Title: Find The Future
Author: Mrs. Pepperpot
Author's page: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/1547864/
Category: X-Files
Genre: Sci-Fi/Drama
Completed: 12/20/2012
Rating: T

Summary: The date is set, but what does that mean for Mulder and Scully? Will they find their son, and can alien colonization be avoided? This is my first X Files fanfic, but I've been a fan since the show first aired. Please R & R, thank you.

Disclaimer: I do not own The X Files, or any of the characters, I'm just a faithful fan.

This fic begins on New Year's Day 2012, and picks up the story of Dana Scully and Fox Mulder (and others) after the events of the 2008 movie The X Files: I Want To Believe. Scully is still a medical doctor, and Mulder is now working on cold cases for the F.B.I, using his psychological profiling skills to crack old murder investigations, and the like. They married in 2009, and have recently relocated back to Washington DC. Both of them have 'officially' kept out of anything related to the X Files, but it was never going to be that easy for our duo to leave it all behind.

Bill Scully was never one to let a chance to get a dig in at Fox Mulder pass him by, and as he lifted his Champagne flute in a toast to the New Year, he shot his old enemy a purposeful glance. He then arose to delivery his customary annual speech.

"The coming of a new year is a time for celebration, and for reflection. We think of all those loved ones who are no longer with us, and we give thanks for all our dear friends and family, who are gathered here with us today. A new year is an opportunity to look to the future, and it can be an exciting time, as we anticipate the many blessings we hope are to come. I know we are all especially thankful to have my dear sister Dana, back here with us. I can't begin to express how happy I am that she is able to be here with us today. Those long years without her presence at our table were hard for us to bear, especially after..."

Bill trailed off for a moment, as he noticed his mother staring hard at him with disapproval. His sister and his wife were also shooting him pleading glances, as they hoped he wouldn't say anything more to sour the moment. He reluctantly took the hint, as he again caught Mulder's eye, and wished he hadn't. The smug look on his old adversary's face was almost too much for Bill to take. He sniffed back his hatred, and continued.

"Anyway, no use dwelling on the past, I suppose. We're all here to drink to the future. So, here's to 2012, I hope it brings good health and happiness for us all."

Bill drained his glass, and reached for the bottle, as the rest of the party echoed his toast.

Mulder stole a quick glance at his sleeping wife, as he drove them back home. The Scully family New Year's Day dinner had been taxing for both of them, but Dana seemed particularly exhausted. She had fallen asleep almost as soon as they got inside the car. It wasn't unusual for her to do that during their years on the X Files, when the hours had been irregular, to say the least. It was out of the norm for her now, unless she'd had a particularly hard day at work. Dana hadn't been to work for a few days, and they'd had a quiet New Year's Eve, with just the two of them solemnly witnessing the passing of the old year. They had both been dreading the coming of 2012, but they decided they couldn't run away from the past, or indeed the future, any longer. They made the move back to DC a couple of months ago, and it hadn't been easy for either of them. Dana stirred, and suddenly jerked awake as if something had startled her.

"What? I was asleep?

Dana looked bewildered for a moment, and she took a deep breath to steady herself.

Mulder couldn't hide his concern.

"Are you o.k?" He enquired and took his eyes momentarily from the road as he stole a glance at her.

Dana had recovered her composure, and she sought to reassure him.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. I... I just didn't sleep very well last night, and then I had this weird dream."

"What was it?" He inquired.

"Oh, it was silly really... I suppose I just had all that, stuff, on my mind, that's all. It doesn't matter," she sighed.

Mulder nodded his head, and decided not to push her for more information. She would tell him about her dream in her own time, as she obviously wanted to. They drove in silence for a short while, before Dana spoke again.

"The dream, it was about William. He was in danger and he was calling for me. I mean he was screaming mom, mommy, help me. I know he was calling for me, and not his adopted mother. I had the same dream again when I fell asleep just now, that's what woke me up."

Mulder sighed, it wasn't the first time either of them had dreamt about their son, it wasn't surprising that they should. He didn't want to encourage her to dwell on the matter. It only risked opening up old wounds, which had never really healed properly in the first place. Dana took the hint, and she didn't say anything more about her dream, or William. Mulder sought to quickly move on to another subject, and tried to lighten the mood.

"You know, I do believe your brother is finally warming to me. He didn't even try to punch me, or anything," he said with a mischievous grin.

Dana was still too hung up on her dream to engage in any banter, and her reply came out colder than she meant it too.

"Bill will never forgive you, you know that. No more than you will ever forgive yourself."

She hastily tried to backtrack after seeing the hurt that flashed across her husband's face.

"You know what Bill's like. Anyway, he knew he'd overstepped the mark. I know mom said something to him, and maybe Tara did too."

"But not you?" Mulder shot back, still feeling stung.

"No. I didn't need to; he knew I wasn't happy with him. Besides, now we're living only an hour's drive away, we have to make the effort to get along. It's what you wanted, isn't it? You know I was happy to stay where we were, I moved back to DC for you."

Dana was feeling defensive, as her unease regarding their recent move resurfaced. She had agreed to relocate back to Washington DC because she knew her husband was going slowly insane with them living in seclusion. She also realized that it would be impossible to avoid being dragged back into their old lives, and the X files. But she figured they couldn't hide away from the truth forever, because it would find them one day, of that she was sure.

Mulder didn't want to argue, he knew she'd been reluctant to move back to where the past waited for them around every corner. He wasn't completely comfortable with it either. It also meant they were more exposed to those who had an axe to grind with them back in DC. But he felt they needed to be there, and whatever was coming, they both had to face it head on. He sighed, and the silence between them descended once again.

Three months later...

Mulder was working through a pile of old FBI case files at his desk. The apartment was quiet, and he was lost in his thoughts. Dana had left a few hours earlier for her job at a nearby Catholic hospital. It was a good place and she was settling in well.

The months were slipping by, but neither of them had lost sight of what was scheduled to happen in December. Since their relocation back to DC, they were only able to meet once with Walter Skinner. He was able to offer them a glimmer of hope for the future, but they hadn't been in contact for over two months now, and Mulder in particular was growing increasingly frustrated.

Dana wasn't blinkered when it came to the truth; she just desperately wanted to hold on to the life they had built for each other. But the bad dreams wouldn't go away, and she knew she couldn't bury her head in the sand this time. Dana had been restless in the night, with the recurring dream about her son calling out to her for help. She hadn't wanted to mention it again to Mulder, since his refusal to discuss it on New Year's Day. But she felt compelled to repeat her concerns to him before she left for work that morning.

Mulder leaned back on his chair and pushed it away from his desk. He was surrounded by scattered files and papers, but all he could think about was what Dana had said about William. A knock at the door broke into his reverie. He sighed, annoyed at the interruption, and went to answer it.

"Skinner!" He exclaimed with shock, as he opened the door for his old boss to enter.

"Mulder, I'm sorry to turn up unannounced, but there's something urgent I need to talk to you about, you and Scully, is she here?" Skinner asked in a grave manner, as he looked around for signs that Dana was home.

"No, she's at work; she won't be back for hours. What's up? We haven't seen you for months, I know you said we should keep contact to a minimum, but is everything okay?" Mulder questioned.

"I...I hoped you'd both be here, but maybe it's better this way, I mean, what I have to say, I shouldn't even be telling you this, but..." he paused and pulled out a thick file from inside his coat.

"This file came through to my personal mailbox, I got it this morning, I don't know who sent it, but I've been checking it out, and it's definitely him."

Skinner paused, and handed the folder to his friend, who gave him a puzzled look until he opened it. Mulder's eyes widened in shock, as he quickly scanned over the information contained on the pages of the file. He was aghast as he stared at the photograph inside, and what was written under it.

"Who sent this? Who knew about all of this? No one was supposed to know. Oh my God... William."

Mulder tried to steady himself, but his mind was racing. Everything they had done, and the sacrifice Dana made in the hope of protecting him, it had all been in vain. Someone had been keeping track of their son's life, from the moment he was born and throughout his adoption, to the present day. His eyes fixed back on the photograph, and if ever Mulder doubted that he was the child's biological father, he could doubt it no more. It was like looking at a picture of himself as a boy, but for his son having his mother's blue eyes and a reddish tint to his hair, the rest was all him. Skinner's voice broke into his musings.

"Mulder, there's more, and that's really the reason I'm here. If it had just been the file, I'm not sure I would have come, not yet anyway. But I got a call, an hour ago; it was from an old friend of mine in Illinois. I'd contacted him this morning for information on the file, and I was shocked when he called back and told me that Adam and Shannon Van De Kamp were found dead this morning at their home, and William is missing."

Mulder gasped, he was struggling to take it all in, and he thought again about Dana's dream. Maybe it had been some kind of premonition, and he cursed himself for being so dismissive about it. He started looking around for his phone to call her.

"Please try and stay calm, there are already people out looking for him. The Illinois police have a full search in operation, and the local FBI field office have been alerted," Skinner tried to offer what scant reassurance he could.

"I have to call Scully, she needs to know about this," Mulder said as he pressed the button on his phone to call her.

There was no reply, and it went straight through to voicemail.

Mulder was beginning to feel frantic. He went to grab his jacket and retrieve his car keys. He had to go and get Scully, but his mind was whirring. He recalled the conversation they'd had with Skinner, when they last saw each other.

"The last time we spoke, you said you'd had some new intelligence, and there was hope that alien colonization might be avoided. You said, with the deaths of all those involved with the old syndicate, and a growing distrust within the new order, there might be a chance to disrupt their plans?" Mulder questioned.

"I heard the rebel aliens had been strengthening their position, and there was talk of them holding some sort of secret weapon. That was the intelligence I received from Marita Covarrubias and others. I even had a brief meeting with someone we believe to be an alien; Jeremiah Smith," Skinner replied.

"Jeremiah Smith was an alias used by a number of the aliens. He wasn't just one man. How do we know any of them are to be trusted? What if they were the ones who took William and killed his adoptive parents?" Mulder started for the door, when his phone began to ring, it was Dana's number.

"Fox Mulder?"

An unfamiliar male voice enquired.

"Who is this? Where's Dana?" He angrily demanded.

"We have your wife and she is quite safe, for now. We will exchange her for your son, William Van De Kamp."

Mulder was confused, afraid and angry.

"What the hell are you talking about?" He yelled.

"Your son has been taken by the rebels. I assume you know what I mean by that. You must recover him from them, and bring him to us, or your wife will be killed."

Mulder couldn't speak for a moment; he was in a state of shock and bewilderment. The man delivered his final demand.

"Find the boy and call this number when you have him. Deliver him to us, as we instruct, and your wife will be returned to you unharmed."

The call was then disconnected. Mulder fell backwards against the wall and slid down to the floor.

Dana blinked, but she couldn't make out much of her surroundings. It was too dark, and all she could see was a few thin shafts of light from an open air grille. She was lying on a metal floor, and so she presumed she was in a truck, or some sort of storage container. There was no engine noise though, only a low mechanical hum. She thought she could hear voices outside, but they were distant and muffled. This wasn't the first time Scully had found herself a captive of person or persons unknown. It had been a fairly regular hazard of the job during her time on the X Files, which didn't mean she minded it any less. She groggily lifted her cheek from the cold floor, but couldn't get much purchase to change position, as her hands and feet were very tightly bound.

There was no way to know how much time had passed since she was intercepted on her way to work. Dana retraced the event in her mind, to try and make sense of it all. She set off for her shift at the hospital as normal, and must have got no further than a couple of blocks away from home, when she became aware of the presence of someone else in the car. The rest happened so fast, it was no more than a blur. She remembered feeling a sharp pain in the side of her neck, which was obviously some sort of sedative being administered, and then the sound of the car breaking. The drug she was injected with must have taken effect then, as she could recall nothing more of the journey to her present location.

A shiver went through her body, as she thought about the recurring dreams she'd been having about William. She was still a sceptic at heart, but something told her they were somehow linked to her present situation. The voices coming from outside were getting louder and closer, until the door shutter was flung open and the container was filled with blinding sunlight.

Skinner took a step towards Mulder and offered his hand to help pull him back up onto his feet.

"Who was that on the phone?" He questioned with deep concern.

"They've got Scully," Mulder said falteringly.

"They'll kill her if I don't find William and give him to them. What the hell am I supposed to do?" He asked.

Skinner was shocked, but he quickly recovered his composure. They had to get moving, and fast.

"We have to find the boy before they do," he said whilst reaching for his phone and dialing.

Mulder was about to protest, when the other man cut him off.

"I think I know someone who might be able to help us," Skinner said.

He gestured for his friend to stay quiet as the person he was calling answered the phone.

"I'm with Fox Mulder. Yes, we'll be there in one hour," he said as he disconnected the call.

"What are you doing?" Mulder questioned angrily.

"I'm trying to get your wife and son back, but I can't say anything more right now. You do trust me, don't you?" Skinner questioned.

Mulder gave a nod of his head.

"Good. Let's go. We'll take my car."

Skinner headed out of the door, with Mulder following close behind. He paused only to take a gun and one other item from his desk draw.

Skinner drove fast, but with due care. They didn't need to attract any unwelcome attention.

"Where are we headed? Who are we meeting?" Mulder was frantic and fidgety.

He felt that something was off about the whole thing with Skinner. It wasn't just his concern for Dana and William making him jittery. His instinct for sensing imminent danger might have been a little rusty, but it seldom steered him wrong.

"It's not much further now, and we're meeting a friend, someone who I believe can help us."

Skinner took a sharp left, and looked carefully in his rear view mirror to make sure they weren't being followed.

"Why are you being so secretive? This is my wife and son for Christ's sake," Mulder felt for his weapon.

"Calm down," Skinner ordered.

"You'll get your answers soon enough."

Mulder was sure he was being led into a trap. He inwardly chided himself for not acting on his suspicions sooner. He reasoned that if he was being deceived, it might at least lead him closer to finding his son. It was a risk worth taking if it brought him information which he could use to save Scully. He took a firm grip on the stiletto weapon which was concealed in his coat pocket, and drew it out ready to strike. But first, he had questions that he needed answering.

"Stop the car, now," Mulder demanded.

Skinner looked at the pointed weapon with due wariness but he didn't comply.

"Let's drop the pretense, shall we? You're not Walter Skinner, so I'll ask you one last time, where are we going?"

The other man kept on driving, and he didn't take his eyes from the road. He didn't deny Mulder's accusation, and his appearance began to morph into another familiar face; that of Jeremiah Smith.

"Would you be more comfortable if I looked like this?" He asked.

The transformation was complete, and Smith reached to remove his now redundant glasses.

"We have your son, and we hoped to secure both you, and your wife. But it appears we were too late to stop them from taking her. That was very unfortunate," he explained.

"Unfortunate?" Mulder echoed with bitter incredulity.

"We will reach our destination very soon, and you need to understand that we are on your side. I will answer some of the questions you have once we get there. Mr. Mulder, we'll do all we can to try and help you recover your wife. But you must understand there are more important things at stake."

Smith took another turn, and they emerged at the entrance of a deserted car park to an apparently derelict storage facility.

"There's nothing more important to me than Scully and my son," Mulder stated.

"We're here," Smith said as he brought the car to a halt outside the broken down building.

Dana blinked and tried to focus her eyes to see who her captors were. After spending so long in the dark, it took a few moments for her vision to adjust. The man who had entered the container was advancing towards her, and Scully could now see he was the shape-shifter they knew as the alien bounty hunter.

"What do you want with me?" She demanded to know.

He said nothing, and he bent down to scoop her up from the floor. Dana began to thrash around in protest, but he had too firm a grip on her. He carried her outside, of what she could now see was a white truck, and into a waiting black SUV. The bounty hunter set her down on the back seat and checked her bindings were still tight. Once he was satisfied that she was still secure, he placed tape over her mouth. He then got in the driver's seat and drove them away, all the time ignoring Scully's muffled protests.

