Truly Madly Deeply III: If the Fates Allow

Title: Truly Madly Deeply III: If the Fates Allow
Author:
Fandom: X-Files
Pairing: Mulder/Scully
Warning: Post-series, alternative universe
Rating: NSFW
Summary: Mulder and Scully face the biggest adventure of all: Parenthood.
Notes: Superhuge thanks to zara hemla, bugs, and SLS, who dotted my i’s and crossed my t’s; and Marasmus, who told me how they do things on the other side of the pond. Ladies, you are my sun, my moon, my starlit sky, and I salute you.

~Truly Madly Deeply: If the Fates Allow 1~

December 8, 2000

After nightfall the car stopped at the end of a gravel road. The car had rattled and pinged the entire journey, while country music faded in and out between bursts of static from the radio. Scully was cold, but grateful she had been put in the back seat and not the trunk. Her captor, on seeing her shiver, had draped his fleece-lined denim jacket over her before they went many miles.

Scully’s captor had little to say. He smelled like cigarette smoke and motor oil. Once in a while he asked her, gruffly, if she needed a drink or a rest stop, but she could only shake her head in answer.

He had come up behind her in the ladies’ room of the Blue Moon, clamped his hand over her mouth and pressed the point of his gun into her belly. She was certain she would find a bruise there later. Despite his small kindness of the jacket, she could not stop thinking about his first threat: Don’t scream or I’ll shoot your kid.

The restaurant had been full of confusion and she had smelled smoke in the air. No one had noticed them as he dragged her out the service entrance to his rust-spotted car. He had tied her hands together with thick rope and blindfolded her eyes, but did not gag her. She resigned herself  to having her wrists rubbed raw before this was over.

The heavy car door swung open and hands grabbed Scully’s arms. Hauling her out of the car, he dragged her by the elbow up the path. He took her through a door that squeaked in both directions and slammed shut behind them. Inside was slightly warmer than outside, and gloomy through her blindfold. Their feet tapped on the linoleum floor.

“Paul!” he bellowed. “Dammit. Paul!” He shoved Scully onto a couch, where a spring dug into her backside. “Paul!”

The squeaky door slammed. “What are you hollering about?” said a new voice, and two pairs of feet skidded to a stop.  “Shit,” the new man said, and a second man echoed him softly. One of them approached Scully and she felt his hand touch her shoulder. She tried not to cringe.

“I told you!” her captor said gleefully. “We let the right people know we’ve got her and she’s going to make us rich! For life!”

“Us?” said the soft-voiced man at Scully’s side.

“Well, yeah, sure,” her captor said. “Y’all take care of her while I field the offers and I’ll split whatever I make. Three ways. Even. Paulie—” He turned away a bit, appealing, Scully supposed, to the third man, “Paulie, you said you’d help. I can’t keep her with me. You know how nosy my landlady is. I have to stay at my place to take the phone calls. Your place is bigger anyway, and way out here, nobody’ll see her.” Neither of the other men said anything for a moment, and her captor said, “Paulie, tell Sam it’s okay.”

The soft voice said, “Are you hungry, Ma’am?”

“No, thank you,” Scully whispered. She thought she’d vomit if she tried to eat at this point. Maybe later, when she had a better idea of what was going on and how to escape.

Because she would escape. No doubts about that. Even if it meant trekking through the Ozarks or wherever the hell they were, she would find her way back to Mulder.

The third man sighed and said, “Put her in the bedroom, will you, Sam?” He coughed thickly, opened the squeaky door, hawked and spat.

The one he’d called Sam helped Scully to her feet. “This way, Ma’am.” He led her down a short hall and into another room. The air in the room was stale. “You can rest here.” She felt a mattress against the backs of her knees and sank down.

“Could you untie me, please?” she said. “Or take off the blindfold? Preferably both.”

“Oh—yeah—of course. Sorry, Ma’am.” He untied the knot at the back of her head and the blindfold fell from her eyes. It was a blue bandana, frayed at the edges but clean.

Sam went about untying her hands. He was stocky, in his middle twenties, blond with a short mustache and beard. He had dark eyes, and whenever he glanced up at her and saw her watching him, he quickly looked away.

The knots were too tight for him to untie with his fingers, and finally he sighed, took out a Swiss Army knife from his jeans pocket to cut through the ropes. “There. You’ll be okay, Ma’am. We’re not here to hurt you or nothin’.”

Scully rubbed her wrists, which were pink and tender but not cut. Her fingers were stiff and cold, and she blew on her hands to warm them.

He said, “I’m Sam, by the way. My brother’s Paul and the idiot who brung you here, he’s Dobson. I’m really sorry, Ma’am. Every time he swears he’s going straight he pulls another stunt like this. Well—I mean—he’s never kidnapped somebody before. I don’t think he has. Anyway,” he looked terribly embarrassed, “you just rest, Ma’am. You’ll be fine.”

“My name is Dana,” Scully said quietly, still keeping her eyes on his. She put her hand on her stomach, not surprised to see his eyes follow the movement, and said, “This is Daisy.” It wouldn’t hurt, she thought, to let him know there were two lives at stake here.

“Daisy,” Sam repeated. “That’s real pretty. We had a dog named Daisy when I was a kid—beautiful hunting hound—” He stopped himself. “Sorry. You don’t want to connect our old dog to your little girl.” He paused again, then said, “Dobson—he said drug companies are after you. He said you’ve got a genuine alien baby. That’s not true, is it?” “No,” Scully said. “It’s not true.” Good God, she thought, is *that* what this is about?

“I didn’t think so.” Now he looked disgusted. “Dobson’s such a—he’ll believe anything if he thinks he can make some money at it. We’ll straighten this out.”

The door rattled as Paul banged on it. “Sam!”

“Gotta go,” Sam said, standing up. “I promise you’re safe with us, Ma’am.”

Paul opened the door and leaned it. He was blond like his brother, with a lean, clean-shaven, ruddy face. “You coming?” He paused, glaring at Scully, who returned his look coolly. “You untied her, you fucking moron.”

“She was uncomfortable.”

“You’re a fucking moron,” Paul said again but made no move to rectify the situation. “It’s your turn to make dinner.” He stepped aside to let Sam out of the room, and then stood in the doorway with his hand on the doorknob. He appraised Scully for a long minute, and grinned at her with yellow teeth. “I’ve seen you before. You on the T.V.?”

“No,” Scully said, huddling beneath the denim jacket.

