Title: Kiss the Darkness IV
Author: Suzanna
Written: 1999
Distribution Statement: Gossamer, yes. Everyone else please ask first.
Rating: R
Content warning: Graphic violence
Classification: X, R, A
Keywords: MSR Spoilers: Everything up to and including One Son

Summary: Sequel. Post-colonization. The bad guys are back, as well as part of the ensemble cast. Sometimes the line between evil and good isn't as distinct as Scully would like it to be.

Notes: This is the *final* installment in the Kiss the Darkness series. All four stories can be found here


I kiss the darkness living inside me, it feels like a knife between my lips. I'm alive. --old Finnish poem


From "A History of Colonization" by DS84, first edition, 2060:

"Introduction, page 1: The purpose of this book is to summarize the events leading up to and occurring during the first attempt at colonization of the Earth by alien forces, to describe the efforts to prevent it, and to reveal the agenda of those involved with the Project. This, by necessity involves clarifying the roles of certain key players, namely Fox William Mulder and Dana Katherine Scully. All history leading up to my involvement in the Project was taken directly from eyewitness accounts. After my conception and placement in the Wyoming high containment facility, the narrative is based on my personal observations as well as information which I learned only much later, namely the fact that Mulder and Scully were chosen by the Project Overseers from the very beginning..."


"Town meeting is tonight at City Hall," Joanna informs us when we sit down for dinner. "6pm. Everyone's gonna be there. It's the second meeting since this all started."

She sets a covered cake pan in the center of the table and looks at us expectantly. I turn to Scully and ask a silent question. *Should we go?* I don't think we're here to stay, but it will probably be relatively painless to sit through a meeting. Her eyes briefly meet mine, then she turns her gaze to Joanna.

"We'll go," she says. "Are all the children coming, too?"

Joanna nods. "All the adults here are going to the meeting and we can't just leave the kids here. It will be good for them to see what's going on." She hesitates a moment. "But it would be helpful if you could give a ride to two of the children. We don't have enough cars to take all ten of them without some help."

"No problem," I say.

Suddenly our hostess smiles and removes the cover of the pan with a flourish. "Chocolate cake!" she proclaims, revealing a very tasty looking cake complete with thick and creamy chocolate icing. Scully's mouth drops open. The children squeal and clap their hands in the biggest show of enthusiasm I've seen in the last two weeks.

"I've been dying for some chocolate," Scully whispers in my ear.

Joanna hears her comment. "Hmmmm, yes. A little birdie might have dropped me a hint," she says with a wink in my direction.

Scully looks at me questioningly. "I wanted chocolate, too," I tell her with a grin.

After dinner, we end up crammed together in the little car we acquired in Wyoming. I'm driving and Scully sits next to me, while 84 sits with Katlyn and her "big" brother Joshua in the back seat. Joshua is eight years old, but his eyes look five times older than that. He's a little gentleman, helping his five-year-old sister get buckled into the middle seat. He holds her hand the entire ride to city hall. They're both solemn and quiet in a way children rarely are; neither smile (not even at the chocolate cake) and Katlyn has a tendency to cling. During the entire ride downtown she rests her head on her older brother's shoulder without moving, sucking her thumb and leaning into his arm which is curled protectively around her.

We pull in to the parking lot with a gravelly crunch of tires and grinding gears of our old car. City hall has the typical architecture of most of the old buildings in this town, a stone structure with sweeping stairs and long echoing corridors, just the sort of place that might be haunted by ghosts. About a hundred people are seated in the main meeting hall when we arrive a few minutes past 6pm, so we slip in quietly and take seats near the back. Joanna and her crew (Esmerelda and Jessica, who works part-time) are already seated a few rows in front of us with the remaining eight children. I spot the clinic doctor and the two nurses near the front. Sheriff Richardson stands against the back wall, his arms crossed over his chest.

I automatically scan the room's layout. It's relatively bare, but clean. There are two exits, the double doors by which we entered at the back of the room, and one in the middle of the left wall. Even though the meeting has not begun, it's unnaturally quiet. I hear a few muted whispers, but nothing more. Not many children seemed to have survived the ordeal. Besides two or three scattered around the crowd, the ten living at the boarding house seem to be the only children left in town. Most of the people are young adults to middle-aged. I don't see a single person who looks more than ten years older than me.

A middle-aged woman goes to the podium and calls the meeting to order. She's the newly elected mayor. She goes over the results of the election that took place during the last meeting, and calls for the four new council members to stand. They all rise and sit back down. Then the mayor begins addressing a list of needs which were apparently brought up during the previous meeting; practical issues such as food supply, medical care, and part time work, basic living needs that would normally be taken for granted, but are of paramount importance now. After that, she reviews the secondary items, namely reallocation of goods and searching of a national data base for names of the victims. My ears perk at the mention of a database. Maybe we could use it to find out what really happened to the Gunmen. She seems like a sensible and honest woman who truly cares what happens to the people of this town. I decide that I like her.

Katlyn, sitting next to 84, begins to fidget, and yawns into her tightly clutched fist. Silently, 84 picks her up and balances her awkwardly but carefully over one shoulder. Katlyn promptly sticks her thumb into her mouth and closes her eyes, her hair spilling over the hybrid's shoulder in sweet buttery curls. Joshua leans into my arm and I catch Scully smiling down at the boy. I slide my arm around his shoulders and pull him close.


