Title: Trust, Love, and Happiness, Too
By: Nikita
This is a sequel to my first series: "What We Need Now is Trust"
Spoilers: Up to season 7.
Disclaimer: I do NOT own the X-Files or any characters, plot lines, etc. They belong to Chris Carter, Fox, and the wonderful actors themselves. This is an unauthorized story for entertainment purposes only. I'm but a poor humble grad student struggling to make ends meet. Writing this stuff and keeping a website actually costs me money. But I do it as a labor of love.
Warnings: Slash. M/M relationship, sex, language. Schmoop, angst, plot, all the good stuff. Mpreg., aliens, AU etc. etc.
Feedback: Yes, please! nik_cleo@hotmail.com
Authors note: Yes, I know I love wordy titles... This is the sequel of my first Trust series. It continues almost 5 years after we last saw our happy little family...
^ Still means telepathic communication
'' still means internal thoughts
Mulder and Krycek are still sexy bastards and if they asked, I'd quit school and be their love slave...

Summary: Almost 5 years after we last saw our happy little family.
I mean: And now for our feature presentation...

Once a month he would feel it.

It was odd. A rippling sensation at his belly, different from the birth. But similar, too. It was a morphing. His body would feel...aroused and then he would feel the sensation and as he watched, he saw a small opening morph on his belly. It lasted a few moments and then would slowly close until his belly was smooth once more.

It only happened once a month. And it scared him every time. He could actually begin to feel a certain heat...a change in his body's chemistry for about a week before it would happen. The first time it had happened was roughly a year after Kat's birth. He'd been alone when the morphing had occurred, after that he'd been carefully keeping it secret. Now, when he felt it happen he'd excuse himself to the bathroom and lock it. Waiting for it to pass.

He knew he shouldn't keep it secret. He hated secrets. But this...this was far too scary to even contemplate. He had a terrible hunch as to what it was and the LAST thing he wanted was for anyone else to know. So he kept it hidden.

North Carolina Woods

October 3, 2004

Sunday 12:05 p.m.

"Kat, Alex! Lunchtime!" Mulder called out to his two favorite people in the world: his daughter and his lover...his spouse. He set out the tuna salad he'd made along with some fruit and potato chips. No one would accuse Mulder of being pretentious, but with two men and a small child, gourmet food just didn't fit in. That suited Mulder just fine. He'd lived on pretzels and pizza for years.

Alex came in, slightly grubby, carrying a slightly grubbier little girl in his arms. Kat was nearly 5 years old, sweet, often shy, but very bright for her age. She had dark brown hair like Alex, but her eyes were Mulder's hazel. Thankfully, she also had Alex's nose, or Mulder would have had to apologize to her as a teenager. She was a very pretty child. Alex's family adored her. He and Alex took frequent trips to St. Louis, every Christmas and summer. Mulder made sure she got to see all the tourist traps and learn every scrap of arcane trivia. She soaked it up like a sponge.

All three of them sat down for lunch, talking about what they'd done that morning and what they wanted to do later. Mulder was mostly quiet, listening with a half an ear, rubbing his stomach absently more than once.

Alex watched this and made a mental note to talk to his lover later. The fact that Mulder didn't even notice that thought made him worry more.

"...and I want a kitten, too. Can I get a kitten, Daddy? Daddy?" Mulder jerked as Alex kicked him under the table.

"Huh? Oh, yeah, sure Kat. Are you finished eating?" Kat beamed excitedly. "Yes, can we go now, daddy?"

"Go where?" Mulder looked helplessly at his lover. Alex grinned evilly, "Yeah, Daddy Fox, let's go now."

"Alex..." he warned. "Go where, Kat?"

"To the Jacobson's...they have kittens. You said I could have one."

"I did? When did..." He gave up. "Okay, we'll go later. Let me talk to them first." Kat jumped down from her chair and ran to her room to get ready for her kitten.

Alex stood up and helped him clean up. "You spoil her rotten, Fox."

Mulder flashed him an irritated look, but let it go. "A kitten is better than a puppy or a pony. Maybe it'll catch some of the mice out in the shed." Alex scraped their plates and washed them. He watched Mulder absently rub his stomach once more and then head to the bedroom.

He finished up in the kitchen and peeked in their room. Mulder was putting on his running shoes. "What's up?"

"Huh? Oh, I thought I'd just run over to the Jacobson's and ask them about the kittens." Mulder jerked on the laces, tying his shoes up with a little more force than Alex thought necessary.

"We do have a marvelous invention called the telephone, you know."

"I need the exercise. I'll be right back." He slid the stiletto in his pants pocket and patted it for Alex to see and then slid past his lover on the way to the door.

Alex stopped him before he could escape. "Fox? Something's bother you."

Mulder grinned nervously and ran a hand through his hair. "No. Not really. I'll tell you later, okay?" He slipped out the door without waiting for an answer.

"Papa?!" Kat called.

"Coming." He turned away from the front door, shaking his head.

Mulder jogged all the way to the Jacobson's, a couple of miles away. Alex hated it when he went out alone to run, but for Mulder it was absolutely necessary. He needed a little freedom, a little space sometimes. He mostly stayed in or around the house, and that was fine with him. He loved their home. But sometimes...he needed to run and have time to think to himself. Alex understood. He had his own need. But he worried about Mulder alone in the woods. So Mulder was extra careful and always armed.

As he jogged, he tried to focus only on his rhythm, the trees, the ground, and his destination. Unfortunately, his mind was determined to focus on the weird feeling that was back once more. He hated it. It made him feel even more like a freak. He sometimes managed to forget his hybrid status. After the birth, his body had returned to mostly normal. No real morphing incidents, no freakishly fast healing. He'd cut himself shaving this morning, and it was still there. His hand went up to check. 'Yep, still there. Just like a regular human.' Nice as advanced healing was, being normal was nicer. No stares if he scratched his arm.

So now, the only weird hybrid thing about him was this 'feeling.' And the morphing. He checked his belly again. Not yet. He'd feel it come soon, though. That was what was throwing him off today. He had a feeling it'd be tonight and he was nervous about shutting himself up in the bathroom again. Alex was getting suspicious.

Reaching the Jacobson's gate he slowed. Tracy Jacobson was a nice portly woman with three kids of her own. Kat often played with them since they were the only nearby children close to her age. Her husband, Chris, was not so nice. He had strong bible-thumping upbringing that dictated he let Mulder and Alex know just how sinful and damned they were every time he saw them. Alex couldn't stand the man and may have seriously contemplated Chris's 'disappearance' except for Mulder's disproval and the man's own family that depended on him.

Mulder, glad that Chris was in town at the time, was pleased to hear that they had indeed offered Katarina a kitten. Tracy pointed out the litter of kittens climbing around in the box near their porch. He turned back towards home, promising to come back later with Kat to pick one out.

On the way back he felt a nervous prickling down his spine. He'd long since learned to listen to that sensation, slipping his hand in his pocket, he pulled out the stiletto and ran faster. He glanced to his left, looking into the trees and ran right into a hunter that had stepped into his path.

Bouncing off its chest, he would have fallen, but the bounty hunter gripped him painfully. ^You smell good, hybrid. Nearly ready...^ His hand snaked down to Mulder's belly.

Nauseated, Mulder hid the stiletto behind him. He bided his time, letting the hunter pull him closer, its nose sniffing at his neck and hair. "What is your people's fascination with my smell? I just took a shower this morning." He lifted his head defiantly, gripping the handle tighter.

^Silence. You will come with me.^ The hunter turned slightly, pulling Mulder along with one hand gripping Mulder's left arm. Mulder whipped up the weapon and slammed it into its neck. Jerking the stiletto free he called out, ^Alex! Watch Kat! They're back!^ he watched the morph dissolve into the leaves. He kicked some more leaves over the green stain and searching the woods around him with his eyes, he set off for the house once more.

^Fox! Are you okay?! I've got Kat. ^

^I'm fine. Stay there, I'm coming...^

He bounded up the porch steps and Alex met him at the front door, pulling him inside. Slamming the door behind them, Alex bolted it and set the security alarm. Kat looked frightened, she sat holding her bear tightly, eyes huge as she stared up at her two fathers.


"I'm fine, honey. It's okay." Mulder scooped his little girl up and sat down with her in his lap on the sofa. Alex paced, grumbling in terse, guttural Russian.

^Alex, heel. You're scaring the child. And stop muttering in Russian, I can't understand you.^

Alex glared at him. ^Good. You don't want to know what I'm saying! Stupid man, going out in the woods by yourself...^ that was all that Mulder understood, the muttering turning back into Russian once more.

Mulder sighed and rocked Kat gently. She was ready for a nap and soon nodded off.

Setting her down, he pulled a cover over her and crossed the room to his agitated lover.

^Relax, please? It's okay. We just need to be careful. I won't run alone anymore-^

^Damn right. What if he'd taken you?^ Alex grabbed Fox and squeezed the breath out of him.

"Oof. Let me get some air." But he smiled and rubbed Alex's back. He had been scared, too. But even more scared at what the hunter had said to him. He worried his lip at this thought.

His thinking was so loud and unguarded that Alex stepped back. ^What did he say? Lisa, tell me! What's going on?^

^It's nothing. I don't know... Can we talk about this later, Kat's upset.^

Alex didn't relent. ^Kat is sleeping. Tell. Me. What's. Wrong.^

Mulder sighed and pointed to the dining room. They closed the door most of the way and sat on the chairs. Mulder looked down at his lap, fingers twisting and clenching. Alex forced himself to calm down a little.

^Come on, tell me, Lisa. No secrets, remember?^ Fox nodded, remembering their promise at the beginning of their relationship, no lying and no hiding important things, honesty came first.

"I'm sorry, I didn't tell you because... I didn't want to admit... I wasn't even sure..." Mulder threw his hands up, not knowing how to start. Alex blew an impatient breath out his pursed lips. "Fox, the longer you hem and haw the more I'm panicking, just spit it out all ready."

Mulder jerked his hands out of Alex's grasp angrily. "I'm turning into some sort of fucking hermaphrodite! Okay?! That blunt enough for you?!" His voice was a harsh whisper, trying not to wake Kat.

Alex leaned back in his chair, a wrinkle above his nose expressed his disbelief. "Huh?" he asked intelligently.

Mulder sighed, his shoulders slumping. "I'm a freak. Okay? My...I'm feeling strange once a month, a warm...I don't know... feeling. It's...arousing and my- my belly is morphing again." Mulder said all of this to his hands, not looking up for fear of seeing disgust on his lover's face.

Alex was silent, trying to wrap his mind around the idea. Mulder gritted his teeth and continued. "I didn't want to- I know it's disgusting... I'M disgusting..."

Alex snapped out of it, "NO, Fox. You aren't. It's...it's going to take some getting used to...but... tell me everything. What did the bounty hunter say to upset you?" he pulled Mulder's hands out of their death grip and rubbed them with his own. Mulder shuddered, eyes closing.

"He said- he said 'You smell good, hybrid.' " Mulder clenched his hands, Alex flinched but didn't let go, "... 'Nearly ready...'" Mulder choked out.

Alex squeezed his hands. "And you think it means-"

"It means I'm in heat or something!" Mulder rasped, he turned his face away in shame. "He was saying..." Alex stood pulling Mulder up with him.

"Shh... You don't know that... Come on, let's go lie down..." Fox resisted, trying to stay in the chair, his face turned to the side.

"Lisa." ^Lisa. Come on, let's get into bed and lay down for a while. We need to rest, you're tired. Come on...^

Mulder opened his eyes, they shone with tears, he looked up searchingly into his lover's eyes. ^Aren't you disgusted? 'I' am... I'm-^

^Stop it! I love you and I'm NOT disgusted at all. Scared, maybe...scared the hunters will be back, but I'm NOT disgusted. Now come on...^ He finally succeeded in pulling Mulder up. Fox stood uncertainly in front of him. He pulled his lover in for a reassuring kiss and rubbed his back. ^It's going to be okay... You'll see. I love you. ^

They started towards the stairs. "Wait! Kat..." Fox started to the couch. Alex stopped him, "I'll get her, how about you go run us a bath? I'll tuck her in and join you. She's tired, she needs a nap."

Fox nodded shakily and started up the stairs. Alex watched him for a moment and then turned to his daughter sleeping peacefully on the couch. He picked her up and putting his nose to her hair, breathed in deeply. Sweet, warm...his only child. He loved her more than he ever thought possible.

A half formed, exhilarated thought ran through his head for just a split second. 'Maybe not the only one possible??' He shoved the thought aside. Mulder needed reassurance right now and the thought of getting pregnant again was NOT soothing to Fox right now. Besides would it even be possible? They didn't know anything about this development. Last time, the rebels had had to impregnate Fox. This...this might be a new development, or some harmless byproduct. They'd worry about it later.

He carried Kat into her room and tucked her in. She barely noticed, snuggling into her pillow and falling back into the kind of deep restful sleep only the truly innocent can enjoy.

Walking into the bathroom he observed his lover half naked, stroking his belly absently. Pulling off his shirt as he approached he met Fox's gaze in the mirror before them. "Are you feeling...weird?" Mulder shook his head. "No...not yet, but... I can tell it'll be soon..."

Alex swallowed and nodded, not sure what to make of that. "You'll tell me...?" Alex asked hesitantly.

Fox nodded, eyes darting to meet his eyes and quickly focus on another point. "Yeah..." Alex nodded with more confidence, "good. You don't have to go through this alone, Fox. I want to help you. How long have you had this-?" he gestured vaguely.

Mulder turned back to face him, holding out an apologetic hand, "About a year after Kat was born. It was so strange..." Alex nodded, trying not to let the hurt show in his eyes. "And you never once thought to tell me?" He tried, but failed in keeping his question neutral.

Fox winced, "I DID. I hated keeping it secret, but..." Alex shrugged the explanation away. "It's okay. I know now. Let's get in, okay?" Alex turned the bath taps off. They had installed a large whirlpool tub a couple of years ago. A luxury they both had agreed on. Alex climbed in and held a hand out. Mulder hesitantly accepted it and climbed in. They sat next to one another for a moment before Alex pulled him into his arms. Fox sighed and wrapped Alex's arms around him, holding on tightly.

"I'm sorry, Alex. I should have told you. I won't let it happen again." His voice broke as he clutched Alex's arms.

Alex planted a kiss on the top of his head. "It's okay..."

They spent the rest of the bath quiet, each wrapped up in their own thoughts as well as each other.

They stayed in the tub longer than they had meant to. The water cooled off and they finally climbed out of the tub together. Drying off, they heard Kat bouncing around on her bed. Mulder dressed slowly while Alex threw on some clothes and went to check on her. She was rejuvenated from her nap and didn't seem to remember her earlier fear. She babbled about her kitten and when they could go get one.

Alex made her calm down by saying they had to eat dinner first and then they'd go over together. He put a pot of water to boil while he made spaghetti sauce. Mulder trudged down the stairs, his eyes a little bloodshot. They made dinner quietly while Kat played with her dolls at the table.

After Mulder dropped the pasta into the pot he turned slightly and was surprised by Alex pulling him into his arms.

^It's okay, Lisa... We'll be fine. Try not to look like you're going to a funeral, hmm?^ He chucked Fox's chin. Mulder gave him a watery smile and hugged him back fiercely. He then sat down with Kat.

Alex usually did the actual cooking. Mulder could make some simple dishes, but his attempts at Italian were terrible. Alex hummed while he spiced the sauce, listening to Kat grill Fox on what kind of cat she could get. Mulder listed all the kittens that were left for adoption. His memory was incredible, there were seven kittens left and he'd only seen them for a moment, but he faithfully listed each kitten and described their colors and dispositions. Kat seemed partial to the fluffy brownish tabby Mulder described.

They ate dinner happily, Mulder put aside his nervousness for Katerina and they talked about the kittens, of course. Kat was so excited that kittens were the only topic she was interested in. They discussed names.

Kat suggested Fluffy, Spot, and Princess. Mulder suggested Spock, Picard, and Enterprise. Alex wrinkled his nose at Mulder's sense of humor. ^I'm serious, babe. I've always wanted a cat named Spock...^

Kat didn't like any of Mulder's names, Alex suggested Kisa.

"Kisa?" Mulder and Kat asked. Alex shrugged, "It means kitten, I thought it was suiting." Kat like it. "Kisa! Kisa! Can we go now, papa?"

They cleaned their plates and hopped in the truck, not risking a walk. Kat happily picked out her squirming kitten. Mulder helped her to the truck while Alex hung back.

He asked Tracy if she'd heard anything odd in the forest lately. She shook her head and Alex said he'd just wondered and thanked her for the kitten. He could see Chris Jacobson's silhouette behind the screen door, but chose to ignore it.

Later that night he and Fox climbed into bed, exhausted. They lay in the bed, close but not touching. Just as he was drifting to sleep he felt Fox nudge him. "Alex?" Fox gasped.

Immediately alert, Alex snapped the light on. "Fox?" His lover had his hands on his belly, and looked at Alex with wary eyes.

"Is it...?"

Mulder nodded, and hesitated, but finally raised his shirt. Alex's eyes dropped to gaze at the slight rippling of the skin. It was in the same spot that had morphed before during the birth. A small slit appeared, no blood, just a fold of skin in appearance.

Alex raised a finger and brushed against it gently. Mulder groaned, his head falling back. "Oh, god... Alex!" Mulder grabbed his hand before Alex could touch him again.

Mulder's eyes were blue-green and slightly dilated. Alex looked back at him questioningly. Fox's expression was caught halfway between lust and fear. Alex eased Mulder's fingers off his wrist and, never leaving his eyes, Alex touched the slit again. Fox's eyes squeezed shut and he moaned louder. Alex rubbed harder, but didn't try to penetrate. Mulder shifted closer and rubbed his erection again Alex's hip.

One hand stayed on the slit, but Alex's other hand met Mulder's eager erection and stroked. Mulder's eyes flew open, his pupils large, swallowing the color of his eyes. Fox's hand joined him at his slit, pushing Alex's hand to rub harder, his other hand sought and found Alex's answering hardness. They rubbed and stroked harder and harder, Alex sought Fox's lips with his own. They kissed passionately, breaking only for short gasps of breath. They erupted together, muffling their cries in each other's necks, trying not to make too much noise.

They lay panting facing one another, Alex kissed his lover again and they both looked down, the slit slowly disappeared, appearing to melt back into smooth skin once more.

Mulder continued to pant, his heart slowly recovering from what was quite possibly the best orgasm of his life. "You know...maybe it's not so bad..." he gasped, he and Alex glanced at one another, it started out as a breathless chuckle, but soon they were giggling hysterically, trying to muffle one another with their hands and lips. They struggled to stop and catch their breath, finally falling asleep once more.

North Carolina woods

October 4, 2004

Monday 10:00 a.m.

Mulder was cleaning up the breakfast plates. Alex watched him over Kat's head; he had her in his lap and she held the book they were reading from. Kat was smart enough to read most of it on her own, so he just listened until she needed help. He was distracted, though.

As they'd fallen asleep last night, Alex had felt optimistic about the incident and what had happened. Mulder had been so secretive, so afraid of the morphing that Alex hadn't been sure what would happen. If it would cause them more pain or grief. If Mulder would let him be with him during it...or if he'd lock him out once more...

Instead it had turned into a wonderful, pleasurable experience. The physical and then emotional release had been freeing. Giggling with his lover like giddy teenagers had given them both the release of tension that had been building all day...actually for many months. He'd noticed the odd behavior of Mulder's for quite a while, but Mulder had refused to talk about it. Now, he'd hoped that that was behind them and they'd be able to talk...move on...

They'd woken up this morning in a tangle of limbs. More close and carefree than they had been in a long while. Alex had smiled, knowing it was probably a goofy grin, and kissed Mulder, morning breath or no. Mulder had responded, at first. Alex had raised his hand between them and caressed Fox's arm, stroking softly and then trailing down his side and then to his stomach where he had stroked him the night before. He'd meant it only as a warm reminder of pleasure... a gentle touch, nothing more.

Mulder had jerked back as if burned and clutched his stomach protectively with both hands, gasping and moving as if he'd been punched. He'd scrambled out of bed as Alex had stuttered an automatic apology; Fox had gone to the bathroom and slammed it shut.

Which of course had woken Kat. Kat had called out for him and he'd quickly thrown on sweatpants before his daughter could barge in the room, since Mulder had unlocked it to get out. Kat had tottered in sleepily clutching her blanket, which trailed behind her. Kisa had been chasing the end of it playfully. He'd scooped up daughter and feline and carried them back to her room to help her get dressed and then headed down to the kitchen to start breakfast. Mulder had loped down halfway through, avoiding Alex's gaze and his mental apology.

^Fox? I'm sorry... I don't know what I did, but - ^

^Don't. It's fine. I'M the one who's sorry. I overreacted. Just forget about it, okay? Want some juice? ^ And that had been it. No further discussion. They'd eaten breakfast with Kat chattering about her kitten nonstop.

Kat stopped reading and tilted her head back to look at her father's chin.

"Papa? What's this word?"

Mulder dumped the dishes in the sink to soak. It was Alex's turn to wash them. He glanced outside. The sky was gray, but no sign of rain, yet. He turned and headed to their bedroom. He was pulling on his running shoes when Alex appeared at the door.


"What?" he snapped, not wanting to be inside his own head. Alex's look changed from hesitant reprimand to a flash of anger.

^You know DAMN well what. You promised not to run outside alone again... you promised yesterday. Are you already going to take it back?! It isn't safe...^

Mulder wanted to yell, but didn't want to disturb Kat. ^It's NEVER safe. Never. I'm locked up in a house in the middle of nowhere minding my own business and it isn't safe. My own fucking body isn't safe... I need to get out and get some fresh air! You of all people should understand that need! ^

Alex closed his eyes and breathed deeply. ^ I do. I DO. Why can't we all go for a walk together, then? I just don't want you out there all alone. Can't you understand that? I could use a walk myself. Now that you mention it... now I REALLY need a walk. Can't we come? ^ Alex knew he was begging, but he was desperate. Mulder couldn't go out alone. And now...now his own claustrophobia was itching at him, the walls too close together... He had to get out of the house no matter what. He could barely make himself wait for Mulder to finally nod and give in.

^All right. You're right. I'm sorry. Wanna go for a walk? ^ He smiled crookedly, offering his apology.

Alex nodded briskly. "Let's go." He pulled Fox into a tight hug and then bounded down the stairs calling to Kat. Mulder watched him go. 'I shouldn't have mentioned his claustrophobia. How cruel can I be?' He also felt bad for pushing Alex away. His family meant everything to him. Still, he had this terrible desire to just get away from them... take off on his own...just for a little while.

Mulder closed his eyes, he struggled to get his wild emotions under control and push the hostile, defensive feelings away and focus on taking a walk with Kat and Alex. He'd only taken a moment, but he heard them outside already calling for him.

"Daddy!! Daddy, come ON!!"

"Fox! Coming?!"

He looked out the window, down to the backyard. Kat was jumping up and down and Alex was holding her hand. They had their jackets on, Kat's was purple, her favorite color. Alex wore a denim jacket. He looked sexy and just a little rugged, the front of his new plaid shirt peeking out under it. Mulder smiled affectionately and waved. "Coming!!" He turned away and grabbed his jacket. His mood had improved already.

It was a pleasant walk. After the first ten minutes or so. At first Alex walked briskly, his face turned to the sky as he breathed deeply. Mulder had been a little keyed up still, but as they'd crossed into the tree line he'd felt more relaxed and he'd grabbed Alex's hand, squeezing it reassuringly. His lover had glanced at him, green eyes and long lashes, and his hand had been squeezed back in answer.

They'd followed as Kat ambled on ahead of them. Grabbing twigs and leaves she just HAD to take back for Kisa. She found some poison ivy and Fox had grabbed her hand 'just' before she touched it. He showed her how to count the leaves and to always be careful if she didn't know if it was or wasn't poison ivy or oak. She'd nodded in awe then studied the plant most curiously. Mulder watched her and wondered if she'd eventually try touching it just to test the theory of its effects. She was such a little scientist sometimes. Probably her Aunt Dana's influence. Not just the scientific interest, but also the lack of belief in Mulder's assertions.

They finally returned to the house and hungrily started a quick lunch. They were running low on supplies so Alex made a list and they went to town for groceries and other errands.

North Carolina woods

October 12 2004

Tuesday 2:15 p.m.

Mulder was washing dishes when he heard it. "Daddeeee!" His daughter shrieked. He dropped the dish in his hands; it shattered on the floor, and ran into the living room, his hands covered in suds. Kat was crouched by the door. He dropped to his knees behind her and put his hands on her shoulders, peering over her head he saw Kisa batting at...something.

He looked closely; it was a small dark brown mouse. Kisa was pouncing and batting at the rodent, but not sure what to do with it when she caught it so she'd let go and then pounce on it again. The little animal ran in panicked circles as the larger feline played with it.

"Daddy! Stop it! Help!" Kat was watching tearfully at the disturbing display of Mother Nature's food chain.

Fox nimbly caught the mouse before Kisa could bat it again. Holding it by the tail he transferred it to his other cupped hand. Kat smiled gratefully up at him, wiping a tear from her eye. He felt his heart swell. 'It's nice to be a hero.' He thought wryly. He held it to out to her for her to see it was okay. She tentatively petted it with her finger; she smiled again.

"Can I keep him, daddy?" She looked up hopefully. Mulder frowned slightly; he wasn't thrilled with the idea of a mouse as a pet. She was looking at him with her big hazel eyes fringed with long lashes. Alex's lashes. He caved.

"Okay. You know...he reminds me of someone..." Mulder held him up closer and looked at the little creature. The mouse's head perked up and his little nose twitched in the air. Mulder laughed, "I know! He reminds me of Papa Alex!" He chuckled to himself and Kat chortled with glee.

"How about we name him Sasha?" Kat scrunched up her face and then beamed, "Yeah! Come on Sasha..." She reached for the mouse.

"Wait a sec. We're going to have to make him a little cage or something. They hunted around the house, finally coming up with a make shift little home for the mouse. A shoebox with many air holes.

Kisa, of course, found the mouse's temporary home to be extremely entertaining. They had to put it up on a bookshelf high enough away from the kitten to prevent any unfortunate mishaps. Kat went back to coloring in her book and Mulder went back to the dishes. Finishing, he started working on his computer.

Alex finally came in an hour later. He was stopped by his daughter running up and grabbing his knees. "Papa! We caught a mouse!"

Alex smiled down at her. "You did? What did you do with it?" He set down his tools. Kat pointed to the bookshelf excitedly. Alex frowned at Mulder, but dutifully went to admire the rodent as she opened the lid.

^Fox? Why are we keeping a rodent on the book case??^

^She wanted him. Kisa was playing with it and going to kill it, but Kat wanted me to rescue him. We've named him...^

"Daddy and I named him Sasha!" Kat crowed.

Alex looked back at his lover with baleful eyes. "Oh?"

Fox smothered a smile. "He reminded me of someone...his little nose twitching, his cute little furry rat face..." Alex glared.

Kat jumped up and down. "We named him after you!" She ran off to get her picture she'd drawn of Sasha.

Alex sat down next to Fox on the couch. "Thanks, Mulder...thanks a lot."

"Ohhh, come on, Alex. You've got to admit it's cute...just like you. Fox tweaked his nose playfully. Alex mock-glared at him, but then kissed him. Kat bounced back in with her picture.

The next day they drove to town and bought a proper habitat for the mouse, complete with little wood chips, food, and wheel. The mouse seemed pretty intelligent. It performed wonderful acrobatic feats much to Kat's delight. It also managed to escape within an hour of moving into its new home.

Alex caught him before Kisa found out and returned him to the cage, firmly shutting the lid. 'Maybe he is a little like me.' He smirked. Sasha looked up at him, nose twitching in agreement.

The next day was Fox's birthday so Alex made beef stroganoff from scratch with chocolate cake for dessert. They sat around, stuffed and happy as they all sat on the couch together to watch a video. Mulder's head rested on Alex's shoulder, Kat sat upside down next to them. She kept twitching and turning and changing positions, but her favorite position was with her back on the seat cushion, legs up on the couch back, her little stocking feat in the air. Alex had shaken his head at it the first few times, but now it was a common sight.

Since it was Mulder's birthday it was Mulder's choice of video. They watched Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, his favorite sci fi movie. Kat found it interesting enough, Alex tolerated it as it was one of the better Star Trek movies and Fox was happy to loudly proclaim his favorite lines.

As the movie ended sadly, poor Spock dead and gone (for the moment...) Mulder sighed contently.

"So... now 'The Search for Spock?'" Fox asked hopefully.

Alex groaned.

During the last 5 years, the two alien races had been through much upheaval. After the loss of the only known successful hybrid (Hybrid 1013 a.k.a. Fox Mulder) the colonists became concerned with possible mutiny from their morph servants, the bounty hunters.

The successive failures in recapturing the hybrid led to attempts by the colonists to recreate their success in other hybrid experiments. The hybrids initially created failed if changed during adulthood. 1013's progressive change during and after childhood was proven as the only successful way to breed compatible and fertile hybrids.

Which led to new experiments with children. The experiments showed evidence of future success, but would require some time to produce results. As the morph race was running out of time, the hybrids were needed quicker than the normal maturation period required, the colonists attempted to accelerate growth. It failed.

The colonists continued to experiment with mixed to poor results; the hunters grew restless and doubtful at the colonists' chance to duplicate their success and began to consider working with their own scientists once more. The rebel scientists were the ones to complete 1013's experiment. Perhaps it was THEIR work that had produced the desired results... perhaps the morph race would fare better on their own attempts...

But not all hunters agreed; some remained loyal to the colonist cause. But many...many began to work in secret. The rebels were contacted and were shocked to discover that Hybrid 1013 had survived and escaped their ship. The rebel scientist that had freed it was arrested and executed for working against his people.

Two rebel ships were sent to retrieve the hybrid. It was still uncertain whether they would be ordered to execute the hybrid as impure or to continue experiments with it in the attempt to save their race through hybridization. Their government was divided on the issue and the hybrid's fate would be decided by whichever sect was currently in power when found.

Thus, both races and all of their subdivisions were all working in secret against one another. They differed in methods, ideals, and each sought to undermine the other. There was only one commonality amongst them.

All concerned were sure of one thing: Hybrid 1013 must be captured at all costs...

North Carolina woods

October 31 2004

11:23 p.m.

Alex climbed into bed, tiredly. Kat was finally asleep, tummy ache eased by some Tums and ginger ale. She and Mulder had finished off a large tub of candy that evening. Unfortunately for Alex, the candy hadn't given Mulder a tummy ache...it had given him a sugar high. One that he still wasn't over yet.

Fox entered the room, stripping off his sweater jeans and his black socks with glow-in-the-dark pumpkins on them. Alex lay on his back, one arm thrown over his eyes, hoping Fox would take pity on him and just climb in bed and turn out the light. No such luck. Mulder flopped onto the bed with a bounce and playfully lifted Alex's arm and peeked at him.

"Aleexx? You aren't going to sleep already, are you??" Mulder stroked his hand down Alex's stomach and down one thigh. Two green eyes stared up balefully at his giddy lover. Apparently sugar was an aphrodisiac for Mulder. Alex moved his arm up and pulled Mulder's head down for a kiss. His lover began to respond with interest just as Alex broke it off and said, "'Night." Alex rolled over; his back to Mulder and shut his eyes.

Fox sulked; pulling on sweats and huffily turned out the light. Alex turned over and pulled Fox into an embrace and nuzzled his nose into Mulder's neck, falling asleep shortly after. Fox lay in the dark unable to sleep just yet. He stared at the ceiling while he counted sheep. He was just drifting off when he heard the door open and Kat patter into the room. She held her blanket in one hand and Kisa in another. Kisa looked pissed at being held so sloppily.

"What's wrong, 'punkin?' Mulder whispered. Kat's big eyes looked pleadingly into his, "There's ghosts outside, daddy. Can I sleep in here?" Mulder sighed; he shouldn't have let her watch poltergeist on TV with him. He nodded and pulled back the covers. He was suddenly glad they'd put on p.j.'s since it was cold tonight. Alex grunted when he nudged him, but didn't waken. He shoved and Alex muttered, gibberish or Russian, Mulder wasn't sure. He then rolled away, giving Kat room to crawl into bed. Kat relaxed her hold on Kisa and the kitten skittered to the foot of the bed and licked herself clean from the undignified embrace.

Kat snuggled close to Fox and he patted her back reassuringly. He could hear her scared thoughts rushing around inside her head. She'd heard something outside and looked out the window and seen strange shapes. She KNEW they were ghosts and monsters coming to eat her up. Mulder stroked her hair and sent a warm reassuring feeling to her mind. She closed her eyes and her thoughts grew less scared until she fell asleep, deadweight in his arms. Mulder remained awake the rest of the night.

There was a loud thwack and a sudden burst of light woke Mulder up from sound sleep. He jerked up in bed, opening his eyes only to quickly squeeze them shut, hand clutched over them.

"Ugh! What's the matter with you?!" Mulder groaned.

Alex smiled evilly, his hand still on the cord for the blinds. He dropped it and walked over to his grumpy lover. "Good morning, Mary Sunshine!" He singsonged into Fox's ear. "Oh, I'm sorry...I mean, Mulder Sunshine. Up and at 'em, lover!!" He poked Fox's arm.

Mulder jerked his arm away and kept his other hand on his eyes. "Go away!!"

Alex huffed and bounced on the bed. "Come on! You were wanting my attention last night...well, you've got it now."

Mulder risked his eyes for the reward in glaring balefully at his over chipper lover. "THAT was last night. This is the crack of dawn. GO A-WAY!" He threw his arm over his face and tried to recapture his earlier rest.

Alex cleared his throat.


Alex harrumphed again. Mulder jerked his arm down again and glared at him. "What?!"

"Nothing. Just that is NOT the crack of dawn. It's noon. Just thought you'd like to join the land of the living..."

Mulder looked at him for a moment then scrambled to look at the clock: 12:03. He groaned and dropped his head back on his pillow. Alex took pity on him and lowered the blinds halfway. He came back and sat next to Mulder on the bed. "Rough night?" He rubbed Fox's arm apologetically.

