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Let's Face the Music and Dance

let's face the music and dance

Title: Let's Face the Music and Dance
Author: Virtues&Vices(AKA Virtie)
E-mail: virtuesandvices@aol.com
Web Site: http://www.reocities.com/fanficcorner/
Rating: Hard R for Sexual Content
Category: XR - X-File/Romance
Classification: MSR, Conspiracy/Alien Colinization
Spoilers: Lot's! If you don't know about the major events that lead up to 'Existence', then you better scat.
Disclaimer: Uh, yeah. They aren't mine, I'm not making any money from them, yada, yada, yada... The lyrics for the songs 'Let's Face the Music and Dance' and 'Go There with You' are used without permission. Sorry.
Archive: Anywhere, as long as my name stays with it and I get to visit!

Summary: Even if you enjoyed 'Nothing Important Happened Today' (which I did), forget it happened. This is MY Season 9 premiere, finished two weeks before NIHT aired.

Dedication: Thanks need to go to five very important people: Al, who found me the perfect title song; Meg, who found me another song that fit wonderfully with the story; Yoda and KissMeMulder, who provided encouragement and the needed corrections; and Storm, who got me hooked on fanfic in the first place. This is for you guys!

There may be troubles ahead
But while there's moonlight and music and love and romance
Let's face the music and dance

Before the fiddlers have fled
Before they ask us to pay the bill, and while we still have that chance
Let's face the music and dance

Soon, we'll be without the moon
Humming a different tune - and then...
There may be teardrops to shed
But while there's moonlight and music and love and romance

Let's face the music and dance, dance Let's face the music and dance...

It was like a vision of Hell.

Or, at least, what she had always envisioned Hell would be like. Fire and brimstone. Fear and suffering. Anger and hate. She felt it all surround her as she stood on the hilltop overlooking the valley below. It had once been a beautiful valley, she thought. She could still see the skeletal remains of trees, now burnt almost beyond recognition. And she saw what appeared to be a pond, which had once fed water to the valley, but now sat bubbling and steaming up into the frigid air. She breathed in deep, amazed at how cold the air was considering the inferno below her. She wondered vaguely how cold it would be without the flames.

A large ball of glowing light shot by overhead, powerful rays from some unknown weapon raining down on the already battered ground. She felt more heat billow up from the resulting explosions. What did they think they were doing? she wondered. Wasn't the valley dead enough for them? Were they trying to kill the Devil himself?

She heard a noise from behind her and turned. Coming up the rocky trail she had just traversed (though she had no recollection of having done so) was a man. He was tall and lean, his bare arms well muscled, the rest of his body covered in makeshift armor and weapons. His hair was almost non-existent, having been clipped as short as possible in a severe military cut. In the light emanating from the fire below, it blazed red. His eyes also mirrored the flames, their natural dark green color fighting to be seen.

"What the hell are you doing up here?!" he called out, his voice as cold as steel, yet tinged with fear. "Do you think you're indestructible, or do you just not care anymore?"

"I care!" she heard herself respond. "I care more than you'll ever know!"

"Then get the hell away from where they can see you." He reached out and grasped her elbow, and she let him lead her away from the destruction behind her.

She turned one last time and looked out over the valley floor, seeing in her mind's eye how it used to look: Green, verdant, full of life. "It used to be so beautiful," she said quietly.

Somehow, he heard her over the wind and the roar of the flames. "I know, Mom. I remember."

Scully's eyes flew open, the visions of fire and explosions still imprinted on her corneas, the smell of smoke and death still fresh in her lungs. She threw the covers off herself and sat upright, swinging her bare legs over the side of the bed. Still breathing hard, she reached over and flipped on the bedside lamp, then stood on shaky legs, unconsciously tugging the hem of her nightshirt down as she stumbled over to the crib that sat in the corner of the room.

William lay sleeping peacefully inside. Cautiously, she reached out and touched his cheek, assuring herself his skin was still warm. That he was still alive and real. He moved his head at her touch, a soft moan emanating from his open mouth, but he didn't wake. She sighed and closed her eyes, trying to calm her racing heart.


Opening her eyes, she turned to look at the man sitting in the bed she had just vacated. His dark hair was tousled and his lower face was shadowed with stubble. His hazel eyes were filled with concern. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," she said quietly, careful not to disturb Will. "Just a dream."

"A dream," he asked, "or *the* dream?"

Scully sighed again and moved back toward the bed. "It's just a dream, Mulder," she whispered. "Don't make it out to be more than that." She kneeled on her side of the bed. It was amazing how quickly she had adjusted to a 'her' side, especially after almost ten years of sleeping alone. "It's not a vision, or a premonition, or the reincarnation of some spirit that has taken over my mind and is waiting for the perfect opportunity to take over my body and ravish you until your heart stops beating and you can't breathe anymore."

"Damn," he muttered, slowly sinking back against his pillow. "What a way to go." He gave her a cheeky grin, which made her grin in return as she slid back under the covers. She reached out to extinguish the light before stretching out on her back.

She closed her eyes, but she could feel him staring at her. With a soft groan, she turned her back on him. "Mulder, I'm sorry I woke you. Now, go to sleep."

He didn't respond, and she still felt his gaze on her. For a moment, she wondered if it was her imagination, and that he had, in fact, already fallen asleep. But if there was one thing she had learned in the many years she had worked with this man, it was that he never gave up easily, if at all.

And that the 'feel' of his stare was as intense as his actual gaze.

With another groan, she sat up and turned to look at him.

He was lying on his side, leaning on his elbow, head propped in his hand. And he was indeed staring at her.

"Quit it," she said softly but sharply.

"Quit what?"

"Quit staring at me like that. It makes me nervous."

"Why does it make you nervous?" His lips had curved into a soft smile.

"Because, I can never tell what you're thinking when you look at me like that."

"Like what?"

"Mulder!" she said, exasperation filling her voice. "Would you quit with the twenty questions already? I'm tired and I'd like to go back to sleep."

"So sleep."

"I can't with you staring at me!"

"Why not?" His voice was calm, relaxed. "You do it all the time."

She lay silent for a while, then she looked at him. "I do what all the time?"

"Sleep while I 'stare' at you," he said, his voice becoming husky.

His admission that he watched her while she slept should have unsettled her, but instead it shot an arrow of arousal down to her groin. "Mulder..."

As quick as a jungle cat after his prey, he was upon her, pinning her to the bed beneath them. Her struggle was halfhearted at best, and as soon as his lips and tongue encountered the bare skin of her throat, it ceased altogether. "Mulder..." she said again, the tone of her voice deeper and richer this time around.

"Don't you know I watch you when you sleep, Scully?" he whispered into her neck. "I have for years." He was unbuttoning her nightshirt, and Scully felt herself arch up into him as his knuckles brushed her breasts. "Only now," he continued. "I don't have to wonder what it would be like to touch you. To taste you." He sucked lightly on her collarbone. "Now, I can just do it."



"Are you going to ravish me?"

"Yep." He latched onto her now bared breast, suckling it gently, careful not to bring forth the milk which she still provided to their six-month-old son on a daily basis.

Scully let herself drift into the mindless ecstasy of her lover's touch, knowing that, as much as he was enjoying it, he was doing it to help her forget the dream; to help her sleep peacefully. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes she slept straight through until morning.

Sometimes, it returned. The same exact images she had dreamt nearly every night for a month now. The nightmare that she was beginning to fear was so much more than just a dream.

It was time.

Now or never. Slowly, she made her way into the kitchen. She had been thinking about this for some time now; about how she would do it. What would be the quickest, most painless way for both her and her child? She couldn't stand the thought of stabbing him with a knife. Besides, she would have to make sure she hit an artery, else he would probably heal himself before he bled to death. Overdosing on drugs had been another option. But, his stomach was so sensitive, she knew he wouldn't be able to keep enough down to send him into sleep forever. Drowning? No. Too much like that woman in Texas, who had no earthly reason to do what she did to her kids. Not like she did. But, her reason wasn't earthly, either.

Opening the drawer next to the sink, she pulled out the handgun she had dug out of the back of the closet earlier today. Quick. Easy. Ray had taught her how to shoot before she married him. But, like the knife, she would have to make sure she aimed at an area that would ensure immediate death.

Then she would have to find the same place on her own body.

Her son could not live any longer. And she couldn't live without her son. So tonight, they were leaving this world together.

Cocking the weapon in her shaking hand, she turned and headed for the bedroom her son slept in. Her mother was staying with friends in Eugene tonight, so it was just her and R.J. Silently, she moved down the hall. She quietly pushed open the door to the bedroom. He was laying there, still and innocent in sleep. If only he hadn't been born, she thought. If only he had been born normal.

With a deep breath, she raised the gun, aiming it for the little boy's head. His eyes opened. Widened. "I'm sorry," she whispered, though she knew she didn't need to say anything out loud to him. "I'm sorry."

Her finger tightened on the trigger.

When Scully entered the main doors to her apartment complex, one arm wrapped around a brown bag full of groceries, she heard the booming bass immediately. Actually, she didn't hear it, but instead felt the throbbing beat through the floor. She sighed and rolled her eyes, glad it was only a little after 4:30 in the afternoon else she would be calling her landlord to complain. She made her way to her apartment, slowly realizing as she drew closer that the familiar, repetitive beat was emanating from behind *her* door.

Mouth agape, she opened it, meeting Queen's 'We Will Rock You' face to face. With a grimace, she glanced down the hall to insure no one was going blame her for the noise, then alked through the door, slamming it behind her.


No answer. Of course not. He probably couldn't hear her over the noise. At least, that was the excuse she knew he would use. She set the bag down on the counter, a little too hard, and put her hands on her hips, glaring at the man in the kitchen. His back was to her, so he didn't see her. Then again, she thought with growing amusement, he was a little distracted.

Mulder was dancing and singing along with the song, sliding around the linoleum floor on his socks, his hips swaying and his head bouncing in time with the triple beat blaring from her stereo. William, sitting in his high chair nearby, was trying valiantly to imitate his father, but was a little off the beat. Make that far off the beat, she thought, a grin overtaking her frown as the red haired baby pounded the tray in front of him a little too fast.

Mulder, who was attempting to make dinner as he danced, turned to face Will. "You got mud on your face!" he sang, slightly off key. "A big disgrace!" He reached over and tapped Will on the nose, creating a huge grin on the little boy's face. Turning back to the counter, he wiggled his hips again, and Scully's grin turned to a full blown smile as she eyed his tight butt, outlined perfectly by his well-worn jeans. Using the slick floor to his advantage, he spun around, stopping with a shocked look on his face when he spotted Scully.

"Oh, sh-" He glanced at Will. "Shoot!"

Biting her lower lip, Scully turned toward the stereo, shaking her head slightly as she turned it off. Then she turned to face her former partner and current live-in lover, her eyebrows raised, arms folded across her chest.

"Hi, Scully!" Mulder said with forced cheerfulness. "My, you're home early. I thought you had a meeting."

Will had turned to look when the music had quit, and realizing his mother was there, he began pounding the tray in earnest, another huge grin splitting his face in two.

Scully walked toward the baby, whose arms were now stretched in her direction. Picking him up from the chair, Scully answered, "It was canceled. So this is what you two do when I leave you alone all day. It's a wonder we haven't been evicted."

Mulder braced his hands on his hips, his eyes narrowing.

"Now, wait just a minute. We were just getting psyched up for our guests tonight. Both Will and I find it relaxing to..." He seemed to be struggling for a word or phrase to describe the loud music and dancing.

"Lose you hearing?" Scully finished for him, her tone serious, though she wasn't really mad. Then she replayed his words in her mind. "What guests?"

Mulder grinned. The same kind of grin he used to give her just before telling her of an outrageous case he had committed himself and her to when they had both been a part of the X-Files. "It's a good thing you got home early, Scully. It's much easier telling you this face to face instead of over the phone."

Scully felt dread seep into every crevice of her body. Since Mulder had moved in after the baby's birth, her home life had been more than interesting. Of course, for the first few months, sleep had been rare because of Will, and arguments had been a regular occurrence, but they had never held much real anger. And both were so much more content than either had imagined sharing the same abode. The same bathroom. The same kitchen. The same bed.

When Will had turned three months old, Scully had returned to work, but not to the X-Files. Agent Monica Reyes had been working with Agent Doggett since Will's birth, and both Scully and Skinner agreed that Reyes should stay on the project; Scully wasn't too thrilled with the idea of returning to such a dangerous vocation now that she had a child. She had settled into motherhood easily. Now, she was back to teaching at the Academy...and still very active with assisting with the X-Files at Doggett's request.

Mulder, on the other hand, seemed to have no inclination to go back to work. Any kind of work. For the last six months, he had been completely content to be Mr. Mom, only half-heartedly looking for work. Reyes often came to him for advice on certain cases, which he gave without question, but he was never excited or enthused about helping with an X-File. His behavior worried Scully, and she would have questioned him about it long ago if he hadn't seemed so happy. And he was. He was undeniably happy. Only Scully's recurring nightmare seemed to worry him; it was during the rare moments when she talked about them that the old Mulder, the intense, serious Mulder, returned.

Now, even though he was grinning, she noticed the strain around his eyes and the darkness underneath their humorous glow. "Mulder? Who's coming to dinner?"

"Your mom," he said. But before Scully could sigh in relief, he continued. "And Bill and his family."

How in the hell had he gotten himself into this mess?

Mulder asked himself this question for the seventeenth time in the last forty minutes, the amount of time Scully's brother had been present in their apartment. The man hadn't even said anything degrading. In fact, on the outside, he seemed the perfect gentleman. But Mulder had seen the distaste and anger in the other man's eyes; eyes so similar and yet so very different from Scully's. And he could feel it. He didn't know whether he was happy Bill was keeping his hatred to himself, thereby keeping the peace, or whether he hoped the man would pick a fight so they could get it over with.

When Maggie had called him that afternoon telling him Bill and his family were in town, he had immediately found himself on the defense. And yet, he was looking forward to the challenge, as well. So, when Maggie had asked him if he and Scully would join them for dinner at her place, the little devil on Mulder's shoulder had requested they come to the apartment instead. Maggie, who had been by for dinner several times in the last few months, agreed readily.

But, even Maggie seemed different tonight. She had always gotten along with him in the past, and since his relationship with her daughter had surpassed the professional, she had treated him like another son. Tonight, however, he noticed that while she was talking and smiling and keeping up with the conversation moving around the table, she refused to look him in the eye. For some reason, this unnerved him greatly.

Bill's wife Tara was an enigma as well. He had only met the perky blonde once, at Emily's funeral more than three years ago. She had been depressed about the child's death, and exhausted over her own child's birth, so he knew her behavior that day hadn't been normal. Despite her laughter and bubbly personality this evening, he sensed an undercurrent of tension in her whole being. It was very subtle, but it was there. Unlike her mother-in-law, she did meet his eyes, but she never let her gaze linger, and more often than not, she would look at Bill with something like guilt afterwards. It was almost as if she wanted to befriend him, to like him, but was afraid Bill wouldn't approve.

