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                      Title: A Few Good Things Remain
                                    Author: KimK
                                    Rating: R- just to be safe
                                    Keywords: Post series, MSR, Angst
                                    Spoilers: KNOW THE SHOW! Most notably The Truth.
                                    Time Line: Set two years after the events in The Truth,
                                    Chapter One August 15th, 2004. 
                                    Summary: "Reflect upon your present blessings,
                                    of which every man has many;
                                    not on your past misfortune, 
                                    of which all men have some."
                                    -Charles Dickens-
                                    Archive: Fine by me, just leave it as it is and let me know
                                    about it!
                                    Feedback: That would be nice. Please. I ain't too proud to
                                    beg, but I would rather it not come to that.
                                    k_nig_it1013@yahoo.com 
                                    Disclaimer: Ah yes, the disclaimer . . . the bane of my
                                    existence. If you must know these characters are not mine and
                                    never will be. Chris Carter and the gang are responsible for
                                    this stroke of genius; I just like to have my way with his
                                    creation sometimes. Don't sue, I'm filthy poor.
                                    Thanks!: HUGE thank you to Sara Bowen, my beta and friend in
                                    whom I have way too much in common with and yet have never
                                    met. She does a fantastic job in fixing my thoughtless
                                    mistakes. She also did her share in guiding me through this
                                    and keeping my juices flowing. Her endurance for my seven page
                                    e-mails on advice fascinates me. Also thank you Gillian and
                                    David for your hard work and amazing chemistry that gives us
                                    something to write about. Thanks goes to CC and Co. for, as
                                    annoying as it may be, leaving some things unsaid so we can do
                                    with the plot what we will. Definite thanks goes to the
                                    readers as well and your generous feedback. <g>
                                    Author's Notes: I have A LOT to say before you can read -
                                    surprise. Alright, it amazes me that I even decided to write
                                    this story. Personally, I am not a huge fan of much of that
                                    happened after Season Seven (actually if they had gone ahead
                                    and ended the show with Existence, it would have been fine by
                                    me), but hey, sometimes an idea hits and won't leave you alone
                                    so you are forced to write it down. I didn't hate what
                                    happened so much that I want to get all homicidal on CC, but
                                    what a mess he left for us writers to work with! Some amazing
                                    things happened with the series, but some very bad things that
                                    can never go away happened as well (William's adoption- we'll
                                    get into that in a second- and those blasted Super Soldiers
                                    are some fine examples). I did what I could to fix some stuff,
                                    but some of it just had to stay as it was. Sara and I have
                                    talked a lot about little William and how his 'removal' was
                                    unnecessary, Sara stating that Scully would have quit the
                                    Bureau and found Mulder before even thinking about giving up
                                    her child. However, to do it our way would make this an
                                    Alternate Universe fic and I am aiming to tie up some loose
                                    ends as well as I can, so I am staying with the whole adoption
                                    scenario for this story. As you read, a lot of you may
                                    disagree with how I handle the issue of William, but my end
                                    notes will explain why I did what I did, that is if the story
                                    fails to do so on its own. Overall I think y'all will be
                                    satisfied with what happens- at least I hope so! Now I just
                                    want to point out something. I am a characterization fiend! In
                                    my stories I really try to capture the characters as well as I
                                    know how and I am close to incapable of reading stories that
                                    do otherwise. However, Mulder and Scully are a little
                                    different in this story (in my opinion), but I have my
                                    reasons. One of those reasons being that it has been two years
                                    and their lives have changed dramatically, therefore they have
                                    changed as well. That's all I have to say about that. All
                                    uncredited quotes will be credited at the end. There will be
                                    several more notes at the end of this story, but until then
                                    thank you and please enjoy! 
                                    
                                    **** 
                                    
                                    I think over again
                                    My small adventures,
                                    
                                    My fears.
                                    
                                    Those small ones that seemed so big...
                                    
                                    For all the vital things I had to get and to reach.
                                    And yet, there is only one Great Thing.
                                    
                                    The Only Thing.
                                    
                                    To live to see the Great Day that dawns,
                                    And the Light that fills the World. 
                                    
                                    Inuit Song  
                                    
                                    =*=*=
                                    
                                    Chapter One - Home Abroad
                                    
                                    The clean, humid air clears my lungs as I watch the sky change
                                    from azure to a violet and orange haze. From where I sit, it
                                    looks as though the sun is settling into the ocean, as the
                                    distant mist gives the illusion of steam rising. There is a
                                    light breeze blowing, so I wrap the afghan around my shoulders
                                    to ward off the chill. 
                                    
                                    It's been two years now. Mulder and I tried to fool ourselves
                                    into thinking we could be safe in the States, but common sense
                                    reared its head. After six months of hiding and escaping close
                                    calls we made way to the Mexican border. Then we made our way
                                    even further south until we decided that the only escape would
                                    be an island. We made a home in the Turks Islands. 
                                    
                                    We didn't want to go too far away from home, just far enough
                                    to be safe. Or at least far enough away to feel safe. We've
                                    taken as many precautions as we are able to and not feel like
                                    prisoners in our own lives. We have also been planning to make
                                    some changes. The need to have William back gnaws at my
                                    insides and I know that Mulder aches to see him as well. So,
                                    if anything, we want to find him. Even if it is just to know
                                    he is alive and safe. 
                                    
                                    Mulder also wants to save the world. In that way he was
                                    restored to me. He doesn't know how or if it is possible, but
                                    he has hope. He has me. He has come far from the shell of a
                                    man he was two years ago.
                                    
                                    We've kept in touch with few people from home. I sometimes
                                    mail Mom a letter, just to assure her that we remain safe and
                                    alive. It wasn't until we had left New Mexico that she found
                                    out we'd helped Mulder escape from his impending death. 
                                    
                                    Monica and John have left the Bureau and are now protecting
                                    Gibson in the mountains. John, Mulder and I all know the pain
                                    of losing a son, therefore the protection of Gibson is
                                    necessary for more than the obvious reasons. 
                                    
                                    Skinner and Kersh are holding down the fort at the Bureau.
                                    Mulder and I were truly worried for our friends' lives. Long
                                    ago we found an ally in Skinner. Close watch is kept on
                                    Skinner now, but Kersh has fooled those who seek to destroy us
                                    well. He maintains their trust while he fights for us. It is
                                    still hard to believe that Kersh has become one of our few
                                    allies. 
                                    
                                    Monica is doing what she can to find out where William was
                                    sent. Just to see his face would give me some closure. To let
                                    Mulder see him would ease the guilt that I feel as well.
                                    Mulder never really got to know his son. He spent as much time
                                    as circumstances allowed before he had to leave. That was our
                                    only choice. They bonded quickly and forever. Their attachment
                                    and love grew and I pray that Mulder will someday get to
                                    experience that with his son again even if just for a short
                                    while.
                                    
                                    Sometimes, deep down, we hope that I will get pregnant again.
                                    We fear it too. It's so maddening to want something and fear
                                    its possibility at the same time. Fear kept me from Mulder for
                                    so long, in so many ways.
                                    
                                    First, I wanted to love him and him me, but to let that happen
                                    frightened me to no end. When it finally did happen the fear
                                    vanished and I was blessed with the pure bliss that should
                                    come from such a constant and strong love. Then, when he was
                                    abducted, I wanted him to return but feared what the effects
                                    of his return would be. 
                                    
                                    He died. My worst fear had come to be. However, he came back
                                    to me. 
                                    
                                    He always comes back. 
                                    
                                    To have him leave again was necessary at the time. But soon I
                                    yearned for him. I ached for him and his touch. The fear was
                                    minimal in his absence this time. I wanted him back, safely,
                                    in my arms. And he came back.
                                    
                                    He always comes back.
                                    
                                    As I think these thoughts, I see his dark silhouette on the
                                    white sand. He is slowly approaching me, his arms filled with
                                    things he got from the market.
                                    
                                    We've been living off this island having left what we could
                                    afford to bring with us in our SUV back in the New Mexico
                                    ruins. Sure, as we traveled those six months from state to
                                    state we picked up odds and ends, but this island has provided
                                    so much and become a haven to us both.
                                    
                                    We were able to drain Mulder's bank account while traveling
                                    from place to place inland. He has loads of cash he obtained
                                    from his mother and father's deaths. His inheritance from his
                                    parents has left us very comfortable.
                                    
                                    We also had Mom get rid of both our belongings, so when she
                                    can she sends us the money made from that. I hate to sell my
                                    memories, but you do what you have to do. Mulder and I have a
                                    new life now and new memories to make. 
                                    
                                    My clothing consists of tank tops, tee shirts, sarongs and sun
                                    dresses. I have a few pair of jeans and shorts as well. Mulder
                                    still opts for plain shirts and pants. He's never been one for
                                    shorts. Of course, living in D.C. and working in a suit
                                    required occupation, one does not get much of a chance to wear
                                    shorts.
                                    
                                    Today, like most days now, has been leisurely, so I have worn
                                    a light blue tank top with a multi-colored sarong skirt since
                                    this morning. Mulder is only a few feet away now, his smile
                                    big, wearing a pair of khakis and an olive green tee shirt. He
                                    looks the same, just a little older. The way he should look
                                    now. Aged with beauty, not weary and broken. The escape has
                                    been good for him. 
                                    
                                    I've changed. My hair is blonde and passed my shoulders now.
                                    My red hair served as a red cape to the bull, therefore we
                                    both decided that it would be best to dye it. It took some
                                    getting used to, but I like it now. The sun was hard on my
                                    skin at first, but now I am somewhat darker than I used to be
                                    and have gained some freckles as well. I've lost some weight
                                    too. 
                                    
                                    Mulder pauses on the top step then turns to see the sun finish
                                    its descent into the ocean. 
                                    
                                    "The sunset is beautiful this evening," I say distantly, my
                                    eyes fixed on the purple that is now becoming navy.
                                    
                                    "So are you." Mulder turns and grins at me. I blush. 
                                    
                                    I avert my eyes out of embarrassment and begin to get up, a
                                    small smile having crossed my face. We've made love hundreds
                                    of times and know each other's bodies like an explorer knows
                                    his map, and yet a mere compliment still brings color to my
                                    face.
                                    
                                    "What did you buy?" I drape the afghan across the back of the
                                    chair and saunter up to Mulder.
                                    
                                    He looks down at me and captures my lips with his. The kiss is 
                                    slow and pleasant. He pulls away and replies, "Fruit, bread,
                                    chicken and cheese." His mouth is only inches from mine as he
                                    speaks.
                                    
                                    We pull completely away from each other and I take a sack from
                                    one of his arms. Together we walk into our small, beautiful
                                    cottage.
                                    
                                    Our cottage has a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen and a little
                                    living area. I spend most of my time on the porch or in the
                                    bedroom. We rent the place from a friendly couple, Janet and
                                    Chris. They moved here when they were married and fell in love
                                    with the island. I too have fallen in love with this island. 
                                    
                                    I set my sack down on the counter. As I reach in to unpack the
                                    groceries, Mulder stops me. 
                                    
                                    "What?"
                                    
                                    Mulder grins, then drops the hand he had brought up in a
                                    halting motion. "All right, go ahead."
                                    
                                    I proceed to reach inside. My hands brush against a soft
                                    fabric. I slowly bring the gift from the bag. Shaking it out,
                                    I realize it is a dress. Not a simple sun dress like the few
                                    that I own, but something far more beautiful. 
                                    
                                    It's a halter, with an uneven hem. The fabric is soft and
                                    flowing. The color is turquoise. 
                                    
                                    "Mulder . . ."
                                    
                                    "There's more."
                                    
                                    Discarding the dress on a near by chair, I give him my 'you're
                                    crazy' look, but continue to seek out the treasure he has
                                    brought me. 
                                    
                                    Inside I find a white box. Large enough to hold a small
                                    necklace or bracelet. Perfect size for a ring.
                                    
                                    I look up at him, his eyes urging me to continue on, then I
                                    remove the lid. Inside I find an antique gold ring with
                                    the metal weaving intricately to make a knotting pattern,
                                    diamonds scattered wherever they please. A dark blue round gem
                                    stone rests on top.
                                    
                                    It's unique. Simple yet complicated. So very Mulder. So very
                                    me. So very us. 
                                    
                                    I feel the moisture in my eyes begin to build and then Mulder
                                    begins to talk at a rapid pace.
                                    
                                    "I know I should have done this a long time ago, but I never
                                    knew when the best time would be and then I saw this today and
                                    I knew it was a sign because it automatically made me think of
                                    you, so I bought it." Mulder rambles when he is nervous. "And
                                    even though I am not sure it can happen now, unless you want
                                    it to happen now, I want to make my life with you official
                                    and -"
                                    
                                    I interrupt him with two fingers to his mouth. "Shh, breathe."
                                    
                                    He sighs heavily, his eyes closing. "Scully," he says after I
                                    drop my hand, "we've been married for years, but not in the
                                    way I think we should be. And not in the way I know you want
                                    to be."
                                    
                                    I push the ring onto the finger it is meant to be on and wrap
                                    my arms around his neck, feathering kisses on his jaw line
                                    giving my answer. 
                                    
                                    "I haven't even asked yet!" He bellows with laughter.
                                    
                                    I place my lips by his ear and whisper, "Why ask if you
                                    already know the answer, Mulder?" I pull back to look at him.
                                    
                                    His green eyes are smiling at me, them having gone a shade
                                    darker. "God, I love you."
                                    
                                    I simply nod and press my lips to his in a fiery kiss. His
                                    hands come up, his fingers weaving through my hair to pull me
                                    closer.
                                    
                                    Mulder pulls away briefly, breathless and asks, "What about
                                    dinner?" He instinctively knows where our kisses are headed.
                                    
                                    "Dinner can wait," is my reply as I nip at his Adam's apple.
                                    
                                    "Okay," he chokes out.
                                    
                                    We make our way clumsily to our white linen bedroom, dinner
                                    forgotten.
                                    
                                    Our hands fumble as we undress and finally we tumble to the
                                    soft mattress and we make love.
                                    
                                    New, exciting, slow. A celebration.
                                    
                                    Afterwards, we go back to the kitchen. Throwing together a
                                    quick dinner, we eat in bed.
                                    
                                    By ten o'clock, Mulder begins to doze off. I clear the bed and
                                    settle beside him, my arms wrapped around his torso.
                                    
                                    The last thing I hear is Mulder's heavy, relaxed breathing,
                                    the ocean and the rain hitting the roof.
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Chapter Two - Talking, Walking and Getting Caught in the Rain
                                    
                                    
                                    I wake to find Scully snuggled close to my side. Her head
                                    rests on my bare chest. She isn't asleep though. Her eyes are
                                    staring at the wall in front of our bed. It's a thoughtful
                                    stare.
                                    
                                    I stretch my arm to the change tray on my night stand and fish
                                    out a penny. Scully remains still.
                                    
                                    "Penny for your thoughts?" I place the penny on my stomach,
                                    right in front her eyes.
                                    
                                    I see her eyes shift to the penny and her hand comes up to
                                    take it from my skin. 
                                    
                                    "I wonder what he looks like." Her voice is almost a whisper
                                    and laced with sadness.
                                    
                                    I nod, instantly understanding who she is talking about. 
                                    
                                    "A lot like you, I would think. Blue eyes, ivory skin. We'll
                                    say he has your nose so you can rest easier at night." I shake
                                    her with the arm I have wrapped around her shoulder and smile. 
                                    
                                    Scully wrinkles her nose."I hate my nose."
                                    
                                    "I love your nose."
                                    
                                    She brushes her cheek over my chest, her hair sliding over her
                                    face. I can tell she's using her hair to hide her face on
                                    purpose. Anytime I pay her a compliment the cutest blush
                                    spreads across her cheeks. She hates it but it makes me love
                                    her more each time.
                                    
                                    "He has to look like you too, Mulder," she comments from her
                                    curtain of hair.
                                    
                                    "Alright. Dark hair, strong jaw. Big feet."
                                    
                                    "Already?!" She twists her head so that her eyes meet mine.
                                    
                                    "Only if he has the Mulder gene. I had huge feet when I was
                                    three."
                                    
                                    It is then that I realize how long it has been since I have
                                    seen him. Three years. He'll be four in February.
                                    
                                    When he first said 'daddy' it wasn't to me. When he took his
                                    first steps and fell after five steps, I wasn't there to catch
                                    him. When he made his switch to solid food I wasn't there to
                                    introduce him to Bob's Burger Joint's burger.
                                    
                                    Neither was Scully. 
                                    
                                    I understand why she did it. I would have done the same thing.
                                    In fact, had I been there with her, I would have been the one
                                    encouraging her to protect our son anyway she could, even if
                                    it meant giving him up. It doesn't ease the pain though.
                                    However, maybe if I had been there we could be living this
                                    life with him.
                                    
                                    I now seriously begin to wonder what William must look like.
                                    
                                    Scully reaches up and brushes a lock of hair from my forehead.
                                    
                                    "They're trying to find him, Mulder. We will see him again."
                                    
                                    I feel the lump in my throat and hear it in hers. 
                                    
                                    We want a family so bad. In the few times Scully has been
                                    sick, before we buy flu medicine we buy a pregnancy test. They
                                    always come back negative. It is at those times I don't know
                                    whether to be relieved or saddened.
                                    
                                    Our intentions aren't to replace William, no. It's just that
                                    Scully and I tasted the sweetness of parenthood for such a
                                    short amount of time. I never really got the chance to be a
                                    father, only an acquaintance. But it was a beautiful moment in
                                    my life, no matter how brief.
                                    
                                    "Let's get up," Scully says as she throws the remainder of the
                                    sheets off of us. 
                                    
                                    I bob my head once in compliance and head for the shower.
                                    
                                    "I'll get breakfast started." She is feigning cheerfulness. She
                                    tries so hard. And yes, it just makes me love her more.
                                    
                                    When we have both showered, had breakfast and dressed, we head
                                    for the white sandy beach. 
                                    
                                    It is so amazing to not have a job. I would get one, but most
                                    of the jobs on this island involve trade and that could expose
                                    us. Plus, we have the money we need, plenty, so there is no
                                    point in getting a job when I can spend the rest of my life
                                    with Scully. 
                                    
                                    Scully and I have aliases of course, we aren't amateurs. Old
                                    friends of the Gunmen were able to create new identities for us
                                    at short notice. She goes by Kate and I Nick. We are 'married'
                                    of course, our last name being Sanders.
                                    
                                    In private we shun our alias identities, but we have grown used
                                    to Kate or Nick being shouted when we encounter familiar faces.
                                    
                                    Scully loves the island. The people, the weather, the
                                    lifestyle. Sometimes I get bored though. I love going to the
                                    market- new shipments come in each day- but that is really all
                                    I have done in the last two years, as far as activities outside
                                    the house are concerned anyway.
                                    
                                    We've done the tourist things--parasailing, scuba diving and
                                    even deep sea fishing--but something is missing. That something
                                    is somewhere in the States. 
                                    
                                    The only thing that I will never tire of is Scully. Looking at
                                    her. Talking with her. Laughing with her. Making love to her.
                                    
                                    I search the kiosks in search of her face. When I spot her, she
                                    is not looking at any of the fine, exotic souvenirs. No, she is
                                    looking at the ring I gave her.
                                    
                                    I hadn't even planned to stop for anything other than food
                                    yesterday, but as I took my usual route, the dark blue gem
                                    caught my eye. I can't even remember what it is called, but it
                                    is rare and beautiful. Like Scully.
                                    
                                    That was why I bought it. That is how it reminded me of her.
                                    Rare and beautiful.
                                    
                                    It called to me, so I answered. I knew that at some point I
                                    needed to marry, really marry, Scully and that this ring would
                                    get me to do it. She deserves marriage, a life, a family.
                                    
                                    I guess I'll have to do.
                                    
                                    She said yes. I never expected her to say no, we love each
                                    other too much. But, God, she accepted. 
                                    
                                    I sneak up behind her, catching her in the act. She has yet to
                                    notice me. I pull her long hair away from her neck and kiss her
                                    behind the ear.
                                    
                                    She looks beautiful as a blonde, but I truly miss her auburn
                                    locks. Maybe if we survive -whether I mean the next few months
                                    or Colonization I'm not sure -she will go back to her red hair.
                                    
                                    No matter what, she is a vision. Always.
                                    
                                    "Hi," she says, her hand coming up to caress my stubbled cheek.
                                    She turns and wraps her arms around my neck, leaning to rest
                                    her forehead against mine. Then ever so quietly she whispers,
                                    "I love you, Mulder."
                                    
                                    Her lips brush against mine. I am about to deepen the kiss when
                                    a jolly hello interrupts.
                                    
                                    "Aren't they adorable?" I hear Janet exclaim from behind me.
                                    
                                    "Hi Janet, hi Chris," Scully greets sweetly.
                                    
                                    "I haven't seen you two in days, what have you been up to 
                                    lately? " Janet asks suggestively.
                                    
                                    "Oh, you know this and that," I reply. The couple is amiable
                                    and generous, but I rather enjoy keeping my life with Scully
                                    private.
                                    
                                    I entwine our fingers, sweeping my thumb over her skin. She
                                    leans her head into my shoulder and we both listen to Janet
                                    rant about something or other. I'm not really sure. I don't
                                    think Chris knows either, for he continues to look around,
                                    distracted.
                                    
                                    Janet slows down and I sense her coming to the end of her
                                    story.
                                    
                                    "So anyway, it was just absolutely frustrating. Can you believe
                                    they would do such a thing?"
                                    
                                    Scully shakes her head and I reply, "It's too unbelievable, the
                                    idea alone makes my skin crawl."
                                    
                                    Janet stares at me confused and almost comments, when something
                                    catches her eye.
                                    
                                    "Good Lord, Kate, what is that on your hand?" Janet snatches
                                    Scully's hand and stares intently at Scully's rare jewel. And I
                                    stare at mine.
                                    
                                    "Nick bought it. You know how he has been waiting to find the
                                    perfect one and, well, he did." Scully is beaming.
                                    
                                    "It is absolutely divine. Chris take a look at this rock!"
                                    
                                    Chris turns his weary eyes to the ring on Scully's hand. 
                                    
                                    "That's lovely, dear." He sounds so bored. I'm not even sure if
                                    he just called Scully dear or his wife. 
                                    
                                    With her eyes still wide in awe, Janet drops Scully's hand.
                                    "Well all I can say is it was worth the wait. It's so
                                    beautiful, I bet there is not a thing like it in this world."
                                    
                                    Scully continues to beam and nods her thanks. She then looks up
                                    at me and somehow her smile widens. We lock eyes and everything
                                    slows down. 
                                    
                                    Why couldn't our lives have always been this simple?
                                    
                                    "Well, I insist you two join us for dinner tonight. It has been
                                    way too long and I'm sure there are some things we could catch
                                    up on."
                                    
                                    Don't count on it. What you see is what you get Janet.
                                    
                                    "Is that alright with you Nick?"
                                    
                                    "That's fine by me Kate. What time would you like us there?"
                                    I'm directing my question to Janet but my eyes are still fixed
                                    on Scully.
                                    
                                    "Oh, sevenish. We aren't picky."
                                    
                                    "Alright, well, Kate and I have some more running around to do,
                                    but we will be there."
                                    
                                    "Marvelous!" Janet squeals. 
                                    
                                    "We'll see you tonight, Chris," I put my hand out to shake his
                                    and he takes it. Chris isn't a cold man, he's just quiet. I
                                    hate to think who really wears the pants in the family. He
                                    smiles as we shake hands and then Scully and I head to
                                    wherever.
                                    
                                    I've never been sure on Chris and Janet's ages and I've never
                                    asked. I'm sure Scully told me at some point, but I have since
                                    forgotten. They are around our ages though, maybe slightly
                                    older.
                                    
                                    They've been married for seventeen years, I know that much.
                                    Scully and I aren't but seven years behind them with the
                                    marriage of our life together thus far. Kate and Nick have been
                                    married for two years.
                                    
                                    As usual, Scully and I walk aimlessly down the street.
                                    Sometimes we stumble across a new shop or a new sight when we
                                    take our walks, but it all comes down to walking and talking in
                                    the end.
                                    
                                    We've spent the last two years catching up on things we never
                                    had the chance to talk about while working together and being
                                    separated. Happy childhood memories, in depth explanations of
                                    past relationships, reminiscing old cases and so forth. A lot
                                    of the time we talk about the times when we found the other
                                    irresistible. That's my favorite thing to talk about, because I
                                    get a kick out of embarrassing Scully.
                                    
