Title: I Heard the Roar of Thunder
Author: frogdoggie
Feedback - YES PLEASE, AND THANK YOU SIR, CAN I HAVE ANOTHER? Comments, suggestions and healthy debate are always welcome. Flames? They only serve to warm me, body and soul. frogdoggie@zdnetonebox.com
Category: SRA, M/SK/SC. Warning - graphic sexual content of a threesome nature. Implied Slash.
Rating: NC-17
Archive: Sure. Anywhere - as long as my name and e-mail addy stay on it.
Keywords: story romance angst Mulder Scully Skinner NC-17
Disclaimer: Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Walter Skinner and all other X-Files characters belong to Chris Carter, Ten-Thirteen Productions and 20th Century Fox Broadcasting. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made from their use.
Timespan/Spoiler Warning. Post-colonization, I guess Everything up to and including Requiem. This is a Doggett free universe.

Summary: Requiem happened, but after that things took a slightly different turn. Mulder, Scully and Skinner explore extreme possibilities...together.

Want to read more of my fic? Then surf here: http://www.squidge.org/3wstop

Author's note: This story is kind a of hybrid in that it's an entry in two "I Want to Believe" list challenges. To find out what the two challenges were, see my additional notes at the end. Once again, thanks to my fellow Believers for the inspiration.

Many thanks to Susan for her incomparable beta and Truthygirl for invaluable suggestions.

Past imperfect...

The darkest darkness alternating with the brightest, blinding light. Pain, upon pain, upon pain and then...blessed oblivion.

I floated for a long time. Unable to communicate, comatose, my thoughts a crazy quilt of disjointed impressions...like someone skipped a rock across the pool of my memory forming disconnected ripples across my consciousness.

I heard the roar of thunder. Felt heat. The air moved and it was like the Archangel Gabriel's trumpet sounded and God walked over the world...

I thought I heard God...and he had the voice of John Byers. He spoke and he said...

"Is he still alive?"

And then God had the voice of Alex Krycek answering.

"Oh yeah, he's alive. Talk about if looks could kill. Mulder...if you can hear me as well as you can see me...it wasn't my fucking fault. Now, we're here to get you out. Hang on."

I remember...a whoosh of...fire...smelled...heard.

"Shit, that was one hell of an explosion, Frohike."

"Oh yeah, that flamethrower Skinner's using is one mean son of a bitch."

"Mulder's going under again. Let's get him the hell out of here."


"Here, Skinner!"

"Jesus...is he alive?"

"Yeah, he's alive. Barely. Come on, help me."

"Mulder...don't you die on us...you understand? That's an order, Agent."

And I thought...Skinner is God...Skinner...Skinner, where's Scully?

Later I remember...Skinner, coldcocking Krycek so hard the blow knocked the bastard flat on his back.

"*Now* we're even," Skinner saying in that rumbling voice of his.

Krycek laughing despite the pain. Skinner offering him his hand, and Krycek clasping it, pulling himself up.

Did I see or merely sense the handshake of a wary truce? At the time I had no idea and my thoughts spiraled away until I heard the sound of an engine...

Jet engine. Plane taking me somewhere and I couldn't get that blasted song by...by Peter, Paul and Mary out of my head. Damn it to hell I was going on a plane somewhere and all I could think of was...1960s...song lyrics. 'I'm leavin' on a jet plane. I don't know when I'll be back again. Oh, babe, I hate to go'. Hate to go? Somehow I didn't think so. But going from where to where? I just couldn't put my finger on it.

Someone...Skinner saying, "He's still out."

"Yeah, but his eyes are moving under his eyelids, man. He's doing the REM sleep boogie, big guy. Oh hell...give Byers the barf bag."

"I don't think he's asleep, Langly, I think he's unconscious."

"Then how come his eyes are moving around under there? That's more indicative of REM sleep dreaming."

"I'm not a doctor. I have no idea."

"Maybe it's something they did to him."

"Langly...where's Krycek?"

"He's up with the pilot. They've got Scully on the radio. Man, Byers...not on my boots."

"I'm going forward, you and Frohike make sure Mulder stays secure. Frohike...you said you know how to change the IV and cath bag?"

"Got it covered, G-man. I'll check on the boy again too. Byers, you with us?"

"Yes, sorry, guys. I just don't do well on airplanes."

"There's some Dramamine in my duffel bag, John. Take it. No sense in suffering."

"Thank you, Mr. Skinner."

"You think Mulder'll come out of it, Frohike?"

"I hope to hell he does, Ringo. I really hope he does."

I remember at the time that all I really cared about in overhearing this conversation was the name 'scully' and the prospect that I'd be with her soon.

It's dark in your mind...time passes and you don't know if it's night or day or...spring...Summer...fall...winter...or who's there or who's not...and then I heard the voice of a boy...in the darkness of my mind.

/Mr. Mulder?/


/Do you remember the ship? Do you remember me on the ship?/

/I...remember...yes...you...you're Gibson...Gibson Praise?/


/I remember thinking...you'd grown./

/I'm older...so are you./

/How much older?/

/I'm not sure. I don't think very much older. And I can still talk like this./

/We both can./

/Yes, just like on the ship. But I still can't wake up. Can you?/

/No. Gibson...where are you?/

/On the plane with you. I...I guess we have to wait a little longer before we can wake up./

/Wait...wait for what?/

/Until it lets us go./

You remind me of the babe. What babe? The babe with the power? What power? The power of Voodoo. Who do? You do. Do what? Remind me of the babe.

I heard Gibson's voice one moment and in some glam-rock inspired hallucination, David Bowie's from that film Labyrinth the next, and then I suddenly felt...clean sheets. Warm sun on my face and the smell of perfume overlaying antiseptic. Scully...and a hospital. Where?

