Title: Secrets of the Gemini
Author: Jei
Archive: Please Ask, Thank you
Spoilers: Everything X-Files
Keywords: MSR - Post Colonization, Heavy angst for all.
Disclaimer: The X-Files is the property of 1013 productions. No money or profit is being or will be made from this fanfic. Fanfic is a harmless medium in which people who enjoy a particular piece of entertainment get together and express their own ideas and imagination regarding said characters. The author only lays claim to the "Gemini" and their motley crew. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

Summary: Awakened from cryostasis, Mulder finds the world a vastly different place. Where colonization has nearly destroyed the planet and those that were left behind to pick up the pieces.

Author's Comments can be found at the end of the story.

For Shell and Jamee

Krycek cursed as the containment pod bounced against the back doors of the van. One more sharp turn and the doors would surely break open. The sentinels were nearly on top of him. All efforts thus far to shake them had failed.

He glanced in his side mirrors, the re-con drones were almost on top of him. He could feel their soulless eyes boring in to him. No doubt his 'partner' had sent them after him. What did she think she was doing? He'd kill her when he saw her again. But he wouldn't think about that for now, he had to get his cargo to safety. The man inside the containment pod was worth more to the human race then he had ever dreamed. Well, the truth was it wasn't so much of the man as it was what was a part of this man. They say a person's legacy is realized in one's offspring. If everything went according to plan, Krycek would be testing that theory shortly, bringing the Gemini out into the open and ridding the planet of its invaders once and for all.

Sweat trickled its way down Krycek's face. Tiny droplets formed at the tips of his eyelashes obstructing his vision. He was getting far too old for this sort of thing.

The re-con transport had managed to match his speed. The strong steal frame of the transport was no match for his tin can of a getaway van. The transport now neck and neck with Krycek jerked to the right sideswiping his already rapidly disintegrating van. A drone had managed to position himself, hanging half out of the transport's window, firing with deadly accuracy. Each titanium bullet ripped a new hole across the side of the van.

Krycek growled in frustration, violently jerking the wheel to the right in a vain attempt to give some pay back. Realizing his miscalculation too late, he watched in horror as one of the tires flew off its rim and rolled away from the van. Krycek hung on for dear life as the van began another series of erratic movements. Desperately, his eyes scanned for a sign of his location. There was one, Kent street or what was left of it.

He was in an older part of what use to be downtown Washington D.C. Now, devastated beyond any recognition of its one time brilliance. The van lurched and groaned in protest as he stomped on the accelerator, hoping to make it to the safety that those streets would provide.

It was the proverbial briar patch.

He had covered a few streets when another re-con came out of nowhere and hit him nearly head on.

"Damn!" his mind screamed. He had forgotten about the scabber revolt a few weeks before. The place would be crawling with patrollers, there was no way out.

The van swerved in an uncontrollable spin. Sending Krycek to the passengers' side of the van, and the pod out the overtaxed backdoors. It shot across the street clipping the re-con vehicle and sending it into a tail spin, crashing through an abandon store front and burst into flames.

The pod continued its rocket course sliding deep into an alleyway; sparks flew every which way as metal burned against concrete. It came to a stop only when a mound of trash buried it.

Krycek heard a horrible crunch and turned to see what remained of his left arm. He turned back quickly in time to see that his trophy had literally flown away. It was too late to attempt a recovery. He next heard his head smack the pavement and he welcomed the inevitable darkness.

The pod lay in a crumpled heap its containment compromised. The man within began to emerge from his long slumber. Like a swimmer who had been plunged to a great depth, he struggled to break the surface. He was freezing! Every limb and nerve ending shook violently. The air that filled his lungs for the first time in years burned a painful path through him. Groaning, he reached a hand up and outward, only to draw it back as his tender flesh tore against a sharp edge.

Debris from out side the pod began to fall inward smothering his face. Weakly he pushed it aside raising his head for more air. He collapsed back into the pod, struggling for every breath.

He was so tired and he couldn't remember why he was in this predicament. He lay where he was, waiting for his memory to return. When it did the kaleidoscope of nonsensical imagery bombarded his brain, painfully. He reeked and the scrubs he wore were plastered to his skin. Vaguely, he wondered if he'd been drinking. His body certainly felt as if he had. He couldn't remember anything clearly and he felt sick.

It wasn't till he tried to stand up that he realized he couldn't, rising a quarter of the way up. His trembling legs give out. Sending him crashing to the hard, filthy floor. It was then he realized he couldn't see. Raising his long fingered hand to his face, the world was pitch black. His body was spent from just the one exertion. He had no choice but lay there in a crumpled heap and hope someone would find him soon.

"Psst, hey Danny! Look what I found!" The young boy knelt down to get a closer look at the pod in front of him.

"What's it this time, Zero?" Danny asked as he walked out of a nearby door. His hands were full of small motors and other various mechanical parts.

"It's a pod. Haven't seen one of those since the Dungeon. Concho! Danny, quick come here there's a body."

Danny let his cargo slide to the floor in a neat little pile, before he went to inspect his friend's findings. "You think it's a scabber?"

Zero examined one of the body's cold, clammy hands. "Naw man, he's got all his fingers."

Danny shrugged. "Could be a scabber from the testing compound."

Zero threw his friend an exasperated glance. "I don't think so his wrist are clean. Besides if he was, what would he be doing in stasis?"

Danny smiled. "Genuine Mr. X then."

Just then Zero dropped Mr. X's hand and jumped back a few feet with a yelp. Danny was on his feet instantly, concern and fright etched in his face. Zero pointed to the body, panting as he waited for a normal heart rate to return.

"It moved!"

The giant of a young man looked skeptical at his friend then turned back to look at the body. Danny could see the mouth moving ever so slightly, as if it were trying to talk. Danny got down on his hands and knees in order to put his ear to the man's lips.

"I can't make out what he's saying."

"He sure ain't dead." Commented Zero.

"No kidding!" Danny shot back. "We got to get him back to the others. Christian will know what to do with him."

"Gracie ain't going to like this."

"Well, what other choice do we have? We can't just leave him here. Besides Gracie will get over it."

Jacks leaned back in the chair with her legs propped up on one of the many computer consoles. She had one eye on the security surveillance monitor and the other on the computer screen.

A small frustrated grunt came from behind her. She turned to look at the electrical board. Her smoky gray eyes noting the frustration building on her friend's oval features.

Grace pushed a stray lock of hair out of her eyes and readjusted her ponytail. "I wonder what's taking those two so long. I need a junction box if I'm ever going to get this thing working again."

"Danny did say he was going to check out a few places over by Kent Street," answered Jacks.

Grace furrowed her brow. "How come they're going that far over? Ever since the scabber revolt, it hasn't been safe there. Danny and Lazero should know better, especially Danny."

Jacks shrugged. "You know those two, they'll do anything for a spare part, or an extremely outdated skin rag."

The girls shared a conspiratorial smile. Jacks turned back to the monitors when she caught movement in the security camera. "Speak of the devil. Incoming!" she called. They both jumped to their feet and scrambled down the ladder, from the bullpen to the larger main room. "Looks like they got something big this time." Jacks punched in a code and unlocked five deadbolts.

Grace eyed the large roll of rug draped over Danny's shoulder. "You guys planing on redecorating?"

Zero slid up to her wiggling his dark eyebrows sporting a suggestive grin. "You miss me?"

"Like a dog misses its fleas."

Zero was about to get another shot in when Danny tried to set his burden down on the floor. It slipped from his grasp, landing with a dull thud. "I could use some help, Don Juan."

A groan emitted from the fabric. The girls stared accusingly at the two boys.

"What did you guys do?"Jacks and Grace knelt down and began to unroll the carpet.

Danny knelt down beside them. "We found this guy Grace. He seems to be in bad shape."

The carpet uncoiled, revealing a shivering, unconscious man. Grace looked up accusingly. "Of all the stupid, Danny! How could you bring home a scabber? What if the rebels come looking for him..."

"That's just it Gracie I don't think he is a scabber. Look at his hands, they aren't missing any fingers."

"His wrists aren't messed up either," Zero pointed out.

Grace looked back down at the man, dread crawling up her spine like a thousand spiders. The last thing they needed right now was to have sentinels looking for them.

Danny frowned looking down at the man before him. "He was in a cryo-pod."

Both girls' necks snapped up. That certainly changed matters. Immediately Grace took charge. "Jacks, get Christian, and Will."

Jacks nodded quickly, leaving Grace behind to snap out orders. "We've got to get him warm."

"Where are you going to put him?"

Grace thought for a minute. "Let's get him to a spare room."

Zero helped support the man's weight, so that Danny could return him to a fireman's carry. Grace walked ahead of them clearing the path as she went. Her mind began to work overtime trying to sort out all the scenarios that could happen. Scabbers were dangerous to have around. They were men the colonists used to experiment on. Alien presence was no longer a secret, so the experimentation on humans that had been going on for decades conducted in the shadows and alleyways, had been brought out into the open. For the past four years the poor souls had popped up at random. Their bodies covered in unsightly scabs, formed by skin grafting and other various experiments.

The colonist usually didn't take a loss of a scabber well and they sent sentinels out to recover them. If Zero was right and this man wasn't a scabber then who was he?. . . Still, how could they be sure? For all she knew the colonist could be experimenting on a new level. The last thing she wanted was to endanger her family.

Grace's makeshift family consisted of four others beside herself, her twin William, then Daniel, Lazero and Jaclyn. Or as they affectionately called each other Will, Danny, Zero and Jacks. One by one, they had found each other through the years and the bond they shared had grown thicker than if they'd all had been born of the same mother and father. 'sanctuary', was how they jokingly referred to where they lived. It consisted of a row of abandoned storefronts in the middle of what was once known as China Town. At one time, the walls had been filled with the hustle and bustle of a variety of families. But now the ancient walls and windows had been boarded up and left, forgotten as the original inhabitants ran for their lives. Three of the houses had been sealed tight. Only one cut out walkway through the inside linked them.

The middle house was the main entrance into 'sanctuary', with an underground backdoor that ran into a network of tunnels made from the abandoned city's water system. The underground passageways served as links between them and other bands of what was left of the human race, struggling to survive. The occupied 'sanctuary' only a few months out of the year.

When they reached the small room Grace opened a storage closet and pulled out a cot. "Zero, set this up, please. I'm gonna go and see if I can find some extra covers."

By the time Grace returned, the boys had everything arranged. The man lay unconscious and shivering. Carefully, Grace put socks on his feet and wrapped him as tight as she could in the blankets. Just as she was finishing up, Jacks walked into the room with Will and Christian in tow.

As Christian began ministering to his new patient, Grace moved to stand by her brother. Answering his silent call, Zero and Danny joined them.

Will stood cautiously to the side, as he spoke his gaze remained locked on the man. "Is it true? Did you really find him in stasis?"

Danny nodded as Zero spoke. "We were out hunting for that box Gracie wanted. We found him in an alley, just laying there." Zero lowered his voice looking more than a little nervous. "Danny didn't want to leave him there. I'm not so sure, man, something ain't right. Why would they have him in stasis? I thought they only did that to 'Mothers'."

Will, stroked his chin thoughtfully. "So did I."

Grace could sense her twin brother's uneasiness. Strangers were an unwelcome sight especially for them, one never knew when their past could come back to haunt them. "I don't like this. They could be trying something new," Grace suggested.

"But still why stasis?" asked Danny.

Grace shrugged, "You've got me. Something tells me this guy is important."

"How?" asked Jacks.

"I'm not sure," she admitted.

Grace is right, Will confessed. "We know almost all the players. Something isn't adding up right,"

"This guy has to be important for them to have kept him on ice." Zero stroked his chin.

Grace watched her brother's uneasiness grow. Will looked pointedly at Zero. "Tell me exactly how you found him."

"He was on the floor like he had tried to walk away from the pod, but couldn't."

"Was the pod open then?" Will asked.

"No, it hadn't been opened. It had been smashed open. The containment field had been breached. He's got hibernation sickness so he wasn't properly taken out of stasis before hand. Or whatever it is they do," Zero answered.

Grace began to chew on a nail, casting a worried look at the bed. "He's important all right, but why weren't the sentinels combing the grounds looking for him?" She looked at Will then back toward the man.

"Good question. That is what's troubling me. Something isn't right." Will's mouth was drawn into a straight line. He was tense and everyone could feel it. "What's up Grace? You keep looking at him."

"I'm not sure," she shook her head. "Something keeps nagging me. A little voice keeps telling me I should know him... Something about his face. I don't know." Grace worried her bottom lip.

"Okay, what have we got so far?" Will asked, then answered. "We've never seen him before. No question he's important. He was in stasis."

"What if..." Grace interrupted, then paused for a moment. Her hazel eyes darkened as her gaze turned back to Will. She bent her head slightly forward. It was an unconscious gesture and relatively imperceptible to a casual observer. But to the precious few, who knew what it meant, it caused frustration to arise. Silently, Grace posed her theory to him. She watched the trepidation she felt slide across his face as the message she conveyed to Will took root.

"Grace that's absurd!" Will's disgust evident to all. "What gave you a crazy idea like that. He's dead." He realized to late he'd spoken outloud.

"Who?" Three other voices asked.

"Frohike said they never knew for sure," she corrected "Who else could it be?" Grace answered.

"Grace that is a giant leap."

"Who could it be?" they asked again, this time more agitated.

"We know that they're after us again," Grace said simply.

Jacks, Zero and Danny fell into a quite mode momentarily. They knew who 'they' were.

Will scrubbed his face with long fingers. "This is just too convenient. It's a trap." Fear and memories long since pushed down in to the bowels of Will's brain began to surface. Painful recall of both physical and mental torture began to chill his consciousness like a cold hard rain. "Damn! Why did you guys bring him here?"

Zero was the first to take offense. "What else were we suppose to do man? Just leave him there?"

"Yes!" Will bellowed. The pulse at the base of his neck began to throb.

/Will!/ Grace's mind called out to her brother, speaking to him in the only way he'd listen. Her twins' eyes snapped around to meet her own. /We need to call Frohike back. He'll know for sure./ Her mental projection was soft and tender putting Will's mind in a much more tranquil state.

Will turned his attention back to the prone mystery man. "It can't be him," he said, with chilling finality.

"Why not?" Grace asked not understanding.

Will felt his heart clenched painfully against his ribs. He looked at Grace but his eyes weren't focused on her face. His hazy recall of a nightmare from long ago floated like a demon before him, taunting with nightmares yet to come.

The twins had fallen into thought and so were startled when Jacks began to yell. "Oh stop it! Just stop it! I hate when the two of you pull this mental crap! Why can't you just say it out loud so we all can hear it? it's not like we don't end up knowing anyway. Who do you think this man is?" she turned to Will. "What are you so afraid of?"

Christian stood up. "Calm down, now! This isn't doing anybody any good." Christian had remained slight throughout the entire discussion. Experience had taught him not to put his nose in where he didn't belong. But now their tirade was disturbing the wellbeing of his patient. His unexpected outburst effectively ended the shouting match, at least for the moment. "I've done all I can for him right now. He'll be suffering from hibernation sickness for a while. If he starts to convulse he'll need a shot of this." Christian handed Grace a vial. Someone is going to have to keep an eye on him. If he comes to, he'll be disoriented his eyesight will be too out of focus for him to function properly."

"Does he have any other injuries?" Grace asked.

"Not that I can tell. I'll wait till he is awake to reevaluate him. In the meantime." Christian had unconsciously slipped in to a tone that made Grace's teeth grind. He addressed her like she was a little girl needing to be reminded to brush her teeth and say her prayers before bed. "Keep him warm, make sure he gets enough fluids, and he should be fine. You know how to reach me should you need to. Oh, and no fighting in this room, let him rest."

"Shall I change his diaper too?" Grace muttered under her breath.

"What was that?" Christian asked.

Jacks jumped between them before Grace could repeat herself. She smiled gratefully. "Thank you Christian."

"Will you be stopping by the 'Cross-Roads'?" Grace asked in a calm voice.

"Yes, I'll be leaving tomorrow night. Why?"

Will ran a hand through his hair and looked away. Grace ignored her brother's agitation. "We need to get word to Frohike."

"All right then, I'll return tomorrow to check his progress. You can give me whatever message you'd like me to send." Christian said his good-byes and left.

Grace looked meaningfully at the man before her. "Who's going to take the first watch? I need to finish repairing the secondary monitoring systems."

Zero offered. "I'll do it, heck I'm the one that found him. I'll stay first round."

Will nodded. "Danny can you take over after that?"


Once the schedule was set each went their separate ways.

** It was well after midnight when Jacks knocked softly on Will's door. His attitude earlier had puzzled her, she was anxious to talk with him. Not finding him in his room, she sought him out.

As she reached the main part of the house she noted the light bathing the steps that lead up to the bullpen. No doubt Will had stayed up with Grace watching her as she worked on whatever projects she had going on. The two were workaholics and as such, very predictable.

With a teasing remark already to go, she ascended the ladder. Only to pause halfway, a frown creased her face. The tone in Will's voice was soft, yet very intense no doubt their argument had been going on for awhile now. She rested against a step listening in where she knew she shouldn't.

"What made you think this mystery man is our father?" Will was truly puzzled.

Grace shrugged. "I don't know, call it a sixth or in our case a seventh sense. The thought just hit me all of the sudden and I haven't been able to shake it." Grace scratched her head. "I'm sure Frohike will tell us for sure."

"Do you honestly think Frohike will tell us?" Will asked.

"What do you mean? Of course he'd tell us. He's always been honest and up front with us. Don't you remember, he even said that when we were old enough we'd have to find the truth for ourselves, and when we're ready he'd tell us what we need to know."

"Gracie, I'm just not sure you understand all the implications this will bring upon us. We already know they're looking for us. What I'm afraid of is why, why now?"

Will watched the range of emotions cross his sister's face. She sank to the floor brining her knees up to her chest, with her arms wrapped tightly around them. "You know why, just as well as I do. It's in the air, it's been five years. They'll be rounding up incubators soon. I think some how they know we'll strike now."

Will folded his arms. "So you're saying that after all this time they know we're old enough and capable enough to do some damage?"

"We've done a good job of knocking out their border command post. We've left to many calling cards, they're going to expect us to hit something bigger soon. A nursery maybe. They're afraid of what we are." Her voice trailed off.

"Then the only reasonable conclusion would be that this man isn't a friend, but an enemy. I think they sent him in hopes of infiltrating us. We'd be caught off guard with a face from our past. We don't even know if he truly is our past."

Grace was unwilling to think ill of this man. She knew Will had a valid point. What if this man wasn't who she thought he was, but an imposter sent to seek out and destroy. No. Her mind just couldn't wrap around that idea. "I know where he hid the box."

Will's hands itched to shake some sense in to Grace. It had been years since either one of them had brought up the subject of the 'Box' Frohike had been reluctant, even terrified to tell them of its existence. Whatever it held or meant scared their beloved friend enough for him to hide it from them. "Once you open the box, there won't be any turning back. If it were just you and I, I wouldn't hesitate. But it isn't just us anymore we've got others to think about. And as for the box, I don't want you going near it."

"Others or not Will, we have every right..."

Jacks adjusted her grip on the ladder, she couldn't bring herself to walk away from the private conversation.

Meanwhile inside the bullpen, Will's agitation was growing by the second Grace could feel it radiating off of him. "There is a reason why Frohike always referred to it as 'Pandora's box'. Only when we're ready to handle what is inside."

"Why do you always take the ignorance-is-bliss-theory to heart? Are you afraid that once you know the truth you'd realize that Pinocchio isn't a real boy?"

"Oh come off it Grace," Will bellowed, causing his sister to flinch. "For once stop and think about what this could do. Have you ever thought about what would happen once we had the answers? Huh, what then? You know as well as I do, that we were experiments. We were forced upon our parents in an attempt to keep them quiet."

Grace pushed out her small chin defiantly. "Maybe, but don't you want to know why? What gives you and I our abilities? Frohike, Langly and Byers have always been so secretive about our lives, about our parents. Perhaps now we'll get some answers. Maybe even the truth."

With a swift kick Will took his frustration out on a nearby trash can. "We already know what we are! A science experiment, unloved and used as pawns."

Grace brought herself up to her full height. "Do you remember mom at all, Will?" Grace folded her arms.

"What does that have to do with anything?" Will pushed passed her dismissing her as he pretended to be suddenly absorbed in a computer readout.

Grace put a hand on his shoulder whirling him around to face her again. "Everything and you know it."

Will still refused to look at her. "I don't remember much, aside from the few pictures Frohike showed us." he grudgingly confessed.

"Liar." Grace whirled away from him to pace the floor.

Will raked a hand threw his short hair, trying to ignore the bile that burned its way up his throat when ever he thought about his mother. " The truth is Grace I don't want to remember. It hurts to much."

"Why Will? Why won't you tell me what happened?"

"I can't."

"Will you ever tell me?" she asked.

"I don't know. Maybe never," he confessed. "You'd hate me."

Grace's eyes grew big. "Will," she said softly. "Experiment or not, love or not. If there is any chance that our father is alive and that man is our father then I want to know. He's our link. Maybe he even knows about you and I, what we are. Maybe he could tell us our destiny."

Will snorted. "Listen to yourself, don't be so dramatic. Maybe he can tell us all about those things. This isn't some type of fairy tale. Our destiny as you put it, is to live out our lives as mistakes and keeping one step ahead of those that hunt us."

Grace came to a halt staring her brother down with a menacing glare. "Now who's being dramatic?"

"Look Grace, all I'm saying is, I love Frohike just as much as you do, he's been our family. But think about it for a moment Grace, why has he never told us about our father? I know I've asked. Have you?"

Grace nodded her head.

"So why Grace?"

Grace rolled her eyes sarcastically biting out. "You're such a know it all, what's your theory?"

Will sighed and reached up lovingly caressing his sister's cheek until her averted gaze lifted to meet his. "I think because once we find out all there is to find out about us, about our parents. We might not be able to handle it, or we might find ourselves with a responsibility we aren't ready for yet."

"I just have this feeling Will..."

"Grace, I don't want to get our hopes up. Wait until Frohike can get here, before you go searching for answers we may not be ready for. Okay? Promise me?"

Grace chewed on her bottom lip knowing her brother had some valid points. She wanted to run and scream. Instead, she reached over and gently kissed him on the cheek. "Good night Will."

Will returned the kiss, pulling her back toward him. "Not so fast, you didn't promise."

She simply grumbled for a moment. "I need some cranberry juice. I hope Frohike brings some."

Will smiled to himself, he knew he'd just gotten a promise or at least half of one. With that he let her go.

"You should get some sleep, Will."

"What about you? It's late."

"I'm not sleepy, I need to finish up here."

A dark hair woman methodically made her way down one of the many corridors of the facility. Her tough combat boots thumped against the floor's grate with each step. She held a container in her hand and an annoyed look on her face. Coming to the doorway she intended to go through she hesitated only for a moment.

As she stepped inside she reached up and with a long gnarled finger hitting the lights' on switch. Looking down dispassionately at the man curled up on the metal bench, she abruptly unscrewed the cap on the container and dumped it on the man. He awoke instantly, spouting out epithets at his rude awakening.

He would have jumped up and grabbed the woman before him. Crushing her long neck in his hand, but the pain in his left side became excruciating. Before he could get halfway up, he sank back down. His teeth clenched and his steel eyes ready to kill.

"Why did you send the re-cons after me?" he yelled. "I had him! I had him in the palm of my hand."

The woman folded her hands in front of her. "You had nothing, you were told not to go near him."

"How else were we going to get the information we need?"

"Krycek, you are a fool. The man has been in stasis for over ten years what could he possibly know now? The world he lived in is gone. Besides, what I allowed to happen will be more affective than what you had in mind," she added with an air of haughtiness.

"And what was that?"

"If we had kept Fox Mulder in our custody how did you intended to lure the Gemini out into the open? Part of their 'reprogramming' was to erase his existence from their minds. You would have been more effective had you taken Dana Scully."

Krycek scoffed, "Diana! She's in stasis at the testing nursery. It's impossible to get a 'Mother' out."

"Be-that-as-it-may, this plan will work. All ready the local ragtag have taken him in, it will only be a matter of time before he hooks up with his old friends and the Gemini. Then we'll have them right where we want them." She smiled.

"If Mulder does indeed make contact, the next thing they'll do is go after Scully."

"I'm counting on it."

"There is one fly in your ointment."

"What is that?"

"Everyone that matters, thinks Dana Scully is dead."

** Jack moved away from the steps as Will climbed down them. She met him at the bottom of the ladder, looking up at him expectantly.

His eyebrow arched in question. "How much of that did you hear?" he asked.

"Enough," she said unapologetically.

He smiled sadly wrapping his arm around her. "Come on we should get some sleep."

"What about Grace?"

"She doesn't seem to be bound by such mortal frailties, as that." He smiled sadly.

Jacks pulled away her brows knitted together in concern, to study Will's handsome face. She only saw a mixture of a teasing grin and lingering sadness in his eyes. She smiled softly as they walked back to their rooms.

The roar of his own blood pulsating in his ears caused a headache to form at the back of his head. It was bad enough he already had one raging a holy war in the center of his head. He stretched his arms and legs, arching his back; like a newborn colt testing out its range of movement. After all these years he was free and warm, something of which he'd never thought to feel again.

He brought his stiff fingers to his face rubbing his forehead then chin. The man listened carefully - his auditory sense on high. He could just make out the soft breathing of someone nearby. He inclined his head toward the sound, only to wish he hadn't. Sharp, silver points of light pricked his eyeballs. With a groan he rested his head back down, letting the darkness consume him once more.

Grace took a glance at the computer's chronometer. It was well into the early morning hours, her repairs were almost complete. What little was left to do could surely wait till after she had a few hours sleep. Quietly making her way to her sleeping quarters, curiosity got the better of her. Peeking into the mystery man's room she noted he still slept as did Zero, who looked highly uncomfortable in his chair. Grace crept over to his side, gently touching his shoulder.


The young man stirred slightly, swatting at something on his nose. She moved closer to his ear.

"Lazero," her tone firmer.

"Hum?" His sleepy eyes slowly opened and a lopsided grin appeared. "You're coming to wake me, angel?"

Grace smiled. "Why don't you go to bed. I'll stay here with him for awhile."

He rubbed the top of his head, yawning. "It's okay Gracie, I'm fine." And just to prove him wrong his neck muscles pinched, making him wince from the discomfort.

"You're not fooling me one bit. Go on it's okay, besides you know me I can sleep anywhere."

With a grateful smile Zero conceded his watch, standing beside Grace until she was settled in the chair. He took the blanket he had wrapped himself in and tucked it around her.

"Buenas Noches," he bid her a farewell and left.

Now that Grace was alone she looked over at the form before her. Studying this man's profile, she tried to find something that would tell her who he was. Turning deep within her she searched for any memory that would surface. Perhaps if she tried hard enough and concentrated long enough she would be able to remember his face. Once on a rare occasion, Frohike had gotten himself drunk. In his inebriated state he'd told her as she tried to tuck him into bed, that she resembled her father. Later when she had questioned him about it. Frohike backpedaled denying he'd ever said anything. She'd always been confused by that incident. Still it hadn't stopped her from sometimes starring for hours at the mirror, trying to imagine her features as her father's might have looked. Will had similar coloring, but on the whole there was no question. Their mother's features were dominant in his genetic makeup.

She tried to conjure a picture of her mother, trying to remember just what she looked like, how she smelled, how her voice sounded. Sometimes it was freighting to realize that with each passing year those memories of so long ago grew dim as an ember. A tear slipped down her cheek, more time would surely pass and what little she did remember would fad into oblivion. The only thing she would remember of her mother was her name and the stories Frohike had embellished her imagination with.

Her eyes drifted closed as a fitful slumber slowly enveloped her. Before the sweet darkness completely over took her, she let her mind drift over to touch its twin. Finding him resting peacefully, she let the darkness in.

Early that morning, Will was unusually somber. He couldn't shake the feeling of dread that had settled in his stomach. Memories had begun to resurface ones Will had long thought conquered came back. They rose from the depths he rarely accessed, now floating to the top with a vengeance. Nightmares of shadowy figures, tests and imposed separation from loved ones had kept him up at night. Logically he knew he was being irrational, but the scared little boy that still ached within him, feared the darkness and what it could bring.

His thoughts were still mired in his troubles as he stood in the corner of the kitchen. Unable to participate as a productive member of the current conversation.

The topic of discussion was the upcoming gathering of humans. Time was running out and the colonist would soon need more human bodies to incubate their offspring. The small band of resisters was growing in numbers. It had taken awhile, but humans were finally getting strength back. Time had come for a rallying of forces. Frohike, Byers and Langly were the key figures. Their leadership and strength were needed. As hard as the three men had tried to keep their young charges from the resistance, it had been no use. Once they found out, each and every one of them had grabbed on tooth and nail. Helping out in anyway they could. The skills had proven invaluable to the cause and soon the three men had looked to them for guidance.

Jacks sat across from Will, sketching franticly on a piece of an old chalkboard. She had come up with more ideas on how to possibly penetrate the colonist's stronghold. Will had countered her ideas with reservations of his own. Thus far she had punched holes in every single one of his objections. With a few sly comments to his resembling an 'old man' along the way.

"I'm not so sure that's a good idea Will, after all there is a small clan living in that area. To get word out there, not to mention relocating them will take time. Time we can't afford to waste." Jacks paused. Her mouth set in a grim straight line. "The season is about to start. The Colonist will be looking for new incubators. If we have any hope of saving lives we need to divert their attention. We need to hit something close by." She pulled up her leg balancing her heal on the edge of the seat and resting her chin on her knee. Rummaging through a sack of goods Danny had left, Will picked up a can of Spam and eyed it reproachfully. He looked over at Zero who shrugged, as if to say. 'It wasn't me.' Will tossed the can to the side and reached in for a new can. This time he pulled out a small tin with a plastic lid on top. Will licked his lips as his nose registered the faint smell that seeped through. He'd found his pot of gold. His fingers curled around the plastic lifting it away from the metal it incased. Greedily he took a long whiff of the strong aroma. It sent a jolt of pleasure straight through his sense. "Danny's the man," Will said a little too wistfully.

Jacks watched Will, almost envying the tin that was being held so lovingly in his hands. "Would you and your Java like to be left alone?" she smirked.

Will closed his eyes and took another sniff. "No that's okay, we're not ashamed of our love."

Zero choked on a piece of bread he'd been eating. "Okay, that's a little too freaky even for me."

Jacks laughed pelting Zero with a wadded up rag. "Seriously Will," she began. She looked over at him, watching him fiddle with the measuring spoons. Addressed the concerns, she knew he had. "I know it's risky but I still think a direct assault on the nurseries is the way to go. Hit them where it hurts they won't easily recover."

Will frowned. He wanted to avoid a straight out attack on the nurseries. The last thing he wanted to do was lose his loved ones to a legion of newly hatched aliens. Nor did he wish them to become incubators. "I understand your concerns, but if we hit the nurseries we could set off a time bomb. They'll come at us full force..." Will stopped his explanation as he carefully measured out the precious coffee grinds.

Zero and Jacks looked at each other. Jacks rolled her eyes heaven ward. "Will?"

No answer.


"Shhh," he hissed. "I'm concentrating. It would be a crime against..." He looked at the faded tin, "Juan Valdez, if I drop any of this."

Danny walked into the room carrying a fresh batch of food supplies. He dropped his cargo on the table. The loud clatter it made broke Will's steady concentration. He'd almost gotten the grinds in to the coffee maker, only to lose half the measuring cup.

"Arrrggh! Danny!" Will howled. "You just made me lose my coffee!" His little boy despair was comical.

Danny looked up innocently from the edge of the table.

Jacks stood up and crossed the distance to put a consoling hand on Will's arm. "Don't worry Will, you'll always have the memories," Jacks said with as much dramatic, sarcastic flair as she could muster.

Will grumbled at her and set off to make more coffee. He turned back toward Danny when he was finished. "Hey Danny, I thought you were sitting with Mr. X"

"Didn't have to, when I got there this morning Grace was already there."

A dark cloud passed over Will's face. His sister had always been stubborn, he was good at it too. He looked pointedly at Zero, "Zero?"

Zero shifted uncomfortably. "She wanted to sit with him. I didn't see any harm."

"I don't want her... " Will began.

Danny sensed something was wrong. "I just looked in on them and they're both out like lights. No harm no foul"

Jacks sighed. "Good I'm glad she's sleeping finally."

Will looked at Jacks for a moment. His jaw muscle working tensely. "Okay guys, finish breakfast. Christian will be here later this afternoon and I want to have our plan laid out, so we can get it to Frohike before he gets here. I'm heading up to the bullpen now." He turned on his heal and out the door.

"Sure thing, Will. We'll be right there." Zero looked back and Jacks and Danny. "What is eating him lately? He keeps this up I may be forced to hurt him."

Some how Grace managed to sleep curled up on the chair till mid-afternoon. Only when Christian came to check on his patient, did she awaken. The top of her head peeked out from over the blanket, watching Christian's examination. Will stood pensively hovering over the doctor until the patient was pronounced adequately recovering. It was then that Grace slipped past them silently returning to her repair work.

Grace had been working for an hour when she realized she'd completely rewired her 'Data-board' backwards. When she realized her blunder, she angrily shoved it to the side. She was too distracted, her mind kept returning to the man, and the hidden box. She wanted nothing more than to open the box. It was as if it called to her, begging to release its secrets. She had to keep herself busy or she would break her promise to Will and open the box without him. So she went about reworking her Data-Board. Her long slim fingers glided feverishly over the wires and remote panels punching in codes and resetting pathways. She engrossed herself in her work in a vain attempt to keep her raging thoughts under control. Will had peeked in through the door, asking her audibly, if she had anything to send along with Christian. When she didn't acknowledge him he slipped inside her thoughts. His sudden presence wasn't unwelcome but it startled her just the same.

"Just get him here," she said without looking up.

It had been a long day, and Grace's preoccupation with her equipment was nothing new. Still, because of the recent events Will found himself annoyed with her. He'd wanted to talk with Grace, but she was too absorbed in her work.