                                    Right now we are talking about what to say at dinner tonight.
                                    Janet is more than likely going to pry into our lives,
                                    therefore we need to be prepared.
                                    
                                    "Let's just be honest, Mulder. I'll say I have two brothers, a
                                    mom, a deceased sister and father. I mean, surely she won't ask
                                    me to go much further than that. The few times we have had
                                    dinner with them, we have avoided talking about our lives.
                                    Maybe if we give her glimpse, Janet will leave us alone."
                                    
                                    "Are we talking about the same Janet?"
                                    
                                    Scully chuckles quietly and continues. "You don't have to say
                                    much, if you don't want to."
                                    
                                    "I'll just tell her you're my only family. If need be I'll go
                                    into the pitiful, yet vague, story of me being the last
                                    Mulder."
                                    
                                    She brushes off my sad comment and turns our bodies back in the
                                    direction of our hut.
                                    
                                    "We should head back, Mulder. The mail will be coming soon and
                                    there could be some news from Monica and John. I also think it
                                    may rain." She pulls at me, but I don't budge.
                                    
                                    "Why do you put up with me?"
                                    
                                    She rolls her eyes at my question, her head moving with them in
                                    exaggeration, her eyes then landing on me in a stare. "You
                                    don't seriously want to go into that *again* do you?"
                                    
                                    "It just baffles me, that's all."
                                    
                                    Without uttering another word, she stands as high as her flat
                                    sandals will allow and plants a majestic kiss on my lips. This
                                    is *one* of the thousands of reasons I could never give this
                                    woman up. Another one is she is the only one who has had the
                                    audacity to stick with me all these years. To add another of
                                    the many, she is all I want, need and truly trust in this
                                    world.
                                    
                                    A crack of thunder causes her to pull away from me and I curse
                                    the skies for the interruption.
                                    
                                    Turning her eyes heavenward, Scully meets the clouds just in
                                    time for a raindrop to land on her cheek. She wipes it away and
                                    grabs my hand.
                                    
                                    "We better run!" She exclaims with a smile on her face and the
                                    rain begins to kiss her skin. As she pulls on me in an attempt
                                    to sprint hand in hand, I halt her action once again.
                                    
                                    "Not so fast."
                                    
                                    "Mulder, we can't stand out here, we'll catch cold and that's
                                    only one of the bad things that could happen. It could get
                                    pretty electrical out here."
                                    
                                    The clouds break open to prove her point and pour an ocean of
                                    water on us. I laugh and pull her to me to wrap my arms around
                                    her waist.
                                    
                                    "Chills, Mulder. Fever and -"
                                    
                                    Before she can bluster on about the threats of getting caught
                                    in the rain, I catch her lips instead. I've never kissed her in
                                    the rain before. She always has us inside before it can happen.
                                    Well not this time, Dr. Scully. Colds and pneumonia be damned,
                                    I'm kissing you in the rain and, from the response, you're
                                    liking it. And she's right, it just got very electrical out
                                    here.
                                    
                                    Her arms come up to wrap around my neck and pull me closer. I
                                    pull away from her at another crack of thunder. 
                                    
                                    "Now, my dear, we can go home."
                                    
                                    I release her, her feet meeting the soft sand and engulf her
                                    hand with mine. We run back to our home, laughing. The others
                                    scurrying probably think we have lost our minds, our howling
                                    joyous laughter suggesting such a thing.          
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Chapter Three - Hopes, Regrets and Rain Checks
                                    
                                    We shake our heads, water flying in every direction, as we
                                    enter the living area. I slip my sandals off and immediately
                                    head for the stove and counter.
                                    
                                    I'm freezing, but God it was worth it. Mulder always finds a
                                    way to create new memories for me. Happy ones with no regrets
                                    or worries. Well, maybe I have to worry about being taken ill,
                                    but I could care less.
                                    
                                    Throwing a kettle of water on the stove, I watch as Mulder
                                    retrieves the mail from the mail box outside our door. Our mail
                                    gets delivered to Janet and Chris and then they deliver it to
                                    us.
                                    
                                    "Here ya go," he slaps the mail on the counter, "you sort it,
                                    I'm going to change and get your robe."
                                    
                                    I nod with a smile and reach for the mail.
                                    
                                    A letter from Mom, a letter from a new trading company and a
                                    letter from Monica and John. I cast the first two aside,
                                    knowing their news can wait. I'm anxious to find whatever the
                                    contents of Monica's letter could be.
                                    
                                    I open it to find it to be brief. 
                                    
                                    Dear Dana and Mulder,
                                    
                                    We think we have a lead on William. Since the adoption
                                    organization was not very cooperative, we have had to do a step
                                    by step search. It has taken some time and I know you have been
                                    awaiting news. It looks good. We should know in no more than
                                    two weeks. We are all doing well. Please, take care of each
                                    other.
                                    
                                    Love, 
                                    Monica, John and Gibson
                                    
                                    
                                    I read the letter again, the words too wonderful to be true,
                                    before I yell for Mulder. He appears with my robe in hand,
                                    sporting jeans and his only sweater.
                                    
                                    "What is it, Dana?" The use of my first name reveals his
                                    concern along with the tone in his voice. 
                                    
                                    I give him the letter, unable to voice the news myself. He
                                    hands me my robe and I strip my clothes off, my mind wandering.
                                    I slip the robe on in time to see his face.
                                    
                                    Tears have pooled in his eyes and as I look at him, I cry. We
                                    collapse into each other's arms.
                                    
                                    After a few minutes we pull away and I tend to the brewing tea.
                                    Mulder's warm arms encircle me from behind and I smile beyond
                                    these tears of joy. He plants a sweet kiss at my temple.
                                    
                                    "What time is it?" I ask. 
                                    
                                    I feel Mulder look behind him. "A little passed five."
                                    
                                    I gently slap his arms to release me and he complies. I pour
                                    our tea and hand his to him.
                                    
                                    "I'm going to shower, again. Counting the rain this will be my
                                    third today."
                                    
                                    "Why bother, you're just going to get wet again. Plus there is
                                    that whole risk of electrocution thing." He sips his tea with a
                                    smile.
                                    
                                    We rarely talk about any news we get from Monica about William.
                                    We did once and it got too emotional. Therefore, we change
                                    subjects as soon as we can following whatever news we receive. 
                                    
                                    "True," I state simply. I drink my tea quickly, the heated
                                    liquid instantly warming my body.
                                    
                                    "Hey, you got a letter from your mom." Mulder reaches in front
                                    of him to pick up the letter and hands it to me.
                                    
                                    "Oh yeah, I almost forgot." I open the letter to find it brief
                                    as well. "She just wants to know how we are. Bill and Charlie
                                    keep asking about me and she doesn't know what to tell them.
                                    She misses us both."
                                    
                                    I throw the letter aside with care and turn in the direction of
                                    the bedroom.
                                    
                                    "I'm going to go dry my hair at least and lie down for a bit."
                                    
                                    I close the bedroom door in time to see Mulder tear up the
                                    promotion letter from the new trading company. They pop up like
                                    daisies on this island. I guess it's that way on any island.
                                    
                                    Behind the door I hear him shout 'okay' and I smile at his
                                    delayed response.
                                    
                                    After drying my hair, I slip under the covers and close my
                                    eyes. At such news I would usually be restless, but the rain
                                    makes me tired. So does crying.
                                    
                                    I wake to Mulder and I spooning. He is above the covers and he
                                    is nuzzling my neck. His hand creeps under the covers and
                                    begins to make its way under my robe. I spot the time and stay
                                    his hand with mine. "We don't have time, Mulder."
                                    
                                    "They said sevenish."
                                    
                                    I give him a reprimanding look and he releases a dramatic sigh.
                                    "Fine, but do I at least get a rain check?"
                                    
                                    I touch my lips to his in a short, answering kiss. 
                                    
                                    Mulder gets ready in haste. My hair chooses not to cooperate,
                                    so I throw it up into a ponytail. It is probably for the best,
                                    for it is still raining outside.
                                    
                                    I throw open my side of the closet and seek out something to
                                    wear. I had planned to wear my new dress, it being a wonderful
                                    opportunity to do so, but the weather just won't allow it
                                    today.
                                    
                                    A red and white sarong dress I rarely wear beckons me, so I
                                    wrap it around me. I'll put my sandals on when we are leaving.
                                    
                                    I find Mulder in the kitchen, fingering the letter we had
                                    received. I suppose he hears my footsteps, because he drops the
                                    letter and turns to me.
                                    
                                    He plasters on a smile and walks up to me.
                                    
                                    "All right, beautiful, let us leave for a wonderful evening of
                                    Janet prying," his smile grows more genuine at his own comment.
                                    
                                    I smile in kind then lace his fingers with mine. I slip on my
                                    sandals as we exit. The rain is softer now and the sunset can
                                    still be seen beyond the dark clouds. The thunder is distant
                                    and the lightning brief and unthreatening as we walk across the
                                    beach.
                                    
                                    Mulder seems distant; the news settling in with him. He has a
                                    hint of a smile playing on his lips, but his eyes don't seem to
                                    be paying attention to anything around us. I squeeze his hand
                                    and he answers back with a squeeze of his own.
                                    
                                    Everything's going to be okay. 
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Chapter Four - Our Personal Lives for 300, Janet
                                    
                                    
                                    I knock gently on the door with my free hand. The words from
                                    Monica are still fresh in my mind. I'm doing what I can to
                                    prepare for the evening, but the possibility of seeing William
                                    again just won't allow it. 
                                    
                                    I am so anxious from the idea alone. Will he like me? Will I be
                                    able to let go once I have been given the gift of at least
                                    seeing him again? My questions are interrupted by the opening
                                    of the door.
                                    
                                    "Nick! Kate! Come in." Janet opens the door and ushers us
                                    inside.
                                    
                                    "You look beautiful tonight, Janet. I love your dress." Scully
                                    has this small envy for the life of Janet and Chris. They have
                                    a lot of money, Chris being in the trades business, and travel
                                    all the time. Therefore, they own a large beach house and
                                    lovely things. Scully and I aren't frivolous people with our
                                    money, but it doesn't mean envy doesn't creep in sometimes. I
                                    think Scully wanted to wear her new dress tonight to show
                                    Janet, but she still looks gorgeous and surpasses Janet in so
                                    many ways.
                                    
                                    "Oh, this old thing, thank you Kate. Have a seat, Chris is
                                    making some coffee while dinner finishes."
                                    
                                    "It smells wonderful," Scully comments as we sit ourselves on
                                    the large sofa. 
                                    
                                    "Just a salad and Mediterranean pasta. Amazing weather today,
                                    don't you think? I hope you two didn't get caught in it earlier
                                    today."
                                    
                                    Scully and I smile at the memory, but say nothing. Chris
                                    emerges from the kitchen with a coffee tray. 
                                    
                                    "Here you go, it's nice and warm. It'll take care of the
                                    chill," Chris sets the tray down on the coffee table as he
                                    speaks.
                                    
                                    "Thanks Chris," I say and Scully nods her thanks as well.
                                    
                                    We didn't get too wet on the walk over here, surprisingly. The
                                    warm air of their home is drying us off quickly. I wrap my arm
                                    around Scully's shoulders, just in case she was chilled. Who am
                                    I kidding? I wrap my arm around her because I can. Because
                                    we're married and that's what married couples do. My mind
                                    flashes back to a case where it was our job to pose as married.
                                    Now it is our pleasure.
                                    
                                    "Alright, the curiosity has been eating away at me for the past
                                    year. How did you two beautiful people meet?"
                                    
                                    Round one of Janet's Questionnaire has begun.
                                    
                                    We both sit silently, not sure what to say. Maybe this is
                                    something we should have talked about. Scully chimes in with a
                                    short, brilliant answer.
                                    
                                    "We used to work together."
                                    
                                    Nothing more brilliant than the truth.
                                    
                                    "Really? How delightful. What did you do?" Janet sits back in
                                    her seat as if waiting for a long drawn out explanation.
                                    
                                    If only the simple truth could suffice in this situation.  
                                    
                                    "Well," I begin, unsure of what to say, "we, uh, were in law
                                    enforcement." Please let that be all I have to say. 
                                    
                                    "Ah, I see. So in-office relationships can work out. Fancy
                                    that."
                                    
                                    She wants to hear more. Her silence and expression shout 'tell
                                    me more', but if we say anymore, I'd have to kill her.
                                    
                                    My own silence tells her that is all she gets, but somehow I
                                    think the mystery satisfies her.
                                    
                                    "Tell me about your families back home," she probes.
                                    
                                    At least we discussed this possibility. I shake Scully softly,
                                    urging her to tell of her family. 
                                    
                                    "Oh, my mother lives on the east coast of the States and I have
                                    two brothers who are in the Navy."
                                    
                                    "Two brothers, wow. No sisters?"
                                    
                                    "Well, I had a sister but," she clears her throat and breaks
                                    eye contact briefly before continuing, "she died several years
                                    ago."
                                    
                                    "Oh, I'm so sorry dear. Do you mind if I ask how?"
                                    
                                    I mind, but I'm just her lover and protector as best as I know
                                    how.
                                    
                                    "She was shot." Scully says it quickly and with a force that
                                    demands no more be asked about the subject. 
                                    
                                    "Gracious," Janet whispers.
                                    
                                    Chris leans forward in his chair. "You have a father?"
                                    
                                    A small, sad smile crosses Scully's lips. "I did. He passed
                                    away several years back as well."
                                    
                                    Chris has the decency to sense a sensitive subject and drops it
                                    there. Janet doesn't mean any harm, she's just nosy.
                                    
                                    "How about you Nick?" Janet has fallen silent, so Chris is
                                    asking the questions for her.
                                    
                                    "Kate's all the family I've got." I decide to stick with the
                                    answer I had earlier decided on. Chris won't have me say much
                                    more than that.
                                    
                                    We must look somewhat pitiful in their eyes now. I could just
                                    be paranoid.
                                    
                                    "Do you plan to have a family of your own someday?"
                                    
                                    Scully and I look at each other with wistful smiles, then turn
                                    our attention back to Chris and Janet.
                                    
                                    "We're hoping," is all Scully says.
                                    
                                    I couldn't have said it better myself, Scully.
                                    
                                    The scent of dinner begins to fill the room, at last. Eating
                                    has a tendency to slow down the snooping. We are told to leave
                                    the coffee on the table and make way to the kitchen.
                                    
                                    Scully's eyes light up at the sight of the dining area. There
                                    is an unnecessarily large chandelier over a much too large
                                    table in the middle of the room. All the proper eating utensils
                                    are spread out along side their finest china. We take our seats
                                    in time to see Janet bring out dinner. 
                                    
                                    "Dig in," Chris orders casually. And we do.
                                    
                                    The evening goes by rather smoothly. Scully and I aren't asked
                                    much else about our lives. I think, they think we were part of
                                    our local PD and I let them continue to think that.
                                    
                                    I sneak in compliments about Scully when I can and revel in the
                                    sight of watching her squirm in embarrassment.
                                    
                                    "She is beautiful though, isn't she?" I give a closed smile and
                                    feel a gentle kick under the table.
                                    
                                    "Nick . . ." she warns me playfully. She meant it as
                                    threatening, but I know better.
                                    
                                    "Absolutely precious," Janet smiles, referring to us as a
                                    couple, not to Scully. Although I'd have to agree with her if
                                    she had meant Scully.
                                    
                                    "How old are you two, anyway? We know you've been married for
                                    two years, but not your ages." Chris has already finished his
                                    meal and is sipping his wine.
                                    
                                    "I'm 43."
                                    
                                    "40."
                                    
                                    "Wow, you sure don't look it," Chris extols. Janet simply nods
                                    in agreement with her husband.
                                    
                                    It is interesting to hear that. I always thought years of
                                    chasing conspiracies added years to my age. I guess this
                                    'vacation' has done me some good. There were times when I
                                    thought Scully looked older than she was, mostly when she was
                                    fighting her cancer, but now it seems as though this island has
                                    served as an anti-aging solution and rewarded her for her
                                    struggles with youthful beauty.
                                    
                                    A dessert hasn't been mentioned, so I drain my wine glass of
                                    its contents and toss my napkin on the table. I think it's time
                                    to leave.
                                    
                                    "You ready to go home, honey?" I ask Scully.
                                    
                                    "Mmhmm, I'm exhausted." She gets up from her chair and waits
                                    for me to stand with her. "Thank you for such a lovely evening.
                                    Dinner was delicious."
                                    
                                    "Yes, thank you both," I add.
                                    
                                    They see us to the door and wish us a good evening. Janet
                                    mentions we should do it again sometime. I just nod and grab
                                    Scully's hand. 
                                    
                                    We go home and make love for no other reason than the sake of
                                    making love. I guess I'm cashing in on my rain check.
                                    
                                    We fall asleep in each other's arms, the rain having ceased
                                    along with our bodies.
                                    
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Chapter Five - The Test
                                    
                                    
                                    I haven't felt well for the last few days. At first I blamed
                                    the pasta, but food poisoning isn't usually accompanied by a
                                    headache. It also doesn't last for this long.
                                    
                                    Then I figured it was my, for lack of a better word, punishment
                                    for getting caught in the rain with Mulder. Catching a chill
                                    can incubate a virus, making the flu or cold the most likely
                                    candidates.
                                    
                                    I have thrown up every now and then and have sported a slight
                                    fever. I have hid it as well as I know how from Mulder,
                                    however. When symptoms like this occur, especially around this
                                    time of month, his eyes tend to light up and he rushes to the
                                    nearest convenient store. 
                                    
                                    I want to test myself alone this time. I hate the mixed
                                    emotions I always see in Mulder's eyes after the test comes out
                                    negative. He never seems to know how he should react.
                                    
                                    I am always faced with the same dilemma. 
                                    
                                    Mulder is out today, with Chris of all people. I think Mulder
                                    senses an alliance forming with Chris finally, so they went out
                                    to the beach to play frisbee and catch.
                                    
                                    Janet and I don't spend much time together. I'm scared to spend
                                    too much time alone with her. I'm a terrible liar, so she may
                                    get things out of me that shouldn't be known. I think she
                                    prefers to busy herself with her home and projects anyway, that
                                    is when she not traveling anyway.
                                    
                                    I've mulled over the consequences of the information we gave
                                    out at dinner earlier this week, all week. I feel as though not
                                    too much was said, so I am trying not to be worried about. If
                                    the walls happen to have ears, they will just know that Kate
                                    and Nick fell in love while fighting crime and that their
                                    family histories hold mysteries of their own. 
                                    
                                    I'm just pulling a Mulder and being paranoid. 
                                    
                                    Staring into the bathroom mirror, I unwrap the small package I
                                    just purchased.
                                    
                                    Now we can find out the truth behind my uncooperative body.
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Chapter Six - Maybe
                                    
                                    After a much longer than planned day at the beach with Chris, I
                                    return home to find Scully cleaning.
                                    
                                    She has her hair swept back from her face, blue jeans and a
                                    lilac halter top on. In my world this makes her the most
                                    delectable 'housewife' on the planet.
                                    
                                    I sneak up behind her as she scrubs at the kitchen counter,
                                    only to be disappointed with no response from her. Not thinking
                                    anything of it, I kiss her cheek and head for the refrigerator
                                    for some orange juice.
                                    
                                    "You stay in all day?" I query as I retrieve a glass from the
                                    cabinet.
                                    
                                    She nods and I think I hear her say yes. Concern begins to rise
                                    up and I immediately search the counter for today's mail. I
                                    casually finger through it, only to find it consists of
                                    commercial advertisements.
                                    
                                    I pour the orange juice in time to see Scully walk out of the
                                    kitchen to the living room.  She begins to dust in a haphazard
                                    manner at what little furniture we own. I drink my juice in one
                                    gulp, then rinse out the glass before following her into the
                                    living room.
                                    
                                    "Everything okay, Dana?" I ask, hoping the use of her first
                                    name will get her attention. It usually does. 
                                    
                                    I just get another nod. I approach her frenzied form and halt
                                    her cleaning by brushing a finger down her cheek. No reaction. 
                                    
                                    "You sure?" I prod. 
                                    
                                    "I'm fine!" She barks, two words I haven't heard used in the
                                    same sentence from her since we got here. 
                                    
                                    At least she finally said something, although the tone worries
                                    me and I am a bit offended, especially at the lie. I trace back
                                    to the events of the day, trying to see if I did something to
                                    cause this sudden bout of anger. Nothing.
                                    
                                    "Did I do something?" I finally just ask.
                                    
                                    "No, Mulder. Everything's okay. I'm okay. Janet and Chris are
                                    okay. We're all okay!" She begins to move in the direction of
                                    the bedroom.
                                    
                                    "Well if everything is okay, then what the hell is wrong?" I
                                    don't move towards her; she has stopped her retreat. 
                                    
                                    She throws the cloth she has been cleaning with to the floor
                                    and spins around to face me.
                                    
                                    "Damn it, Mulder, I'm pregnant!" She throws both hands over her
                                    mouth, obviously surprised at her outburst.
                                    
                                    I feel my mouth drop and can't seem to find my voice. It is at
                                    this moment that I discover my true feelings about such news.
                                    
                                    I'm ecstatic. Elated. Very happy indeed.
                                    
                                    "You're . . .," I can't seem to finish. The fear creeps in a
                                    little. The good kind. The kind that a father-to-be usually
                                    gets. 
                                    
                                    She drops her hands and the smallest of smiles has graced her
                                    lips. A nod answers my unfinished question. Seconds pass and
                                    her smile spreads to a full-fledged grin, a single tear
                                    settling in one corner of her mouth.
                                    
                                    I take that moment to glide to her and sweep her into my arms.
                                    She buries her face into my neck and I feel her begin to shake.
                                    I can't be quite sure if it is from laughter or if she is
                                    crying. She pulls away and I find it to be both.
                                    
                                    So I kiss her. I kiss her long and hard, the way a mother-to-be
                                    should be kissed. 
                                    
                                    "You're sure?" I ask quietly when we pull away.
                                    
                                    "Positive," she whispers. 
                                    
                                    "Are you scared?" I cup her face with my hands. 
                                    
                                    Her answer is a nod and smile then, "But it is going to happen
                                    whether we like it or not."
                                    
                                    I kiss her again.
                                    
                                    "Should we tell Chris and Janet?" She asks between pecks.
                                    
                                    "Hell yes! It will give them something to talk about. At least
                                    we won't have to lie about this aspect of our lives."
                                    
                                    She laughs at that, outright giggles actually. It is a
                                    beautiful sound. I can already see the glow that pregnancy
                                    gifts expectant mothers.
                                    
                                    Unable to help myself, I kiss her again. It isn't quite as long
                                    as the first, but it is almost as wonderful. I set her down on
                                    the floor and push an escaped strand of blonde from her eyes.
                                    
                                    "You want some tea? We can watch the sunset and drink tea." She
                                    floats to the kitchen in a giddy whirl.
                                    
                                    I grab some blankets, the air having brought on a chill, and
                                    head out to the porch. Minutes later she brings out a tray of
                                    her favorite beverage -now a favorite of mine- and sets it down
                                    on our small outdoor table.
                                    
                                    Before she can protest, I pull her into my lap and wrap the
                                    large blanket I have provided around both our bodies. We settle
                                    comfortably in each other's arms and watch the warm hues unfold
                                    from the sky.  
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Chapter Seven - Visions of Hope
                                    
                                    He's been running a lot lately. It clears his mind and he has
                                    had a lot on it the last several days. I think the reality of
                                    having another baby has finally set in for us both.
                                    
                                    I'll admit I'm afraid. At first I was scared, but not to the
                                    point where it kept me up at night. Not like I am now. I can't
                                    help but wonder what will happen this time. Will it be healthy?
                                    Will it be different, like William was? If it is like William,
                                    will we end up having to give it up in the end?
                                    
                                    My heart tells me that the baby will be fine. Mulder and I have
                                    been on this island for two years, so there is no possibility
                                    of interference having happened. But my head keeps trying to
                                    convince me that history will repeat itself.
                                    
                                    I wish my head would shut up.
                                    
                                    These concerns of mine are shared with Mulder, but he has other
                                    things that keep him running.
                                    
                                    Long ago, in New Mexico, Mulder and I discussed dead people;
                                    how they never really die. That they speak to us. I've had my
                                    encounters, but Mulder has these dreams now. People from our
                                    past will speak to him. Assure him and comfort him about our
                                    future, the future. I'm not sure if they know what the future
                                    holds, but I feel as though their comforting words do the job.
                                    It disturbs him though. Mulder doesn't seem to know what to do.
                                    They aren't nightmares, he hasn't had one in several months,
                                    but he doesn't understand why they choose to speak to him.
                                    