"Mulder? I don't know if you can hear me or not, but you're in DC and you're safe. We've run a battery of tests. So far, under the circumstances, you're doing well. You have some injuries that looked worse than they actually are...nothing life threatening. For what it's worth, we found evidence they removed all the chips. You were somewhat dehydrated but we've got you hydrated again. I just...damn it...I just can't figure out why..."

"How's he doing?"

"He's the same. This is as frustrating as hell. All the tests, including the EEG were normal."

"Scully...we don't know what they did to him."

"The tests should show something. Even when he was suffering from his earlier brain anomalies the EEG showed up as abnormal. I can't get a handle on why he's in this coma."

"God, Dana...if only...if only I could take back what happened to him..."

"You...you can't go on blaming yourself. It's not your fault they

took him; not my fault, not his fault...it's no one's fault."

"I understand...but it's still not easy for me. You know that."

"I know. All right, look. When the tests are done we need to talk about where we'll take him. I don't...I don't want to leave him here. I don't want him in this place."

"Agreed. Let me see what I can come up with in that regard. I have some ideas...I just need to call in a few favors."

"Thank you...Walter."

"Listen...it's the least I can do. Hang in there. I'll be back as soon as I can."

I heard a woman holding back tears as she whispered words. "We'll solve this, Mulder," she said...and then the tears broke through and I knew again it was Scully. "I love you, we'll fight this," she declared with vehemence.

I love you too, Scully, I thought...and damn it...when 'it lets me go' I'll say it too.

I heard a baby crying. High pitched bird-like sounds that faded to the mumbling of voices I couldn't quite make out. I think I opened my eyes and saw it was night...I wasn't sure.

Later on I felt something in my head...I came close to laughing maniacally...if I'd been capable yet of vocalizing that night. Voodoo, I thought...the "IT"...whatever 'IT' was Gibson spoke about was in there...and it hadn't let me go yet. A tiny tendril...a thread of the power I sensed in my mind snaked out and I promptly felt the mind of someone nearby. Joyously primitive thoughts so alive...hearing, seeing, learning from his environment. His diaper had been wet but he was dry, content and asleep now. He dreamed of a big man with kind, brown eyes and large, gentle hands. For some reason 'IT' pulled away as if not quite interested, and cast about again... listening...seeking...

I heard the sound of sex. Two people making love. The man was rutting hard, his thoughts a jumbled confusion of a selfless wish to please his partner, guilt and blissful satisfaction. The woman was in the throes of climax, a cry of passion issuing from her lips and I was distracted from her thoughts only tasting a trace of regret that quickly spiraled away in the heat of fulfillment, respect and love. I told myself I'd know that voice anywhere as she cried out incoherently. Scully. And I couldn't help it...the power surged forward and I felt...Skinner's orgasm build and roil up, exploding through him, his body convulsing as he bit back his moans, mind screaming in utter joy...he...he loves.... he loves her...I could feel it...Skinner was in love with Scully...and she loves him too...I felt his ecstasy and hers as well...compounding in electric feedback...and then thousands upon thousands of short, sharp shocks in my head...short...sharp...short...circuit...and...I passed out. It was the last time I ever sensed anything that way again.

When I woke up it was to the smell of something salty, a soft, muted light and the touch of two large, but gentle hands bathing me in a tub of warm, soapy water.

"Son of a bitch," Skinner exclaimed in shock and pleasure. "Scully!" he yelled.

I thought the smell of salt was from her thankful, elated tears.

"How long?" I managed to croak out, through a throat unused to speaking.

Skinner supported me, holding my arm as I sat down on the edge of the bed in a bedroom with large windows that faced the ocean. I could hear the surf and see the stars through the open curtains. I felt a warm Summer breeze on my skin and didn't even flinch at my nakedness. And yes, I thought...that ocean breeze is where the smell of salt had come from.

"Almost fourteen months," Scully told me, rubbing my shoulders with a big, soft, hunter green towel.

"We found you a little over two weeks ago," Skinner added. "You've been comatose since then. It's August 9, 2001."

"We've been doing physical therapy but if you feel a bit weak, don't be surprised," Scully warned as she rubbed my arms with the towel to get my circulation going.

I tried to whistle in response but spat instead and Skinner chuckled through the tears he couldn't stop from trickling down his face.

"Welcome back," he rumbled, patting me on the shoulder.

I smiled at him, still groggy, and then looked at Scully.

"I love you," I whispered, pinning her eyes.

"Oh, Mulder. I love you too," she said, hugging my shoulders through the towel. She sat down next to me and kissed me carefully on the cheek. Her arm snaked around my waist and she hugged me tight.

I rested my head on Scully's shoulder. Skinner shifted, hesitant, and then he sat down next to me on the bed. I felt his arm tentatively drape over my shoulder.

"Thank you," I murmured, giving him a quick grin.

He nodded, his lips twitching a smile.

My leg snuggled into his jean-lad thigh. It felt good to be between them both. Comforting, and natural and good. We sat there, silent, just breathing together, touching...until I looked up. There was a mirror above the dresser across the room.

Is that me, I thought in dismay, knowing full well it was. I stared slack-jawed at the bleary eyed, wild-haired, skinny scarecrow sitting between Scully's petite form and Skinner's muscular bulk. At least I'm clean and shaved, I thought closing my mouth. I examined the unusual pattern of pale, round red scars running down both my cheeks. My eyes traveled to the thin, red scar over my sternum as well. I ran my tongue over the roof of my mouth and I could feel a slight ridge there, tenderness. The pain when I touched the spot caused me to remember some of what they did to me.

