Title: What We Need Right Now is Trust
Author: Nikita
Spoilers: Season Seven. And only season seven, got it? There was no season after it in my book.
Pairing: M/K

Summary: Aliens and Krycek and Mulder, oh my!

Warning: Slash, if you don't know what that means chances are you don't wanna know, go watch an x-file repeat and stay safe from my twisted version. Contains m/m hurt/comfort, romance, schmoop, and sex...at some point or another. And mpreg (happy now, I've spoiled the surprise!). If this squicks you go away, go away! Important additional warning: This is my first attempt at fanfic and my first posting to boot. It probably sucks, it's unbeta'd and well...since you're still reading you seem to be a tolerant soul, give it a try, hmmm? Disclaimer: I do not own the X-Files or any characters or plot lines associated with it. Chris Carter and the wonderful actors (especially Duchovny) do. I'm not making any profit off this story or the characters within. Don't bother suing, I'm a grad student with lots of student loans...I haven't got a penny.

Pain...bright, blinding light...cold...so cold... exposed... rawendlesspainneedstopnowplease. Scully, someone, anyone... And he's screaming...screaming himself hoarse, "Scuuulllyyy!" "Scuuullyyy!! "Heeellllpp!" "Stooopppp!"

But it doesn't...it doesn't stop. His screaming does, though, his voice given out on him, the lack of his screams leaves a horrible silence punctured by his own loud panting gasps.

The light remains, unwavering, unblinking, his eyes unable to close, taped open? Or can he just not close them? Can't move anywhere, can't even see why. He can feel, though...cold metal...some sort of table or chair. His legs dangling off...not dangling, though, held down by more metal, his arms and hands held down by more metal...even his face...'god my face...it hurts, something cold, hard stuck in my face.' And he felt it, whatever it is pierce the skin and jam into the cheekbones, the red-hot pain and now the constant ache. Throbbing.

'Well, I've gotten myself into a fine mess now. Yeah, no help coming now...no Scully gonna bust through the door and save my ass. Nope, just me and the aliens now. His thoughts racing, struggling to retain his sense of self, trying to hold on to sarcasm to keep the panic at bay. 'I wanted the truth, I wanted answers...I wanted aliens...well I've got 'em now, big ass green aliens.' Only he didn't see any. Just 'heard' them...in his mind. Constant alien whispering. The bounty hunter disappeared after dumping him on this thing. The table seemed to come alive, snapping restraints automatically...and the facial restraints. 'Bit of an overkill, doncha think?' Then his sarcasm just plain ran out of steam, adrenaline finally giving out to exhaustion. So he recited baseball statistics, counted the number of suits he'd ruined in the line of duty, thinking about how badly he needed to do his laundry, anything normal and mundane to keep his mind occupied. It didn't work of course. Unable to think clearly, fatigued and cold, he finally just lay there...waiting.

And then the whispering in his mind had started. Just like it had before with the rubbings not so long ago. And he'd screamed again. The pain of 'hearing' in his mind returning just as before. Only it was somewhat more controlled, he wasn't catatonic, he could 'hear' more clearly, only it was so alien he couldn't really understand. 'Oh, it's controlled, but it still fucking hurts. And I really could wish for catatonia right about now. But no, lucky me...I'm wide awake.'

And now, now he was waiting again. Waiting in pain, shivering from cold and struggling to blink against the light...alien whispers ringing in his mind, unending.

Awareness returns harshly as he struggles to understand his surroundings. He's lying on a cold metal floor...a metal floor! He sits up, no restraints, the light gone...in fact it's dark. The sound that woke him gone. No clue what it was. Somewhere along the line he'd fallen asleep, trussed up on the table/chair. Despite his eyes forced open and the pain....and now he was...where? Some cell? He struggled to his hands and knees and crawled forward, hands searching for...something. Finding a cold smooth wall, he slides his hands up, slowly standing...shakily. Reaching...searching he finds nothing but wall...no corners, no door, just unending wall. He's in a large circular room with no doors and no seams...and no food, blanket, or toilet.

Mulder slowly sank back down to the floor, his back to the wall, arms crossed over his bent knees and rested his head on his arms. 'Now what? I starve to death? Die of thirst? Or just wait for more experiments?' Closing his eyes he somehow manages to fall asleep again.

It turns out the latter is true, the round room is where they dump him in between experiments. He's never awake when it happens, after the first time they leave him food and blankets and a small hole as a toilet in the center. He wondered if they'd just forgotten the first time and read his mind to supply them or if it'd been purposeful...another experiment to see if he'd rage...yell, cry. But what was the point? No one answered and no one cared. So he ate, slept, did his business and was slowly going mad. Every so often, time had no real meaning anymore, he'd wake on the table/chair and the torments would begin again. They cut him open...everywhere. His chest, his legs, arms, he lost track after awhile. There was always pain somewhere.

But then...something changed. He woke up, expecting his round room and strange goopy oatmeal-like sludge and his blanket, only to find himself in a larger room, it seemed a little warmer, though still dark. He struggled to sit up...struggled because his strength was nearly gone by now. Failing, he remained curled up as he'd woken and tried to lift his head, a moan escaped his lips.

A rustling sound came from the far corner. He squinted into the darkness making out a nearing shape. "Who's there?" his voice was a hoarse croak that he didn't recognize...'too much screaming' was the distant thought before he focused again on the shape coming a little closer. But at his words the shape had stopped.

"Mulder?" A disbelieving whisper came from the figure. Mulder remained quiet, stunned and unable to think beyond, 'someone human, someone else here, someone that knows me...oh god, please...I can't take it anymore alone...' He tried again to sit up managed fairly well until his arm gave out on him and started to fall back down when the figure moved quickly to his side and caught him from slamming into the cold floor again. Mulder looked up into the face of his savior and saw...Alex Krycek.

'Shit. Alex Krycek.' And even Krycek looked good to him after all this time alone, how long he didn't know. Felt like eternity. Seeing another human being was a blessing. Krycek, dressed in some kind of thin clothes, like surgical scrubs, was holding him half off the floor where he'd caught him. He continued to gaze at Mulder disbelievingly, his green eyes gleaming in the darkness.

"Mulder...Jesus, I thought you were dead."

"Oh, not yet...but hey, stick around...might get lucky" Mulder wheezed, trying to keep the tears from escaping his eyes. 'Wouldn't do to start weeping on him. Can't hug him, but damn I'm so happy to see him I could kiss him...'

Krycek's face darkened at Mulder's words, then just as quickly his face turned carefully blank. He shifted his weight, moving Mulder more into his arms and off the cold floor. "Mulder, can you help me get you to the corner? It's warmer over there, we've got blankets and food."

Mulder perked up at this, and struggled to sit up with Krycek's arm around his shoulders. Standing, he noticed for the first time that he, too, was wearing thin pants and a loose tunic. He felt a surge of gratitude. So long without clothes he'd forgotten how civilized it felt. Too tired to ask why Krycek was helping him, he quietly lurched over to the corner with a supportive arm around his back.

In the corner was a nest of blankets and a small thin mattress. Krycek guided Mulder onto the makeshift bed and covered him up with a scratchy, but warm blanket. Mulder lay back gratefully, but started shivering.

"Are you alright, Mulder?" Alex asked quietly, his eyes quietly assessing him.

"Yeah, just cold." Mulder bit out, clenching his teeth shut again, still shivering...then opened his mouth for one last thought, "...and tired."

Krycek nodded absently; seeming to think hard about something for a moment, then shrugging he climbed over Mulder to lie down on the mattress. Pulling Mulder's blanket around himself as well he lay on his side, back to the wall, facing Mulder who lay on his back. He said nothing and closed his eyes.

Mulder didn't know what to think, too tired to argue and too grateful to want to, he closed his eyes and tried to stop shivering. He couldn't, though, as he lay there, images of what they'd done this last time played on in his head. His shivering increased, his arms hugging himself, eyes squeezed shut.

Slowly, an arm came over his chest and Krycek hesitantly moved closer. His warm body and firm embrace soothing Mulder, who slowly warmed and stopped shivering, comforted by the presence of another. He finally slipped into an exhausted, but troubled sleep.

Alex, meanwhile, was wide-awake. 'Mulder. Alive. Alive and in my cell. How had he ended up here? Last I knew he was taken by the ship in Oregon. God, he's so thin, I can feel his ribs and his hipbone digging into me. I need to make him eat when he wakes.' Thoughts and questions swirled in his mind. He had no idea what if anything Mulder knew about the events that had occurred since his abduction. Alex knew he'd be in for quite an interrogation once Mulder was more himself. A little food and he'd be up and pacing, grilling Krycek on every subject under the sun. Alex snorted at that thought. The sun, he hadn't seen the sun in quite a while. He missed it. It was so easy to take for granted. Not that he was one to do that often. The missile silo had cured him of that. He basked in the sun and outdoors any chance he got. It'd be so great to be outside sitting in a park right now. Or a beach, hell, Mulder could use a little sun and fresh air himself. He hoped he'd get a chance soon. Maybe, if they got out of this together they could go somewhere nice together. Not likely to happen, but hey, a guy could dream. Alex was drifting off at the thought of sunning himself on hot sand with water lapping at his feet when Mulder started grunting in his sleep.

Soft at first, then growing in sound until he started screaming at the top of his lungs. "Nooo! Stop it! Please, please!!" Mulder cried and screamed the same words over and over, thrashing, hitting Alex in his desperate attempts to escape.

Alex grabbed both of Mulder's arms and pinned them to his sides. "Mulder! Mulder, wake up, it's okay, they're gone. Mulder, wake up!"

Mulder continued to thrash, his screaming turning into pained gasps, "Please, why are you doing this?! Stop, please stop..." Mulder's eyes were squeezed shut, tears streaking from the corners.

"Mulder...Fox, wake up, look at me!" Mulder's eyes snapped open at the use of his first name. He gasped for a few minutes staring at Krycek's lips until he settled down.

Several minutes passed, still breathing hard he croaked softly, "I don't like that name, you know." The corner of his mouth quirked up a little.

Alex, relieved, found himself chuckling, "Yeah, I know, but it worked, didn't it?" Crisis over he got up and brought over a flask of water. "Small sips, don't want to get sick." He reminded cautiously.

Mulder took the water from him and despite his raging thirst he followed the advice. While he sipped he watched the other man rummage through a pile of things nearby. Krycek turned back to Mulder, he held up what looked like a granola bar, but square and strange looking. "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."

Mulder took a small bite of the food, then quickly took a larger one as his hunger surged to life. Once done and hunger was slightly abated, Krycek's words finally registered. "They? They who? Where are we? The ship...?!" Mulder's voice became more and more panicked with every question, he was struggling to control his hysteria.

Alex sat down facing him. Taking Mulder's hands in his own he spoke with forced calmness and focused on soothing the trembling man. "It's okay, Mulder, you're not on that ship anymore. I don't know when or how, but you have been rescued and are now on a rebel ship."

Mulder calmed down slightly at his words, his hands slowly stopped shaking, but continued to clutch Alex's unconsciously. "But you...why are you...what is going on? Are they going to do..." Mulder seemed unable to finish. Krycek sighed, he'd known that the questions would start soon, at least Mulder wasn't accusing him or violent.

"Mulder, I told you before I was working with the resistance. When I gave you the information on the ship, I didn't realize that it was a trap for you. Cancerman set us up. Once you were abducted and Cancerman was gone the resistance made their move. It's been a long six months. The colonization has been stopped and the rebels have been cleaning up the colonizing force from this system. It's not over, but this round was ours. But now...now I don't know what is going on anymore. The last mission I worked with them...I was hurt and I woke up on one of their ships, they healed me...better than I was before and then they put me in this cell. I guess it was to recuperate, but it's been a while...I don't know how long and they won't tell me what's going on or why I'm being held. All they said was the colonization was defeated and my mission was over. They won't talk to me. They just bring me food and whatever other supplies I need and leave me here." His voice became harsh during the last few sentences. He slumped slightly, his head hanging down as some of the pent up emotions were vented.

Alex realized that he was gripping Mulder's hands a little too tightly and relaxed his grip, but didn't let go. Mulder sat absorbing this new information, his forehead scrunched up and lower lip between his teeth. He then sighed loudly and leaned back so he rested against the wall. His face relaxed and he looked very tired.

"So, you killed Cancerman?"

Krycek's head snapped up, he looked at Mulder cautiously, "yeah."

"What did you mean, they healed you better than before? Were you sick?"

Why was he concerned with him? Why didn't he grill him on the details of the colonization? The war? What was going to happen next, details he expected Mulder to demand from him.

"No, I...my arm. The arm I lost in Tunguska. They healed it..."

Mulder frowned slightly, seeming to think. Krycek realized that Mulder may have never known. The night he beat him one handed, he hadn't really explained anything, or shown him anything. And any other meetings afterwards he'd always worn gloves and his jacket. Hell, all this time he'd been somewhat angry at Mulder, as if it were his fault...mad he didn't acknowledge it...Mulder hadn't known.

Mulder looked up with sad eyes, "God, Krycek, I didn't know...I'm so sorry. Tunguska...I...I came close to it myself. If I'd known...I don't know... I'm sorry."

Alex dropped Mulder's hands as if they were burning him, surprised when he found himself squeezing back tears, geez he was getting soft, fuck it he wasn't going to cry! "Sorry for what?" He growled. "You didn't do it. Just forget it, it's over now." Krycek sprung to his feet and prowled the cell. "They'll be here soon..."

Mulder closed his eyes and sighed again, this time Alex noticed that it seemed to be from pain. Anger and discomfort forgotten he turned and looked at Mulder concerned. "Are you okay?"

Mulder just nodded, then opened his eyes and blushing he whispered, "Um, I need to...to use the bathroom."

"Oh, it's over in that corner." Krycek watched Mulder struggle to get up for a moment then went over to help him.

"Here, let me help." Mulder seemed ready to make a fuss at that.

"Don't be a stubborn bastard, just let me." Mulder bit his lip and kept quiet, letting Krycek haul him to his feet and stagger over to the corner.

God, how embarrassing, Krycek helping him with this. He couldn't protest, though, he couldn't stand, much less walk. And he needed to go...badly.

Once done, Krycek helped him lay back down on the mattress and gave him some more water. Why was he doing all of this? And the information on the colonization and the war... Strangely enough he believed every word. His instincts told him that the other man was being completely honest with him. And the arm. God, the arm. He should have known, looking back he remembered the stiffness and lack of movement. Krycek had been good at hiding it...but the signs had been there.

Krycek wiped his sweaty brow with a rag and tucked him in. Tucked him in! Such tenderness...and he felt so much trust. Oh, and the ship...he was off that ship...rescued...but not free. Neither of them were...

Mulder's thoughts swirled around at a feverish pace...thoughts jumping from one subject to another. He was having difficulty focusing...he began to shiver...he was so cold.

Krycek was frowning concernedly at him. "Mulder? Are you cold? What's wrong?"

"I don't know. Can't get warm..." Mulder's teeth chattered and he shivered in short spasms.

"Shit. Where the hell are they anyway? They should have brought some food by now." No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the cell door slid open and two rebel aliens marched in. Typical of the rebels, they had their eyes, mouths, and ears sealed shut. This was the only shape they showed themselves in around humans. Krycek had given up on wondering what their true shape was or how they saw or heard anything. The only way they communicated was telepathy, Krycek braced himself for the communication.

^We will take the sick one to the morph. He can heal the wounds and infection. Your nourishment will be brought at his return^ Krycek knew better than to argue, he stepped out of their path and watched silently while they stooped to pick Mulder up.

Mulder gasped and struggled, "No! Leave me alone!"

"Mulder, they are going to take you to heal you. It's okay..." Krycek tried to soothe the frenzied man.

"No! Don't let them take me...please, Alex!"

"Fox! Fox, it's okay, they will heal you and bring you back. I'll be here." He certainly hoped he wasn't lying. He didn't know for certain they would do as they said...he had no choice but to comply.

Mulder seemed to calm down at his promise, but remained very stiff and wide-eyed as he consented to be picked up. Krycek watched them leave and then slumped down onto the floor. 'What the hell have I gotten into now?'

Some time later, who the hell knew how long with no watches or sunlight to judge by, Mulder was returned along with the promised food. Alex hurried over to check on the agent as he lay on the mattress once more. Mulder looked pale, but the scars on his cheeks were gone. Checking his temperature with his hand, Alex noted with some relief that Mulder felt normal and free of the clammy sweat. Unfortunately, he was also unconscious. Deciding to let Mulder get some rest, he went to examine the food. It mostly looked like the same military rations he'd been living on during his 'stay' on the rebel ship. But there also appeared to be some kind of soup...possibly some kind of vegetable soup...probably canned. It smelt good and it was hot. He covered it up to try to keep it warm for Mulder and ate some of the tougher items that Mulder wouldn't be up to eating.

Moaning, Mulder began to stir. "Hey, Mulder. Feeling better? Time to eat." Mulder jerked and opened his eyes, staring at Krycek first with panic, then recognition, and finally with profound relief. Alex was stunned, he couldn't believe Mulder looked so relieved to find him here. 'Well, considering I'm the only human being around I guess it's kind of understandable. And I did promise I'd be here. He's probably shocked I kept my word. Well, where the hell would I go anyway. We're stuck here.'

Mulder sniffed hopefully at the bowl of soup Krycek tried to hand him, but when he reached for the bowl he found his hands trembling too much to hold it.

"Hold it, Mulder, you're gonna spill it. Just sit still." Meanwhile he thought sarcastically, 'Shit, this just gets better and better. Now I get to feed him, too.' Krycek slowly spooned some soup up and held it out to Mulder. Mulder balked at first, but then the smell hit him again and his stomach rumbled dreadfully, he accepted the spoonful and forgot his hold ups.

Awkward at first, they soon found an acceptable routine and soon the bowl was empty. Krycek then fed him bits of meat that seemed soft enough until all the food was gone. Mulder sighed contentedly and lay back down feeling full for the first time in...well however long it'd been. Belly full and pain gone he drifted off to sleep once more.

Watching him, Alex tried to understand what he was feeling. He'd expected to feel fed up with caring for Mulder by now. Helping him to the bathroom, feeding him, worrying over him...this wasn't the sort of thing he did. He killed people, he spied, he survived. Surviving did not include helping others...only yourself. He was surprised to find that he was sick of just surviving. What would it be like to take care of someone else? To have them care about whether you lived or died.

Halfway through feeding Mulder he found himself enjoying the intimacy, feeling his knuckles occasionally brush against Mulder's cheek. Feeling another's breath on his skin. It had been...different. Almost nice. 'Shit. I'm getting soft. I can't afford to lose my edge. As soon as Mulder's feeling better he'll be back to his usual abrasive self and I can't afford to be weak. No more nice guy. No more 'Fox' I'm going to stick to my role and he'll just have to deal with it. Fuck. He's on my bed. I'm tired too, you know. Damn it, he just takes over everything.' Conveniently forgetting his long confining loneliness he wondered why the hell he had to take care of Mulder. Tired, he decided to reclaim his bed, pushing Mulder to one side of the mattress, he climbed in. Pulling the blankets up he tossed and turned, finally he sighed a long suffering sigh and turned one last time to face Mulder's back. Lifting his arm, he wrapped it around Mulder and pressed closer. 'Well, it's cold. Doesn't mean anything. We'll change the sleeping arrangements...soon.'

Mulder awoke to a very warm man pressed against his back. Krycek was nuzzling his neck and ear, murmuring something he couldn't understand. The only thing he thought he recognized was a name, Lisa. 'Jeez, he's cuddling up to me and dreaming of his girlfriend. Hmm, I wonder what she looks like. Lisa, sounds like a blond...big tits, nice ass. Bet she's beautiful. He's probably got his pick of women...even if he is a criminal. Lots of women like that bad boy look. Black leather, tight jeans... ' Mulder broke off that train of thought and shifted, trying to ease Krycek off him and on his own side of the mattress.

Instead, Alex burrowed closer and then moaned, "Mmmm, yeah....Lisa."

'Enough is enough.' "Krycek...Alex..." Hoping his masculine voice would snap Krycek out of it, Mulder waited, he was a little shocked at the response...to say the least.

"Oh...Fox...mmm..." Krycek's impressive erection was now poking him in the side and starting to grind against him.

'Oh, shit...now what?!' Mulder was absolutely shocked. Krycek was dreaming about him. Him and some girl named Lisa apparently. Kinky bastard. 'Well, so am I 'cause now I'm getting hard. But then, I always knew that I was kinky...' Whether or not this may have eventually led to more, Mulder would never know, because suddenly the room flooded with lights and the doors swished open.

Krycek woke with a start and realizing his situation, backed up and decided to pretend nothing happened. Both men watched a rebel alien enter. The alien stopped in the center of the room and without addressing the prisoners signaled behind him for the other rebels to enter. A small group came up behind him and stepping around the first they walked over to where the two men crouched and began to roughly pick them up.

"Hey! What's going on?!" Krycek shouted, angry at being so violently manhandled out the door. Mulder seemed similarly distressed, but made no sound.

^You are being moved to new accommodations, comply or you will be sedated.^

"Fine, why didn't you just say so." Krycek smirked, trying not to show his fear. This didn't sound good. Briefly he wondered at Mulder's lack of fight, usually the agent would have been kicking up quite a fuss at this kind of treatment, but instead he was docile.

They were hustled down a dark corridor until they reached a series of doors that had very small windows covered with bars. Krycek was shoved into one and he stumbled into the dark cell. It was considerably smaller than their other cell. It was also colder and there was a small metal shelf jutting out of one wall, apparently a cot. 'Well, now we're going to have a fight over sleeping arrangements.' Krycek thought with a cynical grin, 'Which do you want, Mulder? The cold hard floor or the cold hard shelf?' But as he finished turning around to face the door it slammed shut. No aliens and no Mulder.

Krycek bit his lower lip to keep from crying out for Mulder. 'Shit, keep it together. Maybe they are taking him to examine him again. Maybe they'll bring him in soon...yeah, you just keep thinking that.' Krycek walked over to the door and craned his head to look out the small window. 'Oh, shit. Oh, shit...' His heart started racing and he could feel the screaming panic racing through his veins. He was going to scream, he was going to lose it... Krycek had experienced claustrophobia ever since the silo. He couldn't stand dark confining places without windows. Well, actually he could stand it. Had to, too many jobs had depended on it and he'd been on the rebel ship in that cell for quite a while (god knows how long), but he'd kept the fear at bay. You could stand anything if you had to. He'd kept it together all this time, why was he freaking out now? 'Because now I don't have to. Mulder needed care, he was there, I wasn't alone anymore. Shit, I'm already soft. Mulder's always hated my guts, anyway. Only a matter of time before we came to blows. Hell, now I don't have to listen to him or take care of him.'

Krycek started thinking dark thoughts about the agent. Taking over his space, his bed...needing him. Christ, he'd had to feed him and help him to the toilet. It was only focusing on anger and resentment that kept him from screaming. He knew it, too. He didn't really resent Mulder, it had been having a companion that made the cell more bearable, but if he thought that he'd lose it for sure, so he went back to focusing on negative thoughts. He lay on his back on the cold metal shelf and did his best to not notice the silence and the loneliness. Eventually he wore himself out and fell into a restless sleep. Mulder, meanwhile, was led further down the hallway. He had heard Krycek be shoved into another cell and wondered if he was going to be shoved into another one. Instead, they seemed to be going somewhere else. The rebel aliens had a firm grip on both of his arms, pinning them to his sides as they hurried him along. No one spoke, telepathically or otherwise. Normally he'd have had a snide comment ready, but the overwhelming fear and certainty that he was being led to further experiments made him quiet. He couldn't afford to anger them, when he'd fought the others the 'sessions' were usually worse. He decided it would be better to cooperate.

Finally they reached a larger door than the cells, it swished open for the aliens and they led Mulder through the door. As he entered the room that was full of bright light, he glimpsed a metal table and odd looking metal equipment and then the room spun and faded from view. Krycek woke suddenly; a rebel had entered the room and was communicating with him again.

^We are now nearing your planet again. You will be returned to your home. We have no further need of you.^

Alex felt a surge of relief that quickly faded. "What about Mulder? You're gonna let him go, too, right?"

^His situation is not your concern. He will remain here.^

"His situation is very much my concern. He deserves to go home, too! Why do you want to keep him?!"

^There is no need to become hostile. He is not pure. He is a hybrid and cannot be released. He will be dealt with once we have finished examining him.^

The alien turned and left, leaving him to his thoughts.

Krycek felt his stomach clench violently...dealt with...they were going to kill Mulder. God, the tampering the consortium had done to Mulder as a child...it was going to kill him. The rebels always killed the 'impure.' Whether it was their fault or not. They felt it far too risky to leave behind evidence and possible uses for colonizers. He knew there would be no talking them out of it. His mind raced for an answer...some way to escape...but there was nothing he could think of...they were at the aliens' mercy on this ship. 'Damn, Mulder, you have the shittiest luck. First you were fucked with as a kid, then your sister, then the abduction and now you get rescued only to be eliminated. God, Mulder, I'm so sorry...what am I going to do? I can't leave you here...I can't let you die...I need...I need you...shit. I need him...I'll deal with that later...right now I've got bigger fish to fry. I'm not going to leave another human being here to die, but how they hell are we going to get out of here? Even if I kill them or blow up the ship, there's no way off it.'

Krycek noticed some food and water by the door and went to eat, wondering where Mulder was and if he was okay. 'Probably shivering again. He's so cold all the time, hell, I'm cold, too. It's not as warm as the other cell and there are no blankets. And not even another warm body to huddle with.' Krycek suddenly felt very tired, they must have drugged the food. He curled up on the cot and dreamed of his warm beach and in the distance he saw Mulder walking over...

Mulder woke up in a cell much like Krycek's only he had a blanket under him and another covering him. He sat up slowly, aching all over, his lips chapped. Noticing food and water by the door he sipped at the water, but didn't try the food. He sat back down on the cot and huddled in the blankets.

He now knew what was going on. He knew why he was being kept here on the ship and what they were doing to him...and that they had involved Krycek, too, though without his knowledge.

'And he doesn't need to know. Nothing he can do about it.' Mulder knew from the Rebel's minds that Krycek was to be released. They had no use for him on the ship, but he was a valuable asset on Earth. As for him, well, they had other uses for Mulder. He knew that they would eventually terminate him.

After they'd had their fun of course. Plenty of experiments left to perform. The first one well on its way. With that thought Mulder put his hand on his belly, feeling a faint fluttering already within...

The rebels considered themselves more 'humane' than the colonists. They'd saved mankind from mass slaughter, enslavement, and from being hosts to alien hatchlings. The rebel aliens didn't want to colonize Earth. Not now, anyway. But in furthering their goals of their continuing war with the other aliens they were ruthless in seeking knowledge about the colonizer's experiments and advances. During battle over Earth, the hybrids and other various experiments by the consortium and colonizers were destroyed at all costs to cripple the opposition. Now, they could afford to study a hybrid up close. Learn what they could, do some experimenting of their own and when they were done...dispose of the evidence.

They'd examined Mulder thoroughly. From what they could tell, he was the most advanced hybrid the consortium had achieved. The most human-like. His blood was red and seemed human, no human medical tests were likely to refute that unless they knew what to look for. His telepathy was highly prized in a hybrid. Difficult to engineer, it required a strong mind and will. There was evidence of tampering in the telepathic receptor area of his brain. Further examinations revealed the consortium's meddling that had damaged the area severely. But even more astonishing was the evidence of accelerated healing taking place currently. The rebels figured that the colonizers had been 'reawakening' the telepathy, but it wasn't finished healing, yet since Mulder remained 'silent.'

So now the rebels finished cataloging the current advances in hybridization and found something 'intriguing.' Apparently new changes in the hybrid's body were being implemented before he was 'rescued.' The rebels, noble scientists that they were, decided to complete the changes and finish the experiment themselves in order to keep abreast the colonizer's new techniques.

Hybrid 1013, as they had designated him, was returned to his new cell to await the next stage in their experiment. He was to be kept separate from the pure-human agent 319 that was awaiting return to Earth. There was some concern of attachment between the two as observed in cell 5 prior to their separation. But the rebels were sure that isolation would break any bond existing and allow their experiment to continue smoothly. And that was imperative in the pursuit of their knowledge.

