourself that question, huh?"

Scully admitted that she had.

"I guess it's really just a question of "Will I still love him when he's old and gray?" "Will I still love him when he's puking up all over the good rug?" I don't claim to be an expert in love or anything, but if you just go through the wedding vows in your head - you have to love, honor and obey. If you can't do that then you're in a hell of a lot of trouble. Anyway, that's just the way I figured it out..."

"It's a good idea."

"Listen, I'm sorry, but I really have to go now - my Mom and Sasha and some cousins are coming over and I have to get ready..."

"Yeah, sorry. Well, thanks for listening."

"No problem. I really hope you and Fox get together. It would be such an incredible shame if you didn't."

"Thanks. Oh - yeah, I almost forgot. Where do we go on the 13th?"

"Huh? Oh, it's a place called Gemma's Boutique. If you want I'll pick you up at your place and give you a lift there."

"That'd be great. See you then."

"Okay, bye."

Scully waited until Lynette had hung up and then she slowly replaced the reciever.

She slumped down against the wall, wrapping her arms around her knees. "What am I going to do?"

Mulder was away the following week - a case of grave desecrations in New Mexico. Scully was relieved to not be involved, but she felt hurt that he hadn't even asked her to help.

As he'd left he'd told her that maybe they needed some time apart from each other. He was right, of course, but it hurt her that he'd taken on a case without even telling her about it.

She worked late and sometimes ended up spending most of the night at the office, going home only for a short sleep and a shower. Working helped her to keep her mind off him.

Somehow ironic, considering that work was what had kept them tied together.

He arrived back the Wednesday before the wedding, just as she was packing up for the night.


She spun around. "Mulder! What are you doing here?"

"I work here... don't I?"

Scully smiled slightly.

"So, did you miss me?" he demanded playfully.

"A bit" she allowed. "Did *you* miss me?"

"Yes. That's why I'm back."

Scully suddenly felt tears prickling her eyes and she wrapped her arms around Mulder's waist, burying her face in his jacket as she sobbed.

"Whoa, what's wrong?" Mulder asked, surprised. Scully breaking down and crying wasn't part of his plan.

She pulled away, cursing herself for losing control. "I'm.. I'm just a bit tired and..."

Mulder frowned, smoothing the lines on her forehead with his thumb tenderly. "You look like you haven't slept in days."

"I've... I've been busy..."

Mulder looked around the office. "Scully, what have you done in here?!"

"I thought it was about time this place was tidied up so I did a bit of filing and stuff..."

"I'll never be able to find anything!"

"You could never find anything before" she retorted, feeling slightly less miserable. Where the hell had that sudden outburst before come from? She must have cried more in the past few months than she had the rest of her life. sob-a-rama, starring Dana Scully...

"You realize, Scully, that I'll never be able to leave you again. Or else I'll come back and find that you've completely redecorated."

"Suits me." mulder I don't *ever* want you to leave me again

Mulder laughed. "C'mon, it's late. And you look really bad."


"I didn't mean that- I just meant that you look really tired."


Mulder wrapped his arm around her and they walked slowly out of the office, locking the door behind them. As they left the building they were hit by a cool, icy breeze. Scully shivered.

"Where did you park?"


"Your car. Where did you park it this morning?"

Scully racked her memory but she was too tired. "I - I can't remember."

Mulder glanced around the carpark but couldn't see the gray Taurus. "I'll drive you home."

"Thanks." She slumped down in the passenger seat and he shut the door for her.

"So, how was the case?" she asked him, closing her eyes briefly.

"Um.. nothing spectacular. We caught the guy - he had a hatred of policemen because when he was a kid his father, who was a cop, left him and his mother. So in revenge he went out a desecrated graves of policemen and law officials."

"Uh-huh." Scully's face was expressionless.

Mulder said awkwardly "The reason I didn't want you to be a part of the case was... well, after what happened with Donnie Pfaster, I - I didn't want to put you through that again. Especially when he was targeting law officials and everything..."

Scully nodded but didn't speak.

"And... I just didn't want you to think that I was deserting you or anything..."

"I know that you wouldn't desert me... through you've ditched me so many times I've lost count..."

The next few minutes they were both silent, Scully wishing her head wasn't aching so badly and Mulder wondering what Scully's reaction to his being away meant. Maybe...

He peered out the window. "We're at your place."

He pulled over to the curb and she got out.

"You going to be okay?" he asked her.

She nodded. "Yep. Thanks Mulder."

"Okay, well... See you tomorrow."

"Yeah. Night Mulder."

Dana Scully looked in the mirror. She made a face. "Ugh! My hair looks horrible!"

"It looks beautiful, honey" Maggie said calmly. "Just don't fiddle with it or the ringlets will fall out."

Scully slipped on her high-heels and buckled them up around her ankles. "And why are these heels so high? Am I really that embarrassingly short?"

"I seem to remember you being the one who picked them out," Maggie said with a faint smile. "Dana honey, stop worrying. Everything will be fine."

She took her daughter's chin in her hands. "Calmed?"

Dana smiled slighly. "Yeah, I'm okay. Thanks Mom."

Maggie smiled and hugged her daughter, then pulled away and called out "Lynette, are you ready?"

The bedroom door opened and Lynette came out, looking extremely self-conscious. "How do I look?"

She was wearing a long ivory dress covered in tiny embroidered flowers and her blond hair fell down her back in soft curls. "You look beautiful" Maggie said softly.

Lynette looked around the room. "Where are Sasha and Amy and my Mom?"

"Sasha and Amy are waiting downstairs. Your mother hasn't arrived yet."

"What?! Oh God!" Lynette cried frantically. "She's going to miss my wedding!"

"She'll be here," Maggie assured her.

"I - I have to ring the airline to see - to see if her flight has arrived yet..."

"I'll do that" Scully offered. "And don't worry, we still have half an hour until the ceremony and the bride *is* supposed to be late..."

"Thanks Dana." Lynette gave her a quick hug. "What am I going to do if she can't get here? She can't miss my wedding!"

"There's plenty of time left. Just stay calm."

"I can't stay calm! Why couldn't Mom catch an earlier flight anyway? It's stupid of her to leave it till the last minute!"

"It's Christmas time" Maggie reminder her. "This was the earliest flight she could get. And you didn't exactly give her much warning..."

"Oh God..." Lynette started pacing the room. "And what about Rachel and Jacky?"

"They're going straight from their place to the church, remember? Their mother thought that would be easier."

"Okay, okay" Lynette said, still panicky.

"Good news" Scully announced. "Her flight arrived twenty minutes ago. She should be here any minute now."

"Thank God!" Lynette collapsed on the bed in relief.

"Hey Mom, how long does it take to get to the church?" Dana asked, glancing at her watch.

"Fifteen minutes" her mother replied promptly. "And you better take that watch off, it doesn't go with the dress at all."

"Yeah... I'll take it off when we get to the church... Can I get going early? I want to talk to Mulder before we go in."

"Sure honey. You and Sasha and Amy go. We'll see you there."

"Okay, bye Mom." She kissed her mother on the cheek. "I'll see you there Lyn. Just don't freak out, okay?"

The bride nodded. "I'll do my best. See you there."

"Bye." Dana made her way down the stairs and found Sasha and Amy in the kitchen drinking coffee.

"You guys ready?"

Sasha looked up at the clock. "We're not going yet."

"Yes we are" Scully said impatiently. "I want to see Mulder before we start."

"Ooooooo" Amy said teasingly.

Scully stared at her coldly. "Are you ready to go?"

"Sorry Aunt Dana" Amy said meekly. "I'm just a bit hypo. This *is* pretty exciting, you know."

"Yeah, I know. So let's go."

"You're a poet and you didn't even know it!" Amy crowed.

"Amy!" Scully said half-laughing.

"You look really nice in that dress Dana. The color really suits you" Sasha said admiringly.

"Yeah" Amy agreed. "It doesn't suit me at all."

Scully looked at her watch again. "Time to go..." she muttered impatiently.

They filed out of the kitchen and to the limousine waiting out front of the house.

Riding in a limo was a luxury to Scully but she was too nervous to enjoy it.

"The question is" she asked herself "*why* am I so nervous?" After all, it wasn't as if it were *her* wedding... unfortunately...?

She drummed her fingers on the window impatiently. "C'mon, c'mon..."

When they finally got to the chapel Scully jumped out, racing around to the back door where the groomsmen were waiting.

"Mulder!" she called out breathlessly.

Mulder turned and his jaw dropped when he saw the slim figure before him.

Scully was dressed in a long dress with a deep green velvet skirt and a gold lace bodice. The sleeves were matching green chiffon, with small ruffles at her wrists. Around the hem of her skirt was a row of tiny embroidered gold flowers. Her hair was up on in a French knot and there were small ringlets on either side of her face. A small crown of honeysuckle sat lightly on her head.

"Do I look okay?"

"You look beautiful" he said softly, awe evident in his voice.

"The last time you said that I looked like hell!" she retorted, adjusting his bowtie. "Mulder, when was the last time you wore a tux?"

"In the beginning, when God created the universe..." he quoted with a grin. "Don't worry, you really do look beautiful. Trust me."

"Thanks Mulder" she whispered, hopping nervously from one foot to the other.

Mulder put his hands on her arms to calm her. "You'll be fine, really."

He kissed her gently on the forehead and she hugged him quickly, wishing that she didn't have to let go at all.

"I better go. See you inside."

Mulder nodded and she ran off.

The wedding service went without a hitch. The bride was a satisfactory five minutes late and the page boy managed to *not* drop the rings.

"That went rather well" Mulder murmured as they all posed for photos.

"For a Scully family wedding that went *very* well" Scully replied with a grin.

When the photographer was finished they sat down together on a rather uncomfortable rustic iron bench.

"I love weddings" Mulder said with a contented sigh.

Scully looked at him skeptically.

"No, it's true!" Mulder protested. "There's never any weddings in my family... I don't really even have a family."

"You have your mom" Scully said softly.

"My mom... Yeah, I have my mom..."

He smiled but there was sorrow in his eyes.

"You must feel so alone" she said with a sudden pang of sympathy. Sometimes she felt alone, but she had family to turn to. Mulder had no one. No one except her...

"I'll survive... I have so far."

She took his hand between her own and they sat in silence for a few minutes.

"Dana! Fox! Lyn's throwing the bouquet!" Mrs. Scully called.

Scully stood up and pulled Mulder up. "C'mon Mulder."

They made their way slowly over to the crowd.

Lynette was standing with her back to everyone. "Okay, everyone ready? Okay - one... two... three!"

She threw it and it went sailing through the air towards them. Scully shrieked as Mulder grabbed her around the waist, lifting her up high enough to catch it.

"Grab it!"

She caught it and grinned as Mulder lowered her down. "A team effort" he said with an irresistible smile.

She stared up into his eyes. Dear God, those eyes... "Mulder, I think we have a problem" she murmured.

"What?" he asked, running his finger along her cheekbone delicately.

"Well, there's a Scully family tradition, you see. Whoever catches the bouqet has to kiss the nearest male - you know, like if the knife comes out dirty..."

"Mmm... well, we do seem to have a problem there" Mulder agreed quietly, bending slightly and pressing his forehead against hers.

"And you know what Mulder?"

"What?" he asked, although he already knew the answer.

"You're the nearest guy."

She reached up and their lips met, their kisses gentle and teasing at first but then more and more passionate. Who knew how far they would have gone if they weren't brought back to reality by her brother's shout of "Go for it Dana!"

"I think we better wait until later" she whispered seductively.

"I don't know if I can" he said, staring into her eyes.

"You're going to have to. And I think you'd better go wash your face. You're covered in lipstick" she said impishly, turning to face her family.

"Okay everyone, show's over" Charles called helpfully.

Amy came up to her. "I can't believe you did that!" she said admiringly.

"Neither can I" Scully confessed. "But it was pretty damn good..."

The reception passed like a dream; they slow danced, fed each other wedding cake and drank excessive amounts of champagne and potent alcohol cocktails. The crowd didn't start thinning out until about midnight, when all the elderly Scullys 'toddled home to bed' as Charlie put it, before he and his new wife left. A slow crooning song was playing softly - they were both too drunk to recognize it - as they danced the same mindless step over and over.

"I could do this forever" Scully said, her voice slightly slurred.

"Why don't we?" Mulder asked with a slight giggle.

Scully would have been a giggling mess on the floor if her mother hadn't appeared at that moment.

"Dana, Fox, we're going now" she said, speaking to them like they were two-year-olds. The sight of her daughter drunk wasn't entirely new to her - there'd been a few times when the teenage Dana had been determined to rebel against her father's strict rules (although in those cases Dana had tended to be morose, rather than all giggly and clinging passionately) but seeing her and Fox together was so sweet that she was almost tempted to let them go.


But she didn't, because she had a feeling that if she did she'd regret it later.

Scully clutched Mulder tightly like he were a prize teddy bear. "I'm staying with Mulder!" she shrieked.

"Well, I'm sure that Fox would like to come along too" Maggie said gently.

Mulder spoke, his words sounding extraordinarily clear considering what his alcohol content would have been by that stage.

"Your mother's right, Scully. We'll go back to her place."

"Good boy" Maggie said approvingly. "You coming Dana?"

"Okay Mom" she agreed, leaning heavily against Mulder's arm.

Mrs. Scully's house was only ten minutes away and the sharp breeze coming through the open car windows sobered them up slightly. Not enough, unfortunately, to stop them from singing a drunken chorus of "Ninety-nine little gray aliens in UFOs."

The house was dark and quiet - Amy had been dropped home (much to her disappointment) earlier in the evening by one of Maggie's cousins and was sleeping soundly.

Scully was sleeping in her old bedroom and Mulder was been given the spare bedroom, the one that had belonged to Missy.

Dana struggled as her mother tried to get her to go to bed. "I'm not tired" she insisted.

"You will be in the morning" her mother said with certainty.

"I - I have to say goodnight to my Fox!" she shrieked, as if her life depended on it.

"You want to say goodnight to Fox? Okay, we'll just see if he's awake then, will we?"

Dana nodded and ran across the hallway, knocking loudly on her partner's door.

"Fox!" she cried. "Fox! I have to say goodnight to you, my Fox!"

Mulder opened to the door. He'd stripped out of his tux and was wearing just his shirt and his black boxers.

"I have to say goodnight to you" Dana informed him with a giggle.

She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him.

"Goodnight Fox" she said cheerfully.

"G'night Dana. Don't let the bedbugs bite!" He gave her a lopsided grin and shut the door, and Scully collapsed into a fit of giggles on the floor. Her mother picked her up, half-dragging her into her bedroom and onto the bed.

"Now, you go to sleep. Okay Dana?"

"But I'm not..." Scully yawned and fell asleep before she could finish her sentence.

The first thing that he noticed when he woke up was that there was a window where there shouldn't have been. In fact, there shouldn't have been any light at all. The second thing he noticed was the jackhammer working overtime in his head. He opened his eyes fully and groaned as memories of last night came flooding back.

"Oh God..." he moaned.

He'd made an absolute fool of himself, *that* he could remember. Most of the evening was a complete blank in his memory, but there were a few scenes that kept replaying vividly (and not so vividly) in his head. He remembered Scully feeding him cake - tiny little bits at a time, he remembered her kissing him goodnight...

"Dear God!" he sat up quickly and instantly regretted it as it made the jackhammers double in size. "Oh dear God!" he repeated.

There was a knock at the door. "Fox? Are you awake?" Mrs. Scully called out.

Mulder threw back the bedclothes and stood up, his stomach threatening to errupt.

He made it to the door and opened it.

"Morning Mrs. Scully" he said with a yawn, rubbing his eyes.

"Good morning Fox" she said briskly. "You feeling better?"

"Um.. better than what? Better then I would be if I'd just been run over and then tortured using an assortment of sharp objects? Not particularly."

Maggie held out a pile of clothes. "Bill left these here when he last stayed and I though you might want to borrow them. There's a bathroom at the end of the corridor and you can get a towel out of the linen closet to the right."

"Mrs. Scully, you are an angel."

Maggie smiled. "I really wish you would stop calling me Mrs. Scully. Call me Maggie. Or even Mom."

"Okay, *Mom*"

Mrs. Scully smiled again and left, calling over her shoulder. "By the way, there's asprin in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. Just make sure you leave plenty for Dana."

Scully woke up feeling sick. She rolled over, letting her head fall off the side of the bed. The blood rushed to her head, making her feel dizzy and even sicker than when she started.

Her head was heavy and the pounding within it was increasing rapidly.

"Oh damn" she mumbled.

There was only one thing worse than having a hangover; dealing with what had happened the night before. And dealing with it meant having to remember it. And relive it.

Good little Dana Katherine Scully had been drunk only a few times in her life - usually after having a massive fight with her father or, in the later high school and college years, with her boyfriend, she'd gotten into the habit of doing some seriously heavy drinking to get over it. Never alone, mind you, her friend - well, not really friend - more like drinking buddy, Mariel, had always been there with her seemingly never-ending grog supply. But that had been long ago. She hadn't woken up with a hangover for more than ten years, and she'd been hoping she never would again. It made her ashamed, embarrased, angry. She normally never drank more than two drinks at a party for fear of losing control. She couldn't stand not having control over her life and her behavior.

She looked at her clock. It was past midday. Thank God it was a Sunday... She rolled onto her back and stared at the ceiling, counting the cracks and going through some old childhood bedtime routines, reciting all the poems, catecisms and songs that she knew.

"Okay," she finally admitted to herself when the poems were composed more of "something something" than the actual words. "I'm doing this pointless thing because I don't want to face reality."

That was true enough. Reality was the horrible place where you had a splitting headache from getting drunk at your brother's wedding and kissing your work partner...

Oh shiiiiiiiiit

She groaned to herself. Today was *not* going to be the easiest day of her life.

She found a few old clothes in her closest and made her way drowsily to the bathroom. Then, as she got closer to the bathroom door she realized someone was already in there.

"Damn!" She slumped down against the wall and rested her head on her knees.

She'd just have to wait until whoever it was was finished, and she was too tired to get up again and make the long trek - about 8 feet - back to her bedroom.

Her head got heavier and heavier as she felt her eyelids starting to droop, and she soon fell fast asleep.

"Uh, Scully?"

She jumped up, now wide awake. "Mulder!"

"Uh.. did you want to use the bathroom? Cos I'm finished in there..." Scully picked up her clothes. "Yeah, thanks."

She could feel her face going bright red and she quickly dashed into the bathroom and locked the door.

The bathroom was all foggy and the air was damp. She quickly started the shower and stripped off the old pajamas she'd changed into sometime last night. Her head was spinning and she gripped onto the towel rack to steady herself. This couldn't was be the result of last night, could it? After all, a hangover was a hangover was a hangover, and this was worse than usual. Maybe it had to do with what she and Mulder had done last night... the question was what *had* they done last night?

She couldn't remember at all at first, but as she stepped into the shower and the hot water soaked her skin more and more kept coming back to her.

"Oh my God" she moaned. "I can't believe I did that..."

Scully found Mulder sitting alone at the kitchen table drinking cold coffee.

"Hi" she said nervously.

Mulder didn't look up, he just mumbled something and continued staring into his mug.

"I feel like shit. What 'bout you?"

No response.

"Listen, Mulder... about yesterday?"


Scully took a deep breath. "We crossed the line Mulder."

"I know."

Scully tried to stay calm. "So, what are we going to do?"

She sat down at the table opposite him, holding her mug between her hands.

"I think... that we need to talk" Mulder said slowly.

"Well, that's obvious!" she said sarcastically, but immediately regretting it. "Sorry. I didn't mean that. It's just that... I don't know. So, what are we going to talk about?"

"Us. You and me, Scully. We can't continue like this."

"At least we're agreed on something" she said with a wry smile.

They were interrupted by Mrs. Scully and Amy bustling in, having just returned from Mass.

"Oh, sorry. Are we interrupting something?" Maggie asked brightly.

Mulder stood up. "Nope. Nothing at all."

Maggie glanced quickly at her daughter, who was lost in thought. "Oh... By the way Dana, there's a bunch of boxes in the attic of all your old things. I though you might want to sort through them and see if there's anything you want to keep."

Dana nodded. "Okay Mom."

She turned to Mulder. "You wanna help?"


They dumped their coffee mugs in the sink and made their way up to the attic.

"You like dust Mulder?" she asked with a slight smile.


She pulled down the attic ladder and they were enveloped by a cloud of dust. "That's why."

"You know Scully, maybe this ain't such a great idea..."

"A little dust won't kill you Mulder" she said as they climbed up the ladder.

"Well, actually, I knew a guy once who-"

"Shut up Mulder."

Scully switched on the light and the lightbulb blew.

"Oh, great!" she muttered. "I'll be back in a minute" she said, disappearing down the ladder.

Mulder wandered around the atttic. Bits and pieces were stuck in every available nook and old fishing rods, brooms and ladders hung from a rack along the wall. A broken desk chair sat in one corner as well as an old rocker. Against one wall boxes were stacked from floor to ceiling. Everything was caked in dust and cobwebs hung from the corners. It was definitely not the sort of attic he'd expected. He'd pictured a nice clean attic with a large window to let lots of sun through and everything covered in dust sheets or in neat piles of labelled boxes. Weird.

Scully returned and replaced the old lightbulb, switching the light on again. "That's better."

They spent the afternoon and half the evening going through Scully's old things, most of which she deemed 'junk' and discarded unemotionally. There were a few things she kept - her old treasures box (which she didn't allow Mulder to touch), some old novels she'd loved and her old teddy bear, the one from the photo.

They were going through her old elementary school exercise books when Mulder suddenly grabbed her shoulders and said frustratedly "Scully, we need to talk. Right now."

Scully sighed and bit her lip. "Mulder..."

"No Scully, dammit, listen to me!"

"I'm listening" she said softly.

"We have something together, Scully. You can't deny that!"

Scully sighed again and put down the books she was holding.

"We'll talk about this downstairs" she said decisively.

"Good" he said, taking her arm roughly and pulling her.

"Okay, okay.. I'm coming."

He pushed her into her bedroom and shut the door behind them.

"Scully..." he began, pacing in frustration. "Jesus, Scully..."

Suddenly a calm change came over him and he kneeled down in front of her.

Scully looked at him as he leaned forward, taking her hands in his. "Scully, I love you" he whispered softly. "You know that, don't you? I've always loved you."

His fingers tenderly stroked her face and her hair, his eyes searching through hers, reading her deepest thoughts. His fingers drifted to her mouth, tracing the curve of her lips.

Scully closed her eyes, letting herself enjoy the feel of his fingers deftly caressing her face. But her mind wrestled with her heart. They couldn't do this - it was wrong... but then why did it feel so right?

Mulder leant forward to kiss her but she pulled away.

"What's wrong?" he asked, startled by her sudden movement.

Scully looked at him with an agonized face.

"Mulder..." she pleaded. "We can't do this. We can't."

"But I thought..."

"I was wrong before Mulder. I can't do this."

"Why not?"

"Because... because I'm dying" she said, her voice sounding strangled.

Mulder cupped her chin in his hands. "Scully, I love you" he said simply. "Don't you love me?"

She looked at him fiercely. "You don't know what it's like to be dying Mulder! You don't know what it's like to live, knowing that you're dying and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it!"

"Then tell me. You can't keep things bottled up inside" Mulder said gently.

"Talking to you is pretty damn useless Mulder. You never listen to anything I say anyway. You're a damned self- centered bastard!"


"No Mulder, I don't love you! You've made my life hell and I hate you!"

Mulder took a step back, stunned and shocked.

That's not true! he screamed silently in his head. It can't be true. She can't mean that. She can't!

"Scully... do you really mean that? Please say that you didn't mean that, Scully" he whispered.

"I'm sorry Mulder" she whispered, tears streaming down her face.

Without a word Mulder turned and walked dazedly out of the room.

Scully watched his retreating figure with a mixture of grief and anger. Anger at herself, not Mulder. Anger at herself as she might have just thrown away the only chance she'd ever have of happiness with a man.

With a man who she loved with her entire body and soul.

She curled up on the bed and cried herself to sleep.

She woke again at three in the morning. The worst hour. She felt numb and empty as she lay staring dry-eyed at the ceiling. She'd shed all of her tears.

At times like this she'd normally write in her diary, her anguish and grief spilling out on the pages. But her diary was back at her apartment.

She felt lost and alone.

When she woke the next day the memory fell across her mind like a heavy black curtain, suffocating her and making her heart ache. Silent tears ran down her face and she whispered brokenly "Mulder... oh God... Mulder..."

She drew her blankets closer around her, her tears soaking large damp patches in them. She cried without stopping for an hour and then she sat, shivering as she gently rocked back and forth.

After knocking for the past five minutes and getting no response, her mother entered the room and Dana hugged her tightly, a fresh batch of tears appearing.

"What's wrong honey?" Maggie asked when her daughter's sobs finally stopped. "Did something happen between you and Fox?"

Scully nodded and bit back a sob. "We had a fight."

"A bad fight?"

"Yeah, a really bad fight. And it's all my fault."

"My poor baby" Maggie hugged her daughter. She knew how deeply her daughter loved Fox Mulder. The ironic thing was that Dana and Fox seemed to have only just realized it.

She stood up. "Come on, I'll make us some pancakes for breakfast."

Pancakes... a spasm of pain flitted across Dana's face.

"You okay sweetie?"

Scully could feel more tears welling up in her eyes. "Yeah, I'm fine" she said, smiling weakly. "I'll be down in a few minutes."

"Okay honey." Scully pulled off the clothes she'd slept in, pulled on a pair of old, faded sweats, and went into the bathroom, splashing cold water on her face. She glanced at her reflection in the mirror and was shocked at what she saw. Her face was tearstained and there were dark purplish circles under her red-rimmed eyes.

"Oh God..." At least she didn't have to go to work today...

"Shit!" she shut the faucet off sharply and looked at her watch.

It was already a quarter to ten and it'd take her at least an hour to drive to work and she had to stop by her apartment to find something to wear and somehow make herself look presentable...

She rushed into the kitchen where her mother was setting the table. "What's wrong?"

"I have to go to work" Scully said, sounding remarkably calm.

"Honey, you're in no condition to work" her mother protested. "You need a few days off to relax."

"I'm fine Mom, honestly." "No, Dana, you're in no state to face Fox" Maggie reminded her. "You can call in sick for the next day or two."

"I can't do that, Mom."

"Yes you can" her mother ordered. "Now, sit down and eat your breakfast."

"I'm not hungry."

"Dana, you have to eat."

Scully shook her head. "I'm not hungry. I'll have something later. I'm going outside."

"Dana..." Maggie started despairingly as the door banged shut after her daughter. "Oh Lord..."

Walter Skinner pressed the buzzer on his desk and spoke to his secretary.

"Alice, could you please arrange a meeting for me with Agent Mulder."

There was a pause.

"Sir, I'm afraid Agent Mulder has called in sick today."

"Agent Scully then."

Another pause.

"Agent Scully has also called in sick" his secretary informed him glibly.

Skinner took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. If his best two agents were off somewhere together -

"Excuse me sir, but a gentleman has called to see you. He says it is a matter of upmost importance." His secretary's voice came through the intercom once again, disapproval evident.

"Send him in."

A familiar figure entered the office, a cigarette dangling between his lips as usual.

"Good morning Mr Skinner."

"What the hell do you want?" Skinner asked warily.

Mr Hunt took a drag of his cigarette and spoke slowly. "I though that perhaps you might find these pictures interesting."

He flung a handful of photographs down on the desk. "I myself found them to be very interesting. *Very* interesting."

Skinner pushed them away roughly. "I don't want to see them."

The other man said deliberately "I believe that Agent Mulder and his partner are both absent from work today, is that not so?"

"Get the hell out of my office" Skinner said angrily.

Hunt raised an eyebrow. "Really, Mr Skinner. You ought to keep that temper under control. You could hurt someone."

Gritting his teeth Skinner repeated "Get out of my office!"

Hunt rose and dropped his cigarette in the ashtray. "Don't worry, I'm leaving. Just remember, you know where to find me if you ever need me."

As soon as the other man had left Walter Skinner drew the photographs towards him, glancing through them. Mulder and Scully at the beach, Mulder and Scully in a caf鬠kissing... He threw them down in disgust and stared out his window.

Mulder and Scully had a lot to answer for.

Mrs. Scully rapped on the door to Fox Mulder's apartment. "Fox? Are you home? It's Margaret Scully."

Mulder opened the door. "Hi" he said flatly.

"I thought I'd find you here."

"Yeah, I... uh... called in sick."

"So did Dana" Maggie said softly.

A pained expression appeared on Mulder's face.

"I won't stay long. I just wanted to drop this off. I think Dana would want you to read it."

She held out her daughter's diary.

"I can't read that."

"Why not?"

"Because it's her personal diary. Because it wasn't meant for me to read."

"All her entries are addressed to *you* Fox. She wants you to read this."

Mulder reached out and took the diary. "Thanks" he said awkwardly.

Maggie turned to leave but stopped in the doorway. Fox was like a son to her and it tore at her heart to see him so unhappy. She said earnestly "Dana loves you Fox. I've known that for years. From the day she started working with you she's never talked about anything else. I see it in her eyes and I hear it in her voice when she talks about you. She just needs time."

Mulder nodded forlornly. "I know. I just don't understand why everything's been so hard for us."

"Life wasn't meant to be easy. But I know that if you love Dana as much as she loves you, you'll find happiness together. Dana's a very private person - she feels things very deeply, although you'd never know that. She's always believed that to be strong you have to keep it all inside, never let others know what you're feeling. That you have to carry the burden all by yourself."

"I just want her to be honest with me." His voice cracked with emotion. "But she won't let me into her heart. She always blocks me out, and I don't want that to go on. Scully's so strong, emotionally, I mean, but -"

Maggie nodded. "Exactly. She tries to be too strong. In some ways that's her greatest weakness."

"I want to thank you for letting me meet you here" Scully began, scratching at the peeling polish on her fingernail. "I don't know if I could handle being at work and accidently meeting Mulder at the moment."

"I understand" Karen Kossoff said sympathetically. "I'm afraid I have an appointment in half an hour..."

"I'll be brief" Scully said with a faint smile.

"I assume that this has to do with Agent Mulder, then?"

Scully nodded. "Recently Mulder and I have - have become more than friends. And he told me deep breath Dana. oh god oh god oh god that he loved me."

"And this is a problem for you?" Karen asked gently.

"Yes.. no.. I don't know."

"What are your feelings towards Agent Mulder?"

Scully said quietly and simply "I love him. More than anything else in the world."

"But you are afraid. Why?"

"I know.. I know that it if impossible for us to have both a personal and professional relationship. I know that a relationship between Mulder and myself would be against Bureau policy. But I also know... that I can't live without him."

"Have you told him how you feel?"

"No, I haven't. Should I?" she asked, desperately seeking advice.

"That's up to you..."

It was Christmas Eve. Mulder was in his apartment, lying on his couch, reading Scully's diary for the fifth time. He'd read some of the entries before but he hadn't felt so strongly the full emotion behind them.

He'd never realized before fully the pain she was going through. She was right - he *was* a self-centered bastard, oblivious to anyone else's pain or suffering.

He put his head in his hands. God, he'd made such a mess of things. Scully was hurting so much, he knew that now. She'd never let him know how much she need him, how much she relied on him for his strength. But what *she* didn't realize was that he was hurting just as much. He didn't know how much longer he could handle her rejection. "I just need time"? Didn't she know that he couldn't wait for her forever? But she'd said that she didn't love him, hadn't she? She'd told him that she hated him and that she'd made his life hell. Why?

"Dammit!" he swiped his arm across the desk and a book fell to the floor with a satisfying thud. He folded his arms and rested his head on them. He felt so old and empty.

His phone rang and he ignored it. He'd let the machine get it.

"Hi, you've reached Fox Mulder. I'm not here right now so please leave a message at the tone."

He heard heavy breathing and Scully's voice came through the line.

"Mulder, are you there? Mulder, if you're there please pick up."

He snatched up the reciever. "I'm here." A lump rose up in his throat.

"Mulder.. Can you come over? Please? I'm ready to talk."

"Are you still at your mother's place?"


"I'll be right there."

He hung up and left the apartment without even locking the door.

He arrived at Mrs. Scully's place and rapped on the door impatiently.

"It's open" Scully called out.

He pushed it gingerly. "Scully?"

"I'm in the living room."

She was curled up in the windowseat and spoke in monotone without even turning. "Mom and Amy went out. We have the house to ourselves."

Mulder said awkwardly "I read your diary."

"Where'd you get it?"

"Your mother brought it to my place. She said you would want me to read it."

"She shouldn't have done that" Scully said, too tired to be angry.

"I know that... but it helped me to understand... what you've gone through. And what you're going through."



She stood and faced him. "I've been thinking about what you said and I just wanted to let you know that... that I love you."


"No, let me finish. If we are to have a relationship, then we'll have to resolve what we're going to do about work."

"We'll think of something."

"We'll have to. And I need to know that you won't just run off by yourself. I need to know that I can trust you to be there for me."

"I'll always be there for you Scully" he promised softly. "But you have to promise me you'll tell me the truth - be honest - and not hide things from me. You don't have to deal with things by yourself. I'm here to support you."

She nodded. "I know."

"Scully..." All that was left of Mulder's self-discipline snapped and he pulled her close toward him and kissed her, his kisses soft and sweet at first, then hotter and more demanding, making her dizzy with exhilaration. Suckling, biting, it felt like her whole body was on fire... He started unbuttoning her blouse with fumbling fingers, but she restrained him.

"Not here. Upstairs" she murmured, pulling him up the stairs and along the hallway to her bedroom, shedding their clothes along the way. They fell back on the bed and allowed themselves what they'd both denied so long. It was too intense to last long, and when they were finished they fell asleep in each other's arms, physically and emotionally exhausted.

Scully woke feeling contented. Her head was resting on Mulder's chest and she could hear his steady heartbeat. His bare skin against hers felt warm and familiar. She reached down and ran her fingers along his thigh.

"Merry Christmas, Mulder" she whispered.

"Merry Christmas, Scully."

Scully lifted her head. "I thought you were still asleep."

"Nope. I guess we've done the dirty deed now, huh? No regrets?"

"None. Except that we didn't get round to it sooner." She smiled dreamily.

"So, was it good or what?"

"It was great," Scully said firmly.

"Best sex I've had in years" he agreed, his fingers jumping lightly around her skin. The act itself hadn't been particularly outstanding - they'd both been so driven with desire and desperation... but the fact that it had been *them* - he and Scully, who he'd loved for so long...

"Only sex I've had in years" Scully said with a faint grin. She rolled over and straddled him, taking his fingers and interwining them with her own. "And if you think that I'm going to let this go as a one- night stand then you've got another thing coming!"

Mulder looked slightly hurt. "I wouldn't do that to you Scully."

She sighed, kissing him gently on the lips. "I know that. I wouldn't do that to you either. It's just that my life's been like a rollercoaster lately and I've come to expect anything. I feel like I'm stuck in the middle of a Danielle Steel novel."

"The rollercoaster ride is over. It's time for a cruise on the love boat" he grinned.

"Mulder, you're a hopeless romanti," she teased. Then she grew serious, moving off him and lying on her side beside him, pulling the sheet up to cover herself as a concession to modesty. "This doesn't just solve all our problems Mulder. We have to seriously consider what we're going to do."

"I know." Mulder sighed. "I've always loved you, you know" he whispered, kissing her fingers gently.

"You should have told me earlier. We would have saved ourselves five years of denial and repression. One thing though, Mulder..."


"Get rid of your video collection?"

"Sure thing. I'll sell them to Frohike."

"I'm surprised he doesn't already have them" she grinned, raising an eyebrow.

"Only pirated copies of mine. He's too cheap to buy his own."

She grinned. "You can get the real stuff from me."

"You betcha." He stretched with a yawn. "C'mon, we'd better get up. Your mom'll be wondering why you're still asleep at-" he looked at his watch "eleven- thirty on Christmas morning."

Scully grinned. "Knowing my mother she probably knows exactly what we did last night. Especially after we left that trail of clothes up the hallway."


"My mother doesn't get 񠳨ocked by anything" Scully assured him. She kissed him quickly.

"C'mon. Let's go downstairs and get some breakfast. I haven't eaten in days."

Scully wandered into the kitchen grinning broadly and poured herself a cup of coffee.

"Somebody had sex last night" Amy remarked.

"Amy!" Maggie cried, scandalized.

Scully picked up a newspaper and swiped at her niece with it.

"So, where's Fox?" Amy asked, undaunted.

Mulder appeared, wrapping his arms around Scully's waist and kissing her lightly on the neck, making her shiver with delight. "I'm right here."

Amy gave her a grandmother a look. "*See*?"

Maggie smiled. "Amy? Don't you have some packing to do?"

"Oh, yeah. I get the message," Amy said, and glancing meaningfully in Dana's direction, she left the kitchen.

"Packing?" Scully asked, bewildered.

Maggie explained "We're going down to the winter cabin for a few days. Amy's going to teach me how to ski. It's been so long since I skiied that I've completely forgotten how. You two are welcome to come."

Scully looked up at Mulder. "Whaddya think?"

Mulder grinned. "I think that would be a brilliant idea."

"Good, that's settled then" Maggie said warmly. "Amy and I are leaving at one-thirty. You two can come with us or you can bring your own car and come down later tonight."

"I think" Mulder said, massaging Scully's shoulders through her robe "that we'll come down later. We'll have to pick up some clothes and things. That okay with you Scully?"

"That'll do me just fine" Scully said, closing her eyes in sheer pleasure as Mulder's fingers explored inside her robe.

Everything was finally going right.

The cabin was completely different to how Mulder had imagined it - for starters, it didn't fit in with his preconceived idea of a 'cabin'. Cabins were supposed to be small, quaint shingled structures. This, on the other hand, was a house. Small, but nevertheless a house - and two story at that.

Maggie and Amy had started decorating it as soon as they arrived and by the time Mulder and Scully got there the house was a dazzling display of tinsel and colored lights.

"Where'd you get all this stuff from?" Scully asked, amazed.

"We spent Christmas here a couple of times when you were little Dana. Don't you remember?" her mother asked.

Scully shook her head. "I remember spending New Years up here, but never Christmas."

"Come and see the tree, Aunt Dana" Amy insisted.

The tree was a tall pine with red and silver tinsel draped around it and a small angel sitting on top.

"It's beautiful" Scully said, closing her eyes and breathing in the Christmassy smell.

"You really like it?" Amy asked eagerly.

"Yep, you did a good job."

"Thanks Aunt Dana."

"Amy, could you do me a favor?"

"Sure. What?"

"Stop calling me Aunt Dana. It makes me feel horribly old to have a teenage niece. It was okay when you were little but... well, you know."

"Okay, Dana."

"That's better" Scully said approvingly.

They exchanged gifts later that night. Mulder saved Scully's till last and he held his breath as he presented the hastily wrapped gift. He'd put in the order for it months ago but he'd only picked it up that afternoon.

Scully unwrapped it and sat speechleess. It was a small black leather-bound diary with her initals on the front in gold. Inside, each of the pages all had borders handpainted painstakingly in blue and green inks.

"It's beautiful Mulder" she finally said. She looked up and met his eyes in complete understanding. "Thank you" she whispered, reaching out and hugging him.

"Hey, look, it's snowing!" Amy cried delightedly.

"More snow!" Mulder groaned. "We'll get snowed in up here."

"That wouldn't necessarily be so ba," Scully whispered cheekily. She yawned and looked at her watch. "It's almost midnight!"

"Bedtime" Mulder agreed.

Mrs. Scully cleared her throat. "Ah, yes, about that..."

"What?" Dana looked at her mother warily.

Maggie began delicately. "Well, as you know, Dana, there's only three bedrooms, and I was just wondering whether you two..." she trailed off discreetly.

"I think that Mulder and I could share a room... if it were absolutely necessary," Scully said with an impish grin.

"Well, if there's no other way..." Mulder grinned.

"Good, that's settled." Maggie said firmly. "You and Fox take the master bedroom and I'll take the boys' old room."

"You sure you don't mind, Mom?" Dana asked.

"I'm sure. Now, off to bed you two. We've got a big day planned for tomorrow."

Maggie watched happily as the two figures disappeared up the stairs, arms around each other's waists. It warmed her heart to see Dana smiling again.

And the fact that it was Fox Mulder who had made her so happy made it even better.

"Hey! Cut it out!" Scully shrieked as Mulder hit her with a snowball.

"Make me!" he said, picking up another handful of snow, advancing towards her threateningly.

"Mulder, don't you dare..." she warned him.

"Don't I dare what?"

"If you throw that at me I'm going to make the rest of your life miserable, Fox Mulder!"

He ignored her threats and kept coming closer until he was standing right in front of her.

"I wasn't going to throw this at you, Scully. I was going to..." he put his arms around her neck "... put it down your back!"

Scully shreiked again as she felt the half-melted snow sliding down her back.

"Okay Mulder, you asked for it!"

She pushed him away slightly and then lunged at him, sending him flying backwards into a pile of thick snow. Before he could get up she jumped on top of him, straddling him playfully.

"Now, say you're sorry" she demanded.

"For what?"

"For putting snow down my back!"

Mulder tilted his head to one side, considering.


"Say it!" she demanded, picking up a handful of snow and molding it into a ball with one hand while she kept him firmly pinned to the ground with the other.

Mulder stuck out his bottom lip. "I'm sorry Scully."

"That's more like it" she said, satisfied, allowing him to get up.

Mulder looked at the ski slope, dotted with brightly-colored figures and was struck by an evil thought. "Hey Scully?"


"When was the last time you went skiing?"

"Fox William Mulder, there is no way in the world you are going to get me on a pair of skis!"

"Why not?" he asked "You're not chicken, are you?"

"Don't be ridiculous."

"Then what's wrong? You don't know how to ski?"

Scully looked at him as if he were crazy. "Of course I know how to ski. I've known how to ski since I was five years old."

"So let's go skiing then."

"But I don't *want* to go skiing" she protested.

"Why not?" Mulder asked frustratedly.

"Because I know of an even better thing to do."


Scully grinned. "We'll make snowmen."

"You really love this place, don't you?" Mulder asked her quietly later that night as they were lying with their backs against the couch, staring at the fire. The dancing flames formed patterns on their faces.

"Yeah. It's like the only real home I ever had."

"You were a navy brat, huh?"

"Yep. We never lived in one house for more than a few years. Coming here was something we did every year - the only thing in my life that never changed."

"And you don't like change?"

"Not really."

"Me neither. Though I'm used to it. I've had very little stability in my life since I was twelve. And not even that much before that."

Scully picked up his hand and squeezed it firmly.

"We're both in a pretty miserable mood tonight, huh?"

Mulder pulled her hands up to his lips and kissed her fingertips lightly. "I know what could make me happy" he said mischieveiously.

Scully looked at him coolly. "And what would that be?"

"You *know*."

"Mulder, do you every think of anything *other* than sex?"

"Right now I'm thinking of a hot bubblebath, with candles and champagne."

"Mmm. Sounds very romantic."

"So how 'bout it?"

"Not tonight."

"Why not? It would be the perfect end to a perfect day."

"Well..." She let go of his fingers and stood up, making her way over to the other side of the room and standing deliberately in the doorway.

Mulder joined her, and she wrapped her arms around his waist, running her fingers lightly across his back under his shirt.

He smiled. "Well?"

She pulled him close to her and pressed her forehead against his.

"Mulder" she murmured. "We're standing under the mistletoe." She kissed him lightly. "Now, what about that bubblebath?"

Scully stepped out of her clothes and slid into the hot water beside Mulder with a sigh of pleasure.

"Mmmmm... the water's nice and hot."

"Scully, you have got such a beautiful body" Mulder drawled, tracing circles on her stomach.

"Yours ain't half bad eithe," she teased, resting her head on his chest, listening to his heart beat.

For some reason she felt completely comfortable being naked with Mulder. With boyfriends in the past she'd always felt self-conscious and shy, but Mulder was different.

Then again, Mulder *was* completely different to other men she'd dated. Maybe that was what she liked about him.

She let her body relax as she listened dreamily to the music playing softly. It was a CD Mulder had brought her for Christmas. A Celine Dion CD. In other words, love songs.

She smiled at the thought of Mulder walking into a store and buying a CD like this. Still, it made his feelings about her pretty obvious.

She felt pretty guilty about the present she had given him for Christmas - a New York Knicks t-shirt. She'd brought it after seeing his old faded one in Australia, but it seemed so inadequate and shallow when she compared it to the diary and CD he'd given her. Especially the diary.

A thrill ran through her as his fingers traced her ribs. "Mulder, you're tickling me!"

"But doesn't it feel good," Mulder whispered seductively, his fingers moving higher up and tickling under her breasts.

"Yeah, but it still tickles. And how come you always get to do the fingerwork?"

"Because..." He picked up a strawberry and dropped it in her mouth, then he eased himself upright and pulled the cork out of the champagne bottle, pouring the frothing drink out into two wine glasses. He handed her a glass, adding cheekily "Don't finish that off too quickly. Scully. Remember what happened last time you had too much champagne?"

"You were just as drunk as I was" she retorted. "And besides, it wasn't just champagne, I distinctly recall drinking *at least* two glasses of Irish Mist and there was the scotch that one of Charlie's friends bought along... Anyway, you still haven't answered my question."

"I get to do the 'fingerwork', as you call it, because *I* say so."

"Mulder, that's a really lame excuse."

"So sue me. Hey, Scully?"


"When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?"

"You've been talking to my mother, haven't you?"

"No, why?" Mulder was interested.

"You'll laugh" she said doubtfully.

"No, I won't. I promise."

"Well... I wanted to be a sea captain- you know, like my dad. We had it all figured out. When he retired, we would buy our own ship and sail around the world in it. He'd be the captain and I'd be his first-mate."

"Like in Moby Dick" Mulder commented thoughtfully.


"So why didn't you do it?"

"You're kidding, aren't you? It was a fantasy, Mulder, completely impractical. We both knew it would never happen."

Mulder hastened to explain. "No, I mean, you could have joined the navy or something like that... that's what I meant."

"Oh... I guess...I - I don't know."

"So how'd you end up a doctor?"

"I just always wanted to be one, and it just felt so right. I wanted to help people and make the world a better place."

"And you never regretted doing that, or later joining the FBI?"

"Nope...If I hadn't joined the FBI I would have never met you" she added softly.

"Sounds like a line from a movie" Mulder said with a lopsided grin.

"Enough about me" Scully said decisively. "What about you? What did you want to do when you grew up?"

Mulder looked at her gravely. "I wanted to be a fire truck."

"A fire *truck*? Mulder, you would have to be kidding!"

"I'm deadly serious."

"Why did you want to be a firetruck? Why not just a fireman?"

"Being a fireman wasn't important enough" he quipped. "Scully, is it just me or is this water freezing cold?"

Scully was suddenly conscious of the water around her.

"It's getting a bit cool" she admitted. "Maybe we should get out."

"Can't we stay in just a *little* while longer? Pleeeease?" Mulder begged, his hands traveling all over her body temptingly. "Just until the candles burn out."

Scully looked around the bathroom at the flickering candles. "*Which* candles?"

"All of the," Mulder whispered, leaning over her and kissing her neck.

"Okay, okay..." she pushed him off her and sat up, reaching out and turning the hot water on.

"Watch your toes" she warned him. "It comes out really hot."

"This is a pretty big bathtub, Scully" Mulder commented. "In fact, it's huge."

"Yeah. Me and Missy and the boys wanted a spa, but my parents didn't. This was the compromise." Scully shut off the water, took another sip of champagne and and stretched herself out on Mulder, wrapping his arms around her stomach.

"I could stay here forever" she murmured after a few minutes silence.

"Why don't we?" Mulder asked, adding playfully "Apart from the fact that your hands and feet would get even more wrinkly than they are now..."

"Mulder! Take that back!"

"I'm sorry... but it's true" he added devilishly.

"Yeah, well, you're getting pretty wrinkled too" she retorted.

Mulder took a few moments to fully grasp the implications of her words. "Scully!" he cried indignantly.

"C'mon, let's be nice to each othe," Scully suggested, closing her eyes hopefully.

"I agree, Dana" Mulder said softly.

*Dana.* He said her name so - so *easily*. It threw her off- balance for a second. It almost sounded wrong coming from him. Almost. Still, she couldn't deny the tingling that had gone down her spine when he had called her that...

"It's a snowstorm!" Amy shrieked. "We're snowed in!"

Scully heard her mother's voice, quieter and calmer than Amy's. "Not so loud. You'll wake Dana and Fox."

"They're still asleep?" Amy sounded incredulous and slightly scornful. "Doesn't take much to guess what *they* were up to all night."

An amused smile appeared on Scully's lips and she rolled over, extracting herself from Mulder's arms.

He stirred slightly and opened his eyes. "Hey."

"Hi. 'Bout time you woke up."

"What's the time?" He looked at the bedside clock. "Jesus! It's past midday!"

"We're really getting ourselves into some bad sleeping habits" Scully informed him with a wry smile.

"Inconvenient but not necessarily bad. What time did we get to bed last night?"

"Sometime after two o'clock."

"You're kidding!"

"Nope" Scully stood up and wrapped her robe around her. "Next time I suggest we start earlier."

"The earlier we start the longer we can stay in."

Scully rolled her eyes playfully. "I'm going to have a shower."

"Can I join you?" Mulder asked mischieviously.

"Maybe another time" she promised, and she disappeared out of the room. As appealing as a shower with Mulder would be, she really needed some time to herself to think over the past few days, and what they were going to do now.

Mulder found Scully and her mother downstairs drinking coffee, the kitchen warm and cozy, safe from the howling wind outside.

"Mind if I join you?" he asked, lazily running his hand through his hair.

Maggie rose. "Would you like some coffee Fox?"

"If it's not too much trouble..."

"No trouble at all" Maggie insisted briskly. "How do you take it?"

"Doesn't matter. Whatever you and Scully are having is fine. Where's Amy?"

Scully laughed. "She thought it would be fun to stand outside for a while. Don't ask me why. It's as if she's never seen a blizzard."

"That girl is really weird" Mulder declared.

"Hey, watch what you say." Scully reprimanded him, kicking him gently under the table. "She *is* my niece, after all."

"And she's my granddaughter" Maggie added, handing Mulder a mug.

"Thanks... I meant it as a compliment" Mulder said with a shrug. "I like weird."

Amy came racing in. "It's freezing out there!"

"I told you it was cold" Maggie reminded her gently.

"You said it was cold, not absolutely freezing." She peeled off her mittens and jacket. "Hey, Nana, can we have a game of poker later?"

"Poker? Where did you learn to play poker, young lady?"

"Dad taught me. So, can we?" she asked impatiently.

"I suppose so. I can't believe your father taught you to play poker!" Mrs. Scully shook her head in despair.

"Great! I'll just get out of these wet clothes and then we'll play. Okay?"

Maggie nodded and Amy bounded away.

"That child has so much energy!"

"How old is she?" Mulder asked.

"She turns fifteen next year" Scully answered quickly.

"Fifteen! You're kidding!"

"She's a bit of a tomboy, I'm afraid. She's like Dana was at that age."

Scully nudged her mother. "Mom!"

Mulder grinned. "I can just imagine you at that age, Scully."

To Mulder the day seemed like something out of one of those soppy family movies where the good guys always win and the bad guys apologise for what they did wrong. Dana thrived in the family atmosphere, she joked, laughed, teased and cheated at poker. Gone was the serious, reserved, and quietly competent Scully he'd known for years, and instead was this new one, cheerful, cheeky and radiantly happy. And he found this one twice as sexy.

She looked gorgeous today, dressed casually in faded jeans and a baggy white woollen sweater. She wasn't wearing any make-up and her freckles made her look much younger than her thirty-three years. This was *Dana*.

He leaned back against the couch and smiled happily. He loved Scully and she loved him...

"Mulder! It's your go" her voice pierced his daydreams.

He threw his cards down on the coffee table. "I'm out. You Scullys are just too good for me."

Dana grinned, her face lighting up mischieviously, and he was filled with an indescribable feeling of happiness and love.

Later in the afternoon Mrs. Scully put on some of the family home-movies and Scully found herself laughing hysterically - when she and her brothers and sister had put on a play in the garage and the stage had collapsed, sending her, 'Miss Dana the Magnificent Magician' sobbing to her father because the entire performance had been ruined; the whole family on vacation somewhere and a ten-year old Dana covered in sunscreen from head to foot...

When the 'movie' was finished Scully stood and pulled Mulder up. "C'mon. I want to show you something."


"You'll see. We'll need out jackets. It's freezing out."

She led him outside into the back garden over to a tall willow tree and untwisted a rope from around the branches. She pulled it and a rope ladder came clattering down, followed by some snow which had been sitting on it.

"Dad and Bill built this when I was about eight. It was our secret hideout."

Mulder peered up through the snowcovered branches. "Not very secret."

Scully gave him the patented Scully look. "The rest of the year it's hidden - practically invisible."

She put one foot on the bottom rung of the rope ladder.

"You sure that thing's safe?" Mulder asked anxiously. "When was the last time it was used?"

"It's fine. You gonna come up?"

"Is there enough room up there?"

"Come and see for yourself." Scully disappeared into the small cubby house.

Mulder climbed up cautiously and looked around the cubby.

"It's bigger than it looks" he commented as he hoisted himself onto the worn carpet covering the rough wooden floor.

Scully looked at the pictures stuck on the tin walls with faded cello-tape. "We'd have sleepouts up here sometimes. It was a bit of a squish for all four of us but it was fun. I haven't been up here since I was fifteen. Almost twenty years ago. God, that makes me feel so old."

"It's in pretty good condition."

"Sometimes my cousins stay here - at the house I mean - and their kids come up here. And, of course, Amy and Josh."

"Uh huh." Mulder looked up at the chime hanging from the ceiling. "That's nice."

Scully stood up and her head brushed the roof. "Ow! Mulder, I advise you NOT to stand up."

Mulder grinned. "Advice taken."

Dana fingered the chime. "This was Missy's. She got it for her twelfth birthday and she insisted we hang it in here. Bill and Charlie thought that it was too girly and whenever they had friends over we had to take it down." She smiled slightly.

"Missy liked that sort of thing, huh?"

"Yeah." Scully felt tears welling up in her eyes.

"You okay?" Mulder looked concerned. "I'm sorry, Scully. I didn't mean to upset you."

She blinked back the tears. "Yeah, I'm okay. This place is just bringing back lots of memories."

Mulder pulled her down into his lap and stroked her hair. "Good memories or bad ones?"

"Good ones. But it just makes me realize how much I miss Missy. And my Dad."

She pulled herself out of his grip and offered him a hand up. "C'mon. Let's go back inside. It's getting cold."

Scully opened her eyes and found Mulder staring at her. "Hey" she said, pulling the blanket up around her. The room was slightly chilly.

"Hi" Mulder answered with a quiet smile, taking her hand and interlacing his fingers with hers.

"Whatcha doing?" she asked curiously.

Mulder smiled again. "Watching you sleep."

"Must be entertaining." Scully pulled her hand away from him and reached across and ran her fingers through his hair affectionately.

"Mulder, I'm worried" she said with a frown.

Mulder propped himself up on his elbow. "'Bout what?"

"Everything. Us. And work."

Mulder looked at her thoughtfully. "I see."

"What are we going to do, Mulder? They'll reassign us. Break up the X-Files."

"We don't have to tell them about us. We could keep it a secret," Mulder suggested hopefully.

Scully shook her head. "No, they'll find out. Maybe they already know."

"You're starting to sound like me" Mulder said wryly.

She smiled faintly.

Mulder spoke slowly. "I have an idea..."


He shook his head. "I won't tell you until I'm sure. I don't want you to get your hopes up."

"Maybe we could just keep it a secret until - until we're sure that it'll last" she suggested doubtfully.

"Don't you think it'll last?" Mulder asked, slightly perturbed.

"I love you Mulder. But that's not always enough."

Mulder said softly "A good relationship is based on love and trust. We have both of them. In somewhat excessive amounts, I'd say. And I'll love you forever Scully." He hugged her tightly.

"I love you too, Mulder" she whispered. It felt good to finally be able to say that so freely...

They returned to Washington the day before New Years Eve. Mulder went through his mail as he listened absently to his phone messages. Suddenly he dropped the letter he was holding and rewound the tape. He pressed play and heard his mother's voice. He could practically hear the stiffness and formality in her tone.

"Fox, it's your mother. I was hoping you'd come over. I haven't seen you in a while and I - I have something I need to talk to you about. Please Fox, it's very important."

Mulder rewound the tape again and replayed the message, the magical world he'd been living in with Dana the past week slowly disintergating as he listened.

He stood, lost in abstraction, until he heard a knock on his door.

"Mulder! It's me."

The door opened and Scully came in, throwing off her coat and kissing his nose. Seeing his troubled face she drew away slightly. "What's wrong? Has something happened?"

He found his voice. "My- there was a message from my mom. She wants me to go and see her. She says she has something important to tell me."

He sat down on the couch and Scully sat beside him. "What's wrong with that?"

"I know this sounds stupid, but I'm kinda scared..." he admitted.

Scully put her hand on his leg comfortingly. "Your mother-" she began.

Mulder interrupted. "I don't want to have anything to do with her. I want to forget about her and the smoking man and Krycek and all the other hateful people. I just want to be with you Scully, away from all of that."

"Mulder, I want that too. But it's not possible. And she *is* your mother."

"So, you think I should go see her?"

Scully took a deep breath and said carefully "It's not up to me to decide, but I think that you should see her. She said that she had something important to tell you. Maybe it's something you need to hear."

"So you think I should go?"

"Yes. I'll go with you if you want" she offered.

"You don't mind?"

"You've just spent the last week cooped up with my family. I think it's fair for me to have to visit your mother." She smiled.

Mulder looked out the window, his eyes unfocused. "Sometimes my mom makes me so angry..."

"You don't really hate her, do you?" Scully asked, concerned.

Mulder looked at her with a faint smile. "No. Somethimes I used to think that I did. I blamed her and my Dad for what happened with our family. But when she had her stroke and almost died I - I realized how much I loved her. I thought that she was going to die without me having a chance to tell her how much I love her and that I don't blame her for anything."

Scully gave his hand a quick squeeze and then stood up.

"This may not be the best time to mention this, but are we - are we going to move in together?"

"That's a big step Scully. Are you ready to take it?"

"Mulder, we've been sleeping together - in both senses - for the past week. Moving in together is hardly one big leap for mankind."

"I know, but are you sure it's not too soon?"

"Positive. Why? Are *you* ready for it? Because I don't want to rush you..."

Mulder grinned. "Your place I assume? It's bigger. *And* it has a bed."

Scully laughed. "Good, that's settled. But I'm warning you Mulder, we do equal housework, okay?"

Mulder looked sheepish. "You've been inside my apartment, Scully. You know I'm not very good at that sort of stuff...."

"You're going to have to learn." She went over to the door and picked up her coat. "My vacation time ends on Friday. What about yours?"

"Same. So we're not going to tell anyone 'bout us?"

"Nope. And we're *not* going to mix our personal relationship with our professional one. Got it?"

"Got it... so, when can I move in?"

Dana grinned. "Well, you can bring your stuff over tomorrow. I'll help you with the heavy packing on the weekend."

Mulder nodded. "Thanks... So you really think I should go see my mom?"

Scully smiled reassuringly. "Definitely."

"Okay..." he stood. "We might as well get it over and done with."

Mrs. Mulder peered suspiciously through the lacy curtains at the couple standing on her front porch. It was Fox and his partner... what was her name again? It started with an s, didn't it? Sully? No, that wasn't it. Scully! That was right. Dana Scully. Her memory wasn't quite what it used to be, as much as she hated to admit it.

She opened the front door and nodded coolly. "Fox. It's nice to see you."

Mulder stood uncomfortably. "Hi Mom. You know Dana Scully?"

Mrs. Mulder shook Scully's her hand formally. "We've met before." She moved aside slightly. "Come inside."

Inside the house was dark and musty, the blinds shutting out sunlight and fresh air. Mrs. Mulder led them down a dark hallway and into a dimly lit dining room. "I've got a casserole in the oven. Excuse me."

Scully looked up at Mulder's face. He looked tense, impatient and slightly nervous.

"You okay?" she asked quietly.

"Yeah. I'm fine." He smiled nervously.

His mother called from the kitchen "I'll be with you in a minute. I was just about to have some lunch. Would you like to join me?"

"I'm not hungry" he said shortly.

Mrs. Mulder came back into the dining room and looked at him coldly, but remained silent.

"You said you had something important to tell me" he prompted her. Mrs. Mulder turned away from and looked at the picture on the wall.

"Fox, there is something that you should know. About your father."

"About Dad?" Mulder's voice trembled slightly and Scully squeezed his hand reassuringly.

"There were certain people - certain men" Mrs. Mulder continued. "Your father worked with them on a top secret project. I wasn't supposed to know anything about it, but I found out anyway. I had an inquisitive mind." She laughed bitterly. "When they discovered that I knew, they - they took your sister. They said that if I ever told anyone.. that she would never be returned."

Mulder felt his anger building.

"Why didn't you tell me this earlier? You always said that you didn't remember. Why have you suddenly decided to tell me? Why?" he shouted angrily.

Mrs. Mulder held up her hand. "Please Fox."

"Who were they?" Mulder asked, slightly calmer.

His mother ignored him and continued "When the woman came, two years ago, claiming to be your sister, I knew that they had done it."

"Done what?"

"They'd promised that they wouldn't do it, but they did..."

"Do what, Mom?!"

"They'd cloned her..." Mrs. Mulder said, closing her eyes briefly. It should have been a dramatic announcement, but instead it sounded almost apologetic.

"Who had? Was it the men Dad was working with? Was it?" Mulder demanded.

"No. It wasn't them..."

"Who was it then Mom? You said you wanted to tell me something but so far you haven't told me anything I don't already know."

"They - they're not from here."

"Aliens? Were they aliens Mom?"

Mrs. Mulder's eyelids dropped and she bit her lip. "I'm sorry Fox..."

Mulder paced around the room. "Are you sure there isn't anything else you can remember? Anything at all?"

His mother buried her face in her hands. "I've told you all I can remember Fox."

"You have absolutely no idea where the key is?"

"Your father never told me. He just said that it was in a safe place."

"Mom, we have to find that key!"

Scully cut in. "Mulder, even if you do find the key, how will you know where the safety deposit box is? If this thing is as important as you think it is I doubt if the key will just have an address and number on it."

"We'll figure it out somehow" Mulder said dismissively. "Think about it. A piece of alien technology just sitting in some safety deposit box or locker somewhere."

"You don't even know that it's in a safety deposit box Mulder. You're just assuming that. It could be anywhere..." she reminded him.

Mrs. Mulder said quietly. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you about this earlier Fox, but I couldn't."

"What's changed?"

She didn't answer him, but stood up, resuming her formal manner.

"I'm feeling rather tired..."

Scully was quick to take the hint, standing and pulling Mulder to his feet. "We'll go now."

Mulder hugged his mother. "Bye Mom."

"Goodbye Fox. And Fox- if you do find the key... they might be prepared to trade..."

Dana Scully lay awake, staring at the ceiling. The past few days she'd gotten so used to having Mulder beside her, snoring quietly, that her bedroom felt so empty and lonely.

The phone rang and she smiled as she picked up the reciever quickly.

"I miss you" she whispered.

A thrill ran through Mulder as he heard her voice. "I miss you too. How did you know it was me?"

"I'm psychic."

"You know Scully, I think that we really have to be more careful than this... if it'd been Skinner on the phone we'd be in such deep-"

"Mulder, I really don't give a damn about them. I love you."

Mulder grinned. "I love you too, Scully."

"You couldn't sleep?"


"Me neither." It was nice to know she wasn't the only one.

"You know Scully, this couch is seeming awfully uncomfortable..."

"Hey Mulder?"


"You wanna come over to my place now?"

Mulder switched on the lamp and looked at his watch. "It's two in the morning!"

"C'mon Mulder. Why not? We're both awake anyway, and it's soooooo lonely here all by myself..."

Mulder laughed. "I'll be there in ten minutes."

"Good. Love you."

"I love you too, Dana."

Scully hung up the phone feeling blissfully happy, remembering the delighted shiver that had ran through her when he'd called her Dana. He'd called her *Dana*.

It was New Years Eve and Mulder had convinced her to come to a 'party' held by Frohike, Langly and Byers, or "The Lone Gunmen" as liked to call themselves. Their idea of a party was to stay up all night listening to the police scanner, hacking and trying out new surveilance equipment. That was, in fact, how they spent most days, so Scully was even less certain now than ever why she'd come. Nevertheless, here she was, stuck talking to Frohike and some dweebish looking guy who kept looking around as if he were being spied on. They gave the word paranoid a bad name.

Mulder came over and joined them and she clung onto his arm with relief.

"Let's get out of here" she whispered in his ear.

"We just got here" he protested. "Besides, it looked like you and Frohike were having a ball together." She glared at him as he continued "The poor guy hasn't stopped drooling since you walked in."


"C'mon Scully, it's only ten o'clock! What would we do for the rest of the night?"

"I'm sure we could find a million things better than staying here! Mulder, please?"

"Okay, okay. But poor Frohike will be awfully disappointed."

"He's probably already disappointed, assuming he knows about *us*, that is."

Mulder agreed. "Poor Frohike. You sure you don't want to stay?"

"Positive. So let's say goodbye and get the hell out of here."

They left quickly, leaving Frohike swaying slightly in the doorway holding a half-empty bottle of vodka and looking mournful.

"So, where are we going?" Mulder asked.

Scully considered for a moment. "Know of anywhere to eat around here?"

Mulder's face lit up. "There's a small diner a few blocks away. They make the best burgers I've ever tasted."

"Sounds perfect."

They found the diner and sat in the booth with their heads bent close together, talking intimately as they sipped their coffee. They were so absorbed in each other that the rest of the world might not have even existed. They finished their coffee and wandered out into the street, the icy breeze bringing color to their cheeks after being in the warm diner. They wandered along the main streets of the city, looking at the Christmas decorations which hadn't yet been taken down.

"Christmas seems like so long ago" Mulder marvelled. "So much has happened in the past week."

"It's been the best week of my life" Scully said happily.

"Me too" Mulder agreed. He looked at his watch. "Eleven thirty. Half an hour to go."

They ended up going back to the party for the midnight countdown Scully discovered that she'd left her keys behind. Frohike was by this time completely drunk, wandering around mumbling something with an obsessed ferocity, while the others were watching a security video in slowmotion, with Langly pointing at the screen and saying "Now, see there- that guy is the one responsible for breaking into some of the military's most top- secret files..."

"Let's escape outsid," Mulder suggested.

Scully agreed readily.

They climbed up to the top floor of the building and went out on the roof, where they could see the whole city lit up. They could hear the shouts of people counting in the new year and Mulder counted under his breath "..three...two...one..."

As the city exploded in a mass of shouts and cheers he pulled her close to him and kissed her. "Happy New Year, Scully..."

"Happy New Year, Mulder" she whispered as she hugged him tightly. She smiled, her eyes sparkling happily. Being with Mulder, how could she not be happy?

"... And so, Chapman has an innate desire to kill in the same ritualistic style... Scully are you listenening?"

Scully stared at him blankly. "Huh?"

"I said that Chapman has an innate desire to kill the same way, performing the murders and mutilations in a ritualistic style."

"Oh... I was just thinking..."

"'Bout what?"

"About how I really wish we were at home right now and we could... you know."

Mulder grinned. "I know." He looked at the clock and said carelessly. "I reckon it's about time we got ourselves some lunch, ya think Scully?"

"I think that would be a very good idea" she agreed. "Where?"

They left the office quickly and by unspoken consent made their way to her place, where they ended up making out on the couch like a pair of sex-starved teenagers. After a whole morning of barely touching the sexual tension between them was too much to restrain.

Things were only starting to get serious when they were interrupted by a shrill ringing.

"Mulder" Scully murmured, nibbling delicately on his ear. "Your phone is ringing..."

"Leave it."

"What if it's work?"

Mulder pulled away reluctantly and searched the amongst the pile of clothes on the floor.


Scully watched him carefully, noting the grimace that came over his face.

"Yes sir... Agent Scully and I are just out getting some lunch... yes sir... thank you sir."

He hung up and Scully looked at him enquiringly. "Skinner?"

Mulder looked worried. "Yep. He wants to see us ASAP."

"But this is only our first day back... You don't think he knows anything...?"

"Only one way to find out" he said briskly, doing up his shirt and picking up his coat. "C'mon."

"Agents Mulder and Scully are here to see you, sir."

Skinner bit his lip. "Send 'em in." He set his lips grimly as the two agents entered the room. They did make a good looking pair - he had to acknowledge that. And to be truthful he wasn't really surprised that this had happened, but it still put him - and them - in a hell of a position.

"I assume you are both fully aware of Bureau policy regarding relationships between agents?" he asked them sternly as soon as they were both sitting.

Oh shit he knows we're sleeping together Scully realized dismally as she met his gaze. She flinched away. She gripped her chair tightly and swallowed, and a flash of something Skinner couldn't quite distinguish flashed across Mulder's face as he handed him an envelope.

"These came across my desk."

Mulder looked at the photos with an impassive face. He passed them on to Scully, who could feel herself going crimson as she looked through them.

"Where did you get these?" Mulder asked. His voice was quiet, but it had a dangerous edge to it.

"That doesn't matter. What I want to know is what the hell is going on?"

Scully cleared her throat and looked at Mulder uncertainly.

"Well?" Skinner demanded. "You do realize that you are both putting your jobs in jeopardy here, don't you? Answer me, dammit!"

He sat down behind his desk and spoke more calmly. "How long has this been going on?"

"Only a few weeks" Mulder answered quietly, giving Scully's hand a quick reassuring squeeze.

"And you expected what? To keep it a secret?" Skinner rubbed the bridge of his nose tiredly. "Do you know what position this puts me in? You two are damn fine agents. I've never seen two agents who work together as well as you do. I don't want to have to break up the X-Files."

Scully found her voice. "Sir, I guarantee you that the personal relationship between Agent Mulder and myself has not and will not interfere with our work."

"And if it doesn't? Agent Scully, that rule is there for a purpose! You two have put me in a hell of a position!"

"But Sir, it isn't actually a written rule" Mulder pointed out.

"Dammit Mulder, you know just as well as I do that it's treated as one. As your superior I am responsible for your behavior, and under all circumstances I am supposed to stop all non- platonic relationships between agents, OR separate those agents. Does that appeal to you?!"

"What if we *could* work together just as efficiently, sir?"

"I can't stretch the rules for you Agent Mulder. You know that as well as I do."

"You have in the past" Mulder pointed out.

Skinner seemed about to protest, but he changed his mind and shut his mouth and sighed.

"Fine. You've got one month. Then we'll see."

"Thank you Sir" Scully said gratefully. "You won't regret this."

Skinner looked grim. "I'd better not."

The next week they managed to control themselves without too much difficulty. Work was reasonably uninteresting - no real X-Files, just reports of foxfires, cattle mutilations, ufo sightings...

At home things were much more fun. They were able to run the household together efficiently and without fighting at all. They stayed up late watching horror movies, shared tubs of chocolate ice-cream, made messes when trying to cook gourmet meals and went jogging together every morning.

To Scully, life could not have been more perfect.

She was with the man she loved. Her best friend. Someone who was loving, caring and kind, not to mention pretty goddamned sexy.


A nagging thought kept echoing in her mind.

cancer.... cancer... cancer... I have cancer...

She would try to forget about it, brush it away, but it haunted her.

Mulder noticed her depression growing. She smiled less and less as each day went past and she became withdrawn, even from him. He was silent about it, partially because he didn't know what to say. But also because he was scared - scared that if he said something it would completely shatter their happiness.

Things came to a head, however, on a Wednesday afternoon in early January. Scully had left work early for a doctor's appointment. He'd offered to go with her but she'd refused, telling him that it was only a check-up and it wasn't necessary.

Neither of them mentioned the drops of blood she'd found on her pillow that morning.

When he got home that night she still hadn't returned and he was starting to get worried. As he threw together some leftovers for their dinner, trying not to imagine all the things that could have happened to her. An accident. Kidnapped. Murdered... Stop it Mulder! he screamed at himself silently.

He grinned with relief when she finally got home, but his smile faded fast when he saw the expression on her face.

Confused, dazed, scared and shocked.

He'd never seen Dana Scully like this before.

"What's wrong?" he asked, his stomach twisting in knots.

Scully walked toward him unsteadily, wrapped her arms around him and burst into tears. He put his arms around her and held her tightly as she cried, deep racking sobs that shook her whole body. When her tears had finally stopped flowing he kissed her forehead gently and asked "What happened?"

She turned her anguished face toward him and said in a choked voice "I - I'm getting worse... my cancer is spreading..." she broke off again and buried her face in his jacket. "I can't handle it Mulder, I'm not strong enough..." she sobbed incoherently.

He kissed her again and led her over to the couch, sitting her in his lap like her father had used to and stroking her hair.

"You want to talk about it?" he asked gently.

She shook her head numbly. "Mulder, I'm so scared... I don't want to die..."

"You're not going to die" Mulder said with certainty. "You can't give up Scully, you can't."

"But I don't want to fight anymore Mulder, I'm sick of it."

Mulder looked upset. "Scully, you can't think that way."

"Mulder, I don't know what to do.." more tears started rolling down her cheeks and Mulder brushed them away gently. She gulped and said hesitantly "The doctor said... that if I didn't get treatment soon my health would- would slowly deteriorate... I'm so scared Mulder!" her voice became hysterical and she clung to him tightly.

"Calm down" Mulder said, his soothing voice helping her to regain her composure.

She hiccuped, took a deep breath and continued. "There's a new drug that's being developed Japan, it's being used in chemo treatments there and it's - it's been successful. The doctor - he said that it's extremely risky, but I don't have much choice. If I don't do anything I'll get worse and worse until... until the end. He gave me six to eight months with treatment, and less then five without it.." She shuddered and Mulder held her tightly.

six to eight months. god no. a death sentence

"So" she bit back a sob and continued resignedly. "I guess it's the only choice I've got."

She started treatment only a few days later, a form of chemo- radiation therapy on an in-patient basis. Mulder noticed with concern how her condition had deteriorated rapidly as soon as she had checked into the hospital. She would tire easily, was irritable, listless and easily frustrated, prone to sudden outbursts of anger or tears. She'd explain the technical aspects of her treatment and it scared him that she could be so well, so damn "technical" about the whole process. But then he realized that this was her way of coping with the whole thing; looking at it from a doctors eyes rather than the patient's.

Despite that sudden revelation, her behavior still puzzled Mulder, it was completely different to the last time she'd had treatment. Then she'd seemed unemotional and distanced, giving no-one a clue to her real feelings. But now she was more emotional- almost more 'human', talking to him freely for hours about everything; her fears, her hopes...

She's being truthful he realized with a shock. No more answers of "I'm fine" or "I'm okay".

She was being truthful because he had asked her to be.

There was one conversation between them that kept replaying in his mind.

Just before she'd gone in for the first batch of treatment she'd pulled the gold chain from around her neck and pushed it into his hand, saying "Mulder, I want you to keep this for me. Please?"

He'd accepted it without hesitation and put it around his neck, the cool metal against his skin a constant reminder of her.

He couldn't lose her. He couldn't.

During the first two weeks of treatment he had continued working, but he found the cases he was assigned boring and he spent his days longing to be at the hospital with Scully. He would leave work as early as possible and go straight to the hospital, spending most - if not all - of the night there. He got very little sleep and as a result became short-tempered, his words sharp and angry except when he was around Scully.

When a message came down that Skinner wanted to see him he was tempted to tell the messenger to go to hell. God, he was falling apart without Scully.

He threw down the case notes he was reading and made his way up the Assistant Director's office.

"You wanted to see me, Sir?" he asked brusquely.

"Sit down Mulder."

Mulder remained standing. "If this is just another-"

Skinner interrupted him. "Mulder, I think that it might be a good idea for you to take some time off for a few weeks. Personal time."

Mulder looked up into his boss's eyes, surprised.

"Sir, I - ...Thank you."

Mrs. Scully had driven down and she and Mulder together waited for Scully during each treatment. After each treatment Scully would be even weaker, after the first few she would wander around or write in her diary but as the weeks passed her energy and strength lessened, until she spent most of her days sleeping or lying looking out the window, too exhausted to take an active part in any conversation. Mulder kept vigil at her bedside, praying desperately to a God he wasn't even sure existed. Promising, bargaining, cursing...

One evening as he sat looking at her hollow cheeks and frail body he remembered a conversation they'd had only a week earlier.

He'd walked into the hospital room where she was brushing her hair - or what was left of it - and she'd smiled grimly at him.

"Hi Mulder." She'd held up a clump of hair that had fallen out. "Looks like I'm going bald."

Her mother, who had been sitting by her bedside had stifled a sob and left the room quickly.