“There’s some girl clothes in the dresser, there. You’ll be here for a couple days, at least, so make yourself to home.” He started to leave again, and then looked at Scully once more and said, pointing at her excitedly, “I know how I know you! I saw you on ‘Cops’! You were on ‘Cops’!” His face paled and he muttered, “Shit.” He pulled the door shut.

Scully’s legs trembled as she rose, but still she walked to the door. There was a keyhole in the doorknob but no key. Stiffly, she lowered herself to the floor with her back against the rough wood. Her body wasn’t much of a doorstop but it was all she had.

Even wrapped in the denim jacket she was cold and shaking. Pulling her knees up as best she could, she spread the jacket over herself like a blanket.

Don’t scream, she thought. Screaming won’t help anything. Crying won’t either. Still, she clamped her hands over her mouth to cover the faint whine that escaped, and a few tears dropped from her eyes.

Mulder, Mulder, I need you, she thought, biting her fingers to keep herself quiet. I’m so frightened. Find me, Mulder. Bring me home.

There was a gentle flutter in her abdomen. Scully felt her heartbeat calm down and her breathing deepen, and she lowered her hands from her mouth. “Okay,” she said. She cupped her belly in her hands. “Okay, Daisy. Mommy’s better now.” She hugged her belly as best she could and said quietly, “I can’t wait to hold you.” She closed her eyes and leaned her head against the door.

*~~~~~*~~~~~*

~Memory—June 2000~

When they reached the motel Mulder was so exhausted he
fell into the bed without even taking off his shoes. Scully regarded him, amused, for a moment, then climbed onto the bed to kneel over him. He lay on his stomach so she began to rub his back, using her fingertips and the heels of her hands to dig into his muscles.

Mulder made a low moaning sound. “That’s nice,” he muttered.

“You’ve had a long day,” Scully said.

“So’ve you.”

“I think I could still go dancing tonight and not be tired.”

He chuckled. “Don’t quite have your energy.”

“I know.” She bent low towards him, putting more of her weight into the massage, and Mulder rumbled deep in his chest. “It’s okay. You get some sleep, babe.”

He inhaled and exhaled, slow and deep, his eyes closed. She slowed her hands and stopped, and then placed her hands on either side of his head and kissed his hair. His eyelids fluttered but he didn’t even smile, and Scully decided he must be asleep.

Good, she thought, and got off the bed. He had been subdued and thoughtful ever since they left the park; overwhelmed, she thought, by their strange and long day—and by its conclusion, she was certain.

Scully felt no less confused—if someone had told her the day before that she would be ready, eager, even, to make love with Mulder today she would have asked them what kind of mickey they planned to slip her—but she had no regrets.

Not a one, she realized as she got ready for bed. Over the past few months she’d been unable to articulate to Mulder exactly why she was so endlessly unhappy, but she could see it now. Regret had been eating her up alive, for every misstep and questionable choice she had made in the past ten years. Every loss had weighed upon her heavily: the normal life, the sister, the child, the friendships, the career, the certainty of her place in the world.

The vision at the pueblo had shown her things she had not considered. Her friends still tried to keep in contact, even though she could rarely get back to them. Her family still loved her even though they didn’t always understand her work or her life. Melissa, her caring, funny, smart sister, was still alive in her memory.  She still accomplished good in the world, even if she would never earn accolades and promotions from it. She was still Dana Katherine, beloved daughter, cherished friend. She was still Scully, loyal partner, adored lover.

And she still had Mulder. Oh, yes. Mulder loved her without condition. Mulder never questioned her integrity or motives because he knew them better than he knew his own. Mulder, for all his differences, was her other half—the part of herself she had never known she was missing until he showed her how to be complete.

She had been shown that at the pueblo. She knew she would not soon forget it.

There had been something else in the vision, too, that she didn’t know what to do with. It was not a memory, not exactly, though it felt familiar like a dream she’d had many times but forgotten each time. It was just an image, really: herself in a garden, a laughing child in her arms. In the context of the vision, though, it felt like a reminder not to discount even the most extreme of possibilities.

Scully rinsed her face and smiled to herself. Children could mean any number of things in dream symbolism. The child, she thought, could be nothing more than a symbol of her—their—new beginning. This new life, where she could love Mulder and allow herself to be loved in return. They could make a happy life in the face of whatever was to come.

“I’ve earned this,” she whispered to her reflection. “I’ve earned him.”

As if on command Mulder stood in the doorway, blinking sleepily and rubbing his eyes. “Sorry, dropped off,” he said.

“I’ll be there in a minute,” Scully said, but put down her toothbrush and went to him. She put her arms around him and hugged him tight. Mulder hugged her back just as tightly.

“Stay with me,” she said, pressing her cheek to his chest.

“Yes.” He kissed her hair.

They stood for a few moments more, then Scully reluctantly let Mulder go and moved back to the sink. “I’m almost finished.” She squeezed some toothpaste onto her brush and started to clean her teeth.

Mulder stood behind her and put his hands on her shoulders. Their eyes met in the mirror and he smiled at her. “You’re beautiful even with a mouthful of toothpaste,” he whispered, and bent to kiss the back of her neck.

Scully laughed, hastily spat out the toothpaste and rinsed her mouth. She turned and put her arms around his neck. “Kiss me,” she said, and he needed no urging to obey.

She was learning to read his moods through the way that he kissed her. This kiss was passionate—he was almost always passionate—but he was too tired to do much more. She caressed his neck and touched his lips as they kissed until he raised his head. He whispered, “What?”

“Come on.” She took him by the hand and led him to the bed. She had him sit, and then knelt at his feet to remove his boots. He lay down when she gently pushed on his shoulder, and watched her with sleepy eyes as she undressed him.

“I hate to say it, Scully,” he said in a low voice, “but I’m not up to foolin’ around any more tonight.”

“That’s fine, babe.” She kissed his forehead and pulled the sheet over him. She felt his gaze on her as she turned out all the lights and got into bed beside him. “Turn over,” she said, and he chuckled and rolled into his side, his back to her.

She held him, his broad back to her chest, trying to enfold him into her. It was a hopeless task—he was just too long—but she didn’t mind the effort. The scent of sex lingered about them, the way she smelled like the ocean after a day at the beach. She wanted to bottle up this smell and keep it on a chain at her neck, to sniff whenever she wanted to remember.