"You could say that. I couldn't sleep and Kat came in scared of monsters outside. I stayed up a long time. Mostly because I couldn't sleep and also I wanted to make sure she didn't have any nightmares." Mulder yawned and finally tried to get out of bed without tripping on the covers.

"I was going to ask you why she was in our bed this morning. She didn't say. I made her French toast and she seemed okay." Mulder nodded absently before he closed the bathroom door.

Mulder joined them at the table for lunch. Kat seemed fine. She chattered about her pets and dolls. She asked to play at the Jacobsons' and Alex said he'd drive her over. Fox shook his head when asked to come so Alex reminded him to set the alarm and be careful.

The two left shortly after and Mulder sighed at having the house to himself for the moment. He grabbed another cup of coffee and headed to his computer to check his e-mail. He felt as if he was being watched. He decided to be safe and checked the house, security system and then looked out the windows. Nothing. Returning to his computer he couldn't shake the feeling.

Alex returned moments later and Fox met him at the door. "Hey, Lisa. You okay?" Mulder nodded and held out the pin. Alex accepted and pricked a finger tip. "See? Still me." Fox hugged him. Their little ritual gave them both a peace of mind. Alex's finger still held the drop of blood so Fox grabbed his hand and sucked the finger into his mouth. Alex's eyes darkened and his breath sped up. They hopped up the stairs as fast as possible with their hands clutching one another.

Afterwards, they lay in post-coital daze, Alex's hands trailing over Mulder's stomach languidly. Fox had a small smile on his face and he hated to have to disturb it, but it had been almost a month and they STILL hadn't talked about 'it.'

Mulder frowned slightly, his glow diminishing rapidly. He sighed and then rolled to his side, facing Alex with his head propped up on his arm. "Okay...let's talk, then."

It was always somehow easier and more frustrating to live with a telepath. "Lisa, you know we have to. We've avoided this long enough..."

Mulder rolled his eyes, but nodded. "I know, I know...I just don't want to think about it."

Alex nodded sympathetically, his hand reaching out to trace Fox's shoulder. They stayed quiet, looking into one another's eyes for a long moment. Alex leaned forward and kissed him again. "It will be coming up again soon, won't it?"

Mulder nodded, "Yes, that's partly why I've had trouble sleeping, I guess... I feel a little jumpy, nervous..."

Alex dropped his hand down to Mulder's. "There's no reason to be, Fox. What we did last time. Didn't you like it?" Mulder blushed slightly and studied the quilt. "Yes... but-"


"But, you didn't...you weren't disgusted, where you? I mean it's..."

Alex squeezed the hand he held. "No, not at all. Actually...it was pretty erotic...different. I liked it. And maybe...when you're ready..." Mulder looked up shocked.

"You mean...? No! What if I DID get pregnant?!" Mulder pulled his hand away and sat up on the bed.

Alex sat up, too. "Okay! Okay, I'm sorry. I DID say when and I also mean IF. We don't have to do anything you don't want to do. But, maybe someday...you may want to?" Alex looked into Fox's eyes hopefully.

Fox looked confused, "You mean...you want to have another baby? You'd...you'd want to get me pregnant?" He was whispering, his voice slightly choked. Alex knew he was on incredibly shaky ground, but honesty was too important between them. He took a deep breath.

"Honestly? Yes. I love Katerina so much...I never thought I'd have kids...hell, I never thought I'd live to have one at all, much less raise her with someone I love...with you. And...well, maybe I'm greedy, but I want her to have a brother or sister. Maybe more than one. My family wasn't always happy, but my brother and sisters and I stuck together, we had each other... I love them. I want that for Kat, too. And I want another child to love and raise with you."

He held out his hand to Fox, his eyes wet and his hand was shaking slightly. Mulder's eyes were wet; too, he looked down at Alex's hand. He finally grabbed the offered hand and clutched it tightly.

"Fox? What do YOU want?" Alex asked. Mulder shook his head.

"I don't know. I don't know...I...my family...well YOU know. And my sister...I was pretty much an only child I guess... I was four when she was born and twelve when she was taken. The years in between...I can't remember much of them. The tests...I guess they messed my memory up pretty badly. What I DO remember...I remember typical older brother stuff. You know, she was always in my stuff, I remember her tagging along whenever I went out...I remember baby-sitting..." his voice was choked, Alex squeezed his hand, "...but I DO remember I loved her...more than anything, really. Mom and Dad...they were so distant...always, we were together... You're right; I guess siblings ARE important. But...Alex...I don't know if I can..." He was crying now, tears streaking down his cheeks. Alex shushed him and pulled him into a fierce hug.

When Mulder finally quieted down Alex leaned back, still holding his shoulders.

"Lisa...listen, like I said...when and if you are ready or want to...we'll decide then. Okay? For now, though...we can still be together when your...'cycle' comes, right?" Fox gave a choked laugh, "Yeah...it WAS pretty good, huh?" He wiped his tears roughly with the back of his hand. Alex repeated his gesture, but much more gently, wiping the tears with his thumbs. He reached over and got a tissue for Mulder's nose and put his hand on Fox's knee and squeezed. "Yes...it was." He smiled at Mulder reassuringly and was rewarded with a genuine smile from his lover.

It would be okay... It would.

Scully shoved a lock of hair out of her face in irritation and turned back to her paperwork. God, her work was boring. Ever since Mulder's abduction she'd missed the excitement of working on the X-Files with him. Not that she'd realized it at the time. She'd bitched and complained about looking for vampires, ghosts, and whatever else Mulder would dig up. But now...now she realized just how good she'd had it. If she could go back and do it over again she would enjoy the cases more. Now...now she was stuck autopsying the most boring cases imaginable. Sure, she was good at her job...and sure her job was important and worthwhile...it helped capture and prosecute criminals. But...it was boring and tedious and she found herself missing Mulder's off beat humor and his odd theories.

She missed her friend terribly. Her brief visits with Mulder and his family just wasn't enough sometimes. She sighed as she considered the people in her life now. Her family was okay, but her mom had decided to move in with her brother's family in California. Leaving her alone on the East Coast. Work was no better. Dogget was boring. Reyes was odd, but not nearly as interesting or charismatic as Mulder. And Skinner...Skinner seemed to be in a permanent bad mood the last 5 years. He had always been by the book, often surly, but he had always been fair and tried to look out for his agents, particularly Mulder and Scully.

Now? Now he didn't seem to care anything. He was harsh, quick to reprimand and seemed to live in his office even more than before. There was plenty of gossip around the bullpen. The latest rumor was that he really WAS living in his office. Some said he slept on his sofa. Others said they saw a spare suit hanging in his private bathroom and that there was a toothbrush on the sink. No one saw him working out at the FBI gym anymore. His skin was taking on a permanent pasty gray tone and he had rings under his eyes most of the time. Scully was worried, but she couldn't seem to get through to him, he avoided her like the plague.

Scully threw her pen down on her desk and pushed back with a sigh. Things just weren't the same...

Skinner pushed back from his desk with a weary sigh. He glanced out the window. The sun was setting, lending a purple hue to the sky. He stretched, hearing his joints pop. He was stiff all over; he'd been sitting too long in one position over his desk. He frowned at the work before him. He was doing pointless paperwork that he usually would have avoided, but he'd decided to do for some reason. He glanced at the sofa. Too many nights spent on it. It would look bad to stay here again tonight. He had a feeling that he was gaining a bad reputation. Fuck it, what did he care? He didn't. But maybe he'd go home anyway. His suit was getting ripe and he wanted a drink...badly.

He grabbed his briefcase and stuffed his work in it. Something to do at home. He turned out his light and walked down the hall to the elevators. The janitor waved goodbye to him, he ignored it, stabbing the elevator button with more force than necessary. When it arrived he reached for the Lobby button, but for some reason he hit the basement button. He closed his eyes, 'why am I doing this to myself?' he wondered, but he couldn't resist. He walked quietly to the X-Files office, opening the door, it was unlocked, but no one inside. He flicked on the light. Empty, quiet. Doggett and Reyes saw no pressing need to stay after hours. Why should they? It was just a job to them. A usually distasteful one at that. Mulder's poster and articles were all gone from the walls. The room was less cluttered, more boring...more businesslike. He turned and shut the door with a bang. He headed home to a nice Scotch and another long night with his paperwork.

North Carolina woods

November 5th 2004

Friday 10:34 p.m.

Kat was fast asleep in her room, Kisa was curled up beside her, purring. Alex smiled and tucked her in. She was 'so' beautiful. His beautiful daughter. She was definitely going to be a heartbreaker someday. She had long dark brown hair, long lashes and Mulder's hazel eyes. They changed color depending on what color she wore or what mood she was in. He was going to be beating the boys off their porch with a stick.

'No, with my Glock.' He made a mental note to make sure he had extra ammunition when she was a teenager. He kissed her on the forehead and pushed back a lock of hair from her face. Beautiful.

He shut the door behind him all but a crack, so Kisa could get in and out. He moved down the hall to his bedroom. Mulder was already in bed, waiting. Tonight was the night. Alex felt a small thrill go through him, he was feeling pretty excited already. His cock stirred at the sight of Mulder stretched out, naked under the covers. He closed and locked the door behind him, unbuttoning his shirt as he walked over to the bed.

Mulder's eyes had been closed; they opened at the sound of the door and his green-gold eyes raked over his body hungrily. He stretched like a cat, arching his back. Alex licked his lips and his hands went to the waistband of his pants.

"No, let me do that." Mulder stood up, the covers falling from his body as he padded around the bed and pushed up against him. He kissed Alex slowly...deeply, as his fingers trailed down his chest to his waist. Alex shivered, his lips parting wider to deepen the kiss. Mulder stepped back, his fingers nimbly unbuttoning the pants as he watched his lover. Alex's cupid bow lips were pink and swollen from the kiss. His dark green eyes were open half-mast as he stared hungrily back at him. Mulder hummed appreciatively, leaning in again to nuzzle his neck.

Alex groaned in response and breathed in deeply. Fox smelled...warm, slightly musky. Very arousing. He breathed deeper; the smell was almost intoxicating. His hands reached behind Mulder's back, pulling his lover closer as he buried his nose in the back of Mulder's neck.

Mulder stiffened slightly, Alex was snuffling at his neck much like the hunters did. Alex continued to press his nose to his neck. ^Alex? What are you up to?^ he tried to keep the thought playful, but his insides were beginning to clench. His lover didn't seem to notice.

^Mmmmm, you smell sooo good, Lisa... mmmmm....^ Mulder felt a nervous twinge, he pushed lightly against his lover's chest, Alex's hold tightened. Mulder panicked, pushing harder. Alex's hands gripped his shoulders painfully; Mulder's breathing became hitched gasps, tears running down his face. "No! Don't!" he shoved hard just as Alex released him, sending the younger man tumbling to the floor. Mulder stood before him shaking, then took a step back and sat down hard on the foot of the bed. Alex's eyes were wide with shock. "Fox?"

Mulder raised his hands to cover his face. Alex pushed up to his knees before his lover and held out a hand tentatively. "Fox? What's wrong? Did I do something to hurt you?" he gently brushed a hand to his lover's shoulder and quickly jerked it back when Fox flinched. Mulder took a deep breath and dropped his hands.

"No. I'm sorry, I just... you were...sniffing me and then you wouldn't let go." He looked embarrassed. Alex was torn between frustrated irritation and genuine regret. "Well...I'm sorry, Lisa. I didn't mean to upset you...you just smell so good and you felt so good in my arms. I didn't realize you were unhappy. I'm sorry." He reached again and this time Fox let him touch him.

Mulder shook his head and grabbed his hand. "No. I'M sorry. I overreacted. It just reminded me of...of the hunters, that's all." He took a shaky breath. "Let's forget it, okay?" he tugged on Alex's hands, urging him to join him on the bed. Alex was slow, trying not to startle him. He hadn't meant to remind Mulder of those bastards. Now he felt only regret. Why HAD he been so insistent in holding Mulder close to smell him? He forced the issue out of his mind and went back to slowly stroking Mulder's back as they held each other close. Fox slowly relaxed in his embrace and they returned to their love making once more.

Alex was slow and gentle, but he couldn't help appreciating the smell Mulder seemed to be exuding. He had noticed it somewhat last month, but this time it was more noticeable, stronger. He resisted nuzzling his lover's neck, but couldn't help breathing it in deeply as he stroked his lover's back. Mulder began to moan, softly at first, but then more insistent, Alex leaned back and saw that his lover's belly was rippling again, the slit appearing again. He touched it lightly, Fox groaned into the pillow, stifling the sound as he grabbed Alex's wrist and pressed his hand harder against the opening.

"Alex! Kat! Breakfast!" Mulder flipped another pancake on the griddle. He was getting better at it. The first time he'd made pancakes Alex had decided to 'help' him, meaning he took the batter and spatula and shooed him away. This time he'd gotten up extra early and practiced. The first batch of pancakes was sitting in the trash, this batch seemed edible.

Alex bounded down the stairs, Kat on his shoulders. They swept into the kitchen and Alex kissed him on the cheek and then bent so Kat could kiss Fox, too. Alex then deposited her on a chair and sat down. Mulder proudly presented his pancakes. "Ta da!" They weren't perfect, but they smelled good. They dug in; Alex was sure to praise the attempt. "These are very good, Lisa."

"Thanks. Did you figure out what they are?" Last time Alex had made pancakes he'd made Mickey Mouse ones for Kat. And then for Fox, too, after he'd asked for Marvin the Martian, but settled for Mickey.

Alex frowned at his pancake. It looked normal...round, "Uhhh..." he looked imploringly at Kat who happily munched on her syrupy pancake, ignoring her father's plight. Turning back to Fox he shrugged helplessly. "I give up."

"Flying saucers!" Mulder grinned as he shoved a forkful in his mouth. Alex shook his head ruefully.

North Carolina woods

November 14 2004

Sunday 3:44 p.m.

"Are you sure you can handle that many, Mulder?"

"We did the first time. It'll be less hectic this time. Are you saying you don't want to come? I'll understand if you want to be with your family..."

"No, no! I want to come. I just...Mulder, I'm not sure if Skinner will want to come. He's...he's been...I don't know. Aloof. Unhappy."

Mulder frowned, this was the 5th anniversary of the 'birth,' he'd wanted to have everyone over for the holidays again. The years before had been busy. Scully joined them one Thanksgiving, the gunmen visited at strange times during the year, rarely on a holiday. This year he wanted them all down together.

"Well...maybe he's feeling down, but that just means he needs a holiday away from work all the more. I'll call him, okay? You just clear your schedule as much as you can."

Scully smiled, he was determined to pull this off. Family life definitely agreed with Mulder. Before his abduction he'd avoided holidays whenever possible. Now, he wanted to celebrate. Maybe this 'was' a good idea.

"okay, good luck, Mulder. I've gotta go." They hung up. Mulder sighed, how does one convince a surly Skinner to come to dinner? 'Sounds like a Dr. Seuss title...'

Kat wondered in with a Dr. Seuss book. 'Definitely need to shield your thoughts, Mulder.' He'd been stressed out lately and his thoughts leaking easily to Alex and Kat. He took a swig of his luke warm coffee and focused on his mental barriers. He dialed Skinner's home phone number.

Ring, ring, ring... Nothing. He could be out, it WAS the weekend. But somehow...Mulder doubted it. He called Skinner's office number.

Ring, ring, "A.D. Skinner."

"A.D. Skinner, what are you doing at the office on a Sunday?" Mulder smiled faintly, remembering all the times HE had been in the office on Sundays. He heard a sigh and then, "Mulder? What do you want?" then Skinner's breath quickened as he apparently was hit with a thought, "Are you okay?! Is there something wrong?!" Mulder struggled to get a word in.

"Skinner! I'm fine! Everything's fine. I was just calling for personal reasons." Skinner breathed a sigh of relief and there was a pause. "...What personal reasons?" It must have been the connection, Skinner's voice sounded odd.

"Well, it IS getting close to the holidays and I was wondering if you would join us for Thanksgiving and then later for Christmas and stay for New Year's. As long as you could. It's been five years...Kat's birthday is coming up..." Mulder trailed off, he was getting a bad vibe even across the phone.



"Why?...What do you mean why?" Mulder was flabbergasted. "We want you to come. Scully and the Lone Gunmen are coming. I invited Dr. Reddy, but he's spending it with his family. He sent a card and gift for Kat, though. We're going to send his family a gift and some pictures of Kat. Don't you want to come?" Mulder felt like he was begging.

"I'm not...I don't think I can make it. I'll be sure to send Kat a gift, though." Mulder could sense him about to hang up.

"Stop! Just stop it, Walter Skinner. What is the matter with you? We want you to come. Surely you can get at least one of the holidays off...you could use a break."

On the other side of the phone call Skinner squeezed his eyes shut. 'Shit, even Mulder's heard about me...I DO need a vacation. But this isn't a relaxing idea...' Still, he DID want to see Kat. He hadn't seen her since she was a baby. And Mulder...well, he wanted to see him, too...

"Skinner? Sir, please... Just try, okay?"

Skinner sighed heavily, "I'll see what I can do, Mulder. No promises..." he hung up.

Mulder dropped the phone after switching it off. He sighed and rubbed his forehead. This wasn't going as easy as he'd hoped...

He grabbed his coffee mug and headed to the sink. Alex was outside gathering wood. Kat sat on the couch with her book and kitten. He checked on the stew he was making...'mmm...smells good.' He cleaned up the debris from making it. Saving the carrot and celery ends, he went up to Kat's room to give Sasha a treat. Entering he noticed the cage was empty. "Oh, shit!" He got down on his hands and knees, checking under her bed and in and around her toy box. Nothing. 'shit shit shit!' Mulder knew she'd be heartbroken if they couldn't find him. He stood up and brushed off his knees, sad. Sasha really was a Houdini, he couldn't see how the mouse got out. For all he knew, Kisa might have finally eaten him.

He walked through the house, eyes alert for any signs of Sasha, when Alex came in later they sat Kat down and broke the news. She was predictably upset. Going around the house calling for him like he'd come running out to her. Alex and Fox eyed the kitten suspiciously, but Kisa played around as usual, unconcerned.

November 18 2004

2:45 p.m.

Kat was upset and in need of some distraction so Mulder was watching her favorite video with her in his lap. Kisa curled up next to them on the couch, purring contentedly. Alex decided to haul some more wood in since they were having guests over soon. When the video was over Kat ran to get a toy. He picked up their popcorn bowls and straightened up. He wasn't particularly fussy himself, but Alex liked a clean house.

As Fox heard Alex coming back to the door, he let his lover in, holding the pin out as usual. Alex took it from him and pricked his finger and Mulder kissed it better. Kat was playing in the dining room quietly. Mulder turned away from Alex and headed into the kitchen.

"Want some hot cocoa? It's pretty chilly outside." Alex didn't answer, but he put his hand on Fox's shoulder to stop him.

"What's wrong, babe?" Mulder turned back and looked at him curiously. Alex cocked his head. "Nothing..." but as he said it he blinked and black oil swirled in his eyes.

Mulder jerked back "Alex!"

Krycek's hold on his arm was unbearably strong, Mulder frantically dug at the fingers gripping his shoulder with inhuman strength. "Kat! Run! Go for the Jacobsons'!

Alex's other arm shot out and Fox found himself held immobile in a death grip. "Kat!" He had yet to hear his daughter run away. He continued to struggle as he turned his head towards the dining room, Kat stood there shocked, her hands clutching her doll.

"Daddy!!" Kat watched them fearfully. The alien in Alex's body turned to face their daughter. Mulder suddenly felt a surge of anger and an intense fear for his daughter; he wrenched his shoulders from the Oilean's grip and shoved hard. The body fell to the floor for only a moment before it scrambled back to its feet. Mulder didn't notice, however, as he was grabbing Kat and running out the door.

Not knowing of a better place to go, he raced for the Jacobson's. At the very least he had to get Kat out of the way. He'd have to leave her there and lead the Oilean away from his daughter. He clutched Katerina tight in his arms. She was crying and holding on to him. "Papa! Papa!" Fox didn't know how he could explain anything. He just ran faster.

Arriving at his neighbors' house he pounded on the door. Tracy opened it, but her husband Chris was right behind her, shoving her out of the way.

"What do you want?!" Chris's face was livid at being interrupted from his game and cold beer.

Fox turned, hearing the approach of his lover's possessed body. He turned back frantically, "Please! Take Kat! He's trying to hurt us!" Mulder was gasping.

Tracy reached forward, but Chris shoved her aside once more. "No! Don't let them in! Let the faggots fight it out outside!" he tried to slam the door, but Tracy wrenched it open to take Kat out of Fox's arms.

"Get in!" she cried. Fox gratefully let his daughter go and shook his head, grabbing the doorknob himself to shut it. He turned back and ran away, the oilean following him.

He raced through the forest, hearing the crashing behind him as the possessed body chased him. His heart was pounding, and his mind was panicked. What had happened? Somewhere in the woods Alex had been possessed by the black oil. How? Were there others out here? Was Kat okay with the Jacobsons? Alex. He had told Mulder the horror of the oil. It's cold icy hold over his body. His mind crying out, but no one could help him. He nearly stopped at that thought.

^Alex?!^ ^Alex!!^

Nothing, then...faintly, ^Fox!^

^Alex! I'm here! Help me! Tell me how to help you!^ he ducked under a low limb and kept running, his breathing becoming strained. He hadn't had the chance to run in a while. He wasn't in his top form.

^Fox...I don't...I can't stop it! God, run!^

Mulder tripped on a root and caught himself, but before he could get back up and run he felt an arm clamp down on his shoulder once more.

The Oilean didn't speak, it just jerked him to his feet and began to walk him back towards the house.


He tried to break free and the Oilean twisted his arm painfully. He cried out and stopped struggling. If he tried it again it would break his arm. He tried to contact his lover again.

^Alex! Where is it taking us? Can you read it's thoughts? I can't...^

^Not really. It has plans for you inside the house. That's all I know.^

^How did it get you?^ Fox struggled to stay on his feet as the oilean marched him faster.

^I came across a deer hunter, or at least I thought so. He came up and there was a bright flash as the oil leaped out and into me...^

They had arrived back at the house. The oilean thrust him in a chair and turned to face the kitchen. A bounty hunter stepped out of the shadows. Mulder's felt the panic turn to icy dread.

The hunter stalked up to him, his face showing a glimmer of amusement across it's hard features. Mulder flinched as it came close.

It leaned down and sniffed him, ^Not yet, hybrid...but soon enough.^ The oilean stepped in front of the hybrid and 'spoke' for the first time.

^This is not the time or place for such behavior. We must wait for the ship. Once on board we will continue experimentation and you will be given the chance to impregnate him when we are ready. Not before.^

The bounty hunter seemed ready to argue, Mulder couldn't see what had exactly, but the hunter's face flashed in fear and it suddenly morphed: sealing its orifices as the rebels did.

The oilean finally backed down, stepping behind Mulder once more. The hunter didn't react right away, but finally morphed back to its preferred form. The hunter nodded submissively and backed away, returning with rope.

Both Oilean and Hunter jerked Mulder to his feet. Alex cried out to him in his head, but Mulder was too despondent to answer. Alex couldn't help him now...

They tied Mulder to the headboard and left him there. Fox tugged on the ropes until the skin tore and bled. He banged his head back on the bed and cried.

The police received a call from Tracy Jacobson, wife of Chris Jacobson who owned a small homestead in the nearby woods.

Tracy Jacobson reported a domestic abuse at the Krycek home. Apparently the domestic partner, Fox Wm. Mulder, left his daughter, Katerina Krycek at the Jacobson's home while fleeing his lover (Alex Krycek) from the scene.

Tracy Jacobson stated that F. Mulder claimed his lover was trying to hurt them and needed to leave Katerina with them for fear of her safety. She tried to get Mr. Mulder to come inside, but he refused, running further into the woods as she saw Mr. Krycek pursue him. There was no reported weapon seen, but Tracy Jacobson said that Mr. Krycek seemed a dangerous man and she feared for Mr. Mulder's safety. Chris Jacobson noted that the two were "faggoty queens" and most likely playing some sex game out in the woods. He felt that they should both be arrested, but was uncertain of the proper charge.

Also noted was a possible charge of child endangerment if the first charge is proven true. The child is reported to be adopted and may be taken from the home and placed in Foster care until the matter can be resolved.

Deputy Williams and Deputy Collins were ordered to report to the scene.

Skinner slammed down the phone. He read the report that was faxed to him from the police department in North Carolina. He'd left strict instructions there to contact him if any trouble was reported near the Krycek home.

His teeth ground at reading the report. He grabbed the phone to call Scully.

He knew Alex Krycek was no good... Mulder may lose his daughter over this. If Mulder was even still alive.

Scully threw her luggage into the trunk of the rental car. She slammed the trunk closed quickly and hopped into the passenger seat. Skinner took off before her door was completely shut. She stifled an angry protest, knowing it would only make the tension between her and Skinner worse.

Skinner drove like a mad man. Racing ten to twenty miles above the limit. She gritted her teeth and kept quiet. This was unusual behavior of a man that was always so strict and law abiding. But she couldn't fault his impatience. Mulder had not been seen in 48 hours. Two policemen had gone to check the woods were the two men had last been seen in and then checked the Krycek house. They had reported nothing unusual, saying the house seemed empty and there was no sign of a break in or struggle. They found a door unlocked in the back and had stated they would check out the interior and then report back.

The two officers were not heard from again.

They were planning to send reinforcements immediately, but Skinner had warned against it. He was taking over the investigation and ordered them to wait until he got there. Which was why they were in such a hurry.

Skinner seemed torn between two theories: the bounty hunters were back or Krycek had shown his true colors and had possibly killed Mulder and two policemen.

The car screeched to a halt and she put her hand to the dashboard in reflex. Skinner was halfway out the door before she recovered enough to unfasten her seatbelt.

Skinner strode through the office. The local sheriff filled them in on recent developments. Namely: none.

Scully scanned the area around her. Through the glass of a nearby door she could see Katerina was sitting in another office with a cookie and milk on the desk before her. She was staring at the desk sadly, unmoving. Scully left Skinner's side and went to the little girl's side.

"Kat, honey, it's your Aunt Dana. Are you okay?" She squatted down next to Kat's chair and patted her back. Kat didn't look up, shrugging her shoulders.

"Kat? Tell me what's wrong?"

Kat finally looked up, her eyes filled with tears. "Daddy's hurt. And Papa..."

Scully tried to stay calm and gentle. "Can you tell me what happened, sweetie?"

A potbellied man in a brown police uniform entered the office in time to hear Scully's question. His balding head and dull gray eyes did nothing to improve his appearance. In loud booming voice he proclaimed, "One of her faggot fathers went after the other. End of story."

Scully stood up and was ready to lash out when Kat sprang off her chair. "My papa didn't hurt Daddy! It was the black stuff!"

Scully turned back to the little girl. "What black stuff, honey?" Kat glared at the man for a minute and turned to her Aunt. "Papa came in from chopping and his eyes were black."


"Wood. He chopped wood."

Scully picked Kat up and sat her on the desk. "Then what? He came in and what was wrong with his eyes?"

"They were black. Not at first, but he grabbed Daddy and his eyes went black."

"You saw all this?"

"Yes, I was playing, but I wanted to ask Papa Alex for another mouse. But then I saw his eyes... Daddy yelled for me to run, but I was scared." Kat trembled.

Scully put her arm around her. "What happened then?"

"Daddy Fox got mad when...when the oil man looked at me and he SHOVED him down and grabbed me an' ran all the way to the Jaco'son's." Kat was crying again.

Scully turned to the fat cop with her hand on her hip. "Did anyone ask Kat what happened?" The cop glared back at her. "Lady the kid's too young. She's describing the Tin Man. Oil man." he sneered. Scully decided to ignore him and looked over his shoulder and waved to get Skinner's attention. He glanced up and nodding, he strode into the office.

"What's going on?" he rumbled.

"No one bothered to listen to listen to Kat. She saw what happened. She says that Alex went out to chop wood and when he came back his eyes were black and he grabbed Mulder. She called him the Oil man. Sound familiar?"

Skinner glanced down at the little girl, she looked back up frightened, but curious.

"Anything else?"

Scully turned back to the little girl. "It's okay, Kat. You're helping your daddy and papa by talking to us. Can you tell me what happened after Mul- your daddy ran to the Jacobson's with you?"

Kat nodded vigorously, proud to help her fathers. "Yes. He ran all the way. Fast. I was crying but he kept running. Mrs. Jaco'son opened the door, but Mr. Jaco'son wouldn't let us in. He called daddy and papa a BAD word." She glared at the fat cop to show she knew the 'f' word was bad. The cop averted his eyes, but otherwise didn't respond. Scully nodded. "...and then...Daddy begged them to let me in an' Mr. Jaco'son said no and shut the door, but MRS. Jaco'son took me. And she wanted Daddy to come in, but Daddy said no and closed the door." She started crying again. "I want my daddy! Where's daddy? I want Papa..."

Scully picked her up and patted her back; over her shoulder she looked at Skinner. Skinner was seething. "WHERE is this Mr. Jacobson?" The cop looked startled, another cop behind him shook his head regretfully. "Chris Jacobson said he didn't think the situation was that bad. He thought it was just a lovers' squabble and..."

"I asked WHERE is he?"

Scully caught his eye, "Sir, I don't think now is the time to discuss this. We need to find Mulder and Alex as soon as possible. Skinner ground his teeth but agreed. The men left the office to scramble together as large a force possible to go hunting for the men. Their main target would be the house as the policemen disappeared from there.

Scully remained behind for a moment to soothe Kat before leaving. "Aunt Dana?"

"Yes, honey?"

"Daddy doesn't want you and Mr. Skinner to come yet."

Scully frowned and sat down next to her. "What do you mean? When did you talk to him?"

"Just now. He says to tell you I can hear him, but he can't get through to you. He says that the men that came to the house are dead and to stay away. He says he'll tell me when it's safe to come."

North Carolina woods.

November 20 2004

Mulder lay on the bed, his hands were numb, but that was a blessing since he'd rubbed the skin on his wrists bloody. He stared at the hunter standing before him. He had been in the room for about two days and he'd only been let up for the bathroom so far. The hunter took him there and was also the one who fed him. The oilean seemed content to watch.

He missed his lover dreadfully. Alex still talked to him occasionally, but the effort was exhausting the younger man. Alex's body didn't look good; his skin was pasty and his eyes had dark circles forming. The oilean didn't appear to sleep at all. Mulder wondered how long the oilean could make the body last at this rate. And how long before the ship came?

He sensed Scully and Skinner through his daughter. His link with Kat was fairly strong, but he had avoided contacting her because she was so scared. When he'd sensed that Skinner and Scully would be coming he'd risked it. He had to keep them away. When the two policemen had come to investigate, the aliens had unlocked the door and remained inside. The oilean had killed the men with a flash of radiation. Alex had screamed in his mind. The bloodcurdling mental scream had been brief, but exhausting for Mulder and Alex. The aliens remained unmoved.

If Scully and Skinner or any other humans came they would die horribly. He had to free himself. Alex was trapped and Mulder couldn't think of how to rid his lover of the oil.


The oilean watched the hybrid with interest. The oil was intelligent, but it was a lower form of the colonists. It was only an agent. It had no corporeal body; it was either in its natural liquid state or in a physical host. It currently inhabited a body that had encountered the oil before. The oil enjoyed being in the physical body. It intrigued the oil. The host's mental state was in anguish as its mate was being threatened and its own body was not in its control. The human's emotions made the oil feel emotions...something it couldn't feel in liquid state. The oil had been thrilled by the initial burst of feelings and terror in the host. But as time passed, the host became tired. Drained. It's feelings depressed.

The oil longed to feel the terror again. To feel 'alive' again. So it decided to play. After all, the ship wasn't here, yet.

Mulder lay back watching the aliens watch him. After days of relative inactivity, the oil being rose from its chair. Alex's voice came out of Alex's mouth, but the voice was dead, no emotion or life in it.

"I wish to experiment."

The bounty hunter looked up, surprised. Their orders were to capture and wait. Not experiment. The alien considered protesting, but the oilean was his superior, he remained silent, unmoving. The oilean ignored the hunter and approached the bed. Mulder stiffened.

Alex's body stalked around the bed to the side that Mulder was tied to. It sat down and leaned forward, wanting to smell the hybrid's scent that so excited the human and morph. It analyzed the smell and noted the unusually strong pheromones, but didn't feel any physiological effects. The host's body did, however. The mental being of the host stirred from its depression.

This excited, but did not satisfy the oilean. Lust was not as interesting as fear. Hate. Terror.

Mulder clenched his numb hands as best he could and steeled himself for whatever the oilean had planned. 'Alex' leaned over and smiled coldly, trailing a hand over Fox's face until it reached his chin. Grabbing it, the oilean raised Mulder's face and kissed him savagely. Biting Fox's lower lip until it bled. Mulder grunted, but said nothing, but his eyes betrayed his fear.

Inside his head Mulder heard his lover shout with renewed strength at the oil. ^God! Stop! Leave him alone! ^

The oilean released Fox's face and smiled again with cold malice. "Your scent is intoxicating to morphs and humans, Hybrid. It grows stronger as your cycle nears. How does it feel to know you are like a bitch in heat?" Mulder paled, but said nothing.

The hunter stirred in his seat at the mention of the hybrid's cycle, but stilled when the oilean turned its head.

Turning back to they hybrid, the oilean reached its fingers up to Fox's T-shirt and slipped a cold clammy hand under it, roughly caressing Mulder abdomen. It watched Mulder's eyes intently, wanting to see the fear reflected in they hybrid's hazel eyes.

Within the corner of his mind, the only space allowed to him, Alex was in a frenzy. The morph continually whispered its plans for his lover. It told him it was interested in 'examining' his hybrid lover. In tasting it's hybrid blood and skin. In stretching out it's legs and rutting between them like a common animal. Alex seethed and screamed, threatening uselessly.

Fox heard it all...the morph's suggestions and his lover's cries. He darted a glance at the bounty hunter sitting in the corner. It stared back at him dispassionately.

After a while, the Oilean's 'voice' ceased as Alex's cries died down. Mulder sagged against the bed frame once more. It was dark outside; the oilean withdrew back to its chair once more.