"My mom's taking this pretty hard" she'd said, somewhat unnecessarily.

"You okay?" he asked, searching her face.

She bit her lip. "I have to be strong. For my mom. For you. For me."

"You sure you want to continue with the treatment? It's not too late to turn back."

"Whatever doesn't kill me will only make me stronger" she quoted. "I have to do this Mulder. It's my only chance."

He reached across and hugged her. "I just want you to remember that I'm here for you."

She buried her face in his chest and bit back a sob. "I know that, Mulder. I know..."

"Fox?" Maggie's voice startled him out of his reminiscences.

He turned his head slightly. "Yeah?"

"You ought to go home and have a sleep. I'll stay here with Dana."

Mulder shook his head. "I have to be here. I promised her I'd stay."

Mrs. Scully sighed. "You sure?"

"Yes." Mulder's eyes didn't stray from his partner's face.

Mrs. Scully rose and patted his head "Don't give up hope, Fox. Dana's a fighter."

Dana pulled herself upright with difficulty, resting her diary on her knees. The physical effort was so draining, her limbs felt weak and her head fuzzy. She grasped the pen and started writing, her pen flowing smoothly over the page, relaxing her slightly.

'Death. I've never really thought about it before. Not like this. I've never been more afraid of anything in my life than dying like this, slowly and painfully. This can't be fair. It isn't.

How can I die when I haven't yet lived? I've watched my best friends get married and have kids, telling myself that I would have that too in a few years. A loving family, a home filled with love and affection, someone who cares about me and loves me for who I am. A son or daughter of my very own to hold in my arms and dote upon. To watch them grow and delight in showing them the world, letting them experience the wonders of life on this earth. Instead, I am dying. God, why? Why me?

As my faith in Mulder has grown over the years my faith in God has wavered. I believe in his existence, but I have begun to doubt if he cares about me.

Or if I care about him.'

Mulder gripped Scully's limp hand tightly and stared up at the dark ceiling.

"Listen God" he began awkwardly. "I don't know if you really exist or not. Maybe you're just the figment of somebody's imagination or some April Fools joke that got out of hand, but I need your help."

He glanced around the room, flowers, balloons and 'Get Well Soon' cards sitting on every available surface. He'd bought half of the flowers himself, in an attempt to make the place less miserable... "God, I need you to help Scully. I'll do anything..."

Maggie was lying in her motel room trying to sleep, but sleep didn't come. Who could sleep while their daughter was on the brink of death?

Lord, this just isn't fair she thought with a mixture of anger and sorrow. Dana, my baby girl.

If only Dana wasn't so damn stubborn. If she'd stayed in medicine she could have had a good, safe life. But she'd wanted to join the FBI, so she had. There was no stopping Dana when she had her mind set on something. She'd gone through her FBI training at Quantico without complaints - she knew that her father - her Ahab - had just been waiting for her to give in and admit that he was right. She hadn't given him that satisfaction. She'd endured the gruelling fifteen weeks of training, driven on by sheer willpower, and finally become an FBI agent. And then she was assigned to work with Fox Mulder...

Maggie knew that poor Fox blamed himself for Dana's cancer. He'd lived with guilt over his sister's disappearance since he was twelve, so Dana had told her.

That was why she was careful never to blame him for anything that happened to Dana. She knew that he loved Dana and that she loved him, but that didn't make up for the risks Dana took for her job. Lord, if only Dana and Fox would give up the X-Files- maybe even the bureau altogether... but Dana would never do that. She knew that. Dana was so incredibly stubborn - she got that from her father...

Maggie remembered her husband fondly. They'd had a happy marriage, four beautiful children... Bill had been proud of Dana, although he'd never told her so. Maggie knew that it had hurt her daughter not to know - Dana had always been a 'Daddy's girl' - she'd worked hard to gain his approval but he'd never once told her that he was proud of her. Thank God he had gone when he did. It would have broken his heart to see what had to happened to the family, to see his daughter going through this....

Skinner came to visit the next afternoon, standing uncomfortably in the doorway with a bunch of flowers. Mulder was sitting beside his partner's bed, gripping her hand tightly, his head resting on his arms.

"Mulder?" Skinner advanced forward awkwardly.

Mulder lifted up his head and looked at his superior with red, bleary eyes, acknowledging his presence with a slight nod.

"How is she?" Skinner asked, clearly worried, his chest tightening as he looked at the sleeping figure on the bed.

Mulder's head dropped again and he muttered "The treatment hasn't had any effect on the tumor. It's just making Scully weaker."

"I'm sorry." Walter Skinner bit his lip. "I really am."

Mulder glanced up at him. "Not as sorry as I am" he said quietly.

"You can't blame yourself for this Mulder. It's not your fault."

"But it is. It's because of me and the X-Files that she was abducted in the first place. If it wasn't for me she wouldn't be lying here like - like this." He gestured the still figure on the bed. "She's dying because of me. *Me*."

"Mulder, don't blame yourself. I know that Scully doesn't. She's always admired you and respected you, you know that as well as I do."

"I just feel so damn helpless!" he felt tears choking him.

"She's going to be fine Mulder." Skinner said firmly. "Trust me."

The next three days Scully drifted in and out of consciousness. She was visibly weakening, but Mulder refused to give up hope.

"Scully, you can beat this. I know you can. I need you Scully. I need you..."


Mulder turned his head to see Margaret Scully standing in the doorway, and beside her a tall, tired-looking old man. A priest.

"Hi Mrs. Scully" he said quietly, trying not to show his discomfort at the priest's presence. He'd never felt comfortable around religion, churches and priests. He always felt guilty, as if God were accusing him of not believing in him, but instead leading the life he led. But surely the truth was what God wanted, wasn't it? Didn't God want justice?

Margaret introduced the man by her side. "Fox, I'd like you to meet Father McCue, our family priest."

The old man nodded kindly and as they shook hands Mulder looked at him with more interest. Here was the man who had tended to Dana's faith through her childhood, who had watched her grow up, heard her confessions. "We're going to pray over Dana" Maggie said softly. "You're welcome to join us, Fox." She settled herself down beside the bed and Father McCue did the same.

Mulder was indecisive. He didn't believe in these things - would it feel wrong to do this? Would it be wrong? What would Scully want him to do?

"Dana would want you to, Fox."

Mulder looked up at Mrs. Scully, who was smiling sadly but encouragingly at him.

"You think?" he whispered.

The old priest spoke for the first time. "The strongest prayers are from those who love most. They are the ones that can work miracles."

"I need a miracl," Mulder whispered hoarsely.

The priest drew a rosary from his pocket and closed his eyes. As he started saying the Lord's prayer Mulder closed his eyes, murmring it under his breath. For the first time in his life he appreciated having being taught it as a child by his grandmother. Margaret Scully slipped his hand into Fox's and squeezed it gently. Be strong, Fox. Be strong.

Walter Skinner walked into his office and sniffed the air suspiciously. Not surprisingly, a faint whiff of cigarette- smoke still hung in the air.

He walked over to his desk and eyed it warily. Everything seemed exactly the way he had left it... except for a small slip of paper half-hidden under the "No Smoking" sign. He pulled it out and read it quickly.


He scowled and crumpled the note up, throwing it in the trash. Could he trust them? God knows that if they didn't carry out their part of the deal... what would happen to *him* if he didn't do as they requested? He hated to think about it.

The phone on his desk rang shrilly and he picked up the reciever quickly. "Yes?"

"Ah, Mr Skinner..." the familiar voice came through the line. "Did you get my note?"

Skinner clenched his teeth. "Yes. What do you want?"

"At the moment nothing, except, like you, the well-being of Agent Scully."

"What does she have to do with you?" Skinner demanded harshly.

"Oh, she has more to do with me, with the project, than you can possibly imagine..."

"Are you going to cure her or not?"

"As I said in my note, one of my... special friends will go around to the hospital. I believe you know him... He will carry out certain instructions. He will not be seen by anyone, especially you. You will not be within a twenty-mile radius of the area. Do you understand?"

Skinner set his lips grimly. "I understand."

He replaced the retriever and swore under his breath. So he was to be left in the dark. Bossed around, only a pawn in a game he didn't even want to be playing. This was the price he had to pay. Was it worth it?

The next few days reminded Mulder of the nightmarish time three years ago after Scully had been abducted. Hell, she'd been an a *coma* then and come out of it he kept telling himself hopefully. She's gonna be okay.

But looking at her waxen, empty face and frail body he found that hard to believe.

This wasn't Scully.

Scully was alive, loving, strong, not the lifeless figure before him. Hundreds of memories flashed through his mind; the first time they'd met; her face looking down at him, concerned as her deft hands examined him for injuries; the way she always nibbled on her lower lip; the way she always looked so incredibly sexy in scrubs; how warm she always felt against him when he woke in the morning; the way she was always there for him, a support by his side...

She couldn't die. Not now. Not now that they had finally found each other.

It wasn't fair. God, it wasn't fair...

He stayed by her bedside, his eyes fixed on her face as if sheer willpower could keep her alive. Watching. Waiting for her to move.

His eyes ached but he refused to let them close. He wanted to be there if she regained consciousness, even if only for a few seconds. He wanted to look into her eyes, to tell her that she was going to be okay.. he wanted her back.

"Mulder?" her voice was barely a whisper.

"Yeah, I'm here. Don't talk" he felt his heart beating madly with excitement, even though it was obvious she wasn't miraculously cured. In fact, she looked like death, more so than earlier that morning.

"Mulder, I want them - I want them to stop the treatment..." she murmured, so quietly that he had to lean forward so that his ear was an inch from her mouth. He could feel her small, faint breaths on his face and could tell that the end was very near.

"Why?" They'd stopped the radiotherapy but agreed to continue the chemo, hopeful that it could still destroy the tumor.

"I want to - to die with dignity..." she managed a very weak smile.

"Scully, you're not going to die. Please, don't say that."

"Mulder, let me go... let me die. Please?"

She coughed weakly and he held up a tumbler of water, but she refused it.

"Scully, do you honesty want that?" he asked quietly, his forehead creased and tears forming in his eyes. "Because if you're sure, then I'll respect that decision. But I want you to think about that Scully. I need you to."

She nodded weakly. "I feel - I feel..."

He waited patiently as she swallowed dryly.

"I'm dying Mulder. That's how I feel."

Her eyelids drooped shut and he grabbed her arm. "Scully, no! Listen to me Scully, you're gonna be okay, you hear me?"

"I love you Mulder" she whispered, and fell back limply on the pillows.

For a horrifying moment Mulder thought that she was dead, waiting for the low, monotonous 'beeeeeeeep' to confirm his suspicion, but there was nothing. The machines surrounding her continued their quiet humming.

Breathing a sigh of relief, he vowed not to let himself be scared like that again, but he knew that if it happened again he wouldn't be able to help being terrified.

Mulder arrived back at the hospital, stiff from sleeping - well, not exactly sleeping, more like tossing and turning and having nightmares - on the couch. He still couldn't bring himself to sleep in her - in their bed. Following the route he now knew off by heart, he made made his way to her room.

The bed was empty.

Throwing down the flowers he'd brought, he dashed out into the hallway, grabbing a passing nurse roughly by the arm. "Dana Scully - where is she?"

The nurse winced at his tight grip. "Ms. Scully has been taken for a CAT scan. And please let go of my arm, you're hurting me."

"Sorry" he released his grip and forced himself to breathe. "How long ago was she taken?"

"She should be back in a few minutes. Why don't you get some coffee while you wait. You look like you need it" she added kindly.

Mulder thanked her quickly and slumped down in a chair in the corridor, willing his heart rate to return to normal. For a second there...

It reminded him of that time in the Allentown hospital. He'd arrived there and found her bed empty, and it had scared him. He thought he'd lost her. And the exact same thing had happened today. And maybe soon he'd lose her for good...

Mulder looked with disbelief at the X-rays in front of him.

"What does this mean?" he whispered.

"The cancer *appears*-" Dr. Eddington stressed the last word "to have completely disappeared. I'd like to run a few more tests, but-"

"She's been cured?" take it easy Mulder. don't do this to yourself. don't get your hopes up. oh jesus christ

"Well, I wouldn't put it in those terms exactly, but it appears that the chemotherapy has successfully destroyed the cancerous cells. However, there is still the chance that the chemo has weakened Dana to the point where the non-cancerous cells can no longer repair themselves, in which case-"

"She'll die." God, I swear, if you let her die...

"I'm afraid you must prepare yourself for that possibility. Excuse me." The doctor hurried out of the room, leaving Mulder with millions of thoughts racing around in his head.

He made his way back to Scully's room in a daze, putting his head in his hands. Life or death, which one would it be?

Two days later Scully was showing no improvement. At least Mulder reflected grimly she's not getting worse. That has to be a good sign, doesn't it?

She'd been unconscious since the conversation they'd had where she'd asked him to let her die, and it was scaring him. The doctor had hinted - not so subtly - that the brain cells might be irrevocably damaged, but he desperately hung on to the belief, the faith, that she would survive.

He had been sitting here with her all morning. He knew that he couldn't do anything for her, but he felt he had to stay. He wanted to stay.

Margaret Scully didn't spend nearly as much time with her daughter as he did - he knew that she associated hospitals with Missy's death, with the time two years ago when Dana had been returned in a coma and had almost died. He knew that it was painful for her to sit here and watch her daughter die. That was why he didn't rebuke her for not spending as much time with Dana as he did. Despite all her religious beliefs, he thought that Maggie had given up hope of Dana ever recovering.

But he hadn't.

He wouldn't.

He rested his head on his arms, closed his eyes and muttered a short prayer, falling asleep at the same moment as Dana slipped from unconsciousness into a peaceful sleep.

Mulder woke when he felt someone squeezing his hand gently. He lifted his head, and looked straight into Scully's blue eyes. They were missing their usual sparkle - they looked tired and faded, but in them he could see life and hope. And love.

"Hi" she whispered, her voice rough with disuse.

A grin spread across his face and he felt so happy that he could explode. "How 'ya feeling?"

"Dead" she smiled weakly.

He pulled her gold chain from around his neck and put it around hers. It was a symbol of the many things they shared; love, trust, faith...

"Thanks" she whispered.

"I better go find your mom..." Mulder said, even more reluctant to leave her than ever.

"No, stay. Please?" Scully begged. "I just want to be alone with you."

Mulder took her hand and squeezed it tightly and they sat in silence for a few minutes, until Mrs. Scully came rushing in, already halfway through a sentence.

"- and I was just in the supermarket when I had this strong, strong feeling that -"

"Hi Mom" Scully croaked with a weak smile.

"Oh, Dana!" She embraced her daughter tightly. "I knew you'd come back to us. I just knew it."

A week later Scully was desperate to go home, much to the dismay of both her mother and Mulder.

"I'm fine, honestly" she tried to convince them. "The tumor has completely disappeared and I'm fine. Ask the doctors, they'll tell you that."

"But Dana, honey, it's too soon!" Maggie protested. "You're not well yet."

"Mom, I'm fine. I'll spend the next week or so at home and then I can go back to work and get on with my life."

"Everything's going so quickly..." Maggie shook her head. Only a few days ago her daughter had been on the brink of death and now she was planning to be back at work in a week?

"I agree with your mother" Mulder stepped in. "You're not fully cured yet Scully."

Scully lost her temper.

"I'm fine! How many times do I have to say that? I was in here because of the cancer and now that the cancer is gone I can go home. Okay? That's all I want - to go home!" She bit back the tears that threatened to overcome her. "I'm sorry. But you're not making this easy for me. I just want to get out of here."

Longing for home. Her apartment. Sharing household duties with Mulder - cooking, cleaning, staying up all night and veging out. In *their* apartment. Normality.

"Please? Can't we just go home?" she begged Mulder, looking at him with imploring eyes.

Mulder reached out and ran his hand through the thin layer of new, soft, fuzzy red hair.

"Mulder?" her lower lip trembled and she bit back a sob.

"If you think it's best" Mulder said finally, sounding doubtful.

"I need to, Mulder. I need to get on with my life."

She was in a bright place. A very bright place. So bright that her eyes hurt when she opened them...she was lost... alone... where was Mulder? She couldn't find Mulder... there were faces leering down at her... she couldn't move - she was paralysed with fear...

She woke with a terrified scream.

Mulder switched on the bedside lamp in surprise. "What's wr- Oh Jesus, Scully..."

She was sitting with her knees drawn up to her chin, shivering uncontrollably as she rocked back and forth. Her face was pale and her pajamas were drenched in sweat.

Mulder moved closer to her and put his arms around her awkwardly, rocking her gently as she sobbed. He placed his hand on her forehead.

"Scully, you're burning up. I think we should get you back to the hospital."

Scully shrank away. "No!" she cried explosively. "I'm not going back there!"

"Scully - Dana, I'm worried about you" he said, holding her shoulders firmly.

"I'm fine" she said shakily. "I just had a bad dream, that's all."

She stood up unsteadily but Mulder restrained her, forcing her back onto the bed. "I - I need a drink" she protested weakly.

Mulder left the room and returned with a glass of water, handing it to her and watching concernedly as she gulped it down.

"If you're not ready for- if you want, I'll sleep on the couch tonight" he suggested reluctantly.

She shook her head violently. "No! Mulder, I- I need you" she said brokenly, more tears spilling down her cheeks.

"Okay, okay, I'm here..." Mulder climbed into the bed beside her and soothed her, brushing away the short tendrils of hair that clung to her damp forehead. She nestled against him, sobbing quietly until her body went limp and she fell into an uneasy sleep.

She slept fitfully the rest of the night, her nightmares causing her to wake up screaming, gasping for breath and crying hysterically, until dawn, when she finally drifted off into an exhausted sleep.

Mulder slept very little that night, comforting Scully as she struggled feverishly in her sleep and as she sobbed and screamed, her entire body racked with violent sobs.

He felt so useless and powerless.

Mulder paced the room. What the hell should he do? Force Scully to go back to the hospital until she was better? No, Scully would hate him if he did that, even if it were for her own good. But she'd had a temperature of 102 last night and even *he* knew that that wasn't good. Maybe he should call Mrs. Scully.... No, that was definitely out of the question. Dana had already been driven crazy by her mother's constant worrying...

He heard a rustling and faint murmuring behind him as Scully stirred, and he turned. Standing cautiously beside the bed he laid his hand on her forehead. He grimaced. She was still running a fever. Scully half-opened her eyes and looked up hazily. There was something - someone standing over her.

The picture became clearer- she could see... She screamed in terror and Mulder jumped back in surprise, looking at her, alarmed.

She was curled up tightly and had her eyes screwed shut as she rocked back and forth, muttering something incoherently. He grabbed her and shook her shoulders. "Hey, it's me! Mulder."

Scully opened her eyes slowly and looked at him drowsily. "Mulder?"

Her voice was rough and it hurt her throat to speak, and her head felt heavy and hot.

"Here" Mulder propped her up against the pillows and handed her a glass of water. She took a sip and the water caught in her throat, making her splutter.

"Are you okay?" he asked concernedly as he patted her on the back.

"I'm... I'm fine" she lied.

"Okay.," Mulder said slowly. It was obvious that he didn't believe her - hell, they both knew it was a lie - but she was glad that he didn't argue with her.

"You want something to eat?"

She shook her head numbly. She wanted to sleep... She let her eyes close again and she drifted off into blissful unconsciousness.

When she woke again a few hours later the apartment was quiet, subdued sunlight filtering through the half-closed blinds. "Mulder?" she called out. "Mulder!"

Mulder stumbled in, looking slightly alarmed. "You're awake. How are you feeling?"

"Better" she said weakly. "Where were you? I was worried."

"Sorry. I was just catching some sleep on the couch. I didn't want to disturb you..."

"I'm sorry if I kept you up last night" she said awkwardly.

Mulder sat on the bed and put his arm around her. "Scully, you know I'm here for you. Now, you want something to eat? You haven't had any food since yesterday at the hospital."

Scully pulled away from him and stood unsteadily. "Um... no... I think I'll have a quick shower..."

"You going to be okay?"

"I'm fine, Mulder."

She was finally starting to feel more human again, thanks to the steaming hot water, when a sudden wave of nausea swept over her. She shut the water off quickly, grabbed her bathrobe and flung it around her shoulders, and made a dash for the toilet, retching violently.

Mulder dashed in and rushed over to her, comforting her as well as he could as she threw up. When she was finished he handed her a washcloth to wipe her face and helped her get dry and into a pair of clean, fresh pajamas. Scully was more grateful to him then than she had even been. His touch was gentle and tender as he helped her dress, and she felt safe and secure in his arms as he carried her back into the bedroom and laid her on the bed. "Thanks Mulder..." she murmured weakly as she closed her eyes. She felt so tired...

She slept through the rest of the day and when she woke in the early evening she felt slightly better. She got up shakily and made her way into the living room.

It was amazing how quickly Mulder had managed to transform her neat apartment into a messy pigsty. He'd tidied it up in anticipation of her arrival home from the hospital, and she'd been quite pleasantly surprised about it, but somehow in the past... she didn't even know what day it was - but since they'd gotten home it had become messy again. Half-eaten food was littered around the place, most of it Chinese take-out, and the sink was filled with dirty dishes.

Mulder looked up as she stood in the doorway, shocked at how tired and strained she looked. She looked pale and emaciated, her pajamas clinging to her body with sweat. She smiled weakly and he came toward her.

"Are you feeling better?" he asked, his voice dripping with concern and anxiety.

"A bit." She shivered slightly.

Mulder pulled the blanket off the couch and wrapped it around her, guiding her to the couch where she curled up, exhausted. "You want something to eat?"

She shook her head. "I'm not hungry."

"Dana, you have to eat" he said, sounding exactly like her mother. "You haven't eaten since you were in the hospital. How about some soup?"

"Okay" she relented. She was feeling kinda hungry...

She pulled her blanket closer and flipped on the TV, watching a current affairs program without interest.

Mulder returned with a mug of steaming soup and handed it to her. "Be careful, it's hot" he warned.

He put his hand on her forehead and smiled. "Your fever's gone. How are you feeling otherwise?"

"Tired" she admitted. She took a sip of the soup and grimaced.

"What's wrong? Too hot?"

"No, I..." she put the mug on the coffee table and ran to the bathroom before she was sick all over the couch. There wasn't anything left in her stomach to come up except some disgusting yellowish substance. She splashed water on her face and rinsed out her mouth, trying to get rid of the horrible taste.

Mulder handed her a glass of fizzing liquid which she looked at suspiciously.

"What is it?" she asked, sniffing it.

"Just something to settle your stomach" he assured her. "You want to go back to bed?"

She shook her head and said uncertainly "No, I'm fine."

"You sure?"

She nodded. "I'll just come out and watch TV for a while."

The phone rang and Mulder answered it as she curled up on the couch again, sipping the still fizzing liquid.

"Hello? Oh, hi Mrs. Scully... um... just a second..." he covered the mouthpiece. "Scully, it's your mom. You wanna talk to her?"

She nodded and took the phone from him. "Hi Mom."

"Hi Dana, how are you feeling?"

"I'm fine Mom."

"You sure honey? You don't sound very well."

"I'm okay..."

"You sure you're not coming down with something Dana? Fox said earlier that you were a bit unwell..."

"I've just got a touch of the flu, that's all." Scully gritted her teeth and glared at Mulder, who shrugged apologetically.

"Have you been to see a doctor? It might be more than just the flu. You can catch things easily when you're in hospital, you know, sweetheart. One of my cousins went into hospital for a kidney transplant and caught something and died."


"I'm serious honey. You really ought to see a doctor..."

"I *am* a doctor... Listen Mom, I have to go. I'm feeling a bit tired."

"Maybe I could come over tomorrow and-"

"I'm fine Mom, honestly. Mulder's looking after me."

"Oh... Well, I'll call again later, okay honey?"

"Okay, bye Mom." Scully hung up with a sigh. "I couldn't tell you the amount of times I've had that *exact* same conversation with my mother before."

"Parents worry. That's their job" Mulder said with a faint grin.

"My mom goes *way* overboard, though. It drives me crazy!"

"I can understand that."

Mulder sat down on the couch beside her and brushed her hair off her face. "So, did you really mean what you said about feeling tired or was it just an excuse?"

She yawned as if on cue. "I didn't really, but I do now. I'm sorry Mulder."

"There's nothing to be sorry about" he insisted. "You've been through a lot and you're not well. You need your sleep."

She gave him a quick grateful hug and disappeared into the bedroom, leaving Mulder digging around for a spoon to eat his day-old fried rice with.

The next day Mulder slept late and found Scully pottering around the apartment, tidying up. As he poured himself a cup of freshly-brewed coffee in the kitchen he said, surprised "You don't have to do that. I *was* going to."

Scully threw some empty cartons in the trash. "I don't mind. I felt I had to do something."

"I take it you're feeling better?"

Scully sat down on the kitchen table beside him. "Yep. Almost as good as new. I feel a lot better than you look" she added, noticing how haggard he looked.

"Yeah, I just haven't had much sleep lately..." Mulder shrugged. "I'll be fine."

His mind went back to last night, holding Scully tightly and listening to her helplessly as she whimpered and cried out in her nightmares. At least last night she hadn't woken screaming hysterically...

"You don't look it" she retorted. "You get back to bed. I'll be fine."

"I'm not really tired" he insisted. "I'll be okay once I've had a shower."

He wasn't. If anything, he was worse.

He wandered groggily around the apartment feeling sick.

"You okay Mulder?" Scully asked, watching him concernedly.

He smiled weakly. "I think I've caught what you had."

Scully looked troubled. "I'm sorry."

"It's not your fault. I suppose it was bound to happen."

"Go back to bed Mulder."

He began to protest. "I can't leave you-" but Scully cut him off.

"Mulder, I feel better than I have in ages, okay? You're sick, so go back to bed. I'll finish tidying up this place."

He started to leave the room reluctantly. "But-"

"Doctor's orders. Now, go!"

He obeyed quickly, undressing, climbing into bed, and falling asleep instantly.

As soon as he had left the room Scully flopped down in a chair. Okay, so maybe she wasn't completely well yet, but she was a lot better than Mulder and he'd looked after her...

She sighed tiredly and tiptoed into the bedroom. Without a second thought she slipped into bed beside Mulder and cuddled up against him, falling into a peaceful and uninterrupted sleep.

They both slept all through the day and most of the night, Scully waking before Mulder did and lying stroking his hair. The room was silent, save for Mulder's quiet breathing by her side. She felt clear-headed and in control, no longer plagued by nightmares.

The last few days had been - what was the word? She'd been feeling completely incompetent and helpless, and she hated being like that. She liked being in control. Cool. Calm. Collected.

She ran her hand through Mulder's hair and along his jaw. God he was gorgeous.

He didn't look too sick, she was glad to see. Obviously he had a much milder case of whatever she'd had. Or maybe he'd just been exhausted after having had so many sleepless nights. She pulled her hand away and studied his face.

He opened his eyes suddenly and looked at her with those sexy green eyes, smiling irresistibly. "What'd you stop for?"

"How long have you been awake?"

He considered for a moment. "'Bout ten minutes."

"You feeling better?"

"Yep. Are you?"

"Yep. What's the time?"

Mulder looked at the alarm clock. "Four in the morning."

"Well, I've had enough sleep for days" Scully declared. "You wanna go back to sleep? If you don't we could..."

"Could what?" Mulder asked, although he already knew the answer.

"You know... fool around."

Mulder smiled. "You're on."

"I feel so safe here..." Scully thought aloud. "I feel as if nothing can touch me - I'm safe and secure... I love you Mulder."

Mulder smiled, a smile of pure happiness. "I love you too Scully."

"And I don't mean, you know, just an infauation or anything like that" she continued dreamily. "I mean real love. Never- ending love."

Mulder pulled her closer to him. "I know exactly what you mean."

Scully shifted slightly and studied his face thoughtfully. "I think you do."

She'd heard hundreds of times that you weren't supposed to have conversations like this with your boyfriend. My boyfriend? God, that sounds so - so "light" - such an inadequate way to describe Mulder There were certain things you simply didn't discuss with men - men didn't like talking about emotions. It made them feel 'pressured and uncomfortable'.

Well, whoever thought that unwritten law up *obviously* never met Mulder.

"I missed you so much Scull," Mulder whispered. "And now that you're back, I'm never letting go of you again as long as I live..."

In a shadowy, smoke filled room, a phone rang.

The receiver was picked up.

"Yes? ... Yes, he's right here."

The phone was passed along.

"Yes?" Mr Hunt took a drag of his cigarette.

"It's me."

"Good. Did you do the job?"


"What?!" Hunt broke into a coughing fit.

"It was... unnecessary."

"What the hell does that mean?"

"The woman - Mulder's partner. She recovered" he coughed apologetically "by herself."

"What? Are you sure?"


Hunt stubbed out his cigarette.

"Very good. You'll be notified when your skills are required again."

"Certainly, sir."

Hunt replaced the receiver in it's cradle, his forehead creased in a frown.

That complicated things, that was for certain.

If Assistant Director Skinner found out that the work was unnecessary, then he would have no reason to continue carrying out his part of the deal... the consequences could be fatal...

Scully studied herself in the mirror. She didn't look so pale as she had the past few weeks, although that was partially due to the scanty but skillfully applied makeup. She'd lost a lot of weight recently and had just scraped through the medical evaluation. They'd thought she had an eating disorder.

The most significant change was probably her hair, which, although it was growing at an extraordinarily fast rate, wasn't nearly as long as it had been previously. Still, it looked reasonably normal. Not what she was used to, but normal.

"You ready?" she called out to Mulder.

He appeared out of the bathroom, holding up a tie. "This one okay?"

Scully nodded impatiently. "It doesn't matter Mulder. We're only going to work."

He looked at her seriously. "You sure you're okay to come? Skinner said you didn't have to come back for a few more weeks..."

"Mulder, please? This is already hard for me. I just have to get back to work and get back into the swing of things."

"You sure? I don't want you to do it if you don't think you're ready.."

"Mulder, what did I just say?"

"Okay, okay..."

When Scully entered the office she felt a sudden pang of relief, dropping into her chair. It was almost as if the past month - or longer - had never happened. She was Special Agent Dana Scully; competent, cool, protecting society from the predators of the world.

Mulder watched her like a hawk, his eyes following her every movement.

"Are you-"

She froze him with a glare. "I'm fine Mulder. Honestly. So let's see if we can get through today *without* having that conversation, okay? I'm here, I'm healthy and I'm ready to work. So, what's on today's agenda?"

"Okay..," he said meekly. He looked at her thoughtfully for a moment then turned away, rifling through the papers on his desk.

"Lewis Carpenter; fifty-six-year-old male found dead in his apartment on Saturday 31st January. Cause of death unknown. Adam Jennings; twenty-four-year-old male found dead in his apartment on Monday 2nd February. Cause of death unknown. Richard Owen; fifty year old male found dead in his home on Wednesday 4th February. Cause of death unknown. No evidence found at any of the crime scenes."

He passed Scully a pile of crime-scene photos and continued. "No connection, except this-" He handed her another photo, a slightly blurry one of a simple design, three interlinked circles, drawn roughly on one victim's forearm.

"What does it mean?" she asked curiously.

"I haven't figured that out yet."

"You have a suspect?"

"Yep." He handed her another photo.

"Douglas Eric Bates. A convicted serial killer. Murdered eight men between the ages of nineteen and seventy, drawing this design on his victim's arms. He's currently serving a triple life sentence."

"If he's in prison, how could he have committed these crimes?" Scully asked, waiting for one of Mulder's completely 'out there' theories.

"Wellllllllll... Bates has a twin brother, a Michael David Bates, and-"

"And you think that Bates is communicating telepathically with his brother, urging him to commit the crimes?" Scully asked skeptically.

"Either that... or Bates simply told his brother what to do and when to do it." Mulder grinned. "Feel like a visit to St. Jose Prison?"

Douglas Bates was a tall, tired looking man of fifty-odd. He looked at them with blank, empty grey eyes as they questioned him.

They were about to give up when he leaned forward, his eyes flashing a hue Scully found disconcerting. "You think Mike did it, huh?"

"Did he? Or did you?" Mulder asked, his cool manner unshaken.

Bates didn't answer, but instead observed "Your pretty partner is looking slightly uncomfortable."

Mulder looked at Scully worriedly. "You okay?"

"I'm fine" she said angrily, glaring at Bates. "Perfectly fine."

Bates met her gaze coolly. "Really?"

His patronizing tone angered her even more and she lost her temper.

"Listen to me, you sonofabitch! You're going to spend the rest of your life in here so you might as well-"


She stopped and glanced angrily across at Mulder.


He took her hand, pulling her roughly out into the corridor. "What the hell are you doing?" he whispered angrily.

Scully blinked and shook her head. "I... I don't know."

Mulder's face softened. "This is too soon Scully."

"Dammit Mulder, it's not too soon, and wish you and Mom would just accept that! I *need* to work. It's something that gives me strength and makes me feel useful. Okay?!"

Mulder sighed. "I'm sorry. But I'm just scared, Scully. I'm scared that if I let you out of my sight you might vanish, and yet at the same time I want you to stay as far away from me as possible so that you don't get hurt because of me."

"Mulder, we've been through this before, you remember, after my abduction. You can't shield me and protect me from the world. I'm a big girl and I need to be here."

He looked into her determined eyes for a moment, then bowed his head resignedly.

"You want me to finish up?" he asked quietly.

She shook her head. "I'm fine. I can do this, Mulder."

"You sure?" It slipped out and he was afraid that her temper would flare up again, but instead she just bit her lip and nodded.


She turned away from him and went back into the interrogation room, slamming the photo of the three- circle design down on the table.

"What does this mean?" she demanded.

Bates leaned forward again. "It means, beautiful, that the three are all together."

"What three?" Scully fought hard to keep her temper under control.

"Me, Mike and..."

"And who?"

"...Satan..." Bates smiled, a thoroughly unpleasant smile.


Scully turned to look at Mulder, who raised an eyebrow, saying coolly "So you accept responsibility for these crimes?"

"I didn't kill anyone" Bates said, "I never have."

"*Now* you're telling us" Mulder said sarcastically.

"So you deny any part in these murders, as well as the murders of the eight men, for which you are currently serving your sentence?" Scully demanded.

"I don't deny being part of it. But I've never killed anyone."

Scully looked exasperated. "So who did commit the actual murders?"

"I didn't. So that leaves Satan and... Mike."

"That man's delusional" Scully said crisply as they left the jail.

"Why? Because he believes that Satan is committing murders? That's pretty tame in comparison to some of MY beliefs, Scully."

Scully smiled slightly. "So what are we doing now?"

"Visiting the brother."

"Visiting the brother? Why? We only have Bates' word that he's even remotely connected to this. It's a weak lead Mulder, and I think that-"

He cut her off. "Let's just go visit him, okay? If he hasn't got anything to do with this then we can forget about him."

"If *you* think we should then we'd better."

"Good. You sure you're okay about before Scully?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Just feeling a bit tense. Not to mention the fact that he really pissed me off."

She'd given up getting annoyed at Mulder when he asked her that question. She didn't want to be annoyed at him for the rest of her life.

Michael Bates was completely different to his brother in every imaginable way. Whereas his brother was tall, composed and had a strong, if not slightly overpowering, personality, Michael was short, nervous and had an annoying whine.

"I can't believe Douglas's blaming it all on me. He's always been like that you know, when we were little he'd steal something from the kitchen and then get me into trouble for it."

"You do realize, thought, that he couldn't have committed these latest three crimes" Scully pointed out.

"He has his ways" Bates said with a childlike insistence.

"He's in a maximum security prison. He had no way to escape" she argued.

"And you believe him when he says I did it?" A slightly contemptuous smile broke out on the man's face. "Douglas has always told lies."

Mulder spoke for the first time. "Your brother said that there were three of you, him, you and 'satan'. Who did he mean by 'satan'?"

"Who does one normally mean by the name Satan?"

"Do you admit having a part in this?"

"I don't know what the hell Douglas's been telling you but I've had no part in it. Is that all?"

"Mr Bates, where were you on the 31st of January, and the 2nd and 4th of February?" Scully asked, looking squarely at the man.

"How am I supposed to remember?" Bates whined. "That was ages ago."

"Today is the 6th. We are talking about 2 days ago. You can't remember what you did two days ago?"

Bates sat sullenly. "No I can't."

Scully sighed in frustration. "Perhaps you'd like to come down to the police station and give a statement then!"

Mulder broke in. "No, I don't think that will be necessary. Thank you for your time and co-operation."

With that he grabbed the protesting Scully and half-dragged her out of the house.

"What the hell are you doing Mulder?" she hissed. This was the second time today he had interrupted her interrogation and she couldn't help but feel a spark of anger.

"Listen, today's the 6th, right?"

"Yeah, so?"

And the last murder was committed on the 4th? And the second murder on the 2nd?"

"So what?" Scully asked. "The murders were committed two days apart. Where does that leave us? The killer has a passion for even numbers?"

"Today is the sixth, which means that one will be committed sometime during today, or tonight."

"How do you know one hasn't already been committed today?" Scully asked, mentally kicking herself for not realizing that.

"I asked the sheriff to call me as soon as a report of a crime matching this M.O. came in. Nothing so far."

"That doesn't mean that there hasn't been one committed yet" Scully argued.

"Okay, okay, let's just say that the murder hasn't been committed yet, but there will be one. Okay?"


"So, who's our main suspect?"

"You mean *apart* from the guy in maximum security prison? You're not seriously suspecting his brother, are you? You can't include someone in your list of suspects just because his brother accuses him of the crime."

"I think that it's our best lead so far. And what's one way of making sure Michael Bates doesn't commit murder some time during what's left of the day?"

"A stakeout? Mulder, I hate stakeouts. Especially during the day."

"C'mon Scully." He grinned. "We can spend some quality time together and work at the same time. Besides, it's almost dark."

Scully rolled her eyes but smiled. "Well, I have to admit, I can't think of any other plan of attack..."

Mulder looked up at the grey sky and Scully shifted uncomfortably beside him.

"Mulder, I hate to break it to you, but I don't think anything's gonna happen. We've been here for hours. I think we might as well go back to the motel" she declared, stretching her limbs out as far as possible.

Mulder didn't seem to hear her and she nudged him gently. "Mulder?"

He turned slightly and she could see that his eyes were dreamy and his thoughts were miles away.

"Scully, do you believe in God?" he asked finally.

His question took Scully aback but she answered without hesitation. "Yes."


"Why? I- I don't know." Scully felt confused. "I guess I've been raised to believe that He exists... it's just something I don't question, because I've lived with it my whole life. Do you know what I mean?"

Mulder's forehead creased thoughtfully. "I think so. But it all seems so easy for other people, and yet so hard for me. I don't know how people can love a God who lets the world be like this. I just don't understand." He spoke simply and with a touch of confusion.

"I used to think like that" Dana confessed. "But I've seen things that can only be put down to His work, and - I'm sounding preachy!"

"No" Mulder said softly. "I understand what you mean. And it's just that when you managed to survive against the odds, I couldn't help thinking that maybe, you know, there really is a God. I believe that your recovery was a miracle. That needs no justification."

Scully smiled and squeezed his hand. "I'm so happy that I'm alive Mulder. I know it sounds corny, but it's true."

"Me too." Mulder smiled and kissed her lightly. His lips on hers felt wonderful and sent tingles down her spine. She kissed him back but then pulled away quickly.

"Mulder, we can't do this now. We're working."

"I guess you're right" he agreed reluctantly. "We'd be fried if he left and we missed him - what's the matter?"

Scully had pulled out a pair of binoculars and glanced through them. "He's coming out."

They followed the white sedan for an hour along the backroads of the town and out onto the main road heading north.

"Where do you think he's going?"

Mulder shrugged. "Don't know. But we'll find out soon enough. He's turning."

Bates had turned sharply onto a property on the left and they followed him. Mulder cut the engine and they sat in the dark car for a few moments, waiting for any sign of life from the parked sedan.

They didn't have to wait for long. The car door opened cautiously and Michael Bates stepped out, glancing around quickly.

"I hope we're well enough hidden" Mulder muttered between clenched teeth.

"He didn't see us" Scully confirmed.

"Good. Let's go."

"Shouldn't we call for back-up?" Scully asked.

Mulder shook his head. "There's no guarantee this guy's even up to something."

"He's driven out to the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night and there's no guarantee he's up to anything? Mulder!"

"C'mon Scully, we can get this guy by ourselves if we need to."

Scully rolled her eyes and opened the car door.

"God, Mulder, its freezing out here!"

"C'mo," Mulder whispered, following the tree-line toward the house.

"Where's Bates gone? I can't see him," Scully whispered urgently. Mulder peered through the row of dense trees separating them from the house.

"He's gone inside through an open window. C'mon, we'd better hurry up."

Scully felt her heart pounding as she followed Mulder up onto the front porch of the house. "What are we going to do?"

Mulder considered. "What do you think we should do?"

Scully felt slightly flattered. Normally Mulder just went ahead and did whatever he wanted.

"We should split up. One of us should go inside- although Mulder, you do realize that if we went inside without a warrant and nothing was wrong it'd be kinda illegal..."

"Do you have a problem with that?" Mulder asked. "I know you prefer doing things by the book..."

"To hell with the book" Scully said, shocking both of them. "Let's go inside and see what the situation is, okay?"

They crept through the darkened house together.

"Where are they," Mulder whispered. "I can't hear anything."

"Neither can I... let's try upstairs."

They made their way slowly along the upstairs hallway and as they passed one of the doors at the end of the corridor Mulder put his finger to his lips.

"In there" he mouthed.

Scully looked at the door and decisively dragged Mulder away to the opposite end of the hallway.

"Mulder, what if we're absolutely wrong about this?" she asked in a panicky voice.

"What if we're right?" he asked.

"Listen Mulder, I have a bad feeling about this, okay? Besides, there's no probable cause."

Mulder looked at her convinced face and relented. "Okay, how about we go outside and see if we can get a decent view in. If nothing harmful is happening then we forget about the whole thing and go home. Okay?"

Scully nodded emphatically. "Much better."

They crept back outside, Mulder almost knocking over a vase on the way.

When they got outside they realized with dismay that the only way they would get a clear line of vision into the room was to climb one of the tall poplar trees.

"You're lighter" Mulder pointed out. "I can give you a hoist up."

Scully rolled her eyes yet again. "I can't believe we're doing this Mulder, it's absolutely nuts!"

She kicked off her heels and clenched her teeth.

Thank God I'm wearing pants she thought to herself as she pulled herself up onto one of the lower branches. This would have to rank as one of the craziest things she and Mulder had done in quite a long time. Then again, maybe not...

She climbed up slowly, very difficult due to the fact that it was almost pitch black as the moonlight was blocked by clouds. She put her hand on something sticky and a wave of revulsion swept over her.

"Ick!" She wiped her hand on the rough bark of the tree and pulled herself along the branch towards the upstairs window.

"Can you see anything yet?" Mulder called from below.

"Not yet... wait a sec" she moved a bit further along the branch and had a clear view inside the bedroom. She let out a short snicker and quickly climbed back down the tree.

"C'mon Mulder, let's get out of here."

"What'd you see?" Mulder asked as he followed her back to their car.

She laughed. "Mulder, you know what happens when a man and a woman are in a bedroom together..."

"They were having sex?"

Scully grabbed his arm. "Let's get out of here."

"I can't believe this! Scully, you don't know how glad I am that we didn't burst in there before. We would have looked pretty stupid..."

"We already do" Scully commented, looking at their crumpled clothes and pulling all the twigs out of her hair. "Let's go back to the motel."

They climbed into the car and Mulder was about to start the engine when a pick-up truck drove onto the property, parking in front of the house.

"Must be some party going on" Mulder commented.

"Wait a sec- Mulder, what does that say? On the letterbox?"

Mulder peered out through the darkness. "The Watson's. Why?"

"And what does the side of the truck say?"

"Watson's Mechanic's..."

"Which means that Mrs. Watson is in there with Bates and Mr Watson has just arrived home, most probably unexpectedly..."

They heard a scream, a high pitched female's scream.

"Let's go."

They raced out of the car and toward the house, Scully wishing that she'd worn more comfortable shoes.

As they entered the house they heard a woman's voice, screaming and thumping a door angrily. "You bastard! Let me out of here! You fucken mound of shit! I'm gonna kill you, 'ya hear me? I'm gonna fuckin' kill you!"

"Charming" Scully murmured, scanning the hallway. "We going to let her out?"

"We have to find the others first." He sniffed the air. "Do you smell smoke?"

Scully sniffed. "No, why?"

"Scully, look!"

He pointed to one of the doors along the corridor, which black smoke was seeping out from underneath.

"I'll call 911" Scully said quickly pulling out her cel- phone.

"Wait a sec-" Mulder wrapped his hand in his jacket and touched the doorknob gingerly.

"I don't think there is a fire."

"But how can there..." Scully shut her mouth quickly.

Mulder was peering through the keyhole. "One advantage of old houses" he muttered. "Scully, look at this!"

He moved aside and she crouched down beside him, peering through the tiny hole.

"I can't see anything, just smoke..."

"Wait until the smoke cleares" Mulder prompted.

"Its clearing a bit- well, actually, it's just shifting... Mulder, there's *four* figures inside! I can't make them out clearly but there's one who looks like Bates. The one on the floor is probably Watson, he isn't moving..."

She moved aside and Mulder had another look. "You're right Scully. There *are* four. One of them is definitely Bates and, correct me if I'm wrong, but the other one there looks a hell of a lot like his brother..."

"But Mulder, that's impossible!"

"I can't see what they're doing exactly... it looks like they're performing some kind of chant... I can't hear much, it sound like there's a burst pipe somewhere... wait- I can see the third person clearly... its an older guy... he looks like he's at least seventy or eighty... he looks kinda like Douglas Bates but much older..."

"We have to get inside" Scully said, pulling out her gun.

Mulder stood up. "I think they left the door unlocked, but that's no reason to stop us making an entrance. You ready?"

"Yep. One, two, three!"

Mulder kicked the door and it swung inward.

As soon as the door had opened the smoke vaporised into thin air and revealed two figures, a large, beefy looking man lying unmoving on the floor, and Michael Bates standing over him, his eyes glazed over. He turned toward them and sprung at Mulder like a tiger, snarling.

Scully reflexibly aimed her weapon and pressed the trigger. Bates dropped to the floor with a thud, his body crumpling.

"You okay Mulder?" she asked, letting out a breath she hadn't even realized she'd been holding.

"Yeah, thanks. Is he dead?"

Scully went forward and felt the man's pulse. "No, he's still alive. We better call for an EMT."

She went over to the large lifeless figure on the ground and felt for a pulse. "He's dead though."

"So we didn't manage to prevent a murder" Mulder said disappointedly.

"No, but we managed to catch the killer. Where did the other two go?" she asked with sudden rememberance.

Mulder went over to the window and examined it.

"This window is the only other way out of the room and... it's locked. Looks like it hasn't been opened in years."

"But that's impossible..."

Mulder dialed 911 as Scully examined Bates' gunshot wound.

"I got him in the shoulder. Clean wound" she announced.

Mulder put his phone away. "EMT'll be here in ten minutes. What did you say?"

"I got him in the shoulder" she repeated. "He'll be fine."

"You always aim for the shoulder?" Mulder asked with a fond grin.


The EMT arrived fifteen minutes later, followed by the coroner's van and a squad of police cars.

"You wanna go with 'em?" Mulder asked Scully. Then he kicked himself mentally, remembering the last time she'd done that had been just before she'd been attacked by Leonard Betts...

She shook her head. "Nah. They've organized a police guard at the hospital. He'll be constantly guarded."

"What about the wife? You think she had anything to do with it?"

"They were probably having an affair. He knew that her husband was coming home but she obviously didn't. He took advantage of the fact that Watson fit his victim description and thought he'd kill two birds with one stone. She looks distraught, but whether she's upset because he husband is dead or because the man she was having an affair with killed him I don't know."

"So, how do you think he did it?"

Scully looked at him tiredly. "What, kill the guy or make it look like there were two other people in there with them?"

"Both. And don't forget about the smoke."

"I have no idea how he killed the guy. We'll just have to wait until the autopsy. I don't know how he managed to make it look like there were four people in the room instead of two. You sure about the window?"

"Positive. The sheriff's got his guys searching the house and property anyway. What about the smoke?"

"Could have been a smoke bomb..."

"They found no evidence of that."

"Mulder, it's two a.m. How about we go back to the motel and get some sleep? We can talk about this in the morning."


They were both pretty much dead on their feet and they drove back into the motel in silence, stripped off their outer layers and climbed into the bed slowly.

"Night Mulder" Scully mumbled as her eyes closed.

"Night Scully" he murmured. "Sweet dreams..."

Mulder put down the bag of sunflower seeds and pulled his cel- phone out of his pocket.

"Mulder" he said crisply.

"Its me."

"Did you finish the autopsy?" he asked eagerly.

"Yeah..." Scully spoke slowly.

"What's you find?"


"Nothing at all?"

"Absolutely nothing. All his organs were in perfect order. I have no idea how he died."

"What about the toxicological? Have you got that back yet?"

"Not yet, but if he was poisoned there would be some internal damage apparent in the autopsy and I saw none of that."

"Did he have the insignia on his forearm?"

"Yeah. Three circles drawn roughly with red felt-tip. I took some photos for you."

"Where are you?" he asked, clamping the phone between his ear and his shoulder as he packed up his briefcase.

"I'm at the coroner's office. Why?"

"How do you feel about another visit to see Bates?"

"Michael Bates?"

"No. His brother."

This time Mulder handled the interrogation, much to Scully's relief. She hated to admit it but there was something about Douglas Bates which really freaked her out.

As soon as they had entered the room she had been conscious of a strong negative vibe. She didn't normally notice of that sort of thing, but it made her on edge and tense.

"Let me guess" Bates drawled. "My dear brother has been caught with blood on his hands, am I correct?"

Mulder remained impassive. "What were you doing last night?"

"Last night? Ooooh, that's a tough one. Well, last night being a Thursday, I would have been doing exactly what I always do on Thursday nights..."

"What is that?"

"Staring at the walls."

Scully said angrily "You're going to be here the rest of your life anyway so you might as well tell us whether you were working in collaboration with your brother, dammit!"

Mulder laid his hand gently on her shoulder and she shrugged it off.

"You okay Scully?"

"I'm fine Mulder. Let's get the hell out of here. He's not going to tell us anything."

"What a pity you have to leave so soon" Bates said mockingly.

Scully glared at him angrily and left the room, slamming the door behind her.

Mulder leaned forward, his eyes shining dangerously. "I know you were there. I know what you did and I'm going to find proof, don't you worry about that."

He found Scully out in the hallway.

"What happened in there?" he asked. Scully rarely lost her temper and this was twice in two days...

"He just pissed me off. I don't know why Mulder."

"He deliberately provoked you Scully. He enjoyed watching you lose your temper. The same thing happened yesterday."

"He's a maniac."

"Pretty damn close."

"Where are we going now?"

"To visit brother number two. You okay now?"

"Yeah. I'm just in a bit of a bad mood."

"So I noticed." Mulder grinned slightly and ducked as Scully swiped at him. "Missed me!"

"I didn't do anything, I swear!" Bates insisted for the third time. "It wasn't me!"

"Then who was it?" Scully asked. She hated interrogations that went around and around in circles like this. "Was it your brother?"

"It wasn't me. And it wasn't him."

"So who was it?" Scully managed to keep her temper under control with difficulty. What the hell was wrong with her today?

Mulder said "Your brother said that there were three of you; you, him and a third person. Who was the third person?"

At this point Bates completely lost it. He jumped up as far as he could - which wasn't high at all because he was being restrained by the handcuffs - and screeched "I hate him! I hate him! He makes me do things that I don't want to do! I didn't want to kill them! I didn't! He made me do it!"

Mulder leaned forward and stared at the man almost hypnotically. "Who is 'he'?"

Bates opened his mouth to speak "He - he-" Before he could finish his sentence he started choking and convulsing.

Scully leapt into action immediately.

"Find a doctor, quickly!" she instructed the police guard standing by the door. "Mulder, help me hold him down. He's having some kind of seizure."

Mulder grabbed the man's flailing arms. "What triggered it?"

"I don't know." She struggled to hold him down and yelled "We need a doctor NOW!"

All of a sudden Bates shuddered and collapsed, making a strange kind of deep sigh as the air escaped from his lungs.

Scully released her grip and took a step back.

"He's ... he's dead."

A doctor finally arrived and took in the situation quickly. "What happened?" he demanded, switching on the resuscitation paddles.

"He was having a seizure" Scully said quietly. "I don't think you'll be able to resuscitate him."

Mulder looked at Scully strangely but she ignored him.

The doctor said crisply "We have to try."

Scully took a few steps back, paused for a moment looking at the motionless body, and then left the room. Mulder excused himself and followed her.

He didn't speak, but just drew her toward him and she buried her face in his chest.

"Thanks Mulder" she whispered gratefully as she pulled away.

He smiled and kissed her forehead. "That's what I'm here for."

"So what are we doing now?" she asked, feeling much calmer.

"Well, we can't do anything here. I think that we should go back to Bates' house. I have a feeling we'll find something there."

The home of Michael David Bates was messier than it had been when they'd visited it the day before. Was it only yesterday? Scully asked herself. It seemed like so long ago.

"So *what* exactly are we looking for?" she asked Mulder, who was studying the photos above the fireplace.

"I'll tell you when we find it."

"That's helpful."

"Sorry..." Mulder opened one of the desk drawers and rifled through it. "Photos..." he muttered.

"We're looking for photos?"

"Um... yeah. Photos. See if you can find one of Bates' father."

"His father? Okay..."

Scully searched through a chest of drawers and then bent down and examined the contents of the wastepaper basket.

"Is this what you want?" she asked, holding it up so Mulder could see the burnt remains of what had once been photos.

Mulder looked grim. "Damn. I thought that may have happened." Then his face lit it. "Hey, Scully?"


"You remember that episode of MacGyver when MacGyver managed to read what was on a piece of paper even after it had been burnt, just by pouring a few chemicals over it?"

"Mulder, I've never watched MacGyver... well, only a few times..."

"Where's the closest photographic lab?"

Mulder looked at the reconstructed photo with a triumphant expression on his face. "That's him, Scully."

"Who? Bates' father?"

"He's the third person in the group."

"But, Mulder-" She was interrupted by her cel-phone.

"Scully" she answered shortly. "Yes... I see... Okay, thank you. We'll be there in fifteen minutes."

"Bates is dead," she said grimly as she put the phone away. "Douglas Bates."


"Yep. Seems he had a seizure and died. About an hour ago."

"But that's when his brother died..." The pieces clicked together in Mulder's head.

"Listen, you go on ahead to the prison. I'll be there in about half an hour."

"Where are you going?"

"I'm going to do some digging about Mr Bates Snr."

Scully looked at the death certificate in her hand. "Charles Andrew Bates has been dead since nineteen ninety-two. So what?"

"Because, Scully, he's one of the people I saw in the room. He's number three."

"But he's dead." Scully looked bewildered, and a wary expression crossed her face. "You're not seriously suggesting that-"

Muler cut her off. "Listen - Michael and Douglas Bates both hated their father. He had them completely under his thumb - they did everything he told them to."

"And he told them to commit murder? Mulder, that's a bit farfetched."

"No, Scully, it all fits in. Douglas Bates committed those eight murders the same year his father died and-"

"So you're saying that Charles Bates came back as a ghost and helped his son kill several people?" she asked skeptically.

"His *sons*. I think that both brothers were involved."

"Mulder, we've been through all this before..."

"What if they all had some special gift - astral travelling is commonly known about.."

"-but not ever proven to exist-" Scully cut in.

"But what if they *could* astral travel and return as poltergeists to continue their killings? They obviously need someone physically at the crime scene otherwise Bates wouldn't have gone last night.."

"Why are they committing these murders anyway? There's no apparent motive" Scully pointed out.

"I don't think there was a motive."

"Okay, just let me get this straight. You think that the three of them, the father and the two sons, would commit murders as a group, for no apparent reason, without leaving *any* evidence or apparent cause of death, and that when the father died and one of the brothers was in prison they would still commit the murders, the father returning from the dead as a *ghost* and the brother astral travelling from his prison cell."


"And *why* would they do that?"

"I think that even *after* his father died Michael was haunted by him. He didn't want to commit the murders but his father still had a hold over him, the same way his brother did. And I think that Douglas worshipped his father but grew to hate him as he became more and more psychologically unstable. He hated him but he still went along with his father's wishes, hoping that maybe his father might tell him that what he was doing was right and give him a bit of praise."

"Mulder, that would have to be one of the craziest things I've ever heard. You have absolutely no proof to support this idea. It's pure conjecture."

"But it makes sense, don't you think Scully?" Mulder pleaded.

"From the psychological point of view it does" she agreed. "Well, kinda, anyway. But you haven't got a shred of evidence to the physical side of things."

Mulder looked glum. "I know. But at least there's one thing we can be sure of - they won't be committing any more crimes."

Scully sighed and hugged him. "C'mon Mulder. Let's go home."

They lived uneventfully for the next week or so. It was almost weird that life was so normal. There were no X-Files at work, much to Scully's relief. For some reason she was finding it harder to cope with cases like that nowadays. She was having much more trouble keeping her emotions under control. It was as if Mulder had broken down the walls she'd built up around her heart to protect herself, but in the process he had left her vulnerable and lacking the detatchment she's cultivated carefully over her years as a doctor and FBI agent.

They were both dreading the day when Skinner would call them into his office and decide their fate, but that day didn't come.

Valentines Day arrived before Scully realized - it wasn't until she woke up and Mulder stuck a rose in her face that she remembered.

"Happy Valentines Day, Dana" he said seductively as he presented the beautiful rose with a flourish. It was a cream colored one with pinkish streaks - he knew she liked that color better than the ordinary red, and it was absolutely perfect, without a blemish.

"Thanks Mulder" she whispered, dropping the rose, wrapping her arms around him and kissing him with a passion that could have peeled the paint off the walls. He kissed her back, his kisses hard and hot, making her shiver with delight. They made love right there and then, completely forgetting about the fact that it was a work day.

As a result they didn't get to work until noon...

...where they found out that Skinner had being trying to reach them all morning.

It was as if every time they were finally happy together something happened and messed everything up.

Scully's mind was numb as they were ushered into Skinner's office. Were she and Mulder going to be split up? Was this the end of the X-Files? Of their partnership? The idea of being without Mulder was unbearable.

She looked up and was surprised to see the Assistant Director smiling.

A real shock.

"You wanted to see us, sir?" Mulder asked nervously. "If this is about this morning we can explain-"

Skinner cut him off. "That won't be necessary Mulder. I have something I want you two to do for me."

"What?" Scully asked warily.

Skinner put two slips of flimsy pink paper down on the desk in front of him. "We have been informed that a Russian diplomat wishes to make contact with the FBI but is unwilling to risk exposure. A specific time, date and place were named. I suggested you two for the job. You, uh, might want to take the rest of the day off to prepare for it."

Mulder picked up the passes off the desk and looked at them. "What's this?"

Skinner allowed a small smile to flit across his face. "Have fun."

Mulder's breath caught in his throat as Scully appeared. She was wearing a long, slinky black sleeveless dress which clung to her body, emphasizing her tiny, slim figure. Her skin was almost ivory, making her hair seem even more fiery, and the gold chain around her neck glinted in the light. Mulder was speechless for a moment.

"Do I look okay?" she asked, feeling insecure.

"God, Scully, you look beautiful..."

"Not too anorexic?" she asked hopefully. She'd put on a bit of weight recently but she was still underweight, and all her clothes seemed loose and baggy.

He shook his head. "You're the most beautiful thing I've ever seen" he said, awestruck.

"I'll take that as a compliment" she replied, smiling. "You know, Mulder, you look so damn sexy in that tux that I'm tempted to stay in this evening."

Mulder grinned. "I'll take *that* as a compliment." He held out his arm and she linked hers through it. "Shall we go?"

As they entered the large ballroom Scully remarked "Doesn't this just seem like a movie?"

Mulder nodded. This was *not* exactly what he had expected.

"So whose party exactly is it?"

"It's not a party. It's a charity function." Mulder grinned nervously.

"Uh huh."

"So, what exactly are we expected to do?"

"Haven't you seen 'True Lies' Mulder? We're supposed to fit in and pretend we know people."

She laughed, a sound that made Mulder feel incredibly happy, not to mention incredibly turned on... A waiter came past and they each took a fluted champagne glass.

"Good quality stuff" Mulder commented as he swallowed a mouthful.

"Don't drink too much of it" Scully warned teasingly. "Remember what happened last time?"

Mulder groaned. "Do you have to bring that up constantly? Besides, you were there too and I seem to remember you being much drunker than I was..."

Scully ignored him. "Look at this place" she marvelled.

The ceiling was high and perfectly molded, the walls covered with expensive prints and paintings. The room was surprisingly crowded, although the dance floor in the center of the room was practically empty. The orchestra in one corner were playing.

Scully scanned the room hopefully, looking for a familiar face. Instead she saw a crowd of strangers, men in tuxedos or starched uniforms and women in evening dress. She felt small and insignificant.

She turned and looked at Mulder by her side, his presence comforting.

"Would you like to dance?" Mulder asked, his sexy eyes smiling.

"I'd love to." She put her almost-full glass down and smiled back.

He took her hand and led her out onto the dance floor, their bodies swaying together in perfect unison as they danced. His hand was resting on her bare back, holding her firmly and sending hot and cold shivers down her spine. She rested her head against his chest - she was way too short to rest it on his shoulder - and smiled to herself, a peaceful, satisfied smile.

It was strange, she thought, that Fox Mulder, an outcast of society, a paranoid, obsessed UFO chaser, was her perfect man.

But it was true.

The song finished and they slowly stopped swaying. Scully lifted her head and looked up at him, his eyes telling her a thousand amazing, scary, exhilarating things. She stood on tip-toes and whispered in his ear. "How about we go and get some fresh air?"

He noticed the devilish light in her eyes and smiled. "Let's go." She slipped her arms around his waist and they made their way out onto the moonlit balcony.

It seemed that they weren't the only couple who wanted some privacy in the romantic environment.

Mulder spotted a vacant dark corner and guided her to it. As they walked across the rough sandstone ground she tripped and he caught her, but not before she heard a dreaded ripping sound.

"Ohhh shit..." she muttered, her romantic, dreamy mood vanishing.

"Is it torn?" Mulder asked.

Scully took a few steps out of the shadows and examined the damage. Her dress - her new, expensive silk dress - had ripped up one side seam, all the way up to her waist.

"Dammit!" she said angrily. Why can't something go right for once for God's sake?!

"Calm down Scully" Mulder said rationally. "Can you fix it?"

"With what? My Little Miss Sewing Kit? Mulder, honestly!"

"C'mon Scully, you have to see the funny side of it."

"There is no funny side of it" she snapped.

Mulder looked slightly hurt.

"Sorry" she apologized. "It's just been a long time since something went right for me."

"Hey, I'm here with you. It's Valentines Day and we're together. Isn't that a good thing?"

Dana's face softened. "I guess. Sorry for snapping."

"I think I can put up with it if it means being with you" Mulder grinned.

"Mulder, I've said it before and I'll say it again; you're a hopeless romantic."

"Is that a bad thing?" he asked challengingly.

Scully pulled him close to her and slipped her hands under his shirt. "Not necessarily. I like it."

He reached down and slanted his lips over hers, suckling gently. A thrill ran through Dana as he slipped his tongue in her mouth, dueling with hers, teasing. She pulled away slightly and murmured "This is new."

"Variety is the spice of life" he replied, rubbing his finger up and down her thigh. "What do you say we go home - get a bit of privacy."

Scully nodded with a wicked smile. Then the smile faded.

"We just have one problem..."


She indicated the long tear up the side of her dress.

"What are we going to do about it? I can't just walk out like this."

"What if I walked on your right," Mulder suggested.

Scully shook her head. "Nope, wouldn't work." She peered around in the darkness. "Maybe there's a path from here out to the street" she said hopefully.

Mulder looked at the thickly growing garden in front of them. "You're kidding, right?"

"We should be able to make our way out to the street. If we can't we'll just come back here and think of something else. Please Mulder? I can't go in there like this. It would attract just a *little* too much attention for my liking."

"What about our coats?"

"You can sneak back in and get them. C'mon, I think there's a staircase down into the garden over there." She pointed to a faint whitish mass slightly visible in the blackness of the night.

Mulder looked around at the dark garden. "Y'know, Scully, I really don't know why there aren't lights out here."

"There are, Mulder, they just aren't on. It *is* Valentines Day after all."

"Yeah, I guess. But it's going to make this difficult."

"So what? What's life without a little excitement?"

Mulder grinned at her. "Well, when you put it that way..."

They made their way down the steps and into the thick garden, Scully's two-inch heels sinking into mud. "Oh, great!" she muttered.

Mulder led the way, pushing the wet branches out of his way so they swung back and accidentally hit her.

"Ouch, Mulder! Watch what you're doing" she complained, rubbing her forehead.

"Sorry" he called.

"And slow down, I don't want to lose you."

Mulder stopped and waited for her to catch up.

"Mulder, remind me to never ever do anything like this again!" she said threateningly.

"Hey, it was your idea!" he pointed out.

"Yeah, well, it was a stupid idea. We should be close to the street now, shouldn't we?"

Mulder pushed a few more branches out of the way. "I think we're in trouble."

"What?" Scully braced herself for the worst as she went toward him.

She wasn't disappointed.

A high brick wall was separating them from the rest of the world.

"Can we climb it?" she asked hopefully.

Her teeth chattered involuntarily as the cold wind seeped through her thin dress and Mulder looked concerned.

"You okay?"

"I'm fine. I'm just a bit cold."

"You want my jacket?" he offered.

"No, I'll be okay" she insisted with a shiver that belied her words.

"You sure? I'm getting kinda hot so I don't want it..." he took it off and held it out to her.

"Okay" she relented and put it on, breathing in Mulder's aftershave. It was slightly too big for her but it still felt warm and comfortable.

"Thanks Mulder" she whispered.

He grinned. "No problem. Just make sure you don't trip on it."

"There has to be some way of getting past the wall. There might be a gate..."

"If there is let's find it."

They searched along the wall.

They found a gate.

It was locked.

"Damn!" Scully swore angrily.

"Have you got anything to pick it with?" Mulder asked her hopefully.

Scully hunted through her small purse. "Nope."

Mulder looked disappointed. "Well, I guess we have no alternative but to go back..."

"Wait a sec-" Scully reached up and pulled a pearl- studded hairclip out of her hair. She twisted the catch and inserted it in the lock. It opened.

Mulder kissed her. "Scully, you are a genius."

"Save that for later. We're not home and dry yet."

They stepped out onto the quiet street and realized how shocking they both looked. They were both wet and dirty, his shirt was covered in green stains and his trouser leg splattered with mud. She was clutching her dress at the torn side and her hair, which had fallen messily over her face had leaves and small twigs caught in it.

"Don't we look gorgeou," Scully muttered.

"Very much so" he murmured sexily as he kissed her neck.

She allowed a smile to break out on her face. "C'mon Mulder, we must look a bit weird. Where's the car?"

"Um... wasn't there valet parking?"

"Oh, damn, I forgot."

They looked at each other. "What are we going to do?"

Scully was thinking rapidly. "Okay, you go back in through the front door, get our coats, get the car and drive it around here and pick me up. How's that sound?"

"I *think* it'll work" he said thoughtfully. "Okay, I'll see you in five minutes."

He kissed her quickly and started to move away.

"Wait a second-" she pulled off his jacket and gave it to him. "Put this back on and you won't look so bad."

He put it on, winked at her and crept off. She pressed herself against the brick wall and couldn't help smiling. Why was it that she and Mulder couldn't do anything together without it ending up an absolute mess?

She wondered what they would be doing now if the stupid dress hadn't torn. Dancing? Making-out in the dark like horny teenagers? Just sitting together and talking, enjoying the intimacy?

Damn the dress. Damn it.

She kicked the ground angrily.

Where the hell was Mulder?

What if somebody came by while she was waiting for him? She could just picture herself standing there in the dirty, torn dress and explaining "Well, I'm just waiting for a friend of mine..." She almost smiled.

After what seemed like hours the Taurus pulled up in front of her.

She opened the door and climbed in. "Took your time."

"Sorry" Mulder grinned apologetically. "The big guy in the monkey suit didn't believe I was who I said I was. Wonder why?"

"Uh huh." She looked at the car clock. "God, Mulder, it's almost eleven-thirty. Valentines Day is almost over."

"Don't worry. There's still plenty of time till sunrise."

"So, you're stretching the time limit of Valentines Day until sunrise tomorrow, are you?"

"Exactly. You like that idea?"

"I love that idea."

They got back to her apartment and had a shower together. It was originally only going to be a quick shower to get rid of all the dirt and grime but the hot water made them both relax after the tense evening.

"Mulder, I hate to think about my hot water bill" she murmured as she ran her fingers over his back.

"Don't worry. Remember, we have two incomes for one apartment now. That means we can afford certain ... luxuries."

"A luxury? Is that what you call this?"

"I call it many things." He smiled and kissed her neck.

She released herself from his grip and stepped out of the shower, wrapping her bathrobe around her.

"C'mon, I'm hungry."

"It's the middle of the night and all you can think about is food?"

"This is a different kind of hungry. It has nothing to do with food."

Mulder grinned. "That's more like it."

"Twice in a day" Mulder murmured happily. "I feel incredibly lucky."

"We could make that thric," Scully suggested as she drew lazy circles on his stomach.

"I don't think I have enough energy left."

"Spoilsport." She lay back and laid her head on his chest, listening to his rapid heartbeat.

Her eyes closed slowly and she felt herself drifting off into a hazy sleep. Tonight had been fun. Weird, but fun. And before her dress had torn everything had been perfect. Oh, that damned dress...

"I trust last night went well?" Skinner asked with an amused smile as the two agents entered his office. Both agents looked as if they were in need of a full night's sleep. And was that mark on Agent Scully's neck what he thought it was...?

Scully started. "Excuse me sir?"

"The uh.. party. Did you enjoy yourselves?"

He noted the blush that spread across Scully's face and knew he'd been right to give them those tickets. He wouldn't have used them himself and, despite the fact that he was supposed to discourage relationships between agents, he just couldn't help it when Mulder and Scully were concerned. They made such a damned good couple. And after all they'd been through they deserved some happiness.

"I'm afraid we didn't make contact with the diplomat..." Mulder started.

Skinner smiled. "I didn't think you would. I'm sure, last night being Valentines Day and all, that you had better things to do..."

Scully looked at her superior in surprise. Was Skinner actually *encouraging* things between her and Mulder? That didn't sound like him at all.

You never knew with some people. If someone had told her seven years ago that she'd fall passionately in love with Fox "Spooky" Mulder she would have told them to go for a full psychological evaluation. Life was really unexpected.

"I'm getting really freaked out by Skinner. I just can't help feeling that he's up to something" Mulder muttered, saying exactly what she'd been thinking ever since they'd left his office twenty minutes ago.

"He *could* just be being, well, nice to us. After all we've been throug," Scully suggested without much conviction.

"I suppose that is a possibility... we're both being really paranoid, aren't we Scully?"

"It's a habit I've gotten into, I'm afraid" she replied with a grin. "Comes from working with you for so long."

"He's not really that bad. He has done some good things for us, you know - stuck up for us and defended us. And he visited you a few times when you were in the hospital."

"Did he? Nobody ever told me that."

It made Dana feel strange that her boss had visited her then and she hadn't known about it. She'd known that Mulder and her mother had been there almost the entire time, especially Mulder, who'd stayed with her practically twenty-four hours a day, according to her mother. She'd slept so much of the time during her treatments that the days had blended into each other. She'd woken up and Mulder or her mother had been there, or both. There hadn't been a single time when she'd woken alone and it had been comforting to know that she was loved. It had made the fact that she was dying easier to bear. Neither of her brothers had been able to visit her; Bill was at sea and Charlie was still on his honeymoon and she'd made her mother promise not to tell him because she hadn't wanted to ruin it. But Mulder had been there for her. He'd promised her he would and he had.

It made her feel warm inside that Mulder had been there for her. That he'd kept his promise. It made her realize how incredibly lucky she was to have him.

She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him. "I love you Mulder."

He looked slightly surprised. "What brought that on?"

"I just wanted you to know."

He grinned. "After last night, how could I *not* know?"

"Um, Dana?"

"Yeah?" Scully put down the case notes she was reading and turned to face him, conscious of the warning note in his voice. And the fact that he'd called her Dana. That meant something serious.

"There's something I have to tell you. It's pretty important." His voice shook. He didn't want to have to tell her. But he had to. She had a right to know. It was unfair of him *not* to tell her. And he'd kept the knowledge to himself for so long that it was getting too much to handle...

"Is it bad news?"

He bit his lip. "Yeah."

"Tell me."

"When you were in the hospital getting treatment - the first time, in Allentown... I met a group of men - identical men - ...they told me that Penny Northern and Betsy Hagopian and the others... that they were all barren because of what had been done to them... I'm so sorry Scully... I didn't tell you because I didn't want to hurt you. But I can't lie to you. I'm sorry."

Scully paled as his words sunk in.

"God, Scully, I am so, so sorr," Mulder whispered, taking her hand and interwining his fingers with hers mechanically.

Scully stood and pulled away, and started walking towards the window. Suddenly she turned and addressed him angrily. "Why didn't you tell me?!"

"I'm sorry Scully-"

She cut him off. "Sorry? Sorry?!" she spat out incredulously. "You've known this for - for godknowshowlong and you didn't tell me? You bastard!"

Mulder gritted his teeth. "I'm sorry Scully. I thought it was better that you didn't know."

"Who the hell are you to decide what I should and shouldn't know?" she demanded furiously. "This is my life we're talking about here Mulder, *mine*."


"What, you thought I couldn't handle it, did you? Poor little Scully, the emotional cripple" she said, her tone mocking and her eyes flashing.

Mulder looked hurt, but managed to keep his tone calm as he said "I never thought that Scully. Never. I just wanted to spare you the heartache." oooooohh crap. bad choice of words Mulder. *very* bad

"Right, ohhhhh, I get it now" she hissed. "Mulder, the big strong man can handle something like this, but not little Dana Scully..."

Her angry sentence was brought to an abrupt halt when Mulder grabbed her and pulled her close to him, kissing her with hard, hot angry kisses.

"You're so sexy when you're angry" he whispered.

She kissed him back just as hard, but then pushed him back away from him. "No Mulder, this isn't going to fix things" she said crossly. "You can't just kiss it better."

Mulder sighed and ran his hand through his hair frustratedly. "I guess you're right."

Scully sat down on the couch and put her head in her hands. "You should have told me earlier, Mulder. You promised that you wouldn't keep things from me, and here you are-"

"What was I supposed to do? Just mention *casually* that you can't have kids?"

"No..," she said unwillingly. "But you should have told me when you first found out. I know that you want to protect me and keep me safe and everything, but I can handle it, dammit. I love you Mulder, but I don't need to be protected. I can look after myself."

"But this - it's such a big thing... I - I didn't want to tell you because I didn't want to believe it."

"Mulder, we'll get through this, I promise." She took his chin in her hands and kissed him gently.

"I hope we will. Scully, I'm so sorry I kept this from you."

"No more secrets?"

"No more secrets. I promise."

It was Monday February 23rd. Scully's birthday. Mulder was planning something big, she could tell that. The last few days there'd been mysterious phone calls and E-mails. Mulder had disappeared off in the middle of a work day and she'd had to cover for him.

She just hoped that it wasn't a surprise party. She hated surprise parties. Besides, she felt old enough already, without having a roomful of people screaming out "Happy birthday Dana!"

Thirty-four. Was she really that old? It seemed like only yesterday she'd graduated from high school... done her first autopsy... applied to join the FBI... first met Fox Mulder...

Her face softened at the thought of him. God, she loved him. Loved him so much that it hurt. Loved him so much that she felt as if she could walk on air.

And he loved her. She smiled and turned on her computer, fetching herself a mug of coffee as she waited for it to boot up.

The first thing she noticed was the new screensaver. Instead of the flying toasters the screen was covered in birthday cakes, all with flickering candles, and the message "Happy Birthday".

She gritted her teeth.

"Mulder, I am going to kill you" she muttered under her breath.

Sure, it was sweet, she had to admit that, but she didn't want everyone to know that it was her birthday. Not that everyone didn't already know...

She dialed up and clicked on the E-mail icon in the corner. The computer informed her that she had three new messages.

The first one was from Lynette and she read through it eagerly.

Hi!!!!! We just got back from Europe and caught up on all the news. Your mom said you're cancer was completely cured and that you're back at work. My reaction was "SHIT!?!" It took your mom about two hours to actually convince me. Charlie was a bit angry 'cos he thinks he should have been there - you know, families should stick together & be there for each other - but your mom said you'd made her promise not to tell us 'cos you didn't want to interrupt our honeymoon. God, Dana, you are just so completely unbelievable, did you know that? I mean, you're absolutely AMAZING! You Scullys never cease to amaze me.