Will had tried to follow her lead, burring himself in his normal routines; yet had found little comfort in them. His thoughts had been far too cluttered. He could barely admit to himself just why he was so angry, so frightened that the man resting just down the hall could actually be his father. It would mean too much, it would bring about changes in their lives. Changes he wasn't sure he wanted to make. Will laughed bitterly to himself. With all that this man could mean to them -- to the small alliance that was building itself from the rubble of humanity. The only thing Will could think about, was now he'd have to share Grace. He wasn't prepared to do that. No. He didn't want this man in their lives. The time wasn't right. He and Grace had just started to get their sanity back. They'd finally begun to feel like active members of the human race, instead of misfits looking on from the outside.

Will was just drifting off to sleep when he heard his door slowly open. Despite the lack of light he knew who his nighttime visitor was. He felt her move toward him coming just within arms reach and stopped. He shifted under the covers allowing the visitor a place to sit, the bed sagged.

He waited, searching in the darkness with his mind instead of sight. He waited. When she was ready she would speak.

"I'm having a hard time keeping our promise," she whispered. When he didn't reply she continued. "I just want to know who that man is."

"Frohike will be here soon enough."

"Why do you hate him?"

"Hate him?"

"Yes, I can feel it from you every time he crosses your mind."

"I'm afraid he will disappoint you."

"No. That isn't why you feel so strongly toward him."

"It's very annoying when you do that."

She smiled. He could he hear it in her voice. "It is not what I do, Will. It's that you're a bad liar, you always have been. Does this have to do with the time we were separated?"

Will stiffened. "No!" he said too abruptly. "I don't want you to go near the box, that's all okay? For once don't disobey me. This man is more trouble than he is worth. I don't want you getting hurt, you don't know what this will bring down."

It was very tempting for Grace to just reach in and grab what she wanted to know from Will. But they had always respected each other's privacy. They had always held back from taking something from the other with force. And they had learned that sometimes things need to be said, out-loud. Exasperated and not understand what was going on inside her brother's head, she lashed out. "You're not making any sense again. Why can't you just come out and say something straight away instead of just give me the 'I'm the oldest and I say so routine?' You've got to come up with something better than that."

His eyes narrowed. "No, I don't. I have my reasons and that's that." Will's voice started to rise in volume. "I don't want you going near him. I don't want you looking at him until Frohike gets here!"

"Why can't you admit..."

"This conversation is over Grace, just go!" he yelled, effectively cutting her off. Now that he had the chance to talk with her. He couldn't form the words.

Grace pushed off the bed and was out the door. She decided to give him a taste of his own medicine. Perhaps, what he needed was a good broadside with a two by four. He wouldn't talk to her, then she wouldn't talk to him. As Grace closed the door she also shut down her link with Will.

For the next two days Grace repaired, rewired and programmed every piece of electronic equipment, and appliance she had been procrastinating on for the last year. She avoided Will at all cost. Even as the time wore on it began to put a heavy strain on both of them. With their link temporarily shut down their attitudes were dramatically altered. Grace became more withdrawn and Will became more aggressive. It was just a part of who they were and what they'd been through. This link was their life. Regardless, Grace wasn't ready to give in.

Forced in to a perpetual state of aggression. Will was hurt and frustrated with Grace. She had effectively shut him out, and try as he might, he couldn't penetrate the barrier she had thrown up between them. Never had this happened to them before. They were each other's lifelines. His resentment toward the man up stairs grew, if not for him coming in to their lives none of this would be happening.

For the most part, everyone stayed out of the way, knowing that nothing could be said or done to change things. Frohike was the only one that could resolve this whole mess.

** On the third night Jacks found the man restless, tossing and moaning. He was finally coming out of the sickness. His face was covered in sweat. She reached out with a washcloth to mop his forehead. His eyes flew open at the contact and a hand shot out to grasp Jack's wrist.

"Scully?" the man choked out sounding more than a little disoriented. "I can't see."

"No," Jacks corrected gently. "I'm Jacks. You have hibernation sickness. The blindness is a part of that. It will go away soon."

"Where's Scully?"

"I don't know," Jacks said panicking.

"I need Scully." The last was spoken in a whisper as his head fell back down on the pillow, sleep overcoming him.

Later the next afternoon, Danny took over watching the man. Zero was more than happy to relinquish his post. So Danny sat down guarding his post. After a few hours it became apparent that he needed to relieve himself. He called out a couple of times fidgeting in his chair. No one responded. He couldn't hold it anymore so he decided to make a run for the bathroom.

Moment's later Grace peered around the corner answering Danny's call. "Danny, did you want something?" Not finding him she turned back toward the hall.

She called out again. There was still no answer from Danny.

Suddenly a flash of sheer panic gripped her heart and left her panting for air. It wasn't her emotion, it had been projected in to her. Grace panicked, roughly re-forging her link with her brother. Her mind quickly flowed through his checking for the distress she'd felt. Nothing. Will was fine. Before Will could connect to her, she pulled out closing the link again as if she were quickly closing a heavy curtain. Grace was more than puzzled. Where had the feeling come from? No one besides Will could project in to her like that.

There it was again, this time the force doubled her over. She wasn't sure how, but she knew it was coming from the man.

'~'^|^'*'^|^'*'^|^'~' Scullyy!

Mulder hit the ground running, his breathing coming hard and fast as his tired lungs pushed to compensate for the sudden adrenaline rush. He couldn't see her but knew without a shadow of doubt that she was somewhere in front of him. If only he could get to her, she would make this madness go away.

Abruptly, he came to a full and complete stop. His eyes darting around rapidly searching in the darkness for the presence he knew had just appeared. He stood still, willing his labored breathing back to normal. Perhaps if he didn't move, no, not one muscle the predator would miss is presence and head off in another direction.

/Go away! Go away/ His mind hissed. The feeling began to subside just enough to make Mulder think his plan had worked, and the hunter had missed its prey.


He heard his name spoken as ragged cry for help.

/Oh, please no! Not Scully./ He raced toward the direction of her cries.

His plan had worked, the hunter had indeed passed him by, but at the cost of directing him to the one person he was trying to protect.

Grace hurried over to the man. He moaned as if in great pain. Her heart went out to him, her finger tips itched with the need to help him. Grace glanced around her out of habit, making sure no one was around to see her. She'd have to work quickly, heal him and then leave, yes that was the plan. No one would be the wiser. Except maybe Will, but if she was careful enough perhaps even he wouldn't suspect. Grace jerked back slightly as she leaned over. This was the part she dreaded most. Going into a stranger's mind, looking at their memories, their thoughts. It was an invasion of privacy one she found, distasteful to violate.

She leaned over placing her palms flat against his chest. She reached out to him with her mind, trying to calm his distress. Her good intentions backfired as a link from his mind to hers instantly snapped into place. It wasn't suppose to happen this way, Grace had no idea how she had lost control so quickly, so completely. He flooded her conscious with emotion, images she couldn't quite grasp. With the swirling intensity of floodgates braking, this man had taken over. The pain was too intense, information overload. She had to pull away. It was a matter of sanity. She couldn't move. He reached up grabbing her arms and held them firmly in place.

"Let me go," she pleaded.

Caught up in his nightmare her cries went unheard. The only thing Grace could do was to try and steal herself against the vicious onslaught. Her mind latched on to his with a freighting clarity seeing his dreams as he himself saw them, experiencing them as he did. She'd lost control and it terrified her.

They were in a dark place, similar to the testing rooms of the Dungeon. There was a vast assortment of medical tools, but not the kind used for healing. Grace began to whimper from the memories of what some of those instruments could do. She wanted to look around her, but she couldn't, realizing she was seeing through the man's eyes.

His head whipped around. His eyes tracked a man shrouded in darkness. They paced around each other like caged animals, waiting for the other to attack. Fear twisted her gut as recognition came, she had seen this other man before. In this man's mind the shadow man was younger than she remembered him to be. But it was the same face, no doubt about it. The Shadow man struck out at Mr. X who ducked then rebounded, landing a punch of his own. A hysterical laugh escaped her lips as she watched the blood poor from the shadow man's nose. He got what he deserved.

"Where are they?" the dark man asked.

Grace was stunned to hear the voices. It was like listening to someone try to talk while underwater. This was all too intense, no one except Will had ever been able to project into her like this. Instead of her mind filtering what she wanted from this man. He'd completely overtaken her. The equivalent of force feeding her. Grace tried to break a sliver of her mind away, to reach out and call her brother for help. Somehow this man's hold was too strong for her. Bile rose up into her throat as the she continued to watch the confrontation.

"Safe," Mr. X said with as much bravado as he could muster.

"You're a fool." the shadow man said. His face contorted in a demonic rage, he swung at the man again.

It was a fight to the death. The man advanced and Mr. X parried. Like some sort of bizarre ritual dance they moved around each other bearing their teeth, each trying to show superiority.

The man lunged at Mr. X gripping his collar, flinging him over a med-bed. Mr. X came back kicking the man's legs out from under him, causing him to the floor with a bone crushing thud. Taking advantage of his opponent's prone position, Mr. X straddled the man feeling the headiness of empowerment. His fury seeping into his finger tips as he began to choke the life slowly out of his opponent.

The man underneath struggled reaching out blindly to gain the upper hand. Finally his fingertip touched his opponent's chest, claiming a chunk of flesh he pulled hard. Mr. X fell off of the man and before he could recover, he was kicked savagely in the chest. Mr. X lay their stunned and in pain, trying to catch his breath. Blood dripping from his various points on his face. When his eyes opened he saw two pairs of shoes stood before him -- one belonging to a man and the other a woman. He looked up. Grace cried out as his eyes rose up to meet the woman's. The woman with hair the color of a sunset. The man held her in his powerful grip holding a scalpel to her delicate, white exposed throat.

Conceding defeat with his head bowed low and the pit of his stomach churning, Mr. X quietly rose to his feet.

A flash, a blur in time, yet happening in the eerie dream quality of slow motion. Mr. X lunged for the scalpel. It cut a long nasty gash in his hand but he managed to get it away. In one fluid motion he sent the man in one direction, the woman in another. The man bounced off the wall using it to propel himself back toward Mr. X.

Mr. X skidded backwards, spun once and landed hard against something. Grace only realized what it was when a clear covering enclosed him inside the capsule. The imprisoned man went crazy, pounding his bloody hands against the casing as he screamed furiously.

"Scullyyyyy!" "Krycek, you son of a..."

Before another word fell from his lips, a dense fog rose up around him as the air hissed a judgement of damnation in his ear. It was suddenly freezing, every nerve ending began to tingle.

Panic seized him, thoughts of death hovered over him. With one more push for precious life he tried to struggle against the stiffness that took over his body. "Sculllyyyyy!" his wretched call died as the cryogenic fog turned from condensation to liquid, his blood turning to ice. Mr. X sucked in his last second of air and shut his eyes and mouth as the water covered him completely. In the next instance it solidified and Mr. X was perfectly preserved. A nightmare became reality, as his body was put under suspended animation.

His last thought, his last primal scream echoed through Grace's mind with the force of a battering ram.


Grace tried to pull away from him, trying to tell him to let her go but the tears and gasps that poured forth from her body prevented her from doing so. Then just as suddenly as it began, he fell backward as unconsciousness over took him. Now that her anchor was gone she fell to the floor landing square on her backside. Stunned for a moment she sat there looking at the prone man as if he'd turned into the devil himself. Her whole body began to pulsate as if she'd been charged with electricity. Jumping to her feet she bolted toward the door, throwing it open with such force that it rocked on its hinges. Like a woman possessed, she raced up the hall to the doorway that led to the attic. Never knowing that in her haste she had knocked Danny to the floor.

"So if Frohike is able to get us the information then..." Will paused. Cocking his head to the side.

Jacks recognized the far away look that had crept into his eyes. He was zeroing in on his sister.

"Something's wrong," he said.

Danny scrambled up the ladder leading into the bullpen. "Guys get down here now. Gracie is wigging out, big time!"

Without hesitation Will left the plans he and Jacks had been discussing and ran after Danny.

The three rushed up the stairs to the third floor, past the man's room and into the attic.

Cautiously they let Will go first.

As Will walked into the room, Grace's distress washed through him. He could see the tears streaming down her face. She was franticly pulling drawers out of the their cabinets and dumped the contents to the floor.

"Grace?" his voice as well as his thoughts were soft and soothing.

She didn't respond. Her search was all consuming.

Finally, finding a screwdriver and a hammer she slammed a metal box to the floor. She placed it between her knees as she knelt down, trying to pry it open with the tools.

"I've got to get it open," she sobbed.

"What are you doing with that?"

Grace disregarded Will's tone. She knew he wouldn't be happy about this, but it didn't matter. At that moment opening the box was a matter of sanity. She wanted desperately to keep hers'.

"I thought, I was speaking English. I need to open this box!"

Grace felt pathetic. She couldn't see clearly through her tears. The screwdriver slipped from her grasp, sliding across the floor in front of Jacks' shoes.

Jacks picked up the tool and brought it to her friend.

Grace grabbed Jacks' hand and pleaded. "I need help."

The other girl nodded tucking a strand of blonde hair behind her ear, and knelt down to see what she could do. Danny too made a move to help but was stopped by Will's hand.

Will reached out and took the screwdriver from Grace. "No Grace, you're not."

"And why not, Will?" Jacks asked softly. Trying to plead sympathy for her friend.

"Because, that's Frohike's. We can't open something that doesn't belong to us."

Grace's back bristled -- she drew herself up to her full height.

Jacks had seen this stance before. With the wisdom of experience she backed away from the twins, to where Danny stood. They'd watch the fireworks from a safer distance.

The twins seemed to wrestle with their eyes, each trying to assert their own will over the other. However, as in the law of physics. When two equal forces push against each other, nothing moves.

Will, arched his eyebrow in a silent question.

Grace answered it out loud.

"This isn't going to get us anywhere, William." Grace stepped forward. "Frohike isn't here. I can't wait for him to return."

Will shook his head, his fists clenched at his sides. "Stop it Grace! We've already been through this."

"I need to know what's in that box."

"Why Grace?" Will worked the muscle in his jaw.

"I need some answers Will. I want to know why we were never told about our father! Frohike said when we're old enough he'd show us. Well he's not here, and I just became of age."

"No! It isn't time."

"What are you afraid of Will? That man in the other room could be our father!" She knew she was screaming at him but she didn't care. Her emotions were ruling. "I know that the same questions that make up my nightmares, make yours too. You can't keep living as if this will all go away if you just ignore it. We were meant to do something, we are the answers to the truth. I want to know what the questions are."

"No, he's not the one." Will refused to give an inch.

"How can you be so sure?" Her eyes flashed with frustration. William's stubbornness unraveling her nerves even further. She had to get through to him, make him understand. She stood toe to toe, looking up at her brother. His angry face inches from hers. Gripping his upper arms Grace's voice dropped down to a ragged whisper. "He called her name. He called my mother's name!"

Will visibly blanched. "No!" he shouted, but there was a waver in his voice.

Grace could see the fear in her brother's eyes. He was trying desperately to hide it. But she knew him to well.

"Yes! He might be our father, and that box might tell us where our mother is."

Her eyes grew round and glistened. Her voice quieted as she spoke to her brother both verbally and mentally, directing some of her strongest memories into his mind.

He saw shadowy images of a laughing woman with red hair, and felt the warmth she gave course through his body. He couldn't take the memories, it was too painful and he felt ashamed at his cowardice. "Get out of my mind, Grace." Will warned through clenched teeth.

"I need to know what is in that box." She held her ground firmly. "I'm going to do this, with or without your help. I would rather you help me."

His shoulder's sagged in defeat he rested his hands on her shoulders lowering his forehead to meet hers.

"If you open the box, there is no turning back. You know?"

Grace nodded her head. "Maybe it won't come to that. But Will, we are going to have to grow up sometime. We can't keep the secrets forever."

Danny and Jacks looked at each other and shrugged. Neither one knew what the twins were speaking of. That wasn't anything new, they had their own language they didn't let anyone else in on.

They didn't break their physical contact. Instead they remained together for a few moments, absorbing strength from each other.

"Danny, could you get the blow torch?" Will asked, finally conceding.

"Yeah, sure thing." Danny disappeared around the corner.

Jacks waited a few seconds more for the twins to separate. She had often watched with a mixture of awe and envy at their bond. It wasn't like anything she'd ever seen. She felt privileged and grateful to be a part of their family.

Soon Danny with Zero in tow came back with the torch. The two young men set to work on opening the box, leaving Will and Grace to stand back. Grace's raw nerves made her whole body tremble. Jacks held her hand trying to be supportive.

The group huddled around the box. Danny was poised to begin his operation. Each pair of eyes focused intently on the task at hand.

After a few minutes of trying to pry the lid open, success was met. Danny respectfully pushed the box toward Grace so that she would be the one to open it.

Everyone held their breath waiting for Grace to make her move. Clearing her throat nervously, Grace raised the lid and looked inside. At first her face was unreadable. Only her eyes darted around the box.

"Is this someone's idea of a sick joke?" she exclaimed. She let go of the lid so that it fell to the floor. The box was filled with foam rubber, which carefully nestled two vials. Disbelieving Grace picked one up, examining it closely.

"This is a secret? This is the answer to life and the universe as we know it?" she intoned sarcastically.

Will took the vial to see for himself. Grace slammed her hand against the box and pushed herself away. She began to pace the room.

"What did you expect to find in there?" Zero asked.

Grace tugged back on her pony tail, "Oh I don't know, maybe a dossier with his D.O.B. and, and a picture." She gestured wildly with her hands. "Or one of mom, Or maybe a letter that started with 'Dear William and Grace'. But not a vial for crying out loud!"

Zero took the vial from Will and noted the label. "What does the P.C. stand for?"

Will's mouth grew taught and his brow furrowed.

"I haven't a clue," Grace answered.

I wouldn't dismiss this so quickly," Will suggested.

"I'm not dismissing it. I'm frustrated. Why didn't we ever push for more information? Why? Why? Why?"

A dull throbbing ache formed in between Will's eyes. "Damit! We might as well just wrap ourselves up as presents and just wait on their doorstep!" he exclaimed to the whole room, but his eyes pierced his sister's.

Jacks, Danny and Zero looked on with bewildered expressions. '~'^|^'*'^|^'*'^|^'~'

Frohike slid his entry key into the scan pad. Punching in his entry code, to disarm the security systems. Immediately upon entering he could tell something was different. There was tension in the air and 'sanctuary' was quiet.

'sanctuary' was never quiet. Even in the dead of night, energy and life always crackled around the aging walls. Now some how that energy had changed. It was almost as if 'sanctuary' itself was holding its breath, waiting. Without a second thought Frohike unhooked his holster, letting his callused fingers slide along the smooth metal. He gripped the hard steel, his body poised and ready for action. Methodically he began to search the compound.

A computer screen quietly flickered in the bullpen. A blueprint laid disheveled on the table, half hanging down the side. Obviously left in haste. Frohike made his way to the next level, still no signs of life.

Mulder was finally waking, his body and mind slipping back in to alignment. He groaned as each of his neural pathways seemed to snap back in to place. Peaceful oblivion giving way to blistering reality. Moving himself in to a sitting position, he took stock of his body. Every muscle that could ache, did. He felt as if he'd been hit with the proverbial Mack Truck. But he was thankful to finally feel again. Mulder took a deep breath, savoring the room's stale air as if it were a bed of fragrant wild flowers. Slowly he rose from the bed, sitting upright and trying to focus his eyes. The world around him was hopelessly out of focus. He was barely able to make out shapes.

Mulder's body craved movement, he needed to get up and stretch his aching muscles, and quench his parched throat. His hands ached in their tight wrappings. Tentatively he placed one foot on the floor, then the other, slowly testing his stability. Mulder was relived to find he could indeed stand on them, only to take one step and fall to his face. Upset at his own disability, he picked himself back up and tried again. The time using the wall for support. Slowly he began to inch his way toward what he thought was the door. His assumption based on the difference in light and what he could barely make out as a door molding.

"Hello?" He called out. His voice raspy and uneven, he couldn't raise his voice loud enough so that someone beyond a few feet could hear his cry.

At first Frohike's brain refused to process what his eyes were telling it. A figure emerged from one of the smaller rooms. A man, he stood there clutching the doorway like a drowning man holding onto a life preserver. He swayed slightly, rapidly blinking his eyes.

"Mulder?" Frohike gasped unbelieving.

The man before him froze, inclining his head toward Frohike.

"Who's there?" he asked. His parched tongue thick and heavy in his mouth, causing his speech to come out slurred and clumsy. "Scully?"

Frohike stepped forward reaching for his friend. "Mulder, you sorry son of a biscuit eater! How the hell did you get here?"

"Frohike?" Mulder looked perplex. "You don't know? Just now I thought you'd gotten me out."

"No the kids called me back on an emergency. I'm assuming you're it. My god you haven't aged!"

Mulder's legs started to give out on him and he swayed.

"Whoa partner, lets get you back to the bed."

"I can't see," Mulder blindly reached for the edge of the bed.

"When did that happen?"

"I don't know. When I woke up it was like this. I vaguely remember someone telling me I had hibernation sickness."

Frohike frowned. "Hibernation sickness? You were in stasis?" He couldn't keep the horror from his voice. "That's what happened to you? Where you've been all this time? Oh hell, that explains so much. What's the last thing you remember?"

"Nothing really. I was fighting with Krycek, then nothing." Mulder rubbed his stubble jaw. "Where's Scully is she all right?"

Frohike felt the familiar ache settle in his heart, he hated the news he would give. "Mulder, I'm afraid Scully was taken right after you were captured. She's been gone as long as you, and I've had people looking for her but nothings ever come back."

Mulder let his chin drop to his chest.

The room was bathed in a respectful silence as Mulder took a moment to collect himself. There were neither great wails of sorrow nor soft whimpers of remorse, his shoulder only shook slightly. Later, he would mourn her in private.

Frohike rested a hand on Mulder's shoulder. "We haven't given up hope, we know she's out there somewhere."

Mulder was sick to his stomach. "How. . . how, long have I been gone?"

"About fourteen years."

"William? Grace?"

Frohike bowed his head for a moment. "They're fine Mulder. A bit worse for ware, but they're survivors."

Mulder didn't like that sound of that. "What's that suppose to mean Frohike? What's happened?"

Frohike tugged on his scraggily ponytail, wishing he was Anywhere else but there about to tell Mulder, that earth Had gone to hell in a hand basket. He took a deep breath then Slapped a palm against Mulder's knee. "I'm glad to see you Mulder, truth is I never thought I would," Frohike tried to Manage a jovial attitude.

"Just give it to me straight old man," Mulder implored.

"One word Mulder. Colonization..."

Frohike felt the familiar dull ache spread through his middle as he explained the events. Sympathizing each time Mulder winced. "...everything as you knew it has been all but whipped out. The earth, the United States, everything has been turned on it's ass. Washington DC was the first to go." Frohike laughed bitterly. "Who'd have thunk it?"

Mulder shook his head, his thoughts jumbled up as the bitterness set in. They'd all tried so hard to get to the bottom of things Before colonization happened. Now it was evident they'd failed. Everything from losing his sister to the suffering he'd witnessed Scully enduring had been in vain. They'd walked where angles feared to tread, and yet the devil had still won his game.

Or had he?

Mulder gritted his teeth. "Where are the twins."

"Safe, they're here. Somewhere. My guess is they're wondering who you are."


Frohike squirmed. It was confession time. "They're probably feeling something familiar toward you, but aren't able to place it. I, uh, I made a conscious decision when we rescued them to not reeducate them of their past."

"Rescued them? What? I don't understand" Hurt and confusion slammed against Mulder's chest.

"There were some things that happened to the twins, Mulder. Some really bad things, it messed them up. It was only through a lot of hard work and patience that we were able to help them move on from what was done to them.

"Smoking man?" Mulder asked. He blew a heavy breath through his nose. Like a bull on the verge of charging.

"Yeah, the bastard. After you disappeared we all tried to juggle searching for you and helping her hide the twins. One day, just one second was all it took. Our guard was down. Before we realized what was happening they had found us and the twins were taken away. Experimented on. Some how we managed to get them out. To this day I'm still amazed Byers, Langly, Skinner and I were able to get them out. We ah, we couldn't find Scully." Frohike had waited a long time to tell Mulder. Frohike noted ruefully, the weight had not been lifted from his shoulders.

Frohike rested a hand on Mulder's shoulder. "We haven't given up hope, if she's out there somewhere we'll find her. The twins think she's dead. I just don't have the heart to give the kids false hope. I don't think they could take it, if they found out other wise. When we got them back it was decided to just let them heal, let them forget as much as they could. I use to tell them fanciful stories of Fair Lady Dana, but never anything substantial. They know they're parents were good people, that you two tried to prevent what has happened. Beyond that we kept things on a low, then as time went on it just got easier to leave things out. We always thought that when the twins were old enough we'd tell them more. None of us ever got around to it, looks like we'll have to catch up now." Mulder lay back on the bed placing his hands over his eyes. He wanted to wake up from this nightmare he'd fallen in to. Guilt scorched his heart and his mouth was dry. "I don't care, it doesn't matter. I still want to see them."

Frohike winced, "Let me see where they're hiding, see which way the wind is blowing. This won't be easy. When they're ready, I'll bring them to you. There is a great deal about them you need to know, understand. They aren't the babies you left behind. They've seen and done things that make what you and I've experienced pale in comparison."

With those parting words, Frohike went in search of his young charges.

There would be hell to pay.

William lifted the foam rubber out of the box. He let out a gasp of surprise as he pulled out a picture. As he stared at it Jacks walked over to him looking over his shoulder.

"Who is that?"

"My mom," he answered solemnly.

Jacks was in awe. "She was beautiful," she said. Her eyes Glided over the rather tiny picture. "This must have been for her FBI badge."

Grace looked over at them, pushing a stray lock of hair away from her eyes. "Very, beautiful."

"What do you think you're doing?"

So unexpected was the voice, five pairs of stunned eyes flew to the speaker. Jacks blushed, then seemed to find the piece of floor near her shoe terribly interesting. Zero scratched his head repeatedly, in a nervous gesture, his gaze darting around the room. Danny tried desperately to melt into the background even with the torch still blazing in his hand. Will folded his arms looking expectantly at his sister. As for Grace, she whirled around, fist balled at her sides.

"I've opened the box."

"I can see that. Why?"

Frohike slowly walked up to his young charge. He looked up carefully assessing the emotions so openly displayed in her eyes. Apprehension and uncertainty coiled its way around his heart.

Grace was five inches taller than Frohike and had been for quite some time. Yet his presence never failed to put her into the role of a wayward child, when she had acted rashly. This was too important to let herself go soft.

"I think," she paused slightly. Then amended her statement. "I know the man is our father."

Frohike raised a bushy brow, "What man?" Momentarily playing dumb in an attempt to gage the depth of the waters that swirled around the room.

Grace's face fell, she turned around sharply.

Will had the grace to look ashamed, "I didn't tell him."

"Tell me what?"

"The whole point, I thought, of calling you back so soon was because a few days ago we found a man. Danny and Zero found him in a cryo-pod. . ." Grace began.

Frohike bent his head. "Well, it doesn't matter, I saw him."

A surge of curiosity mixed in with a heavy dose of dread filled the room.

"And?" everyone chimed in at once.

Frohike was determined not to let his uneasiness show. "And what?"

Grace stamped her foot impatiently. "I want to know what is going on. I believe this man is our father."

"You sound very sure of yourself," Frohike cautiously acknowledged.

"I wasn't sure at first, I thought I was just trying to make him fit my wishful thinking. But tonight, I saw something." Grace swallowed hard as she recalled what she had seen. "He was having a nightmare, I tried to soothe him. Somehow I saw his nightmare, I believe he was remembering. I saw my mother, and then he called her name."

"Remembering what?"

"He was fighting with that man. The one armed man, and during his struggles he fell into a cryo-pod. The one armed man activated it and he was frozen almost instantly.

Frohike's temper flared, remembering all the pain and sorrow that had come after Mulder had disappeared. Red spots of color spread across his ample cheeks when he thought of is lack of faith. Scully had been right. Mulder hadn't run out on them, not even for the little gray men. Krycek was to blame, wasn't he always? In his estimation, Krycek had lived far longer than he should have.

"That's never happened before. I've never been able to see other people's minds, only Will. That has to mean something!"

"It does Grace."

Tears streamed down Grace's "You enjoy this emotional mind game don't you?"

"No Grace, I don't. I just remember what you and Will were like after we found you. The nightmares, the aggression, I was hoping to save you more pain..."

"Not telling us saved us pain?" The rest of the room seemed to melt away. "Not telling us our father was alive?"

"I didn't tell you about your father because I didn't know he was alive. I didn't know where he was. One day he simply left and I, we never knew why. It was wrong I know, but I didn't know what else to do. You may not remember this, but the two of you scared me when we first got you back. Your mother had tried so hard to keep you away from anything related to the invasion and the work she and Mulder were involved in. I was simply trying to follow her lead. Your father and his 'disappearance' was a part of that, I thought that if you knew about the details you'd try to do something about it. As it was it was impossible to keep you away from all aspects of the invasion. I mean look we're all the ringleaders of the ' Terrestrial Invasion'. Look I'm not a parent, I did what I thought was right. I took care of you two because your parents meant a lot to me. I was trying to keep you two alive, and safe. Your mother entrusted you to me, and I have always worked my ass off trying to protect you two!"

"Regardless, you had no right to keep this from us. It doesn't make sense." Grace closed her eyes. "Would mom have kept him from us?"

Frohike would have welcomed the ground opening up and swallowing him whole. "No, your mom wouldn't have kept him from you."

"Then what the hell gave you the right..." Grace couldn't finish her question, her emotions where cascading over her sense of reason. All of the sudden the whole world was against her and nothing was right anymore. Her beloved Frohike had kept a vital part of her past from her. It was all just too much to taken in, with a strangled cry she pushed past Frohike nearly knocking him over on her way out.

Mulder couldn't take the stagnation anymore he needed to get up, get out. He wanted, needed to see the twins. His mind was already having difficulty processing the fact that years had passed since he'd last seen his family. Mulder was heartsick at the thought that Scully had been taken away and his children experimented on. Raising himself off the bed he slowly made his way toward the door, tentatively walking out into the hallway. He squeezed his eyes shut then opened them wide. His vision was still a mess. Blobs of light and dark swarmed around him, making it almost impossible to distinguish much of anything in the poorly lit hallway.

Suddenly the ground seemed to come up to meet him. Mulder had been thrown to the floor as something slammed into him. He reached out taking hold of the object.

"Let me go!" Grace shouted. More afraid than upset.

"You were the one who ran into me."

"I'm sorry okay? Just let me go."

Mulder realized he held a young girl. He could almost make out her features she was so close to him. Dark hair, pale skin, she reminded him of someone, but his eyesight was still too fuzzy to tell.

Frohike bounded down from the stairwell. "Grace!" his tirade abruptly ending when he saw Mulder holding on to her.

At the sound of her name, Mulder gripped her arms tightly, willing his vision to clear and confirm what he now suspected.

Mulder was about to go every which way but loose. With deadly calm in his voice he asked, "What's going on, Frohike?"

Frohike was speechless, not knowing just how to brake the news.

"Who are you?" Mulder asked.

Her dark eyes sought out Frohike. "I am. . ." Grace faltered. She suddenly felt painfully shy and without a clue as to how To proceed. How did one just come out and say. I'm your daughter, nice to meet you? Or was that just what one should do?

Frohike shifted on his feet gulping down a lump in his throat. He looked Grace in the eye, and addressed Mulder. "Mulder, this is, Grace."

Time stood still for in that instant. Mulder could hear his own heart thundering in his ears. As the shock began to subside he captured her hand in his own and pulled her into an embrace hugging her fiercely.

At first she didn't even register that she was hugging her father. The outrage that had sliced through her mind had rendered her numb. She had always been led to believe her father had never known about her and Will. That the shadowy figure of a man she had questioned others about had always been pushed aside. They had assured her that because she had wanted a family so badly she had made that man up. Now here he was holding her in the way she had always dreamed of, and they had known all along. "Mulder," Grace blushed. Feeling a bit awkward, addressing him in that way. But father was even more of a stretch for her. Her emotions where still raw from the perceived betrayal Frohike had met out.

"Where's your brother?" Mulder asked.

Grace wasn't sure how to answer, she looked up to see Will standing about a foot behind Frohike and the rest of the gang framing the doorway. She reached out to her brother finding him just as angry and puzzled as she was. Grace's knees began to hurt so carefully she extracted herself from the embrace. Mulder seemed to sense her awkward feelings and let her slide away from him, reluctantly.

"William?" he called out.

Grace's eyes flew to her brother. He looked like a small woodland creature caught in the headlight of re-con vehicle. He was frozen to his spot unable to make a move in any direction.

"Go on Will." Danny urged his friend. Giving him a slight push to encourage him further.

Anger and annoyance gritted Will's teeth and the warning glance he shot around the room left no doubt as to the forfeit of one's life should they try a maneuver like that again. Will would move when he was good and ready, and right now the very idea of walking across the room was the equivalent of running the circumference of the earth.

Mulder wasn't sure what the problem was. "William..."

Will gritted his teeth then corrected Mulder. "It's Will," he said firmly.

Mulder paused his teeth set on edge. "Will. I know this must be very hard for you. It's good to know you're alright."

Still Will refused to budge. His eyes suddenly becoming like blue steel, hard and unforgiving.

Frohike decided he would stare the young man down. Letting the tension in the room grow thicker than the dense smog filled air outside.

"I'm not alright. I haven't been for a long time." Will confessed bitterly.

Mulder sensed the tension, it made his heart grow heavy. "It's okay Will, I understand."

"No sir, I don't think you do." Will's tone was biting and cynical. It earned him malevolent stares from those around him. He had heard and understood the note of acceptance even love in his father's voice. It overwhelmed him. This was all too much and he'd be damned if he'd let everyone see him give in to the emotional baggage that threatened to spill over the floodgates and drown him in their depths. If that happened he would no longer be able to hold his head up with any pride. His projection of strength and power would be rendered impotent, if in no one else eyes but his own. He needed the strength and fortitude his anger provided.