Mulder followed Jeremiah Smith into the seemingly derelict storage facility. The place was empty but for a few scattered boxes and some other debris. Smith gestured for Mulder to follow him to a doorway towards the back of the building. He obliged tentatively, and with his hand still clasping the weapon he'd found all those years ago at his parents summer house. There was a concealed panel next to the door, and Smith pressed his hand to it. A hissing noise emanated from it followed by a click, as the door slid open to reveal an elevator. Mulder gave him a wary look, but they both stepped inside, and then the elevator slowly started to descend.

"Is William here?" He asked hopefully.

"No, but he is safe, you may be assured of that," Smith earnestly replied.

Mulder let out a skeptical snort of laughter.

"Right now, I'm not feeling particularly assured about anything," he said.

The elevator came to a sudden halt, and the door opened to reveal a sophisticated looking bunker filled with lots of computer screens. Each workstation was being monitored by men who looked exactly the same as the one accompanying Mulder. They did not look up from their work as the two men entered, and Smith gestured for his companion to follow him down a long corridor that ran alongside the operations center.

"There is an office here where we can talk, and I can explain what all of this is about," he said.

They reached the door to a small room which contained only a desk, a computer, and two chairs. They both took a seat as Smith began to pull up information on the PC monitor. Mulder was losing patience and he wanted answers. He was deeply concerned about his wife and wasn't feeling reassured over the safety of his son. He had gone along with this charade for long enough, and although he'd learnt to take life a little slower over the last few years, patience still wasn't one of his virtues. He pounded his fist on the desk to get the other man's attention.

"We didn't mean for your son's adoptive parents to be killed, you must believe that. Mr. Van De Kamp fired on one of the agents we sent to retrieve William, and as you know our blood is very toxic to humans. It was very unfortunate, but the others were hot on our trail, and there wasn't a second to lose. Securing the boy was our main priority. That file I gave you was compiled by us. We have always known your son's location, and we have kept him safe from those who would do him harm for all these years."

Smith paused and turned the computer screen around so that Mulder could see what was on it. His eyes grew wide as he took in the sight of his son. The boy was sat in a pleasant looking room and playing on a Wii with a friendly looking young man.

"You see, William is in perfect health, and is being well cared for."

"Where is he? Take me to him, NOW," Mulder demanded.

He drank in the first living and breathing glimpse of his son, since he had last held him in his arms as a newborn.

"Your son is in a secure location, and you will be reunited with him, but not yet," Smith replied firmly.

"What about Dana? Who took her, and why do they want my son?" Mulder made ready to brandish his weapon as a threat, as concern for his wife overwhelmed him.

The other man eyed him with an exasperated look. He calmly turned the computer monitor back around, and hit a key to break the webcam connection.

"You know the significance of this year, and some of the long history leading up to this monumental time, don't you? But there are many things you don't know, and it falls to me to enlighten you. We began as a handful of rebels, doing what we could, where we could, to help mankind repel the alien colonists. They kept us as slaves because we were useful to them with our many abilities, but they are ruthless and cruel masters. I don't need to tell you that fear can be a powerful motivator. Self-preservation is a natural instinct but sometimes it is necessary to make sacrifices for the greater good. I believe you know about that only too well, Mr. Mulder."

The images of the many personal casualties of the alien conspiracy raced through Mulder's mind, and tears sprang to his eyes.

"So many people lost, and so many lives poisoned by lies and deceit. We have all paid a heavy price, and now the time has come to restore the balance. We have tried many strategies over the years, in the hopes of finding and exploiting weak spots in our mutual enemy's armor. It was all with limited success, until we hit on a real breakthrough a few years ago. We had everything in place, but there has been a glitch. Once we discovered your son's safety had been compromised, we were forced to act, and that has jeopardized our carefully laid plans."

"How does any of this help me get my wife back?" Mulder asked, his voice rising in anger.

"You know that vaccines against the black oil have been developed in the past, right? You used one to save Scully when she was infected with the alien virus via a bee sting. But they were weak, and couldn't guard against future infection. Well, thanks to your son, we were able to develop a vaccine that is completely effective," Smith said triumphantly.

"How? What did you do to William?"

Mulder felt sick at the thought of his son being tested on, as both he and Scully had been forced to endure invasive procedures without their consent.

"William has always been treated with the utmost care and consideration. He was never consciously aware of anything, as far as we can tell. One of us would imitate his doctor on the occasions when samples needed to be taken. We observed him from a close distance, but we never interfered in his day-to-day life. He is a special boy, and he always was. The substance he was injected with by your half-brother didn't change that. William is yours and Dana's biological son, and he was conceived in the natural way. But so many factors led up to his conception, that he might justifiably be regarded as a miracle child. Dana had been primed via the chip in her neck to be ready for impregnation, however the IVF you tried was unsuccessful. What neither of you knew was that you Mulder, thanks to the tests you endured at the hands of your father, were uniquely placed to get her pregnant. When the relationship between you progressed to a sexual level, you wrongly assumed Dana wouldn't be able to conceive, and so William came into being. I know you both wondered about his conception, but I can assure you that he is one hundred per cent your son, with a little extra as a result of the tests you and his mother endured," Jeremiah Smith explained.

"These others you referred to, the ones who want William, are they the same ones who took Dana?" Mulder asked.

"Yes, I believe so. I think the alien bounty hunter has her," Smith replied as his phone began to ring.

He took the brief call, and turned his attention back to Mulder.

"We have a lock on your wife's location, and we will coordinate a mission to recover her," he said.

Dana jiggled around on the back seat of the SUV, as her body was protesting due to her restricted position. They had been travelling for around an hour by her estimation, and her legs were cramping. Her phone began to ring, and her captor answered it swiftly.

"Yes, in one hour."

That was all he said. He then screeched the car to a halt and hastily changed course. Dana resumed her muffled protestations, and again he ignored her and continued to drive them relentlessly onwards.

Mulder followed Jeremiah Smith through a maze of tunnels. He had been promised that they would get Dana back unharmed.

"Human lives are precious to us, Mr. Mulder. We were brought here to help destroy mankind, but a few of us began to see, and to appreciate your talents, as well as your weaknesses. We immersed ourselves in your arts and culture, and we were moved by the beauty of your creations. I vividly remember the first time I listened to Johann Sebastian Bach, it was St. Matthew Passion. I knew then I could never be a part of the destruction of a species that was capable of producing such wonders. It was actually in one of your classic works of literature that, shall we say, the germ of our most important idea was born. By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birth right of the earth, and it is his against all comers."

"That's, um, H.G. Wells, right?" Mulder recognized the quote from War of the Worlds.

"There are many ways to fight a war, and our enemies have always understood that. It just took us a little longer to figure it out," Smith said.

They came to a halt outside a metal door, and he gestured that Mulder should step inside.

The former FBI agent hesitated, as his instincts warned him to be careful. But it was too late, and the last thing he felt was the sharp stab of a needle in his neck.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Mulder, but there really is no other way," Jeremiah Smith spoke with regret.

Walter Skinner checked his watch. He didn't particularly need to know the time, it was just a way of killing a few seconds of it. This was a going to be a very risky operation, and he felt uneasy about the whole thing. But the lives of people he cared deeply about depended on it. A few minutes passed, and he signaled to his two companions to make themselves ready. From his vantage point, Skinner could see a black SUV coming over the brow of the hill, as a white SUV was driving to meet it from the opposite direction. Both vehicles came to a standstill at a reasonable distance from each other, and the alien bounty hunter was the first to exit. He stopped to retrieve Scully from the back seat, and he cut her leg bindings to make it easier for him to maneuver her forwards. Mulder watched their movements but remained inside his vehicle. The bounty hunter began to get suspicious.

"Where is the boy?" He demanded impatiently.

Mulder still did not move or respond, and so the bounty hunter held Scully firmly to him and began edging them towards his vehicle. Her mind was reeling with fear and confusion, as she wondered if the boy in question was her son. Then suddenly a shot rang out, and two figures rushed towards them, as Mulder sprang into action. The bounty hunter was momentarily disorientated, and that was all they needed for their plan to work, as Mulder swiftly aimed his gun and fired. Dana's eyes were wide with shock as she recognized John Doggett and Monica Reyes. They grabbed hold of her and pulled her clear, as the bounty hunter crashed to the ground with a tranquillizer dart in his neck. Skinner bounded over to where the alien was laying at their feet, and brandishing the stiletto weapon, he drove it deep into the back of the bounty hunter's neck. Mulder then gestured for them to all move clear, as the alien's body began to dissolve over the ground in a bubbling green mass.

"Well, that was worth coming out of retirement for," Doggett exclaimed.

Mulder pulled the tape from Dana's mouth and unbound her hands.

She threw her arms around him, but he didn't move to embrace her. She gave him a questioning look, however her mind was soon fixed on other matters.

"The boy he wanted, did he mean William?" She asked fearfully.

"There will be time enough for questions later," He said firmly and dismissively with none of the warmth she expected from her husband.

"What's going on here, Mulder? I thought tranquillizers didn't work on them?" Skinner questioned as the whole situation began to niggle at him.

"It wasn't exactly a tranquillizer..." Mulder started to explain, but was he was distracted as the back door of the white SUV opened, and an exact replica of the alien bounty hunter stepped out of it.

"What the...?" Doggett exclaimed.

"I had to come here in this form, it was what was expected, and you wouldn't have trusted me otherwise, but I'm not Mulder," The impostor explained.

Dana snatched the stiletto weapon from Skinner's hand, and held it up threateningly.

"Where's Mulder?" She demanded, as the others reached for their guns.

The imposter looked unperturbed by the threat, and he instead reached to take an iPad that his associate handed to him. He tapped it a few times as the others eyed him with curious caution. He then began to appeal directly to Scully.

"I apologize again for the deception, but it was necessary to secure your safety, and that of your family. Mulder was naturally too emotionally involved to be out here, and so I took his place. He is quite safe, as is William. The colonists planned to use Mulder to secure your son, in exchange for you, but they would have killed you all," he passed the iPad to her so that she could see Mulder on the screen.

"Mulder?" She cried, as she saw him looking worried but unharmed.

"Scully? You're okay?" He asked shakily as he almost gave way to his emotions.

"I'm o.k. Are you okay?" She enquired.

"Yeah, more than a little pissed off, but otherwise just peachy," he replied wryly.

"What about William? Have you seen him? Is he there?" She asked hopefully.

The Mulder imposter then cut into the conversation, as the bounty hunter clone moved to get into the black SUV.

"We are exposed out here, and we need to get moving. My friend there will report to the colonists and tell them that Mulder and Scully are dead. They will still want to find William, but they won't get to him, I can assure you of that."

"What if they don't believe him?" Skinner questioned.

"Then he will take the consequences, but he will never betray us. We must all be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the continued success of our project, and for the salvation of the human race," the imposter replied.

The bounty hunter clone drove away, as the others deliberated over whether they should try and stop him.

The fake Mulder appealed once again for their trust as he turned to address Skinner, Doggett and Reyes directly.

"We have support from the highest level of your government on this. They won't completely burn their bridges with the colonists, but they wanted another option, and we believe we have given them one. I will contact you again very soon Mr. Skinner but you must all leave now," he commanded.

"I don't think..." Skinner began but was soon interrupted.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Skinner, but there's no time for that. You must take this on trust."

The imposter then turned back to Scully.

"I will take you to your husband, and then you will both be reunited with William. There is one thing you must allow me to do first, and I must insist on it," he said.

Scully raised her brow quizzically.

"I need to remove that chip from your neck," he explained.

Mulder's muffled protestations could be heard, but the imposter snatched the iPad from Scully's hands and broke the connection. He tapped the screen again, and handed it back to her, she gasped at the picture of a young boy, who she at once recognized as her son.

"The chip in your neck can be used as a tracking device, and it must be destroyed immediately. You need not fear for your health, The cancer you suffered from after the first chip was removed will not return. I will heal you completely," he assured her.

Scully barely heard his words, as she remained transfixed by the image of her son. She managed to nod her consent; anything to see William again.

"Scully, are you sure?" Skinner questioned.

He was still suspicious of the Mulder impersonator. She was quick to assure him that she knew what she was doing.

"Who are you, I mean really?" Skinner asked the imposter as he prepared to leave with Doggett and Reyes.

"Don't you know? We've met before, earlier this year," he said.

"Jeremiah Smith?" The other man questioned although he was sure he was right.

"The next time we meet, hopefully there will be no need for deception. I beg of you all, please do not mention a word of what has transpired here today to anyone, for all our sakes. Now you really must go," Smith cautioned.

Skinner, Doggett and Reyes said their goodbyes to Scully and reluctantly departed. Smith then produced a small metal instrument from his coat pocket; it resembled a wing corkscrew. He quickly set to work on Scully's neck. He warned her that she would feel a sharp stabbing sensation at first, but promised it wouldn't hurt for long. The chip was soon located and removed before being swiftly destroyed. Smith then tended to the small wound it left behind with his healing powers. The whole process was over in a few minutes, and when he'd finished there was no sign of any trauma, not even a scar. They then got into the white SUV and headed back to the facility.

It was dark by the time they arrived back at the derelict facility. Jeremiah Smith reverted back to his own form once they entered the storage unit. He informed Scully of what he'd told Mulder, about how William had helped them develop a vaccine against the colonist's alien virus. He assured her again that her son was well, and promised she would soon be reunited with him. Dana, for her part, could hardly dare to let herself believe her precious boy was within her reach once more.

"I will take you to your husband first, and then we will make arrangements for you both to be taken to see William."

Smith led her to the elevator, and from there through a maze of tunnels, until they arrived at a locked metal door. He put his hand to a sensor and the door opened, he gestured that Dana should enter, and she did so warily. Mulder had been waiting for her, and he got up to embrace her tightly in his arms. Smith remained outside the door to give them a moment of privacy.

"I thought I'd lost you," he murmured into her hair, as he held her close.

She pulled back slightly so she could kiss him for reassurance that they were both alright.

"Did you let him remove the chip?" He massaged the back of her neck with deep concern.

"Yes, but it's okay," she said.

She wanted to believe it would be, even if truthfully she was more than a little wary. Dana was a doctor first and foremost, despite all the miraculous things she had seen.

Mulder was also skeptical, but he didn't press the matter any further, and instead he wrapped her in another tight embrace.

"I've seen a picture of our son," she whispered against his cheek.

"I've seen him too," Mulder said as he choked back his own emotions.

Scully couldn't stop a sob from escaping as she thought about her son, and the pain of being separated from him for so long. It was a new kind of torture for her to be so near, and yet still so far away from holding him in her arms once again.

"He looks so grown up now," she said between sobs.

"He still has your eyes and your coloring, but I think he inherited my good looks," Mulder jested in an attempt to make her smile, and it worked.

Smith took the lightening of the moment as his cue to enter the room, and he gestured that they should take a seat as he did likewise.

"I must apologize Mr. Mulder, for what may seem like extreme actions on our part. But they were taken for the best possible reasons; to secure your wife's safety and to maintain your own. I'm afraid I will have to confine you both to secure quarters whilst you remain here with us. This facility contains many, shall we say, sensitive areas, and we cannot allow you free access. We will do everything in our power to make sure your stay here is as comfortable as it can be, and we hope to reunite you with your son very soon," he explained.

Mulder and Scully were feeling uneasy about the whole thing, but especially their continued separation from William. The prospect of being kept behind a locked door was not a pleasant one, either. Mulder was determined to get some answers, or at least a satisfactory reason why they should just accept all they'd been told.

"What is this place?" He questioned.

"This is our operations base. We have other facilities like this one in other strategic locations, but this is where we have done most of our research," Smith explained.

"What do you have here that you don't want us to see?" Mulder asked pointedly.

