Title:...Perfect Happiness
Author: Abigail
E-MAIL: littlemiss_spookymulder@hotmail.com
Rating: PG-13
Category: MSR
Classification: MSW-F
Keywords: Angst, Character Deaths, Story
Disclaimer: All characters from the X-Files belong the Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen Productions and Fox Broadcasting.
Timeframe: This story begins in November of 2001. Forget every S9 episode after that time. I didn't see any of season 9 prior to writing this, so events will not be true to Season 9. All I knew was that Mulder was gone, so I made it um...better, in a way...

Summary: Mulder comes back.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to all my readers on the boards. To Erin for "Meredith" ideas, to Hillary and Trekkie, devoted readers, and to Kate and Anna for the continual asking of more fic and countless (and I mean countless as in many many truncated messages filled with BLOW UP BILL!) requests that I blow up Bill.

Feedback is as precious as perfect happiness.


I.

'Since Mulder's been gone, I've felt a void in my life, in my heart, that can only be filled with his return. I want him back, for little William's sake, and for my own. I miss him so much that it's hard to sleep at night, knowing that he's not there beside me. We only lived together for the two days before he left, and yet, I feel as though our family is not complete without him. Oh, I love him. I want him. I need him...'

9:45am: A baby's cries broke into Dana Scully's thoughts. She looked up from the journal she had been writing in, and she slowly stood up and walked towards the noise. When she reached the bassinet, Scully picked up William and made an attempt to quiet him.

"Shh, sweetie. It's okay. Go to sleep, Mommy's here...I'm here, she cooed softly. As if he understood what was being asked of him, William stopped crying and he turned his blue eyes up to his mother.

Scully smiled down at her son, and she was sure that she saw him smile back. She took in his tiny features: big, round eyes, a small nose, a mischievous, pouty mouth, and a nearly bald head. His eyes began closing under her scrutiny, and within a minute or two, he was sound asleep.

Scully, still cradling Will in her arms, moved to sit on the edge of her and Mulder's new waterbed. They'd purchased it before he left, before they knew that he was going to be leaving.

She laid the sleeping child in her lap, and lifted her thumbs to gently trace his face. She moved them over his closed eyelids, and she gingerly touched his pouty lips. William instinctively opened his mouth and tried to suck on her thumb. She smiled and began speaking to him.

"You look so much like your daddy," she whispered. "Someday, you're going to grow up to be like him. And he's going to be here to watch that happen."

Scully stood slowly, as not to wake Will. She carried him over to the bassinet, and gently placed him in it. Then she went back and laid on the waterbed. She buried her face in the soft pillows, trying to catch Mulder's scent, a scent she had loved for so long. She breathed in deeply and sighed sadly.

Suddenly, she felt tears beginning to come to her baby blue eyes. A small part of her wanted to brush them away, and yet the bigger part told her to have yet another good cry. As tears quickly filled her whole being, she crawled under the covers on Mulder's side of the bed. She lay her head on the pillow, and started to sob. She felt as though the pain would never go away, and knew that it wouldn't, at least not until Mulder was back, laying in the bed beside her, holding her, loving her.

Just before she fell asleep, Scully remembered that her mother was coming over in a little while to watch William so she could have some time away.

But she didn't care. She wanted Mulder.

As Scully cried herself to sleep, the faint sound of William's musical mobile filled the air as it began moving slowly on its own.


1:07 PM...

"Dana? Dana, wake up."

Scully vaguely heard the voice calling her away, away from her wonderful dreams. Mulder had come back, and they were in her apartment. He had been telling her how much he missed her and loved her, but now all she could hear were those dreadful words: "Dana, wake up."

Suddenly, Mulder disappeared in a haze, and everything became black. Scully felt a hand on her shoulder, and she slowly opened her eyes.

"Mom?" she said, sitting up. "What are you doing here?"

Margaret Scully smiled. "Dana, I came and knocked, but no one answered, so I let myself in. Do you still want that away time?"

Scully laid back down. She carelessly tossed off the covers and looked up at her reflection in the mirrors that were part of the top of the bed, taking in her red eyes. Her tear-stained cheeks. She slowly rolled over and set her feet to the floor.

She expected to find her mother by William, but instead, Maggie was staring up at the mirrors.

"Honey," she asked. "What are those for?"

Scully's head flew up to her mother's, to see if she was joking, but Maggie's face showed genuine confusion. She spoke softly, with a hint of a lingering sarcasm. "To read the New York Times backwards."


Meanwhile...

1:07 PM...

Fox Mulder sat on a plane headed for DC. He fiddled aimlessly with the bag of airline peanuts that the stewardess had given him at the beginning of the flight. Only a few more hours, he noted, looking up at the digital clock overhead. He returned to the unopened peanuts and tore the wrapper. As he was about to eat one, he noticed a young girl sit down beside him. She turned and smiled.

"Haven't I seen you before?" she asked.

"Depends. I see a lot of people," he answered. He wasn't really in the mood to talk, all he could think about was getting home, but he wanted to be polite, and besides, that kid did look kind of familiar.

"Where are you from?"

"Alexandria, Virginia," she replied. She thoughtfully studied him, twisting a blonde curl around her finger, then she continued. "I think I know where I saw you! You stayed in my neighbor's apartment sometimes, didn't you? I could never forget you two."

she winked.

But Mulder didn't hear anything after the part about living next door to Scully. He stared at the girl for a moment, then asked, "You live next door to Dana Scully?"

"Yes!" she said excitedly. "And her baby William. She's so pretty, but so alone. I baby-sat for her a couple of times after you left.

Oh," she put her hand to her mouth. "I don't want you to think that I spied on you, but one morning I saw you leave and you never came back. Why's that?" said the twelve-year-old. A smile crossed her face. "Are you going home to her?"

Mulder smiled. "Yes. Yes I am."

She grinned. "You'll make her so happy!" she exclaimed. "Oh, by the way, I'm Meredith Brown. It's nice to meet you..."

"Mulder."

"Mulder." The young child started chattering endlessly about her vacation to Vancouver, to which Mulder wasn't really paying attention, until the flight attendant came through, telling them to prepare for landing. He watched as Meredith bade him goodbye and ran to sit with her parents.

Mulder wondered to himself how Scully was going to react to his coming back. He hoped he would still be welcome. But, from what Meredith had told him, it would be a wonderful reunion.


3:14 PM...

Scully paused for a moment on her walk to catch her breath.

Although the weather was fairly warm, even for early November, she felt a never-ending chill, one that had possessed her for nearly five months. As she continued to walk, she found her thoughts once again wandering to Mulder: where he might be, what he was doing, if he was in danger, if he was thinking about her right at this very moment. Scully hoped with all of her might that the answer to her last thought was yes. Suddenly, she felt the cell phone in her pocket vibrate. She immediately took it out and answered.

"Scully."

"Dana, come back quickly. It's important."


Meanwhile...

3:17 PM...

Maggie Scully picked up the phone and dialed her daughter's cell phone. When she had picked up, Maggie spoke. "Dana, come back quickly. It's important."

Her daughter's voice sounded worried. "Is everything okay?"

Maggie heard the baby's soft cry, then suddenly it stopped. "Yes, we're fine," she answered with a little shake in her voice. She looked toward the couch. Sitting on it was Fox Mulder, holding baby William. His son's hand wrapped around his thumb, Mulder had a look of sheer amazement in his hazel eyes. He seemed to be enchanted by the little child he was so carefully holding.

"Mom?" A confused voice questioned.

Maggie answered, "We're fine. There's someone here to see you."

Mulder looked up, and then back down at William. He gently ran his fingers down the baby's face. Now if only he knew what to do when Scully got back...


3:23 PM...

Scully hung up her cell, wondering who would want to see her. 'It's not like I've really had too much contact with anyone since Mulder left.' she thought to herself. As she began her walk back home, she felt the sadness that came when she thought about him once again erupt into an unstoppable force.

"Stop it, Scully," she said to herself in a futile attempt to hold back her feelings. "Don't do this to yourself."

A passerby must have heard her speaking because he gave her a weird look. Scully didn't see him, and if she had she would have just ignored him in her grief. As hard as she tried, she couldn't shake the overwhelming feeling of loneliness. As tears slowly filled her eyes, she quickened her pace so no one who passed her would know that she was crying brokenheartedly.

She, Dana Scully, in a world full of people, felt completely and utterly alone.


Meanwhile...

3:23 PM...

Maggie hung up the phone. She had to admit to herself that she was pretty surprised to see Mulder showing up at Dana's front door. When he left, she had almost felt hatred towards him, because she felt as though he had abandoned her daughter and their son.

But one look at his face melted her heart into a red puddle. He had looked so vulnerable and not in control of his feelings, a look that he normally didn't sport. Knowing that he expected to find her daughter, Maggie had sadly told Mulder that Dana had gone on a walk and would be back later.

The look on his adorable face had changed quickly, and it had told her that he had planned on going out and looking for Dana. But, luckily, she had convinced him to come in and sit down while she tried Dana's cell.

Now she watched as he sat on the couch, looking like a child on Christmas, who knew that the gifts were going to be brought out at any minute. But the gift he waited for was much more important that a simple toy. It was her daughter, his love. Will cooed happily in his father's arms, and Maggie thought she saw a tear come to Mulder's eye. Suddenly, she knew just what to do.

Maggie turned fully around and spoke in a soft voice to Mulder.

"I'm going to go, Fox, if that's okay."

Without taking his eyes off the baby, Mulder murmured, "Okay."

Maggie shifted her weight to both feet and walked away. As she reached the door, Mulder spoke again. "Mrs. Scully?"

"Yes, Fox?"

There was no response for a moment, then a teary-voiced Mulder replied, "Thanks for everything."

She nodded, more to herself than to him, and left.

Mulder looked down at his son, his miracle. He touched the child's face gently. He got up and walked to the stereo. He found some good music and turned it on. Then he sat back down and anticipated the arrival of Scully. He actually felt a little nervous.

What if she didn't love him anymore? What if things had changed?

What if...

There were so many questions, and he only hoped that the answers would prove to make all three of them happy and content. He loved her so much, and he couldn't believe that he was finally back with them. And he hoped it would stay that way...Forever...


4:05 PM...

Scully finally reached her front door. She pulled out a key, intending to unlock the door. But when she put the key in the lock she found that it was already open. When she got the door open, she heard someone banging around in her kitchen.

Figuring it was Maggie, Scully called out, "Mom?"

No answer. Just another bang.

Scully slowly drew her gun and walked towards the kitchen. She saw a shadow, and she jumped, pointing her gun. The shadow drew nearer. She took in a sharp breath and hurried to it.

Out walked Mulder, holding baby Will in one arm. In the other was a bottle. When he saw the gun he started, nearly dropping the baby. When he regained control, he spoke softly, "Hey."


Scully's grip on the gun slowly dissolved, and it dropped to the cream-colored carpet with a dull thud. She began walking up to him, a look of pure shock in her eyes. She stopped a few feet from him and buried her face in her hands. As tears streamed down her face and left a wet spot on the floor, Mulder laid William in the bassinet and came back to Scully.

She stopped crying when he cupped her face in his hands and wiped the tears from her cheeks.

She placed her hands on his broad shoulders, as if to feel that he was really there. Then, Scully took Mulder's hands in her own. She held them tightly between them. He squeezed them back.

She began crying again, and Mulder put his arms around her, pulling her to him. When she was enveloped in his arms, he softly kissed the top of her head. He brought his fingers up, and ran them through her auburn hair. Scully pulled away for a brief moment.

She gave Mulder a weak smile before pressing his forehead against her own. It was a symbol of their partnership, their unity, and their love for one another. Scully's right hand came up and cradled the back of Mulder's neck.

Mulder whispered gently, "Oh, Scully, I've missed you so much."

Scully took a deep breath and let it out shakily. "You don't know what it's been like, Mulder. I was so alone."

Mulder leaned in and gently brushed his lips against hers. "I think I know how you feel," he replied after he had kissed her. "Scully, I'm so glad to be back."


Mulder pulled away from Scully. He took her hand and led her to the bassinet. As they looked down at the now sleeping William, Scully breathed, "He's starting to look more and more like you every day. I think he has your mouth."

He smiled. "Well, at least it wasn't my nose he got."

Scully looked at him with love in her eyes. "I like your nose," she said, pressing her pointer finger to his nose.

Mulder beamed and took her finger. He put a soft kiss on it, causing Scully to blush, which Mulder thought made her look even prettier. He turned back to the baby and murmured, "And yet he still looks suspiciously like Assistant Director Skinner!" He touched Will's bald head.

Scully smiled. "Well, he's all yours, Mulder. Just tell me, are you staying here with me forever?" she asked with a hint of hopefulness in her eyes. "Please say you are."

Mulder shrugged. "I don't know," he said, looking away.

Tears instantly smarted Scully's eyes. She knew it was too good to be true.

Mulder grabbed her shoulder. A gleam entered his eye. "Scully, I'm joking. I can stay as long as I want."

Scully felt her heart skip a beat. "Oh Mulder, don't ever do that to me!!! I just can't believe that you're here."

He gazed into her eyes and then looked back down at their son.

"Well, I'm back, and I don't have anywhere to live. Have any ideas?" he joked.

Scully giggled. "Well, I still have that waterbed, and it's big. I think I could make room for you," she raised one eyebrow.

Mulder looked into Scully's eyes, the eyes he loved. She turned suddenly. "I'll go get us some champagne."

He felt her brush against him as she made her way to the kitchen.

He smelled her hair, her ivory skin, and the feelings he had not been able to express for so long were once again awakened, just as they were when he woke up in that hospital after he had been brought back to life to find her holding his hand. Only were they aroused more so, because he never had to leave her again.

When she returned with the champagne and two glasses, he sighed.

"Scully, I must admit, you really turn me on."

Scully laughed softly, a sound that was music to his ears. "Oh, you think you're turned on now??? Just wait till later."

A little while later, they were sitting on the couch drinking champagne. Scully excused herself to go to the bathroom, and Mulder saw his chance. He bolted to the stereo and turned on his all time favorite song, Creed's 'My Sacrifice.'

When Scully returned, he held out his hand. As the opening to the song came on, he said, "Care to dance?"

She almost melted into the floor at the sound of his voice. It was deeply sensual and full of love. She took his hand and they began slow dancing.

Hello, my friend, we meet again It's been awhile, where should we begin??? Feels like forever Within my heart a memory A perfect love that you gave to me Oh, I remember

When you are with me, I'm free I'm careless, I believe Above all the others, we'll fly This brings tears to my eyes My sacrifice As the next verse began to play, Mulder put his mouth next to Scully's ear and softly sang along to the words.

We've seen our share of ups and downs Oh how quickly life can turn around In an instant It feels so good to realize What's in yourself and within your mind Let's find peace there When you are with me, I'm free I'm careless, I believe Above all the others, we'll fly This brings tears to my eyes My sacrifice I just want to say Hello again I just want to say Hello again Scully's heart melted when she heard him sing those words. She knew he meant them. She knew she could say them too. As they continued to dance, she got up on her toes and put her own mouth to his ear and whispered, with her voice full of emotion, the beautiful words to a song that described them so well...

When you are with me, I'm free I'm careless, I believe Above all the others, we'll fly This brings tears to my eyes Cause when you are with me, I'm free I'm careless, I believe Above all the others, we'll fly This brings tears to my eyes My sacrifice My sacrifice

I just want to say Hello again I just want to say Hello again My sacrifice...

Scully looked up to see Mulder's face right next to hers. He leaned in and passionately, sweetly, kissed her. When they were done, Mulder raised his eyebrows. "Well, Will's asleep, and it's getting late. I think it's our bedtime, Scully," he winked.

Scully just smiled and took Mulder's hand, leading him into the bedroom.

As they closed the door, the sound of William's musical mobile faintly filled the air as it began moving on its own...


3:03 am...

William's cries interrupted Mulder's sleep. He gradually opened his eyes. He looked to the right and saw Scully sleeping beside him.

Her head rested on his shoulder, and her right hand was on his chest. His own right arm was around her shoulders.

He smiled sleepily. That was exactly the way they had fallen asleep together. But now someone had to get up, and it would be him, he figured, since she obviously wasn't going to wake up.

He reluctantly took her hand from his chest and placed it on her torso, then he gently slid his arm out from under her. She stirred a little, but didn't wake. Mulder crawled out of bed, and immediately felt a slight chill. He grabbed his pants off the chair where he had left them earlier, and put them on over his alien boxers. When he was warmer, he made his way into Will's room.

In Will's room, Mulder leaned over the bassinet and examined his son. As soon as William saw his father, he stopped crying. He looked up at Mulder and gave him a smile. Mulder reached in and picked up the baby, along with his security blanket, given to him by Agent Doggett. Mulder held the child tightly to his bare chest as he warmed a bottle of milk and started feeding it to Will.

When he was full, Mulder sat down in the rocking chair next to the cradle and made a futile attempt to make his son sleep. William evidently didn't want to go back to dreamland. He kept making noises and pulling on his father's chest hair.

"Ow!" Mulder whispered loudly in response to his son's incessant tugging.

Instantly Will's face scrunched up and he looked as though he was going to cry loud enough to wake the whole apartment building.

Mulder began to bounce Will up and down as he cooed softly. "It's okay, buddy. You don't want to wake up Mommy, do you? Let's go to sleep okay?"

William quieted. Mulder let out a sigh of relief. He supposed that the bouncing motion made him tired, or maybe it was his voice.

But whatever the reason, a few minutes later, he was breathing delicately, clearly in slumber again. Mulder gently laid him down, and went back into the bedroom, wanting to get some rest.

But when he got there, he noticed that Scully had rolled over and was now in the very middle of the bed, making it very hard for him to get in without waking her. Mulder watched her sleep, her chest rising and falling with each breath, looking so peaceful. He didn't have the heart to wake her up and make her move.

So, he took a spare blanket out of the closet, and went back to the rocker. He silently lowered himself into it, and put the blanker over himself. Within a few moments, he felt himself falling asleep. His last thought was that he was very lucky to be home again with the two people that he loved most.


A stream of light entered through the window and rested on Scully's face. She slowly woke up, and was surprised to find that she could stretch. She looked over, expecting to see Mulder, but his side of the bed was empty. She found herself more than a little disappointed. She hoped that he at least hadn't left the apartment.

Scully was about to get up when she felt a chill.

She pulled the sheets up to cover her underwear-clad form, in an attempt to stay warm. She wanted to get up and get dressed, but she didn't want to freeze while doing it.

Finally, after minutes of debating with herself on what to do, she stood up and quickly wrapped the sheet around herself. She was just about to run over to her dresser and grab her clothes when Mulder walked in, wearing only the same pair of pants he had worn the day before.

"Good morning," she said as he stepped up to kiss her. While their lips were still connected, he reached out and put his arms around her. Just as Mulder started to slide the bedsheet down, Scully broke the kiss.

"Mulder!" she said with feigned indignance in her voice.

"What?" he replied playfully.

"I need to get some clothes on," she said.

Mulder grinned and raised his eyebrow. "No, you don't, Scully.

