The Journey series

Title: Journey 01 - Contact
Author: eponine119
Spoilers: Duane Barry, One Breath

Summary: What really happened during Scully's abduction?

The floor was cold beneath her bare feet. She stood on the tile floor, not knowing where she was or why she was. Knowing only that she was cold. The room was quiet and still. Sterile. A bright white light, seemingly sourceless, bathed everything in the room and made her squint slightly. She wore only a thin cotton gown, open in the back save for two or three ties. A hospital gown. Was this a hospital? She did not know. Perhaps it was, in some sense.

She lay in the bed, awake and afraid. She swallowed hard and wished that she could do something, but she was immobilized. Straps held her wrists firmly to the sides of the bed. The same sort of straps held her ankles out at the edges of the mattress, exposing her. She did not struggle. She had tried before, and it had not helped. The restraints were tight.

She wondered again what she was doing in this place. What was being done to her in this place.

The silence rang in her ears and she longed for any sort of distraction. But there was nothing to divert her attention from the pain. It radiated dully from her middle. They had done something to her. She did not know how many hours she had lain in the bed because time faded in and out. She had vague recollections of nameless, faceless men injecting her with needles countless times and yet they weren't as strong as memories. She could not be certain it had really happened. It was as though she looked back through a tunnel and fog obscured her view. Just as it was when she tried to remember life beyond this place. Who she was, what she had done, whom she had loved. It was all a blur.

All she could know was that they had done something to her and it hurt. Her throat closed on the pain, the throbbing in her abdomen making her sick to her stomach. It had something to do with the injections. The needles and the treatments.

She drew in a deep breath and sighed. Soon this moment, too, would be nothing more than a blurry memory. Somehow the thought did not bring her comfort.

The straps had changed. Her knees were bent now, drawn up. If she could see past the tent of her gown draped over her knees, she would see the faces of the men. But from where she lay, she could see nothing.

What she felt was agony.

They were poking her, prodding her, deep inside. It was sharp and it hurt her. She wanted to scream, but she refused. She wanted to kick them away from her, but she could not. She remained immobilized.

Her eyes closed and she drew shaky breaths. They had stuck needles into her arm before they began this. And not one of those needles had contained anything to dull her senses, to take away this pain. It was inhumane.

Her hands knotted into fists below the restraints and she endured.

As she became aware, she felt a soft, gentle hand stroking her forehead. A voice, equally kind, was speaking to her in soothing tones. Her mother - she thought immediately. But when she opened her eyes, her vision swam in consciousness and she could not remember any details of the woman who had given her comfort through the illnesses of her childhood. She could not recall the woman who had given her birth.

There was a chair at her bedside. A woman sat in it. Her hair was blond. The woman smiled at her. A soft smile. She was not one of those who had hurt her.

The pain was gone. The restraints were gone, as well, but she was too weak to think of moving, so their absence did her no good. Her arms lay limp by her sides. Her legs stretched out straight, unmoving and heavy as lead. The pain was gone, and all she felt was emptiness.

She looked to the woman, seeking understanding. She tried to form a question, but she did not know how to ask. There were too many questions to ask to choose just one.

"I'm sorry," the woman said, picking up her hand and stroking it. "You're going to be all right, you know. Now that this is finished, now that they know, they won't harm you any more. You'll be home soon."

Home. It was an empty word. She could not remember. Why could she not remember? She wanted to ask, but all that came were tears.

"You're safe now," the woman promised her.

"I don't remember," she finally managed to say.

A strange look passed over the woman's face. It took her a moment to find the words to say. "Maybe that's better."

But even as she heard the woman's words, memory began to burst through her brain. The pain and the agony and the blood. The rich, coppery, sickening smell of blood and its sticky feel against her legs. Agony ripping through her muscles and contracting them without against her will. Trembling with fear, and cold and shock at what was happening to her. As her body struggled to expel this horrible, alien thing they had put into her.

It was gone now. She could feel that emptiness inside her. And that created a curiously strong ache in her chest. One she did not understand. It felt like could she have loved an object she had had no want of, that she had carried for a few weeks without her own consent? She realized it was not love. It was loss. And it was not the loss of that thing that she mourned.

It was the loss of herself. The ways things had been before. Because even as she realized that one day soon, these events would blur into that white light and she would no longer recall them, she knew that nothing would be the same.

Mulder put the news magazine down on her desk with a slap that pulled her out of her thoughts on the case and made her look up from the report she was typing. "Did you see this?" he asked, pushing it towards her so that she could see its cover. He plopped down into the chair facing the desk and she could see the excitement in his eyes.

"I read it," she told him.

His long fingers snatched the magazine back and flipped through its pages, to an illustration. "Did you see how they did this? How they cloned the sheep? It explains it all right here. It's amazing," he told her. His eyes met hers. "The way they implanted the DNA of an adult into the oocyte and then jump-started it to create a you realize what this means? Do you realize how easily they could create an alien-human hybrid using this method?" Mulder sank back in his chair, letting the magazine fall shut. He waited for her reaction and seemed puzzled when she did not react with enthusiasm.

"Did you keep reading, Mulder?" she asked quietly, seriously, and he nodded slightly. "In spite of the advances, these clones - that dividing unfertilized egg - still needs a womb to carry it. And it took them almost three hundred tries to create thirty pregnancies, to have one live birth. What kind of odds are those?"

"In the name of science, in the name of what they've accomplished..." His words were less strongly spoken than before. He could see her point.

"It's possible, isn't it, that whoever, or whatever, may be creating those alien-human hybrids you're so excited about isn't so far technologically advanced than we are. Three hundred tries, to produce one live birth. Is it worth it?" she asked.

The pain he saw in her eyes registered and finally he understood. What they both knew, but never spoke of. He reached over the desk and took her hand into his. He squeezed it to reassure her. To comfort her and lend her support. Because he knew at that moment, she would not let him pull her body close. Even if they both needed the contact.

The end.

Title: Journey 02 – Like Him
Author: eponine119
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox, not to me. No infringement is intended.
Spoilers: Leonard Betts, Talitha Cumi, Herrenolk

Summary: Scully reflects on the man's revelations, and a possible solution to her problem.

Author's note: Betcha something like this is in the season finale. We'll see...

She couldn't sleep. It wasn't really shocking, considering the circumstances. A sick fear twisted through her stomach and her heart raced too quickly for her to think of resting. She turned on the light, but its brightness did not help to drive away the demons. It only made her see them more clearly.

She got out of bed into the coldness of the night, leaving the covers askew. Shaking slightly, from cold she told herself, she walked over to the mirror. When she looked at her face, it seemed to her she had not seen it in a very long time. She looked different. She looked older.

There was still a line from where the blood had dripped down, part of the nosebleed-coughing fit that woke her. She scrubbed at it with a tissue, staring into her own eyes in the glass. Nosebleeds come from dehydration, she told herself, and the cough is left over from the cold. Everyone gets colds, and everyone has a cough in January.

Suddenly she had a hard time believing it.

Leonard Betts had tried to kill her because she was a threat to him. Not because he needed to eat some fictional cancer that was feeding off her organs. He'd killed that EMT Michelle, hadn't he, and she hadn't been dying of cancer.

The eyes that stared back at hers from the mirror didn't believe that. Because they had seen Betsy Hagopian's charts in that Allentown hospital a year ago. She had heard the stories told by the women of MUFON, the ones who claimed to remember her from some shadowy experience better forgotten.

She did not want to believe.

She wished that she could tell Mulder these fears. She drew in a long, deep breath, remembering how he'd not paid attention to her when she returned from Allentown and told him about the women. "But you're OK, aren't you, Scully?" he'd said, blowing her off.

He was a man. Their brains worked differently. He had enough demons to deal with.

A faint smile touched her, an ironic smile. She'd never had any demons before this. She didn't know quite how to deal with it. In her heart, she knew she'd be all right come morning. She'd lock the notion away, deep inside, and go see her doctor, who would tell her she was fine, and then she'd move on with her life.

She was a doctor. She would know if something was wrong with herself.

Little nagging worries began to invade her mind. Things she'd tried hard not to think about. She should have worried about the weight loss, the lack of appetite a few months ago, she thought. But she'd chalked it up to stress, and besides, she liked being a size six again. The headaches were stress. It could all be accounted to stress. Waking up in the middle of the night with chills, that was stress and an uncommonly cold winter.

It can all be credited to stress, she told herself.

She got back into bed and listened to the darkness. She closed her eyes and lay her hands on her stomach, trying to convince herself to relax. But the relaxation did not come. Her fingers began to probe her skin, searching out abnormalities, tender spots, something she should worry about.

Finally she had to turn on the light again, breathing hard and willing her mind to stop. A moment later, she reached for the phone.

Mulder turned down the volume on the television when he heard the telephone ring. He wondered mildly who it could be. He'd been getting a lot of wrong numbers of late, and was beginning to be a bit paranoid about it. He cracked the curtains and peeked out, looking for a van lurking across the street as he grabbed the receiver. He didn't see any van.


"Mulder, it's me."

"Scully? Isn't it a little past your bedtime?" he asked, joking lightly as he saw that the clock said it was nearly three. He hadn't realized it was so late.

"Did I wake you?"

"No," he said softly. She sounded upset; he knew she'd been upset about having to kill Betts. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah. Sure. Why wouldn't I be?"

Mulder bit his lip. Typical Scully answer, he thought. Something was wrong. "I don't know, you sound upset." And it's 3 am and you never call me, Scully, he thought.


She stopped and his heart went wild in his chest. "What is it, what's wrong?" he asked, trying to keep the fear out of his voice.

"I'm having trouble sleeping."

"Enough years in the FBI give the best of us troubled nights," he said comfortingly.

"No, it's not that." Her voice was small. "It's something else."

"You know that I'm here for you, Scully," he reminded her gently, wondering what was bothering her so much.

There was a long pause before she continued. "Do you remember...last year, when I saw those MUFON women in Allentown, Pennsylvania?"

"I think so. That was with that Japanese diplomat, and the thing in the train car."

"Yeah. One of those women was dying of cancer, Mulder, her body was riddled with it."

"And Leonard Betts made you think of her?" he guessed.