From "A History of Colonization" by DS84, 2060

"Page 80: It was a grave and costly mistake on my part to ignore the Rebels that sided with the Colonists after their actions at the high containment facility at Wyoming. My first attempt at correcting the oversight did not occur until after the Head Overseer contacted me on Day 54. He told me that the Resistance forces had been slowly weakened by internal conflict, and that the faction that sided with the Colonists had become desperate. It was estimated that an attempt at colonization would not occur in the next twenty years due to small but significant amounts of residual radiation in the atmosphere, which was detrimental to alien physiology. A viable vaccine was in production, and would be distributed world-wide within the year. But one of the original goals of the project was still unrealized. Thus, the importance of Scully to the project was still undiminished. That was when I was given my permanent assignment: to protect her and the child she carried."


"Lizzy," Katlyn whispers loudly into my ear, "I've got to potty."

This whole situation is very strange for me. I've never held a child before, or at least not a human child. And I'm not even sure what "potty" means. I look at Mulder questioningly. "Katlyn has to potty," I tell him quietly, hoping for some insight into the situation.

"I think the bathroom is out the back door and to the right," he whispers back.

Now I understand. The child isn't old enough to take herself to the bathroom. Scully is watching me. I can see that she's on the verge of taking Katlyn, but I wave her off. I know I can do this.

Katlyn is fairly heavy, so I set her down so that we can walk together. The women's restroom is to the right as we leave the main meeting room. "Do you need me to go in with you?" I ask the little girl as she opens the stall door.

"No, I can do it myself," she tells me, and shuts the door behind her.

My life is very different now, I think as I lean against the wall and wait for Katlyn to finish her business. Until a few months ago, I had never been outside the high containment facility in Wyoming, nor did I ever expect to leave. Now I'm in outside world, pretending to be human. The life of a hybrid is usually so predictable, but not mine, not now.

When she's done, I help her wash and dry her hands. "Ready?" I ask, throwing the wet paper towel in the trash. She nods. "OK, let's go."

But something doesn't feel right as we exit the bathroom. I pause for a moment, scanning the corridor, first right then left. Suddenly Katlyn grips my hand hard. I've seen what she's seen. Four faceless men with incendiary devices, just turning corner at the end of a long hallway to our right. Rebels, but judging from their presence here, these ones side with the colonists and are probably from the same group that tried to kill us in Wyoming. I scramble back into the bathroom, dragging the little girl behind me.

I bend down and look at her at eye level. "Katlyn," I say, placing my hands on her shoulders and speaking quickly, "I need you to do something for me, something very brave." She nods, her eyes wide. "I need you to run out to the car we came in and hide inside until I come to get you. It's that way." I point left. "Go straight out the door and don't stop until you get to the small blue car with the smashed headlight, OK? Don't stop for anything." I pull her towards the door. "Run."

She takes off running on her little legs and I turn and dart in the opposite direction, drawing a stiletto as I run. The faceless aliens are just now entering the main meeting room. I don't know what they're doing here but I have little doubt that they've come to kill Mulder and Scully. There's only one thought filling my mind: protect the mother.


I turn my head to see who has entered the back door. Mulder tracks my movement. For a split second I think I'm imagining the four faceless men that stand about five meters away from me. But I'm not imagining it. Mulder jumps to his feet and I'm not far behind, pulling Joshua with me. Everyone in the room turns to look at us. "Federal agent!" he shouts, holding his open badge high above his head. "Everyone evacuate this room now!"

At the same moment, the leading faceless alien sets a woman by the back door ablaze. She screams terribly and staggers in the opposite direction, flailing about like a broken marionette. Then suddenly there's a whoosh of a hundred frightened people drawing a collective breath and the sound of a hundred chairs being scooted back and a hundred people running for the side exit. I have a head start towards the door, but in a moment I'm surrounded by the panicked crowd. Mulder and I are swept apart, and there's nothing I can do but head for the exit along with everyone else.

Everything happens very quickly after that, although I see it all with horrible, perfect clarity. Three things happen at once. DS84 enters the door behind the four Rebels just as Sheriff Richardson draws his gun. Simultaneously, Mulder runs towards the sheriff shouting for him not to shoot, but his gun is already out of the holster and in firing position before Mulder has even gone three steps. The bullet hits one, but 84 finishes it off before the others see her.

I draw my stiletto, trying to avoid stabbing myself, and scream at Joshua to run and not look back. I try to fight my way towards Mulder. Two Rebels turn on 84 and the other keeps walking towards me, setting two people ablaze as he goes. A fire alarm begins its incessant scream just as the stench of burning flesh hits me with an appalling force. A man running past me gags and vomits, and somewhere in front of me a child screams and goes down under the crush. I'm surrounded by jostling arm and elbows. Suddenly I'm reliving my worst nightmare, the one where I'm on a bridge watching bodies burn and I can't do anything to stop it.

My momentary panic diminishes when 84 rips the incendiary device from the dissolving Rebel and manages to incinerate one while Mulder stabs the other. I know the remaining Rebel is coming straight for me. And I know that there's no way I can get the stiletto in his neck before he kills me with that flame thrower. But somehow it doesn't make me panic, because I have an idea. If Mulder and 84 could just distract the alien for a few seconds I could run from behind and stab him in the neck.

A disembodied voice that sounds like Mulder is screaming "No" but I can't tell whether I'm hearing it with my ears or my mind. 84 and Mulder dart forward in tandem and the alien whirls around so that his back is towards me for a moment. I take the chance and run towards the Rebel. A sheet of flame shoots out of his device, but they both dive sideways and are far enough away not to be in great danger. Then somehow I'm on his back, grabbing the device with one hand and stabbing him with the other. He collapses but the flame thrower goes off as he falls. I clutch the metal frantically, wrestling it from his limp hands, feeling the heat of it burn me even as desperately try to point the nozzle away from my body. It shoots a gout of orange flame and catches a row of chairs on fire. I manage to shut the thing off and fling it away.