They lay in silence for a while as she stroked and kissed his shoulders and hair. She wondered if she should say it out loud: Do you feel this, Mulder? It’s love. It’s real. It’s all yours. This means I love you and I want to make you happy. Instead, she stroked his cheek with the backs of her fingers. She combed her hands through his hair. She lightly scratched her nails through the hair on his chest. She kissed his neck. She wove her fingers through his and clasped their hands to his chest.

“Hey, Scully,” he murmured.

“Yes?”

There was a long pause, then he said, “Everything is going to be different now.”

She kissed the back of his neck and said, “Yes. It is. Go to sleep, Mulder.”

He kissed her hand and pressed it to his chest again. She leaned her head against his back and smiled at the sound of his heartbeat, and held him tightly as she had been longing for months to do.
~Truly Madly Deeply: If the Fates Allow 2~

~Memory: June 2000~

Scully was folding her laundry. She always found this activity soothing—the warmth of the clothes, the scent of dryer sheets and detergent, the simple monotony of it. Match socks, fold. Panties, fold. Sheets and pillowcases, fold.

They had been back from New Mexico exactly one day—not even an entire day—and it irked her that she was alone in her apartment, folding t-shirts, when she would much rather be with Mulder. But they had said their goodbyes in the Hoover Building parking garage that afternoon, agreeing that sleep and a few hours apart would be worthwhile pursuits. They had not kissed goodbye but they had hugged, briefly.

Scully had stopped by her dry-cleaners, gotten some fresh food at the corner store, eaten a solitary dinner and done her wash. It was now nearly midnight. She thought she would go to bed soon, though she didn’t think she would sleep. She had not slept well the night before, instead waking up at Mulder’s every movement as if her subconscious couldn’t believe he was still there.

Tonight, she thought, her subconscious wouldn’t believe that he was gone—wasn’t asleep beside her, snuggled in her arms and stealing the sheets.

Scully sat cross-l
egged on her bed and sighed. She was lonely for him, and—she could admit this readily—she was horny. For so many years no other body appealed to her, and it was even worse now that she knew for certain everything from the taste of Mulder’s sweat to the timbre of his groans.

She wanted him. It was laughably simple. She wanted him and he wasn’t there.

Scully lay back on her bed and stretched out her arms. She flexed her feet and let her legs fall open. She rubbed her palms down her thighs, over the cotton of her pajamas and then underneath her shirt as she slid her hands up her stomach. She cupped her breasts in her hands. Her skin felt warm and incredibly soft. She shifted her hips, remembering the texture of Mulder’s hands as he touched her this way.

It wasn’t enough, though. Again she sighed, and removed her hands from her body. She eyed her phone. If she called him, would he come?

She lifted her head when someone knocked on her door, and then she bounded off the bed. People she didn’t want to see never knocked, they just let themselves in. Even though he’d had a key to her apartment for years, Mulder never used it.

She looked through the peephole in her front door, grinned and unlocked the door. Mulder smiled at her uncomfortably and said, “Would you believe me if I said I can’t sleep?”

“Would you believe me if I said you don’t need an excuse?” She took his hands to draw him inside. “You don’t even need a reason.”

“So it’s okay?”

“Of course it is.” He wore sweats and a t-shirt under his light jacket, and in some places his hair was flat and in others stood up like an exaggerated cowlick. He hadn’t been lying about trying to sleep. “Of course it’s okay. I was thinking about calling you. I was just wondering if you’d come, if I did.”

“Yes.” He put his hands on her waist, and then stooped to press his forehead against her neck. He kissed her collarbone. “Of course I would.”

His hands slid down her back and they looked at each other. She smiled and reached behind him to lock her front door, then, holding his hand, led him back to her bedroom.

“It smells good in here,” he murmured.

“Fresh laundry. I just changed the sheets.”

He ran an open hand over the bedspread. “Looks comfortable.”

“It’s very comfortable.” She sat down on the edge and tugged his hand for him to join her. He did, smiling more with his eyes than with his mouth, and leaned in to kiss her.

“Mm, Scully,” he murmured against her mouth. “You’re so soft and sweet.”

Scully laughed and wrapped her arms around his neck. They kissed each other slowly as Mulder’s hands slid up and down her sides. He scooted further back onto the bed, pulling her with him, and lay down. He smoothed her hair back from her face and tucked a lock behind her ear. She smiled at him, stroking his face with her palms.

“What do you see when you look at me?” she whispered. She’d been wondering this for years.

Mulder smiled like she should know this, and he said, “Somebody who made my life better by being in it.”

Scully leaned on her elbows and folded her arms around his head, and kissed him, kissed him for quite some time. His hands continued moving up and down her sides, almost but not quite touching her ass, barely skimming the undersides of her breasts. It felt like a slow delicious tease, and she began to grind her hips against him, following his relaxed rhythm.

He groaned into her mouth, his fingers clenching on her hips. He leaned his head back so that their lips parted, and he smiled at her faintly.

“What does it say about us,” he said, “that we couldn’t keep our hands off each other for even just twenty-four hours?”

“It says we’re passionate about each other.” Scully smiled down at him, stroking his lips with her thumbs.

“I’ve been passionate about you for years but I’ve managed to behave.”

“Yes, but now you know you don’t have to behave. You know you’re welcome here.” She kissed his neck and whispered, “You can come here anytime. And if you’re not here, I’ll come to you. I want to be with you, Mulder. Even if we don’t have the energy for sex, I want to be with you.”

He cupped her face in his hands. “Scully,” he said seriously, “you know as well as I do that we can’t be careless.”

“I know. But being careful doesn’t equal being lonely.” She placed her hands on his chest. His heart was racing beneath her palms, and she bent to kiss his heartbeat. “I want to sleep with you in your bed. I want to watch TV wrapped up in your arms. I want to go grocery shopping with you. I want to make love to you whenever we want to.”

Mulder had begun to smile at her words, his hands restless on her hips. “You sure you won’t get sick of me, with all this hanging out together?”

“I haven’t yet, have I?” She grinned at him and kissed him, catching his lower lip between her teeth. He chuckled and pulled her hard against him.

“Here’s what I want,” he murmured. “I want to take you to Graceland.”

“I knew you’d drag Elvis into this somehow,” Scully whispered, kissing him more deeply.

“I want to slow dance with you. I want to take you on a date. I want this to be a simple and normal as we can make it.” He paused their kisses. “Though I do want to make love to you as often as humanly possible, too.”

“That’s pretty simple and normal,” Scully teased, “perfectly normal, it sounds like to me.”