You look best in a bedsheet early in the morning. No wait," he stopped for a second and then continued. "Scratch that. If you have to wear anything, you look best in a bedsheet."

She was somehow able to manage a perfectly straight face. "Oh, that was funny," She pulled away from him and started to walk over to her dresser. But before she was four feet away, Mulder grabbed the trailing end of the bedsheet, effectively holding her in place. He started tugging gently on it, pulling her towards him, inch by inch.

Scully gripped the bedsheet tighter, and looked longingly at her dresser. She decided she had two choices. Number one, she could drop the sheet and walk away. No, she wouldn't do that. He would be much too happy.

Number two, she would just have to go to him and try to distract him long enough so that she could get some distance between them. She picked number two.

"Come on, Scully. You know you want to come back here, Mulder teased as he reeled her in. She went limp enough so that he could get her back to him. When her back was touching his chest, he put his arms around her waist and held her tightly to him. She squirmed a little, then stopped.

She turned and faced him, making a hollow effort to wrap the sheet tighter around herself. It was now or never. "How come you weren't in bed this morning?" she said alluringly as she ran her finger down his chest.

He took in a quick breath. But then he saw the gleam in her eyes.

He grabbed her hand and put it to his lips. When he had taken them away, he replied, "I'm not falling for it."

So Scully tried the hurt animal approach. "But Mulder, I'm cold, she said shakily, looking at him with her best puppy dog eyes.

Mulder wasn't about ready to give in. "I'll make ya hot as Las Vegas weather," he sang, imitating Missy Elliot, as innocently as he possibly could, while trying to open the sheet more.

Scully smiled. He was so cute when he tried to be innocent. He probably didn't realize how great he looked in just a pair of pants and a bedhead. She couldn't resist his charm. She gave in, opening the bedsheet and letting him into it. "Okay, you win," she said softly. "But I really am cold, and Will's going to wake up in a little bit." She took the corners of the sheet and closed it around both of them.

Mulder put his arms around Scully. He gave her a soft kiss on the lips. Before she left his embrace, he spoke. "You don't have to be embarrassed, Scully. I don't care what you look like, and I definitely don't care if you have to walk around in your underwear for a minute to get dressed," he winked at her, making her laugh.

"You're always beautiful to me."

She beamed at him. "You always know the right thing to say to me, Mulder," she kissed his nose.

Mulder grinned at her again. "I love you." He kissed her again and let her go.

Scully both surprised and delighted him by dropping the bedsheet to the ground before she went to get her clothes.

An astonished Mulder watched as Scully walked away in her underwear. Without taking his eyes off her, he picked up the white-as-snow bedsheet and tossed it to the bed. He watched her as she began rummaging around in her drawers, and then her closet, looking desperately for something to wear.

Mulder grinned when she couldn't find anything. 'She's so cute when she's panicking,' he thought as he smiled amusedly.

Scully could feel Mulder's eyes on her as she was searching for clothes. She silently cursed herself for having taken all her clothes down to the basement to get cleaned. Like she could run down to the basement in her underwear and a bedsheet to get them. She was about to grab what she had conveniently tossed on the floor last night when she felt something soft being laid around her shoulders.

Scully turned slowly. It was Mulder, laying his robe around her.

The navy blue fabric was warm and inviting. It smelled of him, and she immediately calmed.

"Thanks, Mulder," she whispered as she closed his robe around her.

Mulder brushed a strand of soft auburn hair out of Scully's face. As he looked into her eyes, he felt a sudden urge to hug her, and he gave in.

In his arms, a slightly confused Scully put her arms around Mulder's neck. She pulled away just enough so she could see his face. "Are you okay Mulder?"

He stared deep into her deep blue eyes. "Yeah. I'm just glad to be home," he whispered, nuzzling her neck.

Scully just sighed and ran her fingers through his brown hair. Yes, it was good to finally have him back.

Suddenly, William began fussing, breaking their moment. Scully pulled away, intending to go care for the baby. But Mulder stopped her.

"I'll get him," he said happily, walking away. She followed cautiously, hoping to see a moment between father and son.

When she arrived in Will's room, Mulder was sitting in the rocker with his son, rocking back and forth slowly. Will had stopped crying and his eyes were fixed upward. Mulder stood and gently laid the child back in his bassinet.

He sat back down and patted his lap, giving Scully a smirk that meant "come here."

She shook her head vigorously. "Mulder, not in front of the baby!"

He smiled ruthlessly. It was like her to be just too modest. "He needs to start seeing us together, Scully, or he's not gonna know we're his parents!"

She smiled down at him, not a usual occurrence. "Ok, you've convinced me." She came over and perched on his knee. He grabbed her hips and gently pulled her until her back touched his chest.

She leaned back until their cheeks were touching. Mulder took her hands in his, and he felt the ring on her finger. "You're still wearing my ring?" he asked sweetly.

She sighed. "I never forgot your promises to me, and I never will."

She took the ring off and held it up, looking at it more closely.

It was a simple gold band to a regular person, but inside the band was the inscription 'I'm always in your heart. Mulder.' Mulder leaned forward and read it out loud. He took the promise ring out of her hand and placed it back on her finger, and then he kissed her hand.

She leaned back again, and Mulder held her hands in his. They intertwined their feet, and they stayed that way until Scully had to leave for work.


As soon as Scully was out the door, Mulder turned and walked quickly to the coffee table, picking up Scully's white portable phone. He pressed a number on the speed dial, and a few seconds later, a young girl's voice answered.

"Hello, Brown residence. Meredith speaking."

"Hi, Meredith? This is Fox Mulder."

Mulder could almost feel the warmth in her voice as she replied.

"Oh, hi, Mr. Mulder. What do you need?"

"I need you to help me for the afternoon. Do you think you're up to it?"

Meredith's voice was friendly and willing. "What do you need help with?"


About a half hour later, there was a knock at Scully's door. Mulder looked up from feeding William. He stared down into the baby's eyes, feeling a special connection with his child. He stood and carried the still-eating baby to the door.

When he opened it, there stood Meredith, holding a purse and a large box under her arm. "Sorry that took me so long," she said as she walked in and set the box on the coffee table. ""I couldn't find everything you needed for awhile there." She held out her hand.

"Now, where's my money?"

Mulder just stared at her for a second before placing Will in her arms. As she stroked the baby's face gently, Mulder pulled out a twenty-dollar bill. He pressed it into her hand. She smiled triumphantly and sat down at the couch. Mulder sat down beside the girl and took his son back as she opened the box.

"I've got scented candles, regular candles, bubble bath, and of course," she giggled, pulling out a bottle of white wine, "my dad's favorite. It's good. I've had some before. You'll love it."

Mulder was confused. He hadn't asked for anything, he just wanted her to baby- sit and tidy up the place. He said as much, and a compassionate look entered Meredith's eyes.

"I've been through a lot with Dana and I just thought that it would make everything more special. I want her to be happy."

Mulder smiled warmly at Meredith. She understood things so well for just a twelve year old. Somehow, he felt a connection with her that he couldn't understand. As he handed Will over to her, he noticed her blonde curls and hazel eyes, her full, pouty lips, and her smile as she held Will. She looked a little like William in a way. He thought- no, it couldn't be.

He mentally shook his head as he stood up and readied to leave.

When he reached the door, Meredith spoke. "I'll have everything ready, Mr. Mulder, when she gets back." Mulder nodded and left.

When he was gone, Meredith felt a strange feeling, a connection of some sort, to Fox Mulder. When he had sat down next to her, she noticed his brown hair and hazel eyes. Somehow, it just felt weird.

Like she knew him, or something. She thought- no. It couldn't be...it just couldn't be...


FBI Field Office Basement...

Doggett looked up from his paperwork to see Scully walk in, looking like she was on a cloud. She had a dreamy smile on her face, and she seemed surprisingly happy. She sat down next to his desk and smiled at him.

"Hello, John," she said happily. "Anything interesting to work on today?"

Doggett frowned inwardly. She never, ever called him John. And she hadn't spoken in that tone since Mulder left. "Agent Scully, are you feeling all right?" he asked, reaching up and feeling her forehead for signs of warmth.

Scully just took his hand off her forehead and giggled. "I'm feeling great. Better than ever!"

Doggett turned away, back to his work. "Good."

Scully spoke again with a hint of mystery in her voice. "Guess what?"

Doggett answered, "What?"

She leaned over and whispered in his ear. He pulled away quickly.

"What?!?!?!"

She spoke it again, louder this time. Standing up, she said loudly, "Mulder's back!"

Doggett's eyes widened. "Really? When?"

Scully started pacing the office floor. "Last night. And he's staying! I wish I could go home," she added quietly to herself.

Doggett muttered under his breath, "I BET you do."

"What was that?"

"Nothing."

Scully just smiled again. "I wonder if Kersh will let me leave early?" She frowned suddenly, having just realized what she said.

"Oh, wait...."

Doggett nodded. "...Yeah. Kersh being the main word there."

Scully sighed discontentedly. "Oh well." She stopped pacing and sat down next to him. "So, what do we have to do today?" she said monotonously, putting her chin in her hand.

"Well, aren't YOU excited today. Yee Hah."

"Shut up."

Doggett picked up the case file that he had been looking at.

"Nothing too big, Kersh has put us on background check duty this week."

Scully didn't even blink. "Exciting."

"We're going to be paying a few visits today. Now, I know you don't want to be taken away from your Muldah, but this needs to be done. Normally, I would go by myself, but Kersh directly asked that you and I go. I don't know why exactly."

Scully just nodded, accepting their situation. "Where do we have to go?"

Doggett answered, "Well, a woman named Jenna Rich needs to be checked out, for one thing or another. She lives here in DC, so I thought we'd just go there today."

"Yes, but I need to be back at my apartment by 6."

"Why?"

"I have an engagement. It's important to me."

Doggett raised one eyebrow. "Important, huh? Okay, Agent Scully, don't worry. You'll be back with plenty of time to get ready for your "engagement." Now, back to the case file..."


Meanwhile... 2:23 PM.

Mulder unlocked and opened the door to his car. He climbed in and looked at everything he had bought. But in his hand was the most important item for the night: a small, white box. He fingered it for a moment before gently placing it on top of the things in the backseat.

As he started the car and began his journey back to his apartment, he contemplated his excitement, his doubts, and finally his undying absolute faith that everything would be perfect.


Back at Mulder's Apartment...

Meredith sat back on the couch, surveying her work. So far, it looked good. Now it just needed two special people...

Suddenly, Will's cry interrupted her thoughts. She went to the bassinet, and as she was picking up the baby, she noticed a black photo album laying on the shelf.

Still holding William in her arms, she went to the shelf and picked up the album, taking it to the couch. She sat down and with one hand turned the album over.

The front had simply one word on it: Mulder.

Meredith opened to the inside cover. It read: To Scully, may you always remember. Made by Meredith.

Meredith smiled. She remembered making that, four months ago.

She had been baby-sitting Will when she came across a big stack of pictures on the shelf. When she looked through them (hey, Scully told her to make herself at home!) she noticed that they were all of Mulder and Scully together, beginning in 1993 and ending in 2001.

She decided to make something special with some of them. So she went to her apartment and found a black photo album. She cut and pasted and worked for the rest of the day, and when she was done she was quite happy with it.

The very first picture was her favorite. It was of Mulder and a very pregnant Scully. Mulder was standing behind her with his arms around her neck. He peeked out with his big puppy dog eyes.

Scully must have been enjoying it, because she was grinning. She had her hands on his, and they looked very happy.

Meredith smiled. She wished she could see Scully's face when she saw the apartment. But of course they would want to be alone...

Alone! Meredith suddenly remembered that she needed to drop Will off at Maggie's house before they got back. She went to the phone and dialed Maggie.

"Mrs. Scully? We're ready..."


1592 Grand Post Avenue, Washington, DC, 5:02pm...

Doggett and Scully finally arrived at the home of Jenna Rich, who had been purchasing quite a lot of medicine for one person.

"Ok, Agent Scully," Doggett said. "You ready to go in?"

Scully let out a quick breath. "Yah."

They got out of the car and made their way towards the house. But before they reached the door, a young woman answered. She had light brown hair and spoke with a slight British accent.

"Hello, who are you?"

A tiny little girl peeked out from behind her mother. She had short blonde hair and blue eyes. She looked at them for a moment, and then smiled at Scully.

Scully, feeling a motherly instinct inside, smiled back. A few minutes later, the two agents were seated on the couch with the little girl, Mariah, in between them. She had taken a great liking to Scully, obviously.

"So..." said Doggett. "We've noticed in our records that you've been buying quite a lot of medicine for one person. Can you please explain why?"

Jenna answered. "First you must know, I have a rare disease..."

Scully was only half listening. Her mind kept wandering to Mulder. Before she had left, he had told her to be at Meredith's apartment door by six for a special date. She got the tingles inside just thinking about it. She looked at her watch absentmindedly.

5:45!

She stood suddenly. "Agent Doggett, I need to leave now for my appointment."

Doggett just stared at her. "Appointment?"

"Yes, the one I was telling you about. With that guy that had special powers."

Doggett grinned, knowing that she meant Mulder's power over her.

"Oh, that one. Okay, would you like the car or do you want to take a cab?"

"I'll take the car, if that's okay."

"Okay Agent Scully," he answered. As she was leaving, he spoke again. "Tell me how it went, okay?" He spoke as a good friend.

She smiled in a friendly way. "Okay, I will. Goodbye, Ms. Rich.

Goodbye Mariah."

The girl waved. "Bye Agent Scully! Come back and play with me."

"Okay."

As Scully left, she realized that she hadn't dressed for the occasion.


Mulder's Apartment , 5:07 PM...

Meredith answered the door to find Mulder standing there with an armload of bags and stuff.

When he was inside the door, he handed her four dozen red roses and a single white one.

"Aww, Mulder, you shouldn't have," Meredith said jokingly.

But Mulder didn't even crack a smile.

She stopped smiling and spoke seriously. "You're really nervous about this, aren't you?"

Mulder just nodded and looked away.

"Sorry."

"That's ok."

"So," she asked, "You have everything?"

Mulder nodded. "Yeah."

"If you want, you can go to my apartment and change and get ready. I want to surprise you."

"That sounds good. Here's the stuff," Mulder said, handing her a box. "I'll just keep this white one."

Meredith took the box from his hands. "Okay. What do you want me to do with these?" she said, motioning to the red roses.

"Surprise me."


Mulder stood by the door to Meredith's apartment, wondering when Scully would arrive. To his total joy, a minute later, Scully appeared down the hall. He watched as she walked toward him.

Scully finally arrived at her apartment floor. As she walked down the hall, she spotted Mulder, standing there in a black tux and tie, holding a white rose. She walked toward him, and noticed that he was watching her every move.

She knew she should have gone out and bought that black sparkly, short, low- cut dress she'd seen last week....

She finally met him at the door to Meredith's apartment.

"You're late," Mulder joked lightly.

Scully was serious. "Sorry, Mulder. Doggett and I got this case, and I..."

Mulder just stood there, listening to her explanation. He lost her after a moment, though, and so he just watched her mouth, her facial expressions, and her feet as she uneasily shifted her weight from one foot to the other.

Scully stopped talking and snapped her fingers in front of his face.

"Mulder...what are you doing?"

Mulder shook his head. "Nothing..." He held up a dress in a bag, and a pair of shoes. "Here, I bought you a little something special to wear tonight." He smiled, handing it to her.

She took it, and when Mulder held the door open for her, she walked into Meredith's apartment.

She was so happy, she didn't even ask what they were doing in their neighbor's apartment.


As Scully entered the bathroom in Meredith's apartment, she pulled the dress out of the bag. She held it out and gasped.

It was the same dress she had seen in the store the other day! She held it up to her and saw that it would fit her perfectly. She quickly changed, did her hair and then looked at herself in the mirror.

'Oh my god,' she thought. 'Mulder has great taste in clothes.' She looked at the low cut and short length of the dress and changed her mind, laughing silently to herself as she walked out to meet him.


Mulder caught a quick breath when Scully came out of the apartment. She looked beautiful in the dress and shoes. Her auburn hair was piled atop her head with a few loose tendrils hanging down her face. In her hand she held her other clothes.

Scully walked out nervously. She hoped she looked okay. She had checked herself over and over again. But all of her nerves faded away in bliss when she saw the look on Mulder's face: Sheer amazement.

He took the clothes out of her hand, and said, "You look positively beautiful, my lady." He ceremoniously handed her the white rose.

"And you don't look so bad yourself," she smiled, touching his tie.

He put his arm around her, leading her to the elevator. On their way, he knocked softly on the door to Scully's apartment, letting Meredith know that they were leaving. He heard another soft knock and knew that she would have things ready.

"Mulder, what was that noise?" Scully asked. "And why did we just pass my apartment?"

"Um...You heard nothing, and I have no idea why."

"Mulder..."

"Scully..."

Scully looked into Mulder's hazel eyes. She saw the love, the desire and the mirth. She knew he had something planned. And for the first time she wondered why she hadn't noticed the apartment thing before.

"Let's go, Scully," Mulder said, changing the subject. "We don't want to miss dinner." And they left just in time. Just as they entered the elevator, Meredith's parents arrived home.


Meredith peeked her head out the door to Scully's apartment. She watched the couple walk away, and then she saw her parents.

Mrs. Brown stepped forward. "Honey, what are you doing at Dana's?"

"Nothing, Mom. Just helping get things ready for her date."

"With who, Meredith?" This came from her dad.

"With Fox Mulder. He came back."

"Oh, that's so sweet," Meredith's mom replied. "Jack," she motioned to her husband. "Why don't you get a bottle of the good wine, your favorite? We can give it to them as a gift." Meredith gasped.

"What's wrong, hun?"

"Um...Nothing..."

Jack Brown walked into their apartment, and a few minutes later, he came out. "What happened to the wine? It's not in there."

"Nothing, Dad."


7:35 PM...

Mulder put his hand on the small of Scully's back as they walked back to the apartment. On the handle of the door was a white and gold ribbon, Meredith's sign that the apartment was empty...and waiting for them.

Mulder opened the door and let Scully walk in before him. He couldn't see the inside, but he heard her gasp softly.

Scully walked into the apartment and couldn't help but gasp in amazement. The entire apartment was decorated with candles.

They were all lit, and with the lights off the place looked very romantic. She noticed a bottle of red wine sitting on the dining room table. She saw a trail of red rose petals leading all the way down the hall. They stopped at her closed bedroom door.

Mulder watched as Scully curiously followed the trail of rose petals. When she reached the bedroom door, however, he stopped her and pointed her in the direction of the bathroom.

"Not yet," he whispered. "Go ahead and take a bubble bath and relax." Mostly he just said this because he wanted to see the bedroom first.


Scully slipped into the warm bubble bath, the faint scent of lavender candles filling her senses. She leaned back and sighed.

She wondered what Mulder could be up to right now. But she was too happy and tired to care very much. She stayed in the bath for nearly half and hour, contemplating dinner.

It had been a blissful evening, Mulder constantly complementing her hair, her dress, and just her in general. She had noticed that he seemed a little nervous, though, something that didn't happen often with him. They talked about nothing in particular, just life before he was back.