The heat from the fires in various places around the room are already intense, and black smoke is filling the room. There must be some sort of accelerent in the fire I think dazedly, because there's no way it could spread so quickly without help. I cough and gag and grab Mulder's hand, yanking him towards the door as I begin to run. 84 is beside me, shoving an almost fainting Sheriff Richardson in front of her. We're the last ones out, except for a small child who was knocked down and lies dazed on the threshold. Mulder picks him and keeps running. With a shock I realize that it's Joshua.

Cars are tearing out of the parking lot at record speed. The remnants of a bad car wreck litter the quickly emptying parking lot, and in a flash I recognize Dr. Carlin from the clinic, crouched over one victim who is collapsed over the steering wheel of her car, head lolling awkwardly and face covered in blood.

The scene barely registers before I'm scanning the area frantically, expecting to see more Rebels at any moment. I feel 84's hands on my shoulders, but I throw them off, and stagger right into Mulder's bulky form. As I push away, I realize how badly my hands hurt. I'm horrified at the sight of my palms, now blistered and raw. Gritting my teeth, I pull off my wedding ring and put it in my pocket, thinking to get it off now before my hands swell. My face feels stiff and baked, like I have a bad sunburn. Mulder is frantic, shaking my shoulder with his free hand and asking if I'm hurt.

"Do you think more are coming?" I shout above the din, ignoring his question for the time being. Black smoke pours out of the open doors of the building. I'd forgotten how loud a fire could be.

He shakes his head. "I don't think so," he answers loudly. Then he catches a glimpse of my hands, and grabs one of my wrists. I cry out inadvertently, and bite back a sob. In a rush of pain I suddenly can't stop feeling him and our pain all blends together in a horrible clatter inside my mind so that I can't tell if I'm me or him. "Scul-lee." The way he says my name snaps me back to myself and I yank my wrists away, fighting for mental control. "There's nothing you can do for me now," I insist, trying rather ineffectively to hide my hands under a flap of my jacket. "Just get 84 to look at Joshua!" He opens his mouth to protest, but I don't need him to tell me what he's going to say because somehow I can hear it in my head. He's interrupted from further argument by a terrified child's scream.

84 is pulling a wailing Katlyn out of our battered blue car. She awkwardly lifts her and tries to balance the child on her hip. I don't know how Katlyn got in there, but 84 must have done some quick thinking earlier. The girl continues to weep inconsolably, and it irks me that she doesn't even know how to comfort a crying child.

"What about GenCorp? Do you think any were sent to destroy the vaccine work?" Mulder asks me, stroking Joshua's hair with one hand and supporting his backside with the other. The boy's eyes are wide and terrified, but he is silent as ever.

I hadn't thought of it until this moment. "I think we just need to get out of here for now. Get the children to safety and then go to GenCorp." All this shouting is killing throat; I feel like I'm screaming on raw vocal cords. In unspoken agreement we move further into the parking lot and away from the building. Far above my head a window in the second story explodes from the heat; the glass shatters and falls onto the ground.

"Agreed."

Close by, I hear the crackle of a police radio, and turn in surprise. I'd forgotten that Sheriff Richardson was even here. "Emergency situation in progress," he rasps. "We have a fire at city hall, multiple serious injuries. Get whoever's on shift down here now!"

He hangs up the CB and leans heavily on the car door. "You two seem to know what's going on. Care to inform me?" He coughs convulsively.

"Someone wasn't happy with the vaccine work," Mulder says evenly. "We've met up with these...mercenaries before, but didn't think they'd find us so soon. We think more may be at GenCorp, trying to put an end to the vaccine distribution."

The sheriff coughs again, looking suddenly very old and tired. "I don't have enough people to handle the situation here and send more to GenCorp," he says. "All that's left is a skeleton fire crew and one doctor and two nurses. The only people that weren't here tonight were the fire crew."

"We're federal agents. We can check on the situation at GenCorp."

The sheriff frowns and shrugs briefly. "It's not like I can stop you. Just don't do anything stupid," he says pointedly. "I don't want to see any more people die tonight."

Mulder nods, then speaks softly into Joshua's ear, his voice so quiet that I can barely hear it. "Joshua, we have to leave for a little while, but we'll be back very soon. I need you to stay here and take care of your sister. You'll be safe with Sheriff Richardson. Just wait in his car."

The boy nods and his lungs hitch awkwardly in a dry sob as Mulder places him in the police vehicle. DS84 puts Katlyn beside her brother, touching their foreheads in turn. By the time she closes the door, both of them are asleep.

There's never any question about whether or not she should come with us. She just gets in the back seat and silently buckles her seatbelt as Mulder speeds out of the parking lot at an amazing velocity. There's no way I can buckle my seat belt with my blistered hands, and no way I can brace myself as I'm slammed sideways against the door when Mulder makes a sharp left onto the main road. The pain is hitting me in fierce red waves now, burning and intense, searing my lungs and hands and arms all at once. If I'm hurting this bad by the time we arrive at GenCorp, I'm not going to be much good to anyone. I concentrate on trying not to groan, and bite the inside of my mouth until I taste the blood.


From "A History of Colonization" by DS84, first edition, 2060:

"Page 81: Nearly all of the American Overseers had been killed by the Resistance, and world-wide many more were killed after the first attempts at colonization. Certain important individuals remained, though I learned later there was much disagreement over what to do about the Scully contingency, and that three Overseers were killed by the Head. This left little of what Mulder termed the 'international conspiracy' in existence. All that remained were the warring alien nations."


I sit down on the curb and pull out the familiar pack of Morleys, drawing out a cigarette and lighting it without even looking. It's sort of ironic, I think, that I should be smoking when GenCorp, the building across the street from me, is going up in flames. I'm just beginning to get worried when Krycek emerges from a side door at a quick pace, pulling off his oxygen mask as he jogs across the block to where I sit. The area around his mouth and nose is white, but the rest of his face is grimy with ash and sweat.