"Mr. Mulder, the alien colonists have had millennia to prepare for this time. We've had but the blink of an eye in comparison. Did you know that with each change of US President since Eisenhower, a new solution to the problem of colonization has been sought? Some have favored a return to the nuclear option, and some thought they could bargain with the alien colonists. In the end, all of them accepted that nothing would be won without making hard choices. We, and those whose work we have built on, took those hard choices and made them into something tangible which we can use to defend ourselves, and this planet," Smith said cryptically.

Mulder and Scully tried to make some sense of his information, when suddenly a very loud alarm started blaring out. LOCK DOWN IN ZONE SIX, it repeated over and over.

Smith immediately leapt into action, and he bolted out of the door, pausing only to lock his captives inside.

Mulder sprang up to try and get to the door before it locked, but he was too late. The noise from the alarm was deafening, and it continued for over ten minutes before it stopped as suddenly as it had started.

"What in the world do you suppose all that was about?" Scully asked.

Mulder could do nothing but shrug in reply.

"There's something wrong here," she said.

Scully had an uneasy feeling that ran deeper than her concern over their current predicament.

They both listened intently at the door to try and catch any external sounds for clues as to what was going on.

Mulder pressed his ear against the cold metal and he thought, just for a brief moment, that he could hear a child's voice calling out.

"Did you hear that?" He needed confirmation.

"What? I didn't hear anything," she strained to listen as hard as she could.

"I just... I thought I heard..." Mulder faltered because he didn't want to get her hopes up about William.

Without Scully's corroboration he couldn't be sure he really heard anything anyway.

"Never mind," he said.

He moved back to sit down next to Dana, and he took her hand in his.

The door opened and Jeremiah Smith entered the room. He was not alone, as two alien bounty hunters flanked him.

"There has been a change of plan; we will be leaving immediately," Smith informed them.

His associates moved forward in readiness, in case the detainees needed to be restrained.

"Are you taking us to see William now?" Scully asked hopefully.

"Please, we must leave this instant," Smith gestured for them to follow him, as the clones pulled them to their feet.

"Hey!" Mulder protested.

"What was that alarm? What's going on here?" He questioned angrily.

Smith did not respond, and Mulder reached out to try and grab hold of him. The sound of a child's voice calling out made him stop in his tracks. It was much clearer this time.


Mulder hushed Scully up as she began to question his behavior. He listened hard and realized the voice was inside his head. He heard it again, and the child was instructing him to go out into the corridor. He tried to make a break for it, but the bounty hunters were soon on to him and they formed a wall with their bodies to block his escape.

"Mulder?" Scully questioned with alarm.

She was fearful due to his impulsive behavior which had no apparent cause.

"You can't hear that?" He asked her with incredulity.

"Hear what?" She snapped back in frustration.

"There really is no time for this," Jeremiah Smith was impatient, and he signaled to the bounty hunters to escort Mulder and Scully out, with force if necessary.

The lights flickered and they were suddenly plunged into darkness. The alarm started blaring out again, only this time with a different warning message.


Smith grew extremely agitated and ordered his associates to secure Mulder and Scully.

The alarm warning kept repeating, but the zone numbers were changing, first to four, and then three.

"What zone are we in?" Scully questioned.

"Two," Smith replied in a quiet voice, and almost with resignation as if he knew his recent actions had been futile.


Scully was fearful but Mulder seemed eerily ecstatic. Jeremiah Smith remained still, as did the bounty hunters. They didn't make any attempt to try and halt the progress of whatever was coming for them.

"What the hell is it?" Scully questioned in fear for their safety.

Mulder suddenly broke free of the bounty hunters and began to walk carefully down the dark corridor, as instructed by the child's voice. It was still calling out to him, and it beckoned him onwards.

"Mulder?" Scully frantically called after him.

She was just about to go in pursuit of him, when the alarm came to an abrupt stop. It seemed like everything was silent and still for a long moment, until the silence was broken by the sound of a man softly weeping. The lights flickered on up ahead, and slowly the whole corridor was illuminated once more. Scully gasped with shock as took in the sight of her husband with their son. Mulder was overcome with emotion as he hugged William tightly to his chest, and the boy was clinging tightly to his father. They both simultaneously held out an arm in an invitation for Dana to join them. She could barely move due to the shock but soon found herself running towards them. Her whole body was shaking as she sobbed with joy.

They stayed locked in a three way embrace for what seemed like hours, with each of them holding on to the others as if their lives depended upon it. They were all too overcome with emotion and lost in the moment to contemplate the circumstances of their reunion. It was enough for father, mother and son to be together again, especially as they hadn't been that way for eleven years.

Smith sent the bounty hunters away, as he prepared to answer for his recent deceptions. He knew he had acted for the greater good, and was confident his companions would feel the same way, once they understood his reasons.

William pulled back slightly from his parents embrace so he could look his mother and father in the eyes.

"They said I had to wait. But I just couldn't, not once I knew you were here," he said slightly sheepishly.

"That's o.k, my sweet William. I've missed you so very much," Dana cupped his chin in her hand as she softly stroked his cheek with her thumb.

Mulder ruffled his son's hair in a silent gesture of reassurance. His mind then started to refocus on their present situation, and his anger began to rise.

"You'd better have a damn good explanation for all this," he said to their host.

Jeremiah Smith avoided looking at Mulder, and instead he addressed William with a warm smile.

"Would you mind going back to your room for a little while. I really need to speak with your mom and dad," he gently requested.

"No!" Mulder exclaimed.

"He doesn't leave our sight."

"Mr. Mulder, I think your son has demonstrated that if he wants to find you, he will," Smith said with a hint of exasperation.

William grinned, and looked slightly cocky, because he knew what Jeremiah Smith said was true. No one there could stop him doing anything he wanted to.

"It's o.k, grown up talk is boring anyway," he said and gave his father a knowing smile.

The boy was overjoyed to be reunited with his birth parents. He had dreamt about them for years, and now they were finally together once more, he was sure nothing and no one could ever separate them again.

He headed off back down the corridor in the direction he'd come from, only pausing to look back and offer his parents a reassuring smile.

Jeremiah Smith led a reluctant Mulder and Scully back into the room that they'd earlier vacated. He didn't bother locking the door this time. He also couldn't fail to notice the difference in their demeanors. Mulder was angry and animated, while Scully was quiet and contemplative. He knew he would have to tread carefully and tell them just enough, so that they'd be satisfied, He couldn't tell them everything though, not yet.

"I know you're going to find this difficult to believe, given everything that's happened, but we only ever had your best interests at heart; yours and William's," Smith began.

"Let's cut the crap now, shall we? Was this whole thing a charade? Did you have William here the whole time?" Mulder was agitated and in no mood to listen to any more lies.

"I told you before that we have been monitoring your son since he was placed with the Van De Kamps, and we were always ready to protect him, should the need arise. The magnetite which was injected into William when he was a baby seems to have helped shield him from detection. It also seemed to have suppressed his special abilities, or most of them at least. Then on New Year's Eve something happened; William was crossing the road on his way home from a friend's house, when a car lost control on an ice patch and headed on a collision course with him. He was able to focus his mind on the car and divert it, before bringing it safely to a complete standstill. In the guise of his doctor, we have been able to build up a relationship of trust with William over the years. He knew to call us if ever anything unusual happened, and so he did when he got back home. The decision was taken there and then to bring him here for his own protection, as we feared that the restoration of his special abilities would lead to his discovery by those who would want to do him harm."

Mulder let Smith's words sink in, and then a thought occurred to him.

"Hang on a minute, if you decided he needed protection back on New Year's Eve, why did you wait three months to go get him?

Smith didn't answer Mulder's question, and instead he turned his attention to Scully. He noticed how she seemed to be lost in her own thoughts. and had tears streaking down her face. She made no attempt to wipe them away, and they began to drip down onto her blouse.

"Scully?" Mulder noticed her distress.

He was confused about her looking so sad, especially after she'd just had her dearest wish granted, in being reunited with their son.

"I've been fooling myself all these years," she began falteringly through her tears.

"I thought I was protecting him. I hoped he would have a normal life away from all of this. But I see now that I was doing what I always do when I can't handle the truth; I turn my back on it," she buried her face in her hands as the sobs shook through her.

"That's not true. You did what you thought was best, and it almost broke you. You didn't give William away because you couldn't handle the truth; you did it to save him from it," Mulder knelt on the floor next to Scully and he pulled her into his arms.

"I was afraid of the truth, Mulder, and I still am. From the moment I found out that I was pregnant I feared the implications of it. I knew it wasn't possible, given my medical history. All I ever wanted was to have a healthy normal baby, but I knew in my heart that something was wrong. I just didn't want to believe it, and even when I saw the evidence with my own eyes, I still didn't want to believe it. I had crazy people telling me there was a prophecy, and that William was like the messiah, or something. I just wanted him to have the chance of a normal life, away from all of this insanity. I wanted to believe, more than anything, that it was possible," she pulled away from Mulder to address Jeremiah Smith.

"Was there ever a chance that William could have a life free from all of this?" She asked with desperation.

Smith didn't want to destroy her with the truth, however he couldn't bring himself to lie to her again, either.

"This was always going to be William's destiny, but you helped him to stay protected for long enough so that he could reach his full potential," he said, being as gentle as he could be.

Dana nodded her head, as it was the only thing she could manage. She shrugged off Mulder's attempts to comfort her.

"I'm so tired; it's been a long day," she almost whispered.

Jeremiah Smith understood that she needed some time to process everything, and he arranged for them to be shown to their room. Mulder wanted to see William again, but Dana refused to accompany him.

"Do you at least have a message for him?" Mulder asked as he headed out of the door.

Scully was already in bed, and was laid with her back to him. She didn't move as she replied.

"Only that I'm sorry, for everything."

Mulder followed Jeremiah Smith down a long corridor and they passed many reinforced metal doors along the way. The separate zones each had security barriers, and needed codes and biometrics to allow passage through them. How William had been able to breach them so easily, Mulder could only speculate. He thought about asking Smith more questions, but he wasn't sure he couldn't trust his answers, and so he decided to save them for his son.

"It's very late and it's probable that William is already asleep," Smith cautioned.

"I won't wake him if he is, I just want to look in on him," Mulder wanted to appear reasonable.

The other man nodded, and he led him to his son's room.

"I'll be outside when you're ready."

Mulder nodded, and then he carefully pushed the door open. He could see that the light had been switched off, and he didn't want to disturb the boy if he was slumbering.

"Dad?" A sleepy voice inquired.

"Hey, William," he closed the door as his son switched on the bedside light.

"I didn't get a chance earlier, but I wanted to tell you how sorry I am, about what happened to your adopted parents. You must miss them?"

The boy didn't betray any emotion.

"They were good God-fearing folks," he said.

"I'm glad you're okay with calling me dad, I mean I'd understand if you weren't," Mulder didn't want to mention how he hated being called Fox, but he guessed his son somehow knew that anyway.

There was a moment of awkwardness, as the father thought of all the things he'd stored up over the years that he wanted to say to his son, but none of them seemed appropriate now. It was the son who broke the silence.

"I knew I was adopted, even before they told me, like I knew Santa Claus wasn't real. I used to dream about you and mom, you know. I would dream about all the things you'd done, and all the things you'd seen. I just knew that one day we would be together again," William smiled as he reached out for his father's hand to hold.

"How? I mean, there's so much I don't understand," Mulder felt tears stinging at his tired eyes.

The boy knew his father needed answers, but he also knew this wasn't a place where they could speak openly, and so he tried another method of communication.

Can you hear me, dad? If you can, don't say the words out loud, just say them in your head and I'll do the same.

Mulder heard fragments of his son's words in his mind. It was a bit like a radio that kept losing the signal and tuning out at vital moments. He communicated his trouble in receiving the message to William, with the assumption that his son had no such difficulty with reading thoughts. The boy looked disappointed, but he soon shrugged it off. He reasoned it could be due to their tiredness, and they could always try again tomorrow. If they couldn't communicate telepathically, then he was sure they would find another way. It was almost 3am, and both of them were beginning to feel very sleepy. They yawned at the same time, and then laughed about it.

"I think it's past your bedtime, young man," Mulder joked.

He got up to leave and gave his son an affectionate pat on the head.

"Tell mom she doesn't have to be sorry, about anything," William said.

Mulder looked surprised but he appreciated his son's sincerity and nodded his understanding.

"Goodnight son," he said.

"Goodnight dad," William smiled.

Scully was asleep by the time Mulder got back to their room. She was pretending to be at least, and he didn't want to disturb her either way. There were many unanswered questions swirling around in his mind, and memories, both good and bad. He was so tired, that it didn't take long for sleep to claim him. He slept deeply and for once, was untroubled by bad dreams.

When Mulder awoke, he was temporarily discombobulated by the lack of daylight. It was hard to judge the passage of time when you were confined to an underground bunker, he reasoned. He felt around for his watch and managed to knock in onto the floor in the darkness. Mulder realized he was alone in the bed and he began looking around for a light switch, all the time wondering where Scully was. The switch was soon located, but the mystery of his missing wife remained to be solved. He stooped down to retrieve his watch from the floor and noted it had just turned 11am. He never usually slept so late, but it had been one hell of a day, and he wasn't going to beat himself up over it. The door swung open and Scully walked in. She was wearing an oversized bathrobe and her long red hair was freshly washed.

"I was just about to go looking for you," Mulder said as he started to pull on his pants.

"I saved you the trouble then," she replied in a brittle tone.

Mulder sighed, as he had never really known how to deal with Scully when she got into a mood. It always seemed like everything he did only made things worse.

A knock on the door gave him a temporary reprieve from having to deal with his marital strife. It was one of Smith's lackeys, who delivered them some refreshments, clean clothes and essential toiletry items. They were soon left alone again to their uncomfortable silence. Scully tried to occupy herself by sorting through their new stuff. She was the first to break the silence as she regarded the underwear that had been provided for her.

"I don't even want to think about how they know my bra size," she huffed as she held up the plain white conservative looking item.

"It took me seven years to find out, although I would've bet my FBI salary on a C cup long before that," Mulder said with a mischievous grin.

Scully wasn't impressed.

He decided he would have to bite the bullet and steer the conversation around to the elephant in the room.

"William doesn't blame you for any of this, and you shouldn't blame yourself, either," he moved to embrace her, but she turned away.

"Oh, Mulder, you of all people know it's not that easy," she sighed and went to sit on the bed.

"All I do know is, I was so scared of losing him, just like I was always terrified of losing you, and yet I gave him away. It was like when you left to go into hiding, after William was born. I wanted you to stay with us so badly, and still I told you to go. I really did make myself believe that I'd rather never see either of you again, and know you were both safe, than have you stay with me only to end up losing you. I truly thought I was doing the right thing, and I couldn't have found the strength to go through with the adoption otherwise. But now, all I can think about is what we've missed out on," she said.

"I should never have left," Mulder was heavy with guilt as he went to sit down next to her.

"I won't ever forgive myself for leaving, and who knows what would've happened if I'd stayed. Maybe they would've killed me and our son, or maybe we would've stopped them. We'll never know now. I do know that I've had a tendency towards being selfish for most of my life. I put my work, and the pursuit of the truth above everything, even above you and William. It's funny, because I sat looking at our son last night knowing that. But also knowing he might never have come into being in the first place, if I hadn't been so obsessed. I guess what I'm trying to say is that we're here now, and all the things we should've, would've, could've done don't really matter, do they?"

"I guess not," she said, clearly unconvinced.

He gently stroked her cheek.

"I'll never understand why you stayed with me through all those years, I'm just grateful that you did," he said.

Scully started to cry.

"I told you a long time ago, that my fate was sealed on the day we first met. I may not have realized it until years later, but somewhere deep inside, I knew I could never leave you," she said.

They kissed, and things started to progress until they both suddenly remembered where they were.

"Do you think we're being watched? Scully asked as she looked around for evidence of surveillance.

"Oh, yeah," Mulder said with certainty.

"Our first time together was filmed, and probably every time after that, even William's conception. I hate that we were spied on in that way," she said angrily.