Guess what?!! Another one is going to join the clan, due sometime near the end of August! Yep, you heard right, Charlie and I are PREGNANT and we are both absolutely THRILLED!!! We know that we just got married and everything but we have a habit of doing everything in a rush. Life's so much more fun that way!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Sorry we can't be there but we promised to visit my mom and she's on the other side of the country.

Gotta go now. Charlie's telling me to hurry up. Married life is such a drag g. Charlie sends his love & says a card is in the post.

Love Lyn

P.S - I'll ring you as soon as I can and we'll catch up on all the goss (ie. FOX MULDER. Your mom says that things between you are getting pretty serious g)

Scully smiled as she read the last bit. "Serious is a bit of an understatement" she murmured to herself happily.

She typed out a reply rapidly.



Its my birthday and I'm entitled to a little depression, so I'll keep this short and sweet: *Congrats to you and Charlie!!!! There's always room for one more Scully! *A card is in the post? Tell Charlie I haven't fallen for that one in years. *Serious? Between me and Mulder? You have no idea! *Not another birthday! I feel so incredibly OLD!!! I have a nasty feeling Mulder is planning some sort of surprise. I think I'll kill him. *I'll try to ring you tonight.

:-) Dana


Mulder came up behind her and kissed her neck. "How's my favorite birthday girl?"

"As well as could be expected. Could you change the screensaver back, please?"

Mulder pouted. "Didn't you like it?"

"The whole world doesn't have to know it's my birthday, Mulder."

He pulled a bunch of flowers from behind his back with a flourish. "Too late."

She accepted them with a pleased smile. "They're beautiful."

Mulder grinned. "Just like you." He grabbed her hand and pulled her up out of her chair.

"Where are we going?" she asked.

"We're having lunch with your mother. C'mon."

"But Mulder!" She protested. "It's a workday. And it's not even ten o'clock yet."

"We'll get a head start. C'mon. It's your birthday. You're entitled to take half the day off."

"Not legally. Mulder, what are you up to?"

Mulder smiled innocently. "I'm not up to anything at all."

"Yeah, right. Okay, just let me pack up here first." She sent her reply and shut down her computer. "Should I put these in a vase here or take them with me?" she asked Mulder, holding up the flowers.

"Bring 'em with you. C'mon."

"All right, all right..." she glanced around quickly as Mulder hurried her out of the room. She had a bad feeling about this.

Mulder watched her carefully as she unlocked the door to her apartment.

"So, what was it exactly that you had to pick up here?" she asked Mulder, giving him a look that clearly said "I know exactly what you're up to but I'll go along with it anyway."

"Just a few things" he said vaguely.

Scully opened the door and switched on the light, bracing herself for the usual collection of cheers and shouts of "Happy Birthday!!!" that came with a 'surprise' birthday party.

There was silence.

She breathed a sigh of relief and threw down her overcoat.

The phone rang and Mulder made a dash for it. "Hello? Oh, hi Mrs. Scully. You can't? That's a real pity. No, I'm sure Dana would understand. Okay, we'll see you sometime then. Bye."

He turned to Scully who was waiting expectantly.

"That was your mother" he said unnecessarily. "One of her cousins is sick and she had to go visit her. She can't meet us for lunch."

Scully looked at him carefully. Was he telling the truth? It was hard to decide. She might as well go with it.

"She can't? What a pity." She managed a disappointed look.

"Oh well. Are we still going to have lunch?"

"Mulder, it's only ten-thirty."

"We'll make it brunch then."

They ate at a small seafood restaurant. Mulder was being charming and sweet as normal, but he seemed a trifle distracted. He kept digging his hand in the pocket and then looking relieved as if he thought he'd lost something out of it.

At twenty to twelve he looked at his watch and jumped up. "C'mon Scully, we'd better get back to work."

"But you said that-"

He cut her off and tried to sound nonchalant. "I've uh... got a meeting with someone at twelve. I don't want to be late."

"With who?" she asked curiously.

"You'll find out when we get there."

Mulder paid the bill quickly and hustled her, protesting, out of the restaurant.

They arrived back at the office and Scully was relieved to find it exactly the way they had left it. Nobody jumping out from behind desks. No streamers. No balloons. Thank God. Although she couldn't help feeling slightly disappointed...

Scully wiggled her key in the lock while Mulder tapped his foot impatiently behind her. She switched on the light and stepped forward, the scene she'd been dreading all day exploding in front of her.

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY DANA!!!" a whole crowd of people yelled all at once. She grinned despite herself as the crowd of people surrounded her. Her mother was there, of course, and Langly, Frohike and Byers, and a handful of her friends and cousins, most of whom she hadn't seen in years.

"You like," Mulder whispered in her ear.

"Mulder, I'm going to kill you!"

"You kill me and you won't get your present" he warned.

"Do I even want it?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.

He smiled. "I think you do."

Scully felt her stomach twisting into knots. God, she hated suspense.

Mulder's hand dove into his pocket and a look of indecision appeared on his face.

Should I or shouldn't I? Maybe now isn't the best time... but God, I don't know how much longer I can wait...

He pulled his hand resignedly out of his pocket. "C'mon Scully, let's see if anyone brought any decent food."

Three hours later her apartment looked like a cyclone had hit it. Only Mulder, Scully, her mother, Frohike and Langly remained, where Byers had gotten to Scully had no idea.

"So, Mulder, where's my present?" she asked him, wrapping her arms around his waist.

"You'll get it soon" he promised.

"But I don't want to wait" she pouted.

The door was opened and Byers staggered in, holding a large box. He dropped it on the sofa and flopped down beside it. "Jeez, Mulder. That thing is heavy!"

Scully eyed the box. "Is *that* my present?"

Mulder grinned. "Yep. Open it."

Scully went over to the sofa and cautiously undid the flaps. She squealed delightedly and held up a small, wriggling puppy. "Oh, he's gorgeous! Thank you Mulder!"

"Purebred golden retriever," Mulder said proudly. "A REAL dog."

Dana leaned back against Mulder and petted the dog curled up asleep beside her. "What should we call him?"

Mulder shrugged. "It's up to you. He's your dog."

"He's *our* dog. Is anything wrong Mulder?

Mulder shook his head. "No. Why?"

"You just seem kinda, I don't know, distracted."

"Sorry. I was just thinking about something."


Mulder asked irritatedly "What is this? An interrogation?"

Scully pulled away from him slightly. "No."

Mulder noticed how hurt she looked. "Sorry. I'm just tired. I think I'll go to bed." He eased himself out from under her and left without another word.

Scully curled up on the couch, trying to recapture the warmth that had Mulder had given her. She felt a strange, dull ache in her heart. Why? she asked herself. It wasn't as if they'd had a fight or anything. Mulder was just tired. That was all. Wasn't it?

Scully leaned back in her chair with a sigh. Things between her and Mulder had become strained in the past day or two and she wasn't quite sure why.

It hurt her that he wouldn't talk to her. Whenever she'd ask him what was wrong he'd say that it was nothing. Dammit, he was beginning to sound like her.

She watched him as he fiddled with the slide projector.

God, he was gorgeous. She couldn't lose him. She loved him too much. A cry rose up in her throat and Mulder turned, surprised. "What's wrong?"

She bit her lip and shook her head. "Nothing."

There she went again. What was it with her and Mulder? Practically every conversation they ever had consisted of "Are you okay?" or "What's the matter?"

And the most common answers were "I'm fine." "I'm okay." "It's nothing."

Dammit. It *was* something. She and Mulder had gone back a step in their relationship before she'd realized it. Was it too late to undo that?

Mulder perched uncomfortably at his desk and she forced herself to listen to him.

"These photographs were taken a month ago on an island off the south coast of Vancouver Island. By a wildlife photographer."

Scully looked at the picture and clicked into skeptic mode. "You have got to be kidding me! What is this? Jurassic Park Three?"

Mulder continued. "She claimed that she saw small reptiles, which looked exactly like miniature raptors."


"Yeah, her name is Alanna Moore. She sent me these photos. Wants us to investigate it."

"You know her?"

Mulder looked sheepish. "Someone told her about how we investigate unusual phenomena and she rang me the other day. Asked if we could meet somewhere and discuss it."

Scully felt a pang of jealousy. "When was this?"

"Um, a few days ago."

"And you never told me?"

Mulder looked awkwardly around the room. "She said that her husband didn't want too many people to know. Apparently she's already considered a bit ...strange."

"Her husband?" Scully sighed in relief, feeling foolish.

Mulder didn't seem to notice her sudden relief. "Yeah, he's a bit of an explorer. They go camping in out of the world spots."

"So, what are we going to do?"

"We're going to go see if we can find ourselves a dinosaur."

"Mulder, dinosaurs have been extinct for thousands - for millions of years."

Mulder flipped through all the rest of the slides. "Maybe not all of them."

"Dana? It's Mom."

Scully shifted the phone to her right hand and resignedly put down the case reports she'd been hoping to look through. "Hi Mom..."

"How are you feeling Dana?"

"I'm fine Mom. I'm now one hundred percent cancer free, remember?"

"I know sweetie, it's just the Fox said you'd had a touch of the flu lately. He thought maybe the virus you'd had last month had returned..."

"I'm fine Mom. I've just been sick a few times. It's just a stomach bug or something."

"You know, Dana," Maggie cleared her throat discreetly "when I was pregnant-"

Scully cut her off "Mom, I am *not* pregnant!"

"How can you be so sure? What you described to me was exactly what happened to me when I was pregnant with you and the others. Morning sickness at it's worst. I'd be up half the night sick for a few days and then I'd feel absolutely fine for the following weeks..."

"Mommmmmmm..." Scully groaned.

"No, listen to me, Dana-"

"No Mom, listen to *me*. Stress and dramatic weight loss - and sickness - can cause-" Dana began but her mother caught a strange note in her voice and interrupted her.

"How late are you, Dana?" she asked sharply.

"Two months" Scully replied miserably. Two months since her last period. They'd been very erratic the past few years, she didn't know why. She just put it down to hormones, constant travel, illness, emotional instability and the stress that came with her job.

"TWO MONTHS! Dana! And you haven't done anything about it."

"Mom, I'm not pregnant. I can't be. It's impossible."

"Why is it impossible?"

"Because - I mean , I've been undergoing chemo for the past few months and that alone would-" she sighed unhappily. "Mulder told me the Penny Northern and the others - they were all barren because of their abductions. I can't have kids."

"Oh Dana, why didn't you tell me?" Maggie sounded heartbroken.

"I didn't know for sure. I still don't know for sure. I don't know whether to believe it or not. Mulder does though. I haven't had a fertility test... I'm too scared to. I don't know Mom. It's all so complicated."

Scully shook her head. This was all too confusing. She wasn't ready to deal with it. She needed time. God she needed time...

"Mom, I have to go. Mulder and I have a new case and I've got to pack."

Mrs. Scully sighed and spoke wistfully. "I just think that you and Fox would make great parents. Even if you did have to undergo fertility treatment or adopt. Think about it, honey."

"Yeah. I will. Bye Mom..."

Mulder shifted his pack awkwardly on his back. "How much further to the campsite?" he asked.

"We've got at least an hour to go. Tomorrow we'll have to be going most of the day" Alanna Moore answered briskly.

She was a tall, slim woman, maybe twenty eight or nine, with long curly chestnut hair tied back. Her husband, Jacob, was about the same age, with longish hair and a goatee. Mulder and Scully travelled a few feet behind the Moores, who showed no sign of tiredness.

"My feet are killing m," Scully muttered. "We've been walking for so long."

Mulder looked at his watch. "Three and a half hours. Seems like more. Wanna have a break?"

Scully shook her head. "Nope. If I stop I don't think I'll ever be able to get up again."

"Same. So, what do you think of the Moores?"

"They're both fit, for one thing. Much fitter than us."

"Tell me something I don't know."

Scully smiled slightly. "They both seem trustworthy. Pretty confident that they'll be able to find the same spot again."

"Yeah" Mulder looked thoughtful.

They were silent the rest of the trek except for a few desultory comments, concentrating their energy on putting one foot after the other. They finally arrived at the campsite, a small clearing only a few square yards, the sunlight was slowly dwindling away. Scully dropped down on a fallen log beside Mulder, letting her pack slide off her back. "I'm exhausted."

"Me too." Mulder pulled his canteen out of his pack and weighed it in his hand. "It's almost empty. Where's the nearest water supply?" he called out to the Moores, who were busy building up a fire.

Jacob Moore looked up. "A few hundred yards that way there's a river. Wait a minute and I'll go with you. You'll get lost otherwise."

Scully pulled her own canteen out of her pack and held it out to her partner. "Could you fill mine up too, please Mulder?"

"Sure." Mulder smiled at her and she felt the rift between them vanishing. "We'll be back in ten minutes" he promised.

The two men set off and Alanna Moore spoke to Scully for the first time since they had been introduced. "Isn't this place beautiful?"

Scully looked around the forest, the last sunlight glinting through the trees. "Yeah."

"Some people think that it's stupid that I spend so much time here. My family especially. But it's so peaceful here. I can't ever be angry when I'm among the trees. Jacob feels the same way."

Scully nodded. "It's nice here."

The other woman stood up abruptly. "We'd better start getting the tents up. It's much harder in the dark."

They set the tents up without much difficulty. Scully and Mulder had decided to share a tent and damn the consequences, and so there were only two tents to put up. The Moores were funding the expedition and the tents were new and expensive. They were made of a lightweight material and seemed flimsy, but according to Alanna, were the best money could buy.

Mulder and Jacob Moore returned just as the last sunlight completely vanished.

"What are we having to eat?" Mulder asked as he dropped down beside his partner, slipping his arm around her.

Scully dug around in her pack. "Two minute noodles?"

"Sounds delicious."

Mulder watched the fire burning brightly, listening to the flames crackling. "I like this" he whispered.

Scully, who was curled up against him, smiled contentedly in agreement.

The Moores sat in front of their tent on the other side of the fire in a similar position. Mulder could make out quiet whispers and was surprised to discover that their conversations were also quite similar. They hadn't been married long, he guessed, and were still deeply in love with each other.

"You two been married long?" he asked, his voice cutting through the cool air.

The Moores looked at him as if realising for the first time that they weren't alone.

"Almost a year" Alanna replied, a hint of shy pride in her usually brisk tone.

Mulder nodded.

"We grew up together" Jacob added. He ruffled his wife's hair playfully. "But then when she was twenty Ally's wonderful father decided that she should live in London with some of her relatives. You know, see the world."

Alanna laughed. "I wanted to see the world, but not quite in the way Daddy planned. My dream is to become a National Geographical photographer, but he thinks that my photography is just a little hobby. He won't take it seriously, even though he admits that some of my shots are quite good." There was no boasting in the tone, but rather wistfulness.

"What about you two?" Jacob questioned.

Scully glanced up at Mulder before speaking. "We're not married."

"We've been working together for about five years, but we only, uh, became a couple a few months ago..."

"You look good together."

Scully smiled at Alanna Moore. "Thanks. It's not often we can be ourselves around other people."

Alanna nodded. "I know the feeling. Daddy doesn't exactly approve of you, does he Jake?"

Jacob shook his head. "Fraid not."

His wife explained to Mulder and Scully. "Daddy wanted me to marry someone nice and calm and reliable."

"And rich."

"And *boring*."

Scully smiled as she watched the playful banter between husband and wife. Maybe in a year she and Mulder would still be able to act like that. Hopefully.

Alanna continued "But *luckily* I inherited Daddy's stubbornness and I told him that if he didn't let me marry Jake then I'd kill myself."

"And he let you marry?" Scully asked curiously.

"Actually, he refused point-blank. So Jake and I went ahead and got married anyway - we were both old enough so there was really nothing stopping us except Daddy. And then after we were married we went and told him, and then he said-"

Jacob interrupted. "He said that if his only daughter insisted on marrying me, then she might as well do it properly. So we got married for a second time, but this time with all the trimmings."

"And all the guests" Alanna added. She looked at her watch and pulled herself up. "C'mon, it's about time we call it a night."

Jacob also rose, looking at Mulder and Scully quizically. "You gonna stay up for a little while longer or should I put the fire out?"

"Leave it" Mulder and Scully said simultaneously.

"We'll put it out before we go to bed" Mulder assured him.

Jacob Moore nodded. "'kay. G'night."

"Yeah, see you tomorrow morning..." The Moores disappeared into their tent.

Mulder lay on his back and stared, fascinated, at the inky sky, dotted with thousands of bright stars.

"Isn't this one of the most beautiful things you've ever seen?" he asked, his voice filled with awe.

"Yeah" Scully agreed. "Living in the city, you kinda forget how many stars there are."

"Don't you just wonder, sometimes, about the universe. I mean, it's so huge, so spectacular, so-"

"So indescribably big?"


"You know, Mulder, I don't think we've ever stargazed together before."

"Haven't we?"

"Nope. C'mon, we'd better get some sleep. We've got a long day ahead of us."

They put the fire out, then she crawled into the tent. Mulder followed her, cuddling up against her and sharing her warmth.

"Night Scully."

"Night Mulder. I love you."

"I love you too, Scully."

When they woke the next morning the Moores were already packing and getting ready to go. Mulder stumbled out of the tent and looked around at the sunlight filtering through the trees. Scully had only been asleep for a few hours and he didn't want to wake her. He'd thought she was fully recovered from the virus she'd had but obviously it had returned, or this was yet another one. She was easily susceptible to things like this, after the cancer as well as the treatment had practically decimated her immune system...

The Moore's were already packing up their tent and gear and looking as fresh and energetic as ever.

"It's going to be hot today" Alanna stated. "You better hurry up. We want the hardest bit over before it gets really hot."

Mulder looked at his watch. Seven-thirty. He crawled back into the tent where Scully was half- dressed. He repeated the conversation he'd just had with Alanna Moore and she raised an eyebrow.

"Hot? But it's just the beginning of spring."

He shrugged. "They seem pretty sure."

Scully pulled on yesterday's jeans, a small t-shirt, a flannel shirt and her hiking boots. "This okay then?"

Mulder nodded. "You sure you're okay to travel? We can have a day or so to recover if you want..."

Scully frowned tiredly. Being up violently sick half the night hadn't exactly improved her mood.

"I'm fine, Mulder. Come on. We better pack up and grab some breakfast."

Mulder's feet were aching. His calf-muscles were aching. Every bone in his body was aching. He looked at Scully beside him. She looked just as tired and sore as she felt. The Moores were about forty feet ahead of them, their pace as energetic as if they had just started.

"Hey, you guys!" Mulder yelled out.

Jacob Moore turned. "Yeah?"

"Scully and I want to stop for a few minutes. Is that okay?"

Jacob looked at his wife quickly before nodding. "Sure. We'll probably stop ahead in a few minutes anyway. The track's pretty clear so you shouldn't get lost."

Mulder nodded and sank down on the damp ground, leaning against a tree trunk. Scully slipped her pack off her shoulders and did the same.

"I don't know how much longer I can walk, Mulder. I'm incredibly unfit."

"Me too." He eyed her concernedly. "It's nice and peaceful here, though."

"That's what Alanna Moore said."

"Did you know that her father is one of the wealthiest men in America?"

"No. That explains all about Dear Daddy's disapproval of Jacob. I guess that's how they can afford all this expensive gear."

"Yeah. He doesn't really like his daughter trekking around in places like this. Tries to discourage her but she'd pretty determined."

"Sounds like you know her well."

"When she first rang me about this case I asked around about her."

"Uh huh."

Scully closed her eyes for a moment.

Then she heard a scream.

Her eyes snapped open. "What was that?"

Mulder was already on his feet. "Sounds like Alanna. Let's go." He pulled her to her feet.

"What about my pack?" she asked as they sprinted along.

"Leave it. We'll come back and get it."

They ran wildly through the dense forest, following the well-trodden track to the river.

"Where are they?" Scully gasped, scanning up and down the river.

"Oh God." Mulder's stomach turned.

"What is it?"

She followed his gaze and saw the lifeless bodies of Alanna and Jacob Moore, almost unrecognizeable through the mutilations and bright red blood oozing everywhere.

"Oh my God." A wave of nausea threatened to overcome her but she ignored it and took a few steps closer. "But they - they can't have been dead for more than a few minutes."

"What do you think happened to them?"

"I don't know. An animal attack, maybe?"

Mulder bent over and examined the muddy ground near the bodies. "Scully, what do these look like to you?" he asked, indicating several sets of small footprints.

"They look like birdtracks... kind of. But this-" she pointed to the bodies "- this wasn't done by birds. It's much more savage."

"Like a raptor attack?"


"No, listen Scully. It all makes sense-"

Scully interrupted "Why is it that whenever I hear that sentence it's always followed by some completely impossible theory?"

"I think that, somehow, a breed of "mini raptors" has managed to survive and populate throughout this island."

"How come nobody's ever seen them apart from the Moores? And how could they have survived? Why didn't they perish when all the other species of dinosaurs became extinct?"

Mulder opened his mouth to reply when a shot rang out.

"What was that?" Scully asked, fumbling for her own weapon.

"I don't know. But it sure as hell wasn't a dinosaur. C'mon."

"Where are we going?"

"We're getting out of here."

"But where can we go? We don't know the way back."

Another shot rang out. And another.

Scully pointed at a thick patch of forest. "They're coming from over there. This way. Come on."

They ran wildly along the riverbank, gasping for breath until they thought their lungs would burst. "They're still firing" Mulder called over his shoulder.

A bullet whizzed dangerously close to Scully's face, grazing her cheek and she tripped and fell.

"Mulder, wait a second" she called desperately. Oh god please god oh god

He stopped and helped her up. "You okay?"

"Yeah, I just tripped. Where are we going? We can't just keep running."

"Got a better idea?"

Another two shots got them running again, pushing through the rough branches and scratching their bare arms and faces. Scully's heart was pounding so loudly that she could barely hear the bullets as they flew past her, let alone Mulder's shouts.

She could taste blood in her mouth but she couldn't feel any pain. Maybe it was because she was pumped up on adrenaline. Adrenaline fed with fear.

Lines from a poem popped into her head as she ran blindly through the trees. She had no idea where it came from, because she didn't remember ever learning or reading it. Fear isn't rational... love isn't rational.... so why am I?

It wasn't even particularly poetic, but it described how she felt so well.

God Dana, why are you thinking about poetry when your life's in danger?

Mulder was a few feet in front of her, his pack still on his back. Looked like she'd never get hers back. Lucky she hadn't had anything important in it.

"Mulder" she shouted, slowing her pace.

Mulder stopped and leaned against a tree, panting.


"Have they stopped shooting at us?" she went to his side and looked cautiously around.

"Yeah. At least, I think they have." He looked at her in alarm. "Scully, you're bleeding."

"So are you."

"Did you get hit?" he asked, holding her chin.

"I'm fine. Just grazed me. What happened to you?"

Mulder put his fingers up to the deep gash on his forehead. "I must have hit a branch. It doesn't really hurt."

Scully helped him pull the pack off his back and they sunk down together in the scrub.

"What are we going to do?" she asked finally. "We don't know how to get out of here."

"Do you have a map of the island?"

"I don't have anything Mulder. It was all in my pack. Don't you have a map?"

Mulder nodded. "In the left pocket of my pack."

Scully pulled out the map and looked at it.

"This here -" she pointed to a small mark on the map- "is where the ferry dropped us off yesterday. We went along here - the track is marked in red - and the bodies were just about here, where the track meets the river. Now, if we can - what? What is it?"

Mulder had clamped his hand over her mouth.

"Listen" he whispered.

Scully heard faint rustles in the undergrowth surrounding them and they both stood warily, their guns poised. Scully quickly shouldered the pack and moved closer to Mulder. She whispered "What are we going to -"

"Run!" Mulder hissed as a shot cracked out.

They began yet another wild run through the forest, bullets spitting out all around them. Mulder was a few feet ahead of her again and she was finding the pack heavier and heavier.

Suddenly a lone bullet rang out, and Mulder crumpled and fell.

Her whole world stood still, everything frozen in it's place. Then she felt a jolt run through her, like electricity and she flung herself forward with all the energy she could muster. "MULDER!!!" she shrieked, a scream of pure terror.

She ran and kneeled over him. "Mulder?! Mulder!"

His breath was coming in uneven gasps and the color had drained from his face, leaving it a horrible grayish color.

She rolled him onto his back and a cold fear gripped at her heart when she saw the blood soaking through his t- shirt. God, no! No! No! No!

"Scully?" his voice was little more than a whisper.

"It's okay.... I'm here..," she said, trying desperately to keep her voice calm.

She pulled his pack off her back and hunted uselessly through it for the first aid kit.

"Dammit!" She couldn't find it. She found a pair of thick sweatsocks and used them to stop the stem of blood coming from, as near as she could tell, his left lung. God, this was too much like what happened to Pendrell... She pulled his head into her lap and pressed hard down on his chest.

He half-opened his eyes. "Scully... I don't want to die Scully..."

"You're not going to die Mulder, okay? You hear me? You're not going to die. You'll be fine" she told him unconvincingly.

God, she had to get him out of here. To a hospital. God...

Mulder smiled slightly and mumbled faintly "Scully, you're such a lousy liar..."

His eyes started to close again and she smacked his cheeks gently.

"C'mon Mulder. You've gotta stay awake! You hear me? You have to stay awake!"

"I'm so... so tired" he mumbled.

"I know you are Mulder. But you're going to be okay."

"It's cold..." he shivered.

"Yeah, you're going into shock. Just think warm thoughts" she smiled weakly.

He coughed and bright red blood trickled out of his mouth.

She wiped it away and pulled him closer to her, holding him tightly and whispering to him gently, anything that came into her head. Anything that would keep him conscious.

She was so completely and utterly focused on him that she didn't see the soldiers... until one of them grabbed her shoulder. She spun around and was filled with rage.

She eased herself out from under Mulder and lowered his head gently, then turned to face the enemy.

"Why did you shoot him?" she asked, her voice quiet but resonating with anger.

One of the soldiers barked out a Series of commands and Scully was grabbed.

"Let me go you bastards!" she screamed angrily, kicking one of the soldiers. "I'm a federal agent!"

She struggled helplessly as they dragged her away from Mulder, mentally kicking herself for moving away from him.

"He's been shot in the lung!" she screamed. "He needs urgent medical attention. You have to help him!"

One of the soldiers was bent over Mulder and he looked up with a grave face. "Sir, he's still alive. Should we get the stretcher out of the chopper?"

Scully felt as if something inside her was dying. She forced back the tears that were welling up in her eyes. She wouldn't let these bastards see her cry.

One of the soldiers tightened his grip on her arm. "Come on, Ms. Scully."

Scully looked at him warily. "How did you know my name?"

The man didn't answer, but instead pushed her up against the side of a large, black helicopter which had been hidden by the dense forest.

"What are they doing to Mulder?!" she demanded. "If you let him die you sonsofbitches I'll kill you myself!"

The man pulled her gun out of her holster and frisked her.

"You have to save Mulder!" she screamed.

"Shut up" the man said sharply as he handcuffed her.

She pulled away from him and yelled her partner's name at the top of her lungs.


Her own safety wasn't important. She didn't care if she lived or if she died. All she cared about was Mulder. She couldn't lose him. The commander of the troop came up to her. "Ms Scully, you are under military arrest for trespassing in a quarantined area."

He nodded to the soldier behind Scully and she felt something hard hit her cheek, forcing her off balance and throwing her to the ground. Then she felt another small explosion at the back of her head and everything went black.

When she woke at first she couldn't remember what had happened. Then she remembered. They'd shot Mulder. Those damn bastards had shot Mulder, maybe even killed him.

She sat up and her head throbbed. She ignored the pain and looked around.

She was in a kind of prison, although none of the other cells seemed to be occupied. The place looked familiar and she realized with a shock that she'd had to bail Mulder out of places exactly the same as this many times. Mulder... where was he? Dead? In a hospital somewhere? She stood up and rattled the bars. "Hey! I want to talk to somebody!"

A soldier appeared and asked sharply "What do you want?"

"I want to talk to your superior" she demanded.

"Commander Lyslie isn't available right now" came the crisp response.

"Do - do you know what happened to Mulder?" she asked quietly, fear clutching at her heart.

"That information is confidential."

Scully swore angrily. "Can I at least make a phone call? Ask someone to bail me out?"

"I'm afraid I can't authorize that."

"Then find somebody who can. Now."

Dana sat with her head in her hand despairingly. He wasn't coming. He wasn't going to come through for her. She shouldn't have been so stupid as to think that he would.

"Agent Scully?"

She looked up and saw Assistant Director Skinner standing in the doorway.

"Sir, I was beginning to think you weren't coming."

"There were a few delays" her boss said evasively. "Come on."

Scully stood unsteadily. "Do you know anything about Mulder?" she asked tearfully.

Skinner put his arm around her protectively and led her out into the sunlight.

"Mulder was taken to a civilian hospital in Vancouver. His condition is listed as critical but he should be okay."

Scully felt weak with relief and Skinner's arm was all that stopped her from completely collapsing. He was alive. And he was going to live.

She raced up the hospital steps and into the intensive care unit.

"An Agent Mulder was brought here yesterday?" she asked the woman at the front desk.

"Mulder? Over there." The woman pointed. "You'll need a visitor's pass..."

Scully ignored her and ran to her partner's bedside.

He looked pale and closer to death than she'd ever seen him before. "Oh God, Mulder..." she whispered.

Tears ran freely down her face and she picked up his hand and pressed it against her face. "It's okay Mulder" she whispered. "I'm here now..."


Scully woke with a start. She'd fallen asleep at Mulder's bedside. She turned and saw her mother standing in the doorway. She stood up, surprised. "Mom? What are you doing here?"

"Mr Skinner rang me. He said Fox had been injured and that you were in prison..."

Maggie came forward to hug her daughter but stopped short.

"Oh, Dana... what happened to you?"

"Huh?" Scully felt tired and confused.

"You're covered in blood. Have you been checked out by a doctor?"

Scully looked down at her torn, crumpled and bloodstained clothes. "I'm... I'm fine. Most of it is Mulder's blood..."

She broke into tears and Maggie hugged her tightly. "It's all right baby. I'm here."

Dana pulled away and sat down again beside Mulder's bed, sinking into the plush chair.

"How's Fox?" Maggie asked apprehensively.

"The doctor's reckon he's going to be okay." Her lower lip quivered. "I almost lost him, Mom."

"I know you did, honey. I know."

"I don't know what I would have done if I'd lost him..."

Maggie pulled up another chair and sat down. "What happened?"

Dana shook her head. "I can't - I can't talk about it. Not yet."

"You should let a doctor have a look at you Dana. You're hurt."

"I'm okay... just a bit scratched."

"Please, Dana? It would make me feel a lot better to know that you're okay."

"I'm fine, really, Mom. I have to stay here with Mulder."

Maggie smiled. "You're just as bad as Fox."

"What do you mean?"

"When you were in the hospital he never left your side. I had to bring him food and practically force him to eat it because otherwise he would have starved."

Scully was silent.

"See a doctor Dana. Please?"

Scully sighed. "Okay Mom."

"Good. And you can have a shower too. I brought you some clean clothes."

A smile was spreading across Dana's face.

"Put those plans on hold. He's waking up."

Maggie stood and murmured discreetly "I'll leave you two alone..."

"Hi" Dana whispered. "How are you feeling?"

"Lousy. I got shot."

"I know."

"Again. That makes three times."

Dana smiled. "That's the way things go. You get shot and I get kidnapped by weirdos."

"I guess that's fair. What happened to you?"

"I - I was arrested. Skinner bailed me out of jail."

Mulder shifted slightly to try and make himself more comfortable and a sharp pain seared through his chest. Scully clicked into doctor mode when she saw the pain in his face. She slid another pillow under his head. "You want me to get someone Mulder? You want some morphine to ease the pain?"

He shook his head. "I'm okay. It'd be better if you could get rid of this damn IV though..."

"Sorry Mulder, you're not well enough at all. In fact, I'm surprised they took you off the respirator."

"Guess they just couldn't bear to cover my beautiful face with all those tubes and crap" he grinned.

He touched her cheek, where a large purplish bruise had appeared where the soldier had hit her with the butt of the rifle, and she winced. "Have you seen a doctor yet?"

"Not yet. I was going to but... you woke up."

"I'm sorry, did I wake up at an inconvenient time," he teased softly.

"Very inconvenient. I'd better go find your doctor - tell him you've woken up."

She stood and a wave of dizziness washed over her. She grabbed the arm of her chair to steady herself.

"You okay Scully?" Mulder asked worriedly.

"Um, yeah, I'm fine. I'll be back in a minute."

"Scully - Dana, go see a doctor now. You might have internal injuries or something. I'll be fine here. I'm sure someone will eventually figure out that I'm awake."

"You sure Mulder?"

"Yeah. Go."

She kissed his forehead gently and left, passing her mother in the doorway.

"Hi Fox. How are you feeling?" Margaret Scully asked with a smile.

"I'm okay. Scully seems a bit upset though. A bit freaked out."

"She was terrified that she was going to lose you. What happened?"

Mulder was surprised. "Didn't she tell you?"

Maggie shook her head. "It's upset her quite a lot. And she's in shock. This is all just a bit too much for her to handle."

"We were, uh, on a case on one of the tiny islands off Vancouver Island. We were with a couple - Alanna and Jacob Moore - and they were walking ahead of us. We stopped to rest and the next thing we knew we found their bodies. They were attacked by some kind of animal - it was all pretty horrific. And then we started getting fired at. We were chased for about ten minutes and then we thought we'd lost them, but we hadn't. And then I got shot - I don't actually remember the feeling of being hit. It was all too quick. And the next thing I knew I woke up here."

Maggie sighed. "And Dana says that she loves her job..."

Dana Scully stood in the doorway of her partner's hospital room. "Hi" she said softly.

"Hi. You gonna come in? They said I'm not sick enough to be in intensive care any more so they moved me up here." He sniffed.

Dana rolled her eyes and sat beside the bed. "You feeling better then?"

"Yeah. How are you holding up?"

"I'm fine. You're the one in the hospital."

"I know. But you just seemed a bit upset yesterday and..."

"Mulder, I may have been an emotional cripple the past few months but I'm fine. Really."

"You saw a doctor?"

"Yep. A grazed cheek and a couple of scratches. Apart from that, I'm fine."

"Good." He smiled warmly.

Tell him, Dana. Tell him. No, I can't... but he has to find out sometime...oh God...Fuck! fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!

She cleared her throat. "Mulder?"

"Yeah?" he looked at her. "What's wrong?"

"There's nothing wrong, it's just that um... I'm pregnant."

Mulder swallowed. "But- I don't- how?"

Dana smiled slightly. "Well, you see, when a man meets a woman and they fall in love-"

Mulder interrupted her. "I mean, I thought that you were-"

She interrupted him. "I know. That's what I thought too. That's why when I missed my period I didn't even suspect. I just thought that it was a result of the stress I'd been under and my cancer..." she trailed off.

"But you only just found out for sure?"

"Yeah. I guess I suspected - or at least my mom did. I didn't dare... hope."

"How - how long?"

Dana bit her lip. "11 weeks."

"11 weeks! That's, what? Almost three months!"

"I know, but I - I just didn't think that it was possible so..."

Mulder said slowly "But three months - that would mean - that'd be before you went into the hospital. That's impossible-"

"I know Mulder, that's exactly what I thought. The radiation alone would - it's impossible for a zygote to survive that level of radiation - and then there's the chemo - I don't know how this could be possible, but it is. I can't explain it at all."

Mulder chose his words carefully. "So this is a good thing?"

"I don't know Mulder. It's a big thing. Can we really handle it?"

"Do you want this baby?" he whispered.

She nodded, biting her lower lip. "Yes."

"Then I do too."

"You're not just saying that?"

"Nope. I want you to be happy, Scully. I want us to be happy."

"But Mulder?"


"What if there's something wrong with it? You know, because of the treatment - it could be deformed or retarded or..."

"Are you willing to take that risk?"

"Are you?"

Mulder sighed and cupped her chin in his hands. "Yes. I want a family, Scully. So, I might as well do what I've been wanting to do for years."

He pulled a small velvet box out of one of the drawers beside his bed and opened it, holding it for her to see inside.

"Marry me?"

Scully looked at the small, perfect ring, a band of intertwined silver and gold and with three perfect diamonds. He'd kept the box in his pocket, wrapped in several small plastic bags to prevent it from hazards of his everyday life, for the past few weeks, waiting for the right time. One of the nurses had salvaged it from his bloodied clothes, and stored it along with his other personal possessions; his watch, wallet, ID...

"Mulder, I - God, I don't know what to say..."

"You could say yes" he suggested hopefully.

Yes or no. Acceptance or rejection. Which was it going to be?

He quoted softly "Silver is for friendship, gold is for love and diamonds-"

"And diamonds are forever" Dana finished. "Mulder, do you know what this is like?"

"What?" His heart was pounding.

"It's like being offered everything I've ever wanted... but I'm afraid that it's just a dream..."

Mulder squeezed her arm gently. "It isn't a dream. Scully, I love you. More than anything else in the world. Marry me. Please?"

Dana laughed and tears of happiness ran down her face. "Mulder, of course I will. I just don't want you to feel that you *have* to marry me."

"Scully, I brought this for you the day before your birthday. I was going to ask you then, but it didn't feel quite right. It feels right now."

"Oh my God, Dana! I can't believe this! Wait a sec- I have to tell Charlie."

Lynette dropped the phone with a clatter and Scully pulled it away from her ear to avoid becoming completely deaf.

Mulder hobbled into the room. "Who you talking to?"

"Lynette. I just told her the good news. She's completely freaking out."

Mulder grinned. "Which good news?"

"Both. She was even happier than Mom was when I told her."

"Ouch. That's got to be scary."

"How are you feeling?"

"I'm fine. Bit painful when I tried to jump out of bed but apart from that..."

"You should be resting, Mulder. In fact, you should still be in the hospital."

"Scully, I got enough of that from the doctors. I'm fine." He kissed her gently and Scully smiled despite herself.

"Who else should we tell?"

"We haven't told my mother ye," Mulder suggested, slipping his cold hands up the back of her t-shirt and making her shiver with delight. "And I think we ought to tell Skinner."

"Dana, you there?"

Scully kissed him quickly then pulled away from him and picked up the phone again. "Yeah, I'm here. Listen, I've got to go. We have a few more people we have to ring and we have to pick up Prince from my Mom's..."

"Who's Prince?"

"Um... that's our dog."

"Since when have you had a dog?"

"Mulder gave him to me for my birthday."

"Uh huh... well, I'll let you go, but you have to promise to call me back later and we can have a nice long conversation and run up your phone bill."

"Okay, will do."


"Bye." Scully hung up the phone.

"Prince?" Mulder asked.

"You like the name?"

"*Prince*?" Mulder repeated. "Yeah, I like it. Anyway, Scully, before we call any more people we have to figure out a few details."

"Such as?" She sat down beside him and leaned her head on his shoulder.

Mulder began. "Number one: about the wedding. Church or justice of the peace?"

"My mom would kill me if I didn't get married in a church. But it doesn't have to be a huge thing with all our relatives. I just want something small."

"Okay, that's settled. Next: *When* are we getting married?"

"Um..," she sighed. "You know, Mulder, doesn't this seem to you that we're going really fast? Not a bad thing, but, oh, I don't know. It just seems so fast that after crawling along slower than a snail for the past five years this is like being on a rollercoaster and it's kinda hard to get a grip on things..." She looked at his alarmed face. "I'm not having doubts about this or anything Mulder - I want to marry you more than ever. I'm just feeling a bit rushed."

"Do we want to just forget about the wedding for a while then," Mulder suggested gently.

She shook her head. "No Mulder. I want to marry you. As soon as I can. But we just need to have a few deep and meaningfuls before then. You understand what I mean?"

"Yeah, I do. I can't blame you for feeling insecure. You've been through a lot the past few months and you just want everything to be normal. That used to happen to me all the time." He smiled slightly. "Still does occasionally. Well... more than occasionally..."

She kissed him. "Thanks Mulder."

"For what?" he asked, surprised.

"For understanding how I feel. You know, Mulder, when we were in the forest, before you were shot, there was this bit of a poem that kept running through my head. It was almost like a quote but it just seemed so fitting... no, don't worry about it. I'm just being stupid."

"No, tell me. What was it?" Mulder asked. "I might know it."

"I can't remember it. That's the problem. And I don't remember ever reading it or learning it. Wait a sec- it's on the tip of my tongue... Oh, I've got it!"

She quoted: "Fear isn't rational Love isn't rational So why am I?"

"I've never heard it before. But you're right. It does suit you. Well, kinda anyway."

"Mulder, you're starting to sound like a psychologist."

He grinned. "Oops. So, what do you want to do now?"

Scully looked thoughtful. "I think I know where that poem is. I'll be back in a minute."

Mulder settled himself on the couch and flicked the TV on, listening with a smile to his partner's quick and methodical searching.

Dana returned about ten minutes later and read aloud:

"Fear isn't rational Love isn't rational So why am I? Why do I fear the things I love? The things I crave and cherish? Surely the world is a better place If I do not subject myself to peril? If I do not sacrifice those I hold dear To the greater cause? Love isn't rational Fear isn't rational So why am I? Why am I? Why don't I take a leap of faith Into the darkened night? Lack of faith? Fear? Will I ever know? Fear isn't rational Love isn't rational So why am I?" "What's that from?" Mulder asked when she had finished reading.

She held up a faded birthday card. "Missy wrote it for me for my twelfth birthday."

"She would have been, what? Fourteen?"

Scully nodded.

"Pretty complex poem for a fourteen year old" he commented.

Dana was thoughtful. "It's so true..."

"What is? The poem?"

"Yeah, it, uh, mentions- no, don't worry about it."

Mulder didn't press her.

She said decisively "You know, Mulder? I think we might as well finish off that list, hey?"

"Not going too fast anymore?"

"No. Missy helped me understand something about myself."

He closed his hand over hers. "I think she knew you better than you ever realized."

Scully snuggled closer to Mulder as if protecting herself from the darkness of the bedroom and the world.

"Mulder?" she whispered.

"Huh?" Mulder murmured sleepily. "Wha?"

"Mulder, what are we going to do?"

He opened one eye. "'Bout what?"

"Everything. But especially work."

Mulder opened his other eye and looked at her troubled face. Trust Scully to worry about the consequences of their actions. "What do you think we should do?"

"I don't know." Her lip trembled. "Mulder, when you were shot I was so scared that you were going to die. I don't know what I would have done if I'd lost you Mulder."

"But I'm here now, aren't I?"

"You survived this time Mulder, but what about next time? Your luck can't hold out forever."

"What are you saying?" He propped himself up on his elbow.

"I'm saying that I don't know if I can handle continuing this job that puts both our lives in jeopardy every day."

"You want to be taken off the field?"

She smiled slightly. "I'm going to be taken off the field anyway Mulder. As soon as it starts showing - which will be pretty soon. They won't let a pregnant woman run around chasing bad guys."

"I can't work without you Scully. You know that as well as I do. And what would you do all day? You'd be stuck a dreary office somewhere..."

"We could still work together. I'd just have to stay out of the action. It might be good to just to keep out of trouble for a while. I love my job Mulder, I really do. And I love working with you. We make a good team. But I've risked my life enough to last me a lifetime."

Mulder looked thoughtful. "Maybe we could ask Skinner if we could work for the BSU for a while. No field work - just calling us in whenever they need a profile or whatever..."

"Behavioral science? Mulder, that's your field, not mine. Besides, we can't close the X-Files, even if it were just temporary. That would be playing into their hands. They wouldn't let us open them again."

"Scully, the X-Files isn't the most important thing to me anymore. You are."

Trust Mulder to say something as sweet and touching as that while she was trying to have a serious conversation. It irritated her.

"You're not seriously considering giving up the X-Files? Mulder, you can't. It's not just your quest for the truth anymore. You sucked me in along the way and I'm damned if you're just going to throw them away because of me."

She felt her anger mounting and she sat up straight, gesturing frustratedly.

"And what about Samantha? You just going to give up on her too?"

Mulder looked confused. "Scully, it wasn't just about Sam. It was like I was searching for my lost family, trying to pick up the pieces of my life. She was something - something material that I thought... I thought that if I could find her, we could go back to the way things were. But I've realized that you can't go back. You have to keep going forward."

Scully opened her mouth to retort angrily, but then closed it again and counted to ten silently. "Mulder, I think that this counts as one of our deep and meaningfuls."

He smiled. "One down. How many to go?"

"However many are needed until I'm not such an emotional cripple."

"You're not an emotional cripple."

"I'm not as strong as you are" she pointed out.

"You normally are. You're normally stronger than me. Just the last few months you've had more to deal with than anyone could handle. Everthing is happening all of a sudden."

"I guess... You know, Mulder, if I believed in curses, I'd believe that there was one on us."

"Why do you say that?"

"The past few months - the past few years, even, everything has gone wrong for us. I can't count the number of times we've almost died and seen the deaths of others. And I've lost my sister. You've lost your father. And then there was my cancer..."

Mulder cut in "You were cured though. That's a miracle in itself."

"I've lost confidence in myself Mulder. In my ability to do what I do. I've lost faith in myself."

"I have faith in you Scully" he whispered, wrapping his arms around her and holding her firmly.

"Thanks Mulder" she whispered.

She closed her eyes and listened to his steady breathing, familiar and comforting. Would they ever find peace together? God, she hoped so...

"It's bad luck to see the bride on the eve of the wedding" Scully teased as Mulder entered the apartment, handing her a small posy of flowers.

"Too late for that. You feeling better?"

"Yep. And I've got news for you." She grinned and patted her already rounding stomach proudly.

"Good news?"

"Yep. I saw the doctor today. She said that everything was going absolutely fine. I had a hard time convincing her that I'd spent two of the past three months undergoing chemo- radiation therapy... Anyway, she did an ultrasound."

She handed Mulder an ultrasound image and he turned it around in his hands, trying to make sense of it.

"Where's the baby?" he asked, confused.

She stood behind him and ran her finger lightly over the photo. "This here, it looks like a string of pearls- that's the spine..." she paused with a grin "and there's another one here..."

"You mean...?"

She grinned. "Yep. Twins."

Mulder blinked. "Twins? As in two?"

"No, Mulder, as in four" she said sarcastically.

A huge smile broke out on Mulder's face. "Two! Your mom is going to be thrilled."

"What about you? Aren't *you* thrilled?"

"Of course I am. So they're both, you know, okay?"

"The doctor said that we're all slightly malnourished but if I start eating for all three of us it'll be fine. Otherwise they're perfect."

"That's excellent. It's... It's unbelievable."

"You know, Mulder, that's exactly how I would describe it."

"What is?"

"Unbelievable. That's what the past month has been. I mean, we're getting married tomorrow and we've got, not one, but two babies due in less than five months. This time tomorrow we're going to be a married couple. *US* a married couple. That sounds so - so normal. It's as if we're being *normal* for the first time in years. It's all so unreal. So unbelievable."

"But good unbelievable, right?"


They smiled at each other.

"You ready to go to your mom's?"

Scully picked up two bulging overnight bags. "Yep. Your stuff already in the car?"

She handed him the bags while she grabbed her coat and Mulder followed her out of the apartment, pausing in the doorway.

"You know Scully, doesn't it feel weird that the next time we come in here we're going to be Mr and Mrs. Fox Mulder?"

"Mulder, I've already told you. I'm keeping my own name."

"I meant it metaphorically."

"I know." She grinned. "And you're right. And what's even weirder is that in three days we'll be back at work, as if nothing had ever happened."

"I still wish we were going on a honeymoon" Mulder sighed. "A nice warm place somewhere, where we could relax and act like newlyweds."

"We've already taken too much time off this year Mulder. More than I've taken off in all the years I've worked at the bureau. Besides, you have to save up all your leave time until the babies are born, so you can stay at home with me and spend the day up to your elbows in dirty diapers."

Mulder wrinkled his nose as he shut the apartment door. "Ew. I can't wait..."

Scully woke early the next morning, just as the sun was rising.

Mulder was sleeping peacefully beside her and she indulged in watching him sleep. She knew he watched her sleep sometimes, but she rarely had the opportunity to watch him. He slept less than she did, normally waking up earlier than her and falling asleep after her.

He looked so young. It was hard to believe that he was, what? Thirty-six?

Not that *she* was exactly young anymore...

She shook her head.

This was her wedding day, *not* a day to be indulging in self-pity.

Mulder opened one eye. Then the other.

Then he smiled.

Today he was going to marry Scully. Something he'd always dreamed of but never actually dared to hope for. He rolled over and was disappointed to find the other side of the bed empty.

He dragged himself up and as he was throwing back the bedclothes a small scrap of white caught his eye.

He picked it up.

It was a small note, folded over with his name written neatly on the front.

He opened it apprehensively, hoping that this wasn't a "Sorry, but I can't marry you" letter.

It wasn't.

Instead, it was a short note, printed in Scully's neat handwriting.

He read it aloud to himself.

"This day I will marry my best friend. The one I laugh with Live for Love..."

He grinned broadly.

Scully would never admit it, but she was definitely psychic.

Dana wandered out through the garden, the crisp spring air filled with the fragrance of her mother's flowers. It was already a glorious day, the sun beating down gently, making the dewdrops on the grass glisten.

Mulder found her twenty minutes later, sitting in the sun on a rock, lost in a daydream.

She jumped as he touched her shoulder.

"Sorry" he apologised as he slipped down beside her. He noticed her light summery cotton dress. "It's a bit cold out. You should have a jacket."

"I'm fine."

They sat in silence for a few minutes.

"Y'know Scully, I've been thinking..."

"There's a first time for everythin," she teased gently.

He smiled faintly. "But seriously, Scully. I just wanted to say that I know I'm not perfect. Neither of us are. But I believe that we were meant to be together."

Scully smiled. "I know we are Mulder. And we will be together forever. I promise you that."


Scully stopped in her tracks. "Yeah?"

Her mother poked her head out the bedroom door. "Could you come in here a sec, honey?"

Scully obliged and found her mother pulling a rectangular box out of the wardrobe.

She recognized it immediately.

"Mom..." she started.

Maggie ignored her daughter and opened the box, pulling out a long white dress from between sheets of tissue paper.

"Your wedding dress? Mom, Mulder and I already agreed that we wouldn't-"

Maggie interrupted. "Dana, could you just try it on and see if it fits? Please?"

"But it's sooooooo old..." Dana complained, sounding like a child.

"It's a family heirloom. I know that sort of thing's out of date, but I was really hoping that you or Missy would wear it one day. And now that she's gone... just try it on. Please Dana? For me?"

Scully took the dress reluctantly. "Okay Mom. But I'm not promising that I'll wear it. I'm just going to try it."

"Good girl." Maggie smiled encouragingly.

Scully went down the hall to her own bedroom, locking herself in. If she looked really, really bad in it she didn't particularly want Mulder to see her...

She stripped off the dress she was wearing and slipped it on. It fit her perfectly, even managing to conceal her growing stomach.

She twirled around in it, studying it from all angles. It reminded her off when she and Missy had used to try on their mother's clothes as kids.

There was a knock on the door. "Scully? Let me in. I want to see."

Scully silently cursed her mother as she unlocked the door and let Mulder in.

"Okay, so what do you think?" she asked, staring right at him so she'd know if he lied.

"You look beautiful Scully."

"Really?" she asked. "I don't particularly want to wear it but Mom's put the guilt-trip on me... my mom can be pretty persuasive."

"I'll say." Mulder grinned. "But really Scully, you look beautiful."

"It's so - so old fashioned" Scully said, fingering the heavily-embroidered multi-layered skirt. "It's heavy."

"You going to wear it?"

"I don't know Mulder. What do you think?"

Mulder shrugged. "I'd love to be helpful but I seriously don't know. I mean, you look beautiful in everything" he said simply.

"That's really NOT helpful Mulder."

"Wear it then. I'll be happy because you look beautiful, you're mom will be happy because you're doing what she wants-"

Scully interrupted. "That's just it. I don't just want to do it because my mom wants me to. When I was a kid I always vowed that when I got married I'd do what *I* wanted for my wedding, not what anyone else wanted."

"I can understand. I always vowed that I'd never end up like my father." He grinned.

"But you're not like him."

"I almost became him though. Until you came along my work and my search for the truth were the most important things in my life."

"But then I came along and saved you, huh?" she asked with a grin.

"Yep. You sure did."

"You know, Mulder, I'm not going to wear this dress, because we decided we weren't going to go all formal, and I'm gonna stick to that decision."

"Okay, but your mom'll be disappointed."

"Then you can wear it" she grinned. "Then we'll all be happy. Hysterically so."

They were married at midday in the small Catholic cathedral, with Maggie and Mrs. Mulder watching teary eyed, along with a small crowd of close friends and relatives. As they repeated the traditional marriage vows Dana had the feeling that they were only a formality - she and Mulder had already promised each other love, trust, protection, faith...

Marriage was the official joining of two souls. Now she and Mulder would never part. Ever.

Mulder felt his heart beating faster as the rings were exchanged. He slid the ring onto her finger and stared into his wife's eyes. My wife he thought to himself happily.

"Well, Dana Katherine Scully, you may now kiss the groom" he whispered. He bent over and their lips met in a kiss of complete unity.

"I love you Mulde," Scully whispered, hugging him.

"I love you too Scully..." he pulled away slightly and grinned as he added "Mrs. Spooky..."

Dana crammed a bowl of salad into the refrigerator and squeezed the door shut. "You've got enough food left over to last you a few weeks" she said with a smile.

Her mother shrugged. "Too much is better than too little. Where's Fox gone?"

"Josh and Adam claimed him for a game of football out in the yard."

"He shouldn't be out there. You two should be together. You did get married today, remember?"

"Yeah, I know Mom. But I don't mind. We're going to spend the rest of our lives together. Anyway, it's good to see him playing with the boys." it's good to see him enjoying himself. Relaxed. Happy

"He's going to make a good father."

"Yep" Dana said proudly. "He definitely will."

They were interrupted by the phone.

Maggie answered it. "Hello? ...Yes, she's right here."

She covered the mouthpiece and handed her daughter the phone. "It's Mr Skinner."

Scully felt her stomach twisting as she took the phone. Skinner? oh god, please make him be calling to congratulate us. oh god "Scully."

"Scully, it's Skinner here. I'm afraid I have some bad news."

"What?" please God no please God no...

"They're shutting down the X-Files. Effective immediately."

"They're shutting us down?" Scully was stunned.

"The meeting just finished. They said that because the success rate has rapidly decreased over the past six months -"

"How could you let them do this?" she asked angrily.

"I'm sorry Scully. I wasn't given a say in the matter. But I guarantee you that I'll do everything possible to get them reopened."

"They can't do this" she repeated. "It's not fair. And why all of a sudden, anyway? They just wanted to ruin our wedding day? God, it's not fair."

"I know Scully. And I'm sorry that it's today. But I thought you ought to know. Things have been going this way for at least half a year now... it was only a matter of time."

"It's because we're sleeping together, isn't it? Dammit! I knew they'd use that against the X-Files."

Skinner spoke sternly. "Listen to me, Scully, you can't afford to get angry. If you do you're working into their hands. Just another reason to ruin your career."

"What are we going to do?"

"I'm working on that. I'll figure out some way for you and Mulder to work together. And I'll petition to reopen the X-Files."

"Why can't you just reopen them yourself?"

"I don't have enough power. That order can only come from the top."

Scully swore under her breath.

"I'm sorry Scully. I know how much this meant to you and Mulder. But I'll do my best for you."

"Thank you, Sir" she said shortly. She replaced the receiver on the hook and turned to face her mother.

"They're shutting down the X-Files" she said slowly.

Maggie nodded. "I know sweetie. I heard. I'm sorry. I know how important it is to you."

"This'll kill Mulder" she whispered. "God, Mom, I don't want to tell him. It'll hurt him too much."

She twisted her hands together and Maggie watched her sadly. Poor Dana. And on her wedding day too. Dana was right. It *was* unfair.

Mulder entered the kitchen and immediately sensed the tension in the room.

"What's wrong? What happened?" he asked, a note of panic in his voice, looking from mother to daughter.

Scully swallowed. "Skinner just called. They're shutting down the X-Files" she answered dully, her voice flat and emotionless.

She could see the flash of pain in Mulder's eyes. "Mulder, I'm sorry."

Mulder's face was blank but his mind was working furiously. God, they couldn't do this. Not now. They'd shut down the X-Files once before and that was just before Scully had been abducted...

"Are you okay Mulder?" Scully's voice, shocked but still caring and concerned. "Do you want to sit down or something?"

He shook his head. "No, I'll be fine. I'm just going - going somewhere..."

Somewhere. Anywhere where he could get some privacy. Where he could think. Fuck! This couldn't be happening. Not today. This was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives and instead... Fuck!

He left the kitchen abruptly and made his way upstairs to the room he and Scully were sharing.

Maggie watched as Dana followed Fox up the stairs.

She wasn't particularly upset about the fact that the X-Files were being shut down - Dana's involvement in them had been the worry of her life the past few years. Being called by Fox or Mr Skinner to the hospital to see Dana was becoming too much of an weekly occurrence.

But she knew how important their work was to Dana and Fox. It was the basis of their relationship and the one thing they had in common was their search for the truth.


He was silent. She sat down on the bed beside him and took his hand, rubbing it between hers gently.

"I know it's hard to understand Mulder. Our lives are being played with as if we didn't matter. Maybe this is a good thing. We could pursue other areas - you could go back to the BSU and-"


"Yeah Mulder?"

"I was just thinking that... Maybe we should leave the FBI."

Scully looked at him in horror. "No! We can't do that!"

"Why not?"

"Why not?!" Scully opened her mouth to give him ten good reasons why not and found herself without one.

"See?" Mulder gave her his I-told-you-so look.

"But, Mulder, we can't leave. I mean, what would we do?"

Mulder took a deep breath. "There's a group of 'specialists' - they call themselves the Millennium group. I've been in contact with Frank Black, a member of the group. He used to work for the FBI - violent crimes unit - but he left a few years ago."

"What would make working for this 'Millennium' group any better than working at the FBI?" she demanded.

"We could work together" he said simply.

Scully looked at him incredulously. "You mean you'd give up on the X-Files just so that we could work together?"

"Well... it wouldn't actually mean giving up on the X-Files. There's not much chance that we'll get the X-Files back anyway, Scully. Besides, the Millennium group are willing to include cases involving paranormal phenomena if we're willing to use our 'expertise' to help them on other cases."

"In other words, they want you. Not me."

"I told them that if they really wanted me to work with them they would have to make us partners."

"Dammit Mulder. I don't just want to be a tag-along!" she said angrily.

Mulder looked confused. "But I thought... I thought that you'd like this idea. After what you said the other day..."

"Well, I don't. I'm sorry Mulder, but I don't want to leave the FBI."

Mulder looked hurt.

"I'm sorry Mulder. But it just seems like you're giving up on your work. Aren't you going to fight for the X-Files?"

"I'm not giving up, Scully, you know that just as well as I do. It's just that I think this would be better for us - as a family."

A family? the thought shook Scully to the very core. Me and Mulder are making a family? God, this is so - so huge...

"Scully?" he nudged her.

"God Mulder, I don't understand you. I thought you would be devastated about this."

"A year or two ago I would have been. But I think that working for the Millennium group would be a great opportunity for us. We could continue our work and no-one would be able to stop us. No more Cancer Man. No more double-crossing."

"Mulder, you make it sound so easy. But it wouldn't be."

"How can you be so sure of that?"

"I'm not. I just don't want to do anything that might mess up our lives even more, okay? We got married today -" she checked her watch "- less than six hours ago. I don't want to fight with you Mulder."

"Will you just think about it?" he pleaded.

"I will" she promised. Then she sighed. "I'm sorry I yelled at you Mulder. I guess I'm still a little tense."

"You think *you're* tense? I married a fruitcake!"

Scully stared at him open-mouthed. "Mulder!"

"Just kidding, just kidding" he said hastily. Then he grinned and pushed her back onto the bed. "Hey Scully, let's just forget about work and do what we're supposed to do on our wedding night..."

Dana Scully sat at her desk typing up a report.

Well, not *her* desk. Her desk was still down in the basement X-Files office, covered with a dust sheet.

God, she hated her new office.

It was a resembly large room, flooded with sunlight and furnished with modern desks and chairs. She'd been lucky to get it, she admitted; she'd heard a batch of junior agents arguing over who was to have it, but Skinner had given it to her.

And yet she hated it.

Why? Well, that wasn't exactly hard to figure out.

Because Mulder wasn't there.

She'd been assigned to work with another agent, a scientist named Claudia Andrews, doing forensic work. Probably what she would have been doing for the past five years if she hadn't been assigned to the X-Files.

Andrews was an agent in her late twenties, cheerful, competent, intelligent and irritatingly curious. She'd welcomed Scully enthusiastically, and Scully had a suspicion she'd been given a lecture on how she ought to be treated by Skinner.

Meanwhile, Mulder had been assigned temporarily to the violent crimes unit, paired with an older agent, Bill Grant, who didn't seem particularly impressed with Mulder's methods.

For the first week of their reassignments they had both been miserable, finding their new assignments uninteresting and their new partners irritating.

"I'm not allowed to do anything" Mulder complained their first day while they were lunching together in a small caf鮠"Because I'm the junior agent Grant thinks that I don't know anything at all. God, it's so infuriating."

Scully knew exactly how Mulder must feel. He was so used to be the one driving cases and being in control. He must feel like a dog on a leash now she thought with a faint smile.

"So, what's your new partner like?"

"She's not that bad. Though I get this feeling that she's always watching me - like a babysitter, you know. She won't let me out of her sight. But apart from that she's okay."

"Lucky" Mulder said enviously.

"I always knew Skinner liked me more" she said lightly.

"Speaking of Skinner, is he working on our problem? I don't know how much longer I can stand working with Bob."

"I thought you said his name was Bill?"

"It is. I just call him Bob because it pisses him off. I figured it was worth a try."

"Mulder, why do you insist on antagonizing your peers?"

"It's fun. I never antagonized you though, did I Scully?"

She smiled. "No. You didn't. I didn't let you."

Mulder laughed.

She continued "So, are you on a case at the moment?"

"Officially? No."



"Mulder, promise me you won't do anything stupid."

"I promise, Scully."

"Good. Are you going to tell me about it?"

"I think it would be safer if you didn't know."

Scully frowned. "Mulder, this sounds serious."

"It is. Listen, I'll tell you what-" he pulled out a piece of paper and scrawled an address on it. "If anything happens to me - if I'm missing for more than twenty-four hours, get a team together and go here. But you'll have to be careful."

"Mulder, tell me what you're planning to do."

"It's not that big. I just got a tip-off that something interesting was going down there, so I'm going to have a look."

"What? A covert government operation?"

"Something along those lines" he agreed.

"Let me come with you."

He shook his head. "No. It's too dangerous."

"Mulder! First you tell me that it's not that big and then you say it's too dangerous for me to come along. Tell me the *truth*. Please!?"

"Listen Scully, I don't know any more than I'm telling you. I swear. I'll be fine. I'll just go and poke around there. See if I can see anything interesting, maybe take a few photographs. That's all."

"Mulder, the last time you did that you got thrown in jail and I had to come and bail you out. I won't be there to bail you out this time."

"I know Scully. That's why I'm going to be really, *really* careful."

"So Dana, what was it like to work on the X-Files?" Claudia Andrews asked as they sipped their coffee.

"It was... an unusual experience." Scully replied evasively.

"Do you miss it?"

God, yes! I'd trade anything to get the X-Files back... "A bit." God, Dana, why can't you be truthful for once? Hell!

"I've heard some pretty amazing stories about them, but they were probably exaggerated." She glanced cautiously at her new partner and continued "Someone told me that you were chasing a guy who could make himself look like other people."

"That was true." Dana allowed. "There were actually two completely different cases like that. One was about three years ago. There was a man who could turn into other people. He - he turned himself into Mulder, my partner, and held me hostage. He wanted to trade me for - for Mulder's sister, but she wasn't actually his sister..."

She looked at Andrews, who was clearly wondering what sort of a nutcase she'd been stuck with. "I'm not crazy. I didn't want to believe it either, but it's pretty hard not to believe something when you see it happen before your eyes."

"You said there were two cases. What was the other one?"

The other one. The other one was Eddie Van Blundht...

"It's um, not that interesting" she said quickly. God, if only she were still working with Mulder. This girl made her feel so foolish. She didn't understand how Dana worked, how she thought... Mulder did though...

"God, I miss him..." she whispered to herself.

"Who?" Andrews asked curiously.

Scully flushed. For a moment she'd forgotten the other girl was there.

"Um, Mulder."

Andrews was confused. "But A.D. Skinner said that you and Agent Mulder were... you know, together."

"We are."

Dana met Claudia's questioning gaze.

"We were, uh, married last weekend."

The girl's eyes widened and she looked at her in disbelief. "You're kidding."

"No. That was one of the reasons we were split up."

"Man, that really sucks..."

"Yeah, it does."

"So why did you say you missed him?"

"I'm just so used to working with him. It feels so weird to be working with someone else... nothing personal."

"That's okay. I can understand how you feel. Well, actually, I can't... the longest I've been with a partner is four months. I tend to get stuck with all the new guys out of the academy... but you know what I mean."

Scully felt a wave of nausea sweep over her. "Oh God..."

She raced out of the office and down the hallway to the bathroom, where she threw up violently.

Andrews followed her. "Are you okay Dana?" she asked, handing her a wet paper towel.

Scully rinsed her mouth out and wiped her face. "Yeah, I'm fine. It's just um, morning sickness."

Andrews nodded. "I thought so. I just didn't want to say anything, you know, in case you weren't pregnant... God knows I don't want to make that mistake again." She shook her head and Scully smiled slightly.


"Yeah, well, it's a long, complicated and somewhat embarrassing story... maybe I'll tell you later."

They returned to the office and Andrews asked her curiously "So, how far along are you?"

Scully pulled her baggy jacked closed. "Almost five months."

"Five months! Is that all? ... I mean - no offense- but it looks like more, that's all."

Scully smiled. "Twins."

"Twins? Sheesh."

Scully felt a sharp shooting pain in her stomach and she doubled over.

"God, Dana, are you okay?"

Scully clenched her teeth and nodded. "I'm fine. It'll pass" she assured the other woman weakly.

"You sure you should be at work? Maybe you should go home for the rest of the afternoon or something..."

The pain lessened and she sat up straighter, breathing deeply. "You're just as bad as Mulder. I'm fine, honestly. How 'bout we do some work?"

"Yeah, well, there isn't really much we can do. I've got an autopsy at three-" she glanced at her watch. "Holy shit! I have to go. I'll see you later, Dana."

"Yeah, bye."

Andrews grabbed her coat and left quickly, leaving Scully staring at her empty computer screen. God, she missed Mulder. Missed having him beside her, teasing her, outlining some new bizarre theory...

She jumped up and made her way down to the basement. Skinner had agreed to leave it as it was until something could be definitely resolved.

She put her key in the lock and as she opened the door hundreds of memories came back to her.

The very first time she'd ever met him. She'd walked in and he'd been sitting there, wearing those sexy glasses. Taunting her. Trying to scare her off. But she'd stood her ground, refused to let him get to her. But he had gotten to her, in ways she never would have expected... Tears welled up in her eyes as she looked at the abandoned desks, waiting forlornly for their owners to return. Oh God... All those years she'd taken it all for granted, never realizing how important it was in her life...

She blinked the tears back and went over to the wall, pulling the pins out of the 'I want to believe' poster. She rolled it up carefully and found a rubber band to put around it.

Then, with one last glance around the office she left, locking the door behind her.

Mulder fiddled absent-mindedly with the evidence bag he was holding.

"Mulder, hey, you listening to me?" Bill Grant snapped his fingers. "Mulder?"

Mulder started. "What?"

"Jeez, Mulder. I've been talking for the past five minutes. Don't tell me you haven't heard a word I've said."

"Sorry Bob" Mulder answered mechanically. God, Scully, I miss you so much...

"How many times do I have to tell you Mulder, it's Bill, not Bob. Jeez. I thought you were supposed to have a photographic memory or some shit like that."

"Sorry, I'm just feeling a bit tired. Would it be okay with you if I took the afternoon off?"

Grant shrugged. "Like you listen to a damn word I say anyway. Yeah, go home. Maybe tomorrow we can actually get some work done."

Mulder grabbed his coat and left. He was being suffocated in there!

He drew a piece of paper from his pocket and looked at it indecisively.

Should I? It's risky, but I have to try...

Scully looked at the clock for the tenth time. Eight-nineteen. God, Mulder should have been home hours ago...

She picked up the phone and punched in his celular number. It rang. It rang again. And again...

"Dammit!" she threw it down on the floor.

A terror swept through her. God, Mulder wasn't stupid enough to... No, of course not. He was probably just working late. Yeah, that was it...

Ten thirty came and went. Still no Mulder. She tried his cel-phone again but got the same endless, unanswered ringing as before.

"Oh God..."

Something was wrong. Had Mulder gone to poke around like he'd said he would? God, she hoped not... He'd told her to give him twenty-four hours but...

She picked up the phone reluctantly and dialed the number for Skinner's cel-phone.

"Skinner" came the crisp reply.

"Um, sir, it's Agent Scully here. I'm sorry to call you so late, but I was just wondering if you knew where Mulder was."

"No, I don't. Why?" Skinner sounded genuinely concerned.

"I'm sure it's nothing" she lied. "Thanks anyway."

She hung up, frowning. God, what am I going to do? If Mulder's in trouble somewhere I have to-

The phone rang and she grabbed it.


"Dana, it's Mom."

"Oh, hi Mom."

"Is anything wrong sweetie?"

"Mom, you haven't seen Mulder, have you?"

"No, why? What's happened Dana? Did you and Fox have a fight?"

A fight! Oh God, I wish...

"No, Mom, he - he hasn't come home yet. I don't know where he is. I mean, I might know .. he was going to-"

"You think something's happened to him?"

"I don't know. I hope not."

"Do you have any idea where he might have gone? He didn't say anything?"

Dana blinked back a tear. "He told me he was going to 'poke around' somewhere. He gave me the address and told me to get a team together and go there if anything happened..."

"Are you going to go?"

"I can't risk involving a team of agents just for Mulder. God knows what's going on there..."

"So what are you going to do?"

"I don't know... listen Mom, I'll call you back later. Okay?"

"Dana, don't-"

"I'll call you. Bye." She threw some clothes in an overnight bag. It didn't look like Mulder had taken anything for himself so she put in a few things for him.

She up her gun from where she'd left it on the coffee table, loaded it and tucked it in her waistband.

She had a feeling she was going to need it.

Scully pulled up in front of an old abandoned building. How clich鼯i> she thought with a faint smile. She checked the address Mulder had written down. Yep, this was the place. But what the hell was Mulder doing in Baltimore?

"This was very unwise of you, Mr Mulder."

Mulder held up his hand to shield his eyes from the powerful light being shone in his face.

"What the hell are you doing here?!" he asked. If *he* was here that would mean this was far more complicated that he originally thought...

Hunt took a long drag of his cigarette.

"Let's just say that this is something my colleagues and I find to be of interest."

"I'll bet" Mulder muttered, his eyes warily on the two dark gun-wielding men standing beside the smoking man.

"You shouldn't have come here, Mulder." He started pacing. "I really wish you hadn't come here. Don't you realize that?"

"Why not?" Mulder asked, slightly confused by the other's attitude. In the past the man in front of him had remained cool and collected, even when a gun was stuck in his face. But now.. it was as if he were... *nervous*.

Hunt didn't answer, but instead motioned for the two men to grab Mulder. He was hauled along, protesting, to a small, brightly-lit cell-like room, where Hunt lit another cigarette and stood looking at him.

"You shouldn't have come here Mulder. I can't protect you anymore."

"What?!" Mulder almost laughed. "You've never protected me! You're the one who's been out to get me and Scully. You had my father killed! And Scully's sister. You've had both of us almost killed numerous times. *You're* the one responsible for everything that has happened to us!"

"They weren't my doings. I promised your father I'd protect you and I have."

"You have not, you bastard!"

Hunt shook his head angrily and left the room, muttering something to the guards as he passed them on the way out. The guards moved forward and grabbed Mulder. He struggled uselessly as they jabbed a needle into his arm and he felt his body becoming numb, until he knew no more...

Scully crept along the dark, dirty hallway. It didn't look like anyone had been here for years.

Suddenly she stopped dead in her tracks, the hairs on her neck standing on end. She could hear voices.

She cocked her gun and crept along even more carefully than before.

She flattened herself against a wall as a figure came out into the hallway. Then she gasped.

It was the smoking man.

"Dammit!" she swore under her breath. If he was here then Mulder was in a hell of a lot more trouble than she'd thought...

He turned, staring out the dirty windows as he puffed on his cigarette.

Checking that there was nobody else visible nearby, she crept up behind the man.

Ten feet away. Eight. Six. Four. Two...

She took a deep breath and pressed the steel rim against his neck. "Where's Mulder?" she hissed, not daring to talk any louder in case someone heard.

The man turned around and faced her coolly. "Ah, Ms Scully. Or should I say, Mrs. Mulder... you know, I know a Mrs. Mulder..." he mused.

"Where is Mulder?!" she demanded, pressing the gun harder. "Don't think I'm afraid to use this you sonofabitch!"

Hunt took a drag of his cigarette and replied coolly "I respectfully refuse to answer that question."

Scully took a step back in shock. She remembered using those exact same words more than a year ago. But that would mean that he'd been present at the congressional hearing... worry about that another time dana. mulder is all that matters right now

Hunt continued "Now, I suggest you put that weapon away before somebody else gets hurt."

Scully felt her chest tighten. "Somebody *else*? Is Mulder hurt? Did you shoot him?!"

Hunt held up his hand. "Ms Scully, I assure you that your husband is alive. He's not particularly happy, but, then again, neither is the soldier whose hand he bit."

Scully couldn't help but feel relieved, despite the fact that she knew he could be - and probably was - lying.

"So where is he? What do you want with him?"

"You don't seem to understand, Mrs. Mulder-"

"Don't call me Mrs. Mulder. Seeing as you know everything else about us, I would assume you know that I'm keeping my own name."

Hunt gestured dismissively. "I'm afraid that I tend to be rather old fashioned in some ways. Marriage, for instance."

"Are we going to stand here discussing marriage etiquette or are you going to help me find Mulder?"

"What if I don't help you?"

"I have a gun, don't I?"

"You won't shoot me" Hunt said with a cool certainty that infuriated Scully.

"Why the hell not?"

"Because you and I both know that I'm the only one who can help you find Agent Mulder. Your husband. The father of your children."

Scully instinctively pulled her jacket closer over her stomach. "So what am I supposed to do?"

Hunt pushed the weapon down slowly. "You will return home and wait. When they are finished with him, Agent Mulder will be returned. Do you understand?"

She knew what was going to happen to him. It had happened to her. There was no way that she was going to let Mulder go through the same hell.

"I am not going to let you do this to him!" she shouted.

Hunt flinched but quickly regained his composure.

"You have no choice in the matter" he said. He dropped his cigarette and put it out with his shoe.

Then he turned and walked away, leaving Scully standing alone in the corridor.

July, 1998

Dana Scully woke up and rolled over, looking out the window. The sun was shining through, promising a beautiful summer day outside. She turned away, feeling a familiar lump rise up in her throat. Swallowing, she swung herself off the bed and went over to the full-length mirror, studying her bulging belly unhappily.

"God Mulder, where are you?" she whispered, feeling the all-too familiar tears prickling her eyes.

"Dana, honey, are you awake?" her mother opened the bedroom door.

"Hi Mom" she said softly.

"How are you feeling?"

"I'm fine."

Maggie hesitated. "Honey, Mr Skinner rang half an hour ago."

Scully froze. She hadn't talked to the Assistant Director for more than a week.

"What about?" she asked apprehensively.

"He didn't say. He wants you to visit him at his office today. I told him that you were still asleep, but that I'd let you know as soon as you woke up. He said that it was very important."

Dana swallowed but refused to allow herself hope. She'd spent every second she had in the past two and a half months searching for Mulder, hoping, praying... she knew that if she allowed herself hope, she would end up with only bitter disappointment. Of course, there was always the possibility that he was dead... but she refused to let herself think that way. She couldn't give up on him. She knew that she had to keep searching, looking, until...

Until what Dana? she asked herself angrily until you're a single mother with teenage kids?

"Okay" she replied mechanically. "I'll be downstairs in a few minutes."

Maggie nodded and left, closing the door gently behind her and letting Dana return again to her thoughts.

God, Mulder! I need you, you bastard! she felt anger running through her and she clenched her fists. Why the hell did you run out on me when I needed you?

Then in an instant her anger disappeared and was replaced by grief, her eyes filling with tears as she picked a photo up off the dressing table.

It was them on their wedding day.