"I'm alive," was all I could say, and saying it I realized that no matter what had happened to me, that was the only important thing.

Scully squeezed me tight again and Skinner rubbed my bicep with his warm hand.

"And safe," he replied in a soft voice.

The next thing I knew they were helping me into bed.

"Get some sleep, Mulder. We have a lot to talk about in the morning," Skinner said, his voice a little hoarse with emotion.

"Talk...yes," I mumbled as Scully kissed my forehead and took her leave. We had a lot to talk about for sure.

The Summer sun warmed my face but the sound of seagulls was what actually woke me the next day. I shifted and swiveled my head toward the window. The curtains were open again; the window as well, and the warm breeze was wonderful on my naked chest.

Scully sat in a chair by the window, highlighted by the sun. Her red hair glowed like burnished copper and my breath was almost taken away by her beauty. Only almost however, because the little owner of that inquisitive mind I'd touched sometime earlier quickly distracted me. The owner was the baby suckling eagerly, its small fingers kneading at Scully's exposed breast.

"Mulder...this is your son," Scully whispered, her eyes moist with tears again.

I stared, wide-eyed for a moment as Scully waited, her face full of hope. Then I cleared my throat, smiled, and managed to reply.

"He's got my appetite," I said, and Scully laughed.

"He does. And I think he has your nose too," she replied, gazing with love down into the baby's face.

"God...I hope he outgrows that...or at least into it."

She looked up at my remark, shook her head with good-humored exasperation and then we stared at each other in silence for a moment. I'm a father, I thought. A father. A mixture of wonder, fear and unbridled euphoria coursed through my whole body, one demanding precedence over the others. Euphoria won out and happiness filled my heart...despite my fears of ever being a decent parent.

I smiled. I smiled wide in satisfaction but also from amusement because I could see my thoughts mirrored in Scully's face. She's as scared as I am, I thought...at the prospect of motherhood...but equally as joyous.

"He's what...four months old?" I queried, clearing my throat a little.

He looked so small...but sturdy...his arms appeared strong and his legs the same. He had some downy, auburn hair and I noticed a tiny birthmark on his right leg just below his diaper line. A little brown, star-like shape. I contemplated the appropriateness of that mark as Scully answered me.

"Yes. And he's the reason Skinner categorically refused to let me go to Tunisia to help rescue you."

Tunisia barely registered with me as my mind grasped the concept that Scully and I had made a baby; she'd gone through the pregnancy without me and given birth without me. She'd had to face it all without my support...and I'd missed those experiences of first time fatherhood. I hardly knew what to say, so I just ventured the first thing that entered my head.

"I almost asked how," I replied with a self-deprecating shake of my head. "But I guess the 'how' of his conception is pretty obvious," I added, chuckling. She chuckled too.

"Yes, we pretty much estimated his conception as occurring on that first night you and I were together as a matter-of-fact. I had no idea I was fertile again when we made love. We still don't know what happened to restore my fertility...although we certainly have theories."

I could think of several and I supposed we'd discuss them all later. I just nodded and watched my son for a minute as he nursed. Finally I blinked and spoke again.

"What's his name, Scully?"

"Charles...Charlie. I hope that's all right...I had to name him something because I had him baptized, so...it's Charles Patrick Mulder."

"Not Fox, Jr.? I'm *so* disappointed," I interrupted, giving her a wry grin.

She gave me a patented, world-weary Scully look.

"No...I had a feeling that would be a bad idea," she replied, watching my eyes as if she was still unsure my grin meant I didn't object to anything.

"Charlie's fine. I like the whole name, the baptism, everything...really," I reassured her with a softer smile.

"Ok, um...good," she replied with a small nod. "Oh...and my...my mother picked Patrick. She remembered you saying once that you had a favorite Uncle Pat who passed away when you were young...and of course for St. Patrick...." Scully's voice trailed off, but the relief that I didn't object to the chosen name was palpable in it before it did.

"Can I hold him?" I asked. "As soon as he's finished of course."

As if he understood what I said, Scully's nipple popped out of Charlie's mouth and he turned his head my way.

"I guess that would be now," Scully observed, gently moving the baby away from her chest. She pulled her T-shirt down and cradled Charlie in her arms.

I levered up, still a little weak, as Scully rose from the chair and approached the bed.

"You'll need to burp him," she advised an amused smile on her lips.

"Ah...my first test of fatherhood," I murmured as she handed me my son. "Hey, Charlie," I said into his round little face. "You wanna puke some milk up on your old dad?"

Charlie gave me a gassy grin and a bubble squeezed from between his lips and burst while Scully snorted her laughter.

"Here, you'll want this," she remarked, placing the towel that had been on her shoulder over mine.

"Let's see...I think I remember how this works," I remarked, a sweet if poignant memory of my mother placing Sam over her shoulder coming to mind.

As I got young Charlie settled on my shoulder and rubbed his back, Scully watched us and I saw a question in her eyes.

"Mulder...are you really ok with this?" she asked, her voice a whisper.

And with her words I knew I was...I was more ok with it than I'd been with almost anything else in my life.

"Yeah, I am," I told her. "I really am."

Scully's smile was radiant then, one of those stellar smiles she very seldom shared, but which I saw that first time we made love. She smiled more than once that night, it lit up her whole face, and I went to sleep with that smile in my mind's eye as she lay sleeping beside me.

She came over and sat down on the bed next to my leg. Charlie gave a small burp and I continued to pat him. Scully gave my leg a squeeze.

"I'll try to be a good father," I assured her, then I shook my head a little in bemusement. "But I have to tell you...this is so...new."

"I know. We'll both muddle through, Mulder. This is very new for me too."

"There's bound to be a learning curve," I replied, smiling a little.