With his sight leveled on the stairwell downward, he brushed past Grace's outstretched hands.

He fled down the dark hallways into the tunnels, into the safety of solitude. He ran until his lungs gave out, and even then he pushed himself further. Finally he came to a stop bending at the waist clutching his knees with his hands, he panted trying to forget. It was then he looked down and noticed he still clutched his mother's picture. '~'^|^'*'^|^'*'^|^'~'

Grace sat in a corner drumming her fingers on the cement floor. She'd been waiting for Frohike to finish his little talk with her father. Over to her right she looked up dispassionately at Danny. He was rummaging through a large wooden crate. Zero, who was being his typical annoying self, was looking over Danny's shoulder while he exercised with a sand filled tube as a free weight. The side-glances that Zero threw at Grace did not go unnoticed.

"This is taking forever!"

"What?" Danny asked, not looking up from the crate.


"No it's not nothing you said something," Zero added.

"Noth-ing" she reiterated. Grace was more than a little annoyed. She'd come down to the lower back entrance to not only wait for her brother to return, but to be alone. The boys didn't get the idea. Soon Danny and Zero began fussing over some spare part, and Grace had reached her tolerance level. She was just about to tell them to hit the highway when the backdoor opened. In the blink of an eye Will raced through the doorway and up the back stairs. Grace flinched and the whole house seemed to shimmy when Will's door slammed closed. Jack's silhouette filled the doorway, her posture slumped in defeat. She shrugged sadly at Grace. Grace was starting to resent the turmoil her twin seemed intent on stirring up. She loved him so much, he was her whole life the only flesh and blood family she had for so long. Who knew better than she did everything there was to know about Will? Still she wasn't blind to his less than desirable qualities. Grace bit her lip, compassion and personal need pulling her two ways. Compassion for her brother, knowing his need of her, knowing she should follow him and comfort. Her personal need to stay right where she was and wait to see her father had overridden her duties as a sister. The last thing she wanted to do right at that moment was play; nursemaid, mother, and sister for Will's benefit.

"Don't worry Jacks, I'll talk to him, later." Grace offered.

Jacks smiled gratefully, sinking down beside Grace. "So have you talked to your father yet?"

Grace made a face, "No. Frohike is still up there."

As they waited for the big powwow upstairs to finish. Grace and Jacks fell into quiet conversation. Grace was trying to describe and idea to Jacks when she noticed her friend had stopped listing. Instead Jacks' eyes were drifting upward toward the stairs. The curiosity Grace saw dancing in her friends' eyes caused her to look in the same direction. Half expecting to see Will stubbornly working his way down the steps. She began to form a remark to him. Instead she realized it was Mulder carefully descending the stairs with Frohike's help.

Grace felt as if she'd been frozen in place. She looked expectantly up at Frohike waiting for him to notice her. His concentration was focused solely on Mulder; not once did he look in her direction. She strained to keep the two men in her sights as Frohike lead Mulder in to the kitchen area. When they were no longer in view she looked back at Jacks to find her and the two boys straining to catch a glimpse at the new comer.

Zero leaned over whispering, "Go on Gracie, now's your chance."

"Yeah," Danny agreed. "Go talk to him."

Suddenly Grace had no idea what to do or say. Her body seemed to become like a heavy weight. Not a single muscle was obeying her command to move. "I can't," she said. Her voice cracking like the cowardly lion she had seen once in a movie.

Jacks grabbed Grace by one arm, Danny grabbed the other. "Sure you can!"

In a joint effort they propelled her in the direction of the kitchen. Grace skidded to the doorway, quietly leaning against the frame. She watched as Frohike turned the light on.

"That's bright." Mulder winced as he covered his eyes.

"What do you see?" Frohike asked.

"Instead of a big dark blur. I see a big bright blur," Mulder said.

Grace grinned to herself.

"I'll be back in a moment, Mulder," Frohike said as he walked out of the kitchen.

Grace didn't want to take the chance of having Frohike send her away again. She wanted to talk to Mulder and she was determined to do so. As Frohike turned around and headed for the doorway Grace ducked behind a stack of boxes.

When the cost was clear she again resumed her observation point. She observed quietly as Mulder did his best to examine his surroundings. He carefully probed with his hands, searching out the gadgets and refurbished equipment that cluttered but did not litter the cabinets and counters. His eye blinked in double time when he reached the egg timer that had been cannibalized to fit on a canister set that also did double duty as a coffee maker. She witnessed a slow grin creep across his face and felt her face parody his.

"Made it myself," said Grace through her smile, wishing he could see her clearly. Mulder turned around squinting at her. She was struck with the surprise of new discovery, as the facial expression on Mulder reminded her of one she'd seen often on her brother's face.

"Grace?" Mulder asked. Clearly wanting to identify the unfamiliar voice.

Shyly she peered at him from around the corner. "Yes." she confirmed.

"I'm impressed," he motioned around the room. "Is most of this your handy work?"

"Most of it, but the others are good at coming up with stuff. We've learned to be rather self-sufficient and creative."

Mulder flashed her a proud lopsided grin. "I can see that."

Grace's bravado began to falter. She bit her lip and looked back over her shoulder, down the hallway she had come. There Jacks, Zero and Danny stood watching her. All three motioned her with their hands and mouths to go on in. She waved them away, hoping Mulder couldn't hear them.

"I uh, I guess you're tired. I'll leave you alone." She turned to walk away, noting the disappointed looks on her friends' faces. They threw up their hands in exasperation. Grace turned back to Mulder, "help yourself to whatever you can find."


She turned back to Mulder. "Yes?"

Grace watched Mulder sweep his arm across the room. "I uh. . . it's been a while. And I was never a good cook. If I make the coffee, which is about all I can do. . ."

Grace smiled, grateful and relieved he wasn't sending her away. "I'm not much of a cook either, but I can make you a sandwich."

Mulder smiled. "That would be great."

As Grace took a step into the kitchen she heard noises behind her. Jacks flipped a salute while Zero winked and Danny gave her the thumbs up. She rolled her eyes and grinned as she motioned them to leave. She felt the need for some privacy.

Mulder did his best to reach for the tin of coffee. But he only managed to knock the canister to ground. The look of frustration on his face made Grace smile, seeing another thing that reminded her of Will. "Here," she said. Sit down, I'll take care of things."

Grace awkwardly took Mulder by the elbow, leading him to a nearby chair. She wasn't prepared for the feelings that rushed through her at this seemingly casual contact. Momentarily she lost herself in a barrage of memories, questions she'd had for as long as she could remember. Grace heard Mulder clear his throat and realized she'd left him hanging. "I'm sorry here, sit right here."

"Damn. I wonder how long this is going to last. I feel like a bump on a stump."

Well, that was her queue. She stood back for a moment contemplating her options. She bit her lip, she could help him. She wanted to help him. But should she help him? His life wasn't in danger, he wasn't in any real distress. Her fingers began to itch. As if they were telling her to help him. If Will found out he'd be more than upset with her. . .

Again Grace was shaken out of her wandering thoughts, when Mulder asked her if something was wrong. "Sorry. You're eyes aren't clearing up?"


Grace glanced around surreptitiously. Jacks, Danny and Zero had indeed left. No one was around except Mulder. "Here let me see what I can do." Grace reached out and gently closed Mulder's eyes. She placed her index fingers at his temples and the pads of her thumbs against his eyelids.

"Just relax," she admonished.

She began to make circular motions, brushing his eyelids and brows gently. Soon the familiar feel of heat began to build. It passed from her fingers to Mulder's eyes. He jumped slightly at the sensation, and she realized she had to stop. If she continued her ministrations he might start to ask questions. Her work would only be half done, but it would do for now. When she pulled away she instructed Mulder to keep his eyes closed and count to ten. Then he could open them.

Mulder did as he was asked and when he opened his eyes, the world was in much better focus. He blinked rapidly adjusting to the light. Grace watched the emotions play across his face as his gaze fell upon her. Something akin to wonderment twinkled in those green orbs.

"How did you. . .?" he began to ask. But Grace waved him away.

"Some times a good massage can work wonders."

He looked for a moment unconvinced. Her heart began to race, it seemed as if he would pursue the question he still had. But to Grace's relief he did not.

Wordlessly they began to move around the kitchen. A bit awkwardly, at first; each very aware of the proximity of the other. Grace berated herself mentally. Never before had she been as painfully shy with anyone. Afraid, yes, but not shy. In no time the sandwiches where completed, and the table was set. Grace found herself not knowing what to do next.

"Uhm, here you go, uhm, Mul-der." She drew out his name in mid pronunciation realizing for the first time how awkward a name it was. And how she didn't want to call him Mulder, but she didn't feel confident enough to call him father. She wanted to ask him if it would be all right, but courage failed her on that end as well.

"Do you like coffee?"

"Yeah, sometimes. Mornings mostly. I like flavored coffee the best but that is super hard to come by." She once again kicked herself, feeling her conversation skill plummet to the dismal depths of inadequacy.

"Would you mind sharing a cup? I made more than I needed to for myself."

Grace was momentarily speechless. She couldn't think of how to form the words. They were easy words. It was a simple yes or no question. That didn't stop the fact that she felt like a fish out of water. Self-consciously she rubbed her hands against her thighs. She heard thevoice in her head say, /Yes, that would be really nice./ or /Why thank you./

What came out was, "Sure, whatever." She winced.

Mulder didn't seem to notice her inner battle with etiquette. He smiled at her. She smiled at him. When Mulder turned away she slapped herself on the forehead. /dope, dope, dope!/

A short while later, Grace sat perched on a stool next to the counter. Mulder had resumed his seat on the chair. He took a sip then watched her do the same. The air hung thick between them, he could feel her bursting with questions.

"Go ahead Grace, ask me."

His straight forwardness took her by surprise and all the questions that she did have seemed to evaporate like a trickle of water on a scorching nuclear summer's day.

"I'm not sure where to start."

Mulder nodded understanding, "Just pick a question. Anything."

"Okay," she said then thought for a moment. "Well you see, I have this memory. It's silly really, and not one of my more intense memories. Just something I've always thought about." She paused again thinking.

Mulder carefully prodded. "What do you remember?"

"Not much really, at least I don't think it's a lot. A lot of things have faded, so that all that's left are just memories of feelings, or just bits and pieces." Her voice grew quiet. "When they took us away, Will and I, we were still so young. I remember crying a lot. We cried for our mother." Grace saw Mulder's expression grow dark and brooding. "After awhile you get tired of crying. Time went by, I don't remember how much. There we so many test and people talking, telling us how we should feel. Things we should do. The memories began to fade since there we other things to clutter our minds."

"Does Will have memories?" Mulder asked.

"He remembers some things. We haven't talked about in a long time. Truth is he won't talk about them. It hurts him to remember, so he doesn't." Grace looked down at her hands. "It hurts to remember some things. Because then you start to think about what-ifs and if-onlys. So you stop thinking about it. If you don't look back, I guess the memories start to fade."

"Tell me your memories," he asked.

"I guess. I'm not sure if they are my memories or just part of my dreams." Grace angrily brushed a tear from her cheek and looked up at Mulder with glistening eyes. "You know from wishing we were normal." Pain and sorrow etched themselves across her young face. Grace sighed heavily, visibly turning inward to recall them. Her brow furrowed as she began to speak. "I remember my mother. Her face is a bit hazy but her hair stands out. She had the brightest red hair. I use to love to just look at it, watch the sunlight play with it, yah know?"

Mulder nodded. A ghost of a smile on his full lips.

Grace continued. "I remember asking her once, why I didn't have hair like hers. My hair has always been such a funky shade of brown." Grace absently played with a lock. "She would smile at me and tell me that my hair was beautiful just as it was. Some how that was never enough for me. Not until she'd say, that she loved my shade of brown. That is was the same shade as my father's. Some how she knew I love to hear her say that." Grace furrowed her brow. "But my need for reassurance and vanity always came at a price for her. She'd patiently listen to the same questions over and over, answering them the way she knew I liked her to answer them. And then she'd dread - I could tell - the inevitable question. I'd ask her where my dad had gone? The only thing she would ever say was, 'I don't know, Gracie.'"

Mulder reached over lifting Grace's chin with his fingers. "She did love you, you know."

Grace smiled threw her tears.

"Frohike said Scully, your mother disappeared shortly after I did. How come you don't remember anything about your father?"

"It's not that I don't remember him at all. Just for some reason those parts are where it really gets fuzzy. I remember a really tall man laughing with us and lifting me up on top of his shoulders. When I was up there it felt like I was so high, I could reach out and catch a bird flying by. I think this memory is part of a particular day, because at one point I'm on his shoulders with my fingers curled in his hair." Grace looked at her hands and flexed them as she continued to talk. "I know I must be hurting him because I'm so excited, I'm ripping his hair out. He's trying gently to uncurl my fingers and Mom is telling me to put my hands on the side of his head. He says to my mom that I shouldn't grab his ears because by the end of the day he was going to look like a floppy-eared rabbit. I laughed at that and mom said to him 'Better to look like a rabbit than lose that head of hair.' And the whole time Will is jumping up and down in front of us saying it was his turn to ride on" She stopped and tilted her head to the side remembering a long forgotten detail. "Yes, he must have been my dad. I remember Will saying it was his turn for daddy to hold him."

Grace shook her head bemused. "Wow, that is the most I've ever remembered. I mostly just remember feelings. I do know that my mother loved us very much. I think my father, you did too."

Mulder reached out and tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. "I know for a fact that both your mother and father loved you both very much."

She looked up into the eyes that were so much like her own. "To see you, to have you here. Something we never expected. It's good, really good. But it's a bit unnerving at the same time. Don't know what to do."

"Grace you don't have to do anything. It will all come in time."

She smiled a watery smile. "You're really him aren't you." She meant it as more of a statement than a question, but he answered anyway.

"Yes." His voice sounding a little choked up.

It was a simple enough reply, but it was enough to send Gracie into his arms. She hugged him fiercely, her face burrowed against his chest. Mulder embraced his daughter with equal fervor and rested his cheek against the top of her head. Holding her tightly as her body shook with 11 years of emotion.

After a long while the tears subsided for both Mulder and Grace. Mulder for his part was content to just hold Grace. He began to fill in the gaps or her. His voice keeping a steady, hushed tone, reminiscent of the voice he had used to sooth her to sleep.

"What you remember," he began. "is a day Scu. . . your mom and I decided to take the two of you to an amusement park. You just wouldn't sit still in the stroller. You somehow managed to unbuckle yourself. Before anyone could stop you, you were up and out, climbing on top of a divider wall." Mulder's voice began to soften. "You were trying to get a better view of a sidewalk show. So... your mom and I admitted defeat. I lifted you on my shoulders, and some god awful purple dinosaur. . ."

"Barney!" Grace supplied merrily.

Mulder made a face, like he had just swallowed sour. "I see you remember the name. I tried real hard to get you to like Sesame Street, it was so much more dignified." Mulder sighed. "Anyway, Barney had come out of the crowd and began to dance along with the other performers." Mulder's voice was thick with emotion as he remembered one of the happiest days of his life. "You couldn't control yourself, you were so excited. You know, I think I still have a bald spot from that day."

Grace half laughed half sobbed. He could tell she was finally able to fill in the blanks of that memory. "I don't want to call you Mulder," she blurted out.

Mulder's eyes squeezed shut and for a moment he didn't trust his voice. The bittersweet request had cut him to the quick. Finally he whispered, "Then don't." He then put his hands on Grace's shoulders pushing her back far enough so he could look at her face.

"Grace. Your mom is, is she truly dead?"

"I don't know. We've grown up believing she is. I don't remember that much about when they took her, Will does, I think. But he won't talk about. He won't even talk to me. Why?"

Mulder shook his head as if to clear away a thought. "I just always though that if she were gone, I'd feel it. I'd know."

Grace frowned. "You don't feel anything?"

"I don't feel her gone," he clarified.

Mulder looked into his daughter's eyes, wanting her to understand.

Grace's brows furrowed "Perhaps, you should trust that feeling. But I'm not sure I could hope that high, and be disappointed."

Mulder took her chin between his forefinger and thumb. Giving her an affectionate tug and smile, he got up. "I should find Frohike, take care of some things."

"Dad?" Grace called out and then blushed as he turned around to look at her unable to hide his surprise.

"I know it's a stupid kid thing. But I just want to know, Did you love my mother?"

It seemed like every question she posed had the ability to stab at his heart. She wasn't trying to hurt him, he knew that. It was his own feelings of guilt and loss that seemed to make everything he felt magnify itself. By the look on her face he could tell she was growing more terrified of his answer.

"I shouldn't have asked." She bit her lip. "But, did you?"

Mulder turned a warm smile on his daughter. The truth wasn't anything to be ashamed of. "I do," he said. Unable to continue this line of questioning he turned around and was gone.

A week had passed since Mulder's return. He'd gained his footing and had become accustomed to his surroundings rather quickly. Frohike would get up early in the morning and share breakfast with Mulder. They would talk in hushed tones and the conversation would stop the moment anyone else entered. Then Frohike would run his errands and Mulder would go out into the tunnels for a jog. Grace seemed to have an unquenchable appetite for questions. She would talk till the early morning hours, asking Mulder anything and everything.

Will for the most part avoided Mulder and only spoke to him when absolutely necessary. Still Will was respectful despite his feelings of resentment. This resentment seemed to grow as he watched a bond form between Mulder and Grace, as well as the others. This was compounded by the feelings of guilt for resenting his sister's new found happiness. Will knew the cycle was pointless, he knew his father would welcome him with open arms if Will would just cross the gap. Will couldn't, he had a hard enough time tamping down the anger and furry that bubbled in him. So he did what he thought was best, he stayed away. Jacks kept a watchful eye over him and got his attention back to the invasion they were planning.

One night when Will, Jacks and Frohike were up late. Mulder learned of the plans Will had put together. Plans to destroy a nursery. Despite Will's feelings, a new feeling of pride washed through him as he watched his father's amazement. Their plans were bold and daring if not highly dangerous. In a few short weeks, they had set in to motion a set of tactics that would be the first waves of a fight designed to bring the colonist to their knees, and if things went according to plan. Soon every small band of freedom fighters would join forces and send the colonist and their testing back to where they'd come from.

Will listened in silence as Frohike explained to Mulder what a nursery was. A place where the colonist stored human hosts. Like certain types of insects, the aliens dropped their young into a host body that would not only be a safe haven for the developing life, but also a source of food.

"We've all lost someone close to us that way," Jacks had told Mulder. "We're trying to stop it. We don't want to kill their children, but we do want to stop anymore from being made. At least here on this planet. They can do whatever the hell they want on their own planet."

Mulder had found something he could sink his teeth into.

** The next morning Zero was sent to deliver a message. Until they had a critical piece of information the small group couldn't continue in their planing, so they waited. It was a lazy afternoon, no one could do much of anything. The sky had opened up and a light yet destructive stormed blew its way up the eastern sea board and the old D.C. area was getting the fringe of it. The inclement weather made traveling in the underground tunnels hazardous. Especially in heavy rains the tunnels could become backed up. So everyone was gathered in the bullpen engaged in a variety of fiddling, fidgeting and just plain lounging around. Jacks sat in a corner Indian style reading a book. While Will, Grace and Danny sat at the table playing poker.

Danny sat at the end of the table with Grace on his left and Will on his right. Jacks looked up to note his eyes darting back and forth, she grinned. Poor Danny was trying to tell if the twins were pulling a fast one him.

Jacks smirked at the grimace on Danny's face. He decided to make his offer, "I'll see your computer chip and raise you a vintage issue of Sports Illustrated Swim Suit, 1999 Edition."

A half snort half laugh came from the corner. Jacks quickly returned her focus back to her book, as three pairs of eyes came around to look at her.

"Excuse me?" Grace exclaimed. She shifted positions bring her legs up underneath her in the seat, thus positioning her higher over the table. "Nah-ah, I ain't buying it. You've got to come up with something better than that."

Danny looked sufficiently affronted at Grace. "This is a classic issue. I'll have you know I had to trade two cases of Optical wire and canned beans for this."

"Now there's a combination," teased Will.

Grace smirked. "Think about it, Danny. What could I possibly want with a Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issue. I've already got everything they have," she added with a scoff.

Will chuckled. "That's debatable."

Grace reduced him to micro-dust with one glance and continued. "Anyway, my friend, you were robbed. I heard Crooked John was trading two in the South Quarter for a pack of parallel port clips."

Grace noted with glee the startled look on Danny's face. She'd got him going, he was thinking he had been robbed. Then he realized she was pulling his leg.

"Dang Grace!" he said, laughing. Then her proceeded to pelt her with popcorn.

Grace picked two handfuls of popcorn from the bowl she and launched them at Danny and then at Will for good measure. With in minutes a take-no-prisoners popcorn food fight raged. Playing cards, betting merchandise and the plastic chips were scattered everywhere. Before anyone knew what was going on, Danny had Will pined on top of the table while fighting Grace off his back. She slipped and fell of the table landing on the floor just in time to see her precious glass of Cranberry juice coming straight for her. She gave a little yelp as the cold liquid soaked her shirt and hair. Then with a thud Danny and Will followed.


"Hey! What do you guys think this is? The WWWF isn't looking for any openings." Frohike announced with that all to familiar exasperated reproach. He turned to Mulder and said, "Not that they know what WWWF is, but still."

Danny and Will looked up in surprise. Like two kids that were caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

"Hey, remember me? I can't breathe," Grace squeaked.

Grace heaved a sigh of relief as the two boys shot to their feet. Self-consciously they laughed as they pulled Grace up. She made an over dramatic effort of smoothing her rumpled clothing and hair.

Mulder for his part stood to the side watching the motley crew with unabashed fascination. These kids had come together through whatever means, and with Frohike's help had made a good life and home for themselves, despite their differences and personal horror stories. He was also impressed that despite Will's issues with him, the groups as a whole were respectful and kind to a relative stranger. Perhaps that was Grace's influence.

For the first time in years a grin spread across Mulder's face. "Grace, what is in your hair?"

"Huh? Oh!" Grace tittered slightly. As she looked sheepishly over at Frohike. "Well, when I went over the side of the table... it's cranberry juice."

Mulder watched the exchange like a spectator at a tennis match.

"Gracie!" Frohike said reprovingly. "You know how hard that stuff is to get."

"I know," she squirmed. "I'm sorry it's just that it slipped when I fell off of Danny's back."

Frohike, blinked twice. "I'm not even going to ask."

Mulder's attention turned to Danny as the young man dusted off some popcorn from his hair and addressed Mulder. "There are something's that we're able to get. We've got connections." He smiled proud of that fact. "Gracie here is unnaturally attached to cranberry juice. And Jacks likes chocolate. If there is anything special you like, we'll try our best to get it for you."

Mulder was truly touched. "Thanks Danny, maybe some sunflower seeds?"

"I'll see what I can do," the young man smiled at the older man.

Curiously Mulder asked, "How did you get to be the man-in-the-know, Danny?"

Danny shuffled his feet a bit. "Oh it's nothing really. When my parents died, I was taken in by this old woman. She was really good at getting things, making contacts. She taught me how to keep my ear to the ground and the advantages of having something someone else might need. Also the rules of fair trade and bartering for what you needed, and never get too greedy. She was a little whacked so she was an easy target for gearheads. People that took advantage of her. I tried to protect her, but I couldn't always be there. She got a bad batch of meds once. The wasteoid that gave it to her didn't know how to mix the drug she needed for her arthritis, and she OD'd. By the time I got to her she was gone. Nothing I could do."

Mulder stuffed his hands in his pocket feeling totally out of his league. And that made him more uncomfortable, these kids truly had gone through more than he'd ever dreamed. "I'm sorry."

"Hey don't sweat it. It was a long time ago and, she's better off. So am I." Danny smiled. "Langly found me, took me in, it's all good."

Mulder looked over to see Frohike pulling up a chair and motioning for him to sit down. As the three picked up the mess they had made.

Frohike looked over at Jacks who hadn't moved from her spot in the corner. "Must be some book," he said.

"It's okay," she shrugged. "More interesting than watching the 'Three Stooges' tussle."

The 'Three Stooges' good-naturedly stuck their tongues out at her and she laughed. Will took a seat next to Frohike and Danny sat by Mulder.

There was a scuffling noise down below and soon Zero's head popped into view. He greeted everyone, then pulled up a chair between Danny and Grace. "Christian says the supplies will be here in about four days. He's dispatched three groups of twos to the northern quarter to warn the clans there. He expects to hear from Byers shortly and we should have final confirmation then. He'll bring words as soon as he has it."

Everyone nodded in understanding.

Mulder cleared his throat. "If it's okay with you guys. I'd rather not talk about the rebellion right now. I'd really like to know more about you guys. I've heard a lot of references to things that were popular before the destruction. How'd you guys come to know so much about pop culture of the 20th century?"

"Frohike." Everyone said in unison.

Frohike puffed up like a proud rooster. "Better believe it. You think I was going to let these kids grow up without an education? They know the difference between info-mercials and quality programming. Although the colonists tried their best, not everything was destroyed in the invasion. And with the other small bands of humans running around this rock, we've been able to hold on to a few things from the past."

Mulder felt an odd sensation of bittersweet longing for that past. He looked up to notice the twins staring at each other their heads bent. Suddenly Will bounced his fist hard against the table, making everyone jump. Everyone except for Grace who for all appearances couldn't have cared less.

Mulder looked over at Frohike with a questioning glance. "My guess is they're having an argument." Frohike didn't bother to keep the annoyance out of his voice. "Hey wonder-twins. Do you mind? We're going to go deaf with all the noise."

The twins continued to stare each other down.

Frohike got up from his chair. "You two are the stubbornness orneriest rug-rats I've ever had the pleasure of losing my hair for."

"I have a question," Grace stated.

"Okay," Frohike said.

"I accidentally read the transmission you sent to Langly and Byers the other day. Are we, Will and I. Are we really Gemini?" Grace's gaze never left Will's. She had asked in open defiance of his wishes to not ask.

Mulder stood up leaning over the table. His body tall lean, yet imposing in a way only a father could master. His hands stretched out almost spanning the table. He leaned forward, "Look at me, both of you!" His sharp tone startled everyone in the room. He had their attention. Twin eyes that mirrored his own stared up at him. Waiting.

"I know you have questions Grace and maybe one day you'll know the answers to all of them. And I know that whether or not you want to admit it, Will, you have them too. I want to make myself perfectly clear. I don't want the two of you using the others feelings to get what you want. Grace, Will has his reasons for disliking me. Hopefully one day we can get passed that, but until then you are to respect his feelings." He paused to swallow. "Got that?"

Grace stiffened bristling at his reprimand.

"And William," Mulder stressed his son's full first name. "Your sister may or may not feel deep down as strongly as you do. But despite that and your feelings she still wants answers, she has every right to want to know. You need to learn to respect that." Mulder sat back down, burying his face in his hands and running them up and over the top of his head. "Now" he said, "what was your question Grace?"

She groped momentarily. What had she been asking? "Are we really Gemini?"

"Yes. . ." Mulder confirmed. Without hesitation, even though he was deep down loath to admit it.

Will winced.

Jacks, Zero and Danny all looked at each other. A chill had seeped into the room to accompany the dread in their hearts.

". . . But, you've always been Gemini so knowing for sure now doesn't change who you've become. You both have worked hard to get where you are. You are still the same two people that walked into this room awhile ago. You are no different." Mulder stressed not only for the twin's benefit but also for the fear that had quickly passed over the other young ones.

"No different," Will said in an all to haunting voice. Grace looked over at him. "No different."

The next morning, Frohike took his morning ritual stroll through the tunnels to a spot that was rarely traveled upon. There in the deeper recesses of the tunnels a crack had been chipped away till it had formed a small hole. There, informants would leave messages for him. He in turn would leave messages. Each of the kids knew where the hole was, but no one was allowed to go to it. Unless, Frohike was away and even then they were to always go in twos. Frohike carefully looked over his shoulder, just in case. No one was watching so he quickly hopped into the section of tunnel. Bending over he reached his stubby little fingers into the hole. Just as he thought, a message. His hand closed around the dried brittle paper and carefully he shoved it in his pocket. Something stirred in the corner making him jump. He realize it was a mangy cat who looked like at one time it might have been white, but someone had decided to dip him in motor oil, or some such sludge. It hissed at Frohike's disturbance, stretching, then tried to resume its slumber.

A cold chill ran down the little man's back. Like someone had just walked over his grave. He had the distinct impression he was being watched. Imaginary icy fingers reached out and stroked the hair on his neck. His gut was telling him to get out of there, and he obeyed. Quickly he returned home, careful to take a round about way just in case he was being followed.

Once he reached 'sanctuary' it wasn't till he locked the door behind him that he breathed a sigh of relief.

"Did we get word?" asked Will as he came up behind Frohike making him jump for the second time that morning.

"Gravy don't do that!"

"Gravy?" Will smiled. He took a bite of his piece of bread. "Sorry old man didn't mean to give you a heart attack."

Frohike halfheartedly swatted at the younger man. "Show some respect, punk." He unfolded the paper. More uneasiness weighed itself on his shoulders.

Will cleaned up a sprinkle of crumbs off his chin with his sleeve. "What's it say?"

"It's from Byers. Says he found us an informant, some one by the name of Kai. He'll have everything we need. . . Just one catch."

"What's that?"

"It has to be a girl."

Will cocked his head back. "Why?"

"Cause he will only deal with girls."

"That's stupid. He that hard up?"

"I don't like this, but Byers does know what he's doing."

"Grace isn't going to like this," Will said knowingly.

"Grace?" bushy eyebrows shot up and the eyes underneath narrowed. "Grace isn't doing this."

"She has to. Jacks can't tell if this guy has an implant. For all Byers' good intentions this could still be a trap. They might have gotten wind of our plans. She'll be able to tell if he is tweeked and if the map he provides is real."

Frohike cursed. "I really don't like it when you're right."

"Oh well," Will said as he walked away. "I'll let you tell her."

Frohike shook his head. "Punkass."

'~'^|^'*'^|^'*'^|^'~' "We've got some work to do. I need everyone to be on their toes," Frohike said.

Mulder was standing to the side his arms folded across his chest. One by one he studied the serious faces of the younger occupants of the room. Each taking up space in their own little niche of the room. Everyone's attention was upon Frohike.

"As I'm sure you all know by now. The message from Byers came back. So we're going to be leaving for the Cross-Roads in the morning," Frohike's statement caused a flurry of conversation to fill the room. Mulder watched with curiosity.

"Hey, hey! I'm talking here," the older man's voice boomed. The room settled down. "That's better. This isn't going to be a pleasure trip. We've got to stop there, pick up some supplies. Then we're headed over to Grandma Langy's," Frohike added with a smirk.

Once again the room was filled with noise. Mulder couldn't hide his surprise. "Langly?" he asked Frohike.

"Yep, blonde boy. Quite the entertainment mogul." The little man seemed to sparkle mischievously at Mulder. "You my good man, are going to get your first taste at roughing it they way we do. We'll start out first thing, then we should get to our destination later in the afternoon, rest up then tomorrow night Grace will meet up with this Kai dude."

The noise in the room died instantly. Almost as if they were waiting for the other shoe to drop. Mulder soon found out, his observation was right on target. The other shoe came in the form of Grace.

"What did you say?" Grace asked. She hopped down from where she had been sitting.

"I said, you'll be meeting with Kai. Our informant."

"That's what I thought you said. Frohike! Why me?" she asked, truly unnerved.

"Because he'll only meet with a girl."

Grace blanched. "Does this sound stupid to anyone else?" she asked.

Even though it was a serious situation Mulder had to bite back a burst of laughter as Danny, Jacks, Zero and Will raised their hands in answer to Grace. She in turn looked back expectantly at Frohike.

"Gracie," Frohike's tone was an attempt at reason.

"Don't Gracie me. You know how I feel."

Will decided to help Frohike out. "Grace we know how much you hate this kind of thing but don't worry. I'll be nearby."

"I'm not worried about that. It's the other stuff you know I hate. I'm going to have to do a once over on this guy. I don't like to go into other people's minds." to accent her point, she shivered.

"Why is that necessary Grace?" Mulder asked.

Grace sighed. "I realize it's more practical for me to go," Grace explained. "If something goes wrong, I have the best chance of getting out or seeing the trap before it's sprung."

Mulder waited for her to say more when she didn't he asked, "I'm not sure I follow."

Grace shrugged, "It isn't really a big deal. Call it an ability I've perfected over the years. If the guy has an implant. If he's dirty, I'll know it."

"Implant?" Mulder asked. "What's the difference between the two?"

"Most of what's left out there. Humans, are test subjects. Almost everyone has an implant of some kind. Some are still being used by the colonists and rebels." Zero explained. Most all of us have something in us. When I hooked up with these guys. Frohike took a neural tracking device out of me."

Mulder was deeply disturbed by this newfound information. "What was the purpose of that?"

"It was for a test on human brain waves. They were trying out a new more efficient way of mind control. They were using me to track down other escapees."

Mulder was repulsed, "How old where you?"

"Oh, about 12 I guess."

Sick to his stomach Mulder realized he hadn't even scratch the surface, as to the horrors brought about by this extraterrestrial occupation. This so-called higher race was nothing of the sort.

Grace put a kind hand on Zero's other shoulder. "But it all worked out, and we were able to help Zero and we got a valuable member of our family to boot." She bestowed up on him that famous mega-watt smile, and he seemed to bask in it.

The idea of sending Grace alone in to a potentially dangerous situation didn't sit well with Mulder. "I'm not sure I like this."

Will bristled at Mulder's protectiveness. "The fact of the matter is - Grace will get further than any of us guys. She can handle this," Will's firm tone dared Mulder to disagree.

Before Mulder could voice any more reservations, Frohike cut in. "It's getting late. Lights out, and don't forget to pack clean underwear."

Everyone obediently filed out of the room and up to their respective bedrooms.