                                    The Lone Gunmen, Krycek and X contact him the most. The thing
                                    that bothers him most is he can't talk back. He just sits back
                                    and listens, not understanding why it is they feel he needs to
                                    see and hear them. He also rarely remembers what it is that
                                    they say. He just knows that they were there and that he does
                                    in fact feel comforted when he awakens. 
                                    
                                    It wasn't until a few months after our escape that he told me
                                    about his 'visitations' while he fought for his life. All of
                                    our lives. Until this I hadn't understood the full meaning of
                                    that conversation in the dingy hotel room.  
                                    
                                    It wasn't until the last few weeks that Mulder started having
                                    these frequent visits from our enemies and allies- depending on
                                    what day it was -from the past. They never used to come so
                                    often. I think it could be because we are so close to returning
                                    back home. 
                                    
                                    Mulder was never told about the death of the Lone Gunmen. When
                                    we were together those brief few times before his death
                                    sentence, I was never able to tell him. The loss of William was
                                    enough to shatter his world. 
                                    
                                    We haven't received anymore word on the location of William
                                    yet. I'm not sure who Monica and John are having do this for
                                    us, but I have a feeling they may have been associated with the
                                    Lone Gunmen in some way. 
                                    
                                    I just hope they can be trusted.
                                    
                                    We told Janet and Chris that we were expecting. Chris was happy
                                    for us and Janet was beyond happy. I think she expects to be
                                    the godmother. She is a pleasant woman, but if anyone will be
                                    the godmother it will be Monica. She's the closet thing to a
                                    sister I have had in years. Although, I have yet to tell her or
                                    John. Mom is the only one who knows, or at least I wrote her a
                                    letter telling her so. She has yet to respond. I told her about
                                    the news on William not a day after receiving it. A letter in
                                    response didn't take long to arrive. She is scared for me, that
                                    I may be setting myself up for disappointment or something I am
                                    not ready for. She may be right, but it is too late now.
                                    
                                    The morning sickness comes and goes, but it isn't so bad now. I
                                    didn't have much of it with William, so I don't expect too much
                                    to change. Mulder has already begun to fuss over me. I think he
                                    half expects me to start showing in the next day or so. He's
                                    just trying to make up for when he was gone. I love him for it. 
                                    
                                    We haven't discussed much on getting married. We don't know if
                                    we want to wait until after the baby is born and we have found
                                    William, or before. I don't care either way. In the end, we
                                    will be married. 
                                    
                                    Of course, we have to get married as Nick and Kate. The only
                                    complication there is that we are already married as Nick and
                                    Kate, as far as our certificates and passports are concerned.
                                    We just know that we can never be revealed for who we truly
                                    are, it's too risky. I guess we'll just worry about it when
                                    that time comes. 
                                    
                                    I hear the front door open and roll over on the bed to face the
                                    bedroom door. I've been prescribed a lot of rest by Doctor
                                    Mulder. He leans against the doorjamb, clad in his running
                                    pants and worn white tee shirt.
                                    
                                    "You have a good run?"
                                    
                                    He nods, with a smile. His eyes are fixated on me, something I
                                    quickly had to get used to once we became involved
                                    romantically. It isn't so much that he looks at me, just the
                                    way he does. It was odd at first, but now I enjoy the
                                    butterflies it never ceases to give me. 
                                    
                                    I pat the bed, inviting him to sit by me. "How far did you run
                                    today?"
                                    
                                    "Only three miles," he shrugs as he makes a place beside me.
                                    
                                    Only. I haven't run more than two in quite some time. I'm still
                                    in shape, for now, but I don't have a job that demands superb
                                    physical strength anymore. 
                                    
                                    He kisses me on the forehead. "You feeling all right?"
                                    
                                    "Mmhmm, I feel great." I have a lazy sound to my voice; I
                                    absent-mindedly rub my stomach, a habit I got into while
                                    pregnant with William. I guess every pregnant woman gets in
                                    that habit.
                                    
                                    He sweeps a lock of hair behind my ear, his eyes moving to my
                                    stomach for a second then coming back to meet my eyes. My roots
                                    have begun to show, but my natural hair color isn't to worry
                                    about   it being a dark auburn, almost mousy brown. I guess I
                                    should dye it again anyway. I have my hair done every few
                                    months, the shades of blonde ever changing. 
                                    
                                    "I'm going to take a quick shower. How 'bout we go out for
                                    dinner tonight? We haven't done that in a while."
                                    
                                    "Sounds good to me," I smile. He gives me a peck on the lips
                                    before heading towards the bathroom. I take my time getting up,
                                    stretching my tired muscles. 
                                    
                                    I get up and begin to comb through my hair and go through the
                                    motions of getting ready. It is then that I remember the dress.
                                    
                                    I pull it from the closet and stroke the fabric. I'm going to
                                    wear this while I still can.
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Chapter Eight - "Look ye, Starbuck, all visible objects are but 
                                    as pasteboard masks."
                                    
                                    
                                    When all else fails and we can't decide where to eat, we go to
                                    a restaurant not two miles from our beach house. It's called
                                    Crusoe's Beachfront and they offer a casual yet elegant
                                    atmosphere where the menu is full of choices that are anything
                                    but ordinary. Just the way I like it.
                                    
                                    We are seated immediately and it isn't long before our order is
                                    taken and we are relaxing with our lemon water and the soft
                                    tropic music in the background. Scully looks radiant in the
                                    dress I got her. Who knew I had such good taste in clothes? I
                                    guess my selection in ties always had me thinking otherwise. Or
                                    maybe Scully inspires me to do better, in fact, I know she
                                    does.
                                    
                                    I reach across the table and grab her hand, sandwiching it
                                    between both of my much larger ones. I brush my thumb over the
                                    soft skin that I don't think I'll ever get sick of touching.
                                    She looks at me and smiles, sensing that I want to say
                                    something. 
                                    
                                    "What?" She finally asks.
                                    
                                    I play with her fingers, thinking. Scully extends her neck
                                    towards me, arching her eyebrow, her eyes urging me to spit it
                                    out. This shouldn't be so hard for me to tell her, but it's all
                                    about how I tell her. I'm also hesitant because she could get
                                    angry at me for waiting this long to share this secret I have
                                    been carrying with me. I smile at her, a lop-sided smile to
                                    keep things light and clear my throat.
                                    
                                    "I need to tell you something. Something about the dreams I
                                    have been having."
                                    
                                    She remains silent, but her features have softened and she
                                    simply waits. Her hand curves around mine a little, encouraging
                                    me. She knows how disturbing the subject of my 'dreams' can be
                                    to talk about.
                                    
                                    "They've been going on longer than I told you. Or least
                                    something similar happened to me a while back."
                                    
                                    "What do you mean?"
                                    
                                    "Well it just started to make sense to me recently."
                                    
                                    "What did?"
                                    
                                    "What I'm about to tell you."
                                    
                                    She smiles, a bit amused. "You're stalling."
                                    
                                    I chuckle softly and press on. "I think it started about six
                                    years ago, to be honest, around the time of your cancer." Her
                                    eyebrows raise and she wants to comment, but she restrains
                                    herself, letting me finish. "It was always just one recurring
                                    visit after the other, I didn't think too much of it. I should
                                    have though, because of who it was."
                                    
                                    "Mul-Nick . . ." she catches herself. 
                                    
                                    "It was your father." I say it with a tenderness I know she
                                    will appreciate. I never knew her father, well not when he was
                                    alive. When she got sick, he started talking to me. His words
                                    still play over and over in my mind.
                                    
                                    Take care of my little girl. 
                                    
                                    I know you love her, she loves you too.
                                    
                                    I've always been proud of her.     
                                    
                                    You'll make it through all of this, together.
                                    
                                    The latter, I sometimes think, he was referring to our current
                                    battles. I think he knew we would be each other's anchors for
                                    the rest of our lives and face what we have faced. What we will
                                    face. 
                                    
                                    "My fath. . . why didn't you tell me before now?" Strangely
                                    enough, she doesn't sound angry. She doesn't even sound hurt.
                                    Just confused. 
                                    
                                    I shrug, holding on to her hand with all my might in fear that
                                    she will tear it away from me. She does no such thing. In fact,
                                    she brings her other hand to the table and envelopes both of my
                                    tan, callused hands with her forever and always ivory, silk
                                    ones. I'm going to answer of course, but I am not so sure I
                                    have a good reason. 
                                    
                                    "I don't know. I think I just brushed it aside and I don't even
                                    know why. At one point I planned on telling you, but by then he
                                    had stopped coming to me."
                                    
                                    "Oh."
                                    
                                    She sounds so disappointed. Like maybe she'd hoped he still
                                    came to me. I kind of wish he did too.
                                    
                                    "Why did he come to you?" She goes on to ask. 
                                    
                                    I shrug again. Maybe this sort of conversation should have
                                    waited until we were in private. Sometimes I just don't think. 
                                    
                                    "I don't know." That seems to be my answer to every question.
                                    "I'll tell you this much, he was the first one to let me know I
                                    loved you." A small smile appears on her face and I release a
                                    sigh.
                                    
                                    I go on to tell her some of the things he'd said to me all
                                    those years ago. A few tears have escaped her pools of blue,
                                    something I expected to happen. When I confirmed his pride for
                                    his beloved daughter, she almost lost it. She held it in
                                    though, unwilling to make any more of a scene than we already
                                    have. We would still be holding hands if the food hadn't
                                    arrived. We aren't that hungry anymore. Luckily Scully just
                                    ordered a salad. It is unlike any salad I have ever seen, a
                                    mixture of vegetables and fruits and I think what could be
                                    chicken, but it is the perfect amount to suit her appetite.
                                    Unfortunately I overestimated my stomach and the meal, whose
                                    name I can't remember, hardly gets a bite out of me. I nibble
                                    on some bread and the side dishes instead.
                                    
                                    "It kind of makes sense," she mumbles over a mouth full of
                                    lettuce. She seems to be enjoying this unusual excuse for a
                                    salad.
                                    
                                    "It does?" I've settled comfortably in my chair, waiting for
                                    the table to be cleared so I can claim her hands with mine
                                    again. 
                                    
                                    "We were in love even then, maybe he was giving his blessing."
                                    
                                    That idea makes me smile. Scully pushes her plate to the side
                                    and opens her hands to me. We clasp our hands together again
                                    and I notice a thoughtful expression cross her face.
                                    
                                    "He did come to me once." She shuts her eyes as if trying to
                                    remember what it was like to see him. 
                                    
                                    "Really?"
                                    
                                    "Mmhmm." It's a quiet response, her eyes still closed. I want
                                    to ask her when it was that he visited her, but I don't want to
                                    shake her from her reverie. Her memory.
                                    
                                    "It was when I was in my coma," she affirms as if hearing the
                                    question in my head. Her eyes pop open, unleashing a few more
                                    tears. On this island people keep to themselves, so no one has
                                    glanced over to see what this dramatic scene is all about. If
                                    anyone has, I'm sure they just think I have said something
                                    romantic and the wistful smile accompanied with tears on
                                    Scully's face have been brought on by the fictional words. 
                                    
                                    "I was so close to letting go Mulder." She says it quietly, her
                                    eyes sweeping the area to make sure my name was only heard by
                                    my ears. It is strange that she can speak so softly to the
                                    point of barely being audible by any other and yet I can always
                                    hear her so clearly. 
                                    
                                    "I can almost remember what he said to me," she continues. "But
                                    what I remember most is how much he loved me. That all he'd
                                    wanted in those last moments of his life was to see me again.
                                    He'd lived life so fully and yet he felt it had ended too
                                    soon." 
                                    
                                    She shakes her head. "You'd think after that I would have never
                                    hesitated to let you know how I felt when I knew it was real. I
                                    guess I was like you in that I didn't think much of me seeing
                                    him, until it really meant something. All visible objects are
                                    but as pasteboard masks."
                                    
                                    I recognize that from somewhere. Instead of asking, I look at
                                    her inquisitively in hopes that she will enlighten me on what
                                    she means.
                                    
                                    "Moby Dick. It kind of means . . ." she hesitates, gathering
                                    her thoughts. "Captain Ahab never would have thought twice
                                    about that white whale if it hadn't taken his leg. Up until
                                    then the whale was one dimensional, like a pasteboard mask, not
                                    worth considering, it's meaning hidden. But once the whale was
                                    given a meaning, a purpose to be seen as something more, it was
                                    given all dimensions. I guess my point is, that in our case,
                                    you don't really think much of a vision or a ghost or whatever
                                    you conceive it to be until its intentions are made clear." She
                                    chuckles in what I sense is a way of laughing at herself. "I'm
                                    sorry; this probably doesn't make any sense. It's just when I
                                    think of Dad, I think of that book. It was all I really had of
                                    him; the memory of him sharing that story with me."
                                    
                                    "It makes sense." I don't feel the need to elaborate. She is
                                    staring at the white tablecloth, lost in her thoughts again. I
                                    shake her hands to bring her back to me. "You mad at me?"
                                    
                                    She's taken aback by my question. Probably because I sound
                                    about five. I see that eyebrow arch. "Why would I be mad at
                                    you?"
                                    
                                    "Because I waited so long to tell you this. Six years is a long
                                    time to keep something like that under wraps."
                                    
                                    "We kept a much larger secret from each other for almost eight
                                    years," she bites her lower lip then smiles. I can always sense
                                    when she has had to stop herself from saying 'Mulder' when we
                                    are talking in public. This really should have been a private
                                    conversation, that way we could say as many Scullys and Mulders
                                    as we wanted. Old habits die hard.
                                    
                                    "But," she continues, "you had your reasons . . . kind of. Ahab
                                    likes you *Nick*, if you had known the victory in that feat,
                                    you would have been dancing a jig long ago. He's never liked
                                    any of the men in my life." Her cheeks are tear stained, but
                                    new wet ones have yet to join the dried streaks. She beams at
                                    me. 
                                    
                                    He likes me, he really likes me.
                                    
                                    The waiter finally shows up and clears our table. I get the
                                    feeling he had been avoiding the task until it was obvious
                                    whatever had been going on between his two customers was
                                    resolved. 
                                    
                                    "Could we have the check?" I request before the dark man takes
                                    our dishes to the kitchen. He nods and vanishes behind the
                                    flapping doors. 
                                    
                                    I bring Scully's hands to my mouth and brush my lips over her
                                    knuckles. 
                                    
                                    "I love you," I tell her in a whispered tone after my lips have
                                    finished their journey.
                                    
                                    "I love you, too."                 
                                    
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Chapter Nine - "A dream is an answer to a question . . ."
                                    
                                    I had a dream last night. 
                                    
                                    I was back on the mainland, there was snow. I hadn't seen snow
                                    in so long and in the dream I could almost feel the wet,
                                    feathery whiteness on my cheeks. 
                                    
                                    I walked down an endless sidewalk, unsure of where exactly it
                                    was leading but intent on making it to the mysterious
                                    destination. When I did finally come to a stop, in front of a
                                    frozen lake, a bright light began to shine from beyond. It
                                    wasn't the sun, just a light from unknown origin. Moments
                                    later, after removing the arm I had made into a makeshift
                                    shield against the brightness from my eyes, a figure came up to
                                    stand in front of me. 
                                    
                                    My father. 
                                    
                                    It made sense in a way, to see him in a dream, because it had
                                    only been a few days since Mulder and I had discussed Ahab. 
                                    
                                    He was clad in his uniform, a gentle smile playing at his lips.
                                    He brought a hand to cup my cheek and wiped a tear away that I
                                    was unaware had fallen. 
                                    
                                    "Daddy?" The word escaped my lips in a shaky whisper. In
                                    response he nodded and without hesitation pulled me into his
                                    arms. It had been eleven years since I had hugged him. 
                                    
                                    I felt reassurance in this embrace. It gave off the heat of
                                    love, support . . . pride. Even at age forty I was so small in
                                    his arms, as if I was still just his little girl. But I was. I
                                    always would be and I think that was part of the reassurance I
                                    felt. I had grown into a woman, a lover, a mother, this he
                                    knew, but he would always be there for me. He was my father. 
                                    
                                    He *was* proud of me. 
                                    
                                    He never said a word the entire time he held me. He didn't need
                                    to. It could have been hours that we stayed like that, but in a
                                    dream one can never truly measure the time. 
                                    
                                    Was it a dream?
                                    
                                    Or was it his final visit to me before he let me live the rest
                                    of my life until I saw him again in Eternity? When he pulled
                                    away he placed a kiss on my forehead, the finality of this
                                    dream making itself known. 
                                    
                                    This was goodbye. 
                                    
                                    No more visits to either Mulder or me. I think I'd had this
                                    feeling of unrest since that evening in the restaurant and this
                                    was Dad's way of letting me know that everything was as it
                                    should be. That his last visit was for me and me alone. 
                                    
                                    He walked away from me and when he reached the edge of the lake
                                    he turned to me. I smiled and he offered a salute and I did the
                                    same. It was then that I woke up. 
                                    
                                    I laid awake for the remainder of that night, waiting for
                                    Mulder to wake up so I could tell him. I didn't analyze the
                                    dream, knowing there was nothing left to analyze, I just let it
                                    play over and over in my head. 
                                    
                                    When Mulder finally did wake, the first words out of my mouth
                                    were, "I saw my father." From there I told him every detail and
                                    feeling of the dream. 
                                    
                                    When I was finished, a single tear streamed down my cheek. He
                                    pulled me to him and held me tight for almost an hour. I think
                                    in a way he was relieved that he was not alone in seeing these
                                    people of our past. He was also relieved that my father chose
                                    to see me one last time. 
                                    
                                    After that he went for a run and I went to put together a
                                    brunch for the both of us. 
                                    
                                    I startle at the knock on the front door, pulling me from my
                                    thoughts. I turn the stove off and pad across the tile, through
                                    the living room and to the front door. I open it to find Janet
                                    smiling with our mail in hand. 
                                    
                                    "Good morning, Janet."
                                    
                                    "Good morning, Kate. You look radiant today. Where is Nick?"
                                    
                                    She always comments on a glow or how radiant I look. I never
                                    see it. I'm not showing yet, it will be a while, so I think
                                    Janet feels that since she can't observe a swell of my belly, a
                                    glow will have to due. 
                                    
                                    "Off running again." I take the mail from her hand and offer an
                                    ushering hand to welcome her inside. She makes herself
                                    comfortable on a bar stool and I continue to make a snack for
                                    Mulder. 
                                    
                                    "Do you want something to drink?" I offer.
                                    
                                    "No, I'm fine. I just haven't seen you in a couple of days,
                                    just thought I'd check up on you." We exchange smiles.
                                    
                                    "Oh Nick and I have been keeping to ourselves lately. We've had
                                    some things come up." I pause and wipe my hands on a dish
                                    towel. "We may be leaving sometime in the next few weeks."
                                    
                                    Janet's eyes widen at the news and a 'why?' can be seen in that
                                    expression.
                                    
                                    "We have some family, um, business to tend to in the States."
                                    
                                    "Did someone die?"
                                    
                                    For some reason I laugh at the question, especially with it
                                    being so blunt. "No no, it's just some personal things that
                                    need to be taken care of. We don't know anything yet, but we
                                    suspect it will only be a matter of days before we hear
                                    something."
                                    
                                    "I see." Janet looks down and picks at her cuticles. I sense
                                    sadness in her statement and it surprises me. I never saw Janet
                                    and I as being that close, but it is possible she thought
                                    otherwise. 
                                    
                                    "Will you be coming back?" She looks up with a doleful smile
                                    accompanying the question. 
                                    
                                    "I don't know, Janet." I shrug for some emphasis. "It depends
                                    on what all happens. I wish I could tell you more, but I'm not
                                    sure Nick would want anyone to know much more than I have
                                    already told you. As soon as we know our plans you'll be the
                                    first to know."
                                    
                                    "I understand, Kate, I really do. Thank you for telling me."
                                    
                                    I reach across the counter and place my hand on her restless
                                    ones. "Thank you for everything you have done, Janet. You and
                                    Chris have done so much for us these past couple of years."
                                    
                                    She smiles at that and tilts her head to the side. "That's what
                                    friends are for."
                                    
                                    Is it possible for me to become such close friends with a
                                    person in a matter of minutes? Up until now I had never thought
                                    of Janet as more than a friendly, albeit nosy, neighbor and
                                    landlord. 
                                    
                                    "Well," she finally says, "I'll leave you to make brunch. I'll
                                    see you later." She stands to leave and I walk her to the door.
                                    Hesitating only a moment, she hugs me and leaves.
                                    
                                    Shutting the door, I shake my head with a smile and head
                                    towards the kitchen again. As I pick through the mail, Mulder
                                    jogs in.
                                    
                                    "Was that Janet who just left?" He shuts the door behind him
                                    and removes his shirt.
                                    
                                    "Yeah," I respond distantly, my eyes having settled on an
                                    envelope with familiar handwriting.
                                    
                                    "I just heard some interesting news down at the pier." He walks
                                    briskly to me and kisses my cheek before he makes to pour
                                    himself some orange juice. Without a word from me he continues
                                    with his news.
                                    
                                    I make an effort to listen, that is until I read the
                                    recognizable script of the envelope. It is a letter from Monica
                                    and John. I take a deep breath and tear the envelope open. In
                                    the background I hear Mulder saying something about hurricane
                                    season, but as I read the letter every word he says is muted.
                                    
                                    "Anyway, they say it is going to be a doozy. Maybe we should
                                    pack up and get out of here."
                                    
                                    A gasp escapes my lips and he stops, rushing to my side. 
                                    
                                    "What is it?" I feel his hand stroking my back.
                                    
                                    "It doesn't matter," I state simply.
                                    
                                    "What doesn't matter?" He is clearly confused. I turn to him
                                    fully, my eyes opening and closing in slow motion as I collect
                                    myself. 
                                    
                                    "The hurricanes, Mulder." I barely recognize my voice as I
                                    speak to him. 
                                    
                                    "You've lost me Scully." I small smile is pulling at the corner
                                    of his mouth, but his eyes convey his concern. 
                                    
                                    "They found him, Mulder. They found William."
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Chapter Ten - A Reunion of Friends . . . and Nightmares
                                    
                                    Leaving the island was hard. It was hardest on Scully, but I
                                    was astonished to discover that it was hard on me as well. I'd
                                    wanted to leave the place for quite some time, for several
                                    reasons, but once it happened I wasn't ready. 
                                    
                                    I loved feeling safe. I never realized what a haven our
                                    temporary home offered until now. I loved the fact that I could
                                    be with Scully, love her, and not really have to watch both our
                                    backs in fear that it could all end in the blink of an eye. 
                                    
                                    However, no matter what the sacrifice, seeing William and
                                    knowing he is safe is worth it. 
                                    
                                    For a while, when we were running from state to state, we came
                                    close to being caught, found out. Sometime, around Texas, it
                                    all stopped. But instead of feeling safe at the sudden lack of
                                    threat, we panicked, our warning bells sounding off, and
                                    immediately made a home on the island. 
                                    
                                    A little over two years later and nothing. 
                                    
                                    Scully keeps saying we'll be okay, that they must have either
                                    given up or just don't care anymore. I think she says it more
                                    for herself than for me. These days I am much more paranoid
                                    about being found, because our lives aren't the only ones at
                                    stake anymore. Our baby has come into the picture. 
                                    
                                    At the thought of her and our unborn child, I look down at the
                                    head resting soundly on my shoulder. She cut her hair before we
                                    left, it now sitting just above her shoulders. Actually Janet
                                    cut it. They even briefly discussed dyeing it. I smiled when
                                    Janet suggested auburn and Scully quickly dismissed it by
                                    stating that she hated red hair. Therefore, we all left it the
                                    dark blonde that it is.                      
                                    
                                    We waited a few weeks before leaving. First we sent a response
                                    to John and Monica's letter, asking what preparations and
                                    precautions should be taken. It was only a matter of days
                                    before a letter in reply arrived. As far as they were
                                    concerned, according to updates from Skinner, coming back into
                                    the States would be a piece of cake and safe. And so we
                                    prepared to leave. 
                                    
                                    There were some tears before we left, mostly from Janet. She is
                                    more of a crier than Scully. As a gift, Janet gave Scully a
                                    necklace that she knew Scully had always admired. She also gave
                                    us a baby blanket that, much to my surprise, she'd made
                                    herself. Chris and I shook hands and I gave him rent for our
                                    last month, despite the fact that we would not be there to
                                    complete it. He almost refused, but I was too grateful for
                                    their hospitality to yield. 
                                    