“Yes,” Mulder murmured, kissing her again, “that would be normal to you.”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh . . . just that . . . anybody in love with you would want to make love to you as often as they could. I’m sure you’re used to it.”

She smiled at him, feeling a fierce and protective tenderness towards him, and she kissed him hard. “I love you,” she said, then again with emphasis, “I love *you.*”

“I’m not being jealous.”

“I never said you were. I’m just reminding you. You’re my dear. Remember that, okay?”

The smile that he gave her was quiet and satisfied. “Okay,” he said, and pulled her to him again with a soft sigh. “Okay.”

*~~~~~*~~~~~*

It had been a long time—painfully long, Scully thought—since she had touched the skin of another.  She couldn’t stop marveling at Mulder’s textures: his rough stubble, the crisp hair on his legs, his soft lips. At his temperatures: his slightly cold toes, his flushed cock. At his tastes: salt and caramel.

There had been no time to linger the night before so now she did, touching him everywhere while he watched her through half-closed eyes. His movement was minimal, just caressing her in passing. Mostly he watched.

She did not begrudge him this. She wanted it—she wanted to take care of him. I’m making love to you, she thought, I’m showing you love. She supposed he would want a rougher touch at some point, for her to bite instead of kiss, but she couldn’t bear to mark him. He was so scarred and bruised already.

When he began to touch her in return it was light and hesitant, to places like the pit of her knee, the inside of her elbow, the base of her neck. His kisses were deep and wet. He cupped his hand around her breast and the curves of her hips, squeezing her for a moment before moving on. He kissed the muscles in her arms and the flat of her belly. He rubbed his nose against the tips of her hair and wrapped her hair into ringlets around his fingers.

It was so sweet, to hold each other, to whisper, to sigh, to kiss each other slow and deep. Scully thought, for all the times she’d had sex, this was one of the few times she’d really made love.

*~~~~~*~~~~~*

They lay sprawled over the unmade bed, tangled up in limbs and sheets and pillows. She moved her hips slowly, wanting to draw out every moment. She watched his face, her hands planted on his chest.

“Tell me,” she whispered. “Tell me how it feels.”

He murmured, “It feels like—mm—you want me there.”

Scully moaned and kissed his adam’s apple. “Yes. Yes.” She drew herself up over him, her body straight as a column, and Mulder r
an his hands up her torso to cup her breasts. Her flesh squeezed out between his fingers. She gripped his wrists. “Can you feel it? Can you feel how deep you’re fucking me?”

“Oh, yes.” His head tossed on the pillow. “Yes. Yes.” His hips arched towards her, driving deeper still, and Scully shuddered from head to toe.

“Mulder, Mulder,” she said.

“Come for me, Scully,” he whispered, rotating his hips as he thrust into her again and again. “I want you to come for me, my beauty. You can do it.” His thumbs flicked her nipples.

“I want to. Oh, I want to.” Her throat felt rough from her cries and moans.

“Scully,” he said. “Scully.” He gripped her hips, pulling her onto him even harder, and she could feel his muscles tensing and straining as she ran her hands over him. She closed her eyes, rocking her entire body. He was so beautiful, so good to her, so loving, so sexy—so deep inside her she thought she could feel him everywhere, even her fingertips and her toes.

“Oh, Mulder,” she said, her eyes wide with wonder. “Mulder, I’m—you -Mulder!” She couldn’t stop—she couldn’t stop—if she stopped she would die—”Mulder!” she shouted and abruptly started to cry.

She could feel the effort it cost Mulder to stop thrusting, and he placed shaking hands on her face. “Scully? Honey? Are you okay?”

“Yes—I don’t know—” She nuzzled her cheeks into his hands. “I’m sorry—” Mulder sat up and kissed her mouth. “It’s okay, honey. I promise. You’re okay.”

“I love you so much,” Scully choked out and buried her face in his shoulder, wrapping her arms around his chest. He stroked her hair. His entire body shook and his chest heaved with his rapid, shallow breaths.

“I know, shh, shh. I know. I love you too. You’re okay. You’re safe with me. I love you.” He kissed her again and again, stroking her hair and her face. “My sweet tulip, my little rose. My beauty. You’re okay.”

“Everything is too much,” she sobbed, not sure what she meant.

Mulder sighed heavily and lifted her off his lap. This stopped her tears, and she watched him with confusion as he got off the bed. “Mulder? You’re not leaving?”

“I’ll be right back,” he said in a tone meant to reassure and soothe. It did neither.

“Is something wrong?”

“I won’t be long.” He ran his hand over her hair and kissed her, and then left the bedroom for the bathroom.

Scully wiped her face with her palms and got out of bed too. She didn’t care if he was having a piss or taking a cold shower—he couldn’t just walk away. She opened the bathroom door.

It was as she’d thought. Mulder knelt on the floor by the bathtub, his arm braced against it. His eyes were squeezed shut and he grasped his cock, jerking himself off roughly.

“Mulder!” she said.

He turned his face away from her. “Dammit, Scully,” he muttered, his teeth clenched. “You should have said I was hurting you.”

“You weren’t.” She knelt down in front of him and wrapped her hand around his cock, just above his hand. “You weren’t hurting me, baby. It felt good. It felt so good.” She followed his movements, grasping more tightly at the head and then easing her hand down the shaft. His hand dropped away and he leaned his head against her neck. He rocked against her as she spoke. “It felt good to have you inside me, Mulder. Better than good. Strong . . . powerful . . . fulfilling . . .”

He groaned into her ear. His cock throbbed in her hand and she gripped him harder. “Yes, yes, that’s it,” she whispered, wrapping her other arm around his shoulders to balance him. “That’s it, my love. Don’t hold back from me.” He groaned again and his teeth scraped the pulse in her throat, causing her to moan as well. Her knees hurt from the tile and her wrist was beginning to ache and it was going to make mess when he finally came but she didn’t care. He was her lover and she couldn’t leave him unsatisfied.

“Scully,” he groaned, “Scully,” drawing it out in that strange way he had. “Scullaaaaaaay . . .”

It did make a mess, semen over the both of them and the cold tile floor. Mulder held onto her, panting, and she stroked his back and his hair.

“Would you like to take a bath?” she whispered, and he nodded without opening his eyes.

*~~~~~*~~~~~*

Scully put on her bathrobe, cleaned the floor and pinned up her hair while Mulder ran the bath water. He held his long fingers under the stream, his expression thoughtful, and he frequently looked up at her as if he wanted to say something. He remained silent.