They hadn't bothered to hire a professional photographer or anything - it had been an extremely low-key affair - but this had been taken by Lynette. She was sitting on Mulder's lap - half-falling off - and they both looked enormously happy, grinning widely and obviously in love.

"Mulder..." she whimpered.

She felt a slight kick in the stomach and a bittersweet thrill ran through her. "Hey, you two in there better behave!" she whispered, futilely attempting to blink back the tears that formed in her eyes. It was a reminder that life went on, and that the two babies growing inside her were part of Mulder too. It made her feel slightly more optimistic and cheerful. *Slightly*.

She wiped the tears away from her cheeks and turned away from the mirror.

Skinner better have good news for her.

"Scully?" Walter Skinner stuck his head out of his office.

Scully stood with some difficulty and, refusing his assistance, walked as quickly as she could into the office, where she sunk down into one of the soft chairs. The Assistant Director came in slowly behind her, noting with wry humor that pregnancy hadn't deterred her from power-dressing; she was wearing a tailormade maternity business suit - maternity, but nevertheless most certainly business. "You said you wanted to see me Sir?" she prompted.

Skinner looked at her carefully for a moment, then sighed.

He opened another one of the office doors and Scully felt anger running through her veins, building up and intensifying.

"*You*!" she spat out.

Alex Krycek looked decidedly uneasy.

She rose to her feet and moved toward the young man standing in the doorway. "You bastard! You-"

Skinner put a restraining arm before her. "Scully, I think you want to hear what he has to say."

Krycek looked relieved as he moved forward slightly.

"Why should I listen to anything he says?" she demanded, struggling to get her temper under control.

"Because" Krycek said with a smug smile "I know where Mulder is."

Scully felt as if every bone in her body just disintegrated. She sank down in her seat again. "He's lying" she said unconvincingly. "He wouldn't help us. He's lying." She turned to the A.D angrily. "Why do you believe him? You know all the lies he's told! You know all the death's he's caused! This is just some stupid, twisted plan to get him something he wants. He's not going to help us! Can't you seen that?"

In less than twenty seconds she went through a whole set of emotions; shock, denial, anger, fear...

Fear that Krycek knew where Mulder was, what had happened to him... and that he was just using the knowledge to make her suffer.

"Scully, you know I hate this sonofabitch just as much as you do. But if he can help us find Mulder..."

Scully noticed for the first time the dark lines around her boss's eyes, the way his shoulders slouched... it was as if Mulder's disappearance had affected him as much as it affected her.

That's stupid, Dana she told herself be realistic. A man in his position would be under a hell of a lot of stress. Besides, you should hardly be criticizing his appearance... She thought about her own appearance. She'd had dark circles under her eyes for weeks - for months now; she still wasn't eating satisfactorily - she was eating plenty for one but nowhere near enough for three, so her mother kept telling her. The problem was that she was never hungry. That was really the only reason. *Why* she was never hungry was a much more complicated story...

She laid her hands on her stomach and shifted in the chair. "So, where is he?" she demanded.

Krycek leaned forward and, with a wary glance around said quietly "I can't tell you now. They've got this whole place bugged - I'm supposed to give you a false lead. But I'll show you where he is."

"Why do you want to help us?" Scully asked, staring at him.

"I don't want to work for them anymore. Things have happened to me - they've happened because of them. I've been keeping away from the but they found me again. I can't disobey them. They've - a month ago they almost killed me. They won't stop until I'm dead, so... I want to help you."

"In exchange for what?"

Skinner said dryly "He wants to get out of this country and he wants us to make absolutely sure they won't be able to find him. We'll drop all charges against him, delete all the files. He has to be untraceable."

"You mean that you've already agreed?" Scully was surprised.

"Scully, I can't say that I want Mulder back as much as you do, but I guarantee that I'll do anything in my power to get him back." He smiled grimly. "Besides, if it'll get this little shit out of my way I'll benefit just as much as everyone else."

Dana Scully sat in the dark car, feeling the first real glimmer of hope in almost three months. Walter Skinner was sitting beside her, his presence comforting and, strangely enough, quite amiable. She soon found herself opening up to him, telling him things that she still hadn't been able to tell Mulder. It was almost as if she were talking with him as an equal, as a friend. She clenched her fist for the nth time, feeling the nails digging into her palm and subconsciously noting that they need trimming - well, at least the nails on her left hand did - she'd gotten into the habit of biting her nails again, and as a result the nails on her right hand were even with her fingertips. The tension in the car was building noticeably as she looked at the digital clock impatiently.

"Krycek said between eleven and twelve" she said frustratedly. "It's past twelve thirty. Where the hell are they? Are they coming at all?"

"They will" Skinner assured her. "If Krycek doesn't bring us Mulder then he won't get his all expenses paid, one-way trip to Zimbabwe."

"You're sending him to Africa?" Scully let out a shaky laugh. "He's going to love that. Have you told him yet?"

"Not yet. I thought I'd save the good news 'til he delivered the goods."

He took her hand impulsively and stroked it gently. "You sure you're going to be okay, Dana?"

Dana? Scully felt confused. God, Skinner wasn't coming onto her was he? Not here, not now. "Um, yeah, I'll be okay" she mumbled, feeling her face go scarlet.

Skinner pulled his hand away. "Sorry Scully. I don't know what came over me," he sighed heavily then spoke with an air of attempted casualness. "It's just that... I know I probably shouldn't be telling you, but you do realize that I've been in love with you for years, don't you? I just want you to know that - if this doesn't work out with Mulder - I'll be here for you."

Scully felt a thousand, million times more confused than she had been before - completely aghast. God, why the hell did he have to tell me now? she wondered, slightly angry. God, this was just making everything even more complicated. FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! she screamed silently in her head. Emotions. Who needs them? The damn things just get in the way, make it impossible to think straight... she thought frustratedly. Gotta get my priorities in order. Number one: get Mulder back and resolve subsequent problems. Number two: deal with everything else another time.

She turned away from him and felt her head starting to pound. This was too much for her to handle in a situation like this. Anyway, what the hell did he mean "if this doesn't work out"?

"Don't do this to me" she said quietly, forcing herself to forget about her emotions and confusion. "I'm sorry. Please don't do this to me."

They spent the next thirty minutes sitting in uncomfortable silence, Scully wishing that she could be five years old again, curling up on her father's lap. When you were a kid life was so simple. Sure, you had problems, but they were nothing in comparison to this. She shut her eyes, although she knew she had a chance in a billion of getting any sleep, while Skinner kept his eyes on the dark road in front of them.

Then suddenly it happened.

A black van drove up out of the darkness, barely visible in the moonlight. The brakes were applied with a squeal and a cloud of dust blocked their vision for a minute.

As the dust cloud cleared the driver's door opened and a figure in black jumped out and rapped on front windscreen of their car.

"I've got him."

Scully had never been more apprehensive in her life as she threw her door open and half-fell out, making her way over to the van.

"We've got to be quick" Krycek hissed. "They'll be here any minute. Help me get Mulder out of the van."

As if we wouldn't Scully thought grimly as they yanked open the doors. As she saw the figure inside she felt so weak with relief that she would have collapsed if she hadn't been gripping onto the door. A mob of dark cars suddenly appeared with sirens blazing, going so fast that she could smell the burning rubber.

"C'mon! Hurry up!" she shouted desperately. At the speed they were going they'd be here in less than thirty seconds.

Skinner and Krycek hauled the unconscious Mulder out of the van and half-dragged him to the waiting car, where she helped them pull him onto the back seat.

"Where's my stuff?" Krycek demanded hoarsely as Scully examined Mulder in the meagre light. "The airline ticket? Passport? Where are they?"

Skinner hunted through his overcoat pockets desperately. "I can't find them" he said in a panicky voice. The fleet of cars were less that ten yards away and they were all freaking out.

"WHERE ARE THEY?!!" Krycek screamed at Skinner, his voice full of terror and resonating in her ears. "I have to have them! They'll kill me!"

Scully glanced quickly around the car and a yellow envelope on the floor caught her eye. She grabbed it up and shoved them into Krycek's hands, then she pulled her door shut just as the firing started. Skinner did the same, starting the engine. Scully found herself holding her breath, praying that the car would start, but for a terrifying second all she heard were the ping's of bullets as the hit metal.

Finally she heard the heavenly sound of the car coughing to life, and the car jolted and lurged forward. She bent low so that her cheek was on Mulder's, listening to his quiet, regular breathing, interrupted only by the sounds of bullets in the distance.

Only when the sounds of firing finally receded into the distance did she allow herself to study Mulder properly, when she was surprised how okay he looked. He was wearing a pair of faded jeans and a brown bomber jacket that she recognized as his, although they were a hell of a lot dirtier than they'd ever been, coated with a still sticky yellowish substance that felt something like honey. His face looked surprisingly normal and healthy too. He had some stubble on his cheeks as if he hadn't shaved for a few days, but from what she could tell he'd definitely shaved in the past week, and most certainly in the past three months. Other than that, he looked as if he were asleep, his lips slightly open, as if he were smiling slightly, and his forehead was smooth, not set in a deep frown like hers had been for months.

She slapped his cheeks gently but he didn't respond.

"I think he's been given some kind of drug" she shouted above the noise the gravel underneath the car tires made. "He doesn't look particularly dehydrated or malnourished..." wish the same could be said for you Dana she thought to herself wryly. "He's nonresponsive, but from what I can see, he hasn't been out for that long."

"Got any idea where we're going?" Skinner asked, glancing backwards.

Scully realized with shock that she didn't. They couldn't go to their apartment - she'd moved out of there and into her mother's place two weeks after Mulder had disappeared. Her mother's place seemed like the only place to go, but if they were still after her and Mulder then she sure as hell didn't want to get her mother involved.

"The nearest motel" she said decisively. It seemed the least risky.

They drove for what seemed like hours to her, and finally arrived at a small motel in a town on the outskirts of civilization.

Scully booked a room and Skinner helped her to get Mulder inside and to lie him down on the bed.

"Listen Scully, I think I better get the hell out of here before someone realizes I'm involved in this and my whole career is ruined... if it isn't already."

Scully nodded. She'd expected that.

"Do you need me to get you anything?" Skinner asked, peering out the window uneasily as if worried the parking lot was already filling with the enemy. There was nothing.

"We'll be fine, I think. But could you just tell my Mom what's happened please? I didn't tell her before - I didn't want her to get her hopes up."

Skinner nodded. "Okay. You sure you don't want me to send someone with some clothes or things?"

Scully shook her head. "No, it's okay. I've got a bagful of stuff in the car. That should do us for a few days at least. If the drug hasn't worn off Mulder by then I'll ring you and we'll see about getting him to a hospital."

Skinner brought in her duffel bag from the car and then stood in the doorway.

"Okay, well, I'll you later..," he said uncomfortably.

Scully nodded, but didn't look away from Mulder's face. "Thanks for helping us Sir. I know I'll never forget it."

Skinner nodded again and left quickly, glancing furtively around the empty carpark and leaving Scully alone with her husband.

She had turned the light on and it was easier to see his face clearly; he looked as if he were having a pleasant dream. Scully wished desperately that she could join him in sleep, but she also knew that she was too excited, too pumped up to sleep. She'd gotten him back. It was almost too unbelievable.

She undressed him as gently as she could, puzzled at the lack of injuries he had sustained. Apart from a patch on his arm where he seemed to have at least twenty needle puncture marks - probably to subdue him - and a strange layer of now-dried yellowish substance covering his skin and clothes, he was unscathed. She checked his temperature but it was normal, his pulse was steady and his breathing sounded normal, except that it seemed maybe slightly more strained than usual. Resignedly, she tucked the thin blankets around him, switched off the lights save for a small lamp, and spread herself out on the couch near the bed, finally allowing herself to relax. The day had been very tiring - not all physical tiredness - because she'd hardly done anything except sit in the car waiting. It was something else. She couldn't find the exact word for it - it was like a mixture of emotional and physical stress, the adrenaline of the rescue and the fear that formed a huge lump in her throat.

But it was something else too: hope that once he was back they could get on with their lives...

Scully was woken by a quiet moan. She sat up, letting her eyes adjust to the dark room, and glanced over to the bed.

From just a glance she could easily tell that the drugs he had been given to knock him out had worn off, and he'd slipped into natural sleep.

At second glance she could tell that he was having a nightmare. As she neared the bed she could see how his face was contorted in pain, how he was shivering and covered in goosebumps...

His eyes snapped open and he stared at her, a long, vacant, terrified stare.

She slipped down beside him on the bed, pulling him into her arms.

"Scully?" he croaked, sweat prickling his forehead.

She stared back at him, too many emotions rushing around in her head at once to be able to sort them all out.

Finally she spoke "You okay, Mulder?"

Mulder swallowed. "I had a bad dream" he said, trembling. "You were there, and my mom... and Sam... My mom was telling me that I had to make a choice, but I didn't want to..." he whimpered and Scully pulled him tighter, running her hand through his hair. Mulder swallowed again and continued "then she disappeared..."

"Who disappeared?" Scully asked, dreading the answer. Dreading it because she already knew it.

"My mom" he whispered. He reached up and stroked her face like a small child. "I kept calling her and calling her but she wouldn't come back. And Sam was telling me to stop... she said that Mom wasn't coming back. I was so angry at her Scully" his voice trembled "I hit her. She screamed and started crying and there was blood everywhere... I ran away from her. I was scared that I was going to get in trouble..."

Scully bit her lip. "Mulder, I don't know how to tell you this, but..." she took a deep breath, hating herself for what she was doing. "Your mother is dead. She died from an overdose of painkillers a month ago. I'm so sorry Mulder."

Mulder look as if she had punched him in the stomach. He made a horrible half-sobbing-half-choking sound and his whole body started shaking.

"I'm so sorry" she repeated, feeling as if she were to blame for his mother's death. Feeling guilty.

Why? she asked herself. Why are you feeling guilty Dana? You hardly knew the woman. Then she realized, while kicking herself for her own stupidity, that she felt guilty - no, not exactly *guilt*... but sorrow at the death of Mulder's mother. It was as if she was sharing Mulder's pain - as if there were a bond between them that forced them to - no, not forced ... that allowed them to feel what the other was feeling. It was as if they weren't two separate people, but had become molded into one...

Scully sat watching the sunrise through the window, Mulder's head nestled under right her arm, his tearstained face peaceful as he slept. She didn't know exactly when he'd fallen asleep... he'd stopped shaking eventually and his sobs had quietened down, but just as she'd thought he was finally asleep another heartwrenching sob would escape from him, as if he were trying to hold back his grief and failing.

Her left hand was sitting on her stomach, feeling movements - kicks, like a the beat of a butterfly's wings. Mulder stirred, opening his eyes slowly, and she took his hand, placing it underneath her own.

"Can you feel them?" she whispered.

She felt a tremor running through him and he shrunk away, withdrawing his hand and rolling over so that he was facing the wall.

"They killed her, Scully" she heard him whisper, his voice heartbreakingly calm.

Scully swallowed. "Her death was officially ruled a suicide. I visited her a few times... she was pretty depressed. She thought you were dead..." she hesitated for a moment. "There was a note."

"A suicide note?"

"They took it as such. It was written to you, but they opened it anyway" she couldn't keep the note of anger out of her voice. "They took it as evidence but I got a photocopy of it."

She eased herself off the bed and dug through the duffle bag, pulling out a crumpled sheet of paper and handing it to him.

Mulder took it and fingered it, reluctant to read what his mother had written.

"I need to be alone Scully" he said finally, in a quiet, remote voice that frightened her.

She opened her mouth to argue but stopped herself. "Okay, if you're sure. I'll just get dressed and buy us some breakfast at the diner around the corner."

Mulder nodded.



Scully pulled on a pair of baggy denim overalls. "Yeah?"

"How many days was I gone for?"

Scully was taken by surprise for a moment, until she remembered Mulder's disappearance. How could you forget *that* Dana? But, then again, because of his reaction to his mother's death, his disappearance and everything that had happened during those three long months had kinda receded into unimportance - insignificance.

"Almost three months" she answered quietly, watching his face.

"Three months?" he croaked disbelievingly. "You're kidding?"

"'Fraid not Mulder. I didn't know if I was ever going to get you back."

"That can't be. It's impossible" he said, looking scared. How could he lose three months of his life like this?

"What, you think I got this big in a few days?" Scully joked weakly, for her own sake just as much as Mulder's.

Mulder seemed to see her properly for the first time, taking in her huge, swollen belly, which seemed to be three times bigger then when he'd last seen her, the dark lines under her eyes telling of many sleepless nights, the nails of her right hand bitten right down to the finger... in fact, she looked a hell of a lot worse than he did. But there was something different about her, something that made her look different. It wasn't anything physical - it was almost as if she was mentally, emotionally.... spiritually(?) stronger.

"You're different."

"A lot's happened in the past three months" she said quietly.

Mulder felt his chest contract. God, not another guy...? No, don't be ridiculous. Scully would never be unfaithful. Never

He was silent and she glanced at him sideways as she pulled on a pair of sneakers.

"I'll be back in a little while. 'K?" she asked, standing and picking up her purse.

Mulder was still fingering the note. "Stay here" he begged. "Please?"

"You sure?"

Mulder nodded.

They sat together on the bed and Mulder took a deep breath and unfolded the paper.

Fox, I never thought it would end this way, but this is all I can do. I have nothing left - nothing except you. And now you are gone. This letter is for you, although I know you will never receive it. I ask only one thing of you: forgiveness. Your father asked forgiveness of you only when it was too late, and I am afraid that I have made the same mistake. I do not want to suffer like he did, and yet I fear I will. I love you Fox. Please forgive me.

Tena Mulder.

"They took this as a suicide note?" Mulder said incredulously.

He jumped up.

"There's nothing in this to indicate suicide!" he shouted. "They killed her! Those bastards!"

"Mulder..." she started.

"Listen to me Scully, we have to-"

"No, Mulder, you listen to *me*! You're still not well. I know this is a huge thing and it's hard to understand, but you can't just go around and put a bullet in anyone who you can hold responsible! Don't you see that? This isn't going to bring her back!"

Mulder looked like he'd had the life knocked out of him. His shoulders sagged and he fell in a crumpled heap on the floor.

She put her arm around him protectively but he shrugged it off. "Leave me alone" he said harshly.

She shrunk away from him. "Mulder? Don't shut me out."

Mulder bit his lip. "Leave me alone. Please Scully."

Scully knew that he was a risk to himself and anyone who got in his way when he got in this kind of burning- for-revenge mood.

She started gently "I don't think that's such a good idea Mulder..."

"Just GET OUT!!" he shouted angrily.

She took one last look at him, and then left the room. There was a small picnic/barbecue area outside the room and Scully sat down at one of the picnic tables, her head in her hands. Praying. Six months ago she wouldn't be caught dead praying in public, but now... be honest with yourself Dana. You still wouldn't be caught dead praying in public. It's six-thirty on a Sunday morning. There's no-one awake except you and Mulder. No-one's watching.

In the three months Mulder had been missing her life had changed dramatically. Well, not exactly dramatically... just a hell of a lot.

First of all, her mother had conned her into talking to the family priest, Father McCue... And she'd rediscovered her faith. It wasn't all of a sudden the most important thing in her life - Mulder and her unborn children still were. But it was very important to her. It was something that gave her strength, that gave her a reason to live, that gave her faith, courage, hope.

"You have to have faith in something."

Where had she heard that? Wherever it was, it was very true. She'd had faith in science, but that wasn't enough anymore. Once it had been solid and unchangeable to her, but things that she had seen, things that she had experienced firsthand, 'turned everything science held sacred on it's head' to use another quote. Where the hell do all these quotes keep coming from? Faith in God was something unchangeable, more so than science. Not that she was giving up on science... it still fascinated her, intrigued her... but she'd found something more important. Something that could change her life.

She'd dug through Missy's old things and found a poster that had hung in their bedroom when she was young. It was a picture of a kitten hanging from a tree branch, with "Faith isn't faith until it's all you're holding on to" printed underneath in bold, easy-to-read lettering.

When she was a child she'd liked the poster. The kitten was cute. But now she like the poster because it put things in perspective for her. Faith isn't faith until it's all you're holding on to. Mulder had disappeared and her faith had been all she'd had left with. That had been when she'd realized how important - how powerful it was. She'd refused to fall back on her God when she was fighting her cancer - she hadn't wanted to surrender, seem weak. But faith in God was something she could always rely on, everchanging and eternal.

You have to have faith in something.

Scully opened one eye lazily. Then the other. She yawned and rolled over, but Mulder's side of the bed was empty. damn She threw back the covers and pulled herself up out of bed.

"Mulder?" she called sleepily.

Then she cursed herself for her stupidity as her brain finally made sense of the sound of water running in the background. Mulder was in the shower.

Dana, how slow are your mental processes getting?!

She climbed back into bed tiredly. There was no point in her getting up until Mulder got out of the shower, and she was still tired and stiff all over from spending half the night comforting Mulder during his nightmares.

She curled herself up into a ball and let herself drift off the sleep.

When she woke half an hour later the shower was still running. Slightly okay, admit it dana. more than sightly concerned, she went to the bathroom door and knocked.

"Mulder? You okay in there?"

No answer.

She opened the door slightly and hot, steamy air rushed out.

"Mulder?" she asked again.

Listening carefully, she heard quiet sobbing.

She gently pulled the shower curtain across, and saw Mulder slumped down against the wet walls, his arms around his knees, crying.

She swallowed.

Without a word she turned off the water and handed him a towel, watching him as he stood shakily and wrapped it around himself. He stepped out onto the mat and sunk down on the floor, still trembling and crying softly.

what the hell am I going to do? Dana thought desperately. Her husband was crying on the bathroom floor and she had no idea what to do about it. She sat down beside him, slipping her arm around him.

"Tell me what's wrong. Please Mulder. Be honest with me."

Mulder shook his head. "No."

"No what?"

"My mom is dead" he said harshly. He stood up and walked out of the bathroom, leaving her there feeling even more confused and helpless than before.

God, what am I going to do?

Dana picked up the receiver and pressed one of the speed- dial buttons.

One ring. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six...


"Hi Mom, it's me."

"Dana, honey, where are you?"

"Um, Mulder and I arrived home late last night."

"Are you both okay?"

"Yeah, we're fine. He's pretty upset about his mother's death and everything, and he's finding it a bit hard to grasp the fact he's lost three months of his life..." she bit her lip. "He's not talking to me Mom. He doesn't sleep, doesn't talk... it's really scaring me. I don't know what to do."

She instinctively reached for her cross, holding the cool metal between her thumb and forefinger so tightly that her fingers started going numb. "It's almost like he's still missing. Like his body's here but his mind - his heart - it's still missing. I can't understand what he's doing. He's shutting me out completely."

"Oh Dana..." her mother sounded heartbroken.

"I don't know what to do, Mom. I don't know how to reach him. I don't know if I can..."

Maggie gripped the phone tightly. Dear Lord, why? Dana was close enough to a complete breakdown as it was. As for poor Fox...

"Maybe it would help if I talked to him" she suggested.

"Do you think it would do any good?"

"I don't know. But you have to do something Dana. Neither of you can live this way. It's dangerous - for you, for Fox, for the twins..."

Scully's left hand immediately went to her stomach. "I know that Mom. But I just don't know how to fix things up..."

"Dana, you have strength. You've always been the strong one in the family. You have to do something. Otherwise the situation will just get worse..."

Mulder was sitting on the bed, facing the blank wall, his expression empty, forlorn, hopeless.

Dana shut the door behind her as she entered the room, for once not giving a damn about any possible electronic listening devices hidden throughout the apartment. Let 'em listen she thought grimly. They can all go to hell.

Mulder turned and looked at her, but said nothing.

She swallowed and addressed him quietly. "Mulder, I know that you've been through a lot - losing three months of your life, then finding out about your mother... but I need you to talk to me. Hell, I need you to *talk*. Sitting there all day planning revenge isn't going to bring her back-" she saw him stiffen but continued "and it's not doing you any good either. It's *okay* to grieve. Don't you understand that? But you have to get past these things. You have to move on. You can't just shut everyone out and hope someday you'll wake up and everything will be miraculously fixed. That's not going to happen! I *want* to help you Mulder, but you have to *let* me!"

Mulder buried his head in his hands and she could see him shaking, but she refused to let herself comfort him.

"This isn't you Mulder. You can cope with this. And if you don't -"

Mulder turned toward her, his eyes dark and turbulent.

The eyes are the mirror of the soul she thought to herself.

"If I don't *what*?" he asked hoarsely.

"I'll leave you."

Tough ultimatum Dana. Can you risk it? Can you risk not doing it?

Mulder felt a cold hand gripping at his heart. "I can't lose you Scully" he muttered.

Scully rolled her eyes angrily. "Then do something about it, damn you!" More softly she said "I'm willing to help you Mulder. I want to help you. I want us both to be happy. I want to bring our children into a happy, loving family. Will you help me do that Mulder?"

Mulder nodded, his face crumbling. "I'm so sorry Scully" he whispered.

He kneeled, wrapping his arms around her waist and pressing his face against her stomach. "I'm so, so sorry..."

Scully rested her right hand on his head, running her fingers through his hair. "Remember Mulder, I've been through it too. I lost four months of my life. I've had a sister killed because of some damn government. I know what you're going through. You just have to be strong."

Mulder threw the instruction booklet against the wall, several of the pages scrunching satisfactorily. Scully came in quietly. "Everything okay in here Mulder?" "Oh yeah, everything's just fine" he said sarcastically. "The damn thing is impossible to understand. It might as well be in Japanese."

Scully picked up the book and flipped through it.

"Looks like it is" she observed. "So, Mulder, what's happening with you in here?"

She kneeled behind him, massaging his shoulders gently. "You want me to have a go?"

"I can do it Scully" he said irritably. "Dammit, I've been assembling stuff since I was two. This should be easy."

"Doesn't look it." Scully surveyed the two identical cot frames, one of which was propped up against the bed while the other was lying half-assembled on the floor. Mulder shrugged and grabbed two pieces, screwing them together.

"Did you see Dr. Addams?" she asked gently.

Mulder rolled his eyes. "Yeah. Waste of time, waste of money. Don't know why the hell I have to see a shrink anyway..."

Scully ignored the question. It wasn't exactly hard to figure out. Mulder was talking to her now, sure. But he was also throwing a lot a temper tantrums. It was almost like multiple personalities. He'd be sweet and beautiful and charming one minute and the next he'd go off his brain, ranting and raving when the smallest thing went wrong. It scared her, even though she tried not to show it. It reminded her of something she'd rather forget...

She pulled a few pieces toward her and fitted them together.


"Yeah? What?" he asked, distracted.

"I think we should move into a bigger apartment."

"If you want."

"Is that all you're going to say?"

"What do you want me to say?"

Dana was angry. "I - I don't know. I just assumed that something of this importance deserves some discussion."

Mulder turned, gesturing angrily. Scully flinched back, as if she thought he was going to hit her.

Mulder looked horrified. "Oh God, Scully..." God, how could she think that I would do that to her? Tears welled up in his eyes. "I'm so sorry Scully. I'd never hurt you, please believe me! Please?" he pleaded.

Scully looked at him uncertainly for a moment, then she reached out and put his hand between her own, stroking it gently.

"I believe you Mulder."

"Hey Scully! Where's the all chocolate ice-cream gone?" Mulder yelled, standing in front of the open freezer, cold air pouring out. Scully twisted her head around slightly. "Lyn and I finished it off yestersay. And shut the freezer. You're letting all the cold air out." She yawned.

"Couldn't you have left just a teeny tiny bit for me?" Mulder sounded distinctly peeved.

"Sorry Mulder, but the two of us together *were* eating for five..."

Mulder appeared with a tub of frozen yoghurt and a spoon, and sat on the floor, his back up against the couch where she was lying on her side. "So, anything interesting happen today?"

Scully stared at the dancing flames in the fireplace. "Um..." She shrugged. "Nothing much. Lynette came over and so we did a few exercises and all that stuff you're supposed to do while you're pregnant. And then we pigged out on the ice cream."

"Sounds like fun" Mulder commented cheerfully. "A lot more fun than my day."

"Why? What happened?"

"Nothing. It was incredibly boring."

"How tragic." She took the spoonful of frozen yoghurt Mulder offered.

"It was. Hey Scully?"


"Do you want girls or boys? Or one of each?"

Scully was silent for a moment and he glanced up at her, brushing his fingertips across her cheek gently.

"I haven't really thought about that" she said honestly. "I don't care, as long as they're okay. You know, healthy."

"Yeah... I think I'd like one of each" he said dreamily, sliding his hand under her thick sweatshirt and resting it on her stomach, smiling at each movement. "Have you thought about names?"

"A little" she admitted. "I like one a lot one day, but then I wake up the next day and wonder how the hell I could ever like it, y' know?"

"None you just keep liking?"


"Out with it Scully!"

"I like Meagan or maybe Morgan.. I guess I have a weakness for M's. And I like James."

"Yeah, James is good. Very traditional. But I was thinking maybe more unusual names..."

Scully raised an eyebrow. "Such as?"

"I don't know... Fox?"

Scully laughed and eyed the clock. 11:21pm.

"Time for bed?" she suggested, imagining the feeling of Mulder's naked body against hers... They'd taken to sleeping naked for a reason she hadn't quite caught, but hell, who needed a reason? There was something thrilling about feeling his warm skin against hers... and it was also easier if they decided to make love in the middle of the night - "no clothes, no hassles" as Mulder was so fond of putting it. Oh well, she wasn't complaining...

Or at least she hadn't been. But now, Dana she reminded herself cruelly your husband's going nuts and hasn't slept in the same bed as you for more than two weeks

She was slightly surprised at the bitterness she felt. She understood what Mulder was going through, she was giving him space to breathe and get back into things, she was doing what was best for him. And she loved him. She wasn't angry because he'd gone off... was she?

Are you, Dana?

Dana scowled. She thought she'd settled those feelings out long ago.

She dragged herself upright and to her feet but Mulder protested. "Not yet. Just a few more minutes, please?"

She slipped down on top of him on the floor and straddled him, kissing him softly.

Prince wandered in and curled up at Mulder's feet.

"Looks like I'm not moving for a while" Mulder said with a grin, accepting the kisses but not returning them.

Scully smiled, kissing his neck, still soft, gentle and tempting. "Well, you can stay here, but unless you can come up with an absolutely fascinating conversation topic in the next two seconds I'm going to go to bed."

"Oregon" Mulder said quickly.

Scully pulled away slightly with a rush of emotions. Embarrassment, amazement, amusement...

Mulder watched her reaction with a faint smile.

"Mosquito bites" she said deliberately. She pulled herself up, patted Mulder on the head, and then she left the room.

Mulder relived his own memories of that night. Mosquito bites. Yep, Scully was spot on with that one. He remembered how she'd come into his motel room, looking like she'd had the hell scared out of her. Trembling and white all over.

Then she'd dropped her robe and stood there (in *silk* underwear. He hadn't really pegged her for that type) and asking him hysterically what the marks on her back were. Welllllllllll. His own hands had been trembling as he'd studied the marks on the small of her back, tracing the ivory skin. Maybe if he'd worked hard he could have fucked her that very night, but he was glad he hadn't. What they had now was so much more precious than that could ever have been.

He pulled his feet out from under the sleeping puppy - correction: now wide-awake and rather peeved puppy - and stood up, flexing his muscles.

He started walking out of the room, but glanced back and saw Prince sitting on his haunches and looking at him with imploring eyes.

Mulder had never been able to resist that look. He was a sucker when it came to that sad, lost puppy dog look, whether he was giving it or getting it.

"Fine, come on" he bent down and the little dog leapt into into his arms, licking his face vigorously.

Mulder turned his face away. "Ew! Doggy breath" he muttered.

He dropped the dog on the bed where Scully was already fast asleep.

"Be quiet" he warned him. "Mommy's asleep."

Prince stomped around in a small circle and then settled down comfortably, curled up against Scully.

Mulder smiled, then wandered back out into the living room and switched on the TV. He hadn't been able to sleep properly - if at all - since the 'incident'. Whenever he did sleep he regretted it - his nightmares would haunt him long after the sun had risen.

He felt so many confusing emotions about the past five or so months of his life, and the only times when he had any success in sorting them out was late at night when he was alone and the apartment was peacefully quiet. Sometimes he'd type, just scrawling - well, typing - down any thought in his head. That helped sometimes.

He booted up the computer and inserted the disk he'd kept hidden in the back of one of the kitchen cupboards, where he was pretty certain Scully would never find it. And even if she did, he had a password protect on it...

There might come a time where he would let Scully read it, but at the moment it was all so personal, so private. Something that he couldn't share with Scully, his therapist, anyone...

He opened the file and started typing.

guilt. that's what I feel. I feel guilty because my mother is dead and its my fault. Scully, you say that it isn't, but it is. if I hadn't gone off like an asshole and somehow lost three months of my life than she wouldn't have killed herself. its as simple as that. wait - no. that's not true. she didn't kill herself. they killed her. but they used my disappearance and her depression over it as an excuse for suicide. my mom was strong. even when sam was taken she was strong. my dad wasn't really anything. I barely saw him after sam disappeared. my mom carried on. god knows where I would be if she had just complelety broken down. probably in some mental asylum. seriously. my life would be royally fucked up. correction - my life WAS royally fucked up, until you came along. I love you Scully. you know that, don't you? I didn't want to leave you. I swear I didn't. I can't help what happened to me. I don't even know what happened to me. I know that the smoking man was involved, though. I saw him there. and I know that it wasn't aliens who abducted me - yeah, I know you would never in a million years thought i'd say that, but its true - it was humans. god knows why. maybe because we'd gotten too close. to each other, I mean. maybe they were trying to stuff up our lives enough so that we'd give up the bureau and the X-Files. as if. Scully, I feel so guilty. I can't tell you. I don't know why I can't, but everytime I decide to mention it I break out in a cold sweat and I can't speak. I know that you've been through the same type of thing. I know that I should talk to you about this. you should understand more than anyone what it's like to lose months of your life, what it's like know that you weren't there for someone when they needed help. but I can't talk to you. I can't tell you how I feel. I've become my father and I don't that. I want to talk to you. I want to talk with you. I want to be happy. I want to be normal. is that too much to ask? He pressed 'save' and stared moodily at the computer screen, the blinking cursor waiting. He felt like writing more, but he couldn't think of anything to say, so he shut down the computer.

Back in front of the TV he flipped through the channels idly, wondering why he was having so much trouble talking about the three months he'd been missing and everything that had happened during those three months. It wasn't as if he'd been through some emotional trauma - well, if he had, he sure as hell didn't remember it. He had vague ideas of what had happened to him, and one of his ideas had been half-confirmed, although he hadn't mentioned it to Dana.

He remembered a case he and Scully had investigated ages ago. They'd been sent to find a missing archaelogist team, but had found most of them dead. Only three of them - Scully, Cassandra Rubicon and himself - had survived after a team of guerillas had been sent into nuke the place and destroy what they believed was some secret military base in the Yucatan. He had found Cassandra in the core of a strange, alien ship, surrounded by a mysterious liquid which had kept her frozen in time for a few weeks. He'd never suspected that this had anything to do with his disappearance, until he was lazing around in the motel room a few days after he'd been returned. He'd noticed a small cut on his little finger on his right hand, and he remembered getting a papercut the morning before he'd gone off. The cut had only looked a few days old, starting to heal, whereas it should have healed long ago. Okay, so it was a bit of a leap of logic to theorise that he'd been kept in 'suspended animation' for three months from just a small cut, but the more he thought about it, the more logical it seemed. Even Scully herself admitted that he'd had no injuries aside from the needle marks (needles! he hated the damn things!) and a few scratches. That could be proof of his theory... And then she'd casually mentioned that he'd been covered with some thick gooey liquid... More proof. He had to be right.

He wandered around the living room, still plagued by the feeling that he didn't belong here anymore. It didn't feel like home and that disturbed him more than anything else. He wanted to be happy but he didn't know how to achieve that... His gaze rested on a familiar-looking book sitting on the bookshelf. It was the diary he'd bought her for Christmas. God, Christmas... it seemed like so long ago. So much had happened... Without hesitation he picked it up and flicked through it, noting with surprise that it was almost full. As he fingered the dog-eared pages it crossed his mind for the first time that Scully might not want him to read it.

Moral dilemma he thought uneasily. He wanted to read it, to get inside her head, to understand her feelings. Would she object if he put it that way? He hardly thought so... Nevertheless, he felt slightly uncomfortable as he settled himself down on the couch, opened it and started reading.

'May 9th, 1998

I don't know why I'm doing this.

No, wait. That's a lie. How pathetic am I? I only wrote one sentence and I've already broken my one and only rule, that one rule being that I'm going to be completely and utterly truthful in this diary, no matter how much it hurts. Anyway, back to the point, I do know why I'm doing this. It's because Mulder is gone. I have no idea where the hell he is or how I'm going to get him back. All I know is that I'm going to get him back.

Wow. Reading over that makes me sound really strong and determined, but I don't feel strong and determined. Well, I feel a bit determined, but I'm basically just scared shitless. I'm scared that he'd never going to come back and I'll have to raise two kids all on my own. Sure, I know thousands of women raise kids alone everyday, but this is different. I don't know how, but it is. Maybe because I never expected him to just disappear without a trace like that. Well, not exactly without a trace. "Cancerman" as Mulder once called him, pretty much confirmed my worst fears. THEY have Mulder. I know this sounds pretty paranoid, but I'm terrified of what they're going to do to him. Mess with his head probably. That'd probably be the least horrific of their little plans... I'm just so damn scared. For Mulder, for me, for our kids. I'm scared that I'm going to fall apart. Hell, I already am. Mom dragged me along to the doctor this morning and he gave me a long lecture about looking after myself. I know that I should be looking after myself, but I can't eat. I can't sleep. Whenever I try to eat my throat tightens up and I feel sick, and as for sleeping... I've been surviving on coffee for four days now and if I keep this up the kids are going to be born caffeine-dependent.


The doctor asked me if I wanted to know what sexes the twins are. I said no. I want it to be a surprise, and also I want to find out the same time as Mulder does... assuming that he'll be back within the next four months...

Lynette's coming over again tomorrow. This whole diary writing thing was her idea. Well, actually, it's not entirely her idea, because I've been keeping a journal my whole life, but she suggested that I try being completely honest about my feelings, writing it down and then analsying them, then figuring out a way to handle them. I don't normally reread what I write, but I figured it's worth a try. The only problem with it is its making me kind of self-conscious. Anyway...

Feelings.... feelings. I don't know how I feel. I think I'm sad - I would be, wouldn't I? - and I know for certain that I'm depressed. Everyone's having a go at me to see someone about my depression, which I'm not denying exists, as I really don't have the energy to act all smily and happy and cheerful. Mom wants me to go visit Father McCue and talk to him. She said that I need to turn back to my faith, but I don't know if I want to. I don't know if I can. When I told her I didn't want to see him she asked me to see a counsellor. I don't know about that one either. If I could see Karen Kossoff I think maybe I would, but she's been transferred to another bureau branch, somewhere in Wisconsin, I think. I would have seen her because she understands me... or at least she appears to.

I'm scared that if I talk to anyone about this I'll completely break down and burst into tears, and I don't want that.

I want to be strong.

May 11th, 1998


May 14th, 1998

Today Mom suggested that I should move back home until... until. I was tempted to ask her what she meant by that, but I don't think I want to know. I don't know what she believes about Mulder's disappearance. She knows that he'd never leave me for another woman; Mulder's just not that sort of guy. Maybe she thinks he's dead... she's dropped a few not-so-subtle hints about the future. I haven't even thought about what I'd do if I never got Mulder back. He's such a major part of my life, I'm not content to just give up on him. I refuse to. I know that when I was missing he didn't give up, even when my own family had (thanks a lot guys). I want to have the same faith in him. The smoking man said that Mulder would be returned when they were finished with him. Finished... what the hell does that mean? Dead? Used as a test subject for godknowswhat? I'm so scared for you Mulder. I want to help you, but I don't know how. I want to be able to trust someone. Should I believe the smoking man? I don't want to, but he's words are the only hope I have. God, I am so scared. I don't know what to do...

May 29th, 1998

I moved back home today, but I didn't bring much stuff. I'm not giving up my apartment. No way. I want it to stay exactly the same until Mulder gets back. Skinner called me into his office today. He's reopened the X-Files. Well, not entirely, because he wasn't officially allowed to, but he's created a new unit which is exactly the same as the X-Files: "The M-Files."

He agreed with me that it was a kinda corny idea, but I was still so happy that I could have kissed him. He's put me as head of the department, with two junior agents who'll be doing all the field work, and asked me if I had any possible candidates.

I suggested Claudia Andrews. God knows why. Actually, I kinda like the girl. She's infuriating, but at least I won't be stuck with her all day anymore - she and her partner would be (hopefully) in the field most of the time, and all I'd have to do would be advise them occasionally and supervise their reports and stuff. Easy stuff. I don't know how Andrews would cope with all the field work and stuff, though. She doesn't really strike me as the active, gung-ho type. Then again, I wasn't really either. (Okay, so Bill and Charlie would disagree with me there...) I told Skinner that I'd talk to Andrews tomorrow, ask her if she's interested. It might broaden her mind a little. God knows it's bent mine all out of shape.

May 31st, 1998

I talked to Andrews yesterday and she was surprisingly eager and enthusiastic. I asked her if she had anyone she thought would like to work with her on the x - wait, sorry, the m-files. Anyway, she suggested a guy she went to Quantico with. A Michael Abbot. When she said his name a familiar expression appeared on her face and I thought 'Ohhhh great!' When I asked her she admitted that they'd been on a few dates. I told her that I doubted they'd let them work as partners if they were an item, but she said defiantly that they'd let Mulder and I stay together so there was no reason why the same shouldn't apply to her and Abbot. I admitted that I had to agree with her, but that I couldn't guarantee anything.

I gave Skinner their names and I'm hoping that he'll pair them up, because it'd be much better for partners to like each other too much than for them to hate each other. I've learnt that from experience - you get twice as much work done if you can work WITH someone instead of fighting with them every step of the way.

Mulder, I miss you. I miss you so much that my bones ache and I just want to curl up and die. When are you coming back? ARE you coming back?

June 6th, 1998

Well, the 'M-Files' are officially opened. Andrews and Abbot are off on their first case, investigating mysterious deaths in Pennsylvania. Mulder would say that the killers are vampires, given the exsanguination, but there doesn't appear to be any puncture wounds or, in fact, any wounds at all. I'm glad that this case isn't particularly horrific - Andrews and Abbot would give up the m-files in a second if it was. I'll have to introduce them to these things slowly...

June 9th, 1998

A&A are back in Washington and pretty triumphant about their case. Abbot claims that it was a black-magic ritual and Andrews agrees with him. That surprised me - I'd somehow thought that because Andrews is a scientist she'd be more skeptical... like me. Abbot is just as enthusiastic as Andrews was about the m-files. By the way - when he asked me what m stood for, I told him that it was 'Mystery'. The Mystery-Files. Sounds like something out of some TV soap or a James Bond movie. I wonder if he would have laughed if I'd told him the truth - that M stands for Mulder. Mulder's files. I don't know if Andrews has told him about Mulder. She probably did. I have a feeling those two tell each other everything. Wish Mulder and I had been like that...

A&A are comfortably settled into the basement office opposite ours. I couldn't bear the thought of having them in our office, Mulder, but at the same time I know that the X-Files wouldn't be the X-Files if it wasn't in the basement. Okay, so they're now called the m-files, but what's the diff? Andrews was pretty concerned about me being in the office alone, especially while she and Abbot are out on a case. I told her that I like being alone, which is kind of true. I like being able to sit in your chair, Mulder, and to read through the case files you've so carefully compiled. It makes me feel close to you.

June 17th, 1998

Mulder's mom is dead. They're saying that she killed herself - an overdose of painkillers, but I don't know whether or not to believe them. God, I want to go back to bed so much. I just want to burrow under the blankets and close out the rest of the world, all the pain and death and misery. I want Dad to come and comfort me and hold me in his big strong arms and tell me that everything's going to be okay. I want you Daddy. I want you Mulder. I need you.

June 19th, 1998

I'm going to Tena Mulder's funeral this afternoon. Funny, I never even knew her first name. I wish I'd gotten to know her better. Mulder, I hope to God that the next funeral I go to won't be yours. I'm so scared Mulder.

June 21st, 1998

They say God protects babies and drunks. I don't want to be drunk but I'd like to be a baby again. I feel vulnerable.

July 1st, 1998

Well Mulder, you're still missing. I'm starting to wonder if you'll ever come back. Sometimes I wonder if I even do want you back. Then, of course, I swear at myself for being so stupid. Of course I want you back. More than ever. I still can't get used to life without you. It feels so... so alien. And no, I still don't believe in extraterrestrials. I'm afraid that Andrews and Abbot do though, but that only makes them more eager about their work, which suits me fine.

Skinner's forcing me to take maternity leave. Well, not physically forcing, just putting the guilt trip on me, telling me that I have to take care of myself for the sake of the twins, not to mention my mother and everyone else who's been worried to death about me. Bla bla bla. Today was my last day at work, but Andrews promised that they'll take care of things and she'll keep me informed. Skinner's assured me that he'll keep searching for Mulder. Skinner's a weird guy. He can be really kind and generous sometimes, which surprises me. He's been unbelieveably supportive of me the past two months and in a way he kind of reminds me of Dad. I don't think that he's a very happy man - ever since he and his wife got divorced two (or was it three?) years ago he's been alone. God, I can't imagine being alone for so long. I know that before Mulder and I got together I lived alone, but after being with him I can't imagine NOT being with him.

July 7th, 1998

I've got a cold. Damn.

July 12th, 1998

I heard someone say once that pregnancy made her feel revitalised. Ha! I feel like shit.

July 13th, 1998

Today Mom brought Father McCue to the house and somehow convinced me to talk to him. We had a really long talk and I found myself telling him everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. About you, about my family, about my job. One good thing about priests is that they're good listeners. I must have babbled onto him for hours, but he didn't seem to mind at all. At the end he took my hands and we prayed together - I know it probably sounds silly, but I felt stronger somehow. I prayed to God to come into my heart, to give me strength. Mulder, I don't know if you can understand what this was like to me, such a powerful experience. I feel like I can relinquish some control over my life; knowing that I don't have to handle every decision on my own. It makes life seem so much easier. I know I said a while ago that I wouldn't come running back to God; that it wasn't who I am. That's still not who I am. But I don't feel like this is a surrender to God - I've come back to Him because I want to learn know Him again. I do need Him, I admit that. I need His strength. Sometimes I think that belief in God is like having a safety net. You know that whatever you do, God is there to give you strength and help you, and I feel I need that. I want that.

I'm up in my room now, writing this. Father McCue is still downstairs, talking to Mom. I feel so weird, like I'm on drugs or something. My thought are a bit muddled and I'm tired. It's only five-thirty in the afternoon but the sky's filled with black clouds and it's started raining. I think I'll have a little snooze before dinner. I'm tired.

July 16th, 1998

Father McCue dropped in again today and Mom acted like he was God himself. I guess she's pretty happy that I've turned back to God, and she has him to thank for it. I know this sound ridiculous, but I feel like a new person. I have a new 'zest for life', I think. I guess this is what people say that they're reborn. The problem is that I'm stuck at home, waddling around like a huge hippopotamus, while I want to be doing something, using up all my excess energy trying to find Mulder or doing SOMETHING. I spend half the day sleeping, mainly because I can't think of anything else to do. The rest of the day is usually spent talking to Mom, or pigging out in front of the TV. Lynette dropped in and we pigged out in front of the TV TOGETHER, which made a pleasant change, but I'm still getting pretty sick of those damn TV soaps. I've already watched all the intesting things I have on tape, as well as reading every single book I own at least once.

Lyn and I made a resolution: we're going to but one of those fitness tapes for pregnant women. Not that exercise is going to stop me feeling like a bloated whale (ooh! First I was a huge hippo, now I'm a bloated whale. Better not let Mulder hear me comparing myself to large animals...) but at least we'll be able to say that we tried.

July 22nd, 1998


July 23rd, 1998

We're going to rescue you, Mulder. We're trusting Krycek to get you back, and I hope to God that he'll come through for us. If not, Skinner's sworn his going to kick Krycek's ass to Kingdom Come. I love you Mulder.'

Scully found him the next morning, asleep on the couch with her diary laying open, face down on his chest. She smiled sadly as she picked the book up and closed it, returning it to the bookshelf.

"Sweet dreams Mulder" she whispered as she threw a blanket over him. He stirred slightly and stretched out his arm, taking hers slowly.

"Scully..." he murmured.

She knelt down beside the couch. "Yeah?"

"I'm sorry Scully... I'm sorry..."

"Hey, it's okay" she said gently. "Now go back to sleep Mulder. It's only six thirty."

Mulder nodded and yawned, then he rolled over and fell asleep again, a peaceful smile on his face.

Scully snuggled against Mulder. It felt so good, so warm, so comfortable, so *right*. Sure, things weren't perfect. She and Mulder were seeing a marriage therapist twice a week, which seemed to indicate that they were in just as much trouble as she'd thought. They were getting their feelings out in the open more than ever, and it surprised her to learn how bad their communication skills were. But despite the 'seeing-a-shrink' bit, which Mulder liked to make a big fuss about, she was starting to feel more relaxed and happy in her life. Mulder seemed to be almost okay - he'd been back at work for a few days.. (VCU) he'd been to visit his mother's grave...

He'd gone alone.

He'd asked her to let him say goodbye to his mother. To say sorry. To say that he'd forgiven her...

He was improving. He had nightmares, but then again, he'd always had them. He'd wake up in the middle of the night sweating, crying, screaming... she'd comfort him, talk to him, listen to him tell her about them... wonder if there could be anything behind them...

The nightmare he'd had two night ago had disturbed her. Because she'd had the same one... She was standing on a cliff, which jutted out over a ravine. Mulder was standing on a rope-bridge connecting her cliff with the other side, where a little girl was standing. A little girl with brown braids. Calling "Fox." Calling for help.

Scully knew who that little girl was.

When Mulder had woken screaming his sister's name she had known what he had just seen. The young girl - his sister, Samantha. A burning rope-bridge. A choice. She knew what choice he had made. She had seen him make it. Seen the anguished expression on his face as his last link to his sister was swallowed up in angry orange flames.

Scully threaded through the crowded hallway toward Mulder's new office. She'd taken the longer route so that she didn't have to go past Skinner's office. Ever since his 'confession' in the car she was extremely uncomfortable around him, and it was obvious that he felt the same way. It was surprising how crowded the building was... or maybe she'd just forgotten the number of people who worked there. She'd gotten sick of hanging around at home, watching TV or reading, or watching TV or reading... It was funny though, the way she didn't feel completely comfortable here anymore. She felt very out of things, even after just under a month at home. She longed for a familiar face, but all she saw were strangers. Well, all but one...

"Why, if it isn't Mrs. Spooky" Tom Colton drawled mockingly.

She rolled her eyes. "Great..." she muttered. Then she smiled. This could be fun.

"Colton, so nice to see you. It's been years" she said coolly.

"You're looking very... prosperous" he said with a sneer.

She ignored the immature comment. "So Colton, still struggling to get onto the ladder?"

"Oh Dana, you always were one for dry wit. So, still working on the X-Files?" Scully sighed exaggeratedly, refusing to let the cruel smile on Colton's face provoke her. "I'm afraid not working on the X-Files anymore. They've been shut down."

"Oh, what a tragedy" Colton smiled maliciously. "I suppose" he swaggered a bit "that you heard about *my* case?"

"And what case would that be?" Scully asked, giving him the patronising smile she'd perfected in junior high to irritate her math teacher.

Colton rolled his eyes. "Oh please Dana, don't tell me you haven't heard about it. Kimpton Pharmaceutical. Massive drug dealing operation. *I* led the bust."

"Well, I'm very proud of you Colton" she said, once again giving him the patronising smile. "And I'm sure your mommy was too."

"Dana, I though you would have grown up in the past five years; become a mature, responsible adult. I guess I was wrong. Besides, you would have to have heard about Kimpton's. It was massive. A lot of media coverage."

"You don't seriously believe I read those trashy tabliods, do you Colton? I have better things to do with my time. Now, if you'll excuse me, my husband and I are going out to lunch."

"Your husband... are you going to introduce us?"

"Oh, I think you've met before. I believe he solved your case for you..."

Colton went red. He spluttered "What? Mulder?! You can't be serious!"

"Oh, but I'm always serious Colton. It comes with being a mature, responsible adult."

She smiled at him once again and then turned, going down the hall to Mulder's office.

She opened the door without bothering to knock, and found Mulder deep in discussion with his current partner, a young agent fresh from Quantico. Mulder was pleased with his new partner - the young man treated him with something like awe. They were examining a set of crime scene photos, each showing a bloodied, mutilated corpse. Mulder was still stuck in Violent Crimes but Skinner was doing his best to get him reassigned to the 'm-files' or, better yet, reopen the X-Files.

"Hi" she said quietly, trying not to interrupt them as they worked.

Mulder turned around. "Hi. What are you doing here, Scully?"

Scully shrugged. "I got bored at home. You gonna introduce us?" she nodded at Mulder's new partner.

"Um, yeah, sure. Darin Applegate, this is Dana Scully - my wife. Scully - Darin."

Scully shook the young man's hand with a grin. "You seem to be handling him pretty well."

Darin smiled. "So you're the famous Dana Scully. Mulder's told me all about you."

"Good news, I presume?"

"Very good news."

"Hey Mulder, guess who I just met?"

"Tom Colton" Mulder said promptly.

"How did you know?"

Mulder grinned. "Darin and I set a microscopic surveillance camera up this morning in the hallway. We can see everyone who goes along there on this TV." He tapped on a small television on the corner of the desk. "It's facinating."

"I'm sure it is. You get sound as well?"

"'Fraid not. But it looked like you and Colton were having quite a fun conversation. You were giving him *that* smile."

"*You* know *that* smile Mulder? I never realized you were that observant. So, why didn't you come save me instead of watching and laughing?"

"You didn't need saving Scully. You and Tom looked like you were having a great time."

"Mulder, I think I'll kill you. Do you know what a smug, egoistic bastard he is?"

"I figured that out the first time I saw him. Come on Scully, how about we get some lunch?"

"Aren't you in the middle of something?"

Mulder shrugged. "Not really."

He turned to his partner. "Okay if I take off for an hour or two?"

"Sure, go ahead. I'll write up everything we've discovered so far" Applegate grinned.

"Great, see you later." Mulder pulled his coat off the rack. "Come on Scully."

Scully pulled herself up out of the plush chair she'd been sitting in. "Nice meeting you Darin."

"Yep. You too."

Scully followed Mulder out of the office, panning the hallway for any other ex-classmates she might accidently run into.

"It's all clear" Mulder said with a grin. "So, I suppose Colton told you about Kimpton Pharmaceutical?"

"Yeah. I thought you said that you could only see what went on in the hallway. How'd you hear that?"

"I didn't. It's pretty big news actually. Unfortunately."

Scully felt strangely left out of things. "Tell me about it."

Mulder shugged. "Not really that much to tell. Colton got the case in the first place - that's the only reason he was part of the bust. Nobody even dreamed that it would turn out this big, but word is Colton's getting a promotion."

"A promotion?!" Scully felt outraged. In her opinion Colton was the last agent on earth who deserved a promotion.

"Yeah, I know. It sucks. He hardly did anything either. It was actually another agent who tracked down where and when the dope was being transferred. And who. As I said before, the only reason Colton's got any claim is that it was his case in the first case. And that was because nobody else would touch it so he got stuck with it."

"So when did all this happen?" Scully pressed him for details as they climbed in the car.

"The bust was two nights ago."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

Mulder glanced at her. "I didn't think you'd particularly want to know. Are you okay Scully?"

Scully shrugged. "I don't know Mulder. It's just weird not being a part of things, you know? It just feels, I don't know... weird. I feel like I don't belong there anymore."

Mulder looked at her again, his expression concerned. "It must be really difficult being home alone all day Scully. Maybe it would be better if you stayed with your mother again."

"God no!" Scully looked aghast at the suggestion. "As much as I love my mom, I couldn't stand spending another month with her. I can't stand that constant mothering. It drives me nuts."

Mulder still looked unsure and she went on quickly "I'm okay at home, really Mulder. I'm just in a little stage of discontent. Besides, Lynette and I are going to do some stuff together tomorrow. We'll figure out some way to keep ourselves entertained."


"What?" Scully blinked.

"A name. If one's a girl. Kate."

"Kate... Yeah, I like it. Or Michaela."



"Emily. Or Clare."




"Yeah. Or Jessica."





"I don't think so Mulder."

"What about Arial?"

"The little Mermaid? Nu-huh. Renata?"

"Renata? Where'd you get that from?"

Scully rolled her eyes. "An Agatha Christie book I was reading yesterday... what about Nicole?"





"Bambi." Mulder gave her a sly grin.

"I definitely don't think so Mulder. No way. Anyway, what about boys names?"

"Well, there's James, which you suggested last time. And Andrew."

"And Matthew, Mark, Luke and John."

"I like Luke. And there's William. No family controversy there. He could be named after my dad, your dad, *and* your brother. And me."

"I think we've had enough Bills in the family then... what about Aubrey?"

"Aubrey? Isn't that a girl's name?"

"I wouldn't have a clue. Although I seem to recall one of my friend's grandfather's being named that. Aub for short."

"Sounds too old-fashioned. Christopher?"









Scully cried "Hey, we were on J's. How'd you get to S so quickly?"

Mulder shrugged. "Waldo?"






"Kevin." Mulder pulled over outside a small caf鮼/p>

"You know Scully, one thing we definitely *can't* do is to name them Micky and Nicky or Michael and Michaela, or even Jessica and Jennifer. That is a definite no-no."

"That was exactly what I was just thinking Mulder."

Mulder grinned. "Are we psychic or what?"

'A phone call in the middle of the night means trouble' Scully thought to herself as she switched on the bedside lamp.

Mulder was the only one crazy enough to call her in the middle of the night for no particular reason, and he was right here, lying asleep beside her.

She picked up the receiver. "Hello?"

"Dana?" It was her brother Charlie's voice, but he sounded scared and tired, not cheerful as usual.

She felt fully alert.

"What's wrong Charlie? Has something happened?" she could hear the urgency in her own voice.

Mulder stirred, half-opening his eyes. "What is it?" he asked sleepily.

Scully put her finger to his lips, holding the phone with her other hand so tightly that her fingers soon felt numb.

"Charlie? What's wrong?"

"We - we think... we think we've lost the baby, Dana..."

"Oh God..." Scully could feel the blood rushing from her head. She felt dizzy. "What happened?"

"Lyn couldn't feel any of the baby's movement and - and we got scared." Charlie sounded more than scared. He sounded absolutely terrified.

"Where are you Charlie? Are you at a hospital?" she asked weakly. Mulder seemed to have finally woken up and was listening carefully, his hand on her shoulder, strong and reassuring.

"Yeah. They don't know if she'd going to make it though. They won't let me in there. Dana, can you come? Please?"

"Yeah, I'll come. Which hospital?"

Charlie told her.

"Okay. I'll be there as soon as I can."

She hung up and pulled herself out of bed, but Mulder grabbed her arm. "What's happened? I could only hear your side of it."

Scully quickly recounted the conversation she'd had with her brother, pulling on clothes as she did so.

"You sure you can handle this Scully?"

"What do you mean?" she stared at him for a minute.

"If things don't work out okay. Will you be able to handle being so involved in it?"

"Mulder, I'm going to be involved with it anyway. This is my family. Now, are you coming?"

Mulder nodded and pulled on a pair of jeans. "I just don't know if it's wise for you to get into a stressful situation like this. I mean-"

Scully cut him off. "Mulder, I can't *not* get involved. Charlie needs our support. Lynette needs our support. Hurry up."

Thirty minutes later a tiny baby boy was delivered by caesarean. After four minutes of resuscitation efforts by the hospital's best doctors a weak heartbeat was found and the infant was rushed off to neo-natal intensive care.

Mulder found Scully sitting outside her sister-in-law's hospital room, her head in her hands, praying quietly.

He laid his hand on her back gently, feeling slightly uncomfortable. He still wasn't entirely used to a religious Scully.

"You okay?"

Scully lifted up her head. "Yeah. I'll be fine."

"Any news?" he sat down beside her and handed her a stylofoam cup of hot black coffee.

She shook her head. "Nothing so far. Charlie's in there with Lyn at the moment. She's okay but it doesn't look good for the baby. It's touch and go."

Mulder took her hand and squeezed it gently. "You should go home and get some rest. You can't help anyone by hanging around here."

"No. I want to stay."

"You sure?"

She nodded. "Yeah. You can go home if you want."

"No, I'll stay if you are. Where's your mom gone?"

Scully looked around, noting for the first time that her mother's chair was vacant. She screwed up her eyes in the effort of remembering.

"I think she's gone to ring Lyn's mother again. She couldn't get hold of her before."

"You sure you're okay Scully? No one will blame you if you want to go home and get some sleep..." Mulder persisted.

"Mulder, how many times do I have to tell you? I want to stay."

"Okay. I believe you."

He sank back into the chair as Mrs. Scully returned. "I finally managed to get Gail on her mobile. She was out somewhere but she's catching the first plane in. She should be here in a few hours."

"You think he's going to make it?" Dana asked her mother quietly, her hands clenched up into tight fists.

"He's been having respiratory and cardiac troubles, among other things. His heartbeat is still very weak."

"Have they figure out what happened yet?" her voice was tired and empty.

Maggie glanced at her daughter. "They suspect that there was an infection in the umbilical cord. Lyn and Charlie are lucky they came in so early - a few more hours or more and he would have been stillborn. The doctors are hopeful though..." she finished lamely, knowing how big a lie that was.

"I've been praying" Scully said hopefully, as if it were the answer to everything.

Her mother nodded and patted her gently on the head.

"Why don't you go home Dana? You need your rest."

Mulder expected a flat out "No way" and was surprised when Scully nodded.

"Okay. But when you see Lyn could you tell her that - that I'm praying for her..."

When they returned to the apartment and went into the bedroom the first thing Scully saw were the two white cots standing side by side.

A wave of emotions swept over her, emotions she'd been trying to hold back all night. She felt her eyes fill with tears and she wiped them away angrily.

Mulder came up behind her and put his arms around her waist, holding her firmly.

As she choked back a sob Mulder pulled her around to face him. "Let it out Scully" he whispered. "It's okay. Let it out."

She buried her face in his chest and cried until her eyes were red and puffy. "Mulder, I'm scared" she said, her face twisting with anguish. "I'm so scared. If something like that can happen to Lyn - to Lyn who was perfectly healthy, what will happen to us and out babies? What hope have we got?"

Mulder brushed the damp hair out of her eyes. "We're going to be fine Scully. Nobody could have guessed that that would happen to Lynette. I know it's a shock, but they're going to be okay, and we're going to be okay. Okay?"

Scully nodded. "I'm just so scared Mulder..."

"I know" he whispered. "I'm scared too..."

'August 20th, 1998

Little Brandon is improving every day. He's been taken off everything except the respirator. Mulder and I went to visit him this afternoon. He's so incredibly tiny - I felt as if I could hold him in one hand. Lynette and Charlie are starting to look better too, although neither of them have slept much during the past three days. Three days. On Monday night they almost lost Brandon - three hours after he was born he went all blue, according to Lyn - I didn't find out the medical details and I really can't be bothered diagnosing what it was. That really terrified Lyn and Charlie - hell, it terrified us all - but he's getting better now and we're all hopeful. The doctors have warned Lyn and Charlie that he might be brain-damaged after being deprived of oxygen, but they've accepted that as a possibility and will be happy if he *lives*. They've also brought in a priest to baptise him, to see if that'll improve his chances.

Lyn was discharged from the hospital today. I don't know why they bothered - she still spends as much of the day there as she can. Mom and Mulder are both driving me nuts. They're saying that I shouldn't spend so much time at the hospital with Lyn and Charlie and Brandon because it's too stressful. What the hell am I supposed to do? I can't just stay at home alone all day - that's twice as stressful - so I spend half the day at the hospital (which also, I have to admit it, makes me feel slightly safer. Okay, so I'm paranoid, but can you blame me? I'm terrified of what might happen to the twins) and I usually pick Mulder up and we go to lunch somewhere. Then after that I hang around with him and Applegate (what a name! It just doesn't work for me...) as long as I can. Okay, so I get in the way and I feel like a tag along, but I feel so damn lonely and bored at home. Besides, it's not as if they're doing anything important - it seems like they're stuck doing profiles (boring!) and I do my best to be helpful - offering suggestions and being a 'medial advisor'. Pity they won't let me do any autopsies...

August 22nd, 1998

I held Brandon today. He's so adorable, although he's still tiny. He's improving rapidly and they say he'll be well enough to go home in a few days. We Scullys seem to be fast healers. Maybe it's something in the genes. Lyn and Charlie (and Mom and Gail) are absolutely ecstatic. I think that at one stage they were losing hope that he was going to make it, but he's pretty tough. I'm due on September 4th and I'm praying for no complications. After what happened with Lyn I think we've all been through enough. I feel so unbelievably fat. And I mean unbelievably. My stomach is so huge and my back is killing me. Now I know what it feels like to be obese, and it's horrible! I see Lyn and Charlie with 'Little B' as he's been nicknamed and I can't wait for you two to come. I want to hold you in my arms and kiss you and I want you to wrap your fingers around mine.

August 26th, 1998

Lyn and Charlie took Brandon home today. The doctors say that he's perfect and shouldn't suffer any long- term impairments because of everything.

You should have seen the grins on C&L's faces.

Charlie's a great dad, which I guess I found surprising. Maybe it's just had for me to picture my little brother as a father. I'm still having trouble picturing Bill as one and his daughter is fifteen.

Looking back, Bill is noticeably absent from this diary. I didn't deliberately exclude him; it's just that he's not around often. He's like Dad, always off with his ship. I see Anyse occasionally but we've never really been great friends.

Maybe it's because Dad didn't want Bill to marry Anyse - he said (not to her face, of course) that she weak and foolish - that they were both foolish for wanting to get married so early. Bill and Dad wouldn't speak to each other for months until Mom forced them to talk to each other, but even then I don't think Dad ever forgave him or vice versa. I think that because Dad didn't like Anyse and was always so - well, not exactly rude, just not very nice either; just very polite - that's kind of prejudiced her against our family. Whenever the whole family gets together (which isn't very often as Bill spends a lot of his time out at sea and I spend a lot of time away on cases - or at least I used to) we can have good conversations but I notice that sometimes she looks uncomfortable around us. I want to become friends with her - she is my sister-in-law for christ's sake!

August 29th, 1998

'Every night and every morn Some to misery are born. Every morn and every night Some are born to sweet delight. Some are born to sweet delight Some are born to Endless Night.' by William Blake

I just read Agatha Christie's "Endless Night". It's a kind of dark book, if you know what I mean, and I'm kinda obsessed with it. I've read God knows how Agatha Christie books so far - I'm averaging one a day, and this is my favorite so far. I also liked 'Crooked House' and 'Death on the Nile'. Mrs. Mulder had the whole set and I found them when I was cleaning out her house (I was the only one there to do it - her sister died two years ago and I hadn't been able to track down any cousins or other close relatives living in the US.) I didn't mind it that much - it helped to me keep my mind off other things (ie. MULDER). I'm still only half done - I haven't done any more since Mulder was returned and I've figured that he might want to do it himself.

August 30th, 1998

Mulder and I had a little discussion today; I told him solemnly that "Pregnant women need to be constantly reassured that they're still beautiful and loved," he told me that I was the most beautiful woman in the entire world, and then gave me a back rub. Which do you think was proof that he loves me?

August 31st, 1998

Five days to go! I'm feeling kinda tense. I know I'm impatient, but I'm so sick of feeling like this. Hurry up damn you!'

"Like sands through the hourglass, these are the days of our lives" the TV proclaimed as Scully woke drowsily. She felt a cramping sensation in her stomach as she shifted on the couch. She was suddenly wide awake. keep calm Dana, it's probably nothing All the same, she couldn't help feeling excited as she pulled herself more upright and placed both hands on her stomach.

"Hey, what's happening in there?" she whispered. She was answered with a kick.

"Hey, come on. Mommy was having a nice dream" she scolded with a smile.

She had been having a nice dream too. She and Mulder were at the beach - the beach they'd been to in Australia - and Mulder was standing in ankle-deep water, holding the hands of two small, identical, red-haired girls, who were jumping the waves with excited giggles. Mulder was grinning broadly and when he turned to look at her she'd returned the grin...

She felt another kick. "You hungry, are you? Well, let's see what's in the fridge." She hunted through the kitchen and found a block of chocolate and an apple, and settled back down on the couch, chewing them slowly as she flicked through the channels and finally settled on a documentary. Ten minutes later she felt more cramps in her abdomen and she shivered involuntarily, a mixture of delight and fear.

"Something's definitely happening in there" she muttered.

She glanced up at the clock and noted the time: 2:32pm.

Fifteen minutes and another contraction later she pulled herself off the couch and picked up the phone, dialing Mulder's cellular number.


"Damn!" she hissed. She dialed another number.

"Federal Bureau of Investigation, How can I help you?"

"Fox Mulder please" she gripped the phone tightly please Mulder, come on...

"Sorry, no one is answering" came the reply.

"Damn" Scully swore under her breath. "Could you please give me Darin Applegate's celular number?"

She heard a clicking of computer keys and then was told the number.

She jotted it down, hung up and then dialed Mulder's partner.


She swore again and sank back down on the couch, cradling the reciever in her arms.

Just keep it calm Dana, the contractions are only fifteen minutes apart. They came on pretty fast, but you've still got plenty of time... plenty of time...

She stood up, pacing the room as another contraction came on. Pretty painful they were getting too... She dialed Mulder's cel-phone again but it was still engaged.

"Damn you Mulder! Where the hell are you?"

breathe Dana, breathe

She looked at the clock again. It was almost quarter past three...

She went into the kitchen and poured herself a glass of orange juice, then with a frustrated sigh she dialed in her mother's number.

One ring.



Come on Mom. You have to be home...


"Hi Mom, it's me."

"Dana, how are you going? Is everything okay?"

"Yeah... Mom, uh, my contractions started an hour ago..."

Maggie let herself into the apartment, her face showing a mixture of concern and grandmotherly excitement. This wasn't her first grandchild by any means, but during the past few months while Fox had been missing she and Dana had gotten closer than they'd ever been.


"Yeah, in here."

Maggie found her daughter spread out on the couch, her eyes closed and breathing with short, sharp breaths.

"How are you going sweetie?"

"I'm okay. These guys are in a big hurry to get out."

"Where's Fox?" Maggie peered around the apartment but could see no sign of her son-in-law.

"I can't reach him... his celular is busy," she gasped and gritted her teeth as another contraction came on.

Maggie fetched a pillow and blanket from the bedroom and tucked them around her daughter.

"You want me to try?"

Scully shook her head and sank back into the couch as the contraction ended.

"I'll do it." She dialed in the number again with trembling fingers but it was still engaged.

Maggie looked questioning and she shook her head. "Still engaged."

"How far apart are your contractions?"

"Twelve minutes."

"You're lucky" Maggie sighed. "With Bill I was in labor for fifteen hours. It looks like yours will be a short one."

"Short but painful" Scully grimaced. She pulled herself up and paced the room, ignoring the puppy who was jumping around, looking for a playmate.

"You want something to eat or drink?"

She shook her head. "I'm not hungry." She wandered not wandered, Dana, *waddled* into the bathroom and splashed water on her face and hair. "I hate this."

"I know how bad it is honey. I've been through it four times. But it's worth it. Trust me."

She gripped onto the basin as another contraction came.

"Could you try calling Mulder again, please Mom? Just press redial." She called, trying to ignore the pain and focusing on her breathing. in... and out, in... and out...

"Still no reply" Maggie said, coming into the bathroom and pressing a piece of the chocolate into her hand. "Here, eat this. You'll need your energy."

She helped Dana back onto the couch and she lay there, panting.

"I need to do something" she muttered. "The boredom's just as bad as the pain. Tell me - tell about the day I was born. Please?" She'd heard the story many times before, told differently by her mother and father, but today it had a new meaning for her. Some day she would be the one telling the story...

"The day you were born? Sure honey."

Maggie pulled a chair up beside the couch and began.

"It was a cold February that year. On the twenty-second - I think it was a Sunday - about six o'clock at night, I got my first contraction. You were the only one born in the night - Bill and Missy and Charlie were all born during the day time - your father never forgave Charlie for being born during the Superbowl... Anyway, my sister - your Aunt Sheila - came and looked after Bill Jnr and Missy. I still remember Missy's forlorn expression as we left for the hospital - it was as if we were leaving her forever. Billy was waving as we left - he was excited because he thought he was getting a new brother - in fact, he was sure of it - he believed that it went boy, girl, boy. He was very disappointed when he found out that you were a girl..."

Two hours later the contractions were only six minutes apart, Mulder was still unreachable and Scully was starting to panic. Maggie sat calmly as her daughter swore, groaned and moaned.

"I hate this! I hate this..." Scully moaned as another contraction gripped her.

"Don't worry sweetie, it'll all be over in a few hours" Maggie said, wisely electing not to mention that the next five or more hours would be twice as bad.

"I can't handle another few hours..."

"Yes you can. You're very strong Dana. You'll be fine."

"It hurts... I'm going to get an epidural, okay Mom? I won't be able to handle the pain..."

"If you want, honey. I'm going to try Fox again, okay?" Maggie felt concern gripping at her heart. Dana rarely admitted when something was too much for her to handle and she had a very good pain tolerance... she'd have in be in an awful lot of pain - what if because of the 'unusual' circumstances of her pregnancy - two months chemo-radiation treatment, three months of stress looking for his missing husband, being infertile...? - something was going wrong? The doctor had said that everything was going normally, but still...

Scully nodded weakly, wiping the sweat off her face and pushing the damp hair out of her eyes.

Maggie redialed without much hope but was ecstatic when a male voice answered "Applegate."

"This is Fox Mulder's number, isn't it?" Maggie asked, puzzled.

"Yeah, he's right here."

The cel-phone was passed along and Maggie heard her son-in-law's voice.


"Fox, this is Maggie Scully here."

Mulder sounded immediately alarmed. "What's wrong? Is Scully okay?"

"She's fine, but she's gone into labor. Her contractions are only six minutes apart."

Mulder felt his insides twist up in anticipation. "Where are you? At a hospital?"

"No, we're still at your place. We've been trying to contact you all day."

Mulder cursed himself silently. He'd been on the phone with Applegate on and off for most of the day - they'd been investigating different leads. Damn!

"I'll be right there."

"Push!" Mulder ignored the pain of Scully's fingernails digging into his hand. "C'mon Scully. Push."

"What the hell do you think I'm doing?!" she shouted at him. She drew another deep breath and gripped his hand even tighter. "How did I let you convince me to have natural childbirth Mulder? Do you know how much it hurts?!!"

Mulder grinned at her. "You'll be okay Scully, just keep pushing. 'Atta girl."

She glared at him with clenched teeth. "I hate you!" she yelled.

The doctor announced "I can see a head..." but Scully ignored him.

"I want an epidural! Please? Someone? I need drugs!" She glared at Mulder again.

"It's too late," Mulder whispered, pressing his cheek against her own. "The head's half-out. Just keep pushing and breathing. And calm down, okay? Everything's going fine."

focus on your breathing Dana. Ignore the pain. Ignore Mulder. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. And push...

She closed her eyes and repeated the Lord's prayer in her head.

"You okay?" Mulder wiped the sweat from her forehead.

She nodded. "Yeah."

"Okay, we're almost there. Just one more push," the doctor said calmly.

Scully drew one last deep breath and pushed with all her strength, and half a second later a wailing filled the air. She fell back on the pillows with an exhausted sigh and shut her eyes, breathing raggedly.

"It's a girl," the doctor announced as he cut the umbilical cord and tied it off. He held the squalling infant up for them to see and then handed her to one of the nurses who checked her, wiped her down and wrapped her in a pink blanket.

"You hear that Scully," Mulder whispered, pressing his face against hers again. "It's a girl."

Scully nodded tiredly. "Yeah..."

"One down, one to go," Mulder said encouragingly.

"I can't... I can't do that again..." she whispered.

"Yes you can, Scully."

Mulder grinned as the nurse brought the tiny, red-faced infant over to them.

"You gonna hold her?" he asked when she made no move to take the baby.

She shook her head. "Later."

Mulder was surprised. "You sure?"

"Yeah... Mulder, I think the second one's coming..." she whispered. "I - I can't..."

"You can do it Scully" he insisted.

"No, Mulder... I can't... I'm too tired..."

"I know it's tough Scully. This one shouldn't be as bad as the last. Just be grateful you're not having septuplets."

She smiled weakly. "I'm still going to kill you for not letting me get an epidural."

"Come on Scully, it's almost over. Just think about when it's over."