Scully finally dragged her self out of the bubble bath and slid into Mulder's bathrobe, the first thing she grabbed. When she walked out of the bathroom, she saw Mulder sitting on the couch holding two glasses and the wine. His shirt was unbuttoned, the tie off somewhere. She smiled when he looked up.

He stood, never taking his adorable hazel eyes off her. He took her hand. "Ready?" he whispered.

"Yes," she said back, softly.

He led her towards the bedroom door, opening it as he went. She saw, on the bed, a ton of rose petals had been used to make a heart on the quilts. She put her hand over her mouth in astonishment.

"You did this Mulder? For me?"

"Well, I did think up the idea, but you should really give the credit to our little neighbor. She fixed this all up for us as a gift."

Scully didn't say anything, just stared at the heart.

Mulder sat down on just about the only part of the bed that wasn't populated with rose petals. He patted his lap, and she sat down on it. He took her left hand and fingered her promise ring gently.

"You like that ring, don't you?"

"Yes," she replied, her eyes on his. "It has never left me."

Mulder smiled, but the confused, nervous look was coming back.

"Well, um...There's something I'd like you to do..."

Mulder pulled out the little white box. Scully smiled. "Anything."

He took her wedding finger and slid the ring off. He placed on the same finger of the other hand.

Scully almost started laughing, but stopped herself. "What now, she whispered.

Mulder opened the little white box, very slowly. Inside, laying in a blanket of white cloth, was a beautiful ring. It was gold, and the band was full of alternating ruby and diamond hearts. He handed it to her, but before she could put it on, he stopped her.

"Look inside," he smiled.

She turned the ring over so she could see the inside of the band. It said, in script, 'Will you Marry Me?'

Tears of joy filled Scully's eyes. She handed the ring back to Mulder so he could place it on her finger. She put her ivory arms around him and whispered into his ear, "Yes, Mulder. of course I will."

After the ring was on her finger, Mulder kissed her hand and then her lips. "I've waited so long for this night," he said softly, trailing kisses across her face and down the side of her neck.

Scully sighed contentedly. "Hmmm...I love you Mulder."

"I love you too."

They leaned back on the bed when the phone rang. Mulder was about ready to let Scully get up when she gently pushed him back down.

"Mulder, it can wait a little longer..."


~~~She was standing in front of Mulder, between them...she saw her brother, Bill, take out the gun...she had to save Mulder...It was coming towards him.... 'No!' she screamed, jumping in the way...she felt the bullet penetrate her chest...~~~ Scully awoke with a start. It was just a dream, just a nightmare.

She felt Mulder, sleeping soundly next to her. He was on his stomach, his arm across her. She sighed and looked at the ring on her finger. He was her fianc...', her best friend, everything she ever wanted.

She leaned over and turned on then radio. The song that came on was one she knew well. It was Wherever You Will Go by The Calling.

She remembered the last night that Mulder had been with her, when Will was just a newborn...

~~~'Oh, Scully, I don't want to leave,' he whispered in her ear. 'I'll miss you too much.'

'I know, and I'll miss you more than anything,' she said as they sat together on the couch, Will in Mulder's arms.

He leaned over and sang a few lines to the song, as it played on the radio. He had told her that no matter what, he would come back...then he gave her the promise ring... ~~~ XXXXXXX

7:07 am...

She must have fallen asleep again...she looked around the bedroom. Something was missing. Mulder wasn't in bed. She stretched lazily and got up. When she reached the kitchen, she found Mulder walking around with Will, feeding him a bottle.

'He looks so good,' she thought as she walked up behind him and put her arms around his waist.

He turned and smiled. "Good morning, Scully."

"Morning."

"Do you have anything planned today, Scully?"

"Um...I have a meeting tonight. And I have to work."

"Oh," Mulder frowned. "When are we going to tell your family?"

Scully shrugged a little. "How about tomorrow night? We can have them over for dinner. And just tell them."

"But Scully, does Bill have to come?"

"Yes, Bill has to come. As much as you two hate each other, he's still my brother and he deserves to know."

"But can't we just call him? Then he can't hit me!"

"No, Mulder...it'll be fine, my mum's a great referee."

"Ah, yes," Mulder laughed. "If it all comes down to it, we can always have an organized fight. I can see it all now, your mum, refereeing it...just like WWF! Oh, excuse me. I mean WWE!"

"Mulder...you're crazy!"

"But it's a good crazy right?"

"Oh, yes, Mulder..." She got up on her tiptoes and kissed him.

"Scully," Mulder whined. "Don't tempt me...I know you have to leave," he said, kissing her cheek.

Scully left him standing in the kitchen and went to take a shower.

When she came out, all ready to go, she found Mulder watching Roadrunner and Wile. E. Coyote on Cartoon Network with William.

She snuck out quietly, so she wouldn't disturb them.


At the FBI Field Office...

Doggett watched as Scully entered the building. She looked a little happier than usual, even happier than the day before. He was standing by the metal detectors, waiting for her.

Scully entered the building and passed through the metal detector, it making its usual beeping sound. But by now the security guard knew that there was nothing wrong. She'd been passing through like this for seven years now, and it always beeped.

After she had passed through, she saw Doggett and walked up to him, beaming. "Ready to go?" she asked cheerfully.

"Yes, Agent Scully," he answered. "I'm ready if you are."

"Of course I am." She giggled, very un-Scullylike. "Who are we visiting today?"

"Um..." Doggett flipped through the papers he held in his hand. "A man who's been hurting animals. Exciting."

"Okay."

"Are you all right, Agent Scully?"

"Oh, yes," she sighed. "Perfectly fine." With that, she waltzed out the door, Doggett following her.


Meanwhile...

Mulder sat in the apartment, watching TV and feeding Will. When he was full, Mulder stood and went to take the bottle to the sink.

But the ringing of the phone stopped him.

"Mulder," he picked up.

He heard a voice on the other end. "Mr. Mulder, I have some important news to tell you, concerning your sister."

"And who is this?"

"Mr. Mulder, I would suggest not asking that question right now. I will come to your home to speak with you."

Will started crying and Mulder kept talking as he tried to comfort the child. "Well, I'm kind of watching my son right now, do you think we could just talk on the phone?"

The voice kept speaking in a monotonal kind of way. "Mulder, this may not be a secure line, at least not for this. I will come over in one half hour. Be ready." The voice hung up.


A half hour later...

Mulder heard a knock at the door. He picked Will up out of his bassinet, and carried him with him. He looked through the peep hole and saw a face that was completely unrecognizable to him.

He opened the door cautiously. "Well, what did you want to say?"

The man smiled a little. "You gonna let me in?"

"Uh, sure, why not?" Mulder held the door open and the darkskinned man walked in slowly.

"Mr. Mulder, you already know your sister was not taken by aliens. But something was taken from her. You found her diary, I believe, with all the stuff about the tests?"

"Yeah," Mulder answered, bouncing Will up and down gently.

"When she was thirteen years old, CGB Spender had her ova taken, so it could be used later on. No one had any use for it until about thirteen years ago, when it was used by a fertility agency to create a child."

Mulder blinked a few times. "Why would he take her ova?"

"So she could live on. He knew she was going to be taken, by the walk-ins. He anonymously donated it to a fertility agency. He loved her like a daughter."

"Well, what child did he create?"

"Let's just say, she's very close to you. I have to leave now, Mulder."

And before Mulder could ask another question, the man quickly showed himself out.


Later...

Scully and Doggett had just finished their fifth visit of the day.

Nothing new. A pretty boring day. As they climbed into the car together, Doggett noticed a new ring on Scully's finger.

"What's that Agent Scully?" He asked.

Scully looked down at the ring. She slid it off her finger and handed it to him. "Read the inside."

Doggett looked at the script on the inside band. "Congratulations, Agent Scully!" He wanted to hug her, but didn't know how she would handle it. So he just handed the ring back. She slipped it onto her finger.

She smiled. "Yeah," she said dreamily. "Would you like to come to dinner tomorrow night? We're going to celebrate with my family, and we'd love to have you come."

Doggett nodded. "Sure. of course I'll come."


Later that night...Scully's apartment, 11:30 PM...

Scully finally got home. She opened the door and walked in to find Mulder sleeping on the couch, wearing only a pair of jeans, Will sleeping on his bare chest. With Mulder's every breath, William rose and fell peacefully.

She set her suitcase down, and went to her room. Once she was changed, she came back into the living room.

Mulder woke up. "Hey," he said sleepily. "How was the meeting?"

Scully sighed. "The longest meeting in FBI history. Well, the second longest." She smiled and he smiled back.

He sat up a little, still holding Will, so she could sit down. Once she had sat down she put her hands on his shoulders and pulled down until his head was in her lap.

She put her hand on his hair and ran her fingers through its brown length. "So, when do you want to get married?"

Mulder looked up at her. "How about tomorrow? Let's just elope and not tell anyone." He joked.

She smirked. "I don't think so, Mulder. My mum wouldn't really appreciate that. I'm serious. How about June?"

"But Scully, it's only November. I can't wait that long!" he said with the big puppy dog eyes.

"Ok, how about April?"

"I guess I can wait that long. I might have some problems, but I can wait."

"But Mulder," she smiled down at him. "We already live together.

It's like we're married anyway."

Mulder sighed. "Ya, I guess you're right. But I want the title. Mr.

and Mrs. Fox Mulder. So, the future Mrs. Dana Mulder, what time is your family coming tomorrow?"

"How about 6? And by the way, I invited Skinner and Doggett over too. I thought they'd want to have a share in this."

Mulder smiled. "What was Skinner's reaction to all of this?"

"Well, aside from being completely surprised that you were back, the only word he had to say on the matter was "Finally.""

Mulder laughed. "There's Skinner for you." He looked at the clock.

11:45. "Only about eighteen hours till Hurricane Bill hits us."

"Oh, Mulder..."

"What? I'm not joking. You might have a hard time cleaning the blood out of your carpet. If he goes after me I'm gonna get him good."

"Our carpet, Mulder. It's ours. And besides, nothing bad is going to happen." She got up, dropping his head onto the couch with a loud thud. She picked up their son and headed for bed. "Oh, if something does happen and you get blood everywhere, you're cleaning it up!" She called over her shoulder.

"Sure. Fine. Whatever."


The next morning...at Scully's home, 8:58 am...

Mulder woke up to hear the sound of the radio coming from the kitchen. Scully was humming softly to the song on the station. He thought it was "I will always love you" by Whitney Houston.

He rolled over and pulled the sheets over his head so he could sleep some more, but then he remembered: Bill day. The day he was so excited for but also dreaded like nothing else. The more he thought about what could happen, the more awake he became. So he rolled off the bed, the floor breaking his fall.

After finally figuring out how to unroll himself from the tangled mass of white sheets that he was somehow stuck in, he went into the bathroom to take a hot shower.

As he stood in the shower, letting the hot water travel all over him, into his hair and down his back, he thought about how far he and Scully had come. When they met, he had immediately felt something different about her from all the other women he had ever had interest in. Their relationship had moved slower than any other he had encountered.

He had never really loved Diana, or Phoebe or any of the others.

Those relationships had all been based on the physical aspects. But his and Scully's was completely different. He hadn't known for a long time if she returned the feelings he felt for her, so he hadn't known what to do. At first, the only physical contact they had shared was a touch of a hand, or maybe a hug. But soon it had evolved into something more. Not much more, but enough to make him stop calling those 1-900 numbers and getting those magazines.

It became a kiss on the forehead, although Mulder usually wished that she would put her red lips about six inches lower. He knew right away that he loved her, but he was scared of pushing her away. They were best friends, and sometimes he felt that it would never be anything more. But, then in the very back corner of his mind, he knew that everything would be all right.

Finally, after years and years of waiting and progress on their relationship, the physical side of it happened. He had wanted it for so long, and it only seemed to strengthen their relationship. Unlike his other interests, she still loved him and he still loved her. And now he would have her forever.

Mulder came out of his remembering when the shower water went cold on him. Yelping, he jumped out of the shower and dressed in his jogging sweats.

When he made it into the kitchen, Scully was still humming softly and making breakfast, wearing just his shirt. It came about halfway to her knees.

"Good morning," He said, moving to help her with the pancakes.

He came up behind her and put his arms around her waist, putting his hands on her stomach.

"Shh, Mulder," she whispered. "This is about the first time Will's slept all night, and I don't want him to wake up. So please keep it quiet."

But Mulder wasn't really listening. He was too busy pressing soft kisses to her neck and shoulders. "Um hum...keep it quiet...ya..."

Scully turned suddenly, making him pull his head back to keep from getting hit. "You ready for today?" she asked.

"Yep. I've just gotta drag out my old punching bag..."

"Mulder..." she playfully smacked him upside the head.

"Ow, Dana, that hurt," he whined, sounding very much like a little kid that had candy taken away from him.

"Oh, so you're calling me Dana now...does that mean I get to call you Fox when I feel like it?"

"Whatever you want..." he put his arms around her again and kissed her cheek.

"Mulder...er, Fox...Please try to contain yourself. I want this to be perfect. And I was thinking, to keep you and Bill from killing each other, why don't we go out to eat, maybe at Red Lobster, and tell them there?"

"Sounds good. You can call your mum from work and tell everyone to come. And how about I pick you up from work?

There's some people I really would like to piss off. Kersh, mainly, and..."

She put one ivory finger to his lips, silencing him. "You do that.

Come get me at four. And bring Will." She looked up at the clock.

"I have to go to work, but here's some breakfast if you're hungry."

She handed him a plate of pancakes. "Oh, and later, do you think you could call the Brown's and see if they'll watch Will for a couple of hours tonight? Pay them twenty if they will, okay?"

"Yes, Ma'am. Will do."

Scully tried to pull away from Mulder to go get ready for work, but he tightened his grip around her waist and wouldn't let go. She pulled, but he was just too strong for her.

He tugged her closer to him and kissed her on the lips before he let her leave his embrace. "I love you, Dana."

"I love you too, Fox. But I really have to go." She walked away, her hips slightly swinging from side to side, seductively.

She was doing it on purpose. They both knew that they didn't have time for anything this morning, or for that matter, the whole rest of the day.

He sneaked up behind her and playfully smacked her butt as she entered the bedroom.

She jumped about a mile. "What was that for?" she asked, holding it.

"You know what you do to me, Scully. And you know what you were doing."

"Why Fox Mulder, I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Oh wait...you mean this?" She started for their bathroom, swinging her hips from side to side, a little more this time than last.

"Ya," Mulder whispered, feeling the heat rush to his face.

Scully must have noticed it, because she started giggling, her face turning bright red in her laughter. Before Mulder could do anything, she darted for the door but spun around at the doorway.

"I'm going to get you back for that little spanking, you know."

"That's what I'm counting on."


At the FBI Field Office...10 A.M...

Doggett sat down behind the desk that he and Scully shared, and watched as she entered the room. She still had that happy look on her face. It was almost like it was frozen on her.

"So, what are we working on today?"

"Well," he replied, "Another "check." From our offices, which is better than going out. Or maybe it isn't..."

She laughed a little. "Well, what are we waiting for? We'd better get out there."

As she walked out, Doggett sported a dumbfounded look. He wished she would always be this agreeable. Maybe she would be now. He remembered how she was just a few weeks ago, how to some agents she was known as "The Ice Queen." He wondered what they'd call her now...

Or even after the wedding. What then? She'd probably be known as "Mrs. Spooky." But he doubted she would really care. He found his mind wandering to the future, his future, her future, and the future of the X-files. He had no hesitance in knowing that there would be more Mulder children. And after a while she would want to leave the Bureau to be with them.

The only other person he had was Reyes, but she was out of the country visiting her dying grandmother, and she wouldn't be back for at least a month or two.

Scully poked her head back into the room. "Coming, Agent Doggett?"

"I'll be right with you."


About 3:30 P.M., Scully's home...

After Scully had left, Will had woken up, so Mulder had taken him into the living room to watch TV.

Now they were both dressed and ready to go pick up Scully and see everyone at the Bureau.

Mulder stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom, looking over both himself and his son. He decided that they looked pretty good.

He noticed how much Will looked like him, with his hazel eyes and pouty lips. He smiled into the mirror, and Will did the same, giggling.

As he walked to the phone to call the Brown's, he turned Will around and bounced him up and down.

"Daddy loves you, William. So does Mommy."

In response, Will babbled, "da...da...da...da..."

Mulder gasped in surprise. "Did you just say da-da?"

Will just said it again. "da....da..."

"Oh, wow! Your first word!!!" Mulder said with childlike joy.

"We've got to tell Mommy! But first, the Brown's."

He decided to just go over. He had never met Mr. and Mrs. Brown, and feeling a protection over his son, he wanted to talk to them before he left Will there. When he reached the door, he knocked softly. He heard footsteps coming to the door, and a moment later, Meredith answered.

"Oh, hi Mr. Mulder."

"Hi, um...are your parents home?"

"Ya just a second," Meredith answered. "Moooooooooomm! Mr.

Mulder's here to see you!" she yelled.

A moment later, Mrs. Brown appeared at the door. "Hello, Mr.

Mulder. What can I do for you. Oh, and please, come in."

Mulder walked in and sat down next to Mrs. Brown on the couch.

"Mrs. Brown-"

"Oh, you can call me Lela."

He began again. "Lela, I was just wondering if you could do me a favor. You see, Dana and I are going out to dinner tonight with her family, and we were wondering if you could possibly watch Will for a couple of hours."

Lela looked at Mulder's puppy dog eyes and decided her daughter was right. You just couldn't resist doing what he wanted.

Meredith came up and sat across from them in the recliner. "Oh, yes, Mum. Please can we?"

Lela smiled. Meredith loved little William almost like a brother.

She never minded playing with him, holding him or baby sitting him. They had never been able to have kids, so they had adopted Meredith when she was a newborn. She couldn't help but notice that she somewhat bore a resemblance to William and his father.

"All right. We'll do it."

"Thank you so much. Can I drop him off at about four thirty?"

Meredith cut in. "Yes, sure. I can't wait to play with him."

Mulder stood. "I'm very sorry, but I have to leave now. I'll be back later, and thanks again."

Meredith stood as well. "I'll walk you to the door if I can hold him."

Mulder handed her the infant and they walked to the door together.

They just stood outside the apartment for a few minutes, and Mulder just watched the girl play with his son. She was so good with him, and he was always happy when she held him. Once again, he saw the resemblance between the two children.

A few minutes later, Mulder and Will were in the car on their way to the office. Mulder was still thinking about Meredith and his son.

And then the thought slapped him in the face like a bunch of bricks.

Meredith...twelve years old...nearly thirteen years ago...

He needed to have a talk with Mrs. Brown...


At the FBI Field Office...4:03 P.M...

Mulder cautiously walked into the office, feeling like complete stranger in the place that he used to feel so at home in.

Balancing Will in one arm, Mulder picked up a visitor's pass from the security guard standing by the metal detector. As he walked away to find Scully, he vaguely heard the guard snicker, "Ole Spooky's baaaaaaaack..."

He just ignored the looks and stares and the whispers as he made his way to the basement office.

