Title: The Spell Series - Compiled
Author: Kelli Rocherolle
Disclaimer: The following story is based on characters copyrighted by Ten Thirteen Productions, created by The Man, Chris Carter, and who are the property of the Fox network and are used here without permission. No infringement intended.

Summary: Mulder/Scully romance. A classic, beloved novel about their long term romance.

Author's note: Ok, this story is about Mulder and Scully confronting their attraction to each other. It has it's origins in my desire for Mulder to someday see Scully completely decked out-- instead of the usual standard FBI suits he usually sees her in. So have fun, hope you enjoy. Oh, and my sister pointed out that there's no way they'd play the song I used at a formal FBI function. I know that. But there's a little thing called "suspension of disbelief"...and it's what these stories are all about!

He had only seen her really dressed-up once before....

He had stopped by unexpectedly to see if she would look at some files he'd obtained on their current case. She had yelled "Come in, it's open!" and he had let himself in. "I'll be right out" she called.

Mulder stood there in the middle of her apartment, absentmindedly flipping through the file. After a few minutes, he could hear her coming down the hallway. He looked up, curious when he didn't hear the usual steady pace of her footsteps... Scully came hobbling into view wearing a stunning, floor-length crimson evening gown, grappling with an uncooperative high-heeled shoe. Her hair fell wildly around her face, still damp from her shower.

She looked up and startled "Oh, it's you." Conquering her shoe, she moved quickly to the kitchen, looking like a tiny red hurricane blowing through the apartment. "I'm late!" she exclaimed.

Mulder simply stood there with a dumb-struck expression, file still open before him, looking after her. Without a doubt, she was a pretty woman. But he had never seen her looking so absolutely beautiful. His stomach knotted. "You got a date?"

She returned from the kitchen saying as she hustled back to her bedroom "No no, I'm going to see Cathy play at the Kennedy Center tonight" From the bedroom she called "you remember Cathy- the cellist?"

Mulder was glad she was not there to see the relief on his face. He called back to her "Yeah, yeah I do. I hope you have a better time than the last time you saw her play."

She emerged once again from her bedroom, stopping in the middle of the room. Placing her hands on her hips, she scanned the area "very funny....where are my earrings??....oh." She moved to the coffee table where she leaned over and scooped two small earrings from it's surface, not realizing in doing so she gave Mulder more of a view than she ever would have intended.

Mulder swallowed "You need a ride?"

She finally slowed a bit, took a deep breath and looked at him. "No- - thanks but my mom's coming to pick me up. I thought you were her...What are you doing here anyway?"

Mulder had almost forgotten about his files. "Oh, these, I was gonna ask you to take a look- it's ok. I'll see you Monday."

So he'd left her there, looking incredibly sexy in her tousled, unfinished appearance. It was an image he did not soon forget.

As he stood there now, waiting for her in the lobby of the Watergate Hotel, he casually wondered if she'd wear the same dress tonight. Maybe he would get a glimpse of the finished picture after all. His mind turned back to the event at hand. He hated these functions with a passion. He yanked at his bowtie miserably. He hated wearing a tuxedo even more. But, he'd missed several functions over the past couple of years, so Skinner had "strongly suggested" he make a "concerted effort" to attend this one. Well, he wasn't going down alone, so he'd talked Scully into attending with him.

Mulder looked impatiently at his watch. Where are you Scully? he thought. The sooner you get here, the sooner we can leave. He sighed heavily, thinking: I knew I should've insisted on picking her up. She had asserted that she would take a cab, as she had several errands to run after work and didn't want to hold Mulder up in the event she ran late. "So much for that" he said quietly to himself.

Too many people were coming and going, he was having trouble keeping an eye out for her. He turned away from the door to peruse the lobby, his eyes coming to a screeching halt on the back of a woman standing in front of the coat check a few feet away. She wore an open-back, form- fitting black velvet gown. She leaned forward to hand her coat to the attendant, exposing a single milky-white leg from the slit in the bottom-half of her floor-length gown. Mulder was taken aback...it was a rare occasion when a woman caught his attention in such a way, but she was...he couldn't take his eyes off her. Mulder let his eyes follow the flow of the woman's leg upward to the soft curve of her hip, to the revealing back of her dress, to the delicate curve of her shoulder that turned into her neck.... She turned around.

"Scully??" Mulder asked, more incredulous than he should have.

She flashed him a smile that knocked the wind right out of him. "Hi, sorry I'm late." Her hair was held up by a single clip, and small tendrils cascaded down around her face and caressed her neck. Mulder could not help but gape at her. "Ready to go in?" she asked.

"Yeah...sure," Mulder replied, annoyed with himself for suddenly feeling like it was prom night and he was seventeen again.

Scully took his arm as they headed for the reception area "You look nice."

"So do you." He hoped it sounded as nonchalant as he'd intended.

They entered the grand ballroom that the Bureau had rented. They certainly had spared no expense with this one. Mulder scanned the room and caught sight of several powerful figures from high positions in the Bureau, but there was no sign of Skinner. Great, Mulder thought, he bullies me into attending and doesn't even bother to show himself. He decided they'd at least stay until he could pay his respects to Skinner, then make a quick getaway.

But it wasn't until everyone was already seated for dinner that Skinner finally appeared, exchanging pleasantries with the higher ups, and not making his way to Mulder and Scully until the salads were being served. Well, Mulder thought, looks like we leave AFTER dinner.

The night moved torturously slow, with Mulder having to endure the usual looks, the "Spooky" jokes whispered just within ear-shot. But Mulder was grateful that Scully was there to talk to. Her presence helped him feel more at ease. He watched her now as she studied her water glass, wondering what she was thinking about...

Scully couldn't help but feel that Mulder was acting strangely. Not that he wasn't always a gentleman. But he was being positively chivalrous: opening doors for her, guiding her around the room on his arm, seating her at the table and offering to get her something to drink. He was giving her his total attention, and she was enjoying every minute of it. Well, she thought, focusing on me probably helps take the edge off the evening. After all, she knew how he loathed these functions.

Dinner came and went without event, and Mulder left Scully sitting at the table as he went to refill their drinks. When he returned, Scully was gone. He stood there holding the drinks, looking around the room. He caught sight of her almost immediately, dancing with a stocky, older gentleman that Mulder didn't recognize. He was practically flinging her around the dance floor. She caught his eye, flashing him that breath-taking smile, and over the man's shoulder her lips mouthed the words "HELP ME". Mulder placed the drinks on the table and moved through the crowded dance floor toward her.

"You don't mind, do you?" Mulder said to the man as he took Scully's arm. The agent eyed Scully, then sized up Mulder. He wasn't about to be shown-up by the laughing stock of the Bureau. They stared each other down. Mulder placed his hands on his hips as he widened his stance, standing his ground. Is that the smell of testosterone I detect? Scully thought with amusement. It wasn't an even match, and Mulder's manner told him he wasn't about to back down, so the man walked away, disgruntled.

Mulder turned to face Scully, and just as he did so, the moderate pace of the familiar 'Oldies' rock and roll tune that had been playing gave way to the softer rhythm of a slow rock song. They looked at each other awkwardly. Scully was apprehensive about sharing a slow dance with her partner. She had felt the chemistry between them too many times before to question it's power. She'd felt it just sitting on a stake-out with him, looking over a file, discussing a case; she couldn't imagine what it might do to her if he actually held her in his arms.... but, she couldn't very well just turn around and leave him standing there. So she offered him a smile, to which he was obviously relieved, and took a step toward him.

Every nerve in his body leapt to attention as she neared him.; his heart started to pound so fiercely he was sure she could hear it. He rested his chin on the crown of her head, feeling her breath on his hand as he cradled it against his chest with his own. The music serenaded them...

There I am, I'm in the moment again
it's a game I just can't win.
There you are, breathing soft on my skin
still you won't let me in...

His hand dropped ever so lightly against the bare skin on her back, sending a warm sensation through her from head to foot. Her head was spinning. They were playing a dangerous game.

I save your kisses for a rainy day
baby let the moment take your heart away...

She seemed to be moving closer and closer, melting towards him. The completely feminine smell of her intoxicated him. He closed his eyes as every other person in the room seemed to disappear; he was aware of nothing but the soft sound of the music and her overwhelming presence.

Have you ever needed someone so bad?
Have you ever wanted someone
you just couldn't have?
Did you ever try to hard
that your world just falls apart?
Have you ever needed someone so bad....

A sudden male voice startled them "May I?"

The spell was broken.

Mulder recognized the man as Joel Miner, an agent in the VCS that he and Scully had had limited contact with. Scully and Mulder looked at each other uncertainly. Agent Miner persisted "Come on, Mulder, you get to see her every day-- are you going to give anyone else a chance or keep her for yourself?" Mulder looked once more to Scully, then back to Miner, and gave him a quick nod. He moved off to the edge of the dance floor, where he stood and watched over them with a hawk's watchful eye.

A tall, pretty blonde woman who had been waiting for him to leave Scully's side all night descended upon him. In a silky voice she asked "Agent Mulder?" He regarded her with little interest before returning his eyes to Scully and the tall, dark and despicably handsome man she danced with. "I've heard a lot about you" the woman purred. "I'm sure you have," Mulder replied, not bothering to hide the sarcasm in his voice. Whatever the woman said next faded into silence along with every other sound in the room as he watched Miner drop his hand to the small of Scully's back and pull her closer.

Mulder watched with astonishment: what....why was she letting him do that?? Was she interested in this guy or something? Would she just let anybody, some stranger do that?? Unable to tolerate the scene any longer, he turned around and stalked out of the ballroom, leaving the unidentified woman standing there in mid-sentence.

The song over, Scully's dance partner seemed reluctant to relinquish her. He was cute, he seemed very nice...but as infuriating as it was, Scully found herself comparing every guy she met to Mulder. She wasn't even sure if Mulder had the least bit of interest in her. And even if he did, it's not like they could act on it. But she couldn't

help it: she found time and time again that the men she came in contact with...well, they just paled in comparison to her partner. She pulled away from Miner, thanking him for the dance and headed back to the table. Mulder wasn't there. She glanced around the room for him, but he was no where to be seen. Had he left? Maybe he wasn't feeling well, she thought. No, he wouldn't just leave her there, no matter how sick he was feeling. But where could he be then?

Mulder had found an empty ballroom at the end of the hall. He stood looking out a window in the dark room. He was consumed with jealousy. What the hell was going on? Where was this coming from? Things had been...."normal" for so long, why was he suddenly feeling this way? He stood pondering these questions for some time. But only the answers he didn't want to hear came clearly to his mind.

Suddenly the door opened, pouring a small rectangle of light into the middle of the room. A woman's silhouette was framed in the middle. She entered and closed the door. Mulder didn't turn around; somehow he knew it was her. Nobody else would've bothered to look for him.

The room was extremely dark, except for the moonlight streaming through the window where Mulder stood. His tall figure was a dark, formidable shadow against it. The room was nearly empty, save for a few small couches and love seats, some stacked chairs, and some tables.

Scully approached him, though he did not turn around to look at her. After a minute she ventured "Mulder, what's wrong?"

"Nothing Scully..." he breathed, and turned to move to a love seat, where he sat with his back to her.

Scully placed her hands on her hips and watched him. She knew. She knew him too well to not know what was going through his head: he was upset at her dancing with Miner. But why? The possessiveness he sometimes showed towards her in contrast to his usual air of non-interest often confounded her.

She moved to him, taking a place beside him as he sat forward, elbows resting on his knees. His hands were clasped in front of him, he eyes focused far off into the darkness. Scully adopted a similar position next to him. They sat there in the silence for a long time, Scully not wanting to push, though unspoken thoughts and words passed between them. It had been a long time coming, neither of them wanting to confront it. But they both knew what this was about.

The camouflage of darkness giving him courage, Mulder's voice finally broke the silence. "Scully, you know how I feel about you...you know how much I respect you, your friendship....but it's so hard sometimes Scully... I can't......it's just......sometimes...." he exhaled quickly in frustration, burying his face in his hands. After a minute, he looked up again, this time turning his head to meet her eyes. After a moment he continued "But sometimes, Scully.....I want you so badly it hurts."

Silence reigned as they looked at each other. "Mulder..." Scully's voice finally responded. They whispered, though no one was there to hear them. "...why, why didn't you tell me?" He he took her hand and placed it between his own, his gaze once again returning to the floor. "I had no idea..." she continued.

He shrugged his shoulders. "I didn't want you to know, I didn't want .....I didn't want anything to happen. Anything that might effect..." he motioned to thier hands, raising them slightly "...this." He paused a moment before continuing. "Besides, I didn't know how you felt. ....I still don't." He felt her free hand touch his face, gently turning it to hers. He looked at her, his mind filled with the mixed emotions of dread, anticipation, desire... and hope.

"Yes..." she whispered softly "...yes you do." And in that moment, as he regarded that beautiful face, any reason he had ever had for fighting against this escaped him. He put his hand to her cheek, hers still on his own. He started for her, haltingly, hopelessly drawn to her.

Even as he was moving toward her, Scully was thinking NO, we can't do this... but at the same time she wanted him to more than she could ever remember wanted anything else in her life. Her eyes fell as his breath warmed her face. He brushed his lips across her cheek to her mouth, poised to kiss her. Scully sat there with her eyes closed, feeling his breath on her lips, paralyzed. Slowly, he moved until his lips touched hers.

The kiss held like that for a minute, sweet and child-like, until Mulder felt her lips part beneath his. This acceptance from her sent his mind whirling and the blood racing through his veins. His kiss was gentle, passionate, and she could feel him trembling next to her. They leaned back against the love seat, face to face.

Mulder reached up and unfastened the clip as her hair tumbled down around her face and shoulders. Scully undid his bowtie, along with the first few buttons of his shirt. As she massaged the skin just below the hollow of his neck, the smell of his skin through cologne seduced her further. They sat there for a long time, exchanging soft kisses, making out like two teenagers on their first date. They were both comfortable with this level, the gentle exploring, the touch of the other...but not for long.

As the air around them warmed from the heat they were generating, their faces grew flush. Mulder could feel the sweat forming at his hairline as he began to feel the threads of his self-control straining against the force of his passion. He moved his hand up her back to the clasp at the nape of her neck. "Mulder, no" she said softly. "Yes..." he whispered in reply, his breath hot and urgent at her neck "yes, Dana...." as he moved back to kiss her mouth.

Her own body responding with an intensity she'd never known, Scully felt wisps of hair clinging to her forehead as her body temperature rose to match her escalating desire. She pulled away from his kiss, exhaling sharply. "Mulder....we can't..." she whispered breathlessly. Their eyes met, and held for several seconds.

Mulder sat back in the love seat and ran a hand through his hair. His voice was tense with frustration "It's not fair, Scully..." he shook his head as if he had more to say, but could think of nothing else. He looked at her "It's not fair." he whispered.

She attempted to soothe him, stroking his hair "We just can't, Mulder. We can't want this." She grieved at the torment in his eyes.

"But I do..." he said softly, matter-of-factly. They simply looked at each other, speaking their special unspoken language that Scully often marveled over. They both wanted this. But they couldn't. Not without sacrificing everything else; everything they'd worked so hard to build together. And would it be worth it? They might know....someday; but at this point, neither was ready to risk it.

Scully was the first to break the silence. "We better go."

Mulder nodded, reluctantly. He would've been content to sit there all night in that dark, secluded room, treasuring every second of that intimate time with her. But she was right, so they rose from the couch and headed for the door.

They both squinted as the light from the hallway hit their faces. They exchanged a look: neither of them wanted to go back to the reception. "I'll walk you home?" Mulder offered. Scully nodded, they got her coat and left the hotel.

Not a word was spoken between them as they walked to Scully's apartment, arm in arm. They stopped outside her building and Scully turned to face him. They exchanged a long look, then Scully smiled at him "Good night" she said.

He continued to hold her gaze, not wanting to break away. He wanted to remember every detail of her face, of this night..."Good night," he said eventually, and watched her go into the building.

He stood there, looking after her for several minutes, before a smile spread across his own face. He turned and started to walk down the street. This isn't over yet Dana Scully, he thought to himself. Not by a long shot.

Lyrics for song "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad" copyright 1992 Bludgeon Riffola LTD for Def Leppard.

Spell 2: Fair Play

Mulder stood there, looking after her for several minutes, before a smile spread across his face. He turned and started to walk down the street. This isn't over yet Dana Scully, he thought to himself. Not by a long shot.

In this lifetime, you will be mine...

The weekend after the night of the Bureau function passed torturously long. It had been with out a doubt one of the most extraordinary nights Scully could ever remember, from the way he'd looked at her when she first turned and saw him; the way he'd held her, kissed her; to the way he couldn't pull his eyes away from hers before they had parted that night. They had been absolutely spellbound. She and Mulder had enjoyed a special relationship, one that was often replete with sexual tension, and that night it all seemed to come to fruition-- almost.

As strong as their feelings were for each other, the thought of moving beyond friendship scared her. He was so.... complicated. Though she knew she had a better idea than most, she still was never entirely sure she knew what was going on inside that brilliant head of his. She was fairly certain they'd made the right decision- but it didn't make it any easier; she couldn't stop thinking about him. She found herself looking towards Monday with both a feeling of excitement... and uneasiness.

Mulder entered the office apprehensively. He saw Scully, and made brief eye contact before awkwardly averting his gaze. "Hi."

"Good morning" she responded coolly. His mere appearance in the room caused her palms to sweat and made her face flush with color. She decided to start the conversation with work-- quickly. "So Westwood sent up those files from VCS you requested."

He looked back to her, his stare penetrating right through her; she hoped it was dark enough in the office to hide the color in her cheeks. But it wasn't, and he was loving every minute of it. He said nothing, continued to watch her with mischief in his eyes.

She pulled from his gaze and took a seat at her desk. With a great feeling of relief she felt his eyes leave her as he began to go over the files she'd given him. After a few minutes, he got up and approached her. The sirens went off in her head as he neared, though she maintained a cool appearance on the outside. He crouched down beside her, placing the file on the desk in front of her. "Take a look at this, Scully..."

She complied, but there was nothing particularly interesting about the file, except for the location of the crimes. "Both murders were committed in towns with identical names." He nodded in response.

She could detect the slightest hint of his cologne in the air between them and her mind was inundated with memories of that night: the feel of his hand dropping against the bare skin on her back, his gentle yet hungry touch, the delectable taste of his mouth that made her think of sweet wine...


She shifted uncomfortably in her chair. "So?"

The phone rang and Mulder stood to answer it. Scully was not paying attention to the conversation; she was only aware of Mulder's closeness. She was not even aware that he had called her name again.

"Scully?" he attempted once more.

She snapped out of her reverie and looked up at him.

"Can I use your pen?"

"Oh, yes, sure." His hazel eyes taunted her as he deliberately, slowly pulled the pen from her hand... she couldn't help but think what image that action called to mind. She averted his gaze, suddenly concentrating on the desk blotter as if it were the most fascinating thing she'd ever laid eyes on. This was impossible.

The weeks passed; each day involving a similar incident. He was ruthless in his teasing; torturing her with his two-month seduction. Every opportunity, the slightest opening- sometimes verbally, sometimes physically: "accidentally" brushing by her in places they used to pass through without coming in contact with each other, leaning a little *too* close as they looked over a file, letting his fingers linger over hers anytime she passed him something. She found she was beginning to dread his presence....and long for it at the same time.

She was growing increasingly annoyed with herself: she was a competent, strong, intelligent woman.... who turned into a 5"2' pile of Jell-O every time Fox Mulder entered the room. And he knew exactly what he was doing to her.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a sharp knock at her apartment door. She approached it, calling out "Who is it?"


She hesitated, suddenly stricken with a case of the shakes, and she cursed herself for it. She wiped her hands on her jeans and opened the door.

He offered a smile as he greeted her. "Hi."

"Hi yourself" she smiled back at him "what are you doing here?"

He brushed past her, removing his jacket. He threw it on the couch with the ease of someone who is quite comfortable in his surroundings. Normally, it would've pleased her. Tonight, it thoroughly intimidated her. She straightened and went back to the kitchen.

"I wanted to take a look at those photos you brought home with you-something occurred to me while I was looking at the files tonight." He crossed the living area to the kitchen. There she stood with her back to him, busying herself with the task of making a salad. "Smells good, what're you making?"

"I've got some pasta and sauce cooking, just making a salad.... do you want some? I could throw in some more pasta-"

"Sure, that would be great..." his eyes sparkled "...I'm ravenous."

She eyed him nervously before turning back around.

He walked over to her. He put his arms around her and slipped his hands over hers. She stiffened and held her breath. "You want some help with that?" he whispered at her ear. He gently tightened his hold on the hand holding the knife and began slicing a tomato slowly. He could feel her shivering against his chest, could smell the familiar scent of her skin; the chemistry between them was overwhelming...

Before either of them knew what was happening, there he was kissing her neck and she was losing it, going under with each passing second. Thoughts of the last time he touched her filled his mind and he stepped closer against her. Now she could feel him against her back and it was all she could do to keep herself from falling to the floor. He turned her around and kissed her feverishly, with such longing that a thrill of power rushed through her. His hands moved over her, finally taking hold of her waist. He was pressing up against her- urgently, desperately needing her.

She broke from his embrace, taking his hands, and guided him into the bedroom. She sat him down on the bed, pulling a pillow out from underneath him, and pushed him back until he was resting against the head board. She moved on top of him, straddling him. Slowly, she unbuttoned his shirt, then started showering him with kisses... his forehead, his nose, his chin... and then she was slipping, sliding down; her mouth warm and wet as his neck, his chest. Her breath passed over his stomach...

, he thought. If she went any further, he was sure he would explode the minute he felt that perfect mouth around him, and he wanted this feeling to last all night. But she stopped at the top of his trousers, leaving him both relieved and disappointed. She ran her lips from his belt to his belly button, then came back up to face him. He made no move to hold her, to touch her. He was completely paralyzed by her presence. All he could do was watch her with a sudden fascination that bordered on the ridiculous. She leaned in until her breath was at his lips.

"Turn about is fair play." She smiled at him.

And she got up and left the room.

He sprang from the bed and headed after her towards the kitchen. She turned off the burners on the stove, then resumed her place in front of the hodge-podge of vegetables. She looked over her shoulder at him and gave him a triumphant smile. The smile he returned was weak.

As he stood there watching her, he knew what he had to do: swallow his pride. The last thing he wanted was for her to think he was playing games with her, but this was going to be one of the most difficult things he'd ever have to do. He'd faced rejection too many times in the past to have any confidence in facing this. He hesitated at the door for a moment, deciding whether to face the task at hand or bolt from her apartment. He sighed inwardly, and decided on the former.

He approached her, feeling like he was walking in slow motion.

He neared her. He was aware of his head throbbing with anxiety, his chest tightened. Then he was standing right behind her, he could feel her barely touching him, and he struggled with himself for the courage. How was he going to say this? He struggled to find the words. He swallowed hard and brought his lips to her ear . "I want you..." he said, placing a kiss on her neck. "I need you..." He moved to her other ear, and now his heart was pounding in his ears; it felt to him like minutes before the next words came "....I love you."

Her mouth fell open and her eyes widened as she stood there, immobilized by his words. Then, suddenly, she whirled on him. She pushed him away, her eyes fierce with anger and confusion. "How dare you! How dare you say that to me! Do you think you can just say that and it'll get me to jump into bed with you?" She shook her head in disbelief.

Now it was his turn to stand there gaping, blinking at her incredulously; he certainly hadn't expected *that* reaction. But as he listened to her words, his own anger grew.

"Maybe that's worked for you in the past, Mulder, but how could you? How could you pull that with *me*? Is this *you* or your sexual frustration talking?"

He glowered at her, his face red with anger and embarrassment, then stormed into the living area, grabbed his coat and headed for the door.

But Scully was right there at his heels. "Where the hell do you think your going? What is it... no sex so time to make a quick getaway, right? What, do you have a back up waiting--"

He spun around, looking down at her as he rose a finger, cutting her off in mid-sentence. His face was inches from hers, he hissed at her through clenched teeth "I wasn't feeding you a line Scully; I was telling you how I felt- because I thought you deserved to know. I have *never* said that to anyone in my life, there was never anyone I *wanted* to say it to. And I never wanted anything from you, Scully, that you weren't willing to give to me freely." His hand dropped back to his side. " So I'm sorry."

He turned back around and reached for the knob. She grabbed his arm and he froze; even now, furious as he was with her, her touch had both a calming and electrifying effect. "Don't go..."

He hesitated, rubbing his chin as he tried to release the anger and embarrassment.

"Look at me, Mulder."

He didn't budge.


He turned around to face her. Her eyes were filled with desperation. She shrugged her shoulders, raising her hands slightly. "What do you want from me, Mulder??"

Placing his hands on his hips, he looked quickly to the side, then directly into her eyes as he answered her truthfully "Only everything you have to offer, Scully."

She swallowed hard as she looked at him, and realized: he was serious. Dead serious. This was no game. And then she felt ashamed- that she would even think that of him for one second, her friend; she knew him better than that. He had just caught her completely off guard; never in a million years would she have expected him to say that to her. She pulled her eyes from his, looking somewhere in the direction of the middle of his chest, and took a step slowly towards him. Then another. She rested her forehead against his chest. "I'm sorry" she said weakly. As she stood there before him, her head against his chest, the wall he'd immediately built at her rejection crumbled. His arms encircled her small frame, and they held each other.

Inevitably, the feel of the other's body, the caresses, changed the air between them, and before long their breathing had turned shallow and uneven. He ran a hand slowly up and down her back, and a tingling sensation in the back of his head made him feel dizzy. She felt him stir against her. She tilted her head up to look at him. "I'm sorry..." he whispered "we don't have to..." . Without a word she moved her hands to hold his face, then brought them down to take his hands. She backed away, pulling him towards the bedroom. He smiled at her: "No no no" he said quickly, then smiled "I fell for this once before." He bent slightly, wrapping his arms securely around her waist, then stood back to his full height, pulling her up off the ground. Her feet dangled above the floor. He brought her back into the bedroom in his embrace, kissing her along the way.

In the bedroom, he lay her down on the bed and slowly started removing her clothes, little by little unveiling the woman he loved. When he was finished, she took her turn at his clothes, until there was nothing separating them but their skin. She opened herself to him completely, wanting him more than she'd ever wanted anyone else in her life. He moved on top of her, frustrated that he couldn't get closer, he wanted to crawl right inside her skin. He settled for moving his hands over her, wanting to touch every inch, every pore. He gently explored the lines of her face with his finger tips, tracing them like Braille.

She pulled him tight against her, wanting the same closeness. Then suddenly, almost unexpectedly, he was inside her, and they were moving slowly together, as close as they could possibly be. It wasn't long before her breathing quickened; she tightened her hold on him. Her soft sounds of pleasure sent him right over the edge after her, and he was certain that this feeling would indeed last all night. It would last for the rest of his life.

He held her face, kissing her softly. "Dana..." he whispered to her, "my Dana." They lay together for a while, exchanging kisses, until he rolled onto his back, pulling her along with him until her head was resting against his chest. They were quiet for a long time.

And little did they know as they lay there, holding each other, that the seeds of love had literally been sown; that some infinitesimal part of him had been blindly driven towards her center, and found there its purpose...


And she didn't know, as she lay there listening to his heart beat, that her own heart was now beating for two; that the blood rushing through her veins, the breath she drew, were now cultivating and nourishing the small life blossoming in her belly...


That they had created something wonderful...

"I love you too."

The End

Spell 3: The Secret

Scully clutched the side of the sink and watched the last of her regurgitated breakfast swirl down the drain with the flow of water. She cupped handfuls of the cool liquid, bringing it to her lips and rinsing her mouth. She turned the faucet off as there was a tentative tapping at the bathroom door. Mulder entered and handed her a glass of ice water which she gratefully accepted. He leaned against the door frame and folded his arms in front of him.

"When are you going to go to the doctor, Scully?"

"Mulder I told you, I'm fine. Just a touch of the flu or something."

"Scully come on, this has been going on for weeks..."

She eyed him, knowing he was right. "I'll go this week, OK?"

He smiled as he approached. "Good." He stood behind her, embracing her small frame.

"Well," she said with a smirk, "I'm probably just over-sexed anyway."

He pulled her tighter against him. "Oversexed? No such thing, Scully." His hands slid along her sides down the smooth fabric of her nightshirt . He lowered his voice slightly. "That's just a myth propagated by your Catholic upbringing."

"Excuse me but are you making fun of my faith?" she asked in mock indignation.

"I am the *last* person to make fun of anyone's faith." His hands moved to her hips, to her legs. He nuzzled against her neck. "You are so beautiful, Dana" he whispered into her ear. He pressed himself against her as his hands slid further down her legs and up under her nightshirt. He softly caressed the bare skin of her upper legs, then brought his hand up to her hips. He curled his thumbs around her undergarment and started to slide it down. Unsure of his intentions, Scully squirmed to turn around. "Sh--sh" he whispered, holding her in place. Their eyes met in the mirror's reflection. "Don't you trust me?" he whispered, the mischief radiating from his eyes.

The corner of her mouth turned up slightly. "I don't know..."

His smile was positively wicked.

Whatever barriers they had put up between each other before were now torn down and strewn by the wayside. They were insatiable. And as hard as they tried, even work was not enough of a distraction from each other. The case they were currently working on was a no- brainer, a "Skinner-special" as Mulder liked to call them: down-time between X Files, and as a result they focused their attention towards each other. They were careful, but fortunate in that they were usually left to themselves. People rarely ventured down to the basement and they were often alone.... The office, the car, the ladies room... Scully broke out in a cold sweat every time she passed the parking garage's elevator. The passion that had driven their work was now turned full force on each other.

They sat now at Scully's desk, re-analyzing the file they'd been sent from the Behavioral Sciences Unit. Scully finished reading the first page of the profile and started to turn the page. "You finished Mulder?" she asked, poised to turn the page. She adjusted her glasses. When she didn't get a response, she looked up to find he was staring back at her. She smiled slightly. "What is it?" He simply continued to look at her, the smile behind his eyes warming her face. "What?" she repeated.



He reached for her hand and brought it to his face. "Did you know how good you smell right here?" He made a small circle with his finger on the back of her hand.

"What?" Her smile widened.

"Right here..." he said, indicating for her to smell it too.

The phone rang. Mulder squeezed her hand and stood, heading back towards his desk. She removed her glasses and stood to answer the phone as he sat down and continued to read the profile.


A female voice greeted her. {Hi Dana it's Dr. MacDowell.}

She immediately stiffened, knowing that doctors usually didn't call with *good* news. "Yes?"

{You have to stop taking your birth control pills immediately, Dana.}

Her brows knitted together in confusion. "What??"

{Dana you're pregnant.}

The room lost its focus as she felt the blood drain from her face.

Her head started to spin and she placed a hand on the desk to steady herself. She ventured a glance over at Mulder, who was thankfully still absorbed in the file. Finding it difficult to catch her breath, she attempted to calm her voice.

"How can that be? Are you sure?"

{We're sure, Dana.}

"How is that possible? I've been..." she swallowed hard and looked once more over at Mulder. She turned her back to him and lowered her voice. "...careful."

{Welcome to the 1 percent.}

Scully lay in bed that night wide awake, trying to sort out her thoughts. The steady rhythm of Mulder's breathing beside her, which usually had such a tranquilizing effect, did nothing to lull her to sleep tonight. For a fleeting second of blind panic she'd considered abortion and of not telling Mulder about it all, but that passed quickly once her senses returned to her. Besides, she'd pretty much decided abortion was out of the question for her. Whatever her personal beliefs on the subject, ultimately, she wanted this baby...

It was part of Mulder and part of her, a physical manifestation of their devotion; a bond that they would always have. But she wouldn't hold it against him if he wasn't ready to be a father; she was prepared to raise this baby herself. He'd been so concerned when she'd left the office earlier- after the phone call. She'd told him it was just this 'flu' thing again and that she wanted to go home and rest. She scoffed inwardly... rest? Who could rest now?

How was she going to tell him?? What would this mean to her relationship with him? Try as she might, she could not possibly imagine what on earth his reaction would be. It could range anywhere from "doing the honorable thing" to leaving a trail of flaming skid marks as he fled from the room.

No, she didn't really believe that; Mulder *was* honorable, she didn't think he'd be the type to abandon her. But that prospect was even more grim. The last thing she wanted was for him to stay with her out of some outdated sense of obligation; especially when she was ready to do this on her own... but was she kidding herself? Was she being realistic? *Could* she really do this by herself? What was this going to mean to her career? Nausea tightened its hold on her stomach and she deserted the idea of trying to find sleep.

In the kitchen she rummaged in the cabinets to find the box of saltines she knew she had somewhere. At last she found them, a still unopened box with last year's expiration date. She made a mental note that it was time to go shopping again and tore open the package. She poured herself a glass of milk and sat at the kitchen table. She was so deep in thought that she didn't hear Mulder shuffle into the kitchen. He rested his hands on her shoulders as he leaned in to place a kiss above her ear. "Can't sleep?" He sat down next to her and reached for a cracker.

"What are you doing?"

"What does it look like I'm doing?" He helped himself to a sip of her milk.

"It's OK, you can go to back to bed, Mulder--"

"No actually I was a little hungry myself."

She flashed him a reproachful glance.

"I'm not going back unless you come with me, Scully. How am I supposed to sleep when I know you're out here in the kitchen all alone?"

As much as she was appreciative for the thought, she really needed the time to be alone with her thoughts. But not tonight. Right now she just wanted his company, to be with him like this... because soon, it might never be the same again.

As she looked at him, the tears welled in her eyes. Mulder's face filled with concern. "What? What is it?" She leaned forward and rested her head against his chest. He caressed her back as he held her. "What's wrong?"

She sighed heavily into his shirt. "Nothing, really, I'm fine" she responded, her throat tight with emotion.

Though she could not see his face, she could here the smile in his voice as he teased "What is this PMS or something?"

Then, her forehead still against his chest, she laughed through her tears, because he had no idea just how funny that was.

He sat up and gently took her elbow. "Come here..." he said softly and brought her back to bed. He lay with her for a long time, stroking her hair, until her breathing had become deep and even, and he followed her into sleep.

She awoke to the rough feel of stubble against her cheek. Mulder kissed her and got up off the bed. He was half dressed, still buttoning up his shirt. Her voice was heavy with sleep. "Where are you going?"

"My place. I have to get some more clothes, think I still have a pile of shirts left from the last time I did my laundry."

"You do laundry? Is there anything else you want to tell me Mulder?" she teased.

"I don't have any secrets from you, Scully" he said with a smile.

Her face turned serious.

"What is it?" he asked, threading his tie through his the collar of his shirt.

She forced a smile. "Just tired. I'll see you later at the office?"

He nodded and approached her, crouching down by the side of the bed. He buried his face into the hair at her temple and placed a kiss somewhere thereabouts. "You smell like a sleepy person" he said, nuzzling further into her neck.

She pulled the covers up tighter around her and closed her eyes. "I *am* a sleepy person."

He smiled and got up, grabbing his jacket. "I'll see you later" he called as he walked through the door.

Scully watched him go. And she knew: she'd have to tell him tonight. No more putting it off. It was time to blow this secret out of the water.

As Mulder headed to work sometime later, freshly showered and shaved, he marveled at his own thoughts. For the first time that he could remember, they were not consumed with Samantha. Not that his need to find her had been quelled in anyway, but that a certain sense of peace had come over him; a strange, uncharacteristic optimism that threw him for a loop.

These days, his thoughts were mostly engrossed with Dana Scully. His feelings for her bordered on the obsessive, his need for her uprooting all else. He really didn't understand why; he'd felt nothing like it before in his life.... now she *was* his life, and like some ridiculous love-sick puppy he stood in complete awe of her. No one in his past had even come close... his thoughts turned suddenly to Kristen.

A meaningless, pointless mistake that he wished he could erase from his past. He hadn't told her about it, because it would only hurt her to think that he'd given up on her. He tightened his hold on the steering wheel as the guilt gnawed at his stomach. Maybe he *had* given up. And the prospect of never seeing her again had left him a void, empty skeleton of a man, and weakened him more than anything he'd ever encountered in any X File. With the passing of hope, he'd lost his will to go on, and every subsequent move he'd made challenged death to take him. He never wanted to feel that way again.

After a quick bite and an evening of looking over files, they finally returned to Scully's place sometime after 10:00pm. Mulder threw his jacket on the couch and headed for the bathroom as Scully went to her bedroom to change. "I'm takin' a shower" Mulder called into the bedroom. Scully opened a drawer to get some pajamas but found it was empty. She sighed as she studied the pile of laundry in the corner of her room; if they didn't stop this preoccupation with each other soon, they'd have to start buying new wardrobes monthly. She changed out of her work clothes and grabbed one of Mulder's T- shirts, slipping it over her head.

She crawled into bed. She lay there staring at the bathroom door for several minutes, as if like some magic oracle it would tell her the answer that would help her out of this mess. But suddenly she felt that if she didn't do it right away, it would just move from after his shower to tomorrow morning, to after work, to after dinner tomorrow night.... no-- she was procrastinating. . She practically bolted out of bed and burst through the bathroom door. Mulder peaked his head out from behind the shower curtain and smiled, his saturated bangs covering his forehead in a thick blanket. "Care to join me?" he asked with a mischievous smile. She put her hands on her hips and forced a small smile in return. She approached him slowly, unable to meet his eyes. "Mulder there's something I have to tell you... I wanted to tell you sooner--"

Before she knew what was happening he'd hooked an arm around her waist and snatched her into the shower. She cried out in surprise. He held her under the stream as the water soaked her hair and clothes. "Mulder!" she sputtered through the shower's spray. She tried to be annoyed, but the feel of his hands moving over her left her feeling weak and light-headed. The warm droplets from the shower's deluge caressed her neck and back like a thousand sensual kisses.

His hands slid down and up under her T-shirt where he took hold of her underwear. He drew them down and the saturated garment fell heavily to the floor. He grabbed hold of her legs and lifted her, pinning her up against the back of the shower stall as her legs encircled his hips. Her now drenched T-shirt provided some traction against the smooth tile as he found her, moving up against her with a gentle force that sent her quickly to passion's edge.

"Look at me.." he whispered to her. She opened her eyes then, and their eyes locked with the same fierce intensity as their bodies; she saw in his eyes a hunger as wild as animal instinct.

"Yes.." he breathed. Her arms encircled his head as she buried her face in his neck.

"Oh God, Dana."

As her muffled cries came from his neck, his own passion reached it's breaking point and his body convulsed with waves of pleasure that coursed through his body like after-shock.

Their breathing slowed and he gently lowered her, but her legs were now unsteady and he supported her with an arm around her waist. His other hand smoothed the soaked hair off her face, then moved to her jaw. He ran a finger over her lips before leaning in to kiss her.

They held each other under that gentle rain, their foreheads touching and their eyes closed, and emotion flowed through him. "Scully.." he started, but was unable to continue.

She nodded against his forehead, and they held each other for a long time.

And she didn't tell him that night.

Or the next morning.

At work the following day she'd talked him into leaving a bit early so they could go out to dinner. She would tell him them. Definitely.

They sat there now discussing this current case, Mulder standing in front of his desk loading the slide viewer while Scully sat at her desk. He was talking about the case, but his words slowly faded into silence as Scully's thoughts turned to tonight and what it might bring. She prayed for the courage to be able to tell him; to let this go on any longer would be unforgivable. But what if she found she *couldn't* tell him tonight... or the next... what if it never *was* the right time. Eventually, he'd be able to plainly see the truth.

A sudden realization that she was about to do it came over her as her body started to shake. Her stomach erupted in butterflies and a sudden chill took hold of her. She was aware of standing and moving to the side of her desk, but did not seem to be moving of her own volition. She stared at the desk to her right and her fingers rested lightly on its surface. "Mulder I have to tell you something..." she blurted out quickly.

He stopped short at her panicked tone and took a few steps towards her. "What is it, Scully?"

She continued to stare at the desk, unable to look at him. She took a deep breath.

"Mulder I'm pregnant."

{ As night touched the sky with moonglow
{she opened up her heart
{the tide of emotions ebb and flow
{washing us apart
{we talked through the night in whispers
{as the silent city lay
{the reasons she gave cut deep and hard
{the dawn broke angry grey.*

The End

*Lyrics: Level 42 "Lying Still in Your Arms" from the album *World Machine*



Special thanks to Wizard for all her advice... technical and otherwise;)

And I see that these are the eyes of disarray... -Stone Temple Pilots

Spell 4: Black

A fathomless silence descended on the room. It was a few seconds before Scully ventured to look at Mulder. He looked like his knees gave out, then he took a few steps back where he collapsed into his chair. His breath escaped him and he brought a hand to his mouth. Scully's gaze returned to her desk as she stood there frozen and terrified.

It seemed to her hours before he finally spoke, and when he did his voice was low and calm. "Come here."

Scully looked up at him, his expression indiscernible. She approached him slowly until she was inches in front of him. He looked at her briefly, then his eyes traveled down her front to her abdomen where he tentatively placed a hand, and she could see that it was shaking. Suddenly, but slowly, his hands moved around to her back and he hugged her midsection, burying his face in her stomach. Scully could only stare down at the top of his head and wonder what this reaction was: despair? disbelief? But if she could've seen his face from where she was, she would've seen that it was simply... pure joy: he was grinning from ear to ear. He finally looked up at her, smiling.

She smiled uncertainly back at him. "This is.... a *good* thing?"

"Of course it is, Scully..." he said emphatically. He stood and lay a hand on her cheek, regarding her with simple adoration. He went to the door and turned the lock. Scully realized that for the first time since she found out... she was happy; she hadn't allowed herself to be until this moment. She had spent every second since that phone call in a state of distress: trying to figure out what she was going to do, how she was going to tell Mulder. But now he knew, and he wasn't devastated and what she had feared most had not been realized: she was not alone. Pictures of a life she never thought she'd know flashed through her mind: family, hearth and home. She was going to be a mother-- a *mother*. A thrill of elation rushed through her and brought a smile to her face.

Mulder leaned against the desk and pulled her to him. He held her head against his chest and stroked her hair, closing his eyes.

"Thank you..." he whispered.

She looked up at him. " 'thank you'?"

"Thank you for giving me everything I never thought I'd have in this life, Scully."

They held each other for a long time.

As the weeks turned into months, their thoughts on the pregnancy turned to more practical matters. She was almost 3 months along now, and had only a few extra pounds to show for it, but time was running out. Scully still hadn't told her family that she was even involved with someone... let alone pregnant. And what about the Bureau? Eventually, her pregnancy would become obvious, and what would they do? Assign her to desk work? Reassign her? They had discussed the possibilty of Scully returning to teach at Quanico, but were still deliberating about that.

She and Mulder agonized over the possibilty of being seperated. They loved working together; they worked *well* together. Neither of them wanted new partners. But Mulder's primary concern was her safety. He knew that "they" had regarded Scully as his weakness, and had tried before to get to him through her. Now, her pregnacy, a baby... it would be the ultimate Achilles Heel. So in the meantime, they continued along as usual, though Mulder had become as protective and watchful as wolf guarding its mate.

"Mulder, if something happens to you, our baby won't have a father" she had said. "I have as much to worry about as you do."

"No, Scully, no... you may have to worry about me, but I have *two* of you to worry about."

She could only look at him, understanding. So she indulged him his overprotectiveness.

It was almost 4 in the afternoon and they were still in their pajamas.

It had been one of those lazy Sundays where nothing was accomplished but eating breakfast well after noon and reading the Post. Mulder was sprawled out on the couch in his boxers and t- shirt reading the comics as Scully sat on the floor reading the Entertainment section. An open jar of peanut butter was on the floor next to her with a spoon propped in its center. She reached for the spoon and lifted a small blob into her mouth.