An hour passed, maybe more. The hunter stood and went downstairs, returning with bread, water, and an apple. Mulder drank gratefully and ate the bread slowly, his eyes focused on the wall ahead of him, avoiding looking at the alien beside him and his lover's possessed body watching him.

As the hunter cut the apple in bite-sized pieces, the oilean stood up, holding his hand out, the hunter promptly handed him the knife. Mulder closed his eyes.

The oilean studied the knife with interest. It leaned down over the hybrid once more and drew the knife's point over Fox's forearm; blood welled and then trailed down his arm in long thin rivulets.

Alex protested weakly, sobbing mentally. Mulder's eyes remained squeezed shut. The oilean continued to make small cuts on his arms, then small nicks in his neck, and finally trailing it to cut into his shirt and digging slightly into his chest.

The oil was disappointed; the host felt fear and anger, but not enough. Not nearly enough. So it decided to return to what HAD elicited the earlier intensity. The oilean grasped one of the jagged tears in the hybrid's shirt and tugged, using the knife, it proceeded to rip the shirt off of Fox's body. The hybrid's eyes flew open and it struggled. The voice within the host's body began to scream in earnest once more. The oil reveled in the violent emotions from its host and even enjoyed the hybrid's fear as well.

The oilean began to cut off the hybrid's jeans and underwear. Not stopping until the hybrid was naked and small cuts over its body were bleeding, staining the white sheets in increasingly larger splotches.

Admiring its handiwork, the oil pressed the knifepoint to the hybrid's thigh and then twisted. The hybrid screamed, thrashing on the bed. The host's mental cry was simultaneous. The oil left the knife embedded in the hybrid's leg and leaned back, enjoying its reward. It wasn't enough, though.

The fear and anger was like a drug, no matter how much it felt...the oil wanted more. It jerked the knife out and tossed it carelessly on the floor. The oilean smeared the blood on the hybrid's leg and with its other hand; it rubbed its host's crotch. The answering swelling horrified the host, but pleased the oil immensely.

The oilean spread the hybrid's legs and knelt between them. The hybrid thrashed and tried to kick it off the bed. It slapped the hybrid in the face with enough force to splatter blood from its torn lip. Returning to its original plans, the oilean reached down to release the host's erection.

So intent was the oilean on its pursuit that it did not notice the bounty hunter's blow. The oilean was flung into the wall beside the bed and slumped to the floor, stunned. The hunter moved quickly, but the oilean recovered with lightning speed and was on its feet before the hunter could attack again.

On the bed, Mulder watched, dazed from the blow to the head and loss of blood. He struggled weakly to close his legs. The hunter fell back at another blow from the oilean. The alien lay stunned and before it could react the oilean leaned forward and the oil seeped out of Alex's face and into the morph's. The hunter tried to morph its features closed, but was too late. Alex's body heaved as it vacated the oil into the prone alien's form. Alex's body then shuddered and collapsed on the floor. The alien remained frozen, the oil still seeping into its orifices.

"Alex! Get up! The hunter! You can kill it!" Mulder shouted hoarsely, frantically trying to free himself once more. Alex twitched and then lurched to its knees, crawling clumsily to Mulder's side. Alex's face was encrusted with oily residue, but he obediently opened the bedside drawer and removed the stiletto. Alex then grasped the bed and pulled himself up weakly. Turning, Alex saw the hunter already rising to its feat.

Alex stumbled, but rushed as quickly as he could. The hunter lashed out, backhanding the human to the floor. Mulder saw the morph's eyes blink and then swirl with oil. Alex lay where he fell, unmoving. The morph turned to look at the hybrid, it reached out a hand, but before it could reach him, Alex surged to his feat once more and plunged the stiletto down with all his might. The hunter froze, the wound bubbling green acid tinged with black oil. Mulder watched in horror as Alex's hands were covered in the vile combination.

Alex jerked back and the body fell to a heap and slowly dissolved into a very dark green puddle on the floor. The room was silent except for their harsh pants. Mulder tore his shocked gaze from the morph to his lover who lay on his side, hands still outstretched before him, covered in the slime.

"Alex?! Are you okay?"

Alex didn't respond. Mulder couldn't tell if his eyes were open or not. He reached out in the link and called to his daughter. ^Kat! Tell Scully and Skinner to come now! It's okay now.^

He heard his daughter relate this to Scully. ^Daddy?^ her 'voice' was scared and soft.

^It's okay, honey. I'm all right and...^ he didn't want to lie. He sent her soothing thoughts as he watched his lover's unmoving form. 'God, Alex. You better not die on me!'

It seemed like days, but less than an hour later Scully and two policemen broke down his bedroom door.

"Jesus, Mulder!" Scully swore at the sight of her partner, naked and bleeding from multiple wounds. She ran over to him, not seeing Alex's form or the green stain on the other side of the bed. "Somebody get a knife and tell the paramedics to come in!" She wadded up the sheet tangled underneath him and pressed it to his thigh wound which continued to seep blood. The immediate danger from the aliens gone, his vision started to gray around the edges. Trying to stay conscious as he felt the ropes being sawed off he croaked, "Alex!"

Scully glanced up and then over at Alex's form, it was being examined by one of the paramedics that had just burst in. The crouching man glanced up, "He's still breathing, but seems to be in shock. Could be serious condition..." a stretcher was brought in and he was gently strapped into it. Another paramedic team came to Mulder's side to help Scully's ministrations. Mulder finally lost his battle as he felt his arms being moved and the flash of pain caused him to lose consciousness.

Scully sat in the cold hard plastic chair with her paper cup of sludge-like coffee. Sipping at it she wrinkled her nose, but then gulped a large amount down. She desperately needed to sleep, but couldn't until she knew that both men would be okay.

She glanced up at Skinner who was returning with his own cup of sludge and she stood, setting her cup down on the table next to her. "I'm going to go check on their status again." Skinner nodded and sat down.

After consulting with the nurses and the on-call resident, she found that Alex was still unresponsive and his hands, although badly damaged, would most likely heal eventually. She then poked her head in Mulder's room and found him awake. He appeared agitated and trying to rise from his bed despite his I.V.'s, he must have just woken.

"Hey, stop that! Stay still, Mulder." Mulder looked at her frantically.

"Where's Kat? She's sleeping... Where's Alex?"

Scully held her hand out as she walked up to him and then gently pushed him back down. "Lay back and I'll tell you."

"Tell me and I MAY lay back." He countered.

She sighed, "Kat's safe, she's being taken care of. Alex is in the next room." She was evading both questions and Mulder glared at her as he tried to stand once more. He succeeded, but began to sway dangerously. She grabbed his shoulder and forced him to sit on the bed. It hurt his thigh wound and he ground his teeth, wincing.

"Now will you lay down? You shouldn't be up. You lost a lot of blood." He was pale and shaky so he gave in...for now.

"Kat's okay for now. All right? We'll discuss it later. For now. Alex is in a coma-"

Mulder squeezed his eyes shut and turned his head. "I can't hear him..." his voice broke.

Scully pulled the chair up and sat down, grasping his left hand, she ignored the bandage on his forearm. He squeezed her hand hard. "He- he..."

She squeezed him back, "What happened, Mulder? We found evidence of a morph. Was the morph the one that the Jacobson's said was Alex chasing you?"

Mulder shook his head, "No, it was Alex's body, but it was the oil...the morph was with him, though."

Scully frowned, "What happened to the oil?"

"I want to go see Alex." He tried to rise.

"You can't right now, Mulder. He's in the I.C.U. and-"

"I DON'T care!"

"All right. I'll see what I can do. But first, tell me what happened." He dropped his head back on the pillow and forced himself to describe what happened. He left out some of the more horrifying personal images and suggestions made by the oilean, but he let her have the gist of it.

Towards the end she frowned, "But why did the hunter act 'then'? He didn't act when the oilean touched you earlier, and not when he was- when it cut you. Why at that moment?"

Mulder was flushed deep red, he didn't want to discuss it further. He never wanted to talk about it again. He hadn't mentioned his cycle or even his 'smell'. "I don't know. I suppose it figured the oilean went too far. I sensed that this wasn't on their agenda."

Scully didn't buy it completely, but refrained from calling him on it. "All right, why did the oilean jump into the morph, then? Why not kill it with radiation like you said the policemen died of?"

Mulder shook his head, "I don't know...maybe the morphs aren't affected by the radiation? Maybe it didn't want to risk it around me? I don't know...but it was a good thing it did, because Alex- I need to go to him. NOW." Scully jumped to her feet at his tone.

A half hour later, the two men were being kept in the same room. Scully was given a brief visit with Mulder before she had to leave. She crept over to his side and sat down. His eyes were still fixed on Alex's chest that slowly rose and fell. The machines around him beeped and hissed rhythmically. Krycek's face was bloated and puffy with dark purple raccoon eyes. He looked terrible.

Mulder finally broke his gaze and glanced at Scully, "He looked bad before the attack. The oil wouldn't let him sleep..." Scully nodded and kept quiet, letting him talk when he was ready.

"There IS something I need to tell you. But not now. And not here. Later. As far as the oil. Alex was trapped in his own mind again. And the oil...it was hurting me to hurt HIM. He used me to make Alex 'feel' what it wanted him to feel." Mulder's voice was low and hoarse, his eyes filled with tears.

"It isn't your fault, Mulder. What happened after the oil jumped?"

"Alex was down on the ground, and the morph was still being...assimilated, I guess. I yelled for him to get up and kill it." Mulder sobbed, "he did...he was half dead, but he still got up and got the weapon and the morph got up and-and-and HIT Alex hard, knocked him against the wall. And it turned to me and I could SEE the oil in its eyes and it reached for me and Alex killed it." Tears were streaming down Mulder's face; his eyes were focused on Alex once more.

"God...the morph's...blood gushed out at the neck, but more than is usual and it was darker, too. Tinged with black. It was ALL over his hands. His hands... He just fell over and that was it."

Scully squeezed his shoulder. "It'll be okay, Mulder...they say his hands aren't likely to be too badly impaired." He wasn't much comforted by that. 'Once it was an arm. Now it's both hands...'

"But will he wake up?"

Scully looked away. "I don't know, Mulder. No one knows...It's up to him now."

They both watched Alex breathe.

"Scully? Will you check his eyes?"

"Mulder, his eyes have been checked by-"

"Just do it, please?"

She walked over and pried open a puffy eyelid, a dilated eye showed a ring of green around the enlarged pupil. No black oil swirled around it. She glanced over at Mulder and shook his head. He nodded and mouthed 'thank you.' She nodded back and sat down next to him for a moment before she had to leave.

The machines beeped and hissed.

The silence from the man they watched was unbearable.







Mulder opened his eyes to the harsh white light streaming from the window. He blinked and moved a hand to cover his eyes. He was startled to see a black and blue wrist and padded bandages on his forearm. He glanced at his other arm and saw the same plus an I.V. He glanced further down and saw the cause for the sharp and throbbing pain in his thigh, a large heavily padded bandage making it nearly impossible to sit up. He winced and lay his head back down. Why-?

Memory flooded back in a flash and he glanced over at his lover. Alex's face was still puffy, but looked slightly better than last night. He watched Alex's chest rise and fall a few times before he allowed himself to take another breath. He glanced back up to Alex's face and noted the dark purple bruises underneath long black lashes.

Closing his eyes for a moment, he reached out with his senses...and sensed Scully down the hall walking to their hospital room.

He opened his eyes and looked at his lover once more. Nothing. His mind was silent.

Scully quietly entered the room, a newspaper and coffee in her hand. She looked surprised to see him awake. "Hi." She whispered. 'Why whisper? He can't hear us.' He let it go.

"Hi, is that for me?" equally quiet. She smirked and shook her head.

"Mulder, you know you shouldn't have caffeine after-"

He pouted. She gave in with a sigh. "I don't know why I bother trying. Here. Do you want the paper, too?" She asked, mock exasperated. He shook his head.

"No. I have a headache. But you could read the sports page to me if you want." She smiled crookedly and pointedly turned to the front page.

He looked back at Alex.



"Where's Kat?"

Scully looked up guiltily. "Mulder maybe-"

He glared at her, feeling panicked. "WHERE is my daughter?!" He forgot to whisper.

She slumped slightly. "Skinner is trying to straighten it out, but the locals are being stubborn..."


"They have taken away your custody- temporarily! Due to the incident and ...well..."

"And what?"

"And the uh, unusual family situation at home."

He tried to sit up, "What?!"

"Mulder, please don't...Skinner is trying to work it out and..."

"Are you telling me that those bastards are trying to take my daughter away?!"

A nurse came rushing in. "Please, Mr. Mulder! Mr. Krycek needs quiet and-" she cut off her spiel at the sight of the blood showing through his thick bandage. She rushed over and pressed down on the wound to try to stop the bleeding.

Scully helped as she and another nurse checked the wound once the bleeding stopped. He had popped some stitches. They sewed him back up and handed him a tranquilizer. Scully stared him down until he finally took it. As he felt its effects, he looked over at Alex. 'God, Alex...they are going to take Kat away...help...'

Skinner headed over to the hospital around noon to check on the men and make Scully eat lunch. He found her holding Mulder's hand at his bed. Skinner glanced around and seeing no nurses lurking nearby at the moment, he slipped in. She looked up at him, her eyes were slightly red and puffy.

Mulder was out cold. "What's wrong, Agent Scully? Is Mulder-?" She shook her head.

"He's okay. He was agitated over Katerina and popped some stitches. We stopped the bleeding and sewed him back up. He's sleeping off a tranquilizer right now."

Scully looked up hopefully at him and he shook his head.

He felt terrible. He had made little progress so far in getting the locals to cooperate with him. They were upset at losing two good deputies and the incident had stirred up the town. Mr. Jacobson was helping to make the situation worse by making wild accusations about Krycek and Mulder.

Mulder stirred slightly, moaning. Scully patted the hand she held, but he wasn't soothed. He didn't wake, but his breathing was irregular and he made distressed sounds. 'Nightmare.' Scully mouthed.

Eventually he quieted, but his forehead remained wrinkled and worried. They watched him sadly. Alex's monitors continued to beep and hiss.

November 25 2004

St. John's Hospital

3:13 a.m.

Alex moaned softly, his right hand twitching. Mulder was out of his bed in an instant. He was at his lover's side as fast as he could hobble. His wound was still tender and easily torn open so he was careful.

Alex twitched again and his eyelids fluttered. Fox thought of calling for a nurse, but was interrupted when Alex's eyes opened. "Wh-"

"Shh...It's okay, Alex. I'm here. We're okay."

Alex focused his eyes on Mulder's face with difficulty. "Fox?"

"It's me, baby. You're in the hospital. You'll be fine, though." He hoped Alex wouldn't notice-

"What happened to my hands?" he had lifted them up and was staring at the mummified forms.

'Too late.' "You killed the morph infected by the oil, remember? The morph's blood and the oil spilled on your hands..."

Alex tore his gaze off his hands to search Mulder's face. "Are you okay?! It cut you! I cut you-"

Mulder held a hand up to the younger man's lips. "YOU didn't do it and you know it. And don't start talking like that...the last thing we need is you confessing to crimes you didn't commit. I'm having a hard enough time as it is trying to convince them it was a man that looked like you...not you. I told them that he held us hostage in our house and we were injured by him. He killed the two policemen and fled when he heard Skinner and his team coming. Okay?" Alex nodded numbly.

"Where's Kat? Is she okay?" his voice was hoarse and broken, eyes glistening. Alex wanted desperately to touch Fox's face, but his hands...and Fox might not want him to...

^I do want you to. When you're better. I love you, you idiot. You didn't do anything to me...the oil did. You saved us, don't you remember?^

Alex shook his head and avoided his eyes, denying his innocence. Mulder sighed and checked the door. He then lowered the rail of Alex's bed and climbed in as best he could. He grunted in pain as his injured thigh bumped Alex's hip, but he ignored it and nudged Alex to sit up a little so he could cradle him in his arms.

His thigh throbbed, his arms hurt and he was as happy as he'd been in days. He dropped his cheek to his lover's head and wrapped his arms gingerly around the other man.

Alex was frustrated that he couldn't grip Mulder's arms with his hands. He settled for resting his forearms against Mulder's. His eyes were directly above Mulder's arm bandages. 'How can he stand to be near me?'

^Stop it. I love you, Alexei Krycek, but you need to cut this out before I bop you in the head. And that would hurt both of us, so just shut up and close your eyes. I'm tired; I haven't been in a coma the last three days...^

Alex was startled at that, but remained quiet, listening to Fox's breathing slow down until he was fast asleep, his arms relaxing around Alex's. He looked at Mulder's arms and his own hands.

Mulder never had answered about Kat...

November 25 2004

St. John's Hospital

6:15 a.m.

Nurse Chattenay entered Rm 313 as she glanced over the clipboard in her hands. Looking up she saw both patients in the Mr. Krycek's bed. Mr. Krycek was in the other patient, Mr. Mulder's lap and they lay lightly snoring, their arms entwined. She shook her head disapprovingly and poked her head out the door, motioning for Nurse Jones to come and help her.

They came on either side of the bed and Nurse Chattenay tapped the intruding patient on the arm. "Mr. Mulder...Mr. Mulder! You can't be in this bed. You have to get back in your own-" She stopped at the sight of the comatose patient moving his head and then opening his green eyes at her. She stepped back, "Oh! Mr. Krycek..., Nurse Jones, please notify Dr. Branson that Mr. Krycek is conscious. Mr. Mulder, you need to go back to your bed!."

Mulder opened his eyes to the vision of an old gray haired nurse shaking her finger at him. He flinched. He felt Alex shift in his arms and smiled, remembering that his lover had finally woken up from his coma. He had meant to call the nurses, but he'd fallen asleep with Alex in his bed. 'Shit, I'm going to pay for that now...'

^Yep, you're in deep shit, Fox. What are you doing disturbing my rest in my bed? For shame!^ Mulder couldn't help grinning at that, Alex had been so depressed last night, it was good to hear him tease. He stretched as much as he could with his lover on top of him and then grunted in pain. His thigh hurt. And his arms. And his right leg had fallen asleep, pins and needles jabbing at him.

The nurse scolding him got an evil satisfied look on her face at his grunt of pain. "You see? You need to be in your OWN bed, Mr. Mulder." She gripped his arm and helped him shift Alex off of him. He stood none to steady on his own feet as she guided (almost pushing) him to his bed.

Alex watched with a tired half grin on his face. The gray haired harpy was still scolding his lover as she adjusted Fox's leg on a pillow. He quickly lost his smile as he realized Mulder had been injured enough to be in the hospital for a couple of days. And where was Kat? His thoughts were interrupted by the other nurse returning with a gray haired doctor.

After checking his pupils, reflexes and asking him routine questions, they were satisfied that he wasn't suffering permanent brain damage as far as they could tell. They admonished him to rest, ignoring his questions about Kat. As they left, Alex turned to glare at his lover, "Fox, WHERE is Kat?! Why won't anyone answer me?"

Mulder had been quiet throughout the exam, he was watching Alex through half lidded eyes, they had given him another dose of painkiller. He sighed, shifting slightly in his bed to ease the throbbing in his leg, "She's in a foster home." He stated flatly, closing his eyes.

Alex fought his own medication, "What do you mean?! Shouldn't Scully be...?"

Mulder didn't open his eyes, but Alex could see wrinkles of pain around his eyes, he could tell it was emotional rather than physical, though. Mulder's voice was broken, confirming this, "They- They won't give her to Scully...they think she's better off in a neutral foster home until they finish investigating us..."

Alex was shoving blankets off of him, Mulder's eyes snapped open at the sound. "Alex, don't...You've been hurt...I've been trying since I woke up. They won't let you see her. And- and I think the hospital is in on it..." these last words were slurred. Alex stopped his actions and glanced at his lover, 'why do my eyes feel like lead weights on my lids...' he saw that Mulder suffered the same affliction.

"What- What do you mean?"

"I don't think...I don't think my injuries are bad enough to stay in the hospital this long...but they keep druuggin' me..." he trailed off, his head dropping on his pillow. Alex felt a strange kind of numbed horror. 'Where IS Scully anyway...?' He fell asleep, the sheets twisted around his legs.

It had been 24 hours since she last saw her former partner and Scully was PISSED. The hospital, so friendly and cooperative the first day or so, had turned into an uncooperative bureaucratic wall. Every time she tried to see Mulder she was informed it wasn't visiting hours, or that he was resting and not to be disturbed. She'd flashed her badge, no luck. They had actually turned hospital security on her for attempting to barge past the nurses last time.

Skinner was too busy trying to straighten out Kat's custody to know the trouble she was having at the hospital. She sat in a waiting room on another floor than Mulder, stewing at her troubles. The whole town seemed determined to keep them from Mulder, Krycek, and their daughter. Skinner had called her the night before to tell her that he was having trouble since there were no official birth certificate or adoption papers. Scully remembered Mulder saying that Krycek had taken care of making 'official' papers, but those papers had now disappeared. Without them, Scully and Skinner's hands were tied.

Nurse Jones walked past her, her eyes on her clipboard, Scully sprang to her feet. "Excuse me, Ms. Jones!" Nurse Jones kept walking as if she hadn't heard her.

Scully caught up and grabbed her arm, "Ms. Jones! I need to speak with you. I want to know Mulder's and Krycek's conditions."

Nurse Jones pursed her lips and glanced around, looking for a distraction or an excuse, not finding one she glared at Scully. "Patient confidentiality is-"

"Cut the bullshit. I'm a federal agent; if you keep giving me the run around I'll have you and this entire place under investigation so fast your head will spin. Tell me how they are doing NOW."

The woman shook her head, but gave in slightly, "Mr. Mulder was agitated again, this morning. We gave him a mild sedative to calm him. Mr. Krycek has awoken from his coma, but is currently resting. They are not available for visitors." With that she spun on her heel and stalked away, clipboard firmly in hand.

Scully fumed, Mulder was being sedated far too much, and he should have been released yesterday at the latest. His wounds were still needed antibiotics, but were healing fine and could be cared for at home. And now Alex was awake.

Scully pulled out her cell phone as she left the hospital.

November 25 2004

St. John's Hospital

5:35 p.m.

Alex and Fox sat in their respective beds propped up on pillows. Their faces turned slightly towards the other, but their eyes were both glazed and they had tired smiles on their faces. They were quiet, their link silent as well.

Their dinners arrived; an orderly plunked a tray of processed turkey loaf and a pale slimy slice of pumpkin pie. The door shut behind the harried man and the two patients looked at their dinners numbly.

10:06 p.m.

The room was dark except for the street light outside which couldn't be completely shut out by the blinds. The thin stripes of light decorated the floor and beds. Mulder and Alex lay awake, their latest pills hidden under their mattresses.

^Lisa? ^

^I'm awake. Did you palm them? ^

^Of course, are you ready? ^

^I don't know how far you think we'll get without any clothes and with me tottering over. ^

^Do you really want to stay? ^

^Fuck, no! Just wondering...^ Mulder slid his legs over the side of the bed and stood as best he could without bending his leg. He stood and swayed for a moment, clutching the bed frame.

Alex climbed out and was a little shaky and off balance for a moment, but quickly recovered. He met Mulder in between their beds and hugged his lover quickly, but gently, his hands were throbbing dreadfully.

They were just about to make a run for it when they heard the door snick open. Caught, they froze, unable to dive into their beds quick enough. Their hearts pounded at the shadowy sight of a woman.

"Mulder? Alex?" They sighed as one, Scully.

She walked over and hugged them both then let go and held up her bag, pulling out sweats. "Let's get these on you..."

First she helped Mulder step into his pants, then, much to Krycek's extreme embarrassment, she helped him with his. Mulder shrugged into his top and sweatshirt as she helped Alex, careful of his bandaged hands.

Once she finished tying their shoelaces she straightened up with a satisfied smile. Both men blinked back at her meekly, the act of dressing had worn them out. 'I could get used to this...'

^Scully... ^

'Whoops!' she thought back to Mulder looking anything, but sorry.

She checked the hall and then herded them out of the room. They passed a few people on the ground floor, but no one that they recognized. Leaving the ER, Scully opened the back door and they scrambled inside. She jumped into the passenger seat and they drove off quickly, but not so much as to draw attention.

Mulder was directly behind Skinner's baldhead. He leaned in between the two front seats, "Where's Kat?" he demanded, unable to be too polite after worrying for so long.

"We're going to get her now." Skinner was terse, attention focused on maneuvering through the dark bumpy streets.

Mulder and Alex sat back in their seats, they heard a small 'mewl' and glanced down, in between them was a small cloth pet carrier and Kisa peered up at them, scared. Mulder smiled sadly, Kat would be glad not to miss her kitten. Scully glanced back, "We packed some clothes, your photo albums and the cat. We'll have to send a packing company later... Mulder was too focused on his daughter to pay attention. He nodded tiredly, one hand on Alex's arm and the other dug into the carrier to pet the distressed feline.

They pulled up to a house, there were lights in the front two windows and they could see the flashing screen of a TV. Scully got out; Mulder opened his door. "No, Mulder, you need to stay-"

^Shh, think to me, Scully...don't talk. And I AM coming with you. I can communicate with Kat and get her out without anyone knowing. ^ She shut her mouth and nodded. Alex cursed his hands, he wanted to help, but knew he'd be a liability. He leaned over and kissed Fox hard and urged him, ^Go on, go get her. ^

Skinner was going to come, but stayed behind when Mulder got out. Alex and Skinner sat in the car in tense silence, watching the dark figures of the two former partners creep around the side of the house.

^Kat, it's daddy. You need to stay quiet, but 'think' to me to answer me, okay? ^ He was as quiet and reassuring as possible, hoping she would remain calm and not tip the foster parents off.

^Daddy! Where are you?! ^

^I'm here, baby, but I need you to be quiet about that, we're going to sneak you out, okay? Where are the people you are staying with? And how many are there? ^

^Just Mr. Johnson and Mrs. Johnson, they're in the living room watching TV. ^

^Where are you? ^

^In the bedroom...the children's room. I'm the only one here, though. ^ Mulder saw the room she was in and could 'hear' the TV and 'see' the light from the living room through her. He motioned for Scully to go to the back window. Kat's face appeared as they reached it.

A few moments later she was in his arms and they were walking quickly back to the car. Kat's warm face was pressed against his neck, she was crying, her tears tickled as they trailed down his neck and shirt. He was trying not to cry as they got in the car. Once in, he sat her down on the seat in between him and Alex. She saw her papa and cried harder, "Papa!" She dove for his middle, clutching him tightly. He put his arms around her and squeezed as best he could, not caring about his hands.

Mulder leaned over and joined the hug, all three sobbing quietly. Skinner and Scully glanced at one another and then focused their gaze on the road ahead, letting the family have a moment together.

They raced down the highway, towards Virginia.

They drove all night, Skinner and Scully switching off. As Scully traded places, she glanced in the back and saw the two men slouched, sleeping with their heads propped up against one another. Both had their arms wrapped around Kat, who slept soundly, a hand on each of her fathers.

Mulder woke to the murmur of voices in the front seat. He raised his head and looked at his daughter and Alex, she was in his lap, her head on his chest and his head lay on a wadded up jacket pressed against the window. Mulder had had his head on Alex's shoulder. Alex was going to be pretty sore when he woke up. He glanced at Alex's bandaged hands sadly; he wished he had the healing power still.

Kisa was sleeping soundly and he knew they'd need to let her out soon.

Fox stretched his neck and yawned, scooting forward to lean in between the front seats.

"Where are we heading?" he asked softly. Scully glanced at him and then back at the road.

"We were just discussing that. We need a place to crash and regroup. My father owned a small fishing cabin by a lake in Virginia. My brothers still use it occasionally. It's big enough for the five of us, it has three bedrooms, but it IS a bit rustic..."

Mulder nodded sleepily. "Sounds good. No one will be there now, will they?"

"No, Bill's at sea and Charlie is on a business trip. It's too cold for them to want to go fishing, anyway. It's mostly a summer place, but it is heated."

Alex woke and shifted on the car seat. Mulder sat back and gently lifted Kat off his lap so he could stretch. Katerina snuggled into his arms sleepily. He cradled his daughter, he loved her so much...and to think that he might have lost her...

Alex straightened with a grimace and rubbed his neck. He smiled at his lover and daughter as he stretched as best he could in the small car. "We're on the run now...what's the plan?" Skinner frowned and shifted in his seat to face the back. "We aren't really on the run. Once you are settled in the cabin I'm going to D.C. to straighten this out. We decided to get you two out of the hospital and Kat out of the foster home because it would have taken longer to get you out than we wanted. I have already set an investigation in motion for the county police department as well as the hospital. For now, you three can recuperate and rest while we take care of it. I'm also having new paperwork done for Kat. The originals vanished, by whom I'm not sure. I believe Chris Jacobson had quite a few friends in the sheriff's office."

Alex's eyes glittered with malice, Fox was glad Kat was still sleeping; he actually was a little intimidated by the look. No one messed with Alex Krycek's family and lived.

They stopped at a small roadside diner for breakfast. Kat woke sleepily, but with a big grin on her face when she saw her two daddies in the car with her. At finding Kisa she squealed happily, Fox was relieved she seemed completely healthy and unharmed by the whole incident. The five of them went inside the restaurant. Mulder limped slightly and Alex tucked his hands in the pockets of his hooded sweatshirt. They weren't exactly inconspicuous.

They sat at a large booth, Katerina in between her two fathers, Scully and Skinner on the other side. Mulder helped his daughter order pancakes and sausage. She thought it was hilarious that they were called pigs in a blanket. He then ordered a large bacon, eggs and pancake breakfast for him and Alex to share. Alex had given him a look, but Mulder ordered anyway. Scully wondered how Alex was going to like being fed. She smothered a grin. She ordered a bagel and coffee, Skinner ordered steak and eggs.

Once the waitress left they fussed with their ice waters and juice. Kat was bored so Scully handed her a pen from her purse for her to doodle on the placemat with. None of the adults wanted to talk seriously in front of the little girl so they made awkward chitchat.

Breakfast arrived and they dug in hungrily. Mulder fed Alex forkfuls in between his own after he cut up Kat's pancakes for her so she wouldn't make a mess of it. Scully watched wistfully. She wanted to be doing that with her own family. She was embarrassed to feel her eyes tear up and quickly excused herself to the restroom.

Mulder watched her leave and realized guiltily that he had everything she wanted, but might not be able to have. He made a note to talk to her later, not that he could think of anything that would make it better.

Alex had eaten his breakfast tensely. He hated being fed like an invalid; he hated it even MORE that Skinner was right across from him witnessing it. He cradled his coffee cup in his two bandaged hands, but it was a little slippery and Fox quickly reached over and steadied it as he sipped, Alex glanced over the cup at Skinner. Suddenly he didn't feel humiliated so much as smug. The bastard was watching them jealously. Alex ate the rest of his meal with more enthusiasm. He kissed Fox's hand as he withdrew the fork and saw his lover grin slightly in surprise, clueless that it was partly for Skinner's benefit.

Scully returned, a slight color in her cheeks, but otherwise fine. She asked Kat if she needed to use the restroom. Kat nodded, her sticky hands were covered in syrup and Fox was grateful he didn't have to figure out which restroom he would have to take her to.

"Alex? Shall we use the restroom before we go?" Fox stood up, dropping his napkin on the table. Alex smiled and scooted out eagerly. Mulder wrinkled his forehead slightly at such enthusiasm, but followed him to the back of the restaurant. Skinner glared after them.

Once alone in the bathroom, Fox helped his lover use the urinal, it was obvious that this injury was going to be increasing the usual intimacy between them. Mulder felt nervous, he wasn't really sure why until he glanced into his lover's eyes. He found himself imagining black swirls, he jerked slightly at the image, causing their aim to be a little off.

"Fox? You okay?" Alex asked worriedly.

"Yeah. Sorry." He shook him off and then turned to use the urinal himself. Afterwards, they climbed into the car; Kat bounced around on the seat, eager for the trip.

They finally reached the cabin a little after noon. Scully opened the door while Skinner hauled out the luggage from the back. They each had a bag, Mulder tried to help, but Skinner just growled at him to go inside and lay down.

Scully showed them to the main bedroom, it had a queen-sized bed. The other two rooms were double beds and there was a foldout bed in the living room sofa. Mulder opened their bags and put the clothes and things that Scully and Skinner had packed for them into drawers. As he opened Kat's bag a small dark animal skittered out and ran across his hand. He jerked in surprise and then picked it up from the bed. The little mouse blinked up at him, sitting on its hind legs.

"Kat! Come here!"

Kat ran in and looked into her father's hand. "Sasha!"

Alex, Scully and finally Skinner came to see what the commotion was about. Scully raised an eyebrow; she was used to mice in the lab, but found them ill suited as pets.

Alex smiled gently, putting his hand on Kat's head as she held her mouse; he'd missed his namesake. "How on earth did he get here?"

"I guess he hitched a ride in Kat's clothes. Maybe he made a nest in one of her drawers or something." Kat was glowing in delight. She had missed him. They made another makeshift cage out of a small box with lots of air holes and set it on the dresser.

Scully told the two men to lie down and rest while she cleaned up and Skinner went to town for supplies and food. Kat insisted on lying down with them, so the three snuggled up in bed. Alex had protested the idea that he needed to take a nap like a child, but was fast asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. Fox lay wide-awake, stroking Kat's hair as she slept between them.

'What the hell do we do now? We can't go back home...not right away. Skinner has to straighten things out there. And then there would be gossiping and rumors. I don't care, but Kat will be going to school soon... And how could I ever trust the police or the hospital again? It's not safe. Not to mention the aliens. But where will we go? We can't stay here forever, certainly not if Bill Scully is going to want to come here for trout fishing.'

Mulder focused on these thoughts in order to avoid an even scarier thought. He was scared to be alone with his lover. In the hospital it had been okay, they'd been drugged to the gills and worried about their child. Now...Mulder was actually a little grateful that Kat was there so he wasn't alone with Alex. 'How pathetic...using your daughter as a security blanket. What happens when you ARE alone with him? And it isn't fair to be afraid of him, it wasn't Alex, it was the oil. It's bad enough 'Alex' feels responsible when he isn't. What happens if he finds out I 'am' afraid of him?'

He rolled over on his back and faced the ceiling when an even worse thought occurred to him...his cycle was just a week or so away. What happened then?

Scully Cabin

November 26 2004

1:25 p.m.