"Report," I say, producing a fairly impressive smoke ring. The wind takes it away before I can admire my handiwork.

"The four Rebels have been terminated."

"Dr. Linden and his colleagues?"

"Dead, unfortunately. All three were cornered and burned together in the central lab area."

I nod, thinking that they can be replaced fairly easily. Distribution is going well, but this is still a setback. Almost more of a setback than the loss of the high containment facility in Wyoming.

I spot a familiar battered blue car racing down the road towards us at a fast clip. Krycek instinctively backs into the shadows between the two buildings, and I scramble to my feet and follow him. The car screeches to a halt and two people jump out. One opens the passenger door and a third emerges. They all stare at the building and don't see us.

Mulder starts forward. "Mulder no!" Scully says, putting out a hand but making no move to touch him.

He turns and swears loudly. "They got here first," he nearly shouts.

"Yes they did," I say, walking towards them and startling them all.

"CGB Spender," Mulder spits out. "Why am I not surprised to see you here."

I see he hasn't changed much in regards to his attitude towards me. "The Rebels arrived here before we could stop them, unfortunately, and killed your colleagues" I say, puffing benignly at my cigarette, and putting my hands in my pockets.

Mulder strides up and quicker than thought, snatches the cigarette out of my mouth with his left hand while drawing a gun with his right. I make no move to stop him, even with the cold metal pressing into my forehead.

"You have the rest of your life to tell me what's going on here old man," he pants, his breath hot and puffing over my face.

"It's like he said." I hear Krycek's voice from somewhere behind me. "We came to stop the Rebels from torching the place, but we got here too late to do anything but terminate the perpetrators."

DS84 draws Scully's gun from the holster and points it at Krycek before I can blink.

"Do you really expect me to believe that?" Mulder asks incredulously.

"Not really," Krycek replies. In my peripheral vision I can see him, hand unarmed and upraised. "Shall we dispense with the game playing for now and have a little chat?"

"About what?" Scully asks.

My eyes flit over her body. She's in bad shape, especially her hands, but I'm pretty sure it's nothing that 84 can't take care of. I'm more concerned that the smoke inhalation will be harmful to the developing fetus.

"The child, of course," I reply. The pressure on my temple increases and I imagine Mulder's finger tightening on the trigger. Just a tiny bit more force on that trigger and my gray matter will be splattered all over wall behind me.

"Mulder," she says sharply. The weight of the gun lets up a little; he seems distracted by her reaction.

"How did you know I was pregnant?" she asks. Her eyes glitter brightly with pain and a thin sheen of sweat covers her forehead, but there's a new element in her expression. I wonder at this difference I see in her. There's a strength inside her that was always present before, but has now changed into something more like granite than tempered steel.

"Your offspring is very important," I say, watching for the opportunity to step back from Mulder, but knowing that the time is not quite right. Scully does it for me, pushing Mulder aside with a grimace and coming to stand in front of me. Mulder's gun is still pointed in the general direction my head, though.

"Why did they come to kill us?" she asks, her voice low and menacing. Deadly. I've never seen this side of Scully before, though I've read about it in her service records.

"This particular faction of the Rebels has no wish to prevent colonization," I say, trying to decide quickly how much to tell her. "They're actually working against their own nation to side with the Colonists."

"And they want to kill us because of our work with the vaccination?" She looks puzzled, as if this can't possibly be the entire answer.

"Partially," I agree.

"What else?"

"Your child."

"Why?" A single word, but there is a universe of meaning carried in its depths.

"There are some things I simply could not prevent," I reply, indicating the burning building with one hand, trying to avoid her question.

Mulder lets out a derisive snort of laughter. "Don't avoid the question," he says evenly.

"The child is important because any offspring of two vaccinated individuals has a high probability of natural resistance to the alien virus." That at least is true.

"And?" Scully prods verbally, her eyes probing mine like gray searchlights in the night.

"There is no 'and,'" I say calmly, enunciating each word with an affronted tone. She clearly doesn't believe me.

"Why is this child important to the Project?" she asks, mimicking my clipped enunciation. Scully is more like Mulder now, her ability to find the heart of a matter heightened by all those years with her partner. She knows the child wouldn't be important to the Colonists if it wasn't important to the Project.

Even though no one would ever believe it, I do get tired of dealing in deceit and obfuscation. So I decide to take a chance. "Any child of yours and Mulder would likely be a major assent to a resistance movement organized against a second attempt at colonization," I say truthfully, trying to gauge both their reactions at once.

"But we have a vaccine," Mulder says.

I laugh shortly. "Don't you know that the aliens could just kill us all if they find out we have the vaccine? There are quicker ways to die than the virus."

A tumult of emotion passes across Scully's face in the space of two seconds, starting with astonishment and giving way to anger. Her expression hardens. Then suddenly, she draws herself up to her full height and spits in my face. Turning on one heel, she stalks back to the waiting car.

Mulder waits a few moments then backs away, gun still out and pointing towards me. 84 is the last to go, looking at me with what might be a questioning expression, but tinged with something more. I think it might be hate. I've never seen that emotion before in a hybrid, and somehow, that frightens me. I know then that my control over her is broken forever, though maybe I lost it long ago. Her loyalty lies with Scully, as do all those who know her truly. Even me. Soon the time will come when I can no longer protect her. I just hope 84 will continue to do so.


1 am, Day 55

A soft knock at the door startles me. I look up from my contemplation of Scully's sleeping figure, and see 84 glide to the door through the darkness. She checks the peephole and waves me off, but I still keep my hand near my holster.