"That is so gross, Scully."

She licked the spoon and looked over at him. "You're right... could you get me the jar of Fluff?" He shook his head at her and smiled as he turned back to the comics.

Scully put the paper down suddenly as a thought occurred to her. "Mulder what you think a good name for the baby would be?"

Mulder continued to regard the paper as he absent-mindedly pulled on his upper-lip. "How about 'Illegitimate'?"

Scully's eyes widened as she slowly turned her head to look at him. He held out as long as he could before a smile surfaced. He looked over at her, now in full-grin.

She smirked at him before she went back to browsing through the paper. "You're incorrigible."

Mulder got up off the couch and approached her, standing right next to her with his hands on his hips. She looked up at him. "What is it?"

He crouched down on his haunches and regarded her momentarily before reaching over and removing her glasses.

"What are you doing?"

He simply looked at her until she raised her eyebrows in query. His tone was low and mischievous: "For someone as brilliant as you are, Scully, you sure can't take a hint."

"What do you mean?"

He continued to stare at her.

And then she knew exactly just what he did mean. An incredulous noise escaped her. "Mulder..."

He took her hand in his two, brought it to his lips and placed a kiss there. "I want you to marry me, Scully... I want us to be married."

She swallowed hard. "Married?"

"Yeah, you know, like become husband and wife in a legal ceremony? You've heard of it before?"

"Mulder you don't have to do this. I don't want to rush into things--"

"It's a little late for that..." he said, poking her stomach.

"I know, all the more reason why we shouldn't rush *this*. We have enough to worry about right now... we still haven't decided what we're going to do about work, our families..."

He sat back on the floor and shook his head, defeated. "Are you turning me down, Scully?"

"NO. No." She sat up and took his face in her hands. "Mulder, I would be so honored to be your wife. Let's just not rush things. Not right away. Not until we get other things together."

Then he was beaming at her words, his smile warming her heart. He reached over and pulled her to him, hugging her tightly. "I love you" he whispered into her neck.

"I love you."

"No, you don't understand." He kissed her lightly, then again. "I love you so much..." he whispered again. He kissed her neck, then opened the collar of her nightshirt slightly and kissed her

collarbone. As he unbuttoned her shirt he placed a trail of kisses along the bridge of her cheeks and nose. Scully lay back on the floor, taking hold of the front of his t-shirt. She tugged at him gently, coaxing him down towards her.

He smiled at her. "Excuse me do I know you?" he teased.

"No," she shot back, the corner of her mouth turning up slightly, "but you're about to." With a final tug she succeeded in pulling him down on top of her. His hands moved up to caress the bare skin of her waist and abdomen as she held his face and kissed him with escalating passion...

Afterward, Mulder inched down to her abdomen and placed a kiss there, then rested his head against it's soft surface. They lay there like that for a long time, she stroking his hair as he rested against her midsection, listening to the sounds of their baby in its nurturing cocoon.

Night was falling before they started to consider getting up. The soft hum of the refrigderator and the dim light from a nearby streetlamp threatened to lull them to sleep. Mulder stretched and stood up, then headed for the bedroom. When he returned, he was dressed in his jeans and a sweater. He kneeled beside her and kissed her lips softly. "Chinese?"

She closed her eyes and nodded slowly.

"Moo Goo Gai Pan?"

She smiled and nodded again.

He grabbed his wallet and headed out the door, setting the lock before he left.

Sometime later she glanced at the clock and decided she'd better get up as well. She went into the bathroom to splash some cold water on her face.

Years later, looking back, she would say that an eerie calm had fallen over her before it happened, an ironic sense of peace precipitating eminent disaster. She was wiping her face with a towel when a sudden, searing pain that burned like hot coal blazed through her abdomen. She clutched her stomach and stumbled back a few steps. She doubled over and cried out as another wave of pain assailed her. She took another step back, feeling her back come up against the far bathroom wall. A warm sensation tickled her thighs as she gasped and looked down at her bare legs. A thick stream of blood was winding it's way down her leg. On some level she became aware of a noise at the front of the apartment-- keys in the lock: Mulder.

Mulder entered and looked around the room, curious when he didn't see Scully in the living room. He went to the kitchen and placed the bags of food on the counter. "Scully?" he called out.

Scully slid to the floor and watched as the blood continued to gather around her. she pleaded. The unbearable pain rendered her mute, she sat there unable to respond to Mulder's calls.

Mulder approached the bathroom and knocked gently. Getting no response, he opened it tentatively and started in. "Scully you in here?" he asked softly. Then he saw her.

She was on the floor, leaning against the wall near the tub, her sweat-soaked pajamas clinging to her like plastic wrap. She sat in a pool of her own blood, her eyes wild with fear and panic. He rushed for her, wiping the damp hair off her face. "Oh God, Dana..."

"...our baby..." was all she could manage.

Mulder ran for the phone and dialed 911.

The doors to George Washington University Hospital's emergency room burst open as the EMTs wheeled Scully into the building. Mulder was at her side, moving with vast strides to keep up with the pace of the stretcher. {She's loosing too much blood} Her breath was coming in quick and shallow gasps, throwing an intermittent fine mist of fog against her oxygen mask. {Get her into the OR stat} Scully grasped his hand and she met his eyes in desperation. Mulder felt sure his world was coming to an end as he watched her writhing in pain on that blood-soaked stretcher.

As they approached the swinging double doors Scully reached up with her free hand and pulled down the mask. "Mulder... Mulder! " his palm slid across hers as they moved her through the doors, their fingers curling around each other for just a second before breaking apart. And Mulder watched as the love of his life was carried to death's door. His world was fading to black.

He had not been standing there 5 minutes when a young Indian gentleman in a lab coat approached him. "Mr. Mulder? I'm Dr. Singhal. You're wife's losing a lot of blood."

Mulder didn't bother to correct him.

"Her body's in great distress and we're concerned she could go into cardiac arrest. She's insistent that we not take the baby, but if we don't... well I'm quite sure she won't be able to sustain further blood loss. We don't think she's in any frame of mind to make this decision and usually--"

"Save her."

"Mr. Mulder, if we do take the baby out, we presume it won't survive at this gestational--"

"*Save* her." His eyes were fierce with determination and resolve. "Take the baby out if you have to, just..." his jaw tightened as he stepped closer to the Dr. "... please, Dr.... bring her back to me."

Dr. Singhal regarded him momentarily before nodding quickly and returning to the OR. Mulder stood there with his hands on his hips and watched him go. "I'm sorry, Dana" he whispered outloud.

Just when he thought for sure he'd go crazy with not knowing, Dr. Singhal returned. "She's being brought into Recovery now. She's stable..."

"The baby?"

"Mr. Mulder... I'm sorry."

Mulder closed his eyes tightly and folded his arms in front of him.

Dr. Singhal continued. "But I think--"

"What was it?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"The baby. Was it a girl or a boy?"

The doctor regarded him uncomfortably. "A boy."

And that was the moment it formed; the empty space in his heart that he carried from that day on until the day he died. In typical Fox Mulder fashion, he supressed his sorrow and put anger in its place. He swallowed hard and continued. "Did you run those tests I requested?"

"Yes." He averted his gaze. "I must admit I didn't think... but at any rate, you were right: we did find trace amounts of an unidentifiable... waste product in her blood. But it wasn't poisoning the baby as you proposed."

Mulder regarded him with curiosity.

"I'm afraid there was an infection, that's what caused the baby to abort. It's not unusual."

Mulder nodded.

"Do you want to tell her?"

Mulder's thoughts, which had been far away, snapped back into focus. "What?"

"About the baby... do you want to tell her or would you rather I did?"

"No. I'll do it."

Mulder sat by her bedside waiting for her to come out of the anesthesia. He was utterly destroyed. How was he going to tell her this? How ironic, he thought, that she had agonized over telling him that she was pregnant, when now he sat here having to face telling her that she was not.

He buried his face in his hands and wept.

Mulder had fallen asleep in a chair at her bedside, still holding her hand. He woke when he felt her stir. He leaned forward to rest his elbows on the bed. She came out of it slowly; her eyes fluttered open and she surveyed the room. When she saw him, she attempted to turn her head in his direction.

Her voice was barely a whisper: "Mulder..."

He continued to hold her hand at his face as he looked at her. He closed his eyes and slowly shook his head.

She shut her eyes tightly and Mulder moved to sit on the bed. She turned her head away from him.


She looked at him briefly before turning over on her side with her back to him. And that was the last time she really looked at him.

It was as if a heavy steel drape fell behind her eyes, locking her pain

in, and shutting him out. She never shed one tear for the child she'd lost. Mulder stroked her hair, not knowing what to do. He finally decided to give her a little time. He leaned into her ear and whispered to her. "I'm going to go get you a change of clothes so we can go home, OK? I'll be right back." She watched him go, then called for the nurse.

Mulder returned a short time later and entered her room. It was empty. He walked down the hallway to the nurses station, where he was told by the charge nurse that she'd left some time ago.

He tried her apartment, tried calling her mother's, he couldn't find her anywhere. Mulder started to fear that maybe she wanted more than time...

After a few days of calling and leaving message after message, he decided to try her apartment again. His heart was pounding as he headed down the hallway towards her door. He understood how she felt, maybe what he'd done *had* been selfish. But at that moment, he had been blinded by the thought of never seeing her again. He'd been through that before, and if he had anything to do with it, he would never, *never* go through that again.

He arrived at her door and fumbled with his keys. He slipped the appropriate key into the lock and started to open it with his shoulder... but it didn't budge. He tried the key again. She'd had the locks changed. He knocked on the door, she didn't answer. He pounded on the door. Nothing. Mulder turned around and started to head back down the hall when the elevator directly across from her door opened... and there she stood, an empty laundry bag in her hand.

They stood there frozen for a second, then Mulder headed towards her. Scully's heart skipped a beat when she saw him standing there; she didn't think it would be so hard to see him. He entered the elevator just as the door closed behind him. Curling his hand into a fist, he gave a quick punch to the emergency stop button. He took a step toward her, she took a step back.

"What the hell is going on, Scully?"

She could only stare at him.

"What you're not even gonna talk to me about this?"

She regarded him for several seconds as the pent up emotion seeped to the surface. Her breathing quickened. "How could you?" she whispered. "HOW COULD YOU?" She looked at him, her eyes filled with grief.

"Scully I had no choice- you were *dying*, I--"

"No! No you *did* have a choice. I would've been OK--"

"That's not what the doctors thought, Scully..."

"I'm a doctor, too, Mulder. My body's been through greater trauma than this. I *told* the doctors what I wanted. *You* knew what I wanted. How could you show such complete disregard for my wishes?" She shook her head at him, still unbelieving. "Please just go."

"I wasn't disregarding--"

"You'll *never* convince me otherwise, Mulder; I *don't* want to to talk to you about this anymore!" She started to turn away from him.

He reached out and held her face in his hands, forcing her to look at him. "Don't do this, Scully--"

She pulled away moved to the control panel. "Get out of here, Mulder, I don't want to talk to you!" She pulled the button and exited as the doors opened.

A week went by, then another... soon a month had slipped by. Mulder had sunk into a deep depression, eating very little, sleeping a great deal, and he hadn't left his apartment in over a week. He sat there now in the dark, a half glass of Absolut perched on his chest as he replayed the conversation with Singhal over and over again in his mind. A sudden knock at the door startled him. He froze momentarily, then sat up quickly and dashed for the door. "Scully?" he asked hopefully as he swung open the door.

"Not the one you were hoping for" Margaret Scully said at the disappointment in his face.

His posture relaxed as he turned and walked back into the apartment. He deposited himself in a chair and refilled his drink. Margaret Scully stood uncertainly at the door for a minute before entering and flipping on a light. She stared at Mulder a long time before going over and taking a seat at the table. She took a deep breath and waited for him to look at her. But it was several minutes before he did, and she had the opportunity to study him: his hair was a mess, he obviously hadn't shaved or changed clothes in days. His eyes were dark and soulless.

"Fox... what happened between you and Dana?"

Mulder sipped his drink. He didn't know what Scully had told her mother and did not dare sidestep her again... too much damage had already been done. "She didn't tell you?"

"She's not talking... to anyone. I can't even get her to talk to me. What happened, Fox? All I know is that you're not working together anymore. Dana won't say anything else; she goes around doing the day to day things like always but... it's just...she's... she's not the same person..."

He leaned back in his chair and ran his hands through his hair. "I can't help you Mrs. Scully."

"Fox, please, I'm so worried about her."

He said nothing.

"Did you... were you... " she shifted uncomfortably in her seat. "Had you become more than friends?"

He sat there, saying nothing. He glanced up at her briefly, but said nothing. Her brows were knitted together in a look so trademark Scully it made his heart ache.

"I *can't* help you. If Dana doesn't want to tell you what happened, it's not my place to."

All Margaret could do was stare at him... this stranger; he was so... cold. But she was not about to give up, so she pushed it. "Maybe you could try talking to her--"

"She won't talk to me." He got up and moved to the couch.

"Maybe you could try again..."

Mulder looked over at her, and for the first time, he met her eyes.

Scully sat her desk staring at the memo she'd received earlier that day: her approval for transfer to the Violent Crimes Section. And her thoughts were once again of Mulder; what he had done still astonished her. Whether or not he realized it, she felt his actions *had* been selfish... and cost her her baby. She would never be able to look at him again without remembering that unbearable loss. And some irrational part of her, fueled by pain and sadness, wondered if maybe he'd come to realize he wasn't ready to be a father; and when faced with that decision... She stopped suddenly as a noise outside her door caught her attention. A few seconds of silence, then there was a soft tapping at the door. She got up and approached, leaning her ear into the door. "Who is it?"


She struggled over whether or not to let him in. If she didn't, she knew he would just keep coming back; she had to settle this with him once and for all. But if she did let him in... she feared things might go very differently than she intended. Eventually deciding on a compromise, she opened the door slightly, leaving the chain fastened. And there he was. She hadn't seen him since that night in the elevator over a month ago. He looked horrible: his face was pale and drawn, dark circles shadowed his eyes. He had made a poor attempt to comb his hair and that stubborn cowlic remained defiantly out of place. It hurt like hell to see him.

"What do you want, Mulder?" she asked quietly.

"I want to talk to you."

"I don't think that's a good idea... I told you: there's nothing to say."

"Like hell, Scully--"


"I thought I was doing what was best for you."

"For me?" She shook her head at him. "Or *you*?"

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"Maybe subconsciously you knew you weren't ready for fatherhood..."


"Maybe you couldn't admit that to yourself... or to me."

"You can't mean that... how could you even think that, Scully?? You know I wanted this as much--"

"Look this is just *not* going to work out, Mulder--"

" 'Not going to work out' ?? You can't brush me off like some high school date, Scully... for God's sake, Dana... you know how I feel about you." His eyes pleaded with her and for a moment, for just a second, he thought he saw something in her eyes... but then it was gone, and those drapes were closed once more.

"If that's true... then you won't keep doing this; you'll let me go."

She closed the door.

It was almost two and a half years before he laid eyes on her again.

The End

Here's Spell 5. It's a story about coming full circle, so any

parallels between this and the first Spell are *intentional*, and not indicative of any laziness on my part

Copyright info for lyrics to follow.

{hearts and thoughts they fade,

Spell 5: Circle

Mulder had taken an extended leave of absence soon after that night at Scully's apartment: the last time he'd seen her. Eventually he returned to his work on the X-Files... alone. There had recently been talk in the Bureau of reassigning him a new partner, but so far nothing had come of it. In the meantime, he continued his work, but it was not the same with out her. He'd heard that Scully was doing quiet well in the VCS; that didn't surprise him. And he also knew that she had recently become involved with someone else: Joel Miner, the agent who had interrupted that first dance they'd shared that night that seemed so long ago. They were quite the hot and heavy item at the Bureau. For him, his personal life was as empty as he felt inside. Every woman he came in contact with that he might be the least bit interested in seemed to have "waste of time" stamped on her forehead.

But he continued with what he knew was a futile search; knowing he'd never find anyone like Scully again. She was the one, but he'd lost her. She'd said that if he really cared about her, he'd stay away- and so he had. At first, he half expected that she might come back to him, that she just needed some time; so for months afterward, his heart stopped every time there was a knock at the door, every time his phone rang. Then the hope faded as the months turned into a year, then into two. He couldn't decide which was worse- when he hadn't been able to see her because of her abduction- the not knowing; or this- knowing and not being able to see her. His thoughts were with her always.

After that last night that she saw him, Scully had tried to put her life back together as best she could. She buried herself in work, devouring every case that she could get her hands on in her new position in the VCS. Eventually, the hurt got better, and as it did, so did her anger at Mulder.

She didn't know who was right or wrong anymore, and had decided that there was no place for blame in this matter. He *had* done what he thought was right, even if she'd thought otherwise. She'd replayed that last conversation they'd had over and over in her head. She wished she could have taken back some of the things she'd said; her own pain had caused her to be so hurtful. But no time for regrets. They'd both moved on... Joel had pursued her relentlessly from the day she'd started. She'd held him at arms length for quite a while but when the pain she was harbouring wasn't letting up with time, she weakened.

So, in uncharacteristic Scully fashion, she'd allowed herself to get involved with him to ease that pain; to help her forget. That was only a few months ago, but in that time, she grew to genuinely care for him. He was sweet and kind and he completely adored her... and things were moving very fast.

Soon that time together seemed more like a dream-- ghostly images and faded memories...

Then, the inevitable happened: they ran into each other again. Ironically, it was at another Bureau function. And everything came full circle.

Scully never imagined she'd see him at another Bureau affair. He'd put in his time at the last one, and figured he'd had enough to last him another decade. And besides, he'd never chance running into her again.

Mulder hadn't expected she'd attend; he'd heard from a friend in VCS that a case had called her out of town with her partner. Pain at that image twisted in his heart. Besides, even if she were in town, she'd never chance seeing him again.

Mulder entered the Sheraton Washington Hotel with a tall brunette on his arm. Ellen was a technician in the Forensics Lab who had spent the last year dropping hints of interest in Mulder at every opportunity. And since he despised going alone to these functions even more than the functions themselves, he'd asked her to accompany him. They stood there now at the coat check waiting for the attendant to return. He tugged miserably at his bowtie.

Joel held the door open for Scully as she moved into the lobby. He helped her slip her coat off, revealing a stunning black velvet gown. It was similar to the one she'd worn to the last function, floor length and open-backed, but this one had long sleeves and a plunging neckline. Her hair was loose, falling freely around her face. Joel placed a hand on her back as they headed for the coat check.

The attendant finally returned and Mulder passed Ellen's coat over the counter.

Scully approached the coat check and stopped dead at the sight of the back of a man standing at the counter. In spite of the uncharacteristic attire, she would've recognized that stance anywhere: Mulder. Joel looked over at her with concern "What is it?"

Mulder took the ticket stub from the attendant and turned around.

Their eyes locked.

They stood there awkwardly for a minute before Joel made the first move. "Mulder, how you doing?" he asked, extending his hand.

Mulder shook his hand and nodded. He looked at Scully, and misery darkened his eyes. "Hi."

She offered a faint smile. "Hi."

They continued to stare at each other for a moment before Mulder's thoughts returned to the present. "Oh, um, this is Ellen Grant. Ellen, Dana Scully, Joel Miner. "

After an exchange of handshakes, another awkward pause. Joel turned to Scully. "Ready to go in?" Mulder watched her head towards the ballroom. He and Ellen followed.

Joel and Scully finally arrived at their table. "This is it, table 8." He pulled out the seat for Scully before seating himself.

Scully watched as Mulder entered the room and took his table card. They started moving through the crowd, searching for their seats. They were headed right for her. . But they continued to move closer and closer, and Scully's heart pounded with increasing intensity with every step they took. They finally arrived at the table, Mulder eyeing the card to make sure he'd read the number correctly; he had: Table 8. It couldn't have been worse. Not only would he be tortured by Scully's presence, but Kennedy and Higgins were also seated at the table. The two of them never resisted an opportunity to aggravate Mulder.

As he expected, Kennedy was the first to pipe up. "Hey look, Mr. and Mrs. Spooky! What is this a reunion?" He broke into bellowing laughter as Mulder and Scully cringed at opposite sides of the table. "But not anymore, right?"

Higgins turned to Scully. "That's right, I hear congratulations are in order."

Mulder looked over at Scully. " 'Congratulations' ?"

She avoided his gaze. "Yes.... Joel and I are engaged."

His heart tightened in anguish, but he simply nodded.

Dinner was agonizing and long. Mulder could not keep his eyes off of her, he wanted to touch her so badly it hurt. Scully let her eyes drift in his direction one too many times. And Joel was watching every move they made. He was less than pleased when Mulder got up and walked over to their side of the table. He put a hand on the back of her chair and leaned down, extendeding his hand to Scully. "Will you dance with me?"

Scully looked at him, surprised, then over at Joel, then back to Mulder. "Sure, OK." She slipped her hand into his and he led her to the dance floor.

Both of their thoughts were inundated with memories of that last function, the last time they'd danced like this. The music couldn't have been more different- classic violin concertos; and obviously, the circumstances between them could not have been more different; but their effect on each other, it was very much the same.

He turned to face her, pulling her towards him. He looked down at her, deep into her eyes, and he marveled at what he saw there: the tiniest opening in that drape... a chance. And the room fell into deafening silence. He held her, his ears were ringing loudly, the only sound he was aware of was the steady rhythm of her breathing.

{ I swear I recognize {your breath {memories, like fingerprints {are slowly raising {Me you wouldn't recall {for I'm not my former...

He gently caressed the bare skin of her back with his thumb. Her skin broke out in goose flesh and Mulder pulled her closer. The air around them seemed suddenly unstable, as if in danger of igniting on a molecular level. They were silent as they danced.

The piece ended and Mulder, under Joel's watchful eye, reluctantly pulled from her and led her back to the table. Through dessert and coffee she skillfully avoided his eyes as they endured Kennedy and Higgins' constant ribbing. But eventually she'd had enough and excused herself abruptly. Joel got up to go after her, and without even thinking... so did Mulder. The looks he received from Ellen and Joel could've frozen over Hell itself. Mulder sat back down.

Scully held up a hand to Joel. "It's OK, I'm just going to go to the ladies room, I'll be right back."

Mulder was desperate to get her alone for a few minutes. It would've been far too obvious if he'd left after she did, so he waited until sometime after she'd returned before excusing himself.

A few minutes later, a waiter approached Scully. "Ms. Scully? You have a telephone call."

"Oh." She got up and followed the waiter into the lobby. He pointed to a row of phones against the far wall, separated by slim dividers.

"Number four."

"Thank you." Scully went to the appropriate phone and picked up the receiver. It was dead.

"Hi" came a sudden voice from over her shoulder.

She whirled around. She eyed Mulder admonishingly before replacing the receiver. He had her boxed in, his arms resting on the dividers separating each phone. "What are you doing, Mulder?"

"We're going to be heading out soon... I just wanted to get the chance to congratulate you... " He paused, then her eyes widened as he stepped closer and brought his face to hers. He was mere inches from her. "Congratulations..." he whispered. He placed a kiss next to her lips, just to the side of her mouth. The familiar scent of his cologne, the rough feel of his five o'clock shadow, brought back a rush of memories that sent her head spinning. He lingered longer than he should have, then pulled back, remaining close to her. He reached down and gently took hold of her hand. "Can I see your ring?" he said, his voice low. He examined it briefly, having no real interest in the item. He held her eyes with his own. "It's nice..." he said, fondling the piece of jewelry. After a moment he continued "...goes with your earrings." He released her hand as the other moved to her ear. He gently held her earlobe between his thumb and forefinger, never breaking from her gaze. He let his hand remain there, his fingers lightly touching her neck.

She swallowed hard; she was shaking so badly that she could see that wisps of hair around her face were trembling. She struggled to keep her breathing even. "Mulder..." she started weakly.

Suddenly Mulder felt a hand on his shoulder as he was turned around. Joel's eyes were furious. "What the hell are you doing?"

"I was just congratulating--"

Joel gave his shoulder a quick push. "You listen to me you stay away from her."

"Look, I was just--"

This time Joel shoved him hard with both hands. "Do you think I'm stupid? You just *stay* away from her... haven't you hurt her enough? You couldn't possibly take anything else away from her."

Mulder blinked, then looked over at Scully. She lowered her eyes. She had *told* him? He was completely blown away that she'd confided in him about the miscarriage. He'd had some limited contact with Mrs. Scully over the past two years-- a phone call about a year ago to "see how he was doing", always a card at Christmas; he was fairly sure she didn't know. That Scully could tell *him* and not even her own mother... He straightened his jacket and continued to stare at Scully. She would not look at him. He looked back at Joel. "I'm sorry. I was just leaving anyway..." He started to turn around.

"Don't bother looking for Ellen, she already left."

Mulder turned around and walked away. And he never expected to see her again.

But he was wrong.

Once again he sat in the darkness of his apartment, staring at the cool light of the fish tank. It had been a week since he'd seen her at the Bureau's reception, and since that time he found his depression had returned full force. The pain was unbearable, almost physical, and there seemed to be no relief. He still could not believe that she had told Miner about the miscarriage. Her feelings for Miner were stronger than he'd thought. And seeing her with him, and knowing that she'd told him, it forced him to finally confront the finality of their separateness.

It was a warm night and Scully decided to make the most of her insomnia and go for a walk. The last seven nights had been restless for her, as vivid images of her past with Mulder resurfaced. She was drowning in her confusion; she wanted to run as far away from him as possible, but at the same time, she longed to see him again. These thoughts consumed her as she walked, and she was barely cognizant of the fact that she'd arrived at Mulder's building; she hardly realized that she was entering the elevator and pushing the button for his level. And she was almost surprised when she realized she was standing at his door.

Mulder lay down on the couch, his head resting on his folded arms, when he saw a shadow in the light coming from underneath his door. He sat up slowly and waited. Something, someone, was just standing there. He got up and slowly approached the door. He curled his hand around the knob... and swung it open.

Scully stood there staring at him, her mouth gaping, as Mulder stood there mirroring her expression. Finally, she shook her head and turned away abruptly, heading back down the hallway. "I don't know why I came here, I'm sorry--"

Mulder reached out and lightly took her arm. "Don't go. Please..."

She froze at his touch.

He gently pulled her into the apartment and closed the door behind her. He subconsciously set the lock. "Come in... do you want to sit down?" He nervously started clearing off a space on his chair. He was terrified that the slightest thing he did or said would send her fleeing from the apartment.

And he was right. Scully stood there in the middle of the room prepared to take flight. What was she doing here? Why had she come? But only the answers she didn't want to see came clearly to her mind...

They just stood there staring at each other in that dark apartment for what seemed like hours.

Finally, Mulder slowly approached her. His voice was low. "Why *did* you come here, Scully?"

After some time, and with tremendous effort, she finally started, her voice high and tremulous. "I never would've agreed to marry Joel if I'd thought ... " She started pacing, ran her hands through her hair.

"What am I doing? I thought this was finished, I really did..."

Mulder's heart was threatening to break out of his chest as she stopped in front of him. "What are you saying Scully?"

"I.... " she paused, swallowing hard. "I don't know..." Her voice dropped to a whisper, she lowered her face as she studied her hands "... I don't know if I want it to be..."

He took a step closer, then slowly brought a hand up to wipe a wisp of hair off her cheek. His voice was little more that a whisper. "I think about you all the time."

She looked back up at him. Her lower lip trembled ever so slightly, she blinked slowly. "Mulder--" she whispered back.

He brought his other hand up and lightly held her face, as if she would fade into an apparition if he held too tightly. He gently caressed her cheek with his thumb. He paused, then slowly lowered his face to hers, stopping inches from her own. He forced the fear down his throat and let out a tremulous breath. "I want to kiss you..." .

Her eyes fluttered and closed as she nodded, tilting her head up to him. He brought his lips to hers. They touched lightly as their mouths closed on each other.

{my god it's been so long {never dreamed you'd return {but now here you are {and here i am...

They pulled from the kiss and studied each other's faces. Mulder's hands moved to hold her waist as he leaned in and softly placed a kiss on her neck. The familiar smell of her skin, her hair, was overwhelming, and brought tears of joy to his eyes; for the first time in his life, something he loved had come back to him. A choked, muffled noise escaped him.

Her arms came up to encircle his neck as she fought back her own tears.

He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly. "I'm so sorry--"

"No. No, *I'm* sorry. I didn't mean what I said, I knew you wanted it as much--"

He pulled from the embrace and lay a finger gently on her lips. He shook his head at her. She looked at him for several seconds, then nodded; and they knew: nothing more needed to be said. It was time to move forward.

He kissed her nose, then gently brushed his lips back and forth over hers as a tremulous breath escaped her. She stood on her tip toes to meet him, kissing his bottom lip, then lightly licked his upper lip. That was all that it took to send him into complete arousal; he pulled her close and kissed her fully. His head was spinning violently as dizziness increased its hold on him.

He broke from the kissing and held her at arms length. She regarded him with confusion as he held up a finger, turning to move towards his desk. Opening the drawer, he produced a small blue-velveted box. He wiped the dust off the top and approached her. He stood just in front of her. The corner of his mouth turned up in a shy smile as he slowly removed her ring, shaking his head at her. He opened the box and took out the ring he'd intended to give her so long ago. Still offering her that crooked smile, he tentatively slipped the ring onto her finger. "Mine..." he whispered softly as he brought his lips to hers once more.

He slipped a hand around her waist, the other around the back of her head as he deepened the kiss. She kissed him back feverishly, running her hands through the thick hair at the back of his head. His hands shook with anticipation as he moved them up under the cropped sweater she wore to the bare skin of her waist. He broke from the kiss and brought his lips to her neck as she tilted her head back. He kissed her neck, letting his tongue taste the salty sweetness of its smooth flesh. Her breathing was turning quick and shallow. One hand caressed the bare skin of her back, the other slid down her back, just underneath the waist of her jeans. He pulled her tightly against him. "I want you..." he breathed. "God I want you so badly..."

His lips returned to her neck as she reached for his belt and unfastened it. He backed her over to the couch, turned, and sat down as she stood in front of him. He unbuttoned the top of her jeans and brought down the zipper. He held her waist and kissed the exposed skin of her abdomen. Hooking his thumbs on either side of her jeans, he slid them down.

She stepped out of them as his hands moved back to her waist. He pulled her down onto the couch until she was kneeling over him. She held his face as he slipped his hands back up under her sweater, letting them slide down her back and underneath her undergarment. "I missed you..." she whispered as she slid her fingers through the hair at his temple. He pulled her closer then shifted to roll her underneath him. She freed him from his jeans, then he lowered himself on top of her. He found her, the familiar feel of her body sending a bolt of electricity through him.

An experience both new and familiar at the same time, they made love, relishing the sweet bliss of rediscovery.

As their movement became more frenzied, their excitement neared its peak. Mulder stopped suddenly. "Wait...stop..." he said breathlessly.

She slowed and looked up at him.

"I don't want this to be over yet."

She smiled and brought a hand up to touch his face. "Mulder, we have all the time in the world."

Afterwards, they lay there quietly for some time, enjoying the gentle sense of peace that filled the room like warm sunshine. Mulder was the first to break the silence. "What are you going to do about Joel?"

She sat up, forcing him to do the same. She sighed heavily. "What *am* I going to do, Mulder? How could I have been so irresponsible? And he's been so good to me..."

Mulder pushed down his own jealousy and attempted to help her feel better. "You were in a lot of pain" he said, caressing her back.

"That's no excuse. I shouldn't have let myself get involved with him.

I feel horrible." She was silent for a minute, then continued. "I'll just have to tell him the truth... and *you'll* have to leave the country."

He smiled at her. "I'm used to people being after me, Scully. Tell him to take a number."

She flashed him that classic Scully look and he coveted every second of it. "That's not funny. It's going to be impossible going into work every day."

"You know, the Bureau's been wanting to reassign me a partner." He smiled at her again. This time, she smiled back. And as she received that grin, she realized what she'd missed the most these past two years: her best friend.

They fell silent again, until Mulder couldn't hold out any longer. "I was surprised you told Joel about... what happened."

She wouldn't look at him. "Well we never really talked about it, I couldn't. He knew something had happened between us; so I just told him the basic story."

"Did you ever talk about it with anyone?"

She shook her head.

He placed a finger under her chin and turned her face up towards his. She looked at him. And when she did, she didn't see the reminder of the child she'd lost as she thought she would; instead... she saw the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. That was all that it took. One look into those eyes, those eyes that held compassion and kindness... and complete understanding. The tears welled in her eyes. Mulder pulled her toward him, resting his chin on top of her head. And she cried. She wept years worth of locking away that unbearable loss. She wept for the son they'd never know, and for the two long years of what could have been that were now gone forever. He held her, and eventually-- well into the night, her tears subsided.

And as he held her, he believed. He believed that they would be stronger, better. That they were going to be OK. Because she was right: they had all the time in the world.

* Lyrics copyright Pearl Jam "elderly woman behind the counter in a small town", 1993.

The Spell Series - Compiled By Kelli Rocherolle

Somebody told me that this is the place, where everything's better and everything's safe... -Toad the Wet Sprocket

Spell 6: New

They had spent an uncomfortable night on Mulder's leather couch. The fact that it was small was bad enough, but the damned thing was noisy. Every move they made was an exercise in discretion. But neither of them wouldn't have changed a thing; they would gladly have slept on a bed of nails if it meant being together. Sometime during the night Scully had slipped on Mulder's t-shirt and he had recovered his boxers off the floor; a throw blanket kept them warm as they slept. And as strange as it was, they felt like they'd never been apart. From the moment they'd kissed last night, it was as if Mulder had never left her sleeping on that floor to go out for Chinese food; that every thought and feeling and memory had come flooding back like a wave and drown them in their past. And after it had washed away, everything was the same... but new.

Exhausted after talking well into the night, they had both decided to go in to work late. It turned out to be a bad idea...

A loud, sharp knock jolted them from sleep and sent Mulder sitting upright. They looked around, disoriented. More loud pounding, this time accompanied by an angry male voice. "Mulder!"

They looked at each other: Joel.

"Mulder answer the door! Is Dana in there?" He pounded on the door so furiously that Scully feared he would break right through. Mulder started to get up.

"Mulder don't !" Scully whispered fiercely as she grabbed his arm. "Don't answer it..."

The door continued to rattle. "Damn it answer the door!!"

They sat staring at each other until the banging stopped and the hallway turned quiet. Scully got up and padded to the door. She listened intently... he was gone. She turned around and looked at Mulder: this was not good.

Mulder sat forward on the couch, his hands clasped in front of him. "What are you going to do, Scully?"

She sighed heavily. "I have to talk to him. Today." She scooped up her jeans off the floor and slipped them on, then reached for her shoes.

"Do you want me to come with you?"

"NO," she said emphatically. "It's all right, I have to do this

myself." She walked over and ran a hand through his disheveled hair. "We'll meet for lunch a little later, OK?"

She turned and started to leave but Mulder reached out and took hold of her arm. "Wait a minute," he said softly, pulling her to him.

He embraced her mid-section and nuzzled her stomach. She smiled as she looked down at the top of his head. she thought with sadness in her heart. She had missed his sweet, affectionate nature; his gentle touch. She slipped through his hold to kneel in front of him. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she hugged him tightly. "Mulder.." she started, but the words choked in her throat.

"Sh-sh," he whispered into her hair as he caressed her back, "I know." He tightened his hold on her. "I know."

She pulled from his embrace and kissed him lightly, the unshed tears still glistening in her eyes. "I'll see you later?"

Mulder nodded and watched her go, concern drawing his eyebrows together. Obviously, Scully knew Joel better than he did, but the incident at the Bureau reception, then this morning; Joel had a right to be angry, but he seemed to have a dangerous temper. Mulder smiled to himself, thinking what Scully would say to him right now: "Mulder I can take care of myself." Yes he thought, yes you can. But you'll never get me to stop worrying about you, Dana Scully.

Scully sat on the couch waiting for Joel to show up. She had left a message with his voice mail to meet her at her apartment. He had to have some idea what this was about. She'd been unconsciously distancing herself from him since that night with Mulder, withdrawing from him more with each passing day this last week. Scully flopped her head back on the couch. What a mess. She'd been so unfair to Joel. She'd put him off for so long; if only she'd waited a few months longer, this might never have happened. And then to agree to *marry* him?? What had she been thinking? She hardly knew him. Objectively, she knew she had not been thinking clearly; that she had without a doubt still been rebounding from her break with Mulder, her miscarriage. But it didn't help her feel any less guilty. Her thoughts turned to Mulder. She'd been the most unfair to him. How could she have blamed him? To shut him out like that--

A sudden knocking at the door pulled her from her thoughts. She went over to the door, took a deep breath, and swung it open.

Joel stalked into the middle of the room and turned to face her. His black hair was soaked with rain, his blue eyes were dark with anger. There was no kindness in those eyes today.


He was silent, unmoving.

"I asked you to come here because I needed to talk to you."

"Where were you this morning? I came by but you didn't answer."

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about, I--"

"Where's my ring?"

"What?" Scully followed his eyes down to her naked finger. She'd had sense enough to take Mulder's engagement ring off, but she'd forgotten to put Joel's back on until she could tell him.

"What's this about, Dana?" But he knew. It was so clearly there in her eyes.

"Joel, I'm sorry..." She pulled his ring from her pocket and placed

it on the coffee table in front of him.

He picked it up and stared at it, still unwilling to believe. He

shook his head and started pacing.

"I'm so sorry, Joel." Her voice was slow and deliberate. "I know it sounds like a clich‚ but you've got to believe me, I never wanted to hurt you..."

"This is about Mulder, right?"


"ISN'T IT?" he yelled. He paused, then taking a deep breath to calm himself, brought his voice back down and continued. "Isn't it? God, Dana, after all he's put you through... You just go back to him like nothing ever happened?"

"It's not as simple as that--"

"Oh it's not? He shows up at some function one night, shares a dance with you and that's all it took?" His voice was steadily rising back to a loud yell. "A few seconds alone in the lobby and everything's fine? What did he say to you?"

"He didn't say anything--"

"Did he tell you he was sorry, that you meant everything to him, that he couldn't live without you? What line did he feed you, Dana?"

Now her voice was rising to match his. "He didn't feed me any line!"

"And then you fall for it?? How could you be that stupid?!"

"Excuse me?"

"Oh no, wait, I'm sorry, it wasn't that," he continued, his voice

filled with venom, "you just couldn't wait to get back in his bed, right?"

She stared at him incredulously. She knew he was hurting but he'd gone too far. And it seemed she knew him even less than she had thought.

"Is that why you never let me get that close, Dana? Because you were waiting to crawl back into bed with Mulder? And here I was thinking you just wanted to take things slow, maybe wait until we were married... If I had known being an ass was all it took to get

you into bed well I wouldn't have wasted two years playing the nice guy-- "

"Get out of here!" she hissed, approaching him slowly with her hands on her hips. Her eyes burned with outrage. "Get out!"

"We're not finished."

"Oh yes we are. Get out of here Joel."

"You're going to make me the laughing stock of the Bureau, you realize. Dumped for Spooky Mulder--"

"Is *that* what you're worried about?? I don't care what those pencil pushing Neanderthals at the Bureau think. Mulder is a better agent and probably has a higher IQ then all of them put together. And I don't give a damn about your bruised ego."

Something snapped in Joel's eyes.

She never saw it coming.

Mulder was elated. He went through the morning feeling that at any moment he would wake up and he'd be lying on his couch in that dark apartment... alone. But no, it was real: she had come back to him. As difficult as it was for his mind to accept, she had come home. He smiled to himself and thought of calling to see if she'd

left yet; he couldn't wait to see her again. But he decided against it; if she was still with Joel, the last thing she needed was him phoning in the middle of it all. As if reading his mind, the phone suddenly

rang out, startling him. He reached for the receiver. "Mulder."

"Hi it's me."

"How'd it go Scully?"

"Fine. It went fine. But I'm feeling a little emotionally exhausted

at this point. I don't think I'm going to come in today."

"Are you all right?"

"Yes I'm fine... you know. It was... hard."

Mulder nodded into the phone.

"I'll see you at my place after work? You have the new key, right?"

"Yeah." He paused, tapping his pencil against the desk. "OK, I'll

see you later then."

The line was silent for a moment, then clicked and went dead as she hung up. Mulder held the receiver at his neck as he chewed the inside of his bottom lip. Then, he reached for his jacket.

The rain had dried up and now bright rays of sunshine poured through the dissipating clouds and warmed the pavement of Wisconsin Avenue. Mulder cracked the window and let the breeze blow in and ruffle his hair as he turned onto M Street and headed towards Scully's apartment. He fiddled with the radio dial as he turned off and started into the maze of side streets. He hadn't liked the way she'd sounded on the phone. Something in her voice wasn't right; he was concerned that it hadn't gone well with Joel. But that wasn't the only thing that was bothering him. Some small, insecure part of him worried that maybe she was planning on leaving again; that maybe she'd changed her mind. A swarm of butterflies fluttered in his stomach and the radio seemed to echo his thoughts...

{If you go a million miles away { I'll track you down, girl. {Trust me when I say I know {the pathway to your heart...

He pulled up to the curb in front of Scully's apartment.

Scully stood in front of the mirror examining her slightly swollen, bright red cheek. She'd spent the last hour putting ice on it, but it would probably take some time for the swelling to go completely down. By that time she would no doubt have a nice big black and blue mark, but she could probably cover that up with make-up. she thought to herself, . The least she could hope for was that it wouldn't look *as* bad by the time he saw it tonight. She hadn't even seen it coming. Evidently, Joel hadn't either; the look

of shock on his face after the impact seemed to indicate that. Scully had been sent to the couch with the blow, and had reached up and touched a hand to her cheek to see if it was bleeding-- it wasn't.

She looked up at him, stunned... then furious.

"Oh my God, Dana, I'm sorry--" He'd started to reach for her to help her up. The danger had passed, but pure instinct drove her to the other end of the couch where she grabbed her weapon off the side table. She cranked back the hammer and steadied her trembling hands. "Stop!"

He took another step closer. "Dana--"

"*Don't* make the mistake of thinking I'll let you get away with that again you son of a bitch."

"I'm sorry--"

"Get out of here," she had said evenly, "NOW."

He had stared at her pleadingly for a few minutes, then lowered his eyes in defeat. "This isn't over, Dana," he'd muttered on his way to the door. He'd gone, leaving her there consumed with disbelief... and self-doubt. She had always relied on her better judgment; of situations, of people. But this whole thing with Mulder and Joel... and now this-- how could she ever trust her own judgment again?

Her thoughts turned to Joel's accusation. Maybe he was right: maybe she'd never given that part of herself to him because she knew it still belonged to Mulder. And it always would. She continued to stare at her reflection for several minutes. Finally, she went to the kitchen and took out an ice tray to refill her pack. She was banging the ice tray on the counter when Mulder arrived and didn't hear his keys turning in the lock.

Mulder opened the door, stuffing the keys into his trench coat pocket as he entered the apartment. Scully was in the kitchen area making a racket with the ice cube trays. He smiled and came up behind her. He was only a few feet away when she turned around and faced him.

Mulder's smile faded as he caught sight of Joel's damage. And the fury roared through him like a wild animal.

Scully could only stand there staring at him.

Without saying a word, he whirled around and headed for the door. Scully started after him. "Mulder..." She reached out to grab his arm, but it was like trying to stop a charging bull. "Mulder don't!" She hurried around to try and stand in front of him.

But rage blinded him to her presence.