"That's what Skinner said, actually," Scully replied, glancing at me.

"Where *is* Skinner?" I asked.

"Good morning."

Right on cue I thought, as Scully and I both looked toward the open bedroom door.

Skinner was standing barefoot, his muscular chest naked, a pair of tight jeans clinging to his legs and his T-shirt in hand.

"Hey," I said with a shy smile.

Skinner took in the scene and smiled shyly back.

"I see you met your son."

And also right on cue, Charlie let out a burp that could have been made by an adult male of at least Skinner's size, and promptly spit breast milk down my back. All of us stared at each other for a second and then we burst out laughing.

"He's a chip off the old block, all right," I coughed, pulling Charlie back from the soggy towel. I held him nose to nose and looked into his blue eyes. "I bet that feels better, doesn't it?"

Charlie smiled as a little milky drool ran down his chin and Scully scooted forward to take him from me, a grin playing about her lips.

"Here, hand me the towel," she suggested, taking Charlie and placing him in her lap.

Skinner stood in the doorway watching, his posture indicative of someone who suddenly thinks they're intruding.

"I took a run on the beach and then I showered," he offered. "Uh...we're in Maine, Mulder. Crossroads, Maine. This is my sister and brother-in-law's Summer home. They loaned it to us because they're in Europe for a year," he added as I handed Scully the folded towel and she blotted Charlie's mouth.

"We...we wanted to bring you someplace bright and warm and...well...someplace with fresh air where it was peaceful. We thought it might help you to wake up," she interjected.

"Or at least make it pleasant for you when you did," Skinner finished, shifting his weight in the doorway.

"I take it you both took a leave of absence?" I queried, looking from Skinner to Scully.

"Yes," Scully answered, cradling Charlie, who seemed content to take in the conversation now that he was well fed and de-gassed.

"Yeah. Six months each. Look...why don't I go start breakfast and we can talk about all this over it?" Skinner suggested, pulling his T-shirt on over his head. Scully looked at me and I nodded in affirmation.

"Sure. I'd like to shower and then I'll be down."

"Do you think you can manage by yourself?" Scully asked, her brow furrowing a little.

I flexed my arms and naked legs under the bedding...and smiled.

"Yeah, I think I can," I confirmed, pushing the covers back a little. And I wanted to. I needed just a few minutes of privacy to process what had transpired in the last few...what seemed like lifetimes.

Scully's gaze turned to Skinner.

"Then I'll give you a hand," she said.

Skinner's face grew soft for a second when he looked at Scully. When his gaze refocused on me, he'd hidden his regard for her before he answered.

"How does bacon and eggs sound?"

"I think that sounds like something that can put some weight back on my bones. Yeah, that'd be good," I replied with a grin. Scully rose from the side of the bed, Charlie held close to her breast and the soiled towel in her other hand.

"Great. See you shortly, Mulder," Skinner said.

"I'll put on some coffee too," Scully added, giving me a last smile.

I nodded and as they left the room with Charlie in Scully's arms. I contemplated just how I was going to clue them in on the fact I knew they were lovers, how I knew, and that oddly enough...I was beginning to realize I wasn't bothered by the notion they were lovers at all.

Oh yeah, we have a LOT to talk about, I told myself again.

And talk we did.


Present intense...



"Penny for your thoughts."

"I'm sorry, Scully. I was just thinking about...love, amongst other things."


"Yeah, how love works in mysterious ways."

Scully gives me a playful raised eyebrow from her position in front of the communal laptop.


"Well...yeah," I chuckle, warming to the subject and to her gaze as she studies me. "The more I think about it, I could argue that love somehow saved the world from alien invasion."

Scully gives me an indulgent smile.

"I have to hear this," she says, pulling away from the laptop and resting her back against the throw pillows piled behind her.

I shift on the couch and return her smile.

"I'll be happy to elucidate," I reply. "It's my theory that Krycek's love for Marita somehow caused him to have an epiphany and go before that congressional committee to expose the whole colonization effort."

"And I suppose love also had him persuade the other members of the resistance, including the Jeremiah Smiths, to create the vaccine that's protecting us...and later the toxin that killed the grays?" Scully answers, crossing her arms over her breasts.

I give her that kicked puppy look I know drives her nuts.

"Well...of course I know you had something to do with the vaccine and toxin. I would never discount your contributions in any of this."

She chuckles.

"I know...I'm just 'yanking your chain'...as you're fond of saying."

The wry look I shoot her makes her shake her head again in amusement.

"Regardless...you can't deny that Krycek certainly had a change of heart...and it was probably a result of Cupid's arrow in said organ," I continue.

"Oh, so now we're dragging in mythological entities as well as aliens," Scully teases, giving me another raised eyebrow.

I give her a mock peeved look and she offers up a very false, exaggerated sigh.

"All right, I'll concede that Krycek certainly loves Marita. I'll allow that maybe that influenced him somewhat. But you'll have to admit that Skinner had something to do with persuading him as well...and certainly Skinner's participation in the congressional investigation helped in the long run too. And Mulder...you can't discount your own efforts."

"Agreed...he says modestly...and you shouldn't discount yours either."

"And I thank you, she says graciously."

A bemused smile traces Scully's lips but when it disappears she clears her throat.

"Speaking of Krycek..."

My brow furrows a little. Krycek. After all he's done...helping to haul my ass out of Tunisia, helping to save the world, deactivating Skinner's nanocytes and forming a truce with him after years of animosity...hell...even working to make amends with Scully...I still can't talk to Alex. Our issues run deep and I just haven't been ready.

"Mulder...he did send you that e-mail. He's in Moscow with Marita and he's willing to talk when you're ready. I think you have to talk to him eventually."