                                    The packing had been easy. Aside from our clothes and only a
                                    few personal items, there wasn't much to take with us. It took
                                    all of three medium suitcases for everything we owned. 
                                    
                                    We hit some turbulence, which causes Scully's head to pop up
                                    from my shoulder, interrupting her peaceful slumber. I squeeze
                                    her hand and whisper some soothing words. 
                                    
                                    "We should be landing in the next thirty minutes or so," I
                                    assure, my thumb sweeping over her soft skin. 
                                    
                                    "Are you nervous?" She whispers, settling back to my shoulder,
                                    her hand returning the squeeze. 
                                    
                                    I shrug and kiss the crown of her head, knowing what she is
                                    talking about. "A little, but I think we'll be all right, you
                                    know? If they were really set on getting us, they would have by
                                    now." I pause and look out the window, several fluffy clouds
                                    gracing the sky. "Yeah, we'll be fine." I say it out loud as if
                                    I am still talking to her, but the words are more of a
                                    reassurance to myself. 
                                    
                                    I feel her move up, her lips brushing the skin just below my
                                    ear. I can't tell if it was a kiss or not, but the reaction is
                                    all the same for me. Her mouth hovers over my ear a few seconds
                                    before she speaks. 
                                    
                                    "What about William? Are you nervous about that?"
                                    
                                    I simply nod. I have never been so nervous about something in
                                    my life. I have been scared of many things, but never this
                                    nervous. Not even the first time Scully and I made love. It had
                                    been too natural, despite how imperfect the first time
                                    inevitably was. Even the idea of being a father, again, makes
                                    me nervous, but it's a good nervous. A feeling I welcome. This
                                    is different and the feeling is unsettling. 
                                    
                                    "Me too," she says, kissing my cheek. 
                                    
                                    I turn to her, our eyes meeting. She has an uncertain smile on
                                    her face, a forced one. I bring my free hand up to cup her chin
                                    and she relaxes into it. Her smile begins to tremble and she
                                    sucks in a quick breath, exhaling slowly. 
                                    
                                    "Let me out, I don't feel too well."
                                    
                                    I drop my hand from her face and nod, releasing the grip on her
                                    hand as well. I don't know if it is nerves, the flight or the
                                    baby, but she does look a little pale. I bring my legs in as
                                    close as I can and she unbuckles for the first time on the
                                    flight, stands and squeezes out. 
                                    
                                    I watch her as she walks slowly to the bathroom, her hand
                                    gripping the back of each seat as she stumbles down the aisle.
                                    My eyes don't leave her until she is inside the stall. With
                                    nowhere else to look, I aim my attention to the clouds again. 
                                    
                                    It isn't until I feel her hand on top of my head, her fingers
                                    playing through my hair, that I take my eyes from the window. I
                                    look up to see that she has been crying. She has a smile on her
                                    face, but I know better. Her color is back in her cheeks again,
                                    so I know she really must have not been feeling well.
                                    
                                    "You okay?" I ask her, even though her face gives away the
                                    answer to my question. She's better, but not quite okay.
                                    
                                    "Mmm," is her only response. I translate it as a yes and she
                                    moves to sit back in her seat. Aside from the outburst last
                                    month the days of her saying 'I'm fine' as a cover are done
                                    with; she never was and I never believed it. 
                                    
                                    As soon as she is seated, I grab her hand and kiss her palm
                                    before entwining our fingers and resting our hands on my thigh.
                                    I hear her breathe in deeply and out slowly. A few seconds
                                    later her head is back on my shoulder, but her eyes are looking
                                    out the window as if she hopes the clouds will unveil any
                                    answers to the questions I know we both ponder. I follow her
                                    gaze and we stare out the window for the remainder of the
                                    flight, not a word spoken.
                                    
                                    Once we've landed we wait for everyone else to exit before
                                    doing so ourselves. The pilot and flight attendants wish a
                                    pleasant stay and we walk down the, what seems to be, never-
                                    ending tunnel.
                                    
                                    Having already been through the pain of customs when we
                                    switched flights, we head straight to baggage claim. Monica
                                    said she would pick us up there. I feel like we're taking a lot
                                    of risks, the plane and meeting in public with Monica, but they
                                    assured us that it was safe. I want to believe them. I do my
                                    best to do just that. 
                                    
                                    I have Scully's hand wrapped tightly in mine as we move to
                                    baggage claim, fighting through the clump of people in the
                                    terminal. Every once and a while I skim the crowd for anyone
                                    who looks suspicious. No one catches my eye and before I know
                                    it we have reached the rotating belt, suitcases, backpacks,
                                    boxes and tents already being spit out from beyond the flaps. 
                                    
                                    Once I spot one suitcase, soon followed by the other two, I
                                    pull Scully to them. I insist she take the lighter one. She
                                    almost fights me for even suggesting it, but I don't think she
                                    is up to arguing. I know she's strong, in more ways than
                                    physical, she knows I know she is strong. She has nothing to
                                    prove to me, but right now I am taking into consideration that
                                    her nerves are on edge. I don't want anything strenuous, not
                                    even the carrying of a suitcase, to tip the iceberg.  
                                    
                                    I pick up the last bag and stand beside Scully. We wait. 
                                    
                                    "Is that her?" Scully whispers to me, nudging my arm with her
                                    elbow to make sure she has my attention. I look down at her and
                                    she nods her chin toward one of the signs that points to the
                                    elevator. The woman Scully is indicating is leaning against a
                                    pillar, looking through the throng of people gathered around
                                    the conveyer belt. 
                                    
                                    "Yeah, I think it is. She looks different." Her hair is longer
                                    now and I can see some worry lines have been engraved on her
                                    face. She's also lost a little weight. 
                                    
                                    Monica continues to look for us and I almost make a move to get
                                    her attention when her eyes settle on us. Then she looks away.
                                    I see her make a double take and we finally make eye contact.
                                    Her eyes widen a bit and she begins to walk swiftly in our
                                    direction.
                                    
                                    "I imagine we do too," I hear Scully say, a smile in the
                                    comment. 
                                    
                                    "Oh my God, look at you two," is Monica's greeting, her grin
                                    going from ear to ear. "I almost didn't recognize you!"     
                                    
                                    Scully steps forward, having set her suitcase on the ground,
                                    and the two women embrace. 
                                    
                                    "You're blonde now," Monica observes, her arms still wrapped
                                    around Scully. She pulls away first and sweeps her eyes over
                                    Scully. "You look amazing. I guess this 'break' was good for
                                    you."
                                    
                                    "Yeah, I thought I told you? About the hair I mean."
                                    
                                    "No, you didn't. It looks good!"
                                    
                                    I chuckle at their conversation. I get this strange feeling
                                    like this is what a Tupperware party must be like. I clear my
                                    throat, interrupting their discussion. At the sound, Monica
                                    looks up at me. 
                                    
                                    "Hey stranger," she greets. I set one bag down and we hug
                                    briefly.
                                    
                                    "Hey Monica."
                                    
                                    We all regard each other for another moment.
                                    
                                    "Well, we better get going," Monica breaks in. "I know you're
                                    anxious and, well, I'm double parked," she grins mischievously
                                    at that.
                                    
                                    Outside we toss our bags in the trunk, Scully sits in the front
                                    and I take the back. The drive is quiet, making it feel longer
                                    than I think it actually is. The radio plays softly in the
                                    background. After a while Scully dozes off. She didn't sleep
                                    too well the night before, so I think she is trying to catch up
                                    on what she can. 
                                    
                                    I watch the scenery, while Monica focuses on making it up the
                                    mountain. The view is beautiful at twilight, but I begin to
                                    feel queasy after a while. I get sea sick easily, therefore
                                    being in the backseat of a vehicle isn't much different for me.
                                    Especially at this altitude. 
                                    
                                    It is much cooler up here and Scully and I only own a few cold
                                    weather items. Scully opted for a blue, long-sleeved t-shirt
                                    and jeans, insisting that she would be fine. From the corner of
                                    my eye I see her shivering, even with the heater on. I remove
                                    my sweater, a black shirt underneath, and lay it across
                                    Scully's shoulders. Monica smiles at the gesture. 
                                    
                                    "She refuses to accept that she gets cold easily," I state
                                    simply, settling back in the seat. 
                                    
                                    "This is a big change in climate for you two. We'll have to get
                                    you some more suitable clothing; it can get rather chilly up
                                    here. Especially at night. It's lovely though, the stars shine
                                    so bright here."
                                    
                                    We're in western Montana. We landed in Helena, but so far it
                                    has been an hour drive from the airport. They never told us
                                    where they were staying, our mail always having been sent to
                                    and from a nearby town, Elliston. I imagine we are not far from
                                    there. From that I draw the conclusion that they are even more
                                    secluded than we were. 
                                    
                                    As we round the mountaintop, I see smoke rising from some
                                    trees, a chimney revealing itself, a log cabin. A pick-up truck
                                    sits in the driveway and a porch light beams from over the
                                    front door. 
                                    
                                    "We're here. That was a shorter drive than I anticipated, given
                                    the traffic at first I mean." Monica unbuckles her seatbelt and
                                    pops the trunk, exiting the car.
                                    
                                    Scully hasn't stirred and I comfort myself in the fact that she
                                    is resting soundly. I chide myself for having to be the one to
                                    wake her. I lean over to her again, stroking my hand through
                                    her tousled hair. 
                                    
                                    "Hey," I whisper in her ear, "we're here." I kiss her cheek,
                                    lingering and she finally rouses. 
                                    
                                    She hums drowsily.
                                    
                                    "We're here," I repeat quietly.  
                                    
                                    "Already?" Her eyes flutter open.
                                    
                                    I nod and ruffle her hair. "Let's get our stuff."
                                    
                                    We exit the sedan and walk to the back of the car, Monica
                                    having already pulled out our carryalls. I reach for the two I
                                    carried previously, but am halted.
                                    
                                    "Uh uh, let me get these. You two head inside."
                                    
                                    "Where are John and Gibson?" I ask. 
                                    
                                    "They went into town to get some things. They wanted to make
                                    you dinner, but I have a feeling they picked up some take out
                                    instead."
                                    
                                    "Ah, I see."
                                    
                                    Scully hasn't said a thing, so I look to the side of me. I find
                                    that she has moved to the outskirts of the small forest of
                                    trees surrounding us. She has slipped on my sweater and her
                                    arms are wrapped around her mid-section, her head tilted to the
                                    heavens deep in thought. 
                                    
                                    "Hey, uh, if you're set on carrying those in, I think I'll stay
                                    out here a bit longer with Scully. That all right?"
                                    
                                    "Mmhmm. The boys should be back any minute," she reminds me
                                    smiling softly, before taking a bag at a time to the porch. I
                                    want to help her, but I am drawn to Scully. 
                                    
                                    I walk the short distance between us and wrap my arms around
                                    her, my arms overlapping hers. She doesn't budge, her eyes
                                    still gazing as she contemplates the stars. 
                                    
                                    "Are you going to be okay?"
                                    
                                    She nods. Moments later she replies, in a quiet voice, 
                                    "Yeah, I . . . I was just thinking. That's all."
                                    
                                    I stop myself from prying, leaving her answer at that. She
                                    doesn't have to tell me everything and she knows that. There is
                                    no point anyway, I know what is wrong with her. I brush my
                                    cheek against hers, my stubble catching in her hair at the
                                    movement. A shiver runs through her body and I hug her to me.
                                    
                                    "Why don't we get inside, huh? I bet we could scrounge up some
                                    tea or hot chocolate to warm you up."
                                    
                                    For the first time in the time she has been standing here, she
                                    looks away from the sky and her eyes cast down to the ground. I
                                    think I hear her say 'okay', but I am not sure. I assume she
                                    wants to go in, but before we head to the door, I turn her
                                    around to face me. 
                                    
                                    "Don't worry yourself, okay? I don't like seeing you like this.
                                    It's all going to turn out fine, I just know it is." I'm not
                                    sure how convincing my last statement is, but I keep talking
                                    anyway. "And we don't want to upset the baby," I rub her tummy
                                    for effect and am rewarded with a small smile. I tuck some hair
                                    away from her eyes and kiss her forehead. 
                                    
                                    At that moment some headlights curve around the corner and
                                    Scully and I pull away, focusing our attention to the
                                    approaching vehicle. The driver parks, turns off the car,
                                    Gibson and John Doggett stepping out of the car.
                                    
                                    "Mulder!" I hear John shout, the 'ah' that replaces the 'er' in
                                    my name unavoidable with his accent. Despite how much I hated
                                    it in the past, I can't help but embrace the way the man says
                                    my name. It's familiar and not entirely unwelcome.
                                    
                                    "Hi ya Doggett, how ya been man?" He reaches me and sticks out
                                    his hand, the handshake firm. I shake my head at the gesture
                                    and pull him to me in a 'manly' hug. As he pulls away, his eyes
                                    shift to Scully. 
                                    
                                    She smiles and they hug shortly, but fondly. I'm man enough to
                                    admit that I can't help but feel a twinge of jealously. Well,
                                    I'll never admit it out loud. I know it's childish and that
                                    Scully and I love one another and that, from what I understand
                                    anyway, John and Monica have their own romance going on, but
                                    what can I say? I'm territorial.
                                    
                                    Seconds later Gibson approaches the group, his stature the same
                                    as when we left him. He smiles widely, the focus mostly at
                                    Scully. She kneels down and brings her to him in a giant hug.
                                    
                                    "Hi Gibson," I hear her say.
                                    
                                    "Hi Scully." He pulls away and turns to me. "Hi Mulder." I
                                    shake his outstretched hand. 
                                    
                                    He smiles at me, knowingly. I'm not sure what he knows, but I
                                    shake my head with a grin at his ability. It will never cease
                                    to amaze me. 
                                    
                                    "Come on, let's get you two inside. We brought Chinese," John
                                    announces, proudly. 
                                    
                                    We haven't had Chinese in what seems like forever. One can't
                                    get a lot of Asian cuisine back on the island. I'm starving,
                                    but I am not sure how much I will be able to eat, my mind still
                                    heavy. I have a feeling Scully will hardly touch a thing,
                                    shifting the rice or noodles (whatever they brought) around
                                    with her fork until everyone is finished and moving on. 
                                    
                                    More than likely the next step in seeing William will be
                                    discussed at dinner, therefore that will keep Scully from
                                    eating as much as we both know she should. 
                                    
                                    We take one another's hands and follow Gibson inside, John
                                    grabbing the food from the car. The room is dim, but breath-
                                    taking, even in its simplicity. A large deer head is mounted
                                    above the cobblestone fireplace and the room smells pleasantly
                                    like wood smoke. The couch looks welcoming, so I pull Scully
                                    with me to sit down.
                                    
                                    "How did you get a place like this?" I inquire, my eyes
                                    wandering the room. Scully is sweeping the area with her eyes
                                    as well, her mind someplace else. 
                                    
                                    Monica enters the room from, what appears to be, the kitchen.
                                    "I know a guy who knows a guy who owed him a favor. And that
                                    guy owed me one." She puts the plates she's holding down on the
                                    coffee table, along with napkins and walks back to the kitchen,
                                    I assume to get silverware and drinks. 
                                    
                                    Quite the favor, I think to myself. 
                                    
                                    I look to Gibson and notice him staring intently at Scully, a
                                    worried expression on his face. He won't comment on anything he
                                    learns from her thoughts, but it doesn't stop him from worrying
                                    about her. 
                                    
                                    He knows how to control his gift and is mature enough to know
                                    when it is appropriate to use it and when it is not. However,
                                    sometimes the passionate pull of a person's emotions is hard
                                    for anyone to ignore. Scully has always been somewhat of a
                                    mother figure in Gibson's eyes, so the need to understand her
                                    current state is understandable. 
                                    
                                    John sits down opposite Scully and I and it isn't long before
                                    Monica joins us, setting drinks before us. Gibson pulls out of
                                    his concentration and helps open the Styrofoam take-out boxes. 
                                    
                                    "Fill your plates and then we'll get to talking," John says.
                                    
                                    Chicken fried rice, pan fried noodles and mixed chow mein are
                                    the options. Scully scoops some chicken fried rice onto her
                                    plate, a minimal amount. I take a little of everything and
                                    settle comfortably into the couch. 
                                    
                                    After everyone has prepared their plates, Monica speaks up. 
                                    
                                    "I know you're curious, more than curious, about William by now
                                    so I'll just come right out and say that William is in Wyoming.
                                    A small farming town just outside Rock Springs in Sweetwater
                                    county. I still can't believe he was so close all this time,"
                                    she shakes her head, as if disgusted with herself. 
                                    
                                    I'm in shock. I don't know what Scully is. There's no sign of
                                    reaction on her face, but I conclude to myself that she is in
                                    shock as well. Shaking herself from the well hidden emotions,
                                    she lifts the fork to her mouth, making an effort to eat her
                                    rice. I urge Monica to continue with my eyes.
                                    
                                    "His foster parents are a Mr. and Mrs. Van de Kamp. A
                                    conservative, Christian family. Large farmhouse with some
                                    chickens and cows. Mr. Van de Kamp, David, is a carpenter and
                                    his wife, Hannah, stays at home. I don't think knowing their
                                    personal lives is something to get into, although we have
                                    enough information to do so. However, I want to assure both of
                                    you that, from the looks of it, William is in a wonderful
                                    home." She offers a smile, an endeavor to lighten the mood that
                                    has set in. 
                                    
                                    "There is one problem," John breaks in, his expression
                                    revealing that he hates to be the bearer of bad news. "An early
                                    winter has settled in their area. Being that we think it best
                                    that you drive down, it will be impossible to reach them for at
                                    least a few more weeks. I hate to tell you that, because I know
                                    you have waited so patiently already."
                                    
                                    "It's all right," Scully speaks up, at last. By speak up I mean
                                    she talks, her tone is hardly a whisper. 
                                    
                                    "Yeah," I interject, "we've waited this long."
                                    
                                    I feel Scully nod in agreement. Silence takes over, the wood
                                    crackling in the fireplace, and we all pick and eat at our
                                    food. Scully sets her half-empty plate on the table. 
                                    
                                    "We want to talk to you both about something else," John
                                    declares, steering from the already hard topic and taking a sip
                                    of what turned out to be fresh mountain water. "It's something
                                    we and Skinner have been discussing for quite some time,
                                    actually."
                                    
                                    He stands up, as if in preparation to give a big speech. I
                                    watch him solemnly, my arm around Scully's shoulders.
                                    
                                    "We want to go at this Colonization thing as if it were a
                                    nuclear war," he starts out, his forehead crinkled in
                                    concentration, his voice somewhat urgent. "Canned food,
                                    underground shelter, the works. We actually already have the
                                    location. It's an actual bomb shelter from the fifties, about
                                    two hours east of Helena. It isn't huge, maybe the same size as
                                    this living room, but a comfortable size for up to twelve
                                    people. It's only a starting point as far as putting up a
                                    fight, but we can move forward from there. I think we can make
                                    it work. In fact, I know we can make it work."
                                    
                                    It's not a crazy idea. But will it actually work? We don't know
                                    what will happen with this Colonization, how dangerous it could
                                    turn out to be. We're in the dark as far as how much force the
                                    aliens could come at us with. However, it is something. A way
                                    to fight back. Maybe it's not actually fighting, more like
                                    hiding, but survival is a good place to start. 
                                    
                                    I don't comment, turning my attention to Scully. "What do you
                                    think?"
                                    
                                    "I don't know, Mulder."
                                    
                                    "Well hey, why don't you two talk about it. We'll show you to
                                    your room, let you settle in and discuss it. We've hit you with
                                    a lot of stuff tonight and we have a while before anything
                                    needs to be set in stone."
                                    
                                    Monica, John and, after a moment, Gibson clean up the mess and
                                    go to the kitchen. Monica comes back into the living room, with
                                    some hot tea for Scully, while Gibson and John head down the
                                    hallway, saying goodnight to us both.
                                    
                                    "Follow me and we'll get you in your room," she smiles, coaxing
                                    us up from our seats.
                                    
                                    We head down a separate hallway than the guys did. Reaching the
                                    end of the short hall we are shown into a pretty large bedroom.
                                    Almost the size of the one back on the island. The furnishing
                                    is sparse and few, a bed, a small dresser and a night stand,
                                    but we aren't picky. A quilt covers the queen bed and two
                                    simple white pillows rest on top.
                                    
                                    "It's not the Ritz, but it's homey." 
                                    
                                    "It's great, Monica, thank you," Scully says kindly, setting
                                    her mug on the dresser. 
                                    
                                    "The bathroom is across the hall, towels and everything under
                                    the sink. Um, you know where the kitchen is and John, Gibson
                                    and I are on the opposite side of the cabin. Me and John's room
                                    is at the end of the hall and Gibson's is diagonal from us. If
                                    you need anything, don't hesitate to ask, all right?"
                                    
                                    We nod simultaneously in response.      
                                    
                                    "I put your bags in the corner. I'll leave you two to get some
                                    rest." She crosses to us and gives us each a hug. "I'm so happy
                                    you're here. Everything is going to turn out great, you'll
                                    see." She turns on her heels at that and exits, shutting the
                                    door behind her. 
                                    
                                    "Do you want to shower first or second, Scully? Or you know . .
                                    ." I smile suggestively at her, waggling my eyebrows and
                                    although I think my attempt at levity will fail, she smiles at
                                    me. It is weak, but a smile nonetheless.
                                    
                                    "Actually, I'm exhausted Mulder. I think I'll just wash my
                                    face, brush my teeth and get into bed. I showered before we
                                    flew out, so I think I'll last till tomorrow."
                                    
                                    "Do you want to talk?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, of course. We can talk in bed, all right?" 
                                    
                                    I can hear the exhaustion in her voice, but I sense it is more
                                    emotional than physical. I nod and I think my concern shows.
                                    She sees it, I see it in her eyes, and walks to me. I hadn't
                                    even realized we had distanced ourselves until now. 
                                    
                                    She brushes her lips against mine, lingering for a few seconds.
                                    "Don't worry about me. It's just hormones making me emotional
                                    and sensitive," she whispers to me in the almost dark room.
                                    
                                    I wrap my arms around her body. I won't accept that the baby is
                                    making her act like this. This entire ordeal is slowly tearing
                                    her apart. There is no sense in arguing, however.
                                    
                                    "I'll try and stop," I bargain.
                                    
                                    "That's good enough," she smiles, kissing me again before
                                    padding to her bag. She pulls out some pajamas, a pair of off-
                                    white silk ones and her toiletry bag. She leaves the room and I
                                    strip down to my boxers, tossing my clothes onto my bag. 
                                    
                                    Fifteen minutes later, after we have both prepared for bed, we
                                    climb under the surprisingly warm covers. 
                                    
                                    "I think there's an electric blanket," she comments. 
                                    
                                    I curve my body around hers anyway and she snuggles into my
                                    embrace. 
                                    
                                    "So what do you think?" I ask after a beat of silence. 
                                    
                                    In our minds we have silently agreed to not speak of William
                                    anymore until tomorrow. The news is too fresh and so is the
                                    idea that it will be a matter of weeks before we see him.
                                    
                                    "I thought a little about it while I was getting ready for bed
                                    and I think . . . I think this may be the best thing for us to
                                    do."
                                    
                                    "Really?"
                                    
                                    "Yes. If we have even the semblance of a plan on how to survive
                                    this thing, I think it will be easier for us to live our lives
                                    as normally as possible until that day comes. I want to give
                                    this baby a chance to just live. It will be seven by that time.
                                    I just . . . I want to not have to worry about this more than
                                    we already are. Even just the idea of that shelter's safety is
                                    enough for me. So yes, I think it is a good idea to do this."
                                    
                                    "Me too," I agree.
                                    
                                    A wave of silence settles over the room and I almost think that
                                    Scully's asleep. However, a question begins to gnaw at me.
                                    
                                    "What about your mom? Your brothers and their families?"
                                    
                                    I feel Scully's feet rub together under mine and she shifts her
                                    body ever so slightly, signifying that she is still awake. 
                                    
                                    "Mom thinks that even if 2012 is the end of the world, she
                                    should face her judgment."
                                    
                                    "What do you mean?"
                                    
                                    "She doesn't look at this as a Colonization, Mulder. To her, if
                                    anything, it is the Apocalypse and her strong faith won't allow
                                    her to think otherwise. Who's to say we aren't both right
                                    though, you know? I'm living in two worlds as far as my beliefs
                                    are concerned." She pauses before continuing.
                                    