Skinner had returned with groceries, medical supplies and lunch and they had eaten the fast-food hungrily.

Finishing, Scully gathered the bag of supplies from the drug store and crooked a brow at the two men trying to avoid her gaze. She smirked and turned to their daughter, "Kat? How about you show Uncle Walter your kitten? Daddy Fox and Papa Alex and I need to talk alone for a few minutes."

Kat looked a little suspicious at this, but then nodded happily at the thought of playing with Kisa. "Okay, come on, Uncle Walter..." Skinner looked pleadingly at Scully, but she just smiled innocently back. He then glared and let himself be dragged by the arm into the living room.

Scully then turned back to her patients, "All right, boys, time to check and re-bandage your wounds. March!" They grumbled and stood, trudging to the bedroom with their heads down.

Scully closed the door behind them and pulled a chair up to the edge of the bed. "Okay, Mulder, let's examine that leg first." Mulder grimaced and tugged his sweatpants down, revealing his boxer shorts and his heavily bandaged thigh. Scully removed the padded gauze; the wound looked nasty, but was healing well. She cleaned it and smeared antibiotics on it with deft fingers.

Mulder was watching the treatment with morbid interest, he didn't notice Alex's blanch at seeing the deep cut he had inflicted while possessed by the oil.

Once finished, Scully then checked and cleaned his other smaller cuts. Mulder was healing well, only the thigh was likely to scar. She patted the last bandage closed and then motioned for Alex to trade places with his lover. Mulder stood and pulled his pants back up as Alex brushed past him and sat down. Scully snipped the end and started unraveling the mummified hands.

Mulder found himself holding his breath; he was worried that Alex would have permanent damage in his hands that would cause a disability. He knew that it would hurt Alex deeply to not have the full use of his hands...

Scully finished unwrapping and they were able to see the damage. His hands were an angry mottled red. But, as bad as they looked, the palms were less damaged than the backs of the hands that had been the area most exposed to the alien blood. The palms were more pink than red and were not peeling as badly as the backs. Alex's face was stony as he stared at his hands, his eyes didn't betray their horror. He just sat there staring at them as Scully slowly began examining the tendons for damage, gently flexing his fingers individually.

He flinched once or twice at a particularly damaged finger, but otherwise he was stoic. She finally spread the antibiotic cream thoroughly on his hands and then began the long task of wrapping them back up. Mulder had been frozen at the sight of the damage, but as she wrapped, he slid behind his lover and leaned against his back reassuringly. "It'll be okay, Alex." He whispered, feeling like a horrible liar. Alex was silent.

Scully cooked a small thanksgiving meal that night. Turkey breast, stuffing, yams and cranberry sauce made the house smell wonderful. They sat around the table, profoundly grateful they were all alive and well...and together. As they dug in, Mulder thanked her for making such a wonderful meal and she blushed slightly saying they had missed it yesterday, but it was better late than never.

Mulder cut and fed Alex his food, but this time Alex didn't seem to enjoy it at all.

That night, Skinner slept on the foldout bed in the living room so as to keep an eye on the cabin and its inhabitants. Scully and Kat took the other two rooms and Kisa inspected all of the beds until she settled with her mistress.

Fox and Alex lay in their bed together, close, but not touching. In the same bed, but worlds apart as they lay staring at the ceiling, each intent on their own thoughts.

Mulder worried about their living situation, his fears and his upcoming cycle.

Alex's emotions were raging a battle inside him. On one hand, he was profoundly grateful that his family was safe and he wanted nothing more than to wrap his arms around Fox and hug him to him fiercely. On the other hand, he couldn't touch Fox.

Not just because his hands were damaged...that wasn't what bothered him. On the contrary, he 'deserved' the damage. He had let the aliens harm Mulder again. And they had used his own body to do it. He remembered the cuts on Mulder's body and felt a wave of anger and despair rise up once more. The thigh wound could have been life threatening, Fox had lost a lot of blood and the nerve or muscle could have been permanently damaged.

No, he couldn't touch Fox because he didn't deserve it and because he couldn't trust himself not to hurt his lover. He had a feeling that as much as Fox loved him, he may not be able to trust him again. He had seen the flash of fear in his lover's eyes in that restroom. He could feel Mulder's fear through the link that very moment. Mulder was churning with feelings of worry, dread and fear. Fox's feelings bled through the link, but his lover's thoughts were still shielded. Was Mulder afraid of him? Dreading his touch?

Alex turned on his side, away from Fox and curled into a fetal position, the horrible pain in his chest burned, just as his eyes burned, but he refused the release of his emotions, fearing he would not be able to stop.

Fox turned his head at Alex's change in position; he saw the hunched shoulders and reached out in the link timidly to see if his lover was all right. ^Alex? Are you okay? ^

There was no answer, but the resulting wave of anguish and despair from his lover made Mulder flinch. ^What's wrong? Alexei, tell me...^

Silence, but the emotions still raged. ^Alex, tell me what's wrong! ^ Mulder put a hand on his shoulder and Alex jerked out of his grasp. "Don't-!" he gasped, then remembered the other occupants of the cabin. ^Don't touch me. ^

Mulder frowned, ^Why? What did I do? ^ Alex shook his head, still not facing Mulder. ^Alex. Tell me. What did I do? Are you okay? ^

Alex flopped back onto his back, his eyes finally meeting Fox's imploringly. ^Not you. How can you stand to touch me? After what I did? ^

Mulder sighed, his shoulders slumped as he shook his head. ^Not that again. YOU didn't hurt me. The oilean did, and besides, I'm fine. You were the one that was really hurt. ^ Mulder reached and brushed a lock of hair from Alex's face. ^You were in a coma, 'lex. I was so scared. And your hands...^ he felt a wave of sorrow and guilt, ^God, your hands! I'm so sorry...^

Alex sat up, difficult to do without using his hands. ^I don't care about my hands. I hurt you and...now you're afraid of me. ^ Mulder had sat up with him, he blanched at the knowledge that Alex knew he was scared to be alone with him. He glanced down at his hands, twisting them in the sheets.

Krycek squeezed his eyes shut at the silent testimony to his worst nightmare. Mulder didn't trust him. Was afraid of him...

^No. Look, we've been through so much. We're tired...we just need a little time to get over what happened...^ Fox couldn't look into his eyes.

Alex stood, "Maybe I should go sleep somewhere else. I'll go sleep with Kat, or have her sleep in here with you..." Mulder looked up surprised and reached out his hand to stop him, "No!" he then snapped his mouth shut; they were going to wake up the house at this rate...

^NO. I won't give in to this. I love you. This is an irrational fear. I have no reason to be afraid. You've never hurt me and you never would. I'm just reacting to the situation and I'm always jittery before my cycle, you know that...^

Alex had stopped when Fox touched him; he completely froze at the mentioning of his lover's cycle. In all the excitement he had forgotten... He felt the usual thrill at the upcoming event, as well as worry for his lover and how they would handle this in a crowded cabin. He then focused his attention on Mulder, who was watching him nervously.

^You know I wouldn't hurt you. And you don't need to worry about your cycle. If you don't want me to touch you, I won't. I promise. I hate to see you nervous or scared, Mulder...^

Fox ducked his head, hiding a creeping blush; he never failed to be embarrassed of his mutation. Alex had meant his promise, but he worried about keeping it. Something he hadn't mentioned to Mulder worried him. With each cycle, Fox's smell seemed to grow stronger and last longer. He could smell the musky intoxicating smell that very moment. Until now he had been distracted and not consciously noticing it. Now, he was growing harder by the second, he resisted the strong urge to draw close and sniff his lover's neck. To lick and bite his skin and... He shook himself and focused on their conversation.

Mulder felt relieved that Alex promised not to touch him...not that he 'really' wanted his lover to keep the vow. But having it, it made him feel a little more secure. A little more in control of the situation. He lifted his head, knowing he was probably still a little pink in the cheeks, but smiling at Alex to let him know it was okay. ^Let's see what happens, all right? Now will you lay back down with me? We should be getting some rest...^

Alex nodded and climbed back into the bed, it was delicious torture to be so close to his lover, but unable to truly touch him. Mulder snuggled closer and lay his head on Alex's shoulder, closing his eyes. Alex squeezed his eyes shut and tried not to breathe in his lover's scent too deeply. He hoped Mulder hadn't noticed his raging hard on. Though how he could have, he didn't know. He lay for another two hours before he finally drifted off. His dreams full of maddening images of a naked, lustful Fox urging him to fuck him through his slit...

In the living room, Skinner stared out one of the windows, lost in the dark shadowy trees outside. He had just started to fall asleep when he had heard the muffled sounds of Mulder and Krycek arguing in the bedroom. It had ceased now, but for a moment he had been certain one of them would burst out of the room angrily. Now it was quiet and the light snapped back off. Apparently they had resolved the issue or decided to sleep on it.

He wondered what the argument was about. He also wondered why he had a raging hard on now. He had been aroused all day, half hard most of the time around Mulder. 'What the fuck is wrong with me? I should have more self-control than this. I've been hiding my attraction for the last couple of years. He's married and in love with that son of a bitch...I should be over this by now.' But he wasn't. He still wanted Mulder, sexually and emotionally. He wondered if he would ever really stop.

He left the window and lay back down on the sofa bed. The cabin was silent except for the humming of the generator. He debated, but finally gave in to a little self-release in the hopes of being able to better control himself in the morning. Sneaking a hand underneath the blanket, he hoped no one decided to get up for a midnight kitchen raid...

November 29 2004

7:30 a.m.

Skinner was leaving soon for the airport; The adults were up sitting around the dining room table discussing last minute details while Kat watched cartoons in the living room.

"I've done all I can on the phone, I need to head back to D.C. and clear things up there. Agent Scully, your leave ends on Wednesday. If you need it extended, I will, but..."

Mulder interrupted. "There's no need, Scully. Alex and I will be fine. We're going to visit family in St. Louis and make arrangements there. Kat's starting school next year and I want to find a good school for her. As for Alex's hands, well, we'll find a good doctor."

Scully looked like she wanted to argue, but reluctantly nodded. Skinner finalized the matter with a brisk nod as stood to leave, Scully stood as well, since she was driving him to the airport.

"Alex, let me check your hands again and put some more antibiotics on it." Alex followed her into the bedroom. Skinner picked up his bag and headed outside to put them in the trunk. Mulder finished filling a travel mug with coffee and followed him outside.

"Here, sir, you look like you could use some more caffeine." Skinner shut the trunk and turned to face him, his eyes were slightly reddened and puffy. Mulder wondered if he had had trouble sleeping.

"Thank you, Mulder..." he looked like he was going to say something else, but instead he shook his head and walked over quickly to where Mulder stood and grabbing his arm, he pulled him into a passionate kiss.

Mulder's eyes bugged in surprise, his mouth opening in protest, only to find Skinner's tongue invading his mouth. Mulder nearly dropped the coffee, a small amount leaked from the lid of the mug as it tipped dangerously. Mulder's other arm was braced against Skinner's shoulder pushing weakly, but he was too surprised to be effective.

Skinner finally ended it and they stepped back from one another and gasped and heaved as if they had run a marathon. Mulder gulped and tried to catch his breath.

"Wha- What are you-"

"I had to. I've wanted to for so long. And then I lost you in that forest..." Skinner's voice broke; his red-rimmed eyes shone with unshed tears. "...and then you were back...but with HIM and... I'm sorry. But I had to...just this once." Skinner then turned on his heel and stalked to the passenger door, yanking it open viciously. Mulder started for the car when he heard the door of the house open and Alex and Scully talking as they stepped through it.

Mulder walked up to the passenger window, it was rolled down so he handed Skinner the coffee mug.

"Thank you for all you've done for us, sir. Have a good flight." Mulder said in a normal voice. ^I won't say anything to Alex, but I suggest you not try that again. He would kill you. But I do thank you for helping us... And, Walter? It 'wasn't' your fault I disappeared that day. Anymore than it was my fault that Samantha was taken. Don't blame yourself. ^ Mulder dropped his gaze from Skinner's and turned to his lover, wrapping an arm around Alex's waist.

Skinner nodded sadly and faced forward. Scully waved at Kat who was watching from the window and climbed into the driver's seat. She scooted the seat up all the way and put the key in the ignition. Skinner didn't look up until they had left the driveway...he was quiet the entire drive to the airport.

Alex watched the car drive off and turned to his lover, giving him a tentative kiss. He was relieved when Fox didn't flinch and kissed him again, a little harder. His lover seemed dazed. ^Are you okay? ^

Fox snapped out of it and smiled at him. "Yeah, I just realized that it's just you, me and Kat. Kind of nice to have just the three of us. How about we do something together?" Fox tugged him to go inside, "It's cold out here...how about a fire?"

Alex frowned, but followed him in. Fox was still chattering as they went inside. Looking down at his freshly bandaged hands his relief turned into fear. With Scully and Skinner gone Fox and Kat were vulnerable. How could he defend them without his hands?

Scully returned that afternoon with groceries. Mulder helped her bring them in and Kat 'helped' put them away. Alex watched from the doorway. As she brought the first bag in she noticed a relieved look on his face before he turned away. She wondered why he would be so happy to see her?

They made a quick dinner and Kat dragged her into the living room to play Candy Land with her. A game Scully remembered playing with her sister, Melissa. In the kitchen, Fox washed dishes while Alex read an article from the newspaper to him. Scully had bought it along with a couple of magazines and paperbacks.

The article was about the latest findings in car accidents and supporting statistics. Mulder had a faint smile on his face as he listened to Alex emphasize the statistics about tired drivers. He turned and swished some dishwater bubbles at his lover who ducked, grinning at him.

"...Mari, I'm 'telling' you 'now.' I'm sorry, but we couldn't call you before bec-" Alex halted as he tore the phone away from his ear. Fox could hear the scolding from across the bed. He hid his grin in his book and stifled a chuckle. Mari Krycek was furious that her brother-in-law hadn't called the 'second' they had been hurt. Not that she knew the full story, though.

Alex told her that they had been in a car accident. Alex had been driving with Mulder in the passenger seat. Mulder had been cut by the glass and metal, while Alex's hands were burned as he dragged his lover out of the car as it caught fire. It was a horrifying story, but it explained the injuries and they didn't want to admit to another intruder in their home again. Kat had been at her friend's house and never in any danger.

Mulder had told Kat that they weren't going to talk about what had happened in North Carolina. Mulder refused to lie to her or tell her to lie, but he just said that it would upset the Kryceks to hear about it. Kat had nodded solemnly and promised not to tell. Alex reinforced this by telling Mari and his sisters that Kat had been a little traumatized by them being in the hospital and it was best not to talk about it and upset her.

So, secrets and lies firmly in place, Mulder and Krycek made plans to go to St. Louis once more. Alex had tried, but failed, in getting them a hotel room, his sisters had insisted he stay with family, so they were staying with Anya and her husband since her children were away at college and she had two rooms free.

Alex finally hung up the phone an hour later, exhausted from talking to his family. Nikolai hadn't come to the phone, but Alex knew that he cared; he just wasn't the type to let it show.

He snuggled up to Fox who was reading some paperback that Scully had picked up at the store. Alex laid his head on Fox's chest and rested one of his bandaged hands on his lover's stomach. Mulder turned a page and then threaded the fingers of his left hand in Alex's sable hair.

^Fox? ^

^Hmm? ^

^I was wondering... ^ Alex had second thoughts about what he wanted to say, but he knew that it had to be said.

Mulder set the book down on the bed and took his glasses off, setting them down on the bedside table. ^What? Tell me. ^

^...Your cycle begins soon. And I- I want to fuck you, here. ^ Alex lightly rubbed Fox's belly with his bandaged hand.

Mulder was silent. Alex regretted bringing it up. They had just gotten comfortable together again and he had ruined it.

^...All right. ^

Alex lifted his head, ^Are you sure? ^ He was trying not to sound too eager, but he was suddenly incredibly hard, he looked up into Fox's eyes and saw an answering lust in his darkened hazel eyes.

^Yes. I want you to. ^ They kissed, passionately; Mulder lifted his shirt and then helped Alex with his. Fox leaned down and licked and sucked Alex's nipples, blazing a wet trail down to his navel as he tugged Alex's drawstring pajama bottoms down. Alex moaned, his head turned to muffle it in the pillow next to him. His hands itched to touch his lover. He groaned in frustration, but Mulder gave him a new reason to groan a moment later when his mouth engulfed him.

December 1 2004

3:45 p.m.

Mulder, Kat and Alex boarded their plane to St. Louis. Kisa was in a cat carrier in cargo area and Fox had Sasha in his coat pocket with a little food and a handkerchief. Scully had left an hour earlier on her own flight to D.C. Mari and Nikolai would be picking them up from the Lambert Airport in St. Louis.

Kat bounced around excitedly as they waited for the plane to take off on the runway. Once it was in the air, she fell asleep, half in Fox's lap, who was also dozing, head tilted back. Alex smiled, 'like father, like daughter.' And turned back to his magazine. He was nervous about staying with his family during Fox's cycle. He figured he would have to make up some excuse to get them a room at a hotel. He'd have to figure out someone to baby-sit Kat while they had a little time to themselves.

He was nervous, but he was also incredibly excited. In a few days, he would make love to his lover through his slit for the first time. He wondered if it would result in a brother or sister for Katerina?

Lambert Airport

5:27 p.m.

Mulder wearily gathered their bags together. Alex had Kat's hand in his own, she gripped it a little too tightly and he gritted his teeth, but said nothing. As they finally exited the plane Mari met them at the gate with outstretched arms.

"Fox! Alex! Katerina, honey! I missed you all so much, mmm! Mmm! Mmm!" She hugged and kissed each one in turn and then grabbed Kat's hand as she stepped back so her husband could great them.

"Alex. Fox. Do you have luggage?" Nikolai nodded at the two men, distant and cold without a trace of a smile. Nikolai's eyes sought out Alex's, and Alex could tell he was going to get a talking to as soon as they were alone.

Mulder intervened, "Uh, yes. Not much, though. Shall we?" Mari left with Kat to get the car, she held the little girl's hand securely as she asked Kat how she had enjoyed the plane ride. Both fathers watched them go before following Nikolai to the luggage carousel.

As their luggage appeared, Mulder reached to grab the bags. Nikolai took the heaviest of them and then led the way to where Mari would be waiting. As the older man strode ahead, Fox and Alex exchanged a look of mild dread. Nikolai was definitely in a mood.

Mari drove them to Anya's house where the rest of the family was waiting with a big welcome dinner. When they pulled up to the house Charles, Anya's husband, greeted them and carried their luggage in. Mari and Kat went inside with him. Fox faltered, but Alex nodded for him to go ahead inside. Nikolai waited, leaning on his car. With one last look, Fox went inside the house to join the rest of the family.

"Fox! You poor thing, you're limping... Come sit down. Eat! I made tons of food." Anya handed him a loaded plate and guided him to a comfy armchair in the living room. Various family members crowded around him and Kat as they commented on the need to 'fatten them up.'

"Where's Alex?" Anya asked, frowning as she searched for her younger brother.

"Outside, he and Nikolai..." Mulder trailed off frowning, he didn't want to make it sound like they were fighting or hiding something.

"Oh. They'll be in in a minute." Anya glanced out the window and then bustled into the kitchen, seeming to know 'exactly' what was going on.

Fox glanced outside as well, he could see Nikolai leaning in to talk to his lover, the older brother seemed very intent on something he was saying. Alex was standing stiffly, shoulders squared and his chin tilted up defiantly.

Kat ran up and tugged his pantleg; they had brought Kisa in with the luggage and wanted to let her out to show her cousins.

That night, they climbed into the bed in Anya's guest bedroom. They were utterly exhausted from the trip and family dinner. Kat slept in one of Anya's sons' empty rooms. Alex and Fox lay back on sky blue sheets, tucked in with a blue and white quilt. The windows showed some frost, but the room was warm.

^So? Gonna fill me in? ^ Fox propped himself up on an elbow and looked at Alex. His lover looked a little pale. Before Alex could respond Fox interrupted, ^Wait. Did you take your pain pill? ^

^I don't need it. ^

^Bull. Are you forgetting I can read your mind? Not to mention I can 'feel' your pain unless I'm blocking. Do us both a favor and take the goddamn pill. ^ Mulder felt around in their bags until he found the bag of prescription bottles and creams. Handing a pain pill and antibiotic over to Alex with the glass of water, he waited until the younger man swallowed both before holding out the tube of cream for his hands.

^I need to put some more on. So tell me what Nikolai wanted to say so badly. ^ Fox unwrapped the hands slowly and gently, careful not to jar or bump the skin he revealed.

Alex kept his eyes on his hands as he answered. ^Nothing. The usual. I'm a man. I need to take better care of my family. I'm being irresponsible. He grilled me on the accident.^

Mulder shook his head and squeezed some cream onto Alex's hands and gently rubbed it in to the skin. Alex clenched his jaw.

^Was that it? ^

^Pretty much. He's still pissed about something, though.^ Alex didn't want to talk about it. The pill started kicking in finally as Mulder was wrapping his hands up in fresh bandages. Closing his eyes, he focused on the feel of Mulder's warm finger tips on his wrist as his lover held his hand steady. The brush of Mulder's hair against his forehead as he leaned over his task. Alex breathed in deeply, savoring the musky unique scent that was growing stronger every day. He wondered if anyone else noticed it as much as he did. Mulder finished wrapping both hands and gently held them. Alex opened his eyes and glanced up.

^Are you okay? ^ Mulder's eyes were a warm golden brown. ^Yeah, just tired. And glad to be alone with you...^ Alex leaned in and brushed his lips against the other man's. Fox answered by pressing his lips back harder, their mouths opened and deepened the kiss.

Fox broke it, regretfully. ^We can't. We're in 'their' house. ^

Alex sighed, but nodded, they might not care too much when it was Scully and Skinner, but this was Alex's family, they were pretty conservative and he didn't want to upset them.

^We'll find some privacy. SOON. ^ Alex placed a freshly wrapped hand on Fox's belly and saw his lover smile slightly in answer.

^Soon. ^

St. Louis

December 2 2004

"Okay, then. We'll be back around dinnertime. There are leftovers in the fridge for your lunches or you can use the car to go out. Keys are on the hall table. Get some rest." Anya closed the door behind her, leading her nieces, sister, and sister-in-law to her minivan.

They were taking Kat to get some much-needed clothes and shoes to replace what she'd left behind at their house. They had wanted Fox and Alex to come along so they could shop for them, too, but the two men begged off saying they needed rest. The women had looked skeptical, but insisted on getting their sizes and preferred colors. (Just in case they happened to find something for them on sale.)

Both men peeked behind a curtain and watched the minivan leave. They turned and smiled excitedly, hopping up the stairs with speed that proved they were recovering nicely. Fox had informed Alex that his cycle was peaking that morning. Alex had been ready to ask Anya to baby-sit Kat while they went 'apartment hunting,' when she told them of her shopping plans.

Alone in the house, they took advantage of the large shower stall in the master bedroom. Anya had told them they were welcome to use it since the guest bath wasn't as nice. Still, they felt a little guilty thrill at borrowing it.

Fox washed both of them, running his hands slowly and seductively up and down Alex's body. Alex groaned as he abortively reached out to touch his lover. They had unwrapped his hands for the shower, but they were far too sore and tender to be used. That didn't stop Alex from pleasing his lover with his tongue, though.

"Mmmmmm. Oh, god, Alexxx..." Mulder thudded his head on the tiled wall and squeezed his eyes shut as Alex licked and sucked his nipples. Mulder's cries increased as Alex licked a trail to his stomach. Underneath his tongue, Alex felt the skin ripple and begin the change.

Mulder pulled him up. "Let's take this back to the bed." They dried off quickly and returned to the guest bedroom. Shutting the door, Mulder locked it just to be safe.

He yanked down the covers and laid down, he wanted to spread his legs and have Alex kneel in between them, but knew his lover couldn't rest his weight on his hands. Instead, he lay on his side and gestured for Alex to join him. They kissed, rubbing their bodies gently together, Fox's hands running up and down Alex's back, side, then around to cup his buttocks. Alex nuzzled his neck, breathing in the exciting smell that was extremely strong now...and so exciting. He licked and sucked Fox's neck, his hands, brushed against Fox's chest, 'ever' so slightly...gently. Fox shivered and then groaned as Alex's hands brushed lower and the fingers splayed to cover the area that was growing hotter by the moment, the skin soft, but changing.

The morphing increased until the opening began to form and Alex rubbed the area a little harder with his fingers, the slit became moist and opened slightly at the pressure. Fox clutched Alex's butt and urged him up. Alex then pushed his cock to the opening, feeling his lover's fingers clench and urge him on.

Their quickened breathing sounded harsh in the otherwise quiet room. Fox grunted as he pushed his cock in further. Alex groaned loudly as the opening finally accepted his organ into it's tight, hot embrace. The opening led to a hot pulsing channel that seemed to fit Alex's cock perfectly. Alex opened his eyes and looked at slightly down at his lover. Fox's eyes were squeezed shut.

^Fox, open your eyes...^ Fox's eyes fluttered open, large dilated pupils were ringed with moss green irises. ^Oh, god...Alex... ^

"God, you're so hot...so tight...uhmmmm, how does it feel, Lisa?" He was starting to thrust, gently, struggling to control his urge to start pistoning hard and fast.

Fox let the link wide open and Alex could feel what Fox was feeling. Overwhelming surges of heat and fire, pulsing from his stomach to his entire body. He felt opened, completed, full of desire and passion. The feeling from the opening was completely beyond words.

Alex let him feel his own sensations and Fox shuddered at the double stimulation. They began to rock faster, Alex slowly gave in to the urge to fuck him faster...harder... Fox's head flung back, "Yes! Harder! Oooohhh..."

Alex thrust into him one last time, they came together, although Fox's cock had been hard the entire time, his orgasm came, not from there, but from the slit, it tightened hard on Alex's cock and a warm wave of fluid seeped from the opening. Fox's member slowly drooped, without climax.

Mulder didn't care, the orgasm from his slit was far more powerful than he had ever experienced before. They lay, slumped on the bed, their arms wrapped around one another. Alex pulled out, finally and they watched, the slit remained unchanged for a moment, and then seemed to slowly shrink. But as they watched for several more moments. It didn't disappear as it had each time before.

They waited about an hour, Mulder then looked up and into Alex's wide eyes. Fox glared silently, and Alex grimaced slightly.

"Uh, oops..."

The opening didn't go away, although it was slightly smaller than during the climax of the cycle and the two folds of skin met perfectly, leaving only a small line visible on Fox's stomach about an inch above his belly button.

"Well, just wear a shirt around company and-" Alex let the idea die on his lips as he got a fierce glare from his lover. In fact, he'd gotten nothing but glares since they'd made love. Hadn't it been the best sex in their life?

^Yes, it was. But the fact remains that we've done 'something' and now it WON'T GO AWAY! ^

Alex sighed, he 'did' feel bad for Mulder, but it didn't seem all 'that' bad. 'Maybe we could have sex that way more often now?'

Fox wasn't letting a single thought go by, ^Oh? Well this might be wonderful news for YOU, buddy. But I'M the one that has to have this...'thing' stay here. ^ Mulder turned away from him abruptly and stared out a window.

Alex damned his lack of control on his own dirty mind and wished he knew what to say to soothe his lover. Fox was always distraught to be reminded of how 'un' human he was sometimes. He almost wished that 'he' were the one with the slit so Mulder wasn't upset with it. ALMOST.

Mulder snorted at that. ^Almost. ^

Alex opened his mouth, but Mulder shook his head. ^Forget it. Let's just forget it for a little while. I'm hungry. ^ Fox turned to leave the room and Alex watched sadly, feeling somehow responsible, even though he wasn't sure how.

Fox turned back and pulled him into a hug. "Come on, we worked up an appetite."

Alex went with him; Fox holding his newly bandaged hand.

December 22 2004

Mulder-Krycek Apartment

Kat blew out her candles with a little help from Alex. Fox watched fondly from his chair. Their apartment was full of family and friends, everyone wanted to see Katerina Samantha Mulder Krycek celebrate her fourth birthday. She was dressed in a lavender dress with a darker purple ribbon sash tied in a bow in the back. A matching purple ribbon held her dark brown hair in a ponytail. It curled naturally and bounced as she bounded around the room with her fellow cousins, showing off her presents and thanking her aunts and uncles.

Alex cut the cake, glancing around for his lover; Fox was sitting in an armchair in the corner of the room, away from most of the guests. After handing out most of the cake, he took two pieces and some forks and napkins, handing one each to Mulder.

Fox looked up surprised, but smiled as Alex pulled another chair close to him. "What are you doing in the corner, Fox?"

Fox shook his head. "Nothing, just a little tired. I didn't get much sleep last night and I was up early with Kat, you know..."

Alex nodded, but still watched Fox concernedly as his lover picked at his cake. Kat raced up to them. "Is it time for the big present now?!" Fox and Alex had held back on their main present, wanting her to have a surprise. Alex stood, "Not yet, ten minutes."

Kat frowned, but then ran to her Aunt Anya to thank her for the Barbie doll.

"I need to put it together, wanna help?" Alex asked, setting his empty plate down on a nearby table. Fox shook his head, "No, you go ahead, I'll make sure she doesn't peek."

Alex disappeared into Kat's bedroom and shut the door. Kat was bouncing from guest to guest for the next couple of minutes; Fox closed his eyes tiredly for a moment and missed when Kat decided to go to her room for a toy. Opening his eyes he caught sight of her too late, she had opened her door.

"Daddy!" She squealed excitedly. Fox shook his head as he stood to go to her, she was too curious for her own good... She'd make a good FBI agent.

Fox reached her and put his hand on her shoulder, their guests crowded in around them and they peered in with them. Alex was smiling at Kat, too good-natured to be upset that his surprise was ruined. He was halfway through in setting up a play-kitchen for Kat. It was a fairly elaborate deal, with an oven, microwave, sink, fridge, phone, coffee maker and table all built in. They had both known Kat would love it. She always wanted to play in the kitchen and 'help' them.

Kat jumped up and down. "Daddy! It's a kitchen!"

Mulder smiled at her excitement, "Yes. It's YOUR kitchen. Now you can make your own food." They had bought her toy food, too. It was in another box, wrapped and waiting next to the various parts and pieces of the in-progress-kitchen. The guests milled back out of the room and Kat bounced out with them.

Alex was attaching the door to the little fridge and Mulder noticed how his hands were trembling slightly. Cursing himself, he reached out. "Alex. I wasn't thinking. Let me do that."

Alex frowned up at him, "I can do it, Fox."

"I know, but you did to much today, anyway. Your hands are hurting. Don't deny it. I can feel it. Sit back and supervise, will you?" Alex handed him the plastic door and scooted back to give him room. Mulder started putting the door in wrong. Alex cleared his throat and his lover corrected his mistake and mock-glared at him. "See? You love to boss me around..."

"Definitely. Just wait until we're in bed..." Mulder leered back and finished putting the kitchen together without too many mishaps.

Kat played with it when they finished and even after the guests left...she still played with it. Making 'muffins' and 'cookies' until they put her to bed.

Once in bed themselves, they lay spooned, Alex wrapped his arm over Mulder's side and hugged him, the rough, damaged skin of his hand brushing against Mulder's stomach. Fox put his own hand over Alex's and gently held it still. They lay, breathing quietly, Alex's head was propped up on Fox's shoulder, and his breath tickled the older man's neck.

They hadn't made love through the opening since the cycle. Mulder had pulled back from contact there during sex and Alex had acquiesced without comment. Now, Alex wanted to make love to him there again.

Alex slid his hand out from Fox's and gently rubbed the area around the slit, Fox moaned softly and stilled the hand again.

^No? ^ Alex asked gently.

^I don't know...if you want to... ^ Fox was extremely hesitant.

^I want to, but if you don't-^

^It's okay.^ Mulder turned onto his back and Alex ran his hand up an down Fox's stomach, the opening seemed to swell as the folds of skin thickened and reddened slightly. Alex traced a finger along its edge and Fox moaned, pushing the finger harder against it.

They made love slowly, but with every bit as much excitement and passion as the last time. Alex came in the hot tight channel right after Fox groaned out his own climax. They caught their breath, kissing and nuzzling as they recovered. Alex slipped out and they found themselves watching the slit. Same as before, it slowly lost its reddened color and shrunk back to a small closed slit.

Alex kissed Fox on the lips again, whether in apology or closure, or both, neither was sure. They soon ended up back in their spoon embrace and fell asleep.

December 25 2004

10:15 a.m.

Christmas morning was spent with just the three of them. The night before had been the family party at Anya's.

Mulder and Alex still sat in their bathrobes at the dining room table, sipping coffee. Kat was playing with her new toys. She had raked in quite a load this year from both her birthday and Christmas. Kisa was chasing bits of ribbon and wrapping paper. Sasha was currently AWOL again, but no one was particularly worried. He always turned up.

Alex arched his back and moved as if to stand. Fox put a hand out on his arm. "Where are you going?"

"Shower, shave...we've been sitting here like lumps..."

"It's Christmas morning. We're supposed to sit around like lumps. I haven't given you your present yet."

"You gave me a cashmere sweater and those...interesting socks." Mulder had given him a beautiful dark green sweater and black socks with garish reindeer on them.

Alex had given Mulder a DVD collection of all of the Star Trek movies and a dark brown leather jacket and gloves.

"Yes, but I think you'll like this even better." Alex obligingly sat back down and Fox trailed his fingers down from his wrist and wrapped them around his hand, reaching out, he clasped Alex's other hand.

Now holding both hands, Mulder looked into his eyes, a warm tingle spread from where Fox's hands gripped his own. Alex looked down in shock, the skin on his hands smoothed and healed before his eyes. Fox shifted his fingers, caressing over all of the damaged area until the hands he held were whole and undamaged. He finally let go, watching Alex closely through suspiciously shiny eyes.

Alex flexed his fingers; they had been stiff and sore ever since the accident. Every wrinkle of skin had rubbed abrasively when he had used his fingers and the skin had felt fiery hot all of the time.

Now? Now they felt normal. His sensation of touch seemed a little more sensitive, but normal. Alex felt a tear run down his cheek without realizing. He finally tore his eyes off of his hands to look up at his lover.

Fox's eyes were still bright and wet. "How do they feel?"