When the tub was full Mulder got in with a long sigh. “This was a good idea,” he whispered. “This feels really good.”

Scully ran an affectionate hand through his hair. “Scoot forward.”

“Hm?”

“Move up. I want to sit behind you.”

He looked up at her again, his lips parted, then moved forward so she could get into the tub behind him. Scully dropped her robe and eased herself into the water, sighing too at the soothing heat. Mulder hesitated, then leaned carefully against her, his back to her chest. He pulled himself down a little, so that his head rested on her shoulder.

Scully picked up her shower gel and a loofah, squeezed out some gel and worked up a lather. Mulder chuckled when she started moving the loofah over his shoulders. His thumbs plucked at her knees.

“Scully?”

“Hm?”

“You’re taking a bath.”

“So I am.”

He shrugged slightly, as if to say, all right, it’s no big deal to me if it’s no big deal to you.

She said softly, teasing his nipple with the loofah, “Why did you walk away?”

“I was hurting you.”

“You weren’t hurting me.” She kissed his ear.

“You were crying, Scully. What was I supposed to think?”

She stroked his hair back from his forehead and said slowly, “Sometimes, when my orgasm is very intense, I cry. It doesn’t mean anything beyond that. Not that I’m in pain or that I’m scared . . . just that—” She tried to think of a delicate way to put this, and decided to hell with delicacy. “Just that I’ve come and it was good. Really good.”

Mulder sighed heavily. He nuzzled his cheek against her hand. “The last thing that I want is for you to—” He stopped and pressed his face against her arm. “I don’t want you to ever be afraid of me,” he muttered, his words muffled.

“I won’t be.” She kissed his hair. “Ever. I promise.”

He took another slow breath. “The past couple days I’ve been thinking a lot about us and you and your . . . troubles . . . “

“You’ve been thinking about Pfaster,” Scully said calmly.

“Yeah.”

“So have I.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. And you know what I’ve realized?”

“What?” He sounded like he dreaded the idea.

“He’s dead. He’s not going to hurt anyone anymore. He’s not going to hurt me. I can’t let him control me from the grave. As much as I regret being the one to pull the trigger I don’t regret his being dead. Maybe in death he’s finally found some peace.”

Mulder exhaled and stroked her arm. “Do you really want peace for him, Scully?”

“Yes. I think I do. All I can do now is pity him. How terrible it must have been, to find no joy in life except in the taking of it. Yes.” She ran her fingers through Mulder’s hair. “I hope he’s found peace.”

Mulder closed his eyes. “Do you want to know what I’ve been thinking?” he murmured.

“Yes.”

“What if he and I aren’t that different. When it comes to you, I mean. You are all I think about. You are everything to me. What if my obsession and his obsession—what if they’re the same thing under different names? That dream I had the other night—”

“Mulder.” She stroked his chest. He was getting overexcited in all the wrong ways. “Shh, Mulder. You love me. You don’t want to own me or destroy me. That’s the difference.”

“But the dream—”

“Was just a dream. It was on your mind, so you dreamed about it. It wasn’t predicting the future or reshaping the past. It was just a dream.”

“There’s darkness in me, Scully.”

“There’s darkness i
n all of us, Mulder.” She kissed his hair again. “And you know what? I still love you.”

He relaxed in her arms, allowing his full weight to rest against her. “Am I too heavy?”

“No.” She smiled. “I can handle you.”

~Truly Madly Deeply: If the Fates Allow 3~

~Memory—August 2000~

Mulder was solicitous as he guided Scully into her bedroom. “Lean on me, Scully—that’s my girl—careful of the rug—” Scully had kept her eyes closed ever since they left the hospital. The bright daylight hurt her eyes, and she wanted more than anything to lie down in her darkened bedroom and let the world drift by for a while.

It had been a minor car accident but still Scully came out of it with a concussion, whiplash and cuts on her face and hands. Mulder had been frantic, positive that someone—one of Them—had caused the accident as a message. Since Scully had actually talked to the other driver, she didn’t think so. Mulder had wanted her to stay in the hospital longer than overnight, but Scully only wanted to be home.

Mulder kept his arm around her shoulder as he folded back the blankets on her bed. He eased her onto the mattress. “Do you want anything?”

“Stay with me?” She peered at him. He smiled at her. “Please?”

“Sure, honey. But you don’t want some tea or something?”

“Nuh-uh.” She held out her arms. He took her hands and kissed them.

“Let’s get you comfortable.”

“I’m very comfortable.”

“Let’s make you more comfortable, then.” He kissed her hands again and let them go, and moved down to take off her shoes and socks. He kissed the bottoms of her feet.

“Mulder, love, I’m not up for sex.”

“I know, honey. I just like your little feet.”

Scully laughed but regretted it as it sent the throbbing in her head to new heights. “Oh,” she moaned quietly, pressing her hands to her temples.

“Would ice help?”

“Yes.” Or morphine, she thought.

Mulder leaned close to her and whispered, “Is it okay to kiss you?”

“Gently,” she said, so that was exactly how he kissed her.

“I’ll be right back with your ice.” She heard him walk away and close the door behind him.

Scully folded her hands on her stomach. She had been given medication at the hospital but its effect was mild, changing the pain from a sharp pounding to a dull ache. Rest, she knew, was the only cure, and she thought she might welcome the opportunity to lie quietly, as long as Mulder was nearby.

The rest of the summer had been sweet, more fun than she had thought it could be, more tender and more passionate. They fell into a routine like a married couple, spending nights at each other’s apartments, sharing their bathrooms, cooking, showering and sleeping together.

She had never been in love like this: so completely, so simply and so happily. There had always been something in the way before, ambitions or other relationships or doubt. With Mulder there was no doubt. He had no desires but her happiness. They were each other’s world, and sometimes when she stepped out of it she blinked in surprise at the other people around.

She had talked to her mother a few days before the accident. Her mother had commented, “You seem happy, dear,” and Scully had said, “Yes. I am.”

There was only one more thing that she could ask for, but since that was impossible she tried not to dwell on it. If Mulder wanted anything more he gave no sign, so Scully tried to be content, too.

Still . . . one night they were spooning in bed and Mulder had been stroking her stomach, and she’d been tempted, terribly tempted, to ask him, “Do you want to have a baby?” But even if his answer was yes—and she wasn’t sure it would be—her body’s answer was no, forever and always.