"Me too. Still, I wouldn't mind a look at those tapes, especially from the time when you came over to my place to watch Caddyshack, I sure hit the sweet spot that night," Mulder couldn't resist making a wisecrack.

Scully looked as if she was going to scold him for a moment. But then her face softened as she recalled something else from that time.

"You know, ridiculous as it may sound, I wondered afterwards if your third wish was for William. I mean, it was after all that Genie business, and you wouldn't tell me what your last wish was. It wasn't long after that I found out I was pregnant. I've had my share of crazy notions too, you know," she laughed at the silliness of it all.

"No, I didn't wish for that, and as it turns out, I didn't need too," he smiled.

"Now let's get ready and go see our boy," he said.

William closed his eyes and listened. The sound was like thousands of voices whispering all at once, and it got louder the more he concentrated on it. The endless babble started to make his head hurt after a while, and so he put the TV on to drown it out. The channel selection was restricted, but he found one showing old movies and The Wizard of Oz was on. He was content to sit and watch it. The Kansas scenes reminded him of the place he had spent most of his life; his adopted parent's farm in Wyoming.

They had moved to Illinois when he was nine, after his father had suffered serious leg and back injuries in a farming accident. The Van De Kamps were unable to hold on to their livelihood, and had been forced to sell up and look for alternative means of support. They ended up moving to Illinois after an old school friend of Mrs. Van De Kamp offered her a job there. William missed the farm, and the peace and quiet of country life, but he had enjoyed discovering what the city had to offer. His adopted parents weren't quite so adaptable, and they had both found the transition from green fields to the concrete jungle extremely difficult.

He found his sadness at losing them was unequal to his joy at being reunited with his birth parents, and he felt bad about that. The Van De Kamps had provided for him for eleven years, and for that he was grateful. He knew his adopted mother had lingering fears that all was not right with him. He heard her thoughts, which were mostly about how she worried that he would inherit the sins of his birth parents, whom she assumed to be delinquents. William was amused by her fears, especially as he knew that the truth would have blown her mind. He had dreamt about Mulder and Scully for as long as he could remember, and to finally have them close at hand really was a wish come true for him. He decided that he wouldn't dwell on the past and what had been lost. He would concentrate on the future instead and what lie ahead. Jeremiah Smith had asked for his help, and for the sake of all of their futures, he knew he had no choice but to accept his request.

"Do you think they'll let us leave?" Scully whispered her question in Mulder's ear, as they waited for William to join them.

"I'm not so sure we should, I mean, we're probably safer here," he argued in a low voice.

"But we can't trust them," she countered.

"Besides, we'll all go stir crazy if we stay locked down in here," she couldn't imagine living in an underground bunker indefinitely.

Mulder was about to respond, but Jeremiah Smith entered the room, and so their tet-a-tet was cut short.

"I've asked William to give us a few minutes to talk, and then you can go directly to him when we're done. I need to make sure that you understand why we cannot let you leave. I know you were wondering about that. But your lives are in great danger, and we won't let you take the risk. The prophecy still has many followers, and we have less than nine months left before the planned invasion date," he explained.

"The prophecy? For God sake, not all of that crap again. William is not the messiah," Scully raged.

"He's not the messiah; he's a very naughty boy," Mulder deadpanned, unable to resist quoting Monty Python.

Smith and Scully gave him a look of disapproval before continuing.

"All I know is there was some crazy guy, who wanted me to bring him your head by the way," she said pointedly to Mulder.

"This guy kidnaps my son, then tells me William is the miracle child who will lead the alien invasion, but only if his father is dead. Where did this prophecy come from anyway? Not from God, that much I do know," she questioned.

"Doctor Scully, you know as well as I do that sometimes it doesn't matter where something comes from, as long as enough people believe it. There is a theory that this particular prophecy originated with a man who fancied himself as a kind of God, but he was probably about as far removed from a higher being as it is possible to get," Smith gave them both a knowing look.

"I guess he wanted to keep his legacy alive, in more ways than one," Mulder said bitterly as he thought of the man with whom he'd shared biology, but nothing else.

Scully reached for her husband's hand, and she gently squeezed it in a comforting gesture.

She was still skeptical about the prophecy, and its origins, but she couldn't dispute that their lives were in danger.

"We can't stay here forever, what about when the aliens invade? Didn't you say you had a plan to stop it happening?" Mulder questioned.

"We do, but it's not going to be easy, and we will need to be prepared for the fight of our lives," Smith cautioned.

"What about the vaccine?" Scully asked, as medicine was almost always something she could put her faith in.

"We will have reached ninety five per cent of the population by the middle of the year. But that will only stop human infection, it won't save the planet from invasion. Once the aliens realize they can't use the Earth's population to birth more of their kind, they will want to destroy you all. We do have a secret weapon, but I can't tell you anything more about that at this time, I just want you to know that all is not lost, not by a long way," he sought to offer them hope.

"This facility wasn't exactly built with your particular circumstances in mind, but we'll do all we can to make you and your son comfortable. We will move you to adjoining rooms, where you'll be able to spend some quality family time together. I know William is looking forward to that. I've contacted Walter Skinner, and he will take care of matters with regards to your respective workplaces, and the Scully family," he assured them.

"Oh my God, mom, Bill and Charlie. What will Skinner tell them?" Dana asked.

"Only that you've both gone missing, we cannot risk anything more specific," Smith replied.

She sighed as she thought about all the pain her family had suffered because of her, and now they would have to endure this.

"What about William? The Van De Kamps were his legal guardians, and I gave up all rights to my son when I gave him up for adoption," she asked.

Scully already knew she would not give him up for a second time, no matter what.

"Don't worry about all that now, it isn't important. The authorities consider him to be missing, and most likely dead. Anyway, they might soon have much bigger things to concern themselves with," Smith got up to leave.

"These new rooms you have for us, will they be surveillance free? I mean, if I want to show my wife how much she means to me, do we have to worry about prying eyes?" Mulder asked pointedly.

"You can be assured that your privacy will be respected."

Neither Mulder, nor his wife, were convinced.

William turned the volume down on the TV for a second, to check if the whispering voices were still there. They were. He focused on the melee of jumbled words and was able to pick out one distinct voice. It called out to him.

Come to us.

It appealed to him over and over. William ignored it, and instead he turned the volume on the TV back up.

There was a knock on the door and he jumped for a second, in fear that the owner of the commanding voice had come to seek him out. But as the door slowly opened, he saw only the concerned faces of his parents.

"Is everything o.k?" His mother inquired.

"Yeah, mom, I was just watching an old movie," he pointed to the TV screen.

They turned their heads to look, in time to see Toto reveal the real Wizard of Oz behind the curtain.

"I must've seen this movie a hundred times," Mulder said with a smile.

"I remember telling you once, to close your eyes and say; there's no place like home."

Scully recalled their conversation from long ago, after he'd gone looking for the ghost ship 'The Queen Anne', and had almost drowned.

"That was the first time I told you that I loved you," Mulder said with a smile as he recalled the same event.

"That doesn't count. You were as high as a kite!" Scully was incredulous.

"I knew what I was saying," he insisted.

William laughed at his parents' fond bickering. They both began to blush as they'd quite forgotten he was there for a second. He wanted to hear more of their stories, because although he'd seen glimpses in his dreams, it was different now that they were actually there.

"You worked together at the FBI for a long time, right?" He asked, and they nodded their reply.

"When did you fall in love?"

He was very direct, and for a moment neither Mulder or Scully knew how to respond. They exchanged awkward glances, as they tried to pinpoint something which had gone without declaration or definition for so long. Neither of them had ever committed to a specific time or place. They'd always just accepted the fact they had both developed long held and deep feelings for one another over their years on the X Files. Both of them quite forgot about their son's ability to read minds in that moment, and while they took their time responding, he was busy listening. Finally Scully thought of a response she hoped would satisfy them both.

"I guess I was a little like Dorothy," she nodded at the TV screen as the final scene of The Wizard of Oz unfolded.

"I didn't realize, for many years, that my heart's desire was right under my nose the whole time," she smiled at Mulder, and he returned the gesture with an appreciation for her words.

"Of course, if I'd been literally under your nose, I'd be a Munchkin," he couldn't resist a playful jibe about her small stature.

She gave him a mock stern look, and then burst out laughing, as her husband and son joined in.

"What about you, dad? And when did you ask mom to marry you?" William asked after they had settled down.

It was Mulder's turn to try and put their love story into words for his son.

"Well, a long time ago, your mom was very sick. When I thought I might lose her, that's when I knew I couldn't live without her," he sighed as the painful memories resurfaced.

"My marriage proposal, such as it was, is actually quite a funny story," he laughed nervously.

"Yeah, we can laugh about it now," Scully said with a roll of her eyes, which she swiftly followed with a genuine smile to let him know she was only teasing.

"Anyway, I was sorting through some old boxes of stuff that I had stored, when I found my mother's engagement ring. I put the ring in my pocket, so I could put it some place safe when I was done, but I forgot all about it. Later that day, when your mother came home from work. She asked me to pour her a glass of wine, and I spilt some on the counter. Here comes the funny part, so I pulled a paper handkerchief from my pocket to mop up the wine and the engagement ring went flying out onto the floor. I was on my knees looking for it, when your mother came into the room. So there I was, literally on bended knee, and holding up the ring which I'd just found," he paused for effect.

"So you didn't really mean to propose?" William sounded disappointed.

"Well, when your mother went into shock, I realized what it must have looked like to her. But I felt I was frozen to the spot in that moment. I found I couldn't move or say anything. Then it suddenly hit me that the whole thing was fate, and I couldn't think of one good reason not to ask your mom to marry me," he gave Scully a look that made her melt inside.

"Anyway, after some persuasion, she finally said yes, and we had a small ceremony a month later."

"You don't know how much we wished you were there with us on that day," Scully expressed her lingering regret to William.

He got up and went to hug her.

"Don't be sad mom, I'm here now," he said.

The room went quiet as they all held onto each other for comfort. William was the only one who could hear, the now screaming voices that filled the air around them.

We command you, come to us. Come to us, now.

The humming sound was distracting, and Scully was finding it impossible to get any sleep. Mulder was softly snoring next to her, so he evidently wasn't bothered by the noise. But she couldn't seem to tune it out. They had been in their new accommodation for over a week now, and this was the first time the humming bothered her. The room was dark, and she had to carefully negotiate a few obstacles to get quietly to the exit. The corridor outside seemed deserted, and so she followed the sound of the hum until she reached a metal door.

Scully expected it to be locked when she'd tried the handle. It opened, to her surprise, and she cautiously stepped inside. The humming noise was definitely being generated from somewhere nearby. The source was hard to pinpoint as there didn't appear to be any obvious culprit in the room. There wasn't much light to see by, just a muted green glow which seemed to be coming in through various grilles in the walls and floor. It looked like there was another door on the far wall, and so she headed towards it. The handle wouldn't turn at first, but then it suddenly gave way and she half staggered into the room. It was pitch dark, and she collided with something on the floor as the door clicked shut behind her. Scully sensed she was not alone, and the sound of someone else fumbling about in the dark confirmed that.

"Hello, who's there?" She inquired in a whispered voice.

A light switch was flicked, and her companion was suddenly revealed.

"Gibson?" She gasped with surprise.

Gibson Praise stood before her, looking much the same as he had the last time they'd met. He smiled bashfully and adjusted his glasses, which were slightly wonky from their collision. He gestured for Scully to take a seat as he did the same behind the desk.

"Sorry if I gave you a scare," he apologized.

"You couldn't just come and say, hello? I'm sure Mulder would love to catch up with you," she questioned after she had collected her wits.

"I was going to, eventually. I saw you coming down the corridor just now, and I thought about making myself known. But I knew you'd want to ask things I can't answer," he explained.

Scully glanced around the small room which looked like some kind of monitoring station. There was a bank of six computers which all appeared to be running various kinds of diagnostics data.

"What are you doing here?" Scully queried with suspicion.

"I kind of work here. They found me, and they said they could protect me," he said.

"And you believed them?" She was skeptical after knowing how hard he had tried to stay hidden from them since he was a boy.

"I read Mulder's mind, during his trial. I knew then what the truth was and that the invasion date was set. He might not have wanted to speak it out loud to you or anyone else, but I heard it anyway. I've lived in fear for most of my life because of what I can do, and because I knew they'd never leave me alone. I realized back then that there really was no place left for me to hide, and nowhere to run to. I had two choices, I could let the others find me and maybe kill me, or I could come here. I chose the latter," he explained.

She gave him a look full of pity, which turned to horrified realization as she thought of her own son and his abilities.

"You're thinking about William?" Gibson knew she was and didn't require confirmation.

"He's special too, and they will protect him just like they've protected me," he reassured her.

Scully nodded, although she was still suspicious. She needed to know more about what was going on.

"What, or who is being monitored here?" She inquired as she pointed to one of the screens.

"C'mon, I'll show you," Gibson got up from his seat and gestured for Scully to follow him.

He led her back into the room she had first passed through. He lifted up one of the square grilles to reveal a metal step ladder that extended to the floor below. The humming noise was obviously coming from down there, as it intensified with each step they took. When they had finally descended all the way to the bottom, Scully stopped and looked around in awe. There were rows of glass tanks for as far as the eye could see, all of them full of green glowing fluid, and each containing a grey alien creature.

"This is what they are, all of them. The Jeremiah Smiths and the Bounty Hunters, they are a cloned slave race. The alien colonists created them to serve, and to be their foot soldiers, they were made with a genetic mutation that gave them green blood, instead of black. They do not have the ability to reproduce through infection, like their creators. This is the only way they can replicate themselves," Gibson explained as they walked down one of the aisles with tanks on either side.

Scully stopped to take a closer look at one of the entities, it was suspended in green fluid and its eyes were closed.

"Are they alive?" She asked tentatively and in a hushed voice.

"Yes, but they're in a kind of suspended animation. They can be awoken when needed," Gibson replied as he beckoned her onwards.

"The alien colonists used the black oil to control them, but the rebel aliens mutilated themselves to prevent that from happening. It isn't necessary for them to do that now we have the vaccine. They were able to manipulate the genes of these new clones to give them inbuilt immunity, amongst other things," he explained.

"Other things?" Scully questioned.

"You discovered long ago that all humans have alien DNA. It's what enables me to read people's minds, and it's what gives your son his abilities, they are a part of us. We evolved because of them, and yet we want to destroy them, and they us. The clones, on the other hand see our potential, and in us they see the key to our salvation as well as their own. The colonists want to infect us, and in doing so, destroy us. But now we have a vaccine. They are too arrogant to believe we can save ourselves, and when a species acts like it is invincible, ironically, it becomes more vulnerable," he explained.

"How long have you been here, Gibson?" Scully inquired.

She contemplated the fact he had a level of familiarity with things that suggested he'd been there for a while.

"They contacted me right after I was put into the witness protection program, so it's been ten years, give or take. I haven't been here the whole time though; there are other places like this one," he answered without giving anything further away from his ten years there.

"What did they want from you, and why offer you protection?" She was determined to try and pry more information out of him.

Gibson was wise to her maneuvering, and just as he had been during his time as a chess prodigy, he was always one step ahead.

"They wanted to keep me safe from harm, and they've kept their word. Because they've protected me when no-one else could," he said pointedly.

He knew that she remembered her own promises to protect him.

Scully cringed slightly at his accusatory tone, but she could understand him accepting their offer of sanctuary. She could appreciate the need for it. She was terribly afraid of what would happen to Mulder and William if they were ever to fall into the hands of fanatics, conspirators, or the colonists. But she was also concerned that Jeremiah Smith's offer of safe harbor didn't come without a price.

"Do you know what their secret weapon for defeating the colonist aliens is? She inquired.

Gibson again anticipated her question and he didn't answer. He instead turned and started to head towards the step ladder.

"We should get back, it's late," he said and started to climb.