Mulder's shirt clung to his body like a second skin. The smell of sweat and filth burned his nostril, as he followed the group down the never-ending tunnels. His eyes watered from the smell, still he seemed to be the only one that was effected by the noxious odors. The gang had been traveling for a few hours, Frohike led the pack, Mulder brought up the rear and the kids took up the middle. Every so often another human would pass them by, except for a slight nod of their heads in greeting no one spoke or fully acknowledge their presence. Mulder couldn't shake the feeling that he had been hurled into some twisted kind of post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie, and a bad one at that.

Mulder felt ready to drop. "Pit stop!" One of kids called out. Mulder looked up to see the boys drop their equipment. They soon disappeared into a gap in the wall, leaving Jacks and Grace to eat their dust.

Mulder examined the floor beneath him. He was afraid to put his pack down.

Frohike reassured him, "It's alright Mulder. It may look bad it's really just muck and decaying vegetation." He then disappeared in to the crack.

Still reluctant Mulder set his pack to the side. He tried his best to wipe his nose with his shirtsleeve. It still burned from the atmosphere.


He heard the word he knew what it meant but for a reason he couldn't figure out. Its meaning in relation to him went totally over his head. It wasn't till Grace tugged at his sleeve did he realize she was talking to him.

"Got to get use to that word," he said still trying to wipe the sting away. He looked up to see Grace's young face filled with consternation.

"Sit down," she commanded. "Jacks get me the goo."

"Where is it?"

"In Will's stuff."

Within seconds Jacks retrieved a small round container. She tossed it at Grace. As soon as the object was in her hands she opened it, crouching down in front of Mulder, mumbling.

"That no good... he had the gel!" Grace began.

"What's wrong Grace?" Jacks asked.

"Look at him." She pointed to Mulder.

Jacks came around bending over to get a better look. Mulder watched as a dark look, dark than then one Grace wore, covered her face. "Excuse me," she said politely to the two then stomped off into the crack.

Mulder looked up questioningly at Grace, to his surprise Grace had a devilish grin on her face. She then turned her attention back to Mulder. "There are still toxins in the tunnels, from the rains. All the junk from topside runs off in here. We use this." she held up the open bottle for his inspection. A clear gel was inside. "Byers and Christian came up with it. It help protects the nose, mouth and eyes while we're down here. Take some and spread it around and a little inside." She waited patently for Mulder to complete his task. "You should start to feel relief right away. I can't believe. I don't understand why Will didn't give this stuff to you before we left?"

Mulder shook his head, feeling like more of an outsider. Will was determined to keep Mulder at arms length. He'd hoped things would ease over time. Now because of this incident that time would take longer than he'd hoped.

Grace knelt down before her father. "I'm sorry. Will isn't bad, he isn't uncaring. I don't know what's gotten in to him."

"It's not your fault Grace."

"Still, I'm going to give my sibling something to remember me by." she paused. "That's if Jacks leaves anything for me to mop up."

Jacks was beyond angry. For days now she had, along with everyone else. Stood to the side and quietly watched Will perform a slow burn of anger and resentment. Outwardly he seemed calm and tolerant but those that knew him well. Especially Jacks had known that Will was an accident waiting to happen. Her heavy steps echoed in the tight space she made her way through. The crack opened up into another series of tunnels, she could hear the boys up ahead. A wicked mirthless grin tugged at the corners of her mouth. The boys, especially one was going to get a rude awakening.

Jacks was making enough noise to wake the dead. Her boots crunched against the cement. Still the relaxed group didn't hear her until she had her hand wrapped across Will's shoulder. He'd just zipped up his pants when he felt himself whirl around. His back hit hard against the wall, taken by surprise his defenses went up. He shoved back at the offending figure in front of him. Which caused Jacks to fall backward, but not before she grabbed Will's collar pitching him forward. Jacks teetered on her heal but managed to spin on it as she began to fall. Using Will's body as leverage. In the blink of an eye Will found himself sprawled out on the floor with Jacks' knee pressing painfully against this chest.

"Jacks not in front of the guys," Will tried to crack a joke.

"You're a prick you know that?" Her face contorted with rage hovered above Will.

Danny, Zero and Frohike had been stunned by the swiftness of Jacks' attack. Regaining their senses the other men jumped down to pull the two apart.

Frohike was fuming. "You better have a good reason for this!" Frohike pulled Jacks off of Will knowing she wouldn't fight him. Danny and Zero helped Will to his feet.

"Yeah, a good reason." Will agreed as he wiped the side of his mouth.

"Shut up Will!" Frohike came back.

"If Jacks tried to take you out. Man, I'm sure she does." Zero chimed in.

Frohike looked her in the eye. "Out with it."

Jacks shrugged off Frohike's hold. "I don't know Frohike, why don't you ask golden boy here? What's the idea of not giving Mulder the gel? You just let him walk all this time in the tunnels without any protection." Jacks' looked into Will's eyes as she accused him.

Surprise shot through him as he realized his oversight.

Frohike stepped in front of Will. "What's the matter with you?"

"I. . .I...didn't." He felt like a child and realized he'd be acting like one. "I forgot," he said finally, truthfully.

"You forgot? Well maybe I should just forget about that special order Langly has waiting for you."

Jacks felt a pang of remorse at the hurt in Will's eyes. She had just meant to rough Will up a bit, teach him a lesson once and for all. Now she'd taken away something she knew meant a lot to him.

Grace and Mulder had made their way to the group. Will noted Grace was protectively holding Mulder's hand. He looked back at Frohike. "You do what you feel you need to," the words fell bitterly from his mouth.

As they drew closer to Cross Roads, the scenery if you could call it that, began to change. In some areas there were giant holes where people had carved out homes for themselves. Homes or little place to sell scavenged merchandise.

At one point Frohike turned a corner, the kids began to talk excitedly amongst themselves. They walked up a flight of stairs and came to a leveled out floor. A crowd of people in various states of dress stood in a line. At the end of the line stood heavy gated door. In front of it sat a woman, haughtily inspecting everyone, behind a crude desk. She took something from each person, looking it over then, she would mumble something to them and the man standing next to her with a sawed off shotgun. He would then motion to another man guarding the door. One by one people were allowed to pass through.

Frohike leaned over and said something to Will and Danny, then walked over to Mulder.

"What's this about? he asked.

"This is the entry to the Cross Roads."

Frohike reached up on tiptoes toward Mulder. "Bend over redwood," he told Mulder. When Mulder complied, Frohike began to mess up Mulder's hair. Then he put his hand to the floor and rubbed. Brining the filth with his fingers up to Mulder's face and rubbing it on his clean cheeks and chin.

"Hey what's that for?"

"Aw common, good old fashion sludge too good for yah?"

"No I'm use to designer sludge, thank you very much," Mulder quipped.

"Just trying to make you look presentable. Here put this on." Frohike handed Mulder a frayed eye patch. Then dusted some white power on his head for good measure. "There you go, handsome. Now don't spoil my makeover by talking. Just follow my lead. I'll handle everything got it? I don't want anyone recognizing you.

"Yeah," Mulder coughed. "Got it."

Slowly but surely their turn came. One by one the kids gave the woman the necessary paper and she let them through.

"Well, if it ain't Mistah, Melvin Frohikah." The over stuffed woman purred out.

Frohike winced at the miss pronunciation of his name. "How are you Mage." He could just hear Mulder's mind working behind him.

"I's just fine Mistah Melvin. You in for some fun at the cross roads?"

"Nope, 'fraid it's all business. I'm just passing through."

Disappointment flooded through on the woman's face. "When you gonna come on down here jus fer me?"

Frohike was dead sure the sound he just heard was Mulder snickering.

"Oh well. . ." Frohike stammered.

"Hey! What's going on up there? I haven't got all day!" Someone yelled down the line.

Mage's eyes narrowed as she tried to locate just who had interrupted her little flirtation. "Shut your trap or no one else is getting in to cross roads today, understand trash?" she snarled, at the rest of the line. The waiting room fell silent.

Frohike was smooth he continued as if he hadn't been interrupted. "Well Miss. Mage. One of these days I'll just have to take you up on that offer, but today fair lady. I have some important business to take care off. The fine gentleman standing next to me is with me. He doesn't have his pass paper yet. But I'm sure something can be arranged. Yes?"

Mulder had to pick his lower jaw off the floor when Frohike reached out taking the woman's chunky hand and lightly touched his lips to the back of her fingers.

"Promise 'ole Mage you'll come on back and treat me to a night in the moon light."

"I shall do my best." Frohike sketched a quick bow and smiled back at her.

She returned the smile with a toothy grin that Mulder was sure had a leer in there somewhere. She motioned for the man at the gate and soon Frohike and Mulder where on the other side.

They began to walk down another series of stairs up toward what Mulder guessed was the surface. When they were a safe distance away he began to laugh.

"Quit that! It isn't funny, man. If there had been enough time I would have gotten you your crossing papers and that would have gone a lot smoother. If I have to lose my girlhood to that woman, because of you. I'm gonna clean you up and feed you to her," Frohike growled. But the threat fell short, and Mulder continued to indulge in the best laugh he'd had in ages.

As they continued to walk upward they came to an incline. Mulder realized that they hadn't gone into another set of tunnels. Instead they were inside what had once been a giant indoor sports arena. They walked out on to what had once been the Grand Central Station of the DC area. Marble statues of Greek gods and goddesses adorned the hallways. Many where chipped and broken, most were missing arms and legs. A couple had been relieved of their heads. In between the ravished statues stood shanties and makeshift kiosks. Hundreds of them all alive with people, laughing, crying, and yelling. It was as if in the tunnels he'd been back inside the cryo-pod weightless, senseless. And now he'd been thrust into this world that was alive and colorful. Children ran passed him, people were carrying on in an 'oh so normal' way. The contrast was startling.

"Welcome to the Cross Roads Mulder." Frohike smiled.

"How is this place possible?"

"Would you believe, because the colonist buried it?"

"Buried it?" Mulder's disbelief was plain to see.

"Yeah, stupid suckers. They tried to destroy all the outlets humans had. One by one destroying our spirit. Don't ask me why they didn't just blow the place up. But we're glad they didn't as you can see." Frohike pointed upward. "The ceiling has been shored up so it won't cave. I think the rebels know this place exist but, we're not significant enough for them to bother us right now. But that's one of the reasons for the tight security."

"Were are the kids?" Mulder raised his voice trying to be heard over the rising din.

"They've got their work to do, gathering some supplies. We'll be meeting back up with them shortly."

The two men made their way through the crowds. Sometimes Mulder would stop to look at a man weaving a basket or a woman selling old watches, that her family had taken pains to repair. It was ironic he thought for someone to have taken the time to fix watches. What did time matter any more in this strange place? This new and yet old battered world.

"I'll be right back," Frohike told Mulder and walked away.

Mulder stopped to look over a bread stand. His stomach rumbled greedily at the smell of fresh bread. He purchased a slice for himself with some tokens Frohike had given him. Just about to sink his teeth into his meal when he felt a tug on his pant's leg. He looked downward to see a small boy no higher than mid thigh looking up at him. The little red headed boy pouted out his lip and asked if he could spare a piece of bread for his kitten.

Mulder knelt down beside the child. He began to tear a small piece off. The little boy looked at it longingly and then carefully feed his little charge. The kitten ate with relish and then licked his master's fingers clean. When the kitten was finished the little boy looked up at Mulder.

"Tanks Mistah," he said and began to walk away.

"Hey there," Mulder called.

The little boy turned around.

"Here, this parts just for you. Okay?"

The boy searched Mulder's face to see if the man was trying to trick him or if he wanted something in return. Mulder put the piece of bread in the little boy's hand. "I mean it, you can have it." He smiled.

"Tanks so much, Mr." The boy's face brightened and bit into the bread. He chewed happily as he skipped away.

Mulder stood back up and bought himself another piece.

Shortly there after Frohike came back and informed him that the kids were almost ready. They'd walk over to the north part of the building and waited for them there.

'~'^|^'*'^|^'*'^|^'~' "How's it going Mulder?"

Mulder looked to the side he had a bird's eye view of the bald spot on Frohike's head. "How much longer Frohike? Mulder was not one to shy away from physical activity but the trip had been arduous for him. His aching muscles were screaming for rest.

"We're almost there," came the reply.

Soon the troupe came to a halt. Mulder watched curiously as Frohike stomped on what Mulder realized was a trap door. Three times in rapid succession Frohike's foot thumped the door. To his right a brick in the wall seemed to fall backward leaving a black hole.

"User I.D.?" asked a disembodied voice.

Frohike looked up. "The mayor of Munchkin Land and these guys are the Lollipop Guild."

Zero shook his head at Mulder. "We've got to change our I.D.s"

With a pop and a click the trapdoor unlocked, the lid slid to the side allowing everyone to descend. The passageway was long and narrow. The flight of stairs steep in the extreme.

"We're coming down the back way, Mulder watch your step," Frohike admonished.

"How come the back way?" Mulder asked.

"It's late, most everyone will be asleep. We keep this part open for emergencies."


Before Mulder could get an answer to his question he realized they had reached the bottom of the stairway. It had opened up in to a tiny room with another heavy door. This time the door was attached to the wall, instead of the floor. A large burly man stood guard.

"How's it going Axell?" Frohike reached out his hand to greet the other man.

"Not bad dude. I see you brought the little ones. Isn't past all your bed times?" Axell's voice was deep and friendly. He laughed at the grumble he received. "It's good to have you guys back, now maybe this place will liven up a bit." Axell joked as he opened the door to let them in. "Welcome to Langly's World."

Mulder wasn't sure what he expected to see once they were inside. Frohike had said Langly was in the entertainment business, but as far as Mulder could see there wasn't anything entertaining about this place. They were walking quietly through an infirmary. The room was lined with beds and cots, men and woman occupied each of them. Fifteen in all, each person lay in various states of injury. No one spoke or looked around them, content to make their way out of the room as quickly as possible. It hadn't escaped Mulder's notice that Grace had gone to her brother, walking closely at his side. Halfway through the room someone began to whimper a low pitiful cry. Grace drifted from Will's side, her distress evident on her face. Will caught her by the hand. She looked back at her brother, the looks on their faces made it evident they were silently communicating. Will shook his head slightly and Grace seemed as if she was about to defy him. Her liquid gaze passed over the room searching, then she seemed to come to terms with whatever Will was telling her.

She relaxed just a bit letting Will take her by the hand, returning to his side. She set her head on his shoulder as they walked out of the room. Mulder was the only one who noticed the little exchange, when the twins had fallen behind the group he had been the one to look back over his shoulder at them. Now safely out of the room Mulder was free to ask his questions.

"What was that all about?" He had directed the question to Frohike, but noted the frightened looks on the twin's faces. It vanished when they realized he wasn't talking to them. Before Frohike could launch himself in to an explanation, Langly appeared.

"I was wondering when you guys were going get here." The gangly man announced.

For a moment Mulder stood back, a smile spreading on his face. He'd just felt a wave of nostalgia wash through him at the sight of Frohike standing next to Langly. The only thing that was missing was Byers.

"The prodigal son has returned." Frohike gestured toward Mulder.

Langly crowed in delight at the site of his long lost friend. The two men hug both giving the other a manly thump on the back. "You compadre' are a sight for sore eyes. This is awesome, we've got to get Byers over here pronto. So how you holding up?"

Mulder admitted, "I'm still trying to take it all in."

"No doubt, my friend. I trust the rug-rats have been making life hell for yah?" Langly reached out and playfully began to slug Zero and Danny in the shoulder. The two boys began to play fight with him.

"We've been happy to have him, " Jacks smiled. "Well most of us," she added throwing a pointed look at Will.

Langly stopped to look the kids over. "Oh? All's not well in candy land?"

Frohike deftly headed off any confrontation before it started. "Enough of that blonde boy, let's get settled in. I'm beat."

"All right then, you guys know the way, but for Mulder's sake. I'll give the standard tour info." He cleared his throat dramatically and began his tour. "The structure that you are now in was once the Air and Space Museum. In it's hey day this grand building held many of the world's aviation treasures. Today it's evolved into the grand pile of rubble you see before you. Little by little Frohike, Byers and I along with the help of the five elves have been able to turn this in to a safe haven. What you passed through moments before was our infirmary. We've managed to come up with a bit of technology that aids in the removal of the implants. Highly illegal you know, very hush-hush."

"I noticed a young boy. He was in a lot of pain." There was a quiver in Grace's voice. She nervously looked up at Will.

"I know, there isn't anything I can do. His surgery didn't go as well as I'd hoped. He's imp-less, but I'm afraid his body was just too weak." Langly's eyes were downcast. "We're just trying to make him as comfortable as possible."

"I see," Grace whispered.

Will leaned down to whisper something in her ear. Mulder saw Grace nod her head, he couldn't help the curiosity that always popped up when he saw them talking.

"As I was saying, we try to help as many as we can. We are also the main base for the eastern uprising. Byers left six months ago to rally a northern division. We've built battle simulators and training programs to help strengthen our men, uhm and women. We're still a small outpost but we're all confident in the growth. Of course no pad would be complete without a few game rooms. I'm sure the kids would love to show you those babies."

Everyone agreed loudly.

"Well here you are, it's not much but I promise it will be nice and cozy." Langly opened a doorway that revealed an L shaped room. At one end there was a large comfortable looking couch, with a rug made out of weave strips of cloth. A few computer screens and joysticks sat on a table and underneath that stood four computer towers. At the other end, were doors. "Pick a door any door, it's all good. This is our private sector you won't be disturbed here."

Everyone was sleepy so quietly they filed away to their respective rooms. Drowsy eyes disappearing behind the doors. Langly showed Mulder to his room, once inside the three friends began to catch up on old times.

Mulder glanced around the dark room. His attention was quickly caught by the red glow of the digital clock nearby. Two thirty in the morning, he rolled around on the bed. He'd been peacefully asleep but for some reason he'd woken up, wide-awake and restless. A rumbling noise rose up from his stomach, images of a late night snack danced in his head. Shortly there after he found himself making his way down the hall and up a flight of stairs Langly had said would lead to their own personal kitchen. Once he reached the fridgerator Mulder made short work of the various food staples. Now that his body was satisfied he felt the comfortable lethargy taking over. He turned out the lights and made his way back down the stairway, slowly feeling his way along in dark. Almost to the bottom of the stairs a noise caught his attention. In the hallway a small nightlight burned steadfast, but its soft light wasn't enough for Mulder to make out who the late night wander was. It was clear that this person was trying to sneak out. Mulder decided to follow. He stayed as far back as he could without losing his sights. In the other parts of the compound soft lights glowed throughout the halls. Since it was a little brighter Mulder could now make out the figure before him. Whomever it was they concealed their identity well, shrouded in a cloth bathrobe with the hood covering their head.

He followed the figure through a few more large rooms, careful not to stop and look around. When he turned the last corner he realize they had reached the infirmary. All of the occupants were asleep and heavily sedated. The hooded figure stopped pulling back the hood. Grace. Mulder realized it was Grace. He ducked behind a curtain just in time before she saw him as she carefully sweeped the room for prying eyes. Satisfied that all was clear. She reached the bedside of the young boy who had been in such pain earlier. Her delicate hand pressed up against his feverishly hot forehead.


Mulder heard the boy whimper.

"Shhhhh, Don't worry, you've got to rest," Grace whispered.

"It hurts," the boy began to keen

"Close your eyes." Grace began to hum softly. She laid an open palm to his chest tenderly rubbing it as a mother would sooth her child. Moments went by and the child began to relax, drifting off to a deep slumber.

At the far end of the room a door opened and an attendant walked through. Grace quickly gathered herself up and left the room before she was noticed. Mulder stepped back in to the shadows, his sharp mind trying to understand just what had transpired before him.

In another part of the compound Will stood in the middle of a large room. One Langly had converted into a gymnasium. The walls were lined with various weights and devices, the floor beneath his feet was cushioned with a large foam mat. The lights were dimmed and his mind was free of all encumbrances, save one. Mulder. With a powerful lunge forward his arm sliced through the air followed by a high kick. Those actions complete he reset his stance to its original position. His breath began to come harder, faster, uneven as he replayed the self-defense moves.

Will mulled over the days events. He hadn't meant to forget to give Mulder the salve. It really had slipped his mind. He had let the confrontation between Jacks and himself consume him, analyzing every millisecond of their conversation, agonizing over his inability to control the flashbacks. Ever since his mind had replayed the memory of that horrible day when he'd been separated from his family. The scared little boy he'd once been, had taken up residence in his heart again. The helpless feeling fueled his anger.

Will kicked then somersaulted landing hard on his feet.

Grace had become distant, more often than not choosing Mulder's company over his. With a swift chop followed by an uppercut, he grunted his displeasure. She'd disobeyed his explicit order not to use her ability to heal. His fists punched the air before him, angry jabs at an invisible opponent. He could take this from any other person but not Grace. Not his twin, they'd been through too much, seen too much. Why was she abandoning him? Will's movements became more frantic as he let his emotions wash through him. The physical exercise helped strengthen his body and cleans his soul. Will returned to his' at ease stance. His mind however wasn't.

A hand grabbed his shoulder. It was the second time that day someone had been able to sneak up on him. It was the second time that day Will had felt utter humiliation. This time his assailant would pay dearly. His left hand reached up and over his right shoulder, imprisoning the hand in his. In a split second the body behind him was now flying over his head. He cursed himself for a fool, expecting to see one of his friends land helplessly on their back. Instead he found himself unable to hide his surprise as Grace landed with cat like agility on her feet before him. Her chest heaved from the effort of keeping herself grounded. Her eyes blazed with anger.

She didn't not speak, she didn't have too wordlessly twin eyes offered him up a challenge. Grace shrugged off the robe she'd been wearing. She threw the cloth to the far end of the room, clad only in her pajamas. Each step was calculated as she began to advance. Her dark head was bent low, like a lioness stalking her prey.

A wicked smile tugged at the corners of Will's mouth in answer to the challenge. He began to back up slightly letting Grace have the momentary advantage of intimidation. A few steps back and he halted, waiting for her. She turned and sidestepped him trying to take him from behind. Grace was quick but he was faster, turning around causing a head on collision. Just before Grace slid into him full force he sidestepped her causing her to tumble to the mat. Unfazed she rolled twice then jumped to her feet. Once again initiating the bizarre ritual. They circled each other leaving a wide girth, slowly advancing inward closer. Soon they were toe to toe eye to eye, even though Will was just a few inches taller. Grace struck out hitting Will square in the chest. His arm shot out chopping Grace in her middle. They rolled to the floor together, struggling like two children fighting after school on the playground. Will found himself on top of Grace pinning her down in a wrestler's buttonholed. It was funny he thought, they'd fought like this before, they'd been taught to hone their fighting skills with one another. In all the time they'd done so, taken out their frustrations on one another Will had always held back. Never once had either one of them hurt the other aside from a few bumps and bruises that came with the territory. Will knew Grace was strong, but he was stronger so it surprised him again when in his musings he'd allowed her to get the upper hand. Now he found he was the one pinned to the mat.

"You gonna talk or are you just going to lay there like a fish?"

Her question surprised him. He hadn't expected her to talk. The usually saved that for when one was declared victor of their little matches.

"Why'd you do it Grace?"

"Why'd I do what?"

"Why did you heal him? You're going to get caught."

Grace couldn't hide the wince. "Why do you think I did it? He needed my help!"

"If anyone finds out about you it will mean your life."

She reached down taking his face between her hands. "I promised you a long time ago I'd be careful. I haven't broken that promise Will. I wanted, I needed to help him. I was careful, he doesn't' suspect a thing and neither does anyone else." A look of confusion crossed Grace's face. "You're talking about Mulder, aren't you?"

"Who did you think I was talking about?"

She made a dismissing gesture toward him. "It doesn't matter. Why are you making me chose?"

"I'm not. . ."

"Yes! Yes you are! Will I haven't stopped loving you. Don't make me choose between you two, I have enough in me for you both."

The moisture in Will's eyes glistened in the soft light. Gently he pushed Grace off of him so they could both sit upright. "I don't want you to choose Grace. I mean someday some handsome face is going to take you away from me." He smiled when he saw her blush. "This isn't easy for me Grace, I remember too much, I'm afraid of too much. Krycek is going to come after us now."

Alarm contorted her face. "How do you know?"

"Call it a hunch. They've left us alone for too long. Things have gotten worse, the colonists are tiring, humans have become too troublesome to maintain."

"Who told you this?"

"Frohike. It was part of the message Byers sent. Byers is having a hard time gathering support and people well enough to join the uprising. The colonist are starting to randomly raid the underground killing everyone in sight. Even Cross Roads won't be safe anymore."

"Are they looking for us?"

"Krycek is, I don't know about anyone else."

"Krycek wants us to finish the training?"

"Yes. We're their only hope, or so they believe."

Grace shivered. "I don't want to go back Will. We can beat this. The eastern revolt has gotten stronger, old D.C. is the heart of the invasion, if we can knock them down here it's just a matter of time before the rest crumble."

"I won't let them take us back Gracie, we won't go back I swear." Will's face darkened at the memories flashing before him. "I'd rather die." Will pulled his sister closer to him. "Grace promise me something, promise me now. No matter what happens to me, to you , to us. We will see this thing through, we must protect our family. No matter what happens if there is anyway to stop this, you and I will make sure it's stopped, and we'll do it on our terms. Not Krycek's, Frohike's or even Mulder's terms, ours." A little voice told Will he was being overly frantic that he wasn't making sense. Still Grace proved herself steadfast and loyal.

"I promise Will," she agreed then added a bit of her own. "We won't let them separate us."


Grace reached out and hugged her brother as hard as she could. She eased up on her embrace and rested her chin on his shoulder. She laughed as a thought came to her. "At least until Jacks takes you away from me." Her smiled broaden when she felt him stiffen.

"I don't know where you get these delusions runt."

The next morning Mulder woke up to the sounds of restless clatter. His room was well insulated but the distant noise had penetrated his sleep just the same. He took his time getting dressed emerging just in time to see everyone gathered around the living room watching a report on the colonists' communications line. Heavy damage was being reported to some high muckie muck. A band of freedom fighters had been caught in the western quadrant and were now being exterminated.

"This is bad." Jacks shivered.

"Very," Danny agreed.

"Where's Will and Grace?" Frohike asked.

Jacks jumped up to go check on them, returning a short time later. "They're not in their rooms."

Frohike shrugged. "Check in the gym.

Just as Frohike had suspected Jacks found the two curled up in a corner sleeping like babies. Gently Jacks tugged on Will's shoulder. "Hey you two, time to wake up."

Jacks caught a glimpse of what Will might have been like as a very small boy. He rubbed his eyes and stretched like a newborn. His hand bumped against his sister's cheek making Grace grumble while she swatted his offending hand away.

"Langly tapped in to the news link, there's trouble."

"What kind of trouble?" Will asked.

"An uprising was started in Nashville. The colonist have already moved in an exterminated everyone they could find. Burnt them to a crisp."

Will and Grace popped to their feet.

"What's Frohike doing?" Grace wiped the last traces of sleep from her eyes.

"Not much he can do. Without Byers and without those coordinates you're supposed to get from Kai. We're rather helpless."

Grace stopped, squeezing her eyes shut. She turned back to Will and Jacks.

"You've got to do it Grace," Will said gently.

"I'm not going in to his mind. I can't Will, I just can't."

"You won't have to. I'll make sure he's legit,"

Grace shifted restlessly trying unsuccessfully to stand still. Despite her earlier acceptance of her assignment her annoyance had reached an all time peak. Her annoyance stemmed from the monotonous preparations she had to endure; surveillance, wire tap and even a tracking device. Just so the others could keep an eye on her. "I'm telling you this guy is some kind of pervert. What's his deal only wanting a girl?"

Zero turned Grace around and strapped the wire tap to her waist, then up around her shoulder. "He's a man. . ."

"Does someone need to have 'that' talk with you?" Will's suggestive tone, only annoyed her.

Grace narrowed her eyes at her brother. "See that, no love."

". . . You're a woman," Zero continued uninterrupted.

"More or less," Will commented dryly. As he adjusted the feedback level, making Grace cringe at the sound.

A very unlady-like growl rumbled its way out of her mouth. Grace chucked a plastic spool at her brother's smug head. With a deft move to the side the impromptu projectile was avoided with ease. He laughed softly at Grace's disappointed groan. "Why do you have to be such a. . ." she groped for the word. ". . .Brother?"

Jacks put her hands on her hips giving Will a reproachful look. "You know, just because she's your sister doesn't mean guys wouldn't find her attractive."

"I know I do," Zero chimed in.

Will looked like he had just sucked on a lemon. "Don't gross me out, she's my sister." An exaggerated chill made him wiggle.

Jacks looked back at Grace apologetically.

Grace shrugged. "Don't sweat it Jacks, you know he's the genetic throw back."

Will was just about to kick out another comeback when Mulder walked into the room. Effectively ending the little sparing match. He set down a handful of wires.

"I don't like this," he grumbled. "I don't see why I can't do this."

Will didn't look up from his calibrations. "Because. Even in these Hole-in-the-wall establishments you'd stick out like a piece of crap in a white room..."

Grace snorted. "Thank you for the analogy Mr. Tact."

Jacks folded her arms and addressed the group. "There is one point that's got me kind of fuzzy."

"What's that?" asked Will.

"Well, you're the ones with the" she made a spooky whistle. "mental gizmos. . ."

"I prefer to think of it as thingamajigs not gizmos," Will said in a deadpan uppity tone.

Jacks paused, giving Will a very tolerant glance. "Well, then Mr. thingamajigs, why is it necessary to wire Grace on this particular mission? Since you two got that 'tin can and string' thing going on in your heads?"

An amused hush spread over the room. Jacks had just challenged Will, something only Grace had the courage to do on a regular basis. The air between Jacks and Will had changed somehow, it crackled between them.

"If he frisks her or runs a buster over her, she's blown." Satisfied she had made her point, Jacks waited for Will's reaction.

Will thought for a moment. The muscle in his jaw working furiously. It wasn't that the thought hadn't crossed his mind. He just wanted the extra protection for Grace. Since Mulder's arrival he had just felt the need to be more cautious and controlling, in matters regarding his sister. Reluctantly he acquiesced. "Yeah, your right."

"Yess, thank you!" Grace began to tear off the tape and wires. "Ouch!" she grumbled as hair came with the tape in some areas. "I owe you Jacks."

"All right so you both understand the objective?"

Will and Grace nodded at Frohike.

Grace was getting antsy her nerves couldn't take much more than what they had. She wanted to get this distasteful operation done and over with. "I've got it already. Where are you guys going to be?"

"We'll be hanging back here. Kai's place isn't far from here and I've got reason to believe we've got people watching us very closely. I'm trusting you and Will not to do anything stupid. I want you back here pronto."

"You've got it," Will promised.

'~'^|^'*'^|^'*'^|^'~' Grace entered the cantina, clad completely in black. The outfit she wore afforded her comfort and ease of movement. Her pants were made up of smooth worn leather, incasing her long legs in warmth. Her top was sleeveless accenting her lithe arms, it tapered her body showing off her tiny waist. The silky chocolate strands of her hair were pulled back to her trademark ponytail secured tightly in a leather thong, not too high to be considered perky but not to low either. She'd taken great pains to make sure her appearance was just so, giving off the appearance of a self-assured, roughened young woman.

As she passed through the entryway she committed every inch of the oppressively dark interior to memory. Quickly picking out every possible escape route, just in case. This was one mission she couldn't afford to mess up. In the end it had been decided that she'd be going at this alone with only her link to her brother tethering her to a help line. Grace forced her legs to move no faster than a slow steady gate. Carefully she made her way toward the row of ancient ice chest and plywood doubling as a bar.

All of her senses were being assaulted her heightened sensitivity seemed be working higher than normal causing her to precariously balance along the edge of keeping her protective walls raised just enough to keep the majority of outside interference out and just enough of Will in. She looked down the bar noticing the bartender, he was helping another person to her right giving her time to mentally acclimatize herself to her surroundings.

Touch -- the bar was rough and chipped from misuse. Taste -- The air around her was thick enough to eat and she kept me her mouth closed to keep the rancid odors at bay. Smell -- Her nose wrinkled at the acrid smell of a cheap stogie feeling the smoke burn its way down her throat. Sound -- The music swelled around her like a thick cloud of smoke. Its technotronic beat achieved with a variety of electronic rhythms and the steady unrelenting beat of the drum. Sight -- The intense rhythm was like the hypnotic movements of a snake charmer. She studied a handful of other people that no doubt decided another night in their camps and hideouts was more than they could take. A tall willowy couple, possibly lovers or perhaps just two people trying to forget, churned their bodies against each other. Their feet kept time with the music tapping lightly on the plywood masquerading as a dance floor. Grace was mesmerized by their openly erotic display, feeling like a voyeur but unable to look away.

"What's your wish?" asked the burly man tending the bar. His dry cracked lips brushed up against her ear.

Grace turned slightly toward him, his breath stank of stale beer and cigarettes. Her cool gaze leveled on his. She made sure not to blink, this man would know she meant business. "Kai," she said.

The man snorted. "You and every other woman who walks in here."

His rude remark rolled off her. "Just point me in the right direction."

The bartender leaned forward trying to intimidate her. Grace wasn't ruffled, she looked him over with a jaundice eye. "No thanks, you're not my type," her cool tone betrayed the sudden uneasiness that she felt.

With his greasy finger the man pointed toward the far wall.

Grace tipped her head and made her way through the maze of over turned buckets people were using for chairs. Consciously she controlled her long legs to not shake, thus making her trip and ruining the effect she was trying so hard to create.

Dark eyes tracked her from the corner she walked towards. They watched with admiration soaking in the casual sway of her hips. He sat back against a pile of threadbare cushions. A sly smile spread across his full mouth.

She reached her destination. Two goons stepped out from the darkness and ran a detector over her body. At that moment she was profoundly grateful, the group had decided to ditch the monitoring equipment in favor of the twins' mental ability. As the detector ran its inspection she reached out gently brushing against Will's mind for reassurance.


"Who's asking?" The figure hidden in the blackness asked.

"I am."