When he reached the door, he looked at the nameplate hanging on it. Special Agent Doggett, Special Agent Reyes and Special Agent Scully, it read. He almost felt a twinge of jealousy that his name wasn't on it, right next to Scully's. But now wasn't the time to think about that, with Hurricane Bill only about two hours away.

He had been looking at the sign and daydreaming for so long that he didn't know the door had been opened and Scully was standing in front of him, her hands on her hips and a smile lighting her face.

"Ready?" he simply asked, putting his free hand on her shoulder.

"Um...yeah, I think so," she answered. "All we have to do is go out and get me a new dress for tonight."

"But, Scully, with you that could take hours."

"It won't take long, Mulder. And besides, don't you want to see me model them?"

A mischievous look entered Mulder's eyes. He dropped his hand and put it around her waist instead. He dropped his eyes as well.

"As long as I get to come in the dressing room...You might need some help..."

"Mulder," she lowered her voice. "Not here."

"Sorry. So, where's old Doggie Dog at?"

"He's running a test on some fluid we had to get earlier. But don't worry, Mulder," she smiled. "You'll get to see him later."

"Oh. Yippee. I can't wait. Just remember Scully, we're not the best of friends, so don't be expecting us to hug and be all buttbuddyish."

Scully smiled slightly. "Mulder. You can get along for one night, can't you?"

Mulder fake pouted. "I don't know..."

Scully reached behind Mulder and smacked his butt. "You'd better," she tried to say sternly, to no avail.

Mulder feigned a look of total surprise. "Scully, why I'm appalled.

And in the office too!"

"Well, just a minute ago...never mind."

She took Will out of Mulder's arms and started walking for the elevator. As he ran to catch up with her, holding his butt with both hands, she whispered, "Told you I'd get you back!"


A Little While Later...

"Scully, I thought you said this wouldn't take long..."

A voice emerged from the dressing room. "Mulder, I've only been in here five minutes! You have no patience."

Mulder cracked his neck and moved Will to his other arm. "Well, I can't help myself. Hurricane Bill is going to kill me in about an hour!"

"Okay, okay. I'm coming."

A moment later, the dressing room door opened and Scully walked out. She was wearing a navy blue strappy dress that came down to about two inches above her knees. The bodice was fitting, and the v-neck revealed just the right amount of skin.

Mulder just stared at her, thinking she looked awesome.

"So," she twirled around slowly. "How do I look?"

Mulder didn't say anything for a while. He just looked her up and down and few times. Finally, a single word escaped his throat.

"Wow."

"So you like it," Scully smiled. She liked the look on his face: sheer amazement.

"Oh ya," was all he said back. He turned Will to face his mother.

"How does Mommy look, buddy?"

William just smiled and giggled a little.

Satisfied with the reaction, Scully turned and went back into the dressing room. A few minutes later, she emerged holding the dress over her arm.

"Ready to go, Foxy?" Scully put her arm around Mulder.

"Foxy? I thought you only called me that in..."

Scully put her finger to his lips to silence him. "Not here, Mulder."

"Sorry."


Later, at Red Lobster... 5:45...

Mulder and Scully arrived a little early. They saw a few people they knew, who all seemed very surprised to see them there, and together.

After a few minutes, they spotted Doggett and Skinner.

"Agent Scully, you look very beautiful," Skinner said, coming up to talk. Doggett followed suit.

"Watch it boys," Mulder said, taking Scully's hand. "This one's mine."

"Mulder! It's great to see you!" Skinner said, taking Mulder into a hug. Doggett just smiled, not wanting to get too close.

"I'm both very happy for the two of you," Doggett added. "I'm sure you'll have a great life together."

Mulder smiled, actually feeling halfway friendly toward the man.

"Yes, we will."

Scully looked over and spotted her mum and Bill walking into the restaurant. She poked Mulder in the side and whispered in his ear.

"Hurricane Bill at 6 o'clock."

Mulder's smile quickly faded. He fumbled with his tie, which he wore with a gray dress shirt and dress pants. "How do I look?" he asked.

She whispered so only he could hear. "You look fine. Relax." She fingered his tie with one hand.

When they were all seated, Mulder and Scully on one side and Skinner and Doggett on the other, Scully waved to her family, and soon all six of them were seated and had their food.

"So," Maggie said. "How have things been for you, Fox?"

Mulder replied, "Things are going great. I'm just really happy to be home with my family." He nodded to all of them, but especially Scully.

Scully beamed, but her fork stopped halfway to her mouth. She could have sworn she saw Bill make a gagging motion with his fingers.

"How have things been since you arrived back?" Skinner questioned.

"They've been just perfect," Mulder answered, nudging Scully a little.

Scully started to giggle softly, but quickly stopped herself. She just turned her eyes to him, and they shared a "look."

Needless to say, the rest of the table noticed.

From his seat across his sister, Bill noticed the look the couple shared. There was something different. He didn't know what it was, but there was definitely something going on between them.

The table ate in silence for awhile until they were disrupted.

"Ow! Who's kicking my leg?" Maggie asked loudly.

Mulder's face immediately turned a dark shade of red.

Scully's face was red too, but from silent laughter. She gently jabbed Mulder's leg with her heel, and his foot found hers.

Sitting there eating, Bill wanted to throw up. He could bet all the money in the world that if he looked under the table, he would see a game of footsie going on between his sister and Mulder.

Mulder. The name he hated most. When he heard about the dinner, he thought it would just be family. But no, Dana had to bring along her boss, her partner, and...him. Bill continued to eat in quiet anger even as the rest of the table continued to converse around him. No one seemed to know or care that he wasn't joining in.

Scully smiled as Mulder kept rubbing his foot up and down her leg. She guessed that maybe it was some kind of reassurance. But then, it was Mulder. She couldn't expect that from him.

They talked about work, William, Mulder's return, and just their lives in general until Bill looked over at his sister's hand.

He spoke up. "What...is that?" He pointed to her engagement ring.

Scully glanced at her finger and her eyes widened a little. "Oh, we were just going to tell you, weren't we Mulder?"

Mulder cleared his throat, a sure sign that he was getting nervous.

"Uh...yeah."

Skinner and Doggett threw each other a look that meant, 'I thought they knew.'

Scully looked over at her mom. "Mum, two nights ago, Mulder proposed to me. We're going to be married in April!"

Maggie gasped. "Oh Dana, I'm so happy for you! I knew this would happen! You don't know how long I've been waiting for this!" She reached over and hugged her daughter. The two women became engrossed in a discussion about the wedding, and of course the beautiful ring.

Mulder looked at Skinner and Doggett and rolled his eyes jokingly.

The three men shared in laughter, leaving Bill alone.

'I can't believe she's actually marrying him! After everything he's put her through, she still loves him. Son of a...'

Maggie suddenly turned to Bill. "Oh, Bill isn't this wonderful?"

Bill put his napkin on his plate and stood up with a bang. The whole table's eyes were on him. He didn't even try to force a smile as he said bitterly, "Just peachy." He walked out of the restaurant.

Scully excused herself and followed her brother out the door.

"Bill, I..."

"Dana, I don't even want to hear it. He's put you through so much, but you still love him? Geez, Dana, what's wrong with you?!"

Scully frowned. A light snow began to fall over the siblings, and she felt the chill of the weather. "Bill, I love him. I always have.

What I've been through, I've been through by choice. I could have left. But I didn't. God, Bill, why can't you just be happy for me, just this once?" She moved up to touch his arm, but he pulled away.

"You're stupid, Dana." He turned and started to walk to his car. At the doors, he spun around. "Have a great life, by the way.

Congratulations on making the biggest mistake of your life. You'll regret it." He got into the car and drove away, leaving Scully with hot tears standing in her blue eyes.

How could he say that to her. She brushed the angry tears away and was about to walk inside when she felt something being laid around her shoulders. She turned around to see Mulder, slipping her coat on. He gave her a little smile as he pulled her into his arms.

"It's okay, Scully," he murmured, gently raking his fingers through her auburn hair. They just stood in each other's arms, neither one saying a word, as a light snow drifted over them. Maggie Scully watched the display through the window as Skinner helped her into her coat.

The night may not have gone as the two had planned, but in the end, they'd always have each other.


About 9 o'clock, Scully's apartment...

"I hate him!"

Mulder sat on the bed with Will in his arms. "Aw, Scully, it can't be all that bad. Besides, he has no say in what we do anyway!"

Scully emerged from the bathroom, an angry scowl on her face.

"Mulder, it is a big deal. Bill has never approved of you, and I'm just sick and tired of him trying to act like he's my boss!"

Mulder just got up and put Will in the bassinet. He sat back down on the bed and patted the spot next to him.

She came and sat down, and he put his arm around her shoulders.

"Scully," he said softly. "Bill doesn't matter. All that matters is us."

He leaned in and gently kissed her cheek, pulling her so she was lying down next to him.

Scully looked up at him and smiled a little. She got up and crawled under the covers, and he followed her.

She lay down on her side, and he lay next to her, spooning himself around her body. He put his arms around her and hugged her tightly to him. He rested his chin on her hair.

"That's all that matters in the end," he whispered as slumber began to claim them. "And in the end, we'll always have each other."


II.

Bill turned dark eyes to his sister and her fianc..., holding an object in his large hand. "I told you you'd regret this, Dana. Now you will both pay."

Scully looked at Mulder, standing next to her. A bright red cut ran down the side of his face, oozing red blood. She felt a need to help him, but knew she couldn't.

Mulder stood his ground, pulling Scully behind him a little. She knew instinctively that he had recognized the object.

It was her gun.

Bill held out the gun, pointing it straight at Mulder, right between the eyes. "I told you this was a big mistake. I can't let you ruin my sister's happiness."

Scully peeked out from behind Mulder's favorite grey t-shirt.

"Bill, if you hurt him, you will be ruining my happiness. Bill..."

Bill suddenly snapped, shaking the gun. "SHUT UP DANA!"

Then Bill pulled the trigger. The bullet seemed to turn, seemed to move in slow motion, moving towards them. Scully screamed, throwing herself in front of Mulder.

In the path of the bullet.

Suddenly, everything went black, and she could hear voices, vaguely in her mind. The darkness became a swirl of every color of the rainbow, and she thought she heard Mulder's voice whispering her name.

Softly at first, and then so loudly that she had to open her eyes.

"Scully, wake up. Scully..." ~~~

She opened her eyes slowly to find herself in a sweat-soaked bed, hers she guessed, next to Mulder, him spooned around her, holding her waist, whispering her name.

"Mulder! No, Mulder, please no!"

She began thrashing around, but he held her in place with his strong arms. "Scully, it's okay. I'm okay. You had a bad dream.

Everything's going to be okay."

Scully stopped moving and turned a little. She reached up and with her ivory fingers touched the side of his face where the cuts had been. She wanted to know he was okay.

"Scully," Mulder whispered. "You okay?"

She just looked at him, tears filling her eyes. She leaned her head up against his chest and sobbed quietly. Mulder just held her and combed her hair with his fingers.

After a few minutes, she spoke in hiccuping leaps. "Mulder...he was...going...to kill you."

"Scully, no one's going to kill me. I'm fine, and so are you." She just sighed a little and leaned against him.

"Just hold me please," she whispered, clinging to him as if he would go away and leave her.

And he just held her.


The Next Morning...

Scully rolled over and looked at the alarm clock on the night table.

9:45. She was late for work. Really late, like by a couple hours.

She looked at Mulder laying next to her, his breathing even and long. She watched his chest rise and fall, and with a shudder, she remembered the night before, the dream. She wanted to put her hand on his chest to see if he was all right. But she had to get up.

As she went to check on William, she decided to call in sick. It wasn't worth going anyway.

After she had called, she went back to the bedroom, intent on sleeping for a few more hours. But she arrived to an empty bed.

She heard the shower running in the bathroom, and decided to just get up and make breakfast.


Meanwhile...

Mulder was in the shower, once again thinking about his young next-door neighbor, and what he heard about his sister. Maybe...

He mentally shook his head. No, it couldn't be. There was just no way.

No way.

There was just no way that Meredith was Samantha's daughter. But somehow, he wasn't reassured by his doubts.


"Scully? I need to talk to you about something that happened the other day." Mulder said as he came out of the bedroom, fully dressed, but with his hair still slightly damp.

Scully stood at the kitchen counter, making eggs and toast for them. She turned around with an expectant smile on her face.

"Yes?"

"Um," he started as she moved towards the kitchen table with two plates. He followed the scent of the food and sat down. "Someone came to visit me the other day. They said some stuff about Samantha."

"Um hum..." Scully mumbled as she tried to reach the high shelf for two glasses. She failed miserably. "Mulder? Help please?"

Mulder continued as he came up behind her and easily took down two glasses and set them on the counter. "He said that Samantha's ova were taken and used to create a child about 12 years ago..."

"And?" she asked as she filled the cups with milk and took them to the table. She sat down and began eating. He followed her.

"Scully? Are you listening?"

"Hm? Ya, Mulder. Go ahead." She turned her full attention to him, but found it hard considering that her mind kept straying to his wet hair and adorable face.

"Scully, this man who came, he told me that she was close to me.

And lately, I've been seeing a resemblance between our neighbor and Samantha, and William. I think Meredith may be Samantha's daughter."

"What??" Scully almost choked on a drink of milk. "You think..."

"Yeah, Scully. I think she could be Samantha's daughter."

"Well," she said. "I guess it's not entirely impossible. I mean, her mom did mention something to me about her being adopted once.

So, I guess it could be possible."

"Wow," he said, taking a bite of toast. "You actually agreed with me."

She got up from her place at the table and went to sit next to him.

"Mulder, I've been agreeing with you for a long time. I just never said anything."

Mulder smiled boyishly at her. "Really?"

"Yeah."

He changed the subject. "You know what? I forgot to tell you this, but I think Will said da-da."

Scully smiled at him. "Really?"

"Yeah."


Bill sat on the couch in Maggie's living room, contemplating his sister's decision to wed Fox Mulder.

Fox. What kind of a name was that?

Dana was stupid. Stupid to even think that Mulder could bring her happiness. After all, all the bad things in her life since 1993 had been his fault.

The anger kept building up inside of him, threatening to spill over and cover them. It kept burning inside his chest until he had to do something about it, or die trying.


That night...

~~~She heard voices. Everything was black, but she could hear them. It took her a minute, but she realized it was Mulder.

"Is she going to be all right?" he asked.

Another voice answered. "I don't know, but I have some bad news..."

She lost the rest of the conversation and became aware of a hand on her own limp one. Distantly she heard his voice.

"Scully, wake up. Please, Scully. I love you. You have to come back to me."

She wanted to scream out to him that she was there, she wanted to come back. The only problem was she didn't know where she was.~~~

She woke up in a cold sweat to see Mulder leaning over her. Her hand grasped his so tightly, it looked like circulation was being cut off.

"Scully. You okay?"

Another bad dream. That was all it was.

She just nodded and let go of his hand. "I'm okay, Mulder."

"You sure? You don't look so good and you've been sweating a lot."

She looked around at the damp sheets. "Sorry, Mulder."

He smiled down at her. How like her to think of him over herself.

"It's okay. You wanna go sleep on the floor?"

He picked up his pillow and blanket, tossing them to the floor. She complied and minutes later, they had made a comfortable bed for themselves.

Mulder laid down next to her and gently rubbed her shoulders. "So, what was it about?"

She sighed. "I was in the dark and I could hear you talking to someone. They told you bad news, and I couldn't hear it. Then you started talking to me but I couldn't talk back. You sounded so scared Mulder, that it scared me. It seemed so real."

"It's okay, Scully. It was just a dream." He pulled her close to him and put his arms around her stomach. "Go back to sleep."

It was then that she heard the fatigue in his voice. How long had she kept him up? She instantly felt shame in herself for keeping him awake all night. But her shame was calmed when she heard him drop off, his even breathing hot on her neck.

She closed her eyes and tried not to think of his scared voice. After all, they had a wedding to plan, and they'd have to be awake to plan it.


The Next Morning...The Brown Residence, 7:22 am... Lela Brown listened to her daughter's even breathing through the thin wall that separated her room from Meredith's. With each breath, she began to remember back to the adoption...

~~~Lela and Jack Brown stood in the office, waiting for the arrival of their new daughter. When she had finally arrived, a wisp of blonde hair covering her forehead, the couple ooed and ahhed over the beautiful baby.

As Lela took hold of her, she asked, "Who was her mother? I would like to write her and thank her for our little Meredith."

The social worker shook her head slightly. "I'm sorry, but there is no available information on her mother. You new daughter was created through two anonymous egg and sperm donations. The mother's was made in 1979 and kept in cold storage until the need arose. The father's was made in '86."

Lela had just thanked God in her mind as she cuddled her child.~~~

She remembered the day before...the resemblance she noticed between her child and Fox Mulder.

Could it be? Could she be his child? It didn't make sense. It just didn't. But...she could never tell.

She needed to have a talk with Mr. Mulder...


The next morning in Scully's apartment...9:30 am... Mulder woke up on the floor first. His arms were still around Scully and her auburn hair was splayed across his face.

He rubbed his sore hand from where she had gripped it last night.

Geez, this Bill thing must have really gotten to her.

Scully stirred a little. She rolled over to face him. "Hey," she simply said.

Mulder traced the lines of her face as he replied, "Morning."

She smiled at him. "Mulder...I'm really sorry about last night..."

He put a finger to her lips, silencing her. "Scully, it's okay.

Someday I'll have a bad dream and you'll have to help me. It's okay."

She smiled again and sat up. They immediately missed the other's body heat. "You know what we're going to do today?"

He yawned. "What?"

"Wedding planning!"


A little later...at Maggie's house...

"Mum, don't you think this one is perfect?" Scully asked as she bent over a bridal magazine.

Maggie pointed to another one. "Oh, Dana, I like this one too.

They're all so perfect looking."

Scully looked down at the bottom of the page. "Well, obviously, the prices aren't!" She giggled.

"Oh, Dana, don't worry about that stuff. We can get whatever you want!"

Mulder stood a good distance away from the women, holding Will and not wanting to interfere with their picking of the dress. And the scary part was, Bill was right across the room from him, just glaring.

Yikes. It was like hell and heaven on earth. At the same damn time.

Mulder watched Bill as he watched his sister, a fuming look on his face. But at least he wasn't yelling or anything.

Although his face was turning a lovely shade of red.

Suddenly, all he could see was a bridal magazine in his face. "Oh, Mulder what do you think of this one?" Scully asked, eager as a child waiting for Christmas.

"Um..." He looked closely at it. It was a nice dress, hell they all were. He just didn't under stand the facts about wedding dresses. "I like it!"

Maggie reached out and touched Scully's arm. "Dana, he doesn't get the wedding dress stuff. Just leave it to us, Fox, we'll do it right."

Mulder beamed widely at Maggie. Must not have been the "right one." The women soon forgot about him and once again pored over the thick magazine, crossing out and circling pictures.

Across the room, Bill looked like his face was about to explode...

Scully took a moment from looking at bridal magazines to take a peek at her brother. His face was bright red, and he looked very pissed.