Scully pressed him again, but when it was clear he wasn't going to stop and answer her question, she followed him up to the floor above. Gibson wasted no time in heading back to the room where she had first discovered him.

"Go back to Mulder and your son, and I'll come find you tomorrow," he paused in the doorway.

"Don't forget you are guests here, so tread carefully," he cautioned before he closed the door and locked it.

Scully awoke to find she was alone in bed, and a sudden feeling of panic overtook her. She needed to reassure herself that Mulder and William were alright. She had lain awake for what seemed like hours after she'd left Gibson Praise, but weariness must have eventually overcome her. She bundled her robe on and headed towards the other room. There she found both her husband and son, safe and sound and playing a Super Mario game on the Wii. They both smiled at her, and Mulder grabbed her arm to pull her down on to the bed next to him.

"Our boy is seriously good on this thing, I'm getting my ass kicked," he said with a grin.

Scully managed a tight smile. She felt edgy and tried not to think of all the things that were concerning her. It was taking a lot of mental effort on her part. She had resorted to singing 'Joy To The World' in her head, to try and block out the other thoughts. She didn't want William to read her mind and discover her fears, not that she was entirely sure what it was she was afraid of.

"You sang that song to me when I was a baby," her son said as he suddenly recalled something half-forgotten.

Scully nodded, but didn't otherwise respond as she was still trying to stop herself from giving anything else away. She soon discovered that trying not to think of something, just made you think about it all the more. But luckily for her, William was distracted with blurry memories of a time it should have been impossible for him to recall. Mulder looked at them both quizzically, as he had heard no singing. He also hadn't been able to hear any of his son's thoughts since the day they were reunited, despite repeated attempts.

"Yeah, I remember now, you sang William was a bullfrog, was a good friend of mine..." the boy recounted.

Mulder laughed as he recalled the time she sang 'Joy To The World' for him too.

"I guess your mom doesn't know too many songs," he laughed again, but soon noticed that neither of his companions shared in his mirth.

He gave Scully a questioning look.

"William, sweetie, why don't you go back to your game for a while? I just need to have a moment alone with your dad, and we'll be right back, okay?" She grabbed Mulder's arm and tugged hard.

She all but dragged him back to their room. Her son was still lost in newly rediscovered memories, and he hardly noticed they were gone.

"Hey, what the...?" Mulder began, but Scully soon cut him off.

"Gibson Praise is here. I saw him last night, while you were sleeping. He showed me some things. He said that he'd come see us today, and I'm hoping we can get him to tell us more about what he knows. But I'm scared for us, because I know something is wrong here, I just don't know exactly what. We don't know what they have planned for us, or what they have to use against the colonists," she explained her fears as clearly as she could.

Mulder was surprised to hear about Gibson, and he wanted to know more. But first he pulled Dana into his arms to try to help calm her down. She was glad of the comfort, and she nuzzled closely to his chest. His voice was a low rumble against her ear when he spoke.

"Don't worry, it's you, me and William against the world, and we're a winning team," he promised.

Scully told him everything she'd seen the night before, and all that Gibson had said, particularly his warning to them. Mulder wasn't unduly alarmed by her revelations because he could understand his friend's motives in agreeing to come to this place, and he shared his concerns. He had seen cloning before, so that part wasn't much of a surprise either. But the bigger picture did worry him as much as it bothered his wife.

"Let's see what else Gibson has to say before we start getting too worked up, huh?" He reasoned.

She nodded, and they were about to go back to their son when there was a loud knock at the door.

"Maybe this is him now?" Mulder went to find out.

There was no one there, but a small package had been left on the floor. He retrieved it and proceeded to carefully unwrap it. Inside, there was a DVD.

"What in the world?" Scully exclaimed.

She examined the package for any clues, although there were none to be found. Mulder had already gone to place the disc into the player, and they waited for it to start. The picture flickered on, and they both gasped with shock as they saw a familiar figure on the screen. The man was seated in a wheelchair, which he then carefully turned around to speak directly to the camera. He was cradling their baby son in his arms.

"I can't begin to tell you both what this means to me, to finally meet my grandson. I'm a little disappointed that you didn't name him after me, but then, you never did know my real name, did you? He mocked.

"I want to thank you both for this most precious of gifts, although maybe you should thank me, don't you think? Because from putting the two of you together on the X Files, to everything else in between, well... I guess I can't take full credit. I certainly played my part though. Anyway, I want you both to know that your sacrifices have not been in vain, and your son may yet be able to save us all. I must confess, not even I could ever have foreseen such an opportunity; your son truly is a miracle."

The Cigarette Smoking man smiled down at the baby in his lap, and he carefully took out a syringe from his top pocket.

"I want you to know, Fox, that you were always my favorite son. Jeffrey was such a disappointment, in so many ways. He thought he could take away William's special abilities, but he was wrong, as usual."

He tapped the syringe, just as their son seemed to sense something was amiss and he started to protest.

"Hush now, little man, everything is going to be alright. I know these things because I'm the man that found the future."

He smiled at the camera and addressed them both for one final time.

"This is true immortality. I will live on through you, Fox, and you will live on through William. Our genes will go on and on into the future, if we have a future that is. Let's find out."

He moved to inject the baby and the screen faded to black.

Mulder strode purposefully down the corridor with his wife and son in tow. They were pleading with him to calm down, but anger made him single-minded. He felt an awful sense of deja-vu. Nothing had changed. He was once again being duped, despite all the truths he'd uncovered. He had been willing to accept Jeremiah Smith's slow trickle of "facts" in return for the protection of his family and himself. But after recent revelations, he no longer felt they were safe. If Smith refused to give them answers now, then they would have no option but to take their chances on the outside.

"Dad?" William was scared and he struggled to make sense of the jumble of thoughts in his father's head.

"Dad, please stop. Let's just go back and play some more games, okay?" He pleaded.

Scully took her son's hand and gave him a small smile of reassurance, but he knew she was just as afraid as he was. They carried on until they reached the security barrier, and they could proceed no further. Mulder turned expectantly to his son, hoping that he could breach the defenses as he had done once before.

"I know what you want me to do, but I can't do it," William said tearfully.

"You can't, or you won't? Mulder questioned with an accusatory tone.

He let his frustration and anger get the better of him for a moment. He immediately regretted his harsh tone when he saw the hurt in his boy's eyes. He went to embrace him, but William let go of his mother's hand and started to back away in the direction they came from. He had made a promise to Jeremiah Smith, because he wanted above everything else, to keep his parents safe. He couldn't break it now, no matter how much it hurt him to betray them.

"I'm so sorry Will. It's all going to be okay, I promise," Mulder said soothingly, but he sensed that something was very wrong.

He turned his attention back to security barrier, and in his frustration he started to kick at it with all the force he could muster. When that didn't produce any results, he started shouting to demand access.

An alarm began to blare out and half a dozen Bounty Hunter clones came charging down the corridor towards them. Mulder and Scully started to protest as they were strong-armed through the barrier. One of the clones remained behind with their son. Scully called out desperately to William, but he didn't respond. She could only hear him crying as they were hauled away.

Mulder and Scully waited in silence as their guards looked on. They were informed that Jeremiah Smith was on his way, and he duly appeared. They had been in this room before, but the atmosphere was very different this time around. Smith threw them both a disapproving glance before he took a seat. He sighed and then turned to address them.

"We extended you every courtesy, and you have not returned the favor. Would you like to explain yourselves?" He demanded.

"I asked you once before to cut the crap, so let's do that shall we?" Mulder replied angrily.

"First off, I want to know that our son is okay, and then I want to know who left that disc for us, and why?" He said.

"William is fine, and I don't know about any disc," Smith replied impatiently.


Mulder got up to threaten Smith, but he was quickly restrained and pushed back into his seat by the clones.

"You're too impetuous, Mr. Mulder, it's nearly been your undoing many times, and you're lucky to still be here, as is your wife," Smith scolded him.

"Don't you dare turn this around on to us, we trusted you," Scully angrily snapped.

"Of course you would defend him; you always do. No matter what the personal cost to yourself. Don't you ever think about what loving this man has done to your life? You lost your sister, and worst of all, your precious baby. The son you feared you'd never have and you were forced to give him up all because of who his father is," Smith knew his words would hit her where it hurt.

Scully was boiling over with rage, and she felt just as impetuous as Mulder in that instant. She wanted to get up and hit Jeremiah Smith full force in the kisser, but she swallowed back her anger.

"You know nothing of our love, or of the terrible sacrifices we've both had to make, and you cannot even begin to comprehend the pain of our losses," she said.

"I do know that Walter Skinner and John Doggett both fell in love with you. But you only ever had eyes for Mulder," he mischievously revealed.

Scully gasped, and Mulder turned to look at her with surprise. Although he'd had his suspicions in the past, especially about Skinner.

"It's... it's a lie," she stammered.

But she feared what he was saying was true. It wasn't as if she hadn't harbored suspicions too. Her natural modesty had prevented her from indulging them.

Jeremiah Smith gave her a knowing look.

"The truth is, no other man ever stood a chance with you, and yet you made Mulder wait for such a long time. Did you ever tell him why it took so long for you to invite him into your bed, when he was already in your heart?"

She was very uncomfortable with what Smith was asking, and she had no intention of replying. But as she reluctantly met Mulder's eye, she could tell he was curious. Still, she couldn't bring herself to speak the truth about how she had felt back then, or about her lingering insecurities now. Smith knew all of it anyway, and he decided to answer the question for her.

"Fox Mulder had become your whole world, but you feared he would never feel the same way about you, and that his work, indeed his crusade, would always come first."

Mulder started to protest, but Smith wasn't finished.

"You even asked him to be the father of your child, when you decided to try fertility treatment. You hoped that if you were carrying his baby, he would eventually realize what was more important in his life, and then you could finally be together. But it didn't work, and in a moment of weakness you surrendered to your desires. It's rather ironic, don't you think? The IVF failed, but you invited him into your bed, where he succeeded in getting you pregnant the old-fashioned way."

Scully was not amused, and she jumped to her feet and managed to slap him across the face before she was restrained. Mulder had heard enough, and he was fast losing patience with Smith's diversionary tactics, and his mind games.

"Never mind the past. What I would like to know is how the hell did C.G.B. Spender get his hands on our son when he was a baby, and what did he inject him with? It was all on that disc that was left for us. You can watch it for yourself if you really are ignorant of it," he said as he took it from his pocket.

Jeremiah Smith really didn't know who had given it to them, although he had his suspicions. He decided it didn't matter as it was all to his advantage anyway, and he formulated his response.

"Men like C.G.B Spender are always looking for an advantage, or an opportunity. He had just about run out of both when we ran into him. He wanted to make a deal with us, and he did have one thing of value left to bargain with; your son. He found out that Scully was putting William up for adoption, and he wanted to see the boy in exchange for the antidote to the injection his son Jeffrey, had administered. We were able to get access to your son during his medical examination, just before he was delivered into the care of the Van De Kamps. The antidote was given, and your father got to see his grandson for that one, and only time. He handed over all of the information he had gathered since 1947, and he wanted us to promise to protect William. We agreed to the deal, mostly for the antidote, as we would have watched over the boy anyway," Smith explained.

"I don't believe this," Scully was in tears over her failure to protect her son when she had taken the heart-breaking decision to have him adopted. All she could feel now was despair and guilt for not trusting herself to keep him safe.

Mulder's patience ran out and he leapt to his feet. The clones were poised to contain him, but they waited for Smith's signal.

"Bring William to us, NOW. We're leaving this place," he demanded.

"Sit down, Mr. Mulder," Smith ordered.

He refused and tried to make for the door in order to get to his son. But he was immediately restrained and returned to his seat. Scully was crying, and she begged for them to let her family go. It was all to no avail.

It was time to bring things to a conclusion, and Jeremiah Smith sighed at the task he was now forced to perform. He knew he had to take the lion's share of the blame for this whole fiasco, and that he had to be the one to fix it.

"I apologize to you both in advance, because this mess has been mostly of my making. I've indulged when I should have stood firm. For what it's worth, you have my word that William will be well taken care of, and he will be safe here. But you two are loose cannons, and at this late stage in the operation we cannot risk any more unwelcome surprises," he said.

"I had hoped we could make this work, but now you leave us with no choice," Jeremiah Smith rose to his feet, and then he paused.

"I'm sorry, truly I am. But I should have done this to begin with, as I originally planned."

He gave them a regretful look then turned and exited the room.

Scully was afraid for them both and she grabbed hold of Mulder's hand.

"Wait, what do you mean, what are you going to do to us?" She yelled after Smith.

He didn't stop. Once he was outside of the door he gave instructions to two of his clones who then entered the room. They signaled for their associates to secure the prisoners, as they prepared syringes and moved towards their targets.

"No. Please stop," Scully begged.

Mulder tried with all the strength he could muster to break free, but it was no use. They both felt sharp stabs in their necks and then reached out for each other in a final desperate act before they lost consciousness.

They were then taken and prepared to be placed into two glass pods which were ready and waiting for them. When they had both been wired and tubed up, they were then carefully transferred into what would effectively be their storage containers for the coming months. They would be kept safe and sound, and they would dream beautiful dreams, until it was time for them to be awoken.

Somewhere beyond the sea, somewhere waiting for me...

Mulder and Scully were on a small row-boat which was gliding through a crystal blue sea. There was nothing to trouble them and no worries haunted their minds. There was only the sound of the waves and the smell of the ozone. She kept humming one particular song, because it had been a favorite of her parents, and because all she wanted to do was to keep sailing away with the man she loved. He'd asked her to run away with him, but sailing away was just as good, in fact it was better. She was almost sorry to see the golden sand of the shore, when it came into view. But he told her not to be sad, and he promised to make love to her on the beach, while the waves washed over their bodies. He did, and they were happy together as they watched the sun set on a perfect day.

Happy we'll be beyond the sea, and never again I'll go sailin'...

"Mom? Can you hear me, mom? I'm so sorry."

Scully thought William was calling out to her. But her mind was foggy, and she couldn't quite seem to focus on his voice. Her body felt heavy, as if she was anaesthetized, and she felt the urge to drift back into oblivion.

"I came to see you every day, and I'm so sorry. They said it was the only way to keep you safe, and I just couldn't lose you again."

William's desperate pleadings kept dragging her back to semi-consciousness.

She blinked, but her vision was very limited and blurred. She thought she could just about make out the outline of her son's face. Scully tried unsuccessfully to raise her arm to reach out to him; it was like a lead weight. She tried to speak, but no words would come, although she felt warm teardrops rolling down her cold cheeks.

"Mom? What's wrong with her, why can't she move?" Her son was panicking and demanding answers from someone who was just out of her field of vision.

"She'll be fine, don't worry. It takes time for the effects of the deep sleep to wear off, that's all," the man replied.

Scully recognized Jeremiah Smith's voice and she began to feel angry, although she wasn't sure why.

After a while, she experienced a wave of warmth sweeping through her whole body, and the feeling returned to her limbs. Her vision started to focus and she could see her son's face clearly once again. His eyes were red rimmed and she assumed he'd been crying. Her heart was breaking for him and she hated to see him looking so sad. But as her senses returned to her, she suddenly had more pressing concerns.

She sat bolt upright and began to scan around the room.

"Where's Mulder?" She was desperate when she realized he wasn't there.

"Don't worry, he'll be here in a moment," Smith tried to reassure her.

Scully remembered why she was angry at him, and she didn't trust him.

She was about to try and get up onto her feet to go and find her husband, when the door opened, and Mulder was wheeled into the room. He was still out of it, as she had just been, but his eyes flickered in protest at the light. Their gurneys were pushed close together so Scully could reach out to her husband, and she softly stroked his face.

"Mulder, can you hear me?" She asked as she held his hand and kissed it.

He looked like he wanted to reply, but couldn't. She understood as she had been in the same condition only moments before.

"What the hell did you do to us?" She turned on Jeremiah Smith, looking for answers.