I sigh and squeeze the bridge of my nose.

"Yeah, I know. We both should be in dialogue with him." I'm beginning to resign myself to the inevitable. "Ok...I'll e-mail him...tomorrow. I guess...I guess I shouldn't put off talking to him any longer. I'll extend the olive branch."

Scully makes a satisfied nod.

"So...Krycek and Marita qualify as love working in mysterious ways," she replies, getting the conversation back on a more pleasant track.

"Right. That's one example." I sit up straighter on the couch and rub my hands together.

"You have more?"

Scully uncrosses her arms and taps a few keys, logging off the Internet as I answer.

"Sure," I say, holding up two fingers. "Way number two. Melvin Frohike's a husband and father."

Scully snorts a breath of laughter.

"Yes, that would qualify as most mysterious. You have me there."

"Yeah, a year ago you'd never have expected him to marry the doctor that treated Gibson and then adopt the kid, now would you?"

"A petite, red-headed doctor," Scully chuckles, shaking her head.

"Well...ok...maybe love isn't quite that mysterious. But the rest?"

Scully grows a little pensive.

"I'm glad Doctor Carter was able to shut Gibson's alien DNA off. He has to be a lot happier with a quiet mind. But I'm sorry about his parents. I wish they'd lived to testify before the committee too."

I give her an understanding nod.

"I regret that too. But I think the kid's going to do ok. The Lone Gunmen are still going strong, and with Gibson's IQ I'm sure Langly and Byers will be happy with a fourth member," I answer quietly.

Scully smiles again and nods. "I'm sure they will."

We stare at each other in silence for a few moments and I meditate on just how much I love the woman sitting in front of me. There wasn't anything mysterious about it really...maybe stupidly hesitant and nervously bumbling over the years but nothing mysterious. I know I'm lucky in love. I'm privileged indeed to be by Scully's side, to have her and our son to cherish. And she's so beautiful, I think as the warmth of sexual desire for her spreads from between my legs through the rest of my body. I pull my legs together a little as I feel my cock stir. Scully clears her throat.

"So...you were saying..."

"Yes...more mysterious ways. Well...I saved one of the best for last really. Love brought us Charlie. I'll qualify it as a mysterious way because we'll never really know how your fertility was restored even though you and I and Skinner have discussed and debated the possible reasons. But our love brought us a son...and I'd like to think of it as a beautiful mystery more than anything else I guess."

Scully looks down; suddenly shy...I see a glint of moisture under her eyelashes as she takes a deep breath.

"Some people would call it a miracle," she whispers, exhaling.

I smile at her bowed head.

"Yeah, I could call it that too," I whisper back.

She looks up and the tears are threatening to brim up in her eyes but I know they won't fall. She's smiling, and then she laughs.

"I'll get you into church yet, Fox Mulder."

I grin. She may get me there eventually at that; I muse as I run a hand through my hair.

"Not if you use the 'F' word," I tease her.

She gives me a half-hearted exasperated gesture and we both laugh for several moments. Finally our laughter subsides and Scully shuts down the laptop.

"We could almost use a fire tonight," she remarks, telling me any discussion of church and/or possible marriage isn't that important to her at the moment. In truth, it's not a pressing life decision for either one of us. We have time...all the time in the world now to get there when we're both ready.

We *could* use a fire, I think. It's October after all, nearly Halloween, and this year nights in Georgetown are getting a little nippy now.

"Yeah, why don't I make one?" I suggest, tipping my chin toward the fireplace.

I'm glad we bought this townhouse with the fireplace on nights like this one. It's really a nice feature and it was one thing that made the hefty mortgage a little less of a sticker shock.

"All right. I'm going to go make sure Walter's got Charlie well in hand. I'll be back down in a minute."

"No need," Walter's bass rumble comes from the living room doorway. Scully's head turns to take him in and mine does as well. "He's bathed, in his pajamas, been told a story, and now he's in his crib and out like a light," Skinner adds with a slight smile. "You know...we're going to have to talk about a 'big kid' bed for him sooner rather than later I bet. It seems like he's bigger every time I see him."

"Oh...I missed the story," Scully replies, her frown showing that she's a bit guilty.

"Well I explained to him that Mom needed a little time with Dad so he settled down. He's pretty perceptive for a two-year-old."

"Besides, Uncle Walter enjoys doing all those voices but he'd die of embarrassment if anyone besides Charlie heard him," I interject, smirking.

Skinner gives me a really withering look. But he can't quite pull it off and ends up chuckling.

"Yeah, busted I guess."

"He is growing fast, I guess he's going to have Mulder's height," Scully muses as Skinner enters the room and shuts the sliding doors behind him.

He saunters over. His muscular jean clad legs carry him to stand in back of the easy chair by the fireplace. "We could use a fire," he remarks, pushing the sleeves of his black Henley up his corded forearms.

"Mulder was just suggesting it," Scully volunteers, smoothing down the material of her sweat pants. "Right after our discussion about love working in mysterious ways," she adds, a Mona Lisa smile on her lips.

Skinner's ears actually turn red at her words and I have to clamp down my jaw hard to keep from bursting out in laughter.

When I said I'd saved one of the best ways love works in mysterious ways for last when discussing Charlie's birth earlier, I was certainly thinking of the other best way that stands before us now.

Yes, Skinner was the remaining example of love working in mysterious ways, and I think he still has some trouble coping with the fact that he's with us both now, no matter how much he enjoys the relationship.

After all the years of guilt, self-hate, and self-recrimination, I suppose it was difficult for him to realize he could be loved and accepted by us. I know it was difficult for him to become Scully's lover. It wasn't something that had been easy for Scully either. The fact they admitted they loved each other too must have been an added shock as well. However, they entered into the affair quite frankly out of shared grief from losing me, and the desperate loneliness of two people trying to support each other while they bucked the system in order to bring me back again.