He continued to head for the door, backing Scully along with him in a scene that might have seemed comical to the unknowing observer. At the door she held her hands up against his chest. "*Please* Mulder, don't do this!" Her eyes pleaded with him.

She held him in her gaze for just a moment, then his eyes moved to the swollen area below her right eye. He stepped quickly away from the door and with one swift movement of his arm swept everything off the side table. "That SON OF A BITCH!!" he screamed. He swung at a lamp and sent it careening to the floor. "I'll kill him!"

Scully leaned back against the door and covered her ears with her hands as he continued to lash out at her furniture. "Mulder stop it! Just stop it!" she yelled at him. He paused, running both hands roughly through his hair and tried to regain himself. He looked over at her. Her voice dropped to little more than a whisper "Please,

just stop."

He walked over to her and pulled her against him. He exhaled slowly. "I'm sorry."

"No it's all right. I took care of it, I'm OK," she said into his


Mulder stepped back and, still holding her by the arms, examined her face. Then, unable to tolerate the sight any longer, he closed

his eyes and rested his forehead against hers. "I'm sorry I wasn't here, Scully."

"It's all right, Mulder, I told you I'm fine. I can take care of


Remembering his earlier thought, he couldn't help but smile. He hugged her close.

Later that night they sat watching television. They both sat on the floor, Mulder leaning back against the couch. Scully sat forward, a bowl of popcorn in front of her, as Mulder scratched her back. The light from the television reflected brightly off her glasses.

"I never pegged you for a Trekkie, Scully."

"Trekker," she corrected him.

"My apologies."

As his hand ceased it's motion on her back, she wriggled her shoulders. "Keep scratching..."

He complied, reaching over and to collect a handful of popcorn for himself as he did. He leaned back against the couch. "You know.... the holodeck... now there's a place where we could boldly go where no two people have gone before..." He smiled at her back.

She turned her head to smirk at him. He raised and lowered his eyebrows at her, then pulled her back against his chest. Even more so than he had before, Mulder cherished every moment of this quiet time with her. She had been pretty silent all evening, and he knew she was thinking about Joel. He sighed inwardly. Things never seemed to be easy for them. He decided he wanted to do something special for her. What, he wasn't sure of yet; he'd never been very good at giving gifts-- God knows his sports videos hadn't gone over well. But he'd give it some thought; eliciting one of those coveted smiles had become his favorite pastime. Mulder's thoughts turned once again to Joel and the anger settled in his stomach like burning lava. This wasn't over yet. he thought,

The next evening Mulder had gone to his place to get some of his things. Scully surveyed the disaster in the kitchen and shook her head. Oh yes, things were back to normal. She sighed, rolling up her sleeves and started in on the pile of dishes. Several minutes

later she heard Mulder's keys turning in the lock. She headed for the door to greet him, drying her hands with a dishtowel along the way. She stopped in front of the door and waited. But instead of coming in, he peeked his head around the door. He smiled when he saw her. "Close your eyes."


"Close your eyes; I have a surprise for you."

She flung the dishtowel over her shoulder and, placing her hands on her hips, closed her eyes. She wondered what he was up to... "Should I be scared?" she teased.

Mulder came in, both hands behind his back, and shut the door with his foot. His face was filled with child-like excitement. "Hold out your hands."

She complied and waited for Mulder to make his next move. As he did she felt something wonderfully soft and warm in her hands. She opened her eyes and saw it. Right there, fitting quite comfortably in her two small hands, was the tiniest, fuzziest, grayest dust-bunny of a kitten she'd ever seen. A bright wide smile spread slowly across her face. "Oh Mulder," she said lowly, "it's adorable..." She

looked up at him. He was grinning from ear to ear, quite proud of himself. "Where did you get him? her?"

"Him. A lady in my building was giving them away and I thought we'd take one."

She brought the tiny creature closer and held it against her chest. "We don't have anything to feed it."

Mulder held up a finger and opened the door. He reached into the hall and pulled in a small bag of kitten food and an empty box.

Scully cradled the kitten against her with one hand as she stepped closer to Mulder. Her other arm reached up and pulled him down into a hug. "Thank you." She released him with a smile.

He smiled back at her, delighted that his gift was a success. "What are you going to call him?"

Scully moved to the couch and sat down, holding the kitten up to her face and thought for a minute. "I don't know. I want to call him something special... maybe after someone I know."

"We could shave him and call him Skinner."

"Mulder!" She shook her head at him, he smiled in return.


She eyed him sideways. "I think I'll sleep on it thank you."

Later that night they lay in bed in peaceful slumber. But forever the light sleeper, Mulder was awakened by the cries of the small kitten in it's box in the kitchen. He looked over at Scully; she appeared to be sleeping soundly. He slipped out of bed and went into the kitchen. He flipped on the light and approached the box, smiling down on the little creature.

Having joined the ranks of the light-sleepers since becoming involved with the X-Files, Scully stirred when she heard noises coming from the kitchen. She looked over at the empty pillow next to her. She got out of bed and headed to the kitchen. She stopped in the living room and looked in on the scene in the kitchen area. Mulder was sitting at the table in his rumpled t-shirt and boxers, and there in front of him on the table was the kitten, devouring a big bowl of milk. Next to Mulder the little guy really did look like a dust-ball. Mulder gently stroked the top of it's head with a single finger. The corners of her mouth turned up slightly as she watched him; his tenderness never ceased to amaze her; his tall, lanky frame mindfully tending to that small kitten. He did like to take care of things. She thought of how he'd been when she'd been in the hospital after her disappearance; according to her mom he'd kept a near constant vigil by her bedside and refused to give up on her when everyone else was ready to let her go. Well almost everyone. She thought of the kind, devoted nurse who's reassuring whispers had helped her through her darkest moments. The nurse that she was told did not exist...

She walked up behind Mulder as he was crouching on the floor settling the kitten back into it's box. She knelt down beside him and placed an arm across his back. "I know what I want to name him."

Mulder looked over at her.


He gave her a her a slight smile as he nodded. Then, he brought her to her feet and held her against him, remembering those grim, desperate days in the hospital. During those days, he never would've imagined that he could be here like this with her now... and he was so very grateful. He kissed her, gently at first, then with more purpose. His hands moved over her back as he continued to seduce her with his kisses. "Let's go back to bed," he whispered into her mouth.

"I'm not sleepy," she whispered hoarsely back to him.

"Neither am I."

His arms tightened their hold around her waist as he straightened and lifted her gently off the ground. He walked back to the bedroom with her, lying her down on the bed and letting his hands move slowly over the silky fabric of her nightshirt. His kisses were soft and undemanding, but quickly turned more hungry. When he could feel the heat of her rising body temperature through the light fabric, he slid it over her head. He pulled off his t-shirt and boxers, then moved back for her. His body glistened with sweat as he kept rhythm on top of her; she kept her arms loosely circled around his neck as he drove her further and further towards the finish line. She opened her eyes to find him looking back at her, but he didn't appear to be seeing her; his eyes were hazy and far away with the focus of intense desire. It was at that moment that her own passion broke; her eyes closing as he felt her body arch up against his. He kissed her neck, her ear, as she relaxed underneath him. He moved his lips to hers and kissed her lightly. "Flip over," he breathed into her open mouth. He lifted himself slightly so that she could do so, then lowered himself back on top of her. He whispered softly in her ear as he moved above her. Then, his breath grew uneven against the back of her neck as his passion escalated...

They lay there afterwards holding each other in the silence of night. Mulder was on his back as Scully slept heavily against his chest. His arm curled around her, he gently caressed the skin along her upper arm. Though exhausted with satisfaction, he could not find sleep.

And his thoughts were far away.

The following morning was another changeable day in the nation's capitol; the first rays of sunrise being consumed by threatening clouds. A few fat raindrops started to sprinkle the windows of the J. Edgar Hoover building.

Joel headed down the hallway towards Greyson's office, wondering what on earth the old guy could want now. It seemed every week Greyson had some mess he needed help cleaning up, and this week was no different. He opened the door and entered the office. "I got your message Grey--" Greyson was not at his desk. Joel heard the door close behind him and turned around.

Mulder stood in the corner of the room, his hand still on the door he'd just closed, as their eyes met in mutual contempt. The distant rumble of thunder echoed in the darkening sky.

The End

Spell 7: Safe


"Joel." Mulder put his hands on his hips and approached Joel slowly. Both men stood equal height, but Joel had at least 10 pounds on Mulder. Their eyes locked in fierce competition.

Mulder had promised Scully he wouldn't do this. It took all his strength to keep the image of those beautiful blue eyes pleading with him in his mind as he regarded Joel, knowing what he had done to her.

"I'm glad you're here, Mulder, I've been wanting to have a word with you."

"Is that a fact."

"That's right." He put his hands on his hips, mirroring Mulder's position, his voice steadily rising as he spoke. "I want to know who the hell you think you are waltzing back into Dana's life after all

this time; after all you put her through."

Mulder said nothing, he was concentrating all of his attention on not throttling the man before him.

"What did you say to her? How did you convince her to do it?" Mulder's silence infuriated Joel further. He stepped closer. "You're not leaving until you tell me what you said to her! We were perfectly happy--"

"Oh don't give me that crap!" Mulder had struggled to keep his cool but Joel was pushing all the right buttons. "She barely knew you. You moved in on her when you knew she was vulnerable."

Joel's fists clenched at his sides.

Mulder thought to himself,

"Who the hell--"

Mulder could feel himself shaking badly with restraint, it was taking everything he had to maintain his self-control. He waved his hand in the air. "Look I only came here to make one thing perfectly clear to you--"

"No *you* look, if it wasn't for you Dana and I would be together right now. I lost her because of you!"

"No *you* lost her on your own the moment you decided to talk to her with your fist!" Mulder yelled.

The room fell silent; Joel could only look at him. They were both breathing heavily now.

"I don't have to explain anything to you."

"No. No you don't; you just have to listen--"

"I'm not interested in anything you have to say. You took her away from me, you--"

"She was never yours to have, Miner."

Joel's fist flew at him with surprising speed. Mulder dodged the blow and twisted Joel's arm behind his back, putting him in a wrist hold. He slammed him face-first up against the file cabinets, hard. "You listen to me if you *ever* so much as touch one hair on her head again, *nothing* will be able to stop me from coming after you and making sure you spend the rest of your life regretting it you sorry son of a bitch. Not even Dana." He released his hold and Joel turned to face him, his face furious with embarrassment.

They stared at each other.

Mulder turned and stormed out of the office, banging the door open on his way.

Joel massaged his aching jaw as he watched him go.

Later the following night they entered Scully's apartment still in

their work clothes. They had gone out to grab a bite to eat right after work, then on the spur of the moment decided to go to a movie. They came through the door still discussing the film, Mulder with the empty tub of popcorn cradled in his arm, picking at the popcorn seeds.

Scully slipped her coat of and turned around. "I'm not saying it was predictable... that's bad for your teeth... just not that much of a surprise-- it really could've only ended one of two ways." She headed for the kitchen and called for Owen. He emerged behind her from under the couch and she turned to pick him up. Mulder passed by them loosening his tie, lightly tapping the kitten's head with a

finger as he passed. "He's low on water... I'll get it."

Scully sat the kitten down as she moved for the couch and sat back heavily. A few minutes later Mulder returned from the kitchen. He knelt in front of her, putting his hands on her knees and gently pushing them apart. He settled his hips in between them and leaned her against the back of the couch. He kissed her lips softly, then again. She reached up and slid his tie from the collar, then pushed his coat and jacket off his shoulders. As they continued to kiss, he unfastened the buttons at his wrists and brought his hands up to hold her face. His body slowly came alive at her warm, wet kisses. "What's wrong with me?" he whispered into her mouth "I want you all the time." She smiled into his kiss as he pulled her blouse from the skirt and let his hand creep up under her shirt. She unbuttoned his shirt and pulled him closer against her. As things escalated, he slipped a hand behind her to the small of her back and pulled her to sit on the edge of the cushion. Her face was flush with warmth and color, her eyes heavy with desire as she looked down at him. "What are you doing?" she said thickly.

The corner of his mouth turned up slightly as he watched her, then his hands slowly slid around her back to the top of her skirt. He unfastened the button and slid it down, taking everything underneath it with him. He moved back to kiss her, then slid down to her stomach where he placed another kiss through the fabric of her shirt. He slid down a little further...

Her hands gently took hold of his face and guided him back up to her lips.

"Let me..." he whispered into her mouth.

She shook her head.

"I *want* to..." he breathed, kissing her mouth, her chin. He kissed the skin just above the opening of her blouse, then continued his descent of her midsection. He placed a gentle kiss just inside her knee, then a little further.

She had no problems giving in this regard, but for whatever reason, in her admittedly limited sexual history, she'd always felt uncomfortable and had never conceded to receiving that kind of intimacy. Maybe it was because she saw it as a complete submission, and never trusted anyone enough to let herself go like that... until now.

She propped herself back on her arms, weakened by the feel of his gentle kisses tickling the sensitive skin of her inner leg. Her head fell back as his breath traveled further up her thigh. And he took her to such places that she had never known...

The following day Scully sat at her desk going over a file. She could feel the eyes of the other agents on her all morning. Obviously Joel had told a few of his buddies about their split. They had been engaged no more than two weeks, yet the looks she was receiving made her felt like as if she'd committed the ultimate betrayal. It

had been extremely difficult for her when she'd started working in the VCS... Colton had made sure friends were scarce and that everyone knew she'd been "tainted" by working with "Spooky" Mulder. She had worked hard to gain a few of the other Agent's respect, but now it seemed she was back to square one. It was bad enough she had to avoid Joel, she couldn't avoid the whole Violent Crimes Section. She hoped Skinner would get back to her soon about the open position in the X-Files...

Mulder walked through the crowded bullpen of the VCS. Scully looked up and her eyes brightened as she caught sight of him heading towards her. They were oblivious to the stares of other agents.

His eyes smiled down at her as he arrived at the desk and crouched down beside her. "Hi."

She smiled at him. "Hi. What's up?"

"Guess who wants to see us right away?"

She raised her eyebrows at him.

Skinner eyed the two agents before him. "Am I to understand, Agent Scully, that it is your intention to ping-pong back and forth between departments at your leisure?"

"No sir."

"Then it is your intention to remain with the X-Files if this request for transfer is approved?"

"Yes sir."

Skinner eyeballed them once more. It had been a difficult decision and he had put off deliberating about it. They were trouble, no doubt about that. But he couldn't ignore the fact that they had also had one of the highest conviction rates in the Bureau. And beyond that, he liked them. He respected them. As he sat there watching them now, he knew what his decision would be. He nodded reluctantly. "All right.... I'm approving the request." He watched their eyes brighten. "That is all." They started to get up to leave.

"Agent Scully-- is that an engagement ring you're wearing?"

Mulder and Scully exchanged an uncomfortable look. "Yes sir."

"I had heard congratulations were in order. Miner is a fine agent. Let me know if you'll be needing any time off."

Scully looked quickly at Mulder then nodded. "Thank you, sir."

They got up to leave again.

"Agent Mulder can I have a word with you privately?"

Mulder looked at Scully, then back to Skinner and nodded. She got up and left.

Skinner moved around the desk to sit in front of Mulder. He took off his glasses. "You all right with this Mulder?"

"With what, sir?"

"Agent Scully's engagement. I know you two grew close during your previous work together on the X-Files, and I don't know what happened to initiate the initial request for transfer in the first place..." he paused, giving Mulder the opportunity to offer more information on the topic.

Mulder stared back at him; he wasn't about to.

Skinner cleared his throat and continued "...but obviously you've patched things up. I'm not asking as your superior, Mulder. I'm just wondering if your OK with it."

"I appreciate the thought, sir. But I can say with all honesty that I have no problem with Agent Scully's engagement." Mulder could barely contain his smile.

Skinner sized him up. "All right. That's all."

Mulder got up and left the office. Skinner looked after him and sighed inwardly, hoping he wasn't going to regret this decision. It had been a quiet two years.

Scully cornered him just outside the reception area to Skinner's office. "So what did Skinner want to talk privately with you about?"

"Wouldn't you like to know." He smiled at her annoyed expression. "He wanted to know if I was OK with your engagement."

Her expression turned amused. "Your kidding."

He shook his head.

"What did you say?"

"I told him the truth: that I have absolutely no problem with your engagement."

Now they shared a smile as Mulder stepped closer. He started to reach for her hand but a passing agent stopped him short and he brought the hand up to the back of his neck instead as Scully straightened uncomfortably. He lowered his voice. "So what do you say, Scully? When are you gonna make an honorable man out of me?" His grin taunted her.

"Mulder we've been through this. What's the rush?"

He looked at her. She was right, there was really no reason to rush things; it was simply that more than anything he wanted to be married to her. They'd already wasted too much time.

Her eyes softened at the disappointment in his face. She knew she was putting him off, because she was so afraid of making the same mistakes again. In the wake of her problems with Joel, her trust in her own judgment had been left badly bruised. But every second she spent with Mulder, the more she began to regain that confidence in her decisions. And as she looked into those eyes at that moment, she was sure of one thing: she had no doubts about this. She tilted her head to the side and smiled slyly at him. "I think telling my mother might be a good place to start."

His face brightened.

"And Skinner..."

He nodded.

"...and your mother."

He turned his head to the side.

"Mulder... you have to tell your mother."

He looked back at her. Of course he'd have to tell his mother. But

it wasn't going to be easy. Things had been so estranged between them for so long. And seeing her would just bring about a lot of bad memories. He finally nodded in response; she gave him a reassuring smile.


"Hi mom." She stepped through the doorway and hugged the older woman before her.

Concern clouded Margaret Scully's face. "Is everything OK?"

"Yes, everything's fine."

And then she could see that Dana was indeed fine; her little girl was practically glowing. She hadn't seen her like this in a long time. "What's going on?"

"Nothing, mom. Can we sit and have some tea?"

She eyed her uncertainly, then nodded and headed for the kitchen...

Margaret placed a mug in front of her daughter and sat down across from her at the small table. Dana asked about her brothers, her nieces and nephews, but she knew there was something else on her mind. After several minutes of small talk, finally it came:

Scully adopted a casual expression. "Oh, um... I'm going to be going back to work on the X-Files."

Margaret's heart sank. Dana's work with the X-files had put her in great danger on many occasions, had almost taken her life once before. And had succeeded in taking the life of her sister. No doubt she would be facing such dangers again. And of course working on the X-Files would also mean... "And what about Fox?"

Her mother simply refused to call him Mulder, and Scully had long since given up trying to get her to do so. She studied the table.

"Yes I'll be working with Mulder again."

Margaret studied her daughter's face. "But that's not all..."

Scully looked up at her mother. It was scary how she did that. She raised her eyebrows and sighed. "No. No that's not all. Mom... well let me start at the beginning." She shifted in her seat. "A few years ago, Mulder and I... we became... involved. It didn't work out, and that was the reason I initially left the X-Files."

She nodded, remembering that conversation she'd had with Fox shortly after Dana had left to work with the VCS. "What happened, Dana?"

Scully paused, examining her mug. "He did something I never thought I'd be able to forgive him for..." the words trailed off.

"What did he do?"

"I don't think I can talk about this..." her voice choked with tears.

Margaret Scully reached across the table and took her daughter's hand. Her tone was strong but compassionate. "Dana Katherine I'm your mother... you can tell me anything."

Her voice was tight with emotion as she struggled to keep the tears down. She had not planned on telling her mother about this, at least not now. She didn't know how to begin. Lowering her gaze, she started the best she could. "I was... just after we became

involved... we didn't plan it, we were careful..." she sighed heavily and brought her voice down to little more than a whisper. "I got pregnant."

Pregnant? She certainly hadn't expected that. Confusion filled her face. "Dana...?"

"Oh mom..." the tears welled in her eyes "I lost my baby..." She pulled her hand from her mother's and slumped forward on the table, burying her face in her folded arms.

Margaret got up quickly and went to her daughter's side. "Sweetheart, I'm so sorry." She caressed her back soothingly. "My God why didn't you tell me?"

She lifted her head, shaking it slowly as her mother pulled strands of hair from her tear-dampened cheeks. "I thought you'd be disappointed in me... for acting irresponsibly, for getting involved with my partner, then getting pregnant..."

"Dana I know you better than to think you acted anything less than responsibly." She ran a hand over her daughter's hair. "But I don't understand; what did Fox have to do with you losing the baby?"

Scully stood and started pacing. She wiped her hands over her face. "I had... complications. I was rushed to the ER, I was losing a lot

of blood, the doctors said I was dying but I knew... I told them not to take the baby, *don't* take the baby..." she swallowed another lump of painful memories. "Well they didn't think I was in any position to make that decision and in those cases they normally ask the father..."

"Fox told them to save you."

She stopped pacing and looked over at her mother. She brought her eyes to the floor and nodded.

"Of course..." Margaret said lowly, the conversation she'd had with Fox now becoming crystal clear.

"I blamed him."

"Honey that's a horrible position for anyone to be put in--"

"I know mom. I know," she said as she returned to the table and sat back down in front of her mother, who was still crouching next to the chair. "I wasn't thinking clearly, I shouldn't have blamed him...

I don't blame him anymore. We've moved past it."

Margaret put a hand over hers and smiled lightly. "I could see that the moment you walked through the door."

A small, embarrassed smile appeared on her face as she suppressed a laugh. She paused, then looked quickly up at her mother before returning her gaze to her lap. "He's wonderful."

Margaret nodded in response. "He's loved you a long time."

Scully looked up at her, her expression curious.

"It was so obvious to me from that first time I met him-- In your apartment the night you disappeared. And the way he was after you were found."

"Well of course, we were friends..."

She shook her head knowingly. "The strongest marriages are built on friendships, Dana."

Scully stared at her mother, surprised, then followed her gaze down to her left hand.

"How long did you think it was going to take before I noticed that thing?"

A wide grin spread across Scully's face.

The elevator doors slid open and Scully entered the crowded hallway. She worked her way through the maze of desks in the bullpen and arrived at her desk. Check that-- her old desk. She placed a last few items in the box and hoisted it up off the surface. She turned around and headed for the elevator. She gave a side ways glance to her left. Joel was sitting at his desk a few rows over... watching her. Her eyes returned to the front of the room as she picked up her pace and continued toward the elevator.

With a great sense of relief she exited the elevator and headed down the basement hallway. She paused outside the door of Mulder's office... *their* office. She smiled as she remembered that first

time she had stood outside this door {Sorry, nobody down here but the FBI's Most Unwanted}. She opened the door and entered. Mulder had cleared off her old desk.... recently she suspected, as she viewed the stacks of files on the floor in front of it. She started to put

down her box when something on the top of the desk caught her eye and she deposited the box on her chair instead. Mulder had put a sticky- note there on the surface of the desk. It read, simply: "Welcome back. I missed you." And just above it, a freshly plucked dandelion flower. She smiled as she tried to picture Mulder walking through the crowded hallways with that ridiculous weed in his hand. And though she wouldn't have thought it possible... she loved him even more.


She turned around, startled to see Mulder standing in the doorway.

"You know I'm not happy about having to find another place for these files," he teased as he entered the office. "I was just

beginning to get a system down."

"Somehow I doubt that." The corner of her mouth turned up as he approached. He smiled down on her. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he pulled her up off the ground into a strong hug.

And they were safe.

The End

Spell 8: Turbulence

Scully looked up from her paperwork to see Skinner standing in the doorway.

"Agent Scully you requested a meeting with me this afternoon but something--"

Mulder appeared behind him and Skinner moved to let him pass. "--but something came up I'm going to have to postpone it."

Mulder took a seat at his desk and pretended to read a case file.

"That isn't necessary, sir. I just had some personal news to share with you."

Skinner removed his glasses and approached the desk with a sudden look of concern that surprised her. "What is it, Scully?"

"No it's nothing like that, sir. I just wanted to tell you: my engagement with Agent Miner is off." She glanced quickly over at Mulder. "I thought you should hear it from me."

Skinner was silent as the pieces of puzzle slowly slid into place. It didn't take him long to see the whole picture. He hoped he was wrong, but if this had anything to do with Mulder... He turned his head to look at him. Mulder's head was down as he went over the file in front of him. He raised his eyes to meet Skinners, and when he did, it was quite clear to Skinner that Mulder had *everything* to do with it. The muscles along Skinner's jaw tensed. He placed his hands on his hips. "All right I want to see both of you up in my office right away." He turned and started out of the office.

Scully shot Mulder a panicked look: time we need more time. At that moment she would've given anything for even one minute alone with him *before* they got up to that office so that they could decide what they were going to tell him. She knew they'd eventually have to tell Skinner, but this was way too early and they were completely unprepared.

Mulder looked up at Skinner's back. "We'll be right up."

Skinner stopped at the door and turned around. "Right now."

Skinner moved down the hallway with the two agents trailing behind him like a couple of misbehaving kids being ushered to the principal's office. Mulder and Scully looked at each other as they followed: What do we do?

Mulder nodded at her: we should tell him.

Scully shook her head slowly at him.

Mulder raised his eyebrows at her as he motioned towards Skinner's back.

She responded with a sweeping gesture of her hand: no way.

Skinner turned around at the elevator and caught her in mid-gesture. Scully thought suddenly that he looked like a microwaved potato that someone had forgotten to poke holes in; he was on the verge of exploding.

"Am I missing something here, Agent Scully?"

Her hand dropped to the side. "No sir."

The three of them were silent as they entered Skinner's office. Mulder and Scully sat down.

Skinner took his seat behind his desk. "What the hell is going on here?"

They exchanged a look. Mulder shifted in his chair. "Sir?"

Skinner pushed his glasses back on his nose. "Agent Mulder I get the impression that you have something to do with Agent Scully's... 'dis-engagement'."

Mulder held his gaze. "No sir."

"And I get the distinct impression that you're lying to me."


Skinner moved to the front of his desk and leaned against its edge. He cleared his throat and continued. "You're both aware of the Bureau's policy on such matters?"

Scully's voice interrupted another tense moment of silence. "Hypothetically speaking, sir, if two agents who worked together did get... involved... what would the consequences be?"

He studied them both before responding. "In rare cases the agents would be allowed to continue working together, but typically policy would dictate that the agents involved be reassigned to separate sections."

"And so what would you suggest that agents who might find themselves in that position do, sir?"

Skinner took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "I would encourage said agents to give some serious consideration to continuing to work together, especially when other parties might see such a union as a weakness and decide to take advantage of the situation. Hypothetically speaking of course."

"Of course." Scully looked back over at Mulder.

Skinner sighed in exasperation and moved to sit back in his chair. He eyed them both. "Well if you're sure there's nothing else you want to tell me, that will be all."

They rose from their chairs and left.

They stopped in the hallway just outside of Skinner's office. Apparently Skinner had no intention of blowing the whistle on them; at least they had a little more time. Now they had to decide what they were going to do. Since they didn't believe the Bureau would let them continue working together, there were really only two options available to them: one of them could leave the Bureau, or they could both leave. At this point, neither option was appealing. The hallway started to fill with agents as the lunch hour approached. They straightened and headed back towards the elevator. Once again, they would have to put off discussing it. Mulder studied her profile as the elevator started its descent. Maybe postponing it

again wouldn't be such a bad idea; he had something else on his mind he'd been wanting to take care of for some time.

Margaret Scully opened the door to find herself looking up into the face of a man she hadn't seen in several years. To say he looked better than the last time she saw him would have been a gross understatement. A smile brightened her face. "Fox." Then, as suddenly as it had appeared, the smile faded from her face and a look of panic took its place. "Where's Dana is Dana OK?"

"She's fine. She's at home." He shrugged at her. "She doesn't know I'm here."

Relief drained the worry from her face. "Come in, please."

Mulder passed through the doorway, standing uncomfortably in the middle of the foyer.

"Why don't you come into the kitchen I'll make us some--"

"No. Thanks, I can't stay." He rubbed his jaw nervously, then dropped the hand back to his side. "Mrs. Scully... I owe you an apology."

She looked at him in confusion.

"That night you came to see me..."

Her face softened with kindness and understanding. She placed a hand on his arm. "You don't owe me an explanation. Dana told me what happened."

"I know. I know she came to talk to you."

She stared at him, sensing that there was more.

"But I felt like I needed to tell you, to say I'm sorry about that

night. I didn't mean to shut you out. I didn't want to do anything that might exacerbate the problems Dana and I were having... You've been so good to me--"

"It's all right, Fox."

He gave her an appreciative smile and nodded. He stood awkwardly in the silence she seemed to be quite comfortable in. "Well," he said finally, turning and opening the door, "I better go..."


On the front step he turned around to look at her.

"Take good care of my little girl."

He gave her a small smile. "I won't let you down Mrs. Scully."

"You never have Fox. You never have."

Scully rummaged in the cabinets for something to eat. It was late morning the following day and they'd just returned from a walk. She was still in her black leggings and baggy sweatshirt, her hair pulled back in a pony tail. During their walk Mulder had told her about his conversation with her mom, and she was pleased he'd felt comfortable enough to go and talk to her like that on his own; she barely knew his mother...

Mulder came into the kitchen changed into jeans and a flannel shirt. He picked up his wallet off the kitchen table and stuffed it into his back pocket.

"Where are you going?"

"Down the street to grab a paper."

She nodded in response.

"Have you seen my keys?"

"Nope," she said absent-mindedly as she pulled a candy bar out of the fridge.

Her ambivalence annoyed him; a glimmer of mischief brightened his eyes. He approached her, plucking the chocolate from her hand and placing it on the counter behind her. He rested his hands on his hips. "You're lying."

She smiled at him. "What are you talking about--"

"All right: assume the position."


He took hold of her upper arms and playfully turned her around. "Hands on the counter." He kept a hand on her shoulder to keep her from turning around.

Now she was grinning from ear to ear. "Mulder!"

"Come on you know the drill. Spread 'em." He gently kicked her ankles apart.

She laughed outright as his free hand tickled her with a mock frisking.

"Give 'em up I know you have them."

"Mulder stop it!" she cried through her laughter.

He stepped closer and she winced.

Mulder abruptly stepped back.

She turned around and faced him, a smile spreading slowly across her face. "Sucker."

His eyes smiled back at her as he slowly approached.

She backed up against the counter, her smile was wide, her eyes bright with child-like excitement.

He seized her waist and sat her up on the kitchen counter.

"Don't! Don't tickle me--Mulder please! My brothers used to tickle me I have a complex about it."

He smiled slightly at her lame excuse. "I see.." he said, sliding her off the counter.

She wrapped her legs around his waist, her arms embraced his neck as he carried her into the living area. "What are you doing?"

"Agent Scully I can see you have some unresolved issues related to tickling in your childhood." He kissed her lightly, suppressing his devilish smile. "I want you to come lie down on my couch; I think we should explore this further."

He collapsed onto the couch with her, kissing her deeply as her fingers toyed with the hair at the back of his head.

She broke from the kiss and smiled at him through half-closed eyes. "Is this a normal part of your therapy, Doctor?"

"Yes. Yes it is." He grinned back at her. "And I also like to videotape my sessions; I hope you don't have a problem with that." He brought his lips back to hers as his hands started their journey over precious familiar territory.

The door bell interrupted them; Mulder pulled from her kisses and sighed heavily in irritation. He got up off the couch and started to head for the door. Scully sat up quickly, reaching out to take hold

of his arm. "Last time I checked this was still my apartment," she teased.

He put a hand over his heart. "Ouch."

Scully got off the couch and moved to the door. She stood on her tip-toes and peered through the peep-hole, then looked back at Mulder and raised her eyebrows at him. She opened the door.

A delivery man passed through holding a bouquet of at least two dozen red roses. "Miss Scully?"

Scully glanced questioningly over at Mulder-- this wasn't exactly his style...

He shrugged back at her.

The delivery man placed the flowers on the coffee table and turned to leave.

"Wait a minute I'll get my purse..."

"No that's all right, it's been taken care of."


He disappeared through the door.

Scully moved to the flowers and opened the accompanying card.


She looked over at Mulder and swallowed, then her eyes returned to the card. "It's from Joel."

The light left his eyes as a shadow of rage and disbelief passed over his face. Joel?? How could he have the audacity to try and make contact with her after the conversation they'd had? He walked over to Scully and took the card from her hand, reading the message for himself. His breathing deepened and his jaw tightened as the anger seethed through him. He looked back at Scully. "What the hell does he think he's doing?" He threw the card back to the table and started pacing as his he ran his hands through his hair. "I can't believe


Scully approached him and took hold of his arm. "Mulder." He looked at the floor, passing a hand over his face as he tried to

regain his calm. She squeezed his arm and waited for him to look at her. When she finally had him in her gaze, she shrugged her shoulders. "It's just flowers, Mulder. I don't want them. Especially not from him."

He stared at her, the anger slowly ebbing.

"And frankly I'm a little insulted you'd think I'd even give one second's thought to going back to him after what he did. And with what we have."

He continued to study her face. The simple fact was, she *had* left him before, despite "what they had". He was a trained psychologist; he understood what she had gone through, and that she'd been acting out of unbearable pain. They'd worked through all that. But he was

also human, and his own pain over that whole mess had left him with a deep scar of insecurity. "It's not that Scully. I just don't trust

him. I want to know what he's up to."

"Who cares?" She shook her head at him. "Let him send all the flowers he wants."

And he did just that. As the weeks turned into months, the flowers continued to come, along with the accompanying cards:





Scully had left several messages with Joel's voice mail for him to stop sending the flowers, but to no avail. And with each card, she had to watch as Mulder just barely succeeded in swallowing that bitter lump of jealousy. The flowers always went directly into the trash, but Mulder insisted on torturing himself by reading the cards. He gave a valiant attempt at feigning indifference, but the clenched jaw, the darkening of his eyes, revealed his emotions.

And as the weeks turned into months, their love blossomed, despite Joel's occasional reminders of a time that both of them wanted to forget. Yet even as their love moved forward, the circumstances surrounding them remained the same. It wasn't that they weren't willing to take the next steps, but more that they were reluctant to upset the status quo. They were enjoying every minute of this tranquil time together, and they knew that these steps would only bring about more turbulence to their lives. So they continued to struggle with what seemed like insuperable decisions; never making any headway, never moving any closer to viable solutions... They still hadn't decided on what they were going to do about work. And Mulder had yet to tell his mother that he and Scully were even seeing each other beyond friendship. He knew that this was what he had to do next. But as much as he wanted to move forward with Scully, he dreaded talking to his mother almost as much.

"Hi." Scully entered the office and closed the door behind her. "What are you working on?"

"Skinner wants this report before the day's over."

Sensing his mood, Scully watched him. She knew it wasn't that report that was bothering him. This whole thing with Joel was wearing heavily on his mind. Mulder never did anything half- heartedly, and he loved no less completely; when he fell, he fell hard. This situation with Joel was tearing him up and he was barely coping. A pang of guilt jabbed at her stomach and she went to him. She hugged him from behind as he sat at his desk. She closed her eyes and turned her face into his neck. "I love you."

The corners of his mouth turned up slightly. He turned around and pulled her down into his lap. "Yeah... yeah I kind of suspected that when you started letting me sleep with you."

She smirked at him.

His face turned serious and he ran a hand lightly over her hair. "I love you too." He studied her face. "Are you OK?"

"I was going to ask you the same thing."

He stared at her, and thought how good she was at reading him. He'd have thought that after all this time he would've come to expect it, but it still amazed him. He pulled her close, resting his head

against the warmth of her chest. As he nuzzled closer, his cheek came against something hard underneath her shirt. He reached up to undo her top button, then pulled her necklace up through the collar. His engagement ring was hanging on the chain next to her cross. He looked up at her, curious.

She smiled at him. "I can' t wear it on my finger where it belongs, and I wanted to be able to wear is somewhere."

Mulder smiled as he regarded the his ring resting against her cross. Somehow, it only seemed right that that was where it should be. For now anyway.

"So when are you meeting Skinner?"

Mulder stood, bringing Scully to her feet as he did. "Now. I'm going to head out afterwards, will you be ready to go?"

"I have my own report to finish up, you can go ahead, I'll see you at my place a little later?"

He took her hand and smiled. "OK. But don't be too long."

She smiled back.

Mulder entered the men's room a short time later and came face to face with Joel. He was standing in front of one of the urinals finishing up his business. Mulder approached him, glancing down briefly before bringing his eyes back up to Joel's. "You know I think I saw one of those on an hors d'oeuvre tray once," he deadpanned.

Joel blinked, then scowled as he hiked up his zipper. "If you came here to hassle me about the flowers forget it."

Mulder stared at him.

"You really didn't think I'd give up so easily did you? Two can play this game you know."

"I'm not playing games here Miner."

"Like hell you aren't. But that's all right. We'll see who's the

better player in the end."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

Joel shook his head at him. "Isn't it enough that you've blacklisted her in the Bureau, ruined her career? In the end she *will* blame you for that. And she'll regret the day she ever laid eyes on 'Spooky Mulder'."

Joel's words hit home; Mulder flinched inwardly.

"And when that happens and her world falls apart, I'll be there to pick up the pieces... just like I was before."

And suddenly it was very clear to Mulder what this was all about- a challenge; nothing more than a challenge. It was about Joel wanting something he couldn't have, and his inability to handle what he saw as a defeat.

Joel straightened his tie in the mirror and turned back to face Mulder. "Who knows? Maybe I'll get a little piece of that ass after all..."

Mulder's self-control disintegrated with an explosion of rage as he grabbed Joel's collar roughly and forced him back into the wall.

Two agents that were entering the bathroom saw what was going on and rushed over to pull Mulder off of Joel. Mulder continued to lunge for him as the agents held him back.

Joel smiled at him.

Mulder shook the other agents off. "Back off! I said back off!" They released him and he stepped back, straightening his jacket.

Agent Wills sneered at Mulder. "What're you doing up here anyway? Don't you belong down in the basement, Spooky?"

Mulder ignored Wills and kept his stare fixed on Joel, regarding him with a wolf's fierce protectiveness.

Wills stepped in front of him. "You listening, Mulder?"

Mulder gave Wills a quick shove back, then glanced once more at Joel before storming out of the bathroom.

That evening Scully glanced at Mulder sitting on the couch as she came into the apartment and shut the door. Keeping her hand on the door knob, she turned her head the slightest bit in his direction.

Her voice was low and even. "What happened in the men's room today?"

Mulder stared at her.

She turned around to face him. Her voice rose. "What happened, Mulder?"

He turned his head to the side and started. "Scully..."

"I asked you not to do it. I *told* you I had--"

"It was an accident, Scully." Mulder's voice rose to match hers; her tone putting him on the defensive. "I ran in to him by accident, and he just started pushing all my buttons. He thinks this is some kind of game! This guy is dangerous, I'm telling you; dangerous or stupid.

I had made it perfectly clear to him the last time..." His voice

trailed off.

Scully's eyes widened with anger.

Mulder leaned forward on the couch and took a deep breath. He was silent a few seconds before continuing. "All right. I went to see

him a few days after it happened." He looked up at her.

She closed her eyes and shook her head at him.

"Nothing happened. We just talked."

"Right. That's where you gave him the 'this town's not big enough for the two of us' speech?"

"That's when I made it perfectly clear to him that if it ever happened again..."

"What? Did you threaten him, Mulder? That's precisely what I asked you *not* to do. I told you I took care of it."

"Well obviously you didn't."

A quick breath of indignation escaped her. She approached the couch and took a deep breath. "That's not the point; you know that... you didn't know at the time--"

Mulder abruptly stood from the couch. "I'm sorry Scully. I couldn't just leave it alone. But it's over and done with, I can't take it

back now."

"No, but you can make sure it doesn't happen again."

He grabbed his coat of the chair. "No, I can't."

"Damn it Mulder!"

He scooped his keys off the side table.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm not going to stay here and let you force me into making another promise I can't keep. I need to go."


The door slammed closed behind him.

A little over an hour later Mulder opened the door slowly and came into the apartment. Scully was sitting on the couch in her pajamas, flipping through a magazine while the TV played an old rerun of "The Avengers". Owen slept heavily on the cushion next to her. She glanced at him briefly as he entered. Mulder moved to the nearby chair and collapsed into it, his hands still stuffed into his jacket pockets. He looked over at her as she studied her magazine, then brought his eyes back to his lap.

Scully eyed him sideways over her magazine and watched him sulking in the chair next to her, then returned her gaze to the magazine.

Mulder looked back over at her. He rose from the chair and approached the couch, depositing himself heavily next to Scully. He was quiet for a minute. "I don't like when we fight."

She dropped the magazine to her lap and looked at him. "Neither do I."

They stared at each other.

Mulder reached over and took her hand in his. "Scully... I'm sorry.

I never should have made that promise in the first place." His stare was intense; he spoke slowly, punctuating every word. "And I can't make it again."

She studied his face as his eyes pleaded with her. She squeezed his hand tightly. "Then *please*, just promise me you'll try... *really* try."

He nodded slowly and pulled her to him. He kissed the top of her head and closed his eyes. They stayed silent like that for a minute, then Mulder reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small key chain. A single key hung from its clasp.

Scully titled her head up to look at him. "What's that?"

His eyes smiled back at her. "Ever been to Martha's Vineyard?"

The End

Spell 9: Outrunning Past

Mulder was having the dream again. He didn't have it every night, just once in a while- always when he was beginning to think he'd dreamt it for the last time. It started well after that night: the

night she'd been taken away. Well after he'd stopped going to that mountain every night. Well after he'd stopped staring into the starry sky, waiting for one of those stars to open up and send her back to him. And in his dream, he got his wish...

A small figure lay huddled in the clearing below, deposited there by a beam of light that seemed to come directly from the sky itself. He would tear down that hill, trench coat flying behind him like a witch's cape, hair forced straight back on his head from sheer force of speed. Arriving a few feet in front of her, he would stop cold and stare at the figure before him, terrified of what he might find: what had they done to her? Would she be the same Dana Scully? Would she even remember him? Coming within arm's reach of her, he would tentatively extend his hand to the small body quaking underneath the sheet, carefully sliding it back from her head. Then the confusion would wash over him, his brows knitting together in disbelief as the woman turned her head to look at him. "Kristen? What-- Where is she? Where did you take her? Answer me!" But all she would do is stare back at him, her small smile sending a chill down his spine and turning his blood ice cold. That's when he would see it: the wolf. A black wolf at the edge of the wood, barely perceptible in the murky darkness. But the eyes, those yellow eyes, were clearly visible through the night. It watched him: the untamed, the guardian, protector; mate for life. Mulder stared back at his soul's reflection. The creature looked back into the forest behind

it, as if some silent sound had caught its attention. Mulder could see, two by two, other pairs of eyes gleaming back at him from deeper in the woods. He would watch, mesmerized, as the wolf turned and headed back into the forest, then, with a start, he would dash off after him. For what seemed like endless minutes, he would blindly follow the pack deeper and deeper into the thick woods, knowing with a horrible sense of certainty where they were taking him: towards the smell of death... to her. And yes, there she was, in a small circle of woods that wasn't woods at all, but an unnatural

circle of man-made floor in the middle of the forest. A single light suspended from nowhere cast light on the small body curled on her side with her back to him. Patches of the white hospital gown she wore were smeared with blood -- fresh blood. Her red hair hung longer down her back then when he had last seen her. But the most horrifying thing, the most devastating, was that he was immediately aware that there was no movement from her. None. Not even the barely perceptible rise and fall of her side as her lungs took in air.