Krycek paced the cell for the umpteenth time. He carefully counted his paces, 'one, two, three, four, turn, one two, three...' His claustrophobia was swelling to proportions he was sure would soon have him clawing at the door screaming for release. The last time he'd had it this bad was back in the silo. Thinking he'd die of thirst alone and covered in oily residue in an abandoned missile silo with only a ufo for comfort had caused him many insomniac nights on long walks outside under the stars. The dank air of the rebel ship was stifling and as he paced he imagined his lungs unable to expand fully and unable to get enough air. Krycek started hyperventilating...strugglin g to get air...precious air into his starved lungs. He collapsed in mid pace and was rocking on his knees...his pants becoming more and more panicked as he struggled with himself.




^Kry-Alex! It's okay. You can breathe, calm down. It's me, M-Fox. It's Fox, calm down.^

^Fox? Mulder, what are you...I can't breathe! Let me outta here! I can't breathe!^

^Yes you can. Shh... Slow down...that's it. Breathe slowly, calmly. It's okay. You're doing fine...^

Krycek forced his breathing to slow down, tears streamed unheeded down his cheeks. He was feeling so tired, emotionally wrung out, but so grateful for having Mulder's voice in his head. It didn't hurt like the aliens, it felt soothing, warm even. He didn't even question Mulder's telepathy. He knew Mulder'd experienced it before with the artifacts. He remembered seeing Mulder writhing on the floor in pain as he ran up the stairs. Guilt washed over him as his breathing slowed to its normal rhythm.

^That's it, are you okay now?^

Alex stifled the guilty feelings he'd awoken and wiped the tears off roughly with the back of his hand. ^Yes. Thanks. Where are you?^ Changing the subject as quickly as possible he focused on the present.

Mulder seemed to accept that and he answered, ^Another cell, nearby.^

Krycek frowned, Mulder's voice now sounded quieter and wary as if tired.

^Are you okay? What did they want with you?^ He wondered if Mulder knew what they were planning. He didn't sound angry or scared, just tired. Krycek's anger spiked, why were they doing this to Mulder? The man had been through enough...

^Oh, I'm fine. Just tired. I think I should sleep. Goodnight, Alex.^

^Mulder? Mulder?!^


Krycek sighed and crawled over to his own hard shelf of a bed. It hadn't slipped his notice that Mulder hadn't answered his second question. What had they done to him? He'd seemed okay...just tired and damned secretive. But he'd been so soothing before. 'Geez, I completely freaked out. And he could 'hear' me! Knew I was panicking. Definitely not a good thing to happen right now, but there's not a damned thing I can do about it. Best to ignore it and move on.' Yet Mulder'd been so calm, understanding. Talked him out of it. 'Well, he's a profiler; he just talked me off the ledge so to speak. Doesn't mean a damn thing so quit thinking about how nice it'd be to have him next to you right now. It's cold and it's lonely...fuck it. Mulder's probably snoring away in his cell and I'm here longing for him. Christ, get over yourself.' With that he rolled over and closed his eyes, determined to forget his temporary insanity.

Mulder sat shuddering in his cell hugging himself trying to calm a panic attack of his own. He'd shut Alex off before he could start blurting out the truth of what they'd done to him. He was scared...far more scared than ever in his life. His body was not his own anymore, the life inside of him was growing faster than the normal human rate, already it fluttered within him. He had no idea how long he had until it was ready to be born, but he knew that when it was he and it (he refused to think of it as his child) would be killed. They planned to dissect them and study them. He heard every bit of their plans. Their telepathic abilities where less sophisticated than the Grays or the colonizers. He could tell they underestimated his ability to understand them. They thought he was still recovering and couldn't 'hear.' He used this to whatever advantage he could get. He played dumb, made them 'force' their voices into his head like they did Krycek's. Let them believe he was a harmless lab rat.

'Well, I am. I can read their minds and intentions all I want. It doesn't get me any closer to home. I'm stuck here. Even if I could escape, where would I go? Back to Scully and the FBI? They'd just find me again. And the...the baby. What about it? Scully'd run tests, find out I'm not human...I don't think I can face her right now. Certainly not pregnant. And work. What've I got to go back to? I read some of Krycek's mind, the X-files aren't mine anymore, Doggett, Reyes, and Scully are running it. I'm a freak and a useless one at that. And Alex, god, I can't let him know about this. He'd...I don't know HOW he'd react and I don't want to think about it. They're going to let him go. Maybe I can get out of here at that time, too.' Mulder's exhaustion finally won out and he fell into a fitful sleep.

The rebel scientists had a glitch in their experiment. They'd separated the two alien beings to break their connection. And they'd found it had succeeded. Too well. Agent 319 paced his cell regularly, his agitation so distasteful the rebels blocked off telepathic reception to contain his mental anguish to his cell. Thus, they maintained only visual surveillance. Hybrid 1013, on the other hand, remained curled up on his cot, refusing sustenance.
The experiment demanded that the hybrid remain in good health in order to be successful. Data might be corrupted or lost if the hybrid's health failed before completion.

In discussing possible solutions, the scientists argued over how best to force-feed the hybrid without causing undue damage. In the midst of the silent, but furious argument between two rival scientists, one rebel that had been closely monitoring the two 'aliens' decided to inject his own idea. He suggested that since the separation, both subjects had begun to exhibit negative behaviors they had not previously. Perhaps allowing them to integrate in one cell again would allay the behaviors and the experiment could resume.

After much argument it was finally settled that this solution would be tried, but if it failed, the two would be separated once more and the hybrid force-fed for the duration of the experiment until he cooperated.

Krycek paced his cell once more. Although he still felt closed in and had an intense need to pace, he felt calmer since Mulder had 'talked' to him. As much as he hated the weakness that Mulder now knew he had, he was surprised to realize that he was grateful to share that fear. Even if for a moment and even if it was to an annoying, wisecracking son of a bitch FBI agent. A damned sexy agent, his pouty lips and expressive eyes, 'shit, stop it Alex! You're just horny 'cause you've been locked up so long. Stop thinking that way. The man can read your mind.' With that Krycek turned his focus onto another thought that was worrying him. Mulder had seemed so wary and reticent once he'd calmed Krycek down. What was wrong with him? Did he know the rebels plans to exterminate him? That had to be it. Maybe it was best Mulder hadn't wanted to talk to him about it. What was he supposed to say? Gee, I'm sorry? No matter how he wracked his brain he couldn't think of a way off the ship with Mulder. He just didn't have the right cards. Hell, he didn't have ANY cards. The rebels were well and truly in control of the situation. Bastards. He hated this feeling of helplessness. Ever since he'd come out of the boot heal of that Cancer-ridden SOB Spender he'd promised himself that he wouldn't let others control him again.

Plopping down on his cot with a curse he decided to try to contact Mulder. He didn't know what he'd say, but he was going stir crazy and there was nothing else to do. 'Sure, Alexei, you just keep telling yourself that. It has nothing to do with the fact that you can't stop thinking about him!'

^Mulder? Hey, Mulder, you there?...Come on, Mulder, you snubbing me now? There's no one else to talk to around here. Except our lovely hosts that is. I don't find them very stimulating conversationalists, though. Mulder...hey, Mulllldeeer (sing song tone he knew would drive Mulder nuts)... Whatcha doin'? Hey, Fox! Cat got your tongue? I've never known you to be so quiet. You usually talk the hind leg of a mule. Hey, Mulder! Are you-^

^All right, all right, shut up! I'm here. What do you want?^ Despite his words Mulder seemed lackluster and barely there.

^What do I want? I wanna talk. What else is there to do? What's wrong with you?^

^ Nothing. I'm just tired. What did you want to talk about? Politics? Girls? How about Basketball?^

^I don't watch much sports, sorry, haven't had the time the last few years. Politics? Phht! No thanks. Girls? What makes you think I wanna talk about girls? Now guys...^

^Umm...^ Mulder was saved from his witty retort when the door to his cell opened to admit three rebel aliens.

^Mulder, what's-^ Mulder broke the link as unobtrusively as possible hoping it hadn't been noticed. Apparently it hadn't since they simply informed him that he would be changing cells again and to cooperate.

As they moved down the hall, a rebel holding on to either arm, Mulder noticed Alex being 'helped' from his own cell. The aliens then pushed them both into their original cell and sealed them back inside.

Although the rebels had been fairly gentle, Mulder still stumbled when let go. Krycek caught him and held on to his elbow even after he'd regained his balance.

"Are you okay, Fox? I mean, Mulder?"

"Yeah, look, if you really must, you can call me Fox sometimes, but I really prefer Mulder usually. Looks like were back in home sweet home." Mulder waved his free arm to indicate good old cell 5.

Alex, meanwhile, was a little stunned at Mulder's allowance of using his first name. NO ONE got to call him Fox. Not even Scully. 'Okay, now I AM concerned. This is completely un-Mulder like behavior. And he looks so pale and thin. More than before and that's saying something. I need to get him to lay down and eat something.'

Krycek miraculously got Mulder to lay down on the nest of blankets while he looked through their cache of food waiting by the door. Mulder watched through slitted eyes as Alex 'puttered' around. Damn, but it was comforting to be with Alex again. 'Well of course, he's human and you've been alone so long. Besides, he doesn't know. If he did he'd be disgusted and probably angry. I don't want him to know how much more of a freak I am now. Best to let it go. I'll just have to figure out something on my own.'

Alex finally got Mulder to eat a little and watched as the older man drifted off as soon as he finished. 'Fox needs a little coddling right now. It's no skin off my nose if I help him. I've got nothing better to do.' Still, he felt a special thrill at using that name. Maybe things weren't so hopeless between them. 'Fuck, who are you kidding? Look where we are. I'm going to get him out if it's the last thing I do. Fuck the rebel bastards, we're getting off together or not at all. No one tell me what I can and can't do.'

What Alex didn't realize was that his thoughts had sunk into Mulder's and had woken him enough to hear all of this. What a complete surprise, Alex CARED. Reading beyond the conscious thoughts, Mulder could sense the depth of Alex's feelings that he didn't voice even to himself. He wasn't sure how long Krycek had felt like this for him, but he knew that it was far stronger than he wanted to admit. And getting him off this ship no matter what...Christ, he'd had no idea Alex would do that for him. A wave of guilt flooded him. He had to tell Alex what was going on inside him, now. He couldn't keep the truth from him. The truth was so important. And so was trust. He was beginning to think that he could trust Alex Krycek with his life...maybe even his feelings. If so, he had to trust him with this secret. If it drove him away...well, he'd be no worse off then before, right? 'All right, so I tell him. But when? If I tell him now he'll be upset. So much so that he may let it leak to the rebels. And what if they decided he's a liability? What if they killed him? God, I can't endanger him. Maybe when we get off the ship...if we do. Then I'll...I'll figure out how to tell him. I'll worry about it then. I'd better get as strong as possible, then. Make them happy, eat enough, get strong enough to kick their ass!' Feeling far more positive than he had since his abduction, Mulder fell into a restful doze, a small smile on his face.

Alex noticed this and wondered at that smile. Mulder was so pale, so damaged, yet so beautiful still. He was reaffirmed in his vows. He'd get Mulder healthy and off the ship. And maybe, maybe he'd like to come with him to a nice secluded island? 'Sand, sun, and Mulder, mmm.' Alex lay down next to Mulder, then hesitantly, he curled around the other man, resting his arm lightly over Mulder's chest and was pleasantly surprised when Mulder snuggled up closer, his face turned into Alex's chest with a soft sigh. Smiling slightly, Alex closed his eyes and dreamed of slathering coconut-scented lotion on a hot tanned Mulder.

The rebel alien watched as the two 'aliens' curled up in the nest of blankets. His 'solution' seemed to be correct so far. The hybrid had eaten and was resting along with the pure-human who had ceased his anxious pacing. As he continued to watch he decided to 'peak' into their minds. The other scientists felt their emotional disturbances earlier warranted telepathic isolation for now, but he rarely listened to convention. He wanted to understand the two better. They had become somewhat more than an experiment to him. Although he knew he was losing his scientific objectivity, he couldn't seem to help it. 'Listening' he saw their dreams and felt their hopes and desires...and their plans to escape.

He had something of a dilemma. On one hand he must immediately report his findings and prevent their escape. On the other hand, he wanted...he wanted to free them. He knew at that moment that he could no longer allow this abomination of an experiment to continue. The two inside may not be of his species, but they were still sentient beings capable of great passion and emotion. Something he felt his own species was beginning to lack. This war had taken a great toll on his people. Their single-minded focus to defeat the evil colonizers was costing them their compassion. Something they had once prized. He decided he must be the one to start his own rebellion. He'd shield the two from discovery and allow the hybrid to 'slip from custody' when releasing agent 319. Hopefully he'd be able to hide the hybrid's escape just long enough to stage a complete and total loss of the hybrid's body. An accident in the lab and a failed fire-suppressi on system should hopefully convince them that their experiment was over.

As for turning the tide of his species' obsession with science and lack of compassion...he'd start campaigning once they returned home. But he'd be careful not to reveal the hybrid's continued existence. For it would likely be a long time before his people would change enough to realize their mistake. Resolved, he watched them a few more moments, his thoughts turning to his own loved one waiting back home.

Days went by, Alex fed and cared for Mulder with a tenderness that amazed both Mulder and himself. The older man carefully revealed that he did in fact know of his planned termination and Alex quickly informed him of his plans to help him escape. The two conspired every possible moment, but got nowhere.

Mulder got stronger and the ship got closer to Earth. When at last they approached the planet, Alex and Mulder were surprised to find an ally among the aliens. He (the alien didn't give them a name) revealed his plans and reasons in a clipped fashion and before they could even fully understand that they were being helped to escape, they found themselves laying in a large field by a forest. Looking up they saw the ship soar through the sky and disappear.

Krycek shakily rose to his feet and walked over to Mulder who lay dazed. "Fox, you okay?"

"Yeah...I just...I can't believe I'm finally home..." Mulder ceased to care about images and just started quietly sobbing as he clutched tufts of grass in his hands and seemed to be trying to embrace the Earth.

Krycek felt uncomfortable at the display of emotions, but could completely understand his feelings. He, too, couldn't believe they were finally back on their own planet. 'Ah, fuck it, I wanna hug the ground, too.' He got down on his hands and knees and clutched at the grass, then dropped and rolled in it. Mulder quieted down and then grinning he rolled, too. Laughing together they rolled until they tired of it and sat up just drinking in the sight of the great big trees surrounding them, listening to the birds that had cautiously begun to sing again now that the ufo had left.

"So...what now? We need some clothes and a roof over our heads..." Krycek trailed off, he was wondering if Mulder was going to spring up and want to find a pay phone to call Scully. He steeled himself.

"You're right, but I don't seem to have my American Express on me at the moment, what do we do?"

Alex's jaw nearly dropped to the ground. No mention of Scully and he was asking KRYCEK what to do?? He stared thunderstruck for a few moments and then snapped back into his old survival skills. "All right. I need to figure out where we are and get some money wired. I guess we're walking." Mulder docilely climbed to his feet and walked behind Alex, following him out towards what they hoped was civilization. They weren't exactly wearing the right shoes for hiking. Thin, white rubber soled shoes, but they were fairly tough and adequate for the job.

Luckily they weren't TOO far from civilization and soon found out they were in rural Missouri. Mulder was just glad they weren't in Oregon. He had been concerned that he'd bump into some familiar faces that would recognize him as an abductee. Fortunately the locals seemed to view them as odd tourists and ignored them. Mulder could swear he heard one mutter "New Yorkers" under his breath. Normally that kind of comment would have him grinning or coming up with a smart aleck comment, instead he found himself numb and extremely weary of the outside world. He let Alex take the lead in obtaining funds and a motel room. He was wondering when and what he would tell Alex about his...condition. 'Let the man rest a little. You can shock the hell out of him later. What if he wants to ditch me here?' Mulder started to panic. His breathing speeding up and his fists clenching.

They had just entered the motel room (they'd just automatically chosen to stick together in one room) when Alex recognized the signs of Mulder's panic attack. "Mulder? Mulder?! Fox! Don't do this to me. Slow down...breathe!" Alex glanced around the room frantically wondering what had caused this as Mulder's breathing became panicked gasps. Deciding there wasn't any immediate danger he sat Mulder down on the edge of the bed and decided to try to get through to him the only way he could think of.

^Fox! Shh...calm down, buddy. Breathe, Lisa!^ Mulder focused on Alex's 'voice' and slowly calmed down.

"Lisa?" he croaked when he at last could speak again.

"Uh, yeah. It's Fox in Russian. It got your attention, didn't it?" Alex stated defensively.

"No, it's not...I just realized something is all. And it's okay. Thanks."

"Oh, okay then. So, here drink some water..." he filled a plastic cup with tepid water, "...and tell me what caused that."

Sipping, Mulder wondered if he could put this off somehow. "It's nothing, I just freaked for no reason. Forget it."

"Uh, uh. No way. We're going to have to be honest with each other from now on. I won't tell you lies or keep anything from you and you do the same for me...deal?"

Mulder peaked up at Alex from under his eyelashes, keeping his face tipped downwards. "You're right. All right, but you're going to want to sit down for this."

"Okay, spill..." Alex said, not unkindly. He wondered what could upset Mulder this much after all they'd already been through.

"I'm pregnant."

"Ha, ha. Tell me, damn it."

Mulder grinned a little despite himself. "No, I'm serious. I'm pregnant. You knocked me up." He couldn't help smirking at that. If he could just maintain his sense of humor about the whole thing maybe he could prevent a complete and total nervous breakdown.

"Mulder I said no jokes. What the fuck are you talking about?!" Krycek's voice started low and menacing and ended extremely pissed off and just a little panicked.

The other man was starting to lose the humor of the situation and decided to quit trying to make light of the situation and speak plainly. "I'm not...human anymore. If I ever even was. My father...he let them...experiment on me. And the colonizers...they continued the experiments on the ship, apparently a new one. The rebels wanted to finish the experiment, to impregnate me and see what kind of offspring would result with a...a 'pure' human. They used your genetic material with my own." He stopped to see if this was sinking in with Krycek.

Krycek was just staring at him, his face closed off of all emotion. He seemed made of stone. Mulder wondered if he thought he'd completely lost it. Reaching out with his mind he felt confusion, anger, and horror. Slowly Alex seemed to clear his mind and he reached out and touched Mulder's clammy hand with his own warm one.

Mulder sighed, "They planned to see how well it takes, if it produces healthy baby and see the effects of the hybridization on the baby and any changes in my body as well. When it was over they planned to terminate me and the 'byproducts of experiment.'"

Krycek blanched at Mulder's words, but the truly worrying aspect of the speech was Mulder's flat emotionless tone as he spoke in a detached manner as if he was reading one of his case files, something not happening to him. "Mulder...I... Fuck." With that he leaned in and embraced the stiff body before him. Mulder managed to stiffen even more at first, then melted into the hug and laid his head on Alex's shoulder, letting the sobs break free.

His shoulder's shook and the sobs became louder and more heart wrenching. Alex wondered at the sheer amount of will it must have taken Mulder to keep from breaking completely before now. He was so good at keeping it together Alex realized that Mulder could have kept it to himself, but had decided deliberately to let it go now with Krycek. He trusted him that much. Alex was overwhelmed at the trust Mulder was showing him. He wondered at his own ability to give it back.

"Shh. It's okay. You're okay. We're safe, it's okay..." He murmured the words softly into the other man's ear. Platitudes they both knew to be false, but very necessary.

Finally, the sobs died down to hiccups. Alex patted his back, grinning inanely at the thought of doing this for a hiccupping Fox Mulder. It was just another absurd turn his life had taken since meeting this sexy, vulnerable, tough, crazy, spooky, loveable man. Damned if he didn't love the son of a bitch. Now what? The man was carrying his baby. A baby that wasn't a 100% human. Just like Fox wasn't. Shit. Damn. What the hell were they going to do? He had to take care of Mulder. Couldn't let him see how confused he was. Mulder'd gone through hell as it was, he had no one to turn to and he needed medical care and time to recuperate. And the baby. He didn't know what he was going to do with a baby.

They sat there holding on to one another until Mulder's stomach growled. It broke the tension developing in the room and they both chuckled.

"I guess I better feed you, huh? Didn't realize you were eating for two." Alex stood up and crossed the room to where the bags of food sat.

Mulder blushed, suddenly painfully aware that he was carrying their child. "Yeah, I hope we bought enough because we're both starving."

Alex smiled at that, and then suddenly realized he was nervous. Here they were, barely beginning some sort of friendship and companionship and they had leaped into a family somehow. They hadn't even kissed, yet!

"Alex, 'do' you want to kiss me?" Mulder asked softly.

"Damn, I keep forgetting you can hear everything I think...kind of hard to be spontaneous." Alex griped halfheartedly. He was actually a little grateful for it; it cut through their usual BS and kept them honest. Hell, if that was what it took to keep them open and healing it wasn't THAT bad.

"Not everything, I'm not trying to invade your privacy, Alex. But when your thoughts turn emotional, it's hard to miss and I'm naturally curious, you know." He smirked.

"Yeah, I know full well. Just try to remember I'm not used to this. I need a little space sometimes. Hard to break a lifetime of secrecy overnight."

"I'll do my best. Now fork over the hamburgers...I've been dying for one!" They ate in relative silence, enjoying the greasy fast food that seemed ridiculously delicious to them after months of bland alien food. They also relished their closeness as their fingers brushed against one another as they reached for french-fries and ketchup packets. When they were all done, Alex cleaned up while Mulder lay back against the headboard propped up on the pillows as ordered. Finishing, Alex sat next to him and tentatively reached out to touch Mulder's belly. "Can I..."

"Yeah." He took Alex's hand and rested it where he could feel the fluttering within. Mulder's belly was just starting to show. Neither one knew all that much about pregnancy to begin with, much less such an unusual one. When Krycek felt the movement for the first time he became stunned at the reality of it. Up till now he had believed, but concrete proof made it all the more REAL.

A full-blown smile blossomed on his face and his green eyes sparkled with unshed tears as he glanced up at Mulder's. Their eyes caught and sparked, Alex leaned forward, his lips brushing the other man's until Mulder leaned forward as well and deepened the kiss. Alex softly moaned and caressed Fox's stomach and up to his chest, then down his arms. Mulder's arms wove around Alex's back and their kisses became more and more passionate. Soon they were stripping one another and pressing their flushed skin together as they explored one another.

Alex couldn't believe that this was actually happening. What was even more shocking was that it was so much better than any of his fantasies. Mulder was so warm, so soft and so passionate. He'd always known Mulder was an obsessive individual, but having that extreme focus suddenly focused on HIM was startling...and extremely hot. He wanted to touch Mulder everywhere and lick him all over. He hardly knew where to start.

Mulder couldn't get enough of Alex. He'd been alone for so long and to now suddenly find himself in bed with someone he'd secretly (VERY secretly) lusted over for so long, he thought he'd died and gone to heaven. He knew he wouldn't last long, and he wanted to be able to savor it the first time they truly made love, so he started to focus their stroking to the more important places in this union.

Alex writhed and gasped as Mulder stroked him gently, but purposely. He gladly returned the favor. Mulder moaned in return and together they moved towards completion. Alex seemed to be trying to suck Mulder's tongue out of his mouth. He broke free of the kiss in order to breathe and as they approached their climax they started gasping out their names...

"Oh! Alex...Alex..."

"Oh, yeah, Fox! Uh, Fox..."

"Alex! Mm, so good..."

"Lisa...oh, Fox...I...I love you!"

With that Alex and Mulder exploded within seconds of one another. As the blood rushed back to his brain Alex inwardly groaned at his runaway mouth. He struggled to keep a lid on his emotions and thoughts lest Mulder become interested.

Mulder lay there panting...he was shocked. Even though he knew the depth of feelings Alex had for him, he hadn't realized he actually loved him...nor that Alex could realize and say them so easily. He was no fool...he was well aware of the things that come flying out of one's mouth in the heat of passion. But he also sensed how true they were. And now he knew, though he didn't pry, that Alex must be feeling foolish and scared at his admission. Only one way to deal with that...the truth.

"Alex? I love you, too." He stated simply and quietly. Let Alex deal with it as he may.

Silence. Then... "I meant it. I 'do' love you, Fox. I just didn't realize it until this moment." Alex rolled over until he was facing Mulder as he lay on his back. Stroking Mulder's cheek he realized this honesty wasn't so bad. And Mulder loved him back! Unbelievable...wonderful.

After awhile they conceded that they were too sticky to remain in bed and helped each other off the rock hard bed and into the itsy bitsy, dirty little shower stall that was JUST big enough for them to squeeze into. But squeeze they did, because they were just too new to this level of intimacy and reluctant to lose it so quickly.

Soaping each other up and rinsing off they ran their hands over one another like they thought the other would disappear at any moment. Not a far-fetched idea when one considered the UFO still out there somewhere. Drying off on the scratchy little towels they flopped back into bed and fell asleep...exhausted. Yet even in their sleep...they touched and held one another...content.

Waking, Alex was pleasantly surprised to find himself spooned up behind Fox. Slowly and carefully, so as to not wake the man, he ran his hand gently up and down the other man's arm. Then, sliding around Fox's belly, he laid his hand there, still in awe at the life growing within. And as amazing and wonderful it was...he was scared. Scared for Fox and scared for their unborn child. What were they going to do? He had to get Fox somewhere safe and away from prying eyes. Where either of them chipped? He knew the colonizers did that to keep tabs on abductees and return for them. If they 'were' chipped, should they risk removing them? What about the cancer? They couldn't remove them, then. What about-

"Alex, could you please calm down...I'm trying to sleep. Quit worrying about chips I already checked both of us earlier." Fox's voice was low and huskier than usual and his eyes remained closed.

"Earlier? You woke up and checked us both all over? And did you take advantage of me? Hmmm?" Alex was incredibly relieved and aroused at the same time. Thinking of Mulder checking him over for chips was actually erotic in his mind. Their time together last night had done nothing to slake his lust for the man.

"Oh, you like that, huh? Kinky bastard. Yes, I checked ALLLL over. But if you're still worried I could check again?" chuckling, he turned around to face Alex, his eyes a rather vivid gray-green.

"Hmm, well you know we can't be TOO sure. Better to be safe than sorry. After all are you sure you checked here?" Alex reached around and ran his fingers up and down Mulder's spine. Mulder writhed and his breathing sped up as Alex's fingers dipped lower, caressing his buttocks.

"Ah, well I know I checked YOU thoroughly there, but I couldn't reach that well on myself, maybe you'd be so kind to check for me?"

"Well of course, Lisa. Wouldn't do to have any area unexplored here. God knows where they might hide the damn things. I think I can think of a spot right...here." After that their playful rejoinder was more and more distracted as Alex prepared Fox to be entered.

They'd decided the safest way to do this was with both of them on their sides. Alex was scared of hurting the baby in a face-to-face position or squashing Mulder when he collapsed on top of his back.

Krycek grabbed the lube from under the pillow. He'd purchased it along with their clothes and toiletries they'd picked up at the Walmart before checking into the motel. Mulder'd seemed in such a daze at the store. Alex had had to help him pick out some jeans, shirts, socks, even his shoes and underwear. Mulder had simply accepted his choices and followed him around like a puppy. He'd been partly indeared and mostly worried at the time. Now he realized just how much Mulder had been burdened with the knowledge and fear of his secret. As he'd purchased the lube he'd wondered at his own opportunism...he didn't want to take advantage of Mulder, but at the same time he'd wanted to be prepared if they DID get around to this. Now he was glad he'd been such an ambitious bastard!

Fox chuckled, "Yes, you are...now are you going to sit and contemplate my backside some more or are you going to fuck me?"

"Oh, yeah...don't worry I haven't forgotten." Alex warmed the lube in his hand and started to rub his fingertips over the opening. Mulder shuddered and moaned, shifting his leg up higher to make it easier for Alex's questing fingertips. Alex stretched and twisted first one finger, two, and finally three until Mulder started demanding more. "Come on already!"

Alex smiled, "Demanding aren't we?" Fox groaned and thrust back urgently. "Okay, okay...shh, Lisa...relax now." Slowly entering Mulder they began to rock and thrust together...the excitement building.

"Oh! Oh, god...Alex...harder!"