Scully tried to piece together their last meeting with him.

"You wanted to leave here, and we couldn't allow it. The decision was taken to put you both into suspended animation, for your own protection," his tone was one of calm and reason.

She was ready to unleash her anger when William came around and placed his hand over his mother's and father's.

"I didn't want to help them, I just wanted to keep you both safe," he said as tears streamed down his cheeks.

Scully's heart ached for her son. She felt wariness too, as she realized with sadness, that she hardly knew him. He had powers that frightened her when he was a baby, and the rational part of her still struggled to accept them now.

"Don't blame the boy; he was only terrified of losing you for a second time," Smith explained.

Mulder stirred and he seemed to be regaining his senses, as he weakly squeezed Scully's hand.

"Where are we?" He asked as he blinked his eyes.

It appeared his vision was not yet fully restored.

"Still in the land of the living, just about," Scully replied as she tenderly stroked his hair with her free hand.

"I'll let you both get back on your feet. There's a bathroom through that door and clean clothes, and then we will talk," Smith said.

He was ready to leave the room, and he gestured for William to go with him. But the boy shook his head in refusal.

"I want to stay here with mom and dad," He affirmed.

Smith nodded in understanding before exiting.

Scully gently eased herself onto her feet with William's help. Although she still felt unsteady she was able to walk a few steps. Mulder pulled himself into a seated position, and he rubbed at his eyes to get things back into focus. He smiled tentatively at his son, but the atmosphere between them was awkward and uncomfortable, with so many things still left unspoken.

"What's the date?" Mulder finally asked.

"December 8th," his son replied quietly, and didn't meet his eye.

"We've been out of it for eight months?" He was incredulous.

"They told me you'd be killed if we left here. I can't lose you both again; you understand that, don't you?" William began to get tearful again, and anxious as he read the uncertainty in their minds.

He turned to his mother with desperation in his eyes.

"Mom, you gave me up for adoption to protect me, and I understand why you did that, even though I would rather have stayed with you. Because when you love someone that much, you don't ever want to see them get hurt, and I love you mom," he explained between sobs.

Scully could not hold back her own tears as she pulled her son into a tight embrace and kissed the top of his head. She could appreciate the truth in his words, and she could understand why he would believe Jeremiah Smith and go along with his plans. Mulder was able to get up and join them, and he put his arms around them both. He also understood his wife and son's emotions, and he shared them.

"It took me such a long time to realize what was most important to me; too long. Nothing is more precious to me than the two of you, and I love you both so much," Mulder kissed their foreheads, and he pulled them as tightly to him as he could.

Mulder twitched about in his seat. It was hard for him to maintain his calm demeanor because time was running out, for all of them. He had just lost eight months of his life, and the date of the planned alien invasion was only two weeks away. He looked over at his wife and son, and wondered how he came to be so blessed, or cursed. Because the more you have, the more you have to lose. He had lost so much during his life, but he couldn't bear the thought of losing them. He hoped Jeremiah Smith had something good to tell them, and that they really did have a way to fight back against the alien colonists. He couldn't even begin to contemplate the alternative.

William was also restless, but he had a more pleasant reason for his fidgeting, and he suddenly leapt up and went to the door.

"Is everything okay?" His mother asked with concern.

"Err, yeah, mom, it's just... You know how you were asking if I was lonely when you and dad were sleeping? Well, I made some friends, you already know Gibson Praise, but there's someone else, and she's special just like me," he explained.

"She?" His father questioned with a slight grin.

William looked bashful.

"Her name is Joy; her parents are dead, and she was rescued from the bad guys by Jeremiah Smith's men. She's coming to find me now, because I promised I'd watch 'It's A Wonderful Life' with her," he opened the door and looked out.

Scully suddenly remembered her encounter with a woman called Patti and her baby girl, Joy. She remembered how the father tried to help her rendezvous with Mulder, and that he was killed. The girl's parents had told her that their baby was special like William. But she never knew what happened to mother and daughter, after her own confrontation with the super soldier.

"How old is Joy?" She queried.

"Eleven, just like me," her son confirmed her suspicions.

Joy waved when she saw that William was waiting for her. He was happy to see her and she was likewise to see him. She was slender and pretty, with hazel eyes and shoulder-length light brown hair that had a natural wave to it. They smiled at each other, and William took her hand to lead her into the room to meet his parents.

"Mom, dad, I'd like you to meet Joy."

"Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Mulder, I'm so pleased to meet you," she said sweetly.

They greeted her warmly in return. Scully wondered whether she should ask about her parents, particularly her mother. Joy could read her mind, just like her son and Gibson, and she anticipated the question.

"You met my mom, Patti? I know you remember her. She tried to protect me, but without my father, she just couldn't stop them from taking me away," she explained with sadness.

"I'm so sorry," Scully said, knowing full well that mere words were inadequate to make up for all of her pain and suffering.

William squeezed Joy's hand and he gave her a look that somehow expressed all of his emotions at once. She immediately understood, because they had a connection that went far beyond words.

Jeremiah Smith entered the room, making everyone jump, and he gave the kids a friendly smile.

"Why don't you guys go and watch your movie, and we'll come find you afterwards, okay?" He suggested.

Scully smiled reassuringly at her son and his friend, and they happily complied.

Mulder gave Smith a wary look.

"Please, come with me," Jeremiah said and gestured that they should follow him.

"I'm not sure we should go anywhere with you," Mulder put a protective arm around his wife's shoulders.

"It's your choice, of course. But I'm offering full disclosure this time," Smith knew that they couldn't resist such an offer, and sure enough, they accepted.

"It's time for you to see our grand plan, so you might better understand what we've done here. I'm not going to pretend we haven't made some difficult choices along the way, and done some things that are, shall we say, ethically challenging. But you know what we're up against, and you know what's at stake. We may have crossed a few lines, but it was all in service of the greater good, and for that we can offer no apology," he explained as he led them deeper into the facility.

"I'm pretty sure the Nazis said something similar," Mulder said with obvious disdain.

"That is rather disingenuous of you, Mr. Mulder. When you, of all people, know the extremes that some are willing to go to in order to succeed in their ambitions, whatever they may be. It may be a political movement, or a government, or a shadow group within a government, it could even be one man, or one woman, on an all-consuming crusade," Smith said pointedly.

"Since you mentioned the Nazis, I'm sure you're familiar with Operation Paperclip. That's a fine example of what I'm talking about here. Because when your average person views the newsreel footage of Neil Armstrong taking his first giant leap for mankind, what do you think they see? Do you think they see one of the greatest achievements, perhaps even the greatest achievement of all humankind, or do you think they see the pile of dead bodies that made it all possible?"

He knew full well that both of his companions understood the point he was making, and so he didn't wait for them to respond.

"You both know what is at stake here, of course you do. You also know the price that has already been paid by humans, and aliens alike. If we are to succeed now, and if the sacrifices and lives of all those who have suffered and perished to get us to this point are not to be in vain, then we must work together. In the end, if we are on the winning side, then history will be kind to us. We will be judged, not on the lives that were lost, but on how many were saved. Anyway, one thing you people are really good at is editing out the more unsavory aspects of your past," Smith said with a wry smile.

They reached a glass elevator and were soon descending into the bowels of the facility.

Mulder and Scully remained silent and thoughtful throughout, as they digested Smith's diatribe. They were able to look out on each floor as they passed by them, and Scully recognized the place where Gibson had taken her. The tanks, which had been occupied the last time she was there, were now all empty.

"Where did they go?" She questioned.

"They were needed," Smith replied without elaborating any further.

They passed another floor which was full of glass pods. Mulder thought he recognized them as being similar to the ones he'd seen years before in Antarctica. He had rescued Scully from one, and he'd seen aliens gestated from human hosts in others. He couldn't see if these pods were occupied or not, and so he gave Smith a questioning look.

"We needed alien test subjects. We procured a number of elderly people, who were very nearly at the end of their lives, and we infected them. We only took those who had no families, and no one to care whether they lived or died. I did warn you that you might find some of the things we've done here... challenging, I can offer no apologies," Smith explained without displaying any remorse.

Mulder and Scully looked at him with disgust.

"What about letting those people die with dignity?" Dana angrily asked.

"We are all going to die one day, with or without dignity. The enemy we're facing, won't care either way," Smith argued.

"Then maybe the price of saving ourselves is too high. If we have to trade our humanity for salvation, maybe we don't deserve to survive?" Mulder questioned.

"It's a moral dilemma you'll no doubt revisit many times, when all of this is over. Perhaps in the small hours of the morning, when you're safe and warm in your bed, while your son sleeps soundly down the hall and your wife slumbers peacefully at your side. You see what I'm saying, don't you?" Smith asked with a knowing look.

"What is the alternative? Many men and women throughout human history have made terrible choices to ensure the survival of the many, or the few. Life, or rather the continuation of it, is a compromise; it's as simple as that," he concluded as they finally reached their destination.

Mulder and Scully looked out in shocked awe on a vast underground hangar, which contained many alien spaceships of varying size. Jeremiah Smith waited for the elevator door to open, and then he stepped out, and invited his companions to join him.

"It's time to leave the past where it belongs; it's time to find the future."

Walter Skinner opened his desk draw and stared at the thick file inside it. He paused for a moment, to let his eyes rest on the photographs of Mulder and Scully that were pinned to the cover. Skinner made a quick phone call, before glancing once more at the file. He then slammed the draw shut. It was late; the building was quiet, and mostly empty. He got up and grabbed his coat, before heading out of the office and down to the parking garage. A car screeched up to him as he exited from the lift. He nodded to the driver, and to his passenger, as he climbed into the backseat.

"Do you have the address?" John Doggett asked as he sped out of the car park exit.

"Not exactly, but it doesn't matter. They told me we should just head east, and that they'd find us," Skinner answered somewhat enigmatically.

Doggett gave him a skeptical look, but he kept on driving in an easterly direction.

"What about you, Monica? Is your Spidey sense tingling?" John asked his companion, using humor to cover his great unease over the whole situation.

"Spidey sense?" She repeated with exasperation.

"All these years, John, everything you've seen, everything you've learned, and you still can't let yourself believe?" Monica asked with a weary sadness.

"It's not easy to have your whole world turned upside down, and for it to somehow still make sense. I'm trying, but I guess old habits die hard," Doggett had to be honest with them, and with himself.

"Well, whatever you do or don't believe, all I know is that time is running out, and I hope to God that Jeremiah Smith and his people know what they're doing," Skinner glanced nervously out of the car window.

"Did you ever get to speak to Mulder or Scully?" Reyes asked him.

"No. But I've been assured that they're both fine, and we'll get to see them tonight," he sounded like he was trying to convince himself as much as his companions.

Doggett threw Skinner a skeptical look in the rear-view mirror.

"This is crazy! How do we even know we're headed in the right direction?" John questioned as he glanced around for some sort of sign.

The road was deserted and there didn't look to be much of anything up ahead. He was considering pulling into a rest area, when a blinding white light filled the car. Doggett slammed on the brakes as the light beam impaired his vision, and all the car's occupants held their breath, as time itself seemed to come to a standstill.

Mulder stared long and hard at the vast alien spaceship before him. He couldn't stop glimpses of his past abduction from playing in his mind. It was almost too much for him, as he thought about his sister, and the reasons why he had begun his quest. He never imagined this outcome. His crusade had consumed a large part of his life, and now as he stood before the physical manifestation of it, he wasn't quite sure how to feel. Scully was just as hesitant as her husband, but for different reasons. She made the decision to follow him long ago, and to go wherever the truth led them. In the last few years, she couldn't help herself from entertaining the hope that they had escaped from the darkness. If she was being completely honest with herself, it was always the man she wanted more than the truth. It was a dawning realization, after she'd left the F.B.I and returned to medicine, what a relief it was to be unshackled from a job which had become a burden of duty, rather than the challenging career she joined up for. The conflict had raged within her for a long time, because she wanted Mulder, but not the darkness, and it didn't seem that she could have one without the other.

"Are the two of you just going to stand there all day?" Jeremiah Smith called out to them from somewhere inside the craft.

Mulder started walking slowly up the ramp towards the sound of his voice. It was as if he was in a kind of daze. He was entering a spacecraft this time on his own terms, not like before. He had to allow himself to be in the moment, and to drink it all in. Scully reluctantly followed her husband. The ship was an awesome sight, but she wasn't moved by it. Jeremiah Smith's earlier revelations had left her in a subdued and thoughtful state. She couldn't help fearing that worse was yet to come.

The spaceship was enormous in size and scale, and she had an awful feeling for a second, as if it were swallowing her whole. lt reminded her again of that story about a white whale, which she'd once feared they were chasing for all of those years on the X Files. They walked for a time in silence, until the long passageway suddenly opened up into a cavernous central core area. The whole thing was full with row upon row of glass pods, which were all hanging from huge metal rings. Each one contained a suspended alien creature.

"It's quite the spectacle, isn't it?" Jeremiah Smith asked as he gestured around the interior.

He then moved to a large screen, to call up information on a monitoring system.

"This is what happens when a species considers itself to be invincible; it blinds itself to the possibilities, and thinks that it will endure come what may. They could have taken this planet any number of times in the past, when humanity would have been defenseless to repel them. But instead, they waited. They regarded this planet and its inhabitants as inconsequential. It was just another tick on their to-do-list and something they'd get around to one day. Their arrogance has left them fatally exposed, and this shall be their reckoning," he explained.

"What will be their reckoning? What is all of this for?" Scully snapped.

"The development of a vaccine was a main priority, and the dream of Bill Mulder, amongst others. But we stumbled across something else during the course of all of those years of testing and experimenting, and it was something we never expected to find. We discovered that we could manipulate the alien life force itself. The black oil, as you call it, was changed into something which would destroy not sustain them. In the tests we conducted, the mutated virus showed itself to be incredibly virulent, and capable of weakening and killing its host in less than twenty-four hours. It is harmless to humans and other life on Earth, but it's fatal to them. We birthed all of these, and then infected them," Smith gestured around to the many pods that surrounded them.

"They are being kept in a state of suspended animation, much as both of you were. The difference being that when these creatures are awoken, they won't have the prospect of a long life to look forward too," he said solemnly.

"You're going to infect the colonists?" Mulder asked as he took a closer look at the alien in the pod nearest to him.

"It has been a carefully orchestrated operation, because the colonists are spread far and wide throughout the universe. There are also many enemies here on Earth, and they have infiltrated the highest levels of government. We couldn't move against them any sooner for fear of giving ourselves away. We didn't want to show our hand too early, or risk having our cover blown, when we've been sending operatives out to infiltrate them. They have assembled a fleet of two thousand ships, which are rendezvousing from various places in the Milky Way and neighboring galaxies. They will then coalesce at the edge of Earth's solar system in one week's time. We will release the virus in a synchronized effort next Saturday, when all of our agents aboard those ships, will break the concealed vials that they are carrying," Smith explained.

"So what do you need these for?" Scully asked as she gestured around her to the thousands of alien pods.

"Think of them as a kind of Trojan horse, because the colonists aboard those ships should perish long before they reach Earth. But if any do get through, we will get amongst them and target them with biological weaponry, otherwise known as these fellows. We also have conventional missiles that have been specially adapted using magnetite. We will fire on them should any ships manage to get anywhere near Earth's atmosphere," Jeremiah Smith laid out the rebel's plans with an air of confidence that came from years of careful preparation.

Mulder said nothing, and he just stared at the creature in the pod. He felt empty and contemplated the wonder he used to feel at the possibility that alien life existed. Scully took a moment to let everything sink in. It went against her nature to take any pleasure in the destruction of a species. Even if they would have done the same to the human race, given the chance. She was a medical doctor, who had fought so hard to save lives over the years, and this was contrary to her every instinct. She felt the need to pray for guidance, and put her hand up to hold the crucifix that was hanging around her neck.

Mulder was still deep in thought, as he regarded the sum of what had been his life's work.