                                    "Anyway, it's up to her whether Charlie and Bill know anything
                                    about this, so it's just us for now." She shrugs, as if
                                    shrugging the whole idea off as just a small thing, even though
                                    I know the idea of leaving her mother and family behind
                                    troubles her to no end. 
                                    
                                    "Do you ever feel that way? Like you should live and let live?
                                    Ignore it?" I don't know what possesses me to ask such things,
                                    but the questions leave my mouth before I can even attempt to
                                    stop them. 
                                    
                                    "I want to ignore it and I know deep down you do too, but it's
                                    unavoidable. I-we've fought too long and hard to stop now. We
                                    need to fight. I want to. That's all there is to it."
                                    
                                    I silently agree with her as I nuzzle her neck. Her body
                                    relaxes into mine and I know she is on the brink of sleep. I
                                    kiss her earlobe and whisper, "Goodnight."
                                    
                                    In the distance I hear a wolf howl and crickets chirp. Our room
                                    is positioned so that the moons rays pour into the room,
                                    bathing us in silver. 
                                    
                                    It isn't long before I feel the nighttime pulling at my lids
                                    and into a deep, yet restless slumber.
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Chapter Eleven - "To love one child and to love all children,
                                    whether living or dead- somewhere these two loves come
                                    together."
                                    
                                    We went to bed at about nine-thirty, but staying asleep was
                                    harder for me than I anticipated. I want to say that it is
                                    because it is a new place with new sounds that is causing this
                                    restlessness, but as a woman with a past as a field agent, not
                                    even I can fool myself into thinking that. I have slept in so
                                    many cities and hotels I have lost count. Therefore I silently
                                    admit to myself it is just me. 
                                    
                                    I'd peeled myself quietly from Mulder's gentle hold on me,
                                    brushed my lips across his temple before leaving the room. As I
                                    passed through the living room I grabbed an afghan from the
                                    back of the couch. I noted from the small side-table clock that
                                    the time was four-seventeen and made my way to the front porch. 
                                    
                                    When we arrived I hadn't even noticed the rocking chair off to
                                    the side. The wood creaked a little as I settled onto the hard
                                    wood. 
                                    
                                    I have been out here maybe fifteen minutes, but it feels like
                                    hours. Every once in a while I rock the chair, my eyes fixed on
                                    the navy sky. A small gust rustles through the trees and I pull
                                    the blanket around me tighter. I have one leg curled to my
                                    chest, my arms looped around the knee, while the other stays on
                                    the ground keeping me balanced.
                                    
                                    The sound of an opening door causes my ears to perk up, but I
                                    continue to keep my eyes to the stars. 
                                    
                                    "I was wondering if that was you who'd come out here."
                                    
                                    Monica. 
                                    
                                    "Hi," I whisper, my eyes only glancing at her briefly before
                                    returning my gaze heavenward. 
                                    
                                    "I guess you couldn't sleep." She sits down beside the chair,
                                    now out of my peripheral vision. 
                                    
                                    I shrug. "I slept for a bit, then wound up lying there for
                                    almost two hours. I have a lot on my mind, I guess." The last
                                    statement comes out with a sigh. 
                                    
                                    "Understandable."
                                    
                                    "You must've not been sleeping all too well yourself to have
                                    heard me." I finally look at her, somewhat amused.
                                    
                                    "Up here you learn to sleep with one ear open. You have no idea
                                    how many, uh, 'critters' can find their way in at all hours of
                                    the night," she chuckles and switches from sitting on her
                                    haunches to sitting Indian style. 
                                    
                                    "Oh, I see. That's comforting," I only half-joke. 
                                    
                                    "Don't worry, we have yet to have a bear. It is usually
                                    raccoons or skunks. We've had a few badgers as well."
                                    
                                    "Hmm." I bring my eyes to the moon, my back resting against the
                                    back of the chair. The moon is large and has a red gleam to it.
                                    Red at night, sailors delight, my dad always used to say. Out
                                    in the middle of nowhere where the largest body of water is a
                                    lake you can't take the saying to heart, but it makes me smile
                                    nonetheless. 
                                    
                                    Somewhere at the end of the porch a cricket can't decide if it
                                    wants to chirp or not. It sounds like it has the hiccups.
                                    Beside me Monica has grown silent. For a moment I think she is
                                    listening to the cricket and staring at the moon, but then I
                                    realize the reason for her quietude. 
                                    
                                    She wants to ask me something, but isn't quite sure how. After
                                    a moment of this near uncomfortable silence, she clears her
                                    throat and I brace myself.
                                    
                                    "So what are you going to do?" She asks with hesitancy.
                                    
                                    "About what?" I ask, my mind only half in the conversation and
                                    half someplace else. I honestly don't know what she is
                                    specifically referring to with the question.
                                    
                                    "About William, Dana."
                                    
                                    At the mention of his name, my eyes shoot back to her. They're
                                    sad eyes from the reflection I see on her face. I don't want
                                    pity in this particular part of my life and she doesn't give
                                    off any. She just cares. 
                                    
                                    After a few moments, I find my voice. "Mulder and I have talked
                                    about it. . . a lot. We've known what we were going to do since
                                    we decided to look for him, but we have officially decided
                                    that," deep breath, "we're letting them keep him. We all know
                                    that Mulder and I still have 'claim' on him, because Mulder
                                    never gave his consent on the adoption but . . . we think he
                                    should stay where he is." At that I give a wan smile. 
                                    
                                    "But Dana, as far as we know, your lives aren't in danger
                                    anymore. They're leaving you alone and- "
                                    
                                    "It's not about his safety anymore, Monica, not really. It's
                                    about doing the right thing. I know what's it like to want a
                                    child and then to finally be blessed with one. I know what it's
                                    like to have to say goodbye to that child. I've done it twice."
                                    I swipe at a tear on my cheek, it is then that my voice begins
                                    to tremble as I speak.
                                    
                                    "I can't ask them to say goodbye, not when I have given them
                                    something so beautiful. I want to hold him again. God, I'd give
                                    anything to tuck him in at night or to be there on his first
                                    day of school. The thing is, I-we've been given another chance,
                                    a chance that the Van de Kamps were never given even once.
                                    Maybe this is how it's supposed to be. Maybe William was always
                                    meant to be with these people. And I think I can live with
                                    that. I'm willing to try anyway." I force a smile before taking
                                    in a deep, shaky breath.
                                    
                                    The cricket must have given up, I muse, because it is nothing
                                    but silent now. 
                                    
                                    The woman beside me is left speechless and offers a nod as her
                                    only reply. Then it registers. 
                                    
                                    "Another cha . . . you don't mean . . ."
                                    
                                    All I can do is nod, a few more tears streaking down my face.
                                    There is sadness in these tears, but now joy has mingled with
                                    the feeling of, what I feel as, mourning. It is a strange
                                    feeling when these two emotions mix together.
                                    
                                    "Oh my God! Congratulations!" She bolts up from the ground,
                                    throwing her arms around me. I am startled some, but after a
                                    second of her squeezing me, I wrap my arms around her. 
                                    
                                    "How long have you known? Why didn't you tell me?" She pulls
                                    away from me, gaining eye contact at the questions.
                                    
                                    "I've been pregnant for a little over a month. The only people
                                    who know are Mulder, my mom and the couple we befriended on the
                                    island. I guess I was just waiting for a good time to tell you.
                                    No better time than now, right?" 
                                    
                                    Monica's excitement and happiness rubs off on me now, so I
                                    can't help but laugh. Somehow we have maintained an even, quiet
                                    level of talking.
                                    
                                    "I guess you might as well know that Mulder and I have decided
                                    to make it official." I wave my left hand, flashing the ring as
                                    proof. Monica's eyes widen and she hugs me again. She is about
                                    to say something when the front door opens.
                                    
                                    "Monica?" I hear beyond the door. We both turn to see Gibson
                                    standing there in his rumpled white shirt and jungle green
                                    pajama pants. There is a look of urgency in his eyes.
                                    
                                    "What is it Gibson?" Monica asks, walking to him. 
                                    
                                    "I got up to get some water and . . . there are raccoons in the
                                    kitchen again. I tried to get Doggett up, but he won't budge."
                                    He shrugs.
                                    
                                    She rolls her eyes, I believe more at the idea of John in a
                                    deep sleep than the idea of raccoons in the kitchen. "All
                                    right, I'll take care of it. Dana, you and I will talk later.
                                    Until then, Gibson, why don't you stay out here and keep Dana
                                    company?"
                                    
                                    "Okay." His eyes light up and he walks over to me. Monica
                                    retreats into the cabin, while Gibson and I settle comfortably
                                    down on the ground. I like to be at eye level with this
                                    particular person.
                                    
                                    Usually I can feel it when he pokes around in my mind, but I
                                    don't have that feeling now. I appreciate it. 
                                    
                                    "Gibson, I never thanked you for taking care of Mulder," I say
                                    finally. "It meant so much to me and I know it did to him as
                                    well. So thank you."
                                    
                                    "You're welcome, Scully. I know how much he means to you."
                                    Gibson smiles gently at that. 
                                    
                                    "Mmm," I say simply with a nod. "He means everything to me," I
                                    go on to admit. 
                                    
                                    "I know," he grins.
                                    
                                    I can't help but chuckle, rolling my head back in exaggeration.
                                    "Ah, of course you do."
                                    
                                    Suddenly his expression turns grave. "I know some other things
                                    as well," he informs me in an almost business-like manner. He
                                    reaches out his hand and places it over mine, both of them
                                    resting on my knee now. He must be sixteen now, but he is still
                                    so small, passing for only as old as ten or twelve despite his
                                    matured voice and mind. He is quite the extraordinary young
                                    man.
                                    
                                    "I can imagine you do," I nod, my eyes casting down. For some
                                    reason I feel ashamed at him knowing what I have been thinking
                                    in the short time I have been here. How worried and pessimistic
                                    I have become in just the last few hours.
                                    
                                    "I can't tell the future, Scully, so I can't tell you that
                                    everything is going to turn out exactly as you want it. But I
                                    can tell you, just from what I have come to understand and know
                                    about you and Mulder, that it will turn out as it should. That
                                    your story isn't over and you will get your happy ending."
                                    
                                    Whose the adult here? The thought brings a smile to my lips, as
                                    do his words. 
                                    
                                    "And from what I understand," he smiles, "things are looking up
                                    for you two already." His eyes glance at my abdomen briefly.
                                    
                                    I shrug and nod, as if saying 'as if you didn't know'.
                                    
                                    "I've known since you got here," he responds, I assume to the
                                    thought in my mind. 
                                    
                                    "I never had a mother," he goes on to say, almost without
                                    thinking. "But I just want you to know that you. . . you are
                                    the closest thing I have come to having one. You were never
                                    like Them, Scully. You've always cared for me; something I have
                                    known and carried with me all these years." He's blushing a
                                    little at the confession; I am crying. 
                                    
                                    "Oh Gibson," I pull him to me, hugging him to me tightly. 
                                    
                                    It isn't until I feel the warmth of the rising sun on my back
                                    that I pull away from the boy, no, young man in my arms. I take
                                    note of his still uneven hair, where it never grew back to
                                    cover the scar. We exchange smiles and move to stand. 
                                    
                                    The night passed by so quickly. 
                                    
                                    "Let's get inside. All this emotional upheaval has actually
                                    made me a little tired," I wind up yawning at the statement. 
                                    
                                    "Okay." Gibson smiles, almost laughs. "I'll make you and Mulder
                                    breakfast this morning."
                                    
                                    "You cook now? You will never cease to amaze me."
                                    
                                    "Well, I can only make things like toast, pancakes and eggs,"
                                    he shrugs. We make it inside the door, the afghan in one arm,
                                    the other wrapped around Gibson's shoulders.
                                    
                                    "Hey, that is still better than what I could make at sixteen."
                                    
                                    He looks up at me with proud eyes.
                                    
                                    "Well, you go sleep Scully, you need it. I'll start breakfast
                                    at about nine."
                                    
                                    "We'll be there. And hey . . . call me Dana," I wink. He smiles
                                    a little at that and I let him go. 
                                    
                                    As we go our separate ways, I scan the room and some of the
                                    kitchen for any sign of Monica. She must have rid the place of
                                    the raccoons and gone to bed, I decide. I throw the afghan
                                    neatly back onto the sofa and pad softly to the bedroom.
                                    
                                    Mulder is still sound asleep, his hand stretched out beside
                                    him, having not moved since I got out of bed. I rub my arms
                                    with my palms to create some heat before climbing into bed. 
                                    
                                    "Brr, you're cold," Mulder mumbles as I settle in beside him.
                                    
                                    "I went outside for some fresh air," I vaguely inform him.
                                    
                                    "You went outside or you set up camp? You're an ice-sickle."
                                    
                                    He opens his eyes, swollen from sleep. I face him with my body,
                                    wrapping one arm around his torso, the other going up to toy
                                    with his mussed up hair. We Eskimo kiss and I tuck my head
                                    under his chin, my ear resting just above his heart, the thump-
                                    thump almost a lullaby. 
                                    
                                    He encircles his arms around me, kissing the top of my head. I
                                    turn my head up briefly to kiss his clavicle in response.
                                    Immediately I cuddle into his body again, my arms crossing in
                                    front of my chest in an almost cocooned position. He sighs
                                    heavily.
                                    
                                    "You seem different," he whispers.
                                    
                                    "Good different?"
                                    
                                    "Well, yeah, I mean you just seem . . . content. In case you
                                    haven't noticed, I've been worried about you since before we
                                    left the island." I feel his stomach contract and chest rise
                                    with the 
                                    intake of a short, inaudible laugh.
                                    
                                    "I'm just happy, that's all. I think . . . I think everything
                                    is going to be all right." It is the first time I have voiced
                                    anything resembling those words, and meaning them, in God only
                                    knows how long. Days maybe? Weeks? 
                                    
                                    He says nothing, just hums. It isn't long before the early
                                    birds begin their morning song. I sigh, a small sound escaping
                                    with the air. I sweep my hand over my belly, my hand resting
                                    their.
                                    
                                    It stays there until I fall asleep, at last.
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Chapter Twelve - "We will not grieve, rather find . . ."
                                    
                                    We left at dawn, our seventeen day wait having come to an end.
                                    In the time spent at the cabin, we received four inches of
                                    snow. Winter comes so early up here. 
                                    
                                    Scully was doing fine our first few days on the mountain,
                                    physically and emotionally. I have yet to find out why her
                                    emotions made such a complete turn around by our second day.
                                    Physically, however, she has been sick the last five days or
                                    so. Just some nausea and headaches, as far as I know. 
                                    
                                    Before then she had been spending a pleasant amount of time
                                    with Gibson, who now calls her Dana. At night I would also hear
                                    she and Monica talking in the kitchen, sometimes in front of
                                    the fire. She informed Scully that a friend of the Lone Gunmen
                                    had been the one to locate William for us. I only vaguely
                                    recognized the name, Paul Peppard, but I let it go, not giving
                                    it a second thought. I was only grateful. 
                                    
                                    John kept a respectable amount of distance, but they engaged in
                                    one on one conversations every once and while. Part of the
                                    reason for their lack of contact was the fact that John and I
                                    had been gauging what necessities we would need for the fateful
                                    day of 2012. Therefore, John and I spent a lot of time together
                                    and got amazingly close. 
                                    
                                    However, it is the most time I have spent away from Scully in
                                    two and a half years. I didn't like that part one bit. 
                                    
                                    I haven't seen her break down yet and emotions have remained in
                                    check for the most part. Every now and then I have caught her
                                    staring aimlessly into space, the wheels almost visibly turning
                                    in her head. 
                                    
                                    It is roughly a ten hour drive to Rock Springs from Elliston.
                                    We all decided it would be best to drive for several reasons.
                                    One being because it would be safer that way. Despite Monica
                                    and John, and even Gibson's, attempts to assure us that there
                                    is nothing to worry about, we are still cautious of our
                                    surroundings. Even though three weeks, or rather three years
                                    seemed like a long time to absorb our situations, it did little
                                    to ease our nerves on seeing our son, therefore the drive
                                    should help. So far we are only four and a half hours into the
                                    drive and have yet to make a stop anywhere. I choose now to do
                                    just that. Pulling into a small gas station, I guide the car
                                    under the awning and shift into park, turning the engine off. 
                                    
                                    "What are you doing?" Scully asks, her head turning to me in a
                                    snap. 
                                    
                                    "I think we should stop for a few minutes, stretch our legs and
                                    get something to eat or drink. We also need gas, we're almost
                                    on empty. That okay?" I wonder, gently. 
                                    
                                    "Yes, sorry, I just . . . I'm a little . . ." the words trail
                                    off, never finishing. She blinks her eyes rapidly a few times,
                                    as if snapping herself out of something. 
                                    
                                    "I know, I'm a little . . . too." I don't fill in an adjective
                                    either, almost mockingly to add levity, but more so because I
                                    too can not find the word to describe what my nerves are doing.
                                    I trail my hand once down her arm, soothing. 
                                    
                                    "Come on," I say with a jerk of my head. She only nods and I
                                    hear the seatbelt make a clicking sound as she takes it off. As
                                    I exit, I catch her stretching, her arms high above her head.
                                    The wind causes her hair to slap at her face a little. She dyed
                                    her hair strawberry blonde a few days ago, deciding to inch
                                    slowly back to her auburn color. I make my way around the car.
                                    She turns to me and smiles. 
                                    
                                    I wrap my arms around her waist and cover her mouth with mine.
                                    She encircles my torso in response. As I pull away I notice a
                                    townsman, maybe sixty years old, quickly avert his eyes as he
                                    walks to his rusty pick-up truck. I guess this isn't the best
                                    place to display affection, this being such a conservative part
                                    of the state.
                                    
                                    "Why don't you go on in, do what you need to do and get
                                    something. I'll pump the gas and meet you at the register."
                                    
                                    "All right." She gives me a peck on the lips before freeing
                                    herself from the hold I have on her. I watch her as she walks
                                    away, then turn to the gas pump. I read the sign above it "Pay
                                    first, pump later" and shake my head. I head for the entrance.
                                    
                                    Going in I notice that Scully is nowhere to be seen, so I
                                    safely assume she is in the lady's room. I pay the young woman,
                                    occupied with a magazine, go back to the car and fill the tank.
                                    When I come back in the second time around I spot Scully
                                    standing in front of the glass refrigerator that holds the
                                    drinks, considering. 
                                    
                                    "You know what you want?" She jumps at my voice, startled. I
                                    apologize with my eyes. 
                                    
                                    "I think just some fruit juice will do. My stomach isn't
                                    cooperating all that well with me right now."
                                    
                                    I nod as I open the door to retrieve a root beer for myself.
                                    Must be fate, Mulder -it's root beer . . . Oh if we only knew
                                    then what we know now. What we feel now. 
                                    
                                    "You coming?" I hear her ask, halfway to the register with her
                                    bottled orange juice in hand. 
                                    
                                    "Yeah." I grab a bag of Fritos and follow Scully to the
                                    counter.
                                    
                                    I pay the still distracted young woman, her name tag now in
                                    view showing that her name is Lana, and we walk to the sedan.
                                    With our drinks secured in the cup holder and my Fritos bag
                                    open and ready for snacking, I start the engine and we pull
                                    onto the empty road. 
                                    
                                    Forty-five minutes into the drive and Scully has dozed off, her
                                    drink only half gone. I notice, with a smile, that her hand is
                                    resting protectively on her stomach, right where the baby's
                                    head will be in the next few months. 
                                    
                                    Her other hand is on the tiny cushion of a seat between us,
                                    practically inviting me to hold it. Without hesitance I weave
                                    our fingers together and her fingers curve around mine in
                                    surprising response, her lips curling ever-so slightly. She
                                    wasn't as asleep as I'd thought. 
                                    
                                    Moments later we hit the busy road again, with only five hours
                                    to go. I take a deep breath, subconsciously squeezing her hand
                                    with the inhale. 
                                    
                                    Only five more hours. 
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Chapter Thirteen - We Stand Alone Together
                                    
                                    
                                    The jerk of the car coming to a stop pulls me from my half
                                    sleep. I wake to find the pleasant feel of Mulder's hand in
                                    mine. I glance to the side of me and conclude that he must have
                                    not been holding it the entire drive, the bag of Fritos half
                                    gone. My eyes then trail up his arm to his face and he is
                                    staring ahead, his eyes set on something I have yet to see. 
                                    
                                    I pull my self to a full sitting position, moving the seat up
                                    with me and follow his gaze. A white, wooden farmhouse rests in
                                    the distance, a dark green car and blue Ford truck parked on
                                    the side of the home, the sun beginning it's descent beyond the
                                    tall trees.
                                    
                                    This is it. No more waiting. 
                                    
                                    Mulder takes notice that I am awake and squeezes my hand. I
                                    look to him, his teeth worrying his bottom lip. I purse mine
                                    together and sigh. Without speaking our hands pull away from
                                    one another. 
                                    
                                    I finally find my voice. "You ready?"
                                    
                                    "No," he replies honestly with a shrug. 
                                    
                                    I smile, close mouthed, at his honesty. I nod in agreement. He
                                    reaches for the door handle, making the first move of getting
                                    out of the car. I follow suit shortly after. 
                                    
                                    We both round to the hood of the car, pause briefly. He pulls
                                    out a generic roll of spearmint mints, taking one for himself
                                    and giving one to me. I thank him with my eyes. In the past,
                                    while working a case, we would always try to chew a mint or
                                    something before questioning a suspect or witness. I guess he
                                    was subconsciously following tradition.
                                    
                                    We suck on the mints for a few seconds before crunching them
                                    and swallowing. Then we walk in the direction of the pleasant
                                    house, Mulder allowing me to lead. 
                                    
                                    As we walk, dread, fear and something akin to guilt wash over
                                    me suddenly. No, not now, I plead. Like a thief in the night,
                                    these emotions steal any confidence I had in me. 
                                    
                                    I stop dead in my tracks, Mulder passing me on the dirt path
                                    that leads to the front door. He notices my hesitance and
                                    halts, turning to me.
                                    
                                    My expression must give everything away. I can tell by how he's
                                    looking at me. 
                                    
                                    "I can't do this," I whisper, shaking my head. 
                                    
                                    He immediately rushes to me, gently cupping my face with both
                                    hands. The gesture, as always, relaxes me to some extent. 
                                    
                                    "Hey," he sweeps a thumb over my left cheek, the one word
                                    comforting in its tone. "We can do this," he continues, doing
                                    what he can to encourage me. 
                                    
                                    He's just as scared as I am. In the last few years I have
                                    learned to succumb to my emotions. At times it is a release to
                                    do just that, but sometimes I remember why I avoided it in the
                                    first place. The weakness that can sometimes accompany the
                                    surrender.
                                    
                                    I take a few deep breaths, my eyes closed. I can feel him still
                                    looking at me, as if he is still trying hold eye contact. I
                                    open my blue eyes to his green and feel myself relax some more. 
                                    
                                    I give him a nod, signaling that I am okay now. He leans down
                                    and brushes his lips over my forehead. We turn to the path
                                    again and continue the journey to the front. 
                                    
                                    We stop in front of the screen door and I straighten my
                                    sapphire button up shirt. It almost feels like old times, me in
                                    my black slacks and formal business shirt and Mulder in his
                                    gray slacks and white dress shirt, sans jacket and tie. 
                                    
                                    When I walked out of the bedroom before leaving, I remember
                                    Mulder beaming and saying "Wow, you look amazing." The outfit
                                    being the closest thing to a business suit I had worn in a long
                                    time. We both miss that life from time to time. 
                                    
                                    He'd been dressed already, so I replied in kind with "So do
                                    you."
                                    
                                    The memory eases me, pushing me closer to the feeling of
                                    contentment that had become my haven the last few weeks.
                                    Mulder's knocking pulls me back to the reality we are about to
                                    face. 
                                    
                                    Seconds later a man answers the door. David, I assume. He has
                                    friendly eyes, his smile welcoming, although his features show
                                    some confusion.
                                    
                                    He's tall, although shorter than Mulder, dark receding hair,
                                    brown eyes.
                                    
                                    "Can I help you?" He asks in a tenor voice. 
                                    
                                    A woman, Hannah, comes up behind him. She is short, about my
                                    height maybe taller with short, brown, curly hair pinned half
                                    up. Her body is pleasantly plump, her eyes a deep brown. She
                                    offers up a smile.
                                    