Mulder was very tempted to look beyond what he could see with his eyes to find out what he should expect from this meal, but he had promised Scully long ago that he would not take advantage of the people around him by 'stealing their secrets'. That's what Scully called it, anyway. It was a great way to keep Mulder and his growing talent in check.

He knew that Scully seemed to sense the strain, as well, though she herself was very relaxed. That's my Scully, he thought. Nothing ever got her riled without a very good reason.

Matthew, Bill and Tara's three-year-old son, was the only one at the table that evening who didn't seem to be anything other than himself. Mulder studied the boy, wondering if Will would grow to look like this child. The cousins shared the same hair color, the Scully red, but Matthew had inherited his father's blue eyes. Just in the last month, Will's eyes had darkened to a rich hazel, with more green than brown, and flecks of gold. Scully had been overjoyed by the change. Mulder had been as well, though he didn't tell her so.

Mulder had made a simple meal of spaghetti, with a fresh tossed salad and garlic bread on the side. He was a fair chef, who had improved greatly since Scully had returned to work and he had taken on the majority of the cooking, but he had not wanted to attempt anything elaborate tonight. Now, as he watched Matthew play with his pasta, he wondered if he shouldn't have chosen something a little less messy. No one seemed concerned that the boy preferred using his hands to eat the noodles, covering his fingers and face with the sauce. Mulder was glad Will had fallen asleep shortly after the Scully family's arrival, else the boy would be learning some unwanted mannerisms from his cousin.

Scully and her mother handled the clean-up before dessert, with Scully telling Mulder to relax since he had done the cooking. Mulder felt even more uncomfortable as his trustworthy back-up for the last eight years left him to check on the baby just as they were getting started on the brownies and ice cream. Conversation stilled.

Tara was the first to speak. "So, Fox," she paused, but Mulder didn't bother correcting her. She was, after all, family. Kind of. "Dana told me a while back you were considering writing a book. That sounds wonderful."

Mulder felt his face heat. A book? In actuality, he had made some wry comment to Scully several weeks ago about how if he wrote a book on their adventures with the X-Files, no one would buy it because they wouldn't believe any of it. When Scully had told him they could market it as Fiction, he had laughed. "Yeah. Then people would complain the stories were too far fetched and silly." He had never seriously considered putting anything about his life down on paper, and he knew Scully knew this. "Well, I've thought about it," he lied. "But I'm no writer."

That was Bill's cue. "You're not much of anything, as far as I can see." The husky man looked about him. "You do keep a clean house, though." He met Mulder's gaze with his own, the challenge there.

Mulder just smiled. "Thanks. It'll be nicer when it actually becomes a house."

That got Maggie's attention. "You two are thinking about buying a house?" Mulder knew why the woman sounded so excited. A house meant a commitment. Not quite marriage, but close. It meant he wasn't thinking about leaving her daughter anytime soon. How could he explain to her that he would never willingly leave Scully? Married or not, she was his and he was hers. Forever, as far as he was concerned.

"We've considered it, yes," Mulder responded.

"And how exactly are you going to afford a house?" Bill asked. Mulder looked back at him. He looked formidable, elbows on the table, hands folded in front of him, his chin resting on them. His eyebrows were raised in question.

"My job pays well," Scully said from behind him, having heard her brother's question while on her way back from the bedroom. "And Mulder inherited a buttload from his mother."

Mulder was both irritated by and grateful for her interruption. While he knew he could never live without her back-up, some fights he really wanted to handle by himself.

"I'll be working again soon," he added, glancing up at Scully as she lightly touched his shoulder in passing before moving back to her own chair. He didn't miss the surprised look on her face, but she covered it well, and he knew the others hadn't noticed.

"Really?" Bill continued, his disbelief evident in his voice. "Doing what?"

Copying Bill's posture, Mulder brought his elbows up to the table, folded his hands and leaned his chin on them, giving Bill what he hoped was a mysterious smile. "That information is classified."

He heard Scully snort with laughter, and soon her sister-in-law was also giggling. Maggie smiled, but her eyes, he noticed, looked haunted.

"Bill," Scully said. "We are doing fine. Mulder isn't living off my income, nor is he not busy. Do you know how wonderful it is not to have to send Will to daycare?" She glanced at her mother. "And Mom already raised four kids. She doesn't need another to look after." With a soft smile, she reached over and took one of Mulder's hands in hers. "We are doing fine."

Watching Bill's impassive face, Mulder returned the squeeze Scully gave his hand. But, despite her words, he felt guilt and depression fill him. They were doing fine, but could they be doing better? He knew Scully sometimes watched him with a worried expression, and he wondered if she missed the old Mulder. The obsessive, married-to-his-work Mulder. He didn't. At least, not very often. He sometimes felt like he was a bear in hibernation. Waiting, not for spring, but for something not nearly so sweet. He needed to keep his mind and body fit, which he did by running, weight lifting and reading every chance he got. But, he didn't know quite what he was waiting for.

Tara changed the subject, and once again conversation flowed. It wasn't any less tense than before, but it went smoothly. Mulder excused himself first, insisting that he do the dishes. He didn't rush the job, and by the time he was done, the rest of the Scullys were ready to leave. Tara gave him a peck on the check, and Matthew high-fived him. Bill just nodded, so Mulder simply nodded back.

Maggie came forward for a hug, which he returned willingly.

While she was in his embrace, she whispered, "You know, Bill might be a little warmer toward you if you married my daughter."

He smiled and pulled away. "I'm not the one you should be talking to, then," he said softly.

"I'm trying, I'm trying," the older woman said, a hint of a whine in her voice. It reminded him of Scully when she wasn't getting her way. She glanced at her daughter and shook her head, clearly frustrated.

Scully, who had heard none of the conversation, looked at them, her brow furrowed.

With a final kiss on his cheek, Maggie turned to leave. "You better keep trying, too, Fox." Her voice was stern, now.

Mulder gave her a mock salute. "Aye, aye, ma'am." Maggie laughed and left, closing the door behind her.

Mulder turned to see Scully watching him with a frown, her arms folded in front of her. "What was that about?"

"Nothing," Mulder told her with a smirk. He headed for the couch. "Just your mom trying to get me to make an honest woman of you."

He heard Scully's resigned sigh behind him. He let himself fall full-length on the couch, emitting a groan of exhaustion. "I was so sure Bill was going to do a lot more than what he did." He flung his arm over his eyes. He felt Scully sit down on the edge of the couch next to his hip. He jumped slightly as he felt her hand rest on his chest. Typical reaction to her touch these days, he thought wryly. Before Will's birth, before his abduction, when they had been just starting to learn about each other sexually, and still working together to boot, her touch had been rare and treasured. It certainly wasn't rare anymore, but it still enflamed him like nothing ever had before or since.

Especially since his brave, independent, I-can-look-out-for-myself Scully rarely initiated sex. This didn't mean she was a passive lover. Far from it. But, she still seemed to be afraid of rejection. As if he would ever reject her. As if he could.

He knew her shyness arose from both her Catholic upbringing, and her past relationships, which all seemed to involve dominant men. Of course, Mulder had been working on changing the way she approached sex. Knowing how uninhibited she became once passion took over, he was convinced it wouldn't take much for her to become the aggressor from time to time.

Apparently, one of those times was now.

She carefully pulled herself along his length, lying fully on top of him. Mulder dropped his arm to look at her, dismayed at the look of uncertainty in her eyes. He didn't bother to say anything. He simply lifted his hips slightly. Her eyes widened and they met his. She had felt his erection, which was already growing simply because she was touching him. "Mulder?" she whispered, the uncertainty gone.


"You know I love you, don't you?" She kissed his chin.

"Yeah," he said, bringing his hands around to lightly place them on her butt.

"And you know that I would love to marry you, right?" Did he? He had asked. More than once, in fact. She had turned him down every time. "Well, yeah," he said, and he couldn't help the sarcasm that slipped though. "You're just wanting a really, REALLY long courtship."

She had been nuzzling his chin, but at his words she stopped. He looked at her. Her eyes were sad, but anger sat just underneath the surface. "I do, Mulder. I do want to marry you." She sighed and looked away. "Just not yet."

Will's impatient cry echoed from down the hall. "He probably needs to be changed," Scully said softly, pushing herself away from him and standing. "He went to sleep too early tonight." Without looking at him, she walked away, leaving him alone, sprawled on the couch and half aroused.

"Looks like we're both waiting for something unknown, Scully."

J. Edgar Hoover Building

Special Agent John Doggett sat at his desk in the basement office that had officially become his almost seven months earlier, reading the police report that had been faxed to him that morning. Once he finished reading it, he read it again. But reading it a second time did not ease his concern. In fact, it only made it worse.

His partner, Monica Reyes, walked through the door, casually throwing her coat onto the rack, a small smile on her face.

It was a rare day indeed that she came to work unhappy.

"Morning, Agent Doggett," she said as she made her way over to the other desk. The desk that had been his when Dana Scully had run the X-Files. She paused when she reached it, a frown taking over the smile. Her dark brows furrowed as she looked at him. "What's wrong?" she asked. "You seem more dour this morning than usual."

Doggett couldn't help but smile at her comment. She never failed to make him laugh when she set her mind to it. He looked back at the report in his hand, sobering instantly.

With a grimace, he leaned forward and shoved the papers her way. Curiously, she took the report from him, then leaned back, half sitting on her desk, to read it. He kept his eyes glued to her face, easily reading the moment she understood what she was reading and recognized the names of the people involved.

She finished and looked up at him, her eyes wide. "When did you get this?"

"This morning," Doggett said roughly. "From persons unknown."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, I called the Bellefleur Police Department, and they don't know who sent it. They said they had no reason to send it to the Bureau." He shrugged and leaned back in his chair.

"But someone thought we should see it," Reyes said, her voice contemplative. Her gaze seemed to turn inward, and Doggett knew she was thinking about something important. "We should tell them," she said finally.

"Who?" Doggett asked, though he knew very well who she was talking about.

Reyes simply glared at him.

"Nah-uh!" Doggett said, rising from his seat. "They don't need to know anything about this."

Reyes also stood straight. "What? Why? This may concern them!"

"I don't see how it could," Doggett argued.

Reyes' voice rose. "What do you mean, you don't see how it could?! They have a connection to this woman, especially Mulder! What if this means their child is in danger? Shouldn't we at least warn them?!"

Doggett shook his head determinedly. "They don't need to have their lives turned upside down again, especially if this is completely unrelated to what happened more than a year ago."

"John," Reyes said, her voice calmer. "What if it isn't? Someone wanted us to know about this. Why?" She shrugged. "What can it hurt to at least put them on alert?"

Doggett didn't say a word, but he folded his arms and stood staring at her, holding back his frustration.

Reyes seemed to sense it anyway. "They may need our protection, John, but they also deserve the truth."

"We don't even know the truth," he growled.

"And we'll find out the truth, but not before we tell Mulder what's going on." Reyes' voice was firm; she wasn't about to back down.

Doggett felt his shoulders droop. "Okay," he agreed. "But if it's nothing...if we worry them for nothing, I'll..."

"You'll what?" Reyes asked with a grin.

"Never mind," Doggett grumbled, then headed for the door. "Come on. Let's get this over with."

When Scully's first class of the day was interrupted by a phone call from her former partner, she knew the rest of the day was bound to get interesting. Her first thought was that he needed her help on an X-File. Instead, he had requested a meeting with both her and Mulder at their apartment. Was it important enough for her to blow off her classes? Yes, he had said, his voice dark. It was.

Worriedly, Scully excused herself from her class, leaving her assistant, an energetic would-be Quincy, ME, in charge and headed for home.

When she arrived, she found both Doggett and Reyes sitting comfortably on her couch and Mulder pacing the room. Monica had Will in her lap. Scully had debated several months ago on making Monica Will's Godmother, but felt it was only fair since the other agent had been witness to the little boy's birth. Besides, Scully really didn't have any other female friends to ask. She and Skinner took their roles as Godparents seriously, taking turns baby-sitting Will whenever possible.

At the moment, Monica seemed content and relaxed, and Doggett also seemed at ease, but Mulder looked as if he was about to explode at any moment. "What's wrong?" Scully demanded as she entered the apartment, her eyes on Mulder.

"I don't know," Mulder griped. "They won't tell me."

Scully looked back at the agents, her eyebrows raised.

"We wanted to wait until you got here," Doggett told her, casting a glare in Mulder's direction.

Scully slipped off her coat and set it aside. She smiled at Mulder. "Then why do you resemble a caged lion?" Make that a panther, she thought to herself. Sleek and graceful and ready to kill to defend his own.

"Muldah, sit down." Doggett demanded. "You too, Scully." His voice was softer when he directed it toward her, as were his eyes.

Will reached for his mother as she sat in the chair kitty-corner from the couch, and she hefted him onto her lap. "How's my boy?" she asked him. He responded with a grin. Mulder moved over and sat on the arm of her chair, and she felt the tension in his body as her arm touched his thigh. She looked up at him with concern. When he didn't return her gaze, she turned back to the agents. "Okay, I'm here. What's going on?"

Monica gave Doggett a nervous glance, then started talking. "We were faxed a police report from the Sheriff's Department in Bellefleur, Oregon this morning. We called them, and they confirmed that the report was real, but they don't know why we were sent it."

Scully's body had tensed at the mention of Bellefleur, and as Monica explained about the report, she again looked up at Mulder. This time, he met her fearful look with one of his own.

"Just what is this report about?" Mulder asked, his voice husky. Bellefleur. Their first case together. Their last case together. The place Mulder had been abducted.

Doggett sighed. "A woman was found murdered in her home two days ago. She was stabbed in the back of the neck. Her twenty-month-old baby was taken from the home, apparently by the killer or killers, and they are still looking for the boy."

"It was Theresa Hoese, wasn't it?" Scully's voice was shaky, and she immediately cleared her throat after asking the question, as if that would help her voice steady.

"Yes," Monica confirmed. "She went to the police over two weeks ago, telling them she felt her baby was in danger. That someone was after the child." She glanced down, a frown settling on her face. "They didn't believe her. They said she had been...acting more than a little odd after she returned from Absolom's camp in Montana. She had been living with her mother, Wendy Nemman, who was not at home the night of the attack." She looked up again, and Scully recognized the glow in the other woman's eyes. She had seen it often in Mulder's at the beginning of a new case. "They feel pretty bad now, of course."

"Now, there is most likely no connection between what happened here and what happened last year," Doggett started to say.

Mulder interrupted. "Like Hell, there isn't!" Will frowned up at his father, not liking the anger in his voice.

"Theresa knew something. That baby was taken for a reason."

He looked down at his own son, and Scully saw the worry in his eyes. "Whatever it is, we need to figure it out."

"Wait a minute. We?" Doggett's tone was incredulous.

Mulder turned his attention to the agent now in charge of his X-Files. "You're going out to Oregon, I presume?"

Doggett looked at Monica, who gave him a slight nod. "Yeah. I guess we are."

"Then I'm coming with you."