"It'll never be over..." she moaned.

"Stop complaining Scully, or I'll get Langly, Frohike and Byers to come and visit you" he threatened.

Scully glared at him again and rolled her eyes.

"You ready? The doctor asked.

She whispered to Mulder "Bet you fifty bucks this one's a girl" and nodded to the doctor. "Yeah."

"Good, because this one's in a hell of a hurry to get out. Now, we need a big push..."

Scully sat cradling the two, tiny sleeping infants wrapped in pink blankets. "They're perfect" she whispered.

"This is so unbelievable" Mulder murmured. "Congratulations Scully. You did it."

"*We* did it Mulder. I know it sounds clich꤬ but it's true. I'm so happy..."

"So you don't still want to kill me?" Mulder teased gently.

"That two. Aren't they beautiful?" she looked down with adoring eyes at their twin daughters.

"Yeah" he felt tears of happiness prickle his eyes.

"I told you she'd be a girl" Scully murmured happily.

"How'd you know?"

"I had a dream..."

Mulder waited for her to elaborate but she obviously didn't want to say any more.

The nurse returned and Scully reluctantly gave up the infants. When she'd kissed them both goodbye the nurse disappeared and left Mulder and Scully alone.

"It's finally over" she breathed. She smiled. "Sorry I said I hate you Mulder. I didn't mean it."

"I should hope not," Mulder said in a mock-indignant tone. "We're so lucky..." He leant over and kissed her, and she pulled him closer and kissed him back.

"I know. I was so scared that something would be wrong with them Mulder, but they're perfect. 6 pounds each, with ten perfect little toes and ten perfect little fingers each."

"They're angels."

Dana smiled tiredly. "Yeah. And they're all ours."

She closed her eyes.

"You want me to leave?" he asked quietly, taking in her pale and worn face.

Without opening her eyes she reached out for his hand and clasped it between her own.

"Stay with me, please Mulder?"

"Sure." He pulled a chair up next to the bed and sank down into it.

He felt incredibly happy - no, even that didn't begin to describe how he felt.

His head was a whirl of emotions and he felt pumped up on adrenalin. He felt alive.

They both woke as a wailing pierced the dark night.

"You can get it" Scully mumbled. She rolled over and promptly went back to sleep.

Mulder got up and sleepily made his way over to the cribs, picking up the screaming infant and jiggling her gently as he went out into the kitchen. As he heated up two bottles of formula the crying slowly died down and was replaced by hicupping. He patted the baby's back gently and then tested the milk temperature on his forearm.

Surprising what you can learn from TV he thought with a grin. He and Scully had gone to pre-natal classes a few times but he still only had a very vague idea about childcare.

He stuck the teat in his daughter's mouth and settled down on the couch with her in his arms as she sucked. Quite surprisingly, he didn't mind having to get up several times a night to feed the twins or change their diapers. After all, Scully had been stuck carrying them around for nine months. The least he could do would be to let her have a few good full nights sleeps. Besides, he loved being awake at night, loved holding his daughters in his arms, loved opening the window and letting the cool breeze rush in and showing them the world outside...

So this was fatherhood.

He'd never really been into kids. Mostly he'd tried to avoid them. He'd been half- terrified that if he touched them they'd be so delicate that they'd break in half.

God, what I might have missed... he mused as he looked down at his tiny daughter's face. They were surprisingly attractive babies - a world away from his preconceived idea of scrawny, ugly red things that stank. They had pinkish faces with little red mouths, they'd inherited their mother's nose thank God! and their father's eyes, and they both had a small patch of dark brown - almost black - hair, which Scully had declared 'baby fuzz'.


Mulder wondered if the poor kids were ever going to be named. They were already five days old and he and Scully hadn't agreed on names. All their relatives - well, all of Scully's relatives - the only ones he had were a few distant aunts and uncles who he hadn't heard of in years - were getting irritated at them for their slowness in picking names.

It was hard.

He would have never believed that it would be so hard picking names, but it was. Well, for them, anyway.

But, he had to admit, he didn't want to keep calling them 'the pink one' or 'the one on the right'.

The poor kids deserved better than that.

He heard crying from the bedroom and pushed himself up off the couch, pulling the bottle away from the still drinking infant and carefully depositing her in the small carry-cot that sat on the kitchen counter surrounded by all the gifts they'd received over the past few days.

"I'll be back in a second" he promised. "Just gotta go get your sister, okay?"

The baby opened her eyes and stared at him, and he felt like he were looking in a mirror. "You've got my eyes, you know" he grinned.

He went back into the bedroom and picked up the second baby, glancing at Scully who appeared to be fast asleep.

"You've made Mommy go deaf" he whipered to the baby who was still screaming.

He grimaced when he felt the wet jumpsuit.

"Somebody has a dirty diaper" he muttered. Which should he do first? Dirty, smelly diaper, or bottle?

Hm, definitely the time to weigh up all the pros and cons Mulder

Making a decision he went over to the change table in the corner of the room this apartment is too damn crowded! and switched on the desk lamp they'd screwed onto the wall. Lying the infant down and checking that there was no way she could roll or fall off she can't roll over yet... can she?, he returned to the living room to ensure that baby #1 was still where he'd left her. After seeing baby #1 was sound asleep in the carry-cot he returned to the bedroom, where he changed baby #2's diaper as quickly and painlessly as he could. After dressing baby #2 in a fresh clean jumpsuit he returned to the living room where he discovered that baby #1 now needed a new diaper, and he was forced to repeat the whole procedure. When both babies were dry and clean and smelling strongly of baby powder he returned them both to the kitchen, reheated the bottles and fed them. Then he settled down with one on each arm and fell into an exhausted sleep.

Scully tiptoed past Mulder as she went around warming the two bottles of milk early the next morning. It looked so sweet, the tiny babies nestled in his arms, and Prince curled up on his feet.

He looked so happy...

She put her hand to her stomch. It felt weird that it was so flat again. After so many months of such a huge, swollen belly, it felt almost unnatural to be able to see her feet. She felt so much lighter and freer than she had for months, and she had more energy, despite being kept up half the night. She was determined to start working out again as soon as she could - to get rid of all the excess fat that seemed to have accumulated all over her body. She'd been hoping that it would all just miraculously disappear during birth, but she wasn't that lucky... She'd considered breastfeeding - her mother had suggested it, said that it reduced the tenderness, but at the moment they were only bottle-feeding the twins...

Impulsively, she went over to the couch and picked up one of the sleeping babies, who made no noise at the sudden movement, but just opened her eyes wide and stared at her.

"Hey" she cooed, gazing down at the tiny face. "Aren't you beautiful? Yes you are, yes you are..." she shut her mouth suddenly, realizing that she'd turned into the cooing fool she'd always despised. Then she rolled her eyes. To hell with it. "I spent six months wondering what you looked like, did you know that?" she went on. "And you and your sister are just as I'd pictured you."

She smiled at the baby, who just continued to stare at her vacantly.

Dana took the baby into the bedroom and over to the rocking chair near the window. She sat down, shifting the baby to her left arm as she undid the top few buttons on her pajama top so that her right breast was exposed.

"Now, no telling Daddy if this doesn't work out, okay?" she told the baby with a grin. She shifted the baby to her right arm and shivered when her tiny mouth started sucking.

"Ow, that tickles" she giggled.

Strange sensation... not as horrible as I thought it would be, but still strange... She rocked gently as she nursed the baby and the warm sun was coming in through the window, making her feel sleepy. She yawned and let her eyes drift shut.

"Having fun there?" Her eyes snapped open and she saw Mulder standing in the doorway holding a sleeping bundle.


"That's me." He came closer to her and noticed what he was doing.

"I though we were only going to bottle-feed" he observed. Dana buttoned her top back up quickly - she baby had obviously had enough to drink was was asleep.

"Yeah, I - I just thought I'd try this." She shrugged.

Mulder nodded and lifted his arms slightly. "Wanna swap?"

Scully agreed and they traded infants, the one Mulder had been holding waking and crying crossly.

"Hey, it's okay..." she soothed. She unbuttoned her shirt again and held the baby near her left breast.

The infant latched on immediately and started sucking.

"Ouch" Scully grimaced. "The other one's not half as rough."

Mulder placed his baby carefully in her cot and then sat down on the bed. "Scully, we need to figure out names. I really don't enjoy calling them 'this one' and 'the other one'. They need *names*."

Scully nodded. "I know. It's just hard to pick ones that suit them but that also go together well."

"Yeah, well, we need to hurry up and decide. At the rate we're going they'll be able to pick their own."

Scully smiled slightly. "How about we set ourselves an ultimatum: we name them by four o'clock this afternoon or my mother gets to name them."

Mulder whistled. "Tough ultimatum."

"Exactly. So, what 'bout it?"

"I think I can handle that. Why four?"

"So we can go and fill in the birth certificates and all the legal forms and stuff before the registry offices close this afternoon."

"Makes sense. Makes too *much* sense, in my opinion."

"Mulder, what are you talking about?"

"Don't worry. So, names... what do you have in mind?"

"Something strong, if you know what I mean."

"I think so. You mean like Dana?"

"Yeah, kinda."

"I like strong names... but there are a few more... 'feminine' ones I like. You know - 'softer'."

"Such as?"

"Brittany, Laura, Emily, Michaela..."

"Michaela is strong" Scully objected. god. We must sound so ridiculous. "strong" names? Oh well, mulder knows what I mean

"Yeah, well... how about Robyn?"

"Robyn. Robyn. Robyn... I love it. But what would go with it?"

"Misty," Mulder suggested.

"You like that name, don't you Mulder?"

"Yeah" he admitted. "It's cool."

"It sound like a goldfish."

Mulder stuck out his tongue indignantly.

"Mulder, we're parents now. Parents aren't supposed to do immature things like that" Scully teased. She disentangled the baby and put her back in her cot. "I'm going to have a shower, 'k?"

Mulder nodded and bent over the two cots, looking down at the two identical babies. He was a father. That was so hard to grasp. This was all too unreal. It wasn't just him and Scully any more. They were a family. Hell, they even had a dog. Now all they needed was a white picket fence... Prince came into the bedroom and sat on his haunches, tail wagging madly.

"Hey boy." Mulder bent down and the puppy licked his face. "You've been a bit neglected lately, haven't you? You wanna go for a walk?"

Prince started dancing wildly at the magic word and Mulder smiled. "Thought so."

He opened the bathroom door slightly and called over the noise of the shower "I'm talking the dog for a walk. I'll be back in half an hour, okay?"

Scully pulled the sliding shower door open and stuck her head out. "What?"

Mulder repeated it and Scully nodded. "Just don't be too long. Remember, we're going over to my mom's later this morning. She's having a family luncheon."

"Gotcha. See ya."

Scully nodded again and slid the door shut.

Mulder found Prince's lead next to the door and snapped it on, then he left the apartment, half dragged along by the puppy.

No sooner than she heard the door shut a wailing emanated from bedroom. Reluctantly, she turned the shower off, dried herself quickly and wrapped her robe around herself. The wailing was joined by an even louder screaming. "Okay, okay, I'm coming..."

She glanced at one baby's scrunched-up red face and then the other's and then sighed heavily. Did these adorable little bundles do anything *other* than scream and dirty diapers?

"Yeah, yeah. Mommy's here" she crooned.

Mommy? I'm a mommy? I still can't get used to that...

"What's wrong with you guys, hey? Miss your daddy?"

She picked up the baby on the left. "Ooh yuk. Dirty diaper."

Glancing at the shrinking pile of diapers under the change table, she realized with dismay that at this rate they'd be spending more money on disposible diapers each week that they would on food.

"What are we going to do about *that*?" she asked the baby lying on the change table. The baby waved her arms around in the air as Scully changed her.

She returned the baby to her cot and then picked up the other one.

"You're dry" she observed. "So why are you crying? Peer pressure?"

The baby gurgled and Scully rolled her eyes. "Oh, you are so cute, aren't you?"

She returned the second baby and addressed both of them solemnly.

"Now, in a few hours we're going over to Grandma's place and lots of your relatives are going to be there, so you'll be on your best behaviour, won't you?"

The baby in the right crib yawned delicately whilst the other waved her arms around some more.

"Good girls" Scully said approvingly. She smiled to herself. God, they were so adorable. It still didn't seem real though. She was dreading that she'd wake up and find out that it was all a dream...

A few more days of dirty diapers and sleepless nights will fix that Dana she thought wryly by then you'll be *hoping* that it's all a dream...

She threw on a pair of faded jeans and an oversized sweater, then she stood in front of the mirror, studying her reflection.

She looked reasonably slim, she was pleased to note. Her hair hadn't been trimmed for months and was falling past her shoulders in slight waves. She looked a bit tired, but it was nothing compared to how she'd looked in the past. Leaving the twins sleeping peacefully in the bedroom she went out to the living room, pulled her diary off the shelf and started writing.

'september 6th, 1998

I can't help feeling that this is all unreal - that it doesn't exist. That my beautiful baby girls are just a part of a lovely dream I've been having - that everything it just a dream. That I'll wake up in my apartment and it'll be just me. I'll go to work and Mulder'll be there, but he won't kiss me or touch me or tell me that that he loves me. We'll work, then I'll come home to an empty apartment. God, I couldn't handle going back to that. I can't even imagine what it'd feel like - what it DID feel like. I can't remember all of the cases Mulder and I have worked on. He probably could. I remember our first case - as if I'd ever be able to forget the first time I met Mulder!

I can't remember what our second case was... wait - it was that missing pilot, wasn't it. Buddahas? That's right. And Mulder ditched me to go off and investigate and I had to go rescue him. The 'knight in shining armor,' that was me. I'm laughing now as I think of that. I thought that he'd learn from his mistake and never ditch me again. I was pretty stupid.

The case after that... was that the Eves case? No, that was months later. Tooms? Yeah, that was it. Eugene Victor Tooms. I still shiver when I hear that name. Okay, so he's dead now, but he scared the living daylights out of me. I thought that he was going to tear out my liver. I was sure I was going to die. After Tooms came the missing girl... Jewel? No, Ruby. Ah, stupid me. Mulder must have gone through hell on that case with the whole Samantha thing. I wish I'd been more supportive. Then came that stupid thing with the 'jersey devil', or at least that's what Mulder thought she was. In my opinion she was just a homeless woman, probably second generation. Then came... Um, I don't remember. I'll go get my old log book. Okay, I'm back, and according to my log, the next case was drum roll... Howard Graves. That guy. The only thing remotely memorable about that case was the fact that I got a splitting headache... Then there was that thing with EURISKO and Jerry Lamana. Ugh. I know you're not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but I REALLY didn't like that guy. I don't think Mulder did either. Okay, so that's pretty brutal, but I'm feeling rather sarcastic for no particular reason. Then came an unforgettable case: A.I.C.P - Artic Ice Core Project. Apart from the marks on my back during our first case and when Tooms attacked me, that case was the first really terrifying thing that happened to me. It was so claustrophobic in that bunkhouse and I was scared because I didn't know whether or not Mulder was infected. You wouldn't believe how terrified I was when I went into that room where DaSilva and ... what's his name? Doesn't matter... had locked Mulder. I honestly didn't know whether to believe him or not when he said that he wasn't infected. I checked his back. God, I remember that so well. My hands were trembling as I looked for the spots, then as I pulled away to tell the others that he was uninfected he grabbed me and - please forgive me Mulder - for a terrifying second I thought that he *was* actually infected, and that he was trying to kill me. Okay, so I can admit now that it was stupid of me, but down there in the bunker we were all pretty much on edge. Who can blame me? That case I found really terrifying, but I was actually disappointed by our next case (the sabotaged space mission). In comparison it was so BORING. I guess maybe you could describe me as a fear junkie. The more terrified I was, the more I loved it. Well, not actually while it was happening, but afterwards I'd be high for days. The funny thing is that now I just want to be safe. I don't want to be thrilled (except in bed. He he he). Maybe it's got something to do with being a mother - I feel more responsible and I'm not so eager to get out there and get hurt (although sometimes I long to be able to catch the bad guys). I'm still kinda confused by my feelings - will I ever work them out? - but I know that I'm happy, and that's important. Anyway, I have to continue on listing all our cases - I'll go nuts if I don't finish off what I've started. Where was I up to? Oh yeah, the space case, as Mulder nicknamed it. Boring. Next. Oh yeah, Mulder went off like an asshole again and I had to go bail him out, but we got caught up in that whole thing with the radiation burns and Max Fenig. Poor Max. I kinda liked the guy. I also liked that case because I was doing something that I was good at (working in the hospital, I mean). With the X-Files I was never sure of what I was doing, but in the hospital I felt more confident and competent. The burns were horrible though. I think they're the worst things you ever have to face as a doctor. Okay, so I haven't had much experience working with live people, but even when they're all bloodied and bashed up it's not as bad as burnt flesh. I hate that. Anyway, the next case was the Eves one. I think that was the first case where Mulder and I actually agreed in the end - that it wasn't alien cloning - it was all done by Sally Kendrick (it's weird all the things you can remember when you put your mind to it).

I've always been facinated by genetics, so that was an added bonus.

And the next case...

Oh God.

Phoebe Green.

The bitch. I don't think I've ever hated anyone as much as I hated her. She waltzed along and got her claws into him and wouldn't let go again. I was jealous, I'm not denying that. But I was also angry with her for all that she'd put Mulder through. She was a vampire in the truest form, sucking the life out of him. She didn't even love him, I could tell that easily. She just wanted to mess with him, with his mind and with his heart. I remember the day she left Washington to go back to England. She came down to our office as we were filling out the dozens of forms and announced that she was leaving and that she was going to miss Mulder horribly, all in that irritating English accent (okay, I'm being racist here, but it's not as if this thing's ever going to be published. And as a general rule I like British people, but there's always an exception to the rule and in this case SHE's it.) Mulder didn't answer, he just turned away and continued working. I really admired you for that Mulder. Then, after she'd gone I found a note tucked in my purse, which had been lying on the table. She must have slipped it in there without me seeing and I didn't find it until I got home. I can still remember it word for word - it *was* short.

Dana, Look after Mulder. He needs it. And be patient; he's head over heels in love with you too. I can tell. Phoebe.

At the time I was torn between believing her; that Mulder did love her as much as I loved him - I mean, if anyone knew Mulder well, it was her - and knowing that she was a spiteful liar who just wanted to put me through hell. Knowing Phoebe, it'd be the latter.

After she left there was the case with Luther Lee Boggs. And Dad died. I miss you Daddy. It still hurts. Will it ever stop hurting? I trusted Boggs. I don't know why. Maybe because he saved my life. If not for him then I would have died along with Lucas Henry. He also saved the lives of the two kids. What were their names? Jim Summers and Liz Hawley? I think that's right. If he hadn't helped us find them then they'd be dead long ago. I still think of Boggs sometimes. Those bright blue eyes. He got inside my head - I don't know how - but he knew my secrets, things I'd never told anyone. It's scary when someone can do that to you.

The next case was the one with the Kindred... I've tried to forget about that.

And then there was the thing with Jack Willis. I loved Jack. I really did. It was my first *real* relationship. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if we'd stayed together. I don't think we would have worked out. We had some good times together - like when we went away on vacation together. That was fun. But I doubt we would have lasted. We were too different. My relationship with Jack was so different to my one with Mulder. With Jack I was able to be more open about my feelings, and he was so different to talk to... but there was just something between us that wasn't right. Maybe it was that he was always so uptight - he was more obsessed with his work than Mulder is and he could never unwind.

Anyway, we broke it off and I don't regret it one bit Mulder, I promise you.

I still don't understand what happened to Jack after he was shot. You say that he was inhabited by the spirit of - what's his name? The bank robber... Dupre. That's it. Warren Dupre if my memory serves me correctly. Anyway, I can't explain what happened to Jack, but all I can say with certainty is that it wasn't him who held me hostage. I knew Jack and that wasn't him. Maybe he had had a near death experience or something of that kind, but that WASN'T HIM.

After Jack came the theoretical 'age-reversal' experiment case. Mulder had a hard time over that one. Must have been really REALLY hard. I mean, his ex-partner was killed (that seems to happen to a lot of his ex-partners - hope I'm not next!) and Barnett as taunting him over the death of another agent eight years before. Steve somethingorother. Wallenberg, maybe? Mulder played it by the book and regretted it. That helps to explain why he's always so ready to trust his own judgement and go his own way.

Being shot it weird. I mean, I had a bullet-proof vest on, but it was still terrifying to just let him shoot me like that. I got thrown about five feet and I almost hit a pillar behind me. For a minute I thought I was actually dead. I opened my eyes and I could see the ceiling above me. It was a very interesting ceiling.

After that I met Langly, Frohike and Byers - better known as The Lone Gunmen - for the first time. I thought that they were nutcases then and I still think so, but I respect them more now and, as much I hate to admit it, I kinda like them. I don't really remember anything else, except that Mulder tried to get into a restricted area and nearly broke his ankle. What an idiot.

After that came the miracle ministry. I managed to keep my personal life - ie. my religious views - out of that case, thank God. It was really just as political as it was religious, although Mulder was convinced that the boy (Samuel?) did have special powers. I think he said something to Mulder during that case that really freaked him out - something to do with Samantha.

Anyway, apart from that nothing much happened.

Next came the American-Indian werewolf thing. I'm not even going to TRY and explain that, but let's just say that it reminded me of a Stephen King novel.

Then came that thing with the green bugs and the missing loggers in Washington State Forest. Mulder and I nearly died during that case, but I was getting used to that. We were in quarantine for a week or so afterwards, which was really the worst bit. I itched all over from the mite bites and generally felt lousy. Being quarantined does that to you, even if you're stuck with your best friend/work partner/person you're secretly passionately in love with (AND HE's ALL MINE! YEA!!!).

After that was THE RETURN OF TOOMS. Mulder told a completely unbelievable story in court, the jury thought he was nuts, so they released Tooms. What a bunch of idiots. Well, Mulder went a bit more nuts trying to make sure Tooms didn't eat anyone else's livers -

Oops. Baby's crying. Gotta go, be back in a minute.

Okay, I'm back, baby's happy, so let's continue, shall we?

And in the end we squished Tooms to death under the escalator. Ew. Writing this now, it actually sound kind of funny, but it wasn't funny at the time. Especially when Mulder went down under the escalator and Tooms attacked him and chased him. For a second I thought that Tooms had actually killed him and I was terrified. Oh yeah, and when Mulder was on stakeout at Tooms' place I joined him in the car and we had a conversation in which I guess I reached out to Mulder. I called him Fox, even though he hates the name. I just wanted to let him know that I cared, or something along those lines. Anyway, he mumbled something about making even his parents call him Mulder and then told me that if I had iced-tea for him if could be love. I had rootbeer. Damn. Okay, so I know that he was only joking but still... I can't help but wonder what would have happened if I had had iced-tea...

After that we had the case with the Bishop girl - Michelle, I think her name was. Freaky. That case is still unsolved and I'm kinda glad about that...

Then there was that think with the retarded janitor and the rocket scientists. I still can't explain that one and the only thing related to it that I've been able to prove to Mulder is that I *do* have brothers.

After that was the case with the 5th and 6th nucleotides and Mulder's informant - "Deep Throat" was killed. Yet another case I still don't fully understand and, quite frankly, don't want to understand.

Mulder almost died from that but as soon as it looked like everything was going to be okay and we could get onto our next case, he rang me in the middle of the night and told me that the X-Files were being shut down. I felt like screaming bloody murder but at the same time I wanted to go and cry in my daddy's lap.

The next few months I was stuck in the teaching job at Quantico which I didn't particuarly enjoy. After spending a year or so chasing weirdos it was so incredibly boring. Mulder was stuck doing wiretaps and I was so angry at them for doing that. They were punishing him for sticking to his beliefs and searching for the truth, and I know that he felt a million times worse than I did, doing a crummy job like that when he was such a brilliant agent. I'm just glad they didn't do that to him this time.

Anyway, a few weeks after we were split up he went off to Puerto Rico and almost got killed. I was worried about him - worried for him. I tried to keep in contact with him - just to make sure that he was okay, and when he went off I risked my life and career to find him. Well, it wasn't exactly the first time.

After that were a few more cases Mulder had - the one with the mutant born out of Chernobyl and then the one with the sleep eradication project. Mulder got a new partner for that case - Krycek. I'd like to say that I never trusted the little bastard, but I was more jealous that anything else. Mulder and I were still working together as much as we could; whenever he had a body I'd do the autopsy, and whenever he needed background checks or anything I'd willingly devote my time to it.

Then came Duane Barry...

I don't want to remember that. I'm already shivering all over. I know he's dead and he can't get me anymore, but I was so scared when I saw his face outside my window...

My first case back - Skinner had reopened the X-Files when I was missing - was the one with the volcano and whatever the hell it was that lived in there. Some kind of silicon-based lifeform. I was still feeling not-quite-one hundred percent, but I insisted on going. I almost died on that case though... but there was an up-side; Mulder and I got quarantined again. I remember thinking at the time "Could I get any luckier?"

Well, I could and I am.

I was pretty much young and stupid then.

The next case was pretty much muddled up - there was the doctor who was giving the kids some bovine growth hormone, I think it was, and the kids were being abducted and the Church of the Red Museum and there was the meat factory and I'm sure I saw the guy who killed 'Deep Throat.' I guess I still wasn't one hundred percent.

After that was the case of the rape in the nursing home. That was MY case - the first case I ever brought in, I think. The patients - most of which were altzeihmers - all had remarkable 'recoveries', which were attributed to the new treatment given them by Dr. Grago (spelling?). Mulder said something about the pills given to them by the Asian orderly being the actual cures but he had no proof on which to base that assumption.

Next was the case with the police officer; BJ Morrow, the granddaughter of Harry Cokely. Mulder said that she was genetically predisposed to kill like he had and that - I think that he said that she was continuing her grandfather's crimes.

Then came Donnie Pfaster. That case really freaked me out. I think the first scary thing was the desecrated graves - it was horrible. I had nightmares during that case too - and after. I dreamt that I was a victim, about to have an autopsy done on me - by ME. It was really freaky and I was terrified. I didn't want Mulder to know though. I know that sound stupid, but I didn't want Mulder to be constantly looking after me and protecting me. I like being independent, and I was also afraid to let him into my mind and my heart. I remember thinking, when Pfaster had me tied up in the closet that it was kind of ironic - after being nearly killed by weirdos, killer clones and creatures from B grade horror movies, I actually going to meet my end at the hands of someone HUMAN. Not exactly normal, but human.

Then came that thing with witchcraft and black magic and child abuse. I know for certain which one I find most terrifying.

After that was the thing with the internment camp and the voodoo. God, that was so scary when I saw that hand reaching out of my palm. I was terrified. Okay, so it was only a dream, but it was so terrifyingly real. Now whenever I get any scratches on me, no matter how small and insignificant - I pay VERY close attention to them.

After that was the case of the identical abortion doctors. Well, I don't know whether or not I believe that they were clones. I mean, if Sally Kendrick could do that then there's no reason why a group of government scientists couldn't. It would have to be a government project though - it would require a lot of funding and access to all sorts of things.

And that Samantha impersonator came. I think she may have been a clone - yes, I do admit that - because Mulder told me he saw several identical women somewhere after the first 'samantha' drowned with the murderer. I don't know what the whole point of 'returning Samantha' to the Mulders was. Maybe it was just to put them through hell. God knows how hard it was with Mulder. I can't imagine how he must have felt, especially when he found out that they'd all been played for fools. It must have been heartbreaking - such a bitter disappointment. I was so terrified when Mulder went off to the arctic, looking for the killer. I was sure that he was going to die from the retrovirus, but I was determined to save him. I think that that was when I realized completely how much I loved him. And to think that if I hadn't been so stubborn, which most people say is one of my worst faults, then Mulder wouldn't be alive today. I shudder even as I think of that possibility.

After that came that ridiculous thing with the zoo animals. Mulder theorized that aliens were abducting the animals, inseminating them and harvesting the embryos. Yeah, whatever Mulder.

Then there was that thing on the navy ship. That time I was certain I was going to die, and my only consolation was that Mulder was there with me. I can't bear the thought of dying alone. I hated the feeling of helplessness, knowing that we were going to die and that there was no way to escape it. I wasn't afraid though - I'm not really afraid of dying anymore - except dying all alone - because I've glimpsed the next world and I know that it's a beautiful place, and that Dad and Missy are there.

After that came the circus case which, I have to admit, was actually kinda fun. I'm still not sure to this day whether or not it was possible for the twin to disengage itself, but it seemed like a fairly logical solution at the time. That case was a bit warped.

After that was the thing with the little boy who was killed by the miniature train. Teddy something. And his older brother Charlie (Holvey! That's it). I can't remember what my official explanation in my report of that case was. I think I said the grandmother did it all.

Next was the thing with Pinck Pharmaceuticals and those boils. Although it pissed me off at the time, I'm glad now that I wasn't allowed in. Kinda. But then again, if they had let me in then I would have had a contamination suit and there would (or should) have been no chance of getting infected...

Then there was Kelly Ryan's case. I still think the way she died was so unfair - she was only doing her job and she was, if you'll excuse the clich鬠too young to die.

I think we concluded that Chester Banton had been killed, but I wasn't very satisfied with that solution.

Canabalism. Yuk. And I almost got killed AGAIN. Next...

Next was the huge case when Mulder got a copy of the Defense Department's UFO sighting records, which he nicknamed 'the holy grail'. That cassette would have to be one of the most dangerous thing's he's ever had in his possession. I mean, people were killing for it. And we traded it for our safety. Mulder left the decision up to me and even though I know what I did was right, I still had to do it. I had to see Missy, even though I got to the hospital too late. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you Missy. I'm sorry that I didn't get to say goodbye. God knows I wanted to. I promise I'll never forget you, and that you died for me.'

"Scully? I'm back!" She heard Mulder close the front door and lock it and she wiped the tears from her eyes angrily.

"Yeah, I'm in here" she called, shutting the diary and shoving it back on the bookcase.

"Sorry I took so long, but -"

"Doesn't matter" she said shortly, hoping that she didn't look as upset as she felt. She thought she'd managed to lock away all her sorrow at her sister's death years ago, but she hadn't really dealt with it properly, just hoped that if she ignored it it would go away.

"You okay Scully?" Mulder noticed the way her lower lip was trembling slightly.

"Yeah, I'm fine" she said brightly, getting up from the table and pulling some food out of the fridge.

"You sure? Have the twins been giving you trouble?"

"No, they've been great. We're all fine." butter the bread, lots of peanut butter... that's right, spread it on nice and thick... oh god...

"You don't sound fine, Dana."

Ohhhhh great. He called you Dana. That means that he knows something's wrong and he's going to keep bugging you until he finds out what...

She left what she was doing abruptly and sat back down at the table, resting her head on her arms, her eyes closed.

"I was just thinking about Missy. That's all."


"'Oh...' what?" she demanded, jumping up and placing her hands on her hips.


"It *was* something Mulder" she said angrily, her eyes flashing through the tears.


Scully rolled her eyes angrily and stormed into the bedroom, slamming the door shut after her and locking it. The noise woke one of the babies who started screaming, and she picked her up, jiggling her. "C'mon, be quiet for Mommy. Hush..."

The baby continued fretting as she sat down in the rocker with it, rocking gently. "C'mon, we don't want Daddy to think I'm a bad mommy, do we, huh?"

"Scully?" Mulder pounded on the door. "I'm sorry if I said something wrong. Let me in, please?"

Scully closed her eyes and clenched her teeth, remaining silent.

Mulder continued pounding. "Scully?"

Scully stood shakily and went across to the door, but she couldn't bring herself to open it. She sunk down against it, clutching the baby tightly as if she were a life preserver, and let the tears pour down her cheeks. She was crying because Missy was dead, because she and Mulder were fighting and she hated that, and because of everything that had happened to them; the numerous times when they'd both nearly lost their lives or had lost their families.

"Scully?" his voice was gentler. "Scully, let me in. Please?"

She reached up and fumbled with the lock, but made no effort to open the door. Mulder pushed it open slowly and crouched down beside her, unsure of what to say.

Scully held up the now sleeping infant as a kind of peace offering and Mulder returned her to her crib, then came back and sat beside her.

"So, what's up?" he asked finally.

Scully shrugged. "I'm sorry Mulder."

"I shouldn't have left you for so long" he said guiltily, remembering horror stories he'd heard about post-natal depression.

She took his hand and twisted his fingers around hers.

"It's not that. I was just writing in my diary - about all the cases we've worked on; my thoughts and feelings about each one... and I - I guess I was just hit full force by all the death and horror of it all, you know?"

Mulder nodded understandingly. "I think I know what you mean. Sometimes I think about everything we've seen and been through and it scares me. But then I just think about all the lives we've saved and it kinda justifies it all, if you know what I mean?"

"Yeah, I guess..." she pulled herself up. "I'm gonna go get cleaned up and then we can get going, okay?"

It took them twenty-five minutes to pack the car to leave; baby capsules, blankets, diapers, bottles, several changes of clothing, a carry cot and other bits and pieces. Mulder started the engine and glanced at Scully, who was fussing with the baby capsules in the back seat.

"You ready?"

"Yeah, um, I guess."

"Do you have any idea who'll be there?"

"Um... Mom said that Lyn and Charles and Brandon are coming, and Bill's home on leave so his family's all coming too. And I have a feeling that a few of my cousins will be there... I guess Mom's pretty deperate to show off her twin granddaughters - not to mention little Brandon. After all, grandmothers are supposed to do that..."

"Yeah, I guess."


"Mulder, are you happy?"

"Why do you ask?"

She shrugged. "I guess that just because everything's so different... and I was just wondering if you're okay."

"There's a difference between okay and happy. Are *you* okay?"

"I asked you first. But Mulder, I'm serious. Are you happy?"

"I'm happy. Very, very happy. And I'm okay too. You?"

"I'm happy too. And I'm-" she faltered for a minute and Mulder glanced over at her "...I'm okay, I think. I thought I was doing fine 'til this morning but I can't be sure. It's just that I think I can be strong, think I am strong, and then I just fall to pieces."

"Sometimes you can bring that upon yourself; thinking of things that scare or hurt you. You - you can't avoid thinking of those things, just don't deliberately invoke them."

Scully opened her mouth indignantly. "I didn't do that deliberately Mulder. God! How could you think that?"

Mulder hastened to explain. "I didn't mean it that way, Scully. I just meant that you shouldn't keep thinking about it and dwelling on it..." he smiled slightly at the irony of what he was saying. "You know, Scully, I'm really not the best person to be telling you this, not with my personal history..."

"You still miss her, don't you?" Scully asked suddenly.

The smile vanished from Mulder's face. "Yeah" he said soberly. He knew exactly who she was talking about.

Scully looked unseeingly out the window. "Sometimes I wonder... I wonder if it ever gets easier. If it ever stops hurting."

Mulder shook his head slowly. "A little. But it never goes away completely. It's just a dull pain that never stops aching."

"Do you remember Frank Sparks? The father of Addie Sparks from the case with-"

Mulder cut her off. "Roche." The one word was so forceful, hatred mingled with sorrow at the thought of those little girls, and of another little girl...

"Yeah. He said that maybe dead was better than missing, because then you wouldn't keep hoping... but then when we told him about - about his daughter, he said that he would rather have not known - that missing was better. But I don't think he was right."

"Why not?"

"Because you can accept a death, and move on. It still hurts, but it's a certain thing. But missing..."

"Missing just keeps on hurting" Mulder finished. "You just keep thinking that there's still hope until you find a body. It consumes your thoughts and you're driven along by the one thought: 'Maybe...'"

Scully reached across and patted him reassuringly on the arm. "Maybe, Mulder. Maybe."

A mischevious glint appeared in Mulder's eyes. Scully noticed it, and when he opened his mouth she said threateningly "I may have red hair Mulder, but I'm not Little Orphan Annie, and if you value your life, you won't ask me to sing 'Maybe'."

Mulder wisely shut his mouth.

"They're so adorable" Maggie cooed as she stared down at the tiny babies lying asleep in the carry cot.

Dana grinned. "I know."

"Have you named them yet, sweetie?" Maggie looked hopeful.

Scully shook her head slowly and her mother looked disappointed.

"We've set ourselves a deadline. Four this afternoon."

She decided not to tell her mother the punishment for not deciding by the deadline. Somehow she didn't think Maggie would appreciate it...

Hearing the knocker, Scully scooped up one of she sleeping bundles hell, I'm allowed to show them off and went to answer the door.

Her older brother and his family were standing on the porch there, Josh and Amy arguing and pulling each other's hair while their parents tried to separate them.

"Dana!" Bill smiled and swept her up in a bear hug.

"Hey, be careful, you'll squish the baby" she said, laughing.

Bill pulled away and smiled delightedly. "What a cute little mite!"

"What a sweet little baby!" Anyse crooned. "May I hold her Dana?"

Scully handed her the baby reluctantly, feeling as if she were giving away her most prized possession, and yet at the same time pleased at her sister-in-law's unusual forwardness.

"Can I hold her next?" Amy begged.

"I can do better than that" Scully grinned widely as she led them into the living room. She picked up the second baby and passed her to her niece. "Now, be careful to hold her head and be very gentle..."

Amy squealed delightedly. "She's so gorgeous! What's her name?" Scully glanced at her mother, then at Mulder who had come up behind her.

"Robyn" she said, her lips curving in amusement at the reaction she caused. Mulder grinned back at her and Maggie glanced at him cautiously, then smiled. "Took your time."

Scully ignored her mother. "Robyn Samantha Scully" she said slowly, savoring each word.

Maggie could see Fox nodding to himself. It was fitting.

"What about the other one?" Amy asked eagerly, glancing over at her mother who was cooing quietly to the baby she was holding.

"The other one..." Dana looked at her husband, her eyes questioning.

"Kate Melissa Scully" he said promptly.

"Robyn and Kate" Maggie mused. "Yes, a very nice combination."

Dana turned to her mother. "Happy now, Mom?"

"Yes. Thank you Dana" Maggie hugged her daughter.

There was another knock at the door and Maggie pulled away. "I'll go get that."

As Scully panned the room, ensuring that her offspring were both happy, Mulder whispered in her ear "Now we've just got to remember which one's which."

Scully smiled, then held up a finger. "I'll be back in a second."

She disappeared up the stairs and Mulder was approached by Amy, holding out the baby and looking disgusted.

"I think she dirtied her diaper" she said, wrinkling her nose. "You can have her now."

Mulder accepted the baby now, this one is... Robyn? Yeah, I *think* that's right and took her into the laundry where a towel was spread on the table as a temporary change table. He changed her quickly, hey, I'm getting pretty good at this! then removed the hospital bracelet which was still on her wrist, the only was they could tell the two babies apart. Picking her back up again and jiggling her gently he searched the room for a pen.

The door was opened and Scully poked her head through. "Oh, there you are." She held out a magic marker. "We're going to have to label them or we'll forget which is which."

"Exactly what I was thinking."

He wrote ROBYN S. on the paper of the bracelet, then slid it back into the thin plastic slip and clipped it back on the baby's wrist.

"Write it on the tag of the jumpsuit to," Scully suggested.

"We'd have to take the jumpsuit off first though, wouldn't we?"

"No, just... here, give me the magic marker."

He handed it to her and then used both hands to support the baby's weight.

Her left hand cupping the back of her daughter's head, Scully pulled the tag out with her right hand and drew a large R on it.

"There. That should do." She smiled. "I hope people won't think we're weird if we can't remember their names for a few days."

"People already think we're weird, Scully," Mulder said with a cheerful grin. "Isn't it fun?"

Scully rolled her eyes playfully, laid the baby down on the table carefully and slipped her arms around his waist.

"I love you" she whispered. She stood on her tip-toes and kissed him gently.

Mulder responded, kissing her back with short butterfly kisses as he slipped her hands up her sweater and massaged her back gently. "Love you too Scully" he murmured.


They sprang apart and looked guiltily at Lynette, who had opened the door slightly and poked her head through.

"Sorry guys, I didn't mean to interrupt anything. Your mom was just getting a bit worried about you being in here for so long."

"We're fine, aren't we Mulder?" Dana smiled at him playfully. She picked up Robyn. "We were just changing Robyn's diaper."

She took Mulder by the hand and they followed Lynette out into living room.

"So, when did you guys get here?" Mulder turned to Charlie, picking up Kate and jiggling her gently.

"Only a few minutes ago. Hey, did you see the Chargers game yesterday?"

As their husbands moved away Dana and Lynette sat down on the couch, cradling their respective offspring.

"Sorry I interrupted you two in there. But you know Dana, you didn't have to look so guilty. You *are* married, remember?"

"Sometimes I forget" Scully smiled. "Sometimes I'll just get a flash of where we would be now if hadn't gotten together. And it's like "aughhhhhh!"... but that's enough about me, how are you guys?"

"We're doing great. The doctors were a bit worried about Brandon being underweight but he's gained quite a bit of weight so now he looks kinda chubby. But he's so gorgeous," she sighed happily. "What about your two? Your mom said that you named them but wouldn't tell me what. Told me to ask you."

"Robyn Samantha and Kate Melissa. We only decided about ten minutes ago."

"They're nice names" Lyn said thoughtfully. "Melissa - that's after Missy, I assume?"

Scully nodded.

"So, where'd you get Samantha from? Does it mean anything special?"

"Um, yeah..." Scully said slowly. "You could say that." She glanced around the room before continuing "Mulder's sister, Samantha, she disappeared when she was eight. Mulder's never stopped looking for her."

"Poor guy. How old was he when she disappeared?"

"Twelve. He's always felt personally responsible for it - it practically ruined his life."

"So they never found her?"

"No. Mulder... Mulder keeps looking for her. He won't give up until he finds her."

"But wouldn't - I know this sounds horrible, but wouldn't she be dead by now? I mean, if they haven't found her, then..."

"Mulder says that she was abducted. By, uh, aliens."

"Aliens..." Instead of laughing outright Lynette was thoughtful. "That's interesting..," she said, completely sincere.

"That's what started off the whole X-Files thing - well, they actually already existed, but nobody investigated them. Mulder had friends in high places, or so he told me, and he managed to get them opened. He was a 'golden boy' in the bureau before that, but now he's just seen as spooky."

"Hey, talking about me?" Mulder asked cheerfully as he came over. "I heard my name."

"I - I was just explaining why we named her Kate *Samantha*."

"I see" he mused. He was quiet for a minute then he shook himself out of his absorption. "I'm gonna go heat some formula. Your mom told me to tell you that your Aunt Dee and Uncle Frank are here."

Scully's face lit up "I haven't seen them in years."

She stood up with a grin. "Come on Mulder, I want you to meet them."

"But I was gonna- okay, I'm coming..."

"Back in a minute, Lyn" she promised as she dragged Mulder toward a middle-aged couple, somewhere in their fifties maybe, but still quite a good looking couple, who exuded an air of importance and respectablilty, and yet at the same time looked very friendly and fun-loving.

"Be careful" she whispered to him quickly. "Aunt D has a wicked sense of humor..."

"Dana! My dear, you've grown!"

"Hi Aunt D, hi Uncle Frank" she hugged them with one arm, Robyn still asleep in the other. She pulled Mulder toward them more and introduced him proudly.

"Aunt D and Uncle Frank, I want you to meet my husband, Fox Mulder. Mulder, this is my Aunt Dana and my Uncle Frank."

Mulder shook hands with an engaging grin. "Nice to meet you."

Scully continued "...And these are our daughters Robyn and Kate."

"Ah, so you've finally named them. Maggie was getting worried about that" Frank Scully said in a low, pleasant voice.

He smiled warmly and Mulder took an instant liking to him.

There was a general fussing over the twins for the next five minutes and then Maggie announced that lunch was served. "Nice people" Mulder remarked as they returned the twins to the carry-cots.

"Yeah, they are. Frank is Dad's brother. He was always my favorite uncle. He's the amateur magician I told you about once..."

Scully couldn't help but notice the worried glances her mother kept sneaking at her all lunch and wondered if Mulder had told her about the morning's incident, even after she'd made him promise not to.

After lunch while they were washing up she tackled Maggie about it.

"Why are you worried about me Mom?"

"I'm not..." Maggie started to protest. Then she sighed.

"Mulder told you about this morning, didn't he?"

Maggie shook her head slowly. "No. Why? What happened?"

"Nothing happened. So if he didn't tell you, why are you so concerned?"

"I could see that you've been crying, that's all."

Scully frowned. "How can you tell that?"

She went out into the hall and checked her reflection in the mirror, then returned to the kitchen. "You can't tell. I look fine."

"Dana, I'm your mother. You can't hide anything from me, no matter how much makeup you put on. Now, what happened this morning?"

"I - I just broke down for no real reason, that's all."

but that's a lie, isn't it Dana? You know why you were crying. It's 'cos of Missy and Dad and everything...

"You must have had a reason Dana, however small."

"I was - I was writing in my journal, you know, trying to see how many of our cases I could remember... and then I started thinking about Missy and I - I just went kinda nuts and I started yelling at Mulder and... it was horrible" she swallowed and Maggie clucked her tongue sympathetically. "I just thought that I was okay about Missy, you know? But I still feel... I still feel so guilty and so scared and so sad whenever I think of her. I want to think about her and be happy. I don't want to be miserable and bawl my eyes out and that's what's happening at the moment and I don't know how to fix it."

"Have you talked about it?"

"No - not really. I talk to the therapist about it sometimes but I find it hard to explain how I feel. I'm not very good at that."

"You never were. You were always very private and secretive. That was why Missy always used to get annoyed at you - you'd never tell her what you were doing."

Scully smiled. "Yeah, I remember I used to go off exploring and I wouldn't tell anyone except Dad where I was going, and one time I found Missy and Bill and Charles following me. They weren't very discreet."

Maggie sighed. "I didn't even realize that they'd gone out. One minute they were upstairs building the cubby out of furniture and then... after a while I started wondering why everything was so quiet... You see what I mean, Dana? Let yourself remember Missy, but remember all the good things about her - all the good times you had. It makes it easier to cope."

Dana nodded and hugged her mother tightly. "Thanks Mom. I know it must be so much harder for you than it is for me - I can't imagine what it would be like for you."

"I treasure my memories of her and of your father. They're happy, I know that. They wouldn't want us to grieve."

"I know, Mom." She pulled away as Charlie entered the kitchen.

"What have you been doing in here?"

"We were just washing up" Scully said quickly, picking up the dishcloth and resuming drying.

"Couldn't you have put it off until we all left?" he leaned back against one of the cupboards.

Maggie looked shocked. "Certainly not. It's extremely difficult to get food that's dried on off saucepans and dishes. This is much quicker and easier. Besides, Dana and I were talking."

"Oh... you want me to leave, then?"

"Nope." Scully handed him the dishcloth. "You can dry the rest of the dishes. I'm going to see what Mulder's up to."

It's amazing how much can happen in less than a year Scully thought to herself happily. A year ago she and Mulder had been friends and partners, but nothing else. Now he was her husband and the father of her children... and still her best friend. Work partners... not yet. But Skinner had promised her that he'd keep trying. Someone was obviously making it near-impossible to be reassigned. Someone who obviously didn't want Scully and Mulder working together...

"Hey Mulder?"

Mulder turned away from the wall where he'd been studying an old cartographers map. "Yeah?"

"You remember the first time we were here together. Before we really got together."

"Uh-huh. December last year, after we got back from Australia. Charlie and Lynette told everyone about their engagement."

"Yeah... that was only ten months ago. Can you believe that?"

"Ten... and I was missing for three of them" he sounded unusually bitter.

She squeezed his arm gently. "It's okay. I know how you feel" she whispered. Resuming her normal tone she said "I can't imagine what the next ten will bring..."

"I guess we're just going to have to wait and find out."

"Yeah..." she glanced out the front window and smiled. "Amy and Josh are playing tag in the yard. Wanna join 'em?"

They collapsed in an exhausted pile under one of the large trees in the front yard, gasping as they tried to catch their breath.

"Remind me not to suggest that again in a while" Scully panted.

"Like I wouldn't. Those kids are such fast r unners!"

"I know. And we're so unfit" she rested her head on his chest as they stared up through the thick tree branches.

"Uh-huh. Though it was the first real run I've had in ages, which was kinda good."

They lay there in peaceful silence until Charlie came outside.

"Dana? Mulder? Are you guys coming in?"

Scully lifted her head and looked at her husband. "Are we?"

"I guess we better..," he said reluctantly. "The girls'll probably need changing and feeding."

Scully stood up and pulled him up. "Well, we might as well get it over and done with."

"Dana, you can't leave your children with strangers all day. These are their most impressionable years. Don't you want them to know you?"

"Of course I want them to know me" she snapped. "You're blowing things completely out of proportion. It's not that big a thing."

Bill said angrily "It *it* that big a thing. These are your children. Family should always come before your job."

"I'm not putting my job before them" she said, furious that he could even think that. "I'm just saying that I want to work, not be stuck at home looking after them all day. Don't you understand?"

stupid question Dana. Of course he doesn't understand. If he did he wouldn't be yelling at you

"Stuck at home?! It's called spending times with your kids. It's called being a good parent... It's-"

"Are you saying we're not good parents?" She was stung and furious. "How dare you pass judgement on us!" she hissed, her voice low and dangerous.

"You can't just do what you damn well please Dana. Someday you'll realize how stupid you're being."

Bill stormed out, passing Mulder on the way.

"What the hell happened in here?" he asked, noting her flashing eyes and flushed face.

"Bill and I just had an argument" she said flatly.

"What about?"

She fought to get her temper under control. "He says that I shouldn't go back to work and leave the twins with a stranger. He thinks that to even *consider* that we would have to be very bad parents."

"He said that?" Mulder gritted his teeth. "What the hell gives him the right to say that?"

"Nothing. Mulder, I want to go home now. I don't want to stay here if he does" she said quietly.

"Scully, doesn't that seem rather childish to you?" he asked, somewhat surprised by her attitude.

Scully looked at him warily. "Mulder, please don't side with him."

"I'm not, I'm not" he assured her. "But you're both adults. Can't we just stay and see if we can figure it out?"

"Mulder, you don't understand. Bill's like this. It's like Jekyll and Hyde; he'll be really nice and friendly and then one small thing will set him off and his temper will get out of control. He can be dangerous."

"Dangerous? Scully, this is your *brother* we're talking about, not Alex Krycek!"

"Duh!" Scully rolled her eyes impatiently. "Did I tell you what he did to me when I was six?"

"No. What did he do?"

She kicked off her shoe and showed him a white scar across her ankle which he'd never noticed before.

"He came at me with a knife - fortunately not a particularly sharp one - one day. We were arguing about something, I can't remember what, and he picked up the knife and lunged at me. Do you know how terrified I was Mulder? I was only six. *Six*."

Mulder looked grim. "Why haven't you told me about that?"

She pulled her shoe back on. "It's not exactly the sort of thing you like to advertise. He told Mom and Dad that the knife had been knocked off the kitchen table as we were running past and had cut me as it fell. They believed him - he was only ten. You would never believe that he could have done that. He insisted on coming to the hospital with us and when Mom and Dad were out of earshot he kept telling me over and over that he was sorry. I guess I believed him... I had seven stitches."

"Your parents never found out?"

"I never told them. He was such a good kid and he was a great brother. Very generous and loving and sharing. I really adored him and after a while I began to wonder if it'd really happened that way, or whether it had just been an accident. I began to forget the look in his eyes when he'd attacked me..."

She looked at Mulder, but his face showed no emotion.

"Mulder, I know you're probably going to say that I'm just making a big deal out of something that I wouldn't even remember very clearly, but you have to believe me. Bill's a great guy, but when he gets angry he gets dangerous and he can hurt you. He has very, *very* bad temper that gets out of control. Trust me. I know."

Maggie came in. "Bill's family are leaving now, if you want to say goodbye."

"I've already said goodbye" Dana said shortly. She turned sharply and left the room, going up the stairs to her old bedroom where they'd moved the twins to be away from all the noise.

Maggie watched her go with a look of dismay on her face. "Oh dear. Those two didn't have an argument, did they?"

"'Fraid so." Mulder debated for a minute about whether to elaborate. "Um, Mrs. Scully?"

"Yes?" Maggie straightened the candlesticks and looked at him. "What is it, Fox?"

"Dana said that - that Bill was dangerous - that his temper gets out of control. I was just wondering if - if..."

Maggie's face showed painful understanding. "Oh... I suppose I'd better explain it to you properly."

She sat down and motioned for Mulder to do the same.

"As a child Billy was always perfectly behaved. Never disobeyed anyone, always very sweet and cheerful and playful. But when he did lose his temper... yes, he was dangerous. Bill and I tried to teach him to control it better, but we - we didn't succeed."

"He attacked Scully once."

"Yes, with - with a toy car. He threw it at her very hard and gave her a bruised cheek. She told you that?"

Mulder shook his head slowly. "No. She told me that he attacked her with a kitchen knife and cut her foot."

"Bill did that?" Maggie sounded surprised and disappointed at the same time. "He said it was an accident - that they'd been playing and had knocked it off the kitchen counter. She said that he did that?"


"I never knew. I suppose I should have known, but it didn't surprise me the way Bill was so nice to her afterwards - he was always kind. To people anyway..."

"He liked cutting up bugs?" Mulder smiled slightly, remembering his own childhood hobby.

"Not quite... the boys liked shooting at grass snakes with their BB guns, although they always got into trouble from their father. And then... we had a kitten, when Bill was about eight. It was a beautiful kitten, white fur and blue eyes. All the kids adored it, especially Missy. One day when the others were out Billy was eating his lunch out in the yard - he was making something out of bits of wood and wouldn't stop to come in - the cat was out there with him. She was trying to get to his sandwich and when he turned away for a second she grabbed some of the chicken. When he saw her he grabbed her and he - he wrung her neck." Maggie shivered.

"My God..." Mulder felt a wave of sick horror wash over him.

"I watched it all from the kitchen. He was horrified at what he'd done, of course. He started crying and screaming at it to get up again. I felt for him so badly... We buried the kitten in the corner of the garden and when the others arrived home I told Dana's father what had happened. We agreed not to tell the kids what had really happened - they'd all be too heartbroken and we knew that they'd never forgive Bill. We said that she must have run away. It was a very bad decision - we should have just told them the truth and let them grieve. Instead they spent days searching for her, calling her name and rattling the cat food. Missy especially was terribly affected by it all, but I think somehow she found out what had happened..."

"What do you mean?"

Maggie stared at the family photograph on the wall. "One day I found her in the garden, where we'd buried Misty. She was just sitting there with her eyes shut, and when she finally got up and came inside I asked her what she'd been doing. She said that she'd been talking to Misty."

Mulder was silent.

"You don't think that he'd deliberately hurt anyone, do you?" he asked finally.

Maggie looked shocked. "Lord, no," she sighed. "When he hit ten or twelve he stopped having such strong emotional outbursts and Bill and I were hoping that he'd grown out of it. Unfortunately he went straight into a bully phase - the 'big macho boy'. He hasn't quite grown out of it yet..."

"He doesn't like me," Mulder said slowly. "He blames me for what's happened to Scully and about what happened to Melissa."

"I'm sorry he's like that Fox. He's just being overprotective of Dana - looking for someone to blame."

"And he blames me..." Not that Mulder was surprised by that. He blamed himself for everything too.

"Hey Scully?" Scully turned slightly as Mulder came in. "Is he gone?" she asked sharply.

He nodded slowly and she was visibly relieved.

"I was just talking to your mom."

"What 'bout?"

"Bill. And a kitten named Misty."

"Misty..." she screwed up her eyes. "Oh, I remember Misty. She was a beautiful kitten. She ran away."

Mulder kicked himself mentally. "Yeah, well, it's a good name for a cat..," he said vaguely. "So, you still wanna go?"

"What? Home, you mean?"


Kate woke up and started crying and he picked her up, rocking her gently.

Scully was quiet for a minute. "Mulder, do you think I was stupid?"

"What, with the whole Bill-thing?"

"Yeah" she picked at a loose thread of the blanket on the bed.

"No" he said honestly. "It's hard when someone you love can turn against you and hurt you."

"I know..."

"He didn't mean to hurt you Scully. Not with the knife, or with the toy car."

"Toy car?" she looked up blankly.

"Your mom said that he threw a toy car at you when he was little."

Dana shook her head. "I don't remember that. It must have been before the knife thing... Mulder, you know what you just said about someone you love turning against you and hurting you?"


"Well, you know when - after you were missing and you were acting all weird. That really scared me because I - I was scared of you and scared for you at the same time, and I didn't know what to do about either of them."

"You think *you* were scared? I was terrified that I was going to hurt *you*. I was scared to go near you in case I did."

"You never told me that before" she sounded unsettled.

"Well, I'm telling you now."

"Mulder, this conversation looks like it's heading towards a fight, and I *really* don't want that, so let's just stop, huh?"

"Fine with me" he turned and Scully thought that he was going to leave the room, but instead he returned Kate to the carry-cot, then came back to her on the bed, wrapped his arms around her and started kissing her hotly, pushing her backwards.

"Mulder, remember what happened last time we were together on this bed?" she murmured, slightly relieved but still tense.

"Uh-huh" he kissed her lips, her cheeks, her nose, her hair...

"Yeah, well, we just have to make sure we don't get too carried away."

Mulder didn't answer, but just continued kissing her, his hands working to undo their clothes.

Scully stopped protesting and kissed him back, revelling in the situation. It had been too long since she and Mulder had been *together* like this. She unbuttoned his shirt and pulled it off, throwing it to the floor. She rolled over so that she was atop him and started kissing his chest...

"Wait, stop Scully." Mulder pulled out from under her with a note of panic in his voice. "We can't do this."

"But you started it... Why not?"

"Because - because of them..." he pointed toward the carry-cot near the window.

"They're not watching Mulder. What's the *real* reason?" she propped herself up on her elbows.

Mulder picked his shirt up off the floor and put it on, doing the buttons up slowly. "I don't know Scully" he said honestly. "We just can't."

"Okay.," she said slowly. She pulled her blouse out from under her and shook it to try and get the wrinkles out. "You wanna talk about it?" she asked softly, slipping the blouse on and buttoning it up quickly.

Mulder shook his head. "Nope. I wouldn't know what to say."

He stood up and threw her her sweater. "How about we pack up everything here and get going?"

"If you want," she sighed. "Is it me or has today been a really rotten day?"

"I don't think it has been. Just this morning and now and that thing with Bill. You know Scully, I still find that hard to believe. I think I've had some preconceived idea about your family being perfect."

"'Everyone's got a skeleton in their closet'" she quoted. "I guess this thing with Bill is nothing to compare with your family. I mean, I have a brother who gets angry and accidently injures people. You have..." she stopped, unsure of how insensitive it would sound if she said 'you have a father who was involved in a government conspiracy before he was murdered, your sister was abducted by aliens and your mother killed herself after she thought you'd been abducted by aliens'... not very tactful Dana

"And I have a completely screwed up family" Mulder finished.

Scully stood and straightened the bedspread. "Okay, we'd better go."

"You can't leave yet Dana" Maggie protested. "It's only-" she glanced at the clock "half-past four. I know that Uncle Frank is dying to talk to you two about working at the bureau..."

"He is not, Mom" Dana smiled slightly at the thought of her fun-loving uncle being interested in chasing UFOs. "Besides, the twins are very fussy..."

"I think we'd all be better off if we left," Mulder said deliberately. "We've had a long day."

He caught Maggie's eye and she nodded. "Okay then. Everyone's in the lounge if you want to say goodbye."

They said goodbye quickly and left, double-checking and triple-checking that they had everything they'd brought.

"Wasn't it so much easier with just the two of us?" Mulder sighed. "Then we only needed ourselves."

Scully smiled. "Don't worry. In sixteen years or so they can drive themselves places... and they definitely won't need us to change their diapers."

"Scully, when was the last time we slept together?" he asked suddenly.

Scully blinked. "You mean like *slept together* slept together?"


Scully cast her mind back. "Not since before your disappearance, I don't think. Why?"

"It's just that maybe my disappearance and my - my mom's death and everything... that could be why it didn't feel right before."

"How could that be?"

"I don't know. Maybe because I'm still scared that I'll hurt you."

"How would you hurt me?"

"I've been having these dreams - the last few weeks, months maybe, I don't know. And I - I killed you..." his hand shook.

"Pull over Mulder. I'll drive" Scully commanded.

Mulder did as bade and a few minutes later they were on the road again.

"How come you didn't tell me this before?"

"I - I only just remembered the dream. Bits of it have been coming to me all day but I only just got enough to realize what it was. It was so horrible Scully."

Mulder and his dreams... not that you can complain Dana. What about that dream about the two girls at the beach, huh? But then, that was a good dream... mulder always seems to have terrifying ones... guess I'm just lucky

"You wouldn't hurt me Mulder. I know you wouldn't."

"But *I* can't be sure that I won't... and that's what scares me the most..."

That night neither of them got much sleep. The twins only woke a few times each, their wails piercing the nightmares which both Mulder and Scully were having.

In her nightmare, Scully was surrounded by people. Lots of people, crowding in, squishing her, she couldn't breathe... her mom was there... and bill and charlie.. and missy was there, but she didn't look like missy... they were there but they weren't helping her. They were just screaming at her, yelling so loudly she couldn't decipher what they were even saying... and the smoking man and Skinner and krycek and the man who'd killed missy - they were there... they kept closing in on her, yelling and screaming at her... where was mulder? he wasn't there. She kept calling his name, screaming desperately for help, but he didn't come. Then all of a sudden all the yelling people vanished, and she was alone in a huge, white room. And in the middle of the room was a tombstone. Mulder's tombstone.

And that was when she woke up.

The first thing she did was glance at Mulder, to assure herself that he was still there, still breathing, still alive... then she got up and checked the sleeping infants. When she'd satisfied herself that they were okay, she returned to the bed where Mulder was tossing and turning.


Not very pleasant dreams either, by the looks of it.

"Scully... Scully?" He kept calling her name. Sometimes sounding lost, sometimes urgent, sometimes like a scared little kid...

She knelt down beside the bed and held his hands, which were flailing wildly as he made strange noiseless screams.

"Mulder?" she whispered. "Hey, it doesn't sound like you're having a particularly nice dream... you gonna wake up and tell me all about it?"

Behind her a baby started screaming and Mulder's eyes snapped open. He lay there, gasping for breath. "Scully... Scully, I had a bad dream..." he mumbled. He gripped her hands tightly and looked at her with wide, frightened eyes. "It was so horrible..." he started shivering violently.

"Hey, it's okay now Mulder. You're awake now and I'm here."

"The - the baby's crying... he murmured, barely coherent.

"Yeah, I know. I'll go to her in just a minute. I just want to make sure you're okay, okay?"

He nodded. "Now, you gonna tell me about your nightmare?" she asked, ignoring the increasing sound behind her.

"I - I can't..." he mumbled. "It was too horrible... too horrible... go to the baby Scully. She needs you..."

"Okay, but I'm just gonna bring her over here, okay?"

Mulder nodded, clenching his fists so hard that the nails bit into his palms. He held up his hands and looked blankly at the blood trickling down his palms.

Scully returned, jiggling a hiccupping baby.

She caught her breath when she saw his hands. "Mulder, what happened? Did you cut yourself on something?"

Mulder looked up at her with terrifyingly blank eyes.

"I - I..."

She took his hand ran her thumb over the skin gently, realizing how he had hurt himself. "Mulder, you just stay there, okay? I'll put Kate down and we can fix up your hands. I'll be back in just a minute."

Mulder pulled himself into a ball and sat shaking, still staring at his hands as if wondering what the hell they were. Scully returned with bandages which she wrapped around his hands gently. "You ready to talk about it yet?"

He shook his head numbly. "Scully, I don't feel very well..."

"You feel sick? Where?" she placed her hand on his forehead. "You've got a bit of a temperature but it's nothing major. Where do you feel sick, your stomach?"

Mulder shook his head. "Everywhere..." he muttered vaguely. "I wanna go to sleep now, 'k Scully?" He looked at her through half-closed eyes.

"Yeah" she said softly. "You get some sleep. Just remember, I'll be right here beside you..."

"Mornin' sleepyhead" Mulder tousled her hair affectionately. "Thought you deserved a sleep-in, huh?"

Scully yawned and sat up. "After last night, yeah."

Mulder looked at her blankly. "Last night? What happened last night?"

"You don't remember? You - you had a nightmare. You cut your palms..."

Mulder held up his hands and studied them. "Ouch, that must have hurt" he remarked. "So, whaddya want for breakfast? It's my turn to cook."

"You don't remember any of it?" she persisted. should have tied the damn bandage better Dana. That was really scary when you couldn't see them, wasn't it? You thought that maybe you'd just dreamt it all. As Charlie would say; stoooo-pid!

"Nope. Why, was it really bad?"

"Yeah. It was pretty bad. You kept saying that it was 'too horrible'."

"Was I really hard to control?" he asked, struck for the first time how concerned she was.

"Yeah. You kept waving your arms around and calling my name."

"Did I scare you?"

"A bit. I was worried."

"Uh-huh. I'm sorry if I don't seem to care Scully. It's just that I've been having nightmares since I was twelve. I'm kinda used to them, although they never cease to be terrifying."

"I can understand that. Maybe you should try taking a sleeping pill tonight. You might not get any nightmares..."

"Yeah, it's worth a try, I guess."

There was silence, then Scully finally asked "Mulder, has the nightmare anything to do with yesterday - up in the bedroom?"

"I think - I think that yesterday has something to do with the nightmare. I think it has something to do with when I was missing and my mom's death... I think that it has something to do with The Project."

"The Project?"

"You know, the whole big thing my dad was working on. I don't know what it is exactly. I just know that it's aliens, the government, and a very large population."

"Mulder, I hardly think it's fair for you to blame Cancer Man for your sex life."

Mulder smiled slightly. "I think that whatever they did to me, whatever they pumped me full of, is making me have these dreams. And my dreams are scaring me, making me scared I'll hurt you and therefore driving us apart."

"Isn't that slightly farfetched?"

"I don't think so. It would help explain how easily Krycek was able to get me out. Think about it Scully: you, me and the X-Files are their greatest threats. Now that we're really, *really* together, we're an even greater threat. They've shut down the X-Files and now they're trying to break us up. With us out of the picture then they'd be able to run things much more confidently, more boldly."

"Mulder, you're paranoid. What makes you think that they're even remotely interested in us anymore? Without the X-Files we have no power - no way of exposing them."

"They know we won't *stop* though. They know how important the truth is to us."

"So why not just kill us?"

"That would be too obvious. They'd think that if they drove us apart we'd end up hating each other, both abondon our search for the truth and they'd be left alone to do their dirty work in the dark."

"I could never hate you Mulder" she said softly.

"Ditto... Now, what about breakfast? I'm starving!"

'september 7th, 1998

Yesterday doesn't seem real to me. I acted really immature about the whole Bill-thing. I can see that now. it just freaked me out when we were fighting. I had the strangest feeling of deja-vu with the whole knife thing. Yesterday was just a really up & down day for us, me in particular; I had an emotional breakdown in the morning, then I had a few enjoyable hours showing of my (sorry, our) beautiful baby girls and talking to my relatives who I hadn't seen in ages (some of whom were a bit peeved off about not being invited to our wedding), then there was the Bill-thing and then the thing up in the bedroom when Mulder freaked out, and then the nightmares last night which he couldn't remember this morning. Overall, I'd say that yesterday was more bad then good.

Oh yeah, I almost forget - we named the twins yesterday. I'm very proud of myself - I haven't mixed them up yet. Robyn and Kate. I think they fit pretty well.

Doorbell. Back in a second.

Okay, so this isn't a second later. It's more like three hours. A&A (aka Claudia Andrews and Michael Abbott) dropped in to meet the twins. I wasn't really expecting anyone from the bureau to come, although I guess Andrews and I were partners for a short while. We were never really great friends, but this is just the sort of thing Andrews would do, and Abbott follows her around like a sheep.

Anyway, Andrews - no, I'll call her Claudia; it sounds much nicer - was absolutely ecstatic when she saw them and she spent about two hours saying how gorgeous they were and asking millions of questions about them. Prince sat at my feet, whining for attention the whole time. I guess he's still feeling like he deserves all the attention. Eventually Abbott and Mulder started playing ball with him - it's amazing how grown men can start acting like kids so quickly - which was good because they were both looking pretty bored. I've had enough writing for the moment. Goodbye.

October 2nd, 1998

It's been a while since my last journal entry. Almost a month. Robyn and Kate are exactly one month old today. I'm desperately hoping to get back to work within the coming month, assuming that we can get someone willing to babysit every day. Salary shouldn't be a problem - Mulder and I would both be working as well as the money Mulder was left by his mother - quite a bit and she owned her house too so we're going to sell that - not to mention the enormous amount of money his father left him. I don't know how his father had so much money - maybe the government was paying him to keep his mouth shut (It's ridiculous for me to even try and deny that Mr Mulder was involved, after all I've seen), but over all Mulder - no wait, *we* must have almost a million dollars. A million bucks! It seems impossible to me. Mulder and I were practically dancing around the kitchen when we added up how much we had. We've also decided that we're going to buy a house, but that would probably mean moving out of Washington. I don't know how I feel about that. I don't want to move too far away - I like being near my mom because we've gotten pretty close lately and she's almost like a best friend (in a mom-daughter best friend kinda way). We're going to get a list of all the FBI field offices resembly close to this area, see if we can find a house nearby, and then see if we can get transferred. It should take a few months but we're both pretty excited. I never realized how small my apartment was...

October 3rd, 1998

Robyn smiled today for the first time! It was so adorable!

October 6th, 1998

Kate smiled today. Mulder was changing her and her face suddenly broke out into this huge grin. I love my girls. I love my husband. I love my life.

October 13th, 1998

Mulder's birthday today. 37. I've spent the past week racking my brains for something to give him, and I finally found something. It's a t-shirt I got a friend of mine to print up - she runs a small clothing company - and it has a big blue X on the back, with "The truth is out there and I'm gonna find it" written underneath. I also bought him a watch - very durable, of course.

He looked like he liked them. He joked about the fact that the watch only has a two year warranty.

Why is it always so hard buying things for guys? You can't really give them jewellry or clothes or whatever, and I hardly want to buy him underwear. That would be too spooky.

October 14th, 1998

Today Mulder got an E-mail from Frank Black, a member of the 'Millennium group' that Mulder told me about ages ago, inviting Mulder to join them. There was no mention of me in the E-mail...

October 15th, 1998

Mulder had another nightmare last night. He hasn't had any in a few weeks and I was hopeful that maybe they were gone for good. Guess we're not that lucky...

October 16th, 1998

Mulder told Frank Black that he would only even consider joining the Millennium Group if I was asked too. Mulder and I had a bit of a fight about that - he only told me afterwards what he'd said in the E-mail and it made me feel like a tag-along. I don't want to join because that's the only way they'll get Mulder. I want them to want me for me and *my* abilities. Okay, so it's not much, but I'm a resembly good investigator, and it's always handy to have a doctor/pathologist around, isn't it?

I'm not returning to work until we've sorted out this whole Millennium thing. I've been working out a bit lately, which is good, keeping in mind that I'll have to go through a full physical and psychological evaluation before they'll let me work again at the bureau.

October 17th, 1998

I don't want to leave the FBI. I only just really realized that. I mean, I'm happy with what I do and I'd miss it if I left. Nevertheless, I'm drawing up a list of pros and cons, so here it it:



* already belong, know people * understand how it works/who's who * wouldn't have to move far * Skinner - I'm pretty sure he's on our side and there aren't many people who are


* would be allowed to work together * wouldn't always be breaking rules & overstepping boundaries - not as likely to be kicked out * no 'shadowy government officials'



* Cancer Man * not able to work together? * nobody listens


* would have to move to Seattle (where the M. G. is based) * they want Mulder, not me * investigations are into violent crimes rather than paranormal activity

Okay, I never though I'd say this, but I love the X-Files and I'm damned if I'm going to leave the FBI. Now I just have to tell Mulder how I feel.

October 18th, 1998

I told Mulder that I didn't want to leave and he said that he didn't really want to either. Thank God. I was scared that he'd want to join the Millennium group and we'd have a massive fight, but he actually seemed relieved that I didn't want to leave either. I guess he feels the same way I do about our job. We still can't find a babysitter that we like. My mom offered to look after the twins but we refused. It's unfair to do that to her. After all, she's raised her own kids - now she's free to enjoy life we can't just dump the twins on her. They're our responsibility, so I told her, and we have to be responsible.

October 20th, 1998

Mulder and I had a session with Dr. Addams (our therapist) today. We really have to wean ourselves off him, but it's going to be hard. We're both pretty emotionally fragile, but we are HAPPY, and that's the most important thing. Actually, I think I'm getting better. This morning I was looking at the poster I have on the wall that used to be Missy's (I think I mentioned it before, the 'faith isn't faith until it's all you're holding on to' one) and for the first time I didn't feel all sad and nostalgic. I felt kind of happy. I don't know why, maybe Missy's cast a spell on me from up in heaven. Trust Missy to do that.

October 21st, 1998

Mulder and I are putting all our plans on hold and are going to go finish up cleaning up Mulder's mom's house. We're leaving the twins with Mom (how ironic,after reading my Oct. 18th journal entry - but I promise - this is only a temporary thing. And we all agreed that this was the most logical solution...) and are flying out early tomorrow morning and spending the weekend there. I managed to clear out most of the first floor of the house when I went but I basically just wiped everything down and sorted it all into boxes. I didn't know what to do with anything, so I was just leaving it till Mulder returned. Well, he's returned, so we might as well get it cleared out and then we can go about getting it up for sale. The sooner we can forget about it the sooner we can get on with our lives.'

Mulder wished he hadn't come. He wished that he could have just left his mother's house as it was, or let somebody else do it. But there wasn't anyone else. He and Scully were sleeping in the spare bedroom - it was small and cramped, but the alternative was sleeping in his mother's bedroom, and the thought of that - the thought of being so close to where she'd died was too much to handle.

He was dreading having to go through her personal things - by unspoken mutual agreement they were leaving the bedroom until last.

It had been a tiring day - physically and emotionally, but he knew that this had to be done some time, so it might as well now.

"Mulder, were you and Samantha really close?" Scully asked as she changed into her pajamas that night.

Mulder sat thoughtful for a moment. "I think we were. We were always stuck together so we fought quite a bit - but underneath we both loved each other. We were very protective of each other."

"It must be different being one of two children. I wasn't really close to any particular one of my brothers or sisters. One of the advantages of having three is that whenever I was annoyed at one of them I could just go hang around with another, but that meant that I was never *really* close to any of them. I mean, I loved them all, but I would never tell any of them my secrets. But I guess that's also because I was such a shy, private kid..."

"I can't really picture you shy, Scully."

Scully laughed. "Only when I was around adults. Whenever I was around kids my own age was as loud and bossy as anything."

They settled into bed and Mulder switched off the bedside lamp.

"It's so nice to be on our own for once" he said, cuddling against her with a peaceful sigh. "To know that we can actually sleep through the night."

"It feels weird."

"Yeah. Doesn't it feel strange that the twins are less than two months old? I mean, it seems like we've been changing dirty diapers for years..."

"I know. that's exactly what I was thinking. We'll probably spend the next twelve months wishing for them to grow up and then the rest of their lives wishing they were little babies again."

"Probably" he smiled. "Scully, you remember... you remember how things used to be? Before we got together - when we were just partners?"

"Yeah. Those were good days. But I like it better now."

"Yeah. But do you think that - if we get the X-Files reopened or whatever - that we'll be able to work together like we used to?"

"I don't know, Mulder" she said honestly. "I hope that we can, but it's still going to be different - which is a good thing, of course. I mean, if we go back to exactly the way things were then we - we'd be exactly where we left off. We would have travelled in a circle and all we'd have to show for it would be a wedding certificate and two baby girls."

"I guess. Do you think we'll be allowed to work together if we're transferred? I mean, we're not exactly the type of team an FBI office would be thrilled to get; a married couple who earn a living chasing UFOs and genetic mutants..."

"I don't know... it's going to difficult. What's happened to all your friends in high places?"

"Either dead or unreachable. Not talking to me, that's for sure." A faint smile hovered on his lips. "Maybe we could ask Skinner for advice. He might have a suggestion..."

Mulder was dreaming of his sister. "Fox!" she called, her face floating before his eyes. She smiled mischievously. "Look what I found!"

"What is it Sam?" he heard himself ask. It wasn't his voice that he heard - it was the voice of a scrawny twelve-year old kid.

"Come and see!" she beckoned and with an impish smile skipped out of the room.

"Wait up Sam! Slow down!"

He threw back the bedcovers, jumped up and ran after Samantha. At the end of the hallway he stopped dead. There was no-one there.

"Sam? Where are you Sam? This isn't funny!"

He opened the door to his parents bedroom on his left.

"Sam? Are you in here? You're not supposed to be in here! You'll get in trouble!" he called, not daring to go through the door. His parents bedroom was strictly off-limits.

"Sam! You better get out of there!"