"Normal. Perfect. How-?"

Mulder stood up and walked over to lean against Alex still sitting. Taking Alex's hand from the tabletop he pressed it against his belly, a light fluttering could be felt.

Alex stared at his hand resting on Fox's stomach and then raised his face to stare wide-eyed at his lover. He had wished, but never truly dared to hope...

Fox smiled down at him and a tear finally escaped, Alex pressed his head against Fox's belly and felt both arms cradle his head there. Alex then stood and embraced him, they kissed softly.

Kat ran into the room. "What's going on?" She sensed something going on between the two of her fathers.

They broke their embrace just enough to hold their hands out and she burrowed in, her arms clutching their legs, too short to fully join in so they knelt down and all three hugged.

Pulling back finally, Fox glanced at Alex. They weren't sure how they were going to explain it to her, but they were too excited to wait.

"Kat? There is ONE more present for all three of us this year." Kat looked around excitedly and then frowned, confused. "What?"

"How would you like a brother or a sister?"

Kat nodded excitedly. "Where?"

They glanced at each other again. Fox decided to delay that conversation, "Not yet. But in several months, you'll have a brother or sister hopefully." Kat was disappointed at the delay and eventually went off to play.

^How in the hell are we going to explain this one, Fox? ^

^I don't know... She's young, it won't seem all 'that' weird to her. ^

^No, but it will to everyone she talks to and there's NO way she won't... We have a dilemma on our hands. Maybe we should just say the stork delivered it and you just got fat for a while. ^

Mulder glared at him, ^I'm NOT lying to her. And I am NOT going to just tell everyone I'm just fat. ^

^How on earth will we explain it then? To our family? I don't think they'll buy another year round trip resulting in another adoption of a child that looks a heck of a lot like us. We get enough suspicious looks from my family. ^

Fox sank down in his chair, a grim look on his face.

Alex regretted how such a miraculous event had turned sour. ^Relax, Lisa. We'll think of something. I'm sorry. ^ Alex caressed Fox's cheek with his newly healed hands. The fingertips were smooth and soft now.

Mulder tilted his head up and smiled softly. Alex kissed him. ^I forgot. Thank you VERY much for my present. ^ and kissed him again.

>> Bang <<

>> Bang <<

>> Bang <<

>> Bang <<

>> Bang <<

>> Bang <<

> Clunk <

< silence >

>> Bang <<

>> Bang <<

>> Bang <<

>> Bang <<

^God damn it! WHAT are you doing?! ^

Mulder whipped the blankets off his legs and sat up in the bed. Pulling on his robe he went to hunt down his ambitious lover...

"Good morning, Lisa." Alex looked up as Fox appeared in the doorway of their guest bedroom. Fox ran a hand through his bed head hair and glared at his lover who sat in the middle of the floor amid hammer, nails, and pieces of wood.

"WHAT in the hell are you doing?!" Fox folded his arms over his chest. Alex raised an eyebrow and pointed out Kat in the corner, 'helping' her papa by playing with assorted tools.

"I wanted to get started..." Alex turned and picked up his hammer.

"ON..." Fox asked impatiently.

"On the crib." Alex held up the railings that were almost put together. Fox felt his irritation at being woken up so rudely on a Sunday melt into a sappy puddle.

"Oh." He said quietly as he walked over to Alex and laid a hand on his shoulder. Alex looked up, smiling, little chips of wood in his hair. Mulder picked one out and then tweaked his nose. ^You know it's going to be months...We're not going to need it for quite a while. ^

^I know. I just wanted to do it now. And Kat wanted to help...we were talking and she's getting pretty excited about being a big sister. She wants to help us get ready. ^ Fox smiled at that and turned to watch their daughter. She was seriously contemplating the insides of their toolbox and rearranging the order of the tools.

"Well, my busy bees...how about we take a break for some breakfast?" Kat jumped up and ran to wash her hands. Fox pulled Alex to his feet, but didn't immediately let go, instead he held the captive hands up closer to his face. "You better be careful with those hands, buddy. I don't want you smacking your thumb with the hammer." Fox ran his fingertips over Alex's hands. The skin was still new and pink; they weren't yet callused, though from the feel of it Alex had been making an attempt to form some.

Alex just smiled and kissed Fox's hand earning a little mock-glare in return. "They're fine. How do YOU feel?"

"A little queasy, but I think it'll be fine once I eat something."

Alex frowned at that and tugged him towards the door, "Well, then...let's go eat."

They entered the kitchen; it was smaller than their old one, but not too bad. Alex grabbed the bread and popped them in the toaster. He then opened the fridge for the eggs.

Mulder filled the coffee machine with water and reached for the coffee.

"Decaf if you're drinking it, Fox." Alex didn't even look up from the stove. Mulder made a face and shoved the bag back, reaching for the small canister of decaf.

Jan 25 2005

"Scully." Her brisk tone left Mulder no doubt he'd interrupted her in the middle of work.

"Hey, Scully. How's work?"

"Mulder! Fine...boring." She sighed.

"No flukemen to autopsy? No vampires?"

Scully grinned a little, "Nope, not a one. Like I said...boring. What's up? Is anything wrong? How are Kat and Alex?"

"Nothing's wrong. They're both fine. They went out for a while...thought I'd catch up with you."

Scully sensed something wasn't being said. "How are 'you' doing?"

"I'm fine. Feeling...okay."

Scully knew he was going to keep her guessing, but played along. "Feeling...how?" She imitated.

"Feeling...kind of like I did when I first got back." Mulder couldn't fight off a grin now. He knew her little wheels would be turning in her head.

"Like you first...?" Scully frowned, and then a slow incredulity dawned on her. "Mulder? Are you trying to say...?"

"Yep! Bingo." Neither was going to say it over the phone.

There was a long silence. "Uh, Scully? You okay over there?"

"Uh...I-I, Mulder are you 'sure'?"


Another long pause. Mulder was beginning to think this wasn't the best way to break it to her. "Scully?"

"I'm here, Mulder. I don't...don't know what to say." Another pause, then, "How?" she demanded.

"I think 'that's' a topic for another time. So, how were your holidays? How's your mom?"

Scully rolled her eyes at that. "Fine, Mulder. Just fine. Sounds like your holidays were more eventful than mine."

"Yes, they probably were." Mulder smiled.

St. Louis

Orthodox Easter 2004

6:55 p.m.

Mulder helped Mari and Anya clean the dishes from the Easter dinner. Kids darted in between the adults as they carried stacks of dishes to the kitchen. Last week had been what the Kryceks called "American Easter." But the orthodox religion calculated easter differently and so today the family had gotten together to celebrate at Mari's house.

"That was a great meal, Mari. You're a wonderful cook."

Mari beamed, she was quite proud of the meal she had cooked for the holiday. "Yes, I noticed you had quite an appetite. Three helpings! I'm glad to see you're no longer a rail."

Mulder felt his ears burn; he was beginning to show. Much as he and Alex discussed it, they still hadn't decided what to say about the pregnancy, so they remained silent.

"Uh, yes. You're food is just too good. Excuse me." He stepped back out of the kitchen to pick up some more plates. He saw Alex still talking with his brother in the next room. Nikolai had seemed extra moody today and had pulled Alex aside after the meal to talk. As he watched, Fox saw the conversation take a heated turn, Nikolai glanced up and noticed his observation and pulled on Alex's sleeve for him to follow him into the next room.

"No. What is your problem, Nick? This is Easter; I don't want-" Alex jerked his arm out of his older brother's grasp, refusing to go with the man. Nikolai flushed a furious red.

"You WILL come with me, Alexei. Are you forgetting who I am?" Nikolai reached to grab Alex again.

Without thinking, Mulder rushed into the hallway and put himself in between the two men. Nikolai had grasped Alex's elbow again and as Mulder came between them, he was jostled off of his feet and into Nikolai.

The three men crashed into the wall of the hallway, struggling to regain their balance. As they did so, Nikolai brushed against Fox's stomach as the child moved. Nikolai froze and stared at the bulge between them. He then slowly raised his eyes to stare in horror at Mulder.

Alex grimaced and grabbed Fox's elbows, helping him regain his balance and pulling him away from his brother. Several people rushed into the hallway at the noise, but Alex waved them away. "It's okay, Fox tripped on the rug and bumped into Nick." Mari frowned at this, but guided the others into the living room.

Nikolai was still leaning against the wall in shock. He was staring at Mulder's stomach. "Eh-ta vahz-mozh-na?" He whispered, stunned.

Alex's eyes darkened and Mulder glanced at both of them worriedly. "Nikolai, I think we should go to your study, after all." Alex gestured for his brother to lead the way. Nikolai pushed away from the wall and led them to his office.

Alex closed the door behind them and turned the lock as Nikolai grabbed some glasses and a bottle of liquor from a small cabinet. He poured a glass and moved to pour some in the other two glasses.

"No, thank you, Nick. I'd rather not and Mulder shouldn't." Nikolai darted a look at Fox, but set the bottle down, moving to sit in one of two leather chairs in the room. Alex motioned for Fox to sit in the other one, he remained standing behind the chair, glaring at his brother.

A strained silence remained between the two brothers, neither wanting to cave first and speak. Exasperated, Mulder finally spoke up. "How about one of you tell me what you two have been arguing about?"

Nikolai shifted his gaze from his brother's accusing eyes to Fox's. "What do you mean?"

"Can it, Nick. You two seemed all right for a while, but the last two years you've been watching us suspiciously and pulling Alex aside for a lecture every time we meet. What's bothering you?"

Nikolai flicked his eyes down to Mulder's stomach and back again. "I don't know-"

Alex moved around to Mulder's right side, "Cut the bullshit, Nikolai, Fox is right, why all the lectures on taking care of my family and always asking me about our personal lives? About Kat? About my past?"

Nikolai slammed down his glass. "Do you think I don't know?! Do you think I don't know about the men? The men that made you work for them? Why you went away so quickly? Never contacted your family?"

Alex pulled a chair out from Nikolai's desk and sat next to Mulder. Very quietly he asked, "What do you think you know?"

"What do I 'think' I know? Don't patronize ME, 'Lexei. I raised you from a small boy. And they wanted me to work for them, too. I refused. But YOU. You are 'still' working for them."

Mulder glanced at Alex, his lover's face was very still, but his eyes gleamed dangerously. "You couldn't refuse them. You did it or you were eliminated. You're lying."

Nikolai glared back, the tension and anger between the two men was palpable and made Fox shift in his seat involuntarily. As he did, he could also feel the restless surge and roll of the child inside him. Kat had been an active baby, but this one was proving even more active. He finally began to rub his belly gently, trying to soothe it.

Nikolai noticed. "I am not. I told them to go to hell. Our parents were fools to be involved with them. I was struggling to hold onto two jobs taking care of my little brother and two sisters. I could have used the money they offered me, but I refused it. What is 'your' excuse?"

Alex leaned forward, ready to do battle. Mulder held out his free hand. "Wait. Let's discuss that later. Right now I want to know why you said you think Alex is still working for 'them'."

Nikolai seemed triumphant as he pointed a finger at Mulder's belly where a hand still rubbed it. "That! You are carrying a child. And Kat. She is the work of those men. They tried to get me to work on one of their 'projects' many times. They were doing something to fetal tissue. I saw enough to know they were doing experiments on children and unnatural ways in gestating."

Alex stood again. "Now I know you are lying. The only way you would know anything about those experiments is if you were working for them very closely. Just how long DID you work for them, Nick?"

Nikolai stood, too. The two seemed about to fight, Fox found it difficult to rise from the laid back chair. Luckily for him, someone knocked, loudly, on the locked door. "Nikolai, let me in." Mari sounded serious.

Alex and Nikolai had frozen in place, fists clenched. Mulder stopped struggling and leaned back as Nikolai finally brushed past his brother and unlocked the door. "What is it, Mari? We were talking..."

Mari pushed past him and closed the door behind her. "Yes, I know. And I also know you will get nowhere if I leave you alone in here. I saw off our guests, Katerina is spending the night here, Natasha is watching her upstairs." She sat down where Nikolai had been glared at Nikolai until he moved to stand next to her.

"Alex, sit. We have much to discuss. Fox, are you feeling all right?" Mari's eyes were warmer when she spoke to Mulder.

"Yes, I'm fine." Mulder glanced at Alex, but his lover was too busy glaring at his brother.

"Good. Now, I gather the three of you were discussing 'business,' am I right?"

Mulder glanced at the other two men, they were in the middle of a staring contest so he decided to take over. "Yes. What do you know about this... 'business?'"

"I was involved. For several years. That's how Nikolai and I met. I worked for one of their projects. I was supposed to 'convince' Nick to join our cause." Mari smiled at Alex's sudden reaction, he jerked his eyes to stare at his sister-in-law.

"What? What happened?" Alex was stunned, Mulder just nodded, it made sense.

"So you two did some work together?" Mulder asked, Mari nodded and ignored her husband and brother-in-law for Mulder.

"Yes. We worked on one of the cloning experiments. I was not a doctor or scientist, though. My talents were more...in communications. I'd rather not discuss it now. Suffice to say that I was not happy with my work and Nikolai was a young doctor, so dashing and handsome, so against what they had us doing." She smiled and glanced up at her husband, reaching for one of his hands. Alex just stared.

"So...anyway. I got us out. I negotiated and won us freedom from their...'interference' in exchange for my silence and occasional use of my skills. I guess they decided not to chance working with me again, because I never heard from them since. We were lucky. And we've been silent about our involvement until now in order to 'remain' lucky." She glanced back up at her husband, her face conveying her disappointment in him for breaking their vow.

She glanced back at Mulder once more. "But. I suppose we can trust you two not to spread this around. So, are you really pregnant, Fox?" Her intelligent eyes were piercing.

Mulder tensed, but felt Alex's grip on his arm. "Mari, this silent pact will go both ways." Alex glared meaningfully.

Mari laughed, Mulder felt a little uneasy. He had underestimated this woman. She was excellent in hiding her true colors.

^Oh, don't worry, Fox. I like you, both of you. Alex is my brother-in-law...and so are you. I would never let anyone harm you. Actually, I've been quite worried for both of you. And you? I underestimated you, too. I should have known what was up much sooner, but you are pretty good at shielding. ^

Mulder raised an eyebrow. ^You, too. ^

Neither brother heard the exchange they were watching their respective spouses closely, both suspected a telepathic exchange, but had no way of knowing for certain.

"I'm waiting for an answer, Fox. We won't speak of this to the family if you don't want to. But I think you will find the Krycek siblings to be fairly open minded at such things. It is a family business, after all..."

Mulder swallowed, but decided the cat was well out of the bag. "Yes. I am pregnant. And Kat is our daughter as well. In blood as well as spirit."

Mari reached out and grabbed both Mulder's and Alex's hands. "Oh, I'm so happy for both of you. How did it happen? Was it really consortium experiments? I wouldn't think they would be so advanced even after all these years."

Mulder realized that she didn't know as much of the consortium's business as she thought she did.

They spent the next couple of hours sharing information. Nikolai eventually sat down on the arm of Mari's chair. Mari and Nikolai were stunned, but open at the explanations of alien invasions and morphing and how Mulder and Alex had come to be together on a rebel alien's ship.

They had explained Kat's conception and birth, but hadn't told of the current pregnancy.

"But how are you pregnant again, Fox? Did the oilean or morph...?" Mari laid a sympathetic hand on Mulder's arm.

"Um, no. Actually, I'd rather not discuss it. It is now possible for us to have children without intervention. That's all I will say." Mulder shut his mouth firmly and Alex nodded.

Nikolai had been quiet through most of the discussion, but his face had changed from stony malice to a more neutral expression. He rose, "What about your doctor, Mulder? You said your former partner and another doctor helped you and monitored your pregnancy. Have you done the same for this one?"

Fox blushed; he hated the thought that they knew so much about such a private and personal subject. "Uh, no, actually. Scully did examine me briefly shortly after the...after I found out I was pregnant, but she's been far too busy to visit lately. She is planning to come as soon as possible and do some tests."

Nikolai shook his head, "That's unacceptable. You should be closely monitored. Even if you 'were' extraordinarily lucky with Katerina...there is so much that could go wrong in even a normal pregnancy. This is far from normal. My specialty may have changed from when I started out, but I am competent in the field."

Mulder opened his mouth to protest. Mari pounced, "Yes. You must be examined, Alex I am surprised at you! Why haven't you taken better care of Fox? No doctors...tsk."

They all stood, Mulder still trying to protest, but this time Alex interrupted, "I think this has been a bit much to take in. I think we should get some rest and think about things. Excuse me, but as you two so often like to point out, I need to take care of my family. Come on, Fox." He started out the door, his hand on Mulder's elbow.

Much as he hated being ordered about and treated like a child, Mulder went gratefully, wanting to get out of the room too desperately to complain.

Mari and Nikolai protested, but finally gave in as they collected Kat and left the house.

"All right. We'll see you soon, though. Bye, Kat! Happy Easter!"

They drove away, Alex gripping the wheel tightly. Kat closed her eyes and dozed in the back of the car. It was raining and the 'thwack, thwack' of the windshield wipers would have hypnotized Mulder, too if he hadn't been so nervous and upset.

^Were we right to tell them? ^

Alex glanced at him and then back at the road, ^Well, it's a little late NOW. But, yes...I don't think they would do anything to harm us. Or else I would have gotten us out immediately. The consortium is dead. There may be pockets, but they are not the threat they once were. And I never heard of my brother or Mari's involvement. They were likely telling the truth and were 'out' of it for years before I was recruited. ^

Mulder nodded, ^I didn't sense any ill will from them. Mari's good at blocking, but I'm better. Now that I knew to look, I searched her mind thoroughly. She wasn't even aware of it. Her ability is limited and naturally occurring. She isn't a hybrid. She's a lot smarter and more devious than I would have thought, but she loves your brother and you and the whole family. She's happy and does want to help us. But still...I hate having more people know about this. And I don't want them knowing any MORE. I don't want your brother examining me, Alex. ^

^Of course not, Fox. I understand. But we have to get Scully down here for a visit. It's been far too long. She barely examined you in February. Just checked your bp and a brief examination of your belly. She said she wanted to examine you more fully and do another sonogram and she hasn't yet. ^

^I know. She feels bad, she's been so busy... ^

^Fuck that! When we get home I'm getting Skinner on the line and he is going to get his ass in gear about getting her time off. ^

They pulled up to their apartment. Mulder held the umbrella as Alex scooped Kat up in his arms and they went inside.

Laying down their daughter in her warm bed they tucked her in and took turns kissing her on the forehead. They turned out the light and closed her door most of the way. Kisa jumped up on her bed and kneaded the blankets, purring.

Mulder decided to take a shower while Alex checked the house again before turning in for the night. He'd hoped Alex would join him afterwards, but there was no sign so he finally rinsed off and dried himself. Walking into the bedroom he heard Alex on the phone, obviously talking to Skinner.

"Don't give me that, you know that it is important for Scully to come here. Just make it happen... No I don't have any knowledge about that... You believe what you want to, Skinner. You want to ask Fox? Go ahead."

Alex held the phone up, his eyes revealing nothing, the link closed. Mulder took the phone and sat down on the edge of the bed in his robe.

"Mulder, what do you know of the recent disappearance and death of Chris Jacobson?" Skinner's voice was low and deadly serious.

"Nothing. When did this happen?" Mulder glanced up at his lover, Alex was picking up the towel Mulder had tossed on the floor, avoiding his gaze.

Skinner ignored his question, "Do you know the whereabouts of Alex Krycek from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. today?"

Mulder rolled his eyes, "Yes. He was with Kat and I all morning and afternoon. We went to his brother's house around 4:30. He was with in plain sight of his family the whole time..."

Skinner cleared his throat, "I'll tell Agent Scully that she has three days of leave effective tomorrow." He hung up.

Mulder hung the phone up and went into the bathroom, Alex was brushing his teeth. Fox folded his arms and leaned against the doorway. "Well?"

"Weh, whahh?" Alex kept brushing.

"You know very well... How did you do it?"

Alex spit out the toothpaste and rinsed his mouth. "If you are referring to the alleged crime that Skinner so sweetly asked me about, then I have to say that I 'didn't' do anything..." Alex wiped his mouth on the hand towel and turned a completely innocent face to his lover.

It was wasted. "It's obvious you did it. I just didn't know you still had connections to have this sort of thing done. I thought you were past that." Mulder shifted, letting Alex past him.

They went back to the bedroom. "I have no idea what you're talking about Mulder. But I will tell you one thing...never assume I'm past anything where my family is concerned. And that is all I'm saying on the subject." Alex climbed into bed and turned out his bedside lamp.

Mulder climbed in after a moment's hesitation. He hated the thought of what Alex had obviously arranged done. But he'd known the kind of man he'd gotten involved with. And when he thought of what home life must have been like for 'Mrs.' Jacobson and their children... He had a hard time being too upset.

They lay on opposite sides of the bed for several moments. Finally, Alex sighed and moved closer, putting his head on Fox's shoulder and moving a hand down to his belly. "I couldn't let him endanger another child of mine..."

Fox put his own hand on top of his and they lay awake a long time.

To be continued...

Eh-ta vahz-mozh-na? Translation: "Is it possible?"


Blood drips off the cold metal table to join a large pool beneath it. Blood slickens my fingers as they struggle with an unfamiliar metal clasp.

Dark red blood contrasts with cold gray skin. The eyes are open, devoid of feeling or consciousness.

Hazel eyes stare up at me unblinking as I scream.

Alex woke with a cry. Wrenching his body away from an unidentifiable restraint he leaped to the floor, squatting into a defensive crouch, stiletto in hand.

"Alex?! Are you all right?!" Mulder sat in the bed, covers pooled in his lap, his chest bare. Alex's eyes darted around the room, seeking what had woken him in full-blown panic.

Mulder slowly, cautiously slid out from under the covers and stood by the bed. He was completely naked, testimony to their earlier activities before falling asleep.

Alex remained crouched, his chest heaving and heart pounding, eyes flickering over the walls, under the bed and back to the closed door, over and over.

Mulder walked over to his lover, hands out and open until he reached his lover, then crouched next to him. "What is it?" He asked softly.

"I don't- I don't know. I, something woke me. I'm not sure..." Alex bit out, unable to identify the threat he was so sure of moments ago.

"I don't hear anything and I don't sense anything. How about we get off the floor?" Mulder helped Alex rise, arms wrapped around the trembling younger man.

"Don't talk to me like that. I'm not crazy, something was wrong..." Alex pulled away from Fox's embrace and pulled on a pair of sweatpants.

"I'm not saying you 'are' crazy. I just think it might have been a nightmare. You were sleeping a moment ago and then you started to thrash and then sprang out of the bed."

Alex frowned and ran a hand through his sweat soaked locks. "Weren't you sleeping?"

"No. I was checking on Kat and when I came in you were tossing and turning, I tried to soothe you and you flew out of the bed."

"Did I hurt you?" Alex sat back down on the bed, eyes flicking up and down Fox's body. His lover's belly was larger and rounder every time he looked; Mulder seemed to be progressing awfully fast. He reached a hand out and touched Fox's belly, feeling an answering movement within.

"No. You just pushed me aside and jumped out of bed, I'm fine. Do you remember the dream?"

"No. Just panic and fear. I thought something was wrong..." Alex shuddered and Fox reached out and embraced him again, this time Alex returned it gratefully.

Pulling back, Alex took a deep breath and pushed the incident aside, feeling foolish. "So, why were you checking on Kat? Did she call?"

"No, I was just passing by and checked up on her..." Mulder looked sheepish.

"Oh?" Alex glanced at the bedside table; a partially eaten sandwich lay there on a plate. "Oh...midnight refrigerator raid, Lisa?"

Fox chuckled, "Caught me red handed. Jr. woke me up for a feeding. Want some?" He picked up the plate and held it out.

Alex's nose wrinkled in distaste, "WHAT is that?" It smelled fishy, but odd.

"Tuna fish sandwich...with peanut butter." Fox took a big bite. "Mmmmm..."

"Mulder, you are in danger of becoming a walking stereotype. What is with the weird cravings lately? You weren't like this with Kat."

Mulder licked the corner of his mouth. "I don't know...maybe I need more protein. Scully said that cravings were indications of something my body lacked. Both tuna and peanut butter are full of protein. I don't know, really. They just sounded good. Both of them. I couldn't choose." He took another bite.

The wrinkle above Alex's nose was still in evidence as he watched his lover eat the disgusting sandwich. Fox loved that little wrinkle, it was so cute. He leaned in for a kiss.

"Yuck! Not without brushing your teeth, Lisa! Honestly!" Alex leaned out of range.

Fox pouted but took another bite.

Scully arrived on the first morning flight. Mulder grabbed her carryon bag only to have Alex grab it from him in return. He frowned and then gave Scully a big hug.

"Scully! You have to tell Alex to quit being such a mother hen. How was your flight?"

Scully smiled, tiredly. "Okay. I'm starved, how about we grab some breakfast? All I've had is a bag of pretzels."

After they treated her to breakfast at a nearby diner, they drove her to their apartment. Kat was visiting relatives so they could have a private discussion.

Scully sat down on the sofa with Mulder while Alex sat in a wingback chair nearby. Now that they were out of public view Scully held out a hand near Mulder's belly.

"May I?"

Mulder smiled slightly and nodded. Scully pressed her hand on his rounded stomach and smiled at the movement within. She then turned a critical eye at him. "You're bigger than I expected, Mulder. Have you noticed an increased appetite than you did with Kat?"

Alex answered for him, "Yes, he's eating more and he has strange cravings. With Kat he just wanted his favorite foods more often. But this time he's been eating tuna and peanut butter sandwiches and wanting anchovies and pineapple on pizza. I keep expecting him to ask for pickles and ice cream."

Mulder glared at his chortling lover. "Thanks 'ever' so much, lover. I'll be sure to remember that later..."

Alex stopped laughing, though he still grinned, "Sorry, Lisa. If our positions were reversed I 'know' you'd be teasing me worse, admit it."

Fox smiled, "Well, of course I would. Anyway, Scully, yes I do seem hungrier. And I've been craving steaks lately."

Scully nodded, "Sounds like you may need additional vitamins, but I wouldn't worry. We'll assess your blood results and figure it out. How are you feeling otherwise?"

"Fine. Happy, actually. I know it sounds weird, but it feels more...'natural' this time." Mulder shrugged, but leaned back with a smile on his face, his hand on his belly.

Scully smiled sadly. "Well, that's good, Mulder. I'm happy for you, both of you. But, I want to know more about how we're going to handle your tests this time. You said that Alex's brother had access to all the equipment and tests we need as well as privacy. I want to know if you're completely sure we can trust him." She flicked an apologetic glance at Alex, but focused on Mulder's face.

"I've scanned Nikolai and all of the Krycek family now. They have varying levels of knowledge about the consortium in general and very limited knowledge of their experiments. I believe that Nikolai and Mari honestly want to help us and we can trust them. But I also think we shouldn't involve them too much. You're still the only one I trust to examine the baby and me, Scully. They are just there to observe and help. Okay?"

Scully's eyes warmed, she knew Mulder trusted her most of all. She would NEVER betray that trust. It went both ways, too. She knew that she could trust him completely and he'd always be there for her.

^Of course, Scully. I love you. You're the best friend and partner I could have ever wished have for. ^ She smiled, surprised, she never failed to be a little startled to 'hear' his voice in her head.

She repressed and avoided any thoughts that sprung from her mind at what he'd communicated to her, though. She loved him, too. And no matter how much she valued their friendship, she'd never stop wishing it could have been more.

Alex stood and sat next to Fox, putting an arm around him and holding a hand out to Scully. "That goes for both of us, Scully. You're the only one we could trust with this. You're a part of our family."

Scully nodded and blinked back tears. "Well, since you said we'd be going at night, I guess I'd like to get some rest. I'm a little tired." Alex nodded understandingly, "Of course. We put you in the extra room, there's still a bed in there, but it's a little crowded with the crib..."

Scully stepped into the room. A large, well-built crib took up a good deal of space along with the supplies being stored there. They seemed to be nearly ready for the birth even though it was a still about a little over three months away.

They left her alone and she lay down on the bed. She stared at the crib and clothes and toys lying inside it. She felt the tears she'd been holding back finally slip past her control. 'God, if only I hadn't lost the baby... What would he or she have been like?' She turned to face the wall and tried to sleep.

Alex was wearing a hole in the rug. He paced back and forth in front of the door they were waiting for Nikolai to come and open. Scully leaned against a wall with her arms folded in front of her as she watched with amusement. The typical father-to-be behavior in Krycek was rather endearing to see.

Mulder, on the other hand, looked anything but an expectant mother. He was popping sunflower seeds rapidly as he flipped through a sports magazine while sitting in a chair in the lobby. She pushed away from the wall and sat down next to him. He offered her his bag of seeds, which she shook her head to. She never could understand the fixation.

The elevator chimed and an older version of Alex stepped out wearing a dark gray suit and trench coat.

"Where in the hell have you been, Nikolai? We've been waiting." Alex growled at his brother who gave him an icy glare in return.

"I'm here now. Shall we?" Nikolai let them into the doctor's office through a series of rooms. Scully began to consult with the elder Krycek while Alex cased the rooms, checking for traps and possible escape roots. Mulder burped and Alex handed him a saltine from his jacket pocket. "When will you learn to stop eating those things?"

"It's not the seeds, it's the kid. Makes my stomach churn half the night..." Alex just shook his head and gestured for his lover to enter the exam room.

Never a happy camper around doctors or exam tables, Mulder's face was blank expressionless as he lay down on the table as ordered.

Alex sat next to him and put a hand on the older man's arm. The muscles were knotted and stiff so he gently rubbed it and tried to distract him from the surroundings.

"You know, Fox, if we find out the sex this time we can tell Kat if she's getting a brother or sister."

Mulder nodded distantly, eyes fixed on Alex's leather jacket. As long as he focused there, he wouldn't see the metal tray with gleaming objects or the bright light overhead.

Alex tugged on his arm as he said something, Mulder let his eyes drift up to the green eyes focused on him. "What?"

"I said: we haven't really discussed names yet. I like Michael for a boy and maybe Tatiana for a girl. What do you think?"

Nikolai dropped something and the clatter of metal on metal made Mulder tense, but he kept his eyes focused on Alex's eyes. "I like both of those. Very much. When did you come up with those?"

"I don't know...just names I've always liked. We'll have to come up with a middle name, too..." Alex prattled on as Scully and Nikolai finally set things up. They took blood and checked his heart and had him sit up and breathe while listening to the stethoscope, and checked his blood pressure, all the usual things. When Scully put her stethoscope on his belly, she raised an eyebrow.

"What?" Mulder was gripping Alex's hand so hard he thought he'd be one handed again.

"Not sure, yet, Mulder. Relax. We still have the sonogram. Lay down again." Mulder gave her a glare and lay down, hand still clutching his lover's.

Alex winced. ^Lisa, I kind of like that hand. You could almost say I'm attached to it, please relax...^

Mulder laughed, a high-pitched nervous laugh as he let go of Alex's hand. "Sorry."

"I didn't say let go..." but he switched hands so Mulder held the left one. Their grip was much looser, but Fox's hand twitched every time someone touched him.

Finally, Scully spread the goo on his stomach again as Nikolai watched with rapt interest on the monitor. Scully kept up a running commentary to keep them both at ease and informed.

"...Well...I think I know why you've been hungrier and feeling more symptoms this time around Mulder..."

When she trailed off Mulder jerked his head away from the monitor he couldn't read anyway and onto his partner's face. "Well?!" he said testily. His patience was shot to hell.

"Well...you're pregnant..."

"I 'know' that, Scully-"

"...with twins." She finished with great relish.

Alex's eyes bulged out and stared at the screen full of moving blobs that didn't look like babies to 'him'. "What?"

Mulder was silent, mouth agape.

Scully grinned broadly; anything that could make Mulder speechless was a damned miracle at any event. "Twins. See?" She spent the next fifteen minutes pointing them out.

"Never mind...just trust me. Twins."

Nikolai darted a look at his brother and the man on the table. This kind of an event was too important to medical science to keep quiet.

Mulder was far too distracted to notice the thought, which Nikolai wisely forced out of his mind as soon as he thought it. Alex just stared thunderstruck.

Recovering, Mulder finally asked, "Can you tell the sex? Are they fraternal?"

Scully was still smiling as she scrutinized the screen. "Well...from the thin membrane between the two amniotic sacks and one placenta...and I can see that...they are both male. They are likely identical twins. Boys."

Mulder leaned back again, but could feel a big smile breaking out on his face. Identical twins... 'oh, shit, twins...' The thought immediately followed the joy. Two babies. Twice the pain in delivery, twice the weight gained, twice the amount of diapers to change... It was overwhelming.

Alex was still staring at the monitor.

"Alex? Are you okay?" Scully asked.

"Uh...yeah. Twins? Boys?"


"I see..."

"Maybe you two would like a minute alone." Scully gestured for Nikolai to follow her out the door.

Alone, Mulder shook his head and then looked at Alex. His lover still stared at the monitor in disbelief.

"Earth to Alex...come on, it's not 'that' big of a shock. I've been eating like a pig."

Alex blinked and finally tore his eyes off the monitor. "The hell it isn't a big shock. Twins."

Scully let them listen to the heartbeats and printed out a copy of the sonogram picture. Nikolai locked up after them and left, heading home to tell Mari the news. Alex warned his brother again of the importance in keeping it a secrete outside immediate family.

As Alex drove them home, Scully watched as Mulder put a hand on Alex's knee. She saw the younger man glance over and smile, putting his own hand on top of Mulder's. It was such a sweet little gesture that she found herself blinking back sudden tears and turning her head to stare blindly out the window.

The windshield wipers made their rhythmic thwapping sound as she focused on the raindrops streaking down her window. It was cold and dark outside, but warm and close inside the car.

Pulling into their parking space, Scully was slow in opening her door. Mulder gave her a questioning look, but she just shook her head. "I'm a little tired. I think I'll head to bed early."

Mulder put his hand at the small of her back as he had so many times during their partnership. He led her around the car onto the sidewalk. "They're working you too hard. You should talk to Skinner. We'll have to make sure you get a nice relaxing vacation for now."