Not that she cared or anything. But, every time she saw Bill, she couldn't help but think of her nightmare. The angry face in the dream looked a lot like the one he was sporting now. And that scared her a little.

"Dana," came a soft voice. "Dana, honey, how about this one?"

She looked back to the page, where her mum was back to pointing to dresses, not taking time to wait for approval. Rather, she disproved most of them herself. Scully smiled inwardly. Her mother must have felt that nothing was good enough for her.

Mulder, too, was watching Bill get madder by the minute. He looked down at Will and tried to think of a good excuse to leave.

"Ahem," he cleared his throat loudly until Scully and Maggie looked up at him expectantly.

"Hey, Scully, um, how about since you guys are looking at dresses, I could take Will and look at tuxes?"

Scully smiled on the outside, laughed on the inside. He wanted to get away from Bill. She nodded a little. "Okay, Mulder. Call me sometime. I'll be here, okay?"

"Okay, Scully." And with that, he was out the door faster than a rocket.

Bill excused himself to go to the bathroom, but not before he shot his sister a look that, had Mulder been around, would have made big trouble.

When he was gone Scully looked up at her mom. "Mum, why does Bill hate Mulder so much?"

Maggie sighed. "Oh, Dana. He just thinks he's protecting you. He feels that somehow some bad things in your life are his fault. I know they're not, be he just can't seem to grasp the fact that you're happy and safe with him."

"But Mum, can't he just leave?"

"Dana, I'm surprised. No matter what Bill says or does, he is still a part of our family and I still love him. I'm not saying that he's right, but I still love him." Maggie reprimanded gently.

Scully smiled. "I'm sorry Mum. But he just seems so weird lately.

He threatened me the other night at the restaurant, Mum. I'm just tired of him trying to rule my life."

Maggie smiled back. "I know Dana."

Bill came from the bathroom, the mean, angry look still on his face.

Scully turned to Maggie. "Mum, I'm going to go out for some fresh air, okay?"

"Okay."

And with that she was out of there faster than a rocket, Bill's dark eyes following her every move.

Probably going to go talk to HIM...Bill thought as he watched his sister leave. What is wrong with her? I can't believe I'm sitting here, they're picking out fricking wedding dresses!

A plan started to form in his mind. She didn't know what was best for her. But he was going to help her find out...


One Week Later...

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEE...

Scully rolled over and slammed her hand down on the alarm clock.

Then she rolled back over and smacked her other hand on Mulder.

"Mulder, get up."

Her request was met with a moan of protest.

"Mulder! Now! We have to get up and go. Mom and Hurricane Bill are meeting us for breakfast, Mulder!"

Another moan.

She sat up and grinned wickedly. "Oh, Mulder, you've forced me..." She reached out and smacked him hard on the backside.

That got him up. He immediately jumped up and held his butt.

"Ow, Dana, don't do that!"

"Sorry...Foxy," she emphasized the word. "We have to be at Mom's in an hour and neither of us has even showered this morning!"

Mulder raised an eyebrow. "Well, we could always shower together..."

Scully gave him an exasperated look. "Mulder, we don't have time.

If we do that we'll spend two days in the shower! Besides," she whispered, moving to sit closer to him, "Wasn't last night enough for now?"

Mulder joked, "It's never enough, honey!"

Scully got up and playfully tried to haul Mulder out of bed.

"Come...on...Mulder...get up!" He finally got up, but only after she left him alone.

He called to her as she got in the shower. "Oh, and Scully? If Bill gives either one of us a bad look, I'll kill him! I swear!"


At Maggie's House about an hour later...

"Mm, Maggie, this is great," Mulder said as he ate.

Scully smiled at him and rolled her eyes a little. "So, mom, how soon until we go dress shopping? I want to look especially *good*."

Maggie smiled inwardly. She was so excited. She sounded like she had at Christmas when she was a little girl, barely containing her excitement to open the presents. "Well, Dana, I was thinking maybe in a couple of weeks when we figure out just what you'd like."

Scully smiled in return. She shifted William to the other side of her lap as he greedily drank from the bottle of formula in his mouth.

Mulder changed the subject. No more wedding dress talk right now. "So, Maggie, we've decided that we're going to be using my parent's old summer home in Quanacatog during the summer, if you'd ever like to come stay. I also hear that there's some great ones up there for sale and rent."

Maggie smiled at him and dabbed her mouth with a napkin.

"Actually, Fox, I was thinking about renting a summer home sometime. If you could maybe find out for me if there's any for rent, just let me know."

"Sure," he answered back.

After that, talk turned back to the wedding, this time, who would be playing parts in it. Mulder had already decided on Skinner as a best man, and Scully wanted Meredith to be the flower girl.

Bill watched as his sister, mother and...*him* discussed more wedding plans. How could she be so stupid? She was making a huge mistake, marrying that man, Fox Mulder. He barely got the name into his head without throwing up. He had to tell her somehow, let her know that this was wrong. But how could he...

He tried to think of what was wrong with Mulder. He made a mental list in his head:

1.Dana, he's caused so much problems in your life. 2.He ran out on you and the baby. 3.He has a big nose.

Okay, so that last one probably wouldn't sway her. But he could think of others...

As Mulder and Maggie started to talk about the best man, Bill stood.

"Dana, can I talk to you outside for a minute?" He decided to play the sweet, innocent, hurting brother that he definitely was not.

Scully stood slowly. "Okay..." She handed Mulder the baby and walked outside with him...

Bill stopped just outside the front door. But before he could say anything, she stepped in. "Bill, I know what you're going to do.

You're gonna try to show me that he's not the one. You're going to try to give me a million reasons why I should leave him and settle down with someone..."safe..." But Bill, I love him and I AM safe with him, more safe than I could ever be. He knows me inside and out, he is my touchstone and my ultimate protection." She started to continue, but Bill stopped her.

"Dana, don't you see? You talk of love and protection, but you're only seeing what you want to see. He's a self centered asshole and he doesn't deserve you. You deserve better than him, Dana. And I'm going to show you." With that he spun and went back inside, the rage beginning to build again.

Standing alone, Scully had a flashback of her dream, Bill standing there. His face looked very much like it had just a moment ago.

She just couldn't shrug the feeling that something was wrong.


Later that night...

She started awake. She'd had another dream. Bill, in a bar, then driving somewhere. He was talking to himself the whole time about how he could've killed her.

But who was she?

This time she didn't cry out or wake Mulder. He was tired, and an earlier talk with Bill hadn't made matters better.

"You're nothing but a son of a bitch who doesn't deserve my sister!" Bill shouted.

Mulder just looked at him, anger clouding his dark eyes. "Why don't you just go away and die somewhere where no one will miss you? I'm getting sick of all this b.s. you're saying, Bill. You can't change us. So stop trying."'

Bill had stormed out of the room, leaving the other three.

Scully sighed a little. If only Bill wasn't around...


One week later...

There was a soft knock at the door.

Mulder walked to the door and opened it to see Meredith standing there with an overnight bag, and a pillow under one arm. In her other hand was a bottle of red wine.

"Thanks for letting me stay with you guys," She said, handing him the wine. At his puzzled look, she giggled and said, "I didn't steal it this time. Promise. My parents say thank you with wine." She walked in and set her stuff down. "So, where is everybody?"

He spoke from the kitchen. "Scully's at work and Will is sleeping.

Want anything to drink?"

"Water, please." She went in search of William who had begun to cry.

He came into the living room, a glass in his hand. "His crib's in there." He pointed to the nursery.

"I know," she said from the bedroom. "I've been here plenty of times." She emerged with a now awake William, who giggled and cooed as she held him in her arms.

He watched her as she sat down playing with his son. He felt that connection again. Only this time he had an idea what it was.


Later...

"Scully, I need you to do something for me," Mulder said as he sat down at the kitchen table.

She was busy getting supper ready and wasn't really listening.

"Hm...yeah, Mulder?" William's soft cries were heard in the baby monitor, then quieted as Meredith started singing softly to him.

~~~"Michael row the boat ashore...Hallelujah..."~~~ "Scully, I need you to get me anything you can find on Meredith's adoption, please? I have to know if she's Sam's daughter."

She stopped stirring the hamburger helper and turned to face him.

"Mulder! I don't know if I can get to confidential juvenile birth records." At his puppy dog eyes, she smiled a little. "I'll try."

~~~"Michael row the boat ashore...Hallelujah..."~~~ XXXXXXX

Meredith watched William as he slept, making soft baby noises.

Suddenly, he began to whimper, then cry.

She picked him up, and started to rock him a little as she sang softly.

"Michael row the boat ashore...Hallelujah..."

Then she heard their voices. They were talking just loud enough for her to hear him say, "I have to know if Meredith is Sam's daughter."

Who was Sam? Not her mom.

Then who could it be?

She walked into Scully's room, bouncing Will gently in her adept arms, and noticed a picture on the night table. It was a boy and a girl standing together by a tree.

She turned the picture over and saw the words: Fox, 12. Sam, 8.


2 days later...

She slipped out of the apartment, unnoticed. She walked down the streets, trying to calm her mind. One word spoke itself over and over again in her head, begging to be said aloud.

Adopted.

Meredith Brown was adopted.

When she'd confronted her parents about her origin, they had admitted to adopting her, then quickly said that they meant to tell her, someday.

Someday. A someday that would never come. And after hearing Mulder's words two days ago, her mind reeled with possibilities.

Was Samantha Mulder her birth mother?

It was just too weird. She walked around the complex a few times before going back into the building. As she got in the elevator, she tried to think of a way to talk to Mulder about it.

Hi, Mulder, I heard I'm Sam's daughter.

Nope.

Hi, Mulder, I'm your niece, nice to see ya.

Nooo.

Hi, Mulder, your sister got knocked up and guess what happened?

Me.

Noooooo. No. Noooo.

She would be staying with them again the next weekend.

She 'd think of something by then.


That next weekend...

"Mulder?" Meredith said softly, as not to wake William.

"Yeah?" He answered as he took her arm and led her into the living room, away from the nursery.

They sat down together on the couch and Mulder turned on the TV. Meredith picked up a photo album and absentmindedly leafed through it.

"Have you ever...felt a special connection with someone?" she asked.

How did she know? Did she...no, it can't be, he thought. "What do you mean?"

She sighed a little and turned a page. "You know, like, you look at someone and you just...I don't know...feel something different with them than with other people."

Whoa. This was scary. She knew exactly how he felt when he saw her. She had to know about Samantha, she had to. Or else she wouldn't be doing this...

"Mulder," she continued. "You had a sister right? Samantha."

"Yeah."

At his look she giggled. "I didn't read your mind or anything, Scully told me all about her when I used to visit a lot. She told me the abduction story and about the tests and stuff. Mulder, I didn't mean to listen in, but the other day I heard you and Scully talking about me. You said something about Sam's ova, and how I could be her daughter..."

He nodded. "Someone told me that you were her daughter. I want to know if it's true. If a part of her is really in you."

She brightened. "What about a DNA test? Maybe that could tell you. I want to know as badly as you do, Mr. Mulder. I really do!"

He sighed again. "Okay..."


"Well," Scully said, holding up Meredith's DNA charts, compared to Samantha's, "I'd say that Meredith Brown is definitely Samantha's daughter. The DNA is nearly identical."

Mulder and Meredith, both sitting on a table across the x-ray room, gasped in unison.

Meredith swallowed. "So, I'm his niece?" She gave Mulder a look of mock disdain, then giggled softly.

Scully smiled. "Yeah, it seems like that."

"Wow," she breathed. "You know, Mulder, I've always felt that special connection with you, and with William. Now I know why."

He smiled at her, and she smiled back. "Welcome to the family."


Sometime in the next April...

"I still can't believe the FBI is giving you so much leave time, Maggie said as she started to hem the bottom of Scully's dress.

"Well, mom," she replied as her mom began to hem the dress for about the twelfth time. "They usually do give a lot of time off. I'm just hoping they don't want me gone for good. Mulder's even considering going back after the wedding. Skinner offered him a job again. But, you know mom, even if neither of us decides to go back, we have enough money saved up that we won't need to look for jobs for quite awhile. Mulder's family has left him a lot of money."

Maggie smiled as she pulled a pin from between her teeth. "I just hope it all works out for you. But, Dana, if you are going to settle down and have a family, both of you aren't going to want to work.

Will you quit if you get pregnant again?"

"Yes," she answered. "But I really doubt that will happen."

Maggie worked in silence for a few minutes until Scully spoke up again.

"Mom," she changed the subject. "I don't know why I'm nervous about all of this. I mean, we have been living together for 5 months."

Maggie pulled out another pin and stuck it in the dress. "Oh, sweetie, it's probably because this is a huge commitment for anyone to make. You know, your father and I lived together for awhile before we got married, and even though I already had the practice of living with him, I was nervous about how it would be after the wedding. Things change, Dana. It's not all a honeymoon.

Five years down the road, it gets different."

"Thanks mom," she joked. "Now I really want to get married."

Then they both just laughed.


"Skinner, I don't know why I'm so nervous about this," Mulder groaned as he looked at himself in the mirror. He adjusted his black bow tie and sighed. "I mean we have been living together for awhile now. The wedding's tomorrow, and I feel like a virgin."

Skinner just laughed. "Don't be nervous, Mulder. I was nervous when I got married, even though my wife and I lived together for two years before we got married. It's just a big commitment to make, for anyone."

"Well, I'm just glad you're my best man. Then if I faint you can catch me."

"Or," Skinner smirked. "I could just let you fall on the floor and make an ass out of yourself."

They both just laughed.

Tomorrow was going to be a great day.


"Oh, Aunt Dana, your dress is beautiful," Eighteen year-old Anna Scully exclaimed softly as she put up her long red hair. "I'm so glad I was able to get away from dad long enough to come out here! It's just too bad that he shipped out and wasn't able to make it." She spoke of her father, Charlie Scully.

"I agree," Meredith added, smoothing the front of her white sleeveless dress. She adjusted the little flowered "headdress," as she liked to call it, and flipped the little dangling ribbons back.

Scully adjusted her dress. It was white, contrasting the color of her hair, with an empire waist, and skinny straps and a lace overlet.

"Thank you. You both look beautiful too."

Meredith laughed. "I'm so excited. I'm gonna go see what Uncle Mulder is up to!" At that statement, she turned and ran from the room, carrying her flower basket and her little white gloves.

Kate Ledger came up behind Anna and sighed. "Dana, I'm so happy you're finally settling down."

Anna and Kate's dresses were made of light pink material, the same styled waist and straps, but without lace.

Scully pulled her niece and her best friend into her arms and hugged them tightly. "I'm just so happy. I'm happy that you both could make it for the wedding."

Kate and Anna exchanged a look. "We wouldn't miss it for the world," Kate said softly as she pulled her hand up to reveal a little sprig of baby's breath. "I thought these would look cute in our hair."

Anna laughed as Kate handed her and Scully two sprigs each.

After they were in their hair, their turned and looked in the mirror, laughing at their appearance.

Maggie came in behind them and put her arms around all of them.

"Well, girls, I would say it's about time to go out there."


Skinner adjusted his black bow tie. He and Mulder wore matching tuxes. Little Matthew Scully was wearing a little suit and a pillow for the rings. He smiled up at Mulder.

"Uncle Fox, when do I get cake?" He asked.

Mulder just reached down and ruffled his soon to be nephew's hair.

"Soon, bud." He turned to the mirror. "How will Scully think I look?"

Suddenly Meredith appeared at his side. "She'll think you look hot, Uncle Mulder. Definitely." She raised an eyebrow.

He started and turned to face her. "Hey, aren't you supposed to be with Scully?"

"Yeah," she said, "But I just had to see you!"

Mulder grinned down at her and touched her hair.

Suddenly Maggie appeared. "Five minutes guys. This is it."

Mulder's smile disappeared and he fumbled with his suit. "I'm okay right? I feel like I'm a virgin right before the first pass."

Skinner laughed. "Don't be nervous."

"I'm trying, but it becomes increasingly harder by the moment."

As they walked out, Matthew whispered to Meredith, "What's a birgin?"


Meredith held Matthew's hand and they walked down the aisle together. Meredith had to keep him from wandering into the aisles or dropping the rings, but somehow they managed to make it up to the front.

Anna and Kate were next, one on each side of Mulder, their arms linked with his. They walked with a perfect grace, Anna's red hair swaying a little and Kate's eyes glittering with happiness at the thought of her very best friend getting married. Mulder was sure his hands were sweating. He hoped he didn't get them all wet or anything, especially since he'd just learned their names a few hours earlier. No sense in making a bad impression on his new family.

Then the wedding march began to play softly. Everyone rose as Scully entered with Skinner. He was going to give her away since her father wasn't there to see her.

Mulder watched as Scully came down the aisle, slowly and gracefully. But the look on her face, it held nervousness. But not doubt. She smiled at him as she reached the front. Skinner kissed her cheek and left her in Mulder's adept hands.

Mulder took her hand and squeezed it lightly, offering her a reassuring smile. Then they turned to face the minister.

"We are gathered here today to witness the marriage of Fox William Mulder and Dana Katherine Scully, a bonding in holy matrimony. The couple has asked to recite their own vows."

Mulder turned to Scully and looked into her blue eyes. He smiled and said, "Scully, when I first met you nine years ago, I was skeptic as to whether or not you would be a real friend to me." He paused, cleared his throat nervously. "But, as time went on, I began to see you in a new light. Not one of partnership, or friendship. But of love. Scully, you have always been my other half, my touchstone, my life. Oh, Dana, I love you so much." He rubbed her hand. "And I can't wait to spend my life with you."

She smiled up at him, tears standing in her eyes.

Then she squeezed his hand and took her turn. "Mulder, we've been through so much together. Through it all it was you and me. I couldn't have done it myself. I love you. I always have, and I always will. I want to spend my life with you." She smiled again, her eyes beginning to sparkle.

The minister cleared his throat. "And now, the rings."

Skinner gently pushed Matthew forward, and he proudly displayed the rings.

Mulder took Scully's, and slipped it onto her wedding ring finger.

"Dana, with this ring, I vow to stay with you forever. I will never leave you again. I will always be here for you, no matter what, when you need me."

She took his ring and slid it onto his finger. "Fox, with this ring, I pledge to never leave you, never run away. I will always be faithful to you, and to our family. I will love you with all my heart, for the rest of my life."

The minister continued the ceremony. "May God bless them as they continue on the journey of life together, that neither of them may stumble or fall. May God bestow his grace, love and protection on their home, that it may be built strong and with love and dedication. I know pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride."

Mulder leaned in and pressed his lips gently to hers. It ended all too soon though. He pulled away and when she silently protested, he whispered, "We'll save it for tonight."

She blushed, then beamed. As everyone cheered, they turned to walk away and the minister exclaimed, "I now present to you Mr.

and Mrs. Fox and Dana Mulder!"

Meredith nearly jumped with excitement. She tossed her remaining rose petals at the couple and laughed. Kate hugged little Matthew to her, and Skinner beamed like a father watching his children from the verandah.

Scully couldn't help but notice that Bill was the only person not laughing and cheering. In fact, he looked pretty mad.

She tried to forget him and concentrate on the honeymoon, a twoweek cruise to the Bahamas.