He heard a muffled giggle behind him and he spun around. "Sam?"

He shut the door to his parent's room gently and pulled the door of the linen closet open.

"Gotcha!" Sam jumped out at him, sending him flying backwards against the wall. She jumped up off him and danced around.

"Ha ha! You couldn't find me! You thought I was in Mom and Dad's room! I scared you Fox, didn't I?"

"No" he lied. "I wasn't scared at all. What do you want?"

"I want to show you something" she whispered confidentially. "You wanna see what I found?"

He nodded and she opened the empty linen closet and climbed up the shelves to the top one, a much deeper, larger shelf.

"Come up here" she whispered.

He looked up at her grinning face. "Get down Sam! You'll break the shelves and then you'll be in trouble!"

"Don't be a baby Fox! Come up here!"

"There's not enough room."

"Yes there is. Now hurry up or I won't let you see what I found!"

Fox tested the shelves carefully and started climbing. When he reached the top Sam grabbed his arms and helped him into the top shelf.

"Now, pull the door shut" Samantha instructed.

"But I can't -"

The little girl sighed exasperatedly. "Boys can't do *anything*. See the handle there at the top? Use that to pull the door in."

Fox saw a rough handle made out of cello-tape and grabbed it, pulling the door closed.

"It's dark in here" he whispered.

"Don't be such a baby" Sam whispered. She flicked on a small, weak flashlight and held it up against her face, making ghost-like moans.

"Don't Sam! That's not funny!"

Samantha shrugged and pointed the flashlight at the ceiling, revealing a small trapdoor in the ceiling.

"What is it?" he asked, breathing noisily in his excitement.

"Just a minute. And stop breathing so loudly" she said impatiently. She pulled the trapdoor open and stuck her head through, then pulled her arms up.

A minute and some strange scrabbling sounds later, she came back down again, covered in dust and cobwebs and holding up a box triumphantly.

"What is it?" he asked excitedly.

The battery in the flashlight suddenly died and they were surrounded by darkness. He heard his sister speak as the wood underneath him collapsed and he felt himself falling and falling through blackness.

"It's the key, Fox."

Mulder woke up with gasp, breathing raggedly. "Sam?" he croaked.

Scully woke and automatically started soothing him, pulling him closer to her and rocking him gently.

"You okay Mulder?" she asked finally. "You want to talk about it?"

Mulder shook his head and pulled himself out of her grasp, standing shakily.

"Mulder, what are you doing?" She sat up.

Mulder ignored her and opened the door, walking unsteadily down the hallway, following the path he'd just trodden in his dream.

Scully threw on her robe and followed him.

"Mulder! Mulder, wait up!" she called. "Mulder, what are you doing?"

Mulder stopped at the end of the hallway and stood staring at a door.

"I had a dream" he said quietly. "I was here."

"Mulder, come on, let's go back to bed. It was only a dream." She pulled her robe closer around her. Dana, this is freaky. Just go back to bed, drag him back if you have to

"Sam was showing me something..." He opened the door slowly and winced as the hinges squeaked.

"Mulder, it was just a dream. Now come back to bed."

Mulder tested the strength of the shelves but one creaked under his weight.

"We need a ladder."

"Mulder, this is crazy. Let's just go back to bed and do this in the morning" she begged desperately.

You don't want anything to do with dreams Dana. Dreams are dangerous things

"There might be a ladder in the basemen," Mulder suggested. He turned and she saw that his eyes were shining brightly like a cat's.

"Mulder, I don't know what the hell is going on, but can we just wait until the morning, please?"

"Scully, we have to find out" he said, his voice low and urgent.

"Find out what?" she whispered. this is too freaky Dana. Just go back to bed. Mulder's a big boy. He can look after himself

But she didn't move away.

"If Sam was right..."

"Mulder, what do you mean by that?"

"Scully, I had a dream. Sam was there and she was showing me something..."

"Mulder, it was a dream, that's all."

He shook his head violently. "No! It wasn't! It means something. It has to."

She grabbed his arms. "Maybe it does. But we can find out in the morning, okay?"

"Scully, I have to know..," he said hoarsely.

Scully closed her eyes for a moment, trying to summon patience.

Then she spoke.

"Where did your mom keep the ladder?"

"Okay, now hand me the flashlight" Mulder instructed. Scully picked up the heavy-duty flashlight and held it up for him to reach.

"Mulder, what are you looking for?" she asked tiredly.

"There's a kind of trapdoor up here..." He pulled himself up onto the shelf, which had seemed a hell of a lot bigger in his dream.

He shone the flashlight at the roof and saw the outline of a trap door.


They sat in the hallway with their backs against the wall, staring at the small metal box which Mulder had retrieved from it's hiding spot.

"So Mulder, tell me about this dream" Scully begged, brushing the cobwebs out of his hair.

Mulder closed his eyes.

"I was a little kid again and Sam was there. She woke me up and told me that she had to show me something. We climbed up into the top of the closet and she found the box... and then I woke up."

"So that's how you knew it was there."

"Yeah." He studied the small padlock on the box. It wouldn't be that hard to break the lock... but did he really want to know what was inside?

"Are you sure that your dream wasn't just a memory of something that happened when you were a kid? You could just be remembering it..." she suggested, but without much conviction.

"Sam and I never lived in this house," Mulder said quietly. "My parents divorced as soon as I left home for Oxford. They sold the house and both moved away - as far away from each other as possible. My mom bought this house years after Sam disappeared." He smiled faintly. "Any other ideas?"

Scully shrugged. "You think your mom knew it was there?"

"No. She would have told me. What do you think it is?"

She shrugged again. "Absolutely no idea. You gonna open it now or wait 'til morning?"

"I wouldn't be able to wait" he grinned suddenly. "I'm a very impatient little boy."

They went down to the basement where a small assortment of rusty tools were stored.

"These were mine when I was a kid" Mulder smiled. "Mom kept all of my old stuff and Sam's. Dad just took his own. His house was a hell of a lot easier to clean out. About a fifth as much stuff."

He took a chisel and a hammer and managed to break the padlock.

He opened the box.

It was filled with shredded newspaper.

"Damn!" he felt his heart sink with disappointment. "It's empty."

"You sure?" Scully took the box from him and pulled out a few handfuls of the newspaper, exposing a small cylindrical paper package.

Mulder picked it up, his hand shaking with excitement, and started unwrapping it. "Scully, you remember how my mom told us about the piece of 'alien technology' that she said Dad had hidden somewhere?"

"Yeah?" her voice trembled.

"I think we've found it."

They both stared at the small glass vial, in which a small metal chip was sitting.

"Mulder, we've both seen something like this before" Scully said, her voice unsteady.

Mulder nodded. "I know" he whispered. "Scully, what are we going to do?"

Scully shrugged her shoulders tiredly. "Mulder, I think that we should just go back to bed. We both desperately need sleep. We can worry about this in the morning."

"I won't be able to sleep."

"Yes you will."

He shook his head. "No. You can go to bed if you want, but I'm not."

"Mulder, you know perfectly well that I won't be able to get to sleep if you're not there."

Mulder grinned. "Sorry. But I wouldn't be able to sleep, so why bother trying?"

"So, what are we going to do?"

Mulder shrugged and they sat in silence for a few minutes.

"Hey, Scully?" he asked suddenly.


"If you were my father -" he smiled as Scully looked daunted "and you wanted to hide something where you knew nobody would ever hide it, where would you hide it?"

"You think your father hid this in your mother's house because nobody would ever look for it here?"

"Exactly. It makes perfect sense. He wouldn't dare hide it in his own house - they'd find it there. But they'd never suspect that he'd hide it in Mom's house. They hated each other bitterly. The only time they talked to each other in the past ten years or so was when 'sam' was returned."

"Where do you think your father got it from?"

"The chip, you mean?"


"He must have gotten it from his work on the project - I don't know if they would have just given it to him though. I highly doubt that. He might have smuggled it out for some reason, and hidden it when he thought it would be safe."

"But why would he want it? What use could it be to him?"

"Maybe he had the same idea that my mom did. Maybe he was going to try and get Sam back."

He took her hands, looking at her sombrely, and she shifted unhappily.

"Mulder, I know what you're going to say, but -"

"Scully, we have to try" he pleaded. "We have to at least *try* to get Sam back. For my mom and dad, at least. Please?"

"Okay" she agreed, too tired to argue with him. "But I'm warning you Mulder; if we get in to deep, we're getting out of it all. Okay? I'm not going to risk our lives on a hunch."

Mulder nodded. "Thanks for being on my side Scully. I know most people wouldn't even give me a chance on this."

"Mulder, I know how important this is to you. That's why I'm willing to help. But we have to remember that we have a responsibility to the twins. We can't just leave them to go off chasing vague leads..."

"I understand completely. I just know that we have to try."

They spent most of the night discussing the discovery, planning, arguing... It wasn't until almost four-thirty when they finally collapsed into bed, and even then Mulder's sleep was interrupted by nightmares. They slept in for a large part of the morning and then spent the rest of the day clearing out the kitchen and living room. After last night they were both feeling keyed up and excited, and at the same time exhausted from lack of sleep and emotional stress, and it was a relief to have to pack their things and catch their flight back to D.C.

Normally Scully didn't like flying - a mixture of boredom and the knowledge of how many lives were lost every year in plane crashes, especially after that case with the airline crash a few years ago, but today she was happy to just get on the plane, close her eyes and sleep until they got home.

Unfortunately, Mulder had other plans.

"Cancer Man. We'll make a deal with him."

"What?!" Scully couldn't believe her ears. Cancer Man was the last person she'd expect Mulder to trust.

"He's a part of this, Scully. If anyone could help us get Sam back, it'd be him."

"But why would he help us? If he's a part of this than he'd most probably be one of the people responsible for taking her in the first place."

"Maybe he was, maybe he wasn't. But he still might be willing to trade."

"*Might* be? Mulder, what are you going to do? You just gonna go up to him and tell him that you have something he might want and that you'll exchange it for your sister?"

"That's the gist of it."

"What if he says no? What if he agrees but doesn't keep his half of the bargain? What if he doesn't even know where she is?"

"What if he does?"

"Mulder, you can't just keep answering my questions with a question. The truth is that we can't trust him. You and I both know what he's capable of, what he's done. You can't expect him to co-operate honestly with you."

Mulder spoke slowly. "If what we have is - is important enough... he might be willing..."

"He might" Scully agreed. "I vote we sleep on it. We can discuss this another time."

"You know I can never sleep on planes."

"I never said you had to. But I am. Goodnight."

'October 27th, 1998

I don't really have anything in particular to write about, I've just got all these emotions swirling around inside my head and I'm hoping this'll get them all out.

The most dominant emotion is happiness I think. I'm happy with my life and my family. Kate and Robyn are growing bigger by the day, and cuter and cuter. Mulder and I are doing okay too. Mulder hasn't had any nightmares since we got back from his mom's place.

That was three days ago. We still haven't gotten any further with the plan to get Samantha back. It seems kind of ridiculous to me, to even think that we'll be able to get her back. We don't even know where she is, whether she's even alive. Sometimes I think it's a lost cause, but I know that Mulder believes that she's still alive. That's what's kept him going all these years. I just hope that we don't end up finding her body...

Anyway, getting back to emotions, I've got a lot of them. As well as happiness there's impatience. As much as I love my daughters and love spending time with them, there's a part of me that yearns desperately to go back to work. It probably sounds horrible and selfish of me, but my work (especially on the X-Files with Mulder) is such an important part of my life, and I want it back.

I also want to go back to work because I like being there to watch Mulder's back, to make sure he doesn't get himself into trouble. I'm also afraid of what Mulder's going to do with the chip that we found (sorry I'm jumping around a bit here). I think he was really serious about trying to make a deal with Cancerman and I think that it would be an incredibly stupid thing to do.

I think that I'll continue on the review of all my notes that I started a while ago. I know that the last time I ended up in tears but I really want to finish it off. I think that it'll actually be quite good for me. I've got a few hours now to spare - Mulder's gone off to see Langly, Frohike and Byers (I made him swear not to get himself into any trouble) and the twins have just been changed and fed, so they SHOULD be all right for a while.

So, where was I?

Oh, yeah. How could I have forgotten? The holy grail case. Okay, so we found a lot of medical records (mine among them) in an old mine where Mulder's father had worked, and that Nazi scientist... Klemper? was killed.

The next case was that one with Darin Oswald. "Lightnin' boy" as Mulder called him. That was a few months later so I was getting over Missy's death (or at least I thought I was) and Mulder was pretty much over his father's.

Anyway, from Lightning boy we went onto the case with the murdered fortune-tellers. And Clyde Bruckman. I liked that guy and I was sincerely sad when he died. I felt as if I'd lost a friend. He was quite a character, he reminded me of one of my dad's buddies. He said that I won't die. I don't know what that means and I don't pretend to.

Then there was the 'reincarnation' case inside the prison. I hate prisons. I really do. I was scared stiff when I was walking along and the inmates were all watching me and calling things out to me.

We didn't have a particularly satisfactory solution to the case either, if I remember correctly.

After that was the case with the guy who found his victims in chat rooms. I always knew internet chat rooms were a bad idea and that's proof. I was pretty scared (okay, I'll admit it. I was fucking terrified) when the guy - what was his name? Incanto? Yeah, that's it - attacked me. You'd think that after being so close to death so many times that it'd get easier but it doesn't.

I still get goosebumps whenever I think of Incanto, or Tooms, or Duane Barry of Donnie Pfaster, or... yeah, well, I'm sure you get the picture.

Then there was the case with the astral travelling inside the military hospital. The quadruple amputee - Leonard Trimble ? - who Mulder said could travel out of his body and kill people. Hum.

After that was the case with Lucy Househoulder and Amy Jacobs. Mulder got a bit too emotionally involved in that case, and I still don't know why. I guess he felt some sort of bond with Lucy. I don't know and I don't think I want to either.

Then there was the thing with the Japanese diplomats and that - that was when I first met Penny Northern. It freaked me out so much when I rang the door and Penny and the other woman (what's her name?!! God, to think that I can remember all these others and I can't remember her!) kept saying that I was one of them.

Mulder went off on the train even after I told him not to (why don't you ever listen to me Mulder? If you did you'd get in a lot less trouble!) and almost got himself killed. I don't know whether it was good that I was on the phone to him the whole time when he was locked in the traincar with the bomb. I think it was, but if he'd died then I would have felt incredibly guilty. After all, he only got out because I figured out the code from his 'autopsy video'. But he got out of it alive, so I don't have to think about it anymore. I don't have to think about that traincar where I was taken during my abduction... Damn. Okay, I'll get onto the next case.

Kevin Kryder.

Mulder and I disagreed about that one. I guess you could call it a conflict of beliefs. I believed that God wanted me to look after Kevin, and I did and I don't have any regrets. But it still angers me to think of the way Mulder practically laughed right in my face for just believing in God. Mulder, I know that you weren't brought up in the Faith like I was, but I need you to accept that my religion is a part of me, and you really hurt me when you dismiss it so willingly. I don't want this to sound overly melodramatic, but I need you to respect my beliefs the way I respect yours. Okay, Sunday school lesson over. Next case...

Oh fuck.

Bambi Berenbaum.

Now, I'm sure you're getting the strangest feeling of deja-vu from the entry I wrote about Phoebe Green, but I got that same feeling of deja-vu when Mulder first told me about Bambi.

Well, to be more precise, that same feeling of jealousy.

Yep, I'll happily admit that I acted like a jealous bitch. And if I hadn't been so pissed off at Mulder and Bambi (why do I cringe every time I write that name?), I might have actually enjoyed being so bitchy.

Talking about bitchy...

"Detective White needs our help"

God Mulder, do you have any idea how pissed off I was at you? It was worse that the thing with Bambi. And when I went into your motel room and saw her on top of you I was ready to kill you. I guess we both acted completely out of character that case. I'm sure you have an explanation why. Does it have something to do with planet alignment, by any chance? I believe it's called a syzygy...

Anyway, I'll stop being such a spiteful cat and pass onto the next case, which was...

Bill Patterson and the gargoyles. Okay, no sarcasm about this one. I was seriously scared for you on this case Mulder. You got inside the killers head and I hated that. I hated the fact that you covered your walls with the artworks. You were really going over the edge and I didn't know how to stop you. You know the fine line between genius and insanity? I thought you'd crossed it.

Bathroom break. Back in a few minutes.

Our next case after that was the one with the 'oilien' as you called it. Mulder found out that Krycek was selling secrets off the digital tape and Skinner was shot. At the same time the investigation into Missy's death was closed and I was so angry. I guess I could never have expected that they'd be bought to justice, but I still wanted retribution. I wanted them to suffer like my family had suffered.

I remember driving along the road at that naval base, remembering the way Missy and I had played together. We'd been great friends when we were younger, but as we grew up we drifted apart, and I wish I'd taken more effort to keep close to her.

I promised myself that I wasn't going to get all emotional again this time, so let's pass onto the next case.

Oh wait, maybe that's not such a great idea...

Robert Patrick Modell.

Okay, so here's a short, emotion-free rundown of what happened: Modell went around "willing" people to kill themselves, we caught him after he made a SWAT guy set himself alight, but then he (according to Mulder) telepathically convinced the judge to let him go, and then put Mulder through a round of Russian Roulette. That's right, he tried to make Mulder kill me. I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't pulled the fire alarm. Would Mulder have shot me? I like to think that he wouldn't have, I really do. But I can't be sure. Not that I blame you at all Mulder. I know that you have great strength and that you were fighting Modell, but he was damned good at doing what he did. "The Whammy" as I seem to recall you called it.

Damn. I think a few emotions got in up there.

Oh well, the next case would be...

Hm. Anyone for killer kitty cats? I really don't know what I think of that case. I mean, we spent the whole time running around trying to find a murderer and then found out it was cats, which is a hell of a lot scarier than it sounds when you've been attacked by one. I swear - I thought the damn things were going to eat me alive. I've never really been a big fan of cats, but since then I've hated them. Except really cute kittens. I've been a sucker for them my whole life.

Anyway, next...

People being burnt alive, frogs jumping out of dead guys' chests, a lottery where if you lose you die... I guess you can call that a normal X-File. Neither Mulder nor I were particularly involved in that one, but I guess its good to have cases like that to give us a break from near death escapes, being kidnapped, yatta yatta yatta.

Ah, Jose Chung and those two teenagers. That was such a weird case. I said things I have absolutely no recollection of saying and everything I actually did say or do was so twisted and contorted that I had no idea what the hell was going on.

I don't know if they were abducted or what. I don't think that even those kids know. All I know is that I woke up with Mulder in my bedroom, wishing that it would happen more often...

After that was the thing with Skinner and the dead prostitute. I was really glad (I sound like Pollyanna, don't I?) when I found out that Skinner hadn't killed the woman. For a while I was afraid that he had. At least Mulder had faith in him.

Queequeg... I loved Queequeg. He was the first pet I'd had in years and when I got him my life was so much better. All single people should have dogs, I think. They stop you from getting lonely and when you're depressed they just look at you with those beautiful doggy eyes and you can't help but smile. Poor Queequeg. I hope you're happy in doggy Heaven.

Okay, I'm getting a bit soppy again. So STOP IT DANA!!! That's better.

What actually happened on that case? Let me see...

Lots of people were dying and Mulder said it was Big Blue, a sort of Loch Ness monster. It was an alligator. Mulder killed it. End of story.

Wait, I almost forgot - Mulder and I had this pretty intense discussion when we were 'stuck' out on a rock in the middle (well, we thought it was the middle) of the lake. I told Mulder that he was like Ahab, which I guess is like a compliment, because I called Dad Ahab and I loved him. I'd never realized until then how similar Mulder and Dad were. I think they would have gotten along. Then again, maybe being so similar they would have hated each other...

Then next case was the one where people were affected by the TV shows. Me included. I made such of a fool of myself, but I was so sure that Mulder had doublecrossed me, and that everyone was out to get me. I went to Mom's place because I knew I'd be safe there, but Mulder found me and he and Mom convinced me to go to the hospital to get help, which I needed pretty desperately.

Sorry I doubted you Mulder. That was the last time.

After that was the case with Jeremiah Smith, or should I say the Jeremiah Smiths, and Mulder's mom had her stroke. Mulder was so sure that Jeremiah could heal his mother. They ditched me and went off, followed by that guy from the case a few years ago when 'sam' was returned. I think he was Russian. Mulder thought that he was an alien. No comment. Mulder and Jeremiah were missing for quite a while and I had no idea where the hell they were until Mulder rang me and told me that he was bringing Jeremiah back and someone else...

Anyway, I was waiting at the hospital with Skinner and about a zillion other people who wanted to talk to Jeremiah, and then Mulder comes in alone, looking like hell. He kept mumbling something like "she'll never know" and I'm not sure exactly what he meant.

Mrs. Mulder recovered a few days later.

The case after that was the one with Gerry Schnauz. He said that he was saving me from the "howlers" and, yet again, I was so sure I was going to die. It just doesn't get any easier - I'd like to say that I can look at someone like him, someone trying to kill me, and not be paralysed with fear, but I'd be lying.

Mulder found me in the end. I'm not sure how, I didn't ask and he didn't tell me. I didn't want to know any more about it. I just wanted to get away from it all.

A few weeks after that we had that case in Home, Pennsylvania. Talk about living in the dark ages! I guess you could say that the case brought out my 'maternal instincts'. Mulder actually made a comment about that - said something about never seeing me as a mother before. I didn't know how to feel about that, or about the fact that he called me "Mom" for the rest of the case.

Anyway, the Peacock brothers clubbed the sheriff and his wife to death and when I saw the bodies I had to force myself not to think of them as people with lives and families. As a forensic doctor you have to be able to do that, or you fall apart. The brothers also killed the deputy, right before our eyes. I think that was the moment when I knew for certain that we had to get them. But to think that one of them got away, and could be anywhere right now...

No, I'm getting morbid and I can't do that.

So to continue on to our next case, which was... yeah well, it wasn't a particularly memorable case. Mulder claimed that Samuel Aboah could fit into a coffee can. Whatever.

Then there was that whole thing with the Temple of the Seven Stars, I think it as called, and Melissa. The whole soulmate thing really disturbed me, maybe because it said that Mulder and Melissa were doomed always to be star-crossed lovers, and I was just Mulder's loyal friend or whatever. I don't think I believe in that. I think that reincarnation might exist, but not in that way.

Plastic surgery. Please remind me to NEVER even consider it. Especially at that Chigaco (?) hospital.

One word nicely summarises that case: blood.

Blood everywhere. I know that you'd expect that in a hospital, but this was just ridiculous. Mulder claims that it was black magic - that Dr. Franklin was somehow killing the patients to make himself more beautiful. Uh-huh.

There was quite a gap between that and our next case - about a month as far as I can recall. During that month nothing much happened, except that Frohike found out some information about Cancerman; that he (supposedly) assassinated JFK and Martin Luther King, as well as rigging sports events and making everyone's lives miserable. Frohike went totally paranoid - he said that Cancerman was going to kill him. Mulder called Frohike a puppy dog. I guess that's kind of true - after all, he does follow me around like one...

John Lee Roche. Enough said.

No, on second thoughts I'd better elaborate. I stuck by Mulder on that one, and I felt so angry when Roche was taunting him, putting him through hell. I think that I would have killed him earlier if I'd been in Mulder's position. He was going through hell and he was seriously doubting if his memories of Samantha's abductions were really true, or whether Roche had indeed taken her. I don't know which would be worst, but I know that at least Mulder has hope.

Next would be... Black Cancer. Lucky me, I got stuck being asked ridiculous questions at a congressional hearing while Mulder was galavanting around Russia with Krycek. Yip yi do. I wouldn't tell them where Mulder was so I was held in contempt and spent the night in jail. I bet Mom was proud.

When Mulder arrived in the courtroom suddenly you wouldn't believe how relieved I was. I was grinning from ear to ear. I mean, I know Mulder's always going off and getting himself into trouble and I should be used to it by now, but I still get kind of scared if I don't hear anything from him for a few days. Anyway, Mulder almost got killed in an explosion but we got out of there, went back to the courtroom where they completely ignored all the evidence I had collected to prove that there actually is a conspiracy within the FBI. I think it's obvious that someone influenced the senator.

Anyway, that's enough complaining.

Our next case was the one with the migrant workers and the "chupacabra".

Okay, I said I won't complain any more so I better skip this episode of our lives.

Next came the Jewish man who was killed by hatemongers. Isaac Luria, that was his name I think, and his wife (well, legally they weren't married, but anyway...) Ariel. Mulder theorized that Ariel created a 'golem' out of mud in the form of Isaac because she didn't want to let him go, but that he was the one killing the hatemongers. I don't know what I think, but I do know that I hate anti-semetism.

Okay, my hand is killing me. I need another break. Back in a minute.

Where was I? Ah, the Golem case. Well, after that came... Ed Jerse.

Okay, I don't really want to talk about that, but I'm going to have to some day and it might as well be now. First of all Mulder: I didn't have sex with him. You probably think that I did but we didn't get up to anything at all. I mean, we kissed, but that was all.

There was something about his that really drew him to me. Maybe because he was so different to you. I could tell him things that you and I normally didn't talk about, just because we didn't have that sort of relationship. I liked him; I found him attractive, a good listener...

I was attracted to him the first time I saw him - he asked me out right there and then but I refused. But then you rang me up and it really pissed me off. I felt as if you didn't trust me by myself and it hurt me. So I rebelled. It sounds simple, doesn't it? It sounds just like a teenager who skips school or won't go to bed on time or whatever, but it was so much more complicated than that. I didn't want to hurt you Mulder, but at the same time I did - I revelled in the knowledge that I was doing something that you wouldn't want me to do. I was just so sick of you always telling me what to do, as if even after working together for about five years you still didn't have faith in my abilities. And when I came back you were so - so nasty and vicious and bitingly cruel. I hated you for that. You seemed so selfish. I don't know, maybe you are selfish. I guess everyone in the world is. But it just made me so mad - I was so frustrated about the fact that my life was going nowhere, and you can only think about desks.

Didn't you ever feel that your life was standing still? Maybe your search for Samantha is what keeps you from snapping. I don't know.

I'm happy with my life now - I feel as if I'm finally going somewhere, and I'm content to be going there with you. I thank God everyday for my life. For you and the twins. I love you all so much, and when I compare my life now to my life then I wonder how I could have ever been happy. Maybe I wasn't.

But that's enough about the case - or rather, about my life.


Whenever I think of Leonard Betts I think of cancer. I think of me. I remember so clearly sitting in the car after Betts attacked me and I killed him. You came and you were telling me that I did a good job, and all that I could think that Betts couldn't have been right. I was in denial, I guess. It took me so long to get to sleep that night - I was suprised I fell asleep at all. Then I woke up in the middle of the night with a nosebleed.

I was scared.

No, that doesn't even begin to describe it. I was so damn terrified, seeing my blood there on the pillow, knowing what it meant. Sure, it could have just been a nosebleed, but I knew that it wasn't.

I didn't get back to sleep after that. I kind of curled myself up into a ball and cried and cried. You know how when you're really crying you kind of choke and you feel this huge lump in your throat? Yeah, well, that was what happened to me.

Things are supposed to be better in the morning when you wake up, but the problem was that I didn't get any sleep, so things didn't get any better. If anything, they got worse.

I got some x-rays done and when I saw the results I felt like screaming and shouting and cursing God for doing this to me. I didn't. I just stood there, looking at them. Looking at the dark mass. That *thing* growing in my head, slowly killing me. I hated it, and at the same time I accepted that it was part of me. It was something that I'd have to live with - however long I had left - and I wanted you to accept it as part of me.

I watched Penny Northern die.

She told me that I had to be the one. That I had to survive, and bring these men to justice. The men who so flagrantly destroyed peoples lives.

When Penny died I felt as if I were losing a comrade, someone who knew what I was going through, knew how it felt to be dying, slowly and painfully. I don't think that even you know how it feels Mulder. I know you try to understand, but unless you've been through it, it's near impossible.

That was, I think, only the second time I'd broken down in front of you Mulder. The first time was the Donnie Pfaster case. I was too scared and tired and so completely messed up that I couldn't stop the tears. The same thing happened in the corridor at the hospital. I felt your strength then - just being so close to you gave me the strength to go on. I told you that I was going to fight the disease. I wasn't going to let it ruin what was left of my life. I wanted to work. I wanted to work with you.

I hated having to tell my Mom about my cancer - I felt as if it were my fault. I didn't want to hurt her. I knew she would be hurt and she was. She was angry that I didn't tell her first, but I thought that you should be the first to know. You were - and still are - the most important figure in my life. I guess you could compare my connection to you to the relationship between Max Fenig and Sharon Graffia. You said something about her having to be pretty important to him if she was the one he told he was going to die. That's that way I felt about you. I depended on you so much for strength Mulder. I don't know if you ever knew that.

The next case was the one with the 'invisible' assassin. Yawn.

After that came the thing with the plane crash and Max Fenig. And my birthday.

Okay, let's start at the beginning, shall we?

The beginning would have to be at the pub. Mulder and I had gone there to eat after work, and all of a sudden there's there waiters coming towards us with a snoball, singing "Happy Birthday", and Mulder's just sitting there grinning at me and making some smart-assed comment.

I have to admit, I was sitting there loving every minute of it.

I said something about Mulder not ever remembering my birthday before, and he told me that he only celebrated it every four years, like dog years. Thanks Mulder. You're too kind.

Then I get the shock of my life when Mulder pulls out this small box (it kinda looked like a jewellery box, and for a second I was kinda hopeful...) and gives it to me. I made some joke about it being alien implants and he said something about making them into earrings. I loved that birthday dinner Mulder, I really did. It was great fun, and it was nice to know that you cared about me, even if you didn't actually say so. Anyway, then Sharon Graffia (of course I didn't know who she was until she introduced herself) came over and told us about Max's plane crash and how he had had something he was bringing to Mulder.

Mulder and I went and hung around, generally being nuisances. We poked around, found out a few things, Mulder did a lot of theorizing, we drove around a lot...

Then Pendrell got shot.

I was so determined not to let him die, but he died anyway. He shouldn't have been shot. It was unfair. He wasn't even on the job, for christ's sake! He was just down at the pub having a beer and he got a bullet in his lung. God, how could you be so unjust?

Time travel? I don't know. I don't care.

Eddie Van Blundht. God, have I got a lot to say about this one.

I felt so stupid and so used, Mulder, after I found out that it was Eddie. I felt as if I'd betrayed you, which doesn't really make sense because I thought it was you and I was willing to go for it.

That night things between us were so different. I thought I was seeing a different side of you, and I liked that, but I've realized that I love you for who you are, not because you make a move on me or whatever. I liked that night because we talked - well, you know what I mean by "we" - and before then, you and I rarely talked properly. I opened up to him and he listened to me, and that was what I wanted of you.

Things are better since then. We talk more now and we're more honest with each other. Thank you for that Mulder.

I spent the next few weeks getting treatment, then when I came back there was the case with the dead girl the bowling alley guy saw. Mulder, I know you were angry at me for not being honest about what I saw in the bathroom, but I was scared of what I saw. I thought that maybe if I didn't say anything about then maybe it wouldn't have to be true. I know that sounds stupid, but that's the way I work.

I went and talked to Karen Kosseff about that. She's the only one I really ever talked to about things like that. Generally I tried - and still try - to handle things on my own and deal with them privately. I know that's probably not the best way to do it, but I can't help the way I am.

After that was the case in Australia. That case somehow doesn't seem real to me. Well, not the actual case, but the stuff afterwards. That was when Mulder and I first kissed. I'll never forget our first kiss - not really the first one in Circular Quay, but the one outside my motel room. I felt so - I don't even know how to describe it. It was just so wonderful.

After that was...

Let me think for a second. Wait - that's it. That was the really boring thing they asked for our assistance on, but they wouldn't let us do anything.

That was when Mulder was staying at my apartment (my apartment? That sounds so weird, considering that it's been OUR apartment for so long) and there was that whole thing with Charlie and Lyn's wedding and Mulder and I both got totally drunk and I called him "my Fox."

Ahem. Moving on...

As I'm sure you already know, dear diary (or should I call you Kitty like Anne Frank did? Nah), Mulder and I got together (i.e. fell into bed and had passionate sex), spent the weekend at the snow, then when we came back Mrs. Mulder wanted to see Mulder so we went and saw her and she told us about the 'alien technology' that Mulder's father had hidden somewhere and that maybe we could trade it to get Samantha back, then on New Years Eve we went to The Lone Gunmen's party, which was a total flop and Frohike wandered around looking depressed.

Well, I guess you could say that a lot of stuff happened.

Just after that I went to see the doctor for a checkup, and found out that my cancer had spread. I was a wreck. Even when I'd found out about my cancer in the first place I'd been able to keep my composure, but this was too much. I remember unlocking the door and walking there into the apartment, and Mulder was standing there, grinning goofily at me. I just crumpled. Just looking at him was enough to break down my self-control and burst into tears.

I remember reading in a book a while ago that no man is a hero to his valet. I guess you're like that to me Mulder. I can't lie or pretend when I'm around you. You make me honest.

Anyway, enough of the sob stuff and on with the narration. I'm almost finished anyway.

I was in the hospital for almost a month. Time's a funny thing. A month isn't really anything when you think of it in terms of your life - it's only about a thousandth of your life, but when I think of everything Mulder and my family went through, that one month must have seemed like an eternity.

I don't really remember it being so long. The days seem to blend together in my memory - they were all so similar. Mulder was always there, and my Mom was there most of the time too. I remember that Mulder and I had quite a few intense conversations. Most of all I remember lying there dying. That's something I never want to go through again.

The rest of the time I spent sleeping. I slept a lot during that time. I guess it was the treatments - they weakened me to the point where I'd just close my eyes and be sound asleep a second later.

It was when I recovered that the days really started to drag on and on. The first few days weren't as bad - I still had absolutely no energy and I was as weak as anything. I'd talk to anyone for five minutes and then I'd be absolutely zonked. The next few days after that when I had some energy was when I started getting obnoxious, telling everyone that what I wanted to eat, bugging the doctors about the medication I was getting. I think I was kind of frustrated at being so weak, and I was fighting to get a bit of respect. That might go a long way to explain who Mulder's always such a rotten patient. (Love you Mulder! XOXOX)

Anyway, I'm getting a bit off track here.

I had nightmares for a few night after I went home from the hospital, and I had what I thought was the flu - now I know that it was probably morning sickness. I'd been sick a few times in the hospital, but I'd expected that. Chemo does that to you.

Anyway, I went back to work on about the 5th of Feb, straight into the case with the Bates brothers. I was feeling pretty unstable - emotionally fragile. All my self-confidence had completely vanished. I cracked a few times - in front of Mulder, of couse. Anyway, overall it was a pretty unremarkable X-File. We didn't really solve it satisfactorily.

Next came Valentines day. It wasn't a case. More like something you'd see on a TV show. It's pretty funny, looking back on it. I found that hard to appreciate at the time, though.

Then there was my birthday... Next please.

After my birthday was the whole thing with the 'mini- raptors', as Mulder called them. Excuse me while I snort.

Okay, so I'm exaggerating. It wasn't that bad. The idea itself is, I guess, slightly believeable - that a breed of dinosaurs could have survived. I mean, look at alligators - they're descended from dinosaurs and we don't treat them as mythical creatures. We know they exist. Maybe some day people will look back and laugh at us for not knowing about this breed of dinosaurs who somehow survived the mass annihilation. I don't know. Anyway, that case wasn't exactly a big sleepout under the stars. The Moores both died and Mulder got shot. I still get scared when I think about that. Sure, Mulder recovered quickly with no long-term effects, but to think that he can almost die on just a 'normal' X-File. That case had nothing to do with the conspiracy or the smoking man or Samantha or anything. It was just a case like any other.

Anyway, afterwards things really got complicated. I found out that I was pregnant and Mulder proposed. Why is this sounding like an episode of Melrose Place to me?

I know that Mulder didn't propose to me because I was pregnant or anything - he'd been wanting to for weeks. I just didn't quite take it in at the time - I guess I was still a bit shell-shocked.

Anyway, we went home, Mulder had a few weeks off while he got better, I had a week off and then went back to work, filing all our reports and working on a few old cases.

Then we got married.

It doesn't sound like anything spectacular, does it?

In a way it wasn't - spectacular, I mean. But it was such a beautiful day. I was just feeling so unbelieveably happy the entire day.

Well, that was, of course, the whole day until I got a phone call from Skinner.

I was angry when he told me that they were shutting down the X-Files. I was incredibly angry. I knew that Skinner wasn't responsible for it, but I still wanted to strangle the life out of him.

So, Mulder and I were reassigned. I got stuck doing lab work and Mulder was in violent crimes. It was only a few days later that Mulder went off and disappeared for three months.

Well, you already know what happened during those three months so I don't have to go over it. In fact, I think we're about up to date.

So here endeth the story of my life...

No, I won't say that. It's stupid.

I feel much more satisfied about my work now - the cases we've worked on in the past, but now I'm even more desperate to get back there and hunt down the 'baddies'.

You know, it's strange. I have a real urge to watch Star Wars. I wonder if Mulder has it on tape... 30th October, 1998

Mulder hasn't said anything about contacting Cancerman and I'm hoping he won't. I know that he keeps thinking about it though. We went to see a house today, only about a twenty minute drive from work. It's the most beautiful house I've ever seen, and trust me, I've seen lots. It's huge, with big airy, sunny rooms and a nice big yard, and the front porch has white pillars with vines growing around them. It's like a fairytale house. It even has stain glass windows. Not the type in churches, but just flowers and stuff. It's hard to describe, but they're beautiful. We've fallen in love with it. It's just so perfect.

We've got a meeting arranged with the realtor in two days. Can't wait.

2nd November, 1998

Bad news about the house. Apparently another couple are already offering a huge sum of money for it, and we don't know if we'll be able to match it. We could afford it, but we've decided not to go above a certain price. Just in case anything happens to us, we want the twins' financial future assured. Please God, we want that house!

4th November, 1998

Mulder and I are both feeling pretty upset. We found a bug in one of the light sockets, and it looks like someone's been listening to us for quite a while. The X-Files are still closed and we can't touch them. Why can't they just leave us alone?

7th November, 1998

Great news, great news and more great news! First of all: we got a cheque today in the mail for ten thousand dollars. Yep, you heard right. TEN THOUSAND BUCKS! We don't know who it's from, but we took it to the bank and it didn't bounce or anything. When we tried to find out who it was from we could only trace it back to a government organization. That means that someone really wants us to get that house, and they probably don't have particularly good intentions. But Mulder and I don't really give a damn. We're going to buy that house and not going to let them bother us at all. We're so excited! But wait, that's only the half of it. We interviewed a girl today for our nanny job, and we've already decided to hire her. She's about twenty and her name is Lucy Andrews. She is, believe it or not, one of Claudia Andrews' younger sisters. Apparently An- sorry, Claudia told her about the job and sent her hot-footing over here. Mulder and I are both thrilled with her - it's like an answer to a prayer. Thank you Lord!

10th November, 1998

We bought the house. It's all ours. No morgage for us to worry about. I feel so deliciously happy.

15th November, 1998

We've been checking out furniture stores and we've settled on a color-scheme for our house. We're going to have it all in blue and white - pale blue carpet, white tiles in the kitchen, bathrooms, etc., white walls. I know we'll probably regret the carpet color, but it's such a beautiful color that it'll be worth spending hours soaking stains out of it. We've got some beautiful lace curtains that were in Mrs. Mulder's house - they're pretty old but in excellent condition, and they should compliment the rooms perfectly. We'll need to do quite a bit of work on the house before we can move in - the walls need painting, everything needs wiping down, dusting, vaccuming, yatta yatta yatta, but it's our dream house. I love it.

17th November, 1998

Today Mulder and I spent the day painting the bedrooms. We were going to get a professional painter to come in but we decided it'd be much more fun to do it ourselves. We're going to paint the walls in the twins' room pale blue with white fluffy clouds, and we're putting a frieze we bought today along the top. It's so sweet!

20th November, 1998

I've been very busy the last few days. I finished the second coat on our bedroom walls and I did a few things in the garden, but it makes things harder when Mulder isn't here (he's at work) because I always have to stop what I'm doing because the twins are fussy or hungry or wet. We've given ourselves until the end of this month to finish painting, bring in all the basic furniture and move in. Then we'll have a few days to settle into the new house and everything and then I'm going back to work! I really don't know why I'm so excited about it - in a few days I'll probably be sick to death of all the doublecrossing and risks and want to come home again.

26th November, 1998

I just realized it - I'm incredibly happy. I guess when you're happy you take it for granted somewhat, but I want to appreciate everything I have; Mulder, Kate and Robyn (who'll be three months in a week!), our wonderful house. Thank you God!

29th November, 1998

We've moved in. I'm sitting in our bedroom now, writing this. There's a kind of windowseat that goes out quite deep, and I'm sitting curled up looking out at the street. This is a nice street. Green and leafy - the kind you see on Homes and Gardens magazines. Robyn and Kate are sleeping beautifully in the nursery, which is right next to our room. We've done it exactly how we planned: sky blue walls with white spongy clouds. There's the teddy bear frieze that we put along the top and there's the matching mobiles hanging above the cribs - Robyn's is clowns and Kate's is butterflies. They were a present from my Aunt Sheila when the twins were born.

Today's Saturday and I'm going back to work on Monday. Lucy (our new nanny) has already seen the house a few times and she's coming over tomorrow before she starts on Monday. We decided against a live-in nanny, but Lucy understands that Mulder and I'll be away from cases quite a bit, and so when that happens whe can bunk down in the spare room on the other side of the twins room. Well, I've just realized that this entry has been more of an account of my day that of my emotions, which is a good thing, I guess. Maybe that means that I'm finally emotionally stable again. Yipee!

By the way, I don't know if I've mentioned it, but Mulder and I had our last session with Dr. Addams a few days ago. Hopefully that will be my last therapy session for a while yet. I've just realized that from now on Mulder and I will together for practically twenty-four hours a day. We sleep together, work together, eat every meal together... will we be able to handle it?

1st December, 1998

Skinner reopened the X-Files.

Yep, you heard right. I don't know how he did it but he got them reopened, and Mulder and I are back on them. Andrews and Abbot have been assigned to the X-Files - Skinner said that there was no point keeping up the pretence of the 'm-files'. They're still in the office across the hall from us, but this is great because it means that the X-Files is finally getting some recognition as an official unit.

This day has been almost perfect for me; just being back at work with Mulder in our office. I admit I felt incredibly guilty this morning when I said goodbye to the twins - it felt as if I was deserting them, but I know what I'm doing is right.

Anyway, back to work; Mulder and I basically just spent the day clearing up the office and filing and stuff. It feels kinda weird - despite everything that's happened in our lives the office still looks exactly the was it did two, three, five years ago. That's a good thing though - when I got to work this morning it felt so comfortable, so normal - so *right*.

I remember the first time I went into the office I thought it was a pigsty and wondered how Mulder ever managed to find anything. Now I live in that pigsty and love every minute of it.

2nd December, 1998

Today Mulder and I had a meeting with Skinner. We actually requested it, not him, because Mulder wanted to ask him about a deal with Cancer Man. I thought Skinner would give us a flat out "no way" but he said that he'd see what he could do about it. I warned Mulder not to get his hopes up, but I have to admit that I'm getting pretty excited about this.

4th December, 1998

We're dealing with the devil. Oh, if Mom could hear me now!

Well, to be more precise; we're making a deal with Cancer Man. We haven't actually met with him (and I don't particularly want to either) - we're going through Skinner. I trust Skinner. He's come through for us in the past and I'm grateful that we've got him in on this. Less chance of everything being ruined.

Everything's happening so fast - I thought that it would be weeks or even months before anything happened, but at the rate we're going Sam'll be back by Christmas. After that I don't know what will happen...

17th December, 1998

Christmas is almost here, and that's special in more than just the usual way. Christmas Day is our first anniversary. Not our wedding anniversary. That's the 1st of March. Christmas Day was when we really got together - the beginning of our life together. The beginning of our lives as a family.

25th December, 1998

Well, it's Christmas Day and Sam isn't back yet, but I'm not going to think such depressing thoughts. I guess Mulder and I were a bit naive to think that we'd get her back so soon and so easily. To get her back at all. I'm not giving up, mind you. I just think that we've been living in a world where impossible things happen for so long that we're getting a bit unrealisitic. But as I said before, it's Christmas Day and I'm not going to make myself miserable like I have in the past writing in this diary. This is the second last page of my diary - I got it from Mulder exactly one year ago today.

One year. It's hard to believe what has happened since then. I don't have the room left to go over it, and it would be useless to anyway seeing as it's all written in here. This little black, leather-bound diary has held all my feelings and secrets through what has been the best and worst year of my life. I've gotten the man I loved and two beautiful daughters who light up my world, but in the meantime I've been put through hell. I almost lost him and I almost lost myself. I pray to God, God who gave me strength when I had nowhere else to turn, that I can live this life to it's full, and appreciate every second I have to enjoy with my family and friends.

I'm sticking a photo on the very last page. It's a polaroid that Mom took today of us. Mulder and I and Kate and Robyn. A family.

I feel as if this is a chapter ending in my life. Mulder has given me another diary for Christmas - there was a little note inscribed in the front cover: "For your dreams and secrets. Fox."

My dreams and secrets.

Thank you Mulder. Thank you God. Amen.'

'January 1st, 1999

Nineteen-ninety-nine. I can't believe that it's only one year until the millennium. Just the sound of "2000" gives me this weird feeling. It's kinda creepy. But that's not what I intend to write about. In fact, I have no idea what I intend to write about, but I'm pretty sure it's not my reaction to the upcoming millennium. To be truthful, I don't like this diary as much as I liked the other one. I think it's because I'd poured out my heart into the other one, and it had become part of me, whereas this one is blank and empty. Soulless. Okay, so I'm writing rubbish here. It must be better than speaking it, though, mustn't it? That's enough for me for the moment.

January 14th, 1999

Mulder and I had a fight today. Mom suggested to us that we get the twins christened. I'd already thought about it myself, and decided I wanted it, but I wasn't ready to breach the subject to Mulder. If only Mom had been so wise. She dropped me home after Mass. I've started going more and more recently, even though I know Mulder's uncomfortable with it. Anyway, Mom dropped me home, ended up staying for lunch (as usual) and somehow we got onto the subject of baptism. I'm not sure how exactly, though I'm sure it was Mom's doing. I went into the kitchen for a minute to get something (we were sitting in the yard) and then as soon as I came out Mom dropped her not-so-subtle hint of "I think that all children should be brought up in the church." Mulder immediately looked uncomfortable and I think that it was only then that she realized that she shouldn't have said that. She left, telling me that "you and Fox need to talk". Really, Mom? Anyway, I tackled Mulder about it and said that I wanted them christened, but I wanted Mulder to be a part of it. I know that this is trying to force my religious beliefs on him, but both parents are supposed to promise to raise their child the proper way according to the church, yatta yatta yatta, and even if Mulder did agree to do that, I still think he wouldn't be able to honestly answer. Anyway, I told him that I wanted them christened, and he said that if I wanted to, to do that, but to not expect him to be a part of it. I told him that I wouldn't do it if it was against his wishes, and he said that he just wasn't comfortable in churches, particularly Catholic ones. I asked him why not, and he just shrugged, saying brutally that he thought the religion was overdone and that had wrong ideas - such as placing more importance in the Virgin Mary than Jesus and God. I didn't know how to respond to that - in a way I almost agree with him. Despite what I've been brought up with, sometimes I wonder... Am I a Christian or a Catholic? Is there a difference? But I'll tell you - Mulder may not be a great religious person, but he sure knows a hell of a lot about religion. I think that he believes in God, but other than that, I'm lost.

January 15th, 1999

Mulder told me this morning that he'd thought about it, and that he's okay with having them christened, but he doesn't want it done in a Catholic church. I couldn't help feeling slightly hurt, as if his rejection of my religion was a rejection of me because it's such a major part of myself, but I'm still happy he's agreed. I think that if he learnt about God he might appreciate how wonderful and mighty he is. I know I sound like one of those long-haired TV preachers, going on about how much God loves you and me and how he died for us on the cross so that our sins can be forgiven, etc, but it's so true, and I still can't help thinking how wonderful it is. As a child it was always such a everyday fact to me - "Yea, Jesus died for me." "Wow, Jesus could perform miracles." Yipeedoo. Who cares? Not me. But now when I hear those things I can't help but feel "Wow! God really does love me." It makes you feel so special to know that, and I think that Mulder's life is missing that.

January 20th, 1999

The twins are being christened tomorrow in a small Baptist church. Charlie and Lyn and Brandon are coming, and this'll be the last time we'll see them for a while, because they're moving to Seattle. I can't believe that they're leaving so suddenly, and going across the country at that. Lyn and I became such good friends in the past year and I can't imagine not being able to call her up for a goss or a consoling deep and meaningful. Mom has made Lyn and Charlie promise that they'll send her letters and pictures of them all at least once a month, so she can see how Brandon's growing up. Poor Mom - we're all moving away from her. Bill's family are living in San Diego, Charlie's moving to Seattle and Missy's up in Heaven. That leaves only me and Mulder and our family. Why do I feel as if the girls are going to be spoiled rotten from now on? Charlie, Lyn, Brandon; I'll miss you guys.

January 21st, 1999

The christening went well, we had a Christian minister doing it as Mulder had asked, and things were kept nice and simple. When we entered the church Mulder looked far from relaxed, but I can't exactly say that I was perfectly at ease, can I? Anyway, when the priest asked us the "Do you promise to bring up these children in ways of the church..." question, I looked at him and I could see doubt in his eyes. Nevertheless, he answered "Yes" as firmly as I did. I felt as if he was lying then and I was angry with him for saying that, and angry with myself for forcing him into it. But now I'm not so sure what the doubt in his eyes was - whether it was doubt if he believed what he was assenting, or whether he believed that he couldn't keep his end of the bargain.

January 23, 1999

Robbie giggled today. It was such a funny, but unbelieveably adorable sound.It was actually more of a chuckle, but, well, Mulder claims that it was a giggle, and I can't be bothered debating this issue.

January 29th, 1999

Kate laughed today. It was definitely a laugh, not a giggle and not a chuckle. I love both my babies so much, their gorgeous, dimpled faces and their tiny hands and feet and the way they fit so well into my arms when I'm nursing them. I love the way they smell, and I love how they nestle in against my neck when I'm holding them, and I can hear their heartbeats. I love the way their bright, inquisitive eyes are always watching me, and whenever I smile at them they smile back at me. I can't wait to hear them talk, and call me Mommy!

March 13th, 1998

Yeah, I know it's been a while since my last journal entry. So sue me. Mulder and I were taking the twins and Prince for a walk this evening, like we do as often as we can. It's so much fun - we take turns, one with the double stroller/carriage/whatever the hell it's called and one with the dog lead, and we just walk wherever our feet take us. I love our neighborhood. Okay, so we barely know our neighbors, but it's such a nice place. We walk along and people smile at us and say hi, and we smile back. Tonight Mulder and I were walking along when, lo and behold, we bumped into Agent Dennis Chapman. Chapman is a Tom Colton-wannabe, acting smooth and sickeningly sincere even though everyone knows he's heartlessly ambitious and will climb over anyone to get to the top. Did I mention that Mulder and I had to WORK with him??? It was just a case a few months ago, which Mulder thought should have been his case as it was a victim of a serial killer he was tracking at the time. Chapman, however, insisted that it was his case and that if (and I quote) "Spooky insists on tagging along to trying to fit it in with his bizarre alien-oriented theories, he's welcome, as long as I get all the credit." Well, Mulder insisted on tagging along, and I tagged on after him. We were careful around him never to act more than partners - only Skinner, Andrews and Abbot and Darin Applegate, and a few others, knew of our relationship, and they were all sworn to secrecy. And of course Tom Colton knew, but there was never much chance of him spreading rumors about Mulder and I - I think that he was too embarrassed that I'd chosen Mulder over him. Tom always liked to think of himself as a ladies man. Did I mention that he actually asked me out once? I wanted to refuse, but my friends convinced me to go. I had a lousy time, though I think that he actually enjoyed himself (we went to a little seafood restraunt). He tried to kiss me goodnight, but I somehow squirmed out of that, and the next morning when I saw him I pulled the cliched "I just think that a romantic relationship could spoil our wonderful friendship" line. What I really meant was "You're a boring, selfish, egoistic bastard and I never want to see you again in my life," but I guess I was just too polite to say it... ANYWAY... Back to Chapman, he saw us before we saw him, and by the time he'd crossed the road we knew we were in deep shit. He greeted us smoothly, saying that he was just visiting an elderly relative (pointing to a huge house that'd be somewhere near the million-dollar mark). Then he asked us if we cared to introduce the twins. Mulder looked like he wanted to knock the guy out cold. So did I, come to think of it. Prince started barking and growling at him and I petted him on the head, telling him that he was a good puppy. I couldn't resist it. Anyway, I introduced the girls (in the coldest, most unfriendly tone of voice I've ever used in my entire life) as "our daughters". I could see Chapman's eyebrows keep going up until I thought they'd get lost in his hair.

He asked oh-so-politely "But I was under the impression that you two were partners. Surely Assistant Director Skinner would not allow two agents to work together if they were so" his disparaging gaze swept over us "INVOLVED." I've never heard so much emphasis placed on that word before! And it really pissed me off to hear him talk about Skinner like he was an unimportant insect. The guy's the Assistant Director of the F.B.I, for Christ's sake, and I have a lot of respect for him.

I glanced across at Mulder and to my shock he was smiling, a happy, contented, i-know-something-you-don't-know sort of smile. "But Dennis, Dana and I are no longer working together. I'm working with Agent Michael Abbot."

Chapman lost his poise, for several reasons I think. Firstly, because Mulder called him by his first name, which he detests, and secondly, because he likes to think he knows all, and this revelation proved otherwise.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but *I* heard that you and Agent Scully were still working together on the 'X- Files'." He made the X-Files - our precious X-Files - sound like trashy tabloids, something to be jeered at and scorned. I hated him more than ever, but was determined not to let him get under my skin.

Mulder sighed dramatically and I could tell that he was beginning to thoroughly enjoy every second of it. "Well, due to the growing popularity of the X-Files and the rapid increase of unexplained phenomena, we've had to expand our section to accommodate these rapid changes." He smiled wickedly at me.

"You're kidding." Chapman put on an 'oh-puhlease!' expression.

"I'm afraid not... oh, and by the way Dennis, you wouldn't happen to know who owns that lovely office next to Agent Mathers, would you? Assistant Director Skinner said that it was time we got a proper office, and to pick any office we liked and he'd move us right in there, and the agent who was already in there could have our basement office, isn't that right Dana?"

I nodded, trying to keep a straight face. I loved Mulder's little innocent act - we both knew perfectly well that the office in question was Chapman's, and his pride and joy at that. I've heard that he actually makes people take off their shoes at the door so they don't track any mud over the carpet. And Chapman in our little basement office? He'd die of horror.

It was funny watching him. I know it's not fair to laugh at another person, but it served him right for being so smug and complacent. He went pale, then he went brick red, then slowly his color went back to normal.

He then said smoothly that he had to go, and quickly strutted (yes, he STRUTTED) off. As soon as he was out of earshot Mulder and I both burst out laughing. What's really good is that we hadn't been lying - about us not working together at least.

Skinner found a loophole, which means that our working arrangements are no longer illegal, as he's arranged it that Andrews and I are officially partners, and Mulder and Abbot are partners. This was only organized last week, and we actually have Abbot to thank for it. It was his idea, and I think that he's just as happy as we are, because apparently things between he and Claudia are getting kinda serious. We were originally just going to stick in our pairs - Mulder and I and Andrews and Abbot, but we've decided to give it a go alternating partnerships every once in a while. This means that Mulder and I will work together on most cases, but occasionally, when we're getting a bit sick of each other, we can work with someone else for a change. I'd die if I couldn't work with Mulder, I just know it.

March 29th, 1999

Both of the girls slept through the night... either that or Mulder and I were so out of it that we didn't hear them... They're growing up so quickly and in some ways I hate it, but I also love it because every day they learn something new and they just keep getting more beautiful and beautiful. They've started to talk too - not real talk, of couse, just happy chatter. I wake up in the middle of the night and hear them just chattering to themselves, through the baby monitors, and I think how sweet it is and how I can't wait until they talk. They've also started to play with all their toys, the rattles and everything, and Mulder and I just like to put them down on a rug on the floor and watch them gurgle and chatter and wave their arms and legs around and roll over (new achievement!).

April 14, 1999

Exactly 87 years ago the Titanic sunk. Mulder and I were going to hire the video of the movie, but apparently all the Titanic movies had been booked out in advance. I guess there's a lot of obsessed kooks out there. ... no offense, Mulder. Anyway, we settled for 'The Sound of Music'. It was quite handy actually; Julie Andrews' singing put the twins to sleep. It's always been one of my favorite movies. Dad liked it too, and we'd watch it together, singing all the songs despite the fact that we were both tone-deaf. Anyway, when the movie finished we went to bed, but then I woke up again about midnight. I'd been having a nightmare - and trust me, it was a nightmare - about the Titanic sinking. The Von Trapp family had been aboard, and they'd all drowned in the icy water. I woke up shivering, vowing never to watch Sound of Music or any Titanic movie again.

21st May, 1999

Robyn sat up by herself today. Kate didn't. She did, however, crawl for the first time, which meant that Robbie copied her, and before we knew it they were both crawling around the room. Unfortunately, Robbie can only go backwards...

23rd May, 1999

We've had a really rotten day. The twins woke up screaming at one this morning and have been miserable the rest of the day. I don't know if they're cutting their teeth or what, but they're been so miserable and grumpy that even Mulder and I are getting exasperated.

June 13th, 1999

Nothing much to say, except the twins just had a bath and I love watching them splashing around in the water and playing with all the little bath toys. They always cry when they have to get out, which makes rubbing them dry a bit difficult sometimes, but they're always so beautifully clean and fresh when they're dressed in their pajamas. After their baths we read a bedtime story, usually sitting in the rocker with both of them on my lap. They always reach out, trying to turn the pages. Sometimes they'll like the story and giggle and laugh until they get the hiccups, but at other times they'll push the book away and squirm out of my lap and crawl away, looking for something more interesting to do. Mulder and I take turns reading the bedtime story, and the twins are usually asleep by the end of it, so we tuck them into bed. Sometimes we'll just stand there, watching them sleep. We're still awed by the fact that they're all ours - that we created them and that the trust us to care for them and love the.

September 2nd, 1999

Almost three months since my last entry? Christ, I'm getting lazy. (Dana, watch that swearing!!! I'm working on self- improvement!) No, not exactly laziness, just nothing much to write about. BUT, today is the twin's birthday, and we're making a HUGE deal out of it. Lyn, Charlie and Brandon flew over last Tuesday and we've had some great fun. They came to see Mom and Lyn's family and to celebrate Brandon's birthday with all his family, as well as helping us celebrate the twins' birthday. It seems so hard to believe that they're a year old. They've been such important parts of our lives for so long, and yet I have so many memories of before they came - I can remember it 'as clearly as if it were only yesterday'. Happy birthday my preciousnesses. God bless.

September 15th, 1999

Kate walked today! She pulled herself up onto her feet and walked across the room as if there was nothing to it! And then when Robyn saw what her sister could do, she tried too. The poor baby lost her balance though, and sat down and cried. Then ten minutes later she tried again, and managed to take three shaky steps. This was so unexpected - neither of them have even stood by themselves before, and Kate spent half of the day walking around.

December 17th, 1999

I've never really understood the saying 'time flies' before. I mean, time flying? What the hell does that mean?

I understand it now, because I've experienced it. This past year has flown quickly, and I know why. It's because it's been such a happy year for our family. Robbie and Kate are growing up beautifully, we're all living happily in our beautiful, wonderful dream house. We're still working on the X-Files, but we don't get so affected by the cases anymore. Sometimes we get disturbed by them, but we're always there to comfort each other, and we always have a warm, welcoming home to come home to, and it makes it so much easier to cope.

It's almost Christmas, and you can feel it in the air. The same feeling of anticipation and wonder that I always felt at Christmas as a child has returned to me - I can experience it through our daughters. This is their first real Christmas - the first one where they'll be able to understand what it's all about and to delight in it.

Samantha is never mentioned by either of us, but I know she is never far from Mulder's thoughts. She's always in mine. It's strange that someone I've never met can be such an important figure in my life - in all our lives. We've just about given up on making a deal with the smoking man. We haven't even seen much of him lately. Maybe he's dead. Maybe he's lying low. I don't know. And, quite frankly, I don't give a damn.

I don't know what Mulder's giving me for Christmas. I've asked him not to give me a diary - I've only used half of this one and I don't want to abandon it halfway through. I want it to be finished and complete when I close it for the final time. I've put my old diary in an old chest in the attic. It sounds very old-fashioned, I know, but it's actually a very nice carved wood chest that Dad brought for Mom from India. When I was a kid I'm spend hours running my fingers along the carvings, wearing down the sharp edges so that they were smooth and melded together. Maybe when I'm ninety I'll find my diaries and reread them, and be able to laugh over them. For some reason I don't like that idea. A ninety-year-old me just wouldn't be me. It would be like a stranger reading my deepest, darkest thoughts. I hate that idea. Mulder, you're the only one I've ever let read my diary. I mean EVER. I like that thought. It's as if we're bonded together by my dreams and my secrets and my fears and my hates and loves. Goodnight.

January 1st, 2000

And I thought 1999 felt weird. It doesn't feel like the year 2000 to me. It doesn't feel like I'm thirty five and married with two kids and a dog. I still feel as young as I did when I was twenty. Well, maybe not twenty. I'm not quite as energetic and adventurous as I was then, and I think more nowdays. But mainly Mulder and I are just happy. With our family, and our jobs, but mainly our family. It's hard to describe how wonderful I feel as I watch my baby girls growing up. Does every parent feel like this? I suppose so, although I wonder sometimes. Other parents will watch their children with an indulgent smile, but they don't seem to have the same level of possessiveness and adoration of their children that I have. Is it healthy to adore children so much? They're so precious to me and sometimes I'm almost jealous of Lucy, getting to spend the day looking after them. But whenever I feel like that I just remind myself that it's my choice to work, and that I'm doing the right thing. And that I love my job, and that I love working with you, Mulder.

February 4th, 2000

Mulder and I bought the twins little matching tricycles. Not really tricycles.. I forget what they're actually called, but they've spent the whole night riding them all over the house with squeals of joy, they won't go to bed and we don't have to energy to catch them. Oh, the woes of parenthood!

Feb 19th, 2000

Yeah, I know I'm getting lazy about diary entries again, but I don't feel the desperate need to express my emotions any more, let alone the time. Mom broke her wrist the other day. She told me quite solemnly that she'd fallen out of bed.

Feb 23rd, 2000

Yet another birthday... this'd make thirty-six. Why does life have to go so quickly? Mulder gave me a beautiful silver bangle with my name engraved on it, then we went out to dinner. It was the most romantic thing we've done in quite a while, and it was a wonderful night. I love you Mulder.

March 18th, 2000

I have a very funny story to tell! Mulder and I were on a case in Denver, where people have been dying under mysterious circumstances. The symptoms were similar to those of severe lead poisoning cases and during the autopsies we did find high lead levels in the bodies, but how these people became so contaminated was a mystery. None of their houses were being renovated (which would spread leaded paint) and they were all living in fairly unpolluted areas. Well, this certainly was a mystery for the truthseekers! Mulder and I interviewed the doctors who had treated the victims (there were four victims altogether, all within a week), but we didn't find out much that we didn't already know. We then talked to some of the victims' relatives, and discovered that the victims had all visited Miss Elizabeth Hutton, an elderly lady who lived by herself in a big, old house. The mystery deepens. Cue creepy music So, Mulder and I went to visit Miss Hutton, who looked like a grandmother if there ever was one. She had short, curly, snow-white hair and a pink-and-white complexion, and was wearing an old-fashioned dress. When we were firmly ensconsed on her hard furniture, we asked her about Rebecca Williams, David Bavister, Arnold Freeman and Candace Ashleigh Thomas, the victims. Miss Hutton smiled at us sweetly, offered us a biscuit and told us that she enjoyed having young people around, and that the dears had always dropped in to see how she was. She whisked out a handkerchief, dabbing her eyes, and said that she was going to miss them all terribly. Mulder and I just sat there, having no idea how to handle her little performance. It *was* a performance, we could tell that quite obviously, but whether she was just being melodramatic or whether she actually hiding something was beyond us. "Poor Becky first" she sobbed into her still-dry lace handkerchief, "then David, and then Arnold and Candy. They were all growing up into such big boys and girls" - melodramatic sigh - "and they were all heading off to college. Oh, I forget what it's like to be young." Another melodramatic sigh. Mulder and I exchanged glances, but our faces remained perfectly clear. We stood, murmured our thanks, and said that we'd show ourselves out.

When we were safely in the car we just LOOKED at each other. I had an insatiable desire to laugh, but I told myself strictly that we were on a case and that I had to behave like a big girl.

Anyway, I managed to keep a straight face until we got back to the motel, and then Mulder and I just threw ourselves down on the bed, laughing hysterically. We stopped eventually, wiped the tears from our eyes, straightened our suits and sat down and started discussing what we had discovered as coolly and business-like as anything. I avoided Mulder's eyes, though, because I knew that I'd be a gonner if we made eye contact. I know it's probably not that funny to read about, and we're probably been extremely rude to a poor, lonely old lady who just wants a little excitement in her life, but it WAS hysterical at the time. But that's not actually the funny story I have to tell, so I'd better hurry up and get to the funny part.

Mulder and I threw a few ideas around, couldn't come up with any theories we agreed on, so we decided we needed to interview a few more people tomorrow and call it a day. After a shower we headed off to a little restaurant on the outskirts of town. The place was pretty deserted, but the food was good.

Anyway, to cut what's already a very long story short, we ate, then we went back to the motel.

But about ten-thirty, just as we were settling in for the night, Mulder started looking really queasy, jumped out of bed with a wild dash to the bathroom, where he puked. By that time I wasn't feeling so good myself, and soon we were both puking up our guts. Yeah, I know it's charming language, but what else am I supposed to say?

When we'd both lost all our stomach contents and were almost to weak to get up off the floor, I began to realize that this wasn't just a normal stomach bug. (And no, I'm NOT pregnant, Mom!) Mulder was complaining of dizziness and then suddenly he collapsed, unconscious on the floor, his head missing the hard bathroom tiles by about an inch. I wasn't feeling too crach hot myself, and all I could think about were the dead college students and I was terrified that this was the same thing and that we were both going to die. I kept seeing in my head her pouring out coffee and then Mulder and I drinking it. She hadn't had any coffee - said the caffein gave her sleeping troubles or something. Mulder and I swallowed that like nothing else and naively sipped away to our heart's content. I'll tell you what, though, that was damn good coffee.

Okay, so you're probably wondering where the humor is in that - Mulder unconscious and me thinking that we were both going to die, but then I managed to go out into the bedroom and ring for an EMT. Then I crawled back into the bathroom and blacked out.

NOW for the funny bit!

When I woke up I couldn't remember what had happened and I was wondering why I was so cold in bed. I murmured to Mulder that he was a blanket hog and reached across, pulling the blanket over me. Or at least what I thought was the blanket. Mulder, however, refused to give up the blanket, and I tugged at it as much as I could, satisfied when it was covering me. I was ready to continue snoozing (I still hadn't opened my eyes) until I heard someone murmur something about the poor dear being delirious. That was when I sat up violently, my eyes snapping open to give whoever had spoken proof that I was, as ever, perfectly sane. However, my head didn't liked the sudden movement AT ALL, and the room started going around. I shut my eyes and told myself that this was all just a weird dream, and that if I went back to sleep everything would go back to normal. But, of course, I didn't even try to get back to sleep, instead I waited until my head cleared somewhat, and then opened my eyes again, gazing around me. I discovered that the "blanket" I had pulled over myself was actually a curtain, that had been hanging from the window beside my bed. "A window by my bed?" I thought in my best British accent. "How odd!" Then I realised that at home I didn't normally have an IV running into my arm and lots of machines around me going "Beep", and decided that I was in a hospital. I was still more than a little hazy by this time. I don't know why exactly, I don't think I was on any particularly strong drugs or anything. Maybe I was still only half awake. Anyway, my first question was (surprise surprise!) "Where's Mulder?"

I was told that Mr Mulder was resting comfortably next door. Next I demanded to see him. The nurse didn't answer me, but instead outlined what had happened, something I didn't consider half as important as being able to check for myself that Mulder was okay. Anyway, I forced myself to listen to the nurse, who said that Mulder and I had had rather bad cases of - wait for it - *salmonella poisoning*. I asked her if she was sure that it wasn't lead poisoning and she said that it was definitely not, and that several other people had come in with food poisoning, all having eaten at the restaurant the previous night. I was unbelieveably relieved, and was feeling rather ashamed. As a doctor I should have examined all the possibilities rather than just leaping to the conclusion that we'd been poisoned by little old Miss Hutton.

I asked the nurse again if I could visit Mulder and she started the usual "Well, why don't you wait a few hours 'til you're feeling a bit stronger" routine. I really felt like jumping up, stamping my feet and demanding like a little kid that I could go see Mulder, RIGHT NOW!!! I didn't, you'll be pleased to know, instead I just assured her that I would be able to rest easier if I could just visit 'Agent Mulder' for a few minutes. She relented, and I went into Mulder's room, but he was asleep. He would've been worse than I was, giving that he eats about three times more than I do. Did I mention that I forgot to even ask what was poisonous? I THINK that it was the mushroom sauce, which implies that the mushrooms, at least, were tinned. Tut tut tut!

Mulder woke up after a while and I told him the tragic news, that we'd been taken down, not by a wicked old grandma, but by a tin of mushrooms.

I was still feeling pretty tired by then - I swear, it's being in a hospital that does that to me. As soon as I get out I feel so much better! - and just as I was going out into the corridor to go back into my own room Mom came dashing down the corridor, with Skinner hot on her heels. When they saw me they came to a skidding halt, both of them gasping for breath and half choking.

"Dana!" Mom whispered finally, coming forward and hugging me so tightly that I thought I'd suffocate. "You're okay?"

I nodded, pulling her and Skinner out of the hallway and into my room, where I briefly explained the situation. When Mom heard what had happened she started laughing - out of relief, so she said. Apparently Skinner had been called by one of the nurses with a vague message about Agents Mulder and Scully being poisoned and in the hospital. Skinner immediately thought that we had lead poisoning (who could blame him? We jumped to the exact same conclusion), thought that we were dead or dying, and rang Mom up with an urgent message that we were in the hospital. So poor Mom thought that we were both at death's door and flew up here as fast as she could humanly manage, meeting Skinner just outside the hospital.

Well, that's my funny story. It doesn't seem very funny at all to me now, so you probably don't think so either. Mom almost had a heart attack from the fright, and told me that she'd spent the whole time getting to the hospital thinking about what would happen to the twins if we were both dead. So if you look at it from that angle it's not that funny at all, but I maintain that from my POV it was hilarious. I mean, Mulder and I have fought and defeated aliens, extraterrestrial viruses, and almost everything you can possibly imagine, and then we almost get knocked out by food poisoning. I think that's kinda funny... kinda ironic. Don't you? Damn, why am I asking a book a question like that? Getting senile in your old age, Dana!

March 20th, 2000

It turns out that Miss Elizabeth Hutton did, in fact poison the four college students. She was a bit 'off her rocker' as Mulder put it so tactfully, and didn't want them to leave her because she felt that if they left she would lose her youth, so she said. I think that's the first - or one of - time the criminal has actually confessed on their own accord. But she did seem to have fun confessing - I think that if she was going to confess, she wanted to do it dramatically.

April 12th, 2000

Mulder and I haven't been getting along very well lately. We haven't been arguing exactly, we just haven't been getting along as well as usual. This has happened to us a few times in the past, usually during or after a case where we get personally involved or disagree... or else after Mulder ditches me. Sometimes we misunderstand each other and it just blows up into a fully-fledged fight. We haven't gotten to that point yet, but we've been busy with work and looking after the twins and we're not trying as hard as we used to to make time for ourselves, and we're losing the closeness we usually have. It'll probably pass soon and everything'll be back to normal. God I hope so.

April 18th, 2000

Mulder and I had a fight tonight. I can't even remember what started it, it was so trivial. But we just kept going at each other and I hated myself and hated him and I just kept yelling at him. Mulder's gone off sulking now - he's taken Prince for a walk by himself. He does that a lot these days, and we don't go out as a family as much anymore. Damn, I'm feeling depressed.

April 20th, 2000

Mulder and I are still treading on glass around each other. It's pathetic really, that we're like this because of something so trivial I can't even remember it.

April 25th, 2000

Mulder and I are being nicer to each other and I'm trying so hard not to get annoyed at him, but it's difficult. He has about a million annoying personal habits that have never bothered me before, but now they're driving me to distraction.

April 27th, 2000

Things are almost back to normal between us. I don't know how they came to be so bad, but we just seem to have slipped back into our old groove. But it's so good to sleep cuddled again. The past few nights we've been pretty much keeping to our own sides of the bed, and it's been lonely. I love it when I can feel Mulder's heart beating against my own.

June something, 2000

I honestly don't know why I'm writing in my diary in the middle of the night. I'm sure I had a reason - enough reason to get out of my nice warm bed, dig my diary out and find a pen that worked, but if I had one I've clean forgotten it. I'm really, really tired. In fact the words are blurring as I'm writing them and I'm finding it harder and harder to keep my eyes open. I think I'll go back to bed.

Later same night. date still unknown. too lazy to look at calendar.

Just remembered what I got up for before: Did you know that there was another book in the Anne of Green Gables Series? I always thought it finished with, what's it called... Rainbow Valley, but it turns out there's another one after it called Rilla of Ingleside. I think that I'm going to have to dig out all my old books and reread the entire Series. I loved those books...'

"Itsa snape! Snape!" Robyn squealed, terrified, running up the path as fast as her just-turned-two- years-old legs could carry her.

"A snake?" Mulder frowned as he took his daughter's hand. "Show Daddy the snake."

Robyn pointed an accusing arm at a small, fat green caterpillar sitting on the path beside her favorite doll. "Da snape! Snape bite Daddy!" She started sobbing.

Mulder's gaze followed her chubby little arm and he smiled.

"That's not a snake, sweetie" he said gently, "It's a caterpillar."

"Cadapiwwa?" Robyn asked uncertainly.

"Yeah" he ruffled his daughter's red curls fondly. "You going to show Kate the caterpillar?"

The frown vanished from Robyn's face. She loved showing her sister new and exciting things.

Mulder followed her into the house, where Scully was looking through some paperwork and Kate was sitting at her feet, her little forehead creased in concentration as she built a shaky tower of blocks.

"Dere's a cadapiwwa owdside!" Robyn shreiked gleefully. She grabbed her mother's leg. "Mommy come see cadapiwwa!"

Dana pushed the little girl away gently. "Mommy's busy, Robbie. Maybe later."

Mulder watched as Scully read through the files intently, flipping back to compare her notes with the autopsy results.

"C'mon Scully. You can leave that for a few minutes. You're looking a bit peaky. Come and enjoy the great outdoors."

Scully pulled off her glasses and rubbed her eyes. "Mulder, I've got a lot of stuff I have to get through for work tomorrow."

"C'mon Scully. I help you with those tonight after after the twins are in bed. It's really nice outside."

"Okay" Scully relented. She had been stuck inside all day and was getting sick of it. And the garden was so pretty at this time of the year...

They walked out into the garden hand-in-hand, finding the two girls peering earnestly down at the small, strange creature.

"Mommy come see!" Robyn pulled at her mother's faded jeans.

"Yeah, yeah. Mommy's coming."

Scully crouched down beside the two girls and studied the caterpillar, while Mulder watched with a faint smile the three redheads in a row.

Kate was the first to turn away, having a shorter attention span than a goldfish had memory.

"Up." She reached up her arms for her father, giggling as he scooped her up into his arms and then hoisted himself up onto his shoulders.

Scully looked at the darkening sky, dark clouds having appeared out of nowhere.

"Looks like it's going to rain" she observed, with a brief glance at Mulder as she pulled herself to her feet. She smiled.

"I love you" she said softly, impulsively.

There was so much power and force behind those words that it frightened even her. She meant it as much as she had ever meant anything in her entire life. She loved him...

At the moment.

But there were moments when she questioned her true feelings for him... Moments when she thought she almost hated him.

But this wasn't one of them.

Mulder smiled. "Right back at 'ya."

There was a crack of lightning in the sky and she picked up Robyn and balanced her on her right hip, picking up the numerous toys that were scattered around the yard.

They got inside just as the storm broke, the twins running excitedly around the house, which was growing darker by the minute.

An hour later the twins were safely tucked into bed and Mulder and Scully were both bent over paperwork. "Y'know, Scully. It doesn't seem right to do paperwork on a Sunday night," Mulder said with a sigh.