Light slants into the room as the door opens, and I recognize Joanna's voice. "I'm just checking to make sure Dana is all right," she says, her voice soft in the quiet hallway.

"She's sleeping now," 84 replies. There's a moment of silence.

"You're worried about her for some other reason, aren't you?" she asks knowingly. I get up from my place on the bed's edge and walk to the door.

"What makes you say that?" I reply.

She shrugs and flicks one braid over her shoulder. "Hello Mr. Federal Agent," she says, regarding me with new interest. "She's pregnant, isn't she?"

"Did she tell you?" 84 asks.

"Liz," I admonish sharply.

"No, it's OK," Joanna says, trying to soothe me. "It's not like I haven't seen it a hundred times before. I can always tell when a woman's pregnant, sometimes even before she knows." She nods briskly. "And your wife there has been pregnant since before you arrived at my place."

I do some quick thinking, and I'm pretty sure we can trust her. "Have you told anyone else this?" I ask.

She shakes her head. "No one."

"Then don't. Dana and I may be in some danger, and we're trying to keep our whereabouts quiet." Her eyes widen. "Don't worry, we'll be out of here as soon as Dana gets some rest."

"This has something to do with those killings tonight," she says wisely, studying me with dark eyes.

"Yes," I reply. "But you don't have anything to fear. Those who were looking for us are all dead now." I say it with more confidence than I feel, but when I'm done, I have the strangest feeling that it's the complete truth. Maybe it's just wishful thinking.

"I'll leave you to sleep then," she says. "I was really worried when you came back so late tonight. Anyone can see that Dana is a special woman. You be sure and take care of her."

84 closes the door behind her and leans on the door frame. I resume my position, sitting next to Scully on the bed.

"There's something I need to tell you," 84 says in that strange calm way of hers.

Now I'm worried. "About what?"

"Yesterday," she says, sitting down in the lone seat by the bed, "the head Overseer came to see me." The room is dark except for light from a streetlight that filters in through the window blinds. It casts striped shadows onto her face, and lends to its soft curves a tigress-like aspect.

"The Head Overseer?" I'm not sure who she's talking about.

"The smoking man. I think you know him as CGB Spender," she clarifies.

My mouth hangs open, but she continues, placid as ever. "He drove me to the beach and told me some things about the Project that I didn't know before. He told me to protect Scully. I should have known something was going to happen soon, but I was waiting to speak with you privately. I'm sorry I was too late."

My thoughts are spinning. The smoking man, talking with 84? Trying to protect Scully? "What else did he say?"

"He said that the Resistance forces are severely weakened, that the residual radiation is detrimental to theirs and the colonists physiology. He was expecting trouble, some sort of last desperate attempt by the Rebel factions that sided with the Colonists, and told me to protect her at all costs."

I shake my head uncomprehendingly. "So you know this man from before?"

She nods. "Yes, he was the head project Overseer at our facility."

Suddenly things click into place. "But you don't trust him."

"No."

"I don't think that coming to me earlier would have prevented any of this," I wave my hand to indicate Scully. "There's no way we could have expected a Rebel strike at a public place, anyway."

She reaches out and touches Scully's dirt and tear streaked face, a brief but gentle touch. Tilting her head a little, she listens a while before withdrawing her hand. "She's going to be just fine," she tells me. Her soft eyes regard me enigmatically in the darkness, so much like Scully, yet so unlike. Partly her daughter, yet partly something else entirely.

"Thank you, 84," I say softly. "Thank you for protecting her."

She sits up very straight then, looking for a moment so much like Scully, but lacking her soul. "She was hurt badly tonight. Obviously I wasn't protecting her well enough." There's not bitterness or guilt in her tone; just a flat statement of facts as she sees them. "And others died as well."

"No." I shake my head emphatically. "Things would have been much worse tonight if not for your quick thinking." She opens her mouth to disagree, but I cut her off with a wave of my hand. "No, I don't want to hear any more about it. You're not to blame for this." There are several long moments of silence. "I know you must be tired, so why don't you get some rest? Sleep at least until the morning."

She sits very still for a moment, hands clasped in her lap almost primly, then pads to the adjacent room with cat-like grace. I watch her for a moment, then return my gaze to my wife. Gently, I run my fingers through her tangled hair, separating the strands and stroking them over and over until the hair framing her face lies smooth and straight. For a moment, my hand rests on her forehead, and I feel a shadow of her presence whispering through my mind. I can tell she's restless and worried, even in the healing sleep. I try my best to think soothing thoughts, and whisper in her ear that everything's going to be OK. I don't know if she can hear me, but I feel a little better after I say it.

Suddenly I feel very tired myself, almost as if I was being dragged down into healing sleep. I'd refused 84's ministrations earlier, having suffered no more than scorching on my hands and arms, and a slight sore throat. I didn't want to be healed because I was hoping to stay up and keep watch, in case any other unwelcome visitors decided to show up tonight before we had a chance to change locations. But I know now that I can't possibly stay awake, and anyway, I don't think anyone will be bothering us tonight. Not if what 84 says is true, and somehow, I think it is. I yawn and pull off my shirt and pants, crawling into bed with all the grime and sweat of the night still on me. Scully would probably be mad, only she's just as dirty as I am. For once I fall asleep quickly, though I have the strangest dream. I dream that I'm being chased by a crowd of faceless men. In the dream, I'm running so hard that I can barely breath, and am terrified for the baby growing inside me.


When I wake up, Mulder is watching me. My first thought is that I should have never let him come to bed without a shower. He's filthy. His hair is stringy with grime and his face and arms are powdered with soot. Soot. That brings back the events of last night to my memory with a rush and I sit up quickly, one hand over my belly, my heart hammering triple time in my throat.