She smiled and nodded. Slipping out of his loose embrace by sidestepping an imaginary puddle. She trailed behind a little, watching as Alex stepped a little closer to Mulder and they unconsciously reached out and held hands as they walked to the door.

Entering their apartment, Kat came running out into the living room wearing her p.j.'s. She hugged both fathers before noticing Scully and giving her a big hug as well. Natasha appeared from the kitchen and grabbed her purse. Alex gave her a hug and thanks plus a rather extortionate amount of babysitting wages.

"Thanks, Uncle Al! Bye, Uncle Fox, Miss Scully..." She left in a flurry that only teenagers can manage and left three adults and a small child in her wake.

They put Katerina to bed finally with promises of a trip to the zoo the next day if it didn't rain. Scully had the privilege of helping her brush her teeth and reading her a story while Mulder and Alex made some drinks and a snack.

When she finished she wandered into the kitchen where she could hear the two men laughing and chatting.

"...Humpty and Dumpty?"

A snort, "Mul-der" in a warning tone.

"Bert and Ernie? Twin One and Twin Two? No, wait, Jim and Spock... yeah, let me name one Spock, pleeeaase?" Mulder wheedled.

She poked her head in to see Alex red faced and chuckling, "Fox, if I won't let you name the cat Spock, what makes you think I'll let you name my son that?"

"Oh, 'your' son is it? Remember that when it's diaper time, huh? And what about Jim? James T. Mulder. It has a ring to it..." Mulder's back was to her, but she saw Alex roll his eyes and wave him off.

"Enough, enough...I thought you liked Michael for a boy."

"I do, but what about the second one?"

"Definitely no Star Trek names. I'm putting my foot down." Alex said firmly, giving Mulder a serious look. He was obviously disturbed at the very teasing of the name Spock in reference to the unnamed babies. Scully decided to stay hidden and listen to their banter. She could use a little humor.

"Oooh, Alex. I love it when you act all tough." Fox laughed. "All right, all right...how about Ivan? I like the name for some reason, the Russian version of John."

Alex smiled, his face relaxing at the name with no Star Trek attachments, "I like it. I thought we could call Michael, Misha for short. What about middle names?" He grabbed a bowl for the popcorn popping in their microwave.

Mulder turned, leaning against the counter, Scully began to feel guilty in eavesdropping, but didn't want to creep away or interrupt.

"Well...I was thinking Ivan Daniel." Alex glanced up at him, "Daniel?"

"Yeah. For Scully...Dana." Alex nodded, "I like that. Ivan Daniel. What about Misha?"

"That's easy, Michael Alexander." Mulder then leaned over and kissed his surprised lover. Scully decided she was now 'definitely' intruding and backed away as softly as possible.

She sat on a couch waiting for them to join her. She was blushing slightly when they finally came in. ^Give it up, Scully...you can't sneak up on me, anymore.^ She felt her cheeks flame hotter.

"So what do you think, Scully? Ivan Daniel and Michael Alexander." Mulder just smiled and waited, she noticed Alex seemed fully aware of her eavesdropping, too, but wasn't concerned.

"That sounds wonderful." She said quietly.

"Is it all right if we use Daniel for your namesake? I'd also like it if you were godmother to them, too."

Scully gaped at him, "Godmother?"

Alex chuckled, "Yep, Fox may be a heathen, but I want the kids baptized in my church. And 'we' want you to be godmother. If you're willing?"

She finally lost the battle over the tears she'd been holding back all night. Feeling them run down her cheeks she grabbed Alex's hand and put her other on Fox's belly. Feeling a few sound thumps in response she smiled, "Of course. I'd be honored."

Alex lay in bed listening to Mulder snore softly next to him. His hand lay on the pregnant swell of his lover's stomach. He couldn't believe they had two sons...identical twins waiting to be born. His mind churned as he thought of all the additional supplies and space they'd need. The apartment was big enough for three and an occasional guest. Even big enough for four and a guest. But five? Three children? In an apartment?

No. They should have a house and a lawn for the kids to play in. And much as he loved the city, it wasn't really safe enough for his own liking. What he really wanted was to go back to their house in North Carolina. He'd hated having to flee like that because of the police and hospital officials. It was 'his' house and he'd live there without fear, damn it.

And Skinner had sworn the town was clean now. Federal investigations had cleared out the conspirators and the town's sheriff had issued a formal apology to Alex and his family as well as a welcome to come back at any time.

Well, it appeared 'now' would be a good time.

His thoughts were interrupted as Mulder snorted and mumbled something unintelligible as he shifted, turning on his side away from Alex. Spooning up behind him, Alex draped his arm over his lover's side, kissing the back of his neck. Life was damned good. Whoever would have thought that he'd have Mulder in his bed and children with him besides?

Life with Mulder was never boring, 'that' was for damn sure, but it more than made up for it in its rewards. He just had to stay on his toes and be ready for anything.

As for the aliens...they'd left them alone for a while. But god only knew when they'd be back.

As time passed and the colonists failed to share their research or make any gainful success, the hunters grew restless. Their own scientists should have the hybrids in their hands, not a race that only sought to make their race slaves. The hunters quietly contacted the rebels and began negotiations.

In the end, the hunters joined forces with the resistance. United, the morph race crushed the colonists ruthlessly. With the hunters' knowledge and access, the colonists were destroyed from both within and without as morph ships pounded theirs ruthlessly when their defenses were sabotaged.

All colonist bases and occupied worlds were destroyed. Save one. Earth. Small pockets of colonists remained along with the black oil. The morph race was assured victory if they destroyed Earth as they had all other colonist holdings. Only one thing stopped them: the hybrids.

The morph race had long denied the possibility of hybridization. To corrupt their race was unthinkable...until now. Politics had changed on the morph home world. The hunters had returned to their world and argued that the only viable option was hybridization. There had been no advancement in their fertility experiments and time was running out. This was the only way to save some part of their race.

The morph scientists reviewed their data on the 1013 hybrid while the hunters brought forth the many hybrids resulting from the recent colonist experiments. The new hybrids showed varying rates of developments, but none were yet proven fertile. To broaden their base for experimentation they needed more compatible humans. And they needed hybrid 1013. He was the most advanced and potentially successful hybrid known.

An expedition vessel was approved to gather the necessary specimens from Earth. The decision was made by the current leading government, but it had little support. Many parties were quite vocal in their protests and the morph public in general was divided on the issue of possible hybridization.

Three hunters, a small team of scientists and a security force manned a morph vessel to capture hybrid 1013 and a selection of humans. Upon disembarking, the leader of the political party against hybridization spoke to the captain of the vessel, Hunter 44269.

^The majority of morph citizens are unaware of this experiment and your party is still in the minority of our government. Your mission may have been authorized, but should it fail, there will be no further research in this manner. You and all byproducts of the experiment will be terminated and Earth will be destroyed.^

Hunter 44269 nodded curtly, ^My crew and I are aware of that. We are prepared to sacrifice our lives in this attempt. It is the last hope of our species. You and your party are narrow-minded fools to deny our race any possible means to survive. If you had your way, our race would slowly die and the colonists would win. I intend to do everything in my power to complete my mission and give forth a new generation of morphs.^

At that, Hunter 44269 sealed the spacecraft's door and left his home world, possibly for the last time.

Hunter 44269 prowled the bridge of his ship. The ship was not of the newest design, he'd been given a castoff of the current military/science vessels, a symbol of his party's current status. They would have only one shot at proving themselves, they would have to be ruthless.

^We have arrived at coordinates 41879 mark 4.5. Awaiting further commands.^

^Acknowledged. Initiating agent recall.^

A signal heard only by few inhabitants of Earth sounded.

Alex unpacked the last of their boxes with a weary sigh. They were almost finished moving into their new house. After the sonogram it had been clear to the two of them that they needed to move. Parting from Krycek's family had been difficult but necessary. Nikolai had proved himself to be less than trustworthy. Alex cursed himself for trusting his older brother. Nikolai had long been jealous of his younger brother and the promise of medical acclaim had wooed his brother into writing a paper and contacting the authorities on Mulder's condition. Luckily, they'd dodged the issue, stolen all evidence and skipped town. Without proof Nikolai had been ridiculed and his career ruined.

It had been difficult, but the break was necessary, the family had become too interested in their unique situation and as much as Alex loved his sisters and nieces and nephews, it was better to maintain a discrete distance.

So there they were, living in an isolated Victorian, just the three of them...and two little ones on the way. Kat was adjusting fairly well. Although she missed the Kryceks somewhat, she enjoyed the house and large backyard even more. Kat was a bit of a loner. Much like Mulder had been as a child. Not that she didn't talk and play with them a great deal, it was just that she was perfectly content without many playmates. She was extremely imaginative, capable of entertaining herself for hours alone in her room. She made up stories, played games and read to her dolls and her cat, Kisa.

Sasha had turned up missing during the move, but Alex had no doubt he'd turn up. He was a resourceful little mouse. Unpacking a large box, Alex found the quilts he'd been looking for. Grabbing one he headed into the living room. Mulder lay napping on the couch, a hand on the large swell of his stomach. He was snoring gently as his fingers and eyelids twitched. Smiling, Alex spread the quilt on him and carefully plucked the eyeglasses off the perch of Mulder's nose. Mulder had fallen asleep reading, his book fallen to the side. When he'd put the glasses on earlier, Alex had looked up from his work and felt a flare of lust. There was nothing so cute as Mulder in his reading glasses.

Thinking back to the moment, Alex grinned at the startled look Mulder had given him when he'd suddenly pounced on him. Well, not pounced 'on' him, due to his belly, but he'd suddenly plopped down on the couch next to him and proceeded to kiss him...thoroughly.

Finally letting him up for a breath of air, Alex had been watching him intently as Mulder finally gasped out, "Wha- What was 'that' for?"


"No...just curious, what got into you?"

Alex had grinned and poked his finger on the bridge of the glasses, pushing the glasses more firmly on Mulder's nose. "You look damned sexy in those glasses, Lisa. How come I never saw you in them before?"

Mulder's hand had flown up and tried to take them off, apparently he had forgotten they were on. Alex grabbed his hand and prevented it. "Oh, I just...I don't always need them to read and..."

Alex had let a chuckle escape, he couldn't believe it, "Are you 'embarrassed' by them? What's the matter, don't want to admit your age?"

Mulder glared a little, but with humor, "I've needed them since my twenties, I'll have you know. I just don't always remember to use them and I get a headache. I found them while unpacking and remembered to use them."

"Sure...whatever you say, Lisa. But, now that I know you wear them, I expect you to wear them 'every' time you read...especially in bed" he'd growled. Mulder had laughed and kissed him, not understanding his attraction to the reading glasses, but definitely willing to indulge him in his kink.

Alex tucked the glasses aside and pulled the quilt up more firmly before returning to the boxes.

Mulder's head was in Alex's lap as they watched the news. His body was stretched out on the couch as he rested. 'Like a beached whale.' He smirked to himself. The twins were considerably bulkier than Kat had been. It made getting up and down from chairs and the bathtub interesting.

During commercials, Mulder rolled onto his back, his head still pillowed in Alex's lap. Alex was biting his nails, eyes glued to the TV still.

"Alex? What's wrong?" The younger man had been perfectly calm a minute ago, but now his body was suddenly tense.

He didn't answer, but suddenly shoved at the pillow and stood up. Mulder managed to keep from falling off the couch and rolled off it awkwardly to his knees and then climbed up to his feet. Alex was across the room, staring out the windows.

Mulder felt a slight dizziness and sat down on the sofa. Something caught his eye in the TV screen and he picked up the remote from the floor. Turning the sound back on he watched with equal parts fascination and horror as a breaking news story interrupted the regular program.

"...officials state that the signal disruption has not caused any major damage..." Alex turned from the window suddenly and went out the front door, leaving the door wide open. Mulder got up and walked quickly to the door. As he went he heard the reporter continue, "...reports of an unidentified aircraft are being investigated by the FBI, but our sources state that it is unlikely that a connection..."

"Alex!" By the time Mulder reached the front door Alex's car was already backing down the driveway. Mulder reached the driveway just as the car disappeared down the street. Fumbling for his keys, Mulder was about to follow in his own car when Kat called out.


'Shit.' No way could he just leave Kat and it was already too late to follow. Not at the speed Alex had been going at. ^Alex?!^ There was no response, he couldn't feel his lover at all.

"It's okay, Kat. Let's go back inside."

"Where did papa go?"

"I'm not sure, Kat. Come on."

Time and place unknown.

The homing signal brought back 300 human agents to the site. Not all of the agents were cooperative, however. After years of relative peace, they were loathe to leave their families and wary of new orders. Retraining and conditioning would be necessary. The hunters quickly ordered the scientists and security force to assemble the agents for easy processing. ^And separate Agent 319, he requires special conditioning for his assignment.^

The scent of pine needles was nearly swallowed up by the smells of hundreds of people. Perfumes, colognes, and deodorants wafted over Alex's nose, as well as the stink of a few unwashed bodies. Faces and various body parts swam before his eyes. Blinking, Alex's mind finally jolted into conscious thought long after his other senses had. Looking around him he realized he was in the middle of a large crowd of men and women. Other faces registered similar confusion and he was jostled by a few elbows as others turned and surveyed their surroundings.

Ignoring the biting chill of the late fall wind, Alex struggled with the immediate questions that pestered him for answers. How had he gotten here? Where was Fox?! And Katerina?! The last thing he remembered was Mulder's head in his lap as they watched TV. Well, Mulder had watched TV, he'd been watching Mulder. And then...something, not a sound but a feeling. He'd felt a tremendous urge to...go somewhere.

Looking around he recognized a few faces and suddenly realized what had happened. The rebel agents were being recalled by the morphs.

Before he could wonder why several small groups of morphs appeared and began surrounding them, herding the humans into groups of ten. He tried to speak and realized he couldn't, his vocal cords seized in his throat and as he looked around he noticed the unusual quiet amongst the other humans. In a group this large the silence was positively eerie. He was shoved from behind and staggered as he found himself being forced along with his group towards the opening of a morph ship. He was herded into a large room and he came to stand in the center, six other men and three women stood next to him. They stared at one another, still unable to speak when a morph returned and stood before them.

^The resistance requires your services once more. You will be evaluated and retrained as deemed necessary before assignment. Your cooperation is mandatory. Agent 319, you will come with me.^

"Goddamnit, Scully. The news said that the FBI was investigating the sighting-"

"Mulder! Listen to me, the sighting has been officially identified as a military aircraft flying scheduled maneuvers near the local base. It was a false alarm, now tell me again what happened to Alex."

"I 'told' you, he just got up and drove off. He left the front door open and didn't say a word to me. I think he was called. The news report said a ship was sighted at the same time he just got up and left." Mulder's voice was low and tense. He was trying not to scream out his frustration because of Kat's presence in the next room, but with every moment that went by, he was becoming more and more sure that Alex was in great danger.

Scully was silent at the mention of being 'called.' Remembering the incident with Cassandra and the mysterious burnt corpses, she shuddered. She still wasn't sure what had happened that day, but the very thought of Alex's body burnt to a crisp on a bridge somewhere sent chills down her spine.

"All right, I'll look into the sighting myself, I don't know what I'll say to Skinner, but..."

Mulder felt a small wave of relief. If only he could go himself, but with the twins he didn't dare risk it. Besides, Kat needed him...especially with Alex missing. How his life had changed, once he would have left without a moment's notice or care, now he had three others to think of. 'No, four. I'll find him. No way am I giving up after everything we've gone through.'

Scully finally hung up and went in search of A.D. Skinner. Not a pleasant task in the best of circumstances. As she walked down the hallway towards his office, Doggett intercepted her.

"Agent Scully, are you heading over to the A.D.'s office?" Doggett's eyes pierced her own, his expression one of extreme caution.

"Yes, why?"

"Well, I was just in there and I have to warn you...he's on a real rampage today. Perhaps you'd like some back up? What are you seeing him for?"

Scully frowned and stepped back slightly. "I'm quite capable of facing the A.D. myself, thank you Agent Doggett. Excuse me."

Not perturbed, Doggett halted her once more, "I didn't mean it like that. Just that two heads are better than one. I just want to help."

Scully sighed and closed her eyes for a moment before opening them and answering him with more patience. "Thank you, but it's a bit...well, it's business 'and' it's personal, so..."

Doggett nodded with understanding, "Mulder?"

Scully looked a little surprised but nodded, "Yes. The unknown aircraft sighting- the one that's been officially solved and dismissed...Mulder has a hunch that it isn't what they are stating it is. I told him I'd look into it."

Doggett smirked, "Mulder isn't satisfied with the official explanation? I'm truly shocked, Agent Scully. I assume you'll be asking for a 302?"

Skinner popped another aspirin in the hopes of assuaging his monstrous headache. The paperwork in front of him made no sense. The words and numbers swam before his tired eyes. Sighing, he took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose.

His phone rang, "Skinner" he barked.

"Sir, Agents Scully and Doggett would like a moment with you" Kim's voice was brisk and efficient as always.

'Doggett again?' "Let them in, Kim."

Pushing back from his desk he stood up and walked forward as the two agents stepped in his office. Scully led the way as Doggett closed the door after them quietly. Skinner gestured towards the chairs and leaned on his desk, his arms crossed against his chest. "Agent Scully, Doggett, what is this about?"

Scully sat on the edge of her chair and glanced at Doggett before squaring her shoulders. "Sir, I'd like to submit my request for a 302 to investigate into a reported sighting in Minnesota-"

Skinner held a hand out to stop her, "Sighting? Wait, is this the so called UFO sighting that the military debunked earlier today?"

Scully sighed, but remained determined, "Not 'debunked' sir, but explained as an aircraft on maneuvers, however there is some question as to whether or not the unknown aircraft was indeed the military's and if the military is being completely forthcoming."

Skinner narrowed his eyes, "Some question? From who, Agent Scully?"

Scully raised her chin and held her head high, "From Mulder for one. He raised some concern over the veracity of the military's claims and stated some circumstances that led him to believe that a situation may be reoccurring that could endanger civilian lives."

Skinner dropped his arms and placed his hands on his hips. "Are you purposely being evasive, Agent Scully? What circumstances? What situation is reoccurring?"

"Sir, the so-called cultist gatherings and mass-murder by fire of a few years ago. The case concerning the disappearance of Cassandra Spender..."

Skinner relaxed slightly, "And yourself? You were missing for a while and couldn't remember what happened, is that what you're referring to? How does Mulder make the connection? There hasn't been any reporting of burnt corpses-"

Scully felt a chill at the memory but interrupted, "But there 'has' been a large number of missing person cases opened within the last several hours. Numerous men and women have left their homes with no word to their families...just as they did the first time."

Skinner slumped slightly and moved back to sit down at his desk. Scully stood and pulled out a packet of papers, lists of the reported missing, she plopped it onto his desk, venting her frustration slightly in the act. Skinner excused it, he was beginning to feel a large swell of dread in his gut.

"How has Mulder become aware of this? Is it on the news? I haven't heard anything-"

It was Doggett that finally spoke up, Scully couldn't find it in herself to speak to Skinner what she'd only confessed to her current partner so far. "Alex Krycek is among the missing."

Skinner glanced up, his eyes were hidden by the glare of light on his lenses; something Scully felt a little grateful for. He didn't say a word, but his clenched jaw said it all.

Mulder wondered why he just couldn't get used to frustrating feeling of uselessness when someone he loved was missing...in danger. Hell, you'd think he'd be used to it by now...Samantha...Scully...but each time felt just as raw and hopeless as the first time. What made it even worse was that now he had his daughter's eyes to answer to.

Kat's tearful eyes followed him around the house. She'd given up asking about her papa and now followed him silently around the house. As if she was afraid he'd disappear too if she took her eyes off him for a moment. Sighing, Mulder sat down on the couch in the living room with a book.

"Come here, Kat. Let's read a story." Katerina clutched her doll and shook her head, ducking her face down into her dolls hair, but her eyes remained on Mulder. After a moment, though, she reluctantly climbed up next to him and laid her head on what was left of his lap. Mulder brushed the hair out of her eyes before opening the book. "Once upon a time..."

Alex shivered in the freezing metal cage he'd woken up in. It was just large enough for him to stoop over and walk with his back hunched over from one end to the other. It was barely long enough for him to lay down in. He felt like a dog. Only dogs were walked twice a day. He just had a little hole in the corner.

He had no idea how long he'd been here. Hours? Days? No way of knowing. After the morph had taken him from the others he'd been interrogated at length while strapped down to a metal exam table. He'd refused to answer questions about his family. Especially those about Mulder's hybrid traits. He'd be damned if he'd tell them about the opening on Mulder's belly...or the current pregnancy.

And he hadn't...he didn't think. Thing was, he didn't know for sure. After a while...a couple of hours? They had injected him with something that had made him sweat and his vision blur. Time had stretched like taffy and he'd been only vaguely aware of himself talking without being able to understand a word of what he was saying.

'Shit. I'm so sorry, Mulder. Kat...' Alex shivered again, he wondered if he was still feeling the effects of the drug or if they'd done something to him. He didn't feel well...feverish, muddled. He kept forgetting that the morphs could read minds...hell, they hadn't had to interrogate him, had they? They could have just gotten what they wanted from his head.

'No, that's not right...Mulder taught me to shield. I was shielding when they first had me...right? Am I shielding now? I don't think so...I can't remember how to do it.'

Christ, it was all fucked up. They'd be grabbing Mulder soon...they must have the location by now. Was Mulder here already? Had they taken him? Killed the babies?! Alex scrambled to his feet and hobbled over to the bars, back hunched over. "Hey! Let me out of here! Mulder?! Leave him alone, you bastards!! Fox!"

Scully stood in line with her ticket, waiting to board the plane when she suddenly noticed Agent Doggett had stepped up next to her, he carried a carryon bag and trench coat in either hand.

"Agent Doggett? What are you doing here?"

"Same as you, investigating a mysterious aircraft."

Scully dropped her head and shook it slightly before looking back up. "But you know A.D. Skinner hasn't approved the investigation, he told us both to back off. You shouldn't be here, Doggett."

"Neither should you, but I don't see that stopping you. I'm here to find answers...and help you. Don't try to stop me." His voice held a hint of humor.

Scully matched his tone, "I wouldn't dream of it."

They needn't have bothered. When they arrived to the area that the ship had been sighted, any evidence had been cleaned up. Whether by rain washing away any trace of possible landing or footprints in the woods, or by witnesses suddenly mysteriously silent. No one would speak to them about the sighting and there wasn't the slightest hint of any aircraft, military or otherwise.

Boarding their plane back, Scully kept reliving her disappointing call to Mulder. His voice had sounded full of hope when she first answered, but quickly turned flat and dead with her apologetic explanation. "They covered it all up."

"They? I thought they were all gone, Mulder. The war..."

"They're never completely gone. Alex knew that, but we managed to avoid them, anyway. He's not dead, Scully. I'd know it."

As Scully sat in her seat and waited for the plane to take off, she prayed he was right.

Five Days Later...

Krycek pulled up to the house and surveyed it and the grounds.

He tucked his gun in his pants and stepped out of the car. His superiors had made his assignment clear. Mulder was a new colonist hybrid. He was to apprehend him alive and unharmed. He'd been warned of Mulder's advanced state of pregnancy, requiring greater care in capturing him without damage.

'Pregnancy, I'd laugh if I weren't sure they were dead serious.'

He shut the door of his car and stepped toward the house. He noticed a curtain move and the front door flung open. Mulder stood in the doorway.


This was the strangest assignment he'd had with the rebels... and that was saying quite a bit, but he could do it. After all...he hated Mulder.

8:00 p.m.

Mulder/Krycek Home.


Mulder stepped out of house but came no closer. Alex steeled himself, making sure the shields were firmly up before he walked up to the hybrid. Alex was surprised to see Mulder's eyes were glistening in the light spilling from the front door. Mentally shrugging he nodded, "Who else?"

"What about the other reported missing? Have they returned home, too?" Mulder glanced over at Alex. His lover was sitting on the couch stiffly, eyes staring out the living room window, but Mulder knew without a doubt he was listening to his conversation.

"Not that I've checked with so far. I have a list of at least 248 who are officially missing. All in the same manner as Alex and none have reported their return and I've called several of them myself...still missing. What has Alex said? What happened?" Scully was exasperated.

"Not much...I'll have to get back to you on that. You'll let me know if any other cases turn up?"

"Of course. Mulder? Be careful..."

Mulder smiled grimly as he stared at his lover. "Not to worry." He hung up and glanced at Kat's door. It was still shut. She'd been asleep when he'd heard Alex pull into the driveway for which he was grateful...they needed to talk first.

Mulder made to sit on the couch next to his lover but hesitated for a moment before sitting on the chair instead.

"I noticed you neglected to mention that how you've decided to celebrate my return home, Mulder." Alex jiggled his cuffs behind his back with a sneer.

Mulder shrugged, "I also neglected to mention that you tried to attack me. I'd rather not worry her. So, Alex... How about we discuss what's wrong here."

Krycek cocked his head. "Wrong? Nothing's wrong, 'hybrid.'" The word came out as a nasty hiss. A shiver ran down Mulder's spine. This was NOT his lover.

Not that he was alien, either. It was Alex's body, but his mind was another matter. After checking his blood and then his eyes, Mulder was satisfied that he was neither morph or oilean. And the link...it was still there, but strongly blocked.

As for the man's actions... When Alex had first approached him at their front door Mulder had pulled him into a firm embrace, torn between squeezing him to death and shaking him out of frustrated relief. It had taken a full moment to realize that Alex was stiff as a board in his arms. Pulling back, he'd led Alex into the house. As they'd entered, Mulder had pulled his gun and stiletto at the same time that Krycek had struck. The stiletto went flying, but Mulder held onto his gun, pointing it at his lover's panting face.

After restraining him he'd checked him out and then called Scully. Now he stared at a face full of hatred. Alex glared at him, eyes cold and flinty.

"There is something VERY wrong here, Alex. You leave without a word, disappear for days and then come back and attack me. Why? What happened? Was it the rebels?"

A hint of surprise flashed on Alex's face before it quickly disappeared behind his cold mask. "And what would 'you' know of the rebels, collaborator?"

Mulder jerked as if slapped, "How can you say that? You know full well I'm no collaborator. Anymore than you are."

Alex shrugged, "I have nothing more to say to you, Mulder. I have my orders and I intend to follow them." Alex finished with a determined set to his face.

Mulder continued to question him, but to no avail. He was considering bluffing Krycek with the gun when a little voice banished the idea from his head.

"Papa?" Kat stood in the door, one hand clutched Kisa in a hold that the kitten obviously wasn't happy with. She stared with big round eyes at her returned father before dumping her pet on the ground and rushing up to the couch. "Papa!"

Mulder was torn between protecting his daughter and watching Alex's face agape with shock. Kat was halfway into the restrained man's lap before he stopped her.

"No, Kat. Wait."

Kat swung her head up to Mulder. "Why?"

Mulder sighed but set her down, he wished he still had a lap to set her on, but he was too far along. Kat was a very smart child and had grown up under less than normal circumstances. He knew that he couldn't possibly hide the problem and she needed to know to be careful.

"Something is wrong. Papa's not well. He isn't behaving right. You remember last time Papa wasn't really Papa?"

Kat darted a fearful look at Alex once more and then looked back at her other father nodding seriously. "He isn't Papa? Is he going to hurt you again?" Her voice was tiny and it broke Mulder's heart. 'Oh, Alex. What is this doing to her? We have to stop this interference in our lives. No child deserves such nightmares.'

Out loud he spoke in a reassuring voice. "It's Papa, not the oil, but there's something wrong. And I'm not going to let him hurt anyone. He's tied up now and we'll have to keep him like that until he's better, okay?"

Kat nodded sadly and still looked scared. Alex was completely silent, staring at the girl with intense interest. Noticing Mulder's observation he quickly adjusted his expression to studied disinterest. What had they done to Alex? Did he even remember their little girl? So many questions and theories whirled in his mind.

He sent Kat off to bed, promising to come tuck her in again before she fell asleep.

Alex ignored her departure, eyes firmly planted on the rug in front of him. "You don't remember her, do you, Alex?" The soft words jolted him from his reverie.

"What are you talking about, Mulder?" Alex tried for his earlier cold nonchalance, but he was tired and it came out wearily.

"Your daughter. She's our daughter Alex. And these..." Mulder put a hand on his stomach, "are our sons. We had a life together. This is our home. And the link...you're blocking it. Everything we had together. How much do you remember?"

Mulder's words resounded in his head, his daughter, sons, a home, a life together, the words struck something deep within him. But then the anger surged, hate...Mulder was a hybrid. An impure being. He must be brought in to the rebels. He was a collaborator...he lied. It wasn't important what he said...

For just a moment the link opened. Mulder could feel his lover's confusion for just a second and then a wave of hate and anger flared as the link slammed shut.

"I told you, I have nothing further to say."

Mulder cuffed Alex to the radiator in the bedroom to tuck Kat in. Afterwards, he led Alex into the bathroom, leaving the cuffs on in front of him. Alex clenched his jaw at having to pee in front of the other man, but Mulder refused to leave him alone.

"You're a very resourceful man, Alex. I'll be damned if I'll give you a chance to free yourself and hurt us. Now just go ahead and get it over with, it's not the first time I've seen it." Mulder smirked and Alex had to remind himself that he wasn't supposed to actually kill the hybrid, only capture him.

After he'd used the facilities, Mulder silently handed him his toothbrush and then pointedly dropped it back into the cup with his own on the sink. Alex noticed the two brushes resting side by side with little interest. Mulder then led him into the bedroom. Ordering him to strip down to his shirt and boxers, he then cuffed Krycek's hands to the headboard before returning to the bathroom.

Krycek tested the cuffs, solidly locked, too tight to pull his wrists through. The cuffs clanked against the metal frame, and it too was solidly welded together. He sighed and let his head fall back on the pillow. Glancing around the room he noticed the muted colors, soft beige walls, blue curtains, oak furniture. Mulder's clothes were in small piles, scattered throughout the room. Books lay on the bedside table on the other side of the bed. Papers stuck out from in between them and there were a few sunflower seeds scattered on them and even a few trailed onto the sheets.

'Mulder's still a pig. Some things never change. His eyes rolled over to the table next to him. An alarm clock, the watch he'd taken off earlier. And something small, metallic. He rolled over and looked closer. An earring, his earring. He'd gotten it years ago. And he 'hadn't' been wearing it earlier. Meaning...Mulder had had it. And it was 'here', in the house Mulder said was theirs, on the bedside that was supposedly Alex's. Anger flared and he closed his eyes, ignoring it.

The toilet flushed and the sink ran. A few minutes later Mulder came out. A robe around his rather large body. He walked around the bed and flung back the covers on his side.

This wasn't happening, Mulder couldn't actually be expecting to get into bed with him. "Mulder...what do you think you're doing?" Alex put as much contempt as possible in his voice.

"Going to bed. I'm tired and this is my bed...OUR bed. You've been gone for days and I missed having you in my bed. I've gotten rather used to you here." Mulder sounded almost wistful. An almost fragile quality to an otherwise strong voice and will. Mulder shrugged off the robe and toed off his slippers.

"And just what do you plan to do, Mulder?" Alex sneered. "Leave me tied up in your bed until I succumb to your wiles? It won't work."

Mulder smiled almost sadly. "I'm not sure. Tactile memories are often the easiest to recover. Smell, touch, they can echo lost memories and help them to surface. Also familiarity. But if nothing else..." Mulder slipped into the bed next to his captive and pulled the covers back up over his growing belly, "...I'll know if you start to escape." With that, Mulder switched off the light and snuggled up close to Alex.

So close that Alex found his nose buried in Mulder's hair for a moment. He smelled like ivory shampoo and a hint of clean sweat. Just enough to make the scent distinctly Mulder. It was...almost familiar.

Alex jerked his head back so his face was clear of Mulder's hair. The other man didn't stir, though Alex knew he must still be awake. Mulder lay on his side, one arm thrown over Alex's chest, pinning him lightly and making it clear that if Krycek moved, Mulder would know.

It had another effect, though; against his side Alex felt a shift and a bump followed strange squirming sensation. Glancing down he could make out the lumpy bundle that was Mulder and realized it must be the other man's stomach. 'God, how disgusting. Having two squirming parasites in your stomach. To think that Mulder actually seems fine with it.' More than fine. He knew that Mulder was most protective of those lives. Unfortunately, in moving his face down for a look, he also brushed Mulder's hair with his nose again. He turned his face to the side and the trailing hairs tickled his nose unbearably.

With his face turned completely away from Mulder's he twitched his nose slightly to try to assuage the maddening sensation. Useless. With his hands cuffed above him he would have to try to forget it. Damned if he'd say anything to Mulder. Was the man asleep yet?

He struggled to think of other matters and ignore the itch. All of a sudden, a finger scratched his nose 'exactly' where it itched. As if it was his 'own' finger. His hands twitched in their cuffs at the unexpected sensation, reminding him that it most definitely 'wasn't' his fingernail.

Just as quickly as it relieved the itch it disappeared and Mulder snuggled his head on his chest. "Better?" He husked sleepily, not bothering to look up.

Alex let out a puff of exasperated air and tossed his head against the pillow facing away once more. He felt rather than heard the chuckle from Mulder and then all was still and quiet once more.

Alex was awoken by a jolt, the bedsprings squealed as something jumped onto it. Opening his eyes, he squinted against the morning light to see Kat staring at him shyly, a tentative smile on her face. "Morning, Papa."

Krycek groaned and tried to stretch his stiff muscles, he winced as the cramps in his arms and shoulders let themselves be known. At his groan the bathroom door opened.

Mulder stepped out, already dressed. "Oh good, you're up. Kat, why don't you go set out some cereal and juice downstairs, I'm going to help Papa get ready and we'll be down in a few minutes. Don't forget to feed Kisa and Sasha." Kat bounced off the bed and thumped down the stairs. A ball of fur raced out from under the bed as the kitten raced her down to the food dish.

Mulder carefully uncuffed him from the bed but quickly recuffed him with his hands in front of him once more. Alex glared but stretched his arms as best he could. He shuffled into the bathroom and this time Mulder gave him more privacy, leaving the door open but staying outside the room until he was finished.