She was still, too still... deathly still. And he would know that he was too late; she was gone. He would approach her, his knees weakening with every step, until he'd collapsed beside her. Turning her towards him, he would gather her in his arms, taking small comfort in the smooth skin of her face against his cheek. And the rage and despair and hatred would brew in his soul like a potent poison. He would hold her, and even as her corpse grew cold in his embrace, he would not release her, because he didn't want her to think that she had died alone... that if some small part of her still remained, he wanted her to know that he was there. Then he was furious with himself. Furious for not paying more attention the last time he'd seen her. But he had been annoyed with her; had walked out on her, leaving her sitting there. Why had he done that? Why hadn't he taken that last precious moment to tell her? To say I need you, my life hasn't been the same since I met you, I can't imagine it without you. To say thank you for being my friend. He buried his face in the tangled mop of her hair. "Please don't go yet, Scully,

you didn't say goodbye." His voice would break as the sadness overwhelmed him and the tears burned in his eyes. "You didn't say goodbye..." he would whisper through the strands of her hair. Then she was fading slowly away, like a ghostly apparition, and he'd be left holding that small gown, keeping it tight against his face, still smelling of her... but then that was fading too...

Mulder woke with a start, then quickly turned his head to look at the other side of the bed. She was lying there next to him, as always, warm and safe and ALIVE. He stared at her for a second, the sweat gleaming on his brow. He finally let out the breath he'd been holding, then turned on his side to pull her against his chest. He held her, cherishing every warm breath that fell against his neck. "Dana..." he whispered softly in her ear as she slept, "my life..."

He pulled the blankets up tighter around her. She snuggled closer to him in her sleep, and soon he followed.

The alarm went off early, well before daybreak, signaling that is was time for them to get up to start preparing for their drive to Massachusetts. It was going to be a long trip.

Scully silenced the alarm and rolled back over to face Mulder as he stretched beside her in the gray dawn of morning. She propped her head up on her hand and looked down at him.

He opened his eyes to find her staring at him. "What is it?"

She pulled her eyes from his and studied the sheet. After a moment, she looked back at him. "Who's Kristen?"

Mulder blinked at her. "What?"

"Who's Kristen? You were saying that name in your sleep."

He continued to stare at her, she stared back. He sat up and looked back at her. "It's not what you think, Scully."

Her stomach tightened. "What am I thinking?"

"It was a long time ago, when you were gone... I was working on this case in L.A."

"Right, you told me about that--something about a trinity of 'vampires'."

Mulder nodded and turned to better face her on the bed. "Well what I didn't tell you... that woman who I was protecting..."

"The one who died in the fire?"

"Right-- Kristen. Well... I became more... involved with her than I should have."

Scully was silent as she realized what he was saying. "Oh..." She pulled her eyes from his as she sorted out her emotions. It had been a long time ago, to be sure, but she couldn't help it-- she was hurt. Hurt that while she had been taken and subjected to God knows what, that while she had been fighting for her life, her partner, her friend, had been...

Mulder interrupted her thoughts. "Scully," The disappointment in her eyes tore at his heart. It was worse than he ever could've imagined. He placed a hand over hers. "There's no excuse for it; I know that. But I need you to know what kind of state I was in."

Her eyes dropped to the bed as he continued.

"It nearly destroyed me, you being taken. Not knowing what they were doing to you. And that it was my fault--"


He silenced her with a hand. "No. That's the truth, Scully. If

you'd never met me or befriended me they never would've taken you. That's just something I've had to learn to live with."

"You don't know that Mulder. You said it yourself: fate."

Mulder considered this and nodded slowly. "But at the time, I was devastated. I wasn't eating or sleeping, or bathing for that matter. About the only thing I was doing was drinking a lot more than I should have. Skinner had reopened the X-files but... it wasn't the same. Then this case came along, and I was desperate to forget, and I let myself get caught up in it. I wanted that darkness, Scully. I

put myself in danger, I slept with a suspect, because you were gone, and I didn't care if I died too. I guess subconsciously I thought that at least then maybe the pain might stop."

As she listened to his words, the hurt subsided, because she understood. Of all people, she knew first hand how pain could effect a person. But her heart was sad. Why were things always so complicated? Why did it seem hurting each other was unavoidable? Would they spend the rest of their lives outrunning the past? As she looked at him, she saw it didn't matter. What was important was where they were now, and where they were headed, that in spite of everything they'd been through, they were together. She reached over and squeezed his hand. "Well that doesn't quite explain why you were dreaming about her," she teased.

Mulder smiled sheepishly and nodded, not meeting her eyes, then his face turned serious once more. "Nightmares, Scully. Just nightmares."

He looked up at her briefly, seeing that she understood, then both of their eyes returned to his hands.

"I said before it was no excuse. I meant that professionally... and personally."

Scully looked up at him. "Mulder, you don't need to apologize. We weren't anything more than partners at the time--"

"Yes we were, Scully. Yes we were."

Those blue eyes stared back at him.

"You know that. Even then, as much as we pushed it away, we were more than partners. At the very least we were friends, and I feel

like I betrayed you." His voice was low and tremulous, threatening to break as he finished. "I'm so sorry."

"Mulder..." she moved to him and encircled her arms around his neck. "You don't have to apologize," she said into his neck. "It's

all right. I understand."

He tightened his hold on her.

"I understand."

She pulled from his shoulder to look at him. He kissed her softly, his hands gently caressing her back. And he never had that nightmare again.

"You ready to go, Scully?!" Mulder called from the kitchen.

Her muffled response came from the bedroom. "What?!"

Mulder gathered their breakfast dishes from the table. He turned towards the sink to find the cat sitting on the counter in an outright breach of protocol. Over the past few months, Owen had grown from dust-ball to full-blown tumbleweed. "Owen get off the counter." Mulder set the dishes in the sink.

Owen blinked at him, then bunkered down on the counter until his front paws had disappeared under the long hair of his chest.

"Scully you're raising an unruly child!" he called into the bedroom.

"Mulder I can't hear you!" she called back.

Mulder leaned against the counter with one hand, resting the other on his hip as he directed his conversation towards the cat. "You know the rules: no quadrupeds on the counter."

Scully breezed into the kitchen, glancing briefly at Mulder and Owen as she headed for the refrigerator. "What were you saying? Owen get off the counter." The cat promptly jumped down and trotted out of the kitchen area. Mulder looked after him in exasperation. Scully pulled some fruit from the crisper. "I'm going to bring us something to eat for the trip. How long will it take us

do you think?"

"Well my mom's expecting us for a late lunch and I'm hoping to make that; depends on traffic. Ready to go?"

"All set."

Mulder's mom had moved back to the Vineyard soon after his father's death. Maybe out of some sense of obligation, or guilt, he had willed it to her, along with most of his estate. Mulder had told his mother that they were going to be in the area for a case they were working on and wanted to stop by. They had planned for a short visit-- a bite to eat, and then to head back to Washington. Last minute planning meant that hadn't been able to get a flight, so they'd be pressed for time. It would be very late by the time they got home, but they were both anxious to get back to the little niche of life they'd carved out for themselves; to their security blanket.

It was mid-spring and a beautiful day in the northeast. The temperature slowly fell as they traveled; by the time they got off

the New Jersey Turnpike and pulled up to the toll on the George Washington Bridge, it was downright chilly. As they idled in line at the toll, Mulder looked over at Scully sitting in the passenger seat next to him. She'd been quiet the entire trip, and Mulder knew she was nervous about seeing his mom. But he wasn't sure why. He lowered the volume on the radio. "What's on your mind, Scully?"

She shrugged in response.

"What are you so nervous about?"

She stared out over the rows of cars in front of them. "I barely know your mother, Mulder. I'm just concerned about how she's going to react to this."

"She likes you."

"As your *partner*, not as your wife--" Scully stopped short, startled by her slip of the tongue. They quickly turned their heads

to look at each other.

Scully clamped a hand over her mouth, suppressing a laugh.

The corners of his mouth turned up the slightest bit. "So is that how you think of yourself?" he teased.

She dropped her hand from her face, avoiding his gaze. "Apparently..."

He reached an arm across the seat and took her hand in his. "Well good, 'cause it's only a matter of time."

"Hi mom."

Mrs. Mulder smiled at her son as she pulled him into an embrace. "Fox."

"You've met my partner Dana Scully."

Scully extended her hand. "Hello."

"Miss Scully, it's nice to see you again."

"Dana, please."

Mrs. Mulder gave a quick nod. "Dana. Come in, both of you."

"Sorry we're so late mom, there was traffic."

"That's all right, Fox." She eyed them both in the uncomfortable silence. "Well, you must be starving. Excuse me." She headed off into the kitchen.

Mulder put an arm around Scully as she stood awkwardly in the foyer and offered her a smile.

She smiled uneasily back at him. She slowly took in her surroundings before looking back at Mulder. "I think you should talk to her alone."

Mulder opened his mouth to protest, then stopped. She was probably right: he should do this alone. He nodded at her.

"I'm going to take a walk."

"Come here," he said softly, pulling her into a hug.

Scully sat on the shore with her elbows resting on her knees, looking out over the ocean. Day was rapidly fading into night-- the sun had disappeared over the horizon and left the sky that violet gray that seemed to belong exclusively to dusk. This talk with his mom was taking longer than she'd expected; it was way past time for even a late lunch. She hoped it was going well. Ignoring her growling stomach, she took in a deep breath of the heavy salt air as the wind blew wisps of hair around her face. Up and down the shore, she could see lights starting to come on as night started its descent. Scully watched the circling gulls and thought about her friend, her love, about what his childhood must have been like. No, he hadn't spent all of it here. There had been Chilmark-- with Samantha... the happier times. Then, after her disappearance, his world had fallen apart. Scully supposed that that was probably when he'd become the Fox Mulder she now knew: determined, focused, driven. He had grown up very early, his sister's abduction being the catalyst, and had spent from that day forward in his relentless quest to find her.

It seemed that since they'd become more than partners, he'd been able to diffuse some of that intensity and focus. Scully knew that his desire to find Samantha had not diminished, but that a kind of optimism had come over him; a certainty that he *would* find her, someday; that is was fate. But she could still see the guilt there in his eyes, the pain, whenever they talked about it. She was sure his parents had been loving in their own way--she knew they'd never been physically abusive; but in her eyes they were responsible for emotional torture. Mulder had spent his life feeling like his

sister's abduction had been his fault. And they had let him shoulder that responsibility, knowing full well the culpability rested with them.

Mulder approached her from behind, startling her from her thoughts when he draped a heavy sweatshirt over her shoulders. He sat behind her in the sand and pulled her back against his chest. He pressed his cheek against hers, it was cool and soft. He tightened his hold on her. "You're cold."

She inhaled deeply. "Feels good. How'd it go?"

"Fine." She could feel him shrug against her back. "Mom never says much either way. We got into talking about Samantha. And Dad. She did invite us to have something to eat and stay the night, though.

That OK with you?"

She smiled into the wind. "I'd love to."

He nuzzled his face into the hair that fell against her neck.

She turned her face in his direction. "What about Owen?"

"He's got plenty of dry food and water. He can go without canned for one night."

"Yes but he'll be picketing when we get back."

Mulder smiled against her neck and rose to his feet. He extended a hand to Scully, helping her to hers. "Come on, let's go see if we can give her a hand with dinner."

Dinner came and went quickly. Mrs. Mulder was a kind and hospitable woman, but had a certain formality about her that kept Scully from feeling completely comfortable in her presence. When the last of the dishes had been stowed back in the cupboards, Mrs. Mulder turned to her son. "I've prepared your rooms for you."

Scully smiled at her. "Thank you, dinner was wonderful."

"Your very welcome." She smiled awkwardly at the two. "Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to turn in."

The three exchanged good nights and Mrs. Mulder left them to themselves in the kitchen. Scully turned around and raised her eyebrows at Mulder, giving him an unsure smile.

Mulder gently lay his hands on her shoulders. "Come on, I'll show you upstairs."

Scully entered the guest room. It was warm and cozy and Mulder's mother had laid out some towels and an extra blanket for her on the small twin bed. Mulder went over to the bureau and opened the top drawer. "There's some extra clothes in here. Mom is nothing if not prepared."

She smiled and approached him, peering into the drawer. "Is there a t-shirt or something in there that I can sleep in?"

He rummaged through the drawer, then tried the two below. "No, just this," he said, holding up a simple white cotton nightgown that would probably hang to the floor on her.

Scully stood on her tip-toes and pulled at the v of his flannel shirt, attempting to look underneath it. "You wear one?"

"No not today. Is this OK?" he asked, displaying the gown.

"No it's fine," she said, taking it from his hands. "It's just these things always wind up bunching up around my waist, but I can handle it for one night."

Mulder grinned at her. "If you need help de-bunching in the night..."

She smiled back and stepped closer, wrapping her arms around his waist.

He kissed the top of her head before she pulled away. "Where's the bathroom?"

"Down the hall to the right."

Scully stepped closer. She looked up at him, her tone was conspiratorial. "Sure you can't sneak back here?"

He smiled at the mischief in her eyes. "You know I'd love to. But

I'd rather not rock the boat... mom's old fashioned..."

Scully nodded. "OK." She looked at him for another moment, reluctant for him to leave. Finally she offered him a small smile. "Goodnight."

"'Night." He leaned down to kiss her gently, then brought his lips to her ear. "Thank you," he whispered.

She squeezed his hand and watched him go.

Later that night Mulder found himself tossing and turning restlessly. He'd grown used to sleeping next to that warm little body. Maybe he would sneak down the hallway after all...

Mulder opened the door carefully and crept into Scully's room. Halfway into the room he realized that she wasn't there.

He found her out on the rarely used back porch overlooking a small cove. She was sitting up on the picnic table, her feet on the bench, staring out into the night sky. Mulder watched her. The moonglow caressed her hair, giving it the appearance of living fire, the white gown reflected the same soft light and created a shimmering haze around her. A creaking board signaled his presence as he stepped out onto the porch. Scully turned her head back to look at him.

Mulder approached her. "Can't sleep?"

"Guess I've gotten too used to having you beside me."

He smiled and nodded in understanding.

Her gaze passed over the cove. "Mild night."

"Yeah, that's New England weather for you."

Mulder approached her and lightly touched her arm, running a finger down to her hand. She closed her eyes as he did. He lay a hand on her knee, turning her to face him as he stood at the end of the table. With a single finger he traced the low collar of her nightgown and saw her skin immediately tighten into goose flesh. He moved his hands up her throat to lightly hold her neck, then started a gentle stream of kisses along her lips. Her mouth opened to him and Mulder stepped closer, positioning himself in between her legs. He slowly started drawing up the fabric of her nightgown until he could slide his hands underneath. He caressed her outer thighs, then moved his hands to her waist to pull her to the end of the table.

She titled her head back as his kisses moistened her neck. He moved his hand to the front of his boxers...

"Mulder, not here... let's go back upstairs."

He shook his head at her. "Those beds are old and noisy... and she's a light sleeper." He leaned her back on the table.

"A light sleeper?!" she whispered fiercely against his lips. "We

can't stay here."

His kiss turned into a smile. "She won't be able to hear us out here..."

She caught her breath as he found her, bringing her arms up around his neck as he started his movement on top of her. She sighed softly in his ear, then inhaled quickly.

"What's wrong?"

"I think I'm getting splinters..."

Mulder smiled and slowly pulled from her. He pulled her up to a sitting position and helped her off the table.

"What are you doing?"

He took her hand and moved to the side of the table, sitting himself on the bench. "Come here." He took her hands and guided her to him until she was kneeling over his lap. With a single finger he drew down the strap of her nightgown, letting it fall loosely off her shoulder. She held his face, her hair lightly tickling his face as

she leaned down to kiss him. He brought his hands up under her nightgown and guided her to him. Her arms loosely circled his neck as he moved inside her, tightening his hold on her waist as the sweat gleamed on his forehead. She broke from his kiss and exhaled sharply into his neck as a crest of pleasure swelled in her lower

half. As her warm breath spread over the skin of his neck, a tightening sensation at the base of his stomach signaled his own release was eminent...

They sat there afterwards, Scully sitting in front him, her back against his chest, enjoying the gentle breeze of that calm night.

They were quiet for a long time, then Mulder's voice, low at her ear, broke the silence. "My mom was wondering if we'd set a date."

"Was she surprised we hadn't?"

"No." Mulder cleared his throat. "But it has been a while since we've talked about it. Have you given any more thought to it?"

"You mean have I changed my mind?" she taunted.

"No I meant... have you?"


"Well what I meant is have you thought any more about the wedding."

She knew exactly what he meant, but was having fun watching him squirm. "Wedding?"

Mulder's voice indicated his exasperation. "Yeah you know: guests, invitations, flowers."

She could no longer contain her smile. "Flowers?"

"Yes. Have you thought about what you might want? I don't even know your favorite kind." Remembering Joel's gifts, he ventured a guess. "Roses?"

She shook her head and turned it back in his direction. She smiled widely. "Dandelions."


"I am serious."

Mulder sighed lightly against his ear. "Come on, Scully, you know what I mean."

She took pity on him. "I like daisies."


She nodded. "Ever since I was a little girl. I always thought they were such... sunny, happy flowers."

"Then daisies you'll have."

She smiled slightly. "I'm still disappointed about the dandelions, though."

He smiled back against her ear. After a minute he continued. "What are you going to do about your name?

"What do you mean?"

"I mean your last name, once we're married."

"Well I thought I'd be taking yours..."

Mulder smiled. "Really?"

"Yes, why do you sound so surprised?"

"I didn't know if you'd want to." He shrugged against her back. "You know..."

"Isn't that the point? You find someone you love enough to take their name?"

"Not necessarily I know a lot of women keep their maiden names now. You've established yourself professionally as Dana Scully, you don't have to change that; I don't want you to feel obligated to change that. I wouldn't be hurt or insulted."

Scully was silent for a moment as she considered this. She'd always been a little old-fashioned about this subject. But she wondered where Mulder was coming from. Was he afraid of her taking his name because of the stigma attached to it in the Bureau? She had to admit that for part of her that was precisely the reason she *did* want to take it.

Mulder misinterpreted her silence and decided to break the moment with humor. "Well you could always take my first name."

Scully turned her head slightly back at him, her eyebrows raised.

"Then we could be Fox Mulder and Fox Scully. It's not like we ever call each other by our first names anyway."

"Well sometimes we do..." she teased.

"Mmm, I like those times" he said, nuzzling into her neck.

"What I'll probably do is keep my maiden name professionally, and socially I'll be 'Mrs. Fox Mulder'."

Mulder was grinning from ear to ear, loving the sound of those words. He never thought he'd find anyone who would want that, or that *he* would want to be that, and least of all that it would be Dana Scully. He pulled her closer against him.

At Scully's request, Mulder had gone to the store to pick up a few munchies for their trip back; Scully had wanted a few minutes alone with his mother. But as she stood there now helping the woman clear the breakfast dishes, Scully felt as if she was losing her

nerve. So she decided to tackle it head-on... "I was wondering... how you were feeling about all of this."

Mrs. Mulder stood at the sink washing the dishes with her back to Scully. "What? Oh... I, I think it's nice that Fox has found someone he wants to spend the rest of his life with."

Scully moved to the counter beside the sink and leaned against it. "But...?"

"Well I must admit this seems a little sudden to me."

"I can assure you it's not. Mulder and I had been considering moving beyond partnership for a long time. And we've been together for a while now."

"It just seems.... strange to me. I worry that maybe the lines of

your professional and personal feelings have just become... blurred. You two spend a great deal of time together, and it's only natural you'd grow close." She shrugged lightly as she scrubbed at a stubborn pan. "But I wonder how close... you still call each other by your last names."

Scully stared at her. She was unable to explain why they still called each other Mulder and Scully. As partners, that's just what agents did, but once they'd moved beyond that, the use of last names continued. He was just... *Mulder* to her. And he always would be. She supposed it was the same for him. She was just Scully, and though he occasionally called her Dana, for the most part their first names were reserved for those special, intimate moments between them when it just felt right to do so. In many ways it made sense: professionally, it was appropriate that they call each other by their last names. But personally, since no one else in their respective families referred to them as Mulder and Scully, the fact that they did so held a certain intimacy about it. But it was useless to try and explain it to anyone else, even his mother, so all she could do was continue to stare back at her.

Mrs. Mulder turned off the water, wiped her hands on the dishtowel and turned to face Scully. She lay a hand on her arm. "It's nothing personal, Dana. I suppose I'm just being an overprotective mother. I'm very happy for you both." She offered a thin, tight smile. "Really."

Scully returned a weak smile of her own. And she didn't quite believe that that was true.

The months moved on. As they prepared to officially notify the Bur eau of their "situation", they started to make plans for their

possible departure from the X-files. Chances were they'd be split up, but just in case they were both removed from the project they wanted to be able to keep as much access to the X-files data as possible. So, in blatant disregard for rules or procedures, they spent long nights photocopying files, dubbing video and audio cassettes, photographing items in evidence bags. They expected these things would never be missed, most likely the X-files would remain as they had been before Mulder stumbled across them: gathering dust under plastic sheets. But they decided it was better to be cautious, so

they didn't remove anything from the office.

And as the months moved on, Joel's flowers arrived with dwindling frequency and, eventually, stopped coming altogether.

Things were quiet with their families, despite the occasional subtly dropped hint from Scully's mom at when they might set a date for the wedding.

But for them, things were never quiet for long. And the past was never far.

The Spell Series - Compiled By Kelli Rocherolle

All the roads we have to walk are winding, and all the lights that lead the way are blinding... -Oasis

Spell 10: Believe

Scully sighed as she turned off the shower and reached for her robe. She *really* didn't feel like going. Normally she didn't mind these Bureau functions, but she was tired, she hadn't slept well last night, and it had been one of those days at work. The last thing she wanted to do was get dressed up and go out. Why did they have to have these things in the middle of the week anyway?

Mulder appeared behind her in the mirror dressed in his tux, his bow tie hanging loosely around his neck. He lifted a towel off its hook and draped it over her head, gently rubbing it back and forth over her wet hair. A heavy sigh drifted up from underneath the towel.

Mulder continued to work at her hair. "What is it?"

"I'm tired; I don't feel like going to this thing."

"So don't go."

"You're all ready..."

"So I'll get unready."

"No that's all right. Just give me a few minutes--"

"Scully, don't go if you don't want to. I'll go make a quick appearance for the both of us and head back home."

She reached up and pulled down the towel. "Your sure?"


Scully smiled gratefully at his reflection. And she remembered a night of another Bureau function, one that seemed so long ago, a night that held a first dance and a timid kiss that started their

lives in a new and irreversible direction... {but sometimes Scully... I want you so badly it hurts...}. At first she didn't think she'd heard him right, because she couldn't possibly believe he'd say those words. As she studied the handsome face behind her now, she wondered once more what it was about her that had attracted him to her in the first place. Certainly she had a lot to offer a man, but Mulder was different (She had to admit, so was Joel). Mulder was one of those guys who'd never given her a second glance in school, one of those jocks who passed over the brainiacs for the cheer leading squad. But what she didn't know, was that Mulder had never been one of 'those' guys. That he'd been one of the bright, quiet kids, the loners who

sat in the back of the class. *Exactly* the type of guy who would've daydreamed about the smart little red-haired girl in the front row.

"Hello? Earth to Scully..."

She focused quickly back at his reflection, pulling herself from her thoughts.

"What are you daydreaming about Ralph Feinnes again?"

"Very funny."

"What he's not your type?"

She smirked back at him. "Not necessarily."

"Oh no?" He pulled her back into his arms. "So what is your type?"

She smiled at his reflection through wisps of still-damp hair. "Tall dark and Spooky."

Mulder smiled back, pulling her tighter against his chest. "How fortunate for me."

Her eyes faltered as he started a steady stream of gentle kisses below her ear. "Stop that..."

"Why?" he whispered.

"You have to go..."

"I can be late..."

As his hands passed lightly over the front of her, the robe slipped

off one of her shoulders. The corner of his mouth turned up in a devilish smile. "See, Scully, it's a sign from God."

"God doesn't want you to have my body!"

"How do you know?" They smiled at each other's reflections, then Mulder's face turned serious as he brought his lips right to her ear. He held her gaze in the mirror, his whisper warm at her ear. "Bend over for me..."

Scully swallowed hard as his hand slipped underneath her robe. "You'll mess up your tux..."

"I don't care..."

Scully sat on the vanity, facing him as he stood before her. Their faces still flush with fulfillment, she worked steadily at his bow

tie. When she'd tied it just right, she dropped her hands to her lap and smiled at him. He leaned in to rest his forehead against hers. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "Now *I'm* tired."

She brought her hands up to hold his face, gently caressing his jaw with her thumbs.

"I better go."

"Don't be long."

"Don't worry."

Scully was just heading back to the sofa to finish watching "ER", warm mug of tea in hand, when she heard Mulder at the door. He opened the door and started into the apartment as Scully stopped in the middle of the room to greet him. "Hi."

"Look who I found..."

Scully raised her eyebrows in anticipation.

Mulder stepped aside as Phoebe Green walked into view.

Scully's face froze at the sight of her. She looked stunning: the elegant emerald green gown she wore left little to the imagination; her dark hair was longer than the last time she'd seen her; it hung softly around her shoulders in a long, sleek bob.

Scully self-consciously smoothed a stray strand of her own hair off her face.

"Nice to see you again Scully."


Mulder shut the door. "They didn't tell us they were inviting some of Scotland Yard's finest to this shin-dig, Scully."


Mulder and Phoebe looked like they'd just stepped off the run-way at an Armani showing, calling sharp contrast to Scully's own baggy t- shirt and jeans... she wished the floor would open up and swallow her whole.

Phoebe flashed her best 'screw-you' smile. "Too bad you couldn't make it, Scully, quite a party the Bureau throws."

Behind her Mulder shook his head at Scully.

Scully's eyes returned to Phoebe as she continued. "Anyway, hope you don't mind, but I thought I'd trouble my old friend Mulder for a ride home. Save me the cab fare and all."

Scully's mouth curled into an expression that barely passed as a smile. "Not at all. So why the stop here?"

"Oh, I just thought I'd take the opportunity to say hello. I'm

leaving first thing tomorrow."

"How nice." She was deliberately vague about which sentence she was responding to.

"Well what do you say, Mulder," Phoebe crooned, slipping an arm through his, "shall we?"

"Yeah sure." He broke from her hold and approached Scully, leaning in to give her a quick kiss. "Be right back."

Scully locked the door behind them and leaned her forehead against the door. She was consumed with jealousy. Where was this coming from? Phoebe seemed to have the uncanny ability to push every one of her buttons in perfect succession... and she barely knew the woman. But what she was most concerned about was her ability to push Mulder's buttons; she knew how Phoebe affected him. That was blatantly obvious to her during that case they'd worked on. Mulder had said Phoebe was fire. Scully didn't doubt that for a second.

Phoebe opened the door to her hotel room and turned back around to face Mulder, offering him a smile.

"Have a safe trip."

"Aren't you going to come in?"

Mulder stared at her.

"For just a minute?"

"I don't think so Phoebe."

"Oh. Well. Can I at least show you something before you go?"

Mulder eyed her suspiciously.

"I promise you can stay at the door."

Mulder smiled, suddenly feeling overly paranoid and extremely ridiculous. He relaxed his posture and entered the hotel room. But when the door closed behind him, he did stay at the door.

Phoebe moved to her bed, taking a book off of the night table and walking back to Mulder. "Remember this?"

Oh yes, he remembered. It was an old book of poems they'd spent many a long night sitting in front of the fire going through, reading to each other, often not making it past two pages before becoming... distracted. Mulder swallowed. "How could I forget?" Her eyes were boring right through him, Mulder suddenly felt like he had a laser- sight on his forehead. "Well good night Phoebe."

She turned slightly to throw the book back on the bed. She stepped closer, her body just touching his, preventing him from turning around. Her hands rested lightly on his chest. "You're not really going to rush out of here so quickly are you?" She leaned closer. "The night is still so young." She lightly brushed her lips over his.

She felt his breath rush out sharply against her face, and she knew he was hers. She smiled in delight.

The sirens went off in his head, and he cursed himself for letting Phoebe have this effect on him. He would *not* do this.

But then she was pressing her tall and slender frame against him, and he was overwhelmed by the familiar smell of her, of the feel of her body, and the memories those sensations stirred in him. His hands found her waist, and they were shaking badly. "Phoebe," he started weakly, "I told you about Scully and me..."

Her voice fell gently against his lips, her eyes never left his. "I

know. But I'm certainly not going to tell anyone. After all, here we are

in this hotel room... alone. Seems a shame to waste it." One hand slid up around his neck while the other pulled his bow tie loose. "Two ex-lovers, reunited, sneaking one more moment together..." She unfastened his top button. "Can you think of anything more exciting?" she whispered.

Mulder brought his trembling hands up to lower her arms. "Yeah. Yeah I can: fidelity." He took hold of her upper arms and gently forced her back a step before releasing her.

Phoebe's face fell in genuine surprise; she wasn't used to being rejected, especially by Mulder. She straightened. "Well," she conceded, her voice brisk with rejection, "she certainly has you chained doesn't she?"

"You never did get it, did you Phoebe." It wasn't a question.

"I suppose not. At any rate, I do have an early flight tomorrow."

Mulder shrugged at her and offered back the sarcasm she was so adept at. "And I thought we were friends. Gee I feel so... used."

"Good night, Mulder."

"Good bye Phoebe."

Scully paced restlessly in her apartment. What was taking so long? How far away was her hotel anyway? Her stomach twisted into knots. Mulder wouldn't...would he? No, she trusted him. She had to believe he wouldn't do that. And she did; she did believe in him-- in them. But she didn't trust Phoebe; she was a master manipulator. Phoebe knew the effect she had on Mulder, and used it to her advantage.

Scully turned quickly to face the door at the sound of keys in the lock.

Mulder came in and shut the door, throwing his keys onto the side table. He was finding it hard to make eye contact with Scully, he was feeling guilty; guilty for letting Phoebe have that control over him. He had come out on top this time, but he was angry with himself for responding to Phoebe the way he did. His body seemed to remember perfectly what his mind had spent over a decade trying to forget.

Scully waited for him to look at her. When he finally met her eyes, she couldn't ignore what she saw there: guilt. Her heart sank.

Mulder waved his hand at her, immediately on the defensive. "Don't. Don't even start with me, Scully. Not after all the crap I had to put up with with Joel."

"What happened Mulder?"

"Nothing happened."

She stared at him, then motioned toward his neck. "Why is your bow tie undone?"

Mulder wasn't going to touch that one. "I loosened it myself on the way home Scully. I told you: *nothing* happened."

Scully watched him for several seconds. She placed a palm against her forehead. "I believe you, Mulder." She dropped the hand back to her side and took a deep breath. "I do. It's just... why would

you even offer to take her home in the first place?"

"I didn't. She asked me for a ride. What was I supposed to say? No?"

She folded her arms in front of her. "Works for me."

"Come on Scully--"

"What? OK, so if I ran into Joel somewhere and he asked for a ride home--"

"That's a completely different situation; you know that."

Yes, she did know that. But the jealously was coursing through her like molten lava, and as much as she hated it, wanted to be rid of it, she was powerless against it. It was almost as if she wanted an excuse to lash out at him, to hurt him. "Did you dance with her?"

Busted. "One dance... her request, not mine."

That image only fueled the fire. Scully shook her head at him. Her anger and jealousy had reached boiling point; she didn't know where it was all coming from, and was helpless as she felt it spinning out

of control.

"It was just a dance, Scully."

"It wasn't just a dance for us, Mulder."

"But it *was* for me and Phoebe."

Scully scoffed at him. "Well, the last time I saw you two dancing it was anything but 'just a dance'. I don't get you, Mulder. What is it with you and Phoebe? Is that what you want? Do you even know what you want?"

Mulder had had enough. She knew he had no doubts about what he wanted; that her leaving him had nearly destroyed him. He walked over to her and turned her around to face the mirror on the far wall.

He walked her towards the mirror until they were just in front of it. "*This* is what I want, Scully. You. Just you."

Scully stared at their reflection for a long time. Her eyes met his

in the mirror. "What's wrong with us, Mulder?"

"There's nothing wrong with us, Scully."

"Then why do we keep doing this? Shouldn't it be easier?"

He was silent a minute before answering. "I think..." he shrugged at her reflection. "I think this isn't healed yet, Scully. *We're* not healed."

She turned around to face him, her eyebrows drawn together in concern. "What do you mean?"

His voice was low as he spoke to her, as if he feared someone might over hear them though there was no one else in the room. "I know we talked about it. Once. But we've never talked about it since. And I think you still have a lot of unresolved feelings about it, a

lot of resentment toward me..." he was reluctant to actually say the words "...about the miscarriage."

She turned quickly away from him and started to walk away. "I don't want to talk about this right now, Mulder."

He reached out and took hold of her arm.


"Don't walk away from this, Scully."

She pushed away from him. "I *don't* want to talk about this!" She shoved him back a step. "Especially not with you!" She stopped, bringing her eyes to meet his, stunned by her own reaction.

Mulder just stood there blinking at her, that still-sensitive scar splitting wide open.

She dropped her gaze to his chest, unable to meet his eyes. "Mulder... I'm sorry..."

He went to her, placing his hands on her shoulders.

The tears welled in her eyes. "I don't blame you. I don't want to

feel this way..."

"It's all right, Scully. I know." He pulled her against his chest.

Her words were muffled through his shirt. "Things could've been so different for us, Mulder."

"Maybe. But who's to say they would've been better?"

She sighed heavily. "I don't know, I keep thinking about that day you came to see me-- in the elevator. If only I hadn't turned you away... all that time we wasted..." They were quiet for a long time. Mulder caressed her back, holding her close before venturing to broach the miscarriage topic again. "Do you ever think about it, Scully?"

She nodded against his chest. After a minute she finished, her voice thin and high. "Why does it hurt so much? Is this normal?"

"Like I said: it's just not finished yet."

"Then what can we do?"

"I don't think there's anything we can do. I think it's just going to take time."

"Well that's depressing."

"No it's not. I never expected this to always be easy, Scully. And I don't care. However long it takes, as long as I'm with you, that's

all that matters to me."

She tightened her hold on him. "I love you. I need you, I don't want you to ever think I don't need you."

Mulder tilted her head up to look at him with a single finger, then smoothed the hair off her tear streaked face. He kissed her forehead, she offered a small smile in return. "Come snuggle with me on the couch," he said, taking her hands and leading her with him. "Come on." He smiled at her. "I think they're replaying the Giants-

Redskins game on ESPN..."

"Wonderful," she said, her voice flat with sarcasm, "I've been waiting all day..."

They didn't venture to the cafeteria often. In fact they avoided it

as much as possible. Scully was sure the fact that they were more than partners was blatantly obvious to anyone who saw them together. She knew rumors about them had circulated long before anything had actually happened between them, but now, now that there was truth to those rumors, she found them impossible to tolerate. But today, they were extremely rushed and had been buried down in their office under piles of paperwork. There was no denying it, it was simply easier to eat at the cafeteria today.

Sensing her tension, Mulder started to bump his tray impatiently against hers as if to hurry her along.

Scully looked nervously around them. "Mulder stop that."

"Why?" He gave it another push.

"You're calling unnecessary attention to us."

"Nobody's interested. You're being paranoid, Scully."

She pulled two bottled waters off the counter, motioning with one of them alternately to him and back to herself. "Pot-- kettle?" She placed one of the bottles on his tray.

He smiled back and stepped closer.

"Mulder..." she cautioned.

"People are going to be finding out soon enough, Scully."

She stared back at him, knowing he was right. But until it was official, she'd rather not call attention to the fact.

Mulder leaned into her ear, a mischievous smile brightening his face. "I want you right here, Scully. Right here on the counter in front of the beef stew-like substance..."

"I'd rather we move down in front of the potatoes..." she joked back.

His face was solemn in mock disappointment. "What you're not interested in my meat, Scully?"

Her eyes widened as she looked at him... and she suddenly had the worst case of church laughter she could remember having since Sister Breida's 9th grade catechism class. She brought her eyes back to the tray and moved quickly down to the end of the line, desperate to get out of there before she burst out laughing.

Scully eyed him admonishingly as they approached the elevator with their trays, but she was having a hard time stifling her smile.

"You're incorrigible, Mulder."

He grinned back at her.

Back in the safety of the basement office, they discussed their new case over lunch. As they talked, Scully could see that old familiar gleam in his eye, something she hadn't seen for a long time: the thrill of the hunt.

"I'm telling you, Scully. There's something there... I can just feel

it. The first real X-file we've had in a long time."

"Well there was that yam with the face of Hitler in Mississippi..."

"I'm serious, Scully. Look at this. Nobody's lived in this house since the late 1920's. The last family who lived there just got up

and left in the middle of the night, left everything right there in the house. Now it's become the next Amityville; no one will go near it, let alone buy it.

"Mulder those are ghost stories. A haunted house? Every town has one."

"Not like this. Last Halloween three kids broke in on a dare. The two that came out are still in treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder."

Scully raised her eyebrows at him, but was still reluctant to buy the story. "Well, kids get scared, Mulder. When I was eight years old a girl in my class was treated for an acute case of PTSD when she was sure a monster had come out of the woods and attacked her. Turned out it was the neighbor's dog."

"Yeah, but the difference here is, these 'kids' were seventeen."

Scully stared at him, admittedly surprised. "Well what did the kids that did make it out say?"

"They say the mirrors in that house have eyes."

"My God, Mulder." The car came to a stop in front of the old house. "It really does look like a haunted house."

Mulder unfastened his seatbelt and looked at the house. It was a large three-story Victorian, windows and doors long since boarded up. The house stood on a large piece of property; there were no other houses in the immediate vicinity. Mulder suddenly wondered why they always seem to be checking these things out a night.

After prying their way through the boards that barricaded the front door, they stood in the foyer of the old Victorian. Mulder turned on his flashlight and surveyed their surroundings. Scully was right: it looked exactly like a haunted house. Sheets were draped over most of the furniture, a thick layer of dust blanketed everything in sight, and cobwebs adorned various objects in the room. Moonlight through stained glass cast an eerie bluish hue to the house's


Scully turned on her own flashlight and aimed it in the direction of the stair case. "I'll go upstairs."

Mulder nodded and headed off toward the kitchen. Rats scattered off the table as he entered the room, dishes and plates were laid out as if expecting some ghostly guests. Festering pots and pans filled the sink. Mulder could hear the creaking of Scully's footsteps on the floorboards above him as he moved to the dining area, then to the living room. There didn't seem to be anything particularly out of the ordinary about the house itself... except-- Mulder quickly turned the beam of his flashlight to far wall of the living room. The mirror on the other side reflected back its light. He went back to the dining room, then to the kitchen. Every room had a mirror, even the kitchen. A large, ornate mirror that seemed to be the centerpiece of every room. They were of various shapes, but all of them were almost floor to ceiling. Mulder approached the one to the side of a counter in the large kitchen. Something about the reflection of his flashlight was off: it wasn't coming straight back at him like it should have. It was at an angle, and it appeared to be shifting. Mulder approached it, attempting to adjust his flashlight so that the glare wouldn't prevent him from getting a better look. He caught sight of an old kerosene lamp on the table. Mulder lit the wick and turned up the light brightly, illuminating the room in a dim glow. He looked back at the mirror. At first he thought the light from the old lamp was playing tricks with his eyes, but then he realized it was no trick: the mirror was reflecting back the room, but not *this* room. The room it was reflecting had a bed and chair, along with an old armoire. Mulder guessed it was one of the bedrooms upstairs. As he stepped closer for a better look, a dark shadow passed through the reflection. He stepped closer and he saw the shadow again, it moved slightly every time he made a move, as if luring him closer and closer... Mulder stopped and took a step backward, then another, and as he did so the figure headed right towards him. He took a few more steps backwards, and as he suspected, the figure passed into the room. Mulder froze and watched it with fear and fascination. It was somewhat humanoid in form, though not defined. It floated around the room like a piece of tissue paper in the wind, but there seemed to be a sense of purpose in its movements. Mulder held his breath as it approached, circling behind him. Out of instinct, his hand slowly moved to his holster. With a strong gust of air the figure rushed at him and before he knew what was happening, it could've only been a matter of seconds, he found himself chained to a pipe directly above his head with his own handcuffs. He twisted around to look behind him, then to the rest of the room. The figure was gone. A beam of light swept suddenly through the kitchen and Mulder swung his head around to its source: it was coming from the mirror. As Mulder watched with escalating fear, he could see the light was coming from a flashlight: Scully's flashlight. He could see her in the mirror, entering the bedroom and starting her exploration. As he continued to watch her, her light came to rest on the mirror. She started to approach it.

"Scully don't!" he called out instinctively, though it was useless,

the large room swallowed his words. He looked up at the pipe he was secured to. It was old and gave the slightest as he pulled on it. He began to yank on it with more force. He looked briefly back at the mirror and saw that Scully had moved away from the mirror and was investigating the old armoire. He continued to work at the pipe, shooting a glance to the mirror every few seconds. Mulder stopped when he saw Scully inevitably turned her attention back to that ornate looking-glass.

"No Scully... come on stay away from the mirror," he muttered out loud to himself. He let the full force of his weight pull at the

pipe. Looking back at the mirror, he could see her coming closer.... He tugged with increasing desperation at the pipe, until he could feel thick streams of warm blood running down inside his sleeves from his wrists. Suddenly, with a loud creaking noise, the old pipe came loose at the joint and Mulder slipped his arms free. Stumbling through the swinging kitchen door, he immediately headed for the staircase and bolted up to the second floor. He flung open the door to the first room he came to, and luck was with him: it was the right room. Scully was standing just in front of the mirror as he entered.


She turned around quickly to face him, startled. "God Mulder you scared me, what--"

Mulder watched as something appeared in the mirror behind her, the same dark shadow he'd seen down stairs. It came slightly out and pulled her back against the mirror. But instead of coming up against it, she was pulled right through its surface like a sinking piece of driftwood in a pool of water. In a matter of seconds she was gone. Mulder quickly shoved his hands into his pocket and fished out the key to his handcuffs. With trembling but determined hands, he successfully released his wrists and moved for the mirror. He paused just in front of it, raising his hands up at the face of the mirror.

The surface appeared unstable, almost liquid, a dark silver gray that suddenly had stopped reflecting. Grimacing, Mulder braced himself and pushed his hands through the substance. It had looked like liquid, but was gelatinous to the touch. His hands found her just inside, and he took hold of the lapels of her trench coat and started to pull her out. She came to him slowly, like a fly through honey, until he had dragged her completely out of the mirror. As he did so, a loud cracking noise came from the mirror. Mulder took a few steps away and lay her on the floor, covering her with his own body as the mirror smashed into a million pieces. The deafening sound fell on his ears in a symphony of breaking glass as every other mirror in the house exploded one after the other. In a few seconds the house was once again silent. Mulder sat back up and looked at Scully. Her entire body was coated with the substance; thick globs stuck to the skin of her face and neck. Images of a nightmare that had hunted him came seeping into his mind along with an increasing sense of dread. "Scully?" Mulder pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket, for once finding a use for the stupid thing, and started wiping the goop off of her mouth. He leaned in to her face. Short, warm little gusts of air fell against his lips. She was breathing-- unconscious but breathing. With a great sense of relief he placed a kiss just to the side of her mouth, oblivious to the gooey substance that now covered his own lips. He pressed his cheek against hers. "You're OK..." he whispered. I'm here, it's OK." He wasn't completely sure who exactly he was comforting. He got her out of the house as quickly as possible, then dialed for the paramedics on his cell phone.

Mulder sat at Scully's bedside holding her hand. "How you feeling?"

"OK." She had been cleaned and changed into a hospital gown, but she still couldn't shake the feeling of having that stuff all over

her. "You?" Her eyes moved to his bandaged wrists.

"It's nothing."

She looked at Mulder uneasily. "What happened, Mulder? That mirror..."

"I know Scully. There *was* something in that house. But now we'll never know."