"You're okay," he soothes, reaching for me. "The baby is fine." I slump back against the headboard. "How do you feel?"

I think for a moment, and wiggle my fingers experimentally. "Stiff," I reply, reaching up to feel my face. "But no pain." I glance at the lamp stand. My wedding ring is sitting there, clean and bright; the gold cross necklace rests beside it. I slip the ring back on my finger.

Mulder breathes out a long exhalation of relief. "84 does good work."

I suddenly catch sight of his arms. They look sunburned, his golden skin tinged pink on the undersides. I tentatively brush my fingers just above the skin; the hair looks like it's been singed. "You must have been closer than I thought," I say, referring to the fire. "And you didn't let 84 heal you."

He shakes his head. "I'm not hurt. It doesn't feel worse than a sunburn. I wanted to be awake so that I could make sure you were all right."

I pause for a moment, thinking. "How many died last night?"

"Six, we think."

Six. Six lives gone forever, because they were in the way. I feel glad that it wasn't me, but a pang of guilt follows the thought. I try to rub the thought from my mind, fingers pushing at my forehead, and my fingertips come away caked in grease and dirt. "I'm going to take a shower." Shower first, think later.

"Me too," he agrees.

I slide out of bed and pad across the cool floor. To my surprise, Mulder follows me into the bathroom. "Mulder," I say warningly as I pick up my toothbrush, "There's not room for two in here."

He just shrugs and proceeds to crowd me as he brushes his teeth. When I'm done, he switches off the water and stands looking at me for a moment. I open my mouth to protest, but he puts a finger on my lips. "Shhhh," he says. His slender fingers unbutton my blouse with great dexterity, and I decide to let him do this. There's really no stopping him and anyway, I like it. The blouse is tugged off and dropped on the floor along with a kiss on my shoulder. Then the bra follows, and two more kisses. Finally, he hitches down my panties and I step out of them and into the shower.

I decide there's nothing particularly erotic about what he's doing, not this time. It's just his very sweet and comforting way of reconnecting with me after the events of last night. It's a tight fit in the small shower, but Mulder puts me in front. The hot water feels so good running over my dirty skin. He lathers my hair expertly, and rubs me down with a soapy washcloth while I'm rinsing my tangled hair. I feel like a snake sloughing off its skin as the grime comes away.

He combs conditioner through my hair, just the way I like it, and while that is rinsing, he washes himself. When I'm done, I lean against the warm shower wall, getting splattered by sudsy water as he rinses off his hair, enjoying the sight of water running down his beautiful body. He pushes back clean hair from his forehead and opens his eyes, smiling a little as I watch him.

Abruptly, he pulls me forward into the stream of water, hands encircling my waist as he sinks down onto his knees. For a moment I wonder what he's doing, but then he presses his face gently into my belly, and I understand. "Hello, baby," he whispers into my abdomen, placing a soft kiss on the pink skin of my stomach.

A thrill runs through my blood, despite all the fear I have over this child, and the terrible price that has already been paid for its life. This is a baby, mine and Mulder's. His arms snake around my backside and he squeezes me in a tender embrace.

"I love you, best beloved," I whisper, running my fingers through his sopping wet hair. He looks up at me then, blinking through the water, but I can't tell what he's thinking.

"I love you, too," he says, giving me a firm kiss just above my navel, then reaches behind me to turn off the water.

He won't let me dry myself. Instead, he pats me down with my towel. He even combs my hair, working out the remaining knots in a way that's more like a scalp massage than an exercise in detangling. It's very relaxing, and I start to feel sleepy again by the time he's done.

When we emerge from the bathroom, safely ensconced in towels, I'm surprised to see 84 making our bed. A pile of dirty sheets lies on the floor. "The sheets were filthy," she says, straightening out the bedspread. "I'm going to get breakfast, but wanted to check on you before I go downstairs. May I?" She extends her hands. I place my palms in hers.

For a moment she closes her eyes and tilts her head to one side, listening to something I can't hear. "You're doing just fine," she says, giving my hands a slight squeeze before releasing them. "Just be sure and get something to eat soon." She trails out the door and locks it behind her.

"Well," I say, furrowing my brow a little.

Mulder purses his lips and looks a bit worried. "Did you need to sleep some more?"

I shake my head. "We need to get out of here soon," I reply, shedding the towel and wiggling into clean panties and jeans.

"I have a feeling that those were the last of the errant Rebel faction for now," he says.

"What makes you say that?" Normally, Mulder is very cautious when it comes to my safety, though he has little regard for his own.

"84 has received some inside information about the Resistance yesterday that was only confirmed last night."

My mouth frames an unspoken question as I pull a t-shirt over my head, but Mulder answers before I say anything out loud.

"I didn't know about it until we came back here last night, but I'm sure she's telling the truth and that her information is correct." He zips and buttons his jeans and flops down onto the bed. "The Rebel forces are severely weakened by the internal strife as well as the atmospheric radiation. I think we have nothing much to fear from them or from the colonists, at least for a while. This last strike was some sort of a last ditch effort."

"You sound fairly confident." I sit down on the bed and scrunch my knees close to my chest.

He laces his hands behind his head and looks at me thoughtfully. "I've done a lot of thinking since last night. I believe the smoking man really does want to protect you, albeit for his own purposes. And because he is so intent on protecting you, I don't think he was lying to us." He pauses and rubs his lower lip in the way he does when he's processing a new idea. "I wonder about this child. What if she is destined for greatness?"

"She?" I query, weakly attempting to deflect his question. All this talk about destiny is frightening. How long have They been watching us? I've known for a long time that my placement with Mulder was no coincidence. But what if They always had plans for us that were much deeper than my wildest imaginings?