Charlie had stopped teasing her with “tick tick tick” in his letters. Bill had stopped asking her if she was seeing anyone. Melissa, she thought, would be plying her with homeopathic teas and swinging crystals over her belly, telling Scully she had to relax if she wanted to conceive.

It seemed strange to her, this line of thinking, but she couldn’t argue against it, either. I am in love, ergo, I want to have a baby with him. It felt as obvious as, I am in love, ergo, I want him in my bed; I am in love, ergo, the rest of my weekends are booked; I am in love, ergo, I am spending far too much money at Victoria’s Secret.

Scully sighed, flexed her arms and settled back into a comfortable position. She had Mulder. He was enough.

In a few minutes Mulder came back with a towel filled with ice. He perched on the edge of the bed and laid the towel carefully over her forehead. “Thank you, love,” she whispered, cracking her eyes open again to look at him.

He stroked her chin. “Get some sleep.”

“Stay with me.”

“I’d be afraid I’d hit you in my sleep or something. Jog that precious, lovely head.”

Scully managed not to laugh this time. “You know I sleep better when you’re here.”

“Me too, baby.” He continued stroking her chin, and said, “I’ll stay but we’ll have to settle you in really carefully with pillows and stuff. You need to relax and keep still.”

“Yes, dear.”

“‘Yes, dear,'” he mimicked with a chuckle. “You must be feeling awful.”

“That pretty much sums it up.”

“Okay. Let me get you some dinner together. Do you think you could eat something?”

“Something simple like soup.”

“Soup it is.” He kissed her carefully. “I love you.”

“Mm, I love you,” Scully answered, touching his face without opening her eyes, and he caught her hand and kissed it.

“Sleep. I’ll wake you when dinner’s ready.”

“Yes, dear,” she murmured again. Mulder chuckled and kissed her once more before getting up from the bed.

*~~~~~*~~~~~*

Mulder was a cuddler. He loved to hold her close and stroke his hands over her, even when they agreed they were too tired for sex and it was time for sleep. He would circle her navel with a fingertip or play with her fingers or rub the bottom of her foot with his big toe.

Lying flat on her back, her head nestled in pillows, Scully thought the aching was only secondary to the frustration of wanting him closer. She could feel his warmth and hear him breathe, but it wasn’t the same as being wrapped around him or in him.

“Mulder?” she whispered. They had been lying in bed twenty minutes, maybe less. Her medication had not kicked in yet. He was  lying on his side, his hand under his face like the reformed thumb-sucker he was. “Mulder, are you asleep?”

He grunted in response. She decided not to bother him after all: it heartened her, really, that this former insomniac now fell asleep in seconds, as soon as he was comfortable. Normally she fell asleep quickly too, her head on his chest, her hand over his heart. Their legs would be intertwined and he would hold her so, so tight . . .

She sighed. She moved her hand slowly under the sheets and touched the smooth skin of his wrist. A vein beat beneath her fingers, slowed by sleep.

There were nights she awoke and searched for his pulse, needing visceral proof that he was here, alive with her, not dead and not a dream. There were nights that she counted the seconds between breaths. There were times, even in the office, when she couldn’t stop herself from embracing him—often from behind as he was sitting, wrapping her arms around his neck and rubbing her face against his hair. He would chuckle, reach behind and touch her hip, rub her arm, turn back his head for a kiss.

She was becoming a cuddler, too, it seemed. She hadn’t quite acquired his taste for nicknames but he didn’t seem to mind that. She couldn’t keep track of all the things he called her—it usually centered around flowers but when he called her Squirrel she had no trouble calling him Moose. “As in, big as a . . .” she would tease, which would make him laugh and kiss her.

She loved that she could make him laugh.

Again Scully sighed, and shifted her legs. Lying still on her back was not as easy
as it would seem. Her pelvis ached and there were cramps in her lower belly and calves. She wanted to turn onto her side and curl up her legs. She wanted Mulder to hold her.

But no. She had to lie still. She had to let her brain get settled into place again—not the technical term, she thought with a wry grin, but good enough for her mood now.

The cramp in her side intensified and she clenched her teeth, exhaling. It was a low pain, tight and sharp. It felt . . . familiar.

Scully sat up, grimacing, her hand pressed against her side. It had been years since she’d felt this but there was no mistaking a menstrual cramp. She tried to move her legs off the side of the bed, to put her feet on the floor, but the room spun like a Tilt-A-Whirl and she had to fight down a bout of nausea.

“Scully?” Mulder muttered sleepily, sitting up behind her. “Do you need something, honey?”

“The bathroom. I need the bathroom.”

He was on his feet in a second, around the bed to pick her up. “Are you going to vomit?”

“No, I don’t think so—Mulder, put me down, please. I don’t need to be carried.”

He was halfway to the bathroom with her already, however. He lowered the lid on the toilet and set her down, and brushed her hair back from her face. “Do you just need some water?”

“I need a tampon,” Scully said.

He blushed and chuckled. “Oh. Girl stuff.”

“Girl stuff,” she confirmed. “There’s a box under the sink. And then if you’ll leave me for a few minutes, please, I’d rather do this alone.”

Mulder got the box from beneath the sink and handed it to her, then paused in the doorway. “If you’re going to be resting a while, shouldn’t you be wearing a pad?”

She stared at him a moment, then said, “It freaks me out sometimes, remembering that you were married.”

“It wasn’t so bad.” He smiled at her. “Most of the time it was pretty okay.” He left the bathroom and shut the door.

*~~~~~*~~~~~*

Conception, Scully later thought, was mostly a matter of timing.

Exactly twenty-eight days after their experience at Pueblo Bonito, Scully menstruated. She’d been having short, erratic periods since her abduction, so this did not strike her as strange. Mulder, still learning the rhythms of her body, did not think it strange either. She later thought perhaps she didn’t ovulate in July, that her body was in the process of returning to normal, and that was why she didn’t conceive that month.

August was easy: the week she ovulated was the week of her car accident and Mulder was considerate enough to not ask for anything while she had a concussion. He was actually quite attentive while she rested and healed, solicitous in a way she never would have imagined before she became his lover. So, no baby in August.

But she felt better in September.

*~~~~~*~~~~~*

~December 8, 2000~

The little room had warmed up a bit as forced hot air blew from the vent by the window. Scully laboriously stood and went to the window, parted the curtains and looked out. There was nothing to see but trees: oaks, pines, birches, more trees than she knew the names of. From this angle she couldn’t see the road.