"What are you taking about?"

"There was a fire. The entire place burned right down to the ground."

"But how--"

"I left a lantern on in the kitchen, but somehow I don't think that

was the cause. There was quite a crowd gathering when the ambulance blew out of there. I wonder if maybe the locals had had enough of that place. At least--"

They both turned their heads towards the door as the doctor entered. He stopped at the foot of her bed. "Agent Scully..." he paused as he flipped through her chart. "Let's see..." He looked up at her, then uncomfortably at Mulder. "And you are?"

"Agent Scully's partner."

The doctor gave a quick nod. "Well if you'll excuse us I need to talk to your partner alone."

Mulder and Scully exchanged a look. Scully brought her gaze back to the doctor, her face filled with concern. "It's all right, he can

stay. What is it, Doctor?"

"Well if your sure..." he cleared his throat uncomfortably. "We ran some routine tests when you were brought in..."

Scully nodded impatiently, she knew the procedures, she wanted the quid pro quo.

"...and ah," his eyes shifted back and forth between the two agents, "it looks like your pregnant."

They both stared blankly back at the doctor, and at first he had the impression they hadn't heard him. Then he remembered seeing in her demographic information that she was not married, so chances were this wasn't *good* news. But still, this was a most unusual reaction.

"Well, if you have any questions, I'll be on the floor, or you can

call for one of the nurses." He turned and left the room.

Mulder and Scully looked at each other. A few months ago they'd decided to experiment with other methods of birth control, and in fact had only recently decided that Scully was going to go back on the Pill; it was just easier. But somewhere in that experimenting, something had slipped through the cracks... literally.

Mulder offered the slightest smile, attempting to lighten the mood. "You know we really gotta do something about our birth control, Scully."

She gave her best effort at a smile back, then turned her head away as her eyes filled with tears. How could this happen... again? Was this fate's idea of a cruel joke? Were they condemned to repeat the same patterns? To make the same mistakes?

Mulder moved to sit next to her on the bed, leaning in close to her face. "Hey."

She turned back to look at him, her eyes brimming with unshed tears.

"It's all right. We'll be all right."

She continued to looked at him. And she wanted to believe.

The End

Spell 11: Demons

Mulder kissed her hand as she lay in the hospital bed.

"Well you know what this means, don't you?"

She raised her eyebrows at him.

"I'll be doing the cat box for the next few months..."

Then she had to smile, and she loved him for it. He could always make her smile, and she was grateful to him for helping her feeling better. Maybe, just maybe, they would be all right after all.

"That's right, toxoplasmosis: a valid excuse."

"Come on, let me take you home. We've got some steaks in the fridge, I'll broil them up, a couple of baked potatoes, some broccoli..."

She grimaced. "Broccoli?"

"OK peas."

"Peas are good."

"Good. We'll have a quiet dinner at home."

The thought of a home-cooked meal sounded great; they spent so much time eating take-out. She sighed heavily.


"Thank God one of us can cook. At least the baby won't grow up on House of Hunan."

He smiled at her; it was a good sign that she was even thinking that far ahead. "I can teach you some things, Scully: toast, spaghetti"

"I'm not *that* deficient, thank you."

"I seem to recall some hockey pucks you made for us last month--"

"Mulder you have to cook hamburgers well or you risk e.coli infection," she said through her grin.

"Well they did make nice paperweights..."

She scoffed in disbelief at his insult, but was unable to contain her smile.

"...hey, think you could make me a meat loaf? I've been needing a door stop for the office."

She closed her eyes and shook her head at him, but her bright smile delighted him to no end.

Mulder grinned back at her as she opened her eyes to look at him. After a moment their faces turned serious. Mulder took her hand in his. "Come on, we'll go home, have some dinner, then... we need to talk."

Dinner was wonderful. Years of bachelor hood had fashioned quite a cook out of Mulder... for Scully it had only increased her collection of take-out menus.

When dinner was finished, they took care of the dishes, Mulder washing, Scully drying. Not a word was spoken between them, both of their thoughts occupied with what they knew they had to talk about, with what they had to face. When they were done, Scully folded her arms in front of her and leaned against the counter. Mulder dried his hands and approached her, resting his hands on her shoulders. She looked apprehensively at him and he gave her a reassuring smile. He slid an arm around her shoulders and led her to the couch.

They sat quietly in the silence of their impending conversation. Mulder wondered how he could make her understand. He'd tried to tell her before how her disappearance had nearly destroyed him, but he didn't think she really comprehended the magnitude of his loss. He remembered that first case after she'd come back: the Firewalker investigation. He had worried over her like a mother hen, despite her assurances that she was fine, that she was back. Then he was in that dark cave with Trepkos, his greatest fear realized, sick with the thought of Scully being back at the site, alone and in danger. {...I have a colleague, a friend, who's with O'Neil right now, let me go to her...} Not even a gun to his head could stop him because there was no way he was going to relive that nightmare, to have her return just to be taken away again. {...well then I guess you'll have to shoot me, because I'm walking out of here...} Maybe to make her understand where he'd been coming from, he needed to tell her how much he'd wanted that baby, too; how important it had been to him, but that ultimately he had to choose her life, because she was *his* life. Mulder braced himself and turned towards her on the couch. "We need to talk about the miscarriage."

Scully's brows came together as she turned her head to look at him. She had thought he wanted to talk about the baby they were expecting, not the one they'd lost. "Mulder we just talked about

this, it's in the past."

"No, there are some things I want to make sure are clear to you. I love you; you know that. I loved you then--"

"I wish you'd loved me enough to respect my decision--" Once again Scully was surprised at her own words and with the bitterness with which those words had been spoken. But there they were, hanging in the air between them. She lowered her gaze.

Mulder swallowed. "It wasn't that, Scully. I respect your decisions, you know that. But I didn't know what kind of state you were in; if you were capable of making such a choice. I had to go with what the doctors recommended." He gripped her hand, his voice was low: "I'd make the same choice again." He looked over at her, but she wouldn't meet his eyes, she was staring at the floor with her hand over her mouth.

"I don't think you have any idea what your being taken away did to me. I know we talked about it a bit. But I don't think you understand. I would never, *never* choose anything, any *one* over you. I want to be totally clear on that." His voice, which had been strong up until this point, began to weaken as he continued. "That wasn't an easy decision for me, Scully. How could you think that? I wanted that baby as much as you did; I wanted us to be a family. I didn't care about timing, about the Bureau, our families. Nothing else mattered to me, Scully. Just us, and that little person we had created out of our love for each other. Do you understand? Am I making any sense?"

The tears were streaming down her face. And somehow, she understood; for the first time she really did feel like she

understood. Why did it seem so clear to her now? Because of all they'd been through since? Because of where they were now? Because they had a second chance? Or was it simply because she was ready to see it? To release that pain? She sniffed and shifted to sit forward on the couch. "Mulder, I do understand. I wanted that, too. It hurt me so much to lose that dream... " she closed her eyes and lowered her face as her voice broke. Mulder gave a reassuring squeeze to her hand and she continued, her voice tight with tears. "I guess it was just hard for me to believe it could happen for no reason, that it was all so senseless. It was easier to blame someone. I needed to blame someone, and I struck out at the person I loved the most." She buried her face in her hands, the words were coming out through the hot sting of tears. "I hurt you so much. I hurt us so much. I'm sorry..." And then Mulder was holding her, her body racked with quiet sobs, with the painful process of exorcising demons, and his heart was breaking; it was unbearable to see her like this. She turned towards him and they held each other for a long time, clinging to each other like two castaways in an ocean storm. After a while, Mulder brought his hands up to hold her face, catching her tears in his palms. "It's all right," he soothed. "Please don't cry anymore. We're OK; I understand, I always have." Mulder kissed her softly, both their faces hot and sticky with salty tears, then again. "I love you, don't cry." He kissed her again, and again, and the passion started to rise between them. Mulder pulled away.

"No," she whispered breathlessly, bringing her arms up around his neck. "I want to be close to you; I need to be close to you." He lay her back on the couch and kissed her again. "I want you..." she whispered into his mouth. And soon they were moving together, having made their way hastily to each other. They were untamed, raw with emotion. It was a sweet, wild ride; sex, pure and simple-- but then, sex between two people who love each other is never truly so.

They lay there afterward emotionally and physically exhausted, and were soon fast asleep.

Mulder slept peacefully, freed from his nightmare. But Scully would live her nightmare one last time. She had had this dream ever since the miscarriage; it haunted her endlessly from that very first night. She was lying in a bed, in a hospital gown, no pillow, no blankets to keep her warm. The room was fairly dark, though she was vaguely aware of dim moonlight from somewhere behind her. At first it was silent, the only sound she was aware of was her own breathing as she drew in shallow breaths. But then the demons would come: dark, shadowy, ghost-like figures that would slide down the walls around her; slowly falling like sinister rain. But the worst part was the screeching, like nothing she'd ever heard before-- a high pitched, shrill shrieking as they descended the walls that tore through her very soul. As the awful sound continued its relentless torment of her ears, it changed, grew quieter and more hollow... she realized what it was: she could hear the far off sounds of a baby crying. Disturbing in its distant, relentless pleas. She sat up on the bed and looked around the room. To the left of a door in front of her, sitting on a chair and staring intently back at her, was a wolf. At first she was frightened, but it made no move to harm her. It just kept sitting there, watching her. Why wouldn't that baby stop crying? Desperate to get away from that horrible noise, she would bolt from the bed and head for the door she knew would be locked as it always was. But as she ran to it, she skidded on the slippery floor and fell to her hands and knees. She looked down and saw that the floor was wet-- with blood, it was pooling around her wrists and ankles. She stood and looked down. With horror she realized the source of the blood: she could see it was running down her legs, it seemed to be streaming out faster and faster and why did there have to be so much blood? She continued to move towards the door though her feet were mired in the thick red liquid, thicker and stickier than blood should ever be. Slowly, finally, she reached the door and grasped the knob. As she was tugging at the door which as she suspected would not budge, a deep, low sound from the corner caught her attention. She turned her head quickly to the wolf. From this angle she could see the animal was chained to the wall. It was growling and baring its teeth at something behind her. The tiny hairs on the back of her neck prickled. Normally, the dream would end as she turned to find a dark figure standing behind her, only the two, small, faceless red eyes visible as they gleamed back at her, like the devil himself had stepped right out of hell to drag her back with him, and she would be sent sitting upright awake in bed. But tonight, it was different. She turned around and the bed was gone; the demons were gone, and there were no red eyes shining back at her. And Mulder was standing in front of her, cradling a little baby in his arm. She glanced up at him. His face was calm, content, strangely assured. He offered her a comforting smile. Then she couldn't take her eyes off the baby-- she stared at it; that beautiful, happy, healthy baby. She clamped her hands over her nose and mouth as her eyes filled with tears. Mulder gently stroked her hair. "It's all right, Scully.

You don't have to come here anymore." He pulled her against his chest. "You don't have to come here anymore."

Scully stirred in her sleep, a single tear running down her cheek and disappearing into her hair. A hint of a smile surfaced on her lips. And for the rest of the night they enjoyed a deep, heavy, rejuvenating slumber. It was well after noon before they stirred. Mulder stretched, inadvertently pulling the small throw blanket off of her back as he did. A chill spread through her thin blouse to her shoulders. "Hey..." she moaned sleepily.


She turned to snuggle against his chest.

He sighed heavily and rubbed his eyes. "We better get going, we don't want to be too late."

"Mulder... I've got news for you." She brought her wrist up to his face.

He held her wrist as he examined the watch. Quarter to one. Oh boy. "Do you want to call Skinner or should I?"

Scully shifted to lie on top of him. "Later." She ran her fingers through his hair as she placed a stream of the tiniest kisses along

his bottom lip. Mulder's hands moved to hold her waist and slipped up underneath her blouse to caress her back. He stopped suddenly.

Scully regarded him with confusion. "What?"

"I can't do this while he's watching."

Scully followed his gaze to the back of the couch, where Owen was perched watching them. She turned back to Mulder and smiled. "Maybe he's gathering information to send back to the mother ship."

"I wouldn't doubt it." He shooed the cat off and turned his attention back to the beautiful woman in his arms. He looked into her eyes, and an elation swelled through him; because he could see so clearly that she was there... *all* of her, even that small part of her soul

that she'd kept locked away since the miscarriage. Could it be true? That they were healed? Finally? Completely? A strange sense of peace settled on him, and he did believe it was real. No matter what the future might hold for them, whatever arguments they might have, whatever obstacles would undoubtedly fall across their paths, this particular wound had closed. He brought his lips to hers, savoring every second of the sensation. The kissing escalated until he holding her tightly against him, driven wild with wanting her. Sex with her was like nothing he'd ever experienced before, because his desire for her was so inextricably wound up in the affection he felt for her. And it never waned. Soon they were joined together, her hair brushing gently against his face as her body moved back and forth over him like a flowing river. With every ounce of self-control that he possessed, he held out until she had buried her face in his neck, her body tensing with waves of sweet bliss as she slowed her movement on top of him. Not breaking from their embrace, he sat up to lean against the back of the couch as she knelt over him. He kissed the hollow of her neck, her collarbone. "Will you do something for me?" he whispered into her neck.


He moved to the other side of her neck. He hesitated before continuing. "Talk to me..."

At first she wasn't sure what he meant, then she smiled with realization and brought her lips to his ear, whispering softly to him as he tightened his hold on her. And then he was drowning completely in her presence, his arousal skyrocketing as she knelt above him, seducing everyone one of his senses into a frenzy. He moved with increasing purpose, pulling her tighter and tighter against him until his breath had rushed out in a quick gust of satisfaction. His body slowly relaxed.

Mulder smiled as she kissed his neck and shoulders. "Now where did a nice Catholic girl learn to talk like that?"

"I borrowed some of your videos... "

Mulder seemed to pale but she continued.

"I think it was 'Star Trek: the Next Penetration'... or was it 'Sperms

of Endearment'?" Noting his reaction, Scully paused momentarily. "Well I was just kidding but now you've got me curious. Just what kind of videos do you have? Maybe I'll have to do some after-hours investigating of my own..."

"It's not that, Scully, it's just..." he shrugged at her "...that

was a long time ago, before you," he avoided her gaze. "... before us..."

She looked at him, unable to discern exactly what was going through his head; what was flustering him this way. Then she knew. She hadn't recognized it because it was an emotion she'd never seen Fox Mulder express before: he was embarrassed.

She took his face in her hands. "Mulder, I'm just teasing you."

He gave her a quick nod, anxious to change the subject. "So what do you want to do today?"

She smiled slyly at him.

"Besides that."

Two plane tickets and rental car agreements were waiting for them the next day when they went back to work. Apparently Skinner had decided they were to investigate a ring of serial killings in a small town outside of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The police were baffled: in a town with a population this small the investigation should have been progressing more rapidly. But the suspect continued to elude police with surprising ease.

After spending a day of tracking useless leads, they finally got their most valuable information from a local vagrant at the greasy spoon they'd decided to dine at. It was late, so they would check it out tomorrow night; according to the transient the suspect only went there at nightfall for a place to sleep.

For receipts and invoices sake, they had reserved the usual two rooms, but one went unused. They lay together now in the motel's large bed, thinking over the leads so far. At least that's what

Scully thought they were thinking about. When she turned her head to look at Mulder, he was lying on his side, head resting on the pillow, staring at her intensely. Even in the dim room she could see that his eyes were dark and he was in one of his moods. Since they'd become involved, the moods had become less frequent, but she suspected they would never disappear all together. Those dark, brooding moods of his were just part of his nature. She rolled over on her

side to face him, matching his position, and lay a hand on his cheek. "What's the matter?" she asked softly. She delighted in the warmth of his face against her hand, of stubble against her palm. She was sure she would die if she were never able to touch that face again.

After a moment he answered her. "This scares me sometimes, Scully."

She gently stroked his hair. "What?"

"This, the way I feel about you. When I'm with you, I have this... strength, this sense of invincibility. But at the same time, I've

never felt weaker in my life."


"What would I do if I lost you? I--"

"Mulder I'm not going anywhere," she reassured him. She inched closer to him on the bed. "I'm right here and I'm not going anywhere."

He stared at her for a long moment. His hand stretched out across the bed to her and he gently ran a finger over her bottom lip as he whispered. "I'm so lucky."

The slightest smile surfaced on her lips as she edged closer. She shook her head at him. "Not lucky." She kissed his lips softly. "Special."

He reached for her and pulled her into a hug as they faced each other on the bed.

She rolled onto her back and patted the area just below her collarbone. "Come here." He complied, nuzzling his face into the warmth and sweet scent of her neck as he draped an arm across her midsection. Remembering that night he'd done the same for her, she gently caressed his hair until she was sure he was asleep, then let herself drift quietly after him.

In the morning the mood was gone and he was his usual self again, teasing her about hoarding the covers in the night and speculating about their current case. They showered and ordered in breakfast before heading out.

The old factory was cool and damp. They moved slowly through the decrepit building, only the sound of decades of debris and broken glass cracking beneath their footsteps breaking the haunted silence. They had forgone their flashlights for the bright incandescent moonlight streaming through the broken windows and weather- beaten roof. Scully was beginning to realize that their suspect was not in the vicinity. They exchanged a look in the eerie moonlight: he's not here. Scully, looking at Mulder as he began to put away his weapon, thought how ghostly he looked in that bluish- white light the moon cast. Then, out of the corner of her eye, she caught the slightest hint of movement; a shadow sliding against a wall--

"MULDER!" Scully screamed seeing the gun rise out of that dark shadow. Without a second thought, she stepped in front of him. Mulder looked up quickly in the direction of the adjoining room and at the same time saw her move in front of him. Before he could realize what was happening, he felt her tense against him and begin to falter as the bullet pierced her upper right back. Their eyes met,

a moment between them that seemed to last an eternity. Her eyes fluttered gently as she struggled to maintain consciousness. Mulder put his arms around her to keep her from collapsing to the floor. "Scully?... Scully?!". He pulled himself together, reaching with one hand to draw his gun. Still supporting her with one arm, he desperately displayed the weapon before him to ward off further shots. But it was unnecessary; the gunman was long gone. Mulder dropped his gun and knelt down, lowering [Scully the rest of the way to the floor. He lay her gently down and reached for his cell phone-- and stopped dead. His hands were soaked with blood... her blood. He began to tremble violently, his head started to whirl tempestuously... shaking his head quickly to compose himself, he grabbed his cellular and phoned for paramedics.

Later, in the hospital, Mulder paced anxiously in the visitor's

lounge, nervously squeezing his upper lip. It seemed like they'd spent *far* too much time in hospitals lately. He couldn't help but feel that

they were tempting fate; how long could they go on like this before something horrible would happen? Maybe it already had... He shook that idea out of his head and his thoughts returned to the present situation. He had made sure every person who came into contact with her knew that she was pregnant; he was scared to death of repeating the same mistakes. What the hell was taking so long? He turned and headed for the door, resolved to accosting the head nurse until he got some information. But the doctor's appearance in the doorway of the lounge obviated such measures.


"Agent Mulder, your partner sustained a great amount of blood loss. But we were able to replace most of it through transfusions and stop the bleeding. We removed the bullet." He dropped into Mulder's hand the flattened remains of the round.

"The baby?"

"Fine, they're both fine. She's coming out of the anesthesia now. A bit groggy, but you can see her." He paused, watching the man before him stare blankly at the bullet in his hand; and it was very clear to him that these two people were much more than partners. "She's in great health, she'll be fine. She's very strong."

"Yes... she is...." Mulder replied absent-mindedly as his fingers curled around the bullet that was meant for him, cradling it like some sacred talisman. He slipped it into his pocket.

Mulder entered the room tentatively and approached the bed where Scully lay. How small and helpless she looked resting peacefully in what seemed to be an immense hospital bed. He quietly pulled over a chair to the side of her bed. Taking her hand and holding it

against his cheek, he closed his eyes and let the thoughts race in his mind:

It all happened so quickly and where did he come from and her upper right shoulder that might have been my heart and what the hell was she thinking? He felt her hand move between his own and opened his eyes. She was coming out of it.

Her eyes opened, taking in what she could see of the hospital room, orienting herself. Mulder reached between his legs and pulled the chair up closer to the bed, so they could be face to face. Not moving her head, Scully's eyes shifted to meet his. She offered a faint

smile, and a weak "..Hi.."

Mulder met her smile with one of his own. "Hi yourself...how do you feel?"

"Not so good." She paused, took a deep breath and continued: "What did the doctors say?"

"They said you lost a lot of blood, but they got the bullet out, that you'd be fine, the baby's fine... Scully what the hell were you thinking?"

At this last remark Scully turned her head to look at him. "I wasn't;

I didn't have to." They looked at each other for a moment, then Mulder moved his hand to touch her face. And he knew what she meant-- she had reacted out of pure instinct, her actions were almost a reflex; she didn't have to think about it. He understood because he would've done the same thing for her. He leaned over and gently pressed his lips against her forehead, then closed his eyes, carefully resting his forehead against her own. He stroked her hair, slowly, tenderly. Scully let her eyelids fall at his touch, enjoying the faint feel of his breath against her face, and slipped peacefully back into her slumber.

Mulder watched her sleep. And he knew they still had a lot of talking to do. After their discussion of the miscarriage, they hadn't really had the chance, or the strength, to talk about the baby, and about what they were going to do about work. He was only certain of one thing: he couldn't keep going through this.

A few weeks later Mulder passed down the hallway towards the elevator with their files from the Cedar Rapids case. Scully was recuperating quickly, but until she was one hundred percent, they were doing as much work as they could out of their DC office.

The sound of clicking heels on linoleum in the empty hallway caused him to look up. Ellen, the woman he'd brought to that fateful function that seemed so long ago was heading right towards him, moving quickly towards some unknown destination. Maybe it was his imagination, but she seemed to pick up her pace when she saw him. Mulder produced a guilty smile and started to offer a greeting to be polite but she breezed by him, leaving him a dust-cloud of her perfume. OK, he deserved that.

"There you are, Mulder."

He looked up to see Scully heading towards him.

"You ready to go?"

"Not yet. I got a message Skinner wanted to see me but he's not in his office. I'm gonna try and track him down. I'll see you in a


Scully nodded. They both looked around to see if the coast was clear, then indulged in a quick kiss before heading their separate ways.

Scully entered the apartment and flipped on the lights. She slid her suit jacket off and headed down the dark hallway to her bedroom. She wondered where Owen was, he always came running up to her when she came home from work, her presence signaling dinner time. "Owen..." She flung her jacket and holster onto the bed and headed back out into the living area. She paused in the middle of the room and tried again. "Owen?" She waited a minute, but he still didn't show himself. "Owen where are you?" She slipped her shoes off next to the couch and knelt down beside it. She peeked underneath. "Hi kitty," she crooned softly, "what's the matter?" He was huddled under the couch, staring uneasily back at her. That was strange, the only time he ever hid like this was when she and Mulder were fighting or when someone he wasn't familiar with was in the apartment...

Scully froze. After a second, she stood and slowly scanned the apartment. Her ears were ringing, her skin erupted in goose flesh. And she knew she was not alone in the apartment. As she brought her gaze to the direction of the hallway, she could make out a tall figure standing at the entrance to her bedroom. God she'd been in there seconds ago... The figure moved towards her, tall and broad, definitely masculine. She could make out a trench coat, but she'd know Mulder's walk anywhere, it wasn't him.

Joel stopped at the entrance to the living area and stared at her.

My gun where is it what did I do with it? she thought frantically in a moment of panic. Then she remembered... the bedroom; she'd have to get through him to get to it. That was not an option. The flash

of anger she'd immediately felt at seeing him in her apartment was quickly being replaced by a sense of fear and dread. "How did you get in here?"

"I'm an FBI agent, remember?" He flashed a smile that was almost charming.

The room was silent as they stared at each other.

Scully started quickly, turning and bolting toward the kitchen. In a second, Joel outpaced her and was at her heels. In the kitchen, she yanked open the utensil drawer and reached for the first big knife she came across. Joel was on top of her as she spun around, pinning her wrists against the counter top. He squeezed her wrist in an attempt to loosen her grip on the knife she was wielding. "Let go of the knife, Dana."

No way she was going to do that.

"Let go of the knife!" he repeated. He tightened his hold on her wrist.

"Stop it your hurting me!"

"Then drop the knife, Dana, I don't want to hurt you."

Scully cried out in pain as his grip tightened further. Her wrist was threatening to snap under the weight he was putting against it. "Joel stop it!"

"Then let it go!"

It was too much, her hand's grip on the knife gave out and the utensil feel heavily into the sink with a loud clanking noise.

Joel relaxed slightly but maintained his hold on her wrists. "I just want to talk to you. I've been patient, but you didn't really give me

a choice... it had to come to this."

"I have nothing to say to you, get out of here!" She was grateful her voice sounded stronger than she felt.

He shook his head, his tone was patronizing. "You're wrong. There's a lot to say. Like: thanks for using me; thanks for dumping me; for humiliating me... should I go on?"

Then she could see it so clearly in his eyes: he had no intention of talking to her. He was there to exact revenge. Her tone softened, maybe she could placate him: "Joel, I've already apologized to you about that--"

"Yes that's right you did. But I'm afraid that's not good enough. I think I deserve a little more, don't you?"

Scully swallowed hard. "What are you talking about?" She struggled as he pressed his body closer against her, turning her head from side to side to avoid his kiss. But the more she struggled, the more pressure he applied against her body; her back was burning with pain as the counter dug into it. She relaxed against him,

letting him get closer and closer... his lips touched hers with deceptive tenderness. He loosened his grip the slightest bit and she made her move, driving her knee upwards between his legs. But in this position, she couldn't quite get her leg high enough, and though successful in inflicting some harm, she didn't quite hit the mark. Joel fell to his knees before her, then curled onto his side on the floor. She stepped over him and started to run out of the kitchen, but Joel reached out and grabbed her ankle, sending her face first to the floor. "Mistake..." he managed hoarsely. "Big mistake." He pulled her toward him, his hands climbing up her as he slowly drew her body underneath his. He turned her around to face him before depositing his weight on top of her. She struggled beneath him, the force of his weight threatening to suffocate her. "Is the thought

that repulsive to you, Dana? You didn't used to think so; I know you wanted to. But something was always holding you back. Guess I know now what that was. Or should I say who? He was always standing between us, wasn't he?" He lowered his voice and leaned in closer. "But then he's not here now, is he?" He took hold of her

face with one large hand and kissed her forcefully. She thought of biting down on his tongue as he thrust it into her mouth, but she had the baby to think about now; she didn't want to chance provoking further blows. His hands groped her roughly and she had the absurd thought that she hoped Mulder didn't walk in because he'd go ballistic seeing Joel do this to her. She managed to wriggle an arm free and attempted to push his face away, but he took hold of her wrists and pinned them out to her side. "I bet you wouldn't be so opposed if you thought it might prevent something from happening to him."

She froze underneath him. "What are you talking about?"

"I think you know. Would you be more... 'cooperative' if you thought it meant keeping Mulder out of harm's way?"

Scully stared at him in disbelief.

"You hesitate! I can't believe it! Dana Scully, the pillar of

integrity, of moral character would sacrifice her dignity, would degrade herself like that? You do surprise me, Dana."

She continued to look at him.

"You're wondering where Mulder is right now aren't you? Wondering if he's safe, if I haven't already done something to him."

He wouldn't... "You're bluffing."

"Maybe. But then I suppose I wouldn't know that there never was a meeting with Skinner. That I'm the one who left the message, that that's why Skinner wasn't in his office."

Her eyes widened in terror. "You didn't!" She squirmed violently underneath him, strengthened by fury. "I swear to God I'll kill you

if you did anything to him!"

But it only amused him; he smiled sadistically back at her. "Ooo, feisty I like that."

Once again she managed to free an arm but this time she was able to send a fist flying at him, hitting his jaw squarely. Her shoulder, which had been feeling pretty good until now, protested with a sharp stab of pain as she did so. It didn't do much damage, but it threw him off guard enough that she was able to push him off her and head toward the bedroom. She started to reach the door of her room; she could see the black heap of her holster and gun against the light fabric of her comforter in the darkness before her. But like some horrible dream, seeing safety almost in her reach, she felt a hand close around the back of her shirt and yank her back down the hall to the living area. He held her back against his chest, restraining her arms across her stomach. His voice was at her ear. "That hurt." He tightened his hold on her. "Now... you're not paying attention," he admonished, his tone amused, "you haven't answered my question: would you do it Dana?"

She was silent.

"That's what scares you the most, doesn't it?" His voice was a menacing whisper at her ear. "That I could take it, any time I wanted to, and there's nothing you could do about it..." He turned her around to face him, holding her by the arms. He flashed her a sardonic smile. She stared back at him defiantly, not wanting to instigate him further, but not wanting to give him the satisfaction of hearing her beg for any kind of mercy... because she knew that is exactly what he wanted: to have that power over her would be his revenge. But she wasn't that easy to crack. He looked at her, then exhaled quickly with a small sound of disgust. "You're pathetic," he disdained before shoving her away.

He really didn't mean to push her so hard, he sometimes forgot how small she was; the strength of her presence often camouflaged her small stature. She fell back forcefully, hitting her head against the wall. Her sight went in and out of focus as she slid slowly to the floor. Joel approached, crouching down beside her as she sat back against the wall. He looked at her with his own twisted form of genuine concern, but saw that she was OK. Her sight came back into focus and she could see he was inches from her face. "Sorry, Dana; God didn't create man and woman equal you know..." He smiled smugly and stood. He turned and started to head for the door; he'd had enough of his game.

The rage swelled through her. How dare he? That he thought he could just come in here and terrorize her like this, like it was some kind of game... She clenched her jaw and like a stick through the spokes of a bicycle wheel, stuck her leg through his in mid-stride. Down he went, landing heavily face-first on the floor. Scully scrambled onto his back, straddling him. She slipped his gun from the holster and positioned it at the base of his skull. "Maybe not," she cocked the hammer back, "but Smith and Wesson did." He turned his head to the side until she was in his peripheral vision. "You listen to me Joel I will *not* live my life like this. You ever try anything like this again, I won't hesitate; I *will* kill you.

Do you hear me?" Her voice rose as she pressed the weapon closer against his head. "Do you hear me?"

He nodded against the floor.

After a second, she slid off him, backing away and rising to her feet.

She kept the gun trained on him.

He stood slowly and turned around. "I don't suppose you're going to give me my gun back."

Fat chance. "You can pick it up at the A.D.'s office tomorrow."

He stared at her for a long moment, then turned and left quietly. Scully stood there staring at the door, her heart pounding in her chest. Then she moved quickly to it and set the locks. She ran for the phone...


She sank to the couch in fathomless relief.


"Hi it's me."

"Hi me."

She brought a hand up to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear and saw that it was shaking. "I was just wondering when you were coming home."

"I'm on my way. Do you need me to stop and get something?"

"No. Just... how long do you think before you get here?"

"Traffic's not to bad, maybe ten minutes." He paused through the hiss and crackle of the cellular connection. "You OK, Scully?"

"Yeah I'm fine. I'll see you soon." Scully replaced the receiver.

She was shaken by her encounter with Joel, but she was confident about the outcome. That was it; it was over. She could see it in his eyes before he left: defeat. Joel was a contemptible man, but he wasn't stupid. Owen peeked his head out from underneath the couch. The corner of her mouth turned up at him. "Some watch-cat you are." He hopped up into her lap, purring loudly. "All right, let's get you something to eat." As she puttered around the kitchen getting Owen his food, she thought about what she was going to tell Mulder-- rather, *if* she was going to tell him. She couldn't be certain what would happen if she told him, but she was fairly sure chalk outlines and yellow police tape would be involved. She sighed heavily as she deposited herself in one of the kitchen chairs. Mulder had thought it was over with Joel, and now it was; so why bother telling him, right? Wrong. She knew she had to do it. She didn't like keeping secrets from him; she'd been through that ordeal before. So... it would have to be broken to him gently, she'd tell him Joel had come to play his mind game and to try and get the last word but that that was all, that it *was* the last word and when he realized she wasn't going to be intimidated by him he'd left. But she would let a few days go by first, she wanted to plan out exactly how she was going to tell him. She got up and headed for the door as she heard Mulder entering. He came in loosening his tie and smiled over at her as she approached.

She smiled back and went to him, wrapping her arms around his waist and pressing her cheek against his chest. "Hi."

He caressed her back. "Hi." He stepped back to slip off his coat and jacket, then rolled up his sleeves. "I'm so glad to be home. What a waste-- I waited over an hour for Skinner, I don't know what happened. I tried to track him down at the cafeteria, the weight room... Am I boring you?"

She had been staring off into space, she brought her attention back to Mulder. "What? No, no I'm sorry, I'm just... distracted."

He lay a hand gently on her shoulder. "Why? What's wrong?"

"We still haven't talked about the baby," she covered.

"I know. I was thinking about that when you were in the hospital. There's something I've been meaning to ask you."


"Later. Let's get something to eat first; I'm starving."

"OK. I'll make some pasta?" A trace of a smile surfaced on her lips.

"Contrary to what you believe I can cook a few things. I just


"A culinary handicap?"

She flashed him a look. "A limited repertoire."

"Oh is that it?" He grinned at her.

"And I can handle spaghetti you know. You seem to forget that first night..."

He smiled and stepped closer, taking her hand in his. "I remember." He brought the hand up to kiss the palm. A few inches from his face he froze. He brought her hand down slightly, examining the red ring around her wrist. He reached for the other and examined that one as well.

The panic started to rise in her. "Mulder..."

He'd investigated enough assault and rape cases to recognize finger marks when he saw them. And he had pretty good idea who was responsible. His breathing quickened, though his voice remained even. "What did he do, Scully?"

"Nothing, I'm OK."

His voice was calm, but she could see his words were coming through clenched teeth. "This doesn't look like nothing. What did he want?"

"Just to indulge in a little intimidation."

"What does that mean?"

She was silent. She had to tell him the truth, but it wasn't going to be easy.


"He's the one who called the meeting with Skinner. He wanted to make sure you wouldn't be here when he talked to me..."

He could sense there was something more. "And?"

She took a minute to choose her words carefully. "And he wanted me to be unsure of your whereabouts."

He looked questioningly at her.

"He wanted me to think that he had hurt you, or that he might hurt you if I didn't give him what he wanted."

Mulder's head was throbbing, his pulse racing. "What did he want?"

She could only stare back at him.

He placed his hands on his hips and took a step closer, backing her up against the door. He leaned his face in close and repeated his question. "What did he want, Scully?"

She stared at him; she couldn't bring herself to say the words knowing what wrath they would invoke.

But then she didn't have to, her silence told him what he needed to know. That mental image was more than he could bear; he snapped, slamming his hand against the door behind her. "You didn't!" he screamed. He turned quickly and started pacing. "God tell me you didn't!"

"No!" she started quickly. "No I didn't."

He slowed to a stop and looked at her. He was breathing heavily, his voice was low. "But you thought about it."

Again, he could see it in her eyes.

"I don't believe this," he said weakly, his tone that of a beaten man.

That she would even consider doing something like that... for him. He sat down heavily on the couch, leaning forward to rest his face in his hands. "I don't believe this!" She moved to sit next to him; he turned his head to look at her. "How could you even consider that for one second, Scully? I would never want you to... I would never..." His voice trailed off as he returned his gaze to the floor.

She rested a hand on his back. "But I *didn't*, Mulder. I have more faith in your ability to take care of yourself. And I have more

respect for myself."

A horrible thought occurred to him as he remembered her wrists. He turned his head quickly to her. "He didn't--"

"NO... no he didn't." She saw him looking at her wrist, she attempted to explain. "I freaked out when I saw him and tried to get a knife and he grabbed me..."

That mental image was almost as intolerable as the last. She could see the internal battle raging in his head. He was remembering the promise he had made her: the promise to try. But it was too much... he got up and grabbed his coat.


"I'm sorry, Scully."

"Mulder please, listen to me--"

"I'll be back in a bit." The door slammed shut behind him.

She tried to calm herself; she shouldn't panic, Mulder didn't even know where Joel's apartment was. But then again, knowing Mulder, he knew exactly where Joel lived; he'd probably been keeping discreet tabs on Joel ever since she broke up with him. She thought of going there herself, but she imagined that would only make things worse. Her stomach rolled violently and she headed for the bathroom. She ran an arm over her face, trying to will her lunch to stay down. As her sleeve passed over her nose and mouth, she could smell Joel on her clothes... and was desperate to be rid of that

scent. She stripped and started the shower. When she came out and entered the bedroom, Mulder was there, packing his duffel bag. Oh God... the dread swelled in her stomach, intensifying her nausea. "Well?"

Mulder didn't look at her; he continued to stuff clothes roughly into his bag. "He wasn't there," he responded tersely.

She cleared her throat. "Where are you going?"

He pulled her suitcase out of the closet and flopped it onto the bed. "*We* are going on with our lives."

The End

Spell 12: Truth

The warm desert air was calm at dusk; the sun cast long shadows on the red earth. Mulder and Scully sat on the ground next to each other staring into the vast expanse that was their future. Mulder reached out and took her hand in his. "You're sure you're OK with this, Scully?"

She looked at him reassuringly. "I wouldn't have it any other way."

"'Cause you know your mother's going to kill us."

Scully turned her attention back to the horizon. "No..." She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "She'll just kill you..."

He turned his head to look at her.

She smiled against the warm rays of the setting sun.

A small band of men appeared to their right as Albert Hosteen approached with a group of tribesmen.

Mulder looked back over at her, gripping her hand tighter. "Here we go."

They smiled at each other in excitement.

Hosteen came and sat before them while the rest of the men sat nearby, forming a small semi-circle around them.

Scully leaned over towards Mulder and whispered to him. "You're sure this is legal?"

"Of course I'm sure." He shrugged. "Pretty sure."

She started to open her mouth to speak but stopped when she realized the ceremony was about to begin. She had to admit, she never imagined her wedding would be quite like this... no family or friends, the desert, a Native American ceremony... and certainly something a little more formal than jeans. But nothing about their relationship had ever been ordinary, and she was perfectly happy to be there with Mulder, just the two of them, like it had been for them for so long. She'd walk to the ends of the earth for this man, and she knew he'd do the same for her. They'd been through so much. When Mulder had asked her to do this, to come away with him, she didn't hesitate; it was right. She tightened her hold on his hand as Hosteen started to instruct them on how the ceremony would proceed.

Mulder felt her hand tighten in his and the affection flowed through him. That she would do this, come here with him, was more than he ever could've hoped for. The thing with Joel had been the last straw; he was tired of feeling like they were at the mercy of circumstances that were out of their control: the pregnancy, the miscarriage, the problems with Joel, the hospitalizations, and now this pregnancy; it was time they started taking positive action, time they took back some control. They should've done this a long time ago. Why had they put it off? He didn't know. Probably because they'd been so content with the way things had been going, neither of them wanted to rock the boat. But lately, he couldn't shake the feeling that they were pushing their luck, that things were spinning more and more out of control, and that they needed to get back on track. Ever since that last time she was in the hospital, he'd been wanting to ask her to consider going away with him to do this, to take that next step. But as it seemed like it always was with them, time escaped them and seemed to pass by with remarkable speed. So he was ecstatic that she'd agreed to come for this last minute arrangement. They needed this; and he knew she felt it, too. He turned his attention back to Hosteen as he started the ceremony.

They had requested he do something short and simple, and that he include an exchange of rings which was not a typical part of the traditional ceremony. Hosteen had agreed, suggesting he borrow a ritual from their Apache brothers, a customary reading and rites. He cleared his throat, and after some initial rites in Navajo, he concluded:

"Now for you there is no rain, for one is shelter to the other Now for you there is no darkness, for one is counsel to the other. Now for you there is no pain, for one is comfort to the other Now for you there is no night, for one is light to the other

Now for you the snow has ended always. Your fears, your wants, your needs at rest. It is that way- today, tomorrow, forever. Now it is good and there is always shelter. And now there is always warmth. And now there is always comfort. Now there is no loneliness. Now, forever, forever, you are one. There are two bodies, but there is one heart."

Hosteen paused, then nodded slowly at Mulder.

Mulder produced the two rings they'd purchased from a jeweler in Albuquerque on their way to the reservation. They were plain, simple gold bands, but they'd had the insides inscribed. They had deliberated over what to have engraved, neither of them crazy about the traditional initials and dates. Mulder was the one who had finally come up with the idea, asking her with a gleam in his eye if he could surprise her. She had smiled at him and conceded. "Sure, why not... you're on a roll." And so when the jeweler had finished and returned with their rings, she had brought hers up to her face for inspection, not quite sure what to expect... and there they were, three simple words that had touched her heart: "In this, truth." She had looked up at him then, her eyes filled with emotion. He had smiled down at her. "You like it." And of course, she had loved it. "Perfect."

As they sat there now, Mulder paused before slipping the ring on her finger, looking intently into her eyes. He wanted to be certain, to assure himself that there was no hesitation there, no apprehension behind those eyes. And miraculously, there wasn't. Her warm and loving gaze engulfed him entirely. He slowly slid the ring onto her finger, then Scully took her turn with his. He squeezed her hand. They looked back at Hosteen.

He concluded with a prayer in Navajo, then smiled at the couple before him. "You may kiss your bride."

They complied, eliciting a quiet murmur of delight and approval from the small crowd. The tribesmen stood and took their turns offering congratulations and well wishes before slowly migrating back to the old beat-up van that had brought them from town to the site.

When the others had congregated around the vehicle, Hosteen turned to face them. "I have a gift for the bride." He pulled out a small packet and handed it to Scully. She flashed a curious glance at Mulder.

He shrugged back at her.

Scully opened the packet to find a small silver charm. It was triangular in shape, and had a symbol imprinted on it. A tiny turquoise stone was embedded in the middle. It was absolutely beautiful, and she was very touched by it.

Scully looked up at Hosteen. "I don't know what to say..."

"Do you know what that symbol is?"

"It looks like an animal print of some kind."

"Very good: a bear's paw. The bear is a very sacred and powerful animal. This symbol of the bear's paw is special, do you know what it represents?"

She brought her eyes back to the beautiful piece of jewelry, shaking her head slowly.

"Strength behind beauty."

She looked up at him then, and saw that his kind eyes were smiling back at her.

"And the turquoise is a protective stone."

"Thank you... thank you so much."

He smiled and without further ado, he turned and headed back towards the van and the other men. They piled inside and started their journey back towards town.

Scully looked back at Mulder.

He smiled and lay a hand on her back. Darkness had settled around them as they walked towards the hogan that Hosteen and the tribesmen had prepared for them. Scully opened the door and stepped through the entrance with Mulder following behind her. She stopped just inside and caught her breath. "Oh my God Mulder..." The little dwelling was plain and rustic, furnished only with a futon-like mattress on the floor and a small bench on the opposite wall. A large bowl of fruit and breads and a picture of water were resting on top of it, their suitcases underneath. A warm fire burned brightly in the center of the room, its smoke disappearing through a special opening in the roof. It was warm and cozy and absolutely charming... and there were flowers everywhere: daisies. Strewn across the tiny shelf next to the entrance, in large terra cotta pots along the walls. She looked back at Mulder.

"I have my sources." He grinned contentedly back at her before turning to shut the door behind them. He stepped closer, taking her face in his hands and holding it just inches from his own. They stared at each other for a moment, then Mulder placed a kiss on her forehead. "I love you so much," he whispered to her, "I want to spend the rest of my life with you, I want to grow old with you..."

Her hand came up to cover one of his.