"Mm, okay...okay..." the sounds of their groans and flesh meeting flesh filled the motel room. Alex spared a distant thought at the elderly couple they'd glimpsed entering next door the other night. 'Oh, hell, who cares? They're probably gone already.' Forgetting about any thoughts of neighbors the two finished a bit loudly and lay there still joined, sweaty and sticky again.

Lightly dozing until Alex realized they really ought to get cleaned up and planning their next action, he coaxed Fox to join him in the shower once more. Well, he hadn't really had to coax too hard, Mulder was more than willing.

Freshly dressed in their new Walmart clothes (Alex wrinkled his nose a bit...he'd get them some decent clothes soon enough) they decided to head over to the nearby diner for breakfast.

Walking over there Mulder seemed far more normal than the day before. Joking and wisecracking, he walked side by side with Alex up until they entered the diner. Then, Alex recognized the Mulder from the Walmart...he dropped behind Alex as they walked over to an empty table and kept his eyes on Alex or the tabletop as they waited for service. Alex was a little unnerved. When the two had been partners years ago, Mulder had always been flirtatious with the waitresses and curious about little known facts of every diner they ate at on cases. He'd usually strike up conversations with strangers about local UFO legends and try at least one slice of pie. Now he sat there, shoulders drooping and answered the waitress in a barely heard murmur his eyes fixed on the menu.

If it was possible, Alex was angrier than before at the aliens. Look at what they'd done to his Fox! He'd do his best to get Mulder back to his annoying self...he just needed to relax and get used to being in society again. "Hey, did you see they have blackberry pie? How about a slice?"

Mulder looked up from his contemplations on the tabletop design and grinned slightly. "I'm okay, Alex. Just a little nervous, I guess. How about we decide what to do after breakfast? We need a car and maybe a place to stay with a shower stall that fits normal sized humans."

Relieved Alex focused at the possibilities available. "Well, if it was just me I'd as soon steal a car..." he trailed off at the predictable frown on Mulder's face.

"...but I guess we could rent one." He finished with a wicked grin. Ah, Mulder was back and he was so fun to bait! Hell, he wouldn't have really stolen one...too much trouble if they got caught. So now they had to decide where to go from here. There had still been no mention of Scully. Well, if they didn't go to Scully for medical advice, where could they go? Even though he hadn't really thought of them in years, for some reason he flashed on the thought of taking Mulder to his family. 'Whoa, bad idea. I can't believe I even thought of it. Hell, they wouldn't want to see me again, much less with a pregnant male lover in tow. What a crazy impulse.' Alex felt his emotions in turmoil...longing, anger, a feeling of hopelessness, he just knew Mulder would catch on to this.

"We don't have to talk about it if you don't want to. But don't you think I could understand how you feel about your family?" Mulder asked softly. 'Shit,' Alex thought, 'of course he would.' Mulder probably felt the same way about his own family. They were so much more alike than he'd ever suspected before. Mulder longed for acceptance within his own family for so long. Now it was too late, they were all dead. 'Fuck, at least I still have a glimmer of a chance to patch things up. Not much, but a little one. Fox is all alone...'

^Not completely alone, I hope.^ Mulder smiled softly, using their link to speak what would sound too sappy out loud in the middle of a red neck diner.

^NO. You aren't. You have me...the child...and if you want to...well, I guess maybe we could give my family a shot. Not much to lose. But I'm warning you...their orthodox. No swearing!^

Mulder was stunned at Alex's offer of a family with his own. He gritted his teeth against the tears he could feel trying to break free. He was too damn emotional lately... 'well, of course...you're pregnant!' Closing off this disturbing thought, he focused on lightening the mood once more.

"No swearing, huh? So what WILL you do?"

Alex chuckled, "Shut up. I used to be a good little Christian in my youth. I was corrupted in college and Quantico."

Mulder laughed, Alex was surprised at how much the sound filled him with happiness...Mulder's laugh seemed so much more carefree and happy. He could get used to this Mulder.

"So, I'm going to meet your family. Where do they live?"

"Well, actually we're in luck. They live in St. Louis. We're not far from there... I guess we could head over there once we get a car. Unless you want to try somewhere else... Krycek added quickly, 'maybe this isn't a good idea.'

"No, no, no...you said you'd introduce me to the family...no backing out now. Besides, I want to go see a Cardinal's game." Mulder smiled, he'd missed going to the ballpark. This could be fun. He'd never been in the arch. He wondered just how much touristy stuff he could get away with.

Alex sighed, no getting out of it. "Alright, but you've been warned."

They ate their breakfast leisurely, just because they could. They sipped their coffee and Mulder decided he DID want pie, but picked out the cherry, after all Dottie the waitress suggested it. Alex was amused, but wary at the monster he'd reawakened in Mulder. He just KNEW Mulder'd be wanting to stop at every tourist attraction on the way to his family's house. 'Well, that wouldn't be so bad...anything to delay. Maybe I can distract him enough to forget...' It was a futile hope...Mulder's eidetic memory doomed such attempts.

"Oh, hey, look it's the Meramac Caves. Wanna check them out?" Alex didn't particularly want to...dark enclosed spaces and all that, but at this point he preferred claustrophobia to his family phobia.

"Sure, but later. First we'd better let your family know we're in town and get a roof over our heads."

Alex sighed, 'all right, Alexei, no more delays...let's get this over with.' He drove them to his brother's house. No reason why they shouldn't tackle the worst sibling first. If he could face Nikolai he could face the rest of the family. Pulling into the driveway of the two story gray house with black shutters he killed the engine.

"Mulder woke up from his doze and straightened in his seat. "Nice, I like the trees. No blistering sun baking the lawns." The street was covered in Catalpa trees, hence the name, Catalpa Ave. It was a very pleasant street with nice houses and well manicured lawns.

"Yeah, so...are you sure about this?" He did NOT want to be here...nope, not ONE bit.

"Come on, let's get this over with, huh? Whatever happens, we'll go and get a nice hotel room and I'll make it worth your while..." Mulder ended suggestively.

"Well, Christ, what are we waiting for then?" Alex grinned a little and climbed out of their car.

"Ah, ah, ah, language..." Mulder was having fun...he couldn't wait to see Alex keep his tongue civil for the reunion. Krycek flashed him a warning glare and they walked up to the door. Knocking he nervously ran a hand through his hair and tugged on his jacket.

"Yes, may I help- Alexei?! Nikolai, it's your brother!" Alex's sister-in-law, Maria pulled Alex into a hug and ushered the two men in. "Come in, come in...what a surprise! And who is this?"

"Mari I'd like you to meet Fox Mulder, Fox this is my sister-in-law, Maria, but we all call her Mari...she's an excellent cook and artist, too."

"Pleased to meet you, Mari, call me Mulder. This is a nice house you've got here."

"Oh, thank you. Alex you are quite a flatterer. I'm only a so-so cook and I only paint occasionally. Mulder, huh? I never liked my birth name, either...I prefer Mari. So, what brings you boys into town? Wait a sec, don't answer that until I get my oaf of a husband. Nikolai!" She marched off to find her recalcitrant mate.

Alex let a small sigh escape. He sat back into the sofa and wondered what to say to her question. Mulder grinned and grabbed his hand for a quick squeeze and let go. "It's not so bad, yet. She seems great."

"Yeah, Mari and I get along pretty well...it's Nikolai-"

"It's Nikolai, what?" an older man appeared at the door. He looked a bit like Alex, dark hair, but graying and his eyes were black.

"Nikolai, this is Fox Mulder, we, well we came to let you know we were in town and..." he trailed off. Mulder was surprised, he'd never seen Alex so discomposed around other people. His emotions were swirling around, but the predominant ones were nervousness and longing for acceptance.

"Oh? Why? I thought you hated it here. You couldn't wait to get out of town and didn't call your own family in six years." Nikolai seemed to be angry and dismissive of Alex, Mulder's shoulders tightened. He didn't like anyone talking to his Alex like that. 'My Alex, geez I'm getting awfully possessive here...but I kind of like it. MY Alex...nice ring to it.'

"I've been extremely busy, Nick and besides I wasn't sure you would want to hear from me..." Alex was at a loss to explain himself to his brother. It never failed, two minutes in his brother's house and he wanted desperately to flee. Only family could instill this kind of discomfort sometimes.

"Busy? Too busy for family...too busy for a phone call, huh? Well, Mr. Important, what have you been so busy with?" Nikolai wasn't giving and inch.

"Business. Look, I didn't come for a fight."

"What fighting? I'm just asking..."

Mulder'd had enough, "Look, we've been traveling all day and we're tired. Maybe we should come back another time..."

Mari poked her head back into the room; she'd been biting her nails listening to her husband and brother-in-law. "Oh, no. Don't go Fo- I mean Mulder. You just got here. And you two look hungry. I was just threw on some nice steaks in the broiler. Don't leave me hanging." She smiled at the two, they looked so thin and pale. She was dying with curiosity, but knew better than to ask now. She glared at her husband when he frowned at her. "Nikolai, go get the leaf for the table and quit growling at your brother. Can't you see they need to rest?"

Nikolai stalked off and Alex sagged against Mulder, forgetting that his sister-in-law was still watching. Glancing up he quickly pulled away and stood up. "Look, Mari, you don't have to-"

"Nonsense, go wash up and show Mulder around. You remember where the washroom is? Good, it's been so long...I'm so glad you came." She impulsively kissed Alex's cheek and then said, "what the hell!" and kissed Fox's as well. "I won't say anything more, but...welcome to the family. Don't let Nick turn you off...he's just upset. And you haven't met the rest of the family, yet." With that she fairly bounced out of the room. Mulder and Alex stood stunned, glancing at one another they grinned.

"Well, I guess Mari doesn't have a problem with us. She really is great. I can't wait to meet your sisters."

Alex nodded, "Yeah, she is great...I still wonder how she hooked up with my gloomy brother. No accounting for taste, huh? My sister's aren't going to be happy with us, though. Mari is the most open minded. But, I don't think they are half as bad as Nick. Come on let's go wash up."

Returning from their task they bumped into a young girl coming out of a room across the hall. Shocked she yelped, "Mom!"

"Hey, Natasha, don't you remember your uncle Alex?" Krycek smiled tentatively. The girl's eyes widened, "Oh! Uncle Alex, I'm sorry...you look...different and I haven't seen you in so long." She didn't mention Mulder, but she looked curiously over Alex's shoulder at him.

"Yes, well...I've been busy. This is Mulder, he's a friend of mine. We're here for supper and...a visit I guess. Hey, aren't you gonna give me a hug?" Natasha smiled and hugged her uncle gingerly. She was still a little wary. The last time she'd seem him she'd been about five.

She then shook Mulder's hand and called him sir, good manners were important in Alex's family. Together they trooped downstairs to the dining room. Dinner was a fairly quiet affair as Mari and Alex talked, but Nikolai sat stonily silent. Natasha seemed to sense the tension and quietly asked Mulder questions about his job. "Wow, you're an FBI agent? Cool."

"Yeah, well, I'm kind of on a sabbatical. It can be neat, though...but too much paperwork." Mulder thought Natasha looked an awful lot like Alex with her dark brown hair and green eyes...especial ly when she got an impish look on her face when asking if he had his gun with him.

After dinner they all helped clear the table and sat in the living room for coffee. "So, Alex, will you be visiting Anya and Natalia? They'd love to see you, too." Mari tried to break the ice.

"Uh, yeah. I was planning to call them this evening when we got to our hotel." Alex prayed silently that Mari wouldn't suggest they spend the night here. Between his brother's disapproving eyes and the awkward situation on bed assignments, he just wanted to go to a hotel room as soon as possible and make love to Mulder.

"Okay, but you have to let us know where you're staying and how long. Maybe we could all get together for a big family dinner this weekend. Maybe a barbecue?"

Alex was relieved, "Yes, that sounds nice. I'll call you tonight after I talked to them. I think we should go now and grab a room. Um, good night." Alex stood up with Mulder and Mari hugged and kissed them both, Natasha shyly said goodnight and ran up to her room. Nikolai stood stiffly and then, to the shock of everyone in the room, hugged his younger brother tightly. "Alexei, I don't understand why you left like you did or where you've been...but I do love you and I AM glad you are here. We'll talk later, hmm?" Nikolai made it clear he meant a private conversation about those very topics. Alex seemed about to collapse. "Um, yes. Okay...I, thank you Nikolai. I...I love you, too. I'll call you both tonight." He all but dragged Mulder out to the car and they sped away as fast as Alex could drive legally.

Mulder wondered what he should say and then realized Alex needed a little space right now. He absorbed the sights as Alex drove them to a nicer hotel than either had seen in a long time. Checking in they carried the bags of stuff they'd bought the first day and during the trip. They both had some fairly nice clothes now, thanks to Alex's insistence that they stop at a mall on the way up to the city.

Alex carried the heaviest of bags...not letting Mulder overexert himself. Mulder flirted with being either amused or annoyed, settled on amused. "I'm not that fragile, you know...I'm not going to break."

"I know, I know...just indulge me, will you. You look so thin and been through so much..."

"And you haven't? You're just as thin and you haven't exactly been living in a tropical paridise the last few months. Alex jerked his head up at that, was Mulder in his head again? Did he know about his dreams...probably. But then, Mulder had never needed telepathy to make spooky connections like that before.

"Yeah, but I'm not pregnant, so just let me coddle you a little...I promise to try to not go overboard."

Mulder just smiled and went about unpacking his bag. They shared a shower as before, but now could both fit in much better. A fact they took full advantage of. Alex dropped to his knees to engulf Fox's cock in his mouth. Mulder leaned back against the tile and groaned like a man in pain. "Ohhh! So good..."

Alex just kept bobbing his head, his fingers exploring Mulder's balls. Mulder stopped Alex and pulled him up for a long kiss. Panting he whispered huskily... "I wanna fuck you this time..."

"Oh, god...let's get out of the shower then" he chuckled. He was burning up inside. He couldn't wait for Mulder to finish drying off and just pulled him with him to the bedroom.

"Slow down, slow down...I want to do this right." Mulder laughed quietly. "Slow next time...fast NOW!" Alex growled. He whipped out the lube and kneeling on the bed he glanced over his shoulder saucily. "Well..."

Mulder abandoned all plans for the slow seduction and quickly acquiesced. Still, Mulder took his time preparing Alex, not wanting to hurt him. When at last he was within him, he thrust all the way in and pulled Alex up to his knees in an embrace. Alex rocked back, he was impaled even deeper and he gasped loudly.

Mulder whispered endearments in his ear as he slowly leaned them forward again and began to thrust.

Collapsing on top of Alex when they both came, Mulder rolled onto his side before Alex could protest about the baby. He loved how protective Alex was. Irritating, but endearing all the same.

Although it was fairly late in the evening when Alex finally rolled over and made his phone calls, he was glad he did it before going to sleep. Both sisters were looking forward to seeing them both. He suspected Mari had warned them already as they seemed refreshingly tolerant about his male companion.

Mulder just dozed away beside him, a hand on his belly and a faint grin on his face once more. Alex hung up finally and sat there gazing at him. How easily Mulder seemed to be accepting the pregnancy. He knew that if it was himself he'd still be freaking out, but Mulder, well, Mulder had always been open to new ideas and experiences. 'I guess if it had to happen it happened to the one most suited to coping with it.

Still, Mulder's lack of interest in contacting Scully or any friends in D.C. was a little worrying. Not like him at all to just tag along with Alex. No interest in the X-Files, either. Well, it did make a little sense. He was a walking X-File now. 'I'm not going to worry about it. He's a grown man and he'll decide when he wants to go back. Quit looking a gift horse in the mouth.'

Snuggling up next to Mulder he put his own hand on Mulder's belly and drifted off to sleep.

"Alex?..." Krycek burrowed his head deeper into his pillow. "Aaallleeex" his lover singsonged into his ear. " I know you can hear me, lover. Hey!" Mulder yelped as Krycek batted him on the head with another nearby pillow.

The two had been dozing in bed that evening after a particularly exhausting round of 'exercise.' Alex could have easily rested a little longer, but his errant lover obviously had other ideas. Rolling over to face him, Alex noticed that Mulder was pouting. 'Oh, for god sakes it was a pillow!' Deciding it was better to just cater to Mulder's little hormonal problem he apologized, "I'm sorry, okay? What did you want, I was enjoying a nice post-coital daze you know." There, let the man's ego preen about his sexual prowess this evening. Predictably Mulder brightened up at that.

"Oh, never mind then. You need your rest." Mulder looked a little smug. Bastard.

"No, I think I've recovered, what was it?" Mulder dropped the smug act and returned to his wheedling tone again. "I was just wondering if you were hungry. I am."

Alex eyed him incredulously, "Fox, you can't possibly be hungry. You ate that extra large pizza practically by yourself not two hours ago. Not to mention the wings." Mulder's appetite had apparently fully recovered from depression.

Out went Mulder's lower lip again. "Alex! I did NOT eat that whole pizza myself...you had three slices and you said you didn't want any wings." Fox's voice switched from insulted to sweet with the next, "Besides, I was thinking more along the lines of dessert. Something sweet...how about some Ted Drewes?" Alex groaned, but he knew he'd be heading out the door as soon as he found his pants. He couldn't deny Mulder anything lately, not even frozen custard.

A month or so had passed since they'd come to live near Alex's family. They'd rented a small, but comfortable apartment and bought an SUV. Mulder had known better than to question where the money had come from. Alex had simply stated that he had more than enough tucked away for them both to live comfortably for two lifetimes. There were times that Mulder chafed at being a 'kept man' (his words, not Alex's). One particular incident led Alex to blurt out, "If it bothers you so damn much than call your friends and get your own money wired to you."

That particular comment caused a full-blown panic attack. Doubling over he'd started hyperventilating so hard and fast that Alex had dropped to his knees before him and grabbed his shoulders.

"Fox! Fox, listen to me. It's okay, you don't have to do anything you don't want to. Shh, baby, it's okay..." Alex felt horribly guilty. He hadn't meant to trigger an attack, but it didn't take much. A thunderstorm, an unexpected touch by a stranger, and now Alex had discovered any mention of resuming contact with Scully, the FBI, or anyone from his old life.

Mulder slowly calmed down, sinking to his knees next to Alex and relaxing under the other man's touch, he lowered his head onto Alex's shoulder. Deliberately breathing slow and deep breaths he remained silent, clutching Alex's arms, but avoiding his eyes.

"Fox? I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..."

"No, no I'm the one that's sorry. I was being a bastard. I just don't want to be a burden to you and I was feeling like one since you are paying for everything and sharing your family with me and what am I giving in return?"

Alex was shocked, he'd known that Mulder's ego was a bit bruised at being 'kept,' but he'd had no idea that Mulder felt like a burden. "You are NOT a burden, Fox Mulder. I love you. I don't know how many times I have to tell you that the money is not an issue with me. Fuck, I'd sign half of it over to you if you'd let me. I want you to feel a PART of my family, not in the way. Do you know that my family loves you? It's true, my sisters are all jealous, you know. And Mari told me...she told me that I was a damned lucky man to have you in my life and I'm easier to get along with now." Alex chuckled, he knew that having Mulder in his life lately had made him smile and laugh more than he'd ever done in his life...even before the consortium.

Mulder just shook his head, not necessarily denying Alex's words. "I love you, too. It's...you know it is difficult for me to say that. My parents didn't...they didn't say it. Ever. And once Samantha was taken I didn't feel like I had anyone really. And I didn't. Not until you. It's not that I doubt you love me. But, I need to get over this fear I guess. I need to at least contact the Lone Gunmen and have them send me some of my things and set up my account for me again. I can't deal with Scully, yet, though. Or Skinner. I'll deal with them later. Okay?"

Alex was relieved. "Okay. Let's contact your friends. But Mulder there's...what are we going to do about the baby? You're starting to show and it seems to be growing pretty fast. And we need to get you examined..."

Mulder went rigid. "NO!" he tried to stand up and run, Alex clung to him scared he'd do himself harm.

"Mulder...Mulder you know you have to be examined by a doctor. Lisa, we need to make sure it's okay. And we need to make plans. How are we going to handle the birth? You're going to need a c-section and we need to find a surgeon we can trust, nurses...equipment. My brother is a doctor, but he's in orthopedics and well...I haven't a clue how to break this to the family, yet. I just don't know who we can trust. Maybe...maybe we should contact Scully-" Alex didn't really want Scully either. He didn't want his lover to be reunited with his beloved partner. She'd probably make him see the error of his ways and drag him back to D.C.

"No! She...I can't..." Mulder was no longer struggling, but he still couldn't bear the thought of Scully finding him like this. He didn't want to have anything to do with his old life. It wasn't safe. He had an overwhelming fear that if he went back to D.C. 'they' would find him, which was ridiculous because 'they' had taken him in Oregon. It didn't matter where he was. Still, the perceived threat and the thought of his friends finding out about his condition scared him. He didn't want to talk about it. He didn't want them to know. When he was with Alex he felt accepted and loved. He didn't feel like a freak, Alex was actually happy that Mulder carried their child; it didn't bother him that Mulder wasn't a 'pure' human. Mulder shuddered to think of what might happen if his hybrid status reached the wrong ears. The consortium may have been officially defeated, but he knew better than to think they were no longer a threat.

Unable to articulate his fears to Alex he let them flow through the link he opened between them. "Oh, Fox. You're right to be careful. There's always a chance someone escaped the purges, but you never have to worry about that cancer-ridden son of a bitch. He's dead. I did it myself." Krycek had pushed the man down the stairs; enraged that the evil bastard had tricked him into sending Mulder to the UFO and then had the audacity to insinuate he'd betrayed Mulder on purpose. Once he'd reached the foot of the stairs he'd stepped over the body, turned and given him three bullets in the brain. No miraculous resurrection this time, he'd sent Spender to the devil for good.

Alex could feel the overwhelming relief that came over Mulder. He was suddenly grateful that he'd been able to ease some of the fear from his lover. Who knew confessing to a murder could feel good?

Mulder contacted his friends that evening. "Guys, it's me. Turn off the tape."

There was a click and then Frohike asked cautiously, "Mulder?"

"Yeah, Fro. It's me. I'm...back. I could use a favor..."

"Mulder, man, how long have you been back? Are you okay? What do you need?"

"It hasn't been long. Look, I was hoping to get at my money, but I don't want to be traced..."

"Say no more, dude, just tell us where you want it set up. But Mulder...what about Scully? You've talked to her, right?"

Mulder pointedly ignored the question about Scully and focused on giving his friends the bank and location he'd chosen. As he was speaking, however, Scully knocked on the door of the Lone Gunmen.

She'd been visiting every once in a while; partly to get updates on the latest UFO activity and any other information the three men could provide, but also because she missed Mulder and felt closer to him there. Byers, too startled to even say hi, let her in. Walking into their main room she could hear a voice on the speakerphone that Frohike and Langly were leaning over. The voice stopped her cold, her jaw dropping.

"Mulder?!" Scully ran over to the phone and grabbed the receiver.

"Oh. Uh, Scully..." Mulder was at a loss as to what to say.

"Mulder, where are you? Are you okay?!"

"Yeah, I'm fine, Scully. I- I'm fine." Mulder desperately wanted to hang up, but knew he couldn't.

"Where are you? I've been looking for you-"

"Oh, I'm...I'm staying with a friend. I'm okay, I've been back a few weeks..."

Scully went from shock to relief and back to shock and now anger. "What friend?! Where are you, why haven't you contacted me?"

"I'm sorry, Scully. I just- I wasn't sure it was a good idea to come back to D.C. now and...well I should have called you, but..."

"But, what?! Mulder, where are you?" Scully gritted her teeth to keep from screaming her frustration. What was going on? How could he not contact her? Who was this friend??

Mulder sighed. He couldn't do this to her. He was being a horrible person not contacting Scully. How could he not have called her before. Still, he didn't want to tell her where he was. He realized there was only one thing to do...he had to go to D.C. If he didn't tell her where he was she'd just get it out of the Lone Gunmen and come anyway. He couldn't put Alex in that position, it would reveal his location and his family. Besides, he had to tie up the loose ends waiting for him back on the East Coast. There was no getting around it. Knowing Cancerman was dead and Alex's understanding earlier had quenched much of his panic at going back. 'I can do this. I have to. I'll sell the apartment, pack what I want and officially quit. I can't go back to work there and I can't live there anymore.'

"Look, Scully, I'm going to get a flight back to D.C. I'll meet you at my apartment. I'll call when I get there."

She didn't like his evasiveness, but was relieved he was going to meet her, "All right, Mulder. Call me."

Mulder hung up and rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands. This wasn't good. Now he'd have to explain to Alex when he got home from his sister's. Alex was visiting Natalia, they were pretty close. Natalia was the youngest of the family and Alex was very protective of her. She'd been having trouble with an emotionally abusive boyfriend and called Alex after breaking up with him this afternoon. Alex was glad she'd broken up with him, but furious at the man that had told Natalia she was fat and a slut. Mulder had been upset, too. He really liked Natalia, she was NOT fat, just curvy and actually a very shy and sweet girl. So, he'd been thrilled to hear she had dumped the jackass. Still, he'd had to stop Alex from leaving with his gun. Mulder smiled, remembering how he'd managed to talk down his hot-tempered lover.

"Alex, you can't shoot the man for being a bastard."

"Oh yes I can. He called her a slut!"

"Alex, she dumped him. She just wants you to go and talk to her...not start a bloodbath." Mulder slowly approached his lover who was breathing fast, his green eyes flashing dangerously. Alex remained stiff and silent, not giving in.

"You know, you look pretty damn sexy all riled up like that." Mulder's voice turned low and husky, his approach turned into a saunter, he noticed Alex's eyes dilate and his stance became a little looser, less angry. Mulder slowly pulled Alex away from the direction of their guns. He gave him a slow hard kiss designed to completely distract the man from his anger. Alex resisted at first and then responded hungrily. Parting, Alex let out a frustrated sigh. "Damn, what did you do that for? You know I have to go over there now..." Alex just wanted to throw Mulder down on the bed and ravage him.

Mulder smiled slyly. "Well, I guess I'll just have to make it up to you later, hmmm?" Alex had kissed him again hard and grabbed his leather jacket. "You bet you will. I'll go console her and you go take a nap...you're gonna need it." With that he'd left in a hurry.

Now, Mulder lay in bed waiting for Alex's return, but he wasn't looking forward to it as he had been. Now he was going to have to tell Alex he was leaving for the airport at 8:00 in the morning. Alex would be upset...overprotective and would insist on coming. But he knew that it was even more dangerous for Alex to be seen in D.C. than for Mulder. He wanted his lover to be safe and be with his family. His thoughts were interrupted when he heard the lock turn and footsteps down the hall. Slipping a hand under the pillow where his gun lay, he tensed...just in case.

Alex slipped into the room and smiled to see Mulder's carefulness. He was glad for Fox's paranoia...it kept the man alive longer. "Hey...you been waiting for me, Lisa?" his voice soft and seductive as he stripped off his jacket. But he paused before taking off his top when he noticed the worried expression on Fox's face.

After Mulder explained the situation Alex sat there for a moment, a stony mask on his features. Mulder started to worry, "Alex, I'm just going to let Scully know I'm okay and to tie up the loose ends. We knew I had to do this sooner or later..."

Alex relaxed a little realizing that Mulder was trying to reassure him he was coming back. "I know, Fox. It's okay. I was just thinking about how to do this as safe as possible."

"Alex-" "Fox, you better not be trying to tell me I'm not coming. I'm coming, period."

Together they packed and Mulder got another ticket. As they boarded the plane, Mulder felt extremely nervous, he was worried about his seeing Scully. He was worried about Alex. He was wondering just what they were flying back to.

Alex let them into Mulder's apartment with his lock pick. After all, it wasn't like the aliens had been so kind as to return his house key. Entering, Mulder was startled to find Scully standing in the middle of his living room, gun in hand. She lifted to point it at Alex who had stepped protectively in front of Mulder.

Mulder quickly pulled Alex behind him, having to use all his strength to budge him, but succeeding. "Scully, stop. He's with me."

Scully stared uncomprehendingly for a moment. Then slowly lowered her weapon, but didn't put it away.

"Mulder? What is he doing here?"

"He's who I've been with the last month or so. It's fine. Let's sit down, huh? I don't suppose I have anything in my fridge to offer you, though." he lamely tried to break the tension. Scully backed up and sat stiffly in a chair, hand still clutching the gun and Alex equally stiff sat next to Mulder on the couch, ready to grab his gun at a moment's notice.