Meredith watched as Mulder kissed Scully again and the crowd laughed. They'd already picked out their new house, big enough for another addition to the family.

They'd all decided to work together to fix the place up, special for them. Everyone was helping. They'd even invited Tara and Bill, and although Tara had beamed at the suggestion, Bill had walked them away with a "we have to be going."

She hurried along behind the group as they went to take pictures before the reception, forgetting about Bill for the moment.


"Oh, Mulder! Look at this!" Scully exclaimed as she pulled out a set of china from Reyes and Doggett. "Isn't it beautiful?"

Mulder nodded politely. He was waiting for Skinner's gift, who'd said something about a present for that night.

As soon as everyone was done oo-ing and ah-ing over the china, Mulder picked up Skinner's gift. They opened it together, to reveal some lingerie and a book about marriage.

"Ah, Scully, this is my type of present," Mulder said as he gently laid it back in the box, winking at Skinner as he went.

Scully blushed profusely, and Tara and Bill's 3 year-old daughter, Erin, laughed at them. Tara smiled happily and picked Erin up so she could see the presents.

After awhile, they decided to leave, get ready for their trip that evening: flying to Florida so they could leave for their cruise.

After they got into the limousine, Mulder closed the driverpassenger divider and pulled Scully onto his lap and kissed her neck.

She laughed and pulled his lips up to hers. They kissed a few times, and then she settled back on his chest. "Ah, Mulder, we finally did it."

"Yeah," Mulder said. "I was nervous."

"Me too," she said. "But now, it's all over, and all we have to look forward to after the flight is..."

Mulder pulled one of the straps off her shoulder. "The first marriage pass."

"Mulder!" She said. "Right idea, wrong wording there."

"Oh, I think it's perfectly all right." He grinned at her and kissed her again while sliding her shoes off.

"Mulder, can't you wait?"

He looked her in the eyes. "I'm gonna keep going until we have to get out Skinner's gift. We'll save that part for tonight."

"Okay, Mulder," she laughed. "Okay."


The Next Morning...

"Goodbye, William," Scully cooed as she held him. "We'll see you in a couple of weeks, baby."

Meredith smiled as she took Will from her arms. "He'll be in good hands."

Mulder appeared next to Scully and took possession of her hands.

They were all standing on the dock together: Mulder and Scully, Meredith, William, Matthew, Erin, Skinner, Maggie, Doggett, Reyes, Bill, Tara, Anna, and Kate. They'd all flown down to see them off. Bill only came because Tara made him.

The Florida day was, as usual, hot and sunny in April. It was the perfect day to start a cruise.

"We'd better go," he said softly. He reached out and hugged Meredith and his son. "See you guys soon."

William giggled and Meredith beamed.

He pulled Maggie into a hug and said, "See you later, Mom."

Maggie grinned at him and kissed him on the cheek. "Bye, Fox.

Have fun."

He winked at her. "Oh, I will."

Scully hugged her mom, Anna, and Kate, one at a time with an I'll miss you so much and you'll have to come visit. She even tried to hug Bill, although it was strained.

They turned and walked up the ramp to the cruise ship, yelling good-byes over their shoulders.


They were immediately shown to their room, a honeymoon suite complete with everything. Mulder sat down on the king-sized bed and looked around. "This is great. Think we'll ever leave the room, Scully?"

She set her bags down in the corner, and then came and sat next to him. "Of course we will, Mulder. I want to get a tan."

"A tan? What's your swimming suit look like?" He raised his eyebrows.

She jumped up and started walking to the bathroom. On her way she grabbed a bag with her swim stuff in it. When she was all the way in the bathroom, she leaned back and stuck her head out, grinning slyly. "You'll just have to wait and see!"

"Ooh boy," he whispered to himself as he went to find his swim trunks somewhere among his stuff. After about a minute of searching, he found them. He stuck one leg in, and somehow ended up getting stuck in them. He fell to the floor, and finally he got them on, just as she came out, all wrapped up in a white beach towel so he couldn't see anything but her legs and her head.

She grinned. "Ready?"

He looked her up and down for a second. "But, don't I get to see what you're wearing?" "I want to surprise you," she laughed.

"Come on, Fox Mulder, let's go!" She reached out of her towel and tossed him one for himself.

He caught it with ease and threw it over his shoulder. He followed her to the door, and when she reached her hand out to open the door, he snatched the towel away from her and put it over his other shoulder.

He gave a low whistle at the sight of her. "Ooo, Dana Mulder, what would your catholic sisters think of you?"

She was wearing a white bikini with a high cut bottom and a triangle top that tied in the middle. Around her hips was a little gold chain.

She sighed warily and grabbed her towel back. "Mulder, I knew you were going to do that. Let's go, come on!"

She seized his arm and he followed her out the door in a daze.


Scully stretched out on a white beach chair and sighed contentedly.

Mulder came up and sat down next to her, handing her a glass of lemonade.

"Thanks, Mulder," she said, sitting up and taking a sip. "Mm."

They just lay around in their chairs, talking, until an unfamiliar face appeared above them.

"Hello, mates," the man said. "Enjoying your cruise so far?"

They sat up, Mulder peering through his sunglasses at the man, assumedly the captain. He didn't like the way his gaze lingered on Scully. "Just fine," he answered.

Scully lifted her sunglasses to her hair and smiled a little. "It's very peaceful."

The captain smiled. "We take pride in keeping our cruises as tranquil as possible for our customers."

Mulder added, "It's just perfect for our honeymoon. I'm glad we picked it." He stressed the word honeymoon, piercing the captain with shaded eyes.

The man's smile faded a little, but he nodded just the same. "A lot of couples pick our cruises for their honeymoons. Well, I'm glad you're enjoying it, and maybe I'll see you later." That part was directed to Scully, it was obvious since he looked her direction.

Mulder scowled at his back as he walked away. When he was out of sight, Scully asked, "What's wrong Mulder?"

He replied, "He was hitting on you, Scully."

"No he wasn't Mulder. He was just being friendly. It's their job."

"But still..."

She smiled and kissed him. "It's okay, Mulder. Hey, look. We're the only ones out here right now. You want to go take a dip?"

"Sure." They got up and walked to the edge of the pool. Scully slipped in easily, shuddering at first from the cool water. Mulder came in behind her and drew her to him until she was sitting between his legs. They stretched out together; she leaned up against his chest, and they just took in the sun.

She sighed happily. "Oh, Mulder, I'm so glad we got to get away and do this. It's been forever since we could be alone. I mean, really alone."

He slipped his arms around her hips. "It feels great just to be here with you, sitting in the pool, taking in the sun, and knowing that you're all mine."

She laughed and swam away from him. "Not for long!" She squealed and splashed water at him.

The water hit its target, getting him right in the face. With feigned anger, he jumped up and swam after her, his arms moving in graceful strokes across the clear water. She swam faster and faster, but ultimately he caught up with her and grabbed her arms.

"Oh, so you think you can get me wet and not get it back yourself?

Give a little, get a little, Agent Scully!" With that he dunked her all the way under.

A few seconds later she emerged, coughing and sputtering for air, but laughing just the same. He looked at her, soaking wet and coughing hard, and he had to stifle a laugh.

Then she stopped. She just stared at him for a minute. She reached out as far as she could and made a little splash. When he looked away she jumped on him and pushed him under. He came up beneath her so she was straddling his legs.

"Got you!" She laughed triumphantly.

"Oh, Dana," he said. "You had to have known that I did that on purpose, letting you get me like that. I saw you splash the water."

"I had you big time," she whispered as she nibbled on his ear a little.

"Oo, Scully, you know we're outside, people are probably watching us," he joked.

"Let them watch," she smiled, kissing his cheek and swimming away again. "Oh and remember we're going to that dinner tonight.

No dinner in our room today."

"Oh, darn. And I was hoping I could feed you grapes in bed." He got up and out of the pool.

As he helped her out, she muttered, "Tomorrow night sounds good, Fox Mulder."

"You're on, Dana Mulder."


The last night...

"Oh, Mulder, I can't believe we're leaving tomorrow," Scully said as they stood on the deck, watching the waves gently caress the sides of the cruise ship.

Mulder slid his arms around her stomach and rocked back and forth gently. "This has been the best two weeks of my life, Scully.

And when we go back tomorrow, it'll be just as good."

She sighed, "I know. But I'm still going to miss this, just the two of us, no one around. It's heavenly."

"It is," he replied. "You know, Scully, I don't think I'm going to take that job offer from Skinner. We can sell my family's extra summer homes, we have a few in different places. If we put the money in the bank, plus the money from my parent's wills, we'll have enough to get on for awhile."

She turned in his arms and smiled up at him. "Really, Mulder? I think that's a good idea."

"Of course we'll keep the Quanacatog home. That one was always my favorite." He smiled and kissed the top of her head. "Well, we'd better be heading to bed. We've got a long trip ahead of us tomorrow." He reached down and picked her up.

"Mulder, what are you doing?" she laughed.

"Carrying you over the threshold. We haven't done that yet."

She just threw back her head and laughed as he carried his damsel across the threshold.


The Next Day...

1129 Armor Street Albridge, Maryland

They finally arrived at the house. Scully removed her sunglasses and brushed back a strand of hair as she climbed out of the car.

Mulder was right behind her, taking both of their bags.

Meredith stared out the window as the newlyweds got out of the car, her small nose pressed against the pane. They looked different, with dark tans and an air of what it feels like to be married. He carried her bag along with his.

She couldn't help but gasp. They were back, but the work on the house wasn't done. They'd planned to fix up their new house, but the paint job wasn't quite finished.

She hurriedly picked up her bucket of ivory paint and her roller and got to work on the remaining wall of the living room as she called to Anna that they were home.

Anna Scully flicked back her red ponytail with one hand as she stood back to admire her job in the master bedroom. The light yellow paint on the walls gleamed with newness. The bed was made up in one area of the room, with brand new sheets and pillows that begged to be slept on. The ivory carpet was clean and spotless where it led to the master bathroom. She grinned to herself. Her aunt was going to love this.

Kate sighed as she tried to put together the pieces of the oak dining room table. She blew her brunette hair out of her eyes as she attached the final leg. Skinner entered the room and helped her turn the table over. She smiled at him gratefully. He smiled back, and went back to work fixing up the kitchen.

Kate started when she heard Meredith call out, "They're home!"


Mulder took out his key and started to unlock the door, but to his surprise it was already waiting to be opened. He pushed the door open a little and he and Scully walked in to see everyone working frantically on their new home.

Scully was shocked speechless when Meredith ran up, her eyes bright and excited. "So, how do you like it? We were going to have it all done before you came back, but it's taken longer than we thought."

She just nodded. "It's wonderful. Thank you so much!"

A little while later, the work was complete, with the exception of some drying paint. Everyone gathered in the living room, Maggie holding William, who was very happy to see his parents but would rather sit with his grandma.

Mulder noticed that for some reason, Bill was in presence. He almost laughed. Maggie must have made him come.

"So," Maggie started. "How was the honeymoon? We're dying to know!"

"Mom..." Scully said, but Mulder interrupted.

"It was wonderful. We spent every day by the pool, and every evening..." He nudged Scully with his elbow and winked to the group, which made them all laugh.

Scully rolled her eyes good-naturedly and smiled.

Suddenly, Bill stood up.

"I can't take this anymore!" he said, nearly yelling. "I just cannot sit by here and watch this shit!"

Anna surprised everyone by standing up too. "Bill, I am sick and tired of YOUR shit. Be happy for them, for god's sake! You always have had a problem with this, so tell me, why are you even around? We don't want you here if you're just going to be a ass!"

Bill's expression turned from anger, to shock, and back to anger again. He just shook his head and stormed out of the room.

Anna sat back down. "I'm sorry, Aunt Dana, I didn't mean to ruin the fun. I'm just tired of Bill. He's driving himself crazy over this!

And me too!"

Mulder coughed. "It's okay, Anna. He deserves what he gets."

Anna laughed. "Glad you agree, Uncle Mulder." She too a little bow and sat back down as the conversation started up again, this time on the new home.


About a week later...

"Shut up!" Bill screamed.

When had it gotten this bad? Scully wondered as she stood by Mulder. Bill had come over to 'talk about the problems and get everything resolved,' or so he had said. Now they were yelling at each other, Mulder and Scully on one side of their glass coffee table and Bill on the other.

Bill took a swing at Mulder, but he dodged the fist and Bill fell onto the coffee table, shattering it into a zillion sparkling pieces.

Some of the glass had flown into Mulder's face, cutting him on the cheek.

Bill stood, and Scully noticed his eyes. Not the eyes of her loving brother, who was at times overprotective. They were eyes of a madman.

Suddenly, Bill pulled out a dark object. Mulder instinctively jumped up and shielded Scully with his arms.

Scully tried pleading with him. "Bill, you don't have to do this."

"Yes," he said. "I do."

Bill turned dark eyes to his sister and her husband, holding the object in his large hand. "I told you you'd regret this, Dana. Now you will both pay."

Scully looked at Mulder, standing next to her. A bright red cut ran down the side of his face, oozing red blood. She felt a need to help him, but knew she couldn't.

Mulder stood his ground, pulling Scully behind him a little. She knew instinctively that he had recognized the object.

It was her gun.

Bill held out the gun, pointing it straight at Mulder, right between the eyes. "I told you this was a big mistake. I can't let you ruin my sister's happiness."

Scully peeked out from behind Mulder's favorite grey T-shirt.

"Bill, if you hurt him, you will be ruining my happiness. Bill..."

Bill suddenly snapped, shaking the gun. "SHUT UP DANA!"

Then Bill pulled the trigger. The bullet seemed to turn, seemed to move in slow motion, moving towards them. Scully screamed, throwing herself in front of Mulder. In the path of the bullet.

Suddenly, everything went black, and she could hear voices, vaguely in her mind. She fought to hear them. The darkness became a swirl of every color of the rainbow, and she thought she heard Mulder's voice whispering her name.

But she wasn't sure, wasn't sure of anything but the pain. She heard Bill's gasp, heard Mulder screaming her name and calling 911 to come save his damsel in distress.

And she closed her eyes, not wanting to fight anymore.


III.

Amidst the swirl of darkness, she heard voices, Mulder's voice, then another, her doctor, both faint.

"Is she going to be okay?" Mulder's voice, choked with tears, anguished and desperate. The doctor spoke, but she didn't hear it.

She wanted to scream, to cry out to Mulder that she was okay. But somehow the words went unspoken on her lips.


Mulder reached out and put his own shaking hand on Scully's still one. He hated Bill, wanted to kill him for what he had done. When Anna had found out what happened, she'd be just as angry, promising to do something about it.

Just then the doctor walked in.

"Is she going to be okay?" Mulder asked, feeling unshed tears clog his throat.

"Well," the doctor began, "I can't be sure. She's not in a coma, but she's not with us. We were able to get the bullet out, so I think, yes she will make it. You're a very lucky man, Mr. Mulder. But," he said. "I have some news."

"Good or bad?"

"In a way," the doctor said, "it's both good and bad..."


"Bill, do you have any idea what you did?" Anna's voice rang in his ears as he remembered his earlier conversation with his niece.

~~~She continued. "You might have *killed* her, Bill..."~~~ He sat alone in the bar, chugging down shot after shot of strong, hard liquor.

~~~"She's almost in a coma, Bill..."~~~

He hadn't expected it to go that far. He hadn't expected to pull the gun, to shoot his baby sister.

~~~"You deserve to die..." she whispered.~~~

He paid for his drinks, tears blurring his drunken eyes, his vision blurry not only from the drinks.