An even set of white teeth flashed in the darkness. "And who is, that?" a deep rich voice with a hint of an accent Grace couldn't quite place asked.

She carefully lowered the shield she held up around her mind. Like testing the bath water with a toe.

/Can you tell?/ she silently asked Will who was hold up in a hole in the wall, a few clicks down the tunnels.

/This long range stuff sucks, Gracie. . . Yep, he's an imp. But not a mind controller, you can handle him./ Will confirmed.

Grace was forearmed now, she'd play this scene just as planned. "Implant," came her response.

A sharp stab shot through Will's forehead making him double over at the pain. Once he'd locked on to the implant in Kai's body he tried telling Grace then quickly pulled away. Something had snagged on his retreating consciousness. There was a blinding flash of light and the memory of a cold metal bed beneath his body. Will clutched his arm as the prick of a needled entered the tender flesh of his arm. Will panted trying to regain his equilibrium. The noise is his head was getting louder, voices from long ago screaming at him to get up and complete the test. They wanted him to work faster, jump higher than he had before. He wouldn't do it, because he refused the hazy figures of men in white coats. They grabbed Grace dangling her high above the floor. Will cried out, begging them to put her down. Grace's terrified face pleaded with him for help. He didn't know what to do, and then the unthinkable happened.

They let her go.

Will snapped out of his trance, a fine sheen of sweat covered his body. He was dazed and listless by the uncontrolled flashback. Something in Kai's mind had triggered it. Exhausted Will slumped to the floor, the makings of a powerful headache began spreading in his head. He would hold himself together until Grace came back, then she'd he sort out what had just happened to him.

Even though the man's face was shrouded in darkness she hadn't missed the sudden flash of panic that crossed his face. Her eyes locked with his and the corners of her mouth tugged upward. She shrugged off the two lackeys and took a seat in front of him.

"Is your name implant or do you have one?"

Grace shrugged, "It doesn't matter."

Another flash of teeth, "You're the one who came to me."

"Good point," Grace leaned back flooding her arms. "You show me yours, I'll show you mine," she challenged.

The man began to fiddle with something. She heard the sound of A match strike and the birth of a flame. Slowly he lowered the dancing flame to a candle she hadn't noticed. The soft glow illuminated the small area just enough for her to finally make out the man's features. He was younger than she had thought. His hair was black, his eyes the same color. By the shape of his features he was probably of Asian and or Polynesian decent, very exotic. She focused in on the full lips that where openly amused at her perusal.

"You're looking for Kai? Well you found him, little girl."

She rolled her eyes. "I'd appreciate it, if you'd refrain from any and all references to my size and gender, this is business."

"Fair enough. So do you?"

"Do I what?"

"Have an implant."


He tried to mask his surprise, but she could still feel it. "How'd you managed that?"

"I have connections," she was baiting him on purpose, testing to see how far she could go.

"Byers told me a little bit about you, I must say I never thought I'd be in the company of royalty," he said somewhat impressed. "Taking a big risk coming here, aren't you? Your lovely little head has a price on it."

"Yeah well, get over it. I'm here because I need your help."

"Aren't you afraid I'll turn you in?"

Grace nodded slowly, "You could do that, but I wouldn't advise it."

"Why not?"

Grace was growing more irritated by the moment. She ignored his comment. "You'd have Byers, his men and my father hunting you down. Look let's cut the clumsy attempt at foreplay. It's doing nothing for me. Byers said you'd be able to get us the location of the main stronghold located somewhere in the ruble of D.C. So what I want to know is, can you really put out?"

"That's a tall order, even for you. What're you after?"

"That bit of information is irrelevant. Can you do the job or not?"

Kai smoothed back an errant lock of hair that had fallen across his forehead. "What's in it for me?"

There he'd finally asked the right question. Now she had something to really play with. "Freedom."

"How can you make that happen?" he asked skeptically.

"You've got an implant. I can help you to get rid of it, properly. Reverse its effects. End your slavery."

Kai scoffed, "How can you do that, wahine?"

Grace scowled, "I can make it happen." She reached out her hand. "Take it or leave it."

Kai stared at it for a moment contemplating the enormity of what he was about to do. "Yeah, wahine, we've got a deal."

His handshake was firm and sure of himself. With the worst part of the meeting over she was ready to leave. "Leaving so soon, wahine?"

"Don't think I don't know what that means," she said. "How soon can you get me the information?"

"This time tomorrow, come back here. I'll have it."

Grace shook her head, "Tomorrow."

Krycek raced up the stairway that led to Diana's tiny office, taking the steps by two. He burst in to the room unannounced and was somewhat amused to find her wrapped in some poor lackey's arms. With an uncharacteristic flush in her cheeks she pulled away from the figure struggling with her cloths as she ushered him out the door. When the man was out of sight she shut the door and turned back to Krycek.

"Don't you ever knock?"

"It's the middle of the night," he said evenly.

"Precisely why you should knock."

"How was I suppose to know you'd be other wise occupied in your, office? I figured you'd be hunched over or flat out drooling on your desk. . . I guess you were." Krycek checked off another notch on his humiliating Diana scorecard.

"So are you going to tell me why you're here or do I get to guess?"

"Guessing, would be more on the fun side. But I've got to get back to the underground, so I'll be brief. There was word tonight that a young woman fitting the description of a Grace Mulder, AKA Gemini number two. . ."

"Where?" Asked Diana her eyes lighting up.

"In a shandy. She was asking for Kai. Most likely in search of the Nursery location."

"How'd you happen upon this information?"

"Oh, nothing miraculous," Krycek waved his hand around. "A greasy little bartender told me."

"Mulder must be with them."

"Yes, I'd say daddy found his way home."

"What do you propose to do?" Diana asked.

"Set a trap, capture them."

"What about their powers?"

"They'll have some abilities, not powers. I'm sure, some that come as natural as breathing. Others they learned from their first training sessions. Still, others they have yet to be taught. Should they have any inkling of the abilities they posses, stopping them will be more trouble than they're worth."

"They're already too much trouble. They should have been eliminated long ago," Diana answered is disgust.

Krycek flashed an arrogant smile. "Still pissed off they weren't yours?"

The sun went supernova in her eyes. "Do you want to lose your other arm?" she asked with deadly venom dripping from her lips. "Regardless of their parentage the Gemini must be brought to our custody. Our usefulness to the colonist has come to an end. These two are the last hope we have. The two last remaining samples of PC-DNA. The big question is; how do we capture them."

"They were created for one purpose and one purpose only. It's time they lived up to their abilities. Besides once the objective has been reached, we can eliminate them." Krycek's voice was cool and untroubled.

"I tried to do that along time ago."

"Good thing you didn't or we'd be screwed," Krycek lamented.

Diana narrowed her eyes to slits.

'~'^|^'*'^|^'*'^|^'~' Glad that the meeting with Kai was now a memory. Grace made her way back down the tunnels.

/I'm heading your way,/ Grace spoke mentally to Will.

/You're done already?/ he answered.

/Yeah, I'm through. The meeting is tomorrow. How's your head?/

/I'll live/

/Thanks for taking over the mind sweep./

Grace took a moment to collect herself, trying not to draw too much attention to in the tunnels. Even at this late hour there were still too many people wandering around for her to be completely at ease.

/Grace something happened while I was in there./

The echo of clattering noise followed by pathetic whimper and shouting, echoed in the hallways to just ahead.

/Just a second Will, I hear something strange./

Curiosity got the better of her and Grace followed the sound. She realized it was coming from deep within the walls. In order to get closer she squeezed her way through a crack in the tunnels. It opened up into what use to be an old subway system. The pungent smell of mildew and rotting waste filled her lungs. Unidentifiable objects littered the floor, she didn't even want to think about what was making her boots crunch with every step.

She had the eeriest feeling of being watched. The sensation clawed its way threw her mind making her skin crawl. Someone was trying to get inside her head, she could feel the lightest of taps against her brain. There was no way she'd drop her shield now. Not even for a second. A cold breeze floated around her ruffling her hair. It sent a chill down her spine and her teeth to chatter. Her skin became clammy. She felt as though she'd just stepped into a grave and the inhabitants weren't happy.

Something traced a short line against her bare arm.

Grace jumped clutching at her arm, her heart somersaulted into her throat. A ghostly image of a haggard old woman stood before her. Her face ravaged by time and whatever tests she'd been exposed too. One eye was swollen shut and dried blood crusted her face. Her hair hung to her knees, in a flat greasy mess. No doubt it hadn't seen soap or a brush in decades, and the same must have been true of her body.

Strange wild eyes peered at Grace through a curtain of god knew what color hair. "You mustn't tell." Her withered old voice commanded her.

Grace too unnerved to reply. When the old woman didn't get an answer she repeated herself. "Mustn't tell! You've found her, now you must tell!"

The old woman seemed to want assurance but for what? Grace couldn't tell. Finally finding her voice she asked, "I must not tell what?"

The woman began to cackle. She brought a terribly gnarled hand up to Grace's face cupping her cheek with surprising tenderness. Then she traced a too long fingernail across the bridge of Grace's nose. Grace looked cross-eyed at the finger feeling the need to bolt and get away from this crazy woman. "You found her, but you can't tell. Never tell."

"Don't, don't worry lady I have no wish to tell anything." Grace tried to reassure this strange old lady.

She slowly began to back away, but with each step backward the woman shuffled her feet to make up the difference. It was on the tip of Grace's tongue to ask her who she was, or thought she was. But a commotion of noise rumbled up from behind her and down the tunnel. The old woman stiffened and began to hobble away.

"Wait!" Grace called out.

"No, no!" cried the old woman. Her withered limbs waving in the air.

The sounds were getting louder. A large shaggy dog half ran half limped down the tracks. It had a rope tied around it's tail and various things tied to the rope, cans, rocks and what looked to be a dead rat. It whined pitifully as it tried to get away from its tormentors. A small gang of young trash chased after the poor animal with sticks and knives yelling, taunting and laughing at the poor animal's misery. Grace watched them run past her and down the tracks into the subway tunnel.

She turned back to the old woman. To her astonishment she had vanished into thin air. Grace shook off the bewildered feeling and did what she had to do. She went after the gang.

Her feet pounded between the groves of the tracks. Marveling at the distance the gang had covered in just a short time. One of the boys had caught the dog and it looked like they were ready to beat it to death. Their clubs raised high above their heads.

"Why is it small boys never seem to be able to pick on things their own size?" she asked as if she'd been inquiring about the weather.

The group froze all turning around at once. The leader stepped in to her line of vision almost obstructing everything else. The huge boulder pretending to be a human walked up to Grace, doing his best to intimidate her.

"Well, look here. Where'd you come from sweet thang?"

"Not from the sewers like you."

'Boulder boy' began to slam his left fist into his right palm. "Girlie's got a mouth on her. This ain't your business. Now I'm going to overlook what you just said."

"Five of you guys up against one dog. I'm making it my business."

"Well then. Guess I'm making you my business," he said, rudely grabbing his crotch. His meaty fist swung at Grace's head.

She ducked underneath his swing and popped up around the other side. "Gotta move faster than that," she taunted.

A boy tried to grab her from behind. With a kick back kick she sent the misguided youth into one of his friends. "This is between you and me. Keep your minions off of me."

"That's where you're wrong, girlie. You fight me you've got to fight my boys. We share, everything," to emphasize his words he spat. Grace didn't even blink an eye at the stream of spit that just missed her shoe.

Grace raised her fist to a fighting position. "Look, I'm really not going in for a fight here. I just want you to let the dog go. Does that sound so hard?"

"Yeah, pony tail, it does. You see my boys and I was just having some fun. If you take our fun away, then what we do?"

"Take baths. Learn proper English." Grace pointed out.

What came out of the leader's mouth she supposed was laughter. But she couldn't be certain with all the spittle that came with it. He took another swing, and once again Grace was able to avoid it.

Grace couldn't afford to let her defenses down. Her eyes darting around keeping an eye on everyone. Despite her abilities it really hadn't been the smart thing to pick a fight with someone three times her size let alone a gang.

The dog yelped in fright as a wasteoid knelt down beside him And began singing it's fur with a butt of a cigarette.

"Leave it alone!" Grace was furious "Or I'll show you how it feels!"

The leader took advantage of Grace's momentary distraction. He motioned to one of his boys. The scraggily youth took the staff he was holding and knocked Grace to the floor. She landed painfully on her side. Her head bounced against the metal of the track. For a moment she was dazed and confused marveling at the fact that one really did see stars when they hit their head hard enough.

When her vision cleared she found herself staring up at the leader. He toward over her laughing. The other boys began to circle them like a pack of wolves, chanting something she couldn't quite make. The leader reached out a sweaty palm and grasped her around the collar, lifting her up to her feet he held on as he drew back his fist.

"Looks like I won," the leader boasted.

Grace merely smiled at him content as if he'd just paid her a compliment.

"You hit her and I'll break your hand."

The leader looked up startled at the unexpected voice. There on the ramp stood Will, his arms folded in front of him and his head was bent low.

"Well, well boys looks like they're two for the show." The leader's confidence didn't waver. He let go of Grace sending her crashing to the floor.

Quickly she picked herself up rubbing her backside.

"That was graceful," Will commented offhandedly.

"That's why they call me Grace."

Will looked hard at the crowd before him. His head still bent, and his voice held a strained control that hadn't been there moments before. "Listen carefully, Grace is going to walk up to the dog and do what needs to be done. You're not going to get in her way, understand?"

The leader seemed to be squinting really hard, as if he had a monster of a headache. Grace looked at Will, she realized what Will was doing. The leader was going to remember this encounter for a long time to come.

"Go on, girlie, do what he says." There was a definite note of discomfort in the leader's voice. His minions simply stared at him with brainless expressions on their faces.

Carefully Grace approached the wounded animal, ridding the poor animal of its bondage. She passed a hand over its forehead, concentrating on its abused mind. "Go ahead be free," she said, watching it run deep into the bowels of the underground. Next Grace walked back to the leader, unfastening the rope that held up his pants. They fell to a heap around his ankles. With a tug she pulled open his threadbare underwear and dropped the dead rat into it.

"There yah go," Grace purred. She turned back toward her brother.

"Come on," he said, "I can't hold them all much longer."

Obediently Grace quickly made her way up the ramp. Will released the hold he had been keeping on those bullies. Hand in hand they ran away as fast as their legs would carry them.

When the haze of his mind began to lift the leader shook his head causing his large jowls to shake like jelly. Rage exploded inside of him and he yelled at his gang to bring back the two offenders. He took a step forward his stride hampered by his pants that were pooled around his feet. He reached down to fix them. That was when he felt it, rubbing up against him. He reached into his shorts and pulled out the animal.

Screaming like a girl the whole time.

Langly's place was just up ahead. Will couldn't wait to get back. Once he was safely inside he'd collapse in his warm cozy bed. Grace ran along side him laughing at their little adventure.

"I love payback," she said. "I just find it so satisfying. I do wish we could have seen the look on that creep's face when he realized where I had put the rat."

"I have to say I thought that was an interesting touch."

They reached the backdoor and Grace automatically stomped on the door. At the sound Will bent his head.

The bright light flashed before him once again. He was hearing a thousand different voices in his head. All of them screamed at him to listen to do as he was told. His mother was being taken away from him. Grace was holding on to his hand telling him not to let go of her as she was being wrenched away. A woman, Diana he vaguely remembered her name, and another man stood over him. The two stood along side him, he was trapped inside of a strange plastic bubble alone and afraid.

"He's Mulder's son," the man said.

"He is a mistake, Mulder's mistake. It would be safe if we eliminated him and the girl." The woman's words were like poison.

"No, we need them both."

Will felt the bubble he was in start to constrict. Closer and closer his confines closed around him until he had no where to turn no air to breath. The man and the woman stood there laughing at him.


The image before him dissolved back in to present day. His twin's pale face swam before him. "Will what's happened?"

"A - Another flashback."

"Come on I'm getting you inside."

Will let himself be lead down the corridor and in to the infirmary. Once in the heavily occupied room, the pain in his head intensified. "Grace," he panted. "I can't keep them out."

Understanding, she pulled her brother through the room. They ignored the curious faces of those around them. As she pass the exit Grace quickly greeted Axell. She looked back at Will his eyes were red and watery. They reached the private quarters.

"Damn I was hoping no one would be around."

"Don't worry, I'll get you through there." Grace opened the door, making everyone look up. Right away Frohike blocked their path anxious to hear the news.

"Sorry 'hike I'll debrief you later." Grace was exerting herself trying to hold on to Will and push pass Frohike.

Mulder had taken one look at Grace's face and new something was wrong. "Wait a second what's going on?" He had taken a step towards her.

Will doubled over holding his head. "Get away!"

At his pleading Jacks stood up and tried to come to Will's aid. He reached out his hand indicating for her to stop. "Everyone just get away!"

The pain and energy that was flowing from Will drug Grace down in the process. She needed to get him out of everyone's presence and in to the dark. Once there she could help him.

Frohike and Langly came to the realization of what was happening. "Everyone out." Frohike ordered as Grace rushed Will off to his room.

Grace could tell Will was hardly aware of his surroundings when she propelled him toward his bed. The back of his legs hit the edge of mattress and he sank like a rock. Grace lifted his arms carefully pulling his jacket then shirt off his back.

"Take your pants off," she directed. Then went to his dresser to get some more comfortable sleepwear. Once she had him changed and comfortable, he climbed under the covers.

"The lights Grace."

With a flick of the switch the room was shrouded in fathomless black. Gingerly Grace made her way toward the bed, trying not to trip over unseen obstacles.

"I can't stay here anymore." Zero spoke suddenly. "I'm getting claustrophobic."

"I'm coming with you," Danny called out.

Langly nodded understandingly. "Keep your nose clean, dudes."

Mulder stood up suddenly. "Someone going to explain to me just what happened in there?"

He looked over at Jacks who was sitting on the floor of the gym her knees up to her chest. She seemed not to notice Mulder's Sudden outburst. Her crystal blue eyes seemed to be transfixed on the floor.

Frohike closed his eyes, "Flashback, I think... When they can they'll tell us."

Will felt himself relax, his body was starting to let go of the pain. Grace's comforting form lay next to him. Her head was snuggled against his shoulder her forehead rested against his cheek. Her hand lay peacefully on his chest. She'd been able to help him stop the noise, quiet the thoughts of others that had bombarded his brain. Unfortunately he was still left with a painful headache. His reactions to these flashbacks were steadily becoming worse. Something in Kai's mind had triggered a reaction he hadn't had in years. Kai had been in the dungeon, he'd seen similar visions in the other man's mind. Visions and memories he'd been able to lock away. Without warning they were starting to bubble forth like air pockets trapped beneath water.

One thing troubled him deeply. Every flashback reminded him and reinforced his issues with Mulder. Every single heartache he and Grace had shared stemmed from this man. Even their existence had occurred because of something Mulder had done to piss of some very powerful people. Something deep inside of him knew without a doubt that it was only a matter of time. Those people that had caused their existence, those that they had escaped from so long ago would find them again.

In the early morning hours Grace awoke to Will's soft yet steady snoring. She was still wearing her street cloths, even her boots seemed to have melded to her feet. Tired and achy she pealed herself from the bed. Before she closed the door behind her Grace took one last look at Will, checking his mind just enough to assure herself he was in a deep dreamless sleep. Satisfied, her search for Frohike began. It didn't take long to find him. Frohike, Mulder and Langly were sitting around a table in the crows nest. The crows nest was a room that overlooked the Virtual Courts the gunmen had built as entertainment and a training ground for those of the uprising.

Grace slid in beside Frohike laying her head on his shoulder. The older man enveloped her in his arms in warm maternal gesture. Many times after the stress of their existence had overcome her or one of the others. Frohike's arms were always open and willing to lend love and support. One might never think Frohike the type, but the man had the heart of a Lion and the capacity for great tenderness.

Frohike's arms tightened slightly around her shoulders giving her an encouraging squeeze. He wouldn't ask her anything, he would wait until she was ready. The squeeze was just a reminder that he was there when she was ready.

"Everything went well," Grace began. "We're meeting up with Kai again this afternoon... I hope Will's up for it."

"What happened to Will?" Mulder asked not knowing any better.

Grace sucked in a shaky breath, understanding Mulder's concern. "When Will went in to Kai's mind, he snagged on a memory. That's the best way to explain it. It triggered a flashback, an unpleasant memory. Plus as I was coming back I was stopped by a pack of wasteoids. Will jumped in and helped me. I think, he just, uhm, strained himself.

** Will woke up with a start. His legs were tangled in the covers, which would account for his dream. In it he'd been trying to run, but his legs were mired in some celestial miasmic goo. The room was stuffy and so he tried to breathe taking in big gulps of air. In search of his sister's whereabouts he reached out to her. The exercise was painful. The sharp ache between his eyes and ears still raged. It had been some time since he'd used his ability to reach in a person's mind and press on the nerves that held movement. So long since he'd tried it on one individual. Last night, he had forced his underused talent to control five minds. Compounding this with the strange occurrence when he'd tried to access Kai's mind. left Will feeling out of shape.

There was a soft tap on his door. His head hurt too much to reach out and see whom his visitor was. So he simply bid them - come. He was a bit embarrassed when he realize Jacks was slowly walking toward him. Her light knee length shirt floating about her. Quickly he rearranged the covers bringing them up to his armpits.

Jacks grinned at his exaggerated modesty. "Relax, I only came to see how you were."

"I'm fine," he lied.

"One thing I have to say. You and Grace have always had a flair for dramatic entrances - not to mention the performance. When you came in you were pretty spaced. Grace was having a heck of a time holding you up. You say you're fine, but are you, really?"

"I said I was fine. You're keeping strange hours," he observed.

"I couldn't sleep. Beside I, ah, heard you as I was walking down the hall." She lied. Hoping he couldn't tell the truth. That she had been sitting outside his door for over an hour. "So what was it all about? What happened?"

"Grace needed my help. She, ah, ran into a, small problem. She tripped over a dog."

Jacks looked at him skeptically. "Ah, ha, sure. Well, you got Frohike really pissed. Mulder's been walking around dazed and confused."

"When is he not?"

Jacks shot him a disapproving sneer.

"Okay, okay that was harsh. I couldn't help it, for whatever reason I'd lost control of my filter. I could hear a legion of voice in my head, all talking at once. For whatever reason I couldn't shut it off. When I had come here it was as if you all were screaming directly in to my brain."

"I don't remember that ever happening before."

"It's only happened once before, but then I learned to control it. I can actually turn it off. I haven't used it in years."

"How come?"

Will chewed on his bottom lip for a moment. "I find it's better not to know what other people are thinking, especially if it's about you. Besides it leaves you with a monster headache. Even my teeth hurt."

"Point taken. So Gracie was able to help you?"

Was it Will's imagination or did Jacks actually sound a bit jealous? He sighed sliding back down against the bed. "Good old dependable Gracie." Will paused. "What's up, Jacks? You didn't come here with the sole intent of asking me why I freaked out. That much I can tell"

Jacks raised an eyebrow at him. "You're right I didn't come in here just for that." She furrowed her brows. "I've been thinking a lot about what happened last week. About the things I saw." She sat down on the edge of his bed, grasping her knees with her hands. Her elbows where locked and she hung her head toward her chest for a moment, then looked up.

"What about it? Will asked defensively. "It's better that you forget it, Jacks."

"How should I do that?" Suddenly Jacks was enraged. "William whatever the hell your middle name is Mulder." He winced at the sound of his last name. "What? Do you have a problem with the name Mulder? Well tough, Mulder, Live with it, Mulder."

"Get out of my face Jacks you're acting like a child!"

"Oh and I suppose the great and mighty William Mulder isn't? How do you have the guts to mind rape me, then leave me with the scars and then tell me to forget it? You self-centered son of a..."

Will shot up ignoring the white-hot stabs of pain shooting through his brain. He grabbed a hold of Jacks. "I did not mind rape you! Not even close! Those things that you saw, that was an accident. I've been doing my best to forget it and I'd appreciate if you'd do the same."

"I'm involved now Will more than ever. All these years Danny, Zero and I have been living in your shadow. It's always been - the twins this, the twins that. We love you both because you're our family. So we've put up with it, but now suddenly the stakes have risen. Whether you like it or not I'm apart of this now on a whole new level. I deserve answers."

Will felt the wind leave his sails. He was tired; nausea was working it's way through his stomach. "There are no answers, Jacks. None at all."

"But Mulder had answers, when he said you both were part of that project. Gemini."

"No! It isn't what I am. It isn't what Grace is. We've moved beyond that. We aren't killing machines, we don't seek to hurt people, or, or anything else," he sputtered on the last part. "We aren't that at all."

"I'm not saying you are." Jacks was aggravated and confused. She stood up her arms crossed in front of her. "I came here to ask for your help. When you're able to get by without throwing the poor little abandon boy tantrum let me know."

She slipped out the door. As soon as it was closed, she turned her back to the wall opposite the door. Looking at it, but not seeing it. She slowly slid her way down to the floor. Burying her face in her knees. She wept.

Word had come for a meeting change. Kai had instructed Grace to meet him at a certain juncture in the tunnels about a mile and a half away from the shandy. This time she wasn't going alone.

The group stood at the opening of the well-traveled tunnel. It forked to the left and right. There had been tension between the young people. Stony silence had replaced their normally demonstrative behavior. Mulder had decided early on to stick close to Frohike.

So now waiting for their contact to arrive, they stood watching the inhabitants go by, trying not to be too noticeable. At first Mulder was skeptical that they would achieve low visibility, but to his surprise he realized that the poor souls of earth could careless.

Grace and Will stood a few feet apart from one another with their arms crossed in front of them, their heads slightly bent as if they were looking at the ground but their eyes were meticulously scanning the pockets of 'grearheads and waisteoids that meandered their way past them. They had informed him that it was necessary to do this due to the area's notorious goings on. Its position was a vulnerable one. Gaps in this part of the tunnels were accessible to the surface. It was a prime target spot for infiltrators in search of incubators or run away scabbers.

Mulder ran a hand through his hair, and pouted his lips. A gesture that amused Jacks.

"What's so funny?" he asked.

"You're uneasy aren't you?"

"That obvious?"

"Well, maybe not, but you gesture and rake your fingers through your hair. Will does the same thing."

"Well, don't tell my son that, he might burst something."

Jacks laughed.

Mulder smiled looking toward Will, noting the young man hadn't given any indication he had heard. "Are you sure this contact will be here?" he asked.

Grace wasn't concerned. "He'll be here. No worries, Will and I are keeping an eye on things."

"So tell me just what you guys are doing... You both look like statues."

Will uncrossed his arms, he brought his left hand to chest level holding it close above his heart. He made a sign that Mulder thought looked a lot like the 'hang loose' gesture surfers were known to make. Mulder's eyes flitted over to the recipient of this sign. Danny pushed his body off of the far wall he was leaning against and casually walked out into the traffic zone. Mulder noted the boy as he cautiously followed a seemingly harmless passerby.

Mulder turned his attention back to Grace realizing she was talking. "We don't mean to stop moving. I guess it's like looking at something for too long and then you find yourself staring cross-eyed. We're just monitoring the crowd, just in case."

"Just how are you monitoring? I thought you didn't like to go in to people's minds?"

"We aren't going in to peoples minds. We can sense other, uhm aliens. I suppose we're empathic that way."

Mulder wasn't sure why Grace seemed to be almost embarrassed by her admission. He filed the question away for later. Mulder's palms suddenly itched and restlessness set in again. He needed to find Scully, he needed her with him again, to feel her wrapped in his arms. He wanted to share everything he was learning about his children with her.

"How much longer do you think it will be," he asked hopping his voice didn't sound like the anxious little boy he felt.

"Not much longer dad."

Danny slid up beside Jacks. "Nothing Will, that guy was just an overloaded piece of skin."

"You sure?" Mulder asked.

Danny grinned at him, "It's going to take some time getting use to you, newbie. Trust me, I'm sure." Danny pounding a clenched fist into his other palm and winked. "No one gets by me."

"I think I see something." Grace turned around so that she was facing away from the gang. She took a step forward, still scanning. "Yeah, I think I recognized on of the guys from last night." Grace pushed her way into the crowd knowing that all eyes were upon her.

"Ecks!" Zero exclaimed. "Now we can get this party started."

Mulder looked over at Frohike. "Ecks?"

"Slang for excellent."

"Oh." Mulder looked back to where Grace has walked off. She raised her left-hand and slid two fingers a short, quick distance along the back of her neck. Then continued to walk away. Everyone but him understood the silent signal.

"You guys have some communication system," Mulder commented. He was looking at Will, not missing the fact that he was ignoring his father. Mulder decided to sooth is wounded feelings by assuring himself that Will just wanted to keep a close eye on his sister. Mulder wanted to keep a close eye on her as well.

"We found that the twins silent communication was a big asset and it was decided that we should come up with signs of our own. Since we can't do what they do. It gives us freedom at times." Jacks explained.

"Where's Grace going?"

Will's eyes tracked his sister down the hallway. "Our informant is here."

Five minutes later Will's eyes were still focused on the spot where Grace had disappeared.

"Look out every body he's concentrating again," Zero laughed. "What's going on man?"

Will reached inside his pocket and pulled out a small piece of hard candy. He popped it into his mouth, rolling it around a couple of times before biting down on it. He was shaking his head negatively as if he was talking to someone. He stopped, and addressed the group. "Okay, we follow now."

They walked from the tunnels into a long carved out area. It's musty odor burned the nostrils and made the eyes water. Except for a few candles burning the place was pitch black.

Mulder could barely make out Grace's standing form just a few feet in front of him.

"I'm sorry, for the light. Or lack there of. But I've got an aversion to it." A disembodied voice said. "As I was telling Grace, our original meeting place was to be back at the shandy. But someone came in asking after, wahine."

"It was good of you not to turn her in," Frohike said.

"I don't like to share." Kai smiled. His white teeth shining off of the candle in the darkness.

Mulder immediately thought of the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland.

"What's this guy look like?" Will gruffly asked. His protective stance shadowing Grace.

Kai's dark eyes flashed. "Are you the other half? Two for the price of one?"

Will didn't answer, instead he was content to scowl at the other man.

"Don't take offence. We'll work fine together, you'll see. I'm no threat, but the man with the one arm is."

"Krycek?" Mulder asked.

"Don't know his name, I don't' care either. But if it is your one armed man. Yeah, he was asking after her. Wanted to know what she was in there looking for me for."

Kai grinned. "I just told him you were looking for a hit."

"You sell meds? Grace asked.

"Nah, but he don't know that." Kai assured her.

"We're burning synthetic light here. What do you got for us?" Frohike huffed impatiently.

"First I wanna know if you're going to honor what wahine promised me? You gonna take this blasted implant out?"

"Yeah, man I'll take it out tonight," Frohike said.

"Nah, you do it now. Right here, right now."

"I'm not gonna draw one drop of blood from you in this place. It isn't sanitary. If you can't stand the light, cover yourself up. We'll guide you to a place where it's safe."

"The implant is the reason why I can't stand the light!"

Frohike shrugged. "If you want it out, you have to play by our rules. You'll have to leave your goons here and trust us."

Even though they couldn't see his face it was evident Kai was mulling his choices over.

"Do you have a Trans-VR interface?" asked Kai.

Grace and Frohike looked concerned. "Those are illegal," Grace said.

"I'm aware of the current colonist ban on the very machine they created. That wasn't my question. Do, you, have one?"

Frohike hesitated. "Yes."

"Ecks!" Kai laughed. He pulled out a small sliver disk from somewhere off his person and held it up. "It's all here."

The group quickly made their way back to Langly's. Kai followed them, his black coat flowing like the dark shroud of the grim reaper. His gloved hand constantly tugging the hood closed each time they passed a bright light. They took Kai through a different entrance than the one they'd previously been using. "Since we can't have you scaring the other patients we're taking you to a private section. You won't have to deal with the lights," Frohike explained.

"What is this place?" Kai reluctantly stepped inside. Langly was waiting, with one look at Kai he immediately shut the lights off, disappeared back inside only to emerge moments later with a set of crude flashlights.

"Normally we'd take you to the infirmary, but since you're a special patient we have a special room. Our resident doc was called away but he'll be back shortly." Frohike motioned to Kai. "This way." Grace pushed ahead of the group, slipping into the room before anyone she cleared off the top of a metal table. Mulder went to a far corner and watched the proceedings from there.

"So in the mean time, Langly here and I will do the honors. You don't have to worry though we've done this before and we're darn good at it too. Even if goldy-locks still gets a bit green around the gills."

As the people around him prepared for the upcoming operation, Mulder's mind drifted off toward Scully. Weariness seeped into his bones. He'd been thinking about his options since he had rediscovered the twins. Guilt brought dark shadows to his handsome face. He was torn, torn between staying here with Frohike and his kids. Or going off to find Krycek, find Scully. But that would mean leaving, he wasn't sure he wanted that.

Mulder looked up when he heard a loud rattle and thump. Frohike had pulled up a tray table that held a scalpel, a meter box and a couple of 'trodes.

"Alright dude up on the slicing table," Frohike told Kai.

Langly fired up some machine in the background it whirred softly. "This baby is a I.C.R.O.N. detector. It will tell us just what kind of Implant we're dealing with," he said. Then lifted the wand over the back of Kai's neck.

Everyone's eyes where glued to the small screen that would revel the Implant. It beeped a couple of times then displayed a series of numbers. "Crap," Langly said. "This one is wrapped around his spinal column." He snapped off the machine. "It's gonna be messy."

"You want me to get the juice?" Danny asked.

"That would be cool of you," Langly clasped his young protégé on the back.

"I'm gonna go ah, go." Zero said nervously. Not having any desire to watch the bloody surgery. He practically ran out of the room.

The twins stood to one side talking to each other in hushed tones. Stopping here and there to observe Kai.

Jacks twiddled her thumbs a bit, her eyes came to rest on Mulder looking very pensive in his thoughts.

"Mind if I sit?" Her smile was soft and friendly.

Mulder smiled back and shifted a little to let her sit by him.

"It's gonna get kind of messy in here soon. Do you think you're up to it?" she asked.