"Okay, look...this is a long story, Scully, how about putting the gun away?" Scully slowly put it back in her holster and waited for Mulder to continue.

Haltingly, Mulder told her as briefly as possible what had happened since he'd last seen her. But he left out a lot of details, such as the extent of his tortures on board the colonist ship and the rebels' contribution he was carrying right now. Scully listened tight lipped, glancing at Krycek when Mulder explained how he'd helped him on the ship and how they were now living together. When it was over Mulder lapsed into silence and Alex slowly slipped his hand into his.

Scully's eyes narrowed at noticing this. "Mulder, do you think we could talk alone for a minute?" Alex seemed to be ready for this as he excused himself to walk towards Mulder's bedroom. "I'll just start packing your things, Fox." Alex knew it would piss Scully off.

Alone, Scully moved to the couch. "Mulder, what is going on here? Why are you with him?" Scully's voice had dropped to a whisper, "Do you need help?" Scully clearly thought Alex was somehow holding him hostage. Mulder knew she meant well so he tried to be gentle.

"Look, Scully. I know I've been distrustful of Alex in the past, but...he really came through for me on the ship and after... he loves me...and, Scully I love him." She stared in shock at her former partner.

"It's true. I've always been attracted to him, but I never trusted him and I felt I was right not to. But, now...he was working for the resistance...had been for a while. And he loves me and...it's complicated. But I want you to know that I'm happy. I came here to settle my accounts, the apartment and officially quit."

Scully grew very cold inside. Mulder had somehow been brainwashed into thinking Alex Krycek was trustworthy and that he loved Mulder. The aliens...or the consortium, or both had somehow done this. And she could tell he was holding something important back. She knew him so well. She'd known that he was 'flexible' sexually. She'd seen the porn often enough. She'd even guessed he found Krycek attractive...h ell who wouldn't be? But this...this was impossible. But as she looked at Mulder's pleading eyes, she knew that she would have to go along with it for now. If she was too disapproving...too harsh, he'd leave and cut her out of his life. Resigned, she decided to focus on what he was hiding...she suspected it was a medical problem.

"All right, Mulder. I don't really understand what it is between you two right now, but I want you to know I'm still your friend and your partner. Now, what is it you don't want to tell me? Are you feeling all right?"

Damn, she knew him too well. He was so relieved at her acceptance of him even if she didn't approve of Krycek that he wondered if he could reveal his secret. He didn't want to...but Alex had been right. They needed to know what was going on inside his body. He needed to be examined...no matter how much it frightened him. And Scully was the only one he trusted to take care of the details of the 'birth' as well. She had connections. He trusted her with his life. He had to tell her.

"Scully, there is something. But, not here. Later...we'll go somewhere...safer." With that they decided to grab a late lunch. The three ate their lunches in tense silence for the most part. Mulder usually would have tried to fill the void with sarcastic comments and try to bait his companions, but he didn't feel up to it. He was focused on the upcoming revelation to Scully. He'd told Alex what he'd planned on the way to the restaurant. His lover had reluctantly agreed that it was necessary and was supportive. Now, Alex went to the counter to pay the check while Mulder stayed at the table with Scully to leave a tip.

"All right. Meet us here." He wrote down their hotel and room number on a slip of paper. "And Scully? Bring your black bag." Scully nodded, she'd known it was something to do with his health. The bastards had hurt her Mulder. She'd do her best to help him...

Arriving back at the hotel, Mulder went to take a shower. Scully had said she'd meet them there in an hour. Alex hung up their jackets and then picked up the trail of clothes his messy lover had strewn in a trail leading to the bathroom. Entering, he expected to see Mulder washing, but instead found him hunched over, hands flat on the wall in front of him, letting the water cascade down his body. He seemed so tense.

"Hey, baby, you want a little company?" Alex stripped and joined Mulder before the other man could respond. Slipping in behind him, he started soaping Mulder's back, massaging as he went. Mulder sighed and leaned into his touch. Alex enjoyed the feel of Mulder's smooth slightly tanned skin and was pleased to note that Mulder had finally started to fill out after all those months of deprivation on board the ships. Mulder had been swimming in their apartment's pool. With Alex, or course. Alex claimed to need the exercise as well...and he did...but it was mostly to protect Mulder.

So Mulder was toning his long lean muscles once more, losing most of his skinny fragileness that had been so marked on the ship and after. Alex loved to watch Mulder swim, he always had. Remembering that day at the FBI pool when Mulder had come up in that skimpy Speedo always got Alex's blood rushing south. "Hey, Fox. Remember that time I came to get you at the pool when we were partners? You were wearing that little Speedo..."

"Hmm, yeah" Mulder chuckled. "Liked that, huh?" Alex pinched his butt.

"Ow, hey!"

"You flirt, you knew I was going crazy trying not to notice, didn't you?"

"Weellll, I guess so. Okay, yeah I knew. I just thought you were uncomfortable, though. And you were in that awful suit...you must've been itching to get out of it." Mulder teased.

"Oh, yeah, but I wanted to get you out of that Speedo, too. You were so unbelievably hot I was worried I was going to start stuttering and staring. You were so sexy. You ARE so sexy." Alex's hands started to move more purposely.

They were startled by a knock on the door.

"Damn it! I thought you said she'd be an hour!"

"That's what she said, guess she couldn't wait to get her stethoscope on me. Go answer it will you, I need to rinse off."

Alex glared at his lover, but hurriedly dried off and threw on his jeans, not bothering with a shirt.

The knocking got more insistent. "Yeah, yeah, keep your shorts on!" Alex jerked the door open. Scully seemed about to protest his words, but then caught sight of a damp Krycek in only jeans. She snapped her mouth shut and brushed past him, doing her best not to notice.

"Where's Mulder?"

"In the shower. He'll be right out, he needs to rinse off." Krycek sat on the bed and ignored her glare.

Mulder came out dressed in a pair of loose pants and a t-shirt. His belly a slight bulge.

Scully noticed, but didn't think anything of it. "Okay, Mulder, anything you wanted me to examine you for in particular?" She started putting on her gloves and pulled out a stethoscope. Mulder raised an eyebrow to Alex who snorted briefly.

"Well, the thing is Scully...you might want to sit down." Scully raised her eyebrow...she had perfected the art. "Mulder..." she said warningly. Superior doctor attitude well in place.

"All right, Scully, here." He placed her hand on his belly. "I'm pregnant." Scully looked at him blankly. "Huh?" she said brilliantly.

"I'm pregnant. The colonists...they were experimenting on me, I told you. Well, Scully, I'm not completely human. I'm a hybrid. Not like the ones we've seen before. Anyway, they were doing some...'improvem ents' on me and when the rebels 'rescued' me they wanted to finish the experiment and impregnated me using Alex's genetic material as well as my own."

Scully stared at him...then stared at him some more. 'Either he's crazy or I'm going crazy...' Scully couldn't think of what to say. Then, she lifted the stethoscope and listened to Mulder's belly. Moving it around, she stopped when she heard the unmistakable sound of a heartbeat.

"Holy shit." Scully muttered, she sat down next to Mulder on the bed before she fell down.

"Why, Dana Katherine Scully, what language!" Mulder laughed. He was relieved she hadn't run out yet screaming. But he should have known better. Scully wasn't squeamish and she wasn't scared easily...but she WAS definitely surprised.

"Mulder...we need to get some tests done. How far along are you? You look about four or five months. Have you seen a doctor?"

"Scully, if I saw a doctor and told them I was pregnant I'd be in the psych ward right now...or on the tabloids. Who could I go to? You were the only one I could trust." Alex had been sitting quietly...amused by Scully's reaction, but now a little miffed. Mulder noticed and quickly added, "except Alex, of course. He's been pretty wonderful about all this." Mulder squeezed his lover's hand, now extremely glad Alex had insisted on coming with him. What would he do without him? He didn't want to know the answer to that one.

"I see, well...how far along do you think you are?" she asked again.

Well, about four or five months seems right...everything was hazy and I'm not sure when exactly they impregnated me. I don't know...and I don't know if it's progressing at the same rate as a normal baby. It's not completely human, Scully...I'm not either."

"You're human, Mulder. They may have messed with your DNA, but you are still a human being."

"Well, they thought that most blood tests wouldn't reveal my status unless you really knew what to look for..."

Scully was silently listing all the tests she wanted to order. Her scientific curiosity at its fullest. But where to have them done...it had to be safe, she couldn't trust this information with anyone, Mulder was right. She'd have to perform them herself and analyze the samples alone...no trusting a lab with this. And the equipment...she had a friend with a very prosperous practice that had the latest equipment...time to call in some favors.

She left the two men at the hotel with instructions on where to meet her the next day. She had to arrange for some time off, first. She wondered at what she'd say to Skinner. "Mulder, what about Skinner and your job? When will you talk to him?"

Mulder sighed, "I want to get this all over with as soon as possible. I'll go tomorrow morning. Can you schedule a meeting in his office? Try to keep it quiet..."

Arriving at the Hoover Building early that morning, Mulder did his best to ignore the stares of his former coworkers. Marching into Skinner's outer office he checked in with Kim, Skinner's personal assistant.

"Agent Mulder! It's so good to see you. How are you? Everyone has been worried about you..."

"Yeah, I'm sure. Thanks, Kim, I'm fine. Is he ready for me?"

Not yet, Agent Scully hasn't arrived, yet. If you'll have a seat..."

Mulder plunked down into the familiar couch and thought back to the time when Scully had tried to fix his tie while waiting on this very couch. It had been during the terrible vampire-pizza boy fiasco. He'd been so irritated and upset. He chuckled now to remember.

"So...Agent Moldah, happy to be back?" Startled, Mulder looked up to see a brown haired man in a suit leaning against the wall next to him. His badge hanging off his lapel said, "Special Agent John Doggett." 'Great, my replacement...'

He took an immediate disliking to the man. He butchered his name...stole his partner and his X-Files while he was being tortured on the ship. All right, to be fair he'd had his name mangled plenty of times and he hadn't really 'stolen' anything. But it didn't mean he had to like the man.

Mulder just raised his eyebrows and said, "Thrilled." At that moment Scully entered, she seemed surprised to see Doggett, but sat down next to Mulder. Doggett seemed to be insulted. He looked jealous. 'Ah, he sees me as a threat to Scully...Good, let the bastard stew in it.' He turned to Scully and they spoke quietly on the details of their meeting later that afternoon. Doggett stared at them a few more minutes than slipped out muttering an excuse.

"Charming partner. You two getting along okay?"

"Doggett? He's fine. We didn't hit it off too well at first, but he's competent."

"Oooh, high praise indeed. Do ya think- " Mulder was interrupted by Skinner opening his door. He gave Mulder an appraising look and then seeming to catch himself he signaled them to enter. Mulder figured Skinner was looking for alien appendages. 'Won't find any appendages, but...' he ruefully avoided touching his belly.

They took their usual seats in front of Skinner's desk. Skinner seemed to want to sit closer, but sat behind his desk as usual.

"Agent Mulder. I have many questions for you, but first...how are you?"

"I'm fine, sir."

Skinner narrowed his eyes, but didn't challenge him. He then went on to drill his agent on his whereabouts, his return, and his plans on returning to the bureau.

Mulder told him the edited version of his story and then told him he wished to resign, he pulled out his letter that he'd brought with him.

Skinner seemed shocked. "Agent Mulder, are you sure-"

"Sir, I'm VERY sure. I no longer feel that I can work with the FBI. I wish to retire from the law enforcement...I'm not sure of what plans I'll be making, but they don't include coming back to D.C."

Skinner seemed to stare into Mulder's eyes for a moment, then looking down at his desk he spoke, "Very well, Agent Mulder. I'll take care of what I can. Closing your file and missing person report...I'll clean up what I can. You do realize the official version will not be completely truthful? They won't accept my own observations from that night."

"I understand, sir. I appreciate everything...I just don't care what the government does or doesn't 'believe' anymore. I want to get on with my life..."

Skinner sighed and nodded. "Believe it or not I DO understand, Mulder. Very well, I accept your resignation."

"Sir, I'd like to request some time off today. Mulder and I need to run some tests..."

"What sort of tests? Mulder are you all right?" Skinner looked concerned.

"Ah, yes, sir. Scully just wanted to make sure. It's nothing." The other man didn't buy it, but declined from saying so.

"Very well, you may go. Mulder...it was an honor working with you." Skinner stood up and reached over his desk with his hand out. Mulder stared back in shock then quickly got to his feet and shook his now ex-boss's hand.

"Likewise, sir. Thank you. Good-bye."

Scully and Mulder left the office together. Skinner stared at the door for a long time. He couldn't believe it was the last time he'd see Mulder. The months since he'd 'lost' Mulder in those woods had been horrible. He'd found himself drinking too much, hating his work...

Skinner finally turned back to his desk. He could deal with this. He'd help Mulder cut his ties here in D.C. and let the man find some peace. It was the least he could do.

As Scully walked down the hall outside the office she glanced at Mulder. "Are you okay? Are you still sure you want to-"

"Yes, definitely, Sully. I just want to go back to...to leave here."

"All right. Let me finish up some things and I'll meet you where we agreed to last night, okay? By the way, where's Krycek?"

Mulder smiled slightly, "He wanted to come, but we both agreed it's far too dangerous, even with a disguise. He's waiting for me to call..." Mulder glanced at his watch, "...right now. I better go call. He'll be climbing the walls..." Mulder hurried off, a cell phone drawn out of his pocket as he left.

Scully stood staring after him shaking her head. Fox Mulder hurrying off to soothe his lover...unbelievable. 'Damn lucky bastard. He better not hurt Mulder or I'll kill him.'

That evening she let the two men into the empty doctor's office. Leading them to an exam room she clicked on the light, revealing an elevated exam table and assorted clutter of machines and tools. She waved for Mulder to hop up on the table while she turned her back and started rooting through the equipment. She didn't notice his reaction.

Alex did, however. He watched Mulder freeze at the sight of the bed and then start backing out of the room. He bumped right into Alex's chest, but didn't turn, his panicked gaze transfixed on the bed. Alex very gently and very slowly raised his arms up catch Mulder and rub his arms. "Shh...it's okay, Lisa" he whispered in his ear. He was afraid Mulder would either start hyperventilating or go berserk and fight his way out of the office. Instead Mulder started trembling.

Scully looked up, catching Alex's murmur and noticing Mulder's frightened expression. "Mulder? What's wrong?" Mulder didn't react, just kept trembling in Alex's arms, eyes firmly attached to the bed. His mind flashed on various memories of cold hard metal plunging into his ankles, his wrists, his face. He couldn't more...hecouldn'tmoveh ecouldn'tmove... Mulder started hyperventilating, his hands tightening into fists, his trembling increased, but he still remained silent.

"Mulder..." Scully made to come closer, this broke Mulder's silence and stillness as he suddenly screamed, "NOOOO!" he tried to scramble out of Alex's arms and escape.

Alex clutched him tighter, not letting Mulder bolt. "Scully, stay where you are! Mulder, baby, calm down. Lisa? Lisa! Shhh, Fox, it's okay...." He tried desperately to soothe his lover, but he wasn't responding, just trying to jerk out of his grip. Alex was so desperate he tried something he'd never done before, he tried to open the link between them on his own. Something that Mulder had always had to do before, he didn't think he could do it on his own, but he had to try. Concentrating on the link, he tried to contact Mulder. First with soothing feelings and reassurance and then with words...

^Fox! Fox, it's okay, Lisa. Listen to me. Can you hear me?

There was no response and then finally...^Alex? Alex! Make it stop makeitstopmakeitstop...Help me!

Alex was so relieved he'd broken through, ^It's okay, Lisa...you're not on the ship. You're here with Scully and me. It's okay, please calm down, baby...

Mulder continued to hyperventilate for a few moments until his eyes darted around the room and he seemed to realize where he was. His breathing started to deliberately slow down, his eyes then focused on Alex's and stayed there. He slowed his breathing and then collapsed down on his knees, Alex dropping down with him. They sat huddled on the floor, arms wrapped around each other, Mulder shuddering as he clutched Alex close.

Scully stayed where she was. Still stunned into stillness by Krycek's command a few moments before. Alex finally looked up at her and communicated for her to take a look at the exam table. She looked over and noticed that the metal table was covered with a pad and a sheet, but part of the sheet was flipped up, revealing the shiny metal beneath. She looked back at Alex who glared at her, green eyes darkening. She realized that the metal was what had likely upset Mulder, she snapped to and threw a couple of sheets over the bed, thoroughly hiding the metal from view. Alex relaxed and nodded to her, turning his focus back on Fox.

Mulder had finally worn himself out, his clenched fists easing off of Alex's shirt, which was thoroughly creased. He drew a shaky sigh and leaned back. Alex dipped his head down to try to catch Mulder's eyes. "Fox? Are you all right? Do you want to leave now?" he asked quietly. Mulder looked up and then shook his head. His voice hoarse, "No. No I'm okay..." he shakily stood up with Alex's help. Mulder turned to face Scully, his face sheepish.

"Sorry about that..." he studiously avoided looking at the offending bed.

"No, Mulder, I'm sorry. I-"

"It's okay, Scully. Look, let's just get this over with, okay?" He then straightened up and squared his shoulders; walking over to the table he hopped up and swung his legs over the side. Alex walked over to stand next to him, he held out his hand in offering. Mulder smiled and then took it, clutching it tightly, but saying nothing. Scully pushed a chair over so Alex could sit and then began setting up the equipment. She kept up a running chatter on what she was doing, hoping to ease Mulder's mind.

Finished, she lifted Mulder's shirt up high. She'd already had him unbutton his pants and lower them to his hips. She now squirted some goop on his belly.

"Shit! Scully that's COLD!" Mulder whined, sounding normal. Scully grinned back. "Whoop, sorry." Sounding nothing like the kind. "You did drink all that water I told you to, right?"

"Yeah, yeah. You better get a move on it, though. I've got to go..." Mulder squirmed on the bed. Scully began to move the wand on his belly, focusing on the screen. Finally finding the fetus, she stopped and pointed out the little bitty object on the screen. Both men stared and wondered what they were supposed to be seeing. It didn't look like a baby to them. Scully continued to point it out and then just huffed, "Look, trust me, it's there. And as far as I can tell it looks human, but we still need to do some tests..." Mulder nodded, but looked queasy. Scully realized there was no way she could subject him to the amnio she had wanted to do. The very idea of pulling out that big needle quickly deterred her.

"Don't worry, Mulder. I just want to take some blood for now. We can start there...okay?" Mulder nodded shakily and allowed her to draw blood, left hand firmly gripping Alex's. When she was done she cleaned up after herself and led them out the door. They agreed to let Scully do her lab work and wait for her call. Mulder told her they'd probably be cleaning out his apartment for the next two days.

Scully got into her car, but waited until they had left. She sat there thinking about the shocking tenderness and ease at which Alex had comforted Mulder. Holding his hand, calling him Lisa (what was up with that??) and just being there for him. She started to wonder if she'd been wrong...maybe the man did have some redeeming qualities...

Mulder walked into the hotel room, quickly followed by Alex. They decided to take a quick shower, Mulder wanting to wash off the traces of sticky goop from his belly. They washed quietly, no teasing this time and then stumbled into bed. Mulder lay on his side quietly, then snuggled up to Alex, who gladly wrapped his arms around him.

"I'm sorry I freaked out on you again..."Mulder said in a hushed voice. Alex tightened his arms around him.

"You know you have no need to apologize, Fox. I would have done the same thing.... remember how you soothed me on the ship? You know I'm claustrophobic. I can't stand small dark spaces. You don't mind when I have to open up the windows at night sometimes." Alex reminded him.

"Of course not...I love you, Alex. I'm so glad you came with me. I couldn't have done this without you..."

"Oh? Good. Maybe you won't try ditching me like when we were partners." Alex teased, knowing Mulder needed a little lightening up.

Fox chuckled, "Did that bug you? I did it to all my partners...gotta keep them on their toes..." Alex slugged him with a pillow which of course Mulder had to retaliate with his own. They slugged one another until Mulder started tickling Alex. Squirming, Alex finally started begging Mulder to stop.

"Stop! Stop! I give! You win!" he panted.

"I do? What do I win?" Fox smiled smugly, his tickling turning into caresses as he started licking a trail down Alex's body.

9:45 a.m.
42 Hegal Place
Saturday September 9th

They headed over to Mulder's apartment the next morning after breakfast. Carrying cardboard boxes, they let themselves in using Scully's key, which she'd given them the night before.

"So, where do you want to start?" Alex asked, walking through the living room and setting down his stack of folded cardboard boxes.

Mulder set his down and sighed. "Well, the bedroom's the worst, boxes of files and journals..."

Alex raised an eyebrow and went to look for himself. Opening the door he saw a waterbed and night stand and boxes and boxes and ... boxes of dusty files. A stack of newspapers and a stack of magazines were in a corner. The waterbed itself was not in use, it was drained. There was dust everywhere. Walking back into the living room he eyed his lover sitting on the couch sorting through magazines on the coffee table.

Mulder looked up sheepishly. "Well?"

Alex glared at him. "What? How can you - ?"

Mulder grinned, "It's research. Work. Actually, it's not as bad as it used to be. I used to 'only' have files in there. No bed at all."

Alex frowned further, "Then why is there a waterbed in there?"

" 'That' is the mystery. My own personal X-file. One day I came home and the room was cleared of files and there was a waterbed with leopard sheets and a mirror on the ceiling."

Alex stared at him, the wrinkle above his nose deepening. "Who put that there, then? A girlfriend? Boyfriend...?" He was starting to get jealous. Never mind he wasn't with Fox then.

Mulder chuckled, "None that I'M aware of. It was just there. No note, nothing. I was pissed to find my files gone. Until I found them stashed in the basement storage. Then I decided to just enjoy it...after I checked it thoroughly for bombs and bugs, of course."

Alex relaxed, "Of course." Who wouldn't check their bed for bombs or bugs? "So, what happened then? It looks like you haven't used it in a long time. And I hate to break it to you, but the files are back."

Mulder sat back and smiled. "I know. Well, one day it sprung a leak and it ruined my floor and the ceiling of the apartment below me. Huge pain in the ass. Landlord told me I couldn't have a waterbed, anyway. So I just went back to the couch." Mulder went back to his organizing. Alex watched him with a wry grin. 'Typical Mulder. Don't go out and get a regular bed, just sleep on the couch again and use the room for more important things like cataloging National Enquirer stories on vampires.'

They spent the rest of the day cleaning and packing. Trying to get it done as quickly as possible. They ordered pizza for lunch. And wings, of course. Mulder munched away, pizza slice in one hand and tapping away at his keyboard with the other as he checked his files. Alex, meanwhile, had swept the place for bugs first thing when they'd come that morning. He hadn't found any. Either there was no one left that cared enough to listen or anyone left thought Mulder was still on the ship or dead.

Even so, he had come to the conclusion that he would have to check out the situation here in D.C. He needed to know if there was anyone left here and if they would be trouble. Mulder's visit to the F.B.I. yesterday would have spread the word that he was back, alive and well. He didn't want to mention it to Mulder, yet. Wait until Scully met with them later that evening and see if there was any bad news. Make sure Mulder was okay...and then leave him with Scully to watch his back while Alex checked things out. Scully wasn't quite the same as having his own eye on Mulder, but she was the best one he could think of. She was fiercely loyal, protective, and a damn good shot. She'd just have to do.

Alex looked up from his packing to watch Mulder. He'd moved on to packing up the disks and laptop he wanted to take back with them. So far, except for some clothes, that seemed to be all Mulder wanted to keep. He was glad Mulder was able to leave most of his belongings behind. Packing light was always best for being on the run. And who knew if they might soon be. Depended on what he found out tonight.

10:00 p.m.

They collapsed onto the bed too tired to move. They were both fully dressed and on top of the covers. Shoes still on their feet. Alex managed to find the energy to turn on to his side and with his head propped up he looked at Fox.

"Wha - " Mulder yawned.

Alex smiled gently at him. "Nothing..."

"Mmmmhhhmmm..." Mulder said tiredly, eyes closing.

"You know, Scully's going to be here soon."


"Lisa, I need to - " Alex was interrupted by a knock at the door. Damn the woman, she always knew when to interrupt. He got up and with his hand on his gun checked the peephole and then let her in.

Scully gave him a short nod and swept past him and into the room. Alex closed the door, locking and bolting it again.

Mulder sat up on the bed, looking more alert than earlier. He was nervous. "So, what's the verdict, doc?"

Scully dragged a chair over by the bed and sat down. "Well, there are some anomalies in your blood that I just never noticed before. They are so slight and don't mean anything in and of themselves, but when you put them all together it does appear that there is something 'different' about your blood... I don't understand how I could have missed it before... I've studied your blood before, but..." Scully trailed off, looking at her paperwork and becoming absorbed with her findings again. Alex snorted quietly to himself. 'She's more worried about how she could have missed something than if he's okay...'

"Aa-hem, so Scully, is he okay, or what? Are these 'anomalies' going to cause him any problems, or - " Alex lifted his eyebrows at her.

Scully glared up at him from her file. "Well, I need to do more tests, obviously, but-"

Mulder decided he'd had enough of them talking about him like he wasn't in the room. "BUT, not now. I'm tired and if you don't see anything wrong..." Scully sighed. "Mulder-"

"No. I've had about all the poking around I can stand right now. Later."

Scully pursed her lips, making it plain that she thought that was a foolish decision, but she accepted it. "All right, no blood tests for now. But you do need to be checked up on through the rest of the pregnancy and there are other tests that you'll need." Scully hoped he wouldn't be stubborn about this... it was too important.

"I know, Scully. Just no more tests right now." Mulder patted her hand, not wanting her to think he was putting 'her' off.

Alex figured that now was as good as time as any. "Well, I'm sure you two would like to catch up and I have some errands to run..." Alex started for the door.

Mulder stood up in shock, "Wait! What errands? Where are you going?"

Alex grimaced; he'd known it wouldn't be that easy. "Fox, I need to check some things out. Make sure it's safe around here. I should have done it sooner, but..."

"But you wanted me to have a babysitter, right?" Mulder asked bitterly.

"No, no, don't say that Fox. I just didn't want to leave you all alone and I also figured you'd want some time with Scully..." Alex pleaded for understanding with his eyes.

Mulder was still resentful and damned worried, but he took a deep breath and shoved it aside to say, "Okay. I overreacted. But you should have said something sooner."

"I meant to. Sorry." Alex gave him a peck on the cheek. "I've got my cell phone. Call if you need to. I may not answer it right away..." Mulder nodded. "I understand... go on, but be careful." Alex felt his heart swell a little at that. He'd never had anyone concerned about his safety when dealing with the consortium before. He felt touched... and also nervous. He better be careful, for Mulder's sake.

He kissed Fox again, this time on the lips and slid out the door with a meaningful glance at Scully. Scully nodded at him and he was relieved as he walked to the elevator.

Mulder watched him stride down the hall pulling on his leather jacket.

Closing the hotel door and turning back to Scully he tried not to let his worry show too much. He had a feeling he wasn't too successful.

"Don't worry so much, Mulder. He's good at what he does." She managed to say it without scorn far easier than she would have thought she could. Krycek was starting to grow on her. She still wanted to question him about Melissa, though. She knew he wasn't completely innocent.

"Not completely, but he didn't shoot her."

Scully looked at him in surprise. "What?"

Mulder smiled a little and sat next to her once more. "It came back, the telepathy. Not as bad, I have more control over it now. Some of it was the aliens, some of it is my own since I had nothing better to do than to learn how to focus it and block out as much as I could. I'm not always successful, especially when I'm stressed. I didn't mean to eavesdrop..."

Scully the skeptic raised an eyebrow, but kept her opinion to herself. 'Could have been a fluke...'

"Nope." Mulder was grinning widely now, enjoying being with Scully again for the first time since he'd seen her the last few days.

Scully frowned, "Mulder - "

"All right, Scully. How about we try some of those tests we did with Gibson Praise then..."

Mulder spent the next hour proving it to her until finally she conceded that he 'may ' have telepathic abilities... if such a thing existed. Mulder rolled his eyes and decided that was as good as he was likely to get from her for now. He was starting to remember the intense frustration that came with being her partner sometimes. He appreciated Alex's open mind all the more. He decided he needed to get back to the original subject that Scully seemed to be avoiding discussing with him.