~~~"I can't believe you..." she said.~~~

He got into the car, barely seeing anything.

~~~"You don't know what trouble you've caused, Bill..."~~~ He didn't mean to, he'd screamed into the phone. And he didn't. He drove aimlessly, swerving in and out of the nearly empty lanes. It was then that his vision cleared just enough to see a semi headed in his direction...

~"You could've killed her..."~~~

The words rang true in his ears.

Youkilledhermuldersgonnakillyouyoukilledheryouratbastardsonofa bitchyoudontde servetoliveIcantbelieveyou...

He swerved suddenly, not because of the drinks. But because of what he had done.

Youkilledheryoukilledhersonofaratmuldersgonnakillyouyoudeserv etodieyou...

The driver of the semi honked loudly, motioning frantically to him.

He just kept going, not seeing anything but the color red.

itsyourfaultyoudeservetodieIwishyouweredead...

It was too late to change his mind as he crashed head-on into the semi.

yourgoingtodieratsonofamuldersgonnakillyou...

The front end of the car smashed in and the car immediately burst into flames.

But he didn't die right away.

The flames licked his body, taking him in...

yourgoingtodieyoudeservetodiesohereitisdanaImgivingittoyou...

He gave up his last breath as the car was engulfed in bright orange and yellow flames, lighting up the horizon, giving beauty to the world through a flaming torch of death.


The darkness began to clear, becoming brighter and brighter with every passing moment. She slowly opened her eyes.

The very first thing she saw was Mulder, his feet up on her bed and sleeping on a chair that he had probably pulled from its place across the room, judging by another chair next to an empty spot.

The next thing she noticed was a pain somewhere in her chest, and one in her lower abdomen. She tried to sit up, even a little, but when she moved, the pain worsened, causing her to let out a gasp.

Mulder immediately started, almost falling out of his chair. He rubbed his eyes frantically, and when he saw her awake he reached for her hand.

"Scully, oh god..." he trailed off, rubbing her hand gently now.

She smiled a little. "Mulder..." she cleared her throat, surprised at how gravely her voice sounded. "What day is it?"

"Thursday," he whispered.

Thursday. Bill came over Sunday. That meant... four days lost.

He cut into her thoughts. "Scully, I...I have some news for you."

"Good or bad?" she whispered, remembering what he had said to the doctor.

"I don't know, Scully," he answered. "Dana...you...you were pregnant..."

He heart leapt quietly at those words. But then... "I...was?" she swallowed hard, tears filling her eyes.

He suddenly broke down, grasping her hand in both of his, leaning in them as tears filled his hazel eyes and choked his voice.

"Our daughter, Dana," he choked. "We were going to have a daughter. Nearly...nearly three months along...chromosome check...our daughter..."

Her own tears fell fast now as she felt his tears, scalding hot on her hand. She gripped his hands with her other one and pulled him to her, gently placing her lips on his knuckles.

"Oh, Fox...oh my god," she whispered past the lump in her throat.

"Hold me..."

And they just held each other for a while before Mulder whispered.

"I have more news. Bill is dead..."

Her eyes widened slightly. "What...what happened?"

He sighed. "Well, apparently, he felt so guilty about what happened to you that he fled. He went to a bar, got drunk, and then went for a drive. A drive that ended his life. The police don't know if it was an accident or not. I'm sorry, Scully, I know he was your brother."

She shushed him with a finger to his lips. "No, Mulder. It's okay."

He hugged her tight. It was good to have her back.


At Bill's Memorial...about a week and a half later...

Hillary Scully adjusted her blank tank dress and sighed as she sat down in front of the long white casket.

Of course, she thought to herself, it wasn't like they needed the whole thing. After what had happened to him. But in a way, she mused, he deserved it, deserved it for what he could've done to Dana. What he did to the baby.

Mulder and Scully soon joined her. Scully still looked a little pale, but she was getting better every day, considering she'd just lost her chance at having another child. His arm was holding her by the waist, a hand protectively in hers. Mulder had become even more protective of her since she was shot, always staying by her side.

Hillary sighed again. She'd just met Mulder the day before, and already she felt that he was a good choice for her cousin.

"How are you, Dana?" She asked, leaning forward to hug her.

"I'm doing better," Scully sighed. "I'm still sad about the baby, but I think I'll feel better soon."

"Good," she answered. "Dana, about Bill...I'm not glad he's dead, but I am happy that he's gone."

"I am too, Hill," Scully said.

Tara, Matthew, and Erin walked slowly up to them. Tears streaked Tara's face, but she smiled at all of them just the same.

Scully reached out to hug her sister-in-law. "Oh, Tara, I'm so sorry."

"Don't be," she said back, wiping tears from her eyes. "It's all right.

The police think he may have killed himself. I know it would be because of what he did to you. I'm sorry."

Scully frowned. "It's okay, Tara. It's all going to be okay."

Tara's face crumpled and she fell into Scully's embrace as Mulder and Hillary hugged Matthew and Erin. Soon after, the minister walked forward and announced that the memorial was officially over.


A few days later...

"I'm sorry, Mulder, Meredith's not feeling too well today," Lela Brown said as she held the door slightly ajar. "She's been having headaches lately, but when she feels better I'll be sure to tell her that she's welcome to stay."

"All right, Lela," Mulder said. "Oh, and thanks. Tell Merry to get well soon. We'd really like to have her."

"I'll do that, Mr. Mulder. Thanks for stopping by."

Mulder turned and walked back to the apartment. when he got inside, he found Scully up on the couch, feeding Will a bottle.

"Scully," he admonished gently. "You should be laying down until you regain strength."

Her coloring was better, her paleness nearly gone. She arched one eyebrow in a challenging way. "Mulder...I am feeling better. How's Meredith?"

"She's not feeling well, which is kind of weird, since she's been kind of sick for awhile now," he answered. "But when she feels better, Lela said she can take a trip to the beach with us and stay over for a couple of days."

Scully smiled. "Good. I'm glad she's spending more time with us."

"Me too."

He sat down next to her on the couch and saw that Will had fallen asleep in her arms. "So, Scully...you're feeling better, Will's asleep...want to go cuddle?"

She smiled at him. "Yeah. I'd like that."


He pulled her into his arms and spooned himself around her, placing his hands on her flat stomach. She sighed and spoke softly.

"Mulder?"

"Yeah?" He asked, pulling her a little closer to him, nuzzling his face in her neck.

"Are you...angry...about our child?"

He pulled back a bit and kissed her ear. "Of course I am, Scully.

I'm still mad at Bill for what he did to you."

"But," she said again. "Are you angry with me? That I lost our only chance to have another child?"

Mulder stopped kissing her ear. "Why would I be mad at you?"

"I jumped in front of that bullet," she whispered.

"Scully," Mulder started. "I could never be angry with you. You saved me, you saved my life, Scully."

She sighed again. "Okay, I just needed to hear that."

They laid in silence, him kissing her neck and ears gently, until they both fell into a light slumber, their dreams filled with images of what their little daughter might have looked like.


About a week later... 9:45 am...

There was a soft knock at the door. Mulder walked toward it, bouncing Will on one arm. He opened the door to see Meredith, her face pale and gaunt, light circles under her hazel eyes.

But a smile lit her face as she held her beach bag under one arm, and a white cover-up over her navy blue two-piece.

"It's a perfect day for the beach!" she said excitedly as she walked in and set her bag down. "Is everyone ready to go?"

Mulder nodded towards the master bedroom. "We're ready...I'm not sure about Scully, though. She's been in there for awhile."

She giggled. "I'll go in there and see what she's up to."

She walked into the master bedroom and found Scully in the bathroom, curling her hair. Meredith walked to the doorway and just laughed.

Scully started a little and turned. "Oh, hi...you're here already?"

"Um, Aunt Scully," she said, still laughing, "It's almost 10 o'clock.

I'm actually a little late."

"Oh," she turned back to the mirror. "So, you just gonna stand there, or are you going to come in and have a look at your self?"

Meredith beamed and walked into the bright lights. She stared at herself in the big mirror. She lifted her hand and ran her fingers through her straight blonde hair and wrinkled her nose.

"It's so straight," she complained quietly.

Scully paused and turned glinting eyes to her niece. She reached out and clasped a piece of Meredith's hair in the barrel of the curling iron. She twisted it up and then let it go, leaving a perfect spiral.

Meredith looked up and smiled as Scully continued to curl her hair.

Suddenly Mulder appeared in the doorway with Will in his arms, both decked out in their swimming trunks. "Are you guys coming?" He turned away, mumbling, "Girls, Willie. They take too long to get ready, don't they?"

Scully turned and laughed. "In a minute, Fox." She turned back.

Meredith smiled. "Yeah, in a minute," she whispered, a smile on her face.


At the beach...

Meredith plucked William from Mulder's arms as soon as they reached the ocean. "I'll get his sunscreen on, okay?"

Mulder just nodded as Meredith sat down on her towel and put William between her knees.

"Wa-wa," William babbled.

"Yes, William, that's the water," Meredith cooed as she spread sunscreen on his back. "You know, Mulder, I can't believe we're the only ones here. It's so beautiful today."

"I know. It's great," he replied.

Mulder sat down on his towel, and a minute later, he felt soft, warm hands on his upper back, gently caressing.

He sighed and turned to see Scully, rubbing milky white sunscreen on his back. She smiled and kept going, traveling downward and spreading the sunscreen on his lower back and arms "Ah, Scully," Mulder said softly. "Keep going."

She chuckled lightly. "Mulder, I have to do your front, too.

Besides, you have to do me when I'm done with you. Wouldn't want me burning, now would you?"

Mulder laughed. "No, Ma'am." He leaned back to rest his weight on his elbows as she came around him and straddled his legs to put sunscreen on his chest. He grabbed her hips and she scooted back.

"Mulder," she said quietly as she worked. "Meredith's right here."

"So?" He leaned up and gave her a big hug, pushing himself around her so he could do her sunscreen.

He slowly rubbed the sunscreen on her back and shoulders. She sighed contentedly and watched Meredith put sunscreen on William. She was slow and careful and precise, making sure that he wouldn't burn.

Mulder came around to the front and started doing her stomach. He tickled her gently, and she laughed under his assault.

He had just finished with her when Meredith said, "I'm done with me and Will. Can I take him in the water, if I'm very careful?"

Scully answered, "Sure, sweetie, just stay close to the shore, okay?"

She nodded and was off in a flash, helping William walk by holding his hands.

Mulder suddenly grabbed Scully. "Mrs. Mulder, your water awaits."

"No, Mulder..." she squealed as he picked her up easily and carried her to the shore. He grinned down at her as he walked out until the water was up to his waist.

She gripped his arms tightly. "Mulder, you wouldn't dare..."

"Oh," he laughed. "I dare." He let go and dropped her into the water.

She came up sputtering for air. "Mulder!"

He just grinned at her again and dunked under the water, grabbing her legs in the process and pulling her back under.

Meredith watched from the shore as her aunt and uncle played in the water together. She shook her head good-naturedly. They acted like little kids sometimes. She held William's hands and he tried to get out to his parents.

She scooped him up and giggled, "No, William. They'll be back soon."

"Da-da," William said.

"Yes, there's daddy. And Mommy."

"Ma-ma-ma," Will cooed in response.

Meredith suddenly felt a stabbing pain in her temple. She reached up with one hand to help the pressure. Then it went away. She hoped it would stay away for the rest of the day.

After a little while, Mulder and Scully came back, dripping wet and laughing like school children.

"Looks like you two had fun," Meredith giggled.

"Oh yeah," Mulder laughed, shaking his head and spraying water on Meredith and Scully, much to their delight.

Mulder took Will and left the girls to talk. He walked toward the shore as the sun began to set. "Well, bud, looks like we need to find something to do now that your Mommy and Merry are talking."

Will giggled and said, "Da-da," as he brought a little hand up to touch Mulder's face. Mulder laughed and pretended to bite William's finger, to which he laughed and yanked his hand away.

Mulder fingered Will's hair, now more grown out, brown with a hint of Scully's auburn in it.

"Will, someday, you're going to know how lucky you are, to have your mother. She loves you so much, and so do I. Bud, you've got a good life, and I hope you never want to trade it."

Will calmed and looked up at his father, his eyes wide, like he was listening. Mulder smiled. "There's so much you're going to know someday. About Samantha, about me, about your mother. And-"

He was interrupted by a muffled cry and the word, "Mulder!"

Mulder immediately ran over with Will to find Meredith unconscious on her towel, her pale face looking more gaunt than ever. Scully leaned over her, trying to help, to no avail. "Mulder, we've got to get her to the hospital now!"

She took Will, and Mulder picked up Meredith. Tears stung his eyes as he felt how tiny she was, how thin and sickly she looked.

As they carried her to the car, Mulder hoped with all his might that she would be okay.


IV.

Mulder watched Meredith intently. She was laying down, but conscious now. Her parents were bent over her, holding her hands and stroking her hair.

Scully came up behind him and slid an arm around him. "You okay?"

He nodded, looking into her eyes. "Do they know what's wrong?"

She took a deep breath. "Yes...Mulder, I don't know if you should hear this yet...it's very upsetting."

He squeezed her hand. "It's okay...tell me..."

Tears filled her eyes and came down her face. "Meredith's been having headaches, and her parents had no idea what they were for.

Mulder, Meredith has an inoperable brain tumor."

Tears filled his own hazel eyes. "Can't they do something?"

She nodded. "They're going to try chemo, but they doubt it will work. If it doesn't work, they're giving her two months..." A tear rolled down her cheek. "She just had a headache...just wanted to lay down for a minute, Mulder..."

He took her in his arms and hugged her to him. She buried her face in his shoulder as sobs racked her body. "I can't promise it's going to be okay, Dana..." he whispered, "But I can say that we will get through this."

She spoke into his shoulder, "We've hardly had a chance to know her...and she's leaving..." she choked, "This is almost as bad as when Emily left."

He stroked her hair and buried his face in it. "I know, I know...we'll get through it, we will..."

She leaned back and he kissed her gently as he pulled her back into an embrace.

"I hope so..." she whispered.


The next day...

Mulder and Scully arrived at the hospital to see a young woman standing outside Meredith's room window, tears streaking her pretty face. She was tall, with light brown hair and green eyes.

She turned when they approached. "Oh, you must be Fox and Dana Mulder," she whispered. "I'm Christianna, Meredith's sister. She called me last night, told me what happened. I just," she paused, wiping a tear away. "I just can't believe this is really happening.

She's dying..."

Scully whispered back, "We don't know that yet."

Christianna smiled a little. "Meredith told me last night, on the phone, that she knew she was dying. She knew they wouldn't be able to help her. She cares about you guys a lot, you know. Told me all about everything that had been happening with you two, you being her uncle...It's amazing. Just think, you may have never known her. I'm very glad she got to meet you, to know you."

Mulder smiled sadly. "We're very glad too."

Christianna impulsively reached out and hugged both of them.

"We're going to get through this...we are..." she said softly, a smile breaking through her tears.

"We are..." Scully said as they hugged her back. "We will..."


A week later...

"I'm not afraid of dying, Mulder," Meredith said, sitting up in her bed. Her voice was raspy, weak.

He didn't answer, but tears filled his eyes at he response to his question.

She reached out and grabbed his hand. He felt the IV through her pale skin. She was so small now, so frail and fragile. The chemo, it didn't work very well. It only made her feel sick, and although she didn't lose her hair, she also didn't lose the tumor growing inside of her.

"You know what I'm afraid of?" she whispered.

"What?" The word was choked out.

"I get afraid when I'm in my hospital bed, alone at night, with no one around. And I never when it's going to happen. Five minutes from now, 5 hours, five days. I never know. I'm afraid that death is going to sneak up behind me and choke the life out of me before I'm ready."

He leaned over and hugged her. He could feel her protruding shoulder blades on his arms as he kissed the top of her head. His tears fell gently into her hair as she leaned back and cupped his face in both of her hands.

"Don't be sad, Mulder," she said, even as tears filled her own eyes and spilled down her face. "I'm not in any pain right now." She smiled sadly and looked into his eyes. "I just want to remind you of this. Just know that, when I do leave, I'm safe, with your mother, your father, and your sister. And I'll be free."

He wiped his eyes and whispered, "If you had one more wish, what would do with it?"

She smiled a little and raised her eyebrows. "I would forget the cancer for a day, and I would like to have one more good time.

With you, with Scully, with little Will. With everyone. I would go to the beach one last time, so if I get lonely in heaven, I can just look back and remember it."

The tears had dried on his cheeks. He brushed back a strand of her hair and said, "I think that can be arranged."


A few days later...

"You know, Mulder, I didn't think you'd actually do it," Meredith said as she leaned back in her hospital issue wheelchair and smiled contentedly.

Mulder pushed the wheelchair across the sand. She needed one because going to the beach without one might take too much energy and rush the tumor's progress. It was a sunny day, not too sunny, but just right.

He put his fingers in her hair and said, "Of course I would."

She turned to face him and smiled again as she adjusted her swimming suit. "Thanks." Jack and Lela Brown got out of the car, Scully and Christianna following close behind them. Christianna held William's hands as he walked. He was much steadier now and needed only a little help so he wouldn't fall in the sand. He smiled and showed some of the teeth that had grown in since his first birthday about a month earlier.

Once they were all seated at a picnic table, all was silent. William laughed and pointed to Meredith and he said, "Merry."

Meredith smiled back and said, "Willie."

She broke the silence after another minute and said, "What are you all so sad about? Let's have a fun day at the beach. I wanna go swimming, Uncle Mulder."

Her mom spoke up. "Meredith, sweetheart, I don't-"

Mulder interrupted. "It's okay. I'll take her out there."

Lela nodded and leaned up against her husband. Christianna smiled to herself. Little Meredith really loved her uncle Mulder.

Everyone watched as Mulder helped Meredith out of her wheelchair and steadied her with his arms. To their surprise, she started walking, a little slowly, but she walked all the way to the shoreline without any help.

Mulder took hold of her arm as they reached the shore. She smiled up at him. "Ready to swim?"

He nodded. "Can you make it, or do you need help?"

"Help me, please. I don't want to meet my death drowning." She giggled softly as he turned around and she climbed onto his back.

She slid her arms around his neck and laughed. "This is fun, uncle Mulder."

He smiled even as hot tears threatened his eyes. She was so small, that it didn't even feel like he was holding her. More like he was waiting for her to jump on. But he didn't want to cry. This was going to be her good time, he reminded himself.

He walked out a little ways, until the water reached his waist.

Meredith kicked her feet a little and splashed water in his face. He laughed as he brought her around and set her on her feet, keeping his hands on her upper arms so she wouldn't fall.

She splashed around a little and then she actually moved away and swam a little circle around him. At his puzzled look, she said, "I'm not too weak yet!"

He laughed as she dunked under the water and grabbed his leg, then came back up giggling as she wiped the hair from her eyes.

"I'm glad we came here, Mulder," she whispered.

"Me too," he smiled.

"You know what, Uncle Mulder?"

"Yeah?"

She smiled at him again. "You're my favorite person. I never thought that when I met you on that airplane, that things would be like this."

He beamed down at her and pulled her into a hug. "I'm very honored."

Christianna watched from the distance as Mulder and Meredith swam around together, him occasionally touching her arms or holding her up so she could catch her breath. She smiled inwardly, even as the pain crept up and squeezed on her heart. It was only a matter of time before she passed. That she was feeling better and stronger was a near miracle. But it would be short-lived.

Tears filled her green eyes and she brushed them away as she tried not to think about that fateful day.

She looked over at her parents and Scully. They seemed to be feeling the same way, all wiping their eyes even as they smiled.

William seemed to be the only one not affected. He smiled and laughed and said, "Daddy" or "Merry" over and over as he watched them play.

Mulder and Meredith soon came back up onto the sand, smiles lighting both of their faces.

Lela pulled out a camera and a little stand and said, "How about a few pictures?"

Meredith beamed. "Oh yes, Mom."

They all sat down on a blanket together as Lela set up the little camera stand and set the timer.

They all smiled as the flash went off. They took more pictures, including one with just Meredith and the Mulder family.

Later that evening, as they all piled back into the Brown's white caravan to head home, Meredith whispered, "Thank you for bringing me here, Uncle Mulder."

He smiled over at her. "No problem."

She just smiled again as her mother helped her into the car. When they were all in, she said happily, "This is the best last wish I've ever had!"

Everyone stopped talking and looked at her, sadness in their eyes.

"Sorry," she whispered. "It's just...today has been so great, and I know I'll always remember it. When I go to heaven, I'm gonna tell everyone about it, so they can know how happy I am right now."

Scully reached back and hugged her. "Oh, god, Meredith..."

"Don't be sad," she said back. "it's okay. I'm okay."

Lela smiled a little. "We love you, Merry."

William babbled, "Love Merry."

Meredith smiled. "I'm glad I get to know all of you."

Christianna grinned. "We're glad too."

Meredith's stomach growled suddenly and she laughed. "Let's go get something to eat, okay?"

Jack was about to ask what when she gripped her temples and winced. "Are you okay, honey?" he asked.

She closed her eyes and then snapped them open. "Yeah," she said.

"I'm okay now. I'm okay."

Jack nodded, backing down as they continued the journey home in silence.


2 Months Later...

"She's almost to the point," the doctor said as Mulder, Scully, Christianna, and the Browns took a seat in the waiting room.

"She's extremely weak. I think it'll be a matter of a few days before she's gone. We're all very lucky that she's been here this long."

Lela Brown buried her face in her hands and sobbed as her husband put his arms around her, tears filling his eyes.

Christianna wiped tears from her own eyes and whispered, "Can we see her?"

"Yes," the doctor said. "But only for very short amounts of time."

Jack, Lela, and Christianna took a first turn. Mulder turned to Scully and said, "I can't believe this is really happening."

"Me neither, Mulder," she said quietly.

He pulled her into a hug and buried his face into her hair as she asked, "You okay, Mulder?"

"No," he whispered. "But I know we'll be okay. Someday."


"I'm going to miss you guys," Meredith whispered from her laying down position. It was all she could do these days, lay down and whisper.

Scully reached for her thin hand. "We're going to miss you too."

Meredith squeezed Scully's hand. "Tell Willie I loved him, okay?"

Mulder nodded as he came in to take her other hand.

"Mulder," Meredith whispered. "I'm really glad I got to know you both. And I'm glad that you have a perfect happiness now. I wouldn't trade what we have for anything. Not even life."

Tears filled Scully's eyes and trailed down her face, matching Mulder's. "Oh, god, Merry, we're going to miss you..."

Meredith's face crumpled, and the three fell into a sad embrace together as they cried for what may have been a beautiful, promising life someday...


One week later...

"We are gathered here today to mourn the passing of Meredith Emilie Brown. She was a strong individual, and she never gave up her fight, even in the very end." The minister said as he stood behind Meredith's short, white casket, adorned with flowers and notes. Scully sat in the front row, wearing all black. Something similar to what she had worn to Mulder's funeral. How she wished that this was like that, that she wasn't really dead and could be brought back after not too much time away.

But this wasn't like that. Being at her viewing brought out a cruel reality that she was never coming back.

Mulder sat next to her, wearing his only black tux besides his wedding one. He couldn't believe that Meredith had passed away.

Tears filled his eyes as soon as he remembered her, at the wedding, at the beach, the look on her face when she swam in the ocean with him.

Now he saw her, her face pale, her eyes closed, never to be opened again. Wearing a light blue strappy sundress, draped loosely over her slender shoulders. Her mother's engagement ring adorned her tiny finger. Her mother had always promised her that one day she could wear it. Now she would wear it forever.

Her hair had been let down, curled just the way she liked it, with face framing spirals, a few little sprigs of baby's breath nestled in it. A peaceful smile had settled over her face. Maggie was taking care of William for the day so they could properly mourn. He and Scully had already made plans to go home after the funeral and sleep for the rest of the day.

He slipped an arm around Scully and hugged her closer as she leaned her head on his chest, and they cried silently together.


Later that day...

"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. We are here to deliver the body of Meredith Brown to its resting-place..."

Scully rolled over in bed and held tight to Mulder's stomach. She couldn't sleep, and her mind constantly replayed the scenes of the burial, and Lela Brown's face as she handed them a memory box with some of Meredith's things in it, things she'd wanted them to have.

After the burial, they had driven home in near silence, not even stopping to look in the beloved box. They'd immediately changed into bedclothes and jumped in, cuddling until Mulder had fallen asleep, tears streaking his face.

Scully wasn't so lucky. She couldn't sleep at all, and a little nagging voice in her head told her to get up and look in the box.

But she couldn't. Not until Mulder woke up. She put her head on his bare chest and nuzzled her face in his warmth. It felt nice to comfort him, and it helped her comfort herself in the process.

She felt him twitch a little, and a small smile crossed his face. He must be dreaming. She closed her eyes and tried hard to sleep, and eventually it came in a haze of tears and sadness.