"What are they going to do?"

"Well, Kai has an unusual implant. It's a coiler."


"Yeah, it wraps." She made a twirling motion with her finger. "Around your spine and can cause all kinds of problems. In Kai's case it was used to mess with his senses. Making him super sensitive to light. He probably hasn't had much of a appetite since he couldn't taste anything ether." she shrugged. "Just your run of the mill gearhead."

"Does he have any kind of mental powers?"

"Him? Nah, at least I don't think so. Will is acting skittish around him though." Jacks looked away, then back at Mulder.

Frohike started clanging the scalpel inside the pan of hot water. Danny came back with a tube of clear gel, which he proceed to smear over two round 'trodes. Frohike then walked over to where Kai laid on the table. "You think you can stand to take off the coat? Well keep the lights low until the meds start to work then we're going to have to turn on the light to see what we're doing,"

Kai agreed and shook off his covering. Frohike also instructed the young man to remove his long sleeved shirt and the bandana around his neck. Kai clearly hesitated.

Grace moved to stand in front of him. "Don't worry,I'll help with the pain."

Kai looked hard at her. Mulder could see the wheels turning in Kai's mind mulling over whether or not to trust her. In the end the desire to get rid of the implant was to great Kai had decided to trust.

Grace swallowed hard as her eyes roamed over Kai's torso. He defiantly kept himself in top shape. "Go ahead lay on your stomach," she admonished.

When he did so, she gently cleaned the area of his neck with antiseptic. When that task was done, Danny instructed Kai to put his face further down into the face rest and stretch his body downward. Allowing his neck to become as elongated as possible. That accomplished Danny put the 'trodes on either side of Kai's neck. Langly then connected the two cords to his machine and a little jolt of electricity went off every few seconds.

"We're going to have to turn the lights on now," Frohike said apologetically.

Kai nodded. The table actually creaked from the power of his grip when the lights went to the brightest setting. Grace could tell he was doing his best not to whimper.

"Grace," Frohike said.

Grace nodded and began to carefully glide her fingertips along the crown of Kai's head, her face a study in concentration. Slowly making circles, then making them bigger and bigger as she moved around. She brought them down to encompass his ears and temples, repeating these motions over and over until he finally he began to relax.

Frohike made the fist incision laying Kai's flesh open and exposing his bone. Curiosity won out on Mulder's part and he stepped up to the table. He looked down clearly seeing the sliver metal wrapped around the bone.

Next Langly moved in with a small wand he tapped the tip against the metal and small sparks flew from it. He stepped back and adjusted the dial till a high pitched whine could be heard. Again touched the wand to the metal, more sparks flew then abruptly died. The coil visibly slacked its hold but did not fall off.

"I'm gonna need you to pull it back a little more," he said to Frohike.

Sweat beaded on Langly's forehead. Grace was sympathetic to his discomfort. Langly had never had a strong stomach for these things, even after the countless times he'd preformed the task. Still it was a necessary skill and he'd gotten better to where he could get through a whole operation before giving in to the need of turning his stomach inside out. They all watched as Frohike pulled back Kai's skin a little more exposing more bone. Langly visibly steeled himself and went back in. The wand touched the implant a couple more times then he turned to Danny asking for the saw.

Its little head went to whirling and Langly called for the magnifier. Soon Langly began to saw bits and pieces of the implant off. Careful not to hit bone.

This was the dangerous part, this was the part where everyone held their breaths. One wrong move and Kai was either a dead man or a paraplegic. The minutes seemed to drag out, Grace was growing more exhausted. Her abilities were out of shape, she realized. The last few days had drained her.

Finally Langly was done. The task of picking out the small pieces of the implant began.

"There," Langly sighed. "That's the last of 'em sew the boy up."

Frohike and Danny took care of the mess while Grace continued her ministrations. Her fingertips were beginning to ache. She fantasized about healing Kai and just getting done with it.

She sensed Mulder come up behind her. He leaned over her shoulder, and asked, "Are you mentally stopping the pain?" Grace realized he was studying her reaction. She smiled. "No, I'm just using a few pressure point techniques to help alleviate the pain. The 'trodes and the numbing gel do most of the work. What I do is just keeping him from jumping out of his skin while they're slicing and deicing."

"All right, done," Frohike said.

Grace leaned downward to Kai's ear. "We're going to let you rest now. You've been through a lot, just relax, you're safe here. We can hook up the VR and have it ready for when you're feeling up to it."

Kai weakly raised his hand in a gesture that he had heard and understood.

Mulder stepped away from Grace not totally satisfied with her answer. Still he could hear Scully's voice from long ago, 'see Mulder a perfectly scientific explanation.' That was when he realized he was looking for an X-File in his own daughter. He smiled almost apologetically at Grace.

He followed everyone out of the room and back to their private quarters. Jacks was lagging behind, with her hand stuffed in the pockets of her leather jacket.

"Jacks, can I ask you a question?"


"Tell me about Will?" Mulder had no way of knowing his question struck a fresh and raw cord within her.

"Uhm," Jacks looked around nervously, everyone had already disappeared. "I'm not sure, I'm the best one for that job. At least not at the moment," she confessed.

"Why do you say that?"

"Will has this knack for pissing people off. I don't suppose you know where he gets that from?"

Mulder blanched. "His mother." he superstitiously looked heavenward wondering if a bolt of lighting would nail him right there. "Any thing you could tell me Jacks, anything. I don't suppose you'd understand how much I want to understand him. He isn't making it easy."

Jacks focused in on some point off in the distance. "Will is a contradiction in terms. He's a loner, but can't stand to be away from us especially Grace. He cares very deeply for things, but he would rather act like he could care less. He's super intelligent but would rather make you think it was all your idea. He thinks he's hidden all this from us." She smiled sadly. "He wants you to think he's made of steel, but truly he's as terrified as the rest of us."

"Grace doesn't seem to have as much trouble," Mulder observed.

"Grace deals with her anger, love, sadness. You always know how you stand with her. With Will you're never a hundred percent sure. The only one he lets in no question asked is Grace. It's understandable, they've been through so much together and being as close as they are. We all love each other like a family, but I'd be willing to say that Grace is the only one Will truly trusts."

"What do you know about the time while they were being held captive?"

"Just that they were treated very badly." Jacks' face clouded over with hurt and sadness. "Grace has done her best to forget and move on, Will has too but I don't think he is as moved on as Grace." Jacks looked back at Mulder her smile a bit too watery for his comfort. "Either way they refuse to talk about it. We only know, what we know from little slips here and there."

Mulder was beginning to truly feel a kindred spirit in Jacks. They both cared deeply about the twins and particularly Will, who seemed to do a spectacular job of frustrating them both. As the resumed their trek back to their quarters Mulder put a reassuring arm around Jacks. "It's good to know they've had you for a friend."

"Will and Grace are my family, I'd do anything either one of them asked me. They're better than anything I could have ever hoped for and Frohike," she laughed. "As much as that little troll can get on my nerves. He's all I have and I wouldn't have it any other way."

After that last declaration silence reigned between them, both thinking about the same two people.

"Thank you," Mulder said quietly.

Jacks put a comforting hand on Mulder's arm and to his surprise kissed his cheek.

"You're welcome," she said.

** Later that night a groggy Kai stumbled his way into the main room where everyone was gathered.

"Well look who decided to join the land of the living." Langly announced.

Everyone looked up and a united sea of eyes widen and mouths fell open. Kai had been shrouded in darkness before, it had hid him very well. Even though Grace could tell he was handsome the first time she met him. It hadn't prepared her from seeing him in the full light of, well, a fully lit room. This young man was a keeper. Both Grace and Jacks had a sudden attack of giddiness and the boys all groaned inwardly.

"So what can you tell us?" Frohike questioned.

Kai nodded toward Grace. "She said you wanted information on the compounds and nurseries. I can give it to you."

Danny quirked an eyebrow. "Prove it."

"It might interest you to know that the old Hoover building now holds the largest hatchery and main frame for the colonist on the eastern seaboard," Kai said as he checked for dirt underneath his fingernails. "I can get you in."

In her own personal private space, Grace sat cross-legged on the floor, electronic equipment fanned out around her. She was biting her bottom lip in concentration as she held the hand size sodering iron to her data-board's wiring.

Kai watched her for a moment. "Looks like tough work, wahine."

She glanced up momentarily. "Kinda, I really need a new data-board. But I'm attached to this one, so I just keep trying to keep it together."

"Duct tape and string?" he asked. His voice light and playful, Kai squatted down in front of her.

Grace grinned. "Yeah, something like that."

"Tell me, wahine, how do you plan on attacking the nursery?" His dark eyes locked with hers and his voice grew quieter, more intimate. "Aren't you afraid?"

She shook her head, "The detonation devices should take care of them. As for the plan of attack, top secret until Frohike says other wise. Sorry."

Not to let a little obstacle stand in his way, he tried a different approach. "Doesn't it bother you, wahine?"

She looked up and he began to twirl her ponytail in his fingers. The feeling was not unpleasant for her, but she wasn't entirely sure she wanted him doing it.

He frowned, sadness stained his voice, "Doesn't it bother you to be killing your own kind?" His fingers latched on to the cord that secured her hair and he released the mocha colored silk. Playing with the strands that had fallen across her shoulder.

Her hand reached out to tactfully push his away. "I don't know what, you think you know. They are not my own kind. Each side is killing the other. It was their cruelty that devastated this planet. That is not a part of me," her voice was even yet filled with conviction. "They've robbed a great deal from my family and I."

Kai was not deterred, his hand strayed back to her hair, rubbing it between his finger and thumb. His look deep and meaningful. "As they have robbed me and my family. But tell me, wahine, would you truly change everything?"


"But without them..." he drew closer to her and she realized he was going to kiss her. She could feel the heat of his breath against her lips. She wasn't at all sure she wanted this man to be her first kiss. It just didn't feel right.

". . .you wouldn't be," he said finally.

His lips just about to make contact. When the sound of someone clearing their throat startled Grace out of her inner battle. Kai didn't bother to pull away. He lazily turned his head toward the intruder. Not caring in the least, if he had been caught. Grace on the other hand jumped and turned three shades of red to see the young man standing before her.

"What are you doing here Christian?" she tried to make her voice sound light and uncaring.

"Interrupting from what I can tell," he smirked. "Langly said I had a new patient."

Kai decided he'd had enough and raised himself to his full height. "That would be me, doc." Kai lightly touched the stitches on his neck.

Christian was not impressed. "All right then, go get Langly and I'll take a look at his handy work."

Kai looked down at Grace and pursed his lips, sending a small kiss toward her. Then he turned on one heal and left the room.

"You're getting lax in your old age, Grace." Christian's humor returning.

"What do you mean?"

"Well the Grace I know would have sent that horny-toad on his sorry way."

She scowled. "You know, I just realized that I don't like you very much."

Christian laughed half hurt, half-amused. "Now why not? I've been your physician for ages."

"Ages? Yeah, four years. Wow." She crossed her arms staring up at him. "No I don't like you because you always make me feel like a kid."

"That's cause you are a kid."

"You're only six years older than me." She laid her data-board to the side and decided to meet this crackpot on in a full frontal attack. "You know, you think you're so hot because you're the only head-checker in a fifty mile radius..."

"Fifty five mile radius," he corrected.

"You must be mistaking your IQ for that number," she huffed as she walked away.

He grabbed her arm, not wanting her to walk out on this little sparing just yet. It was a matter of honor now. "Hey! Don't get snotty with me. Next time you need medical attention let's see if I come running."

"I would rather have my lung extracted through my nose. Thank you, very much."

"Well, I can arrange it," he offered.

"Any part of you that touches me. You're drawing back a bloody stump."

At that moment Langly stepped into the room. "We're ready for you, Christian." Langly's gaze caught Christian's hasty release of Grace's arm. Grace for her part was burning holes in Christian's back.

"I'll be right there," he said. Picking up his backpack and following Langly.

"Hey, Will, you okay?"

He didn't want to alarm anyone, twice that day he'd had more flashes of memories followed by intense pain. They seemed to be getting worse. "Yeah, Zero, just a headache."

"Like last night?"

Will looked up at his friend. "Not as bad," he lied. Noting the conspiratorial grin on Zero's face. "Why?" He smiled. "What do you have in mind?"

"Well," he paused as Jacks entered the room and sat beside them. "We've been away for a few months and seeing is how we're up for a fight."

Jacks grinned. "I know where this is going."

Will knew where Zero was headed as well. "D.I.S."

"Ecks! Let's go!" Zero took Will by one hand and Jacks took the other. They pulled him up to his feet.

"What's going on?" Langly asked as he and Mulder walked in to the room.

"Oh a little bit of D.I.S. a little bit of dat." Zero laughed as they pushed Will out of the door.

"Ecks!" cried Langly "Digital Imagery Simulator. Gotta love it."

Mulder followed Langly down to the great hall. They made their way from there to the infirmary. Christian was busy tending to a patient. Grace and Danny were in the back repairing one of the machines.

"Gracie, Danny," Langly called.


"You two up for a little D.I.S.?"

Danny set his tools down as if they were hot potatoes. "Ecks! I'm there."

"Well that seems to be the standard response," Mulder's dry comment made Christian laugh. "Are you going to come too?"

"No, I've got patients to tend too. I went once and learned my lesson the hard way." The doctor grinned.

"Are you going to play with us, Mulder?" Danny asked. Mulder got the feeling looking at the young man that he was being sized up.

"Maybe that's not such a good idea." Langly warned.

"Why not?"

"Because Mulder, it's been awhile for you. You still need to adjust here, and well these kids don't play soft."

Grace and Danny were looking at each other conspiratorially. Mulder was being challenged, play with us if you dare. "I think I'll give it a try," he decided.

Langly moaned. "Chris you'd better keep a med-bed ready."

"Consider it done."

It was a hard fall to the floor, Mulder shook himself off and brushed the blood from his lip. "You guys play rough." he commented.

They were in a large room about the size and height of a movie theater screen room. A blue grid lined the walls and ceilings. It was their version of a war room. It had been created to train their recruits with simulations of all kinds of battle conditions. Mulder vaguely remembered something seeing something similar on an old outer space program. Langly had explained that the Gunmen had been able to snag some light-years advanced computer integration from the colonists.

"Sorry, dad, didn't mean to make you trip like that." Grace apologized.

"Around here we don't play soft. When we get to the main building of the compound, we'll be playing for keeps. One wrong move and we're reticular food." Will was more amused at seeing Mulder land on his backside than he should have been. "D.I.S." he called the computer's name. Open obstacle course lithium."

The computer beeped its compliance. The lights shut down, only to flicker back on to a twilight glow. Mulder looked around him in wonder. Frohike was no longer sitting on a box, now he seemed to be lounging on a tree trunk. They were immersed in a thick jungle like atmosphere, even the humidity of a tropical rain forest was tangible. Mulder had a bad feeling about all this.

"Guess we're going to have to take it slow now guys. You know go easy on yah old timer. Zero taunted.

Mulder's eyes narrowed. This was all good-natured fun, with good-natured quips but no one was going to call Mulder 'old timer' and live to tell the tale. "Well see who has to take it easy on who smart ass." Mulder was on the defensive, quickly he made sure he had everybody in his line of sight.

The pack began to circle.

"Now, Mulder, we can't have you swearing at the children." Langly called out from the sideline.

Danny started to toy with Mulder swiping at him with his weapon that resembled a giant cotton swab.

"Some how I get the feeling I've just walked into a Lord of the Flies remake."

"Don't worry Mulder." Mulder turned his attention to Jacks. "We won't hurt you. We just want to have some fun." The young woman started to advance twirling her stick around like a baton.

She took a swing.

"Hey you dodged that one like a pro," Zero smiled, making his own advance.

That was when Mulder decided it was best to momentarily retreat. "That was just a little too close for comfort there, Jacks." He took a step backward only to run in to Danny. When had he gotten around me? Mulder wondered. The burly young man sneered like a silent movie villain. The small band of young people quickly surrounded him closer, closer. Mulder was trapped. There was no where to go but. . .up. With a leap Mulder knew he would regret in the morning, he reached up and grabbed on to a conveniently place vine that dangled above them. With a great heave he swung up and over the startled pack. When he landed on the floor Mulder quickly righted himself.

"Hey old man, heads-up," Langly threw him a wand.

Mulder tried his best to fend off his would be attackers. Soon remembering the old adage about strength being in numbers. Along with the fact that maybe he was a bit out of shape. He decided to opt for the path of least resistance. Or so he thought. He threw his wand at their legs and bolted for the dense underbrush.

The chase was on.

Will pointed at Jacks and Danny silently directing them with a hand signal to head Mulder off at the pass. He then turned to Zero giving him a new command. Will made a circling motion with his right fore finger. Then used his left hand to grab it. Zero grinned mischievously and ran off to carry out the task.

Grace tugged at his shirtsleeve and together they ran after Mulder following the path he'd left in his wake.

Suddenly the trail died. Will stopped short trying to catch his breath.

/Where'd he go?/ Will asked.

/I'm not sure. He just vanished./ Grace answered.

Will crouched down pushing fallen foliage to the side, looking for any sign Mulder had been through this way. Déjà vu reared its ugly head as another memory swam to the surface. Will looked to his left Grace was starting to look scared.

"Where is it?" she asked.

'I... I don't know," he stammered. His hands began to shake. Will looked at them surprised to see they were much smaller than normal. He looked back at Grace, she was no longer a young woman of 18 but a small child of 8, so was he.

"I can smell it," she said.

"Me too."

"This isn't right Will we've waited too long. I hate these tests. I hate them! Where is it?"

"We've got to work as a team Grace, we'll find it."

/William!/ He heard his despised full first name and blinked. Where'd that come from? he thought. /Will-iam/ Shaking his head like a dog shaking of water he snapped back to the present. "What?" he asked out loud.

/shhh! He'll hear you/ Grace's voice echoed in his mind. /What happened to you? You completely zoned out on me./

He pushed out a heavy sigh of relief. It was just another resurfacing memory. They weren't back at the testing grounds. Will looked at his hands, he wasn't eight years old again. They were safe, safe and sound.

/Sorry Grace I guess I did zone out for a moment. Let's find the Fox./ Will stood up and cupped his hand to his mouth. A faint bird like call wafted through the air.

Soon it was returned in three short high-pitched bleeps. The hunted had been found.

Grace pointed up at the trees, and smiled. "Let's go get 'em." Carefully Grace scaled the side of the large tree that stood in front of them. Will watched her reach the top and move carefully through the branches. A small group of simulated parrots squawked in annoyance as they're territory was intruded upon.

Satisfied that no real damage had been done in giving away their location. Will crouched down once again and began crawling his way toward the direction the earlier communication had instructed them to go.

Will moved with the craftiness of a wolf, stealthily tracking down its hunt, waiting for the perfect time to attack. He'd gotten within a few short yards when he spotted Mulder. His keen eye caught more movement and realized Danny and Jacks were closing in on Mulder. Zero was close too, about to make his move and draw the prey out in to the open.

Zero jumped out in front of Mulder, half-heartedly trying to take Mulder down. Mulder for his part was a worthy opponent, he wasn't making it easy for any of them. Zero tried to taunt Mulder a little more before he took off down the designated path. Just as planned Mulder followed Zero until they reached the small clearing. Mulder surprised Zero by forking off and heading him up in the opposite direction. Unprepared for the sudden change in direction Zero stumbled backwards, falling in to his own trap. The vine he'd setup for Mulder snagged him around the ankle then hoisted him up high into to the air. Zero dangled helplessly upside down as Mulder walked forward with a self-satisfied gloat. When Jacks and Danny rushed out in to the open and saw the sight before them all bets were called off. The two fell down laughing hysterically at their friend who had somehow managed to lose his pants. Zero hung in his briefs with his shirt covering his head.

Will watched for a moment surprised at how impressed he was with Mulder's moves. Not bad for a relic of times gone by. Will collapsed suddenly as his legs and arms gave out beneath him. Why was he having these attacks? What was wrong wit him? It was as if his mind was being was being controlled and he was forced to relive all these devastating memories. He rolled to the side grabbing his head in agony. "Not again," he begged to anyone that would listen.

He was back, back in the testing ground Grace was nearby; she'd taken the high ground literally. She hovered somewhere in the scaffolding above him. He was making his way through a maze of boxes, crumbling walls and piles of broken cement and other debris. He was getting closer, the smell was getting stronger. It was a mixture of blood and animal stink. Grace motioned him to go to his left. He did, and what he saw almost made him wet his pants. There it stood four times as large as he was. Its ink black eyes calmly scanning the area. There was a shout and a cry as a pair of children attacked the beast. Just as they had been trained to. Will could feel the pure terror they felt as the beast tore them to shreds. Horrified at what had happened, even in his young mind he was well aware of the needless waste of life that was being conducted in these steel rooms. All in an effort to get his sister and himself to do the bidding of those that had created them. He looked back up, Grace was still above him, laughing. He was puzzled. How could she laugh at what was happening? It wasn't like her.

It was one of the funniest things she'd seen in a long time. Grace had to hold on to the branch she was balancing on so she wouldn't fall off. Zero was a sight, and boy was he mad. Jacks and Danny were trying to help Mulder free him. It's wasn't going well, everyone was laughing too hard. Grace decided to take them all by surprise, she'd jump Mulder wrestle him to the ground and declare herself the victor. Slowly she inched her way forward to as far as she could go without snapping the branch. Just a little bit more and she'd be on target. Mulder would never know what hit him. She thought gleefully.

No, no what was she doing? /Grace! Don't do it!/ Will called out to his sister, but it was too late. He watched helplessly as she fell toward the ground, toward the beast. She managed to force it to the floor. It clawed at her, it's huge bird like claws tearing at her flesh. Grace writhed and screamed as her blood flowed from her body. There were two other children standing around laughing at her misery. No! his mind screamed. She couldn't die, not without him. The beast, extra-terrestrial or not, hatchling or not would die along with them. Tears ran down Will's face as he picked himself off the floor. He ignored the throbbing pressure in his head and raced toward his dying sister.

Grace had landed square on target knocking Mulder to the ground. She crowed triumphantly looking around her to see if Will had followed her out for the capture. Before she could connect with him. Mulder had turned the tables, pinning her to the floor he began to tickle her mercilessly. Grace couldn't remember the last time she'd been ticklish. No one, not even Will had the ability to render her helpless like this. She was laughing so hard she thought for sure that she would hurt something internally.

As quickly as the laugh-fest had started, it stopped and the nightmare began.

She heard yelling around her and when she was able to right herself. The sight before her turned her blood cold. Will was on top of Mulder choking the life out of him.

Danny, Jacks and Zero were trying to get to Will and pull him off of Mulder. Jacks got close to Will trying to pry his hands from around Mulder's neck. Will was screaming incoherently shoving Jacks away from him. When she kept coming back he looked at her, his eyes weren't normal he was somewhere else. He took one hand away from Mulder and used it to slug Jacks. She tumbled backwards stunned and completely shocked. Langly rushed to her side trying to help her up.

Will had the strength of a lion. He'd managed to fight off Danny and Zero. Mulder had managed to throw Will off of him but only momentarily. Grace scrambled on all fours reaching out for Will. Who had begun to use Mulder's head for a punching bag. Blow after blow, Grace screamed for Will to stop. He was in such a frenzy, she for the first time couldn't penetrate his mind's barrier.

Never before had Will been the case of such terror.

Will managed to tackle the monster. Using it to take out all of his hurt and fright on it. He couldn't look around him. He couldn't stand to see the blood and the body of his sister, which was laying just a few feet away. He'd be doing the world a favor by ridding it of this horrible creature. He'd make those men sorry they'd ever done this to him. To Will's surprise children began circling him trying to keep him from destroying the monster. Didn't they know? Didn't they realize what it had just done? He shoved at them angry that they'd care for it so much and not him, not his sister. Will relentlessly began to pound his fists, his only weapons against this nightmare underneath him.

Grace looked up at Langly, what was he doing? "Go get help!" she ordered. That seemed to propel him in to action and he raced for the door. "End game!" Langly ordered the computer.

Grace had no choice she would have to hurt Will in order to save both men. She tackled Will forcing him down on Mulder's chest. All three gasped at the pressure on their lungs. Mulder was still trying to force Will off of him. They rolled, punched and kicked. Despite the fact that Will was trying to kill him. Mulder was trying not to hurt his son. He simply defended himself. Grace couldn't get a firm hold on Will, she had to be able to hold on to him. Her fingers threaded through his hair and the back of his head. She was sobbing his name, begging him to stop. Nothing worked, so with her hand firmly on his head she forced her way in to his mind, using the electric impulses to shock him. Will jerked back violently. His body fell backward landing on top of Grace. He went still and she relaxed letting the grief wash through her. Her crying echoing in the simulated jungle.

Will for his part wasn't finished. He twisted around with lighting speed and blindly began to strike out at Grace. She shielded her face with her arms, until she couldn't take it anymore. Grace reached up once more her fingers gripping Will's head. She sent another set of electric charges through his head. This time it was enough to knock him out.

Her world was crumbling and she was powerless to stop it.

Through the haze she heard the others yelling someone was standing over them. Will's eyes rolled back in his head and he collapsed next to her. She looked up wide-eyed through her arms to see Christian's face above her.

"Get him to the infirmary!" Christian's clear voice was music to her ears.

To her side Grace saw Langly and Kai struggle to pick up Will and rush him out of the room.

"Are you hurt?" Christian asked clearly concerned.

Yes, she shook her head her lips trembling along with her hands as she pointed to her heart. Her lovely face crumbled in to tears.

Christian scooped her up in to his arms and rushed her to the infirmary.

"Jacks?" Frohike asked.

"I don't know how it happened, but for a split second I saw through his eyes. Right before he hit me something snapped into place. I can't explain it." She looked at Mulder, "I don't know what's happened to him, he isn't like this. He wasn't in his right mind."

Frohike hung his head. "I don't understand it either. What's triggered this?"

"Frohike just what on earth did those bastards do to my children?" Hatred for the people that had done this to his family welled up inside of him. If he ever had the chance of getting a firm grip on any of them...

Langly laid Will gently on the bed Christian had indicated. "I'd better go check up on Mulder." Langly quickly left.

Grace pulled the curtain around them shielding her brother from the curious eyes that surrounded them. Christian soon followed with his equipment. His skilled hands made short work of hooking his patient up to the various monitors. Grace stood to the side numb, her body trembled and her face and arms were throbbing from the blows they'd received. Still she felt none of it.

"He's resting now. We just have to wait and see. Hopefully when he comes out of the tranqs he'll be lucid and we can ascertain what happened. " He looked up at Grace checking her response. "Grace look at you." He stepped to her side. "You need to have some attention yourself. Come on I'll help you clean up."


"Grace come on, you're hurt."

"I said, No!" She wrenched away from Christian. There was a chair by the bed, quickly she grabbed it and began her vigil by her brother's side. "I need to help him. As soon as you're gone I'll help him."

Christian looked quizzically at her. She'd been through a lot he surmised and probably didn't realize what she was saying. Clearly she was distraught. He needed to finish taking some vitals and blood samples from Will. As soon as he was done, he would leave and let Grace do whatever it was she thought she could.

Ten minutes later he was finished. "I'll be back to check up on you in a little bit." Christian turned to look at Grace. There was no response she'd fallen asleep with her head next to Will. He stared at her for a moment, trying to decide if he should wake her up. She still needed medical attention; she needed her bruises tended to so they wouldn't swell. In the end he decided not to wake her, sleep was as good a remedy as the healing ointment. Quietly he slid a side of the curtain open so he could monitor his patient by sight from where he would be going over Will's blood work.

"Can I see him?"

Christian looked down the isle of the long room. The younger man looked in to Mulder's eyes. "Yeah, go on in." he moved to the side, walking behind him as Mulder approached the bed.

He stood for a moment at the foot, just looking at his son. Grace had positioned herself in a chair next to the bed. Her head laid against the edge of the mattress her hand held fast to Will's as she slept. Will too was fast asleep, the monitors his body was attached too beeped reassuringly in the background. The irony of the scene was not lost on Mulder. How many times had he and Scullydanced this little dance?

"I tried to get her to go and sleep like a normal person. She refuses to leave him."

Mulder thought he detected a note of frustration in the young doctor's voice. He quickly dismissed the idea to call Christian on it. Right now he needed some time alone.

"How's Will."

"Strung out I'd say. His blood work is normal. Whatever got to him is affecting him purely on a psychological level. He needs time and rest. Maybe with Grace's help we can find out just what's triggering these violent episodes. From what I know he isn't prone to anything other than normal pre-adult mood swings."

"Thanks Doc."

"I'll be in the back if you need me."

Mulder nodded at Christian's retreating form. He pulled up a chair and sat down, moments went by. Mulder found himself studying Will for what he realized was the first time since they've been reunited. The little boy of so long ago was now all grown up. The squawking infant that when unsettled could only be soothed by his mother's touch was now a strong it not troubled young man. It was upon that thought that Mulder began to talk.

"What did they do to you Will?" Mulder drew out a shaky breath. "The last time I was that scared you both were babies." Mulder contemplated his next words as he watched the steady rise and fall of Will's chest. "I hope that one day you can help me understand what you're going through. I know this hasn't been easy, Will. I'm sorry my being here has caused you so much pain." Mulder's gaze fell to the chocolate colored hair that belonged to Grace. "I'm so grateful that you and Grace have each other and you both have such a strong group of friends. William, I want you to understand. I need you to understand that if I could have prevented any of this from happening... I would have gladly given my life if it had meant the safety of you, Grace and your mother. Despite what you might think. I love you. I am not sorry you came in to my life and I will do everything, in my power to keep you both safe now that I'm back. I hope you can except that and come to trust me. Let me be the father I so very much wanted to be." Mulder's tears burned his eyes but he refused to let them fall. He stood up, he turned to leave then with one last look back he wished that when Will woke up he'd be able to tell him all these things again. The sight of his prone son and the guilt and sorrow suddenly became an unbearable burned. Mulder turned once again to leave, stumbling a little as he left the infirmary. If he had just chanced one more glance behind him, he would have seen Will's tear filled eyes following him out the door.

Will shifted restlessly his hands fluttering around. Grace awoke at the movements. She glanced around. The infirmary was dark. Only a few beds remained occupied. Most of the patients that were finally strong enough had been moved to the barracks. There, Langly would feed them and begin their training. Grace pushed herself away from the bed and went over to the curtain, careful not to make noise as she closed it. With the world shut out her focus was solely on her brother. Tenderly she touched his chest, her palm open, covering his heart.

He opened his eyes and his movements quieted. "It's alright," she smiled. "I've got you."

Her other hand moved to caress his temple. She held it there closing her eyes. Grace found herself gliding over the familiar plane of her brother's mind. Like a bird soaring over a valley, till she came to the spot that needed her special help. What she saw made her shrink back. Grace had to force herself to stay where she was and finish the necessary healing. She'd give in to the urge to run once Will was better. Soon she felt all the right connections falling in to place and Will's inner wellbeing aligning itself once again. Her task finish, she had pulled away just in time before Christian appeared by her side.

"Is everything okay?"

Grace jumped a guilty flush spreading across her cheeks. "Yes, why wouldn't it be? Will's finally resting peacefully."

Christian studied Will, then the monitors behind him. "So it seems, all his readings have gone back to normal." Christian looked at Grace suspiciously. "Is there something you want to tell me?"

She was going to choke. "No, what would I need to tell you?" She yawned. "My neck hurts, I'm going to go to my own bed."

"Do you want me to call you when he wakes up?"

"That won't be necessary, I'll know when he wakes up and I'll be here when he does."

Mulder was resting on his bed. The ceiling had become a canvas for his thoughts to play across as he waited for sleep to come. He was sore all over. The decision had been made, the moment Will attacked him. He'd made up his mind to leave. Sure Grace had always been warm and welcoming but the truth was she didn't need him, none of them did. As soon as their mission to destroy the compound was complete he'd set off on his own, in search of Scully. Only when he had found her would he come back. He needed her, Will and Grace needed her if they were ever going to come to a point where they could heal.

The door burst open and Frohike seemed to fly by him as he was propelled in to the room. Grace soon followed after him.

"What the...?"

"Someone did that to him." Grace announced.

"Did what?" Frohike asked.

"I went in to his mind. I wanted to see if I could help him," she said, not totally lying to them. "I saw the tear.

Mulder didn't understand. "You saw a tear in his mind? How?"

"I don't know how else to explain it. I know my brother's mind, as he knows mine. We can look in to each other's. It's part of what we do." She was becoming exasperated trying to explain. "I saw something out of the ordinary, a tear. Like someone had gone in and tired to damage him. There his subconscious was open. I don't know how else to explain it."

"You've said that already, Grace, just do your best."

"Whatever it was, it made him remember and hallucinate. He was remembering the tests," she was starting to talk faster as the terrible memory surfaced. "I hadn't thought about it in years. I tried so hard to put it out of my mind. He had too. They took us to a large room bigger than the D.I.S. There was rubble and things around us. There were two sets of children with us and we were all dropped in different parts. We were taught how to hunt down the aliens. I don't know why, I never understood why. That's what Will was remembering, that's why he attacked you. He thought you were a hatchling. Either we hunted it down or they would separate us and isolate us. Sometimes they would make it so it looked like one of us had been killed. It was all to see how we'd react without the other." Grace clenched her hands. "Why would someone do this to him? They made him lose control of his own thoughts!"

"It all started when you went to see Kai," Frohike observed.

"No, it actually started the day Mulder arrived."

The three looked around. Jacks stood in the doorway. "After he left so angry. I followed him out in to the tunnels. We fought a little and while we were there, Will suddenly lost control of his thoughts. I could see and hear them. When he was a little boy." She leveled her gaze with Grace. "When your mother was taken. I could tell it really upset him, that he couldn't control it."

"This is my fault," Mulder said it out loud but hadn't meant too.

"No it's not your fault," Grace reassured him. "Someone else is doing this, someone who has the power to do what we do."