From the moment Agent Doggett and his partner stepped on board a plane in D.C., and all through the three hour flight to Chicago, the one and one half hour layover there, and the nearly four and one half hours of flight time to Portland, he had been more than aware of the tall, dark haired man following them. Now, as they drove southward in their rental car, he looked in the rearview mirror and saw the other rental shadowing them.

"Wish I could lose him," he said softly.

Monica didn't even look up from the book she was reading or ask who he was talking about. "Why don't you?"

"Scully would kill me," he told her. "It would probably be impossible to do, anyway." Whatever negative feelings he had for Mulder, Doggett had long ago admitted to himself that the man had been one hell of an agent. A little impetuous at times, more than a little apt to bend the rules. But Fox Mulder's mind was sharp and his knowledge of subterfuge and evasion was on par with the best spies in the business.

Doggett doubted he had lost much of his expertise in the past year.

"Why didn't you let him travel *with* us, then?" Reyes asked.

"It was his idea to 'tag along'," Doggett said with a grimace. "So he can do just that." He looked over at his partner and friend, only to see her frowning. "Hey! He didn't argue. He knows how much trouble we could get into if we allow a civilian to become part of an official investigation. Especially if they find out *who* that civilian is."

Reyes nodded. "I guess. Still...it seems so rude. It almost feels like we're driving along in a model-T while Henry Ford himself is being forced to follow in a horse drawn carriage."

"Well, in this case, Ford gave up that Model-T because he didn't want it to endanger his wife and son."

Reyes was quiet for a while. "You think that's the real reason he's been so content to let us run the X-Files?" she asked. "Because he thinks if he gets involved again, it will only put Will in danger?"

Doggett shrugged. "I honestly don't know, Monica." He glanced in the mirror again. "All I know is that he and Scully seemed to think Will wasn't in any danger right after Billy Miles and his...friends...left you guys alone the night of his birth, and now they seem worried again." He paused. "Maybe they should be worried."

"Yesterday you didn't think Mrs. Hoese's death had anything to do with Mulder," Monica reminded him.

Doggett didn't answer. He wasn't going to explain that it wasn't that he hadn't thought there was a connection. It was that he hadn't *wanted* there to be a connection.

But, what if...?

He shook his head. The last six months of his life had been very interesting. He and Reyes worked well together, and they had managed the X-Files satisfactorily. Doggett had even begun to respect and trust in Reyes' 'feelings'; they had gotten him out of more than one mess in recent history.

He often called on Scully to help by doing an autopsy or to get her medical opinion on a case. And Reyes had, from time to time, met with Mulder to get his view on a certain subject. He also knew that both Reyes and Skinner had been to Scully's apartment from time to time for dinner or to baby-sit Will. But, he had rarely seen either of Will's parents outside of a professional setting.

Despite this, he still felt a certain protectiveness over Scully...and Will. The child, whom he rarely ever got to see, was special to him. He didn't know if it was because he had been able to watch him grow while he was still in his mother's womb, or simply because the boy had grabbed his heart when Doggett had first seen him in the hospital six months ago. It didn't matter. He knew he would do everything in his power to keep William Fox Mulder safe.

And if little Raymond Hoese II's kidnapping had any connection to Will, Doggett was going to find it.

It wasn't long before they pulled into Bellefleur. It was a nice looking little town, but it's small population had decreased significantly since the incident last year when two of the counties best deputies had disappeared and one of the department's detectives had been found dead in the trunk of his vehicle. Doggett shook his head. Not the kind of place you would want to settle down and raise your kids, that's for sure.

He pulled to a stop in front of the Sheriff's Office, noticing the odd looks he and his partner were receiving from a couple of middle aged women standing on a nearby street corner. Glancing at Monica, he noticed that she, too, had seen the women, and was frowning back at them. "Look's like strangers aren't very welcome around here," he said as he unbuckled his seat belt. He cast a quick glance in the rearview mirror. Mulder had parked behind them.

"With all that's happened in this town, I'd be surprised if they didn't look at outsiders with a little trepidation," Monica responded, opening her door and slipping out onto the street.

Doggett followed suit, then looked back at Mulder, who was already walking toward them. The faint, autumn sunlight flashed off the former agents sunglasses as he grinned at Doggett. "Well," he said, placing his hands on his hips. "Fancy meeting you here, Agent Doggett."

"Muldah, shut up," Doggett growled, then headed for the entrance to the Sheriff's Office. But not before he noticed the grins Mulder and Monica shared before following him.

Once inside the building, Doggett turned to the other man. "Now remember, you're here to observe, NOT ask questions."

"Yes, sir, Agent, sir," Mulder said. Doggett could tell he was having a hard time keeping a straight face.

"Hey, this is serious," Doggett said softly.

Mulder's expression darkened. "You think I'd be here if I didn't know that, Agent Doggett?"

With a grimace, Doggett turned toward the admissions desk.

Damn, this was gonna be a long day.

The day had already been long, and it wasn't nearly over yet. Mulder grimaced, then rubbed his forehead, where a tension headache had been teasing him since Chicago. He had spent years flying from city to city around the country, but it had been several months now since he had been on a plane.

He had never minded traveling before, but at the moment, he hated it. He would like nothing better than to be back home, doing his best to make both Scully and their son laugh.

Why the hell had he come here, then? he asked himself.

Because Theresa Hoese had been killed and her baby had been taken. Theresa Hoese. Who, like him, had been abducted, tested on, and left for dead, only to be saved by a different kind of miracle than the one that saved him.

Theresa Hoese, whose son could very well be as special as he knew his own son was. He suddenly itched to grab his cell phone and call home again, even though he had just talked to Scully not thirty minutes ago. Even though Skinner and the Gunmen had promised they would help look after his family while he was gone.

As if they could do anything to stop someone like Billy Miles if the replicant came calling.

He shook his head to try and rid himself of this thought, and only increased the intensity of the throbbing behind his temples. With a sigh, he concentrated on the words being spoken between the two FBI agents and the deputy they were questioning.

No, they had no leads on the missing child's whereabouts.

No, they had no idea who could have killed Mrs. Hoese or why. She was stabbed in the back of the neck with a thin, metallic object, possibly an ice pick, but the weapon itself hadn't been found. Yes, she had had various bruises, proving that there had indeed been a struggle. The only blood found at the scene had been identified as the victim's.

Mulder felt a strong pressure in his chest, and as the questions continued, it became nearly unbearable. He was about to speak when Reyes asked the very question he had been about to vocalize. "Has there been any bloodwork done on Mrs. Hoese? Toxicology? That sort of thing?"

Mulder took a deep breath and looked over at the brunette, his eyes wide. She glanced at him and winked, then looked at the Deputy again, awaiting an answer.

"No," the young man answered. "No, I don't believe the ME thought it was necessary."

"Do you think it's possible to do so now?" Reyes continued. Mulder noticed Doggett looking at his partner with his brow furrowed. Just like Scully used to look at him when he went off on a tangent she didn't understand. He felt the corner of his mouth quirk in amusement.

The deputy looked confused. "I don't see why not," he said. "But--"

"Don't worry," Reyes continued. "It may be a long shot, but it may answer a few questions we have, too."

Mulder sidled up to Reyes' back and said softly over her shoulder, "You might want to make sure some of those blood samples get to Quantico."

She turned and smiled at him. "I was just thinking the same thing."

With a smirk of his own, Mulder replied, "Spooky," and backed away.

Several minutes later, Mulder followed his companions back out into the street. As he expected, Doggett turned on him almost immediately. Unexpectedly, he included Reyes in his angry speech.

"Would one of you please tell me what the Hell that was about?" He glared at Reyes. "Bloodwork? Why?" He looked back at Mulder. "And you want Scully to look at it. Any particular reason?"

"So we get an honest answer," Mulder said without hesitation. "I don't know about you, but I don't trust anyone in this county."

"And just what do you think she's going to find?" Doggett asked, a little calmer now that he appeared to be getting answers. "What are you looking for?"

Mulder looked at Reyes, who shrugged and answered with a look that clearly said, 'you tell him.'

Mulder took a deep breath. "Theresa was an abductee. She had been since her senior year in high school. She had the same anomalous brain activity that I had, which was the reason she was taken again--"

Doggett interrupted him. "Yeah, but you don't have it anymore. And neither did she. Not since your...return."

Mulder stood silent.

Doggett's brow furrowed. "You don't, do you?"

Was that actually fear in John Doggett's eyes? Mulder wondered. If it was, it certainly wasn't for him. Most likely, it was for Scully. Doggett knew better than anyone, even Skinner, what kind of tortures Scully had lived through while Mulder had been missing.

"Not the way it was before my abduction," Mulder said softly. "But..." He stopped and looked at Reyes imploringly.

The young woman faced Doggett. "He's becoming a telepath. He's getting stronger and stronger all the time. In fact, even I could hear him in there." She nodded back toward the building behind them. "And his immunity to certain illnesses is...well..."

"Out of this world?" Mulder finished when she couldn't. "At least, that's what Scully calls it."

Doggett's eyes swept back and forth between them. "You're joking. Right?"

"I need to know if Theresa was facing the same thing. If her bloodwork shows she has the same abnormally high titers that I do..." He stopped again, this time looking at the ground.

"What?" Doggett demanded.

"Will is even more immune to disease than I am. He's never been sick a day in his life." He paused, then continued, looking Doggett firmly in the eye. "And his powers of telepathy are extraordinary, though not quite in control, yet, since he's still too young to manage them. Apparently, he got these traits from me. If Theresa's son has the same talents, and he was taken because of them, then Will could be next."

Doggett began shaking his head in confusion. "But, if Will and this other kid are so special, why wait to take them now?"

"That's something I haven't figured out, yet," Mulder said softly.

Doggett glared at him. "You left Scully and your son--"

"I left them under guard," Mulder interrupted. "They're as safe as they can be." He turned away from them and headed toward his car. "But, if we don't find out the 'why' and the 'who' soon, there may be no way anybody can protect them."

He looked back at them as he opened his door. "So, Agents, I suggest we get cracking."

When Mulder had first moved in with Scully, her apartment had been immaculate; Scully was, by nature, an organized person who demanded order from herself and those around her. Since Mulder had become part of the 'household', things had changed. Not that he didn't keep things clean. He did. Or at least, he tried to. But Scully was actually anxious to have Mulder away for the first time in months so she could get down and do a thorough top to bottom cleaning without him looking over her shoulder saying, "Scully, it's already clean. Why are you scrubbing so hard?"

How could she explain to him her compulsive need to make sure everything was spotless? she asked herself as she set out to make the bathtub sparkle. Of course, he probably already knew. That was the problem with living with a telepath.

They had first realized what was happening to him shortly after Will's birth, when Mulder kept waking up just before the baby, mumbling how he needed to be changed or he was hungry. At first, Scully didn't think much of it; those first few months had been a tangle of emotions intermingled with very little sleep. But when Mulder said, "Ow! Scully! That hurts!" when she accidentally pinched Will's tender skin under the buckle of his car seat, and Mulder had been putting things in the trunk, unable to see into the back seat, they both began to wonder.

Two MRI's and a CAT scan later, Scully had been only slightly relieved to find no abnormalities that could be construed as dangerous. But abnormalities existed. And though they never put Will through the tests, they knew he had been 'blessed' with these talents, too. He just didn't know how to use them very well, yet, and was easily distracted, which was how Scully was able to enter the apartment without either of them noticing the other day. She smiled to herself as she scrubbed. Which meant Mulder was easily distracted, too.

Usually, he was able to sense her presence before she even entered the room. And he was getting better and better at hearing her thoughts, though she was able to close her mind to him when she felt him delving. "No sneaking into my mind when I don't want you there, Fox Mulder," she once told him with a frown.

Of course, when he was asleep, she had no real control, and Scully had had more than a few interesting...mostly erotic...dreams that she was sure were not just hers alone. Too bad he hadn't figured out a way to vanquish her nightmares, though he had told her once the images she saw were eerily similar to the nightmare visions he had during the dreamstate he had escaped to when Cancer Man had literally been playing with his brain.

The thought of the old man caused a shiver to run up her backbone. She had heard he was dead. Skinner had witnessed his burial himself. But, it had been less than a year since they had watched Mulder's casket, with his body inside, lowered into a grave. So Scully took this news with a grain of salt. CGB Spender had been involved directly with whatever the aliens had planned; there was no guarantee he had stayed dead.

Scully sat back on her heels and glanced out the bathroom door, listening carefully for the sounds of her mother and Will in the living room. Being Saturday, her mother was spending the day with her grandson. Margaret Scully had already asked where Mulder was, and had kept her other questions to herself when Scully had answered simply, "Out of town." She also didn't ask questions about the Volkswagen van parked in the street by the apartment building, with three familiar faces inside keeping their eyes on her apartment window.

Her bodyguards.

Amazingly enough, she did feel safe with the Gunmen watching her and Will in Mulder's absence. She knew they would willingly die for the baby if need be. And perhaps for her, as well.

Skinner had taken his turn watching her in the past three days, often spending hours in the apartment playing with Will. His surveillance, combined with his stressful, busy job at the Bureau, left the AD exhausted. Scully commented that he shouldn't use so much of his off time to watch her; he wasn't getting any younger. His only response, other than the beet red color his face turned, had been a glare and a stiff-legged walk out of her apartment and back down to his car, where he sat, watching, until the Gunmen relieved him around 1 AM.

She was anxious for Mulder to call, again, if only to tell her they had caught the psychopath that had killed Theresa Hoese and kidnapped her baby. To tell her there was no connection between the crime and their son. But she was beginning to think that would never happen, especially since she had taken a close look at Theresa's bloodwork and a recent MRI taken only two months ago after the young mother had complained about severe migraines. She, like Mulder, had been having a resurgence of extraordinary brain activity.

And if the notes taken from the child psychologist who had been treating Ray Hoese Jr. were anything to go by, the toddler was as special as her own Will.

A knock at the front door grabbed her attention. With a groan, she got up off the floor, wincing at the pain in her knees. Skinner wasn't the only one who wasn't getting any younger. Quickly, she made her way into the living room. Her mother, with Will propped on her hip, was looking out the peephole. She turned to face her daughter as Scully entered the room.

"It's Mr. Skinner," she said. "He has a couple of women with him that I don't recognize."

Scully's eyebrows rose as she took her mother's place in front of the door. Sure enough, it was Skinner. And she could just make out two women off to the side of her area of vision. Carefully, she opened the door, but didn't undo the chain. "Yes?" she asked politely.

"Scully," Skinner replied. "It's just me. Wondering if I could borrow a cup of sugar."

Scully couldn't help but smile as Skinner recited the phrase that told her all was well. Frohike had come up with it, of course. She closed the door, unclasped the chain, and opened it, allowing the Assistant Director and the two women to enter. She did not know either of them.

"What can I do for you, sir?" Though Skinner was no longer her boss, and both Scully and Mulder called him a friend, she automatically reverted to the 'sir' when others were present.

"I thought you should talk to these two ladies," he told her. "They have information that might be of great importance to both you and Mulder."