                                    "Actually . . ." Mulder begins, but I realize he can't finish
                                    whatever he wants to say. The fear has officially taken hold. I
                                    hate that it chose now to sneak up on him.
                                    
                                    I collect myself as well as I know how. I didn't want to have
                                    to be so blunt, but right now I feel there is no choice. I
                                    leave the charm and negotiation up to Mulder. Without him all
                                    we have is my honesty. 
                                    
                                    "We're here about William," I force out, my voice surprisingly
                                    calm.
                                    
                                    The couples' eyes widen, almost scared. 
                                    
                                    "What about our son?" David asks, his voice having lowered to
                                    more of a baritone now. Hannah's hand has come up to grip her
                                    husband's biceps. 
                                    
                                    I can't do this.
                                    
                                    I have to. 
                                    
                                    "We're his birth parents."
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Chapter Fourteen - Seeing a Miracle
                                    
                                    We all regard each other silently for what feels like hours.
                                    Hannah has so much fear in her eyes and I sense the same
                                    emotion coming from David. 
                                    
                                    And anger. 
                                    
                                    His hand flexes around the wood of the heavier door -once,
                                    twice. He blinks, taking a deep breath. 
                                    
                                    "Come in," he says, almost defeated. Hannah looks at him
                                    surprised at the offer, but says nothing, stepping aside with
                                    him to allow us inside. 
                                    
                                    Scully walks in ahead of me, my hand guiding her by the small
                                    of her back. She stops suddenly and prepares herself to speak. 
                                    
                                    "I just want you to know that," she inhales, exhales. "We're
                                    not here to take him away from you."
                                    
                                    The fear that was once so palpable melts away from the couple
                                    with those words. I know they still have their guard up
                                    however. David wraps his arm around Hannah, protectively, and
                                    they nod not really knowing what else to say. I know how he
                                    feels, my body moving closer to Scully's body, my hand refusing
                                    to drop away from her back. 
                                    
                                    "Then why are you here?" Hannah finally asks. 
                                    
                                    I look around; spotting what must be their family room beyond
                                    an archway. There is no television but I see a couch and
                                    recliner. A turntable in the corner and along side it a sewing
                                    machine. 
                                    
                                    "Could we sit down?" I ask politely, with caution.
                                    
                                    "Yes, please," David says, his softer tone having returned. He
                                    ushers us to the couch and we sit down. 
                                    
                                    I notice now that the room is strewn with toddler's toys.
                                    Building blocks, trucks and cars, puzzles and coloring books. I
                                    glance at Scully, gauging how the room is affecting her. It
                                    does as I suspected it would. 
                                    
                                    Her eyes are watering, a sad smile on her lips. I bring my arm
                                    up, stroking my palm over her back, her muscles tense. 
                                    
                                    "Would you like something to drink?" Hannah offers, playing
                                    hostess, trying for normalcy. 
                                    
                                    "No, thank you," Scully and I reply in unison.
                                    
                                    David has pulled up a fold out chair in front of us, letting
                                    Hannah have the gray recliner. An uncomfortable silence settles
                                    over the room, until I remember why we came in here in the
                                    first place. Before either Scully or I can reply to the earlier
                                    asked question, David speaks.
                                    
                                    "We were told the mother was single. That the reason for the
                                    adoption was for the safety of the child." At his first
                                    statement he looks confusingly at Scully, at the second he
                                    looks at me accusingly. He thinks I am the reason. I try not to
                                    take offense, considering this man knows nothing of our
                                    history. 
                                    
                                    Scully and I exchange glances, not quite sure on how to
                                    respond. Scully talks first. 
                                    
                                    "Um, Fox," her hand comes up to squeeze my thigh, "and I, we .
                                    . . weren't, aren't married. During the months I had William,
                                    Fox was away . . . on business. In fact he didn't even know I
                                    had made the decision until he came back only some weeks
                                    later." It's not a lie, but to go into what my 'business' was,
                                    probably wouldn't bring these people to trust us. 
                                    
                                    "Business? For six months?" David asks, perplexed. 
                                    
                                    "Dana and I worked for the government, the FBI. The job
                                    required me to leave because . . . I took on the responsibility
                                    of finding out some things that could put us, all of us, in
                                    danger."
                                    
                                    Scully's hand comes up to cup her mouth, her eyes widening.
                                    
                                    "Excuse me, could you point me to the bathroom?" She asks from
                                    behind her hand, her voice urgent. 
                                    
                                    "Yes, down the hall to the left," Hannah points, worry in her
                                    voice.
                                    
                                    Scully stands up and rushes to the bathroom as casually as she
                                    can. I follow her with my knowing eyes. She hadn't been feeling
                                    too well all day. I wasn't so sure she would make it this far
                                    without throwing up. Although, I can't be so sure she didn't
                                    back at the gas station. 
                                    
                                    "Is she all right?" Hannah asks, her eyes glued to the bathroom
                                    door.
                                    
                                    "Yes, she's just -" I begin but am interrupted by David.
                                    
                                    "I'm sorry, but you never told us why you were here," he says,
                                    impatience creeping in, in a not so subtle manner.
                                    
                                    "Right. I think we should wait until Dana is back, if you don't
                                    mind."
                                    
                                    A frustrated sigh comes from the man across from me and I can't
                                    help but feel somewhat irritated at his impatience. I hear the
                                    door click open and Scully comes out, a forced smile on her
                                    face. I sense embarrassment as well.
                                    
                                    "I'm sorry," she apologizes, taking her place beside me. 
                                    
                                    "It's all right." David was going to say something, but Hannah
                                    replied before he got the chance, a warning glance aimed at him
                                    for only a moment. 
                                    
                                    "Are you okay?" Hannah goes on to ask.
                                    
                                    "Yes I . . ." Scully struggles with what to say, looking at me
                                    before she goes on to say, "the truth is, I'm pregnant."
                                    
                                    This takes the couple by surprise. 
                                    
                                    "I see." Hannah doesn't seem to like this news, her voice alone
                                    giving that away. 
                                    
                                    Without missing a beat, David, a man I am struggling to
                                    respect, turns his eyes to Scully, meeting her blue depths with
                                    his darker brown ones. 
                                    
                                    "Are you going to give this one up too?" It's cold, harsh,
                                    something I was unaware could come from this man, despite the
                                    fact I don't him well at all. 
                                    
                                    Scully takes in a hurtful breath at his inquiry, tears
                                    immediately springing to her eyes. Hannah is struck dumb beside
                                    her husband, obviously as shocked as any of us. I feel my face
                                    redden with rage. Before I can stop myself I am towering over
                                    the man, my jaw clenched.
                                    
                                    "Listen, Mr. Van de Kamp, I understand that our coming here is
                                    a surprise and probably an unwelcome one. I also understand
                                    that you are scared of what our purpose for being here is.
                                    However, you will *not* take out any of your frustrations on
                                    Dana. To even suggest that we would--" my voice catches before
                                    I can repeat his accusation.
                                    
                                    "Why would now be any different . . . Fox, is it?"
                                    
                                    "You have no idea," Scully chimes in, her voice soft and laden
                                    with unshed tears. "You have no idea how hard that decision was
                                    for me. What I went through to have pushed me to such a
                                    decision. Our son," she recoils, catching herself, "William is
                                    a very special child and he was made a target by people who
                                    meant him nothing but harm. I could not risk his life. I would
                                    rather have given him up to a new life than risk losing it all
                                    together. I am a good person, a good mother and I do not
                                    deserve to be treated like I left *my* son on your doorstep so
                                    that my life would be better!"
                                    
                                    Suddenly she grabs her stomach. "I think I'm going to be sick
                                    again." Without a second glance, she rushes to the bathroom,
                                    nothing but urgency in her slight jog this time.
                                    
                                    I don't even excuse myself as I follow her. I make it to the
                                    door before she can shut it, her racking sobs and vomiting
                                    making a sound I never want to hear again.
                                    
                                    The sound tears at me. 
                                    
                                    As I enter, I note with relief that she made it to the toilet
                                    on time. She's clutching her stomach, as if trying to protect
                                    the baby from the contracting of her muscles. 
                                    
                                    I spot the washcloth she must have used before and rinse and
                                    wet it again. I kneel beside her, stroking her back. I don't
                                    say a word, just use the cloth to wipe at her brow. She flushes
                                    the commode, then rests her cheek on the cool porcelain.
                                    
                                    "I really wanted to avoid a break down while I was here." Her
                                    voice is shaking from sobbing, her voice gravelly. 
                                    
                                    "Hey, I'm proud of you for holding up this long, Scully. You
                                    couldn't help what happened out there. What he said . . ."
                                    
                                    She closes her eyes as she nods, a final tear trickling down,
                                    landing in the water to make a ripple. 
                                    
                                    "They're not bad people, Mulder. They're just scared,
                                    confused."
                                    
                                    I smile, a silent chuckle deep within my belly. She's defending
                                    these people. That man. Good ol' Scully, how I love you. I've
                                    been putting myself in their shoes for weeks now, to better
                                    prepare myself, but the behavior today was just flat out
                                    unexpected. 
                                    
                                    She readies herself to rise and I assist her. I offer her the
                                    washcloth, she wipes her mouth, walking to the sink. She rinses
                                    her mouth out. 
                                    
                                    "Can I have another mint?" She asks after turning off the
                                    water, smiling wanly.
                                    
                                    I pull out the roll and give one to her. She takes it with a
                                    thankful, weak smile, already having started towards the door.
                                    I stop her, my hand on her shoulder. She turns to me and falls
                                    into my embrace.
                                    
                                    "I just came here to see him, Mulder, not to be judged or
                                    criticized . . ." Her lips move across my chest as she speaks. 
                                    
                                    I kiss the top of her head, a whispered "me too" escaping my
                                    lips. I stroke her hair fondly. She pulls away from me, a
                                    determined smile gracing her rosebud lips. 
                                    
                                    "I came this far to see him, Mulder, and I sure as hell am
                                    going to do just that."
                                    
                                    "You sure you're ready to go back out there?"
                                    
                                    All I get is a nod. She stands up on the tip of her toes and
                                    brushes her lips with mine. 
                                    
                                    "Come on."
                                    
                                    We both exit, our shoulders squared. Scully has composed
                                    herself and walks with confident strides back to the living
                                    room. I see Hannah and David standing in the corner, Hannah
                                    admonishing David in hushed tones.
                                    
                                    When she spots us, she immediately walks to us. 
                                    
                                    "I-we are so sorry, Dana, Fox. Neither of us had any idea . . .
                                    you should never have had that said to you." David looks over
                                    at us at that, apparent guilt in his eyes. 
                                    
                                    "It's okay," Scully says, smiling at the woman but avoiding the
                                    gaze of the man across the room. 
                                    
                                    "The reason why we came here was simply to see William. To know
                                    that he is safe. I was never told anything about the family he
                                    was given to and all I want is . . . to see him." Scully's
                                    voice is soft with these words, the tone soothing to Hannah.
                                    Hannah looks at me and I nod, letting her know that that is all
                                    both of us want. 
                                    
                                    "He's in his room," Hannah says without prelude. "He's watching
                                    a movie, 'Finding Nemo', his favorite," she smiles.
                                    
                                    Finding who? I haven't watched or heard of any of the new
                                    movies in three years. I trust that this Nemo character is a
                                    cartoon.
                                    
                                    David comes up to join the circle we have made, standing behind
                                    Hannah and as far way from me as he can get. He has yet to face
                                    my wrath and I just may spare him. I don't let the mercy show
                                    however.
                                    
                                    Hannah begins to lead the way and Scully and I follow, David
                                    trailing behind. We go to the last room at the end of the hall,
                                    the door is closed, but I can hear the television clearly
                                    through the wood. I don't hear voices, just a different version
                                    of 'Beyond the Sea' playing. I look down at Scully and if she
                                    has heard the song playing, she doesn't show it. 
                                    
                                    We all enter to find a boy playing with a colorful dump truck
                                    and cement truck. He's making noises like they would make with
                                    his mouth, his attention no longer on the movie that had been
                                    playing. I look up to see digital ocean water and fish swimming
                                    across the screen, the credits rolling to the song. 
                                    
                                    He's beautiful. His eyes are blue, more sapphire than azure.
                                    His hair is dark, like mine, but he has his mother's ivory
                                    skin. He has Scully's nose. I smile at that. He's wearing denim
                                    jeans with an elastic band and a yellow shirt with long blue
                                    sleeves, no shoes just socks. 
                                    
                                    Suddenly I think of Scully, my eyes somehow tearing away from
                                    the child in front us, our child, and looking at her. Her hand
                                    is cupped over her mouth and she is trying to keep from crying. 
                                    
                                    Hannah walks over and turns off the movie, bending down to eye
                                    level with William. 
                                    
                                    "Will, this is Fox and Dana."
                                    
                                    He puts his toys down and waddles to us. Looking up at both of
                                    us he smiles.
                                    
                                    "Hi," he greets.
                                    
                                    "Hi," I parrot. Scully has gone still beside me. The next thing
                                    I know she is kneeling down in front of William.
                                    
                                    "Hi Will," she says, her voice feigning confidence, a smile on
                                    her face. The boy turns to her and his smile fades a little,
                                    his brow crinkling. 
                                    
                                    Suddenly he reaches one tiny hand to her cheek, cupping it. His
                                    smile returns. I don't understand his reaction at all, but I
                                    settle myself on the floor with Scully.
                                    
                                    It's almost as if he remembers her. But that is impossible. A
                                    child's memory only stretches so far, especially at six months.
                                    To remember someone almost three years later is crazy. Even I
                                    can't believe such a possibility. 
                                    
                                    At his touch, a tear falls down Scully's cheek. 
                                    
                                    "Don't cry," William says, his voice surprisingly soothing for
                                    his age. It is then that he looks to me. His eyes go softer and
                                    I feel my stomach sink, a good sinking feeling. 
                                    
                                    I can't help but think that he recognizes us. I get that
                                    feeling, or something akin to it, that I get when Gibson reads
                                    my mind.
                                    
                                    Maybe it is possible. Maybe with William being the miracle that
                                    he was, he possesses a power we have yet to understand. 
                                    
                                    Hannah steps to us and I peripherally see her motion to David
                                    to stand with her. I hear them whisper something to one
                                    another, but don't pay attention, my eyes and mind glued to the
                                    child I never really knew.  
                                    
                                    "Fox, Dana could we speak with you?" I hear David ask, his
                                    nerve slowly returning. 
                                    
                                    A few more tears have forced themselves out of Scully's eyes,
                                    despite her best efforts to keep from crying. She wipes at her
                                    cheeks, William's hand pulling away.
                                    
                                    We rise simultaneously, my hand grabbing hers without thought.
                                    The four of us step out into the hall, right outside William's
                                    door. 
                                    
                                    "There's something that we think you should know about Will,"
                                    David starts, his eyes darting nervously between the two of us.
                                    I think the twitch is brought on by what he is about to tell
                                    us, not from the display from earlier.
                                    
                                    Scully and I urge the man on with our eyes, our hearts
                                    pounding. I know mine is anyway, so Scully's must be doing the
                                    same thing. I notice her glance at the closed door once or
                                    twice, her mind still on William.
                                    
                                    "We haven't told anyone around here, because such thinking
                                    could likely get us disowned from the church. We're not even
                                    sure you will believe us, but as his birth parents you have the
                                    right to know."
                                    
                                    Not sure if we will believe? If he only knew. However, his
                                    words have me both worried and intrigued. Scully's hand
                                    tightens around mine, her attention narrowing in on whatever it
                                    is these people are trying to tell us. David has yet to press
                                    on. Hannah steps in instead.
                                    
                                    "It wasn't but three months of him being with us before we
                                    noticed that Will had this . . . ability to know emotions,
                                    reflect and react to them. A child does things like this, they
                                    see someone crying chances are they will cry, so we didn't
                                    think much of it. But he's a very smart boy, very special."
                                    
                                    Scully smiles, proud. I feel my lips curl up too. 
                                    
                                    "However, it wasn't long before we figured there was something
                                    more to it. He was able to, um . . . he would react to the
                                    emotions of others before they happened. Does any of this make
                                    sense? He has some sort of gift, a strong sense of empathy
                                    coupled with something else that our minds can't even grasp. He
                                    knows *why* someone is feeling what they feel before it is made
                                    clear to anyone else. That's one of the reasons we were so cold
                                    to you. We knew that, being his birth parents, he would know
                                    once he saw you. Sense that each of you were . . . connected.
                                    We didn't, don't, want to lose him," she chokes out. 
                                    
                                    Scully has moved closer to me, now having a death grip on my
                                    hand. I'm processing everything that was just said, trying to
                                    make sense of it and I know Scully is doing the same. David has
                                    his arm around his wife, comforting her.
                                    
                                    "We believe you," is all I think up to say. 
                                    
                                    We migrate to the living room shortly after that, William
                                    joining us from his room. David and Hannah let him sit with us.
                                    Most of the time he sits on Scully's lap, her arms around him.
                                    He accepts this show of affection as if he is used to it, like
                                    it is an everyday ritual. He busies himself with the same
                                    orange and blue dump truck from his room, avoiding the adult
                                    conversation. He's still just a toddler, no matter what powers
                                    he holds within him.
                                    
                                    After two hours of talking, the sun long gone and the moon
                                    high, we all decide. 
                                    
                                    William is to stay with the Van de Kamps, keep their name, this
                                    life. Once Scully and I have found a place to live, probably in
                                    the mountains that we have grown to love already, we will keep
                                    in contact. We will write letters, they will send pictures,
                                    tell us stories. Every now and then they will visit and we will
                                    visit.
                                    
                                    It's almost like an extended family. This isn't what Scully and
                                    I wanted, but it is more than we expected. It will do. 
                                    
                                    The clock chimes ten o'clock. I look down to Scully's arms,
                                    William having fallen asleep cradled there. I caress his soft
                                    head with my hand, gently so as not to wake him. After a moment
                                    we make the hand off, David taking William back to his bedroom
                                    to tuck him in, but not before Scully and I take turns kissing
                                    the little man on the head. 
                                    
                                    All is forgiven between us, an understanding having settled in
                                    comfortably. Before we leave, however, I feel obligated to
                                    share information. It's more than obligation, it's necessary
                                    and I want them to know. 
                                    
                                    "Hannah, David, earlier when we spoke of the business I had
                                    been on, the mission I had put upon myself to take, I did find
                                    out things that I feel you should know. Not as citizens, but as
                                    the parents of William."
                                    
                                    They nod at me, Scully having taken up her spot standing beside
                                    me. She has one arm looped through mine, the other rubbing my
                                    forearm.
                                    
                                    "Something life threatening will be happening on a set date."
                                    They're eyes widen at that, but I press on. "We -Dana, me and a
                                    few others up in Montana- have already begun preparation. I
                                    can't go into detail," I don't want to, to be honest, "but
                                    there is enough room for you three and . . . I urge you, beg
                                    you, to consider staying with us when that time comes."
                                    
                                    The cryptic way that I deliver the information is unsettling to
                                    them, I can tell. However, I can't risk them thinking William's
                                    biological father is a nutcase, so the mystery I deem as
                                    necessary. For now. 
                                    
                                    "When is the date? Can you tell us that?" Hannah asks, her
                                    voice scared and uncertain.
                                    
                                    "December 22, 2012."
                                    
                                    "Seven years?"
                                    
                                    I nod.
                                    
                                    David clears his throat, stretching his hand out to shake mine.
                                    "O-okay, Fox. Whatever you say." I shake his hand and hug
                                    Hannah.
                                    
                                    Scully steps forward and hugs both people. I think I hear her
                                    thank them as well. 
                                    
                                    We step into the dark of the night, stars shining just as
                                    brightly here as up at the cabin, wave at David and Hannah and
                                    walk to the car.
                                    
                                    "He was so beautiful, Mulder." I hear Scully finally say
                                    wistfully. She hasn't said much, the men doing most of the
                                    talking the last hour or so, so it shocks me out of whatever
                                    world I was just in. 
                                    
                                    "He was. Took after you," I state simply.
                                    
                                    She scoffs, gets in on the passenger side. I follow her lead,
                                    ducking into the driver's seat. We have to find a place for the
                                    night. Hannah and David had apologized for not having a place
                                    for us to sleep at their home, but I think Scully and I thought
                                    it for the best. We may have never left. 
                                    
                                    Once I get the car started, I put it into gear. Scully doesn't
                                    put her seatbelt on, but instead moves over to me and curves
                                    her body around mine, her head on the soft place just below my
                                    shoulder. I throw my arm around her shoulders, my hand stroking
                                    her arm.
                                    
                                    She falls asleep like that, a smile on her face. To have slept
                                    half of the trip up here and fall asleep now, she has to be
                                    exhausted, if not physically then no doubt emotionally. 
                                    
                                    Silently I decide that we will both discuss the events of today
                                    when the time is right.  
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Chapter Fifteen - To kids from 1 to 92 . . .
                                    
                                    I wake up with an added weight on my stomach. It doesn't take
                                    me too long to realize that it is Mulder's head. I open my eyes
                                    to the dark hair, him having lifted up the sweatshirt of his
                                    that I slept in up to just below my breasts, his right ear
                                    resting on my protruding belly.
                                    
                                    Today marks week twenty-two of my pregnancy, nearing the end of
                                    the second trimester, and I have gained some weight. My stomach
                                    really isn't that rounded right now, which could change in a
                                    matter of weeks, even days. Therefore, I stick to my looser
                                    sweaters and my few pairs of maternity pants. 
                                    
                                    After much too long I finally made an appointment with the
                                    local Obstetrician in mid-November. She tried to lecture me for
                                    waiting so long, I ignored her. I knew that I should have seen
                                    someone before then, but I have been pregnant before, know the
                                    drill. Mulder was right there beside me as we listened to the
                                    heartbeat for the first time, his eyes growing big and wet as
                                    he held my hand. I was far enough along to know the sex of the
                                    baby two weeks ago, but we decided that for the time being we
                                    wanted it to be a surprise. 
                                    
                                    It's been almost two months since we saw William. I think about
                                    him everyday. Yes, before I thought about him each day, but now
                                    I can think of him and smile, no guilt. Mulder and I have
                                    discussed what we learned that day. We don't talk about the
                                    'ability' he possesses, just relish in the fact that he knows
                                    who we are. That our life with him didn't end with that visit. 
                                    
                                    The decision to only stay in touch with the Van de Kamps and
                                    keep personal contact to a minimum was a hard but necessary
                                    one. It was still more than we ever dreamed. Even though
                                    William already has a good head on his shoulders, having two
                                    sets of parents can cause trouble in the end. Children have a
                                    tendency to use such a situation to their advantage and it can
                                    only lead to warring adults. Hannah gave me a picture of
                                    William, dressed in his Sunday's best, that I showed to Mulder
                                    that evening. It was wallet sized, so he kept it. 
                                    
                                    I feel full lips just below my navel and my eyes, which had
                                    slipped shut, open again. I run my fingers through Mulder's
                                    tousled hair and he looks up at me. 
                                    
                                    "Merry Christmas," he greets, his voice scratchy and almost
                                    sensual from sleep. 
                                    
                                    "Merry Christmas to you, too." I grin at him and he comes up to
                                    join me, bringing the covers with him. 
                                    
                                    "It's snowing again." He points to the window with his chin and
                                    I turn my head to take a look. 
                                    
                                    "So it is."
                                    
                                    He's positioned to where one leg is over both of mine, half of
                                    his upper body laying over mine and his face inches away. He
                                    perched his head in the palm of his hand with his elbow resting
                                    on my pillow. The heat from his body warms me from the chilly
                                    room, his free hand drawing circles on my stomach. 
                                    
                                    "You hear anything?" I ask, my eyes signaling to my abdomen.
                                    
                                    "I think so, although you could just be hungry," he remarks, a
                                    lop-sided grin on his lips. I kiss those lips, lingering. 
                                    
                                    The baby started moving around a couple of days after
                                    Thanksgiving, but Mulder has yet to hear or feel anything. This
                                    one doesn't move around as much as William did. Sometimes it
                                    worries me how still it is, but then I get a swift kick to the
                                    abdomen for even daring to worry about it.
                                    
                                    "I was thinking, while I was down there, that in all our time
                                    together we've never talked about, not really anyway . . . do
                                    you ever wonder, how?"
                                    
                                    Knowing what he means, I nod. I have always wondered how one
                                    day I was barren and the next I was pregnant. The night we both
                                    held William, Mulder mentioning that what we feared were the
                                    possibilities, was the closest we had ever come to even
                                    remotely discussing the how and the why.
                                    