She folded the denim jacket and went the dresser Paul had indicated earlier. Girl clothes, she thought. I wonder who the girl is?

The clothes she found were clean though a few sizes too big for her: two pairs of Levis, several t-shirts, a few sweaters. Scully chose a pink cableknit cardigan and a pair of slippers  lined with lamb’s wool that she found beneath a flannel nightgown.  Her feet had gotten entirely too cold from wearing sandals in this weather.

Somewhat warmer, Scully eased open the bedroom door. Her next mission was to find a bathroom, and after that, to see if she could get Sam to tell her more about where they were and what was going on. Their friend Dobson seemed like a petty criminal at best, and she couldn’t see how he could have heard about her or any possible rewards offered for herself or the baby. Either the Smoking Man had grown very careless in his old age or there was yet another person, or group of persons, interested in her physiology.

The bathroom was just across the hall, small and recently cleaned, judging by the strong smell of Lysol in the air. Scully used the toilet and washed her hands, and then splashed some cold water on her face. Her reflection in the mirror seemed like another woman: some tiny frightened creature with too-big eyes, wearing an oversized sweater, her freckles popping out in her pale face.

Scully ran her damp hands through her hair and straightened her shoulders. Her gun and her badge were long gone, but she still had her attitude.

“Knock ’em dead,” she whispered to her reflection, and touched her belly for luck. Daisy gave an answering bump and Scully opened the bathroom door.

The hallway smelled of frying ham and hot cheese. Scully’s stomach growled—she’d been too frightened to eat since her eggs in the diner that morning. Still, she approached the kitchen with caution. Paul would not be happy to see her, and she doubted Sam would be, even if he were willing to talk to her.

She thought, I am Dana Scully, and lifted her chin a little higher as she pushed open the kitchen door.

The TV was blaring a rerun of ‘The Simpsons’, and Paul lay on the couch watching it while Sam cooked. Scully walked to the stove as if she had every right to be there, and looked into the pots.

“Mac and cheese,” Sam said, sounding almost shy. “And ham . . . and broccoli. We don’t got any more milk.”

“I’ll be fine with water.” She folded her arms. “Unless one of you wanted to run to the store for some.”

“It’s not exactly a run, Ma’am—it’s a forty minute drive—”

“Sam!” Paul sat up on the couch. “Shut your mouth! And who told you you could be wanderin’ around, woman? Go back in the bedroom!”

Sam ducked his head, abashed, but Scully said, “No,” quietly and clearly.

“What did you say?”

“I said no. Tie me up if you want me to stay put—if you’ve got the balls.”

Paul started to rise from the couch when Sam said, “There’ll be none of that. Nobody’s tying up anybody. Ma’am, why don’t you have a seat. This is almost done.”

Never taking her eyes off Paul, Scully murmured, “Thanks,” and sat slowly down in one of the kitchen chairs. Her ankles were aching, she had to admit that.

Paul watched her, then snorted and lay down again. “Gonna kill that Dobson,” he muttered.

“It would be better for you if you did,” Scully said. “Kidnapping is a federal offense, and the penalties are worse when state lines are crossed.”

“But we didn’t do it!” Paul exclaimed, jumping to his feet. “We didn’t do nothin’!”

“He brought me here, making you accessories after the fact, which is still a felony.”

Paul stared at her and said, “She’s making this up. She’s bluffing, Sam.”

“Do you really want to get your brother into that much trouble?” Scully said in a soft, firm voice.

“Sam, she’s lying—”

“You remember what I was on ‘Cops’. I wasn’t one of the criminals.”

Sam said, “What was she on ‘Cops’?”

Paul looked from Scully to Sam, and said, turning away to sit on the couch again, “She’s with the fuckin’ FBI.”

“The FBI,” Sam repeated, disbelieving. “This little thing? No offense, ma’am.”

“None taken,” Scully murmured. “I was a federal agent until two months ago. I left to protect my child—who is not, despite what Dobson may have told you, anything supernatural. If you help me, or even just let me go—”

“That’s enough,” growled Paul. “You’re not going nowhere, not at least until I talk to Dobson. Can we eat yet, Sam? I’m hungry.”

“Yeah, it’s ready,” Sam said quietly, and turned back to the stove to start dishing up the food.

*~~~~~*~~~~~*

It was a tense meal. It was difficult, Scully found, to eat while retaining an aura of cool detachment. Sam ate with his head down, barely looking up to pass the salt when asked. Paul ate loudly, glaring at them b
oth.

“So, Federal Agent Lady,” Paul said finally. “I always thought aliens was bullshit, but Dobson says he knows somebody who swears they’re for reals. Is it true?”

Scully sighed. “You may call me Agent Scully.”

“Okay, *Agent.* So? What about it?”

“I honestly don’t know. I’ve seen a lot of unexplainable things.”

“That’s it? ‘Unexplainable things’? Sheesh, lady.” He smirked. “*Agent* Scully. Can’t expect the government to tell us the truth, anyhow.”

Scully almost laughed, but remembered herself and stopped.

Sam stood and started to clear the dishes. Paul said, “Don’t suppose you could help with a speeding ticket I got last week, could you?”

“Maybe, if you let me go.”

Paul laughed and shook his finger at her.  “If Dobson’s right we’re gonna be millionaires, so you can stop trying.”

Scully glanced at Sam, who stood with his back to them at the sink, quietly scraping the dishes. “Do you know what they’ll do to me, if they get their hands on me?”

“Study you, of course. Take your blood and stuff.”

“They’ll take more than my blood. They’ll kill me so they can study me. They’ll kill my child so they can study her fetal tissue. And whatever they’re looking for, they won’t find, because it’s not there. They think this child is part alien but she’s not—she’s as human as you or I. You’ve got to help me. Please. Help me. I don’t even know where I am.”

Sam turned around, agony in his eyes. “Ma’am—”

“Dammit!” Paul slammed his hand on the table and got to his feet. “Shut your mouth. Shut it. Sam, she’s lying. And of course she’d be lying. I’d be lying too.” He thrust his finger in Scully’s face. “But you are not to upset him.”

Scully lowered her eyes and said nothing. She clenched her hands together under the table.