Grace went looking for Frohike she had completed a few calculations on their plans and she wanted to discuss them. Unfortunately Frohike was no where to be seen and for that matter neither was anyone else. No one had said to her anything about leaving. Then again she'd be so wrapped up in her own world she might not have heard anything. Still that wouldn't explain Will's disappearance. He wasn't well enough to leave the infirmary.

/Will?/ she reached out to him with her mind. /Where are you?/

/In the war room./

Grace found everyone gathered in a small room huddled around a mock up of the DC ruins. Frohike was pointing to an impressive little piece of machinery doubling as the main building.

". . . So if we are careful, the access tunnel can be reached over here on the north side of the building. This tunnel will take us directly into the heart of the beast," Frohike said. His brow was beaded with sweat. "Each one of you will have three detonation devices. You'll turn them on and lock them into position, they'll be on remote detonation. Once I get the all clear, I'll set them off. The charge should be enough to burn a hole that'll be visible from the moon."

"You guys are ambitious," Christian commented.

"Well, we can't afford to wait any longer, they'll be looking for new incubators soon. And with one so close to us, we can't risk the possible discovery of the underground," Will stated.

His voice sounded like gravel. /Will you look awful. You should be in bed./

/I'm fine, Grace./

/Stop saying you're fine, you look like the walking dead./

/I need to be here for this./

/You need to be resting./ "Okay, here is the moment of truth, any one of you rugrats have any thoughts of backing out?" Frohike's voice snapped them out of their silent conversation. "Now's the time to yodel." He waited. No one spoke up. "Mulder?"

"I can't yodel," Mulder deadpanned.

Frohike sighed with relief. "Christian I appreciate your willingness, but I can't ask you to come. You're too valuable to everyone else. One thing this world doesn't need less of and that's a doctor."

"I'm not going to just leave." Christian held stubbornly.

"You don't have to leave, but you can't go with us. You can stay here and wait, who knows one of us might need you." Frohike looked around the room. "Everyone else in?"

The whole room nodded. "All right then, Mulder here is your assignment. . ."

Frohike laid everything out on the table. Everyone made comments and questions accordingly. When that was done, Danny went and got Kai. Kai was told what he needed to know, but some aspects where kept from him. It was Frohike's effort to make one hundred percent sure Kai was trustworthy. He couldn't afford a mistake, one wrong move and they'd all be dead. Or worse, the twins would be captured. If the twins were going to be used to rid the planet of the colonist it would be done their way. And they'd all live to tell the tale.

"When do we hit?" Kai asked.

"We need to find out when the next sweep will be. If we're going to hit, we've got to know for sure." Jacks observed.

"I can find that out for you." Christian offered.

"How can you do that?" Mulder asked.

"I know a couple of gearheads with that kind of access."

"Well then get it," Frohike said.

"What about him?" Kai pointed toward Will.

"What about me?" he returned.

"Are you going to be up for this ride?"

The whole room fell silent, watching for Will's response. Grace noticed Jacks quietly move behind Will, silently showing everyone where her loyalties lay. Will looked around the room "I'm more then up for it."

"They've taken the bait," Krycek said. Licking his lips in anticipation

The surprise registered on Diana's face. "How do you know this?"

"I have a source."

"What's their target?"

"Our old stomping grounds," Krycek said with a smirk.

"The Hoover building?"

"Don't sound so surprised Diana, they're smart. I've got to give them that."

"This source is reliable?

"You could say he's in the thick of things. Yes."

"What's the plan? Are you going to grab them both?" she asked.

"I'm at least going for the girl"

"Why the girl?"

"I've been doing some research. I think the old man had discovered something before he died. Something to do with the her."

"So you intend to find out what that something is?"

"You got it," he said simply. "Besides, she wasn't as 'damaged' as the boy was. Seems granddad took a special interest in young William. Poor kid. If he has anywhere near the hang-ups his father had he won't stand two minutes without his sister. He'll come running, and we'll have them both."

Mulder was perched on the edge of a chair. He glanced around the war room, he was alone. Will had been ordered back to bed rest, everyone else had vacated the room in favor of their own personal nightly pursuits. Mulder's body was tense, his photographic memory had cataloged every detail of the events before him. Now he silently reviewed them.

Preparations for the attack were underway, assignments had been reevaluated, targets set, mission understood. They would have a small group of solders to flank them. Everything was set except for one thing. Will.

Mulder popped a sunflower seed in his mouth. Once again marveling at Danny's resourcefulness. He'd actually brought Mulder a huge Sunflower plant along with the seeds. Mulder had a good weeks supply of his personal vice. With his tongue he popped open a shell and spit the used husk in to a cup a few inches away. Something wasn't right. His FBI training and intuition hadn't been effected in his years in stasis. His 'Mulder-sense' was tingling big time. Something wasn't quite on the up and up. He could smell it, like one could smell an impending rainstorm on the wind. How was this all going to go down, he wondered. Not for the first time that night did he wonder if Will was going to hold together or would he be the groups' downfall. The guilt over his thoughts smothered Mulder to the point of distraction. If only Will had given him a reason to believe his son wasn't a troubled young man.

The younger members of resistance gathered in a private area of the building. A part Langly had yet to sift through and reconstruct. There they sought the privacy to express their feelings on the most recent of events. Grace had done her best to try and explain what was going on with Will. With Jacks' help, she brought Danny and Zero up to speed on her suspicions about her brother and who was torturing him.

"So you think it's Kai, Gracie?" Zero asked.

"Yeah, I do."

"Have you tried taking a peek for yourself?" Grace knew Zero was asking if she'd looked in to Kai's mind herself. Danny grunted with displeasure. "She can't do that. What if the same thing happens to her? We can't be without both of them."

Holding up her hand to silence the two she explained. "I tried once, when we were taking out the implant."

"You didn't say anything before?" Jacks stated.

"That's because there was nothing to say. I couldn't get very far, I was interrupted."

"Right now our concern is getting Will back to speed." Jacks abruptly changed the subject.

"We've got less than two days," Danny pointed out. "Is that enough time?"

"He'll make it," Grace assured them. She stopped her eyes scanned the far end of the room. There was another doorway, half collapsed and surrounded by rubble. It was shrouded in shadows since the light only reached it partially. "You hear that?" She crossed the room. "I know you're there come out now."

From the shadows Kai emerged.

"How long have you been there?" Zero asked.

Kai seemed untroubled by the accusatory tone. "Not long, I was looking for you, wahine. We need to talk." He made a motion for Grace to follow him. When she didn't budge he tried to be more forceful. "I'm not playing with you."

"Anything you have to say can be said in front of them."

"It's about your brother."

"He is their brother too," she replied evenly.

"We're about to climb right in to the lions den. I'm not about to stick my neck on the line with someone who's got both fuses lit." Kai bounced his fist against his other palm. "That ain't my idea of courage."

"Do you even know what the word means? Will has been a part of this from the start. We need him in there, and you know it. What's been happening to him isn't his fault. There is no one I would trust more with my life than Will."

"That's easy for you to say, wahine. You're the only one who would be guaranteed safety."

"What I think is, we're wasting time." Grace stood ramrod straight, her arms akimbo, she wasn't going to budge. She glared at Kai, her contempt barely contained.

"I've made a valid point," he said.

"Yeah on the top of your head," Zero said. He left no doubt as to how he felt.

"You know what? I don't have to help you wasteoids." Kai headed for the opposite door.

Grace jerked her head towards Kai, the silent signal was carried out. Danny and Zero stood menacingly in front of Kai. They folded their arms in front of themselves like two bouncers outside of a Cross-Roads' shandy. Kai halted his retreat, anger flushed his neck and face. He turned around on one heal and advanced toward Grace, coming toe to toe with her. She didn't flinch when he started to yell.

"Play dirty, wahine? Tell these little boys to let me pass or I show you how dirty I can play."

His very presence smothered her like a heavy, wet blanket. His anger was palpable. "No." Her simple statement seemed to have surprised him. Grace knew a moment of fear, as she studied the tumult within him. "Your concern has been noted. Now you're going to show me what's on the chip." She changed the subject to throw him off.

He looked down his nose at her. "What makes you think I'd do that?"

"Do it willingly or do it by force, it doesn't matter to me. I know you want this as much as we do." Grace was about to pull out her trump card. "I know how you got the coiller. You weren't just the average gearhead." She reached out and grabbed Kai's arm she held his wrist pointing out four circular scars. "The same ones, who had my brother and I, had you too. They were using you for nighttime warfare. To try and hunt the hatchlings down. Tell me, how you escaped?"

Kai wrenched his arm away from Grace. "Who said I escaped?"

Grace was about to challenge his cryptic remark, when Christian entered the room. Taking a guilty step backward she caused the good doctor to eye her suspiciously.

"I seem to always be interrupting?"

"I think we need to get ourselves a new private room," Jacks observed.

"Yeah," Zero agreed. "To many rats running through the rubble." Right on cue a furry rodent scampered across the room, from one hole in the wall to another.

Christian watched the small animal run. "Now wait a second, I'm not the enemy. I heard shouting all the way from the great hall."

Grace suddenly shivered at Christian's words. As soon as the feeling came it was gone and she focused her annoyance on him. "Shouldn't you be looking after your patient?"

"Charming as ever I see. It's just so happens that Will is sleeping soundly. I thought that would make you happy."

Dooms day had arrived. The whole compound bleed with tense emotions. Anxiety and excitement along with uncertainty rolled through the air. The weight of the world had been placed on young yet very capable shoulders. Mulder felt a chill run through him as he watched them prepare. They were busy hooking each other up with wiretaps and micro-cams. Will still looked pale and worn out. A fact that disturbed Mulder a great deal. When he had mentioned his concerns to Grace and Frohike, they both had shrugged it off. Their casual dismissal didn't wash with Mulder. He could tell they were extremely worried about the young man. Still what could they do? They needed Will like a hand needs its fingers. These kids were resourcefully intelligent, perhaps too intelligent for their own good. But it had served them well, they were alive and halfway sane, when so many of their contemporaries weren't. Mulder decided to trust their judgement.

"Gracie you sure that data-board isn't gonna hose?" Langly asked.

"Are you kidding? Of course it's working. If Grace had to do without that thing she'd slip into a catatonic coma, from technology depravation," Will teased.

At least Will was in a relatively good mood. Despite his grave concern about his son's wellbeing, their relationship had improved. Will had requested Mulder's presence the night before. His visit to Will's bedside had been brief, but in the end a step toward acceptance had been made. Will had apologized to Mulder for his actions. Mulder had accepted, and they sealed the new truce with a timid handshake. It was that handshake that had cause Mulder great concern. Will's grip was firm, but he weakened fast. After just a few moments Will's hand released Mulder's, falling limply to the bed. Shortly there after Grace quietly entered the room. Something in their demeanor caused Mulder to wonder. Will wasn't happy with Grace's presence. It was a realization that had surprised him greatly. Curiosity got the better of him as he left the room, halfway down the hall he stealthy crept back to the doorway. He could just make out their muffled speech. Will was refusing Grace's help. She was insisting and he was refusing. At first Mulder didn't think much of it passing it off as Will being stubborn. That was until he became frustrated and yelled at Grace, telling her that he wasn't a life or death case and if she weren't careful she'd be caught. If she were caught her life would be in danger. That's snapped Mulder's attention. He slipped away just in time before Grace stormed out of Will's room.

"You're just jealous cause the voices only talk to me," Grace quipped with a snotty tone. Bringing Mulder back to the present.

"Are we wired?" Frohike asked.

"Yes sir!" The mock military type voices startled the older man.

"I see you are all dressed for the occasion," Christian commented.

Zero stepped up casually. "They say black is such an over used color. But I always feel more sexy in it, don't you?"

Danny shook his head contemplatively. "Yes, I couldn't agree more. It gives a sort of ambiance to the whole matter of bombs and destruction."

"And here I thought it was because it made us look thinner," Grace said. Patting her tightly braided hair.

Mulder laughed.

Kai thumped Will on his shoulder and addressed Grace. "Wahine, he going to be a liability today?"

Will clenched his fists, taking a menacing step towards the outsider. Grace was quick to intercede. "If anyone's going to be a liability to us it will be you." She rested a comforting hand on Will's arm. "We've been through this, Kai."

The two young men eyed each other wearily. The stand of lasted only a couple of seconds, ending when Kai broke out in to a grin. "I'm watching you."

The small band made their way to the surface. One by one they immerged in to the night air. Will shivered at the cold temperature seeped in to his bones. He flipped open the top of his data band, it fit snuggly covering his forearm. Each member had one and it was a way to link everyone together.

"Roll call," Langly called out. The group groaned. "Grrrracie, Frokmyster, communications?"

"Check." The two called out.

Langly picked furiously at his keyboard. "Danville, SubZero, bondage equipment?"


"Jack-in-da-box, tactical?"


"Kai, Mulder, Will. . ."

"Check!" They called out before Langly finish.

"All right already. Grace?"

Grace opened her board and began entering in some information. "I've synchronized the bands."

"We head north west," Danny indicated.

** /Testing one two, testing one two. Is this thing on?/

Will glanced over at Grace, they've been walking for a half-hour. He concentrated for a moment smiling devilishly, he sent a high pitch noise resembling feed back from a microphone, at his sister. His effort was rewarded with a punch to his arm. A few moments later he opened up to her. /I'm fine/

She looked at him through the corner of her eye. /I wasn't going to ask you how you were./

/You're a bad liar./

/Okay fine. Are you sure you're okay?/

/For now, yes./

"Down here." Danny indicated everyone should climb in to the manhole. They'd finally reached a point where they could go underground. They traveled underground rest of the way. Soon the passageway became so tight they had to move sideways. Finally coming to the end of the line, one by one they climbed a rickety metal ladder half bolted into the wall. Up through a manhole cover and out into a pile of rubble. They were now as close to the lion's den as they could get.

Danny disappeared for a few moments and came back, climbing over the mountain of concrete and dirt.

"There are a couple of brokers already lined up. And a string of sentinels making the rounds. The only way in is through the front."

Frohike still sat on the edge of the manhole with his legs dangling in to the darkness. He called down to Langly, "Get the binders ready."

"What's a broker?" Mulder asked.

"A clone or a scumbag human. They round up others to become hosts for the hatchlings," Jacks answered in a loud whisper.

Mulder heard clattering down below and a few second later Zero pulled out a handful of strange looking handcuffs. Instead of metal they glowed iridescently like fiber-optic cable.

"Here put these on," he instructed. "You too, Mulder."

Everyone did as told and stood in a line. Zero looked back at Mulder. "These are special. When the time comes, you just pull - like so. They'll brake away like paper."

Mulder nodded.

"Don't tug on them to hard or too soon. They'll pop before we want them too." Jacks added.

"You guys ready?" Kai asked and began running a tether through each set of cuffs. When he got to Grace's cuffs he lingered longer than necessary and boldly winked at her when he was done.

Jacks had been watching over her shoulder. "Looks like someone's got a thing for you."

Grace whispered with annoyance. "I hope he doesn't screw us over."

"I hope Christian doesn't get jealous," Jacks shoot back at her.

"Blow it out your ear, Jacks," Grace grumbled.

Jacks annoyed Grace further by breaking out in a hearty laugh.

Next, Kai quickly slid into a broker's uniform. The silver material shined like a star that had fallen from the sky. He placed the special headset that had been rigged to receive both broker's transmissions and Frohike's.

Zero started to get restless. "Am I suppose to act like, 'oh darn I've been captured?' Or is it more like 'my god! I've been captured!'"

"What on earth are you babbling about?" Will asked.

"I'm just trying to find my motivation."

Danny turned around. "You're motivation is, if you don't keep your head bent and your eyes on the floor. The four of us are going to take turns feeding you to the hatchlings."

"See that's all I needed, motivation."

"Dang, don't you dudes ever shut up?" Kai asked annoyed. He slung the bag full of equipment over his shoulder. "Let's go." He tugged on the cord and the six began walking with their heads bent and a slight sway to their walk. Like they'd been beaten and were resigned to their fate.

Mulder shivered as they approached the compound. The old Federal Bureau of Investigation rose up before them. Its once sturdy walls seemed to quiver, as if Mulder was seeing it in a distorted dream state. Like an arrant Knight who'd been sent in to the far off future, he was now looking over his once glorious castle to find it not even a ghostly shadow of it's once stately glory. The irony of his comparison left a bitter taste in his mouth. He shuffled his feet carefully trying not to trip and fall over the uneven terrain.

Kai walked them through the long entryway. It arched above them; running lights pulsed on either side and overhead. Right before the end of the archway there was a beam of red light. It shimmered when someone walked through it. Kai touched his headgear and effectively deactivated everyone's tap. Then fed a false image into the scanner as he passed through with the bag. As each of the gang walked through the red curtain of light, and into the open area, Kai reactivated their taps.

Mulder carefully looked up through his bangs, if he hadn't seen it from the inside he'd never believed it. The outside of the building might have looked as if it were a rotting shell. The inside held no such indication. It's polished tile and linoleum floors had been replaced with shining metal. The walls covered over in the same metallic gleam. Computer consoles were stationed at various points. Other brokers and their 'merchandise' waited to be checked in. It was like some space age customs department. Clones were stationed at each checkpoint. Not even looking up at the individuals standing before them, entering who knows what in to their computers and then letting the broker guide them through. Clones - it figured they were probably the only ones that would willingly do the colonist bidding. Simply because they could be home grown and programmed to do whatever the colonist needed.

Their turn came and Kai took his port and plugged in. Once he was identified. Without looking up at the clone asked him what was in the bag.

"Confiscated hardware," Kai responded.

Mulder held his breath waiting to see if they'd look in side. If that happened they were busted. The clone seemed to take Kai's word for it and began cataloging. One by one they walked through the checkpoint. When everyone was through, they stoically made their way up a tight passage. Mulder wondered if what he was feeling, was anything like an animal going to slaughter. It must have been his imagination, but he could smell the death, and the rotting flesh of other humans. When they passed by a large window he looked out in to a large room. One by one the cold stiffened bodies of the newly infected where laid to rest inside the pods. He had a momentary flash back to Scully, when he had pulled her out of a pod. With a vaccine he had killed the alien life form that had started to grow within her.

He noticed the kids didn't look through the window. They'd already had the images burned forever in their minds. To be reminded of the horrors was not something they could afford. The emotions had to be clear, their judgement had to be strong. A job had to be done, and if all went well, this atrocity to the human race would end. At least here in this place, the end had to start somewhere.

It was obvious Kai was to lead them down another ramp, through a decontamination machine. Their clothes would be taken and their bodies infected. Instead, he stopped short just before the opening. Carefully he clicked his head set, reestablishing his link with Frohike.

Grace shoved the sleeve of her suit upward. She opened her wristband and began to activate it. Next came her data-board, with a couple of quick taps on it, she up- linked in to the decks surveillance equipment. Within seconds the visual of an empty corridor was looping through the system. Her mission complete she nodded toward Will. Instantly everyone moved as if someone had turn on a switch. They broke out of their restraints and stuffed the cuffs and cords into a corner on the floor. Kai set down the bag and began pulling out equipment. No one said a word as they were mentally gearing up for the task at hand.

Grace slipped a credit card like attachment out from under the data-board and into the key card of the door to their left. Will stood protectively over her, as the rest waited for her to open it up.

A few punches and they were in. Kai reached for the inside of the room and flipped around the corner. Grace did the same followed by Will, then Danny and Zero. When it was Mulder's turn he realized they hadn't walked into a room but were scaling down the inside of what use to be the elevator shaft. Mulder started to make his way down. He heard a squeaking noise and looked up. Jacks manually closed the door while still hanging on to the ladder. Down two floors, dropped into the elevator's well. Six feet above them was another door. Grace climbed back up the ladder until she was level with the door, again she manually opened it and Mulder was once again hit with an overwhelming sense of irony. The support systems they were set to destroy had been constructed and maintained in the basement of the building.

Grace looked downward. "Dad, Zero, Danny. This is your stop."

The trio saluted and Grace began to move up the ladder. Jacks, Will and Kai followed.

Danny and Zero scaled the ladder and disappeared from Mulder's view. Before he followed Mulder took one last look upward. The others had made good time, they were already a half a dozen floors above him. With the faith of a true believer his mind called out to them. /Be Careful/ As he swung himself up and over the opening to the basement level he could have sworn he heard an answering. /We will/.

Jacks, Will, Grace and Kai climbed back up to the level they entered.

"How much time?" Kai asked.

Grace looked at her chronometer. "25 minutes."

"All right then, Will you and Jacks take care of the perimeter. Grace and I will work on the pods."

"No," Will refused. "Grace and I aren't going to separate."

Kai clearly wasn't pleased. "I need her and her board to get past the security codes to unlock the newly submerged incubators. Set them free."

Jacks shook her head. "There isn't anything we can do for them, those people are dead anyway. They've been infected. We don't have the vaccine."

"The only way to get in to the main computer room is through the pods. We still need to get a readout on the locations of the other nurseries." Kai insisted.

Will looked at Grace, in a catch between time and what his gut was telling him.

Grace took her place beside Will. "Kai if you want the job done right it has to be this way. I'm not leaving him."

Kai shifted from foot to foot. "We'll have to work fast."

** Zero and Danny set to work right away in positioning the detonation devices. Mulder himself seemed to be mired in his own memory flashbacks. The basement had always been a less than desirable place to be, but at one time it had been home. Mulder had to mentally pull himself from the past. Kneeling down he squeezed his way through a tight wall space. With just barely enough room between the wall and the life support systems he struggled to reach the end and place the detonation device underneath it. The red light popped on when he flicked the switch, it was on. That had been relatively simple. So with his assignment done he went to go look for the other two.

He walked through a doorway realizing it was his old office. A voice, his voice rang through his ears. "I was gunning for a basement office with no heat or windows." Now it was filled with huge control units, that beeped and lights that flickered like Morris code. Squeezing between two of the bulky metal machinery Mulder found Danny placing at device in the far corner. A thought struck him, he slid sideways down the tight space to the opposite end of the room. Stepping over metal conduits that ran into the wall. He found his old corkboard still clung to the wall. He pushed passed it, and moved some exposed wire back towards the machine instead of the wall. Surprise registered on his face, he hadn't thought it would be there. It had just been a fanciful thought. He'd just wanted to touch the wall one last time. But there it was, looking back at him like an old friend. Beaten up and torn from the passage of time, it hung off the wall half ripped, begging to be rescued.

Mulder reached out using his nails to pick the rusted staples out of the decaying wall. Once that was done he retrieved the paper and rolled it up as best as he could. Quickly making his way back to the outside of the room. Danny stood waiting for him, then shortly Zero joined them.

"What'd you find Mulder?" Danny asked.

Mulder unrolled the paper and showed it to the boys.

"I want to believe?" Danny asked. Looking up expecting an explanation.

"At one time I did want to."

"And you don't now?" Zero asked puzzled.

"Now I wish there wasn't anything to believe," Mulder said sadly.

"Don't we all," Danny agreed. "Well let's blow this baby."

Mulder quickly folded up the poster and stuffed it inside his coat. They slid along the outer wall keeping their heads low. "We're out everything is set," Danny informed everyone over the taps.

"Good work. Now get out of here," Will answered.

Grace touched her fingertips to her forehead. Glad at least one of their teams had accomplished the task. She prayed things would go as smoothly for the rest of them. A few moments later the tap crackled against her ear.

"Gracie?" Zero called out.

"What's up?"

"I think you dropped your tool pouch."

Gracie reached for her pocket. "Damnit! I did."

"Don't sweat it. I'm coming."

"Frohike?" Will called to him over the tap.

"I read you," the older man said.

"We're about to enter the lion's den. We should be in and out shortly."

"Roger that, be smart. Don't let them catch you with your thumb in your ear," Frohike warned.

Grace grinned. "I'd love to have a picture of that."

Moments later Zero rounded the corner.

"We've got to move quickly," Will urged.

They sprinted down the entry shaft and into the nest. Kai moved among the pods with ease, making his way toward a room in the far back. He turned back and motioned for the rest to stay put. Grace's back was to a pod's encasing, she didn't dare look into it, afraid of what she'd see. The adrenaline high was making her antsy. She wanted to run after him, to be there ready to fight whomever they encountered.

Will cautiously peered around the corner keeping an eye out for any clones that might decide to check up on the incubators. He saw Kai reach the monitor room. Kai slipped inside with ease, coming up behind a lone technician. Kai jabbed a long pick like object in to the back of the clone's neck.

Will turned back to Jacks and Grace. "This guy just pricked a drone."

Jacks and Grace looked surprised.

Will turned back. The clone fell forward its dead weight slamming against the monitoring system. Suddenly the board lit up like a firecracker. Lights began to flash around them. The whole plant was alerted to their presence.

Jacks looked up at the flashing lights. "Damn it!" Kai came around the corner. "Let's get moving."

Suddenly what seemed like an army battalion was heading straight for them. They took off full tilt, their feet barely touching the floor. A barrage of lights flashed around them.

"Shit!" Will howled, "They've got plasma guns!" he skidded as they took a corner at top speed. "Frohike! We're busted!"

"Will? What's..." Frohike called back but the line fizzled and died.

"I've lost contact. Check your taps."

Grace panted hard. "Frohike? No. . . mine's dead too."

"So is mine. Over here, turn!" Jacks' arms flailed.

"Communication severed." Krycek looked over at Diana. She nodded grimly at him, her fingers reaching out across the control systems. With a push of her finger the security alarms died.

Grace tried to still the beating of her heart. She was certain it was beating too loudly. They had covered a few hundred yards and had managed to elude their pursuers, for the moment.

They'd come almost full circle back to the freshly made pods. Weaving in and out of the rows. Each new pod gently rocked back and forth, as the contents within began to settle for the duration of the incubation. Jacks peered inside one, shrinking back at the person within. A man. His face was frozen in terror as his body slowly succumbed to its fate. Acid tears stung at the corners of her eyes, recalling the look on her father's face as his own body gave way to the new life form. A hand touched her shoulder. She looked over to see Grace.

"Let's keep moving," Grace whispered.

Jacks had developed a lump in her throat. Quickly she turned away not wanting Grace to see her sudden anguish.

Kai looked back at them. "Hurry up someone's coming."

Jacks was trying to hide the rising panic she felt. "It's like a maze in here. If we go any deeper, we might not be able to come out."

Zero pointed upward. "Look there is a service catwalk. If we can find the ladder."

"It looks like it leads off to the back more," Will observed.

"Let's follow it," Kai panted, "Here they come again!"

Another flash bounced off the ground. The heat from the plasma could be felt through their gear. The boys retaliated by shooting a chunk of ice directly over the clone's heads. It fell to the floor with a dull thud. Effectively blocking the pathway.

Jacks and Grace kept running, the deeper they went into the pods the harder it got to keep going. Their traction was almost non-existent, ice covered nearly every inch of surface.

"It's freezing in here," Kai observed. "Where are those drones?"

"I'm not sure," Will gasped A small puff of smoke rolled away from his mouth. "These pods are older."

"Look up," Grace pointed out a polished silver pipe. "See that. It runs up from each of the pods and heads down to the right."

"What is it?"

"I'm betting it's the umbilical cord. It monitors all the pods and keeps them regulated," she said. Her teeth chattering from the cold. "If we have a systems failure it would get these goons off us and we can get out of here." She slowly crept away, following the pipe.

Will shook his head. "I don't know about this. It's been too easy."

Kai was incredulous, "What? Would you be happy if one of us was captured?"

Out of nowhere another blast fired. Zero spun around on the floor, rolling along the isle till he reached the middle of the walkway. His gun aimed. The bullet bounced off a protruding piece of metal. "It's a good thing these dudes can't hit the broad side of a building. Will, we got to get a plasma."

Will nodded. "Grace! I need you," he called out.

Her theory seemed to be panning out. She'd go back and get Will. Then she heard him call for her. Grace bolted through the isles. "You bellowed?" she asked as she bounced next to her brother.

With in seconds Will conveyed his idea to his sister. She nodded ever so slightly her compliance. In a flash they were gone.

Jacks, Zero and Kai all looked at each other. Plasma sunk into the ice above them penetrating the pod. The pod seemed to shiver as the creature within awakened. The used up flesh of the host tore apart to emancipate the creature. It began to claw at the shielding, screeching for its release. They scrambled away from the pod only to realize that other creatures were starting to awaken and immerge.

"Okay as long as they're in there." Zero laughed nervously. "And we're out here. We're good."

Kai looked upward. "We've got to make it to that service ladder. If they bust out we just might, have a better chance of getting away."

"We're not leaving them!" Jacks insisted.

Zero swallowed hard but agreed with Jacks.

"You two are nuts! Look that pod is already starting to leak. If any of them decide to come through we are all dead! How will that help them?"

Jacks ignored Kai for the moment crouching down she made her way to the end of the row, just in time to see Will disappeared behind another pod up ahead.

A steady drip of cold sweat trickled down Will's neck as he prepared for the strike. There were five drones fanned out around the incubation unit. His eye caught movement, Grace had moved in behind the drones. Without a sound she crouched down sliding toward the unsuspecting clones with the agility of a jungle cat. He carefully began to inch his way closer, slowly at first not wanting to gain their attention to quickly. He reached a service ladder and stealthy began making his way upward. Reaching the lower cris-crossing of pipes and tubes, he slid like a snake on to the nearest one. Inching his way forward over till he was directly over the drones. He was up high enough to just see over the pods. The white hoods of the other two drones appeared then disappeared as they were making their way down the rows heading straight for the rest his friends. Silently he communicated with Grace, they'd have to move fast and then get over to help the others.

There was no need for a count down, no need for either one of them to identify the moment in which they should move. Grace knew the instant Will moved and he knew the instant she had. Will hooked his legs around the pipe and let his body slide downward, still clinging to pipe. In the same instant Grace came up behind the drones and with a swift split-kick to their lower backs two of the clones lurched forward. The plasma guns they'd been holding were thrown upward. With one swift motion Will had both of them in his grip. He aimed and fired at the other two. The third one recovered enough to fire at Grace. The upper half of her body lurched to the side as the blast came hurtling past her. Another kick upward and she had successfully ended that little confrontation.

Krycek grinned at the monitor. "The girl's got spunk."

"Yes, that was rather impressive. Perhaps, they haven't lost all of their training after all," Diana was loath to admit her admiration.

Krycek rubbed his bottom lip with his for finger. "We'll see how well they do against the real thing."

Grace grimaced at her handy work. Not wanting to be anywhere near the dead bodies. However, time was ticking and there was a greater issue at hand. Looking down at the bodies already decomposing to a bubbly, green slime. Grace pulled out a detachment defense she hadn't used since the 'Dungeon.' It was just a clone, inconsequential - existence terminated - move on.

Will didn't let her dwell on the matter. "Here take one," he said as he dropped a plasma gun in her hand. With his now free hand he reached up holding on to the pipe and let his feet slide off.

"Okay little sister do your magic."

Grace reached around and pulled out her data board. She stepped over the body as if it were just garbage on the floor. Focusing in on the computer console that monitored the life support systems of each and every pod. Her razor sharp brain quickly taking in all the information.

Green section - Newly Incubating Yellow section - Intermediate Incubation Red section - Hatching Immanent

"I can overload the life support and cause the system to overheat," she said.

"Do it."

Grace began setting pathways, opening strings of code and rearranging the order. She checked and rechecked her progress on the data board while she worked. A warning bell went off in one of the sectors. "Oh crap! I think I did my job a little too well. This baby is going to blow on its own in fifteen minutes."

Will paled.

"Damn!" She turned her attention back to the board. She had to warn the others. She looked around her almost letting herself panic. "Red button, it's always a red button," she muttered. "No, this is the colonist handy work. Green!" She found the button she was looking for tucked away behind a plastic shielding. Grace slammed her fist against it.

The evacuation alarm screamed through the structure rattling off the walls. She looked out the observation window, everything was going to hell.

"We've got to get back to the others," Will's voice had a definite edge to it.

The sound of splintering ice brought Kai, Jacks and Zero back to the present. Somehow the pod's door had opened, by itself.

"Go for the ladder!" Kai yelled as the creature threw the door off its hinges.

With a cry and yelp of pure terror they scrambled up the ladder. Jacks was the closets to the ladder and she made it up first with Kai following closely. Zero was stuck on the opposite side of the creature.

"Zero!" Jacks screamed.

A clone fired at her and the plasma barely missed her, coming close enough to singe the material on her jacket.

"Move!" Kai screamed.

Jacks was torn between the rational thought of escaping and leaving her family behind.

"Move!" Kai ordered again, this time shoving her leg. Another shot whizzed by Kai's head. They climbed up over the pods till they reached the service catwalk. Jacks scrambled on her belly across the metal surface. She stole a glance downward.

Zero still coward in the corner trapped. The animal made a lunge for him as he tried to shrink back into the wall. He felt the sizzle from plasma shot nearby, he realized the two clones had fired on the creature. It reared back bellowing in pain as black oil oozed out of a wound on its shoulder.

"Concho!" Zero was going to stroke in a matter of minutes. He scrambled to the other side of the wall, trying to claw his way up. The creature turned around and with lightning quick movements he'd taken the clones by surprise. One swipe of its macabre hand and he'd severed the head off of one. Blind panic began to distort Zero's judgement. He eyed his fallen weapon, it laid just beyond the creature. If he was fast enough and agile enough he could get it back.

The twins had just reached the spot where they had left the others. Grace's eyes bugged out, her mouth forming a perfect round shape. A shiver wiggled down her spin and up Will's. Slowly he turned around until his gaze locked on the creature before them.

It reared up on its legs sniffing the air like a dog. "Stand very still," Will warned Grace. His face was pale and he swallowed convulsively. Sweat beaded across his forehead.

"Oh god, Will this can't be happening."

Will felt the dreaded feeling of being sucked back in to the recesses of his own mind. NO! he yelled at himself. He wasn't going to allow himself to lose control. Not now.

Zero stumbled and fell face down in the icy floor. The twins watched in horror as the alien took its huge claw and struck out at Zero. When he drew his hand back it was covered in blood. Zero began to scream. Pure white-hot terror loosened his insides. The alien reared back for another blow. Zero, quickly prayed for the first time in his life, knowing he was about to die.