"Scully, he didn't shoot her. You know that Cardinal did." Scully didn't want to get into this with Mulder. It was plain that he saw no fault in Alex Krycek.

"That's not true. He's as flawed as the next person. He did do some pretty dirty work in his time, but he realized his mistake in trusting Spender and when he learned of what was really going on he turned to the rebellion."

"Mulder..." Scully ignored the fact that he'd read her mind AGAIN and focused on trying to get through to him, "...just because he didn't pull the trigger..."

"He was there. He didn't know they were there to assassinate, though. Cardinal was in charge of the mission and he told Alex that they were to get the DAT tape. Nothing more. Then Cardinal just shot the first woman to enter the apartment. He knew then that he'd been lied to and he KNEW it was the wrong woman. He couldn't do anything about it, though. He wasn't all that high up in the organization then. Little more than a hired gun. And he regrets what happened. He had nightmares about it for a long time. He still doesn't forgive himself for it and he knows you have every reason to hate him."

Scully's shoulders slumped. She's wanted to blame Krycek. Truly thought he'd deserved it. And he did, in a way. But she couldn't hate him blindly now or think him a monster. He was a human being. He seemed to genuinely care for Mulder. She didn't trust him... not by a long shot. But maybe...

Mulder recognized it for the victory it was. "I forgave him for my father, Scully."

Scully looked at him in surprise.

"My father was dirty. In the consortium from the beginning. He knew full well what happened to my sister and he not only knew about the experiments on both Samantha and myself, but he was the one that gave us to them. He fully supported the project. He used his own children as pawns in a game. And he... well, he wasn't a good father, all right. He hit Samantha once...and me. I tried to keep him from hitting her after that one time and luckily he stopped. Just hit me. My mom was never there to see it. Conveniently. She'd take me to the hospital when I 'fell out of trees' 'fell down the stairs' I was a clumsy kid. Got worse once Samantha was gone. But despite all that... I still loved the bastard, he was my father...but I understand that it was his own complicity with the consortium that got him killed. Alex was assigned to eliminate him and he did. He did it before dad could tell me anything... and Alex knew that he had to kill him before he told me anything useful or he'd be told to kill me next. So really, he saved my life that night. And you saved his by stopping me from killing him that night."

Scully sat quietly listening to Mulder. She'd guessed at the physical abuse by his father. Not that he'd ever told her, but there had been little clues and signs and she'd wondered. As for his mother, she'd never liked Tina Mulder much. Such a cold woman, acting like she knew NOTHING about what her husband had been up to and yet so obviously involved with Spender. And she hadn't shot her partner to save Krycek, she'd done it for Mulder. Still, maybe she could learn to live with Alex in Mulder's life. It probably wouldn't last. He'd leave Mulder soon enough or betray him...

Mulder sighed and withdrawing his hand from hers he stood up and paced the room, avoiding her eyes. She didn't believe in telepathy, but...

"All right, Mulder. If YOU trust him, I'll trust him. To a point. If he hurts you, though..."

Mulder grinned, but continued to pace, "I'll sic you on him."

Scully grinned a little. She was glad to be with Mulder...God, she'd been so wrapped up in the whole Krycek, baby thing that it hadn't really dawned on her just how long he'd been missing or how much she missed him. She stood up and went over to him, pulling him out of his pacing rhythm and into a hug. She squeezed him as hard as she could.

"Ugh, Scully, a little air..." Mulder was startled, but happy at her exuberance.

"Oh! Sorry, I forgot..." she loosened her embrace, mindful of his belly. His belly, he was carrying a child. Something she wasn't any longer... "Mulder - "

"What's wrong? Are you okay?" Mulder was suddenly anxious.

"Yes. I'm fine, Mulder. It's just...when you- when I went in for tests after I got back from Oregon..."

Mulder tightened his grip on her elbows, then guided her to a chair. "Yes?"

"I... found out I was pregnant." Scully focused her gaze on her lap.

Mulder glanced down at her flat stomach. "Oh, Scully..."

"I lost it a month and half later. They're not really sure, maybe stress and well, they were going to examine the...well, the fetus disappeared, and it wasn't a natural pregnancy anyway so there's no way of knowing if I could have held it to term anyway..."

Mulder pulled her back into an embrace. "Oh, Scully. I'm so sorry..." He wondered if she would be better off if he left. Not burdening her with helping him during his own pregnancy. It had to be difficult to see your partner, a MAN having a baby when you couldn't and when you'd lost your only chance...and it was his fault. She'd been abducted in the first place because of him and lost her baby maybe because of the stress of 'his' abduction.

Scully pulled back and looked at Mulder, she knew what he must be thinking, he always felt guilty about things that weren't his fault and he was so protective of her. It was only fair that her own protectiveness was just as strong for him. "Mulder. I don't know who's baby it was. I wasn't involved with anyone. I'm infertile and...god knows HOW it got there. Quite frankly it was probably better that it happened the way it did. What if it was another Emily? I don't know...and anyway, I've come to terms with it. As for you. I want to make sure you don't have any problems with your own. That's why I'm so worried about you and I want to take more tests-"

"All right, all right, I give! You can have all the tests you want. Just not this second, okay?" Mulder smiled slightly, relieved she seemed okay. He knew she wasn't completely all right, but she was resilient and so strong. Stronger than him, he knew. She'd gone through her ordeal on her own, he had Alex.

"Scully, did your family know?"

"My mom. She was great about it. Actually, I feel worse for her. She was so thrilled about another grandbaby. But I couldn't have made it without her. And Skinner."


"Yeah. I told him as soon as I'd found out and when he came back from- he was extremely supportive. Made me take time off when he thought I looked too tired. Even offered to be there for me if I needed him, you know, doctors' visits, whatever. Mulder, he felt horribly guilty for what happened in that night in the forest..."

"It wasn't his fault. It was mine. I just...it's hazy. I wondered into this...light and the other abductees were there and...the bounty hunter. His face is the last thing I remember until I woke up on the...well it's not important. Skinner had nothing to do with it. I hope he realizes that."

"I don't know... He cried. He actually cried when he told me that he had lost you. He didn't do that again in front of me, but there were times..."


"Well, he was so tired looking at work. Distracted at times. Not too much, but I noticed and I'm sure other did, too. And once...he came by to check on me and I thought, maybe I smelt alcohol on him. It just seemed so out of character...but lately he's been better. More focused. And I'm sure seeing you are okay helped. He's a strong man. He'll be okay."

Mulder was stunned that Skinner would have been so affected by his abduction. Scully had told him that Skinner admitted to seeing the ship that took him. Mulder knew firsthand how awesome a sight they presented. Skinner had never really believed Mulder about aliens before; he guessed that having his beliefs shattered like that had affected him pretty strongly.

Mulder glanced at the clock and realized Alex had been gone for 3 hours now. He hadn't told him when he'd be back, but surely he wouldn't be much longer. It was after 1 o'clock in the morning. They had both been working hard packing up his apartment.

Scully noticed his glance. "Did he mention when he might be back?"

"No. It's late, Scully, maybe you should go on to bed, I'll be fine."

"Oh, no. Mama Krycek will have my neck. Besides, this isn't late. You've called me at home later than this to talk about cases."

Mulder appreciated her attempts to cheer him up, but it wasn't going to happen until he saw Alex in one piece in front of him. He'd hug him and then shake him. 'Stupid man, making me worry at this time of night...'

They waited another hour and a half, talking quietly about less weighty matters. Mulder asked her about her family and Scully asked about what he'd do with the rest of his things at his apartment. Suddenly there was a rapid knocking on the door.

Scully got to it first by chance. Checking the peephole she opened the door and let Alex in.

Alex passed her with a nod and walked over to Fox giving him a peck on the cheek. Mulder glanced over his lover, making sure no body parts were missing again and then growled at him, "where in the HELL have you been?"

"Told ya. Had to check on some things..." Alex's words economical. He was panting slightly.

"Alex? Alex, what's wrong?!" Mulder gripped his lover by the edges of his jacket that he noticed his lover had made no attempt in removing. Alex winced.

"Okay, okay, but don't freak out on me, Lisa." He opened his jacket enough to reveal a hole in his shirt and blood seeping around it.

Scully quickly moved Alex onto the bed, motioning for him to remove his jacket and lay down. She grabbed her black bag she'd brought (for Mulder). Mulder helped Alex remove the jacket with minimal movement.

"What happened?!" Mulder demanded.

"Relax, Lisa. Just a little mugging attempt. I handled it."

Scully looked up from her task of cleaning the wound. "HOW did you handle it?"

Alex grimaced at her handling. "Nothing bad. Just tied the fucker up and left him on the police doorstep with his little collection of wallets. He's in one piece. Or he was when I left..."

Mulder just gripped Alex's shoulders harder. So relieved his lover was okay. If anything had happened to him...he'd kill whomever hurt Alex. He let Alex know this through the link. Alex looked up to him and smiled a little. ^Oh, you would, huh?

^Definitely. Mulder's 'thought' was a growl in Alex's mind.

^Hmmm. You're making me hot. Cut it out until Scully leaves and I can do something about it.

Mulder chuckled and ran his hand through Alex's sweaty hair. Scully looked up a little startled to hear Mulder chuckling and noticed his gesture to Alex. She figured she better finish quickly and go.

"All right. I put a couple of stitches. No big deal. Mulder, you know the drill, I don't have to tell you, do I?"

" 'Course not. Will you be okay getting home?"

"I'm a big girl, Mulder. Goodnight." She left as efficiently as possible, trying not to think about what might happen as soon as left.

Mulder bolted the door after her and sat back down on the bed. "All right. She's gone. Want to tell me what really happened?"

Alex's eyes had been closed, now one clear green eye opened and looked at Mulder. "Damn. I can't get away with anything now, can I? All right. One of my contacts was just a LITTLE upset that I wasn't dead like he thought I was. I was doing fine until he got a little lucky with the knife. But it's over now and I'm fine. Okay?"

"And why the lie?" Mulder didn't really have to ask, just wanted to be sure.

"I knew you would guess I wasn't telling the truth, but I couldn't very well confess to a murder in front of a federal agent, now could I?"

"If it was self-defense..."

"Yeah, well, no need for her to have something to look into. She doesn't need to know." Alex closed his eyes again and although he was still a little worried about Mulder's reaction, he couldn't help feeling relieved to be back in their room and with Mulder again.

Mulder sank down next to him on the bed, stretching out and laying his head on Alex's shoulder. "I TOLD you to be careful."


"Rat bastard."


"MY rat bastard."

"MMMMhMMM. Can we get some sleep now? If I'm a rat bastard then YOU are a pack rat. I need some rest before we go rooting around in your junk again."

They fell asleep with their clothes on, curled up together and dead to the world.


They woke up late the next day. By 11:00 they finally staggered into Mulder's apartment to get to work. As they let themselves in they heard voices. Alex drew his gun and pushed Mulder back, who glowered, but let him play He-man.

Alex kicked the door open and scared the shit out of three computer geeks and Scully.

"Shit! What the hell-" Alex sputtered.

Scully, recovered from her shock and raised her eyebrow as she folded her hands across her chest. "Well, it's about time you two dragged your sorry butts out of bed, we've been here for hours." She turned back to the kitchen cabinets that she was cleaning out, not that there was much there for her to clean out. She was wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt, bandanna keeping her hair back. The three Gunmen were unplugging Mulder's computer and entertainment system. They resumed their work after a glare from Scully got them going again.

Mulder brushed past his pissed off lover and joined Scully in the kitchen. "You didn't have to do this..."

Scully smiled, "We wanted to do SOMETHING for you and I figured you guys could use a little help today. Those three have been pestering me for information so I told them they could interrogate you themselves if they came and helped. Fat lot of help they are, too. Langly's been playing games on your computer and Frohike's been 'dusting' your porn collection. Byers seems to be reluctant to get messy, so I'm doing all the work." Scully went back to her task. Mulder went back into the living room where Alex was glowering at the lone gunmen, who in turn were cowering over their work, flicking panicked looks out the corners of their eyes.

"Relax. This'll get it done faster. We'll be home that much quicker, okay?" Mulder rubbed Alex's shoulders from behind and the Gunmen suddenly found something very interesting about their tasks as they struggled not to stare.

The two men got to work, breaking for a late lunch with the rest of them. The Lone Gunmen happily prattled to Mulder about the conspiracies they'd dug up over the last few months, avoiding UFO talk for once and they all three avoided eye contact with Alex. Scully stayed quiet listening to Mulder and his friends chatter, not knowing what to say to Krycek.

When they were finished for the day, Mulder took the bags he was bringing back home with him and Alex and he returned to the hotel. He'd said his goodbyes to the lone gunmen and Scully. He'd given Scully his address and how to contact him, but it was understood that it was only for emergencies. Mulder also had to promise repeatedly to contact her if anything went wrong with his health. They were going to make plans for the delivery at a future date. Scully, meanwhile, was to set up the equipment and surgeon that she could trust implicitly.

In the meantime, Mulder and Alex would go back to St. Louis for a few weeks and tie things up there, making excuses to family and such. Then they were heading off to a remote beach house that Alex had set up for his retirement. It was isolated and beautiful warm weather. Mulder would stay there for the last few months of pregnancy and the birth. After it was all over they could visit Alex's family with their 'adopted' child.

St. Louis
2:00 p.m.

Back home they enjoyed their time alone together once more. They got back into their routine, swimming, reading together in bed, and going out for a drive at night. Mulder watched sports on TV, rattling off statistics during commercials to an absent minded Krycek who read the newspaper and nodded when Fox paused for a breath. He didn't like watching sports as much and he wasn't much for team sports in general.

"Go! Go! Gogogogogogo!!!" Mulder shouted at the TV as a baseball player rounded the bases. Alex watched disinterestedly and then returned to the article he was reading.

"Yes!! Ha ha ha!" Mulder leaped up and then leaned over and kissed Alex hard on the mouth. Alex noted that the game was over now and decided it was time they participated in a game they BOTH enjoyed.

October 13, 2000 Friday
St. Louis
8:00 p.m.

Alex and Fox let themselves into their apartment. They had gone to Mulder's favorite Italian restaurant on 'the Hill.' Mulder had been content to enjoy their quiet little candlelit dinner until Alex had leaned over and whispered that he had something special planned for dessert back home. After that they'd eaten a little faster and rushed to their car. Now Alex closed the door of their home behind them and reaching out he helped Mulder out of his jacket.

Alex had been restless all evening. He'd wanted to touch Mulder all throughout dinner, but knew he couldn't dare do it in public. Now he had his lover alone and ALL to himself. He decided they'd take it slow tonight. Stripping of the jackets, they kissed as they made their way to the bedroom.

Fumbling with the light so they wouldn't break their necks as they backed into the room, Mulder suddenly stiffened as he saw the bounty hunter in their room. "Alex!"

Alex whipped around to face the alien who backhanded him with lightning speed. Alex went hurtling into a wall and slumped down stunned. Mulder froze for an instant, and then leaped for a weapon in the dresser drawer. The bounty hunter grabbed Mulder from behind before he could reach the handle of the drawer. As he struggled, the bounty hunter growled in his ear, "Naughty, hybrid. Did you think we would let you go? The rebels were fools to let you live..." The bounty hunter began to drag Mulder out the door, intent on returning him to the colonist ship hiding nearby.

The bounty hunter grabbed Mulder from behind before he could reach the handle of the drawer. As he struggled, the bounty hunter growled in his ear, "Naughty, hybrid. Did you think we would let you go? The rebels were fools to let you live..." The bounty hunter began to drag Mulder out the door, intent on returning him to the colonist ship hiding nearby.

Before they could reach the doorway, Alex slammed into the bounty hunter, knocking nearly knocking Mulder out of the hunter's grasp. Mulder wrenched himself free.

"Run, Fox! Go!"

The hunter turned and began to slam Alex into the wall, far too strong for Alex to regain control. Mulder raced back to the drawer and wrenched out the stiletto, he then turned back and stabbed the alien in the back of the neck. The hunter froze and then fell to the ground. Alex slumped down on to the floor once more, a red trail of blood smearing under his head as he slid.

Mulder panted as he watched the hunter dissolve into a hissing pile of green fluid. He reached over the dissolving body to shove Alex's legs away from the toxic blood. When the alien was no more than a green stain on the floor Mulder stepped over it and knelt next to his unconscious lover. Alex's hair was bloody and his skin slick with sweat as Mulder stoked his face and then opened Alex's eyelids. One pupil was dilated and the other a pinpoint. Severe concussion. Mulder felt the panic surging over him, but then, as he gazed at Alex's face, he felt a slow warmth grow within him.

His panic receded as a surreal calmness came over him, his hands cradled Alex's head and he could 'feel' the energy flow from him and into Alex. It lasted only a moment, but time seemed to stretch out for Mulder and he could sense the damage being repaired. As suddenly as it came over him, it left. Time resumed its reality on Fox as he frantically looked at Alex's face again. His lover's eyes were closed, so he forced the eyelids up again, as he did so Alex groaned and pushed Fox's hands away.

"Ooohh... W-what happened?" Alex's eyes then snapped open and he tried to sit up as Fox tried to keep him still. "Fox?! The hunter..." Alex frantically searched the room with his eyes, still struggling in Fox's grasp.

"Alex! Stay still. He's dead. You had a severe concussion. Don't thrash around like that."

Alex's eyes fell on the green stain next to them. He noted the stiletto laying next to it and the red blood on his shirt last. At the sight of blood he looked up at Fox and finally managed to break free enough to sit up and grasp Fox's shoulders.

"What happened?! Are you hurt? Where are you hurt?" His hands roamed over Fox's head and chest looking for the source of the blood.

"Alex! Alex, if you just calm down...I told you. 'You' were hurt. That's your blood, the bastard beat your head on the wall over and over..." Fox started sobbing, the reality of what had happened finally making him break down.

Alex reflexively pulled his distraught lover into his arms and rubbed his back whispering reassurances. When Fox calmed down enough for them to stand up, each holding on to the other for dear life, Alex turned and looked at the blood smearing down the wall. Fox wasn't overreacting. He could remember the hunter hitting him and flying into the wall, then he'd seen the alien grab Mulder as his lover tried to reach their weapon stash. He'd tried to pull the hunter off Mulder to give him a chance. He'd told him to run, but it seemed Mulder had been able to save them both. He didn't really remember being smashed into the wall over and over. After her grabbed the hunter from behind it was all a blur. But if he was hurt so badly, why was he all right now? The headache he'd had at waking was fading fast. Puzzled he asked Fox.

"You were lying there, unconscious. I saw the blood and panicked. Your pupils showed a severe concussion and...somehow...I just felt this 'calm' take over me and I healed you." Fox waited for Alex to doubt him. Instead Alex looked into his eyes and said, "I guess you are more of a hybrid then we thought. You have the morphs' capabilities to heal, then."

Mulder was shocked; he hadn't expected such easy acceptance. He remembered what he'd always appreciated in Alex when they had been partners, the open mind. Alex didn't immediately dismiss his theories. He didn't always agree with him, but he didn't just dismiss him and try to force his own theory over Mulder's no matter what. Something that had always frustrated him with Scully...and Skinner...and so many others.

Alex expected Fox to be upset at the notion of having alien characteristics; instead he saw a small smile come over his lover's face. 'Guess he likes being alien.'

^No, that isn't it. I love you. That's all.

Alex smiled, uncertain why he'd suddenly deserved it, but thankful as always for Fox's love.

^ I love you, too. And I'm very grateful for your healing abilities on top of the telepathy. Maybe later we could see if you have the morphing ability, too?

Mulder smiled, nothing like a lover that thought like you did at times. Still, the idea of his body morphing was a bit scary. He wasn't ready to try anything yet.

"Yes, but...not now. Alex, what if they send another hunter? His ship must be nearby for him to try to grab me like this." Mulder felt the panic return, not thinking about what he might have gleaned from the hunter's thoughts. All he could focus on was the new threat. The colonists weren't gone, then. They had risked coming back to Earth; the rebels would most likely be back, too. It wasn't safe...

Alex sighed and pulled Mulder with him as he sank onto their bed to stare at the green stain. "I know. This very bad news. Someone must have seen you in D.C. and got word to the colonists. That means the war is still strong. And the rebels...we need to get far away from here. I don't think we can wait even to say goodbye to anyone. We should pack up and go now. Grab a bag, I'll go make some arrangements."

They packed up the SUV as quickly and stealthily as possible that night. They pulled out of the driveway and headed west. Alex made sure they weren't followed and then had them change cars twice. Both stolen from parking lots. Mulder just bit his lip and decided that the sometimes, personal safety just had to come first. Finally they bought another car with cash. A jeep that wasn't all that new but seemed in good shape.

Then they headed south. Mulder had no idea where Alex's cabin was and he didn't particularly care. He just wanted to get as far away from St. Louis as possible. He regretted having to ditch their apartment and Alex's family. They had mentioned to them that they planned to do some traveling, but they hadn't told them it would be so soon. They'd covered up the green blotch on the floor with a rug and left a note that said they'd gone ahead on their trip and had no idea where they'd end up and not to expect word from them anytime soon. Alex was worried about their own situation, but in the back of his mind he hoped that his family could forgive him for leaving like this for a second time.


October 14, 2000 Saturday
2:15 p.m.

They drove in shifts. When it was Mulder's turn the first time, Alex asked him if he wanted to know exactly where they were going.

"That's okay. Just tell me what highways and exits to take for now." Mulder was in a state of prolonged shock. Just wanting to act without thinking too much. For he thought that if he stopped and really thought about what was happening he might have another anxiety attack. This way he just focused on the next step ahead of him.

They ate a quick meal and filled the tank at a truck stop. As they walked back to the car Alex watched his lover as he walked beside him. Fox hadn't said two words besides ordering food inside. He was running on automatic, the link silent between them.

Alex was worried about him, but he didn't see what he could do for now. He wasn't in much better shape. He was running on adrenaline still and hadn't slept since the incident had happened. 'Incident. As if it was some little thing that occurred, Fuck, I almost lost him. The fucking colonists just won't leave him alone. God, what if the alien bastard succeeded...and the baby. God, they'd have tortured Mulder again and what would they have done to our baby?!'

Mulder looked at Alex with concern, but it was vague and his gaze dropped off of Alex and returned to the ground beneath his feet. Mulder's reactions were all vague and distanced. He seemed almost drugged. That scared Alex even more. Mulder glanced up at him again.

^ Are you okay?

^ No, I'm not okay! Nothing's okay. How can you just stand there like that? Don't you care about what's happening?!

Mulder lost his distant look suddenly, anger surfacing. "I'm trying NOT to lose it here! Of course I care! I'm fucking scared out of my fucking mind! I-"

Alex grabbed Mulder's shoulders, "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry, Fox, I didn't mean to...look I'm tired. We're both tired. Let's pull in somewhere and get some rest before we have an accident. Mulder stared back into Alex's eyes, his momentary anger fading as he realized he couldn't stay numb and survive. He needed to be all together if they were going to make it. And his anger was just a release of tension, he wasn't mad at Alex at all. He was so grateful that he was with him...and that he was okay. He nodded and then pulled Alex into a hug, not caring about any bystanders. Alex clutched him back and they walked back to the car, hands clutched firmly together.

Arriving at a small motel, Mulder went in and paid cash again. They wouldn't be short on money for awhile. They'd had a large amount set aside in anticipation of their trip. Alex was grateful they'd been ready to bolt on a moment's notice. Mulder walked out the office with the keys and Alex watched his lover ardently. 'His birthday was ruined yesterday. Mulder tried to warn me about Friday the 13th and his own bad luck on his birthdays, but I was so insistent we celebrate. I need to make it up to him...once we're settled in at the cabin. For now, we need some sleep.' Not that he wouldn't be giving Fox lots of love and attention. His lover had been through so damn much. And he was so glad to have him here, safe.

Mulder slid back into the passenger seat, "Room 15...what?" Mulder realized his lover was staring at him.

"Nothing, just thinking what I'm gonna do to you after I get some sleep..." Mulder blushed a little. He felt a thrill go through him. He hadn't thought of their interrupted 'dessert' until now. He wished they weren't so tired right now. He sent that thought along the link.

^ Patience, Lisa...it's a virtue and all...

^ Yeah? Well I'm not a saint... Mulder sent some images of his devilish thoughts about his lover.

"Stop it, babe. We're gonna drop as soon as we hit the sheets and you know it." Alex scolded as they pulled into a parking space in front of their room. Mulder snorted, but knew it was the truth. They carried their bags inside and Alex checked the room over and set their weapons in easy reach. Finally, they bolted the door and collapsed on the bed, asleep in minutes.

October 14th
10:15 p.m.

Alex woke up with his heart pounding. At first he was alarmed to find them not in their bedroom, then quickly remembered how they'd ended up there. He reached over for Mulder whom he could hear snoring softly beside him. Snuggling up to his sleep-warmed lover, he rested his right hand gently on Fox's stomach, feeling a slight stirring within. Mulder was now nearly 6 months pregnant. He closed his eyes, pressing his nose into the crook of Mulder's neck, he breathed deeply and enjoyed his lover's scent.

"You okay?" Mulder husked, waking, but still sleepy.

"Yeah. Are you?"

"Mmmm. Still tired, but I'm hungry."

Alex chuckled. "Of course you are. So am I. How about we go see if we can find an all night burger joint?"

Mulder grinned, "Sounds good." They washed up in the shower. Taking turns since it was so tiny, then they threw on some clothes and drove around looking for a White Castle. They returned to their room with a bag of fragrant burgers and munched happily. When they were done they curled up on the bed again. After brushing their teeth, of course.

Alex slowly kissed his way down Mulder's body, pausing at the swell of his belly to lay an ear to it. Mulder ran a hand through his hair and Alex raised it to come back up and kiss his lips again. They made love slowly that night, treasuring their closeness.


Scully woke to an incredibly loud banging on her front door. Whipping her sheets off of her legs she grabbed her gun from her bedside table drawer and raced to the door. Peering into her peephole she found a very irate Walter Skinner glaring back at her.

"Agent Scully! Open this door!" Agent Dana K. Scully, F.B.I. and Ice Queen Renown felt a brief longing for her mother. Snapping out of it she reluctantly unbolted her door and let her bear of a boss inside her domicile.

"Get dressed, Agent Scully. And you can holster your weapon while you are at it." Scully glanced down and noticed she'd been holding it defensively, aimed at the glaring man in front of her. Knowing better than to ask why she quickly dressed and followed him out the door and presumably to a place safe from bugs.

Skinner drove them to a small motel after taking a long circuitous route with Skinner eyeballing the rear view mirror repeatedly. Finally satisfied, he pulled them into the motel parking lot and went in to get a room. Scully had raised an eyebrow to herself, but without Mulder there to appreciate it there was no point.

They entered the motel room together. Skinner searched the room and then sat in a chair, motioning for her to do the same. Scully sat down gingerly and waited for him to speak, now that she could, she noted that he had dark circles under his eyes and worry lines...something she remembered seeing after Mulder's abduction.

"Agent Scully. It's time for you to let me into the loop. I've tried to give you and Mulder space, but now I need to know what is going on."

Scully looked sharply at him, "What's happened? What do you know?"

Skinner sighed and rubbed a hand over his face, upsetting his eyeglasses. Replacing them his voice resumed, this time in a monotone.

"Mulder's apartment, the one he shared with Alex Krycek in St. Louis..." He watched Scully for a reaction, she had none, or if she did she hid it well. "... 'their' apartment was abandoned sometime yesterday evening. Both 'occupants' are listed missing by the Krycek family. There was an unusual stain found underneath a rug in the bedroom. It appeared to be some sort of green corrosive. Signs of a struggle could be discerned and there was a small streak of blood found at the scene. Someone attempted to clean it up, but apparently missed it. The blood is being analyzed, but its preliminary blood type matches Alex Krycek's. At least according to the records we have on him...they may be wrong. So now, Agent Scully, you must tell me what you know. Mulder's life is in danger."

Scully was shocked. She knew Krycek was extremely careful...and Mulder was so paranoid... And Krycek's family, how were they involved?

"Sir, how did Krycek's family...?"