"What about you, and the rest of the clones, what do you hope to get out of this?" Scully questioned.

She couldn't help wondering about his motives. He seemed sincere, but the rebels were wielding great power, and that seldom resulted in honorable behavior.

"The chance to live in peace, and to secure our freedom. That's what we all want, isn't it?" Smith replied.

She contemplated his response, and continued to fidget with the cross around her neck. Mulder kept his silence and turned away from the creature in the glass pod.

"This has been overwhelming for you both, I can appreciate that," Jeremiah Smith said as he observed their unease.

"Let's go back up to my office; I've got one last surprise for you. I'm sure you will find it more pleasurable than all of this," he said with a mischievous smile.

He headed back out to the hangar with a spring in his step. His companions wearily followed him.

"What the hell was that?"

John Doggett sat wide-eyed with shock, and no small amount of fear. The bright light beam vanished as soon as it had appeared, leaving the car dark and the engine switched off. He was too distracted to notice the change in their surroundings, from open road to an empty parking lot, in front of a derelict storage facility. It was Reyes who first noted their new location. She grasped hold of John's hand and indicated that he should look out of the car window.

"I guess they weren't kidding when they said they'd find us," Skinner exclaimed with wonderment.

"I don't... Where in the world are we?" Doggett looked around in disbelief at the seemingly deserted lot.

They all moved to stand outside of the car, in a state of confusion. They remained that way until they saw a figure emerge from the derelict warehouse and begin advancing towards them. It was one of Jeremiah Smith clones, and he greeted them, and bade them to follow him inside. They were taken to the subterranean facility, and were anxiously awaiting the promised reunion with old friends.

Scully gasped in shock to see Skinner, Doggett, and Reyes, sitting somewhat uncomfortably, in Smith's office. She went to greet and hug each one in turn, as Mulder hung back, waiting for his chance. They exchanged brief pleasantries before they turned their attention to the serious business at hand.

"Does anyone out there even know what may, or may not, be about to happen?" Mulder asked.

"The world at large? No. But those who need to be prepared, are," Skinner gave his assurance.

"Don't forget about all the Mayan-prophecy-believing-nut-jobs. They are just waiting for the sky to start raining down fire and brimstone on 'em," Doggett said with disdain.

"Hey, don't be down on the nut-jobs; they're my kind of people," Mulder said with a wry smile.

"What about those who are working for the other side? What about the super soldiers? Scully questioned.

"Far as we can tell, they are waiting for the colonists to arrive before unleashing the alien virus. They don't know yet that it will be futile, or that we have developed a weapon utilizing magnetite to use against them," Skinner explained.

"I don't understand how all this has been kept secret. They killed Kersh when he betrayed them, so why not you, or us for that matter?" Mulder questioned as he gestured to himself and Scully.

"I don't know the answer to that; I guess they thought they'd won anyway. The X Files were closed down, and we were all re-assigned. You and Scully were out of the bureau, so they got what they wanted. I suppose Kersh served as an example, for what would happen to us if we didn't leave well alone," Skinner reasoned.

"Poor Kersh," Scully couldn't help but feel compassion for the man, even if he had been a thorn in their side for so long.

They all bowed their heads for a moment in reverence. Because although they all crossed swords with the man, he came good for them in the end, and had paid for it with his life.

Jeremiah Smith entered the room, and he noted their glum demeanor with exasperation.

"Come now, if all goes as planned, in a couple of weeks you'll be sitting down to Christmas dinner with your loved ones," he said in an effort to lift their spirits.

"Speaking of families, what about mine? I can't even think about what my mother must have been through, and what about William? We have no legal right to keep him with us," Scully asked as tears filled her eyes.

"Your mother hasn't given up hope; I spoke with her a couple of weeks ago," Skinner revealed.

"Don't worry about William, we've taken care of everything, and you'll have full custody. He wants to take the Mulder family name; I assume you have no objections?" Smith asked.

"No... I mean, how? What about his adopted parents, didn't they leave any instructions for William's care?" Dana was incredulous, and couldn't let herself believe it would be so straightforward.

"Neither of them had any living relatives who were willing to care for the boy. Mrs. Van De Kamp's mother is in her eighties, and Mr. Van De Kamp's parents are both dead, neither had siblings," Smith explained.

Scully was relieved, and she smiled at Mulder who returned the gesture. But then she thought about someone else, and her heart sank once again.

"What about Joy? I mean, she doesn't have anybody, does she?"

Monica Reyes stepped forward and reached out to put a comforting hand on Scully's shoulder.

"We've offered to take her, John and me," she explained with a smile, which a bashful looking Doggett confirmed with a nod of his head.

Mulder raised his eyebrows at the implication, and he couldn't help himself from smirking. He contemplated the old X Files office as being a hotbed of simmering passions.

"Who knew that investigating the paranormal would be such an aphrodisiac?" He laughed.

He had certainly never expected to find love there, not after his failed relationship with Diana Fowley. But as he looked at John and Monica and then rested his eyes on his wife, he felt happy and grateful that even through the darkness, they had found each other.

"I feel like we should be raising a glass or something, I could use a drink right about now," Skinner said with a certain degree of awkwardness over his gooseberry status.

They all smiled, and thoughts of aliens and invasions were all but forgotten for a moment, until Jeremiah Smith brought them back down to earth.

"There'll be time enough for celebrating afterwards. But first, there is an enemy to be defeated."

Somewhere, deep in space, an alien fleet gathered to fulfil an ancient prophecy. They were unaware that by doing so, they were sealing their own fate. The passage of time had been as nothing to them. They invaded worlds and enslaved or destroyed species after species, with no remorse. They were about to discover what could be achieved in their absence, by others who did not share their aims. They anticipated the destruction of an entire race, and it would come to pass; only it was their own doom they had sealed.

The rebels struck against the colonists, without the need for superior might. The deadly virus that they unleashed travelled from host to host, until only a few remained. There was to be no mercy for a race, who themselves had lost the concept of it long ago.

The rebels took control of the colonist's fleet and they continued on their mission, jettisoning the bodies of their slain foe into the void of space along the way. They then joined the rest of their number in mounting a silent coup against the remaining conspirators on Earth. The super soldiers, and other hostile alien factions were to be rounded up and their threat neutralized.

The colonists still had many strongholds throughout the universe, and many planets were still living under their oppression. The rebels were intending to use their new-found advantage to completely obliterate them. Thereby eliminating any future threat that they might pose to Earth or anywhere else. The only problem was, they had not shared this part of the plan with their human allies, who were expecting to inherit some of the defeated colonist's arsenal.

Mulder knocked and waited. He was apprehensive about seeing his old friend again, after everything that had happened to them both since their last meeting. The door opened, and Gibson Praise stood before him, looking slightly older, but otherwise unchanged.

"I think I preferred that trailer in New Mexico," Mulder quipped, in referring to their high tech surroundings.

"It wasn't so bad, but they get better Internet access here," Gibson said with a smile.

Mulder followed his friend inside the room and they both sat down.

"I'd hoped to see you sooner, but Jeremiah Smith told me you were working at one of the other facilities," Mulder felt like he needed to account for the delay in their reunion, even though it wasn't entirely his fault.

"I wanted to see you too, but I had to leave before they woke you from the deep sleep," Gibson felt guilty, and couldn't look his friend in the eye as he continued.

"I tried to warn Scully, I knew the two of you wouldn't stay out of trouble and I wanted to tell her what would happen if you tried to leave. I was on my way to see you both when I heard about what happened and you were already in the suspension pods by then," he explained.

"You didn't leave that disc for us then?" Mulder asked, referring to the DVD of C.G.B. Spender with William.

"No. I know who did though," Gibson was hesitant to reveal the culprit.

He paused for a moment before sighing and meeting his friend's expectant gaze.

"It was Joy."

Mulder was shocked.

"Why did she do it?" He asked with bewilderment.

"Joy had only been here at this facility for a few days. She was always led to believe there was no-one else like her in existence. When she found out about William, it was a big shock to her. She didn't know your son then, and she was deeply envious of him having both of his parents still alive, when hers were long dead. She discovered the DVD after reading one of the clone's minds, and knew it would stir up trouble. I do know she felt just awful about what happened, and she confessed as soon as she realized the consequences of her actions. But everyone decided that it was best to leave you both where you were," Gibson explained.

"Everyone?" Mulder raised his brow at his friend's insinuation.

"I know better than most the risks you're willing to take with your life, and the lives of those you hold dear. Your intentions may be honorable, but the end result is still the same; you get hurt, and the people around you get hurt," Gibson said pointedly.

Mulder looked momentarily abashed, but then he felt his hackles rising again.

"We were in there for EIGHT months, for Christ's sake!" He exclaimed.

"The truth is, they didn't want you out there causing trouble. Never mind that you might get yourself and your family killed. The only reason this project has succeeded up until now, is because they let the colonists and their conspirators here on Earth believe that the resistance was over. The President himself, all but assured them we had accepted our fate, and that colonization could proceed uninhibited. With you, and others like you out of picture, there were no visible dissenters. They got complacent. This whole project has been under their noses the entire time, but they just couldn't see it," Gibson explained.

Mulder's anger increased as he considered what he'd just been told; that it was his crusade which had threatened the plans of the resistance fighters.

"I never asked for any of this. They took my sister, they ruined my life, and I was supposed to, what? Turn the other cheek? I couldn't just let them get away with it," he angrily argued.

"One thing I learned during my chess playing days, was when to resign. There was no point persisting in a game where neither side could win. That is just a waste of everybody's time. When I was in a chess tournament, I would let my opponent take a few games to give them false confidence, and then they would always make stupid mistakes. I could have beaten them without using my advantage most of the time, because they were just so predictable," Gibson calmly countered.

"Well, it's good to know that I wasted so much of everybody's time, including my own," Mulder bitterly replied.

"That's not what I meant, and you know it. When we were hiding out in the desert, how many times did you wish you could be done with all of this? You were missing Scully and your son so much, and you said that all you wanted was to be with them. Well now you've got your wish," the younger man reasoned.

"Yeah, eleven years too late. I guess my fairy godmother had one hell of a backlog," Mulder's reply was dripping with sarcasm.

"I don't need to tell you that you can't change the past. But you can choose to stop living in it. I hope when all this is over, you'll do just that. You have lost a lot, but you've also gained so much; not many people get to come back from the dead, or to father a miracle child," Gibson argued.

Mulder considered it all for a moment.

"So basically what you're saying is, it doesn't matter if my glass is half full or half empty; I've still got a drink?" He said with a wry smile.

Gibson grinned.

"Something like that. You've got a family, and the chance to build a life beyond all of this. It won't be long now until you'll be able to get started on it," he said.

"We've decided to leave tonight. You could come with us?" Mulder asked tentatively.

"I know you've got permission to leave, but maybe you should wait? It's only a couple more days, and there could still be threats out there," Gibson appealed.

"We've got to leave sometime," his friend reasoned.

"I'm staying here; this is where I belong now," Gibson was adamant.

"Jeremiah Smith and his people have helped me to make the most of my ability, and I don't have to live in fear anymore. I know you're distrustful of them after everything that's happened, but they've helped William and Joy too. Your son and his friend have some abilities they never even knew about, and they've been learning how to access them. It's scary to be different from everyone else; especially when you know there are people out there who want to kill you just because of it. Joy and William are lucky, because they have each other, and they have people who love and accept them for who they are. They won't have to live in fear that you'll reject them because of what they can do," he had a hint of sadness in his voice, as he thought of his own parents.

"You'll always be welcome in our home, don't you ever forget that," Mulder declared as he got up to leave.

Gibson nodded with gratitude. He had to swallow back his emotion as his friend gave him a hug by way of a farewell. With a look of sad resignation, Mulder was gone.

Mulder and Scully found themselves outside for the first time in months. They proceeded to load up the SUV which Jeremiah Smith had provided for them. He also gave them a small black hold all, which contained weapons he said they might still need to protect themselves. Scully unzipped the bag and took out two guns, both of which were loaded with custom made magnetite bullets. They took one each, and Mulder retrieved his returned stiletto weapon and slipped it into his pocket.

"I think we should head straight to mom's house. We can stay with her over Christmas, until we figure everything out," Scully reasoned.

He nodded in agreement, although they were both unsure what kind of welcome they'd get. He then took a moment to look up at the sky; all appeared calm and it was a beautiful starry night. Mulder cupped his wife's chin in his hand and gently tilted her head upwards so that she could take in the splendor too.

"It looks the same as it always did, and it's still full of wonder. I thought somehow it might be different now, but it's not," he said with relief.

They both stood in silent reflection for a moment.

"You know, as much as I'm glad we finally have a real chance of leaving all of this behind us, I can't help but worry about you. I mean, the path may have taken some unexpected turns along the way, and the final destination might not exactly be what you thought it would be, but the search for the truth was what drove you onwards. What will be your driving force now?" Scully questioned with concern.

Mulder considered her words, and then he lightly chuckled.

"I think there's still enough mystery in the world, and in the universe come to that, to keep me going until I find out for myself what's on the other side. It wouldn't hurt for me to work at being a better husband too, and I could start by remembering our wedding anniversary next year," he quipped with a hint of shame over the truth of his words.

"Plus there's William. I didn't get the chance to be a father to him after he was born. I'm not putting any of that on you, by the way, because I know you only did what you had to do, regardless of what we know happened afterwards. But we have the chance to build a proper relationship now, and I hope we can become close in a way I never managed with my own dad. In the end, all I may ever have shared with him was a love of sunflower seeds, and I want more than that for my boy."

Mulder's poignant words touched his wife's heart, and she wrapped her arms around him. He returned the gesture and after a moment spent embracing, they kissed with all the passion both of them felt inside.

Jeremiah Smith looked stoically on as the Mulders and Joy climbed into their SUV. He was willing to let them go and find their own destinies now, just as he and his people would have to find theirs.

"You're glad to be leaving here, I'm sure. I would ask you to remember one thing though; none are so mighty that they cannot be destroyed. We all have our weaknesses. William, Joy, you have so many wonderful things to offer this world. Please be ever vigilant, not only against those who covet your gifts, but also against your own motives and desires. Guide them wisely, because a great deal may depend on it," he appealed as he addressed the last part directly to Mulder and Scully.

They all gave respectful acknowledgement, as they contemplated Smith's words.

"I've got to say, it kinda ended with a whimper, not a bang. Is it really all over? I mean, most of the world will never even know how close they came to being wiped out, or by whom, will they?" Mulder questioned.

"You almost sound disappointed, Mr. Mulder," Smith retorted with a knowing smile.

"Maybe one day the rest of the world will learn about all of this, and your work will finally get the recognition it deserves, as will you," he said earnestly.

I'm long past caring about that. But the world should know what's out there, in case all of this ever happens again," Mulder asserted.

"Let the truth be known though the heavens fall, hmm?" Smith repeated a phrase the other man had once said, and they both contemplated it for a moment.

"I guess it's just easier for most people to go on believing the lies," Mulder replied with a weary acceptance.

He gave Jeremiah Smith one final nod of acknowledgement and then drove away.

They had only been on the road for a short while when Joy requested a bathroom break. Mulder was wary of halting their journey so soon, but he reluctantly pulled into a rest stop.

"I'll go with her," Scully said as she got up to escort Joy to the ladies room.

Mulder nodded, and indicated that she should be on the alert. He began to scan the area for any signs of danger.

"Dad, can we get something to eat?" William questioned from the backseat.

The smell wafting in from the nearby fast food restaurant suddenly made him aware of how hungry he was.

"Sure, as soon as your mom and Joy get back, we'll all go together, okay?" Mulder turned to offer a reassuring smile to his son.

They were both momentarily distracted.