"I just have a feeling," he says, eyes crinkling into a half smile, though his lips stay set in a straight line. He moves quickly back to core of our discussion, his words echoing my thoughts eerily. "It makes me wonder how long the Smoking Man has been watching us. Did they hope for this child all along?"

I shiver and hug my knees tight, closing my eyes and clamping my teeth together to stop their sudden chattering. I'm so afraid for this child. It's like this nightmare I have every night, where I'm running and running, knowing that They are after me but I can't get away. I feel Mulder's arms encircle me, pulling me down beside him.

We lie in silence, and I think about all the things that have happened to me since I met Mulder. I think about how we were watched so carefully from the beginning, and maybe from long before that. I think about my abduction and Melissa and Emily and all the years we worked on the x-files. Even after all those cases, six years worth, I never did feel like I had a true purpose in life. Mostly, I felt like I was floating from case to case, adrift and disconnected, building up nothing more substantial than additional darkness inside myself. Gradually, I begin to see where I came from and where I am now. I'm at a corner in my life, a turning onto another street that will take me far from where I've been before. I feel as if the whole of my life has lead up to this turning, that this is what I was born to do. Despite all my fears, I can't deny the ringing affirmation in my spirit to Mulder's words. *What if this child is destined for greatness?* What if this is my purpose?

Slowly, this realization makes it's way from my mind to my heart, and little by little, I become reconciled to the fear and darkness that lives inside me. I unclench my teeth and stretch my arms out along Mulder's body. Placing a hand on his cheek, I turn his face to look directly at me. "I'm not afraid anymore," I whisper.

His hazel eyes are fierce and molten as they gaze into my soul. "Neither am I," he says his voice full of conviction. "Neither am I."


I shouldn't be surprised that Sheriff Richardson is waiting for us downstairs. He looks exhausted. I doubt he's gotten any sleep and his close-cut dark hair is gray with ash. Joanna is feeding him leftovers from earlier this morning. There's a bowl of peeled, hardboiled eggs and a tray of thick slices of toast on the table. 84 sits across from him, eating with rapt concentration.

Scully and I set to, and I start spreading butter and strawberry preserves on the bread. I have no idea where Joanna got real butter and this many eggs, but they are a welcome addition to my empty stomach.

There isn't much prelude from the Sheriff. "I really need to get a statement from you two," he says in a raspy voice, swallowing his last bit of buttered toast. "Three people died last night at City Hall, plus what we guess are the three doctors at GenCorp. I know you weren't in any shape to give a statement last night, which is why I waited until this morning to talk to you."

Breakfast disappears as I give a brief narrative of last night's events, leaving out the part about the smoking man and Krycek. The sheriff is less disbelieving in the end than I thought he would be. Apparently, he'd heard (along with the rest of the nation) about the burning deaths at Skyland Mountain, and our story fit with that scenario. Neither was he skeptical that someone would be trying to prevent the vaccine distribution. Where his doubts entered was in our assertion that there would be no more trouble from the "assassins," as he called them.

"How can you be certain there'll be no more trouble from them?" he asks me, gulping down the last of his glass of water, and wiping his mouth with a napkin.

"I have an old source at the FBI," I hedge, trying to get around this difficulty as best I can. "It can't hurt to be prepared, but I'm not expecting more entanglements with the assassins any time soon."

He looks doubtful, but too tired to argue much more. "I'm going to drop these reports by the station and get some rest. My men and I have been out all night, trying to account for everyone. If I don't see you all again before you move on, good luck."

He shakes my hand and then Scully's, pausing confusedly for a moment to gaze at her hand. For a moment, I think he's going to ask how her hands got better overnight, then he thinks better of it and shrugs a little. He absently pats 84 on shoulder and waves goodbye to Joanna.

"Mmmph," I say when he's gone, running my fingers through my rapidly growing and rather wild hair.

"Well," says Scully, looking at me thoughtfully. "Where are we going?"


From "A History of Colonization" by DS84, first edition 2060.

"Mulder and Scully eventually establish a permanent residence in southwest Nevada, where the Toiyabe National Forest meets the Excelsior Mountains. Both of them found jobs in a small family practice clinic that was more than happy to take an extra doctor and a child psychologist. It was in those mountains that the ground work was laid for the future resistance. Little by little they won the trust and loyalty of those around them. Of course, they were not aware of what they were doing at the time. But when the time came for resistance, all the players were in the perfect position for the coming battle."


Month 10, day 18

I awaken to the sounds of birds chirping outside the window. I can tell without looking at the clock that it's still very early. The sun has probably just risen, but it's damp and overcast outside and the sun isn't visible. Today is my day off from the clinic. I take a few minutes to watch Mulder sleep, his face serene and more at rest with his inner self than he was before we moved to the mountains. I reach out a finger and almost rub it over the delicious stubble on his cheek, but resist the urge. He needs the sleep. I roll off the bed, suppressing a chuckle as I imagine the mattress tipping over from the sudden weight shift, spilling Mulder haplessly onto the floor. I grab my oversized sweater and elastic pants, eager for their warmth, and pull them on.

I'm glad we moved to the mountains, I muse idly, padding about the open, airy house to start my early morning routine. The area is so beautiful, even though it was too warm this past summer. We bought the house and it's accompanying property for virtually nothing, a sad but convenient consequence of the aborted attempt at colonization.

I set the coffee maker perking. I crave real coffee, but decaf will do for now. My baby girl is awake and kicking this morning. "Whoa, there," I admonish, patting my huge stomach. "Breakfast is coming soon."