Somewhere above them Jacks and Kai started to scream. Before Grace completely understood what she was doing. Instinct took over. She ran to Zero's side, determined he would not die alone. She ran toward her friend, throwing herself in front of his prone body, shielding his body with hers. Zero whimpered and cursed her for not saving herself.

The creature reared back its head exposing each of its needle sharp teeth. A piercing cry echoed in the chamber. The other creatures still in their pods answered back. All the blood drained from Grace's face. She reached out mentally to Will, unsure of what she should do. Will for his part began slowly inching his way toward her. He froze. The creature reared back once again. It brought its thick claws downward for another strike. Grace shrank back closing her eyes as tight as they'd go. In that instant she was saddened to realize the rumor that when one was about to face death their life flashed before their eyes was false. Nothing flashed before her. Only A black empty void stretched itself out before her. Her body cringed in anticipation of the deathblow. Moments passed, the intense pain she had instantly prepared herself to feel, ebbed. Tentatively she raised her head. Out of the corner of her eye she saw movement and realized the creature's face was but inches from hers. Its black eye swallowing her whole and its tinny nose sniffed her. Grace swallowed the lump in her throat and reminded herself to start breathing again. A long clawed talon reached out toward her face and she whimpered like a baby. This had never happened before. What did it mean? If her pulse didn't slow down soon she'd die of a heart attack - alien attack be damned. She searched her mind for Will's presence. He wasn't far off and she clung to him for dear life. His fear washed through her, and she laughed. Some Gemini they turned out to be.

The creature slowly drew its claw across her face, not even braking the skin. It growled a couple of times in her ear, like a giant cat purring with curiosity. Grace felt Zero begin to move and she cautioned him, her lips barely moving. "Stay very still." Hoping her voice had been loud enough, and Zero wouldn't start convulsing. The creature moved closer and sniffed at her loudly, each snort made her hair fly up. Grace could have sworn it wrinkled its nose at her. She tried to open her thoughts, trying to see if she could get inside its brain. Slowly she eased herself inside. Ignoring Will's avid pleas not too.

She was almost inside when the door she'd opened was thrown closed. The second clone, who'd been scared witless up to that point decided to move, staggering backwards. The creature grunted then reared up to its full height. A blood curdling cry shattered the silence and the animal dove for the clone. Its moves quicker than lighting and just as deadly. Before either twin had a chance to even process the event the creature shredded the man into a bloody pulp. It's green blood splattered the wall like some sort of morbid abstract artwork.

Will rubbed the sprinkle of blood that marred the side of his face. Somewhere with in the recesses of Grace's awareness, the thought that she should be horrified occurred to her. But try as she might, she wasn't able to bring herself to feel anything but annoyance at the creature. The smell of blood and death permeated the room. A ghastly puddle began to spread across the floor. The creature raised up once more turning to face them, gore dripping from its large talons. The three, eyed each other like pack animals cautiously assessing the enemy.

/Grace/ Will's words appeared like tendrils of heavy smoke in her mind. /We've got to get Zero out of here./

Grace looked down at Zero, his dear face tight with pain. "Zero, hey buddy. We've got to get you to the ladder. Do you think you can climb?"

Zero grounded his teeth. Almost imperceptibly nodding his head. Grace looked up and saw Jacks and Kai peering over the edge of the catwalk, naked fear in their eyes. She looked over at Will, he nodded to her unspoken words.

Some how his intense fear had evaporated. Will began a slow and steady advance on the creature. He was acting on something deeper than just the surface minutia of trying to distract the beast. To Will's amazement the creature slowly began to back away.

Grace carefully knelt down over Zero taking his left leg and bending it at the knee. Then she laid it to the side and underneath his other leg. Forming a number four like shape with them. She then firmly set her knee to the ground and her lower thigh against his left shin. With both hands splayed on either side of Zero's shoulder. She pushed upward, enabling her to slide him slowly across the floor. Slowly but surely she pushed him all the way to the ladder. Grace helped Zero put both hands on the bottom rung and pull himself upward. Soon he was making his way up the ladder.

Jacks slid herself back up to the edge of the ladder. When Grace had managed to get Zero to the top of the catwalk. Jacks took over from there, hauling him up and over.

"Grace?" Jacks called out fearfully as Grace made her way back down.

"Get out of here Jacks. You've got ten minutes. Help Zero." Her tone left no room for discussion.

With a frown Jacks swallowed hard as she tried to help Zero move along. They'd come to the end of the catwalk where a small door hatch could be seen. Kai hit the button next to the door and the two panels slid open. "Here! Get in here."

"What is this?" Jacks panted.

"I'm not sure but look there is another hatch right here." Kai pointed out.

Zero moaned.

Jacks bent over to talk to Zero when a loud snap and a mechanical whine vibrated the small area. "What was that?"

"I don't know," Kai said.

The metal beneath them shook. "I don't like this!" Zero moaned.

Seconds later the ground opened up beneath them and all three went in to a black free fall.

Grace was back on the floor of the nursery. Her body and mind slid once again in to perfect harmony with her twin. Will began to move with a cat like precision around the side of the creature. Grace mirrored his every move and muscle twitch. Soon they were circling the creature like two cheetahs circling prey.

The creature remain calm keeping his two onyx eyes on its opponents. It sniffed the air again poised for any sudden movement. As the circle grew tighter as Will and Grace drew closer. A low rumbling purr warned the two to stay away. For the most part the twins grew confused. The creature didn't retreat nor did it move closer. Instead it seemed to be content to watch them closely and sniff the air. Without warning, Will lunged forward, realizing at the last moment his mistake. He had no weapon how was he supposed to fight?

In self-defense the creature took a swipe at Will catching the flesh on his arm. He sucked in air, shock evident on his face. Grace made a move forward, but quickly sidestepped another swipe. The creature stopped for a moment. It brought its talon up to its nostrils and sniffed the fresh blood. Its ugly head tilted back momentarily in what looked like an expression of surprise.

Dropping to a crouch Grace's mind became totally focused on the creature before her. The creature eyed her cocking its head to the side. Grace blinked. A mental picture came crashing in through her barriers, flashing like a strobe light. In her mind's eye she was seven feet tall. Looking down at the helpless man on the floor. He coward trying to scoot far away from her, but not being able to get past the barrier of the wall. She had become the creature, seeing through its eyes. Grace slid into its consciousness. Not finding it like any other mind she'd ever felt before. This was primitive, instinctual, young. The mind of a wild infant struggling to survive. Not truly understanding its own strength, but survival was top priority.

Another series of flashing images came at her - the man's death. A coppery taste made a trail from her lips, to the bottom of her stomach. And then she saw herself standing to the side, it looked around watching Will. She felt the creature become wary not knowing just what to do with the remaining ones. She saw Will move forward, the swipe, and the blood. She smelled it the way the creature had. Familiar somehow to its young mind. It registered as no threat.

Will took advantage of its distraction, reaching out for a metal rod. Will ended it with one quick flick of his wrist.

It made a move toward Grace, screeching furiously. She watched it lunged for her just inches from her body when it dropped like a rock to the floor. It crumpled around her feet, she starred transfixed on the steal bar that protruded from the back of its neck.

The wild look in Will's eyes slowly subsided. "Thanks for distracting it."

"It wasn't going to hurt us," her voice somber.

Will looked confused. "What?"

"I saw its mind. It wasn't going to hurt us."

"Why not?"

"It knew us," Grace's voice held a note of sorrow for the creature.

"You both have lost you're touch."

Twin pairs of eyes flew to meet the voice. "Krycek?" Will asked. Unsure if his memory was correct.

Krycek leaned against the wall the crinkles around his eyes deepening as he smiled. "You've lost your moves, how to fight with deadly intent." he motioned toward the body of the beast. "I will give you credit for effort. But you allowed it to live too long."

Will's shoulders slumped. Grace reached out to him questioning him. He wasn't upset that he'd been sloppy by this man's standards, but that he'd killed. Grace tried her best to help buffer the wave of nausea that suddenly had made Will's face heat up. This man's intentions became clear to Grace. "Why did you test us? You nearly killed our friends!"

Krycek was impressed. He walked over to Grace towering over her. "Was it that obvious?" he asked sarcastically. "You two are going to come with me."

"We're not going anywhere," Will said firmly.

Krycek looked at Will like he was a child throwing a silly tantrum. "Didn't you see how you both reacted to the situation? You worked as a team, Grace distracted while you went in for the kill. Didn't it feel good, Will? Look at your hands. Didn't you feel the power, the headiness? To kill, to feel the metal in your hands as it sunk in to the creatures' flesh? Surely you remember the games. It's what you were trained for.

Will looked down at his hands as if he were noticing them for the first time. He shook his head, "No," he said quietly. He shook his head. "No."

"Don't fight it Will, it was what you were designed to do. Destroy those aliens the vaccine couldn't. Seek and destroy, but that isn't all. " A demonic grin spread across Krycek's withered face. "There's more, come with me and find out. I'm offering you more than you could imagine."

Grace raised herself up to her full height. Her mind still trying to sooth Will. "I'm curious, what's in it for you old man?"

"In it for me? he said. "What's in it for me? What I get out of this is what every other human gets out of this. Freedom!"

"And what do we get?"

Krycek looked credulously at her. "The same thing."

"We do your dirty work? You've been walking around this place without a care. What makes you a prisoner? Seems to me you're working for them," she sneered.

"Oh little girl you are so simple, do you think I'm here because I want to be? I'm their slave I have to put up with running this out fit."

"Save me the self-righteous crap. You're trading lives of innocent people. People you claim to want to free, just to save your sorry ass," Will hissed.

Krycek lunged at Will punching him in the stomach. Will went down hard, he quickly rolled to the side missing Krycek's heavy boot coming toward him. Will gasped drawing in painful gulps of air. Grace retaliated on Krycek, she raised her leg and kicked him square in the back. He fell forward then rolled popping to his feet. He pulled out a strange gun like object, which clearly held a nasty looking needle on the business end.

"You two are coming with me whether you like it or not." He held it out as he reached for Will. Will felt a jab in his right hip and a small cold rush inside his skin. Will kicked back. Krycek blocked his attack. Will reached up grabbing Krycek around the neck and flung him across the room. His mind reached out to Krycek's. Krycek's body spasmed as Will sent a jolt through his nerves. '~'^|^'*'^|^'*'^|^'~'

Grace walked over to where Krycek laid in a heap. "Rusty?" she asked.

Will picked himself off the floor. "Let's get out of here." They ran, halfway down the hallway Will's leg gave out from under him. Grace helped him up.

"I can't feel my leg. That wasteoid shot me up with something."

Grace lifted his arm around her shoulders and supported him as best she could. "Can you move it at all?"

"Not much."

She reached for his side. "Where did he inject you?"

Will touched the spot. Grace placed her hand over it. Will felt the warmth of her hand through his jeans and the numbness subsided a bit. He tested his leg, he could put a little pressure on it now. "That's all I can do for now. Here lean on me, we've got to go."

Zero groaned amazed that he hadn't die. Jacks bolted up reaching for Zero. "Zero!"

"Am Okay, okay. I need to get to 'hike," he gasped.

They'd landed in a garbage heap.

Kai picked himself up and carefully slung Zero over his shoulder. Together they scrambled down the heap and bolting for the hole they'd come up from.

Once again shrouded in the safe darkness. Their bodies began to relax. Zero moaned, tears ran down his face. His body began to quiver.

Danny looked over to see his friends entering. When he noticed Kai and Jacks supporting Zero's body. He came running over. "Dude what's the damage?" he gagged slightly as a putrid smell emanated from Zero. "Frohike!" he screamed.

"It broke free from a pod," Kai gasped.

Frohike charged in from where he'd been trying to hail anyone that would answer. "My god!" he exclaimed.

Mulder and Langly brought up the rear.

"Get Zero back to Langly's on the double," Frohike ordered.

Langly looked green. "Kai, Danny help me get him back home - Jacks call up ahead warn Christian," he said in one breath.

Jacks activated her wristband.

Mulder's body was tense. "Where's Grace and Will?"

Jacks looked down at the floor. "We left them in the nest."

The blood vessel in Frohike's forehead started to throb. "You did what?"

Jacks started to talk fast. "We had too, Zero was hurt to badly. Grace made me promise to take him to safety."

"What were they doing the last time you saw them?" asked Mulder.

"Fighting a hatchling. Grace saved Zero, I don't know how but when she stepped in between Zero and the beast. It left Zero alone."

Just then an explosion rocked the ground beneath them and the ceiling started to crumble. Bits and pieced of debris pelted them to the ground. Frohike ducked for cover and Mulder shielded Jacks' with his body. The shifting stopped, and slowly they lifted themselves upward.

All three pairs of eyes stopped. "What the hell?" Frohike exclaimed. "I didn't set the charges off!"

Mulder scrambled off Jacks and jumped up to the fifth rung on the ladder. He pulled himself up to the top. His chest was heaving from the effort and from the dread. The old parking garage had collapsed on top of them. There was no way out.

"Is, is Will... and Grace?" Jacks coughed.

Mulder slumped down to the ground. He scrubbed his chin with his long fingers. Frohike sat motionless. "They've had to have gotten out, something happened. . . they've gotten out."

Jacks clenched her fist. "Yeah, Frohike. They got out."

Mulder wasn't sure if she was trying to convince herself or if she really knew.

"I'd feel it," Jacks insisted. "I'd feel it if Will was gone."

Frohike bent his head. Then nodded slowly. "Whatever happened. There is nothing we can do from here. We've got to get back to Langly's."

Krycek waved his hands wildly at Diana. "Go get them!"

"There isn't time, this place is going to blow in seconds. We've got to get out of here."

His knees wobbled, he latched on to Diana and they scrambled out in to the hallway.

"We can't let them die," Krycek coughed.

"There is no way to find them Alex! Something tells me they'll be fine!"

Zero groaned amazed that he hadn't die. Jacks bolted up reaching for Zero. "Zero!"

"Am Okay, okay. I need to get to 'hike," he gasped.

They'd landed in a garbage heap.

Kai picked himself up and carefully slung Zero over his shoulder. Together they scrambled down the heap and bolting for the hole they'd come up from.

Once again shrouded in the safe darkness. Their bodies began to relax. Zero moaned, tears ran down his face. His body began to quiver.

Danny looked over to see his friends entering. When he noticed Kai and Jacks supporting Zero's body. He came running over. "Dude what's the damage?" he gagged slightly as a putrid smell emanated from Zero. "Frohike!" he screamed.

"It broke free from a pod," Kai gasped.

Frohike charged in from where he'd been trying to hail anyone that would answer. "My god!" he exclaimed.

Mulder and Langly brought up the rear.

"Get Zero back to Langly's on the double," Frohike ordered.

Langly looked green. "Kai, Danny help me get him back home - Jacks call up ahead warn Christian," he said in one breath.

Jacks activated her wristband.

Mulder's body was tense. "Where's Grace and Will?"

Jacks looked down at the floor. "We left them in the nest."

The blood vessel in Frohike's forehead started to throb. "You did what?"

Jacks started to talk fast. "We had too, Zero was hurt to badly. Grace made me promise to take him to safety."

"What were they doing the last time you saw them?" asked Mulder.

"Fighting a hatchling. Grace saved Zero, I don't know how but when she stepped in between Zero and the beast. It left Zero alone."

Just then an explosion rocked the ground beneath them and the ceiling started to crumble. Bits and pieced of debris pelted them to the ground. Frohike ducked for cover and Mulder shielded Jacks' with his body. The shifting stopped, and slowly they lifted themselves upward.

All three pairs of eyes stopped. "What the hell?" Frohike exclaimed. "I didn't set the charges off!"

Mulder scrambled off Jacks and jumped up to the fifth rung on the ladder. He pulled himself up to the top. His chest was heaving from the effort and from the dread. The old parking garage had collapsed on top of them. There was no way out.

"Is, is Will... and Grace?" Jacks coughed.

Mulder slumped down to the ground. He scrubbed his chin with his long fingers. Frohike sat motionless. "They've had to have gotten out, something happened. . . they've gotten out."

Jacks clenched her fist. "Yeah, Frohike. They got out."

Mulder wasn't sure if she was trying to convince herself or if she really knew.

"I'd feel it," Jacks insisted. "I'd feel it if Will was gone."

Frohike bent his head. Then nodded slowly. "Whatever happened. There is nothing we can do from here. We've got to get back to Langly's."

Krycek waved his hands wildly at Diana. "Go get them!"

"There isn't time, this place is going to blow in seconds. We've got to get out of here."

His knees wobbled, he latched on to Diana and they scrambled out in to the hallway.

"We can't let them die," Krycek coughed.

"There is no way to find them Alex! Something tells me they'll be fine!"

Will and Grace stumbled down the ramp. Clones ran from the building, like rats jumping ship. They ran as fast as their legs would carry them. A clone with wild eyes lunged at them. Will pushed himself away from Grace trying to avoid the crazed clone. It locked on to Will's arm and tried to drag him back toward the building. Grace chopped the clone on the wrist. It momentarily let Will go then grabbed his shirt again before it hit the floor.

Will reached up with his mind clamping down on the clone's replicated nervous system. It began to shake its head like a wet dog shakes off water. The clone's free hand shook as it disappeared into the lab coat it wore. Grace saw the flash of metal, the clone had pulled out the firearm and aimed it at Will's head. Will's mental grip tightened on the clone and its muscles spasmed.

Grace slammed the flat of her hand against the clone's back. The clone lurched gasping for air. Will could feel the pressure they were putting on the clone, tighten to an unbearable state. They squeezed until they couldn't squeeze anymore. It wasn't until he felt the life drain from the clone that Grace broke away. The sensation of the clone's death had shaked her out of her enraged trance. She choked back a sob, and reached out for him. Will pulled her away, letting the body fall where it was. "I'm sorry Grace." God he thought could this get any worse?

They ran. Will held on to Grace for dear life, out into the street. Each step a momentous event as they tried to put distance between themselves and the building.

The building seemed to groan with resigned sorrow at its impending death. Will felt a great weight hit him nearly head on. The blow to his upper body ripped the wind away from him, he hurtled forward in to the darkness, landing hard. He took Grace down in the process. He looked up, but something was blocking his vision. The world around him exploded into a million tiny lights, he grunted and realized Grace had too. Moaning in pain as bone crashed against bone. The loud explosion made his ears ring and more objects fell on top of them. For a span of a heart beat, he was alone inside his of his head, his connection with Grace gone. Terror squeezed Will's heart then just a suddenly as it left, it returned. He realized she was still with him, inside of his head. Dust and bits of concrete and smoke billowed around them. Grace began to choke and gag next to him. Will rolled her to her side. Gently patting her back, slipping in to her mind, checking her for the pain of physical injury. With a relief he sighed. Grace was fine, just banged up.

After a few moments her dry heaves stopped. "The re-cons will becoming now. Everything has been destroyed. I bet Frohike took everyone back to Langly's. We'll head back there," Will informed her, setting her back on track.

What should have been a victory was quickly deteriorating into a power struggle. Zero was in bad shape. Christian had actually balked at his injuries. While Christian raced to prep the patient. He made the mistake of asking how Zero was injured. Jacks filled in the information telling him about the twins and how they'd gone up against the clones and a hatchling. The doctor paled at the mental images his mind began to form. He tried to calm himself down. The last thing he wanted to do was let everyone seen how upset he was. To them he was only the doctor, a casual acquaintance. The whole mission wasn't suppose to have gone down this way. Things were spiraling out of control, this hadn't been part of the plan. The twins had been very foolish, too headstrong for their own good. "Where are they now?"

"We don't know," Danny answered.

"Damn." Pushing his feelings to the side Christian began his feverish work on Zero.

Mulder and Frohike paced restlessly outside of the room where Christian was literally sowing Zero back together. They'd been thrown out earlier for their worried behavior. Christian couldn't concentrate with their continual outbursts.

Inside the room's atmosphere was pensive. Christian was doing his best to repair Zero's shredded chest. Jacks tenderly held on to Zero's hand even though he was out cold. Danny assisted Christian with his tools. And Langly monitored Zero's bio-stats. While everyone was pulling for Zero to make it through, no one could forget the twins.

Time slowly ticked by. It was now well into the early morning hours. No one had emerged from the sick room and the twins hadn't returned. Mulder was sick with worry.

"How long do we wait Frohike?" Mulder spat out. "How long do we wait, till we know if they were trapped in the rubble or killed or whatever?"

Frohike sat down rubbing his temples with his fingers. "They're smart kids, Mulder. They'll be alright, just give them time to get here."

"How can you be so sure?" Mulder's voice started to rise as he began talking faster. "The whole building came down. They were fighting one of the aliens how can you be so sure?"

Frohike looked up at Mulder tired and worn out from everything. "Because their your kids Mulder. You and Scully always had an uncanny knack for landing on your feet, no matter what."

Mulder stopped a moment. Relief far from coming, but he stopped just the same. He began to feel less tense.

There was a scuffle coming from the front of Langly's Lair. A door slammed and something heavy fell to the floor. Frohike picked himself up and raced Mulder out the door.

Coming in to the main foyer, their eyes dropped to the heap that had collected on the floor. Frohike flew to Will's side and Mulder knelt by Grace. He touched her shoulder and the side of her face. She groaned like he had just woken her up from a night's sleep.

"I can't move," she moaned. "Everything hurts."

Will stirred a bit, talking but did not open his eyes. "We were followed, had to make sure we lost em." Talking was harder than it normally was. Will gasped for air. ". . . ran all the way back."

"Are you two okay?" asked Frohike.

"Yeah." Will rubbed his head and felt his chest for bruised ribs. "Last step was a winner."

"How about you Grace?" Mulder asked as he helped her up.

"Fine," she grunted as she watched Will rock on his feet.

Will shook his head. Dust flew in Frohike's face and made him cough. "I think I need a vacation."

Frohike started to chuckle. Mulder and the twins looked at him momentarily fearing for his sanity.

"Told you Mulder. They'd land on their feet."

A deep rumbling started down in Mulder's chest. Soon both men were laughing, out of relief, leaving Grace and Will to look at each other curiously.

"I suggest we do it my way next." Diana's eyes laid coldly on Krycek. A medic clone was busy tending to the man's wounds. "The season is almost upon us and the colonist are becoming increasingly paranoid."

"Relax, this was just a set back."

Diana was exasperated, she shook her head. "Yes, but now they know we're after them! What are you going to do now?"

"This nursery hit was a boost to their ego no doubt they're celebrating right now. Next we give them something bigger to work with. Something that will make their mouth water."

"You better be right, Krycek. Or I'm going to split you in two from head to toe."

Cleaned up and fed. Grace and Will sat together with a blanket tucked around them. They waited outside of the operating room, still anxious to hear any news at all regarding Zero. Grace looked solemnly into her cup of broth. ". . .It's been so long since we've done anything like that. I felt the last one die." she shook her head. "I hate getting in their heads and doing that. I hated when they made us do those things." she wasn't up to completing her sentences, her thoughts. She rested her head on Will's shoulder.

Mulder stopped his pacing to kneel down next to the twins. Mulder traced her cheek with his fingertips. She smiled at the touch, taking his hand in hers. She looked at Mulder for a moment. Grace straitened herself up and moved closer to Mulder. Before he realized what she was doing she leaned against his chest. Putting her ear to his heart and an arm around his waist. At first Mulder was a fish out of water, and then instinct and love took over. His eyes misted as he folded Grace in his arms. He kissed the top of her head.

"I'm proud of you," he whispered against her hair. "I'm proud of you both." He looked up in time to see Will's eyes dart away.

Will sat there stoically at first. Irrational anger welling, he was jealous he realized with shame. Jealous over his own father. And then Grace tightened her mental bond with him. Hugging him in that familiar way only the two of them could share. Will began to relax, he bowed his head hiding the slight uplift of his mouth.

A short time later a very tired looking Christian emerged from the room. He was drying his hands on a cloth. His gaze fell upon the twins and he visibly relaxed a little.

"Zero's had a tough haul, but I think he's going to make it. He's a fighter."

Soon Jacks, Danny and Langly poured out from the room. When they saw the twins they ran to embrace them. Grace reluctantly eased her hold on her father and greeted her family.

Cheers went up and stories exchanged. They'd done it. They'd destroyed a nursery. And had gained location information of a few others. They'd pass the information to the other quadrants and work on plans to infiltrate and shut them down as well.

After a few minutes Langly turned to Grace.

"You should go take a look at the Zero, he is still in some pain." Grace nodded and quietly slipped to Zero's side.

Grace stood by Zero she touched her fingers to his brow. Gently running them around his head. He moaned, as the pain coursed through his body. She laid an open palm on either side of his cheeks and touched her forehead to his. She let her energy drip in to him like a gentle afternoon shower.

Christian walked up to stand beside her. "What're you doing?"

She hadn't heard him come in. How had that happened? Caught in the middle of her ministrations she couldn't break her hold without causing damage. Trying to pass of her activities without giving anything away she said simply, "Helping him."


"I'm just soothing him, relaxing his muscles. That's all."

Christian looked at her quizzically. He transferred his weight from one foot to another. Folding his arms in front of him.

"They told me what you and your brother did. How you confronted the alien."

Grace didn't like the tone in his voice. It was filled with accusation and reproach. "What were we suppose to do? It hurt Zero." Grace was still hurting over the sentences of death she and Will had dealt out. They had killed together, just as before. She closed her eyes tightly, seeing the images of the clones fall before her.

"Still you two went looking for trouble. You confronted a hatchling! I can't believe you did that. Of all the bone headed, idiotic, lame brained, imbecilic. . ."

Each word stabbed at Grace opening raw wound after raw wound. She carefully lifted her head from Zero's turning around to meet Christian. She folded her arms looking at him like he was dirt on the bottom of her shoe. "What are you a thesaurus?"

"Do you have any idea how stupid that was?" he growled.

"It wasn't stupid, it was necessary!"

"You're not invincible you know. You guys could have been killed."

"He came after us! What were we suppose to do?" she screamed.

"Run, and run like hell!" Christian scrubbed his face with his hands. "Damn Grace has anyone ever mistaken you for a guy?"

"No," she grounded out through clenched teeth. "How about you?"

"God you are such a snotty little brat."

"And you think your god's gift. How the hell was I suppose to do anything different? Please, mister head- checker let me in on your little secret, because I'm at a loss here. Tell me what I should have done differently so next time something like this happens I'll have the Doctor Christian's seal of approval!"

She slammed past him and out the door, earning curious looks from the rest of her family as she fled the outer room. Will was about to pick up and go after her when she halted him with a single word in his mind. Will looked accusingly at Christian. Who sighed and retreated back to his patient.

The danger had past Zero would make a full recovery. Now time had come to turn their attention to what kind of ripples their attack had made. They'd wait for word from Byers. Frohike and Langly had decided to work on gaining numbers for their next plan of attack. With more fighters they could hit targets harder. Perhaps even be so ambitious as to attack multiple targets simultaneously.

Grace made her way down to the great room. Her mood, somber. She'd had enough of the recent events. When Frohike, Langly and Mulder had learned of the twin's confrontation with Krycek. They understandably had became enraged. As a knee jerk reaction Frohike had taken the twins off of any future plans. A fact of which had both Will and Grace feeling like they'd just had their arms and legs cut off. Nightmares had plagued her so that sleep was a dreaded necessity. When they had first talk to Kai, he'd asked them if they had a Trans- VR interface. Now She was determined to ask why. Kai stood to the side of the room, thumbing through a book. Danny was doing some patchwork on a crack that had been making it's way steadily down the wall. No one else was in site. She reached out for Kai as she walked past him. Pulling his sleeve and dragging him with her.

"Wahine, all you have to do is ask." Kai laughed.

"Shut up!" she barked. Grace left no room for argument, no quarter for resistance. Kai would follow her or die. Soon they stood in the D.I.S. room. She punched angrily at a few buttons, turning a small machine on. It buzzed and whirled until the hard-disk beeped. Grace motioned for Kai to take a seat on one of the Trans-VR's chairs.

Kai picked up the headgear that lay in the seat. Without protest he prepared himself for the ride ahead. Grace walked over to Kai, she flipped the small silver CD with her fingers. "How'd a fellow like you get a hold of a high-tech surveillance device like this?"

Kai, smiled. "How do you think? I stole it. In fact I'm sure the sentinels are desperate trying to find it. You're already on their wish list, if you use that they'll be here in no time."

"Don't you worry your bohemian little head over it. I've got that angle already covered."

"Okay, load 'em up."

The disk was inserted into the VR's drive. Grace took a deep breath as she waited for the program to begin its run.

The silver disk contained a 3D-detailed mock up of the facility and all it held inside. It was the way the colonist kept track of their merchandise, their conquests. Disks would be transferred from their various out posts to others for information exchange. Other colonist could view each facility at will, step by step, layer by layer.

"Ready?" Grace asked.

"You bet."

Grace and Kai stood in the deserted building. Even though she knew this was just a 3D-Real time simulation Grace still expected someone to come around the corner and spot them.

"This way," Kai said motioning to her.

They walked down a long hallway, up a flight of stares to a corridor. The metal grates that floored the nursery clanged lightly with each footstep. The walls were made up of smooth silver metal, and the ceiling was a series of fan motors cooling off the area. When they came to the end of the corridor there was another series of stairs to go down. They came to a huge stainless steal door. Kai opened the tight lock and let Grace step through first.

She stared in wide-eyed wonder. Trying not to shiver. "What is this place?"

"This is the place I knew you'd want to see." Kai answered.

A vast room laid out before them. A veritable crop of cryo-stasis pods filled the room from end to end - rows upon rows.

"Computer access the inventory." Grace asked the air. A series of beeps filled the air. Negative. The disk was damaged, access unavailable.

"I guess we'll just have to go down an look one by one. See what this place is." Kai suggested.

They began to walk down in to the lower level of the room. A dense fog swirled close to the floor. Grace was glad that this Virtual world spared them from the freezing cold. One by one they started to walk by the pods. Something started to nag Grace. It was an itch that she couldn't quite scratch. She looked inside one Pod, then another, and another. A confused frown drew her lips into a thin line.

"What's wrong wahine?"

Grace didn't answer. With a determined stride she went down five rows, on the fifth row he walked to the fifth pod inward. He looked inside. "This isn't right," Grace said to no one unparticular. Soon her pace became frantic she searched pod after pod row after row, running down each isle. "They're all women," Grace gasped. "What is this place Kai?" Grace stood nose to nose with a pod peering at the ghostly face within. A woman a young woman with dark hair slept nestled in the pod. "They're storing women. This isn't a nursery." Grace was dumbstruck starting to feel the panic rise. This wasn't a nursery, these women where incased in stasis, kep t fresh and preserved as the day they were put under. Just as Mulder had been. . .

"Mothers!" Grace cried out. "I think we found where they keep the 'Mothers'." She couldn't stop running from pod to pod, he had to see the faces of these women. Some how she felt a kinship too. The need to free them was growing rapidly in to her obsession. "They even have readouts." Grace franticly read the scrolling text on one pod then moved to another. "Life support, and condition of the occupant are in acceptable parameters," she said, reading off the small tickertape like read out. Suddenly Grace let out a yelp stumbling backwards.

"What's wrong wahine?" Kai ran up to Grace. She turned around and pushed the young man away from her. Kai wasn't about to take anything from her and he shoved back hard. Grace was still to stunned to even really take in just what was happening. She hit the floor and started to scramble away, as if something had come through the wall and had begun to chase them. Grace picked herself up and started to run the way they had come. Back to the spot where they had entered. Kai had just made it back with him.

"Computer end program." Grace's voice had a dangerous quality to it. Her eyes bore holes through Kai as they left the VR world. When they fully immerged. Grace was furious. She tore the gloves and headgear off, slamming them to the floor. Her eyes flashed with the intensity of a storm swept sea. Leveling her sights immediately on Kai. She began to tare off Kai's equipment.

"What kind of a joke is this?" she gasped.

Kai was trying to regain his breath. "I... what the hell are you talking about. This ain't no joke. I supplied the information you wanted. I got you into the old FBI building. This was a little bonus I knew you'd like."

"Cut the bull, or so help me I'll waste you right here! You've been messing with my brother's head. You nearly got us killed in the raid. Now this!"

"You asked to be brought here wahine. If you didn't like what you saw, maybe you should go back to your playpen where you belong."

"What's going on here?" Mulder's tense voice sliced through the stalemate. Grace turned too look at him. Her eyes sparkling as if she were seeing him for the first time.

"I saw her," she with childlike wonder.

"Saw who?" Mulder asked.

"My mother," she said softly. Sinking to the floor she wept bitterly.

Author's Thanks: Gemini was a project almost two years in the making. With all the starts, stops and bumps along the way who would have thought it would get done? For that I must give credit where credit is due - A *HUGE* thank you to Shell for all of her hard work as a BETA. Thank you for your always upbeat encouragement and the courage to tell me straight when it just wasn't working. Also a round of applause to Jamee for her generous supply of enthusiasm and those warm spring days lounging by the surf thinking up new and interesting ways to torture the characters. Without their constant supervision and encouragement I would have given up long ago.

Author's Notes: This project was started way back in the summer of '98 since then it has gone through some major overhauling. One of the things that stayed the same were the names of the twins, despite the fact that there is a Network show with the Title Will & Grace. I chose not to change the names of the characters because once they came alive in my mind and on paper it was very hard for me to see them with anything else. At this point naming a son of Mulder and Scully - William might seem more than a little cliche, still William just seems to be the perfect name. Grace was a choice more in mind of what Scully might pick for her little girl. Something delicate and spiritual, yet some how even Grace can be attached to a wild child. Also, any other similarities to any other TV show or Fanfic is complete coincidence. There are other chapters planed for Gemini and I hope to be releasing them shortly. The more feedback the faster they come...hint...hint. So I hope you enjoyed this little (or not so little) breakaway from your average fanfic.

Read More Like This Write One Like This
Twins or more!
Post-Col Childhoods
Non-Canon Kids
Other Emilys list
Outnumbered Challenge
2012 & 2012 Revisited Challenges
William's Twin Challenge
Stolen Ova: Another Child Challenge
Return to The Nursery Files home