~~~ She was there, standing before him. In her little blue sundress and her hair curled in spirals with baby's breath nestled between the strands. Him in just his pajama pants, and yet somehow he didn't care.

They were in a garden, a beautiful one with paths and a little stream.

"I...I thought you were dead," he choked.

"But I am, Mulder," she said matter-of-factly, her voice echoing through the greenery, sounding distant, and yet close. "I know you're sad, and it hurts. Mulder, I can take you away from the pain." She held out her tiny hands, and he saw the engagement ring on her finger.

"How?" he whispered.

"Take my hands." She blinked slowly, and stretched out her hands to him again.

He engulfed her tiny hand in his, gently as she led him away, down endless paths, and through time.

Suddenly the garden disappeared, and was replaced by a beach, on a sunny day.

She let go of his hand and smiled. "Do you know where we are?"

"Our beach," was all he said as he looked around.

She grinned. "Yes. When I was in my hospital bed, I told you I would always remember this day. And now that God watches over me, it can become my own little reality. Come, walk with me."

They began a slow walk down the beach in silence. Meredith turned to him and looked up into eyes that mirrored her own.

"Mulder?"

"Yes?"

"I know you're afraid. I know you're tired and worn and beaten down and sad. But don't be. I'm happy here, Mulder. God, he speaks to me here. He brings me to our beach and he tells me stories. I tell him about you, and he always listens, even though he knows everything. Mulder, I know you have a lot of pain living inside of you, but you have to go on. Look through the memory box, Mulder."

He smiled down at her and touched her face. She gripped his hand as it moved down her face.

"It's time for me to go now," she said. "Always remember, I'm with you. And when you get lonely, just remember the beach, and how great it was."

He nodded as three people appeared behind Meredith. His family.

No, four. A tiny baby girl was nestled in his sister's loving arms.

"Samantha," Mulder whispered.

She turned back to them for a moment. "They can neither see nor hear you. But you can know that they are all right."

Samantha stroked the baby's soft brown locks of hair and cooed, "Brianna, I love you."

He turned puzzled eyes to the Meredith.

She smiled, "Yes, Mulder. She's your daughter. Scully always wanted to name a girl Brianna. So they did."

Meredith hugged Mulder, and he buried his face in her hair, taking in her scent for the last time.

She leaned back and smiled at him again. "Goodbye, Uncle Mulder."

He looked down at her as she began to fade away. "This is the best dream I've ever had."

And then she disappeared, and all he heard was her whisper soft voice, beckoning, smiling down on him as he stood on the beach, facing upward, towards the heaven of which she spoke.

"This isn't a dream." ~~~


About 1 year later... . He rolled over in bed, lazily reaching out for Scully. But to his surprise, she wasn't there. Over their time of marriage, he had learned that she liked to stay in bed and snuggle until William ran into their room, half dressed in a little baseball uniform and carrying his t-ball bat. Screaming "Daddy, daddy, come play with me!"

He loved William so much. Even though neither of them were ever quite sure how he was conceived, he truly felt like William's father. And he was.

Mulder stretched out on his back and pulled the pillow out from underneath his head, resting it on his chest and squeezing it as he began to close his eyes, fully intent on sleeping for a few more hours.

And then he heard it. A muffled sob, coming from the master bathroom.

He rolled out of bed quickly and padded across the carpet to the bathroom where he saw her, bent over the sink, holding something in her hand.

Her shoulders shuddered slightly, and he walked up behind her and put his hands on her shoulders. She started slightly and turned around, tears in her blue eyes.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

She started to say something when another sob shook her body.

"What?" he asked again. "Scully..."

She lifted teary eyes to his and smiled. "Mulder, I'm...I'm pregnant."

"Oh my god, Scully..." he said, pulling her into a hug.

"I was suspecting it for awhile, but I was too afraid to see if it was true. So, I did a test. Look, Mulder," she said, holding up a home test. "We're going to have a baby!" she smiled. "A baby. I don't know how, but we are."

He hugged her tight and kissed her forehead. "Oh, Scully, I love you..."

She smiled up at him again as little William, half dressed in a little baseball uniform and carrying his t-ball bat, screamed, "Daddy, daddy, come play with me!"


Nearly 8 months later...

"Oh, Anna, you shouldn't have!" Scully exclaimed as she walked into the living room of her home. "Today was great."

Anna walked into the room and said, "I know. But I wanted to, Aunt Dana!" She continued walking around and turned suddenly, her own growing stomach sticking out just slightly. She put a hand to it and said, "We're just lucky that Daniel decided to go with Mulder and William to the batting cages, or he might have been trailing behind us all day! He's been so worried lately, about the pregnancy and everything."

Scully moved over to Anna and hugged her around the shoulders.

"Anna, he's just protective of you now that you're going to have his baby. Mulder has been the same way with this little one, since he wasn't there too much with William. But, you're right, it is good to finally have them out of our hair for a day! Besides, I doubt they would have wanted to go out to lunch and baby shopping."

Anna giggled softly. "Aunt Dana, I never thought this would happen so soon. Me, married, pregnant, you pregnant again. God, it seems so weird."

"It won't after you have more," Scully replied. "Believe me, I don't feel strange at all now. I thought it would be like with Will, but it hasn't been. It's been great to have Mulder tell me how good I look, even though I feel like crap."

Anna smiled. "Yeah, that's a plus side. Oh, wait, I forgot something." She went to one of her shopping bags and pulled out a box. "I just had to buy this. I've been craving it for so long, it isn't even funny!"

Scully lifted the lid. Chocolate cake, fudge frosting. "Mmm, Anna, have you read my mind?"

"Maybe I have. Or maybe Mulder told me you like chocolate cake and I should get us some." She laughed. "Now, let me at that cake!"


At the batting cages...

"I think I'm getting old," Mulder said as Daniel threw William a tball in the little kid's area. "I need breaks more and more often."

Daniel Stone just laughed as he watched William drop the bat in frustration as he missed the pitch. "Yeah, you are an old man, Mulder. How old are you now, 47? Or was it 57?"

"That's not as bad as what Scully said to me on my last birthday, Mulder replied. "She sang me "Happy Birthday" and then told me I needed 60 spankings, that's how old I was. Although, I did enjoy them...especially since she let me spank *her* afterward..." he smirked and raised both eyebrows. "I think she liked hers more than I liked mine."

Daniel turned to face Mulder. He had blonde-brown hair and light green eyes, and a tan to top it off. He was strong, with a muscular build and a perfect physique. "I'm sure you did. Hell, who wouldn't? But on my birthday, Anna doesn't give spankings. She gives kisses. Lots of them."

Mulder said, "But does she let you spank her?"

William picked up the t-ball and threw it back to Daniel, who caught it easily. He shook his head good-naturedly. "Nope."

Mulder threw up his hands. "I win!" To which Daniel smiled.

"Well," Daniel said. "I wonder what the girls are up to now..."


"So, Anna, my favorite niece, you never did tell me how you and Daniel met. After all, you've been married for nearly 9 months, Scully said as they sat at the table, drinking herbal tea together.

"Well," Anna began. "It was at a mutual friend's party. I think she actually invited both of us for certain...purposes, you know how friends are about that kind of thing. Anyway, she made sure we bumped into each other. We got to talking about everything; it turns out his father's also in the Navy. We had so much in common and we got along great. So, Daniel asked me to dinner with him.

He took me out a few times, it was great. Aunt Dana, I really felt that he cared for me and that we went well together. We got so close over that year, it was just amazing. I remember the way he proposed..."

"How was it?" Scully asked.

"Very..." she paused, giving Scully a smirk. "Unromantic. I swear, he didn't know anything about proposing at all! He took me into his house, and we were drinking champagne, and he just looked at me and said, "So...how'd you like to get married?" It was the worst! But you know what?"

"What?"

"I absolutely loved him for it! It was sweet, albeit...different. And it's been the best nine months of my life," she finished.

"Ah, Anna, you're so lucky to have Daniel," Scully said.

"And Mulder's no used car, either. He loves you so much. You should just see the way he still looks at you, with that puppy dog stare. And those adorable eyes. He practically drools. The love just radiates from him." Anna smiled.

Scully smiled and took a sip of tea. "Yeah, I am lucky to have him.

You know, he's my best friend. It's a good feeling to know that I get him for the rest of my life."

Anna put a hand to her stomach. "I know how you feel. Me and Daniel...I could never imagine sharing what we share with anyone else, you know?"

Scully just nodded, then gripped her stomach as a pain swept through it. "Oh, god...Anna..."

"What is it? The baby?" she realized.

She nodded again. "Anna, we have to get Mulder..."


William dropped his bat again, this time not out of anger but out of surprise. He ran to Mulder and Daniel, who were now sitting on a bench together, talking, letting the automatic ball thrower pitch to William.

"Daddeeeeeeee!!!!" he yelled as he jumped onto his father's lap.

"What is it Tiger? Are you hurt?" Mulder asked, checking him for injuries.

William shook his head frantically. "Mommy and Auntie Anna need us to go home..."

Mulder stood up quickly and took his son by the arms. "How do you know that?"

William's eyes widened. "I heard it, Daddy. In my head..."


"I can't push any more," Scully breathed.

"Yes, you can, Scully," Mulder said almost frantically, gripping her hand tighter as he kneeled next to her hospital bed. "You can do it. It's almost over."

He reached over with his free hand and swiped back a piece of hair from her damp forehead. God, if he knew it'd be this bad, he wouldn't have asked to stay in on the birth. Like he'd ever witnessed one, anyways...but when he'd seen the look on her face, pleading with him to stay with her, he couldn't resist. And he had had no idea of what was to come.

Suddenly, another pain seized her and she squeezed his hand so hard it went numb.

"Ohhhhh," Mulder whimpered.

"AHHHHHHH!" she screamed as the doctor ordered her to push harder.

Mulder tried counting to ten to help. "1...2..ow!...3...oooooww!"

"Push again, Dana!" The doctor ordered as he reached around to hold her leg steady. as she pushed, he turned to Mulder. "Want to see?"

Mulder leaned forward just in time to see a tiny baby slide out of Scully and into the doctor's waiting hands. He immediately started wiping it off and suctioning out the amniotic fluids.

Mulder almost puked just seeing that, but at the same time, it was a beautiful thing. He felt unexpected tears sting the backs of his eyes as Scully leaned back on the pillows and took in a few gasping breaths.

An ear piercing shriek filled the air as the baby began to cry.

"It's a girl!" The doctor exclaimed. "Here, dad, cut the cord."

Mulder let go of Scully and went around to look at his daughter.

She was so little, skinny and wrinkly and red and to most people she would be ugly, but to him she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen.

He took the scissors from the doctor and gingerly cut the cord, wincing at the feel of it between the scissors blades.

The doctor whisked the baby away to clean her off, and Mulder returned to his spot by Scully. He stroked her hair gently and she smiled up at him.

"We did it, Scully," he said softly. "She's so beautiful. Wait till you see her."

They heard a long, shrieking wail from the baby. "She's going to be a loud one," Scully commented, laughing a little.

The doctor brought her back, wrapped in a baby blanket, with a little pink hat on her head for warmth.

Scully lifted it off and touched her head. A few auburn wisps settled at the top of her head.

Mulder smiled and stroked her head gently. "Oh, Scully, she's so beautiful."

He leaned down and kissed the top of her head, and she immediately gave a little yawn and closed her eyes.

Mulder and Scully exchanged a look, and then laughed quietly as they watched her.

"So, what are you going to name her, Mr. and Mrs. Mulder?" The baby doctor asked, smiling at them with dark brown eyes.

"We don't kn-" Scully started, but Mulder cut her off with one word, as Maggie brought William in to see the baby. He was enamored, immediately wanting to hold and cuddle her.

"Meredith," he said softly. "Meredith Emilie."


About 2 months later...

"Oh, Anna, she's beautiful!" Scully exclaimed as she cradled the new Christine Stone in her arms. She was a pretty baby, with soft skin and blue eyes. of course, all baby's eyes change colors before they get older, so Scully couldn't help but wonder if hers would too.

Anna grinned widely as she cuddled little Meredith close to her.

She leaned back against the hospital issue pillows and sighed.

"Geez, Aunt Dana, how did you do that? *Twice*? I had a bad time, I don't ever want to do that. Again!"

"Oh, you'll want to do it over and over," Scully assured her.

"They're such a joy. Meredith's even sleeping all night, and Mulder's so excited about her, he gets up every time she awakes and brings her to bed so I don't even have to get up!"

Anna laughed. "I hope Dan does that for me. It would make it a lot easier," she smiled, her eyes shining.

Scully grinned back at her. "Well, I know he will. He loves you so much Anna."

"And Mulder loves you. He seems to be the perfect husband. And you seem to have a perfect life now."

Scully laughed. "In time, my little Anna, you will realize that there is no such thing as perfect..."


About a month later...September 2004...11:02 PM... "Mulder?" Scully rolled over to face him, taking his hands in hers and leaning her head on his chest.

"Yeah?"

"Do...do you ever think about Meredith?" She asked as he kissed the top of her head and ran his fingers through her hair.

"Of course I do," he answered, putting a finger under her chin, tilting her head to his. "A lot."

"I can't believe how long it's been," she said quietly as she released his hands to rub his shoulders gently.

He kissed her softly and pulled back. "More than two years. I still miss her."

She smiled a little. "I do too. But, like she told you, she's in a better place now, taking care of our daughter."

Mulder smiled back. "Sometimes, I wish I could go back to the place she took me to, talk to her again. You know, we never did go through that box."

He trailed a finger down her cheek and leaned forward to press soft kisses to her face, neck, and shoulders.

She sighed and ran her fingers through his hair. "Some things are better left unopened...you know, Mulder, I remember, when you first came back, I thought everything would be perfect. Perfect happiness. And look at what's happened. It's so far from my dreams of a little house with a white picket fence, and a perfect life. But, I guess...I guess there's just no such thing as perfect. And now, we have a three-year-old and a four month old, Mulder. I never thought it possible..."

He kissed her neck lightly and moved up to her face. As he kissed her eyelids and her nose, he whispered, "But maybe...maybe that's our own perfect happiness..."


They sat on the beach together, at her beach, watching the waves gently lapping at their golden feet. The light surrounding them was even more intensifying in this spot, in their spot, she liked to call it.

She knew she was his favorite child, she could feel it, which is why she could ask of him anything.

"Tell me a story," she said softly. "Tell me about my cousins. How are they?"

She stared up into his golden face, hearing his voice in her head, telling about them. He'd fallen and chipped a tooth; she'd smiled at her mommy for the first time.

"What about my aunt and uncle?" she smiled at him.

She listened again to his beautiful voice in her head. He'd dreamed of her and wondered if she was really there. She'd never looked in the memory box.

She reached up and touched his face. "Thank you. You don't know what it means to me to hear of them again."

He nodded and she knew he was smiling back at her. But there is something else you wish for, child, she heard him say.

"Yes, there is. An even greater question, Master. Please, I must go back, if only for five minutes," she said softly as she shifted in his lap. "I want to see the little ones. I want to somehow let them know that I'm okay. Please?" She looked down, fingering her mother's tiny engagement ring as she awaited the response.

An aureate hand reached down and touched her fair locks, still curled gently. And he just nodded again. Yes, child.

She smiled and hugged him. "Thank you." And then she was gone, leaving him to sit on the beach alone, watching his creations, the seagulls, and the water.


Meredith Emilie Brown bent over her namesake's bassinet, watching her sleep. How badly she ached to reach down and touch those downy soft auburn locks, those baby cheeks.

But not now. It couldn't be.

Meredith held up her hand in front of the infant's face, and saw the sleeping child right through it. She sang softly, hoping the baby could hear her somehow.

"Michael row the boat ashore...Hallelujah...Michael row the boat ashore, Hallelujah..."

She smiled down at the baby. "Merry, someday, you'll know who I was. That I love you very much. You will look in the memory box someday. You will, Meredith Emilie Mulder."

She watched the baby for one more moment before moving on.

She walked slowly to William's room, and she watched him lovingly, as he rolled over in his toddler bed and sighed.

Meredith smiled to herself. "I love you Willie," she whispered.

"Love, Merry..." he whispered.

Meredith smiled to herself, and she blew him a kiss as she left.

She made her way to Mulder and Scully's room. They were sleeping, bodies close, foreheads touching gently in their slumber.

Meredith smiled even as tears filled her eyes.

"I miss you so much...Someday, I will see you all again..."

She smiled to herself as she began to disappear. Looks like the five minutes were up. "I love you all...May you have perfect happiness."

And then she was gone.

Somehow, in the cold night's wind, her voice could be heard, singing a soft lullaby to her cousins, giving new warmth and blessing to their home.

And somewhere, up in the attic, sat a box, unopened, filled with a legacy. Her legacy. A lock of blonde hair, a photo album.

A memory.


The End

Story Continued:

Book 2: The Life They Now Lead

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