Scully looked at the women. Neither of them were very old.

One had blonde hair, was of moderate height (which was still taller than Scully), and looked to be in her early forties. The other was a tall, leggy brunette. She was in her late twenties, and quick intelligence flashed in her light brown eyes.

The blonde began speaking. "We're sorry to intrude on you like this, Agent Scully," she said, her voice husky. "But when we heard about what happened to Mrs. Hoese, we knew we had to act."

Scully folded her arms and narrowed her eyes. She glanced at Skinner, whose expression had yet to change since he had entered the room, then back at her mother, who was still holding Will. Her baby's bright hazel eyes were staring intently at the two women, as if he was trying to figure them out. Scully looked back at them as well.

"Who are you?"

The blonde spoke again. She nodded to the taller woman. "This is Dr. Susan Donohue. She's a pediatrician who recently set up practice here in DC." She laid her hand flat on her upper chest. "My name is Greta Olsen. I'm a Registered Nurse working part time at Georgetown." She sighed. "We are both employed by an acquaintance of yours."

"Who?" Though she didn't look directly at him, Scully saw Skinner tense out of the corner of her eye. "CGB Spender."

Suddenly, Will began to cry.

"Are you sure this is the man?"

Mulder controlled the urge to groan in frustration. Why couldn't Doggett just admit that the old man knew what he was talking about? It was so obvious Wilmer Conner recognized the man in the photo Doggett was holding up if only because he had known the subject for years.

"Of course I'm sure," the old fart grunted. "I've known that boy since he was knee high."

Mulder glanced at Monica, who was looking at him with laughter in her eyes. He could hear her clearly in his head.

*Do people still talk like this?*

He smiled slightly in response, then brought his attention back to Doggett. For some reason, the normally competent agent seemed to be out of his element today. Though Mulder could read Monica's thoughts when she projected, he knew she couldn't read his very well, even when he wanted her to.

Still, she must have known by his expression what he was thinking, because she took over the questioning from her partner.

"Mr. Conner, no one is denying that you knew this man," she began. "I think what Agent Doggett is trying to ask is whether or not you're positive it was this man or someone who looked very much like him." She sent an apologetic glance toward Doggett, which Mulder didn't think he deserved, then turned back to the old man. "Even Mr. Mulder here could be mistaken for this man from the back."

Wilmer shook his head, the small amount of white hair still on his head moving in the faint breeze he created. "Nope. I didn't see him from the back. I saw him from the front. Walking toward me. And God help me, all I wanted to do was run. I know what they say happened to him." He turned pale blue eyes toward Mulder. "And to you." He shrugged. "But you ain't got the look in your eyes that he had."

"What kind of look?" Mulder asked softly.

"Evil," the old man gasped. "Pure evil." He shuddered visibly. "He and Mr. and Mrs. Hoese and so many others were taken. And Mrs. Hoese, she came back. But, she was never the same. She was so scared. Scared for her baby." He glared at Doggett. "And there he was. That boy. I always liked him, even though I thought he was a little nuts, you know? But, not this time." he shook his head again. "This time, I knew he had an agenda, and he planned on fulfilling it, come Hell or high water."

Mulder opened his mouth to ask another question, but an icy glare from Doggett stopped him from speaking. Mulder glanced at Monica again, only to see her hide a smile. She really seemed to be enjoying the by-play between the two of them, even if it was nasty. Maybe especially when it was nasty.

"Did you talk to him at all?" Doggett asked, turning back to face the old man. "Did he say anything to you?"

"No, no," Wilmer said, shaking his head yet again. *He's gonna get dizzy if he keeps that up,* Mulder thought. Monica snorted softly. "Didn't even look at me. And that boy was usually so polite, especially when he was working with the Sheriff's Department."

"Why didn't you tell us this before now, Mr. Conner?"

Doggett continued. *Now we're getting somewhere,* Mulder projected, ignoring Monica's answering glare. "We've been in town for three days now."

Wilmer shrugged. "Didn't really associate him with Mrs. Hoese's death until last night."

Mulder felt his lip twist in disbelief and he knew the two agents must be feeling the same thing.

"Really?" Doggett said, sarcasm under control...for now.

"You knew they were both...abductees," he seemed to have a hard time saying the word, "but you didn't associate his return with Mrs. Hoese's death?" He shifted forward in his seat. "I find that hard to believe, Mr. Conner."

The old man's eyes shifted nervously. "Well...maybe I just didn't want to get involved. I mean, if he could kill a woman he's been friends with since childhood, what's to keep him from killing the old man that used to live down the street from him?"

"Yet," Mulder said, ignoring Doggett's warning look, "you did come to us. What changed your mind?"

Wilmer sighed. "I'm old. I ain't got much time left anyway. And I kept thinking about that baby." He looked at Mulder, his eyes sad. "That poor child. What's he gonna do with that poor child? I mean, it's not like he don't have a child of his own. What's he need with Mrs. Hoese's?"

Mulder's eyes met Doggett's startled ones, then they both looked at Monica. She sat, mouth agape, as shocked as they.

Mulder stood and began to assist Wilmer up from his chair and out of the room. "Mr. Conner, we can't thank you enough for your help."

"You're gonna find that baby, aren't you?" the old man asked. "You're gonna help that little boy?"

"We're going to do our best," Mulder said softly, then ushered him out of the room. Carefully, he closed the door, then turned to face the two agents, leaning heavily against the wooden frame behind him. "Well."

"Yeah," Monica agreed. "Well."

"A kid?" Doggett whispered. "How come we never knew about a kid before?"

"Looks like we better find the ex-Mrs. Billy Miles," Mulder said in reply. "I know I have some questions for her. How about you guys?"

"Not possible," Scully heard herself say, surprised at the sandpaper quality her voice had taken and wondering if anyone had even heard her over Will's incessant wailing.

Her women visitors looked a bit discomfited, but they both stood their ground.

Scully sank to the edge of the couch, taking deep breaths, trying to clear her mind. But her son's anger and fear were palpable, and his cries distracting. She looked up at Maggie. "Mom?"

Mrs. Scully didn't even hesitate. "Come on, Will. Let's get you changed and ready for your nap." She turned toward the bedroom, and soon the baby's cries were muffled behind the closed door.

Scully faced the women again. "He's dead," she said firmly, directing her words to the blonde. Greta.

"No, he's not," she said in reply. "Though it was touch and go for a while." She smiled slightly, and Scully was amazed to see what appeared to be affection in the woman's eyes.

"He's even getting stronger now. And 'they' know it."

"They?" Scully glanced at Skinner, who was still standing motionless near the front door.

"The aliens, Agent Scully," the brunette, Susan, said. "When the replicants first came, they had no leader, no orders. They were running on instinct, doing everything in their power to insure their creators' survival." She grimaced. "Which meant eliminating anything or anyone that was a serious threat to the colonists."

"Colonists?" Scully scoffed. "Is that what they call themselves?"

Susan offered her a thin smile. "Just as the English and Spaniards called themselves 'colonists' before decimating the native populations of the Americas."

'Good point,' Scully thought, but she said nothing. "So what do these replicants have to do with Spender?" She was barely able to spit out the man's name.

"He's their new leader," Greta said, pride in her voice.

Scully couldn't help it. She laughed. Loudly.

Greta frowned. Susan looked as if she was trying not to laugh along with Scully.

Taking a deep breath, Scully controlled herself. "This is supposed to make me feel better?" she asked, her anger growing. "These 'colonists' are bad enough, now they're being controlled by the Devil. That is supposed to make me feel better?"

"If you want to keep your son safe, yes," Greta answered, anger coating her voice. "Why do you think they spared your son?"

Scully felt a chill run up her back. Shortly after Will's birth, she had posed that very question to Mulder. "Maybe he's not what they thought he was," had been his answer. But when Will's talents had become obvious to them both, the question had presented itself to them once again, though they never spoke it outright. "I...I don't know."

"Because Spender told them to," Susan said, her eyes sad. "He wanted the boy protected. He wants them all protected."

Scully looked at the young doctor. "All? You mean, like Theresa Hoese's son?"

Susan nodded. "Your son isn't the first, despite what others may have said. But he is the most powerful, the most perfect of them all." She folded her arms and moved to the other end of the couch. With a sigh, she sat down and turned to look at Scully. "There are ten of them, eight boys and two girls. All born to abductees who had been tested on *and* who had been exposed to the vaccines that Spender and the others were working on. The combination was incredible. It mutates the DNA of the individuals, making them unique, making them--"

"More human than human," Scully whispered, remembering Krycek's words from six months earlier. "But Theresa wasn't given the vaccine," she argued.

"Yes, she was," Susan explained. "She and others in Bellefleur were given it instead of the flu vaccine more than two years ago. Without their knowledge, or course." She sounded bitter.

"But Spender has somehow 'talked' these replicants into protecting the children?" Scully asked. "Why? And how?"

"By convincing them the children could be the beginnings of a new, wonderful race. One that the colonists could use to advance their own race."

"A slave race, you mean?"

"No," Susan shook her head. "That's what humans are for."

She looked down at her hands, which she had folded in her lap. "These children are special. They have high IQ's, immunities to any and all terrestrial disease, abilities not even the Grays have. Spender convinced the Grays that these children are prophets. Sent by a God the Grays abandoned long ago."

Scully felt her jaw drop. "You mean he started a new religion among the aliens?!"

Susan smiled slightly. "Yes. And your son is their new Messiah."

Scully shook her head in disbelief. "He conned them," she whispered. Eyes flashing, she looked back at the woman next to her. "You didn't tell me why he wants to protect them."

"That's simple," Greta answered. "He knows these children, if they survive, can indeed destroy the aliens." She shifted her weight from one foot to the other. "His 'con', as you call it, could fall apart at any moment...but he's holding it together using his own reputation and charisma."

Cancer man? Charisma? Right.

"If these replicants are protecting the children you speak of, and Theresa Hoese's child is one of them, then why was she killed? Her child taken?"

Susan looked sad at the mention of Theresa. "She had become a danger to her child. She was beginning to understand and fear her little boy's power, and was contemplating ending his life, and hers, in order to 'save' him. We couldn't let that happen."

"You had her under such close surveillance that you knew what she was planning?" Scully said, incredulous.

"Yes," Greta said. "There were Grays in Bellefleur who were in contact with little Ray through telepathy. The boy let them know what his mother was thinking." She folded her arms and gave Scully a not so friendly grin. "They're watching you, too."

"But they can't reach your son," Susan added, as if trying to soothe Scully's suddenly pounding heart. "His father is always in some kind of loose contact with him, and the Grays risk alerting him to their presence if they try and communicate with the baby." Her grin was much friendlier than Greta's. "They're afraid of Mulder. He came away from his 'experience' very powerful. After all, they didn't plan on having one of their replacements survive intact."

This comforted Scully only a little. "Why are you telling me this?"

"We were hoping you could call off your boyfriend," Greta said. "Call off the investigation in Oregon."

Scully closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "I think I know why you're involved," she said, opening her eyes and looking at Greta. "Your loyalty to Spender is very clear."

She looked at Susan. "But what about you? How did you get involved?"

Susan flushed slightly, then she looked Scully straight in the eye. "My son is one of those children," she whispered.

"I'm Billy Miles' ex-wife."

It was close to midnight when Mulder finally made it home. He was tired, frustrated and stressed, especially since his last conversation with Scully just before he left Oregon.

She had told him she had some new information about the case he was working on and she wanted him back home. Since he and his companions were having no luck finding Susan Miles, Mulder agreed, leaving Doggett and Reyes in Portland to continue their search. He was anxious to get back, not because of the information Scully said she had, but because he had never been away from her and their son this long before and he was finding it a lot more difficult than he could ever have imagined. The cab that took him from the airport to his home couldn't move fast enough for him.

Finally, he was there. He paid off the cabby, then turned and headed for the front doors of the apartment complex, suitcases in hand. A woman he had never seen before was also heading up the walk. She looked at him, and her eyes narrowed in recognition. "Mr. Mulder?"

Mulder stopped in front of the door, using the bright security light to help him see the woman better. She was tall, with dark brown, almost black, hair. Not model-beautiful, but a girl-next-door type of woman. Her eyes were expressive, but he couldn't really judge their color in the unnatural light they stood in. "Do I know you?"

"No, but I know you."

Damn, he hated that response. "Yeah, well, so does the President, but I'm sure he wishes he didn't." Though the current Chief of State had never contacted him directly, his past exploits had attracted the man's attention, as well as the attention of his predecessor. It wasn't a good thing, in Mulder's mind.

The woman smiled at his response, and he began to amend the girl-next-door thought; as friendly as she looked, this woman could be dangerous. "My name is Susan Donahue." She glanced at the apartment. "Agent Scully called me after you called her at the airport. She wanted us to talk."

Mulder felt his brow furrow. "You have information?"

"A great deal of it," she said, her smile not as bright as before. "In fact, you've been looking for me, knowing I can give you answers, though I bet I have more than you ever suspected."

Mulder's brain finished the connection. "You're Susan Miles."

She nodded, her smile gone. "I was married to Bill, yes. I changed back to my maiden name after the divorce." Again, she looked toward the apartment. "Should we go inside? I'm sure you're anxious to see your family."

He felt a shiver run up his spine...but it wasn't a shiver of dread. It was one of pure pleasure. Family. His family. He nodded to Donahue and headed into the building, allowing her to open doors for him as he was still carrying his luggage.

Scully stood in the open door of their apartment when they reached it. Her face conveyed her mixed emotions. Happiness at his return. Nervousness about his reaction to Donahue.

Fear. About what, he wasn't too sure. As usual, she had closed herself off to him, and he wasn't about to push, mentally or verbally. He would know why she was afraid soon enough.

He knew Will was sleeping before he even entered the apartment, so he kept his footsteps light as he carried his bags into the bedroom, setting them down carefully in front of the closet. He would worry about unpacking later. Before returning to the living room where he had left Scully and Donahue, he walked over to the crib and looked down at his son. The little boy was sleeping soundly, his dreams a blur of light and color, as they always were. Only tonight, a darkness swelled around the outer edges of the baby's consciousness. It disturbed Mulder. With a heavy sigh, he turned and left the room.

Donahue was sitting stiffly on the couch when he entered the living room, and Scully was just returning from the kitchen with two cups of fresh coffee. She handed one to Mulder, the other one to Donahue, then sat empty handed in the recliner. His chair. The only addition they had made to Scully's already established furniture arrangement after he moved in. He moved to sit on the other end of the sofa, trying to catch Scully's eye. Trying to decipher her emotions. He could do neither.

"So," he said instead, turning his body to face Donahue as he sat. "We've established that you used to be married to Billy Miles," he told her. "And, if what we discovered in Bellefleur is true, you are the mother of his child, as well. Is this true?"

Donahue nodded. "I have a son, Wesley. I legally changed his name to Donahue after Billy was abducted last year. I didn't feel he needed the attention that his father brought."

"How old is he?" Scully asked. Mulder glanced at her, relieved to see that she had relaxed. Apparently, it wasn't Donahue herself that Scully was afraid of.