I pull out a loaf of bread from its plastic container and cut a big piece. Behind me I hear the wooden floorboards creak, and 84 joins me in the kitchen. I cut her a slice as well, and spread peanut butter liberally on mine and jelly on hers. Wandering to the dining area, I pour us both coffee, gazing out the glass windows into a gray, yet beautiful morning.

"Mulder's still asleep?" she asks after a few sips of coffee.

"Uh-huh," I reply, grinning smugly to myself. I think I tired him out last night. I may be as huge as a house but that doesn't stop me from ravenously consuming a Mulder snack when the mood hits me. Which is pretty often, especially when you consider the size of my stomach. "Is today your day on?"

She nods. 84 works mostly similar shifts to mine at the clinic. Once I obtained my license to practice, I was able to produce a technician job for her. She could have passed the medical boards, but told me emphatically that she only wanted to do diagnostic work in a lab. I think she likes to stay in the background as much as possible. The clinic doctors know what she is, but had surprisingly little difficulty in accepting her, though they're still not aware of her healing abilities. My, how things have changed.

84 goes back to her room so that she can finish getting ready for work. I pull down my jacket from a peg near the door and fling it open, breathing in a lungful of fresh air. The air is cold and damp, definitely not typical winter weather for this area. I wander to the herb garden. Of course by now the shrubs have lost their leaves, and the herbs are long-gone, but I still sniff appreciatively as I step inside its friendly walls. This is my favorite place on our property. The garden's centerpiece is a solemn marble mermaid. She presides over the garden with a queenly air, while brown and gray stones of varying shades radiate out from the center like the spokes on a wheel.

I finally stop my meandering and sit on the wooden bench on the far south side, gazing thoughtfully at the memorial stone that rests near my feet. I've read the words engraved on its surface a thousand times, and every time I feel a pang of grief. "In loving memory of John Fitzgerald Byers, Ringo Langly, and Melvin Frohike." I can't count how many times I think of them every day, and my family as well. We finally received word from the national data base about their officially recorded deaths about a month after we arrived here. My family also has a memorial stone on the north side of the garden, but I decide to skip that visit for now and go back inside because my feet are getting cold.

Just as I'm getting to my feet, a rather strong Braxton-Hicks contraction strikes me. I sit back down promptly and practice breathing until it passes. I've been having a lot of them lately, but 84 assures me that everything is fine.

When I get back to the house, Mulder is up and sipping coffee. He has a very endearing case of bed head, and I ruffle his hair as I pass the dining table. "How are we this morning?" he asks, referring to baby and I.

"Fine," I reply. "I had another Braxton-Hicks contraction this morning, but it's nothing..." Another one hits, and this time it's more insistent. Mulder jumps to his feet, looking so pale and alarmed that I almost laugh. But I can't laugh, not until this is over. I wave him off. "Just a little practice contraction," I pant. "Maybe I need to lie back down."

Twenty minutes later I know this isn't practice. This is the real thing. The contractions hit regularly every five minutes and my body tells me that soon they'll be much closer together. "Mulder?" He virtually runs into the bedroom, pulling on jeans and socks at the same time, his hair still dripping and wet from his shower.

"Is it time?" he asks, hope, anxiety, and tension all layered in his voice.

"Mulder, women have been having babies for thousands of years. Just get my overnight bag and call 84. I'll be ready to go in a minute."

As I hurry to the bathroom, I hear his excited chatter to 84. "Yes, they're five minutes apart! We're on our way!" The clinic is a ten minute drive, so I know we'll make it in plenty of time.

He virtually pulls me towards front door as soon as I emerge from the bathroom. "Wait," I say, pausing on the threshold of the front door as he fumbles with the house keys. "I think you forgot something."

"What?" He looks panicked.

I reach up and pull his mouth down to mine. "This," I say, and kiss him hard on the mouth. His eyes are shining and bright after the kiss, but still a little anxious. I lick my lips and smile at the taste of him that lingers there, allowing him to tug me over the threshold and into the waiting car.

"We're going to have a baby," he informs me, his voice filled with wonder.

We've come full circle, Mulder and I, from grief to joy and back again. But I would go through all the sorrow and pain again if I knew this was where I'd be in the end. "Yes," I echo. "We're going to have a baby."


"A History of Colonization" by DS84, 2060.

"page 150 Epilogue: Faith Melissa Mulder was born 10 months and 18 days after the first attempt at colonization. Her first name comes from an ancient Bible verse that Scully liked. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Hebrews 1:11). Those familiar with Scully family history will know that Melissa is the given name of Dana Scully's older sister. The child was extraordinary from the very beginning. Mulder knew she was destined for great things, and Scully believed as well, though they never told Faith of the Project's hopes for her until long after she had fulfilled her destiny. Eventually, she married Joshua Koening, the boy that Scully saved the night of the Rebel attack in Grayland. But that is another story all together..."

~the end~


"The past is but the beginning of a beginning, and all that is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn." --H.G. Wells

Acknowledgments: Thanks always and forever to my tireless editors Claudia and Susan. I'd never write anything decently without their help. You ladies are the best! Plus, Claudia let me borrow an unused idea from her (I admit it, the history book idea was hers and hers alone!). I've been remiss all along by not thanking those who archive my work. Therefore, my eternal thanks go to Gaila, Amy, Julie, Jan, Regina, RaeLynn, Darkstyder, and anyone else who archives my stories. Your enthusiasm and encouragement me so much to me. Of course, many thanks to everyone who wrote feedback and patiently waited for each installment. I never meant for this to be a series, but the readers persuaded me otherwise. I've had so much fun writing this universe, but it had to end somewhere. I hope it was as much fun to read as it was for me to write!

Disclaimer: Does anyone really think I invented these characters? Didn't think so. Obviously, Mulder and Scully belong to each other.

 

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