But if Skinner's obvious contentment in our company is any evidence, I know it was liberating for him to finally admit that he did the best he could over the years, and he did it primarily because he loved us both. His idea that he betrayed my trust by bedding the woman carrying my child was mitigated eventually by the fact that in the end I was just hedonistic enough to share...and so was Scully.

I'd known he was in love with Scully the night I sensed it of course. But his love for me was something he'd kept hidden in the deepest recesses of his soul. Even the times I was in his mind, I never saw that hidden place where he kept that feeling under wraps. It took a lot of trust for him to finally admit it openly. I know he did it out of respect for Scully and me, and also a healthy dose of lust which I came to find out I didn't mind any more than I minded the idea he loved Scully as well.

I don't know, maybe I did sense something of his thoughts in regards to his sexual desire for me. Maybe it was gaydar more than anything...or more accurately, bi-dar. It's not like I hadn't had men before. I could have picked up on the vibe.

At any rate, I'm glad he's with Scully and me, in mind, body and soul now. He treats Charlie like his own son. He was there at his birth after all, and helped take care of him for the first four months of his life too so I know he loves the kid. And to top it all off, he helped bring my son's dad back to him too, of course.

So, even if Walter does still show some bewildered embarrassment over the current state of affairs, he's with the program. Scully and I couldn't be happier with him, red ears and all.

"Uh...yeah...I can see where love working in mysterious ways is definitely true," he chuckles, running a hand over the back of his neck.

I finally can't hold it back any longer and burst out with an explosive guffaw.

My uncontrolled chortling causes Scully to join in.

"Oh fuck you," Skinner growls, shaking his head in good humor at me.

"God, I hope you can stay on tonight and make that more than just a pissy remark," I tease, sitting up and flexing my arms a little.

I can see Skinner take in the movement of my lats and pecs under my gray sweater. A smile of obvious interest plays about his lips.

"Can you stay, Walter? It's Friday after all. Mulder's done grading theses and I've already prepared my test questions for Monday's forensic exam. So we're free this weekend. You're welcome to stay. We'd appreciate it if you looked over the outline for the manuscript anyway." Scully pulls herself out of her seated position in front of the laptop on the coffee table as she addresses Skinner. She crosses to the easy chair, sits and shifts her upper body to look at him.

"I don't know why you just don't move in. You're here so much anyway. Besides, the book's your story too...it would make the collaboration easier if you were living here," I interject as Skinner picks up a log and tosses it into the fireplace.

"Well, I kept the apartment in Crystal City because it's fairly close to the Hoover and convenient," he replies with a shrug. "You know how it is...there's a lot to do as the new Deputy Director. I'm not getting any younger, Mulder. I don't fancy sleeping on my office couch if I can avoid it."

"You're in pretty good shape for an old fart," I tease, giving him the once over as he straightens and dusts off his hands.

He chuckles.

"Yeah, well...I work at it. And for someone who hit the big 4-O not that long ago, you're not doing so badly yourself," he retorts, giving me a knowing grin.

A smile flashes across Scully's lips and she looks down, trying not to break out in gales of laughter again.

"Ok, does this mutual admiration society mean you're staying on for the weekend or considering moving in permanently?" I ask, standing up to get some tinder for the log Skinner placed in the grate.

"It means I'll stay the weekend. I'll give the other some thought. Maybe once I get into the swing of things in the new position at the Bureau we'll see," he pronounces with a quick nod.

I cross to his side as Scully watches, a wider smile on her face. The tinder gets tossed into the grate. I pick up the matches from the mantle and hand them to Skinner.

"Light my fire...sir," I deadpan.

"Oh blow me," he laughs and then he laughs even harder at his words.

"Mulder...you're seriously bent, you know that?"

Scully is shaking with silent laughter now, unable to even respond as Skinner and I stand face to face, grinning at just the sheer pleasure of feeling comfortable enough to participate in good-natured banter with each other.

"Hey, you want a whiskey?" I finally ask.

"Yeah. Scully?"

"I think white wine for me," she manages to gasp out, her laughter finally subsiding.

"Ok, coming right up," I advise. Leaving Skinner, I walk to the nearby wet bar.

My gaze strays to the end table. I take in the remainder of the watered down whiskey that's in the bottom of my glass and I think...it looks a little like the color of Scully's hair in the shadows and firelight that bathe the room. Or maybe the color of the orgasmic flush on the top of her breasts. I look up at her, where she straddles my thighs...naked, her smooth, pale skin patterned by light and shadow as well, her hands stroking my cock. I revel in her passionate grace for a few seconds. Yup...close to the color of what's left of my smoky whisky on both counts...and she tastes just as good too, I think as I run my tongue over my lips and savor the musky dampness from between her legs.

"What are you thinking?" she asks quietly, her breasts rising and falling enticingly as she speaks.

"He's not thinking," Skinner interjects with a chuckle from the fireplace where he kneels, stirring the embers.

My eyes track lazily over to him as he stands and places the poker back in its rack. I admire his tanned nakedness, the expanse of his well-developed body in the firelight, the elegance of his heavy cock, erect between his muscular thighs.

"I have to admit, my mind's rapidly losing its coherency, yes," I reply, returning my attention to Scully with an appreciative grin. "She has very talented hands."

"Yes, I do," she comments, smiling mischievously at me.

I grin as Skinner replies, his voice even more husky with passion.