"I'm so happy..." He kissed her then, letting himself be washed away in his feelings for her, drown in his desire for her. Backing her towards the bed, he lay her down on top of it, pulling the blanket over them as they settled in to each other. They worked slowly, steadily at each other's clothes until there was nothing separating them and they could make their way easily to each other. Scully was strangely aware of the warm glow from the fire occasionally reflecting a bright spark of light off of their simple gold bands as their hands moved leisurely over smooth flesh. His body moved slowly, purposefully inside her, their bodies joined in the ecstasy of purest devotion, as he took her to that place that only he could. She was content and safe in his arms. And Mulder was relishing every second of this novel encounter... because although the act itself wasn't a new experience, it was different, because now, for the first time, he was making love to his wife.

"I've got to go use the bathroom." Scully stood and started to climb over Mulder's lap to get to the aisle.

He took hold of her hips as she passed over him. "I'll come with you."

She eyed him curiously.

He raised and lowered his eyebrows at her. "Ever heard of the mile-high club, Scully?"

She smirked back at him as she made it to the aisle and started towards the back of the plane.

A few minutes later a flight attendant approached. "Anything to drink?"

"Got any iced tea?"

"No, sorry."

"I'll have a Diet Coke then."

She handed him a small plastic cup and can of soda. "Something for your wife, sir?"

Mulder turned his head quickly to look at her. It wasn't the first time someone had referred to her that way, but it was the first time that anybody had been right about it. The flight attendant must have thought he had a screw loose as he beamed back at her. "Yes, my wife would like a Diet Coke also, please." The flight attendant eyed him uncertainly, then poured the drink and moved on to the next row.

Mulder rested his head against the back of the seat. His thoughts drifted with the low drone of the plane's engines and soon he was thinking about what was waiting for them back in DC. He still wasn't one hundred percent sure he could-- or should-- let this thing with Joel go. Scully had felt sure it was over with him... but he would never be able to be absolutely certain, and that thought tormented him. Besides...

Scully returned from the rest room and climbed into her seat.

When she'd settled in he turned his head to look at her. "What are we going to do about Joel, Scully?"

She eyed him over her soda. "What do you mean?"

"I think we should talk to Skinner."

Where did that come from? "Skinner?"

"Yeah. I think maybe the only way to get to the guy is through his career." His mouth twisted into a wry smile. "He hasn't responded to personal threats."

"Mulder, I really don't want to shake things up with him. We have the baby to think about. And I certainly don't want him going to Skinner about us before we have a chance to."

"Scully he's lucky you don't press charges for assault."

She stared at him.

"You've got to know you won't be the last person he's going to do this to."

She sighed and nodded. "I know. You're right. But I think right now we have more pressing things to tell Skinner. And besides, first thing's first."

Margaret Scully's face brightened at the unexpected sight of her daughter standing in her doorway. Fox Mulder was standing just behind her. She smiled in delight. "Both of you at my door at the same time? I was beginning to think you were the same person," she teased.

"Hi mom."

Maggie embraced her daughter. "What's going on is everything OK Dana?" She met Mulder's eyes over Scully's shoulder. "Hello, Fox."

He smiled at her, wondering why she always made him feel like he was twelve years old. "Hi Mrs. Scully."

"Everything's fine, Mom. There's just something we need to tell you."

She scrutinized them for a moment. "Oh my God, you set a date!"

Scully exchanged a look with Mulder. "Well... you could say that."

"That's wonderful! What did you decide?"

"Mom... actually..." She took a deep breath and glanced at Mulder nervously. "I hope you won't be too upset with me..."

Maggie's brows came together. "What is it Dana?"

"We really didn't plan it this way, in fact we'd planned on having a traditional wedding..."

Maggie brought her hands up over mouth. "You didn't..."

Scully raised her eyebrows expectantly and nodded at her.

She stood there silent as the shock washed over her. She never would've expected Dana-- her stable, responsible Dana-- to do something so impulsive. Maybe Melissa, but not Dana. And she'd been looking forward to Dana's wedding ever since she'd heard the news. Besides, she'd never have another chance to be mother of the bride, now that Melissa... No-- what mattered was Dana and her happiness. She knew that they'd been through so much, and she could understand them deciding to do it quietly. And she could certainly see that Dana was happy. They both were. She reached out for her daughter. "Dana..."

They embraced tightly, the emotion flowing between them. Maggie's voice was filled with tenderness. "I'm so happy for you, Dana."

Scully smiled and closed her eyes as the tears welled in them. "Thanks, Mom." She tightened her hold on her. "I hope so."

Maggie pulled from the embrace. "Of course I am." She looked up at Mulder. "Fox," she offered a warm smile, then she surprised him by reaching up and pulling him into a hug. "Welcome to the family." He stiffened momentarily, her display of affection catching him off guard, then softened in her arms, returning her hug. He smiled in spite of himself and thought to himself: she had *always* made him feel like family.

"Well, that's not all we have to tell you Mom."

She stepped back from Mulder and looked at her daughter. "I'm almost afraid to ask..."

Scully glanced once more at Mulder for support. He gave her a reassuring smile. "It looks like you're going to have to set *two* extra places at the table this Christmas..."

Scully nervously arranged and re-arranged the pillows on her couch for the fourth time. Mulder's mom would be there any minute and she wanted the place to be perfect. Mulder had asked his mom to come down, telling her that he had some news to share with her, that yes it was important and that no it was not about Samantha. So she'd agreed to come down for the night, taking a room in a nearby hotel. Mulder had gone out to get some last minute things before she arrived: a bottle of wine, some candles, and on a more practical note... they were dangerously low on toilet paper. Scully glanced at the clock. Seven-thirty. OK, she had about an hour. Her stomach tied into knots. For some reason she'd escaped morning sickness this time around, it only seemed to hit her when her nerves were frayed, and right now... oh how they were frayed. She glanced at the clock again. Seven- thirty two. Fifty-eight minutes. She sighed, disgusted with herself, and moved to the mirror. She examined her reflection, everything seemed in place; all that was left to do now was change clothes. The apartment looked nice, the lasagna was warming in the oven, there was nothing to panic about... Oh who was she kidding? This was a nightmare. Mrs. Mulder hadn't exactly responded well to the news that she and Mulder had become involved with each other, how was she going to react to this little bombshell? Married *and* a baby on the way? Scully ran for the bathroom.

When she came out she was less than thrilled to see that Owen had decided to take a nap on one of her place settings. "Hey!" He lazily opened one green eye at her, unconcerned. "Owen!" She scooped him off the table and he moved off, disgruntled. Wonderful. [Gee don't mind that Mrs. Mulder, that's just a little cat hair, we've grown used to it... in fact we've acquired a taste for it...] She went to the kitchen and grabbed a new plate and sponge.

The doorbell sounded as she finished wiping off the table. She launched the sponge in the general direction of the kitchen sink and moved to the door, wiping her hands on her jeans. Whoever it was, their timing couldn't have been worse.

Mrs. Mulder smiled at her as she opened the door. "My plane got in a little early, I hope it's all right..."

Mulder where are you?? "No, of course, come in-- please."

She entered the apartment and looked around. "How nice." She slipped her coat off and Scully took it from her. "Where's Fox?"

"Oh he should be here any minute." Scully headed down the hallway to the coat closet. "He better be here any minute," she muttered under her breath.

Scully came back out into the living area. "Can I get you something to drink?"

"No thank you, I'll wait for Fox."

"OK well I'm going to check--" The phone interrupted them. "Excuse me." Scully picked up the cordless and headed into the kitchen with it. "Hello?" She opened the oven and peeked in on dinner. "No he's not here right now. This is his wife though is there something I can help you with?... No-- no sorry we're not interested." She clicked off the phone and started in the direction of the fridge... and froze. Oh my God, how could she have been so stupid? She moved quickly toward the living area and looked in. Mrs. Mulder was half turned on the couch, facing her, slack- jawed.

Mulder came in and was surprised to see his mom already there. "Hi." As he placed the grocery bag on the floor and slid his jacket off, he wondered why his mom looked so pale... and why Scully looked so green...

And so it went-- they were sure that after the initial shock wore off, Mulder's mom would grow used to the idea. Fortunately, Scully's mom seemed to handle the news much easier. At any rate, they were relieved to finally have telling their families behind them. And now they were ready; there was no more putting it off: they had to face their most difficult task.

"Tell me this isn't another request for transfer."

Mulder looked over at Scully, then back to Skinner. "No sir."

They all stared at each other.

Skinner lifted his hands expectantly, growing impatient. "You had some purpose for requesting this meeting Agent Mulder...?"

Mulder gave a quick nod. "Yes, sir. I'm sure it won't come as a complete surprise to you... There's something we should... We'd like to..." Mulder was sinking fast.

Scully bailed him out. "We wanted to officially inform the Bureau of our situation, sir."

Oh God he should've seen this coming. "Situation?"

"Agent Mulder and I... we... we were..." The 'm' formed on her lips but she couldn't quite bring herself to say it.

"Spit it out Agent Scully."

"We were married this weekend."

That they'd become involved was what he'd anticipated; he suspected that. But not this. They'd skipped right to the punch- line. And what could he say? Get a divorce? You're fired? He took a deep breath, then looked over at Mulder, then back at Scully, then down at his blotter. "Well you might have told be about this *before* it happened Agent Scully."

"I know, sir. But it happened rather suddenly..." Her voice trailed off and the room remained silent for several seconds.

"Well I'll officially inform the Director. That is typically the way these matters proceed."

"We understand sir."

Skinner nodded and they both rose to leave. He stopped them just before they reached the door. "Mulder..." They turned to face him. "Scully... congratulations. Really, I'm happy for you both."

They nodded awkwardly in appreciation. Mulder lay a hand on Scully's back to lead her out. "Thank you, sir."

They stood in the hallway outside Skinner's office. Mulder leaned sideways against the wall, giving her a crooked smile. "Probably a good thing we held off on telling him about the baby... and discussing Joel... that on top of the vacation time I put in for for

us might have pushed him right over the edge."

"What are you talking about?"

"I put in for vacations for us, Scully."

"You mean you forged my signature on a vacation request."

"Well I didn' t think you'd mind under the circumstances."

"What circumstances?"

"You didn't think I'd forget the honeymoon, did you Scully?"

A smile spread slowly across her face. "Honeymoon? Just what did you have in mind?"

He looked around, then pulled two plane tickets from his inside breast pocket. He lowered his voice and leaned in close, displaying the tickets. "Eight square miles of paradise, Scully; eight square miles of paradise..."

Scully looked out the window at the ocean beneath them as their plane made its journey from Martinique to the tiny island of Saint Barts. Mulder had really caught her by surprise with this one... this was nothing compared to their impromptu wedding. She smiled as she remembered how he had teased her about figuring they had better go now while she could still wear a bathing suit. Then he'd surprised her further by pulling her up off the ground into his arms, kissing her right there in the hallway in front of Skinner's office, in plain view of the stares of other agents around them. Why not? They were married, they'd "officially" informed the A.D., it was only a matter of time before everyone else would know too... and what better way to make an announcement? Skinner had said he would inform his superiors and that they would be notified of a decision shortly. But they weren't going to wait for that. They'd spent the last few nights in serious negotiation about what they were going to do about work. Mulder had been in contact with Senator Matheson, who in turn had put him in contact with a "colleague" at Georgetown University: Dr. Robert Flagg, a distinguished professor of sociology that had a most interesting hobby-- parapsychology. He was also interested in the abduction phenomenon and had published several papers on the subject. So Senator Matheson set up a teaching position for Mulder at the university, where he could have access to Flagg's work and counsel. And he made it clear that he would personally guarantee Mulder access to the X-files data as needed, with discretion of course. To Mulder it was a perfect arrangement, but Scully had resisted at every level; there was no way she wanted him to give up everything he'd worked for, his position, his access, his very tools for finding Samantha, just for her. She'd proposed he stay with the X-files and she would take on a teaching position at Quantico or look into working for the Investigative Science Unit. But he refused to continue working on the X-files without her. Besides, he told her, he wanted to get away from the X-files, the Bureau, from the government's watchful eye; away from the danger his work had put them in... especially now with the baby coming. Scully had continued to protest this, reminding him that this was what he'd always wanted. But when he looked calmly at her and told her he wanted *her* more, she knew that the decision had been made.

She looked over at him now as their turbo-prop started its descent. He looked positively green. "You OK, Mulder?"

He passed a hand over his mouth. "Yeah. Yeah, it's just...I hate these puddle jumpers."

Mulder had rented them a cottage from a local hotel, the Village Saint Jean. It was private and secluded and exactly what they needed. They rented a Suzuki Samurai for their excursions around the island, taking their first trip the following day down to the island's small port of Gustavia. There, they strolled along the sea wall and watched the docked cruise ships in the distance, and after they'd walked around a bit, they stopped to eat at a nearby cafe. Mulder opened the map and spread it across their table, placing their silverware on the corners to prevent it from blowing away with the gentle afternoon breeze. "Look at this, Scully... we could spend the entire time going to different beaches and still not hit them all before the end of the week."

She cocked her head to try and get a better look at the map. There were small pictures of each beach inlaid next to their locations. "Oh what's this one? Shell beach, that sounds nice."

"Yeah we can hit that one after lunch. Hey look at this one, we'd have to hike there, but would you look at that Scully? It's gorgeous."

She nodded in agreement. "That's some surf." Her eyes moved from the map and passed over their surroundings. She sighed contentedly. "It's so quiet and peaceful here. No crowds, no traffic, no shopping malls..." When she looked back at him, he was watching her with a warm smile. She raised her eyebrows questioningly at him. But when he reached across the table and took her hand in his, giving it a light squeeze, she knew what he meant. This was wonderful. Being together like this, a million miles away from DC, the Bureau, their problems. For just a while, nothing existed beyond that beautiful little island.

They pulled up along the little dirt road and walked down toward Shell beach. There they picked a spot and settled in among the smattering of other tourists. And they could see how the beach earned its name: where sand should have been, there were shells, tiny little sea shells covering every inch of the beach like a dusting of snow. They stood at their blanket and deposited their belongings. Scully slipped off her t-shirt and threw it down next to her towel. Mulder watched her; it occurred to him that he'd never seen her in a bathing suit before. He smiled and took a step closer, pulling her into an embrace. He lifted her up off the sand and kissed her firmly. "You're cute."

She squirmed free and tugged at his shirt, smiling excitedly. "Come on, let's go in."

They made their way down to the water where the gentle surf quietly lapped against the shore. The water was warm but still cool enough to be refreshing. They waded in further, until their hips were submerged. Scully looked down and glided a hand just over the surface. "I thought water was only this clear and blue on postcards."

He smiled at her, nodding. Taking hold of her hand, he pulled her gently towards him, wrapping his arms around her and submerging them both in the water. They held each other on resurfacing. The feel of cool liquid between them, of their bodies sliding against each other in that warm water was almost immediately arousing. Mulder pulled her closer and kissed her sensually, enjoying the salty taste on her lips. He slid his hands further down her back... but the temptation was too great, and that clear water provided far too little camouflage. Scully pulled away, eyeing him sideways and keeping a few feet's distance from him. She smiled coyly at him before disappearing under the water. They swam for a while, but Mulder didn't last long before heading back to the beach. Scully could've spent all day in that tepid water, but unfortunately, her skin didn't seem to agree, she was pruning up and decided it was time to join Mulder on the beach. He was lying on his back catching some rays as she approached. She collapsed to her stomach on the towel next to him. She fished her book from the bag and started to settle in to read. As she reached for her sunglasses, something off to her right caused her to do a double-take. "Mulder..." she whispered.

"Mmm?" he responded, not looking at her.

"Those men... Mulder they're not wearing any bathing suits. They're not wearing *anything*."

He lifted his glasses and glanced briefly at the people sunning themselves several yards away. "So?"

"So I thought 'nudisme est interdit'."

Mulder grinned. "Apparently not."

Scully continued to stare at the group, unable to pull her gaze from them, more out of fascination than anything else, that someone might expose their most sensitive parts to some pretty damaging rays... "Must have to put sunblock in some interesting places..." she thought out loud.

The corner of his mouth turned up as he reached over and took hold of the top of her head, turning it back to her novel. "You're married now, you're not supposed to be interested in that kind of thing anyway," he teased.

"Come on, Mulder. Don't even try to tell me you haven't been enjoying all these topless women walking around."

He grinned widely. "I hadn't noticed."

Now it was her turn to smile. "Right."

They bantered back and forth, but the mood was light.

"Don't worry, Scully. I can resist temptation; I resisted Phoebe, didn't I?"

She turned her head to look at him. "So she did come on to you?"

"Like a freight train."

She felt a fleeting twinge of jealousy and wondered if that was something that would ever go away entirely. "I thought so. Why didn't you tell me?"

"You weren't exactly in the best frame of mind at the time... now I know it was your raging hormones."

"Hormones! Did it ever occur to you that maybe you just pissed me off?"

He lifted his sunglasses and looked at her. "Nah."

And so they spent the rest of their vacation in much the same way: swimming, relaxing, exploring the island, exploring each other in those new surroundings...

One morning towards the end of their stay, Scully rose early to go for walk along the beach. She came back to find Mulder shuffling back to bed from the bathroom, wearing only his boxers, his jaw shadowed with stubble, hair all askew.

Scully smirked at him. "Don't you look like nice."

He glanced over at her sleepily before collapsing onto his back on the sun-drenched bed. He passed his hands over his face and back through his hair, finally locking them behind his head. He closed his eyes, the corner of his mouth turning up the slightest bit. "Yeah..." he shrugged smugly. "You want me."

She smiled and approached. She knelt over him, and leaned into his face. "Maybe..." She kissed him, softly at first, weaving her fingers back through his hair, then more purposefully. His hands came up around her to pull her closer as their kissing intensified, his body coming alive at her touch as if she'd merely thrown a switch. She kissed his chin, his collarbone, then started a small trail of kisses down his midsection... her lips gliding over his stomach... further... then she was sending him skyward, her warm mouth working its magic for almost half an hour, keeping him suspended in an agonizing state of pleasure. Just when he was sure he couldn't hold out any longer, his body drenched with sweat, shaking in torturous ecstasy, she sat up, slipping off her shorts and positioning herself on top of him until she'd surrounded him in the extraordinary warmth of her center. He reached up and gripped the bars of the headboard as he started moving inside her. He watched her kneeling above him, this woman that was everything he'd ever needed, as diffuse sunlight engulfed their bodies and blurred the boundaries between them. That he could do this to her, awaken this passionate and absolutely beautiful creature, was as always powerfully dizzying. He reached out for her, slipping a hand around to the back of her neck and guiding her lips to his. He continued to move inside her, kissing her with tremendous hunger, until he could feel himself spiraling towards the precious joy of release. He spun on her, rolling her underneath him and pinning her wrists out by her sides against the pillow. He buried his face in her neck, driving himself deeper and deeper into her with mounting force. She exhaled sharply at his ear as he moved untamed above her, until the sound was choked off with the culmination of passion. That was all it took to push him over the edge, his own hoarse cry of release dissolving into the strands of her hair. His body slowed, coming to rest on top of her, and he kissed her sweat-dampened cheek. He nuzzled his face into her hair as he hugged her. "Dana..." he started, but couldn't find the words.

She smiled against his shoulder.

As their last day neared, there was only one thing Scully hadn't done that she'd wanted to do. "Mulder?"

It was evening and they were sitting out on the veranda sharing a bottle of Orangina. He turned his head towards her.

"Let's go riding tomorrow."

"You mean like horseback riding?" He turned his gaze back to the water.


"I already told you, Scully, I'm not much of a horseman." He turned his head back to look at her.

Her blue eyes were wide in silent persuasion.

He sighed in resignation.

"Now see this isn't such a bad way to spend our last day in paradise." Scully smiled at him as they rode at a leisurely pace along the beach.

He couldn't help but smile back at her. He'd come begrudgingly, but she was right, it wasn't so bad, he could handle a horse well enough; and besides, seeing her excitement was worth every aching muscle he was going to have tomorrow. But he wasn't going to let her off without a little teasing. He grinned at her. "You look like such a little girl." And she did. Her normally milky white skin was sun kissed with a hint of color, especially along her nose and cheeks, the baggy t-shirt and cut-offs she wore seeming to epitomize youth.

She flashed him an admonishing glance. "Mulder, girls have knee socks and pony tails."

"But Scully, you do have a pony tail."

She smirked at him. "A girl that could easily leave your ass in a trail of her dust to the end of beach," she challenged.

"Those are fightin' words, Scully."

She smiled and nudged her horse, taking off at top speed down the beach. Mulder smiled and followed at a canter, not so much interested in their race as he was taking delight in watching her. But as she disappeared down the coastline, growing smaller and smaller as she moved away from him, he felt a sinking sensation in his stomach. It was ridiculous, he knew, but he couldn't shake it. He took off after her with a start. He was just at her heels when she turned back and saw him, surprised to see that he was suddenly so close. With a smile she took off again and he intensified his pursuit. The thunderous sound of hooves hitting sand swelled in his ears as he drove his horse to ride faster and faster but she continued to move just out of his reach. With a jab to the ribs he urged the animal further, finally coming up just alongside her. He reached over and grabbed hold of her reigns, slowing both of their horses to a stop.

She smiled in amusement and ran a hand through her wind-blown hair, having lost her elastic somewhere down the beach. "Cheater."

Still holding her reigns, he smiled slightly back at her, but there was a hint of gravity in his voice. "I don't like it when you run away from me."

She paused to catch her breath as she eyed him, then leaned toward him. He met her with a kiss, then they both dismounted and started walking their horses back down the coastline. They were quiet with their thoughts. They had a lot of unfinished business waiting for them when they got back home. Most likely the Bureau would have their decision for them; they still had the ugly task of telling Skinner about Joel, and the slightly more pleasant task of telling him about the baby. Scully lay a hand on her abdomen. The baby. Yes, they had a lot waiting for them. She reached out and clasped Mulder's hand in hers as they walked. No more play time; tomorrow... they would head back to Washington.

The End

The verses used in the wedding ceremony are taken from an actual Apache wedding ceremony-- those beautiful words are not mine!

Spell 13: Getting There

The morgue was cold and sterile. Mulder always hated the morgue; hands down it was the worst part of the job. How Scully seemed to handle it with relative ease, that she had chosen a career path that would put her in frequent content with them, was beyond his comprehension. He stood there now, staring at the metal table in front of him as it reflected the light around the room in a sharp glare, a glare that illuminated a small area around the table but didn't quite make it to the dark corners and crevices of the chamber. The body lying underneath the sheet on that table was so small. He didn't want to go near it. He was terrified of it. Looking to his right, he could see that Scully was standing beside him, her eyes wide with compassion and understanding. He looked back at the sheet. Finally, he managed to take a step toward it, and once he did he seemed compelled to continue, not stopping until his legs hit the table's edge. The sound of his heartbeat was pounding in his ears, his breath was tight in his chest. He took hold of the top of the sheet, braced himself, then slowly lifted it up. His breath caught in his throat, then was replaced by a large lump that threatened to explode with pain. He closed his eyes. Oh God, it was her. It *was* her: Samantha. Somehow, he knew with no uncertainty that this was his sister. His body turned limp with sorrow; Mulder fell to his knees beside her. He gently lay his hands on that cold little arm, that arm that should have been warm with life, and he desperately fought off the despair that threatened to swallow him whole. He was destroyed. How could it be that he had failed her so miserably? After trying, searching so hard for so long? It was more than he could bear, to see that perfect chalk-white face made almost statuesque in the hard light, that face that should have laughed at days of play, delighted in years of birthdays, smiled over Christmases and pets and decades of his bad jokes. But all that had been taken from her; she had been robbed of her childhood, of falling in love, of having a family of her own. His sister was gone, it was real, and now he was alone.

But no-- not alone.

He turned to Scully and pulled her to him, burying his face in the warmth of her stomach. He clung to her, held on to her for dear life. And he let the tears flow, let the pain flow out of him like a wild and untamed river. And slowly, through the tears and unbearable aching of his heart, he came awake, holding Scully, his anguish moistening the skin of her neck. And no end to that pain seemed to be in sight; it was almost worse now that he was awake and he still didn't know what had happened to her. At least in the dream he knew. The dream... it had been hurtful, almost cruel in its realism. He hadn't dreamed about Samantha in such a long time... those particular nightmares had stopped long ago. He remembered telling Scully's mother that it was scarier when you stopped having the dreams... but as the sadness consumed him now, he considered the possibility that maybe he had been wrong.

Scully softly stroked his hair and cradled him tighter against her. "Shh.... it's OK. It was just a dream," she whispered sleepily.

He relaxed his hold on her but stayed near, taking comfort from her closeness. She held him until they both found sleep, and in the morning he was fine; his dream nothing more than a ghostly memory.

Mulder woke first. The sun streamed through the windows and bathed the bed. Scully was lying half on top of him, her bare leg curled over his own, the neck of her nightshirt slipped off of her shoulder, revealing the slightest curve of flesh. He stretched and she shifted in her sleep, rolling over onto her side. Mulder turned his head to look at her, letting his eyes trace the lines of the exposed skin of her neck, then down her back. He inched closer and pulled her back against his chest.

She reluctantly emerged from slumber. "I'm sleepy."

"That's OK, you can just lie there," he joked.

She responded with a soft jab to his stomach.

He smiled and started kissing her neck.

A warm wave of desire stirred in her stomach. She kept her eyes closed. "Excuse me do I know you?"

He pulled her tighter against him. "No... but you're about to..."

Scully headed towards the copy room in the basement. It was their first day back and they wanted to make sure things started moving in the right direction. The wedding had inspired them, put their fears at rest, and they no longer feared the future; on the contrary, they longed for it. It was so clear to them now, what was waiting for them: their life as a family. They wanted it more than anything, and they started taking the necessary steps towards getting there.

Telling Skinner about the baby had actually gone more smoothly than they'd anticipated; in fact, he seemed to be genuinely happy for them in offering his congratulations.

Joel... that was a different matter. He had an impeccable record with the Bureau, and that had gone *exactly* how she'd expected- - surprise, suspicion, doubt. After they''d spoken privately with Skinner about the baby, Mulder had left and she'd gone before a small group of her superiors, the same superiors who had questioned her about Mulder's irrational behavior and ultimately suspended her all those years ago. She'd met Skinner's eyes through the smoke-screen of questions being directed at her, and she saw that he believed her. But he was the only one, she knew that too. She held his gaze, silently imploring him to do something, but at the same time knowing there was nothing he could do. And she had done all she could; she should feel good about that... but it was an empty satisfaction. She opened the door and entered the copy room, stopping short.

"Almost done--" Joel turned around to face her.

They both stared at each other. Scully was suddenly very aware that the door had closed behind her and that the room was much darker then she ever remembered it.


"I'll come back later--" she said coolly and started to turn around.

The copier silenced behind him. "No, see... it's all yours."

Scully didn't feel in any danger, even in that secluded room. The cinder block walls were poorly insulated; there was no way Joel would ever chance someone hearing an altercation between them. She brushed past him as he moved for the door and took his place in front of the copier.

Joel reached for the knob and paused. After a second he turned around and walked back to her. Scully's hands rested on the surface of the machine as it rattled out the copies. Joel leaned back against it, standing very close to her. He folded his arms in front of him. "So I heard about you and Mulder. I mean the wedding."

She turned her head to look up at him, but her body seemed frozen in place.

He leaned in close. "That was kind of fast, wasn't it?"

She stared at him. His handsome face looked benignly back at her, she could detect the faintest trace of his cologne in the air between them. And there was that kindness in his eyes, that tenderness that had initially been so successful in weakening all her defenses. It was amazing how he could turn it on like that.

Not that she could ever be fooled by it again.

He pressed her. "What was the rush?"

She brought her eyes back to the copier. Why was this thing so damn slow?

Joel smiled mischievously down at her. "It wasn't a shot gun wedding was it?"

She turned her head quickly to look at him. He couldn't have found out about the baby so quickly, they'd just told Skinner not an hour ago. No, he was just trying to be flirtatious, to charm her, dancing along that line but not daring to cross it. He was playing games again, and had no idea the nerve he'd just hit. And she suspected he wouldn't be nearly so friendly once he'd heard about the complaint she'd filed against him. "Look if you need to make more copies I can come back later..."

The door opened suddenly and Mulder came in, stopping short at the sight before him.

The room hung silent with explosive tension.

Mulder's grip tightened around the door knob. To see him standing so close to her... and then an instinctive protectiveness, fueled by hatred, sent him after Joel.

Scully stepped in between them, placing her hands against his chest. "Mulder." But he was gaining momentum. "Mulder!"

He was entirely unaware of her presence, his sights were focused in on Joel in murderous rage. He backed her right into Joel, who wrapped his arms around her in the pretense of protection...

Which only infuriated Mulder further. Taking hold of her upper arm, he attempted to pull Scully free with one hand as he shoved Joel's shoulder with the other. "Get your hands off of her!" He moved her aside and grabbed hold of Joel, throwing him up against the wall.

"Mulder stop it!" She took hold of his arm and yanked back. He spun around and faced her, seeming to really see her for the first time. She pulled him off to the side and whispered fiercely to him. "*I* walked in on *him*. He didn't follow me here. It was an accident... nothing happened!"

He whispered back at her in that desperate tone that she knew so well...{{Well I don't trust them! I *want* to trust *you*...}}. His eyes darkened. "Not this time, Scully!"

Joel silently observed the scene with a look of amusement.

She grabbed hold of his tie and pulled his face to hers. "Listen to me: calm down, right now. Please, Mulder, you'll just wind up getting yourself in trouble. We don't need that."

He stared at her, his breathing evening out as he tried to will down the emotion burning through him. She was right... but it was so hard.

"Let's just go, I can do this later." She turned him around and guided him toward the door.

Joel's voice spoke up behind them. "I don't know Dana, doesn't seem like he trusts you, does it?"

Mulder turned again and Scully lay a firm hand on his chest. He looked down at her, finding in her eyes refuge from his anger. They started back out the door.

"And I'd be careful if I were you, looks like he's got some violent impulses there..."

Something in her snapped at the audacity of those words and she whirled on him. "Violent!" She stalked toward him, fists clenched at her sides. "Violent?!" she repeated.

Mulder came up quickly behind her, circling an arm around her waist to restrain her. "Scully--"

She squirmed in his hold. "You hypocritical self-important son of a bitch--"

Mulder started backing towards the door with her.

Joel looked back at her with his eyebrows raised in mock innocence, as if he couldn't imagine what on earth she meant.

"Don't you dare look at me as if you have no idea what I'm talking about!"

Mulder pulled her through the door and it closed behind them. He rested his hands on her shoulders as she leaned back against the wall just outside the copier room. "Scully... Scully look at me."

The anger was still seething through her as she looked up at him, her brows drawn together in dismay. Their eyes met in mutual frustration. But they knew they'd done the right thing in reporting Joel to Skinner. He deserved whatever reckoning he received.

Scully looked at the digital clock: 11:21pm. She reached up and clicked on the lamp, flooding the bedroom with light.

Mulder squinted and brought a hand up to protect his eyes. "What's goin' on, Scully?" he asked sleepily.

She sat up and looked down at him. "Mulder we have to get some things soon: a crib, some diapers and clothes, am I missing something? A high chair... oh and a stroller... some bottles! How could I forget bottles. And where are we going to put the baby? We could put a crib in here for now, couldn't we? Couldn't we put a crib in here?"

"Couldn't we discuss this in the morning?"

"Mulder I'm just a little concerned--"

"You're just a little panicking."

"I'm not panicking."

"And rambling."

"I'm not rambling."

"Scully you're the most eloquent and well-spoken woman I know, and, I don't know, maybe it's because I was just ripped so abruptly from peaceful sleep but nothing you just said made any sense to me."

She frowned at him in irritation, saying nothing.

"It's a little soon to freak out don't you think? We have plenty of time."

She was silent.

He had a pretty good idea of what was causing this anxiety. "What was your dream about?"

She leaned back against the head board. "It was weird."

"Dreams usually are."

"Well we had the baby-- all of a sudden we just had it, like we picked it up from the pound or something."

Mulder smiled as he squinted up at her, his eyes finally adjusting to the light.

"And we were completely unprepared, we were running around putting together a make shift bed and using towels for blankets and we had nothing to feed it and-- what's so funny?"

"You're funny. Come here-- turn off that light first--." He propped himself up on his elbow.

She killed the light and inched down until her head was on the pillow, looking up at him in the moon light.

He ran a finger along her creased brow.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm trying to make this go away."

Her face relaxed with a slight smile.

"What do you know, it worked."

"Mulder maybe we should get a book or something."

"Uh-oh it's back."

"Mulder you're not listening to me."

"I'm listening. We can get a book and you have your mom and you have great instincts and I have no doubt in my mind that you are going to make a wonderful mother."

She raised her eyebrows at him. "Really?"

"Really. Are we done panicking now?"

"I wasn't panicking."

He ran a hand gently over her eyes. "Shhh..." He rolled over onto his side, pulling her with him until she was curled up against his back. He tucked her arm underneath his and held her hand at his chest.

She nuzzled into the back of his neck. "Thanks."

She could hear the smile in his voice. "You can thank me in the morning."

Mulder chewed the end of his pencil as he listened to Langley on the other end of the phone.

"Great, thanks a lot." He swung his legs up and deposited his feet on the desk. "So where's Frohike? He's been conspicuously absent the last few times I've paid a visit to your little den of iniquity."

"Somehow I doubt that. Anyway, thanks Langley."

He replaced the receiver and stood, moving around the desk to Scully. He kissed her softly as she sat on its surface. "Mmm, is it time for lunch yet?"

"It's only 10:30 Mulder."

He moved to her neck. "We could take an early lunch." He leaned into kiss her throat, she tilted her head up to allow him better access.

"We only have two more files to go through," she attempted weakly.

"I'm going to fall asleep if I have to look at one more of those Skinner Specials." As his hands traveled down her front, they stopped suddenly on her abdomen. He stepped back.

Scully looked up at him. "What?"

A small smile surfaced on his face as he ran his hand over stomach. "I think you're starting to get a little paunch."

She took hold of her jacket and pulled it self-consciously around her midsection. She looked uncertainly back up at him, eyebrows raised.

Mulder gently pried her hands away and re-opened her jacket, placing his hand once more on her abdomen. "I think it's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."

She smiled at him, then her thoughts returned to the phone conversation. "So... what did Langley say?"

"Flagg's legit."

"They're sure? They checked him out thoroughly?"

He flashed her a look.

"Right, stupid question. So when do you start?"

"Senator Matheson said he could arrange it for me to start as soon as it's convenient. Probably wait 'til after the baby's born." He'd lost her attention; her eyes were slowly scanning the room, taking in the surroundings as if to record every item in the room. And he knew what she was thinking: it was going to be hard leaving this. They'd spent their entire life together working in this office, on those files... her *life* was in those files.

"Well I guess we photocopied all those files for nothing..."

He smiled weakly and lay a hand on her cheek. He shared her thoughts of leaving this place, this part of their lives. At least they had a few more months; they had been surprised to hear that the Bureau was going to allow them to continue working together until she left for maternity leave. But it was assumed *one* of them would not be returning to the X-Files division at the end of that time. Hopefully, they would have everything with Mulder's new position set up by that time anyway. Scully was planning on taking an indefinite amount of time off to be home with the baby, so she had plenty of time to decide what she was going to do. Since he was insistent on leaving the X-files, Scully had suggested she stay and that that way he could maintain access through her; but he was strongly opposed to the idea, he would much rather have her tucked away in a nice, safe teaching position at Quantico or one of the local universities. And she understood... she felt the same security about his teaching position at Georgetown.

Their thoughts were interrupted by the phone.

Scully reached for the receiver. "Scully." Her eyes drifted to meet Mulder's. "All right, thank you." She replaced the receiver.

"What was that about?"

She slid off the desk and buttoned her jacket. "Skinner wants to see me."

"You think it's about Joel?"

"I know it's about Joel." She studied the desk.

Mulder rested a hand on her shoulder. "I'll walk you up?"

"No. No that's OK. I want to do this alone."

He nodded and she smiled in appreciation.

"Come in, Agent Scully."

"You wanted to see me sir."

"Yes I did. Please, have a seat."

She could tell by his tone that she was not going to like what he had to say. "You know I brought your charges to the attention of the appropriate people... that's what our meeting the other day was about."

Scully locked her hands together and set them in her lap.

"Well what you may not have known, what I didn't know either, was that yours were not the first allegations brought against Agent Miner; though none have ever been substantiated."

Scully was shocked to hear about the previous charges. She shouldn't have been, but she was.

"At any rate, he was also called in for a meeting. He's maintaining that after he broke off your engagement you started harassing him with telephone calls, letters, that you followed him."

She sat unmoving, staring at him, as the astonishment settled over her like a heavy drape.

"And that these allegations are in direct response to his breaking off your engagement."

She continued to stare at him, but her eyes were focused far off.

"A decision has been reached; against my advisement the Bureau has decided to handle this matter quietly. He's being transferred to a previous field office-- his first assignment after the academy."

Scully's jaw tightened. Her voice just barely concealed her anger. "So that's it: transferred? He gets away with it? Even with the other complaints that have been filed against him?"

Skinner looked at her apologetically. He wasn't happy about being the messenger. "I'm afraid so, Scully."

Scully opened her mouth and drew in a deep breath. She struggled to keep it together, but it was hard; this was too much. Nothing-- the Bureau was going to do nothing. "What you're saying, sir, is that J. Edgar may long be dead but his boy's club mentality is alive and well and that a man's word is still always taken over a female agent's."

Skinner could only stare back at her. He stood and moved around the desk to take the seat next to her.

She turned her head to look at him as he leaned in her direction, then brought her eyes to the floor. She was clinging to the last remnants of her professionalism. No way she was going to lose it in front of the A.D. and perpetuate another stereotype.

"I know being a female agent is a difficult thing, Scully, and that there are still a lot of people here who think the Bureau is no place for a woman. I don't happen to be one of them. I wouldn't hesitate to have you at my side going into any situation."

She looked back up at him. She knew he was telling the truth, she felt that he respected her as much as she did him. Her face softened as she looked at him, but the exasperation she felt was not discriminating in its objective. She stared at him until he averted her gaze.

After a moment he met her eyes again. "Of course you can appeal the decision if you--"

"No thank you sir," she said curtly. "I can see that my course of action was an exercise in futility. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised; it isn't the first time. The Bureau protects its own... that is, if you're the right gender."

Skinner stared back at her. There was nothing he could say; she was right, and he was sorry to have to be a part of it.

Scully cleared her throat. "Is that all sir?" she asked coolly.

After a moment, he gave a quick nod and she rose to leave.

Mulder looked up as the door to Skinner's reception area opened and Scully came breezing out. She cruised right by him.

"Scully? What happened?" he asked, catching up to her.

She continued her accelerated pace down the corridor.


"I have to get out of here, Mulder."

"OK, all right, come on..." he said soothingly, laying a hand on her back and directing her to the stairwell. He brought her down until they were halfway between the first floor and the parking garage. They sat on the landing. Mulder could see she was trembling, the tears of frustration were threatening to break free at any moment. "Tell me what happened."

"Nothing. Nothing's going to happen."

Mulder squeezed her hand and brought his eyes to the floor. He started slowly. "Scully you had to know what you were going up against. It was your word against his."

"I know that Mulder. But what I didn't know was that there have been other complaints filed against him."

"I'm not surprised."

"And he's saying that he's the one who broke off the engagement, that I've been harassing him with phone calls..." she exhaled sharply in a quick, incredulous noise. "God he's portrayed me perfectly as the woman scorned. The fact that *I'm* the one who has moved on and who is now married seems to have carried little weight."

Mulder rubbed her back as she continued.

"I can't believe this, you know?" Her voice was tense with checked emotion. "I feel so betrayed. I've always given this job one-hundred percent. I've been dedicated and committed and what do I get?" She turned to look at Mulder and saw that his face was filled with guilt. She knew what he was thinking: her credibility, her record with the Bureau had been tarnished since working with him. "Mulder I'm not going to let you take any blame in this. It's politics, plain and simple."

She took a deep breath and sighed, and Mulder could see she'd stopped shaking. He brushed her hair off her face. "So they aren't going to do anything?"

She stared off into the distance. "He's being transferred."

"Transferred? Where?"

"Bismarck field office."

Mulder smiled. "North Dakota?"

"Yeah..." Scully turned her head to look at him, a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth, "...he never did like the cold."

Then they both smiled widely.

Joel stood in front of the copier sorting the last of his files on his active cases. It was now a week since he'd been informed of the transfer; next week he would leave for North Dakota. He scoffed inwardly. How could the Bureau take the word of Spooky Mulder's partner, of a woman, over his? And Bismarck? It was a step back and a slap in the face. But then, maybe it was just temporary... let Dana think he'd been "punished", then move him to a choice assignment. Yeah, maybe that was it... His thoughts were interrupted as the door swung open.

"Assistant Director Skinner. This is a surprise."

"I'm not here in a professional capacity Miner."

He hesitated, then set his files down on the desk. "Oh?"

"I'm here about Agent Scully."

Joel nodded slowly, then looked to the side. "I don't know what more I can tell you, I gave my statement--"

"Save it."

Joel stared at him.

Skinner approached him, not stopping until he was inches from his face. "You're a disgrace to this institution."

Joel opened his mouth to speak but Skinner cut him off, his voice low and even, almost matter-of-fact. "You got away with it-- this time. Next time," he stepped closer and held his gaze, "they'll never find you." He paused momentarily to punctuate the sincerity behind his words, then turned and left the room.

Despite Dr. MacDowell's constant assurances that everything was progressing normally, they tiptoed through the pregnancy. The months moved on without event, they started their accumulation of the necessary paraphernalia and the apartment was soon cluttered with piles of baby gear. It wasn't long before they started to realize there was something else they hadn't considered: they needed to get a new place. But they still had some time... Scully sat on the couch now with the how-to instructions for the crib perched on her stomach, watching Mulder fumble with the pieces on the floor.

Finally, he sighed in exasperation and released the parts he was holding. "Can't we just... put a mattress on the floor or something, Scully?" he asked, really only half-joking.

She smirked at him over the paper. "Sure. Why don't we just lay out some kibble and a bowl of water too..."

He offered a chagrined smile. "Point taken." He examined a large hinge. "Oh I forgot to tell you, I though of a good name yesterday." He got up off the floor and moved to take a seat beside her on the couch.

"If you say 'Legitimate' I'm going to kill you."

He smiled. "I think 'Tax Deduction' has a better ring to it. That way we take care of a first and a middle name."

She groaned at him. "Why can't I get a serious answer out of you on this? We're running out of time you know. Why do you insist on pushing my buttons?"

He gave a devilish smile and moved closer, letting his hand drift down her front. "Because they're so fun to push."

She smiled and swatted his hand away.

"Excuse me but as your husband I'm entitled to certain rights... to certain conjugal rights..."

"Spoken like a man of the fifties."

"On the contrary, Scully, I'm a true nineties man."

"You mean Cro-Magnon man."


And so, after much discussion, they had decided that if it was a boy, it would be Benjamin. Scully had always liked that name and Mulder was happy with anything that wasn't Fox Jr. His middle name would be William, after both their fathers. If it was a girl, it would be Emma. They had wanted something simple and old-fashioned, and, despite Mulder's Jane Austen jokes, both liked the sound of that name. When Scully had flipped through the name book until she came across the E's, she had smiled when she read the entry. Mulder had raised his eyebrows at her, curious. "What does it mean?" Scully had handed the book to him so he could see it too. "Beloved." He had looked up and smiled back... and it was cinched. Her middle name would be Melissa... Mulder insisted.

Scully softly stroked Owen's back as he lay draped across her protruding stomach; she was now well into her ninth month. "What do you think Owen's going to think about the baby?"