Afterwards was a shower, a brief and awkward one with his left hand shackled to the towel bar and Mulder watching just outside. It wasn't all that different from when he'd lost his arm, only he had to ask Mulder to hand him the shampoo when he couldn't reach it. Mulder simply uncapped it and squirted some in his palm. He handed him a towel when done and kept his eyes politely averted.

Clean, dressed and seated at the breakfast table, Alex looked forward to a chance to turn the tables on Mulder. He should have known better. He remained cuffed, hands behind his back and Kat was given the duty of feeding him pancakes and bacon.

Needless to say, Alex was not in a pleasant mood by the time breakfast was over. Kat went out to play after Mulder told her to remain in the yard and within eyesight from the window. They sat at the table quietly, Kat's laughter and footsteps echoing outside.

"You can't keep me cuffed like this forever, Mulder." Alex snarled, trying to keep his voice down since what he really wanted to do was shout.

Mulder stared at an empty juice glass. "I know. I'm hoping that isn't necessary. But for now...I can't trust you. You'll just have to live with it."

Alex stretched his arms as far as the cuffs allowed, which wasn't much. "That's easy for 'you' to say, Mulder." His arms ached and his shoulders were bunched up.

Mulder stood and walked around to the back of his chair. Warm palms suddenly rested on his shoulders, startling Alex who jumped slightly.


Alex opened his mouth and then quickly shut it. No sooner had Mulder touched him than his shoulders eased. The pain melting away and Mulder lightly massaged the muscles. It felt so wonderful. He let out a little groan before he could catch himself. He stiffened at his breach of control and pulled his body forward, out of Mulder's hands.

Mulder chuckled softly but let him go.

Krycek should have known better, Mulder dropped his hands from his shoulders but he then seized the opportunity to interrogate him while Kat was busy outside.

"What happened onboard the morph ship, Alex?" Mulder sat down next to him, his profiler eyes prying into him.

Alex shifted slightly away, but said nothing.

"You were separated from the other humans, the morph put you in another room...what happened then?" Alex's head jerked up and he stared wildly at Mulder, but still didn't speak. His breathing quickened.

Mulder forged ahead. "The room...it was cold. Very cold. The table-"

Alex stood up with lightning speed, his chair flying out from behind him. Mulder couldn't help a reflexive move back in his chair, he was suddenly grateful that Alex's hands were cuffed 'behind' him. "Stop it! Just stop it! Stay out of my mind, hybrid!"

Mulder stood, but was careful to keep his distance. "I'm not in your mind, Alex. You're still blocking me. I'm only telling you what I saw last night. You dreamt of that room, Alex. They did something to you and you need-"

"No!" Alex took a threatening step at Mulder ready to attack.

"Papa, don't!" Alex whirled around at the little girl's voice and Mulder rushed forward, putting himself in between her and Alex, even though he didn't think he would really harm her.

"Calm down, Alex. It's okay."

Krycek closed his eyes, the anger still seethed within him; he struggled to control it once more. Flashes of a morph face leaning down on him. A needle, pain, a voice...the anger swelled until black dots appeared before his eyes and a red haze blurred his vision. As he fell he could hear Katerina crying.

He blinked, muted light filtered through blue curtains as he struggled to keep his eyes open.

"Hey, how do you feel?" Alex turned his head and saw Mulder propped up next to him on the bed, leaning against a pillow. Mulder's hand reached over and brushed a lock of hair from his forehead and his fingertips trailed lightly over his forehead before withdrawing. It felt soothing and he felt an odd sense of loss when they dropped away.

"Wha'happ'n'd?" It came out as a croak and Krycek cleared his throat.

Mulder reached over and handed him a glass of water, Alex was startled to find that his hands were free. He gratefully drained the glass.

"You collapsed. I think you might have remembered something, but the conditioning kicked in...You had a sensory overload and passed out."

Alex looked up at Mulder and noticed his face was gray, his eyes tight with pain. Mulder noticed his observation and shrugged slightly, "The link opened up a bit. Anyway, you've been asleep for hours. Hungry?"

Sitting up, Krycek nodded to the bathroom, "Actually..." Mulder nodded and stayed where he was.

Alone in the bathroom for Alex closed the door and quickly whirled around, opening the medicine cabinet he pulled out what he was looking for. Looking down at his arm he worked quickly and quietly.

Mulder heard the toilet flush and the faucet run. Alex stepped out of the bathroom dressed in the clean sweat that Mulder had left for him on the sink and Mulder's heart gave a tug at seeing his lover's hair rumpled and the sleepy expression on his face. It would be so easy to forget the stranger that lived behind that face now. The stranger that even now peered at him with cold hard eyes. "What is it?" Alex's voice was cold and indifferent. He smoothed his sleeves, although they were already down and stared at Mulder with a cocked eyebrow.

"Nothing. I was going to make a quick dinner if you were hungry." Alex shrugged and nodded, heading towards the door.

Mulder regretted having to do it, but he couldn't let his guard down now. Alex's conditioning obviously went fairly deep.

"Uh, Alex?" Krycek turned back and scowled as Mulder held out the cuffs. He sighed and then held out his hands.

Dinner over, they retired to bed early. Mulder snuggled close once more. His leg trapped both of Alex's underneath him and his arm lay draped over him. Mulder's stomach was wedged between them as before.

This time Mulder fell asleep quickly and Alex lay still. The warm body draped over him was heavy, but he didn't feel confined. Mulder snuffled and rubbed his chin on his chest, "Alex." The word was a breathy sigh, barely audible.

Long hours stretched by, but Alex couldn't sleep, Mulder sighed and shifted, trying to move even closer than he already was. It was physically impossible with the big belly between them, but Alex found himself nuzzling back slightly.

He stopped and stiffened. He was losing his objectivity, letting the hybrid seduce him. He couldn't afford to fail on this mission. Alex turned his face away from Mulder's and eventually fell into a restless sleep.


Breakfast was an exasperating event like the day before. The little girl insisted on calling him papa constantly and feeding him her sugary kid's cereal. Mulder watched with an amused look on his face while he made his own bowl of cereal.

"Open, Papa." The little girl stood on her chair and waved the dripping spoon precariously in front of his mouth. He had little choice, eat it or let it plop in his lap in another minute. He opened his mouth and clamped down on it, not letting her have it back, his teeth firm. The girl was brave; he'd give her that. Startled at first, she then calmly called out to Mulder.

"He won't give me the spoon back, Daddy."

Mulder turned and carried his bowl to the table, sitting down across from them. "Now that isn't very nice, Alex. Give her back the spoon or she'll dump the bowl in your lap, dearest." Mulder gave him a little flutter of the eyelids and then a stern glare that told Alex he meant business.

Alex opened his mouth and let the spoon drop to the floor. Mulder ignored him, looking at his bowl as he took a bite. "I think that's enough, Kat. He must be full. Are you finished with your breakfast, hon?" He glanced up at his daughter who nodded and then scampered off to play.

Mulder finished the bowl of cereal with zeal and then filled it again and continued eating. The silence became awkward and Alex shifted in his chair, handcuffs grinding against his wrists at his back. He decided to distract himself and watched Mulder polish off the second bowl, pop a piece of toast and then grab a banana. "Geez, Mulder."

Mulder glanced up with a mouthful of banana, "Whah?" and then swallowed with a grin. "The twins are hungry. Want some juice?" He held up the jug of juice he had just poured his own glass with.

He couldn't deny his thirst and he hoped this would be his chance. "Yes," he replied, jiggling his wrists slightly so the handcuffs rattled. Mulder filled another glass and then scooted closer, holding it to his lips. Alex glared, but took a long swallow of the pineapple-orange juice.

Mulder was so close...his knuckles brushed against his cheek as he tilted the glass and his moss-green eyes were staring intently into his own.

--Small sips, don't want to get sick.--

Krycek blinked, what the hell was that? A voice...his voice had echoed in his head...a memory?

Mulder finally broke the staring contest and set the glass down. "Well, you didn't eat much. Want some toast?" Krycek shrugged so Mulder got up and popped a piece of cinnamon raisin bread in the toaster. He watched Mulder butter it and then hold it up to his mouth. He chewed a bite and avoided Mulder's stare, looking at the refrigerator door, it was covered in childish drawings and colorful magnets.

Mulder sat down and held the toast out again for another bite.

o Think you can eat something?

Yeah, what's that?

Damned if I know, tastes like Styrofoam and about as filling. All we got right now, they should bring warm food soon, though. --

Alex choked on the toast and as Mulder thwacked him on the back he gave him an odd look. "What?" he asked irritation increased by the hoarseness of his voice.

"You're remembering, aren't you?"

"Remembering what? Get out of my head, Mulder." Alex glared at him before turning his head away from him once more. Mulder stayed quiet for a moment and then got up and left the kitchen.

Dinner was eaten without handcuffs for the first time. Mulder had a gun tucked into a holster under his sweater, but there was an unspoken truce between the two of them. Alex enjoyed the freedom, knowing he'd likely be back in cuffs for bedtime once more.

Pepperoni, mushroom and black olive pizza for the grownups and a small cheese pizza for Kat graced the table along with a salad. Alex and Kat dived in with relish, but Mulder picked at his food.

Mulder finally finished half of a slice but claimed his stomach wasn't agreeing with it. After dumping his plate's contents into the trash, Mulder then walked over to a cabinet and opened it. He glanced at Alex with a furtive look, as his hand groped at something the younger man couldn't see.

Swallowing a bite of pizza, Krycek gave an exasperated sigh, "What?"

Mulder jumped and looked guilty for a second before shrugging with a nonchalant face. "Nothing."

He shut the door and sat down at the table, a shiny foil packet in his hand. Unwrapping it he pulled out a blue iced poptart. He bit into one with obvious enjoyment and looked up at Alex once more.

Krycek rolled his eyes and finished his slice. The phone rang and Mulder grabbed the cordless handset and disappeared into the living room to answer it. Alex wondered at this display of trust until he reached for another slice of pizza and noticed that Mulder could see them clearly through the doorway where he sat on the couch with the phone.

Kat daintily wiped her mouth clean and then climbed up in her chair in order to lean in and whisper into his ear. "You never let him eat those poptarts. You say they're bad for him and the babies and you only got them for me. But he always sneaks them anyway." Satisfied in disclosing her childish, but serious secret, Kat hopped down from her chair and raced off to play in her room. Kisa followed her.

Alex shook his head, imagine he, Alex Krycek, a mother hen clucking after Mulder's eating habits. Not that they weren't deplorable. Mulder hadn't eaten any of the salad at dinner either. He guessed that someone 'should' keep an eye on the man's eating habits. His thoughts were interrupted by Mulder's return to the kitchen.

Mulder hung up the phone with just a little more force that strictly necessary and started cleaning up the plates and napkins. "Done?" Mulder asked, his eyes on his task and his movements jerky.

"What's wrong? Was that Scully?" Alex felt a surge of inexplicable concern.

Mulder dumped the plates in the sink and then leaned on the counter. His eyes were cold. "Well, there's been some signs of unusual break-ins and evidence of abandoned unauthorized labs. There may be more missing people, there were signs that patients were taken, but no records to verify. Sounds like consortium labs being ransacked and some of their guinea pigs stolen. This wouldn't sound familiar to you, would it, Alex?" Mulder crossed his arms and raised his eyebrows expectantly.

Krycek shrugged, "Should it?" He was under no obligation to explain the rebels' actions to a hybrid.

"Well, I'm thinking that the other missing members were also rebel agents as you once were. Am I close? And their task was to round up other possible hybrids for the morphs just as you were sent to bring me in."

Another shrug. "I suppose that's possible."

"Why, Alex? Are they killing them? Experimenting? What?"

Krycek shook his head with exasperation. "And what does that really matter, Mulder? You let the colonists experiment on you. The morphs are simply cleaning up the collaborators and their work."

Mulder's face was white with shock and anger, "What the fuck is wrong with you, Alex? What did they do to warp you like this? I've never been a collaborator and I didn't 'let' anyone experiment on me. The colonists may have started the hybridization, but it was your own rebel friends that finished it. And as much as it hurt and as much as it changed me...there's also a part of me that can't help but be a little grateful for it. We never would have had Katerina otherwise. Or be able to have our sons. So I can live with the changes, I can even find good in them. But don't you EVER call me a collaborator again!" Mulder's voice had started icy and low but it ended with a passionate hiss that stabbed Alex to the core.

Was he telling the truth? The morphs were experimenting with hybrids? And Mulder...was an unwilling participant? Alex couldn't shake the feeling of truth that permeated Mulder's words. It rang true in his heart if not his mind.

Mulder sensed the confusion and decided to up the stakes. "Perhaps you need a little visual. Want to see how much they changed me?" Mulder raised his shirt, revealing the pregnant swell of belly. Alex stared, shocked at the sight before finally noticing a small slit above the belly button.

Unthinkingly, Alex reached a hand and touched the swell. A flash of memory, Mulder reluctantly revealing it to him for the first time. Mulder moaning as his fingertips rubbed the edges of the opening. The feeling of making love to him there...

"Oh god..." Alex jerked his hand back and Mulder dropped the shirt once more.

"So Katerina..."

Mulder shook his head. "No, actually we hadn't...been together yet. I didn't have the slit then...the morphs...they were experimenting with me. They impregnated me and used your DNA as well. They planned to terminate us."

Alex visibly swallowed at that, unsure of how to respond, but feeling a horrible churning in his stomach at the thought of Mulder...and his...daughter being killed.

Mulder sensed the break in Alex's shields and his lover's hurt and confusion.

"Yes, the 'rebels' did that. They were curious about hybrids, but didn't want to keep them. They thought of us as nothing more than guinea pigs. Just as 'you' were thinking a minute ago. Are you still willing to kill your own children? They aren't going to just kill me. Kat and the boys...they'll be hybrids, too." Mulder leaned closer, his words hissing accusations, "After all...they're 'impure.'" Mulder hurled the last word as an curse. Alex flinched.

Mulder leaned back again, feeling only the slightest bit of satisfaction at finally breaking through Krycek's stoic barrier.

Alex swallowed hard, he knew that Mulder was speaking the truth and it was time. Time to experience the truth as well. He opened the link willingly for the first time and let Mulder into his swirling and confused mind.

Fear, anger, hate and frustration ebbed and flowed without consistency. As Mulder reached out and joined him in his mind he sensed Mulder's own fears and worry but also a far warmer emotion emanated. Love. It glowed like a golden ribbon that weaved in and around Alex's emotions, warming them until Alex felt a growing peace and happiness that he hadn't felt since...since before the morph signal had called out to him. Memory of that day began to come to him in snatches, brief moments flashed by, unconnected and incomplete.

Mulder's hand was warm on his knee. When had Mulder moved? It didn't matter; he concentrated on the warmth seeping into his leg. He felt a brief touch on his face and he glanced up and saw Mulder's eyes staring intently into his own. Fingertips brushed his cheek and the warmth in his mind flared hot...passion, love, desire, empathyunderstandinglovesadnesshopefearwonderhappiness...the thoughts and emotions bled together as one.

Alex leaned forward, his hand on top of the one on his knee so as not to lose contact as he brushed his lips against Mulder's...against Fox's. The kiss was soft and tentative until the other man leaned into it, deepening it before finally breaking it. Leaning their foreheads together they breathed hard as if they had run a marathon, their thoughts swirling around, incomprehensible to anyone but to each other.

"I'm sorry, Lisa. Oh, god, I'm sorry." It came out broken and Alex struggled not to let out the sob that threatened within him. He breathed through his mouth, struggling to keep the emotions within him from building to the crescendo they were rising to.

"It's okay. It wasn't your fault. Shhh..." Fox stroked his cheek then moved his hand to the back of Alex's neck. His other hand was still clutching Alex's knee with Alex's hand on top of his. Neither one could bear to lose the contact.

"I-" Whatever Alex was going to say was lost in the loud splintering of their front door. Two bounty hunters, a smaller morph and two humans stepped through the doorway.

Mulder struggled to his feet and dived for the stiletto he'd hidden in the lamp next to him. The hunters were quicker; he was trapped between the two in an iron grip at both elbows. The third morph stepped forward and jabbed a needle into Mulder's arm. Mulder immediately felt the effects, his pulse raced with adrenaline, but the drug's effects made his eyelids heavy and he felt a numbing heaviness seep into his bones.

"Alex!" The cry was weak but desperate. He struggled to keep his eyes on his lover.

Krycek straightened and nodded with cold calm to the two hunters holding his struggling lover. "Took you long enough."

Mulder faded but not before the feeling an icy clench of his stomach.

Trust is a fragile thing. Trust from one who has been betrayed by loved ones far too often to count is a rare and precious jewel. Betrayal of that same hard won trust is a wound that may not heal...

10:13 p.m.

Mulder/Krycek Home

Alex quietly shut the front door behind him as the group ahead of him carried Mulder's body to the waiting van. Glancing up at a window on the 2nd floor he saw Kat's frightened face peeking from behind a curtain, her hair mussed from sleep. Giving her a stern look he turned without a word and continued down the walkway towards the vehicle.

The two bounty hunters had already gotten into a sedan parked nearby and driven off, presumably to a meeting point to wait for them. The smaller morph, apparently a scientist, directed the two human agents to strap Mulder into the gurney set up in the back of the van. Alex surveyed the bushes surrounding the property. He was the first to spot Walter Skinner striding out of the bushes, gun raised.

"Freeze! FBI!"

Alex whipped out his gun before any of the others could react and charging he knocked Skinner to the ground. Skinner's gun went off as his arm was knocked into the ground. A brief struggle and one of the rebel agents quickly stepped in, Skinner found himself unarmed and outnumbered.

10 minutes earlier.

Skinner stood outside the house he'd been seeking for months. Scully had refused to give him the new address, as it was on a 'need to know' basis only. Need to know...after everything he'd done to help Mulder and Scully all of these years, they still didn't trust him, obviously. That knowledge burned in him. As did the knowledge that Mulder, Scully and even the Lone Gunmen trusted Alex Krycek more than him.

He'd been angry with Mulder for choosing Krycek over him. Jealousy was an ugly thing and he was well aware of his behavior and how he'd lost Scully's trust on top of Mulder's, but that didn't mean that he was wrong. Krycek 'couldn't' be trusted.

And now he was being proven right. Krycek had just up and disappeared on his family for days and then returned without a word of explanation. Scully had stopped sharing information about this case with him days ago, but his sources made it clear that Scully herself was worried about Mulder and Krycek. Apparently Mulder was being tight-lipped about Krycek's return and Scully suspected that Krycek might have been affected by his absence. But even though she was worried, she still hadn't gone to make sure everything was all right.

Skinner knew better. A tight-lipped Mulder meant that he was in the middle of something dangerous but unwilling to endanger anyone else. It was obviously up to Skinner to investigate.

So here he was, finally at the house he'd spent so long to track down. He'd thought of simply knocking on the door, but experience told him to stake out the house first, looking for anything suspicious before approaching.

He'd parked around the corner and approached the house from the back, as he walked around the front of the house he spotted a dark blue van in the driveway with it's back doors open. He crept behind a line of tall bushes on the edge of the property and waited. The front door opened suddenly and he felt his heart jump to his throat as he saw two men dragging a body out the front door. The body was tall but fat. No, not fat, just an unusually round belly, Mulder. He gripped his gun tighter as he watched them drag Mulder towards the van. Another man exited the house and closed the door. He looked up at the house before turning towards the van and Skinner could just make out Krycek's profile.

His anger and fear spurred him to a rash and irretrievably stupid move. He dove out of the bushes, gun aimed at the two men struggling with Mulder's weight.

Skinner should have known that Alex moved like lightning.

And fell on him like a ton of bricks.

The wind knocked out of him, he could only grunt as his gun went off, fired uselessly into the tree line. One of the other men helped Krycek jerk him to his feet, his hands pinned behind his back.

"Fucking FBI! Jackson, finish loading the hybrid and start the engine. I've got him." Krycek's voice was a harsh growl in his ear. Skinner struggled to get enough breath in his lungs to curse.

Jackson started to move, but was hesitant, looking inside the van. Besides Mulder and the man holding him, another figure appeared to be in the van that Skinner hadn't noticed yet. The morph stepped out and Skinner felt a chill run down his spine at the sight of the mutilated eyes and mouth.

^What is this disturbance? ^

Skinner stiffened at the morph's 'speech' sounding in his head. Krycek jerked him around as he faced the morph.

"Law enforcement." Alex tightened his hold on one of his arms, Skinner gritted his teeth at the flare of pain, but kept silent. "He needs to be terminated." Krycek shoved him towards the side of the house, heading towards the backyard.

^Agreed. Finish loading the hybrid. ^ The other two men quickly returned to their job.

As they passed the corner of the house Krycek slammed him into the wall.

Skinner had had enough. "Fucking bast-"

Krycek shoved the muzzle of his gun under his chin. "Save it Skinner. You'll kill us all, you stupid son of a bitch. Wait here until the van leaves and then go get Kat, she's hiding in her room. Tell Scully and Doggett that the rebels are our biggest threat now. Mulder and the other hybrids are being taken for experimentation."

Skinner shoved on the gun arm and Krycek backed off slightly. "Why let them-"

"No time for chitchat, Skinner. Do it, if you give a shit about the human race, never mind Fox." Krycek took several rapid steps backwards and shot the ground near Skinner's feet once. "I'll be in touch."

Krycek gave him one last look of warning and strode back towards the van and Mulder.

Climbing into the passenger seat, Krycek slammed the door shut and nodded to Jackson. The younger man stepped on the gas a trifle harder than strictly necessary, the tires squealing as they pulled out of the driveway and onto the private street. Two more cars pulled out of the shadows, one pulled in front of them as the other tailed them. Both had a hunter and human agents in them.

Trees whizzed past his window as Alex struggled not to turn around and look at Mulder. Losing his battle, he tilted the visor mirror slightly and watched as the morph pinched the skin on Mulder's arm, injecting him with a green substance. Shields firmly in place, he repressed the homicidal urge building within him as he watched the alien begin to probe Mulder's belly with his fingers.

Alex and Mulder had trained their daughter well. If Skinner hadn't known she was in the house somewhere he never would have found her.

As it was, he spent twenty minutes searching and calling for her.

Scully had answered her phone with a brisk tone that quickly turned to urgent concern. "I'm catching the next flight. Stay at the house, I'll bring backup." She hung up and Skinner shook his head as he closed the phone and switched the flashlight to his right hand. The cavalry was on their way.

"Katerina? It's Uncle Walter, honey. Your fathers wanted me to stay with you. Kat? Come on, honey..."

Angry, worried, and frustrated beyond belief, Walter Skinner finally had a stroke of brilliance. Turning to the kitchen he opened up a couple of cabinets before he struck gold. One can of tuna fish and a can opener later he had the cat in the kitchen and Katerina scampering after her before stopping at the kitchen doorway. She was a beautiful little girl: dark brown hair, slightly darker than Mulder's and Alex's pert little button nose.

Relieved, Skinner dropped to his knees to appear less threatening. "It's okay, Kat. I'm Uncle Walter. Remember me?"

Kat shook her head; Skinner noticed fresh tear tracks on her face and wished he could sweep her up in a hug right then and there.

"I haven't seen you in a while. You showed me Kisa last time I...visited." The last time he'd seen her had been the oilean crisis. Mulder and Alex had been badly hurt. It wasn't exactly the kind of thing to remind her of right now, but he was desperate to gain her trust.

Kat nodded and smiled hesitantly, but came no further. How foolish he had been to cut himself off from Mulder's daughter. The closest he'd ever come to having a family of his own.

"That's okay, honey, you don't have to come any further. I just wanted to make sure you were okay. Are you all right?"

Kat nodded and then burst into tears. "They took daddy again!"

Skinner stepped cautiously closer to her. He hurt to think of Mulder gone, but even more for Mulder's daughter who might lose her father...both fathers. Her eyes...they were Mulder's eyes. Large almond-shaped hazel eyes that seemed to change color in the light.

She didn't shy away from him, but instead stepped closer and held her arms up. Walter picked her up awkwardly and moved into the living room, sitting down on the couch. The little girl curled up and hugged him tightly, tears seeping into his shirt and she rubbed her nose on his tie. He patted her back and murmured soothing words to her.

His heart captured by another Mulder.

3:22 a.m.

Location Unknown

As the van pulled up to a nondescript medical building, Krycek glanced harshly at the driver. "What's this? Why haven't we returned to the ship?"

Jackson glanced at him with false bravado, but it was obvious to Alex that he intimidated the man. Good.

"The ship had to retreat back to space, beyond satellite detection. There was too much scrutiny and they needed more room anyway. Most of the other hybrids are already here."

Four armed rebels met the van at the ambulance entrance. Mulder was quickly pulled from the van on the gurney and Krycek followed, eyes scrutinizing the surroundings but he never let the gurney out of his line of sight.

Down a hall, they arrived to a small surgical bay. Two morphs, one hunter and one scientist, met them at the door, barring his way as the others pushed Mulder into the room.

^You are needed for debriefing. Follow me. ^

Krycek sneered at Jackson as the other man entered the surgical bay after the smaller morph, but then nodded and followed the hunter down the hall to what appeared to be a large empty office. It was dimly lit, shadows swallowed most of the room except for a few chairs, a desk and a lamp. The hunter gestured for him to sit. As he did so, the hunter loomed over him, behind him, Alex saw another hunter step from the shadows.

^Now, you will tell us how you failed your mission, agent 319.^

Alex glared, "I was not informed of the hybrid's expectations. I was not left with the necessary memories to complete the mission. However, I did 'not' fail. The hybrid was easily taken because of my work. I would have completed my mission if given more time. As it is, we have him now."

The hunters were not swayed by his argument, they shifted slightly and moved closer, trapping him in the chair. ^We shall see. You will open your mind to us and prove your loyalty to the cause.^

An hour later the hunters exited the office and strode down the hall back to the surgical bay. Alex was slumped in the chair covered in sweat and tears. He lifted his head slightly and glanced at the door. He and Mulder were running out of time.

Scully arrived with the Lone Gunmen and Agent Doggett. The gunmen lugged a large amount of equipment with them, their faces grim. Doggett looked irritated but anxious as he noticed Kat sleeping on the couch, dried tear tracks glistening in the dim light. "Is that Mulder's daughter?" he asked quietly. Skinner nodded and remembered that Doggett's file had mentioned a dead son.

"Yes, she was upset. I told her she could sleep out here for now." He decided not to mention that it was also Alex's daughter. He had no idea how much the man knew. How much had Scully shared with him?

Scully glanced sadly at Kat's form, but when she spoke she was all business. "Has there been any word?"

Skinner bit his tongue to keep from snapping at her presumed authority, it was best to keep the peace right now. "No, Agent Scully. Krycek told me he'd be in touch, but it's been 8 hours."

Scully pursed her lips and nodded, the gunmen were busily setting up their laptops and running wires and other gizmos. Scully headed to the kitchen, glancing back at Skinner as she did so. Following her into the kitchen, he noticed Doggett follow them in silently.

"Mulder talked to me on the phone about an hour and a half before the...incident. He told me that Alex had exhibited trauma and amnesia. He didn't remember anything from the time of their abductions or the last five years. But, Mulder felt he was making some progress in helping Alex and that he hoped to make a breakthrough tonight."

Skinner shook his head, furious. "Why didn't he inform you earlier? How could he do something so dangerous, so pig headed?"

Scully smiled sadly. "He wouldn't be Mulder otherwise. He wanted to do it alone. He felt our presence would delay the healing process. Anyway, we don't know whether or not Alex has all of his memories. You say he pretended to kill you and that he was going along with the morph to save Mulder. He called him Fox?"

Nodding reluctantly, Skinner repeated the tale to her. "But why wouldn't he have worked with me to stop them from taking Mulder?"

Scully sighed and leaned back against the counter, her arms folded across her chest. "Well, you said that you saw at least one morph. They are very difficult to kill, you can't kill them with a gun. My hope is that it was necessary. To keep Mulder alive and to help the others that are missing."

Doggett stepped a little closer to the two of them. He looked extremely skeptical at the mention of aliens, but his face took on a look of concern at the last bit of Scully's reasoning. "The others? You mean the missing persons cases? Around the time that Krycek left?"

Scully glanced at him, "Yes, but also the patients that disappeared from the medical clinics. I believe they may have been abductees that were experimented on. Like Mulder. If they took Mulder to the same place as them and if Alex can contact us. We may be able to help them."

Skinner sighed and rubbed his forehead. "That's hinging our hopes on a man that has repeatedly proven he's untrustworthy. For all we know - "

"We know that he loves Kat. He protected her. He could have easily taken her as well, but he told 'you' to go and save her. He loves his family. We have to trust him to make the right decision and to have a plan. We have no other choice."

Skinner and Doggett's eyes met over the petite redhead, they agreed that they had no choice. For now.

Krycek struggled to his feet. His head throbbed painfully and his balance was shot.

The room swam before his eyes as he tried to walk to the door, stumbling several times and tripping over the chairs. He turned the doorknob with little hope, but was pleasantly surprised when it opened. He'd been sure the hunters had locked him in.

Poking his head out the door, he found the hallway empty. He took a deep breath and pushed himself off the door handle. He staggered down the hall with one arm out to balance himself against the wall next to him. He needed to find Mulder. But first...he needed to find a weapon.

He headed in the opposite direction of the way he'd come in, hoping to avoid the hunters that were most likely converging around the hybrid's arrival in the surgical bay. His heart tugged him to head in that direction, but his head knew that he had no chance against a morph without a proper weapon.

As he walked, his head began to clear somewhat, his balancing improving to the point that his hand only brushed along the wall for reassurance. A door appeared on the left and he crept up to it, peering through the glass. A series of beds with bodies in them could be made out through the thick frosted window. He watched for a few moments, but saw no movement. Quietly opening the door he saw that there was no guard, only the people lying in the row of beds.

There was no guard because there was no need.

Each body lay with a thin sheet over it, like a cadaver in the morgue. Pulling down one sheet he saw a young black man in his twenties, his hands were a mangled mess, bloody with bone shining through the wrists, a large hole in each wrist suggested that the boy had been pinned there. The wounds looked strange, though, the skin seemed to have grown over some of the worst damage, though it far from covered the damage. Healing. The body had been a hybrid most likely. Pulling the sheet further, Krycek noticed a long incision, completely unhealed, along the belly. It gaped open slightly, no one had bothered to sew or glue it back together. Alex didn't bother touching it, he had no desire to look within. He pulled the sheet back over the boy's head and moved to the foot of the bed, turning the sheet up to check the ankles, they were the same as the wrists.

Alex choked down a wave of nausea. Breathing through his mouth, he quickly checked four more bodies, all were men of varying ages and ethnic origins, but all had the same trauma. Turning away from the bodies, Krycek scanned the room, various metal implements were scattered on a counter top. Scrutinizing the mess, he picked up three sharply pointed tools and tucked them into his pants and jacket.

As he turned back to the door, he noticed a row of glass bubble-like containers. He reluctantly stepped closer to look into one. It was filled with a light green fluid, clearly noticeable within was a small body. It looked human except for an elongated head, arms and legs. The torso was far too tiny for it, and the eyes were tiny slits, almost nonexistent.

Glancing at the other containers he saw they each held a tiny body, but they all looked different. Most looked far worse than the first one, some had no arms or legs, some had enormous limbs, but no torso. The last container was too dark to see immediately, stepping closer, Alex peered into the container. The fluid was a darker shade of green, but he was able to make out a shape... It was the last straw, Alex rushed over to a trash can in the corner and heaved. The last body hadn't seemed like a body at all...it almost looked like it was inside out. Trembling over the trash can, Alex struggled to calm himself. Checking his shields, he was relieved to find them firmly in place. He wiped his mouth once more and glanced up noticing a small mirror on the wall.

Walking over to it, he saw a stranger. A pale sweaty man with greasy looking dark brown hair and a gray complexion. His eyes looked back at him, dark and murderous. He sneered at his own reflection before jerking the sleeve of his jacket up, revealing a jagged cut, a hint of metal shining through. He'd sent the homing signal out that had brought the rebels to their home. He'd betrayed his own family in the name of the resistance. For an alien race that had once promised to help Earth's inhabitants rid themselves of the colonists. He'd thought they were against the hybridization experiments because they cared about other races. Instead, they were continuing the work themselves. Each one of those bodies was a failed attempt to reproduce.

He walked over to the counter of tools once more, searching for a moment he found a sharp scalpel. Removing the embedded object in his arm, he dropped the bloody cylinder on the floor, crushing it with his boot heel. He tucked the scalpel in his pocket and turned back to the door.

It was time to find Mulder.

"Uhnnh..." Mulder's throat burned as he swallowed painfully and tried to speak. Why couldn't he see? He tried to touch his eyes to see what was wrong but his arm wouldn't move. Both arms remained numb and unresponsive. He struggled to open his eyes again. They seemed glued shut, but slowly, ever so slowly, they cracked open and he sluggishly opened his eyes only to snap them shut again.

White. A blinding white light directly aimed at his eyes. He winced and tried to call out again. "Unh...Aaalex." His voice came out as a cracked groan. He hated how pathetic sounded, but he couldn't help it. His body hurt all over. Where was he? His bed wasn't this hard. He tried to shift and a white hot bolt of pain down his spine drew a startled gasp from him. Strange cold hands touched his the bare skin of his hands and his eyes snapped open once more and he squinted against the light.

"Alex?! Alex!!"

Alex stumbled against the wall of the hallway outside the room he'd just exited. A loud 'shout' stabbed within his mind. ^Alex?! Alex!! Oh, god, Alex. Help me! Help! Morphs! The babies! Alex! Oh, god...oh, god...Please! ^

Mulder 'scream' turned into pleading before a sudden surge of hopelessness poured from Mulder to Krycek. ^Oh, god, Alex! How could you?! ^ Just as quickly as the link had burst open, it faded with a wave of despair from Mulder.

Alex clutched the wall and panted as if he'd been running. The sheer power of Mulder's broadcasting had stunned him. He hadn't been able to respond, only struggle to comprehend the words and emotions hitting him. It had only lasted a moment, but Mulder had gone from confusion to sudden remembrance of Alex's betrayal and finally a loss of hope.

^Fox? ^ Alex attempted to quietly answer his lover, but the link was shut once more. Krycek didn't dare attempt to send again. He couldn't let the morphs know what he was planning. As much as it hurt to leave Mulder without hope, he forced himself to strengthen his shields. 'I'm coming, Fox. Don't give up.'