"Apparently his sister-in-law, Mari Krycek felt that she and her husband should check on them. It seems that this 'Mari' is a bit 'psychic' and felt that something was wrong. They found a note that they believe is Alex's handwriting that says they were leaving for their trip early and not to expect them for a while. Alex's brother stated that they 'had' talked about a trip, but his wife insisted that it didn't 'feel' right in the room. The cops searched the bedroom and found the green stain under a rug. Now, Agent Scully, WHAT IS GOING ON?"

Scully bit her lip. She didn't want to tell him, but she was desperately worried. She had no one else she could trust to help her find the two missing men except the Lone Gunmen. She needed their resources, but Skinner could be very helpful...there was no choice, she hoped Mulder would forgive her. "Well, sir..." Thirty minutes later they both sat silent in their chairs. Scully thinking over possible leads and Skinner trying to wrap his mind around Mulder being pregnant. 'Pregnant. He's pregnant. The aliens impregnated him...with Krycek's child. Krycek. And he's been living with him in St. Louis as a lover. Met his family, carrying his child. Krycek...' Then he remembered how he'd found out about their residence in St. Louis. The blood, the green stain that meant an alien had died there...or a clone, clones died with green blood, too. What if Krycek was a clone? Scully said she'd examined Mulder and taken blood, what about Krycek? He asked Scully.

"I sewed him up from a stab wound. His blood was red, no way to fake it. He was human. The blood they found may very well be Alex Krycek's"

"A stab wound?"

"He said he was mugged. But I don't know if I believe that. Mulder seemed to accept it, though."

Skinner nodded, 'Mugged? No, he lied. And Mulder just accepted it. Mulder is not acting like himself. Not that I blame him...the aliens fucked with him badly. He's not safe. We have to find them and get Mulder away from Alex Krycek...help him regain himself. Help him with his baby. How can Mulder even think of living with Krycek...and with a child?'

Skinner drove Scully over to the Lone Gunmen, she insisted they were up to the task of finding the men if it was at all possible. Skinner decided to follow his own leads within the bureau, but of course he would do it secretly.


Alex went to get breakfast for the two of them. Mulder insisted he'd be fine. He had his weapons and was awake. He just wanted to take a shower and rest a little before they got back on the road. Krycek wanted to see if he could get some information on what was going on in D.C., too. After checking in with the contacts he knew he could still trust, he found a hornets nest stirring up back east. He dreaded telling Mulder.

Bringing back Krispy Kremes, orange juice and coffee (decaffeinated for Mulder, of course, no matter how the man bitched), he entered to find Mulder singing in the shower. He loved the man, but he couldn't sing...at least he didn't sing outside the shower and that was rare itself. Mulder was in a surprisingly chipper mood...considering.

^I'll be right out and you have a tin ear.

^Sorry, Lisa. I like to hear you sing. I know that when you do you're happy...and keeping the wildlife away.

Mulder sputtered under the water and finishing his shower he came out dripping despite his towel. "You're gonna pay for that one..." he said mock-menacingly.

"Oh, yeah?"

"Definitely. You have no idea how good you've got it. You should hear Scully sing sometime." Mulder shuddered, but remembered his partner singing to him in the woods that night fondly. She'd done it for him because he'd asked...even though she knew how bad she sung.

Alex cringed a little, "Speaking of Scully...I have some news you're not gonna want to hear." Mulder sighed and sat down on the bed after pulling on some sweats.

"Hit me with it..." he grabbed a donut and waited, munching on his sugary treat. Alex sat down and laid it out for him.

"Mari and Nikolai checked out our apartment Friday night...well, technically yesterday morning. They called the cops and they found the stain under the rug and a spot of blood we must've missed. They're listing us missing. My sources say Skinner found out and he's following his own investigation to find us."

Mulder stopped eating and set his donut down. "Shit. Now what? Did he tell Scully?"

"My source followed them to a motel room. She then went to the Lone Gunmen."

Mulder was so worried he failed to comment on his boss and former partner shacking up together in a sleazy motel room. Alex was a little surprised, but too focused on the problem at hand. "Mulder, we need to contact Scully, get your friends to lay off the hunt and get her to pull Skinner off the trail, too. They're just attracting attention to us. If they get lucky and find us they'll lead them right to our door."

"I know. You're right. Contact Scully, get her to call off the Gunmen and Skinner, and then tell her where to meet us."


"Alex, we need her. She needs to get that surgeon of hers and the equipment to the cabin, anyway. We'll just get everything ready earlier than we planned. Alex, I'm not sure the hunter was acting under order of the colonists. It was too quick, but what I could sense from his mind...he was on another mission and was surprised to find me, he planned to take me to his ship and send me back to his superiors. I'm not sure that any others knew about me. Maybe it was a fluke. A damned unlucky one. We'll lay low and hopefully it'll blow over. It's the best we can do, right?"

Alex sighed. It was...he just didn't want to live with Scully for the next couple of months until the baby was born. There was no choice, though. They had to get Scully out of D.C. free and clear before she became a target and Fox would need a doctor available before the birth, anyway. "All right. Pack our bags. I'll make the arrangements and we'll change cars again. I'm going to take a different route to the cabin. Scully better obey my instructions. I'll have her meet me at a different location and I'll pick her up and bring her to the cabin...make sure she isn't followed."

Mulder nodded. With a plan in mind he brightened up a little and finished his donut with a flourish and then rooted around in the box for another. They ate in silence until Mulder 'accidentally' picked up Alex's coffee instead. "Uh, uh, uh! That's mine, Lisa." He pulled the cup out of his lover's grasp and wagged a finger at him.

Mulder pouted. Alex just smiled and gulped the rest of the coffee down and set it down with a contented sigh. "Aaaahhh. That was good." Mulder continued to pout for a moment and then lunged.

Landing in Alex's lap, he ignored his lover's "oof!" and proceeded to kiss him thoroughly. "mmmmm..." Mulder groaned happily. He pulled back and smacked his lips. "You're right, it 'was' good." Alex laughed and pulled his lover back in for another kiss.

Ending it, Alex leaned back regretfully. "I've gotta go make those arrangements. Pack for us?" Mulder sighed and stood up. "All right. But we'll continue this later."

"Of course, Lisa. Lots of time for that later..."


Last transmission of Hunter 2341-X received:

Hybrid found. Human designation: Fox William Mulder, reported lost on transport 436 to rebel infestation on 5463.782.

Hybrid status: stage 3, impregnation complete. Status of gestation, unknown. Will apprehend hybrid and assess status of both subjects (hybrid and unborn subject) immediately.

Transmission 4368T completed. End transmission.

Transmission received.

No response from Hunter 2341-X on all frequencies.

Hunters 2346-X, 3211-X, and 5671-X transmitted following data:

Hybrid found. Location last received from Hunter 2341-X. Hybrid human designation: Fox William Mulder, reported lost on transport 436 to rebel infestation on 5463.782.

Hybrid's last known status: stage 3, impregnation complete. Status of gestation, unknown.

Orders: Apprehend hybrid and assess status of both subjects (hybrid and unborn subject) immediately.

Termination of hybrid NOT acceptable, Mandatory Status: alive.

Unborn subject Preferred Status: alive. If unborn subject deceased, transport remains for examination and assessment.

Transmission 4370T completed. End Transmission.


Mulder lay in the lounge chair outside, dozing peacefully, one hand on his belly. A soft breeze stirred through the surrounding trees as Alex stepped out on the back patio to join his lover. He carried two ice teas and set Mulder's down on the table next to him. Pulling another lounge chair closer to Fox, he lay down next to his lover and smiled to himself. Mulder seemed far more relaxed than he had in awhile. The two had finally gotten the place cleaned up and settled in.

It had taken a couple of days to clean up the dust and get the electric and phone set up. They'd gone into town for groceries and stocked up on all of the foods Mulder had been craving lately: frozen pizzas, pretzels, butter pecan ice cream, and of course, lots of sunflower seeds. Alex had bought some healthier food items as well to keep his lover from suffering from scurvy. Mulder would eat the fruit and vegetables so long as he could still have his ice tea and sunflower seeds every evening. The sounds of cracking shells had annoyed Alex at first, but soon drifted into the usual background noise he listened to every night as they sat outside or watched TV.

Fox had been really surprised to see his cabin. It wasn't so much a cabin as a large two-story house in the middle of nowhere. Surrounded by trees and wildlife, it was peaceful and quiet. The stars were bright and the nights quiet, the only sound was a nearby owl. Alex liked the seclusion, but more importantly, the house had large airy rooms and many windows. He hadn't had a claustrophobic incident once since arriving. And if he felt a little closed in, he just stepped outside for a breath of fresh air.

The isolated location was perfect for hiding away from prying eyes, aliens, and for Mulder's delivery. Scully would soon be meeting Alex at a rendezvous point with a trusted surgeon and the necessary equipment. There was a stable house out back that had been modernized not too long ago into a guesthouse. Alex planned to clean that out next to have it ready for their guests.

Of course, the isolation was also good for less noble deeds as well. Alex smiled slyly, eyeing his lover. He wondered how much more rest Fox needed...

^I can hear you lust from over here. I think I've rested enough...^ Mulder's eyes opened and he smiled back. Alex's sly grin had a dangerous tilt to it. His eyes were a smoldering dark green. His lover slowly climbed over his chair and straddling Mulder's legs, he crouched over him. Not letting any weight fall on his pregnant lover, he leaned in for a passionate kiss. Mulder responded with equal passion as he moaned and pulled Alex closer. The telephone rang.

"Damn it. How does she DO that?!" Alex huffed and climbed down from the chair to stomp into the house. Scully was the only one who had their number. She must be ready to meet them. Mulder smiled after his lover, shaking his head ruefully.

Alex and Fox hurried to clean up the guesthouse that night. The next day they drove to the meeting point together in their truck. Alex didn't feel it safe to leave Mulder alone.

The rendezvous was four hours away. Alex was taking no chances. He pulled up to the motel room they'd agreed upon and Mulder stayed in the truck while Alex knocked on the door. Scully answered and seemed relieved to see Krycek. She looked out to the truck and saw Mulder. Grinning she waved them in and Mulder climbed out of the truck and joined them inside.

The surgeon was a soft-spoken man of Indian descent. His accent was barely noticeable as he introduced himself as Dr. Reddy and shook hands with Mulder, and he seemed fairly unthreatening. Alex still glared at the man as he grilled him and Scully on his abilities, background, and all contact with strangers the last several weeks. Finally, mollified by not finding an excuse to turn the two away, Alex gestured for them to get their gear and head to the house.

"Wait a second, Kry- Alex. We have a lot of equipment, we rented a moving van." Scully said, shrugging into her jacket.

Alex glared at the offending van and shook his head. How were they supposed to stay inconspicuous with that big thing? Scully assured him that they used another name and posed as a couple moving in nearby.

Pulling up to the house, Scully, Alex and the young doctor unloaded and set up the equipment in the guesthouse. Mulder pouted when asked to go inside and serve the takeout they had bought on the way home, but went inside and dished out the pasta and salad. Afterwards, Scully and Dr. Reddy took Mulder into their 'lab/office' and gave him an examination.

Mulder submitted meekly, but glared at Alex when he seemed to be glaring at the young doctor. Alex ignored his lover and watched every move the man made with scrutiny. The doctor seemed a little nervous, but was completely professional and thorough. He and Scully set up the sonogram once more and Alex slipped his hand into Mulder's as they watched the screen. The fetus was larger and more defined at 6 and a half months. Able to see limbs and a head the two men blinked back tears, neither wanting to break down. Scully even printed out a picture of the baby for them to keep. Cleaning up Mulder's belly from goo she then asked them if they wanted to know the sex.

Both men nodded eagerly and Scully smiled, "A girl." They sat stunned, still holding hands. Mulder finally lost his battle and a single tear ran down his cheek. Alex had to struggle mightily, but managed to keep his eyes from betraying him. Unfortunately, his voice was a traitor and broke when he murmured, "A girl, Fox. Can you believe it?" Mulder smiled, wiping away the tear and then tapping his lover's nose.

"Nope. Still in shock. So how do you raise a girl? I was having a hard enough time imagining a son... I- I used to baby-sit Samantha. I held her as a baby and even helped change her diapers. But-" his voice broke and he sobbed quietly, clutching Alex's hand.

Alex clenched his hand back and spoke firmly, but gently, "You're going to be a great dad. You're going to spoil her rotten and she'll probably end up being your little princess... I bet I end up being the bad guy..." Mulder chuckled weakly. "Oooh, but you're so good at it. No, I think you're the one that's gonna spoil her. And probably teach her out to pick locks at 3."

Alex smirked, "Hey, it's a useful trade. So, you ready face them again?" Mulder wiped his face roughly and nodded sitting up. He needed a little help getting down the table with some dignity. Before they left the room, though, Mulder pulled him into a quick rough kiss. "I love you." Alex was dazed at the kiss and pulled him back in for another one. "Ditto."

Two weeks later, Krycek had to leave for some supplies. With four adults living together and one of them pregnant, groceries went fast. The two doctors spent a great deal of time puttering around with their little vials of Mulder's blood and microscope. If Mulder was in the vicinity they'd start coming up with new things to test him with. Measuring his belly, listening with their stethoscopes, asking him embarrassing questions. Mulder ended up skulking around the main house and avoiding the guesthouse like the plague.

Alex left the house after reminding them to be on guard. As he pulled away from the house he saw Mulder lift a curtain and wave, one hand shoving a sunflower seed in his mouth.

'Ah, don't forget sunflower seeds. Subtle, Mulder...' Alex grinned and waved back as he shifted gears and drove away.

Two hours later, Alex's truck pulled up and Mulder kept his hand on his gun until he saw his lover coming in with bags of groceries. Mulder grabbed a bag from his hands and led the way to the kitchen. He pulled groceries out of the bags and flicked his eyes at his lover whom had wondered out of the kitchen area and into the living room without a word.

Alex was behaving a little strangely. He stalked around the house, his eyes seeming to search it and then turning back to pierce Mulder's. Did Alex want to know if they were alone?

"They're in the guesthouse puttering around with their junk. What's wrong?"

Alex shook his head, "Nothing..." He then began to move towards him, like he was hunting prey.

Mulder was feeling a bit nervous, but tried to reassure himself, '...it's just a game. He sometimes acts like this when he's horny.' But something was bugging him. The baby kicked from within. A nagging feeling tugged on the back of his mind. He had no time to think, however, as Alex suddenly reached him and began to sniff him. Mulder tilted his head back as Alex moved in closer and gripped Mulder's neck gently, but firmly and breathed in deeply. He then pulled Mulder's face back down and claimed his mouth.

'See? He's just horny. I'm being too jumpy...' Alex's kiss was deep and Mulder was feeling uncomfortable at the intensity. The baby's movements became more forceful as it kicked in earnest.

Mulder struggled to end the kiss, needing air. Alex wouldn't stop. Finally, becoming desperate and panicked Mulder clawed at his lover's body, struggling to push him away. Alex broke the kiss roughly and then grabbed Mulder's shoulders and slammed him back into the wall. Mulder frantically sucked in a breath, noting that the baby's movements stilled, He looked into Alex's eyes...only they weren't. Alex morphed into a bounty hunter and Mulder knew that he was dead...

Hunter 5671-X watched as the hybrid began showing signs of consciousness. He waited for it to open its eyes before he turned on the ship's inner lights. The hybrid squeezed its eyes shut from the sudden light and struggled in its bonds. The hunter watched dispassionately. He was uninterested in its emotional responses, but curious in its physical. He knew he must complete his mission and return the hybrid to his masters soon, but for now he wished to see for himself how well built the hybrid was.

His masters, the green skinned, black oil-filled aliens were the true colonists. Their race wanted earth as they sought all planets and races for their own purposes. They were conquerors, completely secure in their knowledge that they were superior to all other life forms. And they were. The hunters knew this, which was why they obeyed their orders. The hunters were of a species that the colonists found useful. Their ability to morph into numerous shapes made them perfect for their uses on earth.

The hunters were called collaborators on their own home planet. They worked with and for the enemy colonists. The rest of their planet was struggling to stop the colonists as a rebel force. The hunter despised having to kill his own people, but it was necessary to obey the colonists' demands. They had something his people needed: technologic ability to overcome the morphs' sterility.

During the original battle between the colonists and his people, the enemy unleashed a biological toxin that sterilized the morph's female citizens. Thus, they were incapable of bearing more children. The morphs continued to fight, but the colonists had an interesting proposition for those willing to listen: serve, and in return the colonists would work to correct their infertility.

Some morphs had listened; they knew that their scientists were far from an answer to their dilemma, they could never solve it in time. The colonists were more technologically advanced: they were more likely to succeed. They were also highly motivated to solve it, without a solution, the morph race would die out and there would be no more useful slaves. So hunter 5671-X and many others were working for the colonists against their own people in hopes of saving the morph race.

The morph planet itself was against the current solution of the colonists: hybridization. They refused to consider corrupting their own race with human DNA. The hunters were desperate: hybridization may not be ideal, but their race was dying. So the hunter watched the latest hybrid pull against the restraints and wondered if it was worth it. Were the colonists finally close to a solution? The hybrid was pregnant, but with a pure human's child, not a morph's. He wondered if the experiment would be successful with his own genetic material.

The rebels had been stupid to waste such a precious chance by injecting the hybrid with human genetic material. They should have continued the experiment the way it had been intended. Instead, their obtuse belief in racial purity had resulted in a useless experiment. What did it matter if the hybrid carried a human child?

These thoughts raced through the morph's head as he watched the hybrid's panic finally exhaust his strength.

Mulder slumped against the restraints and lay on the cold metal table. It was similar to the one on the first ship he'd been on. The bright light was too harsh for his eyes and they watered even after he closed them. He was cold, his clothes were gone. He felt the child stir within him and a new wave of panic threatened him.

'Oh, god. What am I going to do? The child...I have to protect it. Oh, god, Alex where are you?' When the morph had been posing at Alex the link had been strangely quiet. Not broken, but numbed...that was what had itched at his conscious. He hadn't been overly aware of the link lately. He tried now to reach out to Alex. Nothing. Not a hint of awareness. Sheer terror surged at the thought of his lover dead. He struggled to tamp down on the fear as he realized that he likely would have felt the break in the link. It was still there, but strangely...numbed. It was the only word for it. A sound caught his attention. A rustling on his right side and a dark figure came between him and the light.

Cautiously opening his eyes slightly he flinched at the sight of the bounty hunter looming above him, its eyes dark and intense. It sniffed him once more.

^You smell good, hybrid. Interesting. The colonists may have finally had a breakthrough.^

^What do you mean?^ Mulder felt queasy at this line of thinking.

^You smell...interesting, intoxicating. Like a fertile morph... I wonder how you would smell if you weren't pregnant... Most likely even more stimulating... Smell is important to a morph. Our kind changes shape, color, size, but our smell remains the same. True to our self. You smell...familiar, but exotic...^ The morph leaned in again, its nose buried in Mulder's neck and emitted a strange sound, almost like a groan.

Mulder squeezed his eyes shut. 'Oh, god. Now what?! Alex, help me!'

The morph leaned back its expression distant once more as its lust abated. ^Your lover won't be coming. I have orders to return you to the colonists. However, I have other plans. You are the first successful hybrid. I have no intention of blindly handing you over.^ Turning around, the morph disappeared into the darkness.

Mulder shivered in the cold air, his future was in the hands of a rogue bounty hunter that seemed to delight in sniffing him. It wasn't going to turn him over to the colonists, but only because it wanted him for itself. 'God, how do I get into these messes?! And where the FUCK is Alex?!'

Alex groaned as awareness surged back to him. His head was being pounded on by a sledgehammer and the rest of his body felt little better. Struggling to open his eyes he blinked into darkness. A harsh tang of gasoline hit his nose and as he twisted his body he realized he was bound and gagged in the trunk of a car. Twisting further until he was on his right side he frantically worked at his bonds. They were tied on so tight that blood began to seep into the rope, but he was no closer to being free. An indeterminable time passed that seemed like days to Alex.

The sound of a car passing and then stopping made Alex's head jerk up. A pause and then a car door slamming and footsteps approaching made his heart speed up. He could only pray it was a rescue. He banged on the side of the trunk to get attention. The footsteps came closer and a crunch of gravel. A man's voice murmured and a metallic scraping began near the lock. The trunk door swung open and the daylight caused Alex's eyes to squint. Alex blinked and when his eyes cleared he wished they hadn't.

Skinner's face loomed above him, his face twisted in anger and disgust. "Krycek, what have you done with Mulder?!"

When Scully and Dr. Reddy had gone to investigate the sound of a car squealing away from the driveway, they'd found Mulder missing. Groceries lay scattered half out of bags, evidence that Alex had returned from his trip. Scully had gone throughout the house and found a chair shoved out of place in the living room, a lamp knocked over and a small smear of blood on the wall and floorboards.

Fearing the worst, Scully had phoned the only person she could think of for help. Skinner. He'd chartered a plane right away and helped her search the surrounding area from the house to town. Along the road was an abandoned car with out of state plates. Walking towards it they'd heard a scuffle and then loud thumps coming from the trunk. Skinner had broken the lock to reveal a very mussed and irate Alex Krycek.

Krycek sat on the exam table of the guesthouse. It had taken being held at gunpoint to get him there and it seemed that the threat wouldn't last long enough to treat him as he argued and shoved away Scully's hands. She'd checked him for a concussion and was trying to bandage his wrists. Dr. Reddy kept to himself rather than risk Alex's wrath. Finally she just gave up and spread antibiotic cream on it and left him alone. He jumped off the table and started for the door.

Skinner grabbed him by the arm. "Hold it. Where do you think you're going? Time for you to answer some questions."

Alex jerked his arm out of his grasp and pulled out a knife so fast no one could see where it had been concealed. Scully figured with a little more time Alex would have freed himself.

With his back to a wall and his eyes on all three of them, Alex spoke tersely, "Fox has been abducted by a bounty hunter. He ran me off the road on the way back from the store. All I remember is reaching for my stiletto; I woke up in the trunk. Now I've got to find him..." He moved towards the door again.

Skinner considered pulling out his weapon and 'making' the man answer, but knew it was useless. He turned back to Scully and the doctor and waited for them to volunteer some information.

Scully fussed with the first aid kit. She seemed to be avoiding Skinner's eye. "Agent Scully..."

Scully looked up, tears in her eyes. "It's MY fault, sir. Don't blame Alex. We... well 'I' was supposed to be watching him. Mulder was hiding out in the main house and I should have gone to keep him company and to watch out for him, but I was just to busy with my own things over here and I... I didn't even know that Krycek had come back from the store, really. I didn't think to check..." Her face was twisted into a grimace and tears ran down her face. Skinner sighed and went over to pat her back awkwardly. Skinner knew what it was like to hate yourself for letting Mulder down. He'd been a mess after Mulder's abduction in Oregon. It'd been hard to face the fact that not only might he never see the man again, but it was his own fault.

"It's all right. We'll find him, agent. Mulder's a cat, he's got a couple of lives left..."

Mulder had fallen asleep despite his discomfort and fear. Exhausted, he'd slipped into the only escape available: unconsciousness. Now, he jolted awake, wondering what had woken him. The baby was still, probably asleep, he was grateful it had shown some life earlier. After being slammed into the wall by the hunter, the kicking had stopped and he'd lost consciousness after that, he'd been worried she was hurt or even dead...

Then he felt it again, what had woken him, Alex...

^...Fox?! Fox! Answer me. Lisa, please...baby. Please...^

'Oh, god!' ^Alex?! Alex, are you okay?^

Great relief and a touch of humor colored Alex's thoughts, ^Yes, 'I'm' fine, how are YOU? WHERE are you?! The hunter...^

^I don't know where he is...he left me here. But Alex, I have to get out of here. The baby, I think he might mean to kill her. Get rid of her. He says... Oh, god, he says I'm meant to be a breeder for the morphs. God, Alex... He's supposed to take me back to the colonists, but he's thinking of disobeying, he wants to try to contact his own people, some scientists to continue the experiment... But with a morph's DNA...^

Alex sat down on their bed heavily, his face pale with shock. He'd been pulling out his weapon stash as he tried to contact Mulder. A rifle was held tightly in his hand, but forgotten as he tried to comprehend the news.

He mentally kicked himself and got his emotions under a hard cool control. ^That's not going to happen. I'm coming... You must be nearby if I can 'talk' to you. Do you know where you are or how far?^

^No. But I may be able to get it from the Morph's thoughts...^

^No. That may alert him to our plans. It's important to find you before he takes off in his ship.^

^Alex, if I search his mind it may get his attention, but so far he hasn't shielded his thoughts and he doesn't seem to care what I know. If it slips out... I think he's waiting for a response from a group of renegade morph scientists that are working on their own hybrid project here on Earth. He may not leave for a while...^

^Good. Wait. Listen. I'm going to be looking, maybe if I get really close-^ The link was not broken, but muted as Mulder stifled it when he heard a rustling nearby.

^Good news, hybrid. You won't be returning to the colonists. You will be serving a greater purpose than you could imagine. You will be saving an entire race from extinction and if all goes well, we will be able to defeat the colonists, too. Of course, we will have use for Earth's inhabitants ourselves for DNA and hybrids, but I'm sure we can come to a better agreement with your leaders than you would have had with the colonists...

But for now, we must terminate your pregnancy to facilitate the start our great experiment. The hunter loomed over Mulder's belly; a metal tool glinted in the bright light as he raised it over Mulder.

Alex's voice screamed in Mulder's head, ^NOOOOOOO!!!!^

^Good news, hybrid. You won't be returning to the colonists. You will be serving a greater purpose than you could imagine. You will be saving an entire race from extinction and if all goes well, we will be able to defeat the colonists, too. Of course, we will have use for Earth's inhabitants ourselves for DNA and hybrids, but I'm sure we can come to a better agreement with your leaders than you would have had with the colonists...

But for now, we must terminate your pregnancy to facilitate the start our great experiment. The hunter loomed over Mulder's belly; a metal tool glinted in the bright light as he raised it over Mulder.

Alex's voice screamed in Mulder's head, ^NOOOOOOO!!!!^

^ Hunter 5671-X: You are violating your orders. Cease your actions immediately or face immediate termination.^

The 'voice' of another bounty hunter filled the ship's void as another hunter stepped into view.

Mulder had been wrenching on his restraints with manic strength, unfortunately he had only managed to damage his own wrists and ankles. Blood trickled down them as he froze at the sound of a new hunter. The one above him halted with the implement in his hand and slowly turned to face the new threat.

Hunter 3211-X raised his own weapon and repeated, ^Hunter 5671-X, you have violated order 4370T. You have also been witnessed collaborating with the rebel infestation. Drop your weapon and prepare for termination.^

^There is no longer any need to follow colonist orders. The hybrid is successful. He is fertile and most likely capable of mating with one of ours. We need to conduct our own experiments. The colonists cannot be allowed to have such power over us... This is our chance to free our people.^

^Irrelevant. The hybrid may or may not be compatible with our own DNA. The colonists will find out about your collaboration and it will destroy our agreement with them. You will be condemning our race to extinction. I will return the hybrid to the colonists as is my orders...^ Both hunters circled one another as they raised their weapons.

Mulder watched with dread. 'Which one should I root for? Return to the colonists or have my baby aborted immediately and be taken by a renegade hunter?'

^Fox! I'm coming, help me find you!^ It no longer mattered if the hunters sensed their link. Alex had to find his lover NOW. Mulder sent out what he hoped was a strong signal for Alex to track him. He concentrated on keeping it strong while he looked over at his wrist restraints. The blood had dried on his arms, and as he looked closely he saw the skin healing over the damage he had inflicted while struggling. His body was healing itself far more rapidly than a normal human.

The hunters lashed out with their weapons, lunging and retreating, each seeking the vulnerable spot on the base of the neck. Mulder watched reluctantly as his fate was decided. He could no longer tell which one was which. Finally, one of the hunters pinned the other and slammed his stiletto into the neck of his victim. The victor stood up and walked towards Mulder.

Alex was racing down the stairs, two at a time. Skinner and Scully appeared at the foot of the stairs. He shoved them aside roughly and was out the door before they could catch up.

"Alex! Where are you going?!" Scully shouted as she ran after him. Alex didn't bother to look back.

"Fox! He's nearby in the hunter's ship. I have to get to him! The baby!" He was heading for Skinner's car. Skinner managed to reach the car before Krycek could try to break into it.