Mulder looked over the case file he'd brought home at her. "I don't know, but I'm sure it'll involve some kind of therapy for all of us."

"Oh he's not that bad."

"Scully he's spoiled rotten. He's not going to take kindly to your attention being taken away from him... he barely tolerates me."

The corner of her mouth turned up as she suppress a smile. "Yeah we all do..."

He suppressed a smile of his own. "Now is that how you're gonna talk to our baby?"

"Of cour--" The words were choked off with a sharp stab of pain. She clutched her stomach. "Ow..."

"Scully? What's the matter?"

She cried out again, louder this time.

"What is it what's wrong??"

"Oh God Mulder... I think it's coming!"

"The baby?!"

"No the mail... of course the baby!"

He bolted up from his chair and stood looking over at her as she lay doubled over on her side on the sofa. "But it's not supposed to happen for another week!"

"Tell that to the baby!" And then she had never seen such a panic-stricken look on his face in all the time she'd known him. And she couldn't help it... in spite of the pain, she started laughing-- just started laughing.

"What's so funny?"

"You..." she stammered through the pain and laughter, "your face..." her breath left her sharply in a noise that might have expressed either. "Ow, ow..." She brought a hand to her stomach.

"What do we do?"

The humor left her voice as the beads of sweat started to glisten on her forehead. "We better get to the hospital..."

The room seemed deafeningly quiet. It was strange how one minute there was the commotion of equipment sounds and shouts and bustling of bodies around the room and the next the lights had dimmed and the room had cleared out, leaving them in peaceful quiet. The only sound that could be heard in the room was the steady beep of the heart monitor. The time between their arrival at the hospital to this moment was to Mulder a vast blur, and all of a sudden he was standing there by the bed wearing the blue hospital smock, the face mask hanging around his neck, staring at his son. He looked over at Scully. A bright flush of pink colored her cheeks, the hair at her temples was dampened with sweat, she looked exhausted. And she was beautiful.

She smiled up at him. "You can sit down you know."

He absent-mindedly pulled the chair behind him closer and sat by the bed. "Scully..." his voice trailed off.

"You OK, Mulder?"

He shook his head slowly. "I... I can't believe it. We did it." He reached over and touched the baby's hand, marveling at the tiny fingernails. "I can't believe I'm somebody's dad. Can I hold him?"

"Can I see your security clearance?" she teased.

Mulder reached over and brought the baby to his face, resting his head ever so lightly against his lips. "He smells good."

Scully smiled at him. "I know."

Mulder brought him against his chest, then slid him down to cradle him in his arm. He had the darkest peach-fuzz covering his head, and Mulder thought he looked much more wrinkled than he remembered babies looking. He was staring intently back at him, his forehead creased, his blue eyes blinking slowly in the deepest concentration. What was he thinking? Did he know who he was? He was overwhelmed with love for this little person. It was as intense as anything he'd ever felt for Scully, only different. How could that be? He'd only known him a few minutes... It was a primal, instinctive love, the bond of blood that keeps our species going and he had never experienced anything like it in his life.

"What are you thinking?"

"I'm..." he shook his head slowly as the corner of his mouth curled into a crooked smile "...terrified."

She smiled back at him. "You have great instincts and I have no doubt that you're going to make a wonderful father," she echoed. "And besides, just in case... I bought you the manual."

He nodded slightly, then looked back at the baby and shrugged. "I don't know what to say to him, Scully."

"Tell him who you are."

"You mean I should tell him I'm the guy he's going to inherit all those 'Celebrity Skins' from?"

She closed her eyes and shook her head at him in exasperation.

He smiled widely at her then looked back down at his son. "Hi." His face turned serious as he watched him. "I'm your father."

Mulder sat in the room holding the baby as Scully slept. He looked up at the sound of soft tapping from the door.

Mrs. Scully entered quietly.

Mulder smiled at the sight of her-- he'd just left the message a while ago; she must have flown here.

Her hands came up to her face as her eyes took in the sight before her. She walked over and knelt beside the chair. "Hello, Fox," she whispered.

"Say hello to your grandson," he whispered back to her, adjusting the baby so she could get a better look. "Benjamin William Mulder."

"Oh... he's beautiful!" She smiled and ran a hand gently over the baby's head. After a moment, she looked back up at Mulder. "How's Dana?"


A weary voice came from the direction of the bed. "What are you two whispering about?"

They both turned to look at Scully. Maggie got up and Mulder stood with her. He handed the baby to her, then reached over to grasp Scully's hand. "I'll get you some water." She smiled at him, realizing he was giving her a moment alone with her mom. When he'd gone, Maggie sat on the edge of the bed with her daughter and grandson. With her free hand, she reached out and stroked Scully's hair, her eyes filling with tears. "Your father would have been so proud, Dana."

Scully lowered her eyes as the lump formed in her throat.

"And he would've liked Fox."

She thought of her Dad, and of Missy, and wished so much they could be there to share that moment with her.

And she had to believe that they were.

Mulder sat on the floor amidst a mess of classifieds as Scully sat up on the couch. Several weeks had passed, Ben was nearing the two month mark, and she had shed most of her extra weight with surprising speed... she had breast-feeding to thank for that. She brought a section of the paper to her face. "Here's one: two bedroom, close to metro, air... what's 'spacious LAR'?"

Mulder continued to scan his section. "Living Area."

"Spacious living area... oh forget it. No pets..." she sighed in aggravation. "All of these are no pets."

"Maybe we could put one of Ben's outfits on him and try to pass him for a twin."

She smirked at him. "And would that be 'Chang' or 'Ang'?"

The phone rang out simultaneously with the sound of the baby starting to cry. Scully reached behind her for the phone and Mulder got up to go into the bedroom. "Hello?" As the voice on the other end of the line spoke, she froze, then swung her legs off the couch and leaned forward, listening carefully. "What? Who is this? No wait--" The line went dead and she held the receiver at her chin. She rose quickly from the couch and gathered her keys and purse, then went down the hall to peek her head in the bedroom. Mulder was caressing the baby's back, quieting his little sobs. Scully offered a forced smile. "I have to run out, keep an eye on Ben." Before he could ask any questions she turned and headed back down the hallway.

"Where are you going Scully?" he called after her.

"Gotta go-- I'll fill you in when I get back!" she called out to him.

"Scully--" he stopped at the sound of the door closing, then looked down at Ben. Finally, he picked him up and held him at his face, a slight smile grazing his lips. "OK little guy, if you wanna get along in this family, you've got to be mobile..."

Scully burst through the door of the police station and headed toward the Detectives unit. My God could it be true? Or was someone out to play another cruel joke on Mulder? That was exactly the reason she'd decided not to tell him about this... better to be the buffer just in case it was a hoax, no need to put him through all that unavoidable pain for no reason. And if it wasn't a hoax? If it was true? If someone really had found Samantha...

Mulder unclipped Ben's car seat, took hold of the handle and pulled the contraption out of the car with the baby bundled inside. He started up the walkway toward the station. What the hell was she doing coming here? Why didn't she tell him what was up? There was only one plausible answer-- Joel; this had to be about Joel.

He reached the entrance and passed through the door, heading toward the front desk.

Scully approached a tall, stocky gentleman in his late forties. "Detective Douglas?"

"Mrs. Mulder?"

Scully balked momentarily at the use of that term, she still always thought of Mulder's mom every time she heard it. "Yes. I was told to ask for you..."

"That's right. Right this way." He directed her towards a room at the end of an adjoining hallway. "We didn't have anywhere else to put her."

He opened the door and Scully stepped through.

And then she felt like the wind had been knocked right out of her. "Oh my God..."

The Spell Series - Compiled By Kelli Rocherolle

Anyway, here's the final Spell installment. It started out to be an epilogue but turned into a full blown chapter! It's called Snapshots because that's exactly what it is: snapshots of their future (double lines indicate significant amounts of time passing). There's a small epilogue tacked on at the end and two more fill-in chapters after


I dedicate this story to the person who challenged me to do it in the first place, who looked at Spell and said "This is good, Kel, but why don't you try taking it past that first time for a change?", to my husband, my best friend; the guy who came into my life at seventeen and who amazingly enough still puts up with me ten years later! Thanks for being there, for keeping me sane and centered when the job gets to be too much; thanks for encouraging me to do these stories, the one thing that takes my time away from you, because you know how much I enjoy it. But most of all, thanks for making me laugh. I love you.

And in the end we shall achieve in time the thing we call Divine When all is well and well is all for all forever after Living in the meantime wait and see...

Spell 14: Snapshots

Scully adjusted her glasses and grimaced at the recipe she was trying to follow. She'd promised Mulder that she would try and take on more of the cooking responsibilities to lighten the load, but she was not a natural and the kitchen was a disaster; it looked like someone had exploded a bag of flour in the middle of the room. As she turned to rinse her hands in the sink something on the front of the refrigerator caught her eye-- Ben's newly constructed paper Christmas tree to give to his Grandma Mulder.

Mulder's mom had long since dropped any hang-ups she had about their relationship. Scully knew it had happened in a single moment, the second she had laid eyes on her grandson. Her only grandson...

Scully had been resting on the couch, enjoying a brief respite between visitors. She didn't even think she and Mulder knew so many people; it seemed there was a constant influx of well-wishers anxious to see the baby. But not many bothered to call first, and not many kept their visits short, so it was hard. Most of the visits were from acquaintances at work, people they barely knew and were not entirely comfortable around. So she had sighed in irritation at the sound of the doorbell interrupting a quiet moment while Ben napped. With a small groan she stood and headed for the door, and was shocked to see Mulder's mom standing there; she knew she had been talking about flying down and visiting sometime over the next few weeks, but nothing had been set in stone. So she had roused a sleepy Ben from his nap to meet his other grandmother. As she passed him to Mrs. Mulder, the woman's eyes filled with tears. Scully had known what she was thinking: he reminded her of her own son, of a time in her life when she herself had been the mother of a new baby boy. And then she had done the most unexpected thing. She had reached out for Scully and hugged her.

But that was just about four years ago. Things had progressed from there, and she now considered her relationship with Mulder's mom as... amicable. She smiled at the paper tree and turned back to the


As Scully worked at destroying the kitchen, Mulder threw the pile of term papers he was grading down onto the coffee table and rubbed his weary eyes. He looked up at the Christmas tree, and at his son as he sat on the floor with his paper and crayons just in front of it. Mulder marveled at the sight. He still couldn't believe it; that

they had come this far. And he was grateful every day of his life.

Ben's face was serious in the most intense concentration as he worked at his construction paper. Mulder smiled as he watched him. "What are you doing, Ben?"

"Making a picture."

"Can I see?"

Ben stood, crayon and paper in hand, and ran to his father. He displayed his drawing.

Mulder took it from him and examined it. "Hey that's pretty good-- is that the Christmas tree?"

Ben rested his elbows on Mulder's knees and propped his head up in his hands. He nodded.

"This is great."

Ben's face beamed with pride. "It's for Samantha."

Mulder rested a hand on Ben's head-- he did love his aunt. There was a special bond between them; she had always been there for him for as long as he could remember. "She'll love it."

"When can I give it to her?"

Mulder eyed him admonishingly. He'd answered that question a million times in the past twenty-four hours. He took hold of Ben's shoulders playfully and pulled him closer, leaning down until their foreheads were touching. "Tomorrow tomorrow tomorrow".

Ben laughed joyously but would not be dissuaded. His face once again turned serious. "Is tomorrow coming pretty soon or in a long time?"

Mulder smiled at him. "Pretty soon, I promise." He tried to get

his mind off the topic. "So how's Mommy doing in the kitchen?"

Ben shrugged in response. "I'm hungry."

Mulder strained to look into the kitchen. "No smoke, no flames... looks promising, Ben."

His son regarded him quizzically.

A mischievous gleam brightened Mulder's eyes as an idea occurred to him. He wondered if Ben would understand the message he was going to ask him to give Scully, but was pretty sure he wouldn't, it was safe. "Hey Ben...I want you to go and give Mommy a message for me, OK?"

Ben nodded in excitement at his covert mission.

"All right. Go tell Mommy that Santa wants to cop a feel."

Ben's brows came together, his head tilted to the side the slightest bit.

"Don't worry, Mommy will know what it means... go tell her, OK?"

Ben nodded and disappeared into the kitchen.

Not two seconds later Scully came hurrying out, wiping her hands with a towel. "Mulder!"

He smiled in delight: success.

"You can't tell him things like that!"

"He doesn't know what it means, " he replied in defense, his smile wide.

She stood in front of him cleaning the last of what was supposed to be cookie dough from her hands. "I don't want him to grow up thinking Santa's a pervert," she joked.

Mulder took hold of her wrist and gently pulled her down next to him. "Well I am," he smiled. Wrapping his arms around her, he drew her into a soft kiss.

Ben came back into the living room. He stopped at the sight before him, clasping his hands over his eyes, a big grin on his face; he always got embarrassed when they did that.

Realizing suddenly that he was there, Scully broke from the kiss. She smiled over at him, her Gentle Ben. He was such a sweet, sensitive child. His beautiful eyes were windows to his emotions, every feeling was so clearly displayed there. She could see the shadows cross them when he was troubled, gleam the brightest blue in moments of precious childhood joy. "Come here, Ben," she said softly, motioning to him.

He smiled brightly and, being at that age where walking is a mundane task at best, came barreling toward her, burying his face in her lap.

Scully caressed his back. "We love you."

"I know, Mommy," he said into her jeans.

She looked up at Mulder and they shared an amused smile. Reaching an arm out across her shoulders, Mulder pulled her against his chest. He kissed her forehead.

And he was happy.

Later that night when they'd finally finished putting together the

toys from "Santa", Mulder and Scully collapsed on the couch and surveyed the pile of gifts.

"This is ridiculous, Scully."

She only smiled at the sight before her.

"We're spoiling him."

Her smile turned into a full grin. "I know..." she turned her head

to look at him, "isn't it great?"

He shook his head at her, suppressing his own smile.

"It's what Christmas is all about, Mulder."

"Not in my house it wasn't." His face turned serious as he remembered childhood Christmases of clothes despite his begging for a favorite trading card or a new basketball hoop, Christmases of his parent's arguments, the eventual Christmases divided between parents after the divorce. He reached over and lay a hand over Scully's. He nodded in agreement. "It *is* great." After a few seconds he got up off the couch to put some music on low.

Scully studied his back as he stood in front of the shelf turning on the stereo equipment. "So, can I give you your Christmas present a little early?"


"I don't know... just because."

He shrugged his shoulders as he shuffled through a stack of CDs. "Sure."

"Well first you have to tell me what you want... though I can't make any promises."

"What are you talking about, Scully?" He hit PLAY and the familiar sounds of Nat King Cole's Holiday Favorites filled the room.

"What do you want, a girl or a boy?"

She could see him freeze as his arm reached up to put the case away. His lower half remaining glued in place, he turned his torso quickly to look at her, his eyes sparkling with excitement.

Scully nodded slowly at him.

His ability to move returned and he went to her, bringing her up into a hug and spinning her around as a thrill of elation rushed through him. She held on tight and smiled against his neck.

A small voice from the doorway startled them. "My turn Daddy!"

They stopped, Mulder released her and she slid to her feet, smoothing down her shirt.

Mulder intercepted Ben just at the doorway, scooping him off the floor and bringing him out of the room before he could get sight of the piles of presents. "You're supposed to be in bed."

Scully smiled as she heard her son's voice disappearing down the hallway. "Santa won't come if you and Mommy aren't in bed, too..."

The scent of rain was heavy in the warm summer air. Mulder went around shutting the windows of their Annapolis home as the last of the day's light left the sky. As he shooed a surprisingly still-spry Owen from the sill and closed the window, a deep rumble of thunder sounded in the distance. He heard a quiet jingle of tags behind him as he started up the stairs, and turned to see the dog at his heels.

The large animal rushed past him and vanished down the upstairs hall. "What is this a zoo?" Mulder muttered to himself as he headed upstairs to get the rest of the windows closed. He ran into Scully at the top of the stairs, dressed in sweat pants and a shirt, hair still damp from her shower, and he remembered a night so long ago when the same woman had stumbled into his view wearing a crimson gown, her hair very much as it was now.

He smiled, reaching out for her arm and pulling her closer. "Hey lady... you look familiar..."

"So do you. You come here often?" she joked back.

Mulder lay a hand gently on her cheek with his free hand. Their eyes held as the love flowed between them.

Playing contentedly in his room with his little sister, Ben looked up at the scene in the hallway. He watched his parents with curious wonder. They would always remain somewhat of a mystery to him, those two inextricably linked souls. As much as he knew his parents loved him more than life itself, he also knew that they were and would always be a couple; that there was a bond between them that no one else on this earth could penetrate, let alone understand. The way they looked at each other, the way they seemed to be able to speak volumes between them with out saying a single word was a source of much fascination for both he and Emma throughout their lives. As the years went on, he would often have to endure teasing from his friends about how his parents still held hands, how they stole kisses when they thought no one else was watching. And many years later, when he himself was becoming a young man, he would come across a small box in the study, like those little time capsules he and his friends used to bury when they were younger. Inside he would find a curious collection of trinkets, like snapshots from their life: a flattened bullet, a single pressed dandelion flower, a small silver charm with a turquoise stone in the middle, the tiniest shell

he had ever seen. And when he would ask his dad about it, they would sit on the floor for a long time as he told him the stories behind

each item. And Ben would begin to have an idea just how that bond between them had been forged.

He watched them now as they exchanged a tender kiss, then his dad headed for the bedroom. Ben brought his attention back to the task at hand.

Scully headed down the hall and leaned against the door frame going into Ben's room. "You guys are quiet."

Ben kept his eyes on the crane he was fastidiously building with Legos. "Em's scared of the thunder."

"Am not," the four year old responded indignantly.

Scully smirked at them. "What do you want for dinner?"

Ben looked at her uncertainly. "You cooking tonight, Mom?"

Scully couldn't help but smile at her son's inadvertent insult.

"Yes... don't look so scared, Benjamin," she teased.

He smiled back at her, that smile that was the mirror of his father's and always touched her heart.

"Pizza!" Emma contributed.

Scully shook her head as she folded her arms in front of her. Apparently, she was outvoted. "Pizza?"

They both nodded at her.

"Actually, that does sound good. Pizza it is." Scully watched them as they turned their attention back to the Legos and marveled at how different her children were. So much for Rousseau's Tabula Rasa. They both had dark hair, Ben's thick and straight like his father's, Emma's crowning her face in mass of wispy cork-screw curls that barely brushed her shoulders. They both had their mother's pale skin and piercing blue eyes. And that's where their similarities ended. Ben was an easy-going child, he had few problems getting along with his peers though he was a bit shy about making new acquaintances. Emma was a different story entirely. Where Ben had come into the world quietly, Emma had come into it screaming like a banshee. And from that day forth she made sure everyone knew when she wasn't happy about something or when things weren't going her way. She was a kind child, but had a fiery temper and a quick wit, which was apparent even from a very young age. Her eyes often sparkled with mischief, much to Ben's dismay, as she loved to tease her big brother. But Ben was endlessly tolerant, and they continued to play quietly as Scully headed downstairs to get the number for Famous Pizza off the fridge.

Later that night Mulder and Scully sat in the study doing some research for an article they were writing, one ear on Ben and Emma in the adjoining TV room. They were both teaching, but had continued their work quietly, covertly, keeping from doing anything that might put their family in jeopardy was always foremost in their minds. They focused mostly on research, publishing articles under various pseudonyms, though they were occasionally called in to consult on investigations by those who were aware of their reputation for specializing in "unusual" cases.

Mulder shook his head slightly, unable to concentrate on the printouts before him. Ben and Emma were bickering over some toy. It didn't happen often, but when it did, it could get ugly. Ben was quiet and gentle by nature, but Emma had the devil in her and sometimes she just pushed her brother to his limits... and that was usually when all Hell would break loose. Mulder tried to let them work things out for themselves; after all, learning the fine art of negotiation was one of the benefits of having siblings. But as things escalated, Mulder was sure that Hell was indeed approaching and he prepared to intervene; Ben was fast loosing his patience and Emma was screaming at him the words she knew so well:

"No! Mine!"

"Give it back, Emmie!"


That was it, Ben had reached overload. "Fine! Take it and go away; go away and don't ever come back!"

Mulder stood quickly and stormed into the TV room. He grabbed hold of Ben's arm and yanked him to his feet. "Don't ever say anything like that to her Ben do you hear me?"

Ben stared back at his father, stunned by his anger; he'd never seen him this way.

Mulder released him and he sank back to the floor.

Scully entered quickly and knelt down beside Ben, resting a hand reassuringly on his back. She extended her other hand to Emma. "Emma give it to me, now," she said firmly.

Emma's stubborn streak was no match for her mother's. Another time, she might have been up for the challenge, but right now there was something in her mother's eyes that made her think better of it... she relinquished the toy. Ben took it from her, no longer having any interest in the thing.

Rising to her feet, Scully took Mulder's arm and pulled him out into the hallway with her until they were out of earshot.

He leaned back against the wall and ran his hands roughly through his hair as Scully stood before him, hands on her hips.

"What the hell was that about, Mulder?" she asked in a hushed voice.

"Did you hear what he said to her, Scully?" he whispered fiercely back to her. "He said--"

"I know what he said, look--"

"I said the same thing to Samantha, Scully..."

"So did I, Mulder. That is NOT you and Samantha in there. Kids say those things. They're just being kids. That's all." She placed

a hand soothingly on his arm.

Mulder shook his head as he studied the floor. After a moment, he straightened and brushed by her, heading back for the TV room.

Scully entered behind him, bringing Emma up into her arms. "Come on Em, time for bed."

Emma frowned, but just wasn't up for the battle tonight. She rested her cheek against her mom's shoulder and reached out to her dad. "'Night, Daddy."

Mulder reached over and gave her hand a gentle squeeze. "'Night, Em." He leaned over and kissed her little palm.

She rubbed the hand he'd kissed over Scully's back as they headed down the hallway. "Daddy's scratchy," she grumbled sleepily as they disappeared up the stairwell.

Mulder crouched down beside Ben. He was quiet for several seconds. Ben watched him with wide and solemn eyes. Mulder offered an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry I got so mad at you, Ben."

"I didn't mean it."

"I know. I know you didn't mean it. It's just... sometimes we say things that we don't mean but they still hurt people; and someday you might say something that you wind up wishing you hadn't."

Ben's face relaxed and he nodded in understanding.

Mulder rested a hand on his shoulder and, smiling softly, pulled him into a hug.

But that night, a new nightmare haunted him.

He was standing in a dim, empty, nondescript room; a chamber with no visible walls or ceilings suspended in the middle of nowhere in particular. He looked around, disoriented and confused. Suddenly, a man stepped out of the blackness before him, a shadowy figure dressed in a dark suit. The man in black spoke softly, calmly to him.

"Which one do you want to give up, Mr. Mulder?"

Mulder stared at him.

"Your daughter or your son?"

He swallowed hard. "I don't know what you're talking about." But of course, he did.

"That was the deal we made with your father: his child, then his grandchild."

Mulder shook his head and spoke slowly to the man. "I didn't make that deal. And you're insane if you think I'm going to honor it."

"I'm afraid there are no other options available to you."

"I won't make that choice," he said firmly, though the dread was swelling in his stomach.

The man shrugged at him. "We'll just have to take another test subject." He turned and started to walk away.

Mulder looked after him: that was far too easy. "Wait a minute what does that mean?"

The man turned around to face him. "I think you know."

"Don't play games with me! Tell me what you mean."

"Your wife will do. She was quite helpful to us once before."

His breath tightened in his chest as he shook his head at the man. "No..."

"Good day, Mr. Mulder." Once again he turned and started toward the darkness.

"NO!" Mulder went after the man, turning him around and grasping his collar. "Please," he appealed desperately, "please don't force me to make that choice, I can't make that choice... please..."

The man took no pity on him. "I'm sorry, Mr. Mulder. One of your children or your wife, your decision."

And suddenly the man was standing several feet away from him, and Emma was at his side, looking back at her father with a puzzled expression.

"Emma come here," Mulder called quickly out of instinct.

The man lay a hand on her shoulder. "No no, she comes with me."

"No!" Mulder ran a hand through his hair. "I won't let you take


And suddenly Emma was gone and Ben was standing at the man's side.

"Ben!" Mulder started to reach out for him as the man held up a hand.

Ben looked at his father.

"Ben..." Mulder whispered weakly.

The man started to back away into the shadows with him.

Mulder looked at them moving away, panic-stricken, frantic, the misery tearing at his heart. "No I can't do this I will not do this!"

he yelled.

"You're choice, Mr. Mulder," the man reiterated coldly. "Of course if you'd rather..."

No, he thought, not Scully... the distant, hollow sound of his own voice echoed in his mind: { I would never choose anything, any one over you...}. He could never face losing Scully again.

And he knew it would have to be one of his children.

He looked down and Ben and Emma were standing suddenly before him. His face was slack in pain and defeat as he haltingly placed a trembling hand on one dark-haired head. He closed his eyes and nodded.

The man approached and picked up the child. "This is your choice?"

Mulder looked away, unable to face the confusion and betrayal in his child's eyes. He closed his eyes and nodded again. And then he stood there watching, numb, paralyzed, as the man disappeared into the darkness with his child. "I'm sorry..." he whispered.

A door opened behind him and Scully came running into the room. She started to run past Mulder, but he reached out and restrained her. "No..." she stared, struggling against him as her eyes stayed fixed on the man dragging her child away. "NO!" And then they were gone, and she stared after them for the longest time, as if doing so would miraculously cause them to reappear. Her mouth dropped, a small sound of despair escaped her as she realized they were gone... for good. Then, she looked up at Mulder, the tears stinging her eyes. She shook her head at him. "What did you do?" she asked incredulously. "What did you do!" she screamed, pushing him away forcefully. She slid to the floor, burying her face in her hands as

he tried unsuccessfully to console her. "Get away from me I hate you!" she seethed, once more attempting to push him away. But he reached for her, holding her tightly as she sobbed quietly in his

arms, and he never felt more alone in his life...

Mulder came awake quickly, his heart pounding in his chest, and he bolted from the bed to Ben's room. The child was sleeping quietly, one arm hanging off the bed. The dog rested on the floor beside him. He went down to Emma's room and found her in the same peaceful state. In the hallway he leaned back against the wall, covering his mouth and nose with his hands. His legs threatened to give out on him and he slid to the floor as his breathing slowed. He couldn't stop shaking.

Scully, who had been roused from sleep by his flight from their bed, found him in the hall and crouched down beside him. She rested a hand on his arm, the other on his sweat-dampened forehead. "Mulder what's wrong is everything OK?"

He nodded in response, but she could see that he was far from being all right. She knew he was a man who was plagued by nightmares, and she figured he'd had another one; but it had been a long time... he hadn't had a nightmare this bad since Ben was born. She sat down beside him and snuggled close.

"I'm scared, Scully."

She looked at him with concern. "Why? Of what?"

"I wouldn't want you to ever hate me."

"I could never hate you, Mulder."

"What if I had to make that choice, Scully: what if I had to make the choice my father did?"

And then she knew what his dream had been about. "Oh my God, Mulder. Nobody could make that choice."

He shook his head as he considered her words.

After a moment, Scully looked back up at his profile. She couldn't even imagine what she would choose. "Do you know what you would do?"

"I couldn't do it." He turned his head to look at her. "I'd rather

die than have to make that choice."

They stared at each other, and then she nodded at him in understanding. They sat in silence for a long time.

The following week, his dream slowly starting to grow distant in his mind, Mulder sat on the couch in the study with Ben and Emma on the floor in front of him, engaging in one of his children's favorite pastimes: story telling. The wellspring of story ideas he had from his and Scully's work together was fodder for tales of liver-eating monsters, sewer-dwelling dragons, mad scientists and sleepless soldiers. As he finished his latest anecdote, Emma rested her elbows on the couch and looked at her father expectantly. "Was Mommy your princess, Daddy?"

Ben rested his forehead against his palm with a small sound of disgust: girls. His mom hadn't been some stupid princess, in his mind, she was a dragon slayer.

Mulder smiled at Ben's reaction, then his attention turned to the hall as Scully appeared in the doorway, her presence signaling bed time.

Mulder went down the hall with Emma as Scully brought Ben to his room.

Ben watched her as she tucked the covers up under his arms. "Mom? Are those stories real or are they just stories?"

Scully stared at him as she struggled with a response. She imagined he might get quite a different answer from his father, and she had seen some pretty strange things herself... But she didn't want to scare him, so she chose her words carefully. "Well, stories are meant to be exaggerations of the truth, Ben. There are bad people out there who do bad things, and sometimes people see monsters or devils because it's easier than believing a real person could do such

terrible things." She watched his reaction, wondering if he would buy her vague response.

Ben contemplated his mom's words. That was true, he knew; he himself had witnessed what a bad person could do soon after his fourth birthday, an incident that had created in him a strong protectiveness of his mom. As he watched her now, he sensed there was something more, but also knew she wasn't going to tell him. At least not yet. Maybe when he was older. "Are you OK, Mom?"

Scully's eyes widened, once again taken back by his acute awareness of other's feelings. "Tired." She offered a small smile, then

pressed her cheek against his. "Good night my gentle Ben," she whispered.

He smiled and watched her go.

Back in their room, she crawled into bed next to Mulder. "You have to be careful what you tell them, Mulder."

"They're just fairy tales to them, Scully."

She settled down into the bed and propped her head up in her hand. She smirked at him. "So did you tell them about the wicked witch who tempted you with her apple at the ball?"

He smirked back as he turned his head to look at her. "No, I told them about the wolf who went after Little Red Riding Hood."

Both of their smiles were wide.

A few weeks later as Scully was enjoying a bath after Ben and Emma had been put to bed, she thought about their interest in those

stories. As the years passed, both children would become increasingly intrigued by their parent's work... it seemed they both had a natural aptitude for investigation. They would spend long hours with their father, going over files, listening to his account of their work. As much as Emma was like her father, there was one area where she couldn't be more like her mom: while she seemed to be able to look at things with a detachment that was almost clinical, it was Ben who's sensitive nature precluded such objectiveness. He seemed to soak in every experience, and Scully worried about the effects long term interest would have on him; she didn't want him ending up in the same state his father had been in when she met him. She had spent too many years agonizing over Mulder to be able to face going through it again with his son. As she emerged from the bathroom in her nightshirt now, she smiled at the sound of Mulder typing away on the computer. So maybe he hadn't changed *that* much... She looked up as the dog came up the stairs and disappeared into Ben's room. After a few moments, he emerged and entered Emma's. Scully smiled at him when he reappeared in the hallway. "Making nightly rounds?" He watched her with intelligent eyes, then approached until he was just in front of her. He sat and waited for her to pet him. Scully crouched down and stroked his head fondly. "You're a good boy, Loki, yes you are," she crooned softly. He sat there contentedly, enjoying his dose of love and affection.

Mulder's footfalls ascended the stairs. "Hi," he said lowly, not wanting to wake Ben and Emma. They conversed in hushed whispers.

Scully stood and looked up at him as he came up to her. "Hi, did you finish the article?"

"Yeah, finally." His eyes traveled down to the dog. They were both quiet for a long moment.

Scully continued to stare at the animal. "Every time I look at him I think about what happened."

"Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"

"A little of both I guess." She looked back up at Mulder. "Do you think Ben will ever forget?"

He instinctively wrapped an arm across her shoulders. "I don't know, Scully. I hope so."

Mulder and Ben sat on the floor in front of the fire huddled over the chess board. Mulder had taught both of them how to play when they were fairly young, but Emma had no patience for it. So while Scully had taken her out while she ran a few errands, he and Ben decided to take advantage of the quiet. Finally, Ben made his move and their eyes met over the board. Mulder smirked at him: damn, the kid was good. Ben broke into a wide grin.

A sudden knock interrupted their game and Mulder got up to answer the door. Two uniformed officers stood on the step, one of them was holding the hand of a very pale and scared-looking Emma. Her eyes were wide and at that moment she looked much older than her seven years. An invisible fist strangled the breath out of his lungs as Mulder stared at the two men.

"Daddy!" Emma stepped toward him and wrapped her arms around his legs, but he couldn't move, couldn't reach out to console her. He just kept staring at the officers.

"Mr. Mulder?"

"Where is she?"

"Your wife, sir, we found her car along the side of the road on 301--"

"What happened to her?"

"We don't know."

"You don't know? What the hell does that mean?"

"That's what I'm trying to tell you. We found the car, engine

running, lights on, your little girl was in the front seat, she appeared to be

in some kind of shock, but there was no sign of your wife anywhere. We had some officers search the area and..."

Mulder stood there staring at them. Suddenly the officer's voice seemed to be coming from far away, from deep within an endless tunnel, and it felt like every drop of blood was being drained from his body.

Ben went down to the kitchen to get some breakfast. Along the way he passed his father who had fallen asleep on the couch again. His mom had been gone over a month and his father had not slept a single night in their bed. The study or the couch-- he was always in one place or the other. Ben didn't know what went on while he and Em were at school, but when they got back, they would always find him locked in the study. Ben suspected that he went out during the day; perceptive as he was, he noticed the car was sometimes in a slightly different position then when they'd left for school that morning. But he was always back by the time they returned. Ben knew that even in the state his father was in, he still loved them deeply, and whatever small part of him that was still functioning wanted to make sure that their father was in the house to keep an eye on them, just in case. Occasionally they would hear the muffled sound of his voice on the phone, the unmistakable sound of the modem connecting or a fax coming through, but for the most part, all they heard was silence. And when his dad was around, he barely spoke to them, acknowledged them; he was in complete shut down. Sometimes Ben would catch him staring at him or Emma with such sadness in his eyes, and even at his young age, he knew he was seeing something in them that reminded him of her.

Emma shuffled into the kitchen and sat at the table; the last thing

she felt like doing was going to school.

Ben brought two bowls and spoons over and poured them both some cereal. "We're late today, you gotta eat fast."

As he was draining the last of the milk into Emma's bowl, she rested her chin on her palm. "I'm sick of cereal," she complained. "Shut up, Em."

She scowled at her brother.

Later that night footsteps in the hallway woke Ben and he went out to the top of the stairs. He could see the light from inside the

study was illuminating a small patch of floor at the foot of the stairs;

the door was open. He crept downstairs and found his father in his other spot in darkness on the couch. He went quietly to him. "Dad?"

"What is it, Ben?" He placed the glass back on the coffee table next to the clear bottle he was drinking from.

"What's going on with Mom? Did you find anything else out?"

He was silent.


"I don't want to talk about this now."

"Can't you just tell me--"

"Go to bed, Ben." His voice was flat, emotionless.

"I wanna know what's going on, Dad."

He didn't seem to hear him.

"Why won't you tell us what's happening? We want to know!"

Once again he was silent, staring far off.

"Why won't you talk to us?!" he yelled in frustration. "We miss her too you know!" With that he turned and stormed up to his room. Slamming the door shut, he lashed out at the books on his bureau, sending them all to the floor before collapsing face first onto the bed.

A few minutes later there was a tentative knocking at his door. There was only one person that it could possibly be. "Go away."

The door opened a crack and Emma dared to peek in. Ben was lying on his stomach on the bed, his face buried in his folded arms. "Ben?"

He didn't look up at her. "I said go away, Em."

She entered anyway, approaching until she was just alongside his bed. "You want to play some Road Rash?"

He shook his head.

"Double Dragon?"

He shook his head again.

They were both silent for several minutes. Emma lay a hand on her brother's arm. "What's wrong with him, Ben?"

He didn't answer her.


Keeping his head resting on his arms, he answered her. "I don't think he can live without her, Em."

"What are we going to do, Ben?" Getting no response, she tried again. "Ben?"

He was silent.

Blinking back the tears, Emma grabbed his arm forcefully and shook it, she'd tried to hard to keep a chin up, but she was losing it. "Answer me, Ben! Please! Don't clam up on me, too... please..." The tears spilled over and streaked her face.

Ben sat up and pulled his sister towards him. "I'm sorry, Em. I'm here and I won't go away. I promise. I won't go away." He held her as she cried, and desperately wished he'd been the one in the car with his mom. Emma had said she didn't remember anything, just a bright flash and she was gone. But maybe if he'd been there it would've been different. Maybe he could've done something...

Emma pulled from him and wiped her eyes. "Come here."

Ben followed her into the study and waited as she closed the door and went to the phone. "What are you doing?"

"Calling Grandma."

He swiped the phone out of her hand, chagrined that he hadn't thought of it first. "I'll do it."

Margaret Scully sat up wearily in bed, disoriented as her phone rang out at her bedside in what had been the still of night. "Hello?"

Hi Grandma.

"Benjamin? What's going on are you all right?"

I'm OK.

She sat up and turned on her bedside lamp. "What are you doing up so late?"

Grandma... we're worried about Dad.

"Oh sweetheart, I know. You're dad'll be all right though. He's just sad, he needs some time to feel better. We all do."

I don't know...

"He will, Ben. And he'll find her, too. They'll both be OK, you'll see."

No, I don't think he's gonna get better, Grandma. It's bad...

Mulder hung his head at the sight of Margaret Scully standing on his doorstep.


"It's late."

She brushed past him and entered the living area.

Mulder shut the door and followed, sitting heavily on the couch. He leaned forward and clasped his hands in front of him. "What are you doing here?"

"Benjamin called me."

He stared at the floor.

"They're scared, Fox."

More silence.

She approached him and placed her hands on her hips. Her voice was understanding but firm. "Look, my grandchildren have lost their mother, I won't stand by and watch them lose their father, too."

Her tone caused him to look up. He met her eyes.

And her heart filled with compassion at what she saw there. He was a man who'd had one half of his soul, his heart, ripped from him, and the remaining half was dying.

"I, uh...", his voice was low and tremulous, "I need your help."

His tone was so desperate, so tortured that she felt the tears well in her eyes. She rested a hand on his shoulder. "What can I do?"

Mulder watched as Maggie approached with his children, bundled in their coats, back packs and book bags at their sides. They stopped in front of the couch as he sat in the still dark living room. Even in

the dimness, they could see his eyes were red with sadness and pain. He offered them both an apologetic smile, they stared back at him with concern.

Ben spoke up first. "It's just for a little while, right Dad?"

Mulder nodded at him and reached for his hand. His voice was thick and congested. "I need you to understand something, Ben. This isn't about you," he glance over at his little girl, "or Emma, or anything you've done. I just... I can't..." he spoke haltingly, laboring over every word, "I'm not going to be able to take care of you right now."

They stared at him in silence. That much, they knew. They both reached out and embraced him.

Mulder closed his eyes and held them tightly. He wished more than anything he could find the strength to be there for them. "I love you," he whispered.

Ben's voice was muffled at his shoulder. "Please keep looking, Dad."

"I won't give up, Ben. I won't give up."

Senator Matheson entered his office and closed the door. The clock on the wall told him it was well after midnight: another late session of Congress. He stopped suddenly, startled to see a man's silhouette near his desk. He reached over to turn on a light; his face relaxed

in recognition. "Fox." He set down his briefcase and approached him. "It's been a while; you're work at the university is going well, I--"

"You know why I'm here."

The Senator stared at him and contemplated feigning ignorance, but the bedraggled man before him did not look like someone who would tolerate his equivocation. He nodded. "Yes, I imagine I do."

"You can get her back for me."

"As much as I'd like to help you, I'm afraid my hands are tied."

Mulder pushed him. "I don't believe you."

"This is beyond me."

They were both silent for several seconds.

Mulder's jaw tightened with frustration. "Can you at least tell me if she'll be returned this time?"

The Senator regarded him carefully. He moved to the other side of his desk and sat in the chair. After what seemed like a torturously long time to Mulder, the Senator answered him. "Yes."

He swallowed hard. "How long?"

He shook his head noncommittally and the implication was clear: it would be a long, long time before he saw her again.

He forced the saliva down his throat. "What are they doing to her?"

The Senator avoided his gaze. Mulder wondered if he'd detected a hint of guilt there before he'd looked away. "A little...

longitudinal research."

Mulder shook his head at him in disgust.

"If there was anything, *anything* I could do I--"

"Look-- I've worked hard for you, I've put everything on the line for you..." Mulder approached the desk and leaned down towards him. "*You owe me*," he said forcefully.

They stared at each other.

Mulder straightened. "Tell me Senator: you've been doing very well for yourself. I don't imagine it would be very beneficial to your career if it were to be known that you're the one who's supported me all these years."

The older man raised his eyebrows. Mulder thought he looked surprised... and, maybe, a little impressed. "If I didn't know you better, Fox, I might think you just threatened to expose me," the Senator countered, his tone light, almost admonishing. "But now that would be the end of your work, too. Neither of us wants that."

"No, *you* don't want that. I have nothing, nothing to lose."

Their eyes held as the Senator sized him up.

Mulder stared at him intensely. "And I need to know this will never happen again."

As Mulder waited for word back from Senator Matheson, he carried on with his search, which was even more exhaustive than the last. He had no intention of waiting around until "they" decided to return her. He couldn't even be sure the Senator had been completely straight with him. So he continued his pursuit despite an increasing sense that it was a futile endeavor.

A week had gone by since Ben and Emma had gone to stay with Scully's mom. Despite the fact that he'd seemed barely cognizant of their presence when they were there, he missed them terribly now that they were gone. He hadn't realized how the routine sounds of having them there, watching TV, playing video games, broke the devastating silence of the house. Sitting on the couch now, he looked down as the dog approached. The animal lay his head on Mulder's lap and shifted his eyes up to look at him. And he was grateful for the company.

The door bell sounded and, with some difficulty, Mulder pulled himself from the couch to answer it.

Langley entered first, with Byers following behind.

"What are you boys doing out so late on a school night?" Mulder closed the door and turned around.

There faces were solemn as they looked at him.

Byers folded his arms in front of him. "You better come with us."

As they entered the main room Mulder felt a blast of dry heat hit his face. "What's with your heating--" He turned his head in the direction of the recording equipment, and his breath caught in his throat: Scully was sitting in a chair just in front of it. Frohike

was crouched down beside her, but he got up and stepped away as Mulder stopped to stare at her. She looked so small and fragile sitting there, shivering violently despite the thick blanket wrapped around her. Mulder continued to stare, not quite trusting his eyes. "Scully..." he whispered. Then he went to her, kneeling down in front of her and taking her hands in his. They were ice cold.

She attempted a weak smile.

He pulled her into a hug, smiling into her hair as he held her tight. She started to warm in his arms and he could feel the tension draining from her body. And he'd never felt as much relief and happiness as he did at that moment... But no, he had-- once. That morning not long after she'd been returned the last time; when she was in the hospital and he was at home waiting for The Call. The call that would tell him that she was gone and that he was going to have to spend the rest of his life missing her. That he'd lost the

only person in his life who'd ever loved him unconditionally. That he was alone again. He almost didn't answer it, was going to let the machine pick up. Then he could listen to it when he was ready... or not at all. Maybe if he never heard it it wouldn't be true. But then the thought of hearing some detached, impersonal message on his machine, of Mrs. Scully's tear-strained voice telling him that she was gone it was that thought that caused him to grab for the phone {I'm here}...

He gathered her closer in his arms. After a few moments, he pulled from their embrace and studied her face. "What happened?"

She shook her head. "I don't know. I don't remember anything..."

Byers spoke up behind them, but Mulder kept his gaze fixed on Scully for fear if he looked away she would be gone again. "She was returned with a group of women found near the old cemetery on Fountain Street outside Alexandria. They were all a little dazed, but otherwise apparently unharmed."

Langley continued. "Picked it up on our scanner; we took a chance she might be among the returned. We took off with her from the hospital before the suits could get there to question everybody."