"He's almost two," Donahue responded. "He's the oldest."

Mulder, who had turned to face the brunette again, cocked his head. "The oldest? You have other children?"

Donahue shook her head. "No. They're not mine. I only care for them."

"How many are in your care?" Scully asked. Mulder again looked at her. She had to have seen the question in his eyes, but she ignored it.

"Four of them. Either abandoned by their parents or..."

Mulder's mind swirled. "Is Ray Hoese Jr. one of them?" His voice was dark. This woman did indeed know more than was expected.

Donahue paused, glancing down at the cup in her hands. She had yet to take a drink from it. She licked her lips nervously, then looked at him again. "Not yet. But he will be before the week is out."

Mulder felt his whole body turn cold. "Then you must know that your ex-husband is the prime suspect in Theresa Hoese's death."

"My ex-husband is dead, Mr. Mulder." Her voice had strengthened. "He died, just as you did, almost a year ago. Only *he* didn't come back." She stood suddenly, setting the cup down on the coffee table in front of her. "Mr. Mulder, I am here only because Dana asked me to come. It's not dangerous for me to tell you or her these things, but it's not something I'm supposed to do, either. Spender doesn't mind if you know what's going on, but he doesn't want your FBI friends involved, so--"

"Spender?!" Mulder also set his cup down and stood. "Cancer Man?!" He swung around to look at Scully, who had gone pale, but hadn't moved. Now he knew what she was afraid of. And now he recognized the darkness that surrounded his son's dreams. He faced Donahue again, anger and hatred filling him to the core. "You work for him, don't you?" he growled.


"Mulder!" Scully, recognizing the danger in Mulder's behavior, stood and grasped his arm lightly. "Please, Mulder! Listen to what she has to say."

Without taking his eyes off Donahue, he sat back down onto the couch. Scully, in order to keep contact with him, sat down on the arm, her hand firm on his shoulder.

The younger woman didn't sit. Nervously, she began to pace.

"I knew I shouldn't have come here. He knew we would be able to reason with Dana, but not you. He said he would have to talk to you alone." She stopped and turned to face them. "He needs your help, Mr. Mulder."

Mulder snorted. "Yeah, right." He felt Scully's hand squeeze his shoulder. She opened to him a bit, and while her fear was powerful, her trust in this woman was also strong. Not absolute. But strong.

"Susan," she said softly. "Why don't you tell Mulder what you told me this morning? Then, we'll go from there."

Scully sighed and turned over in bed...again. It was probably the tenth time she had done so since she had climbed into it shortly after Susan left. Mulder still hadn't joined her. Lifting her head slightly, she took note of the time glaring out at her in bright red numerals from the alarm clock. 3:43. Her eyes darted to the bedroom door, which stood open. The hallway beyond was dark, and she knew the living room would be as well. But, Mulder wasn't sleeping. She had felt the subtle probe of his mind more than once since she had gone to bed. He was waiting for her to sleep; she was easier to 'read' then.

With another heavy sigh, she threw off the blankets and slid out of the bed. Not bothering with a robe or slippers, she padded out of the room and down the hall. The city lights shone through the far window, allowing her to see him clearly. He was stretched out on the couch, his arms folded behind his head. She could see the whites of his eyes as he glanced her way, then he continued his contemplation of the ceiling above him.

She stood silent for a while, then she moved to the end of the couch by his head and looked down at him. "Are you coming to bed?" she whispered. "Or are you reverting to your old ways?"

"If that was the case, the TV would be on," he replied softly.

"Good point." She leaned over him, catching his eye. "So?"

"I'm not really sleepy," he said, closing his eyes in order to avoid making contact with hers.

"Mulder." Her voice was stern. The voice of FBI Agent Scully when she was ticked off with her partner.

He didn't open his eyes, but the corners of his mouth turned upward. "Yes, Scully?"

"Come to bed," she said, softening her voice in response to the softening of his expression. "I promise you won't regret it."

Warily, he opened his eyes. "I thought you were mad at me."

Scully stood straight, forcing Mulder to tilt his head up to keep looking at her. The angle was obviously uncomfortable for him, so he sat up and turned to face her instead. "Mad at you?" Scully said, confusion evident in her voice. "Why would I be mad at you?"

"Because of what I'm doing tomorrow," Mulder said without hesitation. He had agreed to accompany Susan to meet with the Smoking Man tomorrow afternoon.

Scully had been none too thrilled with the idea of the meeting, but she also knew it was necessary. "What else can you do, Mulder?" she asked him. "Our son's future lies in the hands of one man. You need to find out how you -- how *we* -- can change that."

"We could always run," Mulder told her, his voice unsteady.

"To where?" Scully responded, her throat tightening. "Some place *they* can't find us?" She closed her eyes and laughed, but there was no humor in it. "Please, tell me where that might be."

She opened her eyes to see Mulder staring at the floor. "So, you're not mad at me?"

Scully laughed again, only this time there was more amusement in it. "Oh, Mulder. How long have you known me? You, of all people, should be able to tell the difference between when I'm mad at you and when I'm scared for you."

Mulder stood suddenly. "But that's just it, Scully. You close yourself off so tight to me sometimes, that I can't tell the difference." He walked up to her and cradled her face in his hands. "After all this time together, why can't you let me in?"

Scully felt tears gather, but she ignored them. She bit her lower lip, then met his eyes with her own. "Maybe because I'm afraid that if I do, and something happens to either one of us, the other won't be able to go on. I don't want that to happen, Mulder. It scares me." She pulled away from him.

"I remember how I was when I thought you were dead. How dead I was." She looked at him again. "Only the baby kept me going."

"Do you believe in God, Scully?"

The question startled her. She frowned. "You know I do."

"Then you believe in Heaven, right? An afterlife of some sort?"

She nodded.

Mulder grinned and stepped close to her once more. "Then you have nothing to worry about. We'll always be together." His eyebrows rose in question. "Unless you're convinced that *I'm* not going to Heaven."

Scully sighed and began to smile through her tears. "Mulder --"

He wrapped his arms around her, interrupting her. "I know, Scully. I know." She buried her face in his chest and felt it expand as he breathed in deep. "When you were sick with cancer, the idea of losing you, of being alone, was the worst torture I could ever have imagined. So I understand what you're afraid of." He leaned back and looked down at her. "But we're alive now, Scully. Why not live? Really live?"

"Live like there's no tomorrow?" she asked wryly.

"No," he responded. "Live like tonight is the beginning of forever."

She gave him a sad smile, then brought her arms up to wrap them around his neck. "Well, if that's the case...come to bed, Mulder. Teach me how to live."

"First you've got to let me in."

A tingle of fear swept through her. As well as a shiver of sweet anticipation. "Okay."

Mulder heard Scully's whispered 'okay', but he didn't really believe it. He knew how hard it was for her to let go of her emotions, much less her mind. He smiled anyway and began backing toward the bedroom; he'd take what he could get.

But Scully stopped him before he got too far. "Let's stay out here," she whispered. "I don't want to have to worry about waking Will."

Mulder frowned. "We never wake Will." Not only did the baby sleep very soundly, but Scully was always so quiet when they made love. There had been exceptions, of course, but those times had been either before the baby was born or when the baby was spending the night with his grandmother.

"You want me to open up to you, don't you?" Her voice was sweet and sultry, and Mulder felt a shiver run up his spine.

"Yes," he said carefully.

"Then we better be prepared for the consequences."

Either she was teasing him, or she meant what she said; she was really going to let him in. He felt his whole being vibrate in anticipation, and the blood in his veins surged to gather in his loins. Slowly, he followed her as she lead him to the fireplace.

She let go of his hand and turned toward the hearth. "It's chilly out. We could use a fire."

Mulder was about to make a quip about how the fire in his body should be more than enough to keep them warm, but the idea of making love to this woman with her body glowing in firelight kept him quiet. He moved forward and helped her set the kindling and light the blaze.

Once they were assured it would burn steadily, Scully sank to her knees on the soft rug that sat before the hearth. They had talked about making love here before, but had never managed to try it. Will, Scully's job, and the day to day trials that made up their life always left them too tired to expand their locations; their bed had always been good enough. But not tonight.

Tonight, Scully's deft fingers made quick work of undoing his jeans, pulling the top button free and sliding the zipper down over the quickly growing bulge underneath. She pulled the denim down his long legs and he obligingly stepped out of them, letting her catch his socks and pull them off when he lifted his feet off the floor. She grasped the waistband of his boxers and slowly pulled them down as well, carefully avoiding the sensitive flesh she exposed.

"Take off your shirt," she said softly without looking up from her 'work'. Mulder, who was pretty sure he knew what she was planning to do, did as she asked. But, it wasn't easy because his fingers were trembling. What was about to happen was a fantasy come to life. Not that Scully hadn't touched him many times in the past, but she had only used her mouth on him once: one very memorable night in Los Angeles when they had returned to their hotel after nearly maxing out the Bureau credit card given to them by Skinner.

She had been more than a little tipsy at the time and had told him how all her previous boyfriends had made her perform the act, even though she hated it, and how, since Mulder had never asked it of her, she would reward him by going down on him of her own free will. Later, when Mulder had been trying desperately to get his breathing back to normal, he had heard her whisper that she had enjoyed it, too.

But Scully wasn't drunk tonight. As he let his shirt fall to the floor behind him, Mulder looked down at the woman who kneeled in front of him, apparently admiring his attributes with a small smile on her face. "Uh, Scully?"

"Yes, Mulder?"

'You... ah... don't have to do this."

She looked up at him, her smile widening. "Don't you want it, Mulder?"


"Tell the truth."

Truth. Right. "Yeah, of course, but not if you aren't enjoying it, too."

She looked back down at his erection, which was now fully engorged and waiting. "I think I might enjoy it. As I recall, the last time I did this to you, I liked it."


"Mulder, you wanted me to open up to you. I am."

"Scully, doing this for me is *not* what I meant by opening up to me!"

"Mulder." Scully sounded as if she was getting a bit exasperated. "If you would concentrate long enough to realize I'm trying to let you in, you might understand how much I want to do this."

He had been concentrating so hard on her physically, that he hadn't even thought to open his mind to her. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes and 'touched' her. For a second, he ran into the familiar barriers. But, suddenly, the door opened, and he was there. With her. In her. In a way he had never been before. Moments later, her mouth surrounded him and her tongue began to swirl along his length. He groaned and sank into the feeling, not just of her actions, but the feelings of pleasure, excitement, and contentment that emanated from her.

With his hands resting on her head, Mulder felt the wonder of knowing that she was as turned on by this activity as he was. That she was thoroughly enjoying, not just the taste and texture of him, but the thought of driving him mad with passion. And she was. With the combination of his excitement and hers, he felt as if he was losing his mind. And it felt wonderful.

She was sucking on him now. Hard. He heard a repetitive, almost plaintive groan, and knew it had to be emanating from him. He wanted to be embarrassed, but the knowledge that the sounds he was making only made Scully even more aroused kept him from letting shame take over. "Sc--Scullee?"

"Hmmm...?" she managed to answer, without taking her mouth from him.

"I-- I can-- feel you..." Her hands tightened on his hips as they began to jerk erratically. His fingers tightened around her hair, and he felt pain. Her pain. With a huge effort, he managed to loosen his grip. "You--you're coming!" 'You'? Didn't he mean 'I'?

With a shout, he came.

And so did she.

Mulder stumbled back away from her. He felt the couch against the back of his legs, but instead of sitting down on it, he slid to the floor. With wide eyes, he stared at his lover.

She also was gasping for air. She had fallen forward on her hands, and her expression as she looked at him was as astonished as he felt. "What the hell was that?" she demanded.

Weakly, he shrugged. "I guess you do like it."

Scully sat back on her heels, giving Mulder a teasing glare.

"Obviously," she whispered, her voice raspy sounding. "But, I..." She stopped, feeling heat spread across her face.

Mulder nodded, a mock serious expression on his face. "I know," he said gruffly. "You did."

Scully looked down at the floor for a moment, then glanced back up at Mulder. "I've never done that before," she told him. "I mean," she quickly amended. "Not without a little more..."

"Physical stimulation?" Mulder said when she didn't finish.

"Yeah." She took a deep breath, relieved to discover her heartbeat was starting to slow. "Mulder, it was like I could...I don't know...'feel' you." She tapped her head. "In here."

"Like you were reading *my* mind." It wasn't a question. Mulder had obviously been thinking the same thing.


Mulder shrugged. "Try it now."

Scully closed her eyes and tried to concentrate on the man in front of her. She tried to imagine him sitting there, naked, back against the couch, bare legs sprawled in front of him. She felt his mind touch hers, and instinctively wanted to pull back. Instead, she forced herself to relax, and let him in. But she still couldn't sense his thoughts.

Finally, she opened her eyes, frustration filling her. "I know it was your thoughts I felt, Mulder. Women don't think like that during sex. And besides, it was..."

Mulder, who had also closed his eyes, opened them. A silly grin sat on his face. "It was what?" he whispered.

"It was...powerful. Too powerful to be just my feelings alone." She narrowed her eyes at him. "What are you smiling about?"

His smile grew. "You. What I feel from you. What I see in your mind."


"Don't, Scully! It's wonderful. Beautiful. Don't shut me out again!"

Her face red again, Scully looked away from him. But, she didn't attempt to stop him from reading her. *It's not fair,* she thought.

"I know," Mulder answered. "But, maybe it was our...intense activity...that allowed you to read me." He scooted forward so that she sat, still on her knees, between his long legs.

She looked up at him. He was still smiling, but it was a wicked smile now. "Maybe we should try it again, huh?"

She held back a smile of her own. "You sure you're up for it?"

Mulder looked downward, then back up at her. "Well, not at the moment, but I'm sure I will be with a little...encouragement."

Scully smiled, then rose up on her knees in front of him, pulling off her panties. Shifting slightly, she straddled him, carefully seating herself on his extended thighs. He smiled in return and brought his hands up under her sleep shirt to cup her breasts. His thumbs came up and teased her nipples, rubbing them gently at first, then harder. She moaned and leaned into him, bringing her mouth to his. He responded with a passionate kiss, his fingers never slowing their sensuous torture. She felt her hips begin to instinctively rock against him, and was pleased to find that he was already hardening once more. Mulder sometimes claimed he was getting old, but his body sure had a hard time proving this fact to Scully.

With a gasp, she pulled away from his mouth and pulled her shirt up and off, throwing it towards the couch behind Mulder. Lowering her head, she started raining gentle butterfly kisses down his throat and along his sternum. She detoured from her path over to his left nipple, and smiled just before she let her tongue tease it. He moaned her name.

Never had she known a man could have such sensitive nipples; she loved it. She moved over to the other one, her hips still rocking against him. Scully felt his hands slide down her belly and tangle with the curls at the juncture of her legs. She jerked back away from him when he slid a finger into her wet depths.


"Are you ready, Scully?" he asked, his voice tense. "Because I sure the hell am."