Scully put down her pen and looked at him. "Well, I wasn't the one who wanted to come home early on Friday night, was I?"

Mulder shrugged apologetically. "You think Skinner would mind if we handed the reports in on Tuesday?"

"He wanted them in on Friday Mulder. I'm surprised he even let us have the weekend to do them. He's cutting us too much slack."

Mulder frowned. "I'm not sure I understand you."

"Mulder, for the past few years he's made allowances for us where he shouldn't have. We're not accepting enough responsibility."

"Scully, I think that you're trying to accept too much responsibility. Skinner's just a nice guy, trying to make things fair for us."

"Mulder, have you *ever*, in the past three years, considered that he could be sacked for letting us still work together? I mean, he's going against bureau policy."

"He knows the risks he undertakes. He's a big boy, Scully. He can take care of himself.

"I just feel... I don't know. Like we owe him something."

"Scully, he's saved both our asses several times, but I've saved your life about a million times and I don't expect anything in return... Except your love, of course..." he smiled.

"Well, you've got that." She reached out and touseled his hair affectionately.

"Hope Skinner doesn't expect the same" Mulder teased.

Scully frowned, the memory of her boss's confession more than two years ago springing up in her mind.

Mulder noticed her frown with concern. "Hey! Lighen up Scully. I was just kidding."

"Yeah, I know." She shrugged, rubbing her eyes tiredly. "I was just thinking that..."

"That what?"

There was silence for a moment.

"Mulder, do you think we're the same people we were when we first met?" she asked suddenly.

Mulder looked surprised for a moment, then leaned back in his chair, rubbing the stubble on his chin thoughtfully.

"I think that in essence, yes" he said finally. "We've both changed so much, but yet we're still the same people we always were. We may have modified our lifestyles - the way we act and the way we view the world, but we're still the same people inside. We still think the same way and, truth be told, we still treat each other as we did five years ago, but without hiding our emotions. We've learnt to express how we feel to each other without it overly influencing our relationship."

Scully smiled, wrapping her arm around his neck and kissing him. "I take that to mean that you think we are."

"Do you think that's good or bad?"

"A little bit of both, maybe."

"Yeah, maybe."

"Maybe." Scully pulled away reluctantly and picked up her pen again. "This is what I hate most about the bureau."

"The paperwork?"

"No kidding. It's ridiculous how they expect you to remember where exactly you fired all of your shots."

"It's not that hard" Mulder shrugged.

"That's because of your photographic memory," she said in a leturing tone, tapping his forehead with her pen. "We weren't all fortunate enough to be born with one."

"It's not a gift Scully. It's more of a curse."


Mulder grimaced. "I can see things so clearly in my mind - things that happened ten, twenty years ago, as if they happened yesterday. But they're all bad memories."


"Yeah. Like I could forget that. But other things, too, like how my best friend's house looked as a burnt out shell, all their possessions and memories burnt to a crisp. I remember all the bodies I've seen in my life, mutilated and horribly scarred. I remember-"

"Don't you remember any good things?" Scully asked with a frown, her face concerned. Poor Mulder, having to relive this memories every day of his life. She didn't know how he could handle it.

Mulder smiled. "I remember first meeting you. I remember what you were wearing, and what you said..."

"What did I say?" she asked, mesmerised. It was as if Mulder had every day he'd lived recorded and stored away for future reference. It was... spooky.

"You said that you didn't believe in the existence of extraterrestrials." He paused, then whispered "Do you believe in the existence of *extraterrestrials*?"

Dana Scully smiled. "Do *you*?"

Mulder leaned back with a sigh. "You know Scully, I don't even know the answer to that anymore. Eight years ago, I would have said yes without hesitation, but today... I don't know if I even give a damn."

Scully was silent. Another time she might have burst out with "But why? How? You don't seriously mean...", but tonight she felt exactly the same way. Her work was losing it's meaning to her. It had become just a dreary way of paying the bills. And she missed the excitement.

There was a thunderclap outside and then suddenly the lights went out.

"Blackout" Scully sighed. She grabbed a pair of candles and a box of matches, and soon there were two faintly flickering lights sitting on the polished wooden table.

"We can't work by this light," Mulder said, stating the obvious.

"Really?" Scully's tone was dripping with sarcasm. She was feeling unaccountably pissed off at this unwelcome problem. Her cheerful mood had vanished, and she was feeling like she'd spent a day running around in sewers chasing killer kitties. Dammit, I feel like Jekyll and Hyde! "How the hell are we supposed to finish the paperwork by tomorrow? You can't see anything by these candles!"

Mulder shrugged. "I guess we don't." He swept the papers into his briefcase and clapped it shut, dumping it on the floor.

"Mulder, we have to get these done" she protested miserably.

"Skinner'll forgive us. C'mon Scully, it's a dark and stormy night and we have no electricity... couch or bedroom?" he looked up at her with endearing eyes.

"Mulder, I'm not in the mood" she said tightly.

"How can you not be in the mood to make love, Scully?"

"Mulder, I'm just not in a making-love mood, okay?"

"No, it's not okay," Mulder said, frustrated. "You're always so goddam wound up these days! What's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong. I'm just tired" she said shortly. "I'll check on the girls and then go to bed, okay?"

Mulder shrugged. He was so damn sick of Scully's changing moods. "Whatever."

Scully gave him a cold glance before running up the stairs. What the hell's wrong with me? she thought miserably. Dammit! I feel like shit. Why am I being such a bitch? Why can't I stop being such a bitch?

Going into the twin's room she was slightly comforted. There's nothing more wonderful that watching your children sleep she thought decidedly. Their little chubby faces were settled in happy smiles, their golden-red curls spilling all over the pillows. As she kissed her gently Robyn stirred, opening her eyes and reaching out sleepily to touch her mother's face.


"Yeah, Mommy's here." She lifted her daughter up out of the crib and took her over to the window. "Can Robbie see the stars?"

"Stars?" the little girl looked up at the sky. The grey storm clouds had rolled away and the moon was now shining down from a star-littered sky.

"Yeah, the stars. And the moon. Are you going to wave to the man in the moon?"

Robyn smiled delightedly as she waved, even though she only vaguely understood what her mother was talking about. Mommy was smiling, and that was a good sign. She didn't like it when Mommy or Daddy were cross and shouted. It was scary.

Dana knew that her daughter should be fast asleep like her sister, but she desperately needed the unconditional love she was receiving from her. It was the sort of love she'd been lacking from Mulder for a while.. and it was all her fault. She'd been suffering from PMS... for the past three months or so. She was sick of feeling hateful and resentful and bored and pissed off all rolled into one. She'd started snapping and arguing and picking fights with people for no particular reason, and hating herself for it withough knowing how to stop.

"C'mon, back to bed, baby."

"No, don't wanna go to bed!" Robyn climbed down off her mother's lap and ran across the room to where her toys were sitting in a pile.

"Robyn, sweetie..."



Robyn looked up. There was something she didn't like in Mommy's tone. It was cold and sharp.

"It's bed time. Now."

Robyn obeyed meekly, scampering over to her mother.

"It's bed time" Scully repeated, slightly softer, as she tucked the pink bunny blanket around her daughter. "We've got to get out sleep so we'll be nice and fresh tomorrow, haven't we?"

Dana smiled despite herself when Robyn gave her a big, wet kiss. "Nighty Mommy" she whispered.

"Night night baby." Robyn's thumb went to her mouth and within two minutes she was dreaming.

Scully sighed, angry at herself for losing her temper. Dear God, what's wrong with me?

With one last loving glance she left the nursery and went into her own bedroom. She could still hear Mulder moving around downstairs and she looked intently at her reflection in the mirror as she changed into her pajamas.

She looked like her best friend had just died.

Dammit Dana. Mulder's right. You're too stressed out. You need to relax, learn to smile again.

She forced a smile, rolling her eyes at the reflection.

She grabbed her hairbrush and started brushing her hair, pulling the brush through the knots with more vigor than was necessary. She splashed water on her face, slicking back her hair and running her fingers though to give it a rakish appearance. Then she hunted through her drawers, finding a lacy black negligee buried under a pile of rarely worn clothes. Pulling it on, she studied her reflection with more satisfaction. The sullenness that seemed part of her features nowdays only made her look sexier. She climbed on the bed, lying on her side facing the door. Mulder should be in any minute now...

She heard him moving around in the twins' room next door and then he appeared in the doorway.

"I see you're in a better mood now" he remarked.

She smiled. "I guess I am."

God, this is working... he's coming towards me... damn, I should've tried this earlier! It would have saved me weeks of misery...

Mulder went into the bathroom. She could hear him changing and brushing his teeth. He was coming back...

He pulled back the covers and climbed in, giving her a perfunctory kiss on the cheek. "Night Scully." He turned away and fell asleep.

Scully swallowed. Dammit! That wasn't that way it was supposed to happen!

"Mulder!" she whispered.

Mulder started snoring.

"Mulder, I know you're awake. I'm sorry I've been a bitch lately, okay? You were right. I've been too tense and I'm working on the problem, okay?"

More snoring.

"Fine." be like that. ignore me. see if I give a damn "Goodnight Mulder" she said coldly, climbing into bed beside him.

She was rewarded with silence as silent tears ran down her face.

Scully was gone the next morning when Mulder woke. Wandering downstairs, he found a note sitting on the kitchen counter.

"Mulder, I'm going to work early. Have some things I need to do. Lucy should be here by 8:30. You can dress the girls. Their cereal is in the pantry. Scully."

"Like I didn't know that" he muttered angrily to himself. "Christ, where else would you keep cereal, the freezer?"

The twins were both wide awake when he reached the bedroom, Kate quietly sucking on her teddy's ear and Robyn jumping up and down, singing an unrecognizable song as she thumped the white bars of the crib.

"Yeah, morning to you too" he said cheerfully, though the cheerfulness was just as forced as his smile.

"Mommy's left Daddy to do all the dirty work this morning" he told them, as he lifted them up out of the cribs. "So, what are we going to wear today?"

He rifled through the tidy painted drawers holding all the tiny clothes. Scully always picked what the twins wore. He knew perfectly well he had appalling taste in clothes. Scully had been drilling that into him their entire married life. He found matching white frilly dresses, with a pink sash for Robyn and a blue for Kate, and spent the next half-hour struggling to get them on.

Breakfast was an even greater problem. He was used to spoon- feeding one of them, but *both* at once was beyond his skills.

"Can you feed yourselves?" he asked them dubiously as he handed them a filled spoon each. He was immediately offered two spoonfuls of cereal. "Dada! Eat!"

He gently pushed the spoons toward the respective child's mouth. "Daddy's already had something to eat."

It was a lie, but the thought of actually consuming that soggy mess made him shiver. Black coffee and toast. That was what he needed.

Unfortunately he didn't get any.

When breakfast was eventually finished, the twins had spilt more on their clothes than they'd put in their mouths. He stripped the white dresses off and was in the middle of putting on little matching yellow outfits when the phone rang.

"Hello?" Phone clamped between his elbow and ear as he tried to get Kate's arm into the sleeve.

"It's me."

"Ah, I was wondering if you were going to call and explain yourself."

"I left you a note." Her voice suddenly went cold and unfriendly.

"I know, but it didn't say much. What exactly are these things that you have to do?" his tone was teasing, but held a sharp undercurrent.

"Just.. stuff. Are the twins okay?"

"Yeah, they're fine." He felt a surge of anger rising in him. She left him to take care of them and then rang up to check he was doing his job.

"Everything's under control?"

"Yeah, you're not the only one who can look after them, you know" he said nastily, but immediately regretted it.


"Scully, I'm sor-"

It was too late. She'd already hung up on him.

He turned the tv on and settled the twins down watching Sesame Street. "Beats Barney any day" he muttered to himself.

"Hey, you're in my chair!"

Scully ignored him as he entered the office, keeping her eyes on the folder before her. She was pissed off at Mulder because he'd ignored her last night, and at herself because she hadn't trusted him.

"Hello? Anyone home?" He waved a hand in her face.

She brushed it away irritably. "Mulder, I'm busy."

"Scully, you're always busy."

change the subject "The twins are okay?"

"Dammit Scully, they're fine. Why'd you leave me to care for them if you don't trust me?"

Scully turned to face him. "I do trust you" she said softly.

"How 'bout showing it ocasionally then?"

Scully looked away. "I'm sorry" she said quietly. "It's just that..."

"Just that what?"

Mulder held her chin, forcing her to look him in the eye.

"I want more kids" she whispered. She hadn't realised until that moment that that was why she was feeling miserable. She had her two beautiful girls, but she yearned for another baby to hold in her arms and love.

Mulder pulled away, sinking back onto her desk, nodding his head slowly. "You've thought about this?"

"Yes." subconsciously, anyway...

"Okay" Mulder nodded. "But that means that you're gonna have to be in a love-making mood more often." He hugged her briefly. "Now, outta my chair!"

Scully didn't budge. "Mulder, it's not that simple. I- I'm" she swallowed, "I had a fertility test and it turns out that... I'm infertile."

Mulder sat back down on Scully's desk. "I see" he said slowly.

Scully looked down at her fingernails. "And I think that even if I wasn't, it would be wrong to bring a child into a shaky marriage."

There, you've said it now Dana. Mulder, please don't bite my head off!

"You think we have a 'shaky marriage'?"

He didn't want to agree with her. She couldn't be right. He and Scully loved each other as much as they had when they'd gotten married, right? But why were they always bickering and arguing and hating each other when they loved each other so much?

"Yes, I do" she said steadily.

Mulder bowed his head. "What are we going to do about it?" he asked quietly.

Scully looked at him with unhappy eyes. "I don't know Mulder. I honestly don't know..."

'september 14th, 2000

Mulder and I have gone back to Dr. Addams. We both felt like we'd failed, having to return to him because we can't handle our own lives.

Today's session helped us quite a lot and we've decided to visit a few fertility specialists. I'm feeling much brighter because of it. I can't believe that I couldn't figure out why I was so depressed before - it's so plainly obvious now. I'm starting to enjoy work again, though I still get frustrated at Mulder. At the moment I'm working with Abbot on a case where the victims have been found dismembered, witnesses claiming it was done by a satanic cult. It's not exactly the most thrilling case I've ever worked on, and I miss Mulder like hell, but I'm still managing to enjoy it. But as much as I love work, I love motherhood even more. I love Kate and Robyn so much, and I know in my heart that another baby would only make me happier.

September 15th, 2000

Well, when we decide to do something, we sure don't waste any time. Mulder and I are seeing a fertility specialist tomorrow morning. I just wish Mulder was more enthusiastic about this. I said I wanted another baby and he agreed flippantly. Dammit Mulder, why can't you take this seriously?

September 16th, 2000

Mulder and I went to an IVF specialist this morning and came away with not much more than a bunch of leaflets and a little hope.

September 17th, 2000

Mulder and I just had a huge fight. And I mean a huge fight. We were yelling at each other and saying things to hurt each other. Mulder went out - he took Prince for a walk despite the fact that it's already dark and getting cold out. I'm calming down slightly, but I still feel so angry at him, and angry at myself. I can't even remember how the fight started, but we just kept saying nasty, cutting things to each other and couldn't stop. It made me angrier and angrier and I said something I'd always sworn I'd never do. He asked me why I never trusted him to look after the twins and I said that after what happened with Samantha, could I blame him? Christ, I hate myself for saying that. I know I've hurt him so much. I hate myself! I hate myself because I've hurt Mulder. It wasn't even his fault that Sam was taken, despite what he thinks. God, what have I done?

September 18th, 2000

He's not talking to me. God, it hurts so much. I want so desperately to apologise to him, but I can't. He won't let me, and I won't let myself. September 19th... just

It's ten past midnight. I can't sleep. I'm sure I don't need to explain why. Mulder's downstairs on the couch. He still hasn't said a word to me since our fight yesterday. I hate it when he does this. He sulks. He just goes off and sulks and then after a while he comes back and expects everything to be a-okay. Dammit Mulder, not this time.

4 a.m

I can't stand this anymore. I'm going downstairs to talk to him. I don't want to. I don't want to have to apologise because of what I did, even though I know how wrong I was. That's the problem with Mulder and I. We're too close. We know how to really hurt each other, where we're most vulnerable. I took advantage of that the other day. I'm scared to face Mulder. I don't want to go down. I'm scared that he'll be angry with me. I'm scared that he'll just ignore me. I'm so scared. I have to go. I do. We can't go on like this. Oh, dear God, give me strength...'

Dana put down the pen with a shaking hand, closing the diary gently. She slipped down the darkened staircase and into the living room, where Mulder was stretched out on the couch. He was awake, his bright eyes fixed on the ceiling.


"If we're going to fight then you might as well leave" he said without looking at her.

"I don't want to fight Mulder."


She went across and sat next to him on the couch, taking his hand and looking at the floor. "Mulder, I know we've been having problems lately, but we can't let ourselves fall apart like this. We can't let our marriage and our family fall apart like this. We have to do something."

Mulder looked at her. "Any suggestions?" he shrugged.

"Mulder, I'm serious! Why do you always have to write everything off as a joke?"

"Because it's the only way I can get through life" he said simply.

"We used to have deep and meaningfuls Mulder, what's changed?"

"I don't know."

She lay down on the couch beside him, putting her arms around him tenatively. "You're so nice and warm."

"We haven't cuddled for a while. I've missed you." Mulder rolled onto his side so that he was facing her. "And I've missed this-" he kissed her, his lips grazing hers softly.

Scully smiled sadly. "I've missed that too," she sighed. "Why have we been like this Mulder? We've started to hate each other and I-"

"It's just a stage we're going through" he assured her. "We'll get over it."

"How do you know?"

"I just know."

He caught her eye and smiled sadly. It was a private joke.

"Sometimes I wonder if life's just going be like this until we die... we think that we're happy and then all of a sudden we start hating each other and just can't stop."

"Scully, I'm sorry about what I said before about not taking life seriously."

"But it was true, wasn't it?"

"Yeah..." he admitted. "But back then, just being with you made it easy for me to admit my feelings... and now somewhere along the way I've shut myself off again and I've lost that strength." He nestled his head against her breasts, listening contentedly to her heartbeat.

"We've both shut ourselves off to each other" she said softly. "I'm sorry about that."

"Me too..." He kissed her milky white throat gently, then pulled himself to his feet, offering his hand. "Coming to bed?"

Scully sighed, looking at him thoughtfully.

Then she smiled, taking his hand. "Definitely."

Scully's vision blurred as she tried to follow the words on the page before her. The Title at the top read: "In Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Transfer." She felt tired - not surprising really, considering she hadn't slept properly the last few weeks, and last night she'd been... well, 'busy'. Last night Mulder had made love to her in a way she'd never experienced before, sweetly and gently. They had made love, she realized. It hadn't just been sex, passionate and yet, in many ways, mindless. They'd made love, and reaffirmed their love.

But that didn't stop her from feeling so damn tired...

She yawned, barely taking in what she was reading.

...In Vitro Fertilization... donor egg...


Her head jerked up and she realized that she must have fallen asleep.

"Yeah?" she rubbed her eyes, a yawn escaping her.

"Do you have any idea what you're going to do?"

Scully met his gaze slowly. "Not a clue." She picked up the leaflets, waving them in his face. "We could get IVF, but-"

"We'd need a donor egg."

"Yeah. And there isn't anyone one I could ask. I don't want a stranger's egg, it - it just wouldn't seem like my child, like it was really, really ours. And I don't even have any close family members I could ask... Mom went through menopause a few years ago, and Missy ... Missy's gone..."

Mulder took a deep breath, expelling it slowly. "What if I told you that... that there's a chance that we could use one of your own ova?"

Scully stared at him. "That's not funny Mulder" she said finally, uncertainly.

"I'm not joking. You know how I found out that you were... infertile?"

She nodded.

"Well, what I didn't tell you was that they had a -" he looked at the floor, avoiding her gaze "a storage room with all the ova they had harvested. I took a vial."

Scully's voice was a hoarse whisper. "You had a vial of my ova?"

Mulder nodded. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you.. I know I should have but..." he trailed off miserably.

"What - what did you do with it?"

"A buddy of mine works in the cryo lab at Maryland U... I told him that it was part of an important investigation and I needed it to be stored carefully."

"And he still has it?"

"I suppose so. I haven't talked to him in years but if -"

Scully cut him off, excitement entering her voice. "If he still has it, then we can use them... and it would be our child. Ours."

Mulder nodded. "I'll give him a call."

'september 22nd, 2000

We're getting IVF. I started the prepatory medication this morning. In a week or two we should be ready to fertilize the ova. We've decided we'll have at least five embryos implanted, so the chances of pregnancy are higher. Just think, in nine months we might have another beautiful baby. Isn't that such a wonderful thought, Mulder?'

"Mulder?" Dana called, staring at her reflection in the mirror.

"Yu-huh?" Mulder quickly downed the remains of his toast and coffee and joined her in the hallway, pulling on his jacket.

"Are we ready to do this?" she asked his reflection.

Mulder shrugged. "I don't know Scully. I think that this is something we both want, but I don't know if we're both prepared for it."

"I wonder if this is what God wants us to do" she mused. "Whether we should have taken my infertility as a sign that we shouldn't, or if-"

"I don't care what God thinks, Scully," he said resolutely. "I know that what we're doing is right."

"How do you know that?"

"Because it'll make us both happy."

"But we're going against God's wills by doing this. It's unnatural."

"Scully, you're like this because of what those bastards did to you. There's nothing natural about that."

"Yeah, I know..." she sighed.

Mulder glanced at his watch. "It's a quarter to ten. Where's Lucy?"

At that moment their usually-punctual nanny arrived. "Sorry I'm late" she said breathlessly. "I had to do my usual Saturday chores and then my damn car wouldn't start..."

Mulder picked up his keys from the hall table. "That's okay, but we've gotta fly or we'll be late."

"The twins are in the play room" Scully added as Mulder helped her put her coat on. "We'll be back in a few hours."

"Yep, that's fine, I'll see you then. Good luck Dana" she added with an encouraging smile.

"Thanks." Dana gave her a quick hug. "Mulder's got his cel-phone with him, you'll call us if anything -"

"We'll be fine Dana. No go or you'll be late!"

Scully gave her another quick hug, then flew out of the door and out to where Mulder was waiting in the car.

"You okay?"

"Yeah, just incredibly scared" she laughed nervously as she buckled up her seatbelt.

Mulder took her hand reassuringly. "Everything'll be okay. Dr. Morris performs thousands of these procedures every year. This is no different to any other."

"Yeah, apart from the fact that we're using ova that were taken from me without my knowledge or consent over five years ago."

"Yeah, well..." Mulder shrugged, flashing her a grin.

"C'mon Scully, just think - if this works out we're going to have another child."

"Yeah, I know" she sighed. "But what if it doesn't?"

'October 6th, 2000

I don't feel any different. The IVF procedure went all according to plan, according to Dr. Morris, and in a week we've got an appointment, to find out whether it was successful or not. Exactly one week is October 13th - Mulder's birthday. I'm taking that as an omen. And just think - it would be the greatest birthday present I could give Mulder.

October 8th, 2000

So far so good. Abbot and I solved our case and now we're just finishing all the paperwork, which is pretty good, because I'm feeling kinda excited and keyed up. Dammit, will next Saturday never come?

October 10th, 2000

I just discovered that I haven't even bought Mulder a birthday present. I was thinking of buying him a book: Tennyson or Shakespeare or something like that, but it seems kind of impersonal. Why do I always agonize over this? He always seems to find stuff for me so easily...

October 11th, 2000

Two days to go. I bought Mulder's present today. A tank of goldfish. They're hidden in the attic where they can get plenty of natural light and I'm going to have to sneak up to feed them until Saturday. Maybe he'll actually feed these ones...

October 12th, 2000

Tomorrow we find out. God, I'm so scared. What if it didn't work? Are we going to try again or give up? God, please, we both want another baby so desperately...'

"Happy birthday Mulder" she whispered as soon as she saw his eyelids flickering.

Mulder yawned and rolled over, mumbling "'Mornin' Scully."

"Hey, don't be so enthusiastic about it" she said playfully, ruffling his hair. "Is it really that bad being thirty-nine?"

"I'm almost forty" he moaned.

"Cheer up Dopey. Today's the big day."

Mulder pulled himself up into sitting position and grinned at her, taking her chin in his hands. "Yeah. You excited?"

"You have no idea."

"Same." He kissed her forehead. "I hope this works out."

"Yeah... me too" she said softly, cuddling up against him.

He put his arms around her. "You sure you want to go without me?"

"I'm sure Mulder. Dr. Morris just needs blood and urine samples and then I'm outta there, I come home, get changed, we go to work, and sit in the office all day playing the waiting game."

"I don't like the waiting game Scully" he pouted. "I just want to know. Why couldn't you just do one of those home-pregnancy tests?"

Scully sighed. "They're not reliable enough, especially so early into a pregnancy. And it would be horrible to get a wrong result."

"Yeah, I know that." He slipped his hand under her silk pajamas and rubbed her back gently.

"Mmm, that's nice" Dana closed her eyes in contentment as his hands kneaded the milky white skin. "God, Mulder, that feels so good, but you're going to have to stop."

"Why?" he demanded, disappointed.

"Because I'm gettin' turned on, and I have to get ready and leave in half an hour" she said, flashing him an apologetic smile.

"But Sculleeee, it's my birthday" he whined.

"Yeah, I know. We'll make up for it tonight, okay?"

Mulder smiled. "Okay. But we might have better things to be thinking about..."

"Or we might not. Dammit Mulder, I want to know so badly. I want to know if we're going to have another beautiful, wonderful baby to love."

"I know how you feel Scully. I feel exactly the same way. But, speaking of offspring, is there a chance you can help me feed and dress the twins before you leave? I'd rather not do it alone."

Scully kissed him, then jumped up off the bed, hunting through the wardrobe for something to wear. "Sorry Mulder, no time. We slept in too late."

"Damn..," he sighed. "I might as well go get them up..."

Dana sat at the kitchen table, tapping her pen on the polished wood table impatiently and glancing at her watch every ten seconds.

"It's not going to go faster just because you look at it" Mulder pointed out with a smile.

"Dr. Morris said that he'd call by six and it's already half-past" she said impatiently, doodling on the paperwork in front of her. "And how come you're so relaxed?" she asked accusingly.

Mulder shrugged, sinking even deeper into the couch. "Appearances can be deceptive."

"Cut the crap, Mulder. This is a major, life- changing thing. Aren't you in the least nervous?"

"I'm dying of anticipation" he admitted. "But we're hyping ourselves up over what could possibly be nothing."

"Mulder, don't say that" she pleaded, leaving the table and kneeling down beside the couch with her head on his leg. "We have to be hopeful. Besides, I just feel that this is going to work out."

"Ah, Psychic Scull," he teased affectionately as he stroked her hair gently and rhythmically. Scully closed her eyes, letting herself relax slightly.

Then they both jumped when the phone rang. Scully scrambled to pick it up, fumbling with it before answering breathlessly "Hello?"

oh god oh god this is it oh god

Mulder stood and watched her. She was facing toward him but her face was betraying no emotions. It was her neutral face.

"Yes... uh huh..." she was talking in a quiet and subdued voice. "Thank you, doctor."

She hung up and he looked at her questioningly. "Well?" He couldn't handle any more suspense.

Scully put the phone down slowly, not meeting his gaze. "Well..." she drew the word out slowly. Then she looked up and he could see the happiness sparkling in her eyes. "I'm pregnant!" she shrieked, throwing her arms around him and squeezing him tightly.

Mulder couldn't help the grin that broke out on his face and he wrapped his arms around her, hugging her just as tightly as she was hugging him. "C'mon" he said, when they finally released each other. He took her hand. "Let's celebrate. Dinner at Georgio's."

He grabbed their coats and started pulling her toward the front door but she protested.

"Mulder, the girls?"

He groaned. "Dammit!"


"Sorry, sorry, I'm just excited, that's all" he said apologetically. "I guess we have to take them with us, huh?"

"What else would we do with them?"

"Couldn't we get your mom to babysit?"

"She's out of town, otherwise I would have already asked her and we'd be sitting in a romantic, candlelit restaurant right now."

"Good point." He grinned.

"I guess Georgio's is out then?"

"I guess. How about Burger King?" he suggested.

"Mulder, we might as well stay at home. In fact, we'd be better off at home."

"Well, how about we just order a pizza?" he asked, his face brightening.

"This is getting more and more unromantic by the second."

"I know."

Scully hugged him again. "It doesn't matter. As long as we're together."

"How sweet" he ruffled her hair before strolling over to the fishtank sitting on a table next to the window. "How long do you think they'll last for?"

"The fish?" Scully was surprised at the sudden change of topic.

"Yeah" he tapped the glass.

"Depends if you feed 'em or not" she said playfully.

Mulder sighed. "So that's why all my other ones died."

They ended up with home-delivered pizza, supreme with pepperoni but no anchovies, and extra olives.

"Olives?" Mulder questioned when he'd finished placing the order.

"Yeah, I love 'em."

"They're disgusting."

"Well, *I* love 'em. I think I inherited it from Dad. He loved them."


"Hey, you don't hear me saying that about sunflower seeds, do you?"


They ended up eating sitting cross-legged on the floor, the pizza box between them. In an attempt at creating a romantic atmosphere, Scully had turned off the lights, and lit a peach-scented candle. "It's almost as romantic as Georgio's" Mulder remarked. "And we don't even have to worry about a babysitter."

"Yeah, we're just missing the chairs, tables, cutlery, expensive wine and excellent food."


Mulder studied his wife in the flickering candlelight. "You know Scully, you're almost glowing."

Scully looked at him curiously. "What?"

"You know how pregnant women are supposed to have this 'glow' about them, well, you've got it."

Dana smiled. "I guess I should say thank you, and" she picked up her wine glass "congratulations to us."

Mulder picked up his wine glass and toasted with her. "To us."

October 29th, 2000

I feel so wonderfully happy. I know I've used the words wonderful and beautiful countless times in this diary, but they're just such perfect words to describe my life.

This pregnancy is so different to my last. I haven't had any morning sickness (so far) and I'm just feeling naturally high and I'm enjoying life. Mulder and I have been planning, too, and we're both so happy. We haven't fought at all recently, and we're getting along better than ever. We're very chummy - that's the best work I can think of to describe it. We're enjoying work, enjoying our home and our family, and we're actually enjoying each other's company.

It still seems somewhat magical, the past month, but I guess all wonderful (there I go again) things that happen seem magical at the time.

We told Mom last week and she was (naturally) thrilled, and she asked us if maybe we could make this a stress- free nine months for all of us. We've promised to do our best.

November 5th, 2000

Today we all went shopping for beds for the twins. They're getting too big for their old cribs. We ended up picking these white iron ones and we bought sheet sets for them - pink for Kate and mauve for Robyn. They've got little angels and bunches of roses printed all over them and they're undeniably sweet. We're getting the beds delivered in the nexy few days, and the twins are very excited. They run around the house hollering "We're dettin new beds!"

November 14th, 2000

I'm about one and a half months along and everything's still going fine (please note that I did NOT use a certain adjective). I still feel like I'm on a high some of the time, but I'm still able to concentrate on work and everything. Work... I don't seem to keep you very up to date in regards to that. I probably should have mentioned that Cecil L'Ively has escaped from prison - he was being transported to another jail when he set the bus alight and escaped, killing four other prisoners in the process. Mulder and I were hunting him down, but by the time we finally caught him thirteen people had died. Thinking about L'Ively is enough to bring me down off my high, but at least we know he's not coming back. We were working with the local law-enforcement to catch him and we had him trapped inside an old barn, but it was actually the deputy who shot him, killing him instantly. That's the only recent case that springs to mind. We seem to have mainly very bland cases these days.

November 28th, 2000

Almost at two months. Why does time always go so slow?'

December 12th, 2000

Ouch - Christmas is almost here! I'm more than two months along and I couldn't be happier. I take back everything I said in the past about pregnancy. It's a wonderful thing.'

A black hole. Sucking and sucking and pulling everything into oblivion. She felt herself being pulled in... it was too strong... she couldn't hold on any more... she felt herself slipping and falling and as she landed with a thump a wave of redness washed over her...

Dana Scully woke with a start, gasping for air. Then as she managed to get her breathing under control she was overtaken by a sudden dread. She threw back the bedsheets and her heart leapt in her throat.

Blood. Everywhere. All over her pajama bottoms, all over the sheets.

"Oh God..." she whispered hoarsely. She felt dizzy and nauseous as she was swamped by emotion. "Mulder?" she whispered.

There was no answer. She could hear the twins chattering quietly in their bedroom. She tried again, louder but still hoarse.


Then she realized.

He wasn't here. He was away on a case with Abbot.

"Oh God, Mulder..." She pulled herself up out of bed and stood, looking at the bloodied sheets, unable to stop herself from shaking. "God, no" she sobbed. "No, no, no!"

She went into the bathroom and turned on the shower, hard and hot, and stripped out of her pajamas, kicking them across the floor. She had to get rid of the blood all over her. It sickened her to look at it. She stood under the water and scrubbed her body furiously with her hands, sobbing as she watched the rust-brown water sluicing down the drain. She stayed under the water for more than half an hour, trying to get rid of any trace of blood, then she turned off the water, pulling on a bathrobe and collapsing sobbing on the bathroom floor.

"It was just an embryo. A collection of cells. Not a baby. Not my baby" she kept repeating to herself through her tears. If only Mulder were here. He'd take care of her, make everything better, just like Daddy always had.

But Mulder wasn't here.

oh god. not my baby. oh god

She could hear the twins calling for her, but she couldn't bring herself to get up. She'd run out of tears but couldn't stop shaking and rocking back and forth.

She heard the front door being unlocked. Mulder! Mulder had come home!

But it wasn't Mulder.

"Dana?" She heard Lucy Andrews' voice from downstairs.

oh god. not her. I need mulder. oh god oh god oh god

"Mulder? Hello?" Lucy's voice was coming closer and Scully closed her eyes, visualizing the girl coming up the stairs.


There was a knock at the bedroom door. "Dana?"

Scully let out a sob. oh god not her not her not her. please god not her

The bedroom door opened slowly and Scully heard the girl gasp. "Dana?" There was unmistakenly fear in the voice now.

Scully cursed herself for not shutting the door to the ensuite properly. She couldn't see Lucy. Not now. She couldn't face anyone other than Mulder.

There was an insecure knock on the door. "Dana, are you in there? Are you okay?"

"Leave me alone!" Scully cried.

"Dana, is something wrong?"

god no please don't come in please don't

"I'm okay" she managed to whisper.

Lucy couldn't hear her. "Dana, I'm coming in, okay?"

Scully buried her face in her hands as her sobs started up again.

Lucy came in cautiously, squatting beside Dana on the bathroom floor. "Do you want me to call Mulder for you?" she asked quietly.

Dana looked at her, her eyes already puffy and swollen from crying. "I lost my baby" she whispered.

Lucy nodded. "I - I'm sorry Dana."

Dana swallowed a sob but said nothing.

"I'll go call him, okay?" Lucy persisted, slightly lost as to whether she should play nanny to her employer as well as her charges. Over the past two years she and Dana had become good friends, despite their age differences, but Lucy didn't know how to treat a friend who's just miscarried any more than an employer.

"And then I'll make you some coffee, okay?"

Dana shook her head. "I don't want any" she said indistinctly.

"Do... do you think you should go to the hospital?"

The hospital. Doctor and nurses examining her, asking her questions, telling her something she already knew.


"Okay. I'll be back in a little while." The nanny pulled herself to her feet and left.

thank god she's gone... mulder, I need you. oh god. my baby. my baby...

Mulder didn't get home until almost four in the afternoon. He found her in the bedroom, sitting in the windowseat staring out at the street.

"I'm sorry Mulder" she said, without even turning around.

Mulder went forward, putting his arms around her. "It's not your fault" he whispered into her hair. "We both knew there was a high chance that this would happen."

She turned around to face him, pulling her knees up to her chest and biting her lip. "We were so excited about this, but now..."

She looked over at the bed. She hadn't been able to bring herself to change the sheets, and Mulder winced when he saw the dried reddish brown patch on them.

"But now..." she continued, her voice choked. "This can't be happening, Mulder. Please tell me that this isn't happening."

Mulder felt his guts twisting up. "I'm sorry, Dana."

He sat down beside her on the windowseat and pulled her into his arms, gently pulling the hair away from her face and running his fingers through it.

"But we can try again, and just keep trying... We can't give up just because of this."

Dana pulled away from him slightly, shaking her head. "Mulder, I can't go through this again. And besides, you know what things like this do to families.. Couples become so desperate to conceive a child... they become obsessed with it. And they're under so much stress and then they end up hating each other..."

Mulder put a finger to her lips. "It's okay Scully."

She looked at him through her tears. "No it isn't, Mulder. It isn't."

He eventually persuaded her to go downstairs and have something to eat. Dressed in a pair of old flannel pajamas which only made her face look even paler, she curled up on the couch, but refused to eat anything.

Mulder didn't feel like eating either. Just the thought of eating anything made him feel sick.

Reluctantly he made his way upstairs and into the bedroom, where he pulled off the bloodied sheets and tossed them in the washer with a cupful of washing powder. There was a plastic mattress protector on the bed - Dana had always had trouble with getting her period in the night and soaking everything right through to the mattress - and he threw it in the trash, then he found some clean linen and made the bed.

When he got downstairs again he discovered that Lucy had returned the twins - when he'd arrived home she'd tactfully suggested that she take them 'out' for a few hours. Scully was sitting with her head in her hands as they danced around her, looking worn and tired.

"Mulder.. could you take them away, please?" she asked, a catch in her voice. "I don't have the energy to handle them."

"Sure.. Kate, Robbie, come with Daddy." He took them into the playroom and settled them down in front of cartoons, then returned to Scully.

"Lucy had to drop them off - she had to go pick up her mother from the airport and I said it'd be okay..." she reeled off the facts mechanically, her eyes unfocused.

"We'll get over this" he whispered as he settled down beside her on the couch and took her hand, stroking it gently.

"Mulder, we were so happy and so excited..."

"No, Scully, stop it. It's happened and we can't undo it, okay?"

Scully grabbed his shoulders, shaking him angrily. "You don't know how much I wanted that baby Mulder! You don't know how happy it made me to know that I was going to have another beautiful baby to love. You don't know how I feel!" She let go of him and fell back, sobbing.

Mulder said quietly "You're right. I don't know how you feel. But it was my baby too, and I did want it."

"You didn't want it! You just went along with it because you didn't give a damn!"

"That's not true" he said in a low, quiet voice.

She jumped up, her eyes flashing through her tears. "Yes it is, Mulder. You're so selfish and so wrapped up in yourself -"

"Scully, you're being unreasonable.."

I know I'm being unreasonable. I don't give a damn!

"Dammit Mulder, I have a first name!" she shouted.

"Okay... Dana." He held up his hands in surrender. "Listen, you - we're both upset and stressed. Why don't we just get ourselves something to eat and then we can all have an early night?"

Scully laughed bitterly. "Christ Mulder, you think I'll be able to *sleep*?!"

"Well, then you can just fuckin' pretend, okay? Listen Scully, I know that you're feeling like shit right now, but you're not the only one. So why don't you spare a thought for me for once instead of being such a selfish bi-" he stopped mid-word when he saw two scared faces peering around the playroom door. "Go back to the TV" he said sharply.

Robyn's lower lip quivered and she burst into tears. Kate did the same. Scully rushed over, picking both little girls up and comforting them and giving her husband a murderous look that clearly said "see what you did!"

Mulder ran his hand through his hair as she took them up the stairs without another word to him.

When he finally went upstairs that night he found Scully curled up asleep in the rocking chair by the window, cuddling the little teddy he'd bought her the day after they'd found out that she was pregnant.

"Scully?" he touched her arm gently.

She lifted a tearstained face to him, grabbing his arm. "Mulder, I'm sorry I said those things" she murmured hazily. "I was upset..."

He stroked her cheek tenderly. "We were both upset. Tomorrow will be better, I guarantee."


Mulder nodded. "Promise. Now, you gonna come to bed?"

Scully nodded sleepily and he slipped his hands under her, lifting her up and carrying her across to the bed.

"Ooo, Air Mulder" she gave him a weak, sleepy smile.

He tucked her into bed, hating himself for all the things that he'd said. "You know that I didn't mean anything that I said?" he asked anxiously. "I was just angry and I wanted to hurt you... I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry too." She yawned, tugging at his arm. "I need you, Mulder. I need you - your strength."

"Yeah, I've just got to get ready for bed, k?"

Scully yawned again, letting her eyes drift shut. "I love you Mulder" she murmured.

Mulder smiled, kissing her gently. "I love you too."

The next few days were hard to bear at times - telling everyone who they'd told about the pregnancy about the miscarriage.

"Sometimes I wish people would stop being sympathetic" Scully growled miserably one day.

But what stung the most was the E-mail she received from Charlie and Lynette. It was a reply to the E-mail she'd sent two weeks earlier.


EEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK! Can you hear me screaming all the way over in DC? Congratulations SOOOOOOOO much you guys!! I was wondering when you'd get around to it actually. After all, Catholic families are supposed to be huge, and I figured that your mom would have only you guys to pressure to give her more grandchildren :) Aha, we're off the hook!

So Dana, I'm expecting a reply to this *pronto* with all the details - how far along, all that sort of stuff. Sorry about the late reply, but my E-mail wasn't working and I haven't been able to access it all week. :(

Luv ya, Lyn

(BTW, Charlie says: If you see Mom, ask her if she got our last letter.)


They'd both cried over that one and then sent a brief reply. That very afternoon Dana received a phonecall from Lynette.

"Dana, I'm so sorry. I just had to call..."

"Lyn, please don't be sympathetic. I can't stand that."

"I know it's hard when people say things, trying to be kind but they just make you feel worse..."

"Exactly. I wish you weren't so far away, Lyn. I miss having our talks."

"Yeah, me too. So how are you and Mulder taking this?"

"Badly... I guess we're kinda overreacting. I mean, I was only two months along and... but it still hurts so much. I feel like I've lost my baby."

"It was In Vitro, wasn't it?"


"You going to try again?"

"No... yes... I don't know. We haven't talked about it yet. We're still... in shock, I guess. But I don't know if I - if we - could go through it again. You don't what it's like when you wake up and the sheets are soaked with blood and you know you've lost your baby and there's nothing you can do about it."

"Yes I do."

Dana swallowed. "You...?"

Lyn closed her eyes, sinking down against the wall. "When I was twenty-three I was going steady with this guy... I got pregnant. We didn't know what to do - I was just out of college and he was an unknown, unemployed actor. When I told him that I was pregnant he said that we'd have to get married, but neither of us had any means to support ourselves. I was still living at home and I had all these hopes and dreams.. and getting married at twenty-three wasn't high on my agenda. "But I did want children - I've always adored babies and I thought that it would be worth sacrificing my ambitions and career to have one, so I told him that I'd marry him. "Then one night I woke up and there was just blood everywhere and I knew that I'd lost the baby. The very next morning I rang him up and told him that I'd miscarried and that I couldn't marry him, and that I didn't want to see him anymore."

"And you didn't?"

"Nope. Mom and Dad never even knew I was pregnant. I only told two people. Chris and Missy. I told Missy everything."

"So you know how I feel."

"Yeah, that's why I'm not going to be sugary sweet. I know you probably feel like this is all some bad dream. That's what I went through. But you've got Mulder to help you through it. Missy was the only person who helped me get over it."

"Mulder and I have been having ...problems."

"What sort of problems? Old-married-couple-bickering? Major yelling and screaming fights where no china or glassware is sacred? Sulking fits? Or just plain driving each other nuts fights?"

"Uh... all of the above? But I hate it most when he won't talk to me. I don't mind the yelling and screaming fights as much, we just swear and say lots of things that we don't mean, but in the end we always end up apologising. I just hate it when we won't speak to each other."

"Yeah, I've heard those ones really suck."

"You've never experienced it?"

"Nope. Charlie and I always keep to playful teasing or yelling and screaming, but with the yelling and screaming we always have to watch what we say, because Brandon has a habit of repeating everthing we say. So even when we're angry we always end up laughing because we call each other weird things like refridgerators and cel-phones. B. doesn't pick up on household words as much and as a rule, we the whole thing is almost like a sport, or a hobby or something."

"You're so lucky" Dana sighed enviously. "Mulder and I can get really nasty and spiteful and we really upset each other."

"God, what's gone wrong with you guys? You used to be the cutest, most loving lovebirds I'd ever seen, and now it seems like you're hoping for a divorce."

"It's not always that bad. Just when we're in a crisis, or we're in a bad mood or whatever. At other times we get along well."

"Dana, 'your tone lacks conviction' as my grandmother used to say. Sounds like you need a vacation or something, or a weekend at one of those coupled therapy retreat things."

"Yeah, thanks for the tip."

"Dana, do I detect sarcasm in your tone?"

"Definitely. Sorry Lyn, I've gotta go, I can hear the twins in the kitchen and I don't know what they're up to."

"Do I know that feeling! Just remember that I know what you're going through, so feel free to call me, okay?"

"Yeah, thanks. Well.. bye."

"Bye Dana."

Mulder came in just as Scully was hanging up.

"Who was that?" he asked with idle curiousity.

"Lyn. She just rang up to.. you know.. talk."

"You okay?"

"Yeah" She took a deep breath and managed a small smile. "I think I'm going to be okay over all this. How are you holding up, oh husband o' mine?"

Mulder shrugged. "I guess... I don't know, actually."

"I'm sorry that I've been so selfish."

"You haven't been -" he started before she interrupted.

"Yes, I have been selfish, Mulder. You said so the other night, and you were right. I've been too wrapped up in my own grief that I haven't really thought about how it affected you. And I've relied on you so much for everything..."

"That's why I'm here, Scully, I'm here for you."

"But I'm not there for you when you need me Mulder. Can you forgive me for that?"

Mulder reached down and kissed her forehead. "I'd do anything for you Scully, you know that. Anything."

Dana smiled faintly. "Good, 'cos I don't feel like making dinner."

'December 20th, 2000

Mulder and I had a much-needed therapy session today and here's a brief outline of how it went.

We came in, Dr. Addams asked us how we were. We said that we were fine. Dr. Addams looked disbelieving. We admitted that we both felt like shit. Dr. Addams looked satisfied. We explained about the miscarriage and he asked us both how we felt about it. It's been a week exactly since ...'it', but it seems like months. Apparently we're both depressed and are putting the blame on each other, even though it's nobody's fault. He said that it's hard not to get discouraged by something like this, but we have to try and get on with our lives. Sometimes I wonder why we visit a shrink. I already know all these things. Addams then suggested that we take a break from work, find something that interests us, take up a new hobby. He says that this will help us find interest in life again and give us hope again. I think I'll take up kickboxing. Then we talked about how our relationship is very unstable in that we're always either incredibly happy or incredibly miserable, and that there's no inbetween. I guess in a way we're both like that, in that we either like something or hate it, and sometimes we flip between the two.

Why can't we just be like normal people for once?

December 22nd, 2000

Mulder and I have only just clicked to the fact that it's almost Christmas and today was a mad rush buying Christmas presents, buying and decorating the tree (a real fir tree, not one of those fake plastic ones), and generally just getting into the Christmas spirit. We're getting along really well at the moment, and neither of us have mentioned another try at IVF for fear of dropping into depression again. Mulder and I have both taken Dr. Addams' advice and found hobbies. I'm doing kickboxing. I already know Karate but I figure the more martial arts I learn the better I'll be able to defend myself. I also want to do it because it'll keep me fit. Mulder and I gave up on our morning jogs ages ago - when I was pregnant with the twins - and we haven't taken it up again because we simply don't have the time. Every morning we wake up, get showered and dressed, get the girls up and get them dressed, feed them breakfast, feed us breakfast, Lucy arrives at eight, we leave. No time for jogging.

Mulder's taking, belive it or not - pottery classes. I'm sorry to say that I laughed when he told me about it, I honestly thought he was joking. I just can't imagine Mulder as a potter (is that the right term?) and I told him so, and he said - looking quite miffed - that he'd prove me wrong. He has his classes on Wednesday nights, and my kickboxing is on Fridays, which means that we can get out of the house by ourselves - give each other a bit of space.

December 25th, 2000

Yet another Christmas, and they keep getting better. Mulder gave me (yes, AGAIN) a diary, but I've still got about a third of this one left and so I'm just going to put my new one away until I need it. It's just as nice as the others. I can't say much for Mulder's taste in clothes, but he does seem to have the knack of finding beautiful diaries for me. He always finds ones that, in a way, suit me. I don't know how else to explain it, but it just seems like all the diaries he has given me have become part of me and their dogeared pages feel like somthing that belongs to me. This one is a deep blue - not quite navy, but more royal blue, but so dark it looks like black from a distance. There's a small gold heart imprinted on the front in the top right corner, and every page has the same heart shape printed in blue.

I looked for an inscription in the front, but there wasn't one. I don't know if Mulder deliberately didn't put one, or if he couldn't think of anything to write, or if he just didn't even think about it, but it makes me feel strange. It's as if his gift is missing something.

I tried not to think about it, just told myself that it didn't matter and that it was a beautiful diary, and I pushed it out of my mind and enjoyed the day. But I'm sitting here now with the new diary beside this one and it just makes me feel almost uncomfortable.

Dammit, I know I'm taking this too seriously. So what if he didn't inscribe anything in the book for me? I don't care, do I?

I guess I should probably describe the day, so here goes: The twins woke us up about four in the morning, came running in and jumping on us and shrieking about 'Twistmas' and 'pwesents'. We told them sleepily that they couldn't have any presents until six-thirty, and to go back to bed. They climbed into ours. I admit that there's something unbearably sweet about having them in our bed - they like to climb around under the blankets and tickle our toes which gets a bit irritating, but it's so adorable when they curl up between us with their thumbs in their mouths and their red curls are splayed out over the pillows. I don't know where the curls came from. Both Mulder and I have fairly straight hair, and no-one in either of our families has curly hair. Mulder's deemed it an X-File, and I don't really care. And it's hell trying to brush their hair, because it knots like crazy, but when all's said and done they really are gorgeous, with their hazel eyes and dimples.

But I'm digressing... They settled down after about twenty minutes and we all got back to sleep, but then an hour later they were awake again, demanding their 'pwessies'.

It was only five thirty but Mulder and I decided what the hell? And took them downstairs, oohing and aahing over all the gifts Santa had left. In ten minutes flat the floor was littered with wrapping paper and Kate and Robbie were trying out all their toys. They each got a Cabbage Patch doll (no Barbies for us, thank you very much), but what they really seemed to like most was the train set. It wasn't one of those electronic ones or anything, just a plastic track and little toy trains to go along it, but they seem to adore it and the only problem was fighting over who got the red train and who got the yellow one. This Mulder resolved well - he took the carriage off the red one and swapped it with the yellow carriage, so each train is red AND yellow. Once that dispute was happily settled Mulder and I exchanged gifts.

He gave me the diary, of course, which I've already described at great length, as well as a beautiful old-fashioned white lacy nightie. I handed him an envelope. He looked surprised, but then he grinned when he saw what it was, season tickets to the Knicks games. Dammit Mulder, you do realise that I'm running out of ideas of things to give you, don't you? You'll just keep buying me diaries every year and everything'll be fine and dandy, but there are only so many things you can buy a guy without going into gardening tools. Although I suppose that in a few years you'll be buying me foot massagers and bread makers and DustBusters. I dread the day.

It wasn't the most romantic Christmas morning I've had in a while - we were all in our pajamas, mine being a tatted pair of sweats that are way too loose and baggy and are full of holes, but incredibly comfortable, and then when it was over we all settled down to Corn Flakes and orange juice.

We had the usual Christmas Day dinner at Mom's place with the family, Lyn and Charlie and Brandon flew over and they're staying two weeks, and Bill and Anyse and Josh and Amy.

Josh and Amy are getting so old! It's not as if we haven't seen them in the past few years - we have. The last time we saw then was last year at Uncle Roger's funeral (he was actually one of Dad's cousins, we just called him uncle), and we've kept in contact... kind of. The problem is that Bill still hates Mulder and thinks that his little baby sister doesn't know what she's doing married to a such a jerk (he said it, not me). What he doesn't seem to understand is that he's being the stubborn jerk and that I love Mulder and my family and I'm not going to give them up just because Bill says I'm being stupid. So, what I'm really trying to say is that Bill and I never really talk. We send each other cards at birthdays and he's always telling Mom to 'say hi to Dana's family' for him. How did my idol of an older brother end up like this?

Amy's turning eighteen next year and has matured so much over the past few years that you'd barely recognize her. She still has her quirky sense of humor and she's just as forward as ever, but she's lost the air of childishness.

In some ways I dread my baby girls growing up and becoming adults, and yet I look forward to it at the same time. It must be wonderful to see your child blossoming into an adult and becoming independant, but at the same time the very thought terrifies me. I love my girls so much, and the fact that they're all ours and that they rely on us to protect and shield them from the outside world only heightens that feeling of maternal love and pride.

Anyway, Bill was the kind, affectionate older brother he always should have been, but he ignored Mulder flat out. Charlie had a go at him about it and Mom got quite upset about it. Seeing as Bill just loves to blame Mulder for causing Mom pain, he hastened to make amends and was civil to Mulder the rest of the day. After all, he couldn't have anyone accusing HIM of hurting Mom, could he? I'm seriously considering locking him in a closet until he promises to be nice.

Anyway, we got home from Mom's about an hour ago and started cleaning up all the mess (we'd lazily left the house looking like it'd been in the middle of a world war) and now I think I'll go downstairs to join Mulder on the couch. The twins were playing in the playroom with all their new toys just before I came upstairs, and if they're still happy maybe Mulder and I can cuddle for a bit. I love the feeling of Mulder's arms around me. I know I'm selfish in that he's always holding me and I never hold him, but I always feel so safe when I'm in his arms and my head is resting against his chest. He's always so warm and smells so delightfully of Mulder. Merry Christmas!

New Years Eve, 2000

Oh my God, this year is almost over!!! It's a quarter to twelve and Mulder's waiting for me downstairs - the New Year countdown is on TV as usual and we've got popcorn in the microwave as I write, but I just have to write something before we welcome in 2001. I don't know, maybe I have some subconscious idea that things will be different as soon as the clock hits midnight - that I'll be a different person; think differently, act differently... something like that.

The twins are fast asleep - Mulder and I spent half an hour making sure of that - or at least, that was our excuse. I don't know how anyone can not love children, especially their own. Mulder and I adore ours so completely and our family is the most important thing in my life (I can't speak for Mulder, but I hope he agrees with me). Our motto is that you can't give a child enough love. We can be tough with them when necessary (although, that 'controlled crying' was a real bitch to enforce) but we really do spoil them rotten. But it's all worthwhile, I think, when you can watch them sleeping. My little princesses are growing up fast, but when I watch them sleep I forget about their tantrums and little pranks and stubbornness (they inherited it from both sides of the family) and they're just so innocent and precious.

I've spent longer than I should've up here - it's five to now. Five minutes until the year 2001. Hope it's a good one.

Ooh, damn, the phone is ringing. Who calls at five minutes to midnight on New Years Eve? Guess we'll find out soon... and we can shoot them.

That was a joke, by the way.'

"Scully!" The ringing stopped and after a second she heard Mulder calling her loudly. She packed away the diary in the bureau drawer and, having noted the urgency in Mulder's voice, hurried down the stairs.

"Who is it?" she asked him quietly.

"Skinner" he mouthed.

They positioned themselves so that they could both hear and Scully slipped her arm around her husband's waist as she heard Skinner succintly outline a phone call he had just recieved.

The smoking man was willing to do a trade for Samantha.

A trade was to take place the next night at the Washington Monument at midnight. One - and only one - of them was come, unarmed, with the chip, and the exchange would take place.

Scully thanked her boss mechanically and hung up, tightening her grip around Mulder's waist.

"I guess this is Happy New Year Scully," Mulder said finally, his voice hoarse.

Scully looked at him. His eyes were sparkling but his lips were white. "Pinch me" he whispered.

Scully released her grip on him and went over to the couch, dropping herself down and squeezing her eyes shut. Neither of them heard the shouts of "Happy New Year" coming from the TV.

"This is too weird" she said tiredly. "We contacted him years ago and what, he only just got the message? Or maybe he's just got a flair for self dramatization."

"Yeah, maybe." Mulder sat down beside her, massaging his temples. "You sure that just happened?"

"Yep, 'fraid so. We haven't heard from him in so many years that I thought maybe he was dead... or something."

"Guess he isn't" Mulder sighed.

"Yeah, I guess."

"We would have to get the message tonight too, wouldn't we. Tonight of all nights!"

"I think he must have planned it deliberately. He seems to like messing up special occasions. And while I wouldn't exactly call popcorn and TV a special occasion-" the corners of her mouth twitched up "he did ruin our wedding day."

"Not exactly *ruin*" Mulder protested. "I mean, it was all right up 'til then, and then afterwards when we-"

"Yeah, I know what we did afterwards" she smiled.

Then a seriousness crept into her eyes. "Mulder, what are we going to do now?"

"About the deal?"

She nodded.

"I want to make it. I know it's a big thing, but I'm willing to risk it."

"Me too... but what I'm more worried about is *who* is going to make the deal. Skinner said one person only. Who's it going to be? You or me?"

Mulder looked down, shutting his eyes briefly.

Then he raised his head. "It's your decision" he said softly.

Scully held his unwavering gaze for a moment, then she pulled away with a sigh. "I'll have to think about it."

'1st January, 2001

'The new year hath commeth' as I read somewhere a long, long time ago. But this new year hasn't just drifted in slowly, but with a life-changing shock. Tonight is the night and I still haven't decided on who's going to make the exchange, so I've come to you, dear diary, to try and figure out my problems. Me or Mulder. The reason why this is so hard is because I know Mulder wants to make the exchange. So then why don't I just let him?

If only it were that simple.

I don't know how Mulder would be able to handle this - seeing the men who took his sister all those years ago... maybe seeing his sister herself.

In a way I want to make the exchange myself, but I'm so terrified. I remember the last time I was part of an exchange involving Samantha and I don't want to go through this again.. And yet I can't help feeling that I don't want to make Mulder do it. I don't want to put him in a position where he's so responsible. This matter is so close to the both of us, but particularly him.

I don't know what Mulder and I are even expecting, to be truthful. I mean, Samantha would only be a year or two younger than me... she could almost have been me. What is her life like? Has she spent the last twenty-odd years held captive in some dark prison? Has she been used as a guinea-pig for secret government experiments? Has she been living her life as someone else? Is she leading a normal life with a husband and family, or is she a drug-addict living on the streets?

I suppose that this time tomorrow we'll know.'

Two figures were sitting quietly in a car a hundred yards from the Washington Monument.

"You ready?"

Scully nodded, smoothing her clothes down over her bulletproof vest, her sweaty hands tightly gripping the plastic bag which held the chip.

Mulder pulled his gun out of the glove box and sat it on the dashboard. "Just remember, I'm right here. You need me, you yell for help."

He paused, brushing her hair back off her face.

"You sure that you're willing to do this?" he asked gently.

Scully nodded resolutely. "Yep. Everything should go smoothly, and if it doesn't..."

"It'll go smoothly," Mulder said hastily. He hated the thought of Scully willingly putting herself in such danger. For him. "You sure you don't want me to go instead?" he asked for the hundredth time.

"I'll do this Mulder. You just wait here. If you lose sight of me, come out."

Mulder nodded, hugging her tightly.

"Just in case something happens... I love you" she whispered, her eyes moistening.

Mulder shook his head violently. "No goodbyes Scully."

Scully nodded slowly, cool air rushing into the car as she opened the door. "I'll catch 'ya later" she said as lightly as she could.

"Yeah, thirty minutes max."

"Well... see 'ya." She shut the door after her and made her way slowly over to the memorial, and Mulder leaned back in his seat with his eyes closed.

Scully stood, shivering and wishing that she'd put on warmer clothes. It was snowing, but for once she couldn't appreciate the snow. It was freezing cold as it fell against her face and down her neck.

She glanced at her watch. It was already twenty past twelve.

She looked over to the car, sitting in the shadows, and shrugged to Mulder.

Then she gasped as she was grabbed from behind, a hand firmly clasped over her mouth.

Years of FBI trining kicked in and she struggled, but from the beginning it was obvious to her that she was fighting a losing battle. There were at least two men, dressed in black, and as she fought them desperately she wondered how she and Mulder had been fooled so easily. She'd blindly walked into a trap. And where was Mulder? Surely he could see what was going on?

Then she heard a familiar voice.

"Let her go, you fools!" he said sharply.

She was released immediately, and turned to face her attackers, who were being berated by the familiar figure. 'Cancer Man.'

"You fools" he spat again. "I told you there was to be no violence!"

He motioned for the two men to leave, and then turned to her.

"I apologise, Miss Scully" he said, almost sincerely. "I hope you weren't alarmed unduly."

Scully looked at him warily, exhaling slowly. "If I had to come alone, why didn't you?"

The man shrugged, lighting an all-too familiar cigarette and inhaling deeply.

"Let's just say that... I'm not very trusting."

"Neither are we" she said shortly. "Can we please just get this over and done with?"

"You have the chip?"

"Yes." She pulled the plastic bag out of her inner trenchcoat pocket and held it up in the light.

"Give it to me."

"No, not until you tell us where Samantha is" she said firmly.

The man took an envelope out of his pocket and held it out, but just out of her reach.

"I don't want an envelope. Tell me where she is or you don't get the chip."

"This envelope, or nothing. Give me the chip, Agent Scully."

"At least you're not calling me Mrs. Mulder again" she murmured, glancing anxiously at the car, stalling for time. Mulder! Dammit Mulder, why didn't you come?

"The envelope or nothing. Make you decision, Agent Scully."

Scully could feel herself starting to panic. take it or leave it. do I trust him or not? oh god.

"Miss Scully, I can't wait forever. Trade or no trade?"

Scully took a deep breath and thrust the bag into his hands, snatching the envelope.

Cancer Man nodded at her, then turned and left quickly.

"Wait" she called suddenly, fingering the envelope.

He stopped walking and half-turned. "Yes?"

Scully took another deep breath. "Thank you" she said uncertainly.

He smiled faintly at her, then turned and disappeared into the shadows.

Scully held the envelope in her hands. It was an ordinary white envelope, slightly crumpled, and so slim that it could only have a thin piece of paper inside. No pass cards into top secret bases or laboratories. Just paper. Or nothing at all.

Mulder came running up to her. "You okay?" he asked breathlessly.

"Yeah, where the hell were you?"

"I got held up by a couple of goons - they pointed a gun in my face and told me not to do anything stupid. I thought that we'd been doublecrossed..." he trailed off when he saw the slip of white in her hand.

"That's all you got?"

He stared at it but made no effort to take it from her.

"Yeah... I don't know if it was worth it or not but I thought it was worth the risk... we going to open it now?"

Mulder looked at it longingly, but then shook his head. "When we get home."

It was a silent trip home and when they finally got there they were greeted by Margaret Scully who they'd left babysitting the twins, looking slightly worse for wear.

"You okay Mom?" Dana asked, concerned.

Maggie smiled unconvincingly. "I'm fine, sweetie. I thought you would have been home earlier, that's all."

"I'm sorry we made you worry, but we're fine" Dana assured her mother.

"We're indestructible," Mulder said lightly. "I'll just go upstairs and see the twins, okay?"

Scully nodded, and when he was out of earshot Maggie asked quietly "What happened?"

Scully sighed, pulling out the envelope and passing it to her mother. "We traded the chip for that."

"It's unopened" Maggie noticed as she examined it.

"We... we didn't want to open it" Dana admitted. "Maybe in the morning..."

Maggie put the envelope down on the table. "I guess I'll be getting home now" she said softly.

Her daughter grabbed her arm gently. "Don't be ridiculous Mom. You're staying the night."

"But I didn't bring anything..."

Dana looked sternly at her mother. "Mom, you've spent the evening worrying unnecessarily about us while babysitting our twin terrors. You're really not in any condition to drive home."

"Well, if I'm not putting you out..."

Scully laughed. It came out louder than she'd expected and the sound surprised even her, but in a way all the stress and tension that she'd accumulated throughout the evening seemed to come out in that one, almost evil-sounding, laugh.

"Dana, honey, what on earth is wrong with you?"

She smiled, hugging her mother. "I'm fine Mom, it's just that all these times we've put *you* out... you're always welcome to stay here Mom, I promise you."

Maggie smiled. "Thank you Dana."

Scully picked up the envelope and said briskly "C'mon, we'll get you settled in and Mulder and I can have a chat about this envelope!"

Mulder couldn't sleep. Every time he closed his eyes he thought about the envelope. The envelope that contained the clue to where his sister was. The only clue.

With a frustrated sigh he turned on the bedside lamp, snatching up the white rectangle on the small table beside him.

"Mulder?" Scully stirred, looking up at him sleepily.

"I have to open it Scully" he said with quiet determination.

Scully yawned as she switched on her own lamp and looked at the alarm clock.

"It's just past four. If you open it now you're going to want to get up and go find her right now. Can't we wait until sunrise, at least?"

Mulder looked at her pleadingly. "Scully, I need to know. I've waited so many years..."

"And you can't wait another hour?" she sighed. "I suppose I can understand what you're going through, but there's a part of me that says that we'll both be better off once we've gotten some sleep, even only an hour or two."

Mulder nodded. "I need to know now. I have to know."

He gripped the envelope ready to tear it open, looking at Scully with agonized eyes.

"Open it" she said slowly, bowing her head and holding her breath.

He needed no encouragement. He ripped the envelope open and extracted a small piece of white paper, on which was an address in Chilmarc and one word. 'Amen'.

Wordlessly he passed the paper to her and she read it through as quickly and unemotionally as she could.

"'Let it be that way'" she remarked as she passed the note back to him. She reached out and squeezed his hand reassuringly, bringing it to her mouth and kissing it gently.

Mulder leaned against her, closing his eyes and letting himself get lost in the warmth and comfort.


"I'm scared Scully" he whispered, nuzzling against her even more.

"I know you're scared" she said softly, reassuringly.

"What does it mean, 'Let it be that way'?"

"It means that... that this is God's will" she answered, kissing his forehead gently.

"We didn't believe in God. Mom and Dad and me and Sam. Dad was always cursing him when he was drunk... sometimes even when he wasn't... And Mom always said that people who did, you know, belive in God were fools... that they were putting their faith in a lie" Mulder recounted it all like a small child.

"I suppose you want to get going now?"

Mulder looked at her uncertainly. "I'm not sure. I want to find Sam so desperately... but at the same time I'm frightened that we won't find what we're looking for."

"I know, Mulder. But there *is* only one way to find out."

Mulder sighed, pulling himself up out of the bed. "Let's get this over and done with."

"Miller Street should be the second one on the right" Scully said, glancing up from the roadmap. "Hey Mulder, slow down! You're going to get us both killed!"

Mulder kept his foot on the accelarator, his lips pressed firmly together and his face blank. Beads of perspiration broke out on his forehead.

"Mulder, are you okay?" she asked, concerned.

"I remember Miller Street now," Mulder said quietly. "That's where the cemetary is."

Mulder looked down at the showy headstone at the end of the small grave. "Samantha Ann Hunt" he read aloud, his voice miraculously calm. "Died November 27th, 1973, aged eight. In God's care."

"Mulder..." she put her hand on his arm. "I - I..."

"That's the night she was take," Mulder whispered. "They killed her that night... She's been dead all these years."

His legs collapsed under him and he fell to his knees. "She's gone" he whispered. "All gone."

Scully kneeled down beside him, putting her arm around him protectively. "Mulder, I can't tell you how sorry I am" she said softly.

Mulder didn't seem to hear her. He ran his fingers over the marble block, tracing the engraved lettering, and they came to rest on a small photo of his sister.

"They didn't even put her real name" he said softly, choking back tears. "I always used to tease her about it - Samantha Ann Mulder. S.A.M., you know."

Scully nodded, trying to ignore the sick feeling that washed over her when she looked at the small photograph. They'd killed her the night she was taken and buried her only two miles from her home. The bastards.

"Why did they have to kill her?" Mulder asked her, tears streaming down his cheeks. "Why?"

"I don't know" she said softly. She stood and turned away, a lump in her throat.

Mulder stood and went over to the rose garden, breaking off a white rose and dropping it down on the grave.

"Goodbye Sam" he whispered, then he turned and walked away.

Scully drove home, with Mulder in the passenger's seat, curled up in foetal position, crying softly. Dana longed to comfort him, but she knew how little she could do to ease his pain.

"Mulder?" she asked softly when they eventually pulled into their driveway.

Mulder didn't answer her, but just continued rocking, his eyes squinted shut.

"Mulder, we're home."

With a sigh she got out her side of the car and went around to his side, opening his door. "Mulder, let's go inside. You're in shock. You need to get warm."

She held out her hand. "Please, Fox?"

At the mention of his first name he looked at her, his eyes dull and pained.

"Sam called me that" he said, almost reproachful.

"I'm sorry Mulder. Please come inside, it's cold out here."

Mulder reached out and took her hand, and she pulled him to his feet. He swayed and grabbed for her for support, and then they went inside.

They were greeted by squeals of "Mommy! Daddy!" as the twins came running down the stairs. Mulder crouched down, letting them climb into his lap. "Hi Kate. Hi Robbie. You been good girls for Grandma?"

Scully knelt down beside him, slipping her hand into his hesitatingly. "Mulder" she whispered. "You need to get warm."

She gave his hand a reassuring squeeze and then stood, catching her mother's gaze as she did so.

"Sorry we left without telling you."

Maggie shook her head. "I figured you knew what you were doing. You want me to keep the girls occupied for a few more hours?"

"Could you?"

"They're my grandchildren, Dana. It'a an honor."

"I hope I'll feel that way in twenty-five years" she managed a small smile.

Margaret smiled at her, then pulled her into a brief hug. She didn't need to ask her daughter what they had discovered. She could see it in her eyes.

"Who wants to go play in the snow?" she asked her granddaughters, bending down so that she was their height.

They both gave earpiercing shrieks of what could only be taken as enthusiasm.

"Their snowsuits are upstairs" Scully said distractedly. Mulder was still sitting on the floor, but he was now curled up again, shivering violently.

"I'll dress them downstairs then?"

Scully met her mother's eyes and nodded, then turned to her husband.

"C'mon Mulder, you need a hot bath."

Mulder shook his head.

"Mulder, come upstairs" she said firmly, putting her hand on his shoulder.

"Scully, leave me alone."

"No, dammit Mulder, I won't" she shouted. Then she turned and saw Maggie and the twins coming out of the bedroom at the top of the stairs and lowered her voice. "Listen Mulder, I refuse to let you shut me out like this. After your mother died I thought it was good to give you some space, but I discovered too late that I was wrong. I won't let it happen again."

Mulder looked up at her, but wouldn't meet her eyes. "Scully, we need to find out who did that to her."

"Mulder, what you need right now is to get warm."

How many times had they had a conversation like this before?

His voice rose. "We have to! We have to make them suffer for everything that they did to her!"

"No!" She grabbed him by the arm and pulled him up roughly. "Mulder, I know you're hurting now. I know how you feel, but she's dead, and you're not doing anything for her by doing this to yourself or to them. Can't you see that?" she pleaded.

Mulder looked at her. "You don't understand Scully."

"Mulder, I don't think you understand much either. You're in shock, you're confused and tired and upset. You're not thinking straight. As a doctor, I think that you need to get warm and get some sleep."

Mulder leaned against her, resting his chin on her head. "It hurts Scully" he murmured. "It hurts so much and I can't make it go away."

"Hush." She put his arm firmly around his waist, supporting him. "C'mon Mulder, up to bed."

He stood, shivering, under a hot shower for ten minutes, and then Scully helped him pull on a pair of thick sweats. In their bedroom she drew the curtains shut, blocking out some of the sunlight that was filtering through the window.

"It's the middle of the day, Scully" he objected when she tried to get him into the bed.

"Mulder, you need to sleep."

She tucked up the blankets around him and then went in search of her medicine bag, which she kept filled with the general first-aid items as well as hypodermic needles, fast working liquid sedatives, disinfectant, a scalpel and other instruments that had come in handy in the past for treating herself as well as her partner.

She returned to the bedroom, where she could still see Mulder shivering under the bedcovers.

His eyes widened when he saw the needle. "No, Scully, you know I hate those things. I don't want that in me!" He started pulling himself upright but Scully pushed him back down.

"Mulder... it's just a prick. Just close your eyes and think of a nice, safe place. Somewhere warm."

Mulder closed his eyes but still flinched as he felt the needle 'prick'.

Scully wrapped up the empty needle and threw it in the trash in the bathroom, and then climbed into bed, fully clothed, cuddling up against Mulder.

"I'm cold Scully" he whispered. "I - I can't stop shivering."

Scully slipped her hand up the back of his sweats and started rubbing in vigorous circles. "This better?" she asked gently.

"A little" Mulder shivered.

Samantha is gone. dead. that bastard. he killed her. oh fuck. oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck. the bastard... oh god it hurts. it hurts so much. I want to die...

His mind became cloudy as the sedative started to take its effect, and then he fell into a deep sleep.

Scully slowly stopped tracing the circles, leaving her hand resting on his warm chest, feeling his heart beat.

She felt so deadly tired, and so completely drained of energy. If only they'd never found the damn chip. They wouldn't have made a deal, they wouldn't have found this out. Mulder wouldn't know that he'd spent almost thirty years of his life looking for a sister who had been dead the entire time.

She felt the tears welling up in her eyes but she forced them back. I can't cry she thought fiercely. I have to be strong for Mulder

She bit her lip and shut her eyes as a sob escaped her.

Their marriage had barely survived what they had been through so far. Would it be able to survive this?

When she woke Mulder was gone. It took her a few moments to remember why she was in bed, fully clothed, while the last sunlight of the day was still visible outside. But when she did remember, she wished she hadn't.

She threw back the blankets and jumped up, her heart sinking as she approached the bureau.

Mulder's gun was gone.

She did a quick scan of the room. The sweats he'd been sleeping in were in a crumpled heap on the floor and as she glanced through the his closet she realised that he'd changed into jeans and his leather jacket. The sort of clothes he usually wore for out-of-hours Rambo-type work.

"Oh God..." her hand flew to her mouth. Then she took a deep breath, ran her hand through her mussed hair and told herself to stay calm. Or at least try.

She raced down the stairs, finding her mother and the twins in the playroom doing a jigsaw puzzle.

"Where's Mulder?" she demanded.

Maggie looked up, suprised at the interruption. "I thought he was with you. I peeked in about an hour ago and you were both asleep...

Scully ran to the window and glanced at the garage. The door was open, a big, empty gaping space.

"He's gone. Damn!"

Maggie took her arm and led her out of the hallway and into the kitchen, sitting her down and pouring her a cup of tea. "His sister... she's dead?"

Scully nodded numbly as she sipped the tea. "She died the night that she disappeared."

"Surely that means... that she didn't suffer much?"

"Maybe... Somehow I don't think that would be much consolation to Mulder."

"You have no idea where he might have gone?"

"Probably to Cancer Man."

"Cancer man?" Maggie rose an eyebrow quizzically.

Dana rubbed her eyes. "Yeah, he's, uh, someone Mulder's dad knew... he's one of the 'baddies'." Her lip curled up with bitter amusement.

"Why would Fox go to him?"

"He's the one we dealed with... I think that maybe he goes by the name Hunt."

"Hunt?" Maggie asked, intrigued.

"Yeah, why?"

"There was a call while you were out this morning... it had completely slipped my mind... The man who rang - he said he was from the Bureau, that he was Agent Hunt."

Dana looked at her mother sharply. "What did he want?"

"I took a message..." Maggie stood, disappearing out into the hall and then reappearing holding a post-it.

"I was in the middle of getting the girls their breakfast" she said apologetically as she handed her daughter the fluro yellow square. "I just scrawled."

Scully took it, reading through it quickly.

'Agent Hunt rang. Says he didn't know, just found out. Very sorry.'

"Didn't know what, Mom?" she asked harshly.

Maggie shrugged. "He didn't say. I assumed you'd know what he meant."

Dana swore under her breath, crumpling the note and throwing it on the floor.

If he honestly didn't know. If he was just as shocked as they were.. if he was innocent...

"I have to find Mulder" she said quickly, going out into the hall and pulling on her coat.

"Dana, you're not wearing any shoes" Margaret pointed out practically.

"Shoes?" she laughed.

Maggie looked at her, concerned. "Dana, you sound hysterical."

Scully rubbed her eyes again and then thumped her forehead a few times, hopeful that it might stop her head from hurting, but it didn't. She needed to be calm for Mulder, and she could feel herself getting more and more out of control by the second.

Ignoring her mother's concerned looks, she ran upstairs, pulling on a pair of pumps and picking up her cel phone and gun. When she returned downstairs she saw the twins in the kitchen with Maggie. She quickly tucked her gun into her waistband, praying that the safety was on.