Mulder lightly touched her cheek. "Are you OK?"

"Physically, yeah." She lowered her eyes, then looked back up suddenly. "Ben and Emma, are they OK where are they?"

"They're fine; they're with your mom."

"I need to see them." She nodded at him as the relief and exhaustion filled her eyes with tears. "I need to go home."

Mulder pulled her against his chest as the three men quietly filed out of the room. They clung to each other in the warmth of their embrace, and savored every second of being together again.


Several months later they stood in the kitchen finishing up the last

of the dishes. Mulder hadn't had any contact with Senator Matheson since that night she'd been returned. In fact, as time went on, the subject would never again be brought up between the two men. Whatever the Senator had done, he had made sure the matter was settled; she was never taken again, though not a day went by that Mulder didn't worry about that possibility.

He watched her now as she turned off the water and handed the last dish to him to dry. It was quiet, Ben and Emma were sleeping, and the house was peaceful.

Scully leaned against the counter as he stowed the last dish back in the cupboard. "Did you remember to get a movie?"

He'd completely forgotten that he had. "Oh, yeah I did."

"Great what did you get?" She looked up at him expectantly.

"The Guns of Navarone."

Her face froze as she stared at him, not quite sure if he was

joking... she *really* hoped he was.

"What we agreed on a classic, right?" He smiled and drew her closer. "I'm kidding. I got 'Wait Until Dark'."

She smiled widely back at him. "Great, I haven't seen that one in a long time."

"Well there wasn't much to choose from; almost got 'Quiz Show' just to be safe-- figured I couldn't go wrong with Ralph Fiennes."

She looked back up at the man holding her and received the warmth of his smile. She wrapped her arms around him, pressing her cheek against his chest. "I couldn't go wrong with you."

A sudden rumble of thunder startled Scully awake as she lay on the couch. Another storm was coming in off the bay. Mulder slept behind her, his arm wrapped around her waist, his breath falling gently at her neck. The movie they had been watching long since over, the TV displayed a blank blue screen. Scully squirmed around until she faced him and watched him as he slept. She thought about the first time she'd seen that face: those bespectacled, mischievous eyes staring back at her, challenging and testing her {Oh really? I was under the impression you were sent to spy on me...} She remembered how she'd become more and more intrigued by him; by that irreverent attitude, by the humor he threw up in defense to hide that vulnerable part of him, that scared twelve year old boy who'd had his sister taken from him and his world turned upside down. That boy who would always be part of the man that was Fox Mulder, even long after his sister had been returned. She smiled softly at

his sleeping face, and wondered if it were possible to love somebody more.

She snuggled close, pressing her body up against his as she distributed soft kisses along his mouth.

Mulder came awake slowly, and found his body was way ahead of him. As his mind came out of its fog to catch up, he tightened his hold on her and kissed her back. Amazing as it was, even after all these years the feel of the other's kiss was never anything less than intoxicating.

"Mulder... maybe we should go upstairs," she breathed.

Now fully lucid, he rolled her underneath him and started pushing down her sweat pants.

"What if one of the kids comes down?"

He smiled devilishly into the kiss. "Thank God for that creaky stair..."

As their bodies came to rest in the darkness, a silent flash of lightning threw the room momentarily into brightness; a few seconds later the far off sound of thunder echoed in the sky.

Mulder nuzzled into her neck. "God I love sending you there." She smiled contentedly back at him and after a moment, he peeled himself off of her, what was left of their clothes now drenched in sweat.

She sat up next to him and worked at fastening the buttons of her shirt. "You ready to go up?"

He pulled her to him until he had her cradled in his arms. "Again? Well OK...".

Scully shook her head at him. "And I wonder where Emma gets it from."

He grinned at her as she got up off the couch.

"Let's go. I'll get the TV."

Mulder sat on the couch and watched her as she searched for the remote, a small smile on his lips. A single streak of gray colored her hair, a few delicate laugh-lines touched the skin at the corner of her mouth-- Mulder liked to think he was responsible for putting those there-- but all in all, she hadn't changed much. She was still beautiful and strong, still Dana Scully. She was still his heart, his world, his everything. After all this time, he was still under her spell.

The End

Lyrics from Spacehog's "In the Meantime", 1995.

Well I had fun writing this one-- I think I'm going to like writing these little fill-ins, so there may be more to come than just the two (this and the next one). I may also do some more Samantha-focused chapters, but that depends on feedback... after all, this is primarily a Mulder-Scully story! Anyway, this one here was originally the first few pages of Spell 14, but there was already so much going on in that segment, I decided to take this out and add more detail to it, make it a more substantial stand-alone chapter. Hope you'll enjoy it!

Spell: Samantha

"Oh my God." Scully stared at the young girl sitting at the table in the middle of the interrogation room. She must have been about seventeen, her long brown hair hung in tangles down her back, dark circles stained the skin below her eyes... her eyes, they were wide and had a hollow quality to them that gave her a haunted appearance. She was wearing jeans and sneakers, and an over-sized sweatshirt that made her look frightfully thin. Scully averted her gaze and turned back towards the door. "Can I speak to you privately, Detective?"

He nodded and they exited back into the hallway. Scully cast an awkward glance into the room through the two-way mirror as the detective closed the door. "I had assumed when they said they found a girl that they meant... a body."

"You weren't told over the phone--"

"No," Scully interrupted, shaking her head at him, "I wasn't."

Scully glanced down the hallway as she caught sight of a man moving quickly towards her out of the corner of her eye; she did a double-take when she realized it was Mulder. In one arm he cradled Ben, bundled in his carseat. She approached him, trying to head him off before he got to the window. She was unsuccessful. "Mulder--"

"What's goin' on, Scully?" He glanced into the room. "I followed..." His voice trailed off and he stared at the girl in the room.

Scully could see the wheels were turning in that brilliant head of his.

He turned his head back towards her. "What is this?"

Holding a hand up at his chest, she spoke pointedly to him. "We don't know. That's why I'm here."

"Who called you?"


"Who called you?!" he insisted, louder this time.

"I don't know! Please, calm down, we don't know what's going on, I --"

Pushing the car seat into her hands, he brushed past her and entered the room.

Scully closed her eyes and shook her head. This is exactly what she didn't want to happen.

Mulder entered the room and shut the door behind him. He turned around and faced the girl, staring at her for the longest time before approaching. He stood at the other side of the table. Young, he thought, she's too young to be Samantha.

The girl watched him closely, wondering if he was planning on speaking or if he was just going to keep standing there watching her. "Who are you?"

Mulder held her gaze. "Who are you?"

"Samantha Mulder."

He nodded at her, folding his arms in front of him. "Is that right."

She nodded back at him. "Yes that's right."

"Who told you to say that?"

The girl looked at him quizzically, surprised at the bitter tone of his voice.

His voice rose. "Who told you to say you were her?"

Samantha shook her head at the man, even more confused by his unprovoked hostility. "Nobody... Why, what is this about? Who are you?"

"I asked you first."

The girl's tone was growing impatient. "No, I asked *you* first and I already answered your question. Who the hell are you? I've already told the other detectives what happened--"

"Well maybe now you could tell me."

The girl watched him uncertainly, sizing him up. After a moment, she started to speak.

Mulder listened intently as she recounted to him what had happened to her: She had been found six years ago. Local authorities had picked her up wandering out in the field of an abandoned farmhouse, and after a stint in various foster homes, she'd spent the last four years living with an adoptive family. At the time of her return, all she could remember was her first name; everything else was a blank. She'd been in treatment for Post Traumatic Stress since the time of her return, but progress had been slow and unproductive. Finally, one evening while she was doing the routine chore of wiping out the sink, it had all come back to her in a flurry of disjointed images, in bits and pieces, as if someone had merely opened a door and let the memories that had been hiding behind it blow clearly into her conscious mind like dry leaves in an autumn wind. While she was cleaning the porcelain sink, her finger caught a sharp piece of metal around the drain. As the bright red drops of blood fell rhythmically against the porcelain, she started to feel like she was being pulled away, far away, into memories of a past she'd forgotten, and flashes of a cold, dark time when she'd never felt more alone and in pain in her life. It had thrown her into a fugue- like state, and the next thing she knew she was in the back of a police cruiser being taken to the station for holding, repeating over and over that her name was Samantha Mulder and that she needed to get to Chilmark, Massachusetts.

Eventually, she'd become more coherent and was able to start to fill the police in on what had transpired. Naturally, the two officers hadn't believed her. They wrote her off as a junkie on a bad trip and figured they'd let her come down a little while they got in touch with her family. So they'd taken her driver's license and phoned her parents, who were now on their way to the station. But she was insistent, she would not go with them; she was desperate to get to Massachusetts, to her family.

When she finished, Mulder nodded at her. "That's a good story. And very convenient."

Samantha stood abruptly. "Look, I don't have to put up with this, you're wasting my time!" She started to brush past him. "I have to get home!"

Mulder moved to block her from leaving. "We're not finished."

Samantha looked up at the man standing in front of her, shoulders slightly stooped as he stared down at her in a stance that was somehow familiar... and then, for the first time, she got to really see his eyes, and her own eyes widened with recognition. "Oh my God... Fox..."

Mulder only stared back at her.

The girls eyes filled with tears. "It is you..." she took a step closer and let her head fall against his chest. She wrapped her arms around him tightly and started to cry.

Mulder stood there motionless. He would not let them do this to him again. It had almost killed him the last time.

Samantha looked up at him. "Fox? It is you isn't it?"

He stared at her, then nodded slowly.

"What's wrong?"

He took hold of her upper arms and pulled from her embrace. He swallowed hard. "I don't believe you."

She looked at him, shaking her head in confusion. "What? Why? I don't understand..."

Mulder stared at her. For starters, she was too young... despite that little voice in the back of his head that kept reminding him that some abductees appeared to have delays if not full- stops in aging when they were returned. Her story-- that was another thing. It was too perfect, too simple. Simple enough to be believable... And then he couldn't stand it anymore, he turned and started for the door.

"Fox wait..." she said quickly, her mind searching desperately for something to say to make him believe her. But what? What could she possibly say? And suddenly, the words were there "...you could've watched The Magician if you wanted to."

Mulder froze. He had never told anyone, not even Scully, that they'd been arguing over what to watch on TV that night. He harbored too much guilt about it, that he had wasted their last precious minutes together bickering over some stupid show. How many times had he wished he could go back to that night? That he could've relived those last few moments with her just to say I love you I will never forget you I'll spend the rest of my life looking for you... But no, instead they'd spent them locked in mindless childhood battle. Nobody could know about that. Nobody except her.

He turned around slowly and stared at her. And a weariness like he had never known settled over him: the exhaustion of a lifetime's search that had finally proved fruitful catching up to him in a single moment. He'd imagined this moment a million times, a million different ways, and now here he was in the middle of it, and all he could do was stand there. He wanted to go to her, but found he could not move; his legs seemed frozen in place, and he was forcing the breath in and out of his lungs.

Samantha approached him again, taking his hand in hers and squeezing it tightly. And now she could see in his eyes that he believed. Her eyes filled with tears once more.

And it was almost too much to bear, the weight of years of pain lifting off of him in a fleeting second. Shouldn't it have lasted longer? Surely decades of despair would linger, would leave its mark on a person's soul? But no, now she was here, and that empty space he'd always carried for her was filled with her presence; that small part of him that had died the night she was taken now surging back to life inside him. The pain swelled in the back of his throat, and he reached out to embrace her. She clung to him, sobbing softly against his chest. He knew she would have many questions, and certainly where her parents were would be foremost in her mind. Mulder held her tighter. He was going to have to give her some difficult answers. No doubt it would be painful for her to hear how the family had fallen apart after her disappearance. She didn't even know their parents had divorced. And of course he'd have to tell her about their father, too... his death, the conspiracies, the questions. But for now, he was content just to hold her, to assure himself that this was actually happening. They held each other in silence, and slowly the reality of it all started to sink in. She was really here; after so many years, she'd come home. Turning his face deeper into her hair, he felt the sting of tears burning in his own eyes; and this time, he let them come.

When Mulder went into the interrogation room to speak with the girl, Scully went with Douglas back to the Detectives Unit and questioned him about how the girl had been found. According to Douglas, she reported she had been returned six years ago. At that time, doctors estimated her age to be approximately twelve years; if she was Samantha Mulder, she should have been much older. In time, the matching of dental records and blood types and DNA testing would determine with a high degree of certainty that it was indeed Samantha. No one would be able to offer an explanation for the discrepancy in age. Not that Mulder needed to hear any of that to believe it.

Scully lay there now on a couch in the dark lounge. Ben slept soundly next to her in his carseat. After Mulder had been talking to Samantha for over forty-five minutes, Detective Douglas had brought her down to the lounge so she and the baby could rest. She drifted in and out of sleep as she contemplated the situation. Strange-- if it really was Samantha-- that she would be returned to him now, at a time in his life when she knew he felt whole and at peace; when he was finally coming to terms with the fact that she might never be found. So what would this mean to her relationship with him? She would never be so selfish as to begrudge him any time with Samantha, but she couldn't help but wonder how this would effect them, their marriage, their life together. This would consume him; this would be his focus now. He would have a lot of catching up to do with his sister, so... would he want to spend some time away from her and the baby to be with Samantha? She started at the feel of a warm hand on her cheek.

Mulder smiled sweetly at her as he crouched beside the couch where she lay. "Hi."

She propped herself up on her elbow and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "What's going on?"

"It's her, Scully. It's really her."

Resting a hand on his arm, she looked at him with concern.

"I know what you're thinking but I'm not jumping into anything here. I *know* it's her."

She wasn't about to rain on his parade, besides, she could see in his eyes that anything she might say would only fall on deaf ears. So she squeezed his arm and offered a small smile; there would be time for questions later.

"Her... parents are here. They're gonna take her home."

Scully stared at him. "How do you feel about that?"

"I think it's best, for now." He shrugged at her. "You know, take it slow. I should really prepare my mom, and I know she's going to want to spent some time with her, but I thought maybe in a few weeks she could come stay with us for a while? I mean not a while but maybe a few weeks, she starts college in the fall and--"

"Mulder," she smiled at him reassuringly, "that's fine. That would be great."

He smiled back at her. "Really? Good. Okay." He stared at her intently, then reached for her hand. He was silent for a long moment. "I want you to come meet her."

Scully stared back at him as the enormity of the situation hit her. Fox Mulder had found his sister. Finally, after all this time his quest had come to an end. In many ways, it had been her search too, from that very first night he'd shared the circumstances surrounding his sister's disappearance with her, through all the cases they'd investigated, to this moment right now. That quest had always been a part of the bond between them, and now it was gone. It was strange... but she wouldn't have traded this moment for him for anything in the world.

Mulder helped her to her feet and rested a warm palm against the back of her neck. His thumb gently caressed the skin there through the strands of her hair. Even in the darkness, his eyes were intense, and she could see that he was seeking reassurance in hers. "It's over, Scully," he shrugged at her, his voice was a whisper, "I don't know how to feel."

She lay a hand on his face. "It's not over, Mulder; it's just beginning."

He watched her, then nodded as a small smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. She was right; leave it to her to say exactly the right thing to make him feel better. He pulled her into a hug and kissed the top of her head. They held each other in the dark, and, for just a few minutes, there was nothing else in the world but the comfort of each other's embrace.

Mulder entered the interrogation room first with Scully following behind, baby in tow.

Scully set Ben's carseat on another table and started to walk up behind Mulder.

He smiled at his sister. "So this is the person I was telling you about..." Scully came into sight from behind him, and Mulder slipped an arm across her shoulders. "Dana Scully, this is..." Mulder paused; somehow it seemed like this moment should be grander somehow, that it should be more than some simple, ordinary introduction... and maybe it was; maybe her name said it all, "...Samantha."

Scully smiled and extended her hand.

Samantha took her hand and shook it, but her face had gone sheet-white again and she stared at Scully like she was shaking the hand of a ghost.

Mulder rested a hand on Samantha's shoulder. "What's wrong?"

She continued to stare at Scully as she released her hand. "I know you."

Scully looked at her questioningly, and memories of standing outside the modest home of a woman named Betsy Hogasian in Allentown Pennsylvania and hearing similar words drifted into her mind.

"I know you," she repeated.

Mulder's arm dropped off of Scully's shoulders and he stepped closer to Samantha. "What are you talking about?"

Samantha couldn't take her eyes off of Scully. She hadn't really gotten a good look at her earlier when she'd stepped in with the detective. "I saw you..." And suddenly the memory came back to her as clearly as a series of photographs, of lying in a cold and sterile bed where she was supposed to sleep; there were others around her, others she could not see but who she could sometimes hear crying in the darkness. Some of them stayed a long time, others were there for brief periods. She never knew anything else about the other women with her, just that she and the others in that room were referred to as the "sixty-fours".

Sometimes as she lay there, she was strangely aware of motion around her, like they were moving; a slow, rhythmic motion that made her think of being on a train... and other times it was still, and those times there was a constant low hum; and a strange sensation would come over her that made her feel that if it weren't for the restraints holding her to the bed she would simply float away. And she remembered the time she lay there pretending to sleep as the door to the room opened quietly and a dim light poured into the room. She could hear a soft sound that made her think of whispers, and opened her eyes the slightest bit to peek at what was going on. Two dark figures were bringing a new woman in. She seemed small and fragile in that over-sized white hospital gown that was standard issue in the place. Her body was limp and the men held her arms as they brought her into the room, the tops of her bare feet sliding across the floor as they did. Her head hung forward, red hair concealed the pale, dazed face beneath. But for a moment, just a moment, the woman found the strength to lift her head and Samantha saw her. She had only actually seen the faces of four others while she was gone, and she would never forget any of them. And the woman she was looking at now stand next to her brother, it was her, it was that red-haired woman who had been dragged into the room in the middle of the night in that dark and cold place.

Samantha looked up suddenly, surprised to see that she was sitting; they must have helped her to a chair when she'd started to sway. She once again looked at the other woman. "You were there."

Scully glanced uneasily at Mulder. "I was taken away a long time ago, yes. I was missing..." Her voice trailed off.

Samantha reached for her hand and held it between her two. She glanced at her brother briefly, the sadness paining her face, and she considered the irony of it all-- was it coincidence that her brother had fallen in love with someone who'd also been taken away? That time Samantha had seen her, did she know Fox then, or was that before the two of them had met? Her mind reeled with questions and her own sense of time during her disappearance was hazy... She turned her face back to Scully.

The two women regarded each other. What else could they say? Nothing that either of them would want to get into now. But sometime, they would talk... it appeared that Scully had more in common with her new sister-in-law than she could've imagined. Scully lowered her eyes. "I don't remember really. Just bits and pieces."

Samantha nodded at her in understanding.

Scully looked back at Mulder and she could so clearly read the emotions there-- that familiar resentment and anger towards those who had taken them from him was surfacing in his stomach again.

But he pushed down the hatred and squeezed Scully's hand reassuringly. This moment had no place for hatred. He turned back to look at the table behind them. As if reading his mind, Scully got up to go to it-- Samantha still had her nephew to meet. At the table Scully pulled Ben from his car seat. He was awake now and cooing quietly though she knew soon crankiness would set in as two o'clock feeding approached. She held him close and brought him over to Samantha.

Mulder smiled with pride as Scully passed him to his sister. "This is your nephew, Benjamin," he said.

Samantha reached out for the baby and took him into her arms.

And for the first time in almost thirty years, Mulder saw his sister smile.


Newsgroups: alt.tv.x-files.creative Subject: "Spell: Loki" by Kelli Rocherolle Date: Tue, 30 Apr 1996 23:21:11 -0700

Spell: Loki by Kelli Rocherolle

Here's the next 'fill-in' Spell chapter. It takes place a couple of months after Ben's 4th birthday, soon after the opening scene in Spell 14 where she tells him she's pregnant. We know it's a happy ending, but this is just intended to fill you in on the incident I referred to in 14... which was just too much to add into that already monstrous chapter! Thanks, enjoy!

*The following story is based on characters copyrighted by *Ten Thirteen Productions, created by The Man, Chris *Carter, and who are the property of the Fox network and *are used without permission. No infringement intended.

Innocence is over ignorance is spoken confidence is broken arrogance is potent A romance is fallen fallen I repent tomorrow. -Alice in Chains

Spell: Loki

With the Holidays come and gone, Mulder and Scully turned their attention back to work. Soon they'd be returning to teaching after the winter break. After Scully had broken the news of the new baby to Mulder Christmas eve, Christmas day they told Ben that by next year he would have a new brother or sister to play with. Ben was thrilled, and that very night he took down one of his pictures of the tree and fireplace off of the fridge and added a new stocking along the mantel: for baby.

In addition to getting back to school, they had another major event ahead of them: buying their first house. They were currently renting a small two bedroom cottage just outside the city while they waited for their loan to go through on a house they were purchasing in Annapolis. It was wonderful- - a large, beautiful home near the water, not unlike the Martha's Vineyard home Mulder had grown up in; and they were tremendously excited about it.

"I wish you didn't have to go." Scully sat on the edge of the old claw-foot tub in her oversized T-shirt. It was late, and Mulder was relaxing with a quick bath before they turned in for the night.

"It's not like I want to, Scully. Besides, you got to go last time."

The corner of her mouth turned up at him. "Yeah but I didn't have any fun."

He mirrored her expression. "Then I won't either."

Scully watched him as he settled deeper into the tub, running his hands through his hair until it was spiked out and wet. First thing tomorrow morning he was heading to Boston for a special seminar on Profiling. The University liked them to attend a function or two each year as part of their teaching positions. But it never worked out that they could go together, and they hated being apart; they had already spent too much time away from each other. It was only going to be for three days, but she was going to miss him.

Mulder pulled her from her thoughts, literally... right into the tub with him.

A deluge of bath water spilled over the sides as she toppled into the tub. "Mulder!" She tried to turn around to face him but there just wasn't enough room, even in that big old thing. "I hate it when you do that!"

"You love it," he joked. "You're just asking for trouble, walking around here in your little T-shirt." He pulled her back against his chest. "I've got your number, lady."

She suppressed a smile. "Look at the floor! I hope you feel like mopping..."

Mulder ignored her and reached for the soap dish.

"What are you doing?"

She could feel him smile against her ear. "You know, this looks like it needs a washing." He worked the soap into a lather and ran his hands slowly over her front through the wet fabric.

Her own smile faded as his hands grazed her stomach, her abdomen. His soapy hands caressed the bare skin of her thighs. She relaxed against him.

He nuzzled his face into the damp strands at the base of her neck. "I'm going to miss you," he whispered.

Scully pulled from him, turning slightly, and motioned for him to turn around. With some difficulty they maneuvered so that he was sitting with his back to her. She reached through his arms and took the soap from him. Mulder closed his eyes as she placed a few delicate kisses against his back, then let her hands slide slowly down over his chest. "In that case," she submerged her hands in the water, "I'll have to make sure I give you something to tide you over."

"Better than a good-bye kiss?"

She smiled brightly against his shoulder. "Much better."

Scully rested her book against her chest and removed her glasses, setting them on the night table next to her bed. It was late, but Mulder had promised he'd call when he arrived in Boston to let her know he got in safely and she wasn't going to be able to sleep until she heard from him. She looked down at the other side of the bed-- Ben had fallen asleep next to her amidst a few of the children's books she'd been reading to him. He had wanted to stay up and say goodnight to his father but just couldn't hold out. Scully smiled softly as she watched him, lying on his side with the sheet covering his lower half, head tilted up towards her and mouth slightly open. She reached out a hand and gently stroked his hair, his face; his rosy little cheek was almost hot to the touch. "Ben..." she tried softly.

He was out.

Scully raised her voice a notch. "Ben?"

He blinked slowly and tried to wake.

Scully helped him up to a sitting position, stifling a smile as she did. "Hi sleepy." She slipped off the bed and helped him to the edge. Her smile widened as she watched him: he was really out of it, still half asleep; his hair was all askew and he was wearing the now very worn "Saint Barts" T-shirt she'd bought on their honeymoon. It hung to his ankles and had a small hole in the shoulder, but it was his favorite thing to sleep in. She brought him into her arms, hugging him close as he rested his head on her shoulder. "Mmm..." Inhaling deeply, she took in the sweet fragrance of tear-free shampoo mingled with that special scent that was simply her baby.

She stepped over the dog who was sleeping across the threshold to her bedroom, and carried Ben back to his own bed. Mulder wasn't crazy about having a stray dog in the house, but Scully found it comforting to have him there while Mulder was away. When she came out of Ben's room, there he was, sitting in the hall waiting for her. He followed her back down to her bedroom.

She had just about reached the door when the phone started to ring. Scully moved quickly the rest of the way into her room and sat on the bed. She reached for the receiver. "Hello?"

"Hi gorgeous."

Scully smiled into the phone. "Hi. Where are you?"

"At the hotel."

"Finally. Is it nice?"

"Yeah it's not bad. How's everything there? How's Ben?"

"He's fine. But he was a little down when I picked him up from school earlier."

"Not the little freckle-faced girl again."

"Yup. I think she broke his heart at the milk table."

He gave a quick, soft laugh into the phone and a pang jabbed at her heart-- she missed him already. "So are you having fun?"

"Yeah, I'm having the time of my life: the TV doesn't work, the heater rattles, I think the person who had this room last smoked like a chimney, and I have this great big empty bed to sleep in. I can't imagine anywhere else I'd rather be."

"Right. You probably have a chamber maid on each arm."

"Now there's a thought."

"You go right ahead Mulder. You have your chambermaids and I have my UPS man..."

"Oh really? Something you wanna tell me, Scully?"

"Yeah well sometimes he brings me a special delivery."

"Is that right? You like his package?"

Now it was her turn to laugh.

"Good news, I'm going to cut out early tomorrow, I should be home before dinner time."

She smiled into the phone.

Scully had spent the day in her office at the University preparing for the new semester. Normally she brought Ben along with her, the staff adored him, but she also had a prenatal appointment afterward and didn't want him to have to sit around in the waiting area for her. She approached the front door to their house as dusk was falling, happy to be home for the day; and even happier that Mulder would soon be home.

"Hi Abby." Scully entered the living area as the baby sitter opened the door for her. She rested her books and files on the floor, wiped her hands on her jeans before reaching into her purse. "How was Ben?"

"Great as usual; he's in his room playing."

She turned to give Abby her money, then picked up the stack of mail that was waiting for her on the side table.

"Thanks, Mrs. Mulder."

Would she ever get used to that? "Bye, Abby." She locked the door behind the young girl and started shuffling through the pile of mail. She smiled at the sight of the letter with a Colorado State University return address. She set that one aside from the bills and went to the kitchen to fix Ben a snack; it would probably be a later-than-usual dinner by the time Mulder got in, and no doubt he'd need a little something to tide him over.

She opened a cupboard and started to pull down a few items when she caught sight of the dog in the living area... curled up comfortably on the couch. Scully flashed him an admonishing glance, but his tail wagged excitedly as she approached him. "Come on you... outside." He got up obediently and followed her to the kitchen door. She let him out into the backyard. As she returned to the kitchen and started the task of putting Ben's snack together, she wondered what they were going to do about that dog...

A few weeks earlier she and Mulder had been inside going over some files for an article they were working on when Ben, who had been playing in the back yard came quietly into the room and peered at her over her file. "If I caught a wolf would you let me keep him, Mommy?" She and Mulder had exchanged a look, then Mulder had bolted up from his chair with Scully following behind as they went outside to see what on earth Ben could be talking about... there were no wolves in the area. Besides, their back yard was fenced in with a child-proof latch, so unless someone had forgotten to close it, there was no way an animal that size could've gotten in. But as they headed down the back steps they saw him: a very large, grayish dog with striking features-- mixed breed, definitely some shepherd in there, but Ben was right: he did look a little like a wolf. Ben had begged that they keep him, and Mulder and Scully agreed to let him stay while they put an add for a lost dog in the paper and waited for his owners to respond. But as the weeks passed, that prospect was growing remote, and Ben was growing more attached to him with each passing day. Scully had to admit, they all were. He was very well behaved and a joy to have around. Even Owen, who had initially greeted the large intruder with wide-eyed indignation quickly came to view him as his friend and some-time pillow. Ben had decided to call him Loki, after a character in his favorite book; a children's adaptation of Norse myths and legends. In the book, Loki, the mischievous, trouble making son of a giant, was portrayed as a wolf. It was just another step in Ben's increasing devotion to the animal and Scully started to consider what they should do. He was a good dog, but she and Mulder didn't really want to handle the extra responsibility, especially with the upcoming move and a new baby on the way. It was bad timing, plain and simple.

Ben ran into the room and hugged her legs.

Speak of the devil. "Hi you," she said softly, bending over to caress his back. "Did you have fun with Abby?"

He nodded and she straightened to turn back to the counter, but Ben wouldn't release his hold.

She looked down and could see that he was smiling. "Ben, I'm making you a snack. Are you hungry?" she tried, stifling her own smile. "Ben..."

He tightened his hold around her legs.

"So is that how you wanna play it?" She bent down and picked him up, holding him upside down by the waist and carrying him into the living area.

Ben laughed in delight, his hair sticking straight out as she held him upside down, and they entered the room.

Scully deposited him on the couch and tickled his midsection as he continued to squirm with laughter on the sofa. Amidst the commotion Ben's sneaker went flying and landed somewhere on the other side of the room. Scully teased him: "I'm gonna get your shoe, Ben!"

He squealed and bounded off the couch to beat her to it.

Scully gave him a head start, but easily headed him off, scooping Ben up like a football in one arm and reaching for the shoe with her free hand. He was laughing uncontrollably now in a continuous string giggles that she treasured every second of. Scully settled him on the couch. "Okay let's get your shoe on."

Ben calmed and, still smiling at her, stuck out his foot.

Scully wriggled the shoe back on, unaware that Ben was watching her intently, his face turned more serious as those little wheels turned in his head.

"What's your name, Mommy?"

She worked at tying the laces. "My name?"

"Besides Mommy."

Scully smiled as she looked up at him. "Dana." He watched her curiously and she knew what he was thinking. She'd been expecting to have this particular conversation someday, though she didn't expect to have it so soon: he was wondering why everyone called her Dana... except his father. Until he might understand better, she decided to make it as simple as possible. "Scully is my middle name, Ben. Like you have 'William'. And it's sort of like a nickname, you know?"

Ben thought for a minute then tilted his head to the side. "Like Jack?"

"That's right." Jack was a boy in Ben's preschool class who's real name Ben knew was John, but who everyone called by his nickname.

"Can I call you that?"

Scully rested a hand on his and smiled at him. She leaned closer and lowered her voice conspiratorially. "You know, I kind of like it when you call me Mommy." She shook her head at him. "Nobody else calls me that."

Ben smiled at her. That seemed to satisfy him; he hopped off the couch and started to run off towards his room.

Scully sat on the couch and reached behind her to the side table, taking off the letter she'd put aside earlier. "Wait a minute, Ben-- look what you got."

He turned around and his face filled with excitement at the sight of the letter. He came back into the room and sat down next to his mom on the couch. He looked up at her expectantly. "Open it, Mommy, read it!"

She carefully opened the envelope and unfolded the piece of notebook paper inside. Scully knew Samantha was swamped at school, but once a week she took the time to write a quick note to her special little guy. "You can read that, Ben. What does it say?"

He peered carefully at the word she was pointing to, running his finger over each letter. Finally, he looked up, motioning to himself with a thumb. "Ben-- that's me!"

Scully smiled at him. "That's right. It says: 'Dear Ben, how are you? It was so great to see you over Christmas. I put the picture you made for me up in my dorm room and everyone says how much they like it. Everything is going well here, but I have lots of homework! Be good, I'll see you soon. Love, Samantha'." She handed the letter back to him and helped him fold it back into the envelope. "You going to put it with the others?"

He nodded and headed off to his bedroom.

Scully got up and headed for the kitchen to finish up with the food. But first... she needed some Saltines; morning sickness and returned full force this time around... and it did not limit itself to mornings. She had just about reached the kitchen when the doorbell sounded.

Years ago, she never would've opened her door without knowing who it was; years of working on the X-files had fashioned her into quite the little paranoid. But living for so long in safety had fostered a sense of security in her that had long since worked at lowering her defenses. It was something she'd always regret.

Scully went to the door and started to open it. She hadn't even opened it a foot when she saw him, and immediately tried to slam it back shut the minute her brain registered who it was and sent the danger flaring through every nerve in her body.

Joel stuck his foot out and prevented the door from closing. "Dana..." He smiled at her. "Please, I just want to talk to you."

Scully stood paralyzed with shock. She had almost completely forgotten about him; it had been years. And she was terrified and vulnerable as she stood there with her door open to him. She cautiously opened it slightly but moved to prevent him from entering. Scully observed him: his clothes were somewhat bedraggled, his beige overcoat dingy with wear, stubble framed his jaw, there were dark circles under his eyes. His hair was a little longer than she remembered it. She spoke strongly: "I have nothing to say to you Joel. And besides, I can't talk now anyway, I'm going out. My mother's expecting me and if I'm late..." she lied.

"Sure okay. I was just in town and thought I'd see how you were doing."

Scully continued to watch him carefully, feeling like she was in some bizarre nightmare; everything was moving in slow motion. Her body remained alive with tension, she did *not* trust him. "I'm sorry. Good bye."

He started to turn to leave, then faced her again. "Oh, Dana- - one more thing--"

Scully saw it in a split second, something change in his eyes a moment before it happened.

Joel kicked the door open with one swift movement and reached for her; grabbing her by the throat with a single hand and forcing her back into the room. He kicked the door closed behind him with his foot.

Scully could not believe this was happening; not now, after all this time. She'd hardly given the man a second thought-- last she heard he'd been transferred to the Bismarck field office. But what she didn't know was that he hadn't lasted long in his new position; that after a series of screw-ups and reprimands he was quietly asked to leave the Bureau. And of course, he'd blamed it all on her. After all, she was the one who got him transferred in the first place, so naturally it was her fault that things had not gone well once he was there. She had ruined everything; she had destroyed a promising career, all of his dreams and ambitions, and in his mind, humiliated him in the process. And he had spent the last four years cultivating a hatred that would not diminish.

All the cases they'd investigated, all the horrifying things she had seen, she was never more terrified than she was as she saw the madness in Joel's eyes. He was a man who had spent years walking that fine thread of sanity and who had finally seen it snap.

He backed her into the middle of the living area and threw her onto the floor. He got down and straddled her, retaking his hold on her throat. His grip tightened around her neck and her ears started to ring, but she could still hear the muffled sound of the dog barking: he was scratching wildly at the back door in the kitchen and barking incessantly, sensing the danger inside. It was working him into a rabid frenzy, and Scully hoped to God that someone would hear him, if only someone would hear him...

Joel pulled a small knife from his coat pocket and held it in front of her face.

Her eyes widened but she could not speak.

Running the blade lightly down her throat to her collarbone, he applied more pressure as he drew it down to the collar of her shirt. The knife left a warm sensation in its wake and Scully knew he'd cut her long before the pain registered. She cried out, and, squirming a hand free, took hold of his wrist. She was successful in freeing her other hand as she pushed the blade away from her skin, and a struggle for control of the knife ensued.


Scully and Joel both looked over at the entrance to the hallway. Scully's face filled with terror, and Joel's... Joel looked like the hyena that's just found a cub of his mortal enemy, the lion, who's strayed from the pride. He got up and walked towards Ben, bending over to talk to him. He spoke for the first time: "Hey Buddy, what's your name?"

Ben stood frozen in place, his eyes fixed on the man's other hand... the one with the knife. His eyes widened at the sight of blood on the blade.

Joel started to reach for him when Scully tackled him from behind, throwing herself over his stooped body and locking her arms around his neck. "Ben run!"

Ben stared at her unmoving. Instinct told him to run but his love for his mother kept him glued in place; he didn't want that man to hurt her anymore.

"Ben you do as your Mommy tells you, you run! Go hide!"

He turned quickly and ran down the hall to his parent's bedroom. He closed the door behind him and looked around the room for a good place to hide. Getting on his hands and knees, he scooted under the bed and covered his eyes with his hands. And he listened to the most horrible sound in the world...

Scully gave Joel a run for his money. She and Mulder had stayed in pretty good shape, but they were in no where near the condition they'd been in when they worked for the Bureau. And as they continued to struggle, Scully could feel her strength draining; try as she might, she was just no match for the force of his fury.

And then a horrible realization came over her: she was going to lose this battle. "Joel, please. Please don't hurt him. Don't hurt my baby. I'll give you anything you want, I'll do anything you want..."

Joel had her pinned back on the floor. He leaned his face in close to hers and said softly, "Singing a different tune this time are we? Well so am I Dana. This isn't a game anymore."

"I never thought it was a ga--"

"Shut UP!" He seemed to physically calm himself, then he scoffed at her. "Do you really think I want anything from you? Least of all that? Sorry Dana, but frankly, you just don't interest me that way anymore. There's nothing I want from you."

"Then please, Joel, I'm so sorry, I never meant to hurt you--" she closed her eyes and prepared for the blow as he raised a hand, as if to strike her.

But he didn't. Instead he stopped himself, clenching his hand into a fist and hissing at her through clenched teeth. "DON'T say that to me. I don't want to hear that from you!" he yelled. Pausing, he lowered his voice. "Words, Dana. Just words. Do you think I owe you some kind of mercy? That's laughable, truly laughable. After what you did to me? And now you ask for mercy? I don't think so. You ruined everything that mattered to me, my entire life. Now I'm going to make you pay with yours. And while your lying here with the life bleeding out of you, the last thing you're going to hear while you're drawing in your dying breath is the sound of your little boy screaming."

The thought was more than she could bear. A single plea was carried out on the breath that was able to escape her throat: "No..." She shook her head at him.

"And you can know that your beloved spent the rest of his days mourning the death of his precious wife and son. Of course, I am assuming that it is his son; Jesus he looks just like him."

Joel brought the knife back to her throat, and she could see so clearly... this was it. She never imagined it would be this way; she always thought she'd just hit the wall-- she never thought she'd see death coming, that she would be tortured by its approach.

But while they had been battling for control of the knife on the floor in the living area, so intent were they on their struggle that neither of them saw Ben sneak back out into the room. Neither of them saw him slip quietly into the kitchen. And neither of them heard him open the back door.

As the point of the blade pricked the tender flesh under her chin, Scully suddenly became aware of some kind of commotion from the kitchen. Joel looked up to see what was going on, Scully pushed her head back against the floor to look back so that she could do the same. They both saw it at the same time: the dog was barreling toward them, a look in his eyes that was hungry and no less crazed than the one in Joel's. Scully closed her eyes as a blur of gray passed over her face and into the man holding her down.

A low grunt escaped Joel as 120 pounds hit him full force and sent him backward onto the floor.

Scully lay there momentarily paralyzed, surprised to find herself suddenly freed from her captor. Then, with a start she scrambled away and stood. The dog was tearing into Joel ferociously, his teeth clamped like a vice on his arm. Joel took a swing and his fist made contact with the side of the dog's muzzle, but it only infuriated the animal further. He resumed his attack with renewed resolve, a continuous low growl warning against further blows, and Scully wondered how on earth this could be the same sweet devoted creature that followed her around like a guardian angel and who played with Ben with the gentleness of a doe with her fawn. And it struck her how absolutely wrong she had been about timing.

And Joel found himself confronted by an unrelenting furor that far surpassed his own. "Get him off me GET HIM OFF!" he screamed.

Scully pulled herself together and turned around quickly. "Ben!" She moved around behind the couch and took his hand, leading him back to the bedroom with her.

Ben looked back over his shoulder as they went, his face filled with grief and fear as he watched the scene in the living area. "Mommy... Loki!"

But Scully didn't even hear him; she went into the closet and pulled down the lock-box from the top shelf. Punching in the code, she removed its contents and headed for the door. "Stay here." Her voice was cold, determined, and her eyes reflected the same detachment. She'd made Joel a promise, and she intended to keep it. She slid the clip in place and closed the door behind her.

Man and beast were still locked in battle as she re-entered the living room, and Man was losing. Scully charged her weapon and as if somehow sensing what was next, the animal ceased his attack and ran off, but remained at a distance with a watchful eye. Joel got to his feet and stumbled towards her, still wielding his weapon, rage seeming to blind him to hers...

The minute his mother shut the door Ben went to it, leaning close to listen to what was going on in the other room. Then, two deafening sounds cracked through the air, the first jolting him out of his skin and the second sending his hands up over his ears.

As Mulder turned onto their street, he immediately caught sight of the flashing lights; at first he though someone had had a fire on the street. As he neared their home his heart started to beat faster; they were on his side of the road. And as he pulled up to his driveway the panic washed over him, he broke out in a cold sweat-- they were in front of his house.

Mulder ran for the door and entered quickly, flashes of a similar scene so long ago, of yellow police tape and crowds of detectives, of forensic unit personnel flooding his partner's apartment flashing in his mind. The first thing he saw was the blood stain on the floor. His heart sank.

A uniformed officer restrained him as he tried to enter the room. "Sir you can't go in there..."

He struggled against him to get past.

Another officer approached and took hold of his arm. "Sir, please."

Seeming to see the two men for the first time, Mulder yelled at them. "Where's my wife?!"

"If you'll just calm down--"

"Where is she?!" He turned his head quickly toward the hallway at the sound of her voice.


His entire body visibly relaxed as he moved down the hallway to her, dropping his hands to his sides in relief. "Ben?"

"He's fine." She motioned to the bedroom. "He's in with one of the officers, I didn't want him to see..." she motioned over to the blood stain with her hand, but unable to bear actually looking at it, she kept her eyes on the floor, "I didn't want..." An officer brought a piece of tarp over and covered the area.

Mulder held her shoulders. "What happened? That blood..."

She dropped her hand back to her side. "Joel."

"Joel?" Mulder wasn't quiet sure he was hearing her right.

She nodded her head at him. "Joel," she repeated, then recounted to him what had happened. When she was finished she looked up at Mulder. She had been strong for Ben; strong because she had to be. But now, seeing Mulder stand there before her, she was having a hard time fighting back the tears. He wrapped his arms securely around her, and feeling that strength, she found sanctuary in his arms, and let the tears fall.

When the she had quieted, Mulder stepped back, still holding her shoulders, and took in the sight of her for the first time: her shirt was torn, there was drying blood on the front of it, and there were long deliberate cuts just below her collarbone. They weren't deep, but they were enough to make his stomach turn in disgust and outrage. He brought a hand up to lightly finger the wounds, and he could feel the anger spreading like fire through his soul. That son of a bitch had attacked her both times she was pregnant, and both times he hadn't been there to help her. And now he was left feeling even more helpless, because the bastard was already dead; he wouldn't even have the satisfaction of making him pay for what he'd done to her. Mulder shook his head and thought about how close he'd come to losing her... he could never bear to lose her again... Sliding slowly to his knees, he embraced her midsection, as always finding comfort there. And slowly, the alleviation settled over him. A few seconds later he felt a small hand on his shoulder and turned his head to see Ben watching him.

Ben patted his shoulder lightly. "Don't cry, Daddy."

Mulder couldn't help but smile at him. He rested a hand on Ben's shoulder. And he was never more grateful to another human being as he was at that moment. "That was a very brave thing you did, Ben. Are you okay?"

Ben nodded. "But I didn't do anything, it was him." He pointed over at Loki, sitting patiently while a paramedic bandaged the knife wound on his left front paw, then looked back at his father. He placed his hands on his hips in a stance that was classic Scully. "*Now* can we keep him?"

Mulder stood and looked down at Scully. Their eyes held, then Mulder looked back down at Ben with a hint of a smile.

That weekend, they put up a dog house in the back yard.

The End

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