Lifting her head to look at him, she nodded. She felt him part her folds, and then he was there, sliding into her.

Every solid inch of him. She closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around his neck, bringing her tingling breasts flush against his chest. She could feel him. Wonderful. And she could feel... "Mulder?"

"I know," he said, a smile in his voice. She opened her eyes to look at him in astonishment. "You can feel what I'm feeling," he continued. "You can read my mind, too."

And she could. His desire. His love. His soft surprise at their union, as if he was amazed it was actually happening.

"Do you always feel this way?" she asked.

He looked at her, his brow furrowed. *What do you mean?*

She smiled. *Like you can't believe it's actually happening.*

He looked abashed for a moment. *Can you blame me? After more than seven years of dreaming about it, it's gonna take a while before it hits me that all this is real*

Scully shifted and straightened out her legs so they stretched out behind Mulder. The change in position pushed him in even deeper. They paused for a moment to catch their breath, then Mulder began to gently rock his hips. His movements only allowed a small amount of penetration and withdrawal, but it felt wonderful. And she knew he was enjoying it, too. She started a counter-rhythm with her own hips, then leaned in to kiss him, whispering, "Believe."

"Oh, God!" Mulder gasped. "I do!"

Scully felt the orgasm growing inside her. Slowly. Oh-so wonderfully slow. Building. In her and in him. Their rocking became more frantic. Mulder leaned back suddenly, bracing himself on his elbows. This not only changed his angle of penetration, but allowed him to thrust up into her with more force. The feelings, both his and hers, began to intermingle in her head until she could no longer distinguish between them. "Mulder!" she called.

His only response was to thrust even harder.

It hit her with an incredible force. It stretched through her body, causing the tips of her fingers and toes to go numb, and her whole body to shiver uncontrollably. Bright lights flashed behind her eyes, and the only sound she could hear was that of a heartbeat. She was flying on a wave of pleasure so powerful it was frightening.

And then her own orgasm hit, and she rode another wave, just as powerful but different than the first. When she finally came to her senses, she found herself sprawled on Mulder's chest, unsure how she had gotten there seeing as her legs had been facing the other way before. She moved her head, finding a more comfortable spot to lay it just above his heart.


She smiled. *Yeah?*

*Just checking.*

"Just where, exactly, are we going?"

Mulder never took his eyes off the woman seated next to him in the back of the black sedan that had picked him up in front of the apartment less than an hour ago. She seemed much colder today, more in control. An emotionless automaton. The kind of person Mulder could see working for the Devil. Last night, when she had been telling him about his son and the other children, she had seemed much more human.

"I can't tell you that, Mr. Mulder," Susan said without looking at him. "If he wants you to know, he'll tell you."

Mulder was confused by that statement. He glanced out the window of the swiftly moving vehicle, then looked at the driver, meeting the emotionless eyes of the human robot in the rearview mirror. He looked at Dr. Donahue again. "What? You gonna blindfold me or something?"

"Eventually," the dark haired woman said softly.

Was that regret he heard in her voice? Which was the real Susan Donahue? The mother concerned for her son and the other children? Or the woman who acted as one of the minions of Cancer Man? He tried to probe her mind, but she suddenly turned toward him, her eyes flashing.

"Stop!" she exclaimed.

Mulder drew back, both mentally and physically.

Donahue lowered her eyes, her face turning pink. "I'm sorry," she said. "I've learned to recognize telepathic probes. I'm not comfortable with them."

Mulder sat silent for a moment, then asked, "Your son?"

She nodded, but kept her eyes on her hands, which lay folded in her lap. "Yes. And..."

"And?" Mulder encouraged her. She was afraid of something. He didn't have to be a telepath to see that. "I thought you weren't in any danger. He knows I'm coming, doesn't he?"

She sighed. "Yes. Of course he does." She looked at him again, and her gaze was no longer cool and emotionless. "But *they* don't. I don't know how they'll react."

"You told Scully that they're afraid of me," Mulder noted. "Isn't that right?"

She swallowed and nodded. "They are. And that's the problem. You are a threat to them. They would like nothing more than to destroy you."

"Why don't they?"

"They understand martyrdom, Mr. Mulder. Spender has made sure of that."

Mulder snorted. "Me? A martyr? Never in my wildest dreams."

"You don't even know the extent of the possibilities," Donahue whispered, casting a covert glance toward the driver. "If you knew..."

"Knew what?" Mulder whispered back, feeling his trepidation grow even more.

Donahue shook her head. She reached into the bag at her feet and pulled out a black handkerchief. "It's time to blindfold you, Mr. Mulder."

Instinctively, Mulder pulled back. He really didn't like being blind.

Holding the cloth up, she looked him in the eye. "Please. It's only a precaution. If the meeting goes well, you needn't wear it on the way home." Her gaze became intent. "Trust me. Please."

He didn't want to. But his instincts told him this meeting was important. That it was to determine his future. And his son's future, as well.

Taking a deep breath, he leaned forward and allowed the woman to lay the folded cloth over his eyes and tie it behind his head. Then, he leaned back and settled in for the ride.

He must have dozed, because Donahue's voice was telling him they had arrived and he felt as if only minutes had passed. He wasn't surprised that he had; he hadn't gotten much sleep last night. And he had been very active. He felt the corners of his mouth twitch. Very.

He felt Donahue exit the vehicle and knew that the driver had also gotten out. He reached over to his right and felt around for the handle of the door. He had just gotten a hold of it when it moved under his hand and the door opened.

"Please step out, Mr. Mulder," a man's voice told him.

He didn't recognize it, but he didn't think it belonged to the driver; this man's presence wasn't the same. In fact, this man's presence wasn't human. 'Hey, I'm getting good at this,' he thought wryly.

He carefully got out of the car and stood, waiting. He felt the man reach behind him, and the loose knot at the back of his head came undone. The bright sunlight he was suddenly exposed to caused him to squint, and he didn't see the man in front of him clearly. He blinked, chasing away the tears that had formed in response to the light, and looked close.

He recognized the man standing before him immediately, though they had never met before. "Ray Hoese."

The man...only Mulder knew it wasn't a man...smirked at him.

"Come," he said, and he turned away. Mulder followed, looking over at Donahue, who was watching the replicant with a combination of fear and hatred. He looked at Hoese's back.

Was this who could read her mind? he wondered. Could they be telepaths, too? Mulder sent out a mental question toward the thing in front of him, but got no feeling back. No emotion.

Nothing. Odd. Even when Scully was blocking him, and when Donahue had blocked him earlier, he was still able to feel *something*. But with this *man* there was nothing.

But, there was something. A presence on the other side of the door that felt very familiar. His heart began beating faster. Adrenaline rush. As if he was preparing himself for battle. He followed Hoese into the building, a modest cabin sitting in a golden forest.

His eyes adjusted to the dark of the room easily since they had never really had a chance to adjust to the sun. He swept his gaze from one side of the room to the other, quickly taking in the number of people in the room as well as possible escape routes and weapons. Donahue passed him and headed for the far right side of the room, where a little man with wire-framed glasses stood, hands folded behind his back. He had the air of a doctor. In the center of the room, straight ahead of him, stood Billy Miles. Hoese walked over to his fellow replicant and stood next to him, turning to face Mulder. Their stiff stance gave them the appearance of soldiers, which is what Mulder supposed they were.

He looked to his left and saw the man he had come to see. Only what he saw shocked him. CGB Spender was a frail looking old man in a wheelchair. The blonde Greta stood next to him, one hand on the back of the chair. Mulder took a couple of steps in the old man's direction, eyeing him carefully. Was it an act? It sure didn't look like it.

Cancer Man was falling apart: wrinkles covered so much of his face, Mulder could hardly see his eyes. A tremor in his right hand seemed completely uncontrollable, and he appeared to be nothing but skin and bones underneath the flannel robe that covered him from neck to toe. This had to be a trick.

There was no way a man in this condition could be controlling the aliens.

*Don't let appearances fool you, Fox.*

Mulder was so startled by the words in his head that he jumped. With a frown, he leaned in closer to the old man.

*Why are you so surprised, Fox? Did you really think that, with my body falling apart, my mind would be going, too?*

*How?* Mulder stood straight and looked about the room. *Can they...?*

*No.* Spender shook his head slightly. *They aren't gifted like we are. And of course, the only reason I can is because of you.* A smile became apparent through the creases in his face. *You are the reason I am where I am, Fox. And I am going to make sure they know that.*

*Why?* Mulder asked.

*Because, I am dying.* Spender closed his eyes. *And after I go, I want you to take my place.*

Scully reached down to pick up the soft latex toy her son had thrown across the room earlier in the day and stifled another yawn. Standing straight, she glanced at Skinner, who sat reading on the sofa, hoping he hadn't noticed. The last thing she needed was to be asked why she was so tired. She had never been able to lie to her former boss; not very well, anyway.

Will had finally gone down for his afternoon nap only a few minutes earlier, and she was seriously contemplating taking one as well. It was Sunday. The laundry was done, as were the dishes from both breakfast and lunch. And Skinner was here to keep an eye on things. She could tell him she, too, wanted to catch up on some reading in her bedroom and pass out on the bed instead. It wouldn't be a lie if she really did attempt to read first.

Biting her lower lip to keep from smiling at her thoughts, Scully walked over to her front window. Though he seemed preoccupied with his novel, she knew the AD was more than aware of his surroundings; she had long ago learned to never underestimate the man. Especially after the incidents that lead up to Will's birth those short six months ago. She glanced at him again from her new position. He hadn't been the only one changed by the events of those days. While he had become more relaxed around her and Mulder, she had heard that he had become even more of a hard-ass at work...if that were possible. He had a tendency to rage at the agents under his command for the smallest of infractions. She wasn't sure what had lead to the change, but she told Mulder that she suspected it had something to do with Krycek and the way the younger man had died. Mulder disagreed. He thought all Skinner needed was to get laid. Hey! It had worked for him, hadn't it?

Maybe Mulder was right, but God knew the man was never going to find any romance when he spent all of his free time guarding her and her family.

She looked out the window and saw the familiar van parked on the curb. Mulder had called the Gunmen and told him he was visiting 'an old friend' and that, though Skinner was spending the day with Scully and his Godson, Mulder wanted them to keep an eye on things as well. Scully knew that he believed in the importance of meeting with Cancer Man, but he wasn't about to discount the possibility of a set-up.

Nobody was about to lure him out of town just so they could grab his son.

Scully leaned her head against the window frame and sighed. She closed her eyes and relaxed, sending out 'feelers' with her mind, something she had only just learned to do early that morning. He was out there. She could feel him. Where, she had no clue, but the connection they had established the night before was still there, though it was very weak. She could not read his thoughts, or even his emotions, but the simple fact that she could feel his living presence was enough to give her comfort. She wondered how far this tie could be stretched. And she regretted not opening herself up to it long before last night. Oh, what time they had wasted. She snorted softly. What time they were wasting even now.

"You okay?"

Scully jumped slightly at Skinner's question. Opening her eyes, she turned to find that he had left his book to join her at the window. He stood only a few feet behind her.

Sure, she could feel Mulder's presence from who knew how many miles, but she hadn't noticed someone right next to her. Obviously, she wasn't the telepath of the family. "I'm fine," she said to Skinner softly.

"You're worried." It wasn't a question. It was a statement of fact.

Scully tilted her head. "Oh, so now you're psychic?"

Skinner smirked at her and shook his head. "No. But, I have observed you and Mulder worrying about each other for several years now. I'm very familiar with the 'I'm-fine-on-the-outside-but-falling-apart-on-the-inside' expression."

Scully allowed herself a small smile. "Well, if you knew where he was, you'd be worried, too."

The former Marine folded his arms and cocked his head at her. "I assume it's something to do with the Hoese case," he said. "Something Mulder doesn't want Doggett or Reyes to know about. Though why he'd want to keep them in the dark, I don't know."

Scully sighed. "Or you, right?"

"I'll admit, I'd prefer to know the whole story, yes." He sighed. "But, I trust Mulder. And I trust you. You'll tell me when you feel I need to know."

Scully felt her eyes widen. "Wow. I think I like you better when you aren't our boss."

Skinner laughed.

With a smile of her own, Scully glanced out the window. What she saw made her pause, and she moved closer to the glass, her smile fading. Skinner noticed her expression and also leaned in to look outside. A woman was standing next to the Gunmen's van talking to someone inside. A familiar woman.

"Is that...?" Skinner left the question open, disbelief and growing anger in his voice.

"I think so," Scully responded. Quickly, she spun away from the window and headed for the door.


"Stay with Will," she told him, easily avoiding Skinner as he reached out to stop her. She reached the door and turned to look at him. "Please?"

Skinner nodded. "Just be careful. You know who she associated with in the past."

She nodded and left the apartment. Yes, she did indeed know who Marita Covarrubias' loyalties had been to once upon a time. Which was why Scully wanted to talk to her now.

*It's a wonderful plan,* Spender was saying to Mulder in his head. *Unless they discover the truth, of course.*

They had been left alone by the others several minutes ago, but Spender was still communicating telepathically. It was probably easier for him than talking. And it was definitely safer.


*Those things out there can't hear us, huh?* he asked.

*The replicants cannot hear us, no. But the others can if we want them to.*

*Others? You mean the Grays?*

Spender nodded. *You will have to learn to guard your thoughts around them carefully. They can't force their way into your head if you put up protective barriers, just as you can't get inside theirs if they don't want you to. But you have to learn how to keep them out.* He tilted his head.

*Talking, like we are right now, is very different than simply reading emotions and such. You have the ability to do that with anyone, whether they want you to or not.*

Mulder thought of Scully and how he had been able to clearly sense her emotions for the last several months, but until last night had not been able to decipher why she felt the way she did.

*Of course,* Spender continued, *most people are unaware that you are trying to read them and won't even know you are there in their mind.*

Scully had known.

*That's because you two are so very close emotionally.*

Mulder glared at the old man. *Stop it.*

Spender simply smiled. *Make me.* He shook his head ruefully. *Fox, if you are to take my place, you will need to protect your mind from invasion. Otherwise, they will read you like a book, and you will be able to do nothing to protect this precious Earth of yours from an invasion of another kind.*

*I'm not taking your place.* If he had been speaking, Mulder's voice would have sounded like a growl.

*Ah, Fox. You are the only one who can. Don't you see?*

Mulder stood from the chair he had been sitting in and started to pace the room. *No. I don't see.*

*No one believed that the vaccine would cause your DNA to mutate. No one thought that it would allow you to become more like them. And when it did, it started to kill you. Had we been able to foresee that, we still would not have been able to prevent it. But, they could.* Spender closed his eyes as if he was preparing to fall asleep, but his mind was still active and intent on Mulder's. *They cured you. They kept you alive. Of course, they wanted you to become like Billy Miles and Ray Hoese. But, you didn't. You lived. And you will continue to live for a long, long time. The only reason I can do what I can is because--*

*Because you cut open my head and took a part of it for yourself!*

Spender sighed. *Yes. But unlike you, I haven't been cured. I am still dying. And you are the only one who can keep my lie alive.* He paused. *And if my lie dies, Scully's nightmare will become reality.*

Mulder's whole body felt like ice. How could he know of her dream? Not even Mulder had received a clear mental picture of it from her; she had had to describe it to him verbally.