A man, posing as a trucker, had been tracking an anomalous energy signal. He couldn't believe his luck when he stumbled upon something far more important. He was looking for a way to save his own skin, but never dared to hope for such an opportunity as this. He had been lurking and watching from the shadows, just waiting for an opportunity to strike. William was too late to sense the danger. The driver's door of the SUV was flung open, and the stocky trucker man grabbed his father by the throat and pulled him out of the vehicle. A struggle ensued as Mulder tried to fight off his assailant, and reach for his weapons. He couldn't tell what he was dealing with, and he needed his son's help. But his attacker's hands were tight around his neck.

William panicked and he looked around in desperation for his mother. He was undecided whether he should try and assist his dad, or if he should run to get help. He took a deep breath in an effort to regain his focus. It was then he heard his father's voice in his head, asking him if he knew who or what his assailant was.

"He's a super soldier," William shouted as he leapt out of the car.

"You must die, it's the only way. We need the boy," the hybrid said as he tightened his grip around Mulder's neck.

The boy jumped on to the super soldier's back and tried to prize him away from his father. But the hybrid soon shook him off and William was thrown clear. Three shots rang out in quick succession, and Mulder's assailant released him from the tight grip he had around his neck. The super soldier began to shake violently as his face and body started to blacken. He then folded up in agony, before finally exploding into a cloud of dust.

Scully fired the shots, after Joy had been able to detect the threat outside and identify it.

She ran over to check on Mulder, and a feeling of dread came over her as she saw how still he was.

"Mulder?" She checked his vitals, and panicked when she realized he had stopped breathing.

Scully tried to summon her professional medical focus as she set to work on her husband, but he wasn't responding. A small crowd began to gather around them, and someone went to call for an ambulance.

William and Joy locked eyes, and putting aside their fear and emotion, they knew what they had to do.

"Mom, let's get dad in the car," her son pleaded with desperation.

Scully was still trying, unsuccessfully, to get some response from Mulder. She barely registered her son's words, and so the boy enlisted the help of a couple of bystanders.

"Let's get dad in the car, we can get him help, but we need to go NOW," William shouted at his mother, and this time, she seemed to realize what he meant.

Mulder was carefully placed in the back of the SUV, with his head resting on his son's lap. Joy jumped into the passenger seat and they sped away. When they were far enough out of the sight of any onlookers, William ordered his mother to stop the car. She refused, and her mind was set on getting her husband to the nearest hospital. Her son read what she was thinking and realized that she had misunderstood him. His father was running out of time and he needed help there and then.

"No, mom, stop the car NOW," William demanded.

"Oh God, maybe Jeremiah Smith can save him," she started to spin the car around.

"Mom, PLEASE, you have to trust me. STOP THE CAR," her son begged.

William signaled to Joy, and she nodded her understanding. They both focused their minds and concentrated hard for a moment. The SUV came to a sudden screeching halt, much to Scully's bewilderment. Joy leapt out of the passenger seat to join her friend in the rear of the vehicle. Both of the children held hands, while placing their free palms on alternate sides of Mulder's head. They closed their eyes and channeled their powers, while Scully looked on in shocked silence as they healed and resurrected her husband.

Mulder opened his eyes and looked around with surprise and wonderment as he realized what they had done for him. William had tears running down his cheeks, as did Joy, and Scully was staring at them all in silent awe. He eased himself to a sitting position and tenderly stroked his boy's face, and then gently wiped away one of the girl's tears. His wife climbed into the back seat and hugged him tightly, as they all held on to each other for a long moment.

"We should have stayed where we were. It was safer there," Scully confessed through her tears.

"No. I think we're as safe as we'll ever be, right now," Mulder said pointedly as he looked at their two young charges.

She regarded her son and his friend thoughtfully, and understood exactly what her husband meant. The children were a formidable force in their own right.

"We can only heal people together, not on our own. Jeremiah Smith said that if we keep practicing we might be strong enough to do it alone, one day," William explained almost apologetically.

"Hey, I think it's amazing you can do it at all. You both gave me back the gift of life, and now I'm thinking, whatever I get you for Christmas, it won't even come close to that," Mulder said with a grin.

"Let's get back on the road, and I'll drive this time. We're gonna give my mom such a big surprise," Scully said with a smile.

They all settled back into their seats, and Mulder reached to turn the radio on.

"It's almost Christmas, right? There must be at least one station playing a festive Elvis song," he grinned and kept pressing the tuning button until he found what he was looking for.

I'll be home for Christmas,

You can plan on me,

Please have snow and mistletoe,

And presents on the tree,

Christmas Eve will find me

Where (uh) a love light gleams

I'll be home for Christmas (Oh ho ho yes)

If only in my dreams.

Margaret Scully tried to focus on the book in front of her, but her mind kept drifting from the page. She had a strong feeling she just couldn't shake, that her daughter was close by. It was so overwhelming, she kept having to stop herself from getting up to look out of the window. It wasn't the first time she had experienced something like this, but she still felt silly for indulging it. The clock on the mantle told her it was getting late. She got up to get ready for bed, with her mind still on Dana.

It had been a tough year, and although she managed to hold onto the hope and belief that she would see her daughter alive and well again, she missed her desperately. It wasn't easy for Maggie to find sleep, but she eventually drifted into a kind of half-dream state. She imagined she could hear the sound of a car pulling into her driveway, followed by the chatter of excited voices outside. The sound of knocking broke through her semi-consciousness and catapulted her out of bed with a start. She reached for her robe and hastily made her way downstairs. She looked through her spy hole and gasped in shock before quickly opening the door.


Margaret Scully threw her arms around her daughter, and both of them began to cry.

"Mom, I'm so sorry for what you must have been through this past year. But I hope once you know why, you'll understand," Dana said as she tenderly held her mother's face in her hands.

She then stepped back and gently guided her son to the fore, as her mom looked on in amazement with tears in her eyes.

"William, I guess you don't remember your grandma, but I know that she never stopped thinking about you," Scully couldn't stop her emotions from taking over, as she watched her son and mother's joyful reunion.

"Oh my God, I prayed for a moment like this, but I never thought my prayers would be answered," Maggie sobbed as she held her grandson tightly to her and pressed a kiss to his cheek.

She then went to embrace Mulder, and he was happy to return the gesture. She had always been so warm and accommodating to him, despite everything.

Mrs. Scully was then introduced to Joy and a warm welcome was extended to her, as they were all invited inside to make themselves at home.

They were all hungry and tired, and their conversation was characterized mainly by its brevity. They explained away their absence for most of the past year, as a kind of witness protection program in relation to maintaining William and Joy's safety. Maggie seemed to be satisfied with their version of events, but that was mainly because she was so overjoyed to have them all back.

They retired to bed feeling relieved and grateful to be taking a step back to normality.

Margaret Scully was busy in the kitchen preparing breakfast, and she smiled as Dana walked in looking quite disheveled.

"Good morning, you look like you slept well?" Maggie said with a mischievous grin.

"Yeah, it was good to be back in familiar surroundings," Dana replied as she attempted to tame her bed hair.

She spied a copy of 'Fifty Shades of Grey' on the counter, and gave her mother a questioning look.

"What? Unlike you, I only get to read about it these days," Maggie said with a knowing nod to her daughter.

Dana blushed, and was horrified at the thought that her mother might have heard her and Mulder's nocturnal workout.

"It's nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about, you know, your father and I..." Maggie sought to reassure her daughter only to cause her more mortification.

"Mom!" Scully stopped her mother before she could make any further revelations about her sex life.

"All I'm saying is, you're lucky to have found someone who still makes your heart beat faster after all these years," Maggie said with a sincere smile.

Dana considered her mother's words, and nodded gratefully. The subject matter still made her feel uncomfortable and so she busied herself by helping with breakfast.

"I called Bill; he wanted to come right over here, but I persuaded him to wait until later," Maggie said nervously, after a short pause.

Scully sighed. She wanted to see her brother, although she also knew it wouldn't necessarily be a happy reunion, especially where her husband was concerned.

They descended into silence once again as they worked away in the kitchen. The delicious aroma of home cooked food brought a hungry Mulder looking for its source.

"That smells good enough to eat," he quipped as he stood drooling in the doorway.

"Help yourself, Fox, I'll go wake the kids," Maggie said as she excused herself.

Dana was deep in thought, and she barely registered Mulder's presence. Which caused her to jump when he put his arms around her and nuzzled her neck.

"What's up doc?" He asked, in his old familiar way.

"I was just thinking how I hated it in that facility. We were living in a kind of bubble of unreality there and I didn't think too much about what was going to happen next. I guess I'm just realizing what a major adjustment we're all going to have to make in our lives now. I mean, I don't think I ever got over not having William around, but I got used to it. I just hope that I'm up to the challenge of being a good mother to him. He's such a special boy, and he can do so many amazing things. How can I help him find his way through it all, when I can't even begin to comprehend it myself? She questioned with a hint of panic in her voice.

Mulder tenderly cradled her face in his hands and sought to soothe her.

"We'll figure it out together," he said and then gently kissed her lips.

"William has been talking to me about how all of this is for him; like how his emerging abilities are both scary and awesome at the same time. Did you know, when we were back in the facility, he could hear the infected aliens telepathically calling out? He thought at first they were calling to him. But he came to understand that they were trying to reach out to the colonists. He has nightmares about that, and about not being able to save the Van De Kamps. He needs us, Dana, and I know we'll do our very best not to let him down," Mulder confidently stated.

"What if our best isn't good enough?" She was still unconvinced.

"It will be," he replied with a sureness that gave her faith to hope and believe he was right.

December 22nd, 2012

Mulder awakened with a jolt, like he'd been holding his breath in his sleep and needed to get some air. The house appeared to be calm and quiet. He discovered he was alone in bed, although it was only 5 am, and still dark outside. He got up to look for his wife, and he soon found her downstairs sitting by the fireside. She was staring hard into the flames, and seemed to be deep in thought.


Mulder tried to get her attention. She didn't respond at first, and so he went to sit beside her. He put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close to him.

"It's so strange, to suddenly arrive at a date you've thought about for so long. A time you've feared and dreaded. Only for it to end up being nothing at all like you imagined it would be. I guess I should be feeling grateful, because when I first heard about what was supposed to happen on this day, my mind was filled with horror. I wanted to hold onto hope but I didn't have the strength of my beliefs," she eventually said without taking her eyes away from the fire.

"I know what you mean, this day has loomed over us for such a long time. It was always there like a big black cloud on the horizon, even if we didn't talk about it. Now we're here, and it turns out that we were right to believe; there was hope. But at the same time it feels unreal, like it's all a dream or wishful thinking" Mulder joined her in staring into the embers.

"Oh God, it isn't a dream, is it?" She suddenly panicked.

They had experienced some very weird stuff in the past, and the line between fantasy and reality was blurred for them on more than one occasion.

Mulder pinched himself, and then he lightly pinched his wife causing her to mildly protest.

"Nope, I'm pretty sure we're awake. Well, fairly sure. I mean it is us, after all," he said with a grin.

Scully couldn't help but laugh.

"You know, there have been hundreds of predictions about when the end of the world would come. In the English town of Leeds in 1806, a hen started to lay eggs that prophesied the second coming of Christ. The whole thing was proven to be a hoax, but I guess someday, somebody, somewhere is going to be right," Mulder said with resignation.

"A predicting hen?" She scoffed, to her husband's obvious amusement.

They sat together in silent contemplation for a moment, before Scully decided it was time to broach an even trickier subject than the foretelling of the apocalypse.

"I forgot to mention that I spoke to John and Monica last night, and they're going to come over later to spend time with Joy. I also asked them if they would watch the kids while we go out for dinner tonight," she explained.

"Are we going on a date?" Mulder asked playfully.

"Not exactly... Tara called and invited us to dinner with her and Bill. I didn't like to say no, not after everything," Scully sheepishly explained.

"Anyone else call, that I should know about?" He huffed.

"It's only dinner," she reasoned knowing full well that he wasn't happy about it in the slightest.

"I hope your brother remembers it's the season of peace and goodwill to all men. Otherwise there might be Armageddon after all," he said only half-jokingly.

Scully smiled and tried to cajole him, but he was determined to sulk, and so she tried more creative methods to improve his mood. It worked, and they went back up to bed for a few more hours.

It was past 9am when Dana made it back downstairs, and she found William sitting alone in the kitchen. She went to hug him and kiss him on the cheek, and he rewarded her with a warm smile.

"What are you doing, sitting here all by yourself?" She questioned.

"Grandma's gone shopping, and John and Monica are here to see Joy, so I thought I'd give them some space," he explained.

"That was thoughtful of you, I'm sure they appreciate it," she said with a smile.

"Mom, you know I'll be happy to live anywhere with you and dad, but we won't be too far away from Joy, will we?" He was worried about being separated from the best friend he'd ever had.

Scully could understand her son's anxiety, because although it wasn't exactly the same, she knew that the thought of ever being parted from Mulder used to tear her up inside.

"Well, your dad and I have been talking about that. We thought you'd want to stay close to Joy, so we're going to look for a place around here. That way we will still be close to grandma, but also not too far from John and Monica's house," she hoped her son would be reassured.

William was very happy with his parent's plans. He could tell from his mother's thoughts that she was longing for the day when they'd have a place they could call home. Walter Skinner had had their belongings carefully packed and placed into secure storage during their absence, and Scully was grateful for that. But she missed having her own things around her, and she knew Mulder did too.

"There's no place like home," William quipped recalling a line from The Wizard of Oz.

His mother got the reference and couldn't help smiling at his telepathic understanding.

"I almost forgot, this came for you and dad," he said as he handed her a small package.

He went off to watch TV, while she carefully examined its contents.

There was a letter enclosed in the envelope and a USB Flash Drive, and she reached for her reading glasses. Mulder walked into the kitchen at that moment, so she handed him the small device and then proceeded to read the letter out loud.

Dear Friends,

The significance of today's date may now pass all but a few by. But we know what could have been, and what we achieved together. We still have much work to do, let us be under no illusion about that. We intend to bring a permanent end to the colonist threat, because if we don't, then we will have prevented nothing. We will only have given ourselves a stay of execution.

By the time you receive this package, the remaining threats here on Earth should have been eliminated. But I beg you to remain ever vigilant. I have enclosed a USB Flash Drive with instructions on where and how you can find help, if you should ever need it.

We may never meet again. But if we do, I hope it will be at a time when we can celebrate freedom and peace, not only on this planet, but throughout the universe.

Fondest Regards,

Jeremiah Smith.

Mulder and Scully walked arm in arm over to the car at a leisurely pace, with Bill and Tara following close behind. They were ready to head home after having dinner at a very nice rural restaurant. The atmosphere was slightly strained, despite the fact that the menfolk had been on their very best behavior. Tara was driving, and they were all sitting in silence, when Bill suddenly saw something strange up in the night sky.

"What in the world?" He exclaimed, as he looked up at an array of colored lights that were dancing around amongst the stars.

Tara stopped the car. They all got out and watched the aerial spectacle for a moment in awed silence. The lights zigzagged across the sky for a few minutes, before they finally sped upwards and disappeared.

"You don't suppose the Mayans were right, do you? Maybe the little green men have finally come to call. What do you think, Mulder?" Bill asked mockingly.

"I think that there are more things in heaven and Earth, Bill, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Oh, and by the way; they're grey, not green," Mulder said with a grin.


I just wanted to say a final thank you to everyone who has read this fanfic, especially those who have taken the time to leave a comment. I'm not sure it turned out exactly the way I thought it would. But I'd placed a time restriction on myself to have it all written and posted by *that* date, so maybe if I'd allowed myself more time... well, who knows? I may return to the world of The X Files for future fanfics, but for now all that remains, is for me to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a very happy new year. (Unless you happen to be reading this at some point in the future, which isn't remotely near the festive season, in which case, as you were!) - Mrs. P.

N.B - I'll Be Home For Christmas - Lyrics by Kim Gannon and Buck Ram, with music composed by Walter Kent. There have been many recorded versions, but I was referring to the 1957 recording by Elvis Presley from his Christmas album.

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