"Hands and mouth." He crosses back over to where I sit, naked, on the couch, my feet on the floor and lap full of Scully. Scully arches her neck as Skinner nuzzles it, kissing and licking the sweat off. "And she tastes superb," he adds, snaking his hands around to her breasts. Skinner kneads her nipples slowly in time with her hands moving up and down my erection. His cock brushes the small of her back.

"Actually, I *was* thinking that," I reply.

"Speaking...speaking of losing coherency," Scully gasps, arching her spine as Skinner's mouth roams over her neck again.

"You want him?" he rumbles next to her ear. "You want us both?"

"Yes," she replies, licking her lips. "I want you both in me." Skinner chuckles as Scully shudders under his hands sliding up and down her torso. "As soon as possible," she amends with a gasping chuckle as well. All I can do is give Scully a grimace of pleasure as Skinner leaves her and takes the short step to the table at the end of the couch. He retrieves two condoms, a towel and the bottle of Astroglide and returns to us.

Scully receives one condom from his hand and she efficiently opens the packet, pulls my cock away from my stomach and suits me up. Then she sits back, watching my hard-on bobbing between us.

"What are *you* thinking?" I ask her with a quick grin.

"I'm just admiring my handiwork," she teases, running her thumb over the swollen head of my erection.

I chuckle and then my attention is drawn to Skinner pumping his cock a couple of strokes before he rips his packet open and works the latex down his length. The empty packets are discarded on the floor as Skinner's fingers move along his rigid flesh.

Man, that thing's some piece of work I think as I contemplate his hard-on. And he's skillful with it too, I muse, recalling more than one occasion when he's reamed my ass in a way I would never have imagined when he was doing it verbally back at the Hoover.

"Mulder?" he rumbles, glancing at me as he seats the condom's ring down near his balls.

"Yeah?" I pant, taking Scully's hips to steady her as she prepares to lever up over my cock.

"You ever regret not still having that talent? I mean the power to get in here," Skinner asks, pointing at his head. I stare up into his deep, brown eyes so open without his glasses, so filled with love and desire.

"You mean now because it might add to the experience?"


"No, not even at a time like this," I reply honestly. "There are some things I regret, and invading the privacy of your and Scully's thoughts is one of them."

Skinner smiles at me and Scully does too.

"I love you," she whispers.

"I love you too," Skinner whispers as well.

My throat clogs with emotion and I have to clear it to answer.

"I...I love you both," I reply quietly, admiring my partners in the flickering firelight.

We're silent for a moment, basking in that love for each other, and then

finally Scully rises up. It takes her a moment to balance and I assist her by holding her hips as she guides my cock to her vulva. In a moment she's sliding slowly down me. I watch my cock disappear into her inch by inch and swallow hard at the exquisite sensation.

"Oh, fuck...that's good," I gasp as she reaches my balls. My hands splay out over her hips. She tips forward, her hands on the couch back, to kiss me hard on the lips.

I take her head in my hands and our tongues war, our mouths devouring each other. I taste the heady flavor of white wine, good whiskey, Scully...and just a hint of Skinner's salty pre-cum on Scully's tongue. Scully moans, throaty and deep. As Skinner shifts in behind her, we break our kiss and lie panting. He's backlit in the firelight, his face like a sculpture of cut rock, his shadow falls across us both, a powerful yet protective mantle of darkness.

"Hold still," he says, placing a hand gently on Scully's ass. I support her weight, running my hands up her arms. My cock is tilted up inside her but the way it pulls on my balls is incredibly arousing. Her right hand traces my nipples before she comes to rest against my chest and I slide my arms onto her back.

"You feel good," she whispers as Skinner tosses the towel next to my thigh and then pours some Astroglide into his palm.

"So do you." I smile into her eyes.

I can't see Skinner's hand but I can tell by the small gasp from Scully that his large fingers, slick with lube warmed from his body heat, are touching her anus, delicately coaxing it open and probing inside.

After a few moments Scully rocks gently back and forth and I join her, thrusting my hips in a slow counterpoint to her sensuous pumping. Shit, that's perfect I think as I savor the friction on my cock.

"Good?" Skinner asks, gazing down at both of us as his right hand moves back and forth, in and out from between Scully's ass cheeks. His left hand massages her hip, steadying her.

"Oh yeah," I confirm with a grin.

"God, yes," she groans and then she bites her lip just savoring the feeling.

Skinner looks at me and we share a moment of satisfaction at bringing pleasure to Scully.

"Scully...you're phenomenal," I tell her as she slides up and down my erection.

"I'll second that," Skinner agrees, stroking Scully's ass cheek. "Exquisite."

Scully gives us a sensual laugh. She glances back at Skinner and favors him with a sultry smile. Then her head moves back and she smiles at me as well.

"Well gentlemen, I can only say both of *you* are outdoing yourselves right now. It certainly gives me...inspiration."

Skinner and I both chuckle.

"Inspiration or perspiration?" Skinner rumbles, flexing his fingers inside Scully's ass.

"You bastard," she moans and the moan ends on another sensual chuckle. "Keep that up and I won't know the difference."

Finally Skinner removes his hand from between Scully's legs and pats her ass.

"Ready?" he asks, his voice ragged.

Scully nods.

"Ok, hang on," he replies, reaching for the Astroglide again. He warms some in his hands once more and then taking his cock in hand, slicks it up, moving his fist up and down the latex. Once he wipes his hands on the towel and discards it, I know he's ready.

"Here we go," he warns huskily.

Scully inhales in anticipation. I rub her back, and then lay one hand on her ass. Pulling gently on her skin, I help to spread her open for Skinner.