Spender appeared to be waiting for a response, so Mulder knew his attempt to keep the man from his private thoughts was working. But he also knew the old man felt his anger.

"What do you know of her dream?" Mulder asked aloud, venom filling his voice.

Spender's eyes opened. *The aliens are watching you and your son. They know of it.*

*Are they controlling it?*

*No.* He smiled again. *Fox, you must know how special she is. Your son is the way he is not just because he is your son, but because he is hers. The tests done on her years ago, combined with the vaccine you gave her in Antarctica...they have made her special.* He shifted slightly in his chair. *When we discovered that the offspring of such subjects like Teresa Hoese and Billy Miles were as special as they were, I knew that a child of Dana's would be even more so. But I also knew she had been left barren by those very tests.*

*So you did something to her, didn't you?* Mulder felt as if his blood was beginning to boil. *Last year, when you made her lie to me and took her away. You did something to her that allowed her to get pregnant.*

Spender began to laugh, and the sound was harsh. *Oh, Fox. You overestimate me. She was right in her suspicions that I drugged her. But I only acquired blood from her, to ensure she was healthy and wasn't somehow suffering from the same brain disorder you were at the time. It was wrong to keep that from her, by the way. It's amazing she forgave you.*

Mulder ignored the last part. *You took blood from her, nothing more?*

*Believe me, the idea of her producing a child with you was thrilling. I could only imagine the power that a child with both your enhanced DNA and hers would be like. But I didn't think it was possible. I was so very hopeful when the two of you tried the IVF, and so very sad when it failed, though if it had succeeded, the resulting child would not have been as powerful as your William is. After all, Scully had not been exposed to the vaccine when her ova were extracted.*

*But she conceived. And Will is ours; we had his DNA tested. You had to have done something to her!*

*Fox! Don't you understand yet?* Spenders 'voice' was strong. *I did nothing. I am not responsible for the existence of your son!*

*Then who is?*

When Scully stepped out of her apartment building, the woman next to the van across the street, as well as the occupants inside, looked her way. Which was a good thing, Scully thought, since they were supposed to be surveilling her complex. Glancing up, then down the street, Scully jogged across it toward them. Marita turned to face her.

Scully took in the other woman's appearance and was surprised by what she saw. She had only met the blonde once, though Mulder had used her as a contact many times before, and that occasion had been one she dearly wanted to forget.

It had been the day before Mulder's abduction, when both Marita and Krycek had come to their office to talk Mulder into going back to Oregon and finding the ship that was hiding there. Scully had often wondered if Krycek had known Mulder would be taken. Or if Marita had known.

That day had been a lifetime ago, or so it seemed, and Marita looked very different. Then she had been cool as a cucumber, slim, statuesque and beautiful in a frigid sort of way. Scully had felt a pang of jealousy at the knowledge that Mulder had known this woman for quite some time.

But now she looked much older than she should have only sixteen months later. Her face was thin, and though she had a naturally pale complexion, it seemed almost ghostly white in the thin sunlight. Her eyes were light blue pools of concern. And fear.

Scully couldn't imagine why this woman would be afraid of her, but she tried to approach with a little less audacity and more caution. "What are you doing here?"

"I need to talk to Mulder," she said, her voice breathy. She nodded to the van. "But these guys wouldn't let me in."

Good for them, Scully thought. "Gee, I wonder why," she said aloud, sarcasm heavy in her voice.

"Agent Scully, I--"

Her voice was suddenly silenced by a wail coming from inside the van. Marita turned back to it, her expression almost panicked, and Scully stepped closer to peer inside.

Frohike sat just inside the doorway, holding an infant. A very tiny infant. Marita reached in and took the baby, cooing and cuddling as only a mother could. The baby's cries quieted, and Scully looked down into her scrunched up eyes. She, at least Scully thought it was a she, had to be only a couple of months old.

"Yours?" Scully asked unnecessarily.


"Is she one of...?" What did she call them, these special children?

"I'm not sure," Marita said, her voice shaky. "She is special, but I don't know if she's as special as your child or the others I heard about." She looked up from the baby to meet Scully's eyes. "What I do know is that the Cigarette Man wants her." She sighed heavily and closed her eyes. "I can't believe the bastard didn't die." There were tears in her voice now.

Scully looked at Frohike, who sat in the van with a tortured look on his face. Byers and Langly were standing behind him, also looking quite concerned.

"Miss Covarrubias?" The woman didn't respond. "Marita?"

She opened her eyes. "He wants to take Rebecca from me," she whispered. "But, she can't be like the others. I was never abducted."

"But you were tested, weren't you?" Byers asked. "By the Consortium?"

The woman shuddered and squeezed her eyes shut again. Then she looked at her baby. "Do you think they planned this?" she wondered aloud. "Do you think they were trying to recreate what the aliens had accidentally done to you and the others?"

Scully paused. She hadn't thought of that, though it was obvious to her now. Jeffrey Spender had told them, just before his death at the hands of his own father, that he had helped Marita escape from Ft. Marlene. Both he and Mulder had seen the horrible condition the Consortium had left her in, though neither knew where she had gone after her release. Somehow, she had gotten her life back together, and somehow she had ended up working with the senior Spender once again. Why had they kept her so long after she had been cured by the vaccine? What kind of tests had they performed on her?

"Maybe," Scully whispered. She reached over and placed her hand on the baby's head. Mulder had taught her how to open up to him. Could she open herself to another telepath as well? Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and projected her mind, hoping to catch a stray thought from either Marita or the baby. Though she heard no words in her head, it was very obvious that the baby was indeed special. Comfort, warmth, slight hunger, and...

She opened her eyes to meet Marita's gaze. "She needs to be changed," she said with a soft smile.

"I knew I smelled something," Frohike grumbled.

Marita looked at the men behind her, then turned back to Scully, her gaze startled. She smiled. It was weak, but it was real. Then her expression turned pleading. "Please, help me. Help us."

Scully simply nodded.

Mulder wasn't blindfolded for the drive home. But it didn't matter. He didn't notice much around him anyway.

His mind was too busy to care about where he was physically. In the four hours he had 'talked' with Spender, Mulder had learned a great deal about his mental abilities. He learned that his 'gift' was a very good lie detector, especially among people who knew nothing about his abilities. He had also learned how to protect his own thoughts to keep other telepaths from seeing his lies, just as Spender was doing with the Grays.

And at the end of the long, detailed discussion, he had promised CGB Spender, the man who claimed to be his father, but whom Mulder knew now was not, that he would not tell anyone of their 'deal'. Anyone. Even Scully.

Spender had known Mulder wasn't going to keep that promise, but he pretended otherwise.

Mulder's thoughts turned to Will. The Cancer Man hadn't been lying about his lack of involvement in Will's conception, and Mulder had felt the first hint of fear in the old man when he couldn't explain how Scully had become pregnant. It couldn't have been the Grays, since they hadn't even known she was pregnant until her third trimester. And though Parenti and the others had been trying to protect her and the baby, there had been no evidence that they had anything to do with Will's existence.

Mulder was beginning to suspect that the claim of a miracle wasn't just an excuse.

Susan Donahue sat quietly next to him on the long drive, never saying a word. But he could feel her gaze on him from time to time, and her emotions were strong. She was contemplative. Fearful. Hopeful.

When they neared the apartment, Mulder looked at her. She met his eyes with her own, then asked him softly, "Did you agree?"

Mulder said nothing, knowing that his expression said it all.

She smiled slightly, her eyes now full of the hope he had felt from her earlier. She nodded and looked away. "Good."

Mulder began to pray she was right.

When they pulled up to the front of the apartment, Mulder directed his thoughts toward the people waiting for him inside. He sensed five different individuals, but only one mattered at the moment. *Scully?*

*Mulder?* The emotion behind that one word was strong, full of relief at his return and wonder at the fact that she could 'talk' to him without either one of them speaking. And love; he could feel that very clearly. *Where are you?*

Mulder smiled at the familiar phrase as he reached for the door handle. *Right outside,* he told her. As he stepped out of the car he looked at the window of the apartment just in time to see the curtain move and Scully's face appear. He nodded his head at her and smiled softly, not wanting to clue Susan in on the fact that he and Scully could now communicate telepathically. As far as he was concerned, no one needed to know that. He hoped he could get Scully to agree with him.

He bent down and looked back into the car at Donahue. He opened his mouth to speak, then realized he had no clue what to say. She smiled at him and nodded her head in response to his confused look. "Goodbye, Mr. Mulder. For now." For not being able to read minds, she sure had a knack for knowing what he was thinking.

He nodded back, stood straight, and closed the door.

Turning, he headed toward the building. Scully had disappeared behind the curtains again, but she was still in his head. She had felt his momentary confusion, but she seemed to be facing an enigma of her own. *What's wrong?* he asked.

The answer he received was unusual, since no words were involved, only images and feelings. Yet, he quickly understood the situation, and he started walking even faster. When he entered the apartment, he was not at all surprised to see Marita Covarrubias sitting nervously on the couch. Nor was he surprised to see the baby sleeping soundly in her arms.

Skinner sat at the other end of the couch and Scully stood at the opposite end of the room, holding a tired but wide awake Will on her hip. The baby smiled when he entered, and Mulder practically glowed in the absolute trust and love he felt flowing from his child. "Hey, buddy," he said as he made his way toward them, purposefully ignoring the other woman and child in the room; Marita was afraid of him, and he wanted to give her some time to collect herself before facing her.

Mulder reached for Will and lifted him away from Scully, swinging the boy onto his own hip. Then, in a move that obviously startled Scully, he leaned over and kissed her soundly on the mouth. Her blue eyes widened in surprise.

Though they had been openly living with each other for the last six months, neither of them seemed very comfortable with public displays of affection. He grinned at her and turned to face the others, but not before he saw Scully's eyes narrow. Damn. She may not be able to read his mind when he closed her off, but she didn't need to when she could read his actions so thoroughly.


*Later,* he quickly answered. *Let's get rid of Skinner, huh?*

Scully began to walk across the room to take a seat. *Why?*

*Because I don't want him involved any further.*

She sat down and looked at Skinner. "I think it's okay to go home now, sir," she told him. To Mulder, she said, *And Marita?*

*She's already involved too deep to get out.*

Skinner stood. "Yeah. I guess." He headed for the door, grabbing his coat off the rack as he strode by. "Call me if you need anything." He looked at Scully carefully, and Mulder knew he sensed there was something non-verbal going on between them. The AD glanced at Mulder. "Anything."

Mulder nodded his understanding. Skinner didn't trust Marita any father than Will could throw her. Mulder wouldn't have either...if he wasn't able to tell by her emotions just how terrified the woman was.

After Skinner left, Mulder turned to face the pale woman. He nodded toward the baby. "Alex know about her before he died?"

As impossible as it seemed, Marita paled even further. She shook her head. "I was too afraid to tell him," she whispered. "And then it was too late." She took a deep breath and met his eyes with her own. "Please, help us."

"What makes you think that I can?" Mulder asked.

"I know where you went today," she told him. "And I know why. Now, I need to know if you said 'yes'. Because if you did, the rebels will kill you. But if you said 'no', then I give up now, because the world as we know it is over."

"Then we better figure out a good way to keep me alive," Mulder told her. "Because I said 'yes'."

It was almost 2 AM. Will had gone to sleep hours ago. Marita and little Rebecca were asleep in the guest room. And Mulder also seemed on the verge of drifting off. But Scully couldn't relax. Couldn't sleep. Even after the bout of energetic, yet quiet, sex she and Mulder had just completed.

Her whole body was limp, but her mind would not settle down.

Mulder had explained to her and Marita what he had agreed to, and how he was going to proceed with his objective without getting himself killed. But Scully, who was now incredibly, magically connected to this man, heard a completely different story behind his words. After they had retired to their bed, she had demanded he explain what was really going on. Instead, he had distracted her with more mind blowing sex.

Now she lay in his arms, her heart slowing, her body cooling, her temper starting to heat.

*If I tell you, will you promise not to say anything out loud?*

Scully caught her breath. She had been sure he was almost asleep. *Why? Do you really think someone could hear us?*

*Yes, I do.*

*But not if we...talk...like this?*

*Not with the walls I learned how to build today.*

Scully didn't respond for a moment. *Learned? From Spender?*


*You're really going to take his place, aren't you?*



*I have an idea. But, I don't want Marita to know about it until we go through with the plan.*

*She trusts you, now,* Scully told him. *Even I could see that. I hope you aren't using her.*

*Scully, the rebels want me dead, because they think I'll lead the Grays to a successful invasion. The Grays want me alive, but are afraid of me, meaning I can control them as long as I pretend to be on their side. In reality, I can keep them from taking over. For a while, anyway. If they knew my real intentions, they'd kill me without hesitation. With Spender gone, I'm the only one they'll listen to.*

*Until Will and the others are old enough to 'take over'.*


*And you want to take Marita with you to Arizona?* Mulder had told them that Spender had headed to a secret base in the Sonora Desert shortly after they parted the day before, and Spender expected Mulder to join him there soon.

*She understands the Grays AND the rebels. She'll be of great assistance to the group.*

Scully sat up suddenly. *I can't believe you're thinking like this!* She glared down at him. *What did he say to make you want to become the leader of this...this new Consortium?!*

Mulder sat up and shifted to face her. *I don't WANT to, Scully. I NEED to.*


*Will needs to be protected. Hell, the world needs to be protected.*

Suddenly, Scully began to laugh. *So, you really are about to become the center of the Universe.*

Mulder couldn't help but laugh softly along with her. *Only until our son is old enough to take care of said Universe himself.*

Scully sobered. *Marita knew Spender was offering you this...job. If she knows, then the rebels know, too. They'll stop you.*

*Krycek tried that already. He believed what the rebels believed, that I would eventually start working with the Grays and stop trying to save the world. He didn't succeed.*

*Oh, I see. You going to take Skinner with you to Arizona, too?* Even with telepathy, her sarcasm was clear.

*No, but I do have something in mind to insure the rebels don't find me. And that they'll leave you and Will alone when I'm gone.*


Mulder didn't use words to explain the plan to her. It was too complicated to spell out. She felt him concentrate on her, asking that she open her mind to him even more. Images and feelings spun through her head, swirling about wildly, and she carefully began to sort them out, to separate them into coherent ideas. The transfer ended, and they both took a deep breath.

*Wow.* Mulder projected. *That was almost as intense as...*

His eyebrows shot up and down suggestively.

Scully smiled. *Yeah.* Then she frowned. *Will it work?*

*It will if we believe it will.*

*It'll be hard.*

*How hard?*

Scully swallowed. *Probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.*

*Really?* Mulder's eyes had widened.

*Yes, really.*

*Me, too.* He took a deep breath, and his voice broke the silence that surrounded the bedroom. "Marry me."