"Give me the keys! I'm the only one that can 'hear' him!" Skinner frowned but gave him the keys, he and Scully scrambled into the car before Krycek could leave without them. Alex drove down the road at breakneck speed. Trees whipped past the window, they passed the stretch of trees until they reached a clearing. He veered off the road and onto the grass. He could feel his lover's frantic call. One of the hunters had won and was starting the ship up. As Alex braked the car and jumped out of it, a ship dropped its cloak and appeared before them. Before they could act, it swung up and away, disappearing at rapid speed.

"NO!! Fooooxxx!!" Alex fell to his knees and screamed a blood-curling cry. Scully was stunned at the sight of the ship. At Alex's cry she dropped down next to him and wrapped her arms around him, grieving with the man she'd come to realize loved Mulder as much as she did.

Skinner watched the ship with a feeling of terror and despair. He watched from a short distance away as Scully and Krycek clung to one another sobbing. He felt a terrible sense of dj vu. Once again he had failed Mulder and the aliens had him. What kind of bastards would harm a man carrying a child like that? He watched the two forms on the grass before him for a while and decided he'd do the one thing he could do. Take charge and get them out of the open and back to their home.

He walked up behind them and rested a hand on Scully's shoulder. "Come on, Scully, let's get him back to the house. There's nothing we can do here."

Alex struggled to his feet, "No! I can't leave him-"

"Do you feel him here? Is he nearby?" Skinner asked in a low voice trying to reason with him.

"No... God, I can barely feel him. I know he's alive, but... that's all; I can't 'talk' to him. He's gone..." He stared forward, eyes unfocused, extreme misery stamped on his face.

Scully wrapped an arm around him and helped him back to the car. Returning to the house they all sat down in the living room with some coffee Dr. Reddy had prepared. The room still bore the marks of Mulder's abduction. Alex sat in shock, coffee cooling in front of him, his eyes vacant. In his head he was screaming for Fox to answer him.

Scully finally gave him a sedative to so he would sleep. The man didn't resist, didn't even seem to notice the action. He just slowly closed his eyes and slumped sideways. Scully wished she'd gotten him into the bedroom first, but they decided to let him stay on the couch, probably better than waking in the bed he's shared with his lover.

Turning off the light, Scully glanced back at the broken man and wondered if they'd ever see Mulder again.

The hunter held up a special light that revealed the mark his people had branded the hybrid with. It identified Mulder as Hybrid 1013. His people were all designated numbers; it was far more precise and efficient than the human way. He looked down at the unconscious hybrid. He'd sedated it for the initial exam he'd performed, not wanting to cause undue emotional stress on the hybrid and risk its health as well as the fetus it carried.

He was returning the hybrid to the colonists as ordered. He had understood Hunter 5671-X's actions. He found his people's dependence on colonist technology distasteful, but he also knew that it was necessary. It was far too early for an attempt at rebellion by the hunters, the colonists were still far too strong and the morphs needed time to recover from their sterility. Once the morphs were able to have children again and had a way to replenish their numbers they could then rid themselves of the colonists. But for now...

He left the hybrid in the chamber as he turned to continue his duties. He had several other missions to complete before he could return the ship to the colonists. He sent a report on the hybrid's status and barring further orders, he set course for area 43588921 in search of subject 73556 for extermination.

The Lone Gunmen were monitoring UFO sightings as usual. A sighting in South Carolina was of some interest, they sent it along to Mulder as he was in the neighborhood, his cabin was in North Carolina. They continued to follow its path as additional sightings were reported. Frohike yawned slightly; he was pulling an all-nighter as he challenged his hacking skills. He sent another e-mail to Mulder as he noted the UFO seemed to have stopped for the moment. He went back to his other computer monitor and continued typing away at his keyboard. He considered ordering a pizza...

North Carolina woods
November 15, 2000
2:30 a.m.

Krycek woke up woozy. He dimly remembered Scully hovering nearby and a small prick in his arm. He rubbed at the area and wondered why she'd- Memory surged back and he stood up with a lurch. And then, just as quickly, sat back down as a wave of dizziness halted any further movement. He waited until he felt able to stagger up the stairs and into their bedroom.

'Their' bedroom. It was empty. No lover curled up waiting for him, annoyed that he'd taken so damn long in coming to bed. No goodnight kiss often accompanied by a goodnight groping. He lay back on the bed on 'his' side. Mulder insisted on the side by the bathroom so he could climb out more and more frequently in the middle of the night. He turned his head into Mulder's pillow and let himself sob. He remembered all the times he'd laid his hand on Mulder's belly and felt the powerful kick of their daughter. They hadn't even decided on a name yet. They had agreed on Samantha as a middle name, but had yet to find a suitable first name. They'd been considering a Russian name since Mulder had picked the middle name (not that Alex had minded in the least, it was fitting, they'd both agreed it wasn't suitable for her first name, though. Too tempting for the fates, too many sad memories...)

So he lay there, wishing they'd had time to agree on a name. Was the baby dead? He didn't even know which hunter had won. He had no way of knowing if the baby was alive, he could barely feel his lover. He wondered if he would continue to feel Mulder even in this vague, distant way. Or would the link be stretched past its limit if Mulder were heading to the colonists? Would it suddenly break, never to feel Mulder again? He sank in a deep sleep, worn out, emotionally devastated, and the drug still in his system.

He was curled up on his side clutching Mulder's pillow while on top of the covers.

Two days went by. Alex exhausted himself trying to contact Fox through the link. He ate mechanically and avoided Scully and Skinner's presence when at all possible. On the third day, he broke into his lover's files and checked his e-mail for lack of anything better to do. Reading the Lone Gunmen's report he frantically picked up the phone and called them.

After much initial distrust and paranoia, Scully finally had to be called in to convince Frohike to talk to them. Byers quickly looked up the latest reports and found that the ship had moved on from the South Carolina sighting. It had been glimpsed in Florida and then Texas. Krycek slammed his fist in the wall at the knowledge that he'd possibly just missed his lover. They weren't certain that it was the same ship, but it matched their description and timing.

He ignored the pain in his fist and began packing a bag. He planned to go to the latest sighting and try to see if he could contact his lover again. Scully and Skinner packed quickly and accompanied him.

They would spend the next month traveling from one sighting to another with little luck.

Mulder passed in and out of consciousness. The hunter fed him nourishment through a tube in his forearm. His waste was taken away without letting him up. He remained in the restraints the entire time. He might have gone mad except he could still 'almost' feel Alex's presence in the link and he could still definitely feel the child kick within him. Those two feelings were all that kept him sane and hopeful.

The hunter occasionally communicated with him, but it was always brief and uninformative. He felt like the guinea pig that he was. The hunter examined him frequently and made many notes and reports to his superiors. Mulder tried to get the hunter to talk and maybe relate to him as another living being. He had no luck.

^Hybrid 1013, it is now time for your examination.^ The hunter began his series of tests, many of which were painful. The worst of which was a large thin metal probe that would be pushed into his belly. It hurt as it tore into his skin and muscle until it reached into the amnio sack and extracted small amounts of tissue. It would then be pulled out quickly and the wound left behind was not tended to. Mulder's ability to heal seemed to be growing in speed. Every time the test was performed it healed faster. That didn't make it hurt less, however.

He screamed as the Hunter thrust the probe into his belly near, but not into the child. Feeling the probe seem to suck his insides out, he then gasped loudly at the feeling of the probe being yanked back out. He panted as the muscle and skin mended itself. He had broken out in a clammy sweat despite the freezing temperature.

The hunter turned away to analyze the results. Mulder waited in dreadful anticipation for the next test. The hunter would try to force a section of Mulder's body to morph. He would focus on a hand, foot or arm, as he would pass a small device over it. It produced a wave of energy into the body part that would at first tingle, then burn as if acid were being poured into it.

The device was one used on sick or elderly morphs that needed help in changing their shapes. It was a therapeutic tool.

The morph informed him that he was attempting to see if hybrids would be able to morph at all; if they did it would increase the chance of a hybrid/morph child being able to. The first three times, nothing happened. The tingling and burning lasted for an hour after the hunter would finally give up.

On the fourth attempt, the hunter was ordering him as usual to focus on changing the shape of his hand. Mulder had focused all his pent up anger and frustration on his hand and saw it stretch for an instant. His fingers had elongated for just a second. So quickly that he thought he'd imagined it. The morph, however, had been uncharacteristically exultant.

^Excellent. You truly are a morph-hybrid. The colonists have finally succeeded.^

The hunter turned away to report his findings to his masters. Mulder stared in horrifying fascination at his hand that looked normal once more. He wondered, in a secretive shielded thought, that if he could eventually control the morphing...he might be able to slip out of his restraints.

Rural Illinois
Thanksgiving Day 2000
11:45 p.m.

Alex lay on his hard bed in bunk over the driver's seat of the RV he had rented. Scully was sleeping on the other bed down below. Dr. Reddy was snoring softly next to him. Alex was thankful that Skinner had finally been persuaded to go back to work. The three of them were cramped in the RV as it was. As Krycek thought of just how cramped it was he suddenly had to get out of the RV, claustrophobia threatening him. He climbed down as quietly as possible and shrugging into his leather jacket, he exited the vehicle to walk into the nearby woods.

They'd been traveling all day, as usual, to get to the latest sighting. They were very close to the area, but Alex had yet to 'feel' anything from his lover just as he hadn't felt anything at the last three sites. As he stumbled around in the dark he reached out once more. Nothing. He felt the panic swell again. 'Damn it, where the hell are you, Fox? Am I chasing the wrong ship? Are you even near Earth anymore? Will I ever see you or the baby again?'

He tried to focus his thoughts instead on the day ahead of him. They'd ride around in the RV tomorrow in the surrounding area. Alex would sit in the passenger seat and try to contact his lover. Just as he'd done today. Circled and circled the last sighting area. They'd finally broke for dinner at 7 and eaten cold turkey sandwiches in honor of the day. Alex could feel the food, a cold hard lump in his stomach. What the hell did he have to be thankful for?

He sat down on the cold hard ground and breathed the fresh air deeply, unable to go back into the stifling RV. As he sat there, quietly he focused on the night sounds around him. Rustling of trees in the wind, the occasional whisper of an animal in the dark. He focused on these sounds to calm himself and focus on nothing but free open sky above him and as he rested he could feel just how cold it was. The bright light above him, the feel of cold metal restraints pinning his arms and legs like a frog. The baby inside him-

Alex's eyes snapped open, 'Fox!' He could 'feel' his lover again.

^Fox! Fox, can you hear me?! Lisa!!^

A long pause. Then a sluggish, ^A-aalleeex??^

^Fox! Yes, baby, it's me. Lisa? Talk to me!^ Krycek stood up cautiously and started back to the RV, careful not to break the link. He needed to get to Scully, Fox was nearby.

^Aalllex. Where-^ Fox's voice broke off.

Alex stopped moving and focused hard, ^Lisa! Stay awake. Talk to me!^ He could feel the cold hard table his lover laid on. The bright lights that never turned off. His lover's mind was drugged deeply and struggled to focus.

^Al- Alex, where are yoouuu?^ This thought was a wail in Alex's mind. His heart clenched as he felt the despair in Fox's voice.

^I'm here, Lisa. Very close. You have to stay awake and focus on me, baby. I'm coming!^ He prayed that were true. He reached the RV and flung the door open. Scully sat up; gun in her hand from the pillow under which she'd pulled it.

"Get up! He's here! Hurry!" Scully scrambled out of bed and into front compartment. Alex was already in the driver's seat. His eyes squeezed shut as he turned the key in the ignition. Dr. Reddy thumped down to the floor behind them, scrambling to pull on some pants and fussing with his glasses.

"Alex! Get into the passenger's seat. You need to focus on Fox!" Scully shoved him out of the seat and climbed in over him. Krycek shoved his legs over and switched seats. He struggled to focus the link again.

^Okay, baby...I'm coming. Fox?!^

^...here...I'm here...where...?^ Mulder's voice was distant and vague once more, he seemed to be succumbing to the drug once more.

^Here! Lisa, focus!^ The link was silent again. No matter how much they circled the woods or how much Alex focused, there was no further contact with Mulder.

Alex finally gave up at 5 that morning. Slumping in his seat he sobbed long and hard, swinging his fist into the dashboard over and over until Scully and the doctor grabbed it and held it until he stopped trying. Scully didn't want to give him another sedative, he needed to stay alert and drug free in case Mulder was able to contact him again.

Bundling him up in a blanket, she coaxed him into lying down on her bed in the back while she and Dr. Reddy drove to a coffee house. Reddy bought them bagels and coffee, but the food was barely touched. Failure tasted bitter on their tongues.

The next day they drove out west, Frohike had said there was a possible sighting in Kansas. Scully drove once more. She glanced over at Alex's profile. He was staring ahead at the miles that lay between him and the possibility of his lover's ship. After a while she murmured, "I'm sorry, Alex. We were so close..."

He glanced over at her, his eyes had dark purple circles under them and he was unshaven. But she also noticed that his eyes were dry and clear and he smiled faintly. "No. Don't be sorry. Now we know he's still alive and we're on the right track. We'll find him. That's something to be thankful for."

Mulder woke from the drug haze once more. He had a feeling of vague disturbance but couldn't remember why. It didn't matter; every day was disturbing on board the ship. He looked down at his swell of a stomach. He was now nearly 8 months along. The baby squirmed and kicked regularly.

He'd tried to make his hand change shape repeatedly, but without the morph's device he had no effect on it. His arms and legs were so weak now that even if he did manage to get out of the restraints he wouldn't get far.

He dropped his head back on the table. Eyes closed against the harsh light once more. The hunter was gone again. Every time the ship stopped he'd disappear for a while. Sometimes days. It was impossible to know without any way of telling time and the hunter always drugged him before he left. He wondered where they were now. He decided to go back to the one thing that could console him, dreaming of Alex and their little girl playing in their backyard at home...

December 10, 2000 Sunday
Somewhere in the Middle of Nebraska

Kansas had been as fruitless as all the other sites had been before Illinois. Alex wouldn't give up, though. Especially now that he knew Mulder was just out of his reach. He wasn't going to quit until he knew for sure that Mulder was gone from Earth or dead.

Now they were heading north. The ship was seen in the northern states, skipping from one to another. Byers had informed them that MUFON and other UFO groups were predicting it was going to head outside of the States soon. Probably Canada. Alex was thinking that he was running out of time. How much longer before the ship left Earth?

That was why HE was driving now. He had shut Scully up with a cold glare as he pushed the RV to its limits. So far they'd been lucky around the cops. Alex had managed to spot them and slow down until outside their radar and then urge the vehicle faster. They'd also been lucky with unseasonably warm weather, but that had changed today, the temperature had dropped rapidly. By evening there was freezing rain and the roads became icy.

Scully managed to convince Krycek that it was too dangerous to be traveling with the RV anymore. They rented a truck with snow tires and loaded up with heavy winter coats and were once more on the road. Dr. Reddy stayed with the RV in Nebraska while they continued north.

December 11, 2000 Monday
7:45 p.m.

Exhausted, the two entered the motel room they were sharing. Scully plopped down on her bed with a contented sigh. Alex closed the door behind him and bolted it. He turned the heat up before removing his coat. Brushing off the snow from his pants he sat down and untied his boots. He was worn out, completely. They'd reach the site tomorrow. He wanted to go that evening, but it was snowing hard and the forecasters predicted it'd stop later tonight and be clear tomorrow.

Scully had shrugged out of her coat and was burrowing into the covers, fully clothed. Alex smiled slightly and went to clean up. Turning the shower on hot to warm up the water, he turned to face the man in the mirror. Shit, was that him? He looked like a stranger. Lines permanently creased his forehead, dark circles under his eyes. He looked pale and exhausted. He was in desperate need of a shave. Stepping into the shower he luxuriated in the hot water pounding on him. His travel weary muscles loosened ever so slightly. He shaved and brushed his teeth, knowing he'd never take the time for it in the morning. Pulling on his sweats he climbed into bed, asleep instantly. His dreams full of Fox, strapped to a metal table, crying out to him.

December 12th East of Fargo 6:30 a.m.

Morning came; thankfully the sky was clear and the sun bright. The roads were a little icy, but not bad. Alex and Scully made for the latest site with good time. Alex was in the passenger seat, eyes closed, seeking... ^Alex.^

Krycek's eyes snapped open, "Mulder!" Scully pulled them to the side of the road and stopped.


^Fox. I'm here. Where are you?^ he struggled to stay calm.

^Here. I don't know...^ Mulder sent out the same signal as before. Alex felt extremely close to his lover. They exited the car and walked into the snow covered clearing. They both held stilettos. No guns, they were worthless right now. Alex carried a pack on his back. They trudged through the snow that was thankfully only just past their ankles.

Alex kept a hand before him, even though the area before him seemed to be empty. He was rewarded with when his hand met cold hard metal. The ship was cloaked, invisible. Now what?

^Fox, I've found the ship, I'm here. I don't know how to get in, though. Help me.^

Mulder lay on the table and frowned, how was he supposed to help?! He sent the thought along to his dense lover.

^I don't know... Can you open the door with your mind?^

^Of all the bone-headed questions! You moron! If I could open the fucking door I would have gotten out myself!!^ panic gave Mulder a burst of anger and desperation. He pulled on the restraints futilely.

^I'm sorry! I'm sorry. But I don't know how...^ Alex froze as the bounty hunter appeared from the woods. He was covered in bright red blood. Back from his killing spree. The hunter stopped at the sight of the two humans near his ship. Alex clenched his weapon tighter. He stepped away from Scully and towards the hunter.

Mulder saw this in his lover's mind and stopped tugging on the restraints, he focused on one hand and with all his fear, determination and anger, he FOCUSED. Nothing. And then... his fingers lengthened...his wrists narrowed. He pulled and pulled until the wrist squeezed through the metal band, scraped raw and bleeding slightly. Gasping he took no time to celebrate as he focused on the other hand.

Alex circled wearily. Hunters were extremely strong, hard to kill. He shrugged out of his pack and tossed it aside. He shifted to the balls of his feet. This was going to be even harder on the snow-covered ground.

The hunter showed no real expression, he didn't even reach for a weapon himself. They circled. The hunter finally lunged for the human and Alex ducked and whipping around he stabbed with his stiletto while the alien was still bent forward. He missed narrowly as the alien snapped back up and flung his arm, hitting Alex in the side and sending him flying. Scully took a step forward.

"No! Don't. Just stay there." Alex climbed back to his feet winded, but weapon ready. They circled again.

Mulder pulled his left foot out of the restraints and wiped off the blood. His skin healed rapidly and he was able to focus on the last restraint. He focused hard, his strength waning. The right foot came free with more difficulty. Halfway through the restraint he lost his strength and the foot returned to normal. Panicked and in great pain he kicked and PULLED and the foot came through, but was torn up. HE lay back panting, the child thrashed within him agitated. He'd had difficulty even reaching his foot with the child in the way. He lay there waiting for his foot to heal enough for him to move it.

Alex was losing. The hunter was far too strong and Krycek was greatly disadvantaged with only being able to strike at the back of its neck. Sensing that the hybrid was escaping, the hunter snapped the arm he gripped backwards. The human screamed in pain and the hunter threw the male into the female human, freeing himself to go back to his ship. He palmed the door open and entered the lab area. The hybrid was gone. The steel exam table laid empty, blood smeared on the restraints and a puddle of blood on the foot of the table. He noticed the blood trailed away from the table. He followed the trail closely. The hybrid was weak and tired. His inaction for the last month and his advanced state of pregnancy made it incapable of defending itself. He followed the trail with no great sense of urgency or anxiety. The hybrid was here, close, he could sense it.

He examined the corridor that the blood led to. It stopped halfway down. The hybrid had healed. He stopped to sniff the air. The hybrid's scent would reveal it.

Scully was pinned underneath Alex's weight. She grunted as she tried to move out from under him. She was careful not to shove him off of her, but he still screamed in pain when she moved his arm accidentally. "Sorry...sorry..." She muttered and finally slid free. She laid him down carefully; he curled up around his arm.

She knelt next to him to look at it. His left arm was bent at an unnatural angle, blood seeped from the wound and she could glimpse bone. His face was deathly white and his eyes were squeezed shut. "Alex?..." He opened his eyes and looked at her. "Scu- Scully, where...?" She looked up and around them looking for the hunter. "I don- wait, the ship...I can see it! There's a door...it's open!"

Krycek made an abortive attempt to move, "Aaaugh! Scully! Go! Fox..." Scully climbed to her feet and as quickly as she could, she ran through the snow to the ship. Alex watched as she disappeared inside. He tried to move again, a lightning rod of pain lanced up his arm and he passed out cold on the snowy ground.

Mulder limped through a long dark corridor. It was so cold. The floor was freezing beneath his bare feet and the metal walls he braced himself on leached their iciness into his naked body. He wondered if the hunter had kept his clothing he'd been abducted in? Not likely.

He was desperate to find his way out. Alex's fight wasn't going well and Scully wasn't going to fare any better. He had sensed when the morph had left the fight to come in and hunt him.

He tried to sense Alex. He had felt a terrible pain rip through his lover's body and then the link had been silent. He tried again, nothing. 'Shit, Alex, you better not be dead! I'll kill you!'

^He's not dead...yet. If you cooperate and come with me I'll spare him.^

Mulder froze; glancing around he realized that the sound had been in his mind and that the hunter was only bargaining because he couldn't find him.

^That is only temporary. I will find you. If you do not come now I will kill your lover and the female.^

Mulder shielded his mind as best he could and hid deeper in the ship. The morph would kill Alex and Scully anyway. His best bet was to try to escape and help them. He stepped into another empty room.

Scully entered the ship with her stiletto ready. She desperately wanted to pull out her gun, but knew it was useless in defense. The ship was cold and dark. There was an alien smell that made her nose itch slightly. She walked down a long dark corridor. There were doorways, but they either led to empty rooms or refused to open. Minutes ticked by, but they felt like hours. She had a creepy sensation on the back of her neck. Once, she was positive that someone was behind her watching her. But when she glanced back, the passageway was empty behind her. She continued to walk; she dithered about whether or not to call out to Mulder.

She noticed light coming from a room nearby and cautiously entered it. It was bright...very bright. The white light shown down on a gleaming metal table with restraints on each corner. The table, restraints and floor were smeared with red blood. She felt her stomach churn at the sight. 'Mulder.'

She was startled to hear an answer. ^Scully?^ She whirled around looking for her partner. "Mulder?!"

^Shhh. He'll hear you. Just think to me. I'm coming back to the room you are in. Stay there.^

She felt exposed standing in the middle of the bright room like that, so she tucked herself into a darkened corner and waited. Footsteps neared, she turned and saw the hunter pass by the doorway and continue down the corridor. She held her breath. She waited a moment and then saw Mulder for the first time in a month. He was naked.

She focused her eyes on his face; he looked wonderful and horrible at the same time. Wonderful that it was Mulder, whole and still pregnant. Horrible that he looked so pale, thin, and scared. His time away had taken a heavy toll on him. She wanted to bundle him up in a blanket and feed him soup.

^That sounds good. Can we go?^

She smiled and couldn't resist a quick hug before they turned to make their way out of the ship. Halfway there they were halted by the bounty hunter that stepped out of the darkness.

^I could smell you, hybrid. It is almost time for the birth. Can you feel it? We will be leaving now for the colonists. I have finished my errands here on Earth. The ship is ready.^ The hunter stepped close. Mulder shivered and took a step back, pulling Scully with him. Scully tried to get out of his grasp and raise her weapon.

^No! Scully, you can't get him from here... Don't!^ He tried to put himself in between her and the hunter. He knew the hunter would kill her.

She was tugging her arm out of his grasp when the hunter suddenly froze, then collapsed in heap and fizzled away to a green stain at their feet. Alex stood before them, his left arm bound to his chest and his right hand held a green stained stiletto. He smiled at the sight of Mulder, but then swayed on his feet and would have fallen if Fox and Scully hadn't caught him. Alex regained his balance and with one arm he pulled his lover into a desperate embrace.

"Oh, god. Fox! I thought... I thought I'd never..." Mulder held him as close as he could with the belly between them. Alex stepped back and looked down at it. He put his hand on Fox's belly and felt the child kick. He looked up still smiling, tears running down his face. Mulder pulled him into a hug again, but he was stopped when Alex grunted in pain.

Fox pushed his lover back slightly and looked at the blood on Alex's shirt. "Let me see it."

"Wait, put on some clothes first, you're giving Scully an eyeful." Alex teased. Mulder was shivering so much that Alex wanted his lover to be warm. He pulled off his pack he'd brought gave it to Scully who pulled out the extra large coveralls and boots they'd brought for Mulder. They helped him into the warm protective clothing. Mulder felt almost human covered up once more.

Mulder reached for Alex's arm, but the ship shuddered. The three glanced around fearfully. The ship shuddered once more and started to rise, they could see the ground slowly give way through the open hatch. Wordlessly they scrambled out the door and down to the ground before the ship had risen more than a couple of feet. Mulder landed on his side, arms wrapped protectively around his belly. Scully and Alex helped him to his feet as they watched the ship rise above the trees and then zip away in the blink of an eye.

Scully watched perplexed. "What...?"

Mulder smiled grimly at her. "Auto-pilot. A minute longer and we'd be stuck with a one-way ticket to the colonists."

The three started to make their way back to the truck waiting for them on the road. Mulder's strength was giving out by then. Adrenaline had subsided and he could feel the past month of inaction hampering him as they trudged through the snow. He grudgingly put an arm around Scully and Alex's shoulders as they helped him to the truck.

Scully climbed in the driver's side and warmed up the engine. Mulder was wedged in the center so he was able to turn and handle Alex's left arm easily. He pulled off the makeshift sling and examined the damage. It looked grisly; Alex blanched and turned his face away from the sight.

Mulder worried for a moment that he wouldn't be able to heal it, but he soon felt the odd calmness come over him and the bones knitted together, muscles mended, and the finally the skin healed over the wound, pink and new.

"All better. Does it 'feel' better?" He asked his lover who still had his face turned away. Alex's nodded his head, but still wouldn't look back.

Scully glanced at them more than a little confused. ^Tunguska. He lost his left arm there. They cut the flesh and muscle and snapped the bone to amputate it.^

Scully looked at Mulder round-eyed before turning her attention to the road. 'But how...?'

^The rebels healed it only recently, within the last year or so...^ She nodded and focused on the road again. Mulder wondered slightly if she believed it. If she didn't believe in aliens by now he'd have to shoot her, he thought dryly.

Then he chastised himself, believer or not she and Alex had just saved his life. He gave her a little half hug, not wanting to disturb her driving. She looked over at him affectionately and smiled before looking at the road again. It was icy and she needed to be careful. Mulder then leaned back and sighed heavily. Alex had gotten a hold on himself and leaned over to kiss Fox on the cheek. Mulder nuzzled back and Alex wrapped his newly healed arm around his lover's back.

They were safe once more.

They drove to the motel they'd been in just the night before. Scully had gotten them two rooms this time. Mulder and Alex had a room with a king sized bed. Not that they'd be doing anything more than sleeping on it together. Once back at the motel, Scully wanted to exam Mulder.

"Scully..." Mulder whined, "...can I at least eat first?" She threw her hands up and went to the bags they'd brought from the diner. She pulled out some soup and a spoon. He sniffed at it appreciatively and dug in.

Alex and Scully both watched him. They were so happy to hear him complain about medical treatment again. Mulder glanced up from his soup with an eyebrow raised and they quickly hid their grins in their own soup cups. Finishing, Scully handed Mulder his protein shake and jello for dessert. After she'd found out he hadn't had solid food in a month she'd insisted on a slow introduction of them to his system.

After 'dinner' Scully motioned for him to lie down and let her check him over. He reluctantly let her examine him, but only sitting up on the bed with Alex's hand firmly clutched in his left hand.

He had removed his shirt and as Scully listened to his heart and lungs Alex took a good look at his lover. There were no marks or scars, but Mulder was so thin. Only the belly was still round and full. His chest and arms were almost as thin as he'd been the last time he was abducted. Alex squeezed Fox's hand.

^You're a bit scrawny yourself, Alex. You haven't been taking care of yourself, have you?^ Mulder looked pointedly at Alex's dark circles under his eyes and his scruffy chin.