Once Skinner's cock's in place against Scully's anus, a careful, steady thrust slides it slowly inside her. Scully exhales and then takes several breaths in succession, relaxing in order to accept what's entering her body as Skinner moves forward. Finally, Skinner stops to gain some control as well as let Scully get used to the intrusion of his penis inside her. I watch his face twist in excitement, his mouth opens and his breathing quickens.

"You ok, Scully?" he grates out.

Scully nods and turns her head slightly to look at Skinner again.

"You...you both feel wonderful," she replies breathlessly.

"Jesus, so do you. And can you feel that, Mulder? I can feel your cock right...there."

"Yeah...big guy...I can feel yours too. Fucking incredible."

"That...that's an understatement."

"I...I need to..." Scully pants out, lifting slightly to look into my face.

She has the face of an angel when we're making love. It's almost more than I can stand sometimes watching her face transformed by passion this way.

"Move?" I ask, panting myself now, the pressure of her muscles gripping my cock and the added tightness of Skinner's cock in such close proximity make me grit my teeth. She nods, biting her lip again.

"Let me do the work," Skinner suggests, gathering himself behind Scully's ass.

All I can manage is an affirming grunt. Scully nods her head again and then Skinner takes both of Scully's hips in his large hands. With one push he drives her forward and then pulling, rocks her back onto both our cocks.

"Oh Jesus," Scully gasps. Skinner stops instantly.

"You all right?" he asks, concerned for a moment that he's hurt her.

"Yes...yes," she assures him, her voice breathless again. Skinner smiles wide and rocks her back and forth again and a long groan escapes my lips. I can't help it...it feels so damn good.

A few more thrusts and we're rocking together, as quietly as possible though because even in our passion we're mindful of Charlie sleeping upstairs at the other end of the house. A slow, steady rhythm of contracting and then relaxing muscles, stentorian breathing, grunts and low, breathless moans mark the passage of time as the warmth from the fire and our exertions make sweat break out over all of us.

I cradle Scully as she slides over my groin, her swollen clit rubbing between us. I can't really thrust very well now, but I don't have to really because Skinner's doing an admirable job of moving Scully on my cock, and the sensation is almost indescribable. To make the experience even more of a rush, I can feel Skinner's cock through the thin wall of skin and muscle inside Scully as the head pulls back and pushes forward again and again and again.

My hands sweep Scully's back, pulling her as close as I can, wanting as much contact as possible. It feels like my damp skin is practically melting into hers. Scully buries her head in my neck, kissing me over and over.

"Oh God...yes," she gasps in abandon, arching and twisting as Skinner picks up the pace.

"That's it," I encourage her as she rocks faster.

"You're both so beautiful," Skinner gasps, and I look up over Scully's head to watch his face contort in a rictus of ecstasy. "Dana?" he pants, her name a question.

"Mmmm, so close...just...don't...stop," Scully moans.

Skinner grunts his assent, propelling Scully's hips rapidly back and forth, his rhythm spastic for a second and then I know he's coming because his neck muscles strain taut and his cock jerks where I can feel it inside Scully.

"Oh man...do it," I whisper as Skinner's jaws clench. His body goes on autopilot then and for a moment he and Scully are in a perfect point/counterpoint of rapid rocking as she thrusts her hips as well. It's an extraordinary sight.

Scully's breathing hard and as Skinner pushes his cock a little deeper into her, I feel her inner muscles spasm around my erection.

"Scully!" I huff out, biting off a louder cry. I take her arms and support her as she starts to climax.

"M-M-Mul..." she can't finish my name because she's gasping as her whole body trembles with the intensity of her orgasm.

Skinner continues to move, rubbing her quickly against me, his hands gripping her hips firmly.

"There you go, lover," he mumbles, his chest rising and falling with his deep breaths.

In a few moments, Scully comes back to herself. Skinner, sensing the relaxing of her muscles, uses his own hips to keep up a slow thrusting for my benefit.

"Mulder?" he asks, as Scully pushes off my chest a fraction and gazes into my face.

"Almost," I grunt, the heavy pleasurable feeling in my groin telling me I'm close to coming.

"Pull out," Scully advises, glancing back at Skinner. "I'll help you," she adds, addressing me.

"Yeah," Skinner nods, stopping his weakening thrusts. He grips the base of his cock, holding the condom tight against it. When he steps back, his cock slips out of Scully.

I swivel my head and watch as he sidesteps and sits down heavily next to us on the couch. His left hand touches Scully's hip briefly and then my bicep before he pivots his upper body to watch us.

Scully takes my chin and moves my head back so I'm looking up into her face again.

"Come for me, Mulder," she whispers. My hands clutch at her hips as she starts to ride up and down on my cock, her ass lightly hitting my balls on the down stroke. I gasp a chuckle.

"My pleasure, ma'am," I drawl and in a few moments I'm arching and thrusting up into her, seeking to fulfill her request. Almost, I think...it's...it's just...right...there. Oh...yeah...

I hear the roar of thunder. Feel heat. The air moves and it's as if the Archangel Gabriel sounds his trumpet...and God walks over the world...

But when I wake this time it's to the light and warmth of a friendly fire, and the comforting arms of Skinner and Scully...and I know more than ever that love works in mysterious ways...and I thank God for my good fortune.

Additional notes: The two challenges were 1) to write a story featuring hot smut with any pairing of your choice and 2) to try writing something you normally wouldn't write. I had 1 and 1/2 choices for item 2, actually. I made Krycek a hero when I usually prefer to write him as a villain, and I wrote another babyfic, but since I've done them before it's only fair that it's 1/2 choice. At any rate, I hope you enjoyed both of my challenge solutions. Thanks for reading.

Lyrics from "Leaving on a Jet Plane" copyright Peter, Paul and Mary. Lyrics from Labyrinth copyright David Bowie. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made from their use, either.

-The End-

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