Scully felt her heart skip, just as it had every other time he had said those words to her. "You think that will make it any easier?"

"No," Mulder answered, his voice husky. "But it will make me the happiest man in the world, alien or otherwise."

"Just like a soldier asking he best girl to marry him before he goes off to war, huh?"

"Yeah. Something like that." He was nervous. She was so attuned to him now, it was obvious.

Taking another deep breath, Scully scooted closer to him. "Yes."


"Yes, I'll marry you."

'This is bullshit.'

John Doggett didn't say what he was thinking out loud, but it wasn't the first time he had thought it in the last several hours. Last several days, really. Ever since Tuesday, when this had all begun. Now, he found himself following a group of formerly joyous but soon to be very depressed people out onto the tarmac of a small, privately owned airport south of Arlington.

Tuesday. The day that Special Agent Dana Scully had visited his office, which used to be hers, to invite him and his partner to her wedding on Friday.

Now, it wasn't as if he hadn't been expecting it. He always knew that Scully would marry Mulder some day. But, a little part of him had been hoping that Mulder would get bored with domestic life and up and leave one day. Then he could play the hero and offer Scully a shoulder to cry on. Well, half of his private fantasy was coming true; Mulder was leaving...but he was marrying Scully first, insuring that no other man would be offering his shoulder to her anytime soon.

Doggett hadn't found out about Mulder's planned departure until just before the wedding itself. It had taken place in a little chapel near Manassas. That had been Doggett's first surprise. He had always assumed Mulder would not appreciate a church wedding; Scully had commented to him months ago how Mulder wasn't the religious type. But not only had the former agent wanted the wedding done in a church, he had asked the Scully family priest, Father McCue, to preside over it. It wasn't a Catholic ceremony (Scully had informed him that that would have entailed Mulder becoming confirmed as a Catholic AND six months of pre-matrimonial counseling), but God was definitely present. And Mulder didn't seem to mind.

An old friend of Scully's by the name of Ellen stood as her Matron of Honor, and Frohike, looking uncomfortable in a tux, stood with Mulder. At Scully's request, and with Margaret Scully's consent, AD Skinner walked the bride down the aisle.

She had been gorgeous. Her dress was a simple off-white sheath with a scooped neckline and an ankle length skirt. Her elegant arms were bare, and her ever present cross still graced her neck. Her hair, which she had been growing out, was pulled up into a French twist at the back of her head.

Mulder, decked out in a traditional black tuxedo, never took his eyes off of her. Doggett couldn't blame him.

The ceremony had been short and sweet. After the couple had exchanged rings, Mrs. Scully brought William up to the altar to join with his parents. The baby had stayed amazingly quiet throughout, and once in the arms of his mother started gurgling happily, sharing his parents obvious joy. A joy that Doggett knew would not last; Skinner had told him Mulder was planning on leaving that night for parts unknown...with Marita Covarrubias. His wedding night, and the man was going away with another woman. Doggett just couldn't fathom it.

After the ceremony, the wedding party, and the few guests that had attended it, met at a nearby pub to celebrate.

Laughter and music had filled the old bar, and Doggett gladly joined in, allowing his concerns to sit unnoticed in the back of his mind for a little while. As evening had neared, he finally managed to get the tiring Scully onto the dance floor. He clearly remembered their discussion, which she had started: "What's wrong?"

Doggett looked down into a pair of worried blue eyes.


Scully smiled. "Yeah, right. Nothing is the reason you suddenly became stiff as a board."

For one second, Doggett misinterpreted her words and felt his face heat. At her amused snort, her realized she was not talking about what he thought she had been talking about but about his whole body. 'Damn,' he thought. 'Did I just give myself away?' He glanced off to the side where Mulder was chatting with Margaret Scully and her daughter-in-law.

"Don't worry," Scully said softly. "He's much too preoccupied to care about what you're thinking. Besides, he promised not to delve into anybody's mind tonight."

Doggett looked at her again, wary now. "You don't seem upset that your...husband...can read minds."

Her eyebrows rose. "Should I be?"

Doggett shrugged. "Well, you've always seemed to be such a private person."

She smiled again. "Yeah. I am."

"Then the fact that he can 'see' your secrets should bother you."

She shook her head. "John - can I call you John? - you can prevent a telepath from reading your thoughts. There are easy ways to block them out. In fact, I found it much more difficult to let down those barriers than to keep them up." She gave him a wistful smile. "Besides, Mulder and I have no secrets between us. Not anymore."

"So you know the real reason he's going away with Covarrubias tonight?" Doggett knew his voice had hardened, and he did nothing to apologize for it.

"Yes, I do. And as strange as it sounds to you, I understand why he has to go, and I am okay with it." Despite her words, there was a deep sadness in her eyes.

"Where's he going, Dana?"

She sighed. "CGB Spender is alive," Scully whispered. "I know you know that name." She waited for his nod of affirmation. "Mulder's going to make a deal with him. To keep Will and myself safe."

"Are you saying this Spender is behind Teresa Hoese's death? The abduction of her child?"

She nodded.

"And Covarrubias?"

"She's worked with Spender before. She's acting as the go-between." She glanced away from him for a moment, and Doggett had a funny feeling inside his gut that told him she wasn't telling him the truth. Or at least not all of it.

"When's he coming back?"

"Within the week."

"Why now?" he pushed. "Why does he have to go tonight?"

"Spender gave him a deadline, and he has to meet it."

"And the wedding couldn't wait until he got back?"

Scully swallowed and blinked quickly, as if chasing away sudden tears. "We decided that Mulder would have a better chance convincing Spender to leave us alone if we...officiated...our familial status."

Doggett stayed silent for a moment. Then, meeting her sad gaze, he said, "You're lying."

The music had stopped then, and without responding to his accusation, Scully thanked him for the dance and made her way swiftly toward Mulder. Before she had even reached him, her new husband had turned to face her, concern evident on his face. Almost as if he knew what she was thinking.

Of course he did, Doggett told himself. He's a telepath.

Now he was accompanying Reyes, Skinner and the three stooges in helping Scully and William say farewell to Mulder and Covarrubias. Why he was bothering to do so, he couldn't say. He could have said his farewells at the pub and gone home, as had all the other guests. But, like Monica, he felt a certain sense of loyalty to the couple and their child; a need to protect.

The autumn night was cold, but not quite freezing. The air was moist, however, and puffs of steam appeared as if by magic whenever someone breathed out. The pilot of the little Cessna started the engine and Covarrubias, who had been silent and sober all night, climbed aboard. He thought he heard the little guy, Frohike, ask her about a baby, but she ignored him and disappeared inside the plane.

Mulder and Scully stood off to the side facing each other, little Will tucked between them. Mulder had his head lowered just enough for their foreheads to meet. No words were spoken between them. Doggett knew now that none were needed.

With a sniff, Scully raised her face and pressed her lips to Mulder's. Doggett looked away, unable to watch any longer.

Mulder finally boarded the plane without a backward glance.

The small group walked back toward the hanger at the edge of the runway, where they stood silently watching the plane taxi along to its end. It turned, sped up, and soon became one with the air.

Doggett looked at Scully. She was looking down at her son, a lone tear on her cheek. Whatever secrets she was keeping from him, and most likely the others, her sadness at Mulder's departure was real.

"Oh, my God!"


Byers' and Langly's exclamations caused Doggett to turn his attention from Scully and towards where the plane's lights should have been fading in the night sky. Scully also looked up.

There, in the sky where the plane should have been, was a ball of orange light. It faded quickly, but the fire falling from the sky would be visible in Doggett's minds eye for many years to come.

As would the gut-wrenching scream from the woman at his side.


"Go There With You"

I know you've heard me say these words before
But every time I say I love you,
The words mean something more
I spoke them as a promise

Right from the start
I said death would be the only thing
That could tear us apart
And now that you are standing
On the edge of the unknown
I love you means I'll be with you

Wherever you must go
I will take a heart whose nature
Is to beat for me alone
And fill it up with you -
Make all your joy and pain my own
No matter how deep

A valley you go through
I will go there with you
I will give myself to love the way
Love gave itself for me

I would climb with you to mountaintops
Or swim a raging sea
To the place where one heart is made from two
I will go there with you
I see it in the tears
You wonder where you are
The wind is growing colder
And the sky is growing dark
Though it's something neither of us

We can walk through this together
If we hold each other's hand
I said for better or for worse
I'd be with you
So no matter where you're going
I will go there too

I will take a heart whose nature
Is to beat for me alone
And fill it up with you -
Make all your joy and pain my own
No matter how deep

A valley you go through
I will go there with you
I will give myself to love the way
Love gave itself for me

I would climb with you to mountaintops
Or swim a raging sea
To the place where one heart is made from two
I will go there with you

I know sometimes I let you down
But I won't let you go
We'll always be together

- Steven Curtis Chapman


Three Months Later

Maggie Scully was sitting cross-legged on the floor of her daughter's living room playing with her grandson when she heard a knock at the door. Knowing Dana was in her bedroom/office working on an overdue autopsy report, Maggie didn't want to disturb her. Standing, she walked toward the door, watching Will's reaction as she did so. The boy was watching her with wide, unconcerned eyes that looked eerily like his father's.

"Who is it, Will?" she asked softly.

Any other grandmother would have meant this as a rhetorical question, but not Maggie. The baby's eyebrows shot up and a grin formed on his face. Though he couldn't speak, yet, his level of understanding was significant. And Maggie saw his response as a positive thing. It was someone he knew.

Someone he liked.

Looking through the peephole, Maggie recognized John Doggett instantly. With a smile ready on her face, she opened the door. "John!"

"Hello, Mrs. Scully," he said with a grin of his own, entering the apartment as she stepped aside. "Is Dana here?"

"Yes," Maggie said. "I'll get her." Maggie knew the apartment was small enough she could just call out to her daughter, but it was so much more civilized to fetch the person in question. It was a habit she had tried desperately to drill into her children with only partial success.

Walking down the hallway, Maggie opened the door and peeked inside. "Dana? John's here to see you."

Her daughter glanced up from the computer, which she had moved to her bedroom only a month before, after Will's crib had been moved to the guest room...now his room. Her eyes were shadowed and her hair was pulled back into a messy ponytail. "What's he want?"

Maggie frowned. "I didn't ask," she said firmly, crossing her arms.

Dana gave her a faint grin. "Sorry. Guess I need a secretary, huh?"

She rose from her desk and stepped past her mother toward the living room. John had seated himself on the sofa and was talking to a grinning Will. The baby picked up a wooden block with the letter 'D' on it and handed it to the agent.

John frowned slightly, his gaze contemplative.

"Yes," Dana said softly. "He meant to give you the 'D'. For Doggett."

John looked at her, his astonishment evident. "He's only nine months old."

"And your point...?"

Maggie laughed and moved to sit back down next to the little boy. "He's very precocious," she explained.

"That's an understatement," John mumbled. He stood and handed the file he was carrying to Dana. "It's the final report on the explosion."

Maggie stilled suddenly, watching her daughter with concerned eyes.

Dana took the folder from him. "Final? It's closed?"

John nodded. "I'm sorry. But the findings are official. No survivors."

Dana stared at him, her jaw tightening. Without opening the folder, she turned away. "I won't accept that." Maggie could tell her daughter was talking through clenched teeth.


Dana turned a glare on her former partner. She refused to be called by that name anymore. It was either Dana or Agent Mulder. Not Scully. Not anymore.

"Dana," John started over. "I know it's hard--"

"I found his dead body once, John. I watched as they put him into the ground. I WILL NOT believe he's dead...even if you *had* found a body. Which you didn't."

John sighed and looked down at the baby, who was now watching them with worry. Maggie wondered, as she often did, how much the boy understood.

With a sharp nod, John headed for the door, taking the file from Dana as he walked by her. "I'll see you later."

Maggie cast a pleading glance toward her daughter.

Dana met it, sighed, and turned toward him. "John."

John turned to look at her, his eyebrows raised in question.

"Thank you for your concern." Dana offered him a small smile.

Returning her smile, he nodded, then left.

Dana sighed again, looked at her son, who teasingly blew a raspberry at her, then turned toward her room once again.

"I'll be done in a bit," she told Maggie. "Then we can bundle up and go play in the snow." Maggie knew she was speaking out loud for her sake, not her child's. Will already knew what she was thinking.

As Maggie watched her go with worried eyes, she noticed how her daughter's fingers kept reaching up to play with the cross around her neck. Only, it wasn't around her neck anymore. It hadn't been for three months.

Maggie had never gotten the courage to ask Dana where it had gone.

El Creyente Base
Southern Arizona

Dr. Susan Donahue sat down in one of the several chairs that circled the round table in the main conference room. She was wearing black, as were most of the others in the room, in respect for the man they had buried just that morning. CGB Spender had finally kicked the bucket. And though she was more relieved than saddened by his death, she knew she needed to present an air of mourning. After all, he had been the only one between the earth and invasion...once upon a time.

Across the room, several men entered...if one wanted to call them men. They had once gone by the names Billy Miles, Ray Hoese and Knowle Rohrer. Now, they were simply guards. Protectors of the Council and the children. There were thirteen children now. Three more babies had been discovered since the transitional period had begun a few months ago.

All were results of the Syndicate's tests on three former employees, two of which were now dead, one the newest member of the Council. All but one of the children were now in Susan's care. Three of the children's birth parents had joined the Council and helped her in the care and early education of the talented babies. Not that they needed any help in learning; her own Wesley, at only one month over two-years-old, could already add and subtract, and was beginning to read on his own, without any real encouragement.

A handful of men and women entered the room and moved to their chairs. They were silent and moved with abnormal grace. The Grays. Attending the meeting in human form in order to keep their associates comfortable. Serious and incredibly observant, the Grays didn't need to talk aloud, but chose to do so as it was easier for them to get their ideas across to those humans who resisted the mind probes...as she did. Besides, only two men could 'speak' back to them...and one was dead.

A tall blonde woman entered cautiously behind them. Catching Susan's eye, she made her way around the table and sat in the chair next to her. When the woman had first arrived, she had been sick and terrified. It had taken weeks for her, and her tiny daughter, to settle in. Now, she looked calm and collected. Ready to face whatever was thrown her way.

Susan couldn't help but admire the woman; it wasn't easy to face these creatures every day and pretend to be their friend. 'Especially when one of those creatures looks like the father of your child,' Susan thought, casting a glance at one of the replicants, who wore the face of a man she once loved.

The few quiet discussions that had been going on throughout the room faded as a new person entered and made his way to the head of the table. Standing behind his chair, he looked carefully around the room, meeting the eye of everyone present, even the replicants. His gaze was steady, unafraid, determined. Confident.

The look of a man in charge.

As he sat down and began to talk about the business at hand, she watched him reach up and finger the tiny gold cross that hung around his neck.

Susan felt a smile play at her lips and fought to control it. He *was* in charge now.

Thank God.


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This story is followed by:
Do You Dream of Me?
It's Gonna Get Better

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Baby William
William's 13th Birthday Challenge
2012 & 2012 Revisited Challenges
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