Alex smiled at the admonishment. ^Guess we'll just have to take care of each other then, hmm?^

Scully motioned for Mulder to lie down; he shook his head, not looking her in the eye. "Mulder, I need you to lean back so I can listen to the baby and examine you."

Mulder sat rigidly, unresponsive.

Alex scooted back in the bed; shoving a pillow behind his back he tugged Mulder back to lie against him. Mulder hesitated, but then cooperated, swinging his long legs up onto the bed. He still held himself stiffly, but squeezed Alex's hand in thanks.

She pronounced both he and the child all right as far as she could tell without proper equipment and blood tests. They would do those back home. Dr. Reddy was set to meet them en route with the RV and travel the rest of the way with them.

Scully yawned widely and leaned over Mulder. Kissing him on the forehead she murmured, "Good night, Mulder. I missed you."

"Missed you, too. 'Night" Mulder pulled her into a quick hug and sat back down on the bed. He was swaying slightly, but refused to lie down yet.

Alex walked her to the door and bolted it behind her. Shutting the blinds and curtains, he turned off all the lights but one and double-checked his stiletto and guns by the bed. He wanted to brush his teeth and maybe even take a shower but he noticed Mulder waiting and shucked off his jeans instead.

Dressed in boxers and a t-shirt he helped Mulder change into the same, holding his lover steady lest he topple over. "Come on, Lisa. You're exhausted, let's get some sleep." Mulder nodded tiredly, but his eyes kept darting around nervously.

Alex turned down the covers and tried to get Mulder to lay down. No luck, he climbed in and then held out his arms, Mulder crawled in and wrapped his arms around him. ^Are you okay, Lisa?^

Mulder hugged him tighter.


Alex almost asked him about his reluctance to lie down. Mulder opened his mind about the last month lying down...strapped to a table, unable to move...unable to get up...unsafe. Cold. The tests...

^You can morph?^

^Not really. Not like them. But when I HAD to, I was able to change enough to get through the restraints.^

^Sounds like a nice skill to have.^

Mulder managed a small dry chuckle, ^jealous?^

^Hell, yeah. That would have been a useful skill to have sometimes...^

Mulder's eyes were drooping, his head nodding against Alex's shoulder.

^Sleep, Lisa, you're safe here. With me.^ Alex moved a hand down to Fox's belly and rubbed it gently.

It was a long damn ride back to Alex's cabin. Scully had questioned returning back to the house since it was compromised.

Mulder answered for them, "They found us in St. Louis. They found us at the cabin. They can find us somewhere else. I'm not going to run. We've got the cabin ready for this and I want to go home." Alex smiled, 'home'..."

And home they were going. But not alone. They needed better security, reinforcements, and protection. Scully called the Lone Gunmen; they were on their way to the cabin to install the latest security system available with their own special 'improvements.' As for reinforcements, the gunmen weren't much protection; Alex didn't feel he could trust any of his associates with his home, their secret or his lover. Scully insisted and won on calling Skinner. Alex ground his teeth.

So when they returned to their little cabin in the woods, they found it crawling with three gunmen, two separate security systems, and a surly Skinner leaning on a fir tree.

December 16, 2000 North Carolina Woods 2:15 p.m.

They pulled in the long circular driveway in the RV. As they came to a stop, Skinner straightened from his position by the tree and marched over to the RV's side door. Mulder opened it and stepped down carefully, his belly making it a little challenging since he couldn't see his feet.

As he stepped away from the RV he held out his hand to Skinner for a handshake. Skinner looked down at the offered hand and then pulled a very surprised Mulder into a hug. Skinner stepped back and looked at Mulder's belly.

"So...is this why you quit, Agent Mulder? Were you afraid to ask for maternity leave?" Skinner's voice tried to be light, but seemed heavy with emotion.

Mulder stood staring at his former boss, his expression dumbstruck, Skinner was looking at him meaningfully. Then, recovering slightly he stuttered, "Uh...I-I- I didn't think I'd be eligible, sir." He finished lamely; he sought out Alex with his eyes. His lover was tossing bags and equipment onto the ground from the RV, his jaw clenched and eyes focused on his task.

Scully watched the exchange a little surprised, but not without a hefty dose of amusement. 'Uh, oh...'

Mulder flashed her a look of irritation. "Well...thank you for coming, sir...I know you must have been busy..." Skinner waved off the attempt. "I never should have left. I should have stayed and helped Scully search for you. I apologize for that. I'm here to help now."

Krycek dumped a large bag in front of him. "Good, we could use some help with our gear, then. Come on, Lisa, you could use a nap." He then all but dragged Mulder in the house, leaving Skinner glowering after them.

Scully picked up her bags and motioned for him to help her with the medical supplies, "If you could...?"

Mulder tugged his arm out of Alex's grip. "Do you mind? I don't need a nap; I'm not a child. And I don't need you marking your territory, either." He glared at his lover, but his speech was ruined by a jaw-cracking yawn.

Krycek hid his grin. "You DO need a nap. And Skinner needs to keep his hands to himself," he finished firmly. He set their bags down on the floor of their bedroom.

Mulder gave up and sank down on their bed, "God, I missed our bed. Skinner didn't mean anything and you have no reason to be jealous. Now come on and lay down with me..." He closed his eyes and was asleep.

Alex smiled down at his lover affectionately, "You're blind, Fox. But you're mine." He climbed in next to his lover and brushed a lock off Fox's forehead, he fell asleep watching him.

They woke to the smell of dinner cooking downstairs in the kitchen. Hearing the murmur of voices, Alex nudged his pregnant lover.

"Hmmph. I'm 'wake." Fox growled and shifted, his eyes still closed.

"Sure you are... Lisa, hey, Liissaaaa. We're home, lover." Alex snuggled closer to him and blew into his ear.

Fox tried to turn away, but was impeded by his stomach. "Shit, I need to use the bathroom, AGAIN." He'd already been up twice during their nap. Alex helped him to his feet, but wisely let him have his space. He straightened the bed and dragged out some clean clothes from their dresser.

He marveled at the size of his lover's clothes. It'd been quite some time since Mulder had worn his normal size. He knew Fox must be as anxious as he was to get back into them. Not that he found Mulder to be particularly big. His belly was large and his ankles were swollen, but the rest of him was still a bit too thin. He'd have to fatten him up again.

Mulder flushed the toilet and ran the faucet. Alex changed and was just putting on his shirt when arms came around his sides. Mulder couldn't really hug him, but he stroked his back and shoulders. Alex purred and leaned his head back. Turning he kissed Fox passionately. It was the first time his lover had shown an interest in him since the abduction.

The door was rapped on. "Alex, Mulder? Dinner," Scully called.

Mulder chuckled against Alex's neck. "Foooxxx... How does she DO that?!" Alex whined in frustration.

Mulder continued to chuckle and leaned back, Alex saw warm moss green eyes laughing back to him. He kissed Fox again and then nudged him towards his clothes. "Come on. Let's get dinner over with."

Fox nodded and started to undress. Alex helped him with pull up his pants and put on his socks and shoes. Mulder accepted it with more grace than usual. They headed down the stairs and into the dining room.

The Lone Gunmen congratulated Mulder awkwardly and bemoaned his refusal to let them put him on the front page of their newsletter.

The table was crowded, even with the leaf put in. Seven adults sat around the table and passed dishes around. Lasagna, salad, and garlic bread. Mulder sighed appreciatively and dug in with Scully and Alex watching approvingly.

Skinner tried not to stare, but the sight of Mulder and Krycek eating together, their hands touching and Alex refilling Mulder's drink without asking gave him a stomachache. He picked at his plate and said little during the usual chitchat amongst the table's occupants.

When the food was mostly gone the talk turned to security and the upcoming birth. Mulder pushed back his plate and stared at his glass of juice. He'd refused milk, so Scully had poured him a cup of calcium fortified orange juice. He wished he'd taken the milk, the acidy orange juice burned in his stomach. He forced himself to listen and contribute, though.

"We've set up the security systems. The codes for the main house are different for those for the guesthouse. There's also motion sensitive lights, a trip wire on the perimeter... the list was extensive. The gunmen had been busy.

Skinner spoke up on their weaponry available and he had a schedule set up for patrolling the border.

"We can't possibly keep up this level of security for good. It isn't nece-" Fox protested, but was cut off by his former boss.

"No, we can't. But it IS necessary for now. At least until the birth." Mulder flushed and excused himself from the table. Alex glared at Skinner and went after him.

There was an awkward silence, but the discussion continued around the table. Scully and Dr. Reddy discussed the possibilities surrounding the birth, trying to get that part of the conversation over without Mulder's presence.

Mulder was fussing with his bags, supposedly unpacking, but as far as Alex could see he was just making a big mess.

He walked over to Fox and stilled his hands. "Hey. You okay?"

"Fine. I just don't want to think about it, okay?"

"Yeah, but we kind of have to, you know. It's going to be scary. I'm worried about you and the baby."

"Alex, I told you and Scully I healed faster than usual on the ship, but I didn't tell you...I don't think Dr. Reddy's going to be able to keep a cut open long enough to get the baby out. He may have to keep making the incision and ..." He stopped as he saw Alex blanching.

"Never mind. Let's worry about it when it happens." Mulder stroked Alex's arms apologetically. "Come on. Let's turn in early tonight, hmm?"

North Carolina
December 22, 2000
Friday, 1:45 p.m.

Skinner crunched through the snow as he patrolled the grounds. He scanned the forest with his eyes and trudged over to the guesthouse to check on the occupants before he headed back to the main house.

Mulder was in there. Scully and Dr. Reddy were discussing his status in a fast paced medical jargon over Mulder's stomach. Mulder was lying there, eyes focused on the ceiling above him, completely disassociated with his surroundings. Neither doctor noticed, too wrapped up in their debate. Mulder's stomach was exposed, his shirt rolled up, and a monitor of some sort was fastened to his stomach. There were several machines in the room, one displaying readings from the device on his belly.

Skinner didn't know much at all about babies. His wife, Sharon, had been infertile and not particularly interested in children. He'd been so busy with his career, he'd never thought about it before, but now...now he was wondering just what he'd missed out on.

Little as he may know about babies, he DID know when another person was in need of help. He walked over to the two doctors, tapping Scully on the arm he gestured her gaze to Mulder's. She stopped mid sentence and flushed.

"Oh! Mulder, I'm sorry. I shouldn't hav- Well, you can go now if you want. Dr. Reddy and I can discuss the situation further. Mulder?"

Mulder didn't answer. Scully laid a hand on his arm and he flinched, finally breaking his stare and looking wild-eyed at her. He didn't make a sound.

Skinner decided to speak up. "Mulder? How about we let the two doctors continue their discussion and we can go to the main house for some hot chocolate. Would you two like us to bring you some back?" he glanced at the two doctors, they looked embarrassed and nodded slightly.

Mulder blinked and looked at Skinner, and then struggling, he tried to raise himself up to a sitting position. Scully moved forward, but Skinner beat her to it and helped the prone man by gripping his elbow. Mulder accepted his help with a weak smile. Once sitting, Scully unstrapped the monitor and helped him roll his shirt down.

Skinner kept his grip on his elbow and helped the pregnant man off the table and into his coat, which was lying on a chair next to them.

"Doctors." Skinner nodded in dismissal of them, both scuttled to the other room that was their makeshift laboratory.

Mulder was a little shaky on his feet, so Skinner felt well within his rights to hold on to keep his hand on Mulder's elbow and wrap his other arm around his back. They walked slowly back to the main house in silence.

Before they could enter the code, the back door swung open as Frohike let them in. "Saw you two on the monitor. You okay, Mulder?"

"Fine. Just tired. Is Alex around?" Skinner could feel his teeth grinding painfully.

"Yeah, but I think he's wrapping gifts up in your bedroom. Threatened us with bodily harm if we snooped." Frohike's face was completely serious. He wasn't going to go anywhere near the bedroom under his own volition.

Mulder grinned weakly. "Guess we better not disturb him, then. I'd like to take a nap, though..."

"Come on, then, you can sack out on my bed." Skinner steered him towards the stairs. They climbed up slowly, Mulder's unwieldy belly making it impossible to see the stairs at his feet. Reaching the top, Skinner led him to his room. The bed was made, neat as a pin. No marine would leave a bed unmade.

"Bet I could bounce a quarter off it." Mulder wryly chuckled.

Skinner darted a look at him. Had he been reading his mind again?

"Yep. Sorry, my concentration is shot. Can't seem to keep my mind shielded..." Mulder trailed off with a yawn.

"That's okay, how about we get your coat and shoes off, hmm?" He helped him out of his coat and gestured for him to sit. Getting down to his knees, he unlaced Mulder's shoes.

"You don't have to-" Another yawn interrupted the protest.

"Shut up, Mulder. There. Done. Lay down." He helped Mulder swing his legs up onto the bed. He noticed the man's ankles and feet were swollen. He sat down on the bed and massaged them gently.

Mulder was beyond complaining, he closed his eyes in bliss. "Hmmm...good..." he muttered, half asleep.

Skinner smiled to himself. There was a soft cough at the door. Looking up he saw Alex Krycek's glittering eyes narrowed at him. He wore a black sweater and jeans, his arms crossed tightly across his chest.

"Am I interrupting something?" he asked a low warning tone. Skinner raised an eyebrow, he glanced at the man on the bed. Mulder was out cold.

"He wanted a nap and you had barricaded yourself in your room."

Alex glared at him. "Well, he looks asleep now. How about we let him rest?" He stepped back, gesturing for Skinner to precede him. Skinner didn't move for a minute, then, slowly he stood and walked out. He looked back to see Krycek kiss Mulder's forehead and cover him with a blanket. He then closed the door behind them and followed Skinner down the stairs.

Skinner made hot chocolate and went to deliver it to the two in the guesthouse. Alex watched him closely. He knew what Skinner was up to. Damn if he'd let the man get any closer to his lover. He regretted letting Mulder talk him into allowing him to go to the exam alone. He'd wanted some time to himself to wrap the gifts that he'd sent away for. Mulder had taken advantage of that and said he'd be fine on his own.

Now he was lying in Skinner's bed.

He shook his head to himself. Langly and Frohike were watching him furtively as they rifled through the refrigerator. He glanced at them and they snapped their heads back to the fridge's insides. He shook his head again and reached for the kettle. He was pouring two mugs of hot chocolate when he heard the scream.

"Nononononononono! Stoooooppp! Alllleeeexxx!"

Alex dropped the kettle with a bang and ran up the steps two at a time, his gun in his hand. The Lone Gunmen raced to their security monitors to check them and also to hide.

Alex raced into Skinner's room and found his lover twisting in the bed, his face grimacing and hands clutching at the covers. Sweat poured down his lover's face, as he kept screaming "No! NO! NOOOOO!!"

Alex's heart still pounded as he glanced around the room again and holstered his weapon. He leaned down and grabbed Mulder's arms to keep them from flailing. "Mulder! Lisa! Stop it. It's okay, baby... It's just a nightmare."

Mulder kept pulling at his arms, trying to wrench himself free. His eyes had snapped open, but he wasn't seeing anything, his eyes roved around in their sockets.

"Lisa! Baby, please! Wake up!"

Alex saw movement outside below the window. Glancing down, he saw Skinner and Scully racing across the snow, guns in hand.

He tried again. "Fox! Time to wake up! Fox!!" Mulder slumped, his arms and legs slack, his eyes looking at Alex's.

"What-?" he croaked.

"Shh. It's okay. It was just a nightmare. Shhh..." He let go of Fox's arms and stroked them instead. He raised a hand and wiped off the sweat at Mulder's brow.

Skinner and Scully ran up the steps, but stopped at the sight of Alex clucking over Mulder's sweaty and disheveled form. Scully cleared her throat. Alex didn't bother looking up. "It's fine. Just a nightmare." clearly dismissing them.

Scully arched a brow, but gestured for Skinner to exit. Skinner huffed, not liking being dismissed from his own room twice in one day by Krycek.

Mulder shuddered and waved Alex's hands away from his face. "I'm fine. Sorry."

"Don't. Was it the examination? I should have come."

"No. I just... Maybe a little. I feel a little funny."

Alex's eyes widened, "Funny, how? Do you want me to get Scully?"

"No, I told her. She said it was likely just hormones or something. Actually, they were arguing over that when Skinner came. I have to pee. Help?" Mulder struggled to sit up, Alex automatically put his arm around his back and helped him up. Mulder shook off his help at the bathroom door, though, and Alex waited outside, concerned.

Mulder finished and was washing his hands in the mirror. He felt the pangs again in his stomach. The child lurched inside him and he gripped the sink. It eased off and he breathed a little easier. He washed his face and was about to turn and open the door when a blinding pain lanced through his stomach. He reached for the doorknob, but missed, falling. Before he blacked out he heard Alex yell, "Fox!"

"Fox!" Alex had opened the door at the sound of a muffled thud. His lover lay on the floor, his arms clutched around his belly. Alex dropped to his knees and touched Fox's face; he was unconscious.

"Help! Scully! Dr. Reddy!" Alex cushioned Mulder's head with his hands. He tried to see if Fox had hurt himself when he fell. Footsteps pounded on the stairs as Skinner raced to their side.

"Where's Scully and Dr. Reddy?" Alex asked impatiently.

"Coming. They were in the lab." A moment passed, both men stared at the body before them, anxious.

Scully and Dr. Reddy joined them out of breath. They had a first aid kit and stretcher. Scully looked Mulder over briefly; she decided he could be moved. They laid out the stretcher and hoisted Mulder up gently. A brief argument ensued until Scully firmly ordered for the supplies to be transported to the first floor bedroom of the main house. No one wanted to move Mulder too far, especially with it snowing outside.

They cleared the bedroom briskly, it wasn't sterile, but they did their best. Skinner and the gunmen carted over the equipment without a grumble.

Mulder started to move, squirming into a fetal position, his arms clutching tighter as he moaned. Alex climbed into the bed and wrapped his arms around Mulder, trying to keep his arms away from his belly as Scully listened with her stethoscope. Mulder's midriff was bared to do so and everyone in the room stopped cold when the skin on his stomach rippled slightly. Scully's hand froze inches from the spot. She looked up at Alex questioningly. Alex held his lover tighter, his eyes riveted at the spot that had changed briefly. The rippling only lasted a moment and then stopped. Mulder groaned again and opened his eyes.


"It's okay, Lisa." Alex lied through his teeth.

"No it's not...what's going on?!" Fox's eyes roamed the room, seeing the equipment and frightened faces.

"Okay, everyone out except Dr. Reddy, Alex and me. Come on." Scully shushed everyone out of the room and shut the door firmly.

"Does that mean I can go?" Mulder asked weakly his face a grimace.

Alex absently stroked Mulder's hair, his eyes still focused on the same spot. Mulder closed his eyes and tried to relax. Dr. Reddy bustled around with their equipment; he and Scully spoke in low voices in the corner. Moments passed by quietly. Alex kept stroking and Mulder eventually fell into a light doze, which was abruptly interrupted by another spasm of pain.

"Ohhh...uhhh..." Mulder writhed, Alex holding him down. Scully and Dr. Reddy huddled over them. The spasm eased slightly and they all waited, as before the skin on the belly rippled, this time a very small hole formed and closed just as quickly. Mulder panted, his eyes seeking Scully's.

Scully frowned and tried to avoid his gaze, but finally steeled herself and met his gaze.

"Scully? What's going on?" Mulder asked quietly, fearing the answer.

"I think you're in labor." Mulder dropped his head with a groan. Alex looked shell-shocked and remained silent, stroking Fox's hair mechanically.

They had planned to perform a C-section sometime during the first week of January. Dr. Reddy excused himself to get the rest of the necessary equipment and to inform the others outside of the situation.

For the next 15 hours Mulder experienced spasms of pain and then a sudden morphing in his belly area. The hole that appeared became bigger and more defined with every spasm. Alex was pale and stunned, but offered Mulder what comfort he could.

Tempers frayed, however, around the fifth hour.

North Carolina woods
December 22 2000
7:55 p.m.

"God damn it! How much longer?!" Mulder yelled, worn out.

Scully raised an eyebrow. "You've got it a hell of a lot easier than most women, Mulder. The dilation of the...opening is preceding much faster than-"

"Fine then, DON'T tell me." Fox snapped and turned his head away.

Another hour went by, Alex made the mistake of opening his mouth. "I can't believe this is happening... We haven't even picked out the name, yet."

Mulder glared at his lover. "Oh?! I suppose I should hold the kid in until you make up your mind, then?! You're the one that won't pick one."

Krycek wisely bit his tongue. Scully tried to ease the tension. "What names have you decided on so far?"

Mulder gritted his teeth as another spasm hit, when it and the resulting morphing eased he answered, "We decided on Samantha as the middle name and a Russian name for the first, but he won't pick anything..."

Alex shrugged slightly and rubbed his right hand, which Mulder had crushed repeatedly. "Well, the names Natalia, Natasha, and Tasha mean born on Christmas..."

Mulder shook his head. "No. You've already got a Natalia and Natasha in your family...too confusing. Besides it isn't Christmas, yet."

"Tanya or Tatiana?" Fox shook his head again, "How about Svetlana? It means star."

Alex wrinkled his nose, "no. How about Katerina? It's Slavic, but my Father's side was Slavic..."

The two had been pouring through baby name books for the last week.

Mulder nodded, smiling faintly, "I like it. Katerina Samantha."

Finally, at 6:00 a.m. December 23 2000 Katerina Samantha Mulder Krycek was born. She had a full head of dark brown hair.

The Lone Gunmen pulled out the champagne meant for New Year's and toasted the birth.

Skinner finally managed to peek into the room an hour after the birth. Mulder and Alex were both passed out, completely exhausted. Alex held Fox in his arms, their fingers entwined over Mulder's chest.

He withdrew and went out to check the perimeter once more.

The next morning, the Alex sat in the rocking chair feeding their daughter a bottle of formula. He had a big sappy smile on his face that Mulder loved watching. Alex might smile for him, but not too many others knew what a nice smile he had. Looked like Kat was going to be one of the privileged few.

Mulder was feeling worn out. His insides felt like 'mushy jello' as he so eloquently put it when Scully asked him. She had examined him again and there was no sign of the morphing any more. He'd tried it with his hand, but he was either too tired or just not able to. Scully seemed disappointed not to be able to study the phenomena, but Mulder was just glad. He hated it.

So he sat in the bed, watching the two people he loved most in the world get to know one another. Alex's head was buzzing with happy thoughts and plans for the future. Fox closed his eyes and 'listened' since Alex was so happy he was broadcasting rather loudly.

There was a tap on the door. Scully poked her head in, "Breakfast." She carried in a large tray with milk, juice, cereal, toast, eggs and fruit.

"Geez, Scully, how much do you think the two of us can eat? Kat doesn't have teeth, yet."

Scully predictably raised her eyebrow and pointed at the tray she'd brought in. "Alex's is on the way. THIS is yours. You lost a lot of blood last night. I don't care if you DO heal fast. Eat."

Mulder sighed; he HAD lost a lot of blood. Morphing or not, he had bled plenty during the actual birthing process. Their small stock of blood hadn't completely replenished his loss. He was feeling weak and tired. He picked up the spoon and ate his cereal slowly. Alex watched from the chair, glad he was cooperating. The blood on the sheets and floor had been grisly. The Langly had fainted from the sight of it when they carried it out this morning to the trash.

Alex stood up with the baby and sat down on the bed next to his lover. He was going to make sure Fox ate it all. Mulder glared at him and returned to his food. Kat smacked her lips and fell asleep...

Later that day...

They moved Mulder up to their bedroom on the second floor. Mulder leaned heavily on Alex the whole way. Lying down on the bed, he fell asleep again. Scully and Dr. Reddy were a little worried at his lack of strength, but let him sleep peacefully.

The nursery was set up, but for now she'd sleep in the bedroom with them in her bassinet.

The gunmen straightened the house up while Skinner, Dr. Reddy and Scully planned and cooked for the next day. The smell of cookies and pies woke Mulder up around dinnertime. He ate in bed again with Alex, smiling weakly as Scully filled him in on Kat's health, Christmas plans and how many times she'd had to fend off Frohike's advances after he'd had too much champagne the night before.

Christmas was pleasant. Mulder felt better as the days passed. By New Year he was back to normal. After the holidays it was decided that their guests would depart. Scully's leave of absence and vacation time were all used up. She and Skinner left on a flight to D.C. together. Before leaving the house, she gave Mulder a big hug, kissed Kat on the forehead and then, much to everyone's surprise, even hugged Alex. She whispered in his ear, "You take care of these two or else..." Alex nodded.

Skinner shook hands with Mulder briskly, but smiled down at the baby. He nodded in Krycek's general direction and strode off, leaving Scully to shrug apologetically to Mulder. She turned to leave when Skinner strode back unexpectedly. He hauled Alex off by his arm. Krycek stiffened, but offered no resistance. He glared at Skinner who let go, but leaned in closer.

"If anything happens to Mulder or the baby, so help me God, I will KILL you." He glared deep in Krycek's eyes and then turned away once more. Alex walked back to Fox and shook his head. "Forget it. Let's go back inside." He led his family back into the house and reset the alarm. They sighed at finally having the house to themselves. Peace at last.

Kat started crying.

Months turned into years. Katerina grew more adorable everyday. She was a happy baby, always smiling and gurgling, raising her hands to be picked up. Alex spoiled her rotten and Fox wasn't far behind him. They delighted in her intelligence. She spoke early, took her first step early, and did everything ahead of her peers.

Alex was in awe and not just a little freaked out until Mulder finally admitted that he had developed as fast himself.

The first trip to visit Alex's family was stressful. They returned from their 'trip' when Kat was three months old. Mari, Nikolai, Anya, Natalia and all the relatives all admonished the two for worrying them so and then proceeded to lavish attention on the cute little girl they'd 'adopted.'

Mari pulled the two aside while the Aunts cooed over their new niece. She demanded an explanation from them on the trouble she'd felt that night and the green stain on the floor.

Mulder and Alex were going to make up some little story when she demanded, "Does this have anything to do with the 'family business?' Your father and mother-"

Alex grabbed her hand. "No. And you know better than to ask about that. Just leave it alone. We're okay and we're living in a nice house in North Carolina now. That's all you need to know."

Mari narrowed her eyes and then nodded, leaving them to join the party in the next room.

Mulder stopped Alex from following. "Family business? Are you ever going to tell me about your parents, Alex?"

Alex sighed, closing his eyes. "What do you think, Mulder? My parents were consortium spies. They defected from Russia and the Russian sect of the consortium to work for the American elders."

"What happened?"

"They were executed by the Russian consortium for being traitors. I come from a long line of traitors, okay?" He opened his eyes but didn't meet Mulder's.

Mulder took his hand. "When?"

"When I was 12, Nikolai was 18 and Anya was 20. They took care of Natalia and me. The American elders recruited me in college. I don't know how much my sisters and brother know. As far as I know I was the only one they approached. I couldn't tell them about it.

Anya and Nikolai...I think they know about Mama and Papa's line of work somewhat. Especially considering what Mari said. I guess they think it was like the mob. I don't want them to know how dirty they really were...or I am."

"WERE. And you got out when you could. Don't be so hard on yourself. I love you. Now come on, let's go rescue our daughter from her aunties." Mulder kissed him on the cheek and led him back to the party.

Back home, life was laid back. Mulder tried his hand at gardening. He wanted to try to grow tomatoes and green peppers. He would have failed miserably if Alex didn't sneak out occasionally and water them for him.

Both men worked on fixing the house up and maintaining the security. Scully dropped by occasionally for visits, but Skinner never did. He did send presents for Kat, though.

Mulder's ability to heal went away with his pregnancy apparently. One day, not too long after Kat was born, he scratched his hand on a piece of glass and while they'd waited for the expected rapid healing, he'd kept on bleeding. Finally, Alex had grabbed his hand and pressed the wound closed. Cleaning it with peroxide and a Band-Aid. Mulder had smiled, looking at his bandaged hand.

"What are you grinning at?" Alex had asked.

Mulder shrugged, "Well, I didn't mind the healing part, but I'm kind of glad it's gone with the morphing. I feel normal again..."

Kat had started crying in the next room and they'd gone to feed her again.

Life was good...

The End

To be continued in "Book 2: Trust, Love and Happiness, too."

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