"I don't know when I'll be back" she said as she gave the twins quick kisses. "Remember, Mommy loves you" she whispered to them.

"Mommy go way?" Robyn asked, her eyes filling with tears.

"Mommy stay!" Kate shrieked. "Stay Mommy!"

"I can't sweeties, but I'll be back soon, okay? Mommy's just going to bring Daddy home." She patted them on their golden red heads.

"I'm sorry to do this to you Mom... Lucy should arrive here tomorrow about eight, so if we're not home you can just leave her to look after them. If I'm - if we're not back this time tomorrow, I want you to call Skinner. His number's on the list next to the phone" she spoke so hurriedly that her words were tripping over each other.

She kissed the twins again and then hugged her mother. "I love you Mom."

Maggie held her tightly. "Dana, be careful" she whispered.

"I will. I just have to get to Mulder before he does something stupid. I'll be back as soon as I can."

She started out the door.


She turned. "Yeah?"

Maggie through her her car keys. "Take my car, but no high speed chases if you can help it, right?"

Dana smiled faintly, catching the keys. "I'll do my best Mom. Thanks."

Dana Scully sighed, resting her head against the steering wheel. She'd been driving around for hours and she hadn't found Mulder anywhere. She'd been to their office, to the Washington monument where the exchange had taken place, to the Lone Gunmen's office, and half a dozen other places where Mulder might have gone. And she was still no closer to finding him.

She glanced wearily at the digital clock in the car, the green glowing numbers informing her that it was just past eight-thirty.

God, he could be gone all night... he could be gone forever... no Dana, dammit, don't think that way! oh god. oh god please let everything be okay. oh god

She jumped as her cel phone rang, the shrill sound interrupting her thoughts. "Scully" she answered automatically, swallowing.

"Scully?" It was Mulder's voice, but it sounded small and distant.

"Mulder, where are you?" It came out sharper and more demanding than she'd intended.

"Scully?" he asked again, his voice even quieter.

"Yeah, I'm here Mulder. Just tell me where you are and I'll come and get you and we can go home, okay?"

"I killed him, Scully."

Scully caught her breath. "Killed who, Mulder? Mulder, where are you?"

"I found him here... I shot him. Scully, it's still hurting. It hasn't stopped hurting yet. It's still hurting..." His tone was scared and confused, and it almost sounding as if he were pleading. Pleading for her to make it all better.

"Oh God, Mulder..." She closed her eyes, her face crumpling.

oh dear god no

"Scully? Please don't leave me Scully..."

"I'm still here, Mulder. I'm right here for you..." She took a deep breath. "Listen Mulder, I'm going to tell you what I want you to do, okay? So listen to me carefully."

"Okay" he whispered, dropping down against the wall and curling up into a foetal position, cradling his gun.

"Mulder, first of all, I want you to put the safety back on your gun, and then I want you to put your gun back in your holster."

Mulder obeyed, placing the holster on the floor beside him. "I did it."

"Now, are you hurt at all?"

"No... I just shot him."

"Mulder, can you just stop saying that?!" she said irritably, clenching her left fist. She took three deep breaths and then continued. "Did you touch anything in the room? Anything?"

Mulder shook his head, swallowing dryly. "Nothing. I just knocked the door in and then-"

"You knocked the door in? Oh Christ, Mulder!" She thumped her forehead.

"Listen, I want you to tell me where you are, and then I want you to go home, okay?"

"I'm not going home Scully. We have to call the police... we have to report the murder or it'll look suspicious..."

"Mulder, you killed the man. Now give me the address and get the hell out of there!"

"433 West 53rd St, apartment 504... Scully, I'm not leaving here."

Scully started the engine and swerved out onto the road. She was above the speed limit but she didn't give a damn. If she was caught she could always say she was chasing a suspect. And in a way, she was...

"Mulder, if the cops find you there you'll get charged with murder. I want you to go down and get in the car and drive straight home."

"I'm not going home until you get here" he said stubbornly. "Besides, he deserved all he got. He killed Sam and he was responsible for killing your sister and my father..."

"Mulder, I'm not sure if he did kill Samantha" she said softly.

There was silence for a moment as it sank in.

"What do you mean? What the hell do you mean?!" Mulder asked, thumping the wall.

"Mulder, stop that right now! Listen, I'm only a few minutes away from you. Now, are you sure nobody heard you break the door down, or the shot?"

Mulder winced. "Nobody's outside... this isn't exactly the classiest place in town, if you know what I mean. The residents are probably used to hearing gunshots..."

"Mulder, I'm almost there. Now, where's the body? Can you see it through the open front door?"

Mulder pulled himself up, going out into the hallway cautiously and looking from all angles. "No, it's hidden..," he said tiredly.

"Okay... I'm just outside, I'm about to park... I'm hanging up now, Mulder, okay? I'll be up in a minute. Just go back inside and stay put."

"Okay Mom."

Scully smiled faintly as she hung up. She cut the engine and got out, slaming the door. She didn't bother to lock it, but just raced into the building, a fairly decrepit old apartment building. An "Out of order" sign hung in front of the elevator and she sighed frustratedly before finding the stairs. "Thanks for warning me" she muttered to herself.

It seemed to take forever to get up the stairs. She tried to make herself go faster, telling herself how dire the situation was. If Mulder was caught he could be charged with first-degree murder and get a life sentence. That was *not* a good thing. But despite knowing that she still couldn't find the energy to push herself harder up the stairs. She was so tired and so sore and so worn out that she just wanted to collapse.

When she reached the fifth floor she almost did collapse, but she forced herself along the hallway and around the corner. Apartment 504 wasn't exactly hard to spot - the door was hanging off it's frame, creating a gaping hole as the entrance to the dark apartment. "Mulder, are you in there?"

As her eyes slowly adjusted to the dark inside the apartment she saw Mulder standing in front of her, holding out his gun holster.

"Take it."

She took it wordlessly, pulling the gun out and examining it before clipping it onto her waistband. One round had been fired.

"Where's the body?" she finally asked, her voice trembling.

Mulder moved aside and she saw the familiar figure on the ground. "I think it's the first time I've ever seen him without a cigarette" he deadpanned.

She ignored him, kneeling down beside the body.

"You shot him in the head" she said, as matter-of-factly as she could manage.

"First shot. Right through the brain. Bang." He made a firing action with his hand.

She took in the puddle of blood already coagulating on the carpet, the packet of Morley's and the golden cigarette- lighter laying next to the body.

She checked for a pulse, even thought she knew he was dead. He couldn't be alive will half his face blown away...

He wasn't.

She stood again, brushing her hands on her jeans. "We can't do anything here Mulder. Let's just go home."

"But.. we can't just leave the body there like that..."

Scully pulled him out into the brightly lit hallway and studied him carefully. He looked dazed and confused and just as tired as she felt.

But they couldn't just leave the body there like that... There might be rats... She shuddered at the image that presented itself in her mind.

"Listen, we'll get Langly, Frohike and Byers to call it in, okay? They'll make sure the call isn't traced, and that we won't be implicated... sound like a plan to you?"

Mulder nodded, hugging himself tightly for warmth and comfort. He took one more glance around the dark apartment before following Scully away.

"Amen" he muttered.

They each drove home alone, following each other in the traffic. When they finally their house - their haven - they found Maggie sitting inside on the couch, the twins curled up asleep on either side of her.

Scully sighed when she saw the two sleeping girls. They were so innocent. They didn't know about killing and death... They didn't know that their father had killed a man in cold blood...

"Hi Mom" she said quietly. Mulder was standing beside her, hanging back, and she felt a strange revulsion at the thought of him. The thought of him shooting the smoking man...

She went forward, scooping up Kate and holding her against her, her chubby little body, she sweet cheruby face with the pink cheeks and the crown of little red curls.

Maggie picked up Robyn and looked at Mulder. "Fox, do you want to take her?"

Mulder shook his head distractedly. "No... you can..."

Maggie nodded, giving him a brief, sympathetic smile before following her daughter upstairs.

Mulder picked up the cordless phone and fell back on the couch tiredly, dialing the office of the Long Gunmen.

"Langly here." He heard the sound of recorders.

"Guys, it's me. I need your help. Turn the machines off."

"They're off."

Didn't these guys ever learn? "Turn them OFF!"

He heard them being turned off and he sighed in relief. He wasn't in the mood for this.

"Listen, I need you guys to do something for me. It's a big thing."

"Hey Mulder, this doesn't have anything to do with Scully's visit earlier, does it?"

"Yeah, it does" he said shortly.

"Okay, then. Shoot."

"Great choice of words. You know, Langly, you shouldn't say that to people they might take you seriously."

"Who'd you shoot this time?" Frohike piped in.

"The smoking man. I thought that he was the one who killed Sam... maybe he was, I dunno..."

Frohike whistled. "Mulder, you can't be serious! What did Dana say?"

Mulder ignored him. Frohike had started calling Scully by her first name a few years ago, after she and Mulder had gotten married. It irritated Mulder to have Frohike cracking on to Scully. He felt possessive of her. She was his.

"Listen, I need you guys to call 911 and report his murder, but I don't want them to have anything to connect either Scully or I to this, got it?"

"Piece of cake. Anything else?"

"Yeah... see what you can find out about a grave in the Miller's Road cemetary in Chilmarc... Samantha Ann Hunt."

"Samantha... Hunt?" he heard Byers for the first time, his voice filled with disbelief.

"Yeah. My sister. She's dead."

All he could think about was Samantha. About finding her killers. About making them suffer what what they'd done to him and to his family. Scully had shown him the note from "Agent Hunt". He knew she believed him; believed that he had honestly not known. That he was honestly sorry. That he had honestly cared.

Mulder knew that Scully was right. Hunt hadn't killed Sam.

He, Fox William Mulder, had killed Hunt, and Hunt had been innocent. Oh Christ.

But even if Hunt had been responsible, would it make him feel any better? Would it stop the ache, the emptiness and pain inside him, make it go away?

He had to find her killers and get justice for Sam. He had to kill them, take their lives like they'd taken hers.

He had to make them pay.

'January 3rd, 2001

God, there's been so many times in the past where I've wished I could wind back the clock, but this would have to be the worst. Mulder and I have barely been talking since we got back last night. And I mean talking at all. We barely talk to the girls, and to each other even less. I don't want to talk, but in a way I do. But I don't. I feel strange when I look at him. My stomach kind of turns and I can't help thinking about how he killed the smoking man in cold blood. Well, maybe in hot blood, but dammit, he still killed him. He's a murderer.

January 4th, 2001

Mulder and I haven't been going to work. It's that simple. We haven't called in to say that we're sick, or put in an application for a vacation. We're just not turning up. Skinner rang yesterday, asking what was going on. He knew about the deal, of course, but we hadn't told him anything about finding Samantha's grave or killing the smoking man. We still haven't. I just told him that a lot was going on and we should be back at work soon. I elected not to mention that it might not be as a team.

January 5th, 2001

Things aren't getting any better. Langly, Frohike and Byers came over a few hours ago with a whole sheaf of papers and a couple of computer disks. The three of them and Mulder locked themselves in the room downstairs that Mulder and I use as a study occasionally and didn't come out for about two and a half hours, and that was only for a bathroom break and to see what they could get to eat. I stopped Byers when the others had already gone into the study and I asked him what they were doing in there. I've always liked Byers best out of the three of them. Frohike I put up with, sometimes he can be amazingly kind and gentle-hearted while other times he's just an annoying little gnome. Langly is just too rock-n-roll for me with those t-shirts and the hair and the glasses. But Byers is always so neat and careful and not as into all the g-man activities as the other two. He much prefers to be hacking into something than breaking into it. Anyway, I'm straying from the point... Byers told me that Mulder had asked him not to tell me what they were doing and that it was best that I didn't know. I lost my temper with Mulder. How can he shut me out like this after all we've being through together? We're married, for christ's sake, and he still choses to work with three dweebs over me!

I barged into the study and told Mulder that I needed to talk to him. He agreed reluctantly and on out way out of the study we passed Byers, looking incredibly scared and guilty.

I dragged Mulder out onto the front porch, even though it was freezing outside and we didn't have coats. I started yelling at him and screaming and - I can't even remember half of what I was saying. He was yelling back at me too, and we were really at the top of our lungs. I didn't care if people heard us, I was so mad at him and I just wanted to kill him. I started crying but I still kept hurling insults at him. I was so angry that after all we'd been through together he could just shut me out of things like this. We eventually stopped yelling, though I'm not sure why really, maybe just because we ran out of insults. I sat down on the porch swing, still sobbing, and gave him this glare that said "don't you even think about coming near me!". I hate myself for being so nasty to him, but I get so mad. He hurts me, so I want to hurt him back, hoping that maybe it'll stop me from feeling so bad. It doesn't, of course. Andway, he ignored my glare and came and sat on the swing beside me. I wanted so much to beg forgiveness of him and to forgive him, to tell him how sorry I truly was and to cuddle up against him, sharing his warmth. But I didn't. My stubborn pride stopped me. And I regret that so much now.

I ignored him and after a few minutes of uncomfortable silence he gave up and went back inside. I wanted to follow him inside, if for no reason other than to get warm, but I stubbornly told myself to stay out her, to make him feel guilty about what he'd said. The end result is that I came in about ten minutes later, half frozen, to discover that the twins needed their dinner. I banged on the study door and yelled out to Mulder to feed them, and that I was going upstairs and to not disturb me. So I came upstairs, had a hot shower, and now I'm writing this. And I feel like shit. God, how could things have gotten so bad for us?'

Dana Scully sat on the porch steps, smoking. She was infuriated at Mulder, Bill and the world at general, and she was rebelling by smoking, something she hadn't done for more than five years.

The day had gone from bad to worse. Mulder had gone off somewhere with Langly, Frohike and Byers after midnight last night, and hadn't arrived home until a quarter to ten this morning. He'd just walked in, dropped down on the couch, and fallen asleep without a word to her.

Just past noon the phone had rung. Dana had already been in a foul mood, and her older brother ringing up to berate her hadn't improved it. She was fed up with his holier-than-thou attitude, and to have him ring her up and accuse her of "abandoning your children and selfishly leaving Mom to look after them, as if she doesn't already have enough on her plate" sickened her. She'd screamed and cursed at him, and then hung up. Mulder, wakened by her shouts, was lying there, looking half guilty, half irritated, and she'd started yelling at him too. She'd gone running upstairs, taking refuge in the little windowseat, refusing to let herself cry, but instead repeating over and over "the bastards".

Then half an hour later she'd heard a child screaming, and raced downstairs to find that Robyn had run into the coffee table and now had a huge gash in her forehead. She'd snatched her daughter from Mulder's hands and examined the gushing wound, only to discover that it would need stitches. She'd run upstairs again, and found some gauze in the medical cabinet, pressing it against the screaming toddler's forehead, then without a word to Mulder had packed her in the car and driven to the nearest hospital. Five hours later she had returned home, tired and frustrated from having to wait in the E.R. for so long. Robyn was now fast asleep, with five stitches in her forehead, and she'd discovered that Mulder hadn't even thought about dinner. She'd been too tired to shout at him this time, but instead had driven down to the nearest gas station and bought a pack of cigarettes.

She got no satisfaction from smoking - she hated it as much as she always had, but just the knowledge that she was rebelling, doing something that she knew Mulder disliked and disapproved of, spurred her on.

Mulder came out onto the porch. "The twins are in bed" he said briefly. He took a cigarette from the pack sitting on the step beside her and motioned for a light.

"Mulder, you don't smoke."

"Neither do you" he said pointedly. He took the cigarette from her mouth and threw it in the bushes.

Stubbornly, she took the cigarette from him and lit it, inhaling deeply. "So what if I've started smoking? It helps me relax."

"Dammit Scully, you know that's a lie just as much as I do! You're acting like a rebellious teenager!"

"That's right! Blame it on me again!"

"Christ Scully, I'm not blaming anything on you! I'm just saying that you don't have to do something stupid to show me that you're a big girl!"

"I'm not doing that!" She hated him so much at that moment. She so desperately wanted to hit him. Hard. But she restrained herself.

"Yes, you are. You're trying to prove to yourself and to me that you can do whatever the hell you please, but I won't put up with that!"

They both stood, facing each other. There was no love left in their eyes, only hatred. Pure, seething hatred.

"You don't own me Mulder" she said quietly.

Mulder broke the eye contact and sat back down on the step. "We were naive to think that this marriage would ever work out."

"We can still get through this, Mulder, if we try." As angry as she was with him right now, as much as she hated him, she didn't want their family to break up. There was nothing more awful that she could think of.

But Mulder shook his head. "No we can't. We obviously weren't meant to be together. Can't you see that, Scully?"

She sat down beside him on the step and he looked pleadingly at her.

that's not true. we love each other. we have a wonderful family. a wonderful life. oh god, we can't do this

She didn't answer him, but instead stood and went inside. There was only one thing that she could do.

He found her upstairs, ten minutes later, throwing her things into an overnight bag. "You - you're leaving us?"

This suddenly became incredibly real to him. The last few days of constant screaming, hatred, death and confusion had had a nightmarish quality to them, but this was something that was terrifyingly real. He didn't want it to be real.

Scully nodded, refusing to meet his gaze. "I need some time to think, Mulder. We both do."

"But... you're coming back, aren't you?" he asked desperately.

She finally met his eyes and her gaze was surprisingly calm and gentle. "I hope so."

Oh jesus, it hurts. she's leaving me. she can't. oh christ it hurts so much "Where are you going?" he asked, his voice breaking.

"I don't know yet. I'll ring you when I get there." She zipped up her overnight bag. "I'm just going to say goodbye to the twins."

"You... but you can't go now... it's past nine..."

"I can't stay here Mulder. Things would only get worse then they already are."

"I'll leave then. You can't leave the twins, Scully..."

"Mulder, I'm going. Give me the car keys."

Mulder pulled the keys out of his pocket and threw them to her, then followed her into the nursery where the twins were fast asleep.

"Scully, I'm sorry about what I've done - and said - the past few days... I haven't been myself... with everything about Sam... please don't go. I can't look after the twins by myself..."

"Mulder, nothing you can say or do will stop me from leaving" she said quietly as she glanced one last time at the sleeping infants.

"Not even this?" He pulled her close to him and kissed her, gently but urgently.

She shook her head slowly as she moved away from him. "No Mulder. Not even that."

Mulder woke the next morning to the steady pitter-patter of rain outside. He was on the couch, but it took him a few seconds to remember completely the horror of the night before. "Oh Jesus" he moaned, burying his face in the worn folds of the couch. "God, no."

He looked around miserably, the rain drizzling outside, the house cold and dark. A vase was still in a hundred pieces on the kitchen floor after he'd thrown it last night.

"Mommmmmeeeeeee!" he heard cries from the twins' bedroom but ignored them.

His life was falling apart. That was the basic fact that everything boiled down to. His wife and best friend had left him, and his children called for her, not him.

He went upstairs slowly into their bedrooom, and looked for his gun. It wasn't there. So Scully had hidden it way from him, had she? Because she didn't trust him - she treated him like a child with a dangerous toy.

He went downstairs to the kitchen and picked up a knife, holding it to his left wrist. just one big slice and before I know it it'll all be over he told himself. But he couldn't bring himself to do that. He couldn't kill himself even if living meant suffering. He threw the knife down in the sink and sat down at the kitchen table with his head in his hands.

"One, two, three" Dana Scully counted under her breath. She picked up the third potplant and pulled the rusty key out from under it, sliding it in the lock of the back door of the winter cabin. She looked around wistfully, seeing the large oak tree which held the old treehouse. She remembered, just more than two years ago, she and Mulder had been out here. Happy together. So unbelieveably happy. And now..

"Don't go there, Dana" she told herself as she let herself into the cold, musty house. "That's dangerous territory."

She felt tears forming in her eyes as she entered the living room. Here she and Mulder had cuddled together, talked... Overwhelmed by emotions, she collapsed on the floor in a heap and sobbed.

"Robbie, eat your breakfast," Mulder said for the fifth time.

"I wan Mommy!" the girl howled, pushing the bowl away from her, the contents spilling all over the table.

"Naughty girl! Look what you've done!" he grabbed a roll of paper towelling and tore off a long strip, trying to clean up all the spilled corn flakes and milk.

"I wan Mommy!"

"Mommy's not here now!" he said sharpy. He glanced over at Kate, who was sitting, obediently eating her breakfast. "Now be a good girl like Kate and eat your breakfast!"

Robyn squirmed off her chair and ran out of the room.

He ran after her, picking her up and holding her tightly as she struggled to get out of his arms.

"Listen, Mommy's gone away for a little while, so you have to be good for Daddy, okay?"

Behind him, Kate started to sob. "Mommy gone? Mommy!"

Frustratedly, he pulled Kate up out of her chair roughly and took the two of them into the playroom, switching the TV on. Then he shut the door so that their sobs weren't so loud, and looked despairingly around.

The kitchen was a mess after just one meal, cereal scattered all over the floor, a big puddle of milk forming around Robyn's chair. He wanted so desperately to wake up from this nightmare, to have Scully comfort him, to let him tell her what was wrong. He wanted here there to help him manage the twins - they were always so well behaved when she was around, and everthing always ran so smoothly. But now... She'd only been gone for one meal and the house looked like a war zone. "Oh Jesus" he muttered, rubbing his eyes.

The day wore on slowly. He kept the twins entertained with their favorite videos; Anastasia, The Lion King, Aladdin... and while they sat, staring raptuously at the screen, he lay on the couch with his eyes shut, trying to make the pain go away.

But it wouldn't.

No matter how hard he tried to think of other things, everything he thought of came back to her. He prowled around the house restlessly, switching lights off and on and then off again. It was still drizzling outside, making the house dark and miserable. But he was grateful for that. Somehow the unfriendliness of the house was more comforting than it would be on a bright, sunny day.

He picked up books and tried to read them, but it was impossible. He couldn't read. He couldn't even think clearly. All he knew was that Scully had left him and he wanted to die.

He was stretched out on the couch staring moodily at the ceiling, when the twins lost interest in what they were watching.

"Is Daddy sad?" Kate asked solemnly as she climbed up beside him.

He pulled her close to him. "Yeah, Daddy's sad. Come on up here, Robbie." He pulled his other daughter up to him, and soon the three of them were settled comfortably on the couch.

"Why?" Kate asked the question with such childlike innocence.

"Daddy's sad" he paused for a moment. "Daddy's sad because Mommy's gone away."

"When's Mommy comin' back?"

"I don't know."

"I wan Mommy" Robbie said, her lower lip trembling.

damn, not again!

"Mommy will be back soon. How about you two go and watch some more videos?"

"No! Robbie wan Mommy now!" she cried insistently.

Kate joined in. "Wan Mommy!"

They jumped down and started running around, almost chanting. "Wan Mommy! Wan Mommy!"

"Mommy's not here!" He thumped his fist down on the coffee table violently and the twins stopped.

They took one look at his thunderous face and fled up the stairs.

Mulder sat down at the kitchen table with his head in his hands. He hadn't meant to lose his temper with them. He knew what it was like when a parent shouted at you. When someone who was supposed to love you and protect you shouted at you or hit you. "Oh Scully..." he sobbed brokenly. "Scully..."

He found the twins an hour or so later, asleep in his and Scully's bed, their faces flushed and tearstained. He took them and laid them in their own beds, smoothing his hands over their curls.

He sighed resignedly. How could he and Scully break up their family? He knew the pain of having parents who hated each other, and he didn't want his children, his wonderful little miracles to grow up like that. He and Scully couldn't do that to them.

He went downstairs, looking around. Everywhere he looked, everything he saw reminded him of her. The family portraits on the wall were reminders of bygone days, days of loving and caring and happiness. Looking at his smiling face in the photo he wondered how he could have ever been so happy, and how he could have taken it for granted. His gaze drifted to the kitchen counter. Her favorite coffee mug. Case notes from a case they'd been working on a few weeks ago. Her glasses sitting atop an open book. He picked them up, running his fingers over the frames gently, thinking about how sexy she always looked when she wore them, how her blue eyes always sparkled...

He put them down gently and picked up the phone, pressing the speed-dial for her celular. Nobody answered. There was nothing but endless, unanswered ringing. He threw the phone to the ground.

She stared at the photograph in her hands. The storm howling outside and the insistent ringing of her cel- phone receded into the distance. She was remembering the day the photo had been taken. The twins had been about eighteen months, and they'd been at one of her mother's family luncheons, out in the yard. It had been, quite simply, a wonderful day. She and Mulder had been able to be lovers, husband and wife, and parents. They'd been free to express the emotions that they normally kept bottled up in public, dropping the facade and being teasing, sharing and loving.

If only it had lasted...

The candlelight glinted off her wedding ring and she slid it off her finger, turning it around in her fingers as she read the inscription inside.

"Love forever, Fox."


She never called him that. Why not Dana? she asked herself angrily. Especially after you snapped at him for not calling you Dana

He was Mulder, she was Scully. They'd been married for more than two and a half years, and they were still Mulder and Scully.


The name seemed unfamiliar to her. She was married to Mulder, wasn't she? Mulder, not Fox. So why was the wedding ring from Fox?


Who was Fox? She didn't know Fox. She only knew Mulder. It was Mulder that she called him at work. When she was scared. She even called him that in bed, for Christ's sake!




"You sure this is okay with you?" he asked as he threw his hurriedly-packed overnight bag in the boot of his car.

Maggie nodded. "Fox, you and Dana have to work this out." She reached up and hugged him. "I know that you two have been having your troubles recently, but it's not doing any good for her to go off by herself like that. You need to talk it through. You can't solve anything if you're not talking."

"I know that." He shifted from one foot to the other as he dug around in his pocket, pulling out a crumpled envelope. "Could you post this for me? It - it's already stamped."

Maggie took the envelope, glancing at the address. She looked at him questioningly. "Your boss?"

Mulder nodded. "Yeah. It's my resignation."

The windshield wipers did little to clear the gray sleet off the windscreen. Gray. That was all Mulder could see everywhere he looked. Gray. He felt gray. The snow embankments along the sides of the road were gray sleet, what had once been a beautiful, pure white, now polluted by the diesel fumes and pollution. Gray. He hated gray.

The temperature in the car was dropping rapidly and he shivered. He wiped the windscreen clear with the palm of his hand, wondering if he was lost. It had been more than three years since he had last been along this path, and despite his photographic memory, he was having trouble remembering the way. Making it even more difficult, it was a 'dark and story night' and landmarks were almost invisible.

And, of course, the last time he'd been along here he'd been... preoccupied. His eyes closed briefly as he visualized the scene. He'd been in the driver's seat most of the way, with Scully sitting demurely beside him... until she'd pulled his left hand gently from the steering wheel, placing it on her leg. They'd both smiled as the hand had drifted higher. He remembered so clearly the look on her face; so completely and utterly happy, sighing quietly every time his hand hit a sensitive spot. Then she'd slid his hand out form under her clothing, kissing his fingers and whispering huskily "My turn to drive."

The next half hour had been one of absolute pleasure, his body tingling and trembling as she touched it, stroked it. The whole time she'd sat in the driver's seat, eyes on the read, with a faint smile the only suggestion that her thoughts were far away from navigating her way along the deserted road. She'd turned her head toward him and caught his gaze, those usually limpid blue eyes dancing with laughter. He knew her eyes so well. He saw them every day, everytime he closed his eyes.

But the past few months when he'd looked into those eyes there'd been something missing. The love and laughter had gone, leaving them cold and hard.

Ice Queen.

The Title popped into his head unasked. He'd heard her referred to as such in the past but he'd laughed it off scornfully. People who called her that didn't know what she was truly like. They saw what she let them see, her cold, almost inhuman outerself. The doctor devoid of emotion while performing an autopsy. The FBI agent who killed cold-bloodedly to survive.

They didn't see the caring mother, the loving wife, the wild, sexy tiger who knew just how to turn him on.

They only knew Ice Queen.

And now, he realised with dismay, that was all he knew.

She pulled out her cellular and dialed home, wishing her fingers weren't trembling. She didn't want to talk to Mulder. She didn't even want to think about him, or the twins or their house or Prince. She wanted to curl up and cry, or curl up and die. She wasn't picky.

But you promised him you'd call a voice in her head nagged.

Yeah, and he promised he'd love me forever she thought bitterly.

It was ringing. He would pick up soon. What would she say to him?

It kept ringing. After five rings the machine picked up. It was a goofy message tha they'd recorded only a few months ago. She remembered how hysterical they'd both been - it'd taken them about three hours to get a message that they were both happy with and which didn't constitute an R-rating.

"Scully." Pause. "Oh, wait, I'm not here at the moment.. maybe Mulder... Mulder!" It was a muffled yell, there was another pause, and then "Nope, sorry, neither of us are here at the moment..." Pause. "Mulder, what are you doing with my dress? What? Mulder, the truth isn't in my lingerie drawer... "Sorry, are you still there? Why don't you leave a message? Mulder's just gotten his head stuck in the bannisters again... Just say something when you hear the-" she stopped and the machine went "BEEEEEEEP."

Every other time she'd heard that it's made her laugh. Or at least crack a smile. But tonight it just made her heart ache even more.

"Mulder, it's me" she said crisply, trying to drive the tremble out of her voice. "I - I don't have time to talk now... I'm just ringing to say that I got here safely. I'll call you soon."

She hung up and sank in a pile on the cold, hard floor. She'd lied to Mulder and that made her feel even more miserable than before. She had plenty of time to talk. She had the whole night. But she didn't want to talk. Not yet. Maybe not ever.

She looked around at the cold, dark house. She'd forgotten that the gas and electricity would be turned off. The water was still on, at least, thank God.

The house had never seemed less inviting than it did now. The last time she'd been here had been that magical Christmas three years ago with Mulder. The whole house had been brightly lit and welcoming, overflowing with love and affection. The smell of Christmas; the pine tree, the spicy, delicious food, the scented candles and bubblebath.

She and Mulder had been so deliriously happy. Love and sex. That had been all that had mattered to them. They'd been naive enough to think that sleeping together would bring them together for the rest of their lives. They'd been wrong.

She remembered that Christmas Eve. She'd rung him and he'd come. She'd told him that she'd loved him and she'd meant it.

And that was why this was hurting so much.

She loved him with all her heart and soul and mind, always had, always would. But she hated him. Hated him vehemently because he was so damn selfish. Because he was petty and always acted so damn superior and conceited. Because he called her by her last name. She was Scully to him.

That very night they'd made love for the very first time. It had been one of the most exhilarating times of her life; she and Mulder had finally given themselves completely and utterly to each other.

And now they'd lost each other again.

But tonight would not end happily like the last time. There would be no melodramatic declarations of undying love. Mulder was at home, in their wonderful home with their wonderful, beautiful baby girls, and she was here. Alone.

She picked up the wedding ring which had fallen on the floor. "Love forever, Fox" she read again, this time aloud. She could hear the skepticism in her own voice. Fox. Mulder.

She didn't slide the ring back on her finger. She couldn't.

Instead, she went over to the bureau in the corner of the room, hunting through it. Spare batteries. An old torch. Maps. Playing cards. playing poker with Mulder... dammit, no! A set of old keys. An unopened pack of stationery.

Taking it back to the couch, she pulled out an envelope and a ball point pen which had come with the set. After a few dry scratches, purple ink flooded out, making a huge ink spot on the envelope. "Dammmit!" she hissed as she scrunched the envelope up into a ball and threw it across the room. She pulled out another envelope and printed on the front of it 'Fox and Dana'.

She slipped her wedding ring inside and sealed it, tossing it into the bureau drawer along with the stationery packet, then she returned to the couch, snuggling down as best she could into the hard, worn fabric, pulling the quilt down over her.

It was freezing in the house, and despite the thick quilt tucked around her, she broke out in goosebumps. She cursed herself for thinking that this would be a good place to get away to. There was no heating and no firewood for the fire, and the only food was long-life milk and some preserves in the pantry.

First thing tomorrow Dana she lectured herself angrily you're going to book a room at the nearest motel.

She wriggled herself further down under the quilt. It was cold. She was lonely. She missed Mulder's breathing beside her. She missed his warmth. She missed the soft whimpers and giggles that came through the baby monitors. She missed... no, dammit dana! dammit!

She burst into tears, no longer able to hold them back. She was hopeful that at least she could cry herself to sleep, but the sobs turned into hiccups and she was forced to go and get herself a glass of water from the kitchen. As she passed the candles she'd placed in the hall she blew them out angrily. It was unfair that something could look so happy, twinkling delightedly on a day like this.

Settling back under the quilt, she closed her eyes and willed herself to go to sleep.

About two hellish hours later, she succeeded.

She woke the next morning feeling disoriented. She sat up drowsily, pulling the quilt around her tightly to fend off the icy morning air.


Her head whipped around to see Mulder sitting cross-legged on the floor a few feet away from her, wrapped in a blanket. He could tell from the stunned look on her face that he'd better explain.

"I thought I'd find you here" he said uncomfortably.

"You shouldn't have come up here, Mulder. Where are the twins?"

"I got your mom to babysit. But forget about them, Scully. We need to talk about us."

"You've made it perfectly clear that we've got no chance of getting through this, Mulder" she said icily.

"Dammit Scully, I was wrong. I admit that."

Scully rolled her eyes angrily. "Then why the hell'd you say that? Mulder, I'm sick of you doing this. You say something that really hurts and then you apologise later and think that everything'll be a-okay. I can't live like that!"

"Yeah, well, neither can I! Every time I look at you I hate you because you're not Sam!"

There was a stunned silence as Scully took in what he had just said. "Is that what this is about, Mulder?" she asked finally. "Is it because I'm alive and she's dead?"

Mulder could feel tears prickling his eyes and he said angrily "I've spent my whole life looking for her, Scully. And all this time she's been dead. Dead!"

Scully threw the quilt off her and fell to the floor, grabbing his arms. "Exactly! She's dead, Mulder! She's been dead for over twenty years so you might as well snap out of it! Get over it and think about me for once!"

Their eyes met. "I do think about you, Scully" he said quietly, sinking back on his heels.

She also fell back, leaning against the couch. "No you don't" she said, softly but certainly. "You've created this whole fairytale family for yourself. I know every time you look at me you're thinking of her. Not in bed, maybe, but when you're worried about me, it's Sam you're thinking of."

Mulder closed his eyes, rubbing the bridge of his nose tiredly.

"I'm sick of being Scully" she continued softly. "I've been Scully to you for the past eight years and I've had enough. I want to be Dana."

"I don't know how we can do that."

"I don't know either. I don't know where we went wrong, Mulder. We used to be so happy, and now all we do is fight and hate each other and we're miserable. What's happened to us?"

Mulder opened his eyes again and moved next to her, putting his arm around her.

She let him.

"We're stifling each other" he muttered. "We're together twenty-four hours a day and it's too much. We're suffocating and we're taking it out on each other."

She buried her head in the crook of his neck. "I thought we could never spend too much time together. I guess we were wrong."

"Yeah, I guess we were."

They were silent, listening to the storm outside.

"I handed in my resignation," Mulder said softly, after a few minutes silence.

Her head jerked up. "What?!"

"I don't want to lose you Scully. And if it's because of work that we're like this then... well, I'd rather have you."

"But Mulder, you can't - I - I can't work without you" she said confusedly. The only thing clear in her mind amid the swirling emotions was the knowledge that she couldn't work without him. The X-Files was soulless without him, without his driving passion and his amazing mind.

"Scully, we can't work together and live together anymore. We're suffocating each other."

"You've already said that" she said, slightly irritated. "But if anyone should quit, it'd be me. I mean, what would you do?"

"I was thinking of becoming a practicisng psychologist. The pay's good, and I'd be helping people."

"You mean like alien abductees?"

To her surprise, he shook his head violently. "No. No more aliens. I've had enough of all that."

"Mulder, just because Samantha-"

He put a finger up. "No, Scully. Don't bring her into this."

"Mulder, she... you can't just pretend that this all never happened... we.. God, Mulder, there's so many things that we desperately need to talk about."

"Such as?"

She held out her hands helplessly. "Everything? Mulder, our whole lives are changing and we need to talk about it. Our relationship, for starters. We're not just having these problems because of Sam or work. Work's been contributing to it and the thing with Sam has brought it to a point where we can no longer deny it, but the real problem is the core of our relationship. I'm sick of being Scully. I mean, we're married and we've got kids, but we call each other by our last names. Even though we worked so closely together and trusted - and still trust - each other completely, we missed a stage of our relationship. We never used to talk, and we still never talk. We don't know all the things that we should know about each other by now, just the simple things. We didn't even *date*, for Christ's sake. We just went from partners to a heavily involved couple."

"You're saying that we don't know each other - that we don't talk. But we do."

"Name one conversation we've had within the last three months that hasn't ended in a fight."

He rubbed his eyes tiredly. "I don't know, Scully. But we used to talk."

"As Mulder and Scully or as Fox and Dana?"

"As -" He stopped, looking at her with realisation. "You're saying that we're still Mulder and Scully to each other and that we basically-"

"I don't really know what I'm saying" she said, interrupting him wearily. "I just know that I'm not happy with the way things are, and I want to be Dana. We've lived for almost nine years as Mulder and Scully and it's just not right. What do you think the twins will think when they get older and their parents call each other by their last names?"

He was silent and she continued, needing to get it all out of her system.

"Mulder, I mean that we need to get to know each other again - even to fall in love again. We started off this relationship the wrong way - we jumped in at the deep end. I'm not saying that that was anyone's fault - we were forced to work so closely together because of our job. But we've forgone some of the most crucial things. We haven't had much time to really get to know about each other. You understand me?"

"How do we do that?" he asked quietly, staring at her.

With a sigh, she roused herself and went over to the bureau, coming back with the envelope in her hand and giving it to her silently.

He read the writing on the front, then tore it open, pulling out the ring and looking at it. His eyes strayed to her hand. "Why did you take it off?"

"Because I didn't feel comfortable wearing it" she said honestly.

"I see." He twirled the ring around on his ringer, then with a sigh he put it back in the envelope and handed it to her.

"No, you keep it" she said quickly.

He frowned. "Scully..."

"Call me Dana, please... Fox."

He held her unwaving gaze for a moment, then he nodded, tucking the envelope in his pocket carefully. "Dana... how is this going to work?"

"I don't know. If you quit I'm not going to stay there without you."

"What are you going to do then?"

"I don't know." She paused. "I, uh... I still want more kids, Mulder."

"I know you do. So do I." He stood abruptly. "Let's go get ourselves some breakfast."

"Mulder, we can't avoid talking..."

"I know, but we have to eat. This is our future we're planning, Sc - Dana. We shouldn't do it on an empty stomach."

They had bacon and eggs at a nearby diner and bought some firewood on the way back. They soon had a warm fire roaring and cuddled down together in front of it.

"Remember when we were on that case in Australia... and we spent the day at the beach? That was good."

"Yeah, that was good" she agreed softly.

"We talked a bit then... we haven't really talked like that since..."

"That's what I've been saying." She stroked his hair, closing her eyes briefly as she breathed in his aftershave. "Fox?"


"We need to plan what we're going to do."

"About work and our relationship and the future?"


"I think that we need to get to know each other again before we plan for the future. We have to wipe the slate clean and start again from the beginning."

"How are we going to do that?"

"I think that we should take a leave of absence from work and that one of us should move out of the house for a while."

"And?" she tried to keep the tremble out of her voice. She knew he was right but she still hated the suggestion.

"We should just, you know, go on a few dates. Have fun together. Nothing serious or heavy. Just get to know each other as people."

"Mulder, I just with that verything was back how it used to be" she said wistfully. "When we were a happy family and didn't hate each other."

"Yeah, I wish that too" he said softly, kissing her forehead.

The twins greeted them with squeals of delight when they returned home. He'd followed her car the whole way home and they'd both spent the travelling time thinking hard. Maggie looked relieved when she saw them coming into the house together, both looking relatively relaxed. But her smile had faded when Mulder had gently pried Robyn off his legs and gone upstairs to pack.

They had a meeting with Skinner and, explaining that they were having 'family problems', asked for, and were given, leaves of absence. Maggie stayed at the house for the next week, babysitting the twins while Dana and Fox got "to know each other again", going for long walks together, lunches, dinners, breakfasts. Sometimes they'd go back to the motel where Mulder was staying and just sat and talked. They never went back to their house. They didn't touch, other than a pat on the back, a hand squeeze or the occasional kiss goodbye on the forehead. They just talked. About their'favorite foods, books, movies... They discussed friends from their childhood, games that they had played. They occasionally got onto more serious conversation topics; what it felt like to kill someone, how Dana felt while doing an autopsy... "You have to put out of your mind the fact that it's not a person any more. It's just a body, just a collection of bones and tissue and muscles and blood. But you can't help thinking that this is someone who had a mother and a father and maybe a wife or husband who loved them..."

They were careful to call each other Fox and Dana, although the occasional Mulder or Scully slipped out despite their efforts.

Dana always felt bitterly sad when she said goodbye to him and went into the house, where her mother and children were loving and welcoming. It hurt her that she and Mulder were doing this to themselves. It was really quite ridiculous, she couldn't help thinking. This wouldn't do anything to mend their relationship.

After a week Mulder went back to work. There was a case he'd been interested in for the past six months, and there had been a big development. He left for Arizona.

She missed him more than ever. Not having him around the house was bad enough, but this was too much. They'd decided not to keep in contact. It had been her suggestion and now she regretted it dearly. What she would have given just to hear the sound of his voice...

Five days later he rang her. "Scully - I mean, Dana?"


"Dana, I've decided that - I'm ready to come home, if you'll let me."

He returned home the next day.

Two weeks later he moved out again, and Dana Scully filed for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.

They just hadn't been able to get along as a couple anymore. Everything they said or did had gotten on the other's nerves, and they'd gone back to fighting and arguing. Neither of them had been able to handle it. Things had gotten worse than they ever had before and they refused to talk to each other. And then he'd left.

He rented an apartment in Alexandria, only a few blocks from his old apartment. He started ringing her several times a night, sometimes drunk, sometimes just miserable, sometimes angry at her, or himself. After a week she changed the number.

She hated him because she hated him and everything about him. He hated her for the same reason.

The divorce went through. By that time Dana had already quit her job, had had her medical license reinstated and was planning an internship in pediatrics at the Washington D.C. Memorial Hospital. But despite her attitude of not giving a damn and her outward determination to get on with her life, she cried herself to sleep every night. Mulder was still working with the bureau, and had been assigned to work with Claudia Andrews, who had split with Michael Abbot two months previously.

Margaret Scully was heartbroken as she watched her daughter's world crumple around her.

Dana Scully sighed as her pager went off. She'd only just reached the cafeteria and she was starving, having eaten nothing for about six hours. She hated these night shifts.

She went to the nearest telephone and dialed.

"Dana, nice response time!" she heard Evan Gelder's teasing voice.

"You wanted something?" she asked, smothering a tired yawn. Gelder was an E.R. doctor, about her age, and his repuation as a brilliant doctor was overshadowed only by his charm and engaging personality. She'd met him first a month or so ago and since then they'd become friends. He was very similar to Mulder in some respects, which scared her; he had Mulder's habit of pouting - the little sad puppy dog look - and whenever she saw it her heart ached.

"Actually, I was wondering if you were free tonight. I've got two tickets to Les Miserables..," he said temptingly.

Dana laughed. "Don't you understand the meaning of the word 'no'?" That was the third time Evan had asked her out this week, and the third time she had refused.

"Dana, what's stopping you? C'mon, we'll have a great time."

You want to know what's stopping me? Christ, I've only been divorced for four months.

But four months *was* four months, and Evan was wonderfully charming and handsome and kind...

So what's stopping you Dana?

She knew the answer to that. Guilt. Even though she and Mulder were divorced - she winced every time she heard that word - she still felt like she were cheating on him when she was with another man. She felt like she were letting her children down. Robyn and Kate didn't understand why Daddy didn't live at home anymore, and why Mommy was always sad.

"I can't, Evan."

"C'mon, Dana. Get a sitter for your kids. You deserve a night off."

"No!" It came out more forcefully than she'd intended and several people around stopped and looked at her. "Sorry" she said tiredly into the reciever. "I'd just rather go home and sleep."

"The show doesn't start until seven. It's nine a.m. There's plenty of time."

"Evan, I..."

"C'mon, Dana..."

"I'm not looking for a relationship, Evan. I-"

"Dana, I'm not asking you to marry me. It's just a night out."

"I can't..."

"Dana, please? For me?"

She sighed. "Fine. You going to pick me up?"

"Your place at six."

"The address is-"

He interrupted her. "I know the address."

She raised an eyebrow. "What, you've been stalking me or something?"

"I'll see you at six. Bye."

"Yeah, bye." She hung up with a slight frown. She'd had enought bad experience with men in the past to be extremely wary of them.

He didn't drop her home until after midnight, walking her up to the front door.

"See, tonight wasn't that bad, was it," he teased gently.

"I've had worse dates" she said with a faint smile. "Thanks."

She pulled her keychain out of her pocket, flipping through the keys to find the one to the front door. She inserted it in the lock, turned it and then opened the door as she pulled out the key. "Well, I'll see you at work tomorrow, I guess."

She turned to go, but Evan caught her arm. "Wait, Dana. Don't I get a goodbye kiss?" His tone was light and teasing as he pushed the front door shut again.

She looked up at him. His eyes were a dark brown, almost black, and she felt herself getting lost in them. As he leaned toward her she felt her heart started to beat madly, and she tightened her grip on the bunch of keys in her hand. oh god I can't do this but I want to but I don't oh god oh god oh god

She closed her eyes as his lips met hers, demanding and powerful. She slipped her tongue past his lips, tasting the wine they'd been drinking earlier that evening. She wasn't drunk, was she? She had only had a glass or two.. So why was she doing this crazy thing? ...Why was she enjoying it?

Even took her hands and she heard a clinking noise as her keys fell to the ground. She pulled away slightly and glanced down reflexibly, and she froze as she saw the keychain. The Apollo 11 keychain that Mulder had given her five years ago. Her stomach lurched nauseously. She pulled away, bending down and picking up the keys and looking at the keychain in her hand. Then she clenched her fist, feeling a burning pain through her heart.

"I have to go" she mumbled. Then she turned and fled inside.

When she arrived at work the next morning she found Evan in the staff room. "Mornin' Dana."

She flushed, remembering the night before. "I'm sorry about last night" she said quickly. "I just-"

"No need to explain" he waved a hand nonchantly. "Not unless you actually want to."

She sighed, relieved, and dropped down in a chair. "Actually, I do want to explain" she said suddenly. She needed so desperately to tell someone how she was feeling, and Evan was as good as anyone else.

"Go ahead" he said, settling back in his chair in a manner reminicent of a shrink.

"I, uh, I don't know how much you've been told about me, but I was married to a man named Fox Mulder, who I used to work with at the FBI. We only divorced four months ago and I'm not exactly getting over it. "Last night, when - when you kissed me, I liked it... but then I saw this -" she pulled the keychain from her pocket and looked at it. "I saw this" she continued unsteadily "and I just freaked out, lost control. He gave this to me for my birthday a few years ago."

Evan was shaking his head slowly. "I'm sorry, Dana, I didn't know that it had only been that long... After I first met you I asked around about you, looked at your personnel file. I knew that you were divorced, but I never dreamed that it was so recent. You always seemed so composed and poised and as if you life were perfectly settled. I'm sorry."

"I haven't talked to him for over two months" she said, a slight break in her voice and her eyes moistioning suspiciously. "And we fought over the phone. He - he wanted to see the twins and I told him that I didn't think that it was a good idea..." she brushed the tears out of her eyes angrily.

"And last night when - you know. I liked it... but then I saw this damn thing and all I could think of was Mulder!" She threw the keychain across the room and it hit the wall, leaving faint metallic trails as it slid to the ground.

"I'm sorry Dana."

"Don't be" she said roughly. She wiped her eyes angrily as she stood and went toward the door, but he was quicker then her, and stood barring the doorway. "Evan, please let me through" she sobbed, half-blinded by her tears.

"Dana..." He pulled her close to him and hugged her. Surprised, she tried to pull away, but he held her firmly, and she stopped protesting and burrowed her head against his chest.

"You still love him, don't you?" he asked gently.

She nodded, sobbing. "I love him so much that it hurts. I've never stopped loving him. But love isn't the problem."

"What is the problem, then?"

"What is the problem?" she pulled away as she repeated the question, puzzled. Then she let out a shaky laugh. "The problem is that even though we love each other, we hate each other and can't get along without fighting, that's the problem."

The door suddenly swung open and another doctor came in. "Dana, I want your diagnosis on a patient."

She pulled away from Evan, quickly wiped the tears from her eyes and put on an artificial smile. "Sure, I'll be out in a minute."

Evan patted her on the back reassuringly. "I'll let you get cleaned up in here."

"I don't normally lose it like that" she assured him weakly. "I'm just very... stressed."

Evan nodded and shut the door after him.

Five minutes later he saw her looking completely poised, coolly discussing something with another doctor.

"What a woman" he muttered to himself in admiration. And what a pity that she was still in love with her ex-husband...

"Weed me a story" Robyn demanded as she climbed into her mother's lap.

"What do we say?"

"Weed me a story, pwease."

"That's better."

Dana glanced over at her other daughter, who was busy piling up all the furniture in the dolls house in one room.

"What are we going to read?" she asked, ruffling her daughter's curls. Robyn looked up at her and kissed her on the nose. "Wacky Wensay."

Dana reached across and pulled the well-worn book off the bookshelf. "Kate, you want to come listen to the story?"

"Itz Wacky Wensay" Robyn told her sister importantly.

Kate abandoned her task and climbed up beside her sister. Just as Dana was about to start reading she asked "Where Daddy?"

Dana bit her lip. "Mommy's already explained that, remember. Daddy isn't living here with Mommy and Robbie and Kate anymore."

"Why not?" Kate asked petulantly, looking up at her.

Dana flinched as she looked at her daughter's eyes. Mulder's eyes...

"Because..." She knew that the answer most parents gave was "Because Mommy and Daddy don't love each other anymore", but she couldn't say that. That would be a lie. She still loved Mulder...

"Because Daddy and Mommy - we don't - we..," she sighed, taking off her glasses and rubbing the bridge of her nose tiredly. "How about we read the story, huh?"

She looked pleadingly at Kate, and she could have sworn that there was understanding in those smoky hazel eyes before she looked away.

"'K, Mommy."

Mulder could sum up life in two words. It sucks. Just when life had finally started looking up for him it'd gone sour. He'd had a loving wife and family, a beautiful, loving home and he'd loved his job and working with Scully. But now he had none of them. He'd slipped back into his old living habits - the sparsly furnished apartment, the empty refridgerator, take-out for all meals, or cup-of-soup if he were lucky enough to have any and could actually be bothered cooking it. At work he was partnered with Claudia Andrews, who was a good agent, but she wasn't Scully and never would be.

He was incredibly angry at Scully, even though he knew that they deserved equal blame for the disintegration of their marriage. But what hurt him the most is that she wouldn't let him see the twins. He hadn't seen them since he'd left that night, four months ago. It upset and angered him to know that he'd missed four months of their lives. At this age four months was a long, long time, and he had nightmares in which by the time he finally got to see them they were all grown up and didn't recognise him. His little angels... Nights when he was lonely he'd conjure up images of them in his mind; their red curls and their hazel eyes and their dimples and their little red mouths. The way they'd used to run around him "Daddy, watch me!" "Look Daddy!"

He knew that he should get on with his life, but the idea of dating again scared him, particularly since most of his dates usually ended up turning into one- night stands. He couldn't - didn't even want to - imagine being with anyone other than Scully. Dana.

He kept in touch with Maggie Scully, who kept him updated on the twins' growth. He'd begged her many times to convince Dana to let him see the twins. He had his legal rights to see them, but yet when Dana refused, he accepted it and didn't challenge it. He didn't want to get her in legal trouble. He just wanted her back.

He knew from Maggie that she was working at the D.C Memorial Hospital in pediatrics. Lucy was still babysitting for her, and when she was unavailable Margaret gladly took the job.

It sounded as if Dana was getting on with her life.

Maggie had accidently let slip the other day that Dana was going out on a date, but when he'd questioned her about it she'd told him that she was just going out with a friend. The thought of Dana with another man filled him with rage. She couldn't do that to him, it wasn't fair. Even though his logical mind told him that they were divorced and she was free to date whoever she pleased, it still hurt and angered him so much.

Margaret Scully hung up the phone thoughtfully. Dana had just rung to ask her to babysit that night, as she had the night shift again and Lucy was busy. She'd been talking to Fox earlier and he had, as usual, begged to be allowed to see his children. Maggie didn't approve of the way her daughter was acting and had remonstrated her about it, but not as harshly as she should have, she realised now.

Determinedly, she dialed in Fox's number.

"Yeah?" He sounded sleepy.

"Fox, this is Margaret."

"Oh, hi."

"Dana just rang me. She asked me to babysit for the twins tonight. If you want... you can come over for a few hours."

"She said that, or you?"

"It's my suggestion."

"Oh.. what time?"

"She should be well gone by five thirty."

"I'll be there."

When he arrived at the house he just stood looking at it for a few minutes. This was his home. It hurt him just to look at it, remembering all the times that they had had as a family. Playing in the yard, sitting talking on the front steps under the stars...

He rang the doorbell and he heard a few shrieks inside, little footsteps, Prince barking. After a few seconds the door opened and Maggie smiled nervously at him. "Hi Fox" she said, hugging him tightly.

"Hi, Mrs. Scully" he broke out of the hug when the two girls came running towards him and threw themselves at him, squealing "Daddy!"

Maggie took a step back, watching him with his children fondly. He was grinning madly and his eyes had lit up.

"I'll be in the kitchen" she whispered to him.

He nodded his head and then the twins dragged him upstairs to show him the pictures they had drawn during his absence. On the way to their bedroom he passed his and Sc- no, Mulder, it's not yours anymore Dana's room. It was messier than he remembered, the bed made sloppily as if she were in a hurry. He guessed that she didn't exactly have hours to spend making the beds, though, with her work schedule and raising the twins...

The next few hours seemed to fly by. He played games with them, gave them their baths, read them a bedtime story and then tucked them into bed, watching them as they nodded off to sleep.

Then he went downstairs and talked to Maggie, his face lighting up proudly as he talked about everything he and the twins had done.

A lump rose in his throat when he looked at the clock and realised that he'd have to leave before Dana got home. He didn't want to leave this loving, homely atmosphere and go back to his cold, dark, empty apartment.

"Thank you for tonight" he whispered to Margaret as he left. She smiled sadly. "It was a pleasure, Fox. I don't like having to keep this from Dana, but I don't see any other way for you to see them."

He gave her a peck on the cheek. "I wish my mom had been like you."

"I'm sure she did her best" Maggie smiled. "Now, get going before Dana gets home and we get in big trouble."

Mulder was spread out on his couch, fast asleep, when the phone rang, jolting him awake.

He reached out and picked up the reciever sleepily. "Hello?"

"Mulder, what the hell do you think you were doing at ho- at my place last night?" she demanded.

"Well, good morning to you too" he said sarcastically.

"Dammit, Mulder. I told you not to come around here."

"I have a right to see my children! Anyway, how did you find out?"

"The girls told me this morning. Mulder, I thought that we agreed that it was best if you didn't come around."

"You agreed. I didn't. Scully, I have a right to see my kids and if you're not going to let me then I'll take you to court for *full* custody."

"You wouldn't dare. Besides, you're the one breaking all the laws. You were in my house without permission last night and-"

"Your mother gave me permission, okay?! Is that what you want to hear? That your own mother thinks that you're wrong."

"My mom wouldn't do that."

"Ask her if you don't believe me. I don't want to discuss this over the phone. If you want to talk about it, then we'll meet, otherwise, I'm hanging up."

"I have nothing more to say to you." And with that, she hung up.

'May 29th, 2001

I want Mulder back. I know that now that we're divorced and that everything's settled I should just try to get on with my life but I can't. I still love him and I miss him like hell. I so desperately want him back in the house. Divorce is so final, but I don't feel - or want - our relationship to be over. I'm regretting the divorce so much now. We shouldn't have been so hasty to give up, but we both hated each other so much and thought the sooner we got it over and done with the better. Damn, if only we hadn't been so eager to get a quicky divorce. If divorces weren't so easy these days... If, if, if. That's all my life is. I wish so desperately that we hadn't. I know that Father McCue disapproves of what I did and now I feel so guilty. I just want to turn back the clock and be happy again. Mulder and I still hate each other now, but I still want him back. Yeah, I know that's contradictory, but I'm still so completely in love with him that it hurts. Dammit, this all has the quality of a bad dream. But will I ever wake up from this nightmare? I'm so angry at Mulder for coming over the other night, and I'm angry at Mom too, which really means that I have no-one I can really talk to. Mom was being generally supportive of me and I don't know how I would've gotten through everything without her, but now I don't feel like I can trust her, after she let Mulder come over. I know I'm being a real bitch about not letting him see them. I don't even know why exactly I'm doing it. Maybe it's because I hate him so much and, knowing how much he adores the girls, want to torture him. I hate myself for wanting him to suffer; to be miserable, but I can't help it. I must be going crazy. No sane person could feel like this.

Jun 4th, 2001

Evan asked me out for another date and I refused. The more and more I think about it the more I feel like I'm still married to Mulder. Most divorced people I know say that when they signed the papers they went out and celebrated and that it was a merciful release, but I don't feel that. It doesn't feel like the end for me, it feels like the beginning of something terrible.

June 10th, 2001

I had to work another night shift last night and Lucy couldn't do it, but instead of getting Mom to babysit I hired a sitter. I don't feel that I can trust her anymore. What a depressing state of affairs - I can't even trust my own mother!

June 17th, 2001

Lyn, Charlie and Brandon are coming for a visit in a few days. Mom and I have both been keeping in contact - her by letters, me by E-mail, and so they know all about the divorce. Unfortunately, they've sided with Mom, pointing out that although divorce is so common these days, it's still against the church. I know that and I do have a guilt-ridden conscience, I assure you, but divorce felt like the only way out at the time. But I'm so sick of having everyone disapproving of me. The only people who I can hold normal conversations with are people at work, mainly because most of them don't even know my situation beyond that I'm a single parent. There's one doctor, Nicholle Edwards, who's been divorced for a few years, so, although she and her ex-husand still apparently get along, she's someone who can sympathise with what I'm going through. The sympathy and understanding I get from her is what I originally expected of Lyn, but I'd forgotten how strictly Catholic she is. God, it hurts so much to have people disapproving of me!'

Dana frowned as she looked at her mother's dining table. She'd counted thirteen people over all, but there were fourteen places set.

"Who else is coming?" she asked Maggie curiously as she went into the kitchen.

Maggie bit her lip, but was saved from answering by the ringing of the front door bell. The twins and Brandon were delighting in their job of welcoming everyone, and she heard their little running feet and their giggles as they ran to open the door.

Then Dana froze when she heard her daughters shreiking out "Daddy!"

She turned to her mother with hard eyes. "You invited Mulder?"

Maggie looked at her firmly. "Yes, I did. And I'd appreciate if you'd keep a civil tongue in your head, young lady."

"Mom, I'm not - How could you - I - I..." Outraged, she turned and stormed out of the kitchen and up the stairs to her old bedroom.

She threw herself down on the bed, her eyes stinging with tears. How could Mom do this to her? What the hell was she trying to do? Trying to get them back together? And to treat her like she were ten years old again... She picked up a pillow off the bed and hurled it across the room angrily.

Her mother opened the door and came in without knocking. "Dana..."

"How could you do this?

"Dana, I think that you and Fox should give it a second chance. For the sake of the twins, at least?"

Dana shook her head disbelievingly. "Mom, it's over between us. There's no point in trying to get us back together. You're just making things harder for us."

"Dana, I just think-"

"I hate him Mom!" she screamed. "I hate him so much and I can't stand the sight of him. I don't want him around my kids!"

"They're his children too, Dana" Maggie said pointedly.

Dana collapsed on the bed, sobbing. "I hate him. I hate him."

"Dana-" Maggie went forward, putting her arm around her daughter, but Dana shrugged it off.

"Just leave me alone!" she cried angrily.

Maggie stood with a sigh. "Get cleaned up and join us downstairs, okay Dana?"

"I'm not coming down" she muttered, her words muffled as her face was pressed in the pillow.

"Dana, you can at least be courteous to him. He is the father of her children."

Dana sat up, looking at her mother. "I don't understand why you're doing this" she said tearfully. "Are you trying to make me feel even worse than I already do? Do you - do you *enjoy* making me suffer?"

Margaret shook her head. "No, but I know that Fox still loves you... and that you still love him. And you're miserable apart."

"Don't you get it, Mom? We're miserable *together*!"

Maggie sighed again. "I'm going downstairs."

Dana didn't answer, but just watched sulkily as her mother left the room.

Out of stubbornness more than anything else she refused to go downstairs. Instead, she just sat on her old bed upstairs, seething with rage. Hw could her mother do this to her? Her life was a mess and what did Margaret do? Did she support and soothe her obviously distressed daughter? Noooooooo, she invited her daughter's ex-husband over to a family dinner. She was too angry for tears now, and as her anger slowly dissipated she only had to remind herself that *he* was sitting downstairs with her precious children, and another wave of anger surged through her.

And yet she still wanted him back so desperately, despite her hated for him, and the favoritism her mother showed him - sometimes in the past she'd wondered if her mother loved Fox more than her own daughter... She bit her lip angrily again.

There was a knock on the door and she wrung her hands. Who could it be? If it were Margaret then she wouldn't have knocked... Lyn or Charlie maybe? But she didn't want to talk to either of them... and the thought of any of the other dinner guests standing out there mortified her. Mr and Mrs. Irving, who she'd known all her life. Ditto for the Williams' and Mrs. Greig. Father McCue? The thought of talking to him was comforting and gave her enough courage to get up, wipe the tears from her eyes and open the door.

It was Mulder.

"What the hell do you want?" she demanded ungraciously.

He came into the room and shut the door behind him.

"Why did you come here, Mulder? Why did you have to-"

He cut her off, grabbing her wrists and pulling her against him in an unexpected movement, and he started kissing her savagely. Her head swam as she gasped for air, trying to push him away from her. He was biting her lip and she could taste warm blood in her mouth, but, surprisingly, she didn't seem to mind. She stopped struggling and started kissing him back just as roughly, with an angry passion.

His mouth moved to her neck and he was nipping the skin sharply, and she clenched her teeth to stop from crying out.

Oh god what am I doing? this is just crazy...

She pulled away and they stood, panting as they eyed each other warily. She put a finger to her lip and pulled it away, glistening with red blood.


"Not Mulder" he whispered. "Fox."

She looked at him, then rubbed her forehead frustratedly. "No Mulder- Fox... this isn't going to work. You know that as well as I do."

"We love each other, Dana. I love you, and you can't deny that you love me."

"I don't love you, Mulder" she said, avoiding his gaze. She remembered having a very similar conversation in this room three years ago. After three years, they were back at the beginning.

"Look into my eyes and tell me that, and then I'll believe it" he said gently.

"I can't" she muttered.

"Why not?" He took her chin and forced her gaze on him.

"Because I'd be lying and you'd know it" she said hoarsely.

"You still love me and I still love you, what's our problem?"

"Dammit Mulder, you sound just like my mom."

"What's our problem?" he repeated.

"Our problem.." she looked away from him and he jerked her face back towards him.

"What's our problem?" He fixed his eyes on her face and tightened his grip on her.

A sob escaped her and she gritted her teeth. "Our problem is that we hate each other. You satisfied now?"

He let go of her and sat down on the bed. "No, I'm not satisfied."

"Well, that's *your* problem." She licked the blood off her lower lip, grateful that it had at least stopped bleeding. "I'm going downstairs."

"No, you're not."

He grabbed her arm and she turned and slapped his face. "Let me go!"

"You're not going until we've discussed this" he said quietly, ignoring the stinging pain in his right cheek.

She shook her head. "I don't have to obey you, Mulder. And we have nothing to discuss."

"Dana Katherine Scully, listen to me."

There was something commanding in his voice that made her stop. "What?"

"Why do you hate me so much?"

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "I don't."

"Why do you hate me so much?" he asked again.

He looked at her with those soulful eyes and she realised something. Something so incredibly obvious that neither of them had realised it. A faint smile played on her lips as she spoke, the first smile that had graced her features for months.

"We scratched the itch."

He looked at her for a moment, comphrehension slowly dawning in his eyes.

"We've been so stupid" she said with a shaky laugh. "We've put ourselves through hell for nothing."

"My God, Scully!" he whispered, trembling with quiet laughter mingled with relief.

Suddenly the world was in focus for him once again. He pulled her towards him in a hug.

"We've been so laughably stupid, haven't we?"

She nodded, tears of happiness running down her cheeks as she pressed her face against his chest. How could she have ever thought that she hated him? She loved him.

She reached up and kissed him, but this kiss was completely different from the one earlier. There was no violence, no savagery, in this kiss. It was gentle, loving and satisfying.

She pulled away and hugged him again. "I'm so sorry about all the things that I said - and did... I'm sorry I was such a bitch about not letting you see the twins."

"Apology accepted" he grinned.

"We were so stupid not to have realised it sooner... We really let things get out of control, didn't we?"

"I guess you could say that" he chuckled. "If we hadn't gotten so irritated by each other... well, that just grew and grew until it blew right out of proportion... So, what are we going to do now?"

"You mean how do we get ourselves out of this mess?"

"Basically, yes."

"I wish we hadn't gone through with the divorce. Everyone kept telling me to wait for at least six months to make sure I was making the right decision... I was so sure that I was right, though, and that if I could just cut you out of my life and start over I'd be happy. But I wasn't."

"Neither was I. I bet your Mom's going to enjoy saying "I told you so". I just wish that we'd avoided the whole thing in the first place, don't you? It was like a nightmare."

"It was a nightmare" she agreed, pulling him to the ground and into her arms, running her fingers through his hair.

"When was the last time you washed your hair, Mulder? It's disgustingly dirty."

Mulder threw back his head and faked a wounded sound. "You think that's bad, you should see my apartment!"

"I'd rather not" she smiled, pulling him even closer. "But Mulder, this is - What the hell are we going to do now? I mean, this definitely doesn't resolve all our problems. We still won't be able to get along without fighting and -"

He put a finger on her lips. "Now that we know what out problem is, we can cope with it. We can take it in our stride."

"You seriously think that we can do that?"

"You seriously think I can handle spending any more time without you and the twins?"

She chuckled softly. "I guess you're right."

He nuzzled against her stomach contentedly. "You still want more kids, don't you?"

"Mulder, we can't even think about that yet - there's too many things that we have to discuss first."

"But you do?"

She sighed. "Yeah."

"So our first step is?"

"I don't know. Why are you asking me?"

"Because I sure as hell don't know. All I know" his voice dropped to a whisper "is that there's nothing I love more than being in your arms."

She smiled. "Cut the crap, Mulder."

"Sorry, I've been reading too many romance novels over the past few months" he said with a sly grin.

"What, like Playboy?" she asked with an innocent smile.

"Ohhhhhh yeah." He poked her sides and she let out an involuntary giggle.

"Mulder! I hate to know what everyone thinks we're doing up here."

"Such as what?"

He looked at her with eyes full of meaning and she shook her head. "Nope, Mulder. Not yet."

"Owwwwww..." He pouted, but there was a happy light in his eyes.

They sat like that, on the floor, with him in her arms with his head resting against her stomach and her hands folded over his. It was a peaceful companionship and they both relished it, knowing what a rarity such moments had been over the past year or two.

"I think I hear everyone leaving" Mulder murmured sleepily.

"I think my legs have fallen asleep" she muttered just as sleepily. "But it doesn't matter."

"No, it doesn't..." All that mattered was that they were back together again. This time, hopefully forever...

He moved back home the very next day, settling back into their old routines happily. They called each other by their Christian names as often as they could, although the occasional "Mulder" or "Scully" still slipped out. After so many years, it was hard to break the habit.

After three months of squabble-less living they were remarried, and this time Dana Scully became Dana Mulder. The twins also became Mulders, prompting them to run around the house hollering about being "Mower"s.

Two months after that they decided to get IVF again, and Dana Mulder became pregnant.

They were more cautious this time, deciding not to tell anyone until the third month. Mulder was more overprotective of her than he had even been, not allowing her to do anything remotely strenuous or stressful. He was awarded with teasing from Dana, but he was determined that this pregnancy would be as easy and uncomplicated as he could possibly make it.

Walter Skinner was becoming a regular visitor in their home and, despite still being Mulder's superior, the three of them enjoyed discussing work, politics and anything else that came to mind. For the first time, Skinner heard the full story of the discovery of Samantha's grave, of the smoking man's death, and the reasons that led to Dana's resignation from the Bureau.

The twins adored him, much to Fox and Dana's surprise, and whenever he visited they'd greet him eagerly, climbing onto his lap and demanding that he play with them. The sight of the Assistant Director of the FBI down on his hands and knees while the little red-headed rascals sat on his back playing "hawsies" often started them laughing hysterically, and when they started it was hard to stop. Skinner's face was usually bright red by this time, but whether that was due to embarrassment of the fact they the twins were choking him was hard to decide.

It was one of these such Friday nights that he casually informed them that Phoebe Green was in town.

If Skinner had been expecting a huge reaction then he would have been disappointed. Fox's eyes went straight to Dana's face, anxiety plainly written in his eyes. Dana's eyebrows rose, then she smiled.

The cat with the cream Skinner thought to himself. He'd heard of Mulder's history with the Scotland Yard detective, but it appeared that Dana had fought Inspector Green for Mulder and won, and was very pleased about it.

"I just thought you'd like to know" he said apologetically. "I heard some of the lab technicians talking about her earlier today. Apparently she's, uh, made quite an impression." There was a playful twinkle in his eyes. "I wouldn't be surprised if she called in on you, just to" he paused "say hello."

Mulder grinned. "Thanks for the warning."

Ten minutes after Skinner left there was a knock on the door. Dana and Fox smiled at each other.

"Can I get it?" Dana asked, smiling mischeiviously.

He caught her eye. "Go ahead."

She peered quickly in the mirror next to the door, smiling proudly as she saw her five-month stomach. Robyn came running to the door just as Dana was about to open it.

"Me open!" She reached up, pulling the heavy wooden door open triumphantly. Then she frowned when she saw who it was.

She'd been expecting Uncie Walt or Grandma, but instead there was a strange lady. A strange lady who looked very, very surprised.

"Pheobe, hello" Dana said pleasantly, patting the curls of the toddler who was now hiding in the folds of her mother's dress.

Phoebe swallowed, looking at the woman in front of her. Despite her obvious pregnancy, she was slimmer since Phoebe had last seen her, and seemed very calm and self-assured. "It's Dana, isn't it?" she murmured faintly.

Dana nodded, motioning for her to come inside. "Fox, honey" she called. You'll never guess who's here!"

Mulder, who had been listening from just inside the living room, stifled a smile as he heard his wife. She was obviously immensly enjoying what she was doing.

"Long time no see" he said with a wry smile as he appeared, Kate on his shoulders.

"Mulder... And you always said you weren't a marrying man" her eyes strayed to his hand, noting the gold band.

"I think you're confusing me with Rhett Butler," Mulder said with an amused grin.

"Oh no, I clearly remember you telling me that..." her voice dropped seductively "...Fox."

Mulder met her gaze coolly. "I guess I needed someone as wonderful as Dana -" his arm snaked around his wife's shoulders - "to make me change my mind."

Phoebe swallowed, wincing inwardly. Obviously her charms no longer had their effect on him, and it shocked her, to put it mildly.

She bent down, smiling a smile so fake that even the toddler who was still gripping onto Dana's skirt could see through it. "Hello, what's your name?"

Robyn looked at her suspiciously, clinging even tighter to her mother.

Phoebe tried again. "Is that your twin sister over there?" She pointed to the little girl who was still on her father's shoulders.

Robyn frowned at her, and Dana swung her up into her arms. "This is Robyn, and this is Kate" she introduced the twins coolly. Af first she'd been willing to be polite and even friendly toward Phoebe, but how could a wife be nice to a woman who tried to come onto her husband?

Robyn squirmed out of her mother's arms and ran off into the playroom. Mulder lowered Kate to the ground, but before running off after her sister, she tugged on her mother's skirt. Dana bent down and smiled faintly as the little girl whispered not-so-quietly confidentially in her ear "Datza bad lady."

As she ran off, Mulder said apologetically "It's a shy stage they're going through. They don't like strangers."

Phoebe was about to fling an arm around Mulder and say "But *I'm* not a stranger, darling," but the look in Dana Mulder's eyes quickly stopped her.

He's mine her steely gaze seemed to say and I treat him a hell of a lot better than you ever did, so don't you dare even try to get your claws into him.

"Would you like a drink?" Mulder offered.

Phoebe shook her head. She had a feeling that the best things to drink in this house would be apple juice and milk, and she needed something much stronger.

"I must be going, I just stopped in to say hello." She laughed uncomfortably.

She started moving back towards the door, and after a few desultory comments she escaped.

"The nerve of that woman!" Dana said in amazement as they watched the car drive off through the dining room window.

"She never did beat around the bush" Mulder agreed.

Dana mimicked the detective. "Oh, I *clearly* remember you telling me that.. Fox" her voice dropped even lower than Phoebe's had, husky and seductive.

"You're so much sexier than she is" Fox whispered, kissing her.

"I hope you'll still be saying that when I'm as big as a whale and my face goes all pasty and I make you rub my swollen feet" she qu|/p>

ipped, ruffling his hair.


"Fox Mulder-"

"Of course I will" he assured her.

"Good boy." She patted him on the head. "C'mon, we better check on the girls. They're probably still shaking with fear with the thought of the wonderful Inspector Green."

Mulder nodded. "I think that's highly understandable. *I'm* still shaking with fear at the thought of her..."

Two more months progressed without any major events. Life went on smoothly for Dana Mulder, who finally given in to Mulder's pleadings and left her job. Of course, he was right, she had to admit - a hospital was full of germs and diseases and they didn't want to run any unnecessary risks - and she did love being able to spend all day with the twins... but her work-driven nature made her feel lazy when she wasn't out there "helping the world," as Missy had once said.

Despite Mulder's strict "orders" to stay off her feet and take life easy, she spent most of her days running around after the twins. Lucy Andrews had left them and was training as a nurse, and Dana was adamant that it was time they started being full-time parents rather than getting another nanny. As a result, the twins were introduced to the wonderful world of daycare. This was - Dana told herself strictly - only for a few hours at a time while she went grocery shopping. After all - it was much easier without having to watch the twins every step of the way, especially with their motto of "If I want it, it's mine, and I can eat it right here, right now."

Maggie dropped in a few times a week, often with a gift for the twins despite her daughter's admonitions about spoiling them. She'd take the twins out for a few hours to give Dana a break, but by the time Dana had tidied up the house the little terrors were back, causing chaos once more.

They'd both inherited their parent's stubbornness and quick tempers, their curiosity and quick minds, and were on occasions quite a handful, with their cheeky little tricks and their temper tantrums. Robyn was the more extroverted of the two. Kate was shy by herself, but when teamed up with her sister she behaved like one possessed, shrieking and screaming and chasing her sister around, pulling her hair gleefully. On occasions they were quiet and well-behaved, giving Dana an opportunity to drop down on the couch and rest her feet for a moment, but before she knew it, the silence was once again interrupted by unbearably loud singing, banging together of pots and whatever else they could get their hands on, arguments over toys and games, wails of misery resulting in those arguments, and the general daily woes of a three and a half year old.

It was late afternon of one of these fun but exhausting days that Dana Mulder noticed red spots appearing on her daughters' faces.

"Robbie, come here" she demanded.

The toddler obeyed, scratching one of the spots on her face as she did so.

"No sweetie, don't do that. It'll only make things worse." She took Robyn's chubby little arms in her hands and peeled up the sleeve, frowning when she saw the red rash covering the pale skin.

She went over to her other daughter, who was busily playing with her dolls, and did the same check, wincing as she saw the same rash. Then with a sigh she wrote a quick note for Mulder, pulled some shoes on the twins, and packed them in the car to take them to the hospital. Even though her logical mind told her what it was, the part of her mind which had seen people dying from strange and mysterious diseases begged for a second opinion - a confirmation.

Dana brought the twins home that night with a grim face. Robyn and Kate immediately ran to their father, demanding to be picked up.

"What is it?" he asked, picking one up in each arm. He was unable to stop the concerned expression appearing on his face.

"Chicken pox" she said briefly, not meeting his gaze.

"Have you had them?"

Dana took a deep breath, expelling it slowly. "Nope. Have you?"

"Yeah, when I was ten."

"We've dot da ticken pops! Ticken pops!" the girls suddenly started squealing as they squirmed out of his arms and ran out of the room.

"What do we do now?"

"They'll be fine in a couple of days. They must have caught it when they were at the daycare center a few weeks ago..."

"What about you?"

"What about me?"

"Chicken pox can be