“I’m calling Dobson,” Paul said, starting to leave the kitchen, and then he stopped himself and came back. He grabbed Scully’s arm and yanked her to her feet. Sam made a small sound but didn’t follow as Paul pushed her down the hall and back into the bedroom. He shoved her onto the bed and picked up the handkerchief that had been tied over her eyes when they arrived. “Not another word to Sam or I am tying you up, got me?”

“I get you,” Scully said quietly. “Is this who you are, Paul? A kidnapper and a murderer?”

He glared at her. “I didn’t do nothin’.” He left the bedroom and after a moment she heard a key turning in the lock.

Scully took a deep breath and slowly let it out. She hadn’t learned enough to help her—forty minutes to the nearest store, that was all.

She leaned her head on her hands and rubbed her temples, trying to think. She hadn’t seen a phone. There was nothing but the dirt road. No neighbors, only trees.

And no way to reach Mulder.

Daisy nudged her, so she wrapped her arms around her belly and lay down on her side. I only wanted to keep you safe, little baby, she thought, pressing her face against her pillow.

~Truly Madly Deeply: If the Fates Allow 4~

~December 8, 2000~

Scully’s eyes snapped open at the sound of a key in the lock. She sat up and then stood, her hand protective over her belly, and turned on the small lamp on the bedside table. She was shivering, but she knew it was more in anticipation of another confrontation with Paul than the cooling room.

When the door opened, instead Sam stood there, looking sheepish and shy. He said, “Paul says to let you use the lavoratory and then I have to  . . .” He held up a coil of rope, embaressed. “He says I have to.”

Scully swallowed and nodded, not really surprised. “Sam, where are we?” she said quietly.

“I can’t,” he whispered. “Paul said—”

“Paul is fooling himself,” Scully said. “Paul thinks he’s not to blame—but helping a crime is also a crime, Sam. Please. Help me. I’m just trying to protect my child.”

“Paul said nobody’s gonna hurt you. Now, please, ma’am, let’s get you ready for bed. Paul’s awful mad at you—I don’t want him to get madder.”

Scully sighed, feeling the weariness of this day down to her bones. She was too tired to fight anymore. “I need a few minutes,” she murmured, and he stepped aside so she could go into the bathroom.

She used the toilet and washed her hands and face. There was an unused toothbrush on the counter, so she opened the package and cleaned her teeth. She still looked frightened and tired, but she gave herself a grim smile anyway. Sleep could only help. Tomorrow she’d be able to think clearly. Paul would be no help at all, but Sam—she might be able to get Sam on her side.

He knocked timidly on the bathroom door. Scully opened it, to see Sam holding the flannel nightgown she’d found earlier in the dresser. “It’s too big for you,” he apologized.

“It’s better than nothing,” she said, taking the nightgown from his hand. “Thank you. Whose is it?”

He hesitated. “Our sister Karen. She moved out last summer.”

“Why?” she said, genuinely curious.

Sam glanced down the hall, fidgiting. “I’m not supposed to talk to you so much.”

“I’m sure it’s okay for you to tell me about your sister. Why did she move out?”

“She got a better job and didn’t want to drive two hours each way. So she moved.”

“Do you miss her?”

“Yeah. She’s fun. She’ll come see us sometimes on Sundays but she’s got a boyfriend now, and Paul doesn’t like him. Paul’s not bad,” Sam added hastily. “He loves us. He works hard. When I—he’s always taken care of his family.”

“When you what?” Scully whispered, even more curious at the sudden fear in his eyes.

He shook his head. “I don’t wanna tell you, ma’am. I did a lot of stupid shit when I was a kid. Please. Let’s get you to bed.” He stepped back and closed the bathroom door. Scully sighed. She put the nightgown on the counter and took off the sweater, shirt, jeans and bra. The nightgown was soft and clean-smelling, though too big for her. She pushed her hair behind her ears, picked up her folded clothes and opened the door.

Sam followed her into the bedroom and waited while Scully got beneath the covers. When she was comfortable he tied her hands together and bound them to the headboard. “If you need anything in the night, just give me a holler. I’m right next to you.”

“Thanks,” Scully murmured. This wasn’t so bad—she’d been in far worse situations. At least she wasn’t bound and gagged in a closet or stuffed in a trunk.

“Good night, ma’am. Don’t be scared.”

“Right,” Scully murmured and closed her eyes.

*~~~~~*~~~~~*

~December 2000~

Three tense days passed. She saw little of Paul, who worked long hours as a machinist in town. Sam, she discovered on the first day, had a workshop behind the house where he made chainsaw lawn ornaments from pine logs. A cousin who lived closer to the interstate sold these to passing motorists, but only came once a month for new pieces so Scully had no hope for help from him.

The first day, too, Scully tried to find a phone number for the sister,  but she couldn’t even find a phone much less an address book. They had no computer or fax machine, nothing to communicate with the outside world. It was difficult to hear above the noise of Sam’s chainsaw, but she watched and listened all day and no cars passed by.

There wasn’t much else for her to do. They had few books, a video collection of martial arts movies, and intermittent reception on the radio. Sam wouldn’t lock her in the bedroom but at Paul’s insistence her hands were tied most of the day. She couldn’t even go for a walk.

She missed Mulder with every breath.

Scully excercised as best she could, sit-ups and crunches, mostly. She meditated to keep herself as calm as possible. She offered to cook but Paul snorted and said, “What, and let you poison us?”

On the evening of the third day, she heard Sam and Paul arguing about her. “He’s gotten two calls a day, at least. It’s not a scam. For once he’s on to something real. She’ll be gone in a few days.

“But it’s not *right*, Paulie.”

“I don’t care from right! I just want her out of the house. She freaks me out. Always *watching*.”

“I think she’s nice,” Sam muttered. “And I think she’s right about what they’ll do to her and the baby. I don’t want anyone to hurt her.”

“Think of the money, Sam. Wouldn’t it be great to never have money worries again? Dobson says they’re offering millions for her—millions, Sam!”

“They’re going to kill her, Paul.”

Scully heard no answer from Paul for several moments, then he said quickly, “Dobson heard from Arntzen and he swears nobody is going to hurt her. And Arntzen is coming tomorrow to check things out.”

She hadn’t heard Sam’s voice so cold before. “Arntzen’s in this?”

“Yeah, I didn’t think he was, either. But he’s never stiffed us, Sam. If he’s in it, it’s legit—it’s not just some daydream of Dobson’s. So will you relax already? Nobody’s gonna hurt her. Okay?”

There was another long pause, then Sam said, “Okay. Okay.”

Their conversation explained nothing to Scully—it only raised more