"We don't know what made Betts the way he is, Scully. It is possible that his mother, or he, participated in the same sort of conspiracy of experimentation that has been going on. His ability to regenerate like a worm would aid their efforts towards cloning an entire human being, something we know that they're working towards." The way the pieces fit were exciting to Mulder; he hadn't thought of it before. It was too bad Betts was dead and they would probably never know what had made him the man that he was, how he fit into the greater puzzle.

"He told me that I'm dying."

He was silent, stunned, for nearly a minute. "He couldn't have."

"You said it yourself, Mulder. He had an uncanny ability to detect cancer in people, because he fed on it."

"But that doesn't mean - I mean, look at you, Scully! You're young, you're healthy-"

"Am I? I'm not so sure any more. I've got this cough and -"

"And because you're worried about this, the power of suggestion is twisting your thoughts," Mulder said.

"Don't talk rationally to me!" she cried. "I know all the rationalizations. But none of them explain why Betts told me in that ambulance that I had something he needed, right before he came at me with that scalpel."

"I don't know what to say," Mulder said quietly, the truth. "You're the healthiest person I know. You're strong. There's no reason for you to believe this. There's no proof that Betts even had the ability to detect cancers."

Her laugh was rough. "You sound like me now."

"Never thought you'd see that day, did you?" he chuckled back. "You'll see the doctor and he'll tell you you're fine. You've got to live to be a ripe old age, Scully, how else are you going to get to be Director of the Bureau?" Something he'd teased her with for a long time. "Do you think you can put it out of your mind long enough to get some sleep?"


"Do you want me to come over?"

"No." She heaved a deep sigh. "I'm being ridiculous about this, aren't I?"

"Of course you're not. Scully, have you ever given any thought to trying to find out what happened to you...when you were gone?"

"I don't want to know."

"But the information -"

"No, I've given it a lot of thought. And I don't want to know what they did to me. I don't want to hear that I'm dying, Mulder," she said, and her voice filled with tears.

"Ssh. Ssh. Don't cry. It's going to be all right," he whispered into the phone, wishing he were there to soothe her.

"There's so much I still haven't done. So many things." She sniffled loudly, but the tears didn't stop. "I've never seen Paris, or Rome. I've never...I've never...I want to have children, Mulder, and watch them grow up. I want to have a man love me so much that he'd...he'd die without me. I want...I need...I'm so afraid, Mulder. And it's so cold in here."

Mulder felt the tears spring to his eyes. "Pull your blankets around you, tight. Are you in bed? Get into bed and pull the blankets up. Better?"

"Mmph," was the possibly affirmative reply.

"That's my arms around you, Scully. You're going to be safe. You're going to be fine. You're going to have those children. And that man is going to take you to Paris, and Rome, and Timbuktu if you asked him." I'll take you there, Mulder thought. "You're going to live longer and shine brighter than anyone ever has." I can't lose you, he thought.

"I want to believe that, Mulder, but it's's so hard sometimes." She sounded like a child when she cried.

"Nothing's going to happen to you. I'm going to keep you safe. Because I need you. Okay?"


"Do you think you're going to be able to sleep now?" Tears and the release they brought usually led to sleep, Mulder knew. He was doing his shrink act, but that was only a very small part of this. Nothing he said was untrue.

"No. I'm still too scared." The night and their lonely fears had brought them honesty.

"It's all right. I'm going to stay with you till you get to sleep. I'm going to be right here," he promised.


A long silence passed between them. A comfortable silence. Then Mulder said, with gentle humor in his voice, "So what do you want to talk about? Did you watch the Superbowl?"

And she laughed. A real laugh. Mulder's heart lightened. Everything *was* going to be all right. "Will you come with me to the doctor's?"

"Anything you want."

"Maybe you should get a check-up, too."

"I've had enough of hospitals to last me a lifetime."

"But it's been a while since you ended up in one."

"What are you saying, that you want to play doctor, Scully?" he asked.

And she laughed again. Things were definitely going to be all right.

The man in the van that was parked around the corner, out of sight of Mulder's window, took off the headset and put it down on the countertop. He'd heard enough. He reached for the box of cigarettes and shook one out, the glow of the flame illuminating his face as he lit it and took a deep drag.

So she knew now what they knew. Or, what they'd suspected for a few months now - even their capabilities were not great enough to detect these things so early. It was an unfortunate side effect of the tests, one that angered him greatly.

Because he'd had cancer. He knew the terror of the diagnosis, the wave of fear and disbelief at being handed such a sentence. He could not wish that on anyone. The people he took, who he was responsible for, he made sure they did not remember their suffering. He was kind in that respect. But this side effect, the cancer, that was painful. Exceedingly painful.

He had been cured. Spared the horror of the lungfuls of blood, of pills full of poison and life threatening radiation ripping through his body. He took another drag and crushed the cigarette out. He remembered the sensation of the healing.

From the headset, he could hear the soft murmurs of their continuing conversation - pillow talk of two who had never shared a pillow. Long distance love. If they did love, and he suspected that he did.

He had also known the pain of seeing the woman he loved lying weak in intensive care, her blue eyes dulled with pain, glassy and without knowledge or awareness. That had been agony.

But she had been cured. And he remembered his argument for that cure, not a bargain like for his own cure. "There is no enemy more dangerous that he who has nothing left to lose." He'd spoken of Mulder then. And he could make the same argument now. He would not put Mulder or Scully through the pains of his life. He was old, he had earned that pain. He had to protect them. The older generation always wanted something better for their children, after all.

She would be cured. Because he liked her. He liked Mulder, too. That was why he was doing it. No other reason. None at all.

The end.

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Title: Journey 03 - Legacy
Author: eponine119

Summary: Mulder thinks he's found a possible cure for Scully's cancer, but will she be willing to try it?

He sat down in the chair next to her bed and just looked at her for a long moment. She'd taken a blow to the head last night, and the hospital had insisted on keeping her for observation. Just observation, but it still scared him.

She looked small and helpless in the big, sterile white bed, and he didn't like it. Small and helpless was not his Scully. Increasingly over the past few months, she'd looked more pale and more delicate and now she reminded him of a porcelain figurine, so fragile it would break if he held it in his hands. He didn't want to feel that way about her.

He moved from the chair to sit on the edge of the bed. Mulder pulled her head onto his thighs and hesitated. She made a sleepy noise and he froze, afraid he'd woken her. He held his breath as her body shifted underneath the covers. He was waiting to see if she would roll over and turn away from him. She didn't. She moved to curl up against him, her body seeking the comfortable warmth of his. And she didn't wake.

Softly, he touched her back, his fingers splaying over her ribs, feeling the rise and fall of her breath. It was strong and steady and even. She was strong and steady. He could feel the muscles and the warm skin through the thin gown she wore. She didn't feel anything like a cold, porcelain object. She was still real.

He threaded his fingers through her hair, combing it idly, gently caressing the tender spot at the back of her neck as he thought.

He had to tell her, and he didn't know where the words were going to come from. He stared into the open void of the room for a long time, his fingers moving through her hair, and still no answers came.

When he looked down at her again, her eyes were open. She hadn't moved. He started slightly, at having been caught touching her, but didn't stop. Her eyes were wide, and there was a frightened look in them. The panicky, breathless ache in his stomach doubled. He had made her look that way.

He removed his fingers from her hair and she sat up. "Scully, we have to talk," he said, his voice rough. No more words came out. He could feel her intense gaze on him, waiting for more, and he looked away.

Her voice was hard when she replied after a long silence. "You're right. We do," she said. He looked at her and she was biting her lip, looking down at the white blanket on the bed. Her eyes lifted and met his for a moment before flitting away again. She crawled down to the end of the bed and grabbed her chart from its rack, returning quickly and putting the metal clipboard and papers into his hands.

He didn't want to accept them. "What is this?" he asked. She didn't answer. Scully rose from the bed and stood across the room from him, crossing her arms over her chest, cold in just the thin hospital gown. Mulder glanced through the pages, but the words didn't make any sense to him. Frustrated, he threw the chart on the bed.

"You tell me," he ordered, wishing he didn't feel anger towards her. But anger was safe. He knew how to deal with it better than any of these other emotions. He'd lived with fear all of his life, but he had never learned how to deal with it, except to push it down and hide it away and cover it up.

Her voice was low and absolutely unemotional. "The tumor's growing." Her eyes focused somewhere over his head.

Mulder gasped, suddenly unable to draw breath. Her words knocked the wind out of him. He wished he could say something - could manage to form words and make them come out - but he couldn't breathe, he couldn't think.

Scully's eyes glanced into his and then bounced off again. "I'm not going to take treatment, Mulder. It might help, for a little while, but I don't want to add days if they're going to be days spent in agony. It isn't worth it. Not to me."

He remembered how weak she had been after the one treatment she had received after her diagnosis. How much it had scared him to see her that way. How frightened she must have been to be that weak, Scully who always needed to be in control. Her body was betraying her, and it was his fault.

If it wasn't for him, she wouldn't have been abducted. They wouldn't have done terrible things to her. She wouldn't be dying now. The guilt was his, and his alone. It was his responsibility to fix it.

She looked like she was going to cry. The tears were in her eyes and he could see she was fighting to hold them back. So that he wouldn't see them. "Maybe you'd better go," she said, her voice thick with the tears she refused to shed.

"Scully...those women...Dr. Scanlon...there were things I didn't tell you. Things that I need to say now," he began. She looked at him and he swallowed hard. The butterflies in his stomach had turned into mad, ravenous animals and they were eating him alive.

She came back and sat down on the bed next to him. He carefully scooted over, closer to the edge, so he wouldn't touch her. He assumed she did not want him to be touching her. But she took his hand and threaded her fingers through his, holding it in her lap. He was amazed by her, and she smiled at him briefly. The brightness of that smile in light of what she had told him, of what was going on in her body, was too much for him to bear and he had to look away.

"The other women who...died." Every word was a war inside him. "There were records of their undergoing infertility treatments, and they all died childless. Scully, you -" She was looking at him now, he could feel it and he could not look at her. "Your name was also in those records."

She just squeezed his hand. Trying to be strong, and waiting for the next blow.

There was no other way to say it, except to come right out and say it. "Betsy Hagopian, and Penny Northern, and the other women, were subjected to radiation to induce superovulation, and their eggs were harvested. Leaving them barren. And dying of cancer," he explained slowly, as gently as he could. And then he looked at her.

Her face was white. And she was clutching his hand to her chest, clinging to it. But her lips were pressed together and her eyes were dry. She wasn't going to react. He'd expected her to start crying. He wanted to start crying for her. But she was so strong. It amazed him.

He swallowed and went on. "I talked to the Lone Gunmen." She was going to break his fingers, and he was going to let her. "About a lot of things. The procedures, and experimental cancer treatments."

Another deep breath. How could he say these words to her? To Scully? His partner, who was always there to back him up, stronger than he would ever be. Most of the time it was strange to think of her as a woman, to him she was just "Scully", the person he leaned on and needed and trusted. Gender neutral, gender unimportant. Because it had to be that way. The few times he'd looked at her and seen a woman, seen all of the things that made her different from him and so much more special because of it, he'd been deeply affected. Now it felt like a terrible line was being crossed, one he was afraid to traverse. Because there would be no turning back. He would have to love her as a woman and not just as a friend.

"Their research supports the idea that in your case, because what was done to you, and the way that the cancer was induced, hormone therapy might be an option."

"I assume they have cases and proof to back up this theory?" Scully said and her voice threatened to crack under the strain of her control.

Mulder had to smile. "Frohike typed up a thirty-five page report himself, complete with pie charts and graphs. I've got it in the car." He kept it in his travel case that went with him everywhere. He didn't know why he needed to keep it with him, close at hand. It was Scully's safety at stake. And it was a reminder that he needed to tell her.

"All right," she said after a moment. "Hormone therapy." She sounded like she thought she could live with that. "What kind of hormones?"

"Estrogen, progesterone," he said. She nodded, thinking. "And human chorionic gonadotropin."

She burst into choking sobs, without warning. The swiftness of her reaction, and the strength of it surprised him. She looked like it had surprised her too, as she fought to control the tears and failed. The one thing that could save her life was the one thing he had just told her she could no longer produce. The treatments had left her sterile, and all she needed was the hormone produced by a pregnant body.

He watched, wishing he could do something, as she put her hands over her face, and took deep breaths to calm herself. She sniffled once, then twice, and put her hands down. "I'm sorry," she said.

"It's okay, Scully," he said. He took a deep breath, wondering again how the hell he was supposed to say this to her. "The eggs that they took from your body...they didn't use all of them." He looked at her carefully. She was holding his hand again, and breathing hard. Waiting for the next blow to fall.

"I have some of them."

"Mulder, no," she said, panicky. Not believing him.

"I stole a vial from the clinic where they were conducting their experiments. Your eggs, Scully. And they're viable." She was looking at him like she didn't believe him. "They're perfect."

"No, Mulder, no. I can't -"

"Why not?"

He watched her struggle to find an argument. "The moral and ethical implication of -"

"What about the moral and ethical implications of what they did to you?" he demanded. Anger again. "They took you and used you in their experiments and left you to die. They poked and prodded and injected you, and they robbed you of -"

"That's enough, Mulder!" she said sharply.

"I'm sorry," he said instantly. As hurt and enraged as it made him, as physically as the thoughts made him react, it couldn't compare to how she must feel. Ovaries and wombs and that strange need to nurture inside your own body - Mulder understood these things intellectually, but he knew he could never understand them as a woman did, what a woman's feelings were.

"I can't have a baby just because the hormones might save my life," she said, still fighting. "It's wrong. It's the same thing as what they did to me."

"But you want to have a baby, don't you, Scully?" he asked seductively. Because he knew that she did, he'd seen it in her eyes in Home, Pennsylvania and a dozen times before and since. She was so warm and so loving when she wasn't being rigid and scientific. The crime would be if she didn't have a child. Children.

"Yeah," she admitted roughly. She looked down, suddenly quiet and contemplative, and he thought she might start to cry again. "It's so much to think about," she mumbled in a small voice. She needed comfort, and he needed to touch her, but he was afraid. He patted her leg as though to tell her it was all right. "I'd come to terms with dying. My life ending before I could try...before I could...I knew there were things I wouldn't get to do. But now..." She looked at him. "How do I do this, Mulder? And how do I not do it?"

He hugged her, holding her tight against him, so tight she couldn't move and he couldn't think. It was better that way. "What about you, Mulder?" she asked, drawing away from him and patting at the wet stain she'd left on his shirt with her tears.

It was a quantum leap in logic, but he knew exactly what she was asking. And he felt like the Grinch after he'd discovered Christmas in Whoville - his heart grew three sizes, until there was no more room in his chest. "Aside from the need for corrective lenses, and, well..." he stopped for a moment, embarrassed. "My genes are good, Scully. And my sperm count's great."

"I don't think I want to know how you know that," she said, her smile betraying laughter.

He broke into a grin. "I had genetic typing done; passed all the tests. Made a donation or two to the First National Bank of Sperm. Your eggs are on ice there, too, at George Washington Hospital. And the Bureau's health plan, believe it or not, covers three tries at in vitro fertilization."

Scully took a deep breath and Mulder worried he'd gone too far. Assumed too much - way too much. If he drove her away now...he couldn't do that. "It's a lot to process," she admitted.

Mulder nodded, preparing to back off and leave the room, leave her alone to think. It had taken him a little time to process it himself. He got up from the bed. "You need to get some rest," he told her.

She nodded. "Thank you, Mulder," she said and the words were weak, considering how much she owed to him. The weight of that responsibility...he was a loner, having people care about him made him nervous and caring about them back scared him to death.

"I'll be right outside, in the hall," he said, moving towards the door. "Sweet dreams, Scully."

She nodded, and smiled gently. His hand reached the door and he wondered what she would decide when she had time to think about all of this. Her voice stopped him. "I wouldn't want to have a baby without a father," she said.

The words hit him hard and he looked at her, stunned. "Looks like we both have a lot to think about," she told him. "Good night, Mulder."

The end.

Title: Journey 04 - Asking
Author: eponine119

Summary: Scully makes a decision about her illness and Mulder agrees to help her

"Mulder," Scully said when she walked into the office. The tone of her voice seized his attention. He didn't know what was different about it from all the other times she'd said his name, but something in her voice compelled him to his feet to meet her in the middle of the room.

She took his hands in hers, feeling the size and roughness of his palms as she held them, tight, as she looked up at him. "I want to do this," she said, looking into his eyes.

He knew instantly what she meant and it took all of his strength to remain standing. He just squeezed her hands tighter to try to steady himself. This should have come as no surprise to him when over the last few weeks, every conversation had eventually made its way to children, how to raise them and teach them and love them. For hours, they'd talked over all of the fine points, agreeing and disagreeing on the basics of parenting. And of love. Mulder had thought it was simply something Scully needed to do, something she needed to deal with. He had seen the naked longing for a child on her face more than once, when she wasn't quick enough or strong enough to hide it. There were things she needed to work out in light of the news she'd received, and he was honored she would use him as a sounding board. It was something he had needed to do, too. But her words now had no less power to shock him.

There was more she wanted to tell him. He could see it in her eyes. "Okay," he said gently, encouraging her to go on, watching her eyes, caressing her fingers with his, reminding himself that this wasn't about him, or his feelings. It was her, it was all about her, and he would do anything he had to in order to take care of her.

A strange look twisted her face suddenly - a mixture of fear and tears straining not to fall. His heart leapt into his throat and he expected her nose to begin to bleed again. The episodes had become more frequent over the last few weeks, and that instant of choking panic was one he'd grown to recognize. But this time, it was words she was struggling with. "The doctors say I've got a year. Give or take. And they said that I can do this."

She didn't look at him as she plunged ahead. "I didn't talk to them about your theory. I'm a doctor, I'm willing to take on that risk. But I need to know there's someone who will raise my child if it doesn't work. If I....die."

She sounded so desperate. The pleading look in her eyes was heartbreaking. He wanted to wrap her in his arms and hug her so tight neither of them could breathe. He wanted to assure her that she was going to be safe, and well, that he would make things so. It broke his heart that he could not.

She glanced up into his eyes for just a second, searing him inside with the briefest contact before she looked away again. "You're my best friend, Mulder. There is no one else on this earth who I could go to with this. So I'm asking you..." She had to pause to take in a deep breath. "Do you want to be a father?"

"Yes." When she met his eyes, he smiled at her, his heart close to bursting. He hadn't allowed himself to consciously think about it, to allow himself to need during all those talks about children, but now he realized how very much he wanted this.

A tentative smile formed on her lips in return. As though she had been blessed with an incredible fortune to wonderful to believe. Her uncertainty touched him deeply. Her trust, her faith in him, and only him...he had to wonder what he had ever done to be worthy of her feelings. She, who had so many people who loved her.

He slid his hands out of hers, and pulled her against his body, Gently, he touched her hair as he cradled her against his chest. He felt, rather than heard, the first sob shudder through her body and murmured to her reassuringly. "Sshhh, it's all right, everything all right."

"I don't know how I can ask you to do this," she sniffled, hating the tears. She had lived her entire life in such a way that no one would have to go to extra trouble for her. So that she would not have to depend on anyone but herself. This was such a big step. An uncertain step. It terrified her. Even though this was Mulder, and she trusted him with her life, depending on him suddenly scared her.

When he said, "I want to," she had a hard time believing it.

"Why can't you believe that, Scully?" He pulled back to look at her face. She'd pushed the tears away and her eyes were dry. "I want to do this. I want to be involved." he asked her. One finger stroked her soft skin and he felt, rather than heard, her breath catch.

"Because I'm scared." Her lower lip trembled like a child's.

"What are you afraid of?"

"Dying." A tiny teardrop trickled from her eye and slid down her cheek. "Living. Loving." She pulled away from him, taking steps backwards toward the door. "I don't think I can do this, Mulder."

She was panicking. "Hey," he said, stopping her. "If you don't want to, that's all right." His tone was soothingly soft. Alluring. "But if you're afraid to try, if you're afraid of making the wrong choices..." The rest of his advice evaporated, leaving him with empty space. "You don't have to trust me with this, Scully," he told her, figuring that was what was bothering her. Now that she'd asked him, she'd realized what a bad choice he was and she wanted a way out. "You can get an anonymous donor, you can ask your mother to be the guardian -"

"No," she said. "I want you." Her iron control snapped back into place. Her eyes blazed with energy and life. All doubts were gone, and she was Scully again.

A tiny smile he couldn't help tweaked his lips again. Pride. "We can do this, Scully," he told her. "Together."

She nodded tightly and he knew she was thinking about dying and leaving him with a baby to raise. "I - um - I'd better go and tell Skinner what's going on," she said distractedly, starting for the door. Mulder had a good guess that she'd have to stop off first and cry in the privacy of the ladies' bathroom. She was holding herself more tightly together than he'd ever seen her before, there had to be a reason. She'd been on the verge of tears in his arms, but hadn't allowed herself to cry in front of him. They still had so far to go with one another.

"Wait," he said softly. "We still have things to talk about." She stopped at the door, pressing her lips together against the cascade of tears. Now that he'd stopped her, and she was looking at him, he didn't know what to say. "What are you going to tell him?"

"That I'm leaving the Bureau." The words came hard. Her voice dropped to a whisper and she crossed her arms over her chest again, holding herself. "I shouldn't be here now. According to the doctors, I'm not well enough to work," she admitted in a small, shamed voice, her eyes trained on the floor. "I was never given approval to come back after that last time in the hospital. I know I should have said something...I shouldn't have put you into danger that way...but I wanted to come back. I wanted to be with you." She had not forgotten the time when the X Files were closed down and they were separated. Mulder had tried to put her and their partnership behind him, and it had hurt her. He'd had no reason to trust her then, but it had still felt like a betrayal. And more lonely than she could face.

She plunged ahead. "And I want to start the process right away. In vitro fertilization can take time. I don't know how much of that I've got." She bit her lip and then met his eyes with frankness. "If it gets close - The doctors said that when I - when it's time for me to...go, when the pain and the sickness become too much for my body to bear, I'll probably lose consciousness, slip into a coma and never wake up. If that happens before I....they can take the baby from me if I haven't given birth yet. The procedure has been performed successfully on other patients suffering from brain death."

There was a tremendous crash and she jumped as Mulder threw several items from his desk onto the floor. Fury burned on his face. "How can you just say that?" he shouted. She could see the pure fear behind his rage.

"Those are the facts, Mulder," she told him evenly. "If you can't -"

"Brain death! Coma, post-mortem birth...God! It's not going to happen, Scully. Not to you. And not -" He stopped himself before he could finish the thought: and not to me.

"It could happen, Mulder. It's unlikely, but *it could happen*. We both have to be able to face all of the facts in this. We might not get a happy ending." He opened his mouth to protest, but she spoke over him. "And if you are unable to face that possibility, then..." Words failed her. She didn't want to hurt him. She'd hurt him enough already. Damn it, all of this, all of his hurt, was her fault. How could she possibly even think of putting him through this?

But how could she not?

"Then?" he snapped.

"Then I'll have to find another way. Take treatment and hope maybe it works. See if I can buy myself another week or another month, even though the currency is suffering. Or maybe I'll just go away somewhere peaceful and warm and wait for death to come." It wasn't what she wanted. But it was what she would do. If it would spare him pain, if she was being too selfish, if it was what she had to do.

"No," he whispered. She couldn't leave him. He couldn't let her leave him.

"But I want to have a baby, Mulder. Not only because there's some hope that the processes involved might help the cancer. The opportunity was taken from me, and you've given it back. I want to experience that, the changes, the love, the....everything. And yeah, I want to deny the cancer too. I wish I could believe that I'll live forever and get to hear my baby's voice, and teach them to read, and see them go to college and fall in love and marry. But I have to be prepared for if reality doesn't turn out like the dream. I have to be responsible for that person. If I bring a life into this world, I have to make sure that life is cared for. *That* is what I'm asking of you, Mulder. Because you're right, I could go get some donor, and I could ask my mom to take the child. But I don't want that, Mulder. I want to have your baby. If these are my last months of life, I want to spend them with you. You are the one I want to raise my child if I'm not here. I - you - " She'd run out of words and things to say. She knew she'd just proclaimed her love for him, but she still could not bring herself to say that one all-important word. "You're the one I trust."

No one had ever trusted him before. He knew he always screwed it up when they did. It felt like no one in his life had ever loved him before. Certainly not like Scully. He knew then that she was it, she was what he'd been meant to find in this life. And if he was too scared to face this, he was going to lose her. He might lose her anyway. "I want to marry you," he said, the words flying out before the thoughts connected in his brain.

Her eyes widened slightly and she watched him, but her words were typical, practical Scully. "Logically, that is the best way for you to be sure to gain guardianship of the child in the event - " He wondered if she had heard what he had said. He wanted to marry her. "But we don't know if any of this is going to work, Mulder. There might be something wrong with the eggs, or something else wrong internally so the process won't be able to take. We should wait until I'm pregnant before we do take that step." She had to marvel at the words and the feeling they kindled inside of her. "I'm pregnant," those were words she had never anticipated.

"But I want to marry *you*," he told her. She looked like she couldn't believe it. He could hardly believe it. Embarrassed, he tried to toss off a joke. "Call me a romantic at heart."

"You're serious."

"I'm not going to lose you."

She looked like she didn't know how to react. Things had skidded out of her control again, beyond her plan. Her hand slipped on the doorknob, trying to turn it with suddenly sweat slick fingers. "I'd better go," she said.

"I'm coming with you," Mulder said. She just looked at him. "If you're going to tell Skinner about this, I want to see the look on his face. And you'll need someone to do CPR." He crossed the room and stood by her side. He took her hand in his and squeezed it before letting it drop again. "It's all going to work out, Scully. But you have time to think about it first."

"I know," she said. "I think I need some time," she admitted.

"I think we both do."

"I'll call you tonight," she promised, opening the door. "Or, um, maybe I'll just see you tomorrow."

Mulder nodded. She didn't move, still looking up at him with scared, wide eyes. "Well, bye."

He leaned over and kissed her quickly, a two-second smack on the mouth. "See you tomorrow." She nodded and left. He saw her fingers sneaking up to touch her lips as she walked away, and the slow smile that began to spread across her face. He realized that was the first time they'd kissed. They were talking about marriage and babies and death, and he had never kissed her before.

"This is insane!" he cried, returning to his desk once the door was closed. But he liked insane. It felt like home. Just like Scully's arms. He needed her. Probably too much. But now she needed him too.

He wondered what sort of an engagement ring she might like.

The frivolous thoughts left his head for a moment and he had to close his eyes. God, how much he loved her. It would take the rest of their lives to express. It would take a good long time. Maybe forever.

The end.

Title: Journey 05 - Memento Vitae
Author: eponine119

Summary: Scully continues to write in her journal about the dramatic changes in her life and with Mulder.

I can feel your presence in my body with every breath I draw, waiting, hovering until the time is right. Your presence has changed my life beyond anything I could ever imagine. Cells feeding off cells, life sustaining other life, this is the way science tells us it must be. You are within me now, a part of myself as surely as my heart or my soul are mine, and yet you are something else entirely. Nothing for me can ever be the same.

Your father saw you in a dream. He said you were all light, pure sunshine, the substance smiles are made of. He once told me that a dream is the answer to a question we haven't yet learned how to ask, and I have never forgotten it. That dream brought him to me, and brought the idea of you to us. Sometimes I think it is a sign of God's hand at work, that it is proof of something more to believe in. I know that this is true. I have you to believe in, and I have him. Together, you have saved my life. That is a debt I can never repay.

If you are light, as your father says, you have saved me from a darkness that has threatened to descend. It has waited by my door, watching me with hungry eyes, anticipating the time when I would grow weary and vulnerable to the fear and the pain and become its willing partner in escape. Your father knows this because the same darkness has waited for him. Even now, I can sense its malevolent presence just beyond my sight and senses, watching me from some dark horizon. I still feel its claws cutting into my awareness. But for now the threat is gone, because of you. We will bask in the light for whatever time we have, and savor our time together.

Your name is going to be Penelope, baby. She was a woman of great and gentle strength. Her patience, her wisdom, her love, her pain...they are symbolized in the forces that have brought us you. I have served in my time upon this earth as a Penelope to your father's Ulysses, but it is not for this heroine whom you will be named. You will be called after another Penny, a woman who touched my heart and my life for such a short time and yet showed me a way to carry on, to live and love and hope. I wish she could have known you, and that you could have known her. It is because of the hope she gave that I am alive to nurture you in my body today. And it is you, and the strange and mystical process known as science that has produced you, that will keep me alive.

I love you, baby.

She put down the pen and slowly closed the book, sliding it into the desk drawer with a heavy sigh. Placing one hand on the back of the chair to steady herself, she pushed herself up to her feet. A little foot made contact from within and she rubbed a soothing hand over her belly. "Only a short while longer, little one," she whispered to herself, smiling gently.

She felt like she had grown to the size of a small elephant. She knew that she had gained almost too much weight for her petite frame to bear, but she didn't care. It was so good to have an appetite again. It was so good to have a life.

The baby kicked again. Two lives.

Just as swiftly, tears marked her eyes and she blinked to hold them back. She'd had a strange, sad feeling hanging over her all day, like a cloud obscuring the sun. She could not keep from thinking about all the things she'd almost lost.

"Hey, beautiful." The sound of his voice caused blood, and love, to surge through her heart and she turned. His hands found what had once been known as her waist, and he pulled her up on tiptoe to press his mouth to hers. His fingers slid over her stomach and he pulled back slightly, rubbing his nose against hers in an Eskimo kiss while staring deeply into her eyes. Another kiss landed on her lips, and he hugged her tight. She closed her eyes at the welcomeness and safety of his embrace.

"Why the tears?" he whispered into her ear as he rubbed her lower back with able hands.

She shrugged and pulled away from his warm body. "I was just thinking." His eyebrows went up a touch, interested, encouraging her to continue. " things might have turned out."

He nodded, and she hated the sadness she saw in his eyes. She had put that look there. And she had reminded him of it again now.

"I wouldn't have any of this if it wasn't for you," she said, looking up at him.

"Don't," he said softly.

"I wouldn't." It was fact; he could not deny it.

Anger flashed across his face, lightning striking in his eyes and she could see his struggle to hold back the storm. "I don't want your gratitude."

"It isn't gratitude, it's love." When would he ever begin to believe that? He was loved. She loved him. The baby would love him. He was worthy of their love, no matter how little he thought of himself. He had saved a woman's life. Her own.

"I don't want to talk about this now."

"You don't want to hear me say how much I love you? I'm going to say it to you every day until you believe it."

"Yeah, am I," he threatened back, managing a grin.

"I know you love me. I have proof."

"And proof is all you ever needed to believe, isn't it?" His words were only half-teasing. She couldn't deny that they were true. "Okay," he said, after a long moment of looking into each others' eyes. "I'm going to shower and get out of these clothes." His muscles moved beneath the slacks and pressed shirt, his fingers working at the knot of his tie. Work clothes. He hated their starchiness; she missed work clothes, she thought, glancing down at the gauzy nightgown she had been wearing for most of the day.

The room seemed empty with him gone, even though she could hear him banging things about in the shower and the water as it started running. She walked over to the window and looked out, her thoughts still dwelling on what might have been. On what had happened in the past. After a moment, she walked back and picked up the book again.

I need to write down how this came about. I have avoided doing this so far, naming facts and dates, not because I found them unimportant, but because I found them less important than the emotions I so desperately needed an outlet for. But now it is time to write the truth.

Mulder, I know that you love me. This baby is the output of that love. The result of your struggle to keep me alive when even my own will fell short. Your strength and your courage are what saved me. And your mind and your love. There is no way I can ever hope to repay this debt. There is no way I could ever try, but to love you, and to make the most of the gifts you risked your life to give.

I remember clearly how shocked and hurt I was by your words when you first told me. How I wanted to deny the painful truth, but I could not because my body and my soul recognized it, even when my brain refused. Of all the things they had stolen from me, the ability to conceive a child was not one I had ever considered. I had thought it unlikely I would ever have the opportunity to do so.

I remember the loneliness most of all. The nights alone in bed, not crying, trying to be strong...for whom? You were the person who understood me best, and I could only confide in you second hand, in this journal. Writing words you would only read when I was gone. I was afraid. Afraid that I would die without ever really having lived.

Before I could react, you began to recite facts, provided to you no doubt by your dubious friends the Lone Gunmen, facts that related cancer to female hormones produced during pregnancy. Women who had been pregnant were less likely to have breast cancer...the abortion pill was a side effect of a cancer treatment...all of the other abducted women who died, died childless.

If I could have a child, I would have the chance to live. But I could not have a child.

But I could.

I do not believe in one life existing to sustain another. I know that women have had children in hopes of conceiving compatible tissue donors for themselves, or for other children who are dying. It is unfair to play at being God - we cannot know what God has in store for us. We cannot create life indiscriminately. That is what they were doing when they took me. There is no doubt in my soul that that is wrong. Life should be created in love.

I hesitated to write these words, fearing that one day you, my child, might read them and discover the purpose of your birth. And now I am driven to write them by the same fears. I must endeavor to make you understand. I do not set forth to save my own life. I want to give you life, from our love. The love of two people, a man and a woman, as it is intended to be.

As soon as Mulder told me I could not bear a child, longing welled up in my chest and I wanted to die. Part of my purpose and hope in life was gone, and an empty hole, an empty life, was all that remained. It shocked me. I had never expected...I had thoughts of babies before, always vague and shadowy, tucked away into a folder called "Someday", never to be contemplated until the time was right. And the time was never right. The thoughts had occurred with greater frequency, but I could not hold them. And my illness drove all hope away...the likelihood of mutation following treatment was too high.

But Mulder had a perfect egg, saved by the men who cursed me. He had the love and the hope and all of the things I had allowed to slip away, as I was terrified of the pain that holding on to life would bring to me when life was the last thing I had any hope of sustaining. I was dying. I would be dead. But he found a solution. He kept me alive.

You kept me alive. As much by hope as by hormones.

Science may say that life sustains new life, but it is love that heals.

His hand closed over hers and forced the pen down onto the desk. She jumped slightly because she hadn't realized he was there. She had been too lost in memory to hear the water running in the shower turn off, or to feel his presence behind her in the room. When she looked at him, tears were running down his face.

"Oh, Mulder," she said.

"I had no idea," he whispered. "I didn't know you'd kept the book...that you'd written any more in it after that day."

"I haven't, not really. Bits here and there. I haven't needed to. You were here to listen. But I couldn't talk to you about this."

"Why not?"

"Because it hurts you to much to remember how it was. How it would have been," she said simply.

"You're not going to leave me," he told her firmly.

She shook her head. They both knew there was still some risk involved. The tumor had shrunk significantly, but had not disappeared entirely. There would always be a chance...

"No," she told him. "I'm not going to leave you. Not ever."

"Good," he said, and pulled her close again, pressing his lips to her forehead, and then kissing her mouth. They grinned at each other when the kiss ended, as much in love as any married couple with a baby close to being born. They turned their eyes to the future, even though they could not forget the past.

The end.

Title: Journey 06 - Labor
Author: eponine119
Disclaimer: The X Files belongs to Chris Carter, 1013 and Fox, not to me.

Summary: Lost story in the "Journey" series.

Author's Note: Looking through old disks, I found this story. I was surprised I hadn't posted it; I'm not sure why I didn't. So I'm posting it now - the 'lost' story in my "Journey" series. I hope you enjoy it. The sequence of the series now is: [Contact, Like Him,] Legacy, Asking, Memento Vitae, *Labor*, Family, Anniversary. These are available on Gossamer,

She rolled over in her sleep, half waking as she moved. She was cold, and there was an odd feeling in her stomach. She opened her eyes slowly but didn't move in the darkness. A deep breath. Two. If it had been a dream that left her disturbed, it was gone now.

She lay there in the wide bed listening to Mulder's breath. She wanted to touch him, to move closer to him, fit her body against the contours of his, but she found herself unable to. Some part of her mind said she didn't want to do that, after all. She felt restless; she wanted to get up and run as far and as fast as she could.

But she couldn't run at all. The very urge told her that she was holding on to fear, a fear that she had to face. She'd had enough of those recently to know.

Mulder mumbled agitatedly in his sleep. She tilted her head and listened patiently. The words didn't make sense. They never did. She didn't turn and look at him and after a moment, his breathing evened out again. He'd come close to waking, but staved it off to sink deeper into sleep.

She closed her eyes and wished for that same elusive darkness to claim her, but it refused. The thoughts wouldn't leave her alone. What was she doing here, sharing this bed with Mulder as she had every night for months now? What was she honestly doing here? If she'd been told a year ago where she would be this day, she would never have believed.

A year ago was not so long in some respects. She had been tired, restless, disillusioned. The same feelings weighing upon her now. For a moment, she thought she could feel Mulder's fingers soft and tender against the tattoo inked onto her skin, but the sensation was an illusion.

Did he love her? He'd said so; his actions told her that he did. But the question remained in her mind. Could Mulder love anyone? Was he capable of such a complex, adult emotion when on so many levels, he remained a boy struggling to protect himself?

She underestimated him.

She knew the answer was yes.

But she couldn't help feeling he wanted to own her, body and soul.

She would have to be patient and try to teach him differently. Ownership was not love.

But he could not be taught. And if she succeeded, she would lose him.

If she hadn't already.

I'm doing all of the wrong things, she thought. I can't do this. I have to leave, I have to get my life back, she thought furiously, I can't go through with this! She sat up quickly, intent on getting out of the bed and escaping.

She knew she was being irrational, but for the first moment in a long string of days, she felt in control of her own destiny again. A destiny that fate had taken a very strong hand in. She had no choices, not at this point.

A strangled, surprised cry formed in her throat, surprising her as surely as the pain in her belly did. As she pressed it with her hand, she suddenly knew what had woken her.

Mulder was instantly conscious, looking into her eyes. "What is it?" he slurred softly.

"Mulder, I think this is it," she told him.

"It can't be," he told her, "You're not due until...and the Cesarean is scheduled for this afternoon. You can't go into labor now."

"Try telling her that," she informed him as she gritted her teeth against a stronger pain.

Mulder's eyes went wide with panic. "You're not supposed to go into labor!" he cried. "It's too dangerous, you could..." She closed her eyes against the pain and he stopped. "Damn it," he whispered desperately.

She forced her eyes open, knowing what inevitably came next. 'This is all my fault.' Mulder's philosophy. "Don't," she informed him before he uttered the words. The pain subsided for the moment and she got out of the bed. Her legs felt strangely weak and achy, but she ignored the feeling. She pulled her nightgown off over her head and reached for the big, ugly dress that hung draped over the back of the chair.

"What are you doing?" Mulder asked her from the bed.

"Going to the hospital to have this baby," she informed him.

He was stonily silent and her stomach knotted in dread. Tears burned in her eyes and she knew they were just a conditioned, hormonal response, but that didn't drive them away. She didn't want to fight with him right now. She was scared enough of the things that were going to happen in the next few hours...terrified, if she was admitting the truth. She didn't want to fight with him and worry about losing him now. Not on top of everything else.

Even though thirty seconds before, she had been thinking about running away. Silly. She couldn't run from her own body. Silly for thinking Mulder was selfish, when this wasn't about him at all. It was about her body. Everything she had done was for herself.

Tears choked her but she couldn't stop moving. She was the selfish one, she realized horribly. She was having this baby to save her own damn life. An experiment to see if the tumor swelling in her head would respond to hormones. It had, and she was going to be just fine. She had to avoid the strain of natural labor, but she and the baby were going to be fine.

Another pain shot through her and she seriously considered being sick from the pain. Or collapsing. But Mulder's arms wouldn't be there to catch her, so what was the point? He was still sitting in the bed, watching her. "Are you coming or not?" she snapped at him.

"I don't know," he said coolly. "Am I invited?" He tossed back the covers and got out of bed. His movements were sharp, restrained. His anger boiled just below the surface, barely controlled. She could see the fire in his eyes. "I am only the father, after all. I'm only the one who made this whole thing possible."

"She's not a thing," Scully snapped.

"God damn it, don't you think I know that?" Mulder cried. His shoulders sagged and he leaned against the dresser, regretful.

She crossed her arms. "You think I'm not giving you enough credit in this?" she asked him.

"No, of course not," he told her.

"Well, that's fine. I owe you my life. And her life. Are you happy now?" she continued ranting. "You own us both, isn't that all you ever wanted? You can protect us and blame yourself whenever any little thing goes wrong, like a baby that wants to be born now, her doctor's plans be damned....ohhh." The pain caught her off guard every time.

She watched the anger in his eyes turn to concern. "I just want to love you," he told her. His arms went out, reaching for her, wrapping her up tight and steady and safe. He breathed into her hair as he hugged her. "I love you. You have to stop doubting that. Doubt anything else you want, but not that."

"I wanted to run away," she admitted in a small voice. "Not like I've been able to run for a few months now..."

"You're scared. It's understandable when there's no way to turn back."

"There's never any turning back."

"It seems that way, doesn't it," he told her. "Would you, if you really had the choice?"

"It hurts, Mulder," she admitted..

"You're not afraid of the pain. You're afraid of the change. Of having to trust me. And yourself."

She turned in his arms and looked at him, amazed. How could she have doubted this man when he knew her better than she did? She needed him, when it came down to it. She didn't want to and it scared her, but she needed him. What made it okay was that he needed her too.

The rest of it had to be some sort of labor induced hysteria, that was the only logical explanation.

She closed her eyes as another wave rolled through her. "I think we'd better go before you have to carry me. And I don't think you could manage it."

He didn't release her. "I love you."

She nodded. He waited, holding her. The moment stretched on. She didn't want to say it. She felt it, but she didn't want to say it. He wasn't going to let her go, though, until the feelings in her were resolved. Until she could say it. And that alone made her love him all the more. "I love you," she whispered.

She screamed, shocked, as he hoisted her up off her feet. To carry her to the car.

Everything would be different in twenty four hours' time. And they had to be strong enough to face that.

the end.

Title: Journey 07 - Family
Author: eponine119

Summary: Mulder and Scully mark the end to an amazing journey, and the beginning of a new one.

Mulder paces the length of the hall again, his hands pressing against each other as he tries to relieve some of terrible pressure and fear he feels weighing upon him. A nurse passes and on an impulse, he touches her arm to stop her. The look in her eyes tells him his touch was too rough. He takes a deep breath; he feels out of control and he doesn't like it. It terrifies him. It shouldn't, but it does: all of this terrifies him.

What would he do if she was gone?

"What's going on in there?" he asks the nurse.

She smiles at him, that patented nurse's smile of reassurance, and pats his arm. "Everything is going to be fine, Mr. Mulder. They're getting her ready now."

"But this wasn't supposed to happen," he says - a mantra, a prayer - what good are the words?

"That's the thing about children," she tells him with a kind, knowing smile. "They have a way of following no one's schedule but their own." She nods to him with another smile designed to be reassuring, and turns to go through the door.

"Wait! Can I see her?"

His desperate question surprises her. "They're preparing her for surgery, Mr. Mulder, I don't imagine they'd welcome the distraction."

"Please." Oh god, he does not want to cry, not right now. But he has to see her. He feels stomach tie itself in a frantic knot. "There's something...I have to tell her."

The nurse hesitates, then relents. "All right. Just for a minute." She holds the door open and he slips through it.

"Hey," he says softly. She is there, lying on a gurney looking weary, her dear, odd shape draped with a white sheet. She is there and she is safe. He watches her body start at the sound of his voice and then she turns her head to look at him. She is surprised to see him here. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see the nurse explaining his presence to the doctor, who will probably order him out. "How's it going?" he asks, holding her eyes with a stare intense enough for mental communication.

Scully nods, swallowing and opening her mouth, but she doesn't manage to say anything. He notices that her skin is pale and there are dark circles of exhaustion under her eyes. Neither of them expected to be woken in the middle of the night.

He takes her hand in his and holds it tight, feeling the fragile bones beneath his fingers. "Everything's going to be okay," he tells her.

"I know," she whispers, her eyes fixed on his. She does not look afraid, he thinks. She has always been the strong one. A small smile touches her lips as she looks into his eyes and it lights up her face, making him smile too. "Relax, Mulder," she orders. "This is exactly what we'd planned. It just happened a little early."

"Determined girl, our daughter."

Scully nods, blinking as though her eyelids are growing heavy and she is slipping into sleep. Mulder just looks at her. She is struggling to keep her eyes open for him. Her teeth clench and her eyes open for a brutal moment as a pain grips her body. He can see she is trying to hide the intensity of her suffering from him and he wonders why. The pain releases her and she lets out a deep breath. "Good one," she says slowly. Weak, and almost apologetic.

Mulder remains planted at Scully's bedside. He does not want to leave her here to face this alone. He hasn't yet said what he needed to say, what he forgot to tell her in all the confusion and chaos. He can't go until he tells her; he has to make sure she knows. It's too important. He reaches over and touches her cheek as her eyes slide closed. She opens them again, a crack, at his gentle touch. "I love you," he whispers to her fiercely. "Remember that. I love you."

She makes a sleepy sound in the back of her throat that was intended to be a word. Her eyes close and he sees her body relax on the gurney as she loses the battle for awareness to the anesthetic.

Mulder's heart skips a pounding beat. They have embarked on a journey, and there is no turning back now. He feels a touch on his shoulder and turns. The doctor stands there, Scully's ob/gyn. Mulder struggles, but is unable to remember his name. "We've already administered the anesthetic. It's best if you let her go under," he advises. Mulder looks at him, knowing that he has to listen to this man, who has listened to a couple of his very craziest theories and taken them in stride.

The nurse puts one hand on each of Mulder's shoulders. He wants to stay with Scully. He promised to walk every step with her. "Come on, Mr. Mulder. Let the doctors do their work here." He lets the nurse turn him towards the door. Scully has to do this alone, he tells himself. "There's nothing to worry about."

He forces himself to walk to the door, trying not to listen to the doctors talk in terms he can't really understand, all the time wanting to shout at them that this is his Scully they're talking about. He knew it would be like this; he just didn't realize how hard it would be. With one glance back at her, he opens the door and walks through it into the empty waiting room, leaving her behind. He knows consciously that he should sit down because the surgery could take a while, but his muscles are too tight. He will not relax until he sees her safe again.

When did he forget how to trust? he asks himself. He hasn't noticed the void in such a long time, because Scully is usually with him and he can trust her. He knows in his head that he can trust the doctors, but he can't help remembering how much he has lost in his life. And how much he stands to lose right now. If something goes wrong...

He needs her.

The door opens again and he jumps. It is the nurse. She reaches for his hand and places something in it, closing his fingers over the object in his palm. "This'll be safer with you, for now. You can give it back to her when she wakes up. Hospital policy, you understand, we don't allow our patients to wear jewelry into the OR." She walks away without another word and Mulder finds himself totally alone in the small room.

He opens his hand and looks at the objects she placed there as though he has never seen it before. A slim gold band, free of any adornment or frills, matching the one he wears on his own finger. A thin, tangled gold chain with a small cross pendant. His eyes close against the wave of tears that wash over him and he sinks back into one of the waiting room chairs. It's a sign, he thinks with ominous paranoia, he who doesn't believe in signs or omens. The last time she was without her cross to protect her, terrible things happened to her.

Terrible things that led to this day. Terrible things that led to this wonderful life he has tentatively made with her.

She returned to him that time. Changed, but still the same.

That is how things will result on this day: his life will be changed, but still the same.

If only he could make himself believe that. His irrational terror has him fully convinced he is never going to see her again, and he cries.

The doctors warned her of the threat she was facing. Even though the tumor shrank, even though the oncologists thought she was well on the road to recovery, it could become dangerous under the stress of labor. The network of blood vessels through the brain was complex, and it was possible the growth and shrinkage of the tumor had weakened one or several of them. The possibility of aneurysm or stroke under the circumstances was small, but still worth worrying about.

She is more than two weeks from her due date. They'd scheduled the Cesarean for an afternoon a few days from now. This wasn't supposed to happen.

She's made it this far when no one thought she could, an annoying voice in Mulder's head reminds him. She's strong. She'll fight. And she'll win.

She has to.

He doesn't want to think about what will happen to him if she doesn't.

This is my fault, he tells himself miserably, ridiculously. This entire baby thing was his idea. If he hadn't pressed her, if he hadn't told her...

He knows he has come too close to happiness with her, and this is what scares him the most. The past months, living with Scully as she nurtured their child within her body, have been the closest thing to bliss Mulder has ever known. Waking up next to her and feeling their love every single day. He's allowed himself to love her openly in spite of his fears. And she loved him back, even more fiercely, if it was possible. This pregnancy has opened doors within both of them that neither ever knew existed. Caring, and strength, and a new kind of trust.

It is how life is supposed to be. As long as they are together, nothing can hurt them.

Now Mulder remembers what he has to be so afraid of. He wants her and this baby so much, but he remembers now how that comfortable joy can be snatched away at any second; no matter how vigilant he is, he cannot stop death. At every stage of the game, there is something working against him, keeping him from finding contentment in his life. The few times he has been at peace with the world, that peace has been ripped from him violently, leaving a rough, jagged hole.

He has lost Samantha. He has lost his family. He even lost Scully once.

He can't lose her now.

He knows his life is going to change in these early hours of the morning, and it will be irrevocable. His life will never be the same again. And that is what scares him. If something goes awry, the baby and Scully might die. If everything goes perfectly, everything will still change. He will be responsible for a child, a little girl. He isn't sure he is up to the challenge of facing the unknown future. He doesn't want to disappoint Scully. He's managed to do all right as a husband in the last few months, but what does he know about being a father?

Taking a deep breath, Fox Mulder who had forsaken god or any other higher power more than twenty five years ago, begins to pray softly to himself.

She opens her eyes to soft sunlight streaming in through the window. She smiles as she remembers where she is and why. Her eyes focus and she sees Mulder sitting in a chair on the other side of the room. The look on his face is filled with wonder and incredible love as he stares down into a gently cradled pink blanket.

Their child.

For a moment she can't breathe because her chest is too filled with love. She watches him for a quiet moment, the man who has made all of this possible, who makes all of her miracles possible. He must feel her eyes lingering on him, because after only a second, he looks up and meets her eyes. And smiles gently. "You're awake," he says.

"Hi," she says back, suddenly overwhelmed.

"How do you feel?" he asks her.

She just nods. There aren't any words to describe the way she feels. She remembers the terror of waking in their bed mere hours ago with pain tearing her from a dream. She still feels a little woozy and strange and she suspects the IV plugged into the back of her hand is drugged, and that's why her thoughts have a soft edge to them. But none of that matters now.

Mulder nods understandingly at her lack of words. He has a stupid smile on his face. She can only imagine how dopey she herself looks, but she doesn't care. Mulder has already seen her at her bleeding and puking worst.

He grins down into the blanket again, then looks up and grins at her, and she feels a surge of jealousy and need. It's a strange feeling, one she can't remember ever feeling before. Her arms ache with emptiness. "Mulder," she says, reaching out. He looks into her eyes, but doesn't move. She speaks again, more sharply this time. "Mulder, I want my baby." She doesn't understand why there are tears in her eyes when she says it.

"I'm so glad you're all right," Mulder says, his eyes caressing her as though he is seeing her for the first time. Cautiously he rises from the chair, always aware of the precious life he has cradled in his arms.

Scully feels her stomach churn with anticipation in the moment before he places the soft bundle into her arms. She needs this. This is the moment she's looked forward to, worked for, for almost a year. Everything she has done in the past months has centered around this one small life. Some part of her has been awaiting this moment her entire life.

He puts the baby in her arms and she can't believe it. The blanket is fluffy and warm. With her fingers trembling, she pushes it aside and looks into the face of her child for the first time. Irrational tears flood her eyes as she touches the child's perfect skin, gently nudging her hands and her feet to check the ten tiny fingers and toes. Everything is so small; had she ever known that babies were this small, or this precious? She can't speak, just look up at Mulder with her mouth hanging open.

"Yeah," he says. "I know. That's exactly how I feel." His hand is unsteady as he reaches out to her, barely daring to touch her. He slowly strokes back her tangled red hair, combing through it with his fingers. She is really here and safe; they've really done this; this is really happening. His hand cups her face for a moment and she leans into it, turning her head slightly to press a kiss against his skin. Her eyes tell him how much this means to her, and he smiles back before taking his hand away.

She looks back down at the child, mesmerized, thinking foggy thoughts of the future. She cuddles the baby closer to her body, and the motion wakes her. Suddenly, two bright blue eyes are staring into her own. "Ohhh."

A flash of light catches her attention and she turns sharply, raising her head. Mulder grins sheepishly at her and she sees that he has an instant camera in his hand. "Mulder!" she cries.

"It's a Kodak moment," he informs her proudly, waving the photograph on the theory that will make it develop faster. "You're going to want that later."

"I feel so silly, but at the same time -"

"It's perfect," he finishes her thought. He comes and kneels down next to her bed, his head close to her shoulder "Here." He holds out the photograph for her to see, but instead of a still-developing shot of her looking bedraggled and goofy, it's one of him. Mulder looks as though he's been through the ringer in the picture, but he's grinning like a complete idiot. Scully doesn't think she's ever seen him look that way before. "The nurse, uh, thought you'd want to see," he admits.

Scully glances at him quickly enough to see the very tips of his ears go pink. Mulder, embarrassed over acting like a new father. She never thought she'd see the day. He is a new father, she thinks with amazement. She is a mother. Why are the concepts still so hard to get her mind around, even after months of anticipation? They are parents. She looks more closely at the picture, and at the fatigue and worry lines that have not faded completely from Mulder's face. "I'm sorry I scared you," she tells him honestly.

"It was out of your hands," he says. "But you came through it. That's all that matters."

She nods solemnly, but the smile creeps back when she catches sight of her daughter again. "She's lovely."

"You're beautiful."

"I must look like hell."

"You look gorgeous."

"Yeah, save that picture and look at it when you're sane," Scully advises sarcastically. She shifts, and groans, discovering pain. Suddenly the baby's weight in her arms seems like more than she can support. Her muscles feel rubbery and her head spins. "Mmm, take her, will you, Mulder?" she requests and he sweeps the baby out of her arms, happy to comply.

"What's wrong?" he asks. She can hear the panic in his tone as she closes her eyes to shut out the spinning of the room and lays back against the pillows.

"I think they've got me on drugs," she whispers, feeling sort of sick, and aching, but she forces her eyes open again. The joy she feels when she sees her daughter and her husband ease the pain.

The door opens, and the nurse comes in. She walks over to Mulder like an old friend. "It's about time for Baby and Mom need to get some rest," she tells him practically. "They've had a long, hard day."

Scully chuckles as she watches Mulder cling to their child, refusing to give her over. "Being born, I think that qualifies as a hard day," she says and draws a deep breath. "Let her put the baby down to sleep, Mulder," she suggests.

Reluctantly, he gives the baby to the nurse, who then looks to Scully. "How're you doing there?" she asks.

Scully just nods. "What'd you put in the IV?"

"Magic juice," the nurse replies with a grin. "It'll make you feel good."

"I noticed," says Scully with a wry smile. "Knock me out, too?"

"You could use the rest. Your body hasn't realized how much it's been through yet," the nurse informs her. Then she looks at Mulder. "You should let her sleep," she says.

"Just another minute," Scully says, reaching out for Mulder's hand and catching it. She doesn't want him to go. She wants to hold this moment for as long as she can. The nurse nods and they both feel their hearts wrench as she leaves with their baby. Scully looks at Mulder and suddenly doesn't know what to say now that they're alone together. This is all too big, too good, too amazing.

"I love you so much," Mulder tells her. He doesn't want to have to leave. If he could, he would lie in the hospital bed beside her all night, just to be close to her. To feel her body next to his, to be able to reach over and stroke her hair as she sleeps, would be a comfort to him.

She nods. "I - This - Wow."

He smiles. "I don't think I've ever seen you at a loss for words before, Scully."

She grins back. "I didn't think it would be like this. It's overwhelming."

"You look tired."

"So do you."

They smile at each other for another long moment. Mulder leans in and kisses her gently, as though he is afraid he might hurt her. He really does love her too much. She feels her stomach flop with desire for him, and love. This is permanent, she thinks giddily, we are a family. She's never allowed herself to doubt that they would be, but at the same time she's known he might leave her after the baby came. She never dared to ask for all that he's given her. She never in her heart dared to believe that all of his caring was real, that he wasn't just doing it for the baby's sake or his own reasons, because she knew it would hurt too much if it wasn't true. The worries are hard to shake, that he has only done this because he feels responsible for her, that he owes her something. But now she knows it's all true. She can't pretend she doesn't see his feelings in his eyes and every movement of his body. There is nothing to be afraid of any more.

"The nurse asked me to hold this. For safety's sake, I guess," Mulder says. Threaded across his fingers is her gold cross, and it catches the light as he holds it out to her. For a moment, she is reminded of another time when he held her cross that way, returning it to her. How very different it is this time and how very much the same. She realizes that he's loved her all this time, as he touches her to refasten it around her neck, his arms going about her like an embrace. She wants to hug him, but she knows she wouldn't want to let go.

He releases her and she watches him draw a suspiciously familiar ring from his smallest finger and hold it out to her. "The words barely seem enough to convey how much I feel at this moment," he says as he takes her hand. "I love you, Dana." The ring slides home on her finger, the comfortable weight finding its proper spot.

"I love you, too, Fox." He has no choice but to let her get away with her calling him by his given name because she wraps her arm around his neck and kisses him deeply. He is her husband and suddenly she isn't sure he knows that she loves him.

Mulder finds he doesn't mind the name. His family called him Fox. For so long, his family was estranged and distant - his mother, his father. But today, he has a family again. A real family. With love. And it doesn't hurt so much to be called that name again, because he knows it is an endearment. "Get some rest," he says, pressing a kiss to Scully's forehead. "I love you."

He stands outside the door for a moment, thinking that he heard Scully whisper the words back. She is worn out, he knows, and he knows she won't sleep if he remains in the room, no matter how much he wants to stay with her. After a moment, his thoughts turn to the baby. His baby. Penelope Scully Mulder. He let her mother name her. The name is important to Scully, and he understands why. "I'll name the next one," he had joked, but he hopes that the words might someday come true. They'd been incredibly lucky, beating the odds and becoming pregnant on the first try. There are still eggs in the hospital's storage facilities. Brothers or sisters are not out of the question.

He wonders how long Scully would make him wait.

All of this is so impossible, he thinks, touching the door and yearning to go back in. He knows he shouldn't disturb his wife.

His wife. His daughter. He had never seriously believed he would reach this point, that he would live long enough or trust anyone to have such a wonderful life.

He doesn't know why he is crying.

[from Scully's journal]

The truth has saved me, Mulder. It has saved us both.

"We have been granted happiness. It was an unexpected gift, given by those who would destroy us. It was never their intent that their handiwork should come to this. Their agenda is their own, and perhaps it will always remain shrouded behind a veil of mystery, hidden from our knowledge or understanding. Perhaps they believe that allowing us this small piece of happiness will distract us from our goal of seeking of the truth. They do not realize that it is impossible, now more than ever, for us to turn away from our quest. Our journey will not end until all of the facts are known. We cannot abandon the truth now any more than we could abandon the hope that has brought us to this point.

The only thing that has changed is the life that happened along the way. It is no longer one man or one woman's search for knowledge of the truth. It is ours. And we are a family now.

The end.

Title: Journey: 08 Anniversary

Summary: Scully celebrates an important anniversary.

Sometimes, even now, I can feel the darkness within, burrowed so deep beneath the surface that I can put its presence from my mind for long stretches of time. This is a darkness not only in my body, but in my soul. Its tendrils grow long, touching everything that I am, tangling me in its twisted limbs.

Today I am officially free of the demon. Why can I still feel it, then, as though it is lying in wait for me, until my soul is weak and my defenses down before it moves in for the final kill.

I am not going to die.

It was, at one time, an amazing prospect to me that I would die. I had touched death and prevailed before...I had always been saved, through divine intervention or willing self defense. There is something in all of us that must cling to the belief that we are immortal.

I believed this until I was told I harbored death inside me. It no longer mattered where I went or what I did, I could not escape it. A tiny group of cells, growing out of control, and suddenly death was a fact of my life. I was going to die. Not just someday, but quite possibly soon.

It's impossible for me to remember how I felt then, just as it was impossible for me then to imagine a day like today. Today, it has been five years. The five year anniversary is one of celebration in a cancer victim's existence. Five years means you are not going to die. Five years means you are going to live.

I am no longer a victim, or a patient. I am a survivor. Language...sometimes the differences seem absurd. If I was not a survivor all this time, I would not be here today.

That is the question: why me? It is a question I asked myself when I received my diagnosis. Why me, why should I suffer, why should I die? And today I ask the same, but different. Why me...why should I have lived when so many others have been lost to the darkness? I am not any stronger or worthier than they. I am weak and unworthy. But I have been given a chance. By God or by devil, by science or by myth, or by some inexplicable combination of those, I do not know. By the love and the faith of one man - though surely all of those others lost were loved just as much as I.

But I am alive. And life is a wondrous thing. If I had not lived to see these five years, would I ever have truly known?

"Why are you crying?" Mulder's voice startled her and she jumped. Self-consciously, she reached up to wipe the tears that had escaped her eyes. "This is a happy occasion, Scully. You're cured. We did it." He threaded his fingers through hers and leaned in close to her, kissing her quickly and softly on the lips.

"We did," she said with a smile that felt forced. She couldn't explain why she felt like dissolving into tears. She had never used to cry, before this. She rarely did now, either, but today she felt overwhelmed by how much her life had changed.

Five years ago, she had been alone. An FBI agent, slightly weary of her duty and wanting something more. Something she couldn't define, but not a cancer diagnosis.

She had everything now. A husband and a beautiful daughter and a life. Every aspect of her life had been transformed. Even Mulder, even her job, was different. Because of this. Because of the cancer she was now free from. Because of what she had done to save her life.

"Till today," she said, realizing as she spoke, "It was all about survival. But now, officially, I have survived. I guess...I'm afraid. What happens now?"

"It is always about survival, Scully," Mulder told her fervently, squeezing her hand and staring into her eyes. She couldn't hold back a small smile. "What?" Mulder murmured.

"I like that you still call me Scully," she said softly and she could feel herself blushing. She couldn't believe he still had the power to make her blush!

"I like that you still are, Scully," he gave her a wolfish grin back.

"Am I?" she asked suddenly. Was that what she was feeling? A loss of herself as she had once been. She had survived cancer, but she was different now. As she had lost the tumor, she had lost pieces of herself and her life. Her apartment. Her solitude. What else had she lost without ever noticing?

Mulder understood. "You can't hold life in stasis, Scully," he told her. "I know. I tried for years. I did, for years. My sister remained eight years old, frozen forever in overalls and pigtails in my memory, while I grew and changed and felt guilty for the opportunity. And I felt guilty because even if I saw her again, she wouldn't recognize who she was looking at."

Scully just looked at her husband. She had never realized he felt that way. And she had not realized consciously that what she felt now was survivor guilt.

"Instead of all the things you've lost, why not think of the things you've gained?" Mulder suggested gently. He patted her on the knee, then got to his feet and left the room. He would be waiting for her until she was ready to emerge.

She had him now. His love enveloped her every moment of every day. He had been by her side before the cancer, but only as a friend, a partner, a co-worker. How well she had thought she knew him then. How much she still had to discover about him, even now. Mulder was amazing. Fear should rule this man, yet his quiet strength had supported her through times she had not thought she could face. It was his determination, his will, that had saved her.

And Penny. Her daughter. Named for one who had been lost to the darkness and had hopefully found the light. Scully had never intended to nickname her daughter Penny as her namesake had been called, but her daughter had shiny coin-coppery hair and the nickname was irresistible. How could she imagine life without her baby? A being who was part of her, yet separate with intelligence and feisty will and incredible sweetness. She was the most wonderful four year old child on earth, Scully thought. If she hadn't done this, if she hadn't lived...she would never have known her child. The joy of having a child, a family, love. How could she be so ungrateful as to regret that for a single moment?

Scully turned her thoughts away forcefully and got up. Mulder was waiting. Her life was waiting. There was not a moment to waste.

Streamers were taped to the ceiling of the kitchen and a banner hung down over the table, having come loose at one corner and fallen. A small cake sat on a plate in the center of the table and Scully read the icing upside down. "Five years! A cure! To life!" A surge of love went through her heart for her husband. An unlit sparkler was stuck into the cake, waiting for her to come and celebrate.

Mulder sat at the table, his face buried in his hands. He looked tired and from where she stood, Scully could see a few gray strands highlighting his hair. He was forty-one; neither of them were young any more. They had not been young for a long time, it seemed. He had done this for her because he loved her. All of this,, because he loved her.

How had she repaid him? Too often with tears or guilt or moodiness. Mulder deserved better. She walked around the table and put her arms around him. He raised his head and looked at her a moment before leaning against her. His weight swayed her, but she supported him. As he had supported her. "How can I repay you for all that you've done?" she said softly.

"Love me." It was all he'd ever asked.

"I do. God, Mulder, you know that I do." She combed her fingers through his thick hair, stroking it possessively. "It just doesn't seem enough."

"Grow old with me."

"I will."

"Promise that you'll never leave me alone."

"Only if you promise me the same," Scully replied.

"I love you too much to ever leave you," Mulder said, and averted his eyes as though the truth embarrassed him. He pulled away from her and left her standing there, unbalanced without his body against hers. With a match, he lit the sparkler on the cake and it twinkled in the dimly lit room. "Happy anniversary," he said.

She smiled, but she didn't move or say anything. The fire burned all the way down the fuse and winked out as they watched it. "You're not happy, are you, Scully?" he asked without looking at her.

"I'm insanely happy," she replied.

"You don't seem happy," he told her gravely. "What's wrong?"

She shook her head. "It's an emotional day. A strange thing to mark."

"Celebrating life, that's not so strange," Mulder mused.

"Looking back five years to the way things were. Thinking of how things might have been -" she tried to explain.

"Do you have regrets, Scully?" he asked plainly.

"Never," she vowed. "I was thinking of how things would be different if I didn't have all of this. You, and the baby. If I'd continued along as I had been going, and died. Without ever really knowing you. Or happiness. Or love."

"Why does that make you feel sad?"

"I feel like I cheated, Mulder. I cheated and I won the game."

"Cheating death is nothing to be ashamed of."

"What about the other women, Mulder? Women in the same situation as I was. They all died. Alone, without husbands or children."

"Don't think about them."

"I have to think about them, Mulder!" she cried. "I was one of them!"

"You were lucky."

A smile broke on her face. "Yeah," she said roughly, "I was lucky. I had you."

"Do you really feel that way?" His eyes lit up.

She nodded. "I'll love you forever."

"No regrets?" he asked, his eyes shuttering darker.

"I wouldn't change a day," she swore.

"I love you too much," he told her.

"I love you more."

"Enough of that," said Mulder, even though he would never have enough love-talk and they both knew it. "Let's celebrate." Scully got a sexy smirk on her face and took his hand, tugging on it in the direction of the bedroom. "We have to have some cake," he protested.

"It can wait," she whispered.

Mulder shook his head stubbornly and cut a small piece, holding it out to feed her. She moved in closer and he mashed it against her mouth. "You did that on purpose!" she cried.

He only laughed, and she thought how glorious it was to hear him laugh. She picked up a piece of cake and flung it at him, giggling wildly herself, remembering their wedding day. It had been a small, solemn affair, with her mother and Assistant Director Skinner standing up for them. Her condition had been growing worse, and they were banking all of their hope and faith that due to the circumstances behind her getting the cancer, a pregnancy might offer a relief. So much hope and fear that day, Scully remembered. And the beginnings of a love she had never dreamed of.

Mulder swept Scully up off her feet and she let out a scream of surprise and delight. He stopped abruptly when he saw the small figure in the doorway of the kitchen. It was their daughter, her eyelids still heavy with sleep, her hair standing out and her little pink nightgown twisted. She'd come to see what the noise was about. She blinked tiredly and held back a yawn. "What's going on?"

"We were just playing," Scully said, pushing at Mulder until he let her down.

"I wanna play too."

"You should be in bed," Scully suggested.

"So should you!"

Mulder chuckled. "We were just going to bed, sweetheart."

"Can I sleep with you?" Her eyes had the same color and shape as her father's and she looked up at them hopefully.

"Not tonight, okay, snugglebug?" Mulder asked, picking up his little girl to carry her back to her room.

"Did Mommy like the cake?" she asked, looking directly into her father's eyes.

"Yes. I loved the cake," Scully answered, petting her daughter's hair. They walked into the small bedroom together, and Mulder tucked the child into bed, plumping her pillow and pulling up the covers and smoothing them down, then handing her her favorite bear and kissing her goodnight.

Scully leaned in then to kiss her daughter goodnight, catching Mulder's hand in hers. Penny threw her arms around her mother's neck and half-smothered her in an impulsive hug. "I love you, Mommy."

"I love you too," Scully replied, touched. She wanted to curl up next to her daughter and stay and watch her sleep, but she instead she turned out the light and made sure the nightlight was plugged in, even though Penny insisted she didn't need it any more. She and Mulder walked out of the room together and into their bedroom.

"I love her so much, Mulder," Scully said, still oddly touched by her baby.

He lay on the bed and pulled her down on top of him. "Did you ever consider that we could have another?" he asked, his eyes shining.

"The time never seemed right." There had been the adjustments to being a parent, and then going back to work, and potty training and the terrible twos and preschool had been such a lot of work. So incredibly rewarding.

"Maybe now is the right time," Mulder suggested.

"Maybe," agreed Scully. That was the end of the discussion because he began to kiss her, slowly at first and then more insistently as they celebrated life in one of life's most unique ways.

Scully lay awake in the bed, in Mulder's arms, for a long while afterwards, thinking again. Thinking of all the things she had to be thankful for and how wonderful her life was. Remembering all of life's precious moments. Falling in love with Mulder more every minute of every day she spent with him.

Maybe the time is right, she thought. What would it be like to have a son? she wondered. Mulder and a little boy...the notion made her smile. Penny and a little brother. She could picture it already.

Five years of living. And half a lifetime still left.

She reached across Mulder to the desk and picked up the journal, opening it as she snuggled back against his warm body. She flipped backwards through the moments she'd recorded to the first page. The beginning of the journey. Maybe it was time to begin another.

"For the first time, I feel time like a heartbeat; the seconds pumping in my breast like a reckoning. The luminous mysteries that once seemed so distant and unreal, threatening clarity in the presence of a truth entertained not in youth, but only in its passage. I feel these words as if their meaning were weight being lifted from me, knowing that you will read them and share my burden as I have come to trust no other. That you should know my heart, look into it, finding there the memory and experience that belong to you. That are you..."

The end.

Thanks to everyone who's read and asked for more.

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