                                    "It's hard to think about, Mulder. I know that an intervention
                                    made it possible and as much as I wish and hope that it could
                                    be a divine intervention, I know that something, someone, more
                                    earthly made it possible. In my mind I try to leave it at that.
                                    I just accept it for the blessing that it is."
                                    
                                    "Me too," he agrees, quietly. "So. . ."
                                    
                                    "So what?" I genuinely wonder, my eyebrow arched, my hand
                                    stroking his muscular back affectionately. 
                                    
                                    "So we haven't discussed names yet." With that he rolls his
                                    eyes, playing as though I should have known what he was
                                    thinking. How silly of me. The sides of his mouth stretch from
                                    ear to ear.
                                    
                                    "You're right, we haven't."
                                    
                                    "Have you been brainstorming at all?"
                                    
                                    "Mmhmm. I think if it's a boy we should settle for something
                                    like. . . Cougar or Wolf. If it's a girl, Vixen or maybe Mink."
                                    
                                    He gives me this look of feigned pain, clutching his chest as
                                    though I have wounded him. It isn't the first time I have used
                                    his name as the basis for a joke. I've known him long enough to
                                    know that such a remark, from me anyway, won't hurt him. We
                                    made a silent agreement long ago that if I got to make
                                    wisecracks at his name, he could tease me about my height. I
                                    start laughing.
                                    
                                    "Oh, you think that's funny do you?" He asks, a smile in his
                                    voice, his eyes mischievous. I know what's coming and I
                                    immediately regret the comment. Before I can stop him, his
                                    fingers are poking lightly at my sides, tickling me. I squirm,
                                    unable to help myself and this brings a bellowing laugh from
                                    him. 
                                    
                                    Movement in my stomach causes me to make an effort to stay his
                                    hands, my smile still in place but for other reasons now. I
                                    take the hand he had at my side and move it to my belly. 
                                    
                                    "Do you feel it?" I ask, my voice hushed as if my talking will
                                    stop the baby from moving around. 
                                    
                                    He doesn't say a word, just takes his eyes from our two hands
                                    and brings them, now filling with tears, to meet mine. His
                                    smile is beautiful. I begin kissing him and before long his
                                    arms have encircled me, cautious of the small hump between.
                                    Just when I think we are close to where I know this was
                                    initially leading, a knock on the door pulls us from one
                                    another. 
                                    
                                    "Merry Christmas you guys, rise and shine! Maggie's here!"
                                    Shouts Monica, beyond the closed door. Her feet, which sound to
                                    be in boots, retreat from the door and down the hall back to
                                    the living room. 
                                    
                                    "When did Mom get in?" I ask, the question not originally
                                    intended to be asked aloud. Mulder shrugs in response anyway,
                                    pulling himself from my body. 
                                    
                                    "I need to get up anyway," I inform him. "Junior here has
                                    decided to use my bladder as a punching bag." I get a laughed
                                    out of Mulder for that and he pecks my lips before fully rising
                                    from the bed. I follow his lead and pull on my robe. 
                                    
                                    "I get the shower first!" I claim, triumphantly.
                                    
                                    "Go to it, I want to find out what I got." His eyes sparkle
                                    like a child's would at Christmastime. We all spent the last
                                    week finishing the decorations, our main focus on the real
                                    evergreen. 
                                    
                                    He slaps my behind as I pad to the door to go across the hall.
                                    I turn around and wave my finger at him, trying to hide a smile
                                    but failing. A sheepish grin slowly crosses his face and he
                                    shrugs innocently. 
                                    
                                    After I shower, wiping the steam from the mirror, I cup the
                                    bulge of my belly with one hand and caress it with the other
                                    looking at its side view. A flashback ensues, a memory I have
                                    tried to let go.
                                    
                                    Back in January of this year, I had a miscarriage. It wasn't
                                    until it was happening that I even knew I was, or had been,
                                    pregnant. The bleeding had been minimal and practically
                                    painless, but I knew what was happening. Despite the signs of
                                    pregnancy, it had been the one time Mulder and I had ignored
                                    them and the idea of doing a test. My mood for the next week
                                    had been, to put it lightly, depressing. Mulder was puzzled as
                                    to why I was so stoic around him, something obviously bothering
                                    me. I never had the heart to tell him. It's wrong and I feel
                                    guilty for withholding that information from him, but I know
                                    what it could do to him. However, he has the right to know. 
                                    I'm hoping, after our baby is born I will have the courage to
                                    tell him. It may soften the blow for him when he is holding our
                                    child in his arms.
                                    
                                    Our baby is healthy, there have been no difficulties. The first
                                    trimester is when miscarriage is most likely to happen; after
                                    that the chances are slim. I am nearing my third, so I am doing
                                    my best to not worry about it. To tell Mulder anything of my
                                    miscarriage in January would only cause him to coddle me more
                                    and I am content with the amount of attention I am getting
                                    already. Any more could smother me.
                                    
                                    A knock on the door pulls me from the memory.
                                    
                                    "You almost finished, Scully?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, sorry. I'll be out in a minute, just let me dry my hair."
                                    
                                    I do that, brush it out and exit with my robe on, crossing to
                                    our bedroom. I find Mulder in there, sitting on the bed, a
                                    white t-shirt now in place.
                                    
                                    "It's all yours," I motion with my hand, feeling a little like
                                    Vanna White with the gesture.
                                    
                                    "'Kay. You better hustle, your mom's in the kitchen and, from
                                    the sound of it, she's getting anxious." He kisses me on his
                                    way out and I walk to the dresser. 
                                    
                                    I pull out my bra and underwear from the top drawer, a pair of
                                    my maternity jeans from the middle then move to the small
                                    closet. From there I pull out a black turtleneck, the fabric
                                    loose and flexible. I get dressed quickly, add some eye make-up
                                    and hasten to the kitchen. 
                                    
                                    I hear Mom and Monica talking. As I enter, I notice John and
                                    Gibson sitting at the table reading the paper. John is looking
                                    at Sports, something I never knew he paid attention to, while
                                    Gibson remains enthralled with the Comics. It isn't long into
                                    my observation when I feel Mom pull me into a hug.
                                    
                                    "Hi sweetie!"
                                    
                                    "Hey Mom," I say much more quietly than her greeting, my arms
                                    wrapping tightly around her. "How are Charlie and Bill and
                                    their families?" I ask, my face buried in her shoulder.
                                    
                                    "Good. They miss you, Dana."
                                    
                                    I nod, squeezing her to me one last time before ending the hug.
                                    She pulls away quickly and her eyes go down to my stomach.
                                    
                                    "Let me look at you." I step back and let her do just that.
                                    "Look at you, already so big. Do you know what it is yet?" She
                                    is somehow able to keep from touching my stomach. I take her
                                    hand and let her rest it there, for just a moment. 
                                    
                                    "No, not yet. We want it to be a surprise," I smile. As if on
                                    cue, Mulder walks in. He too is wearing a black turtleneck and
                                    jeans, his hair groomed to perfection.
                                    
                                    "Well would you look at that, you're already like an old
                                    married couple," John quips from behind his paper. "Did you
                                    plan this?"
                                    
                                    Mulder and I exchange glances and smile. "No," we reply
                                    together.
                                    
                                    "Hi Mrs. Scully," Mulder says politely, his attention solely on
                                    her. The poor man is still trying to meet her approval.
                                    Immediately my mother pulls Mulder to her in a hug that she
                                    usually reserves my brothers. 
                                    
                                    "Please, Fox, call me Maggie. After all we've been through
                                    together we should be on a first name basis. Well, I should be
                                    by now anyway," she says.
                                    
                                    "Alright everybody, I've got waffles, pancakes, toast, eggs,
                                    omelets and sausage all ready to eat. Hop to it people, we've
                                    got Christmas to celebrate," Monica chimes in, the spirit of
                                    Christmas having possessed the woman. 
                                    
                                    We gather around the table and eat. I sit between Mom and
                                    Mulder, but Mom and I talk through most of the meal, she
                                    filling me in on how things are going with her and the rest of
                                    the family. After breakfast, we migrate to the living room, the
                                    fire already going. It isn't long before we begin opening
                                    presents.
                                    
                                    We decided to do Secret Santa's this year, making it easier
                                    financially on everyone, the spending limit at 200 dollars.
                                    Also, it is much easier to buy for one person than five. We'd
                                    drawn names when Mom had visited shortly at the end of October,
                                    her having spent Thanksgiving with my brothers and their
                                    families. 
                                    
                                    Much to my delight, I drew Gibson's name. I got him an XBox,
                                    plus a few games. The only television in the house is in his
                                    room, sans cable, so the game system seemed appropriate. It was
                                    hard not to think about the gift, but in order for it remain a
                                    surprise I had to avoid doing so when he was in the room. 
                                    
                                    Mulder bought for Mom, which made him nervous. After much
                                    turmoil and thought, he bought her a sterling silver necklace
                                    with a diamond heart pendant and Glamorous by Ralph Lauren. She
                                    loved it, the simplicity of it touching her more than he
                                    expected.  
                                    
                                    Mom drew Monica's name. They had never really been given the
                                    chance to get to know one another all that well, so needless to
                                    say, my mom was a bit nervous and clueless on what to get her.
                                    After much inconspicuous browsing and prodding, I discovered
                                    that Monica had her eye on a pea coat in a catalogue she
                                    received each month. I think she suspected I was her Secret
                                    Santa, so it was a pleasant surprise for her to find out that
                                    the cherry red coat and black mohair scarf came from my mother.
                                    
                                    
                                    By this time, given that I was the one to consult as far as
                                    gifts were concerned, I was slowly narrowing down who could
                                    have drawn my name.  
                                    
                                    Come to find out, Monica was in charge of buying me a gift.
                                    We'd been down to Elliston a few times together, for some girl
                                    time. Each time we passed a quaint boutique. Without realizing
                                    it, I had always pointed out a pale green silk-cashmere sweater
                                    sitting in the window. I noticed one day that it was gone, so I
                                    assumed someone else must have purchased it, not thinking much
                                    of it. It was Monica and she'd bought it for me along with an
                                    emerald flower brooch. I will only be able to wear it sometime
                                    in the next week or so, being that it is somewhat form-fitting,
                                    before it just won't fit around the baby. Monica even went the
                                    extra mile and bought the baby something. A dress. It's white
                                    on top, a pink fluffy skirt at the bottom and a large matching
                                    pink bow in back. She has this strange idea that the baby will
                                    be a girl, the idea only making me smile. I think I even saw
                                    Mulder's eyes light up at the very thought. 
                                    
                                    John's Secret Santa turned out to be Gibson. Gibson's job was
                                    easy. All he had to do was read the man's mind and ta-da!
                                    Needless to say, John got exactly what he wanted. A fan of
                                    NASCAR, another fact I never knew about, Gibson had been able
                                    to search and find a red, white and black Dale Earnhardt race
                                    jacket. The late legendary racer's autograph engraved and
                                    written on the back, while both sides were scattered with
                                    sponsor patches, Goodwrench Service Plus the focal point. With
                                    a weekend job at an Elliston bookstore and a small weekly
                                    allowance as well, he was able to afford the gift. The
                                    Christmas morning look I had seen in Mulder's eyes earlier was
                                    magnified by four in John's when he'd lifted the top of the
                                    gift box.  
                                    
                                    The tricky part all came down to what John should get Mulder.
                                    Mulder and I both have always been easy people, settling for
                                    the necessities over wants. The times we have indulged
                                    ourselves have been few in the entire time we have been
                                    together both as partners and lovers.  John knew this of
                                    Mulder, therefore he was having the hardest time deciding what
                                    to get him. When all else failed, he came to me. Unfortunately
                                    I wasn't much help. Then about three weeks ago, John came to me
                                    asking about the picture of William we had been given. I let
                                    him borrow it not prying into his purpose behind it; he
                                    returned it to me hours later. It wasn't until today that I
                                    found out the reason. 
                                    
                                    The package had been rectangular and neatly wrapped. Without
                                    much thought Mulder opened the box, throwing back the flap of
                                    tissue paper covering the gift. I heard his breath hitch.
                                    Gently he pulled out a solid oak shadow box, the recent picture
                                    of William inside. Framing the photo were some of the few
                                    things I had kept of Williams, retrieved from my apartment at
                                    some point in time. His booties, a rattle, smaller pictures of
                                    him and his favorite teething toy were among the odds and ends.
                                    The gift was more for the both of us, but that John would give
                                    it to Mulder touched my heart. 
                                    
                                    "Thank you, John. This is amazing." Mulder was almost
                                    speechless, his eyes moist with tears. He hugged the man beside
                                    him for a moment, the shadow box not leaving his hands or his
                                    sight. John only gave a nod and I couldn't help but hug him
                                    myself. 
                                    
                                    That having been what I thought was the last of our gifts, we
                                    made ourselves comfortable in front of the fire, the snow
                                    falling leisurely and light outside the window. Now, looking
                                    out the window passed the Christmas tree, I notice one large
                                    box under the tree, my name on it. 
                                    
                                    "Who is that from?"
                                    
                                    "That's from me," Mom says, grabbing the box and handing it to
                                    me. "I was wondering when you would notice it."
                                    
                                    "But Mom, you didn't draw- "
                                    
                                    "Just open it, Dana," she orders, grinning. 
                                    
                                    I comply, tearing at the paper to uncover a blank, cardboard
                                    box. I pull at the tape and unfold the flaps. After the removal
                                    of some tissue paper, I begin to pull out items.
                                    
                                    Books- medical journals, Moby Dick, Breakfast at Tiffany's and
                                    my Bible. My grandmother's old jewelry and my photo albums
                                    dating from childhood all the way up to three years ago are
                                    placed neatly within the walls of cardboard. At the bottom I
                                    find the familiar plush doll that I promised myself I would
                                    never let out of my sight. The doll Mulder gave me when I was
                                    expecting William. I slowly bring it out and show it to Mulder
                                    before anyone. He says nothing, just smiles at me then at Mom.
                                    
                                    "When I was told to sell your things, I knew I had to keep some
                                    of it in case I did see you again. There are a few other things
                                    back at my house, but I knew how important these particular
                                    items were to you so I made sure to bring them with me."
                                    
                                    I throw my arms around Mom without a word, the doll in hand. 
                                    
                                    Hours later, after board games, listening to Christmas music,
                                    baking cookies and 'playing' with our gifts, we have a filling
                                    turkey dinner. We are snowed in, not that going anywhere was
                                    even being considered, so the time together is pleasant. John
                                    and Monica are the first to turn in, the turkey having caught
                                    up with them first. Mom is staying in Gibson's room, therefore
                                    once Gibson reaches the point of barely being able to keep his
                                    eyes open, Mom, Mulder and I switch to the kitchen. 
                                    
                                    "You two ladies want some hot chocolate?" Mulder asks once we
                                    settle into the kitchen. 
                                    
                                    Mom and I nod, both of us thanking him. He goes about his
                                    ministrations for the hot chocolate, the conversation
                                    continuing between the three of us. 
                                    
                                    "So have you two thought about names?" Mom asks.
                                    
                                    Mulder and I exchange glances, smiles pulling at our lips,
                                    remembering our discussion from earlier this morning. 
                                    
                                    "Um, no," I chime in finally, "we haven't really."
                                    
                                    "Well if you need any help, I have a name book from ages ago
                                    and few ideas of my own. Of course, it's not my baby so you go
                                    with whatever name you think is best," Mom chatters.
                                    
                                    "We know we don't want it to be *too* out of the ordinary," I
                                    clarify. I think I hear Mulder sigh in relief at that, as if he
                                    actually thought my little joke this morning held some truth to
                                    it. He walks over to us, setting two mugs down in front of each
                                    of us. 
                                    
                                    "Are you not staying?" I ask him.
                                    
                                    "I'm exhausted. I think I'm going to go on ahead and hit the
                                    sack."
                                    
                                    "All right," I say.
                                    
                                    "Besides, you two really haven't been given the chance to talk,
                                    catch up, and you can't very well talk about me while I'm in
                                    the room." He winks at us both and we all share a laugh. 
                                    
                                    He walks to Mom and they both give one another a peck on the
                                    cheek.
                                    
                                    "Goodnight Fox."
                                    
                                    "Goodnight Maggie," he says almost shyly. He then switches over
                                    to me and we kiss one another on the lips briefly, keeping in
                                    mind the audience. Stroking my belly gently, he says goodnight
                                    to me and the baby and I tell him the same. 
                                    
                                    As he walks from the kitchen my eyes follow him, the gaze
                                    trained on the doorway even after he is out of sight. My hand
                                    comes up to my stomach, resting there.
                                    
                                    "You seem happy." I hear Mom comment, her voice pulling my
                                    attention away from the doorway. The tone in her voice seems
                                    wistful and almost distant. 
                                    
                                    "Mm, I am," I reply simply, my eyes coming back to her.
                                    
                                    "I've never seen you so happy, Dana."
                                    
                                    The observation only causes me to smile more, a nod being all I
                                    can muster as a response. I reach for my mug, taking a careful
                                    sip. Mom does the same, the silence between us lasting only
                                    long enough for that drink.
                                    
                                    "It's interesting that despite everything you have been
                                    through, both together and apart, that you two should have this
                                    life, together."
                                    
                                    I chuckle at that, my head tilting to the side. "It's ironic
                                    really. With everything we have been through, it shouldn't be
                                    like this. All signs up to this point have pointed to the
                                    opposite of how we are right now, what we have."
                                    
                                    "Signs? Don't tell me he has rubbed off on you, not on my
                                    stubborn Dana," she jokes. 
                                    
                                    "Just a little," I hold my thumb and index finger about an inch
                                    apart to show just how little he has rubbed off on me. We both
                                    know I am kidding, which in all honesty is fine by me. I am
                                    still me, just a smidgen different. I like to think for the
                                    better.
                                    
                                    "He's a good man. I may even go as far as to say that he
                                    deserves you."
                                    
                                    With a chortle, I take another sip of the warm, creamy, brown
                                    foam in front of me. "He doesn't seem to think so," I comment
                                    after swallowing. "Maybe you should tell him that."
                                    
                                    "I just might," she barely gets out without yawning.
                                    
                                    "Somebody's sleepy," I observe.
                                    
                                    "I think I am suffering from a small case of jetlag. Normally I
                                    don't tire this easily."
                                    
                                    "Go on ahead to bed. We can talk more tomorrow."
                                    
                                    We both stand at that, finishing off our hot chocolate before
                                    disposing the mugs in the sink. I walk Mom to her room and we
                                    hug. 
                                    
                                    She begins to walk in but I stop her.
                                    
                                    "Hey Mom?" The tone I use is the one I reserve only for my
                                    mother. It's quiet and almost child-like. 
                                    
                                    "Yes sweetie?"
                                    
                                    "Remember what we talked about, back in October?"
                                    
                                    "That whole end of the world business?" Her brow crinkles at
                                    the question. 
                                    
                                    "Yes," I clarify. "Well remember what I told you, about how we
                                    were all doing what we can to get ready?"
                                    
                                    "Mmhmm."
                                    
                                    "It would mean a lot to me if you would consider . . . strongly
                                    consider being with us. Will you do that for me, just think
                                    about it?" My voice has remained quiet and meek throughout the
                                    conversation.
                                    
                                    "Of course, honey, of course."
                                    
                                    I pull her to me then, in as tight of an embrace as my stomach
                                    will allow. She squeezes me tight in return, her hand stroking
                                    the back of my head, smoothing my hair. 
                                    
                                    "Thank you," I force out, barely a whisper. 
                                    
                                    We fit in one more 'Merry Christmas' before I leave her to
                                    sleep. 
                                    
                                    As I cross through the living room I hear Nat King Cole
                                    crooning that all though it's been said many time, many ways,
                                    Merry Christmas, from the small radio by the Christmas Tree. I
                                    turn off the song, it having reached its end anyway, and unplug
                                    the lights from the tree. The wood crackles in the dying fire
                                    and I spot the outline of a sleeping Gibson, his body having
                                    already sprawled out on the couch as though he has been asleep
                                    for hours. I bring the blanket back up to his chest from his
                                    stomach, kissing his temple with a feather touch.
                                    
                                    Shutting the porch light off, I only have one final thought,
                                    lyrics from an all too familiar Christmas song, before heading
                                    off to join Mulder.
                                    
                                    Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow. 
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Chapter Sixteen - Blizzards, Dogs and Preparations
                                    
                                    The blizzard last week tore up our roof but good. 
                                    
                                    Scully and I were finally able to find our own place up here,
                                    about the second week of January. In fact, it is conveniently
                                    located on the opposite side of the mountain, the now frozen
                                    lake half a mile from our backyard. There are two bedrooms, a
                                    living area, two small bathrooms -one in our room the other
                                    across from what will be the baby's room--and a kitchen,
                                    therefore it is somewhat smaller than John and Monica's cabin
                                    but a perfect size. Despite our constant refusal, John gave us
                                    their black Honda, them having three vehicles as it is. 
                                    
                                    The furnishings are limited at the moment. On the island the
                                    beach house came with most of the furniture; the cabin did not.
                                    Thus, we had to start from scratch. So far we have a bed for
                                    our room, kitchen appliances and a couch. Each day we add more.
                                    The money has really gone into buying for the baby. A dark
                                    mahogany, not-yet-assembled crib is leaning against the wall in
                                    the baby room. We have blankets, a change table, an animal
                                    mobile and a bassinet as well. Overall our new home is really
                                    shaping up to be rather cozy.  
                                    
                                    However, I've been working on this roof for the last few days
                                    since the weather cleared up, the shingles split here and there
                                    and a few are missing. The snow had been beautiful once the
                                    winds had calmed, although having to shovel ourselves to get
                                    out the door was something we both could have lived without.
                                    Today should be the last of my hours of labor. 
                                    
                                    Scully looks amazing. Most women hate the appearance of
                                    pregnancy, but for some reason we men find it undeniably
                                    breathtaking. Scully appreciates it more than most given that
                                    she was once told she would never get the chance to obtain the
                                    often abhorred figure and the gift that it wrapped. However, I
                                    do sometimes catch her crinkling her nose at the added weight. 
                                    
                                    For a while her belly hardly swelled at all then one day she
                                    just popped out. It was fascinating really. The baby moves more
                                    now as well, often doing somersaults or kicking any internal
                                    organ it can reach, a surprised yelp leaving Scully's mouth at
                                    times. 
                                    
                                    William's birthday was two weeks ago. We didn't visit him,
                                    mostly because the weather wouldn't allow us to but we also
                                    felt it just wasn't time to go back. We promised to keep the
                                    visits limited and that is what we intend to do. Not really
                                    knowing what to send to him for the celebration, Scully and I
                                    put together a small photo album of pictures from before he was
                                    put into the care of the Van de Kamps, more so for David and
                                    Hannah than him. Little boys don't care about pictures, so
                                    taking from the fact that his favorite movie is the one with
                                    the clown fish and he will be starting preschool soon, we sent
                                    him a small backpack with the character on it for such an
                                    occasion. They told us he loved it and that he takes it
                                    everywhere. 
                                    
                                    I wipe my hands on my jeans, satisfied with what I have
                                    accomplished and begin to gather the tools and scraps of wood
                                    and shingles. The wind always blows up here, so the last two
                                    days I have been sporting a beard to prevent wind burn on my
                                    face and a plaid flannel shirt to keep warm while repairing.
                                    
                                    As I put up the last of the tools, my eyes move to the ground
                                    just in time to see Scully walking around, her hands on her
                                    back for support. She seems to be wandering aimlessly, just
                                    trying to keep moving for some exercise. She is wearing a
                                    thick, navy sweater along with an ice blue scarf, maternity
                                    jeans and sneakers. I leave the toolbox where it is and start
                                    down the ladder. 
                                    
                                    "Hey," she immediately greets, waddling over to me.
                                    
                                    "Hey, you two doing all right?" My hand comes out to pat the
                                    swell gently. I lean in and peck Scully's lips after the
                                    question, pulling back to see her smiling. 
                                    
                                    "Yeah, she's just restless again. I think she is okay though,
                                    just situating herself more comfortably. If it persists I'll
                                    call Dr. Mackay."
                                    
                                    "She?" Did I miss something? I ask myself silently. I feel my
                                    brow scrunch up in confusion at the reference to what sex the
                                    baby may be. 
                                    
                                    "Oh, sorry," Scully almost laughs. "I've been referring to it
                                    as a girl lately, usually when I talk with Mom and Monica. I'm
                                    still set on it being a surprise but I was tired of calling it
                                    'it.' I figured with the gift that Monica gave at Christmas and
                                    how high the baby is sitting now, even if that isn't always a
                                    valid clue, it was a safe assumption. Is that okay?" She says
                                    it all in one breath, the question giving the impression that
                                    she is worried I will refuse.
                                    