Hunter 44269 observed the scientists from his position against the wall of the surgical bay. The hybrid's ankles and wrists were restrained on the table in the center of the room. The large swell of the hybrid's body was exciting proof of the hybrid's fertility. The current children would of course need to be removed before the experiment could commence.

The hunter watched as the scientists probed the belly to ascertain the safest way to remove the unwanted specimens. Hunter 44269 considered the face of the hybrid. It was rather exotic compared to the previous hybrids. Almond shaped eyes and a distinct nose were balanced by lush lips. Definitely an interesting face, and the skin. It was smooth and pale with fine brown hair in the usual places for a human. Morphs had no hair but that on their heads. The hunter noticed all of these things with approval. The hybrid was aesthetically pleasing and fully functional. Hunter 44269's eyes were drawn to the belly once more at this thought. As a scientist moved, the slit was visible to the hunter's gaze. He stared at the slit with growing excitement. All other hybrid failures had been attempted with implanted fetuses. No other hybrid had been advanced enough for natural conception.

As the hunter gave the hybrid another once over he decided that this one would be a natural conception. As soon as physically possible.

Turning on his heel, he went to record the latest developments for his superiors before the induced labor would commence.

Krycek was nearing the hall that lead to the surgical bay when a morph stepped out of a doorway and blocked his way. 'Oh, shit.' Alex pulled the scalpel out as quickly as he could, the morph blocked his attack and after a brief struggle, Alex was pinned against the wall.

Gritting his teeth, Alex focused on staying conscious, the blood pounding in his head as he was crushed against the wall unable to breathe.

"Alex Krycek?" Krycek squinted and realized that the morph had changed into a gray haired man with a normal face.

Not receiving a reply, the morph suddenly realized his error and eased his hold on the human.

"Ugh. Who wants to know?" Krycek wheezed, glaring at the morph. He slid a hand ever so slowly behind his back...towards another weapon.

"Cease your movement. I have no reason to harm you further. My name is Joshua Smith. Does this sound familiar to you?"

Alex recognized the healer, one of the morphs that were dedicated to the healing arts of his race. Mulder had trusted the one he'd known, Jeremiah Smith. To an extent.

Krycek eyed him wearily. "Yes. You're a healer. Hunted by the bounty hunters. Or so I thought."

Smith nodded and glanced around anxiously before morphing once more into a standard morph face. His stature was that of the smaller morph scientists. He gestured to the door he had emerged from. Alex obeyed, fingers itching to pull a weapon.

Hunter 44269 stared down at the hybrid once more. He had been alerted by the scientists when the hybrid had awoken, mentally screaming for his mate. Agent 319 had not responded to the call and the hybrid had sunk into despair, his eyes staring listlessly at the ceiling despite the harsh lighting.

The hunter leaned closely and the hybrid's large hazel eyes flickered to his face. ^Agent 319 has preformed his necessary function. He will not be joining you. We will now be removing the unwanted specimens before we begin our work. It is not necessary that you cooperate, but I can make it far more bearably for you...perhaps even...pleasurable, if you comply. ^

The hybrid stared at him without a glimmer of emotion or comprehension. Reaching into its mind, the hunter searched for the hybrid's thoughts. There was nothing but an endless cycle of words. 'How could he? How could he? How could he?'

The hunter straightened and stared for a moment into the now unfocused eyes. It didn't matter what the hybrid wanted anyway. Nodding to the scientists he stepped back as they surrounded the hybrid once more.

They were ready to begin.

The morph led him into another office, this one didn't even have chairs in it. Krycek wondered when the building had last been used.

Smith closed and locked the door before morphing back into his more human self. "Mr. Krycek, I wish to help you and Agent Mulder."

Alex raised an eyebrow at that. "You do? Mulder isn't an agent for the FBI anymore. And why should I trust you anyway?"

The alien smiled gently, "I don't believe you have a choice at the moment. You are in need of some help right now and I am offering it."

"Fine. You want to help? I need to contact someone for help." Krycek glanced around the empty room again, he hadn't seen any phones in the building yet.

Smith nodded and pulled out a small cellular phone. "Will this do? It belonged to one of the human agents."

Grabbing the phone, Alex dialed his home phone number, keeping an eye on Smith and the door as he waited impatiently for the call to connect.

"Yes?" Skinner's voice was a curt bark into the phone, but to Alex it was a sweet sound at the moment.

"Skinner, gather whatever backup you have by now and head west, there is a medical facility 5 hours from the house, exit 23b. Bring the weapons you find in the floor of the main bedroom under the rug and the ones from the bedside table drawers."

"Krycek - " Skinner's voice was an irritated growl.

"If it's a threat you can save it, Wally. Mulder needs help 'now.'"

"We're on our way." Skinner hung up and Alex let out a relieved sigh.

"Your friends are coming?" Smith asked quietly.

"Yes. Now why don't you tell me why you are helping me. The short version."


Skinner drove as far above the speed limit as he dared with Scully in the passenger seat, her knuckles white as she gripped the rented truck's dashboard. Doggett had followed in Mulder's Jeep, but Skinner had lost track of him an hour ago. Too impatient to reach his destination, Skinner simply hoped the man would find the facility himself.

"What did he say about Mulder?"

Skinner glanced at her quickly and then back at the road. "Nothing. Just that he needed help 'now.'" Skinner gritted his teeth and pressed down on the accelerator harder.


Alex shifted from the ball of one foot to the other, his fingers caressed the handle of one of the medical implements in the pocket of his jacket as he listened to the morph.

"There are many of us who do not like what our race has become. We want the killing to stop. Now that the colonists are defeated, some of our own race has become twisted by our losses. Perhaps it was meant to be. Hybridization isn't the answer, and most morphs know this...believe this, but the hunters...the collaborators...they've begun to sway politics. They are gaining in power and unless we stop this mission of theirs...they may win. I'm not just doing this for humanity. I'm doing it to save my own race. We should die with honor...not turn into the very thing which we fought against."

Smith's face looked tired and sad, Alex wondered if the morphs that had lived on earth for many years had become somewhat human themselves. Most morphs he met had plastic like faces even when imitating another. But Smith's face was animated, detailed and far more emotional.

Should he trust Smith? It wasn't like he had a lot of choice in the matter, he was hardly in the position to deny help at this point. And also...Mulder had trusted Smith before. Maybe not this Smith, but this group of aliens. By Mulder's own X-File reports, the Smiths wanted to help mankind, they healed and tried to save hybrids where they could, and they had always been hunted by the bounty hunters. It fit. The question was, could Smith and the others defeat the hunters?

"You say that there are others. Where are they?" Alex watched him closely, but the alien seemed sincere.

"We healers are but a few, but there are two others nearby. I lost contact with them when I assumed the place of one of the scientists. They may have already infiltrated the mission. Mr. Krycek, we must move quickly, I do not believe we can wait for your friends."

Smith's words seemed prophetic, at that moment the bond opened and a wave of pain tore into Alex.

Crying out in pain, Krycek dropped to the floor on his knees, clutching his head. "Fox!"

Smith was hovering over him, but Alex couldn't hear him, his entire being was focused on the wave of pain coming from Mulder. Alex tried to contact his lover, but beyond the pain there was no sense of the man. There was only pain and then a sudden numbing. The link fell quiet and Alex was left gasping on the floor.

"Are you all right?" Smith raised a hand to his head and Krycek managed to find the strength to wave him off.

"Yes. But Fox isn't."

Hot band of pressure tightens and squeezes...hard. The body is wracked by the need to push.


The pressure eases slightly and the lungs begin to work overtime to pull in necessary oxygen. There is a sharp pain in the arm. Over before it has registered. The pain suddenly drops and leaves behind a numbness that is just as disturbing as the pain had been.

Numb. Eyes are open but they do not see. Shadows move and flicker, but do not register. Voices in his head whisper but make no sense.

A voice raises and 'shouts' amongst the dim voices. The words slip past him as he vaguely tries to follow.

^...not progressing...need to intervene...^

More voices raise and soon he can hear many voices overlapping, making it even harder to follow.

^Stop! Too much...^

^Cannot see where...^

^...normal?...Put it...^

^Finish. Remove...^

^...the healing...slow...^

The voices become too much and he shuts them out. Shuts out the pain that has returned. Shuts out the bright light that hurts his eyes. Shuts out the tiny voice that shouts 'to' him amongst the din of voices. Shuts out the painful thoughts that attempt to remind him of what is occurring.

Shuts it all out.


By the time Alex made it to the doors of the surgical bay he'd killed ten human agents. A small part of him regretted killing human beings whom, like himself, had been 'reeducated' by the morphs to serve them. But that small voice was quickly overwhelmed by the sheer 'need' to get to Mulder. Now.

Krycek put a hand out to push the doors of the surgery open when two hunters and a small band of human agents appeared from the neighboring room.

^Halt! Agent 319, you will cease your actions immediately and submit to reconditioning-^

"Reconditioning?! Is that what you call it? I call it brainwashing and forcing me to betray my own species!" Krycek flicked his eyes to the humans behind the commanding aliens. Two of the men in the group glanced at one another with unease.

^You will cease or you will be terminated.^ The hunters were glancing around the hall, looking for any other threats.

Alex carefully kept his eyes away from the door where Smith had last disappeared. He sought out the eyes of the two men that had shown a spark of rebellion. "What about the rest of you? What about your families? These bastards are planning to use 'us' as incubators just like the colonists were! They're using our own bodies to spawn...isn't that what we have been fighting against? They have my family in there! Are you going to let them do this to yours?"

Alex was unprepared for the sudden reaction from the group. Four men suddenly leaped on the aliens from behind, trying to knock them to the ground. The rest of the group stared stunned at their comrades sudden mutiny but didn't move to stop them. Alex wasted no time, pulling out a scalpel, he plunged it into the first of the hunters that reached the ground. The second alien took longer to subdue but was finally dispatched. Breathing hard, Krycek and the four men turned to look at the unmoving group before them.

"The rest of you should either help us or leave. Anyone that hinders us will answer for betraying their own species..."

One by one the group moved to stand with Krycek. Only two men remained unwilling to join and they quickly left the building.

Alex turned back to the doors once more. Before he could take one step forward, a large blast of energy slammed into the men, lifting them off their feet. Alex suddenly felt his body slam into a wall before he lost consciousness.

The blast removed the immediate threat from the mutiny outside the surgery. Hunter 44269 watched his monitors for any further movement. None of the human bodies stirred and the hall was once again quiet. Two hours passed as the scientists finished the hybrid's delivery and morph decided to observe the hybrid up close once more as the results of the delivery were taken to another room.

The hunter watched as the hybrid slowly began to heal. The delivery had not gone smoothly, a great deal of blood soiled the room but the hybrid was now free of the unwanted pregnancy. The hunter was impatient about the time it would take before the hybrid might be ready for a new conception.

He noticed the two scientists return from storing the hybrid's children in the next room with disinterested eyes. Turning back to his fascinating view of the hybrid he was vaguely surprised when one of the scientists approached him. Annoyed by the intrusion, he almost demanded privacy before he decided to satisfy his curiosity. ^The hybrid...when will it be ready for conception once more? ^

^Unknown. The healing is incomplete and further tests will be needed.^

The scientist's inability to answer angered the hunter. What use were scientists if they did not have all the answers? ^Are the humans in the corridor dead?^

^Not all. Some survived the shock wave.^

^That is unfortunate. You will take the rest of your team and terminate the survivors after the hybrid is stable.^

The scientist did not obey immediately. The hunter finally turned to look at the scientist, his anger rising at the audacity of the lower ranking morph. ^Did you hear me?^

The scientist faced him but its face suddenly morphed... ^I heard you...^ A sharp pain in the back of his neck was the last that the hunter ever felt again.

Skinner entered the deserted building cautiously, gun raised before him. Scully covered his back as they stalked down the dark hallway.

"Which way?" Skinner whispered, his eyes trained on the hallway before him.

Scully peered over his shoulder and noticed a sign. "Surgery's ahead...let's check it out first."

They came to a bend in the hallway and Skinner stopped suddenly in his tracks. Scully bumped into his broad back with a muffled 'oof!' She stepped to the side and saw what had made him stop.

Before them lay several men scattered about the hallway. Puddles of liquid and smeared substances could barely be seen in the darkness. Scully pulled her flashlight and revealed that most of the puddles were red blood but there were also a few smears of green along the floor.

The flashlight's beam swept over the horrifying sight until it landed on a familiar looking form.

"Alex!" Scully shoved past Skinner's unmoving bulk and knelt next to the young man that lay crumpled against the wall before the surgical bay's doors.

Alex groaned at the touch of Scully's cool fingers at his neck.

"Alex? It's Scully, are you okay?"

Skinner started as the lights suddenly flicked on, bathing the hallway in a harsh light.

"...Mulder..." Alex's eyes fluttered and he focused on Scully with some difficulty. Recognizing her his eyes widened and he suddenly surged forward. "Fox! He needs me!"

Scully scrambled to help him to his feet and the two of them stumbled over to the doors. Skinner pulled a stray body out of their way before they could trip over it. The body was stiff and cold. Dead.

He looked up and saw Scully and Krycek had reached the doors and were pushing them open. Hearing a thump down the hall, he let the two of them enter the surgical area while he went to investigate. "Scully" Skinner kept his voice low, Scully turned to look at him but Alex was intent on the doors before them. "I'm going to check the next room, keep an eye on Krycek." Scully nodded and watched him walk down the hall cautiously for a moment, watching his back.

Alex ignored the other two as he shoved the doors open and found a nightmare inside. Dark red blood painted the floor and table. It dripped down the foot of the table to a large puddle beneath. Mulder lay strapped down with metal restraints. Alex let out a choked cry at the sight and rushed to his lover's side.

"Lisa?! Baby, can you hear me?! I'm here..." he stroked the hair off Fox's forehead and noticed his lover's eyes were open, staring blankly at the ceiling.

"Lisa?" he leaned down and whispered near his ear. Mulder didn't move; his eyes were unblinking. Alex stroked his arm reassuringly and when he reached the wrist and felt metal as he angrily turned his attention to the restraint. How was he going to get it off?

Suddenly, as if in answer, Mulder pulled hard, his hand stretching and wrist narrowing as he jerked it through the restraint. Once free, his arm went slack and fell back to nearly the same position it had been in before. Alex's gaze jerked up to his lover's face. "Fox?" No response, Mulder's eyes remained fixed on a point only he could see.

"Is he all right?!" Scully came in behind him. Alex glanced up, but quickly turned his attention to his lover's face once more. There was still no response.

"I don't know, he won't talk to me or look at me...but he pulled his hand out from the restraint. He hasn't moved since. Fox? Scully's here. We're here, Lisa, please talk to me!"

No response. Scully turned his face towards hers and looked into his eyes, shielding and unshielding his eyes from the light. "Pupils are responsive." She scraped a nail on his arm. "No response to stimulus. I think he's catatonic, we need tests to be sure, though. Where are the babies?" She turned her attention to Fox's stomach. It was smooth, except for the closed slit. There was blood smeared all across his torso, leading to the large pools of blood.

Alex felt a sickened wave of fear, his horror at the sight of Fox had blinded him to the obvious. "God, I don't know! Fox! Where are the babies? Oh, god, what did they do to them?!" Alex was growling low and dangerous.

As if in answer, a loud wail rose nearby, followed immediately by another in unison. Skinner appeared in the door way, "Come quick!"

Alex started but stopped and stared at his lover. Scully saw his dilemma, "Go, Alex. I'll stay with him."

He didn't acknowledge her, he just ran. Racing into the hall he followed Skinner's brisk stride to another room. Pushing past the other man, Alex ran into the room where his two sons were wailing. They lay in glass enclosures, with lids opened. He hurried to the first one and picked up his naked, squirming son. "Shh...it's okay, Daddy's here." Alex reached over in the next one and laid a hand on the other's chest, stroking it softly, trying to ease their distress.

Skinner came up behind him, holding out a clean cloth. Alex wrapped the first boy in it and was surprised when Skinner offered him another cloth and held out his other hand for the boy. Hesitating, he gave the first baby over and then reached in and pulled the other one out. Bundled up, their cries grew softer as they were securely held in human hands.

Alex felt tears of joy threatening before he pushed them down and walked out of the room. Returning to Fox's side he looked at his lover's face once more. "Fox? We found them. They're okay. Look." He held the baby in his arms to his lover's vacant face. Nothing.

Scully looked at him sadly, "I can't get a response. How are we going to get him out of here?" Alex handed her the baby. "Take him." Scully was surprised but easily accepted the baby, cradling him expertly and smiling despite the situation. The baby was smaller than Kat had been, but seemed healthy.

Hands free, Alex walked over to the pinned arm. ^Fox? I need you to help me get you out of the restraints. Move your arm and feet. ^

A moment went by and Alex held his breath. Then, slowly, Mulder's hand pulled down hard, hand lengthening as the other one had. It fell free and dropped onto the table. The left leg bent slightly as Mulder pulled his ankle through the restraint. As the right foot came free and plopped back down lifelessly. Alex stepped out in the hall. He noticed one man was breathing but didn't take the time to look closer. Pulling clothes off of one dead body with distaste, he glanced around the hall again. Skinner had followed him out into the hallway.

"What happened out here, Krycek?"

Tugging a mostly clean T-shirt off of the body Alex glared up at him. "I convinced the others to rebel against them. We were nearly at the doors when something...a bomb or energy blast slammed into us. Next thing I know you and Scully were here.

Returning to the room, Alex picked up first one leg and then the other, dressing Mulder in the dead man's clothes. ^Sorry, Lisa. Just until we get out of here... Lisa?^ There was no response. Alex avoided looking into the dead stare of his lover's eyes. He didn't have time to break down just now.

Left arm around Mulder's back, he pulled his lover's legs around and pulled him to his feet. "Can you walk, Lisa?" No response. Alex sighed and bent and hoisted Mulder over his arm in the fireman's carry. "Let's go." He ordered the others. Skinner started to protest that 'he' should carry Mulder instead when Scully gave him a sharp look, shutting him up. He and Scully carried the babies as they followed Alex out of the room.

Stepping over bodies, they hurried down the hallway towards the exit. Just as they neared the doors a shadow stepped before them. The hunter's face scowled at them for a second before morphing into the face of Smith. ^We have succeeded. The remaining hunters and scientists have been terminated. I and my colleagues will be leaving now.^

Alex watched the morph carefully but nodded, his arms tightening in their hold of his lover. "And?"

Smith smiled mildly. ^And we shall report the mission's complete failure. All of the failed hybrids and fetuses will be presented as evidence of the hunters' failure. There will be no further experiments or missions in all likelihood. This mission was a last ditch effort. A futile hope. You and your family will not be mentioned. My race will either solve our problem on our own or die.^

Alex nodded but found himself numb at the thought of the alien race dying.

Smith seemed to understand. He stepped aside from the doors and gestured for them to leave. ^Good luck, Mr. Krycek. I wish you and your family well.^ Smith turned to walk away.

"Wait! Fox isn't- You could heal him-?" Alex eased Mulder off of his shoulder and caught him before his lover could drop to the floor. Smith turned back and crouched next to Mulder's body. Holding a hand on Mulder's head, the morph closed his eyes for a second before opening them and standing up.

^There is no physical damage...he has healed. But his mind is damaged. I cannot heal it. Have patience...^ The morph didn't wait for a response, turning he walked briskly down the corridor and disappeared.

The three watched him go but were shocked out of their paralysis by one of the babies crying. "Alex...we should go." Scully put her hand on Alex's shoulder and he sighed.

Doggett pulled up just as they were leaving. Returning home, Alex kept his arms around a silent and unmoving Fox. ^We're going home, Lisa... Everything'll be fine...^

Two days later...

Alex sat on the bed with his son, Michael, in his arms. Ivan lay between him and Mulder sleeping soundly. Michael blinked sleepily at his father as Alex hummed a lullaby. Glancing over at his lover, Alex tried to ignore the despair that threatened to swallow him up every time he was reminded that Fox was unable to share such precious moments with him.

Mulder still lay in a catatonic state. Scully maintained that there was no way to predict how or when Mulder would regain true consciousness. She was also careful not to mention that he may 'not' ever awaken but Alex could read it in her eyes.

The bodies of the human rebel agents mysteriously disappeared by the time Skinner returned with back up from the local FBI office and police department. All mysterious green residue had been cleaned up and there was no sign of the hideous failed experiments or Mulder's own torture left behind. The Smiths had carefully erased all existence of any wrongdoing.

Also missing were the few men that may have survived the blast besides Krycek. Alex found this information the most disturbing but there was nothing he could do about it. The Smiths may have allowed Alex and his family to escape, but they were obviously not above 'cleaning' up any evidence of their mission. Alex wondered if they would have been allowed to escape at all if Mulder hadn't proven helpful in the past...perhaps his lover had saved them despite his current vegetative state.

Alex continued to watch his lover slowly breathe in and out. His eyes were closed. Not of his own accord but because Alex had closed them when he'd gone to bed the night before. Alex reached over and gently pried the eyes open again. They would remain open, only blinking occasionally until Alex closed them again. "Hey, Lisa. Look. Misha's got your nose. They both do... Think they'll grow into it like you did?" Alex held the baby up to Mulder's face. The eyes blinked once but they didn't focus and his expression remained unchanged - blank.

^Goddammit, Lisa! Look at your son!^

No response.

Alex let out a loud gusty sigh, waking Ivan who began to cry. "Shhh, Danny boy. Papa's sorry...just got a little upset. Nothing to cry over." Alex awkwardly set Michael down and picked up his other son. He'd taken to calling Ivan Danny. ^If you have a problem with that you have to tell me, Mulder. I'm going to keep calling him Danny. Danny boy. Maybe I'll even start singing 'Oh, Danny, boy' ^

Nothing. No laughter, no smile, nothing. ^Guess you could tell I was bluffing about the singing, hmm?^ Danny slowly quieted down and Alex leaned over to brush the bangs from Mulder's face. ^We're not going away, you know... You're home and you're safe. Anytime you're ready to come out of this we'll be waiting.^

Mulder didn't answer as Alex went back to humming.

Skinner carefully balanced the heavy tray as he knocked quietly on the door. The faint murmuring he had heard before he had knocked stopped suddenly.

"Yeah?" A haggard voice asked.


"All right, come in."

Skinner opened the door to the same sight he had seen for the last thirteen days. Alex sat in bed with one of the babies on his lap, half-empty bottle sitting on the bedside table.

Next to Alex lay Mulder, his face slack and unresponsive as his eyes stared up at the ceiling. The sight disturbed Skinner deeply. The once brash and irreverent man that once had so much energy and enthusiasm he practically bounced up and down on his feet when solving an X-File now lay like a vegetable, unknowing or caring of his fate.

Skinner set the tray down on its customary place on the bedside table and looked back at Mulder.

"Stop it" Alex growled softly but threateningly. The baby stirred but didn't wake; Skinner looked at Alex and saw barely checked fury.

"What?" Skinner frowned.

"That look. That god damned look you give him 'every' time. You're ready to cart him off to the nuthouse. He doesn't need your negativity."

"Alex. You're exhausted. Why don't you take a break, Scully and I-"

"I'm not going 'anywhere.' He needs me. And if you think I'm going to leave you alone with him... This isn't the first time you've tried to lock him up in a mental institution. But this 'is' the last time. Get. Out."

Skinner opened his mouth to let the son of a bitch have it when the baby in Alex's arms stirred and began to cry. Scully came in within seconds and held her hands out.

"I'll take him. Frohike's got Danny and I think Misha's probably ready for a change, aren't you?" she cooed to the wailing baby. Misha didn't stop crying, but the wails were a little less frantic. She gave both men a glare as she walked out the door.

Skinner followed her with one last glance at the men in bed. Alex was shakily lying back in the bed, one hand going to Mulder's shoulder. He shut the door and followed Scully down the stairs. As she began to change the diaper he turned to duck out the front door for a walk.

"We need to talk, Walter." He froze and turned back, crossing his arms defensively. "I heard what Alex said and he's right. You 'do' plan to admit him to a hospital, don't you?"

"I never said that. But the man is in need of psychiatric care, Agent Scully. You of all people should be able to see that. He hasn't talked or responded to anyone, not even to Alex...or the babies, or Kat. He's barely functioning at all and Alex is simply too close to see it. We owe it to Mulder to get him the proper care."

Scully finished fastening the new diaper and picked up the sniffling baby. She patted its back absently and turned to face him, frowning slightly.

"I happen to agree with Alex for now. He needs rest and time to recuperate...and above all he needs his family. He 'is' functioning on some level. He lets Alex feed him and help him to the bathroom. He walks as long as Alex holds onto him and he's gotten back some color in the last few days..."

Skinner frowned and shook his head. It wasn't enough. They hadn't had one glimpse of the man that he had been. The man needed professional care but the others were in denial.

Scully watched him closely and finally sighed, "I think Alex is right, you should go. Mulder needs our support and I won't have you ruining that by fighting us every step of the way. You may feel guilty for ignoring him and Kat all this time, but you can't make it up to him by throwing money at the problem and locking him up without his family."

Skinner opened his mouth to protest but Scully held her hand out. "I think you should say goodbye to Kat and go back to D.C. We'll keep you posted on how he and the babies are doing."

Alex lay with his head on Mulder's shoulder, his arms holding his lover tightly as he felt a shudder run through him. Skinner was just waiting for Alex to break...to leave the house or let his guard down and then BAM: Mulder would be swept up into a nursing home or the psych ward of some hospital.

'I can't let that happen...he's been through so much...and so much of it was my fault...What am I going to do?...Oh, god, Fox, I need you.'

A hand reached up and settled on the back of Alex's, a light touch but it stayed there. Alex jerked his head up and stared at it for a moment before searching Mulder's face.

^Lisa? Can you hear me? ^

But Mulder's face and mind was as unresponsive as before. This was the first time Mulder had touched him or even moved without prompting from Alex himself. Alex found his hopes rising, it wasn't much...but it was a start. Proof that Skinner was wrong. Mulder was still in there. His lover was still there and with a little time and hope...they'd be together again.

"You're leaving?"

Skinner glanced up from his suitcase and saw Kat standing in the door. She was clutching a doll as she stared at him with accusing eyes.

"Yes. I need to take care of some things in D.C., right now, but Aunt Dana is staying with you and your daddies and the babies." Skinner dropped the pair of pants he had been folding and sat down on the bed. Kat walked into the room but stopped several feet away from him. She clutched her doll tighter, twisting her fingers in its dress.

"But why can't 'you' stay?"

Skinner sighed and while he wished he could blame this on Alex he knew that both he and Scully were right, he wasn't capable of handling this situation. He couldn't stand to see Mulder like this, but even so...he felt horribly guilty for leaving Kat. "I have to go, Kat. But I promise to come back and visit soon, okay?"

Kat frowned but nodded and Skinner smiled at her. Standing, he leaned down and kissed her on the forehead before returning to his packing.

Skinner tossed his bag in the trunk of the rental and walked to the driver's side. Glancing back at the house he saw a curtain fall back into place where Kat's room was.

Scully stepped out of the house, and waved.

"You'll call me if anything changes." It wasn't a question.

Scully smiled and nodded, "I'll call you 'when' something changes. Take care, Walter."

Frohike hummed as he flipped the last pancake over. Cinnamon-apple pancakes made the kitchen fragrant, but it was the crisp bacon that really had his mouth watering.

"Oh my god... Tell me that's all for me!" Scully leaned over the counter and sniffed hopefully in the air. Frohike's heart skipped a beat at the sight. Would he 'ever' stop falling for the woman?

"Enough for everybody. Alex already has his and Mulder's. He said that Mulder really liked pancakes..."

Scully sighed at the mention of Mulder but nodded wistfully. "Yep. He used to order them all the time when we'd stop for breakfast on cases out of town." She pulled out a plate and started eating a pancake. Her eyes closed with bliss. "But these are the best pancakes I've 'ever' had. Where'd you learn to make them?"

Frohike snuck another glance at her before turning off the burner and setting the last pancake on the plate. "My mother. She was quite a cook. Taught me everything she knew. Sit down, Red. You've been on your feet all night."

Scully didn't even protest the nickname, just sat down and took another bite, chewing slowly to savor it. He sat down across from her and plopped some bacon on her plate. Kat finally skipped in and Frohike handed her a plate of smaller pancakes he'd made just for her in the shape of rabbits.

"Ooh! They're too pretty to eat!" Kat squealed but then negated her own comment by picking one up and chomping off its head.

Scully watched with a smile and sipped at the coffee Frohike pushed towards her. The two adults ate in silence as Kat prattled on and told them stories. Once finished she ran upstairs to tell her papa about the breakfast.

Frohike dumped the dishes in the sink and started filling it with suds and hot water.

"Let me do that. You cooked." Scully pushed him gently aside and rolled up her sleeves. He stepped back but picked up a towel instead.

"I'll dry, then."

They worked quietly together for several minutes. "Melvin..." Frohike's brows rose at his first name but he stayed quiet. "...I was a little surprised that you stayed. Byers and Langly said that you guys were well behind your deadline for your work...not that we don't appreciate your help. But Alex and I can manage-"

Frohike put a glass away in the cupboard and shook his head. "Mulder's my best bud. He'd do it for me. And anyway, the guys can handle a few editions without me holding their hands...I've sent some articles in and I'm needed more here. You and Alex can manage just fine, I know, but you could use the help. Babies are full time jobs on their own...and Kat needs a baby sitter when you two are busy. I'm happy to do it."

Scully rinsed the last pan and turned off the water. "You're a good friend, Melvin. And Mulder's a good judge of character. All these years I didn't really see it until now..."

Frohike squirmed slightly and knew he was blushing. He took the pan from her hands and wiped it dry. He wasn't sure what to say...his automatic reaction would only ruin the moment...

"You're just dying to make an innuendo, aren't you?" came a dry voice behind him.

He grinned and turned to face her. "You know me too well, Red. We were meant to be together. Wanna step upstairs for a moment?" he waggled a shaggy eyebrow at her.

She snorted and tossed a towel at him.

Alex gave a weary sigh as he turned off the light. Dead tired. No other way to describe it. Even with help, he was still taking care of two newborn babies, Kat, and Mulder. Scully was trying to get him to go out for brief walks, "Just get some air...get out of the house, Alex. You need to stay sane." Maybe so...but the very idea that something might happen while he was gone was enough to keep him rooted to the house.

"Goodnight, Fox" he pulled the covers up and curled up next to Mulder and fell into a deep sleep.

2 Hours Later

"ALEX! AALLLEX!!!" Bolting out of his bed Alex stared at Mulder stunned. The other man was screaming on the top of his lungs, his eyes wide open staring at the ceiling. His body was taut; his muscles straining against unseen restraints, his arms and legs were spread out in the same way that they had found him on the metal table days ago. "ALEX!"

Alex opened his mouth to speak, but he didn't get any further as the babies began to scream in the next room. Scully came racing into the bedroom, Frohike poked his head in and left, presumably to take care of the children.

"What's going on?!" Scully went over to the bed and touched Mulder's forehead. He continued to scream for Alex who continued to stare at him in shock.

"Alex!" This time it was Scully, she kept a hand on Mulder, but tried to make eye contact with Alex. "Speak to him!"

Alex blinked, "Fox! Shhh, it's okay, Fox. You're safe..." he knelt back on the bed and stroked Fox's arm, he continued to strain against imaginary bonds.

^Lisa! ^

Mulder gasped and stopped screaming, his body trembled and then suddenly collapsed onto the bed, slack. He was panting from the exertion. "Alex..." it was a broken whisper.

^I'm here...^ Alex let out a sound that was half relieved chuckle and half sob. He pulled Mulder into his arms and began to rock, tears streaming down his face. ^Can you hear me?^

^Yes...^ Mulder's arms came around Alex's back and squeezed.

Mulder lay propped up on pillows in bed. On his chest, curled up, was Kat. Her hands were fisted in his shirt as she clung to him in her sleep. He looked up as Alex walked into the room with his arms full of the babies.

"I think they're ready to meet their daddy..." Mulder shifted up and Kat reluctantly moved off his chest but only moved as far as his side, both arms clutching her father still. Mulder gave her a kiss on the top of her head and then reached out for the babies.

"Oh, god...they're so small...so perfect." Mulder held them as tightly as he dared, feeling as if they'd be ripped from him at any moment. He looked up briefly at Alex whose eyes and nose were red from the earlier crying. He was beautiful. His entire family was a precious gift he'd thought he'd lost during those terrible dark days, trapped in his own mind.

"Um...which one's which?"

Alex chuckled and sat down at the foot of the bed and spent the next several hours telling Mulder everything he'd missed.


"Danny! Misha! Get your butts in here now!!" Mulder stood at the back door, one hand on his hip. The two boys resembled Alex more and more each day. Not only in looks, but in the sheer amount of mischievous trouble they got into everyday. Of course - Alex and Scully insisted that this trait was from 'him' but one glint of their green eyes and you just 'knew' they were Alex's boys.

"Aw, dad! We were playing spies! Larry and Tom wanted - "

"You can play with them later. Aunt Dana and Uncle Melvin are here."

Mulder shooed his two sons into the living room where everyone was waiting. Scully and Frohike - perhaps the oddest couple imaginable...after he and Alex, of course. But once you saw them together...he worshipped the ground she walked on...and she needed a little worshipping now and then. And if you saw the pride in Frohike's eyes when he walked into a room with Scully on his arm...

But it wasn't shallow. Frohike gave her the respect and kindness she deserved. He was an excellent cook and a great father. Their two adopted daughters, Melissa and Emily, were very happy. Frohike was a stay-at-home dad while Scully had decided to enter pediatrics. They were a happy family. Scully was as happy as Mulder could ever remember seeing her.

"Finally! We're starving! Let's go!" Both families were herded into minivans. It was the twin's 8th birthday party. As Alex herded Kat and the twins into the back, Mulder headed towards the driver's seat.

"Why do you always have to drive?" Alex asked as he shut the back door.

Mulder just grinned and hopped in. Alex shook his head and climbed into the front seat. The twins were annoying Kat in the back seat and she whined in her teenaged voice why she had to sit in the back seat with them.

Ah...family life...

Trust, love, and happiness, too...what more could anyone ask for?

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