                                    A gust slaps some hair across her face just then, so I tuck the
                                    strands behind her ear, a chuckle rising from within me. All I
                                    can think of at the mention of a daughter is 'Daddy's Little
                                    Girl.' A term I could grow fond of in no time flat. 
                                    
                                    "That's perfectly okay, Scully." I kiss her again. Perfect.
                                    
                                    I feel her shake with a quiet laugh and pull away. "What?"
                                    
                                    "She," a laugh, "she's calming down, but now it is more of a
                                    flutter so it tickles." Another laugh or two escapes, I marvel
                                    at the sight. This only happens every now and then, but it
                                    amuses me to no end each time. The mirthful snickering ceases,
                                    the smile does not.
                                    
                                    "Whew, it stopped," she says, a hand from her back coming up to
                                    rest on her abdomen next to mine. Her eyes sweep over my head,
                                    taking a look at the roof. "It looks good," she compliments. 
                                    
                                    "Thanks. We should be good and ready for the next blizzard."
                                    
                                    "Great," she says, her voice dripping with playful sarcasm.
                                    
                                    Despite our feelings about the blizzard, we love it up here. I
                                    prefer it to the island personally, but I am more of a cold
                                    weather person. I think Scully likes the happy mediums that
                                    Spring and Autumn usually bring. The Autumn up here was
                                    somewhat chilly, but bearable. According to the locals we are
                                    to have a nice Spring season.
                                    
                                    "Come on, let's get you inside. The wind is picking up and you
                                    need to wash up." She tugs at my sleeve almost in a pull to get
                                    me in the door.
                                    
                                    "'Kay, just lemme get my stuff and I'll be right in."
                                    
                                    With a nod she begins to walk to the wooden door, her hands
                                    back in place at the small of her back, her hair flapping in
                                    the wind like a flag. She went another shade darker with the
                                    strawberry blonde, almost red now. I think she missed the color
                                    more than she thought.
                                    
                                    After putting everything in the small shed by the cabin, I head
                                    inside and take a quick hot shower. The beard is irritating
                                    now, so I shave it off at last. Tossing the dirty work clothes
                                    in the laundry hamper, I change into my white sweater and
                                    jeans.
                                    
                                    Entering the living room I see Scully reclining on our couch,
                                    her legs elevated by two pillows. Headphones are positioned
                                    around her belly, the portable cd player resting beside her
                                    hip. I walk over to her, knock the pillows to the floor and sit
                                    down, moving her legs to sit on my thighs instead. 
                                    
                                    "What is she listening to today?"
                                    
                                    "Vivaldi's Four Seasons." Her eyes are closed, her hand
                                    stroking the place just below her navel. 
                                    
                                    "Ah, classical, nice choice." Taking her now socked feet, I
                                    take one and begin to rub the arch with my thumb. A small sound
                                    of pleasure, a sigh I suppose, escapes her lips.
                                    
                                    "You know it." Her eyes flutter open to look at me then. "You
                                    have no idea how good that feels," she sighs, referring to her
                                    foot massage now.
                                    
                                    "Well, I can imagine it feels pretty damn good. The baby is
                                    what? Three pounds now?" She nods. I let out a quiet whistle at
                                    that, switching my attention to the other foot. A smile crosses
                                    her features. Her eyes slip shut as the corners of her mouth
                                    pull up, almost as if her lips serve as a pulley controlling
                                    the movement of her lids. 
                                    
                                    A comfortable silence falls between us then. The flames in our
                                    fireplace dance, hypnotizing me into a trance to the point
                                    where I can't tear my eyes away from the purple, blue, orange
                                    and yellow licking the air. It reminds me of the sunsets Scully
                                    and I used to watch on the island. The music from the
                                    headphones escapes as the strings crescendo.
                                    
                                    "I want you to name the baby," Scully says suddenly, my eyes
                                    finding their way away from the fire back to Scully. She has
                                    opened her eyes again, the headphones having been removed at
                                    some point. Now both of her palms are laying on the bump, her
                                    eyes gauging my reaction. 
                                    
                                    Naming the baby had always seemed like it would be a team
                                    effort, so yes I am a bit surprised that I would be put in
                                    charge of the task now. In all honesty I haven't been
                                    considering any names seriously. Sure I have names that I have
                                    turned over in my head once or twice, but none of them have
                                    really clicked with me yet. 
                                    
                                    "Why?" Is the only response I can conjure up, the astonishment
                                    evident in the one word. 
                                    
                                    A shrug is all I get at first then, "no rhyme or reason, I just
                                    want you to name her . . . or him. Whatever the baby turns out
                                    to be. Just the first name though, I get the middle name and
                                    the last name is taken care of," she smiles. 
                                    
                                    Being who we are, we decided taking precautions was the thing
                                    to do, even with the baby's birth certificate. Even if the
                                    government and military may no longer be wasting their time
                                    worrying about us, they are not who initially put William in
                                    danger. Putting this child in danger isn't an option, so you do
                                    what you have to do to insure safety. Too much has happened not
                                    to be too careful.
                                    
                                    Given that it is tradition in the Catholic faith to give the
                                    official name at the baptism, the baby will be given the name
                                    Mulder there. A priest is sworn to secrecy, so anything that
                                    happens within those church walls remains there. However,
                                    concerning hospital records and the like, the baby will take on
                                    the name Sanders. Hell, if her last name had to be Schmoe I
                                    wouldn't mind. She's ours. 
                                    
                                    What's in a name anyway?
                                    
                                    Stopping my ministrations, I bring my right hand up to rest on
                                    top of both of hers. I don't feel any movement whatsoever, so I
                                    safely assume the baby has settled comfortably and could very
                                    well be asleep. 
                                    
                                    "Okay, I'll take the job."
                                    
                                    "You've got until May first, otherwise she gets stuck with one
                                    of the names I picked out." Her innocent smile stretches to an
                                    impish grin. 
                                    
                                    "I accept the challenge and the consequence." The words come
                                    out in mock valiance, like a knight preparing to fight dragons.
                                    I laugh at myself, scooting my body and changing position to
                                    lie down beside her. Scully sets the player on the floor and
                                    moves, as much as her body can, to make room for me. Amazingly
                                    the medium width sofa allows us to lay with one another,
                                    Scully's back pressed to my chest as we gaze at the flaring
                                    wood. 
                                    
                                    The room fades into shadows, the sun having set and the fire
                                    being the only light now in the room. Scully and I whisper to
                                    each other in the half lit room.
                                    
                                    "Do you think we should get a dog?" I ask completely out of no
                                    where. My palm has yet to leave the curve of Scully's belly. I
                                    sweep my thumb over the area just below her navel, both our
                                    eyes staring straight ahead. I do however feel Scully jerk a
                                    little at the unexpected question.
                                    
                                    "A dog?"
                                    
                                    "Yeah, for the baby of course."
                                    
                                    "Mulder, she won't even be able to play with it for another two
                                    or three years. Besides, I thought you hated dogs?"
                                    
                                    "I don't hate dogs," my eyes roll with the statement, a crooked
                                    grin on my face as banter ensues. Scully is grinning too. 
                                    
                                    "You hated my dog," she says matter-of-factly. 
                                    
                                    "I'm not sure *that* qualified as a dog, Scully," I joke. 
                                    
                                    She slaps my arm playfully, turning onto her back to gain eye
                                    contact.
                                    
                                    "What are we supposed to do with it seven years from now? We
                                    can't fit it into the shelter with us. You know that."
                                    
                                    She's trying to get logical on me. I hate it when she does
                                    that. Who am I kidding? It's what made me fall in love with
                                    her.  
                                    
                                    "I'm sure we could find some place to stuff him." 
                                    
                                    "You're incorrigible, Mulder." Her eyebrow is arched, her head
                                    shaking, but the smile just won't budge from her lips.
                                    
                                    "I've always thought that's what gave me my charm."
                                    
                                    "Really? I've always thought it gave me a pain in the- "
                                    
                                    I cup my hand over her mouth, my lips coming up to only inches
                                    from her ear. "Shh, not around the baby." I remove my hand
                                    slowly and bring my lips from beside her ear to rest on her
                                    lips. I kiss her languidly, her arms coming up to wrap around
                                    my neck. 
                                    
                                    "If you don't want a dog, just say so," I whisper as I nuzzle
                                    her neck before pulling away.
                                    
                                    Slowly she opens her eyes, her hand coming around to pat my
                                    clean-shaven cheek. 
                                    
                                    "Tell you what. Why don't we wait until the baby is actually
                                    born before we decide, huh?"
                                    
                                    Twisting my face into a mock thoughtful expression, I bob my
                                    head to seal the deal. I watch as Scully's eyes close, a
                                    satisfied hum coming from the back of her throat. Moving to get
                                    up, I throw the blanket from the back of the sofa over her. 
                                    
                                    "Why don't you relax while I make something to eat?" I hear her
                                    mumble an 'okay' as she snuggles closer into the cushions. The
                                    baby has already started to decide when Scully gets to sleep at
                                    night, so Scully catches a few winks when she can. 
                                    
                                    Before making my way to the kitchen, I throw another log into
                                    the fire, sparks flying up the chimney with the thunk of wood
                                    against wood. Taking a glance out the window, I notice that a
                                    light fog has blanketed the land. Another look at Scully and I
                                    head to the kitchen.
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Chapter Seventeen - There is Hope 
                                    
                                    From where I am lying I can barely see the sun setting, a
                                    greening hill and several evergreens blocking the view.
                                    However, slivers of light every once and while shine through
                                    the dancing branches of the trees, a gentle breeze blowing.
                                    
                                    It's hard to believe how peaceful the last hours of become. I'm
                                    covered to the waist with hospital blankets. A seven-pound
                                    bundle keeps my chest warm, even with the right side being bare
                                    at the moment. 
                                    
                                    I went into labor at two this morning, the contractions
                                    steadily twenty minutes apart. No matter how many times I said
                                    that it would be a while before we would need to go to the
                                    hospital -we had talked about this particular part a million
                                    times--Mulder continued to pace nervously while I tried to
                                    relax as well as I could in bed. 
                                    
                                    His reaction to the fake labor pains in the last few months
                                    should have been a sign that the real deal wouldn't be much
                                    different, only worse. The contractions reached two to three
                                    minutes apart at about eleven this morning, signaling that it
                                    was time for Mulder to stop walking around and start helping me
                                    to the car. 
                                    
                                    We reached the hospital in record time, thanks to the driving,
                                    shall I say, skills of Mulder. There was more shaking than
                                    anything, but no vomiting which I was thankful for. The back
                                    pain would come and go, but it was surprisingly bearable. If
                                    there was anything to worry about, it was the baby. She was
                                    already showing the signs of having the nerves of Mulder, her
                                    little body beginning to turn, proving that she would be a
                                    breech. We were warned earlier this month that a breech was a
                                    possibility, so it wasn't all that surprising.
                                    
                                    I was able to dilate enough to allow Dr. Mackay to turn the
                                    baby. For a while I thought a cesarean would be the only
                                    solution, the idea worrying me because there would be no time
                                    for medication. Once the doctor officially announced, "We have
                                    a breech!", Mulder's eyes got as big as saucers, panic evident
                                    on his face, notwithstanding the previous warning.
                                    
                                    Given he had missed the birth of William, the birth process
                                    came as a shock for the poor man. I think he was gripping my
                                    hand harder than I was his, trying his hardest not to avert his
                                    eyes. He'll never come right out and admit it, but the sight of
                                    excessive blood has and always will make him queasy. 
                                    
                                    Despite his stomach however, he encouraged me through the whole
                                    thing, wiping my brow when the beading of sweat would speckle
                                    my skin. The one advantage to a breech baby is the sex of the
                                    baby isn't a mystery until the end. Monica's intuition proved
                                    to be right. It's a girl. 
                                    
                                    Aside from the breech there were no complications. The
                                    heartbeat remained strong, for both of us, throughout labor and
                                    she is healthy. And beautiful. 
                                    
                                    They handed her to me immediately, encouraging me to breast
                                    feed, but the baby refused opting to sleep instead. After a
                                    moment Dr. Mackay took her to get cleaned up and allow me some
                                    time to rest, although I could have held our baby girl in my
                                    arms for hours, my eyes never leaving her face. Once they had
                                    taken her, Mulder left to contact everyone he could. A couple
                                    of hours later I opened my eyes to the small bed straight
                                    across from me, a bulb warming the infant that lay sleeping. I
                                    searched the room for Mulder but he wasn't there. My back
                                    wouldn't allow me to get up to retrieve the baby myself so I
                                    paged a nurse, asking her to let me try to breast feed again.
                                    
                                    The sound of suckling ends and I pull the baby away, covering
                                    myself again. Her eyes are closed, her little hands curled into
                                    fists as I look at her, my hand patting her back softly as I
                                    cradle her. The door opens, my head stealing away from her face
                                    to see who it is. It's Mulder, having brought some ice chips
                                    and water. 
                                    
                                    Placing the cups on the bedside table, he sits down on the bed,
                                    one hand coming up to rest on my calve while he sweeps a finger
                                    across the baby's cheek with the other. My eyes leave the baby
                                    to gaze at Mulder and his proud face.
                                    
                                    "How are my girls?" he whispers.
                                    
                                    "Great," I respond, my eyes now captivated by his beaming
                                    expression.
                                    
                                    "She's beautiful, Scully. I'm mesmerized at how beautiful she
                                    is, although not surprised," he smiles before adding, "Just
                                    like her momma." 
                                    
                                    I sweep my eyes over my body, imagining what a mess I must look
                                    like right now. "Even now?"
                                    
                                    "Especially now."
                                    
                                    And for the first time, I don't shy away from such a comment.
                                    
                                    He looks up at me, our eyes meeting. Leaning in, he brushes his
                                    lips over mine. 
                                    
                                    "We still need a name, Mulder," I inform him, smiling.
                                    
                                    "Hey, I was told I had until May first."
                                    
                                    "She can't go nameless for two days, that's just ridiculous," I
                                    study him before continuing. "And don't even try to play dumb
                                    with me Fox Mulder, I know you have had a name picked out for
                                    weeks now."
                                    
                                    "Who, me?" He asks with transparent innocence. 
                                    
                                    "Yes you. Every time I asked you about it you would avert your
                                    eyes and claim you had yet to think up the perfect name. I see
                                    right through you," I smile, shaking my head.
                                    
                                    With a heavy, dramatic sigh he mirrors my shaking head. "Okay
                                    okay, you caught me," he says.
                                    
                                    It gets quiet between us. He's just looking at me like that is
                                    the end of the conversation. With my eyes I tell him to go on.
                                    
                                    "What?" 
                                    
                                    "Cough it up!"
                                    
                                    "Right, sorry." He looks at me again, hesitating.
                                    
                                    "What's wrong?"
                                    
                                    Casting his eyes to his left for a split moment then back to
                                    me, he shrugs. "I'm scared you won't like it."
                                    
                                    A chuckle I can't seem to prevent escapes me. "You're kidding,
                                    right? Mulder, I'm going to love it. Just as long as it goes
                                    well with 'Anne.'"
                                    
                                    "Aha! See I wasn't the only one keeping names a secret. That is
                                    the first time you have told me the middle name. What inspired
                                    it anyway? I like it."
                                    
                                    "It's Mom's middle name," I state simply, the sentence
                                    explaining it.
                                    
                                    Mulder nods, smiling. "My name goes great with it." 
                                    
                                    "So tell me!" I yell softly with a laugh.
                                    
                                    "Hope."
                                    
                                    It's fitting, in more ways than one. Two years ago, while
                                    Mulder and I held each other in the run down hotel room, he
                                    whispered something to me before he fell asleep. It is almost
                                    prophetic when applied to what we have now.
                                    
                                    There is hope. I'm holding it in my arms. It's real and it's
                                    ours. She's ours.
                                    
                                    "Hope Anne Sanders," I roll the name over my tongue. "Hope Anne
                                    Mulder," I say, tears welling in my eyes. "It's perfect,
                                    Mulder."
                                    
                                    I lean forward and up to capture his lips with mine, the kiss
                                    soft and short.
                                    
                                    "Good," he says quietly, his mouth curving up. "Now can I hold
                                    her, pleeease?"
                                    
                                    Not hesitating for a moment, I hand Hope over to Mulder, my
                                    hand supporting her fragile neck until I am sure she is
                                    secured. He begins to rock her sleeping form from side to side,
                                    a full-fledged grin at his lips now. I watch blissfully, my
                                    eyes sweeping back and forth between him and Hope.
                                    
                                    Suddenly he looks up at me, a serious but passionate expression
                                    now gracing his features. He stares intently at me, not saying
                                    a word.
                                    
                                    "What?" I ask.
                                    
                                    His expression remains the same, but a sparkle lights up his
                                    eyes.
                                    
                                    "It's just . . . looking at you . . . both of you, right now,
                                    I," he fumbles with the words, his voice cracking a bit with
                                    emotion. "I feel that, no matter what happens, I can look at
                                    you and know . . . that the world was beautiful once." 
                                    
                                    It's not often I find myself speechless. How does one respond
                                    to such a pronouncement? Mulder and I have become almost
                                    disgustingly sentimental and romantic in our time together, but
                                    I've got to say . . . I don't hate it. Who knew we had it in
                                    us?
                                    
                                    I love this man. That's all there is to it. 
                                    
                                    Not yet having found my voice, tears inevitably pooling in my
                                    eyes, I move to allow Mulder a spot directly beside me.
                                    Cautiously he repositions himself to sit up in the hospital
                                    bed, his back resting against the elevated top of the mattress. 
                                    
                                    Silence fills the room, baby noises only sometimes coming from
                                    Hope. The grin has claimed its rightful place on Mulder's face
                                    once more. I'm almost worried it could be permanent. It's
                                    refreshing to worry about such a thing. 
                                    
                                    I kiss the top of the pink knit cap then kiss Mulder again
                                    before turning on my side into his body. I witness a tiny hand
                                    curl around Mulder's finger and two blue eyes open. A coo
                                    floats from the baby, a chuckle from Mulder. Hope stares at
                                    Mulder and I can't help but think that I see the smallest of
                                    smiles grace her delicate lips. 
                                    
                                    I close my eyes to the sound of Mulder speaking quietly to
                                    Hope, introducing himself at one point. My head falls to his
                                    shoulder, me being unable to stop myself from drifting off at
                                    the monotone one-sided conversation going on beside me. 
                                    
                                    In the end, whatever it may hold for us, it is comforting to
                                    remember the simple truths of Mulder and me. 
                                    
                                    We gave each other Trust.
                                    
                                    We gave each other Love.
                                    
                                    And most importantly . . . we gave each other Hope.    
                                    
                                    
                                    =*=*=
                                    When living leaves my pride bruised up
                                    I'm fragile as a feather
                                    The storms of life just won't let up
                                    You're like a change in weather
                                    When dust settles on my dreams
                                    You wash them clean 
                                    Like a warm spring rain on the roof above
                                    The way you call my name when we make love
                                    While the world outside my window goes insane
                                    You're here to remind me
                                    A few good things remain
                                    -Kathy Matea-
                                    =*=*=
                                    
                                    =The End=
                                    
                                    Even MORE Author's Notes:
                                    
                                    Talk about having your way with the plot, eh? I know the cheese
                                    factor was cranked to eleven at several points, but it had to
                                    be done. This story was mostly inspired -okay, yes by the mess
                                    we were left with -but also by the fact that all the post The
                                    Truth fics I have read are kind of depressing. When it comes to
                                    fic I am all about angst-ridden plots, MulderTorture,
                                    ScullyComfort (due to torture) yada yada yada, but for once I
                                    thought an overall happy story was the answer to all this
                                    madness. I mean seriously folks, I'd say they deserve it by
                                    now. Don't you agree? Okay, I'm sure most of you just think I'm
                                    crazy, but I am fine with that. On that note, let's get down to
                                    business.
                                    
                                    Handling the William issue. I tried to have Scully explain it
                                    in her conversation with Monica, but just in case that was not
                                    good enough I'll elaborate. Ahem, well what it all came down to
                                    was not what I WANTED to happen (which would be Mulder, Scully
                                    and William living happily ever after together as a family) but
                                    what SHOULD happen. To get into some family history to back me
                                    up, I have an adopted cousin and my dad was raised in a foster
                                    home. Both situations were different however. My aunt and uncle
                                    were unable to have children and so they adopted a little boy.
                                    All it came down to when deciding what I should do about
                                    William was, had his birth mother decided to take him back it
                                    would have torn my aunt and uncle apart and no one deserves
                                    that. With my dad it was an entirely different story. With his
                                    mother being single with three boys and unable to speak English
                                    -her being French and all -welfare didn't see her fit to raise
                                    all three, so she got to keep the oldest boy while my dad and
                                    his other brother were sent to live on a Mennonite farm. So in
                                    that case it was supposedly done for the well being of the
                                    children. And to bring up a current local issue to further
                                    explain the method to my madness, a mother who had given her
                                    daughter up for adoption just suddenly up and decided she
                                    wanted her baby back, after two years. In conclusion, my point
                                    is. . . children are not objects to be given and taken away.
                                    They are gifts in many ways, but in that way they are not. More
                                    than anything I would love for Mulder and Scully to have
                                    William back, but in the end it's all about doing what is
                                    right. If you were able to sit through that entire explanation,
                                    I applaud you. I just knew that most of you, while reading,
                                    were probably cursing me for doing such a thing so this novel
                                    of an explanation was my only shot at redeeming myself. Forgive
                                    me?
                                    
                                    The 'ability' that I bestowed upon our dear William . . . the
                                    muse thought it up. I was never clear at the end of the episode
                                    William on whether he still had his telekinetic powers or
                                    whatever, so I left that unsaid but decided (with the help of
                                    Sara) that if William could somehow recognize Mulder and Scully
                                    it would make the story all the more interesting. I leave the
                                    mind reading up to Gibson, so it was hard trying to think up
                                    another way for such a thing to happen. I figure if he can
                                    still move things with his mind then so far he has been able to
                                    hide that particular gift. 
                                    
                                    Everything else relatively unexplained in the story I left up
                                    to interpretation. I left a lot of things open and didn't
                                    resolve EVERYTHING but I like to think -or at least hope -that
                                    I tied up some loose ends. I don't intend to continue this
                                    story any further, unless I fast forward a few years to do so,
                                    so that's all she wrote friends. I think my muse is on strike
                                    (she can be a jerk sometimes) so it could be quite some time
                                    before I go beyond short vignettes as far as fanfic is
                                    concerned. I'll tell you this much, this is definitely the last
                                    time I write something this long in first person, even if it
                                    does alternate between people. Third person and I get along
                                    better.
                                    
                                    I just want to add and extend a couple more thanks yous:
                                    
                                    About.com and Jeeves--although I am sure no one from the sites
                                    will ever read this, I have to thank them anyway for answering
                                    every single one of my questions about pregnancy. It's awkward
                                    asking your mother about that sort of thing after a while, so
                                    they made my life much easier. 
                                    
                                    Sara--Every fanfic writer says this, but who can really be the
                                    judge? Anyway, I have the best beta reader there ever was, is
                                    and will be. She goes beyond the call of beta and makes writing
                                    much easier for me in several ways -namely because I am a
                                    perfectionist and she will take me by the virtual hand, slap me
                                    with it and say 'IT'S FINE!' Throughout this she was constantly
                                    there for me when I knew what I wanted to do, but I just wasn't
                                    sure how to do it. And so, thank you Sara for your friendship
                                    and writing support!
                                    
                                    And because I said I would, the uncredited quotes used as
                                    chapter captions were said by:
                                    
                                    Chapter Nine - If you do not know already, both Mulder and
                                    Scully at said the entire quote at different times earlier in
                                    the series.
                                    
                                    Chapter Eleven - Maguarite Duras, author and film maker.
                                    
                                    Chapter Twelve - Excerpt from a poem by William Wordsworth.
                                    
                                    All others are specified at some point. 
                                    
                                    Wow, so if you made it through the novelette, thank you. If you
                                    made it through that AND this massive amount of author's notes,
                                    give me your address and I'll mail you a cookie for your
                                    patience. 
                                    
                                    Send all feedback--good, bad, ugly (although I hope it is the
                                    first)--my way at: k_nig_it1013@yahoo.com. Take care. Love!
                                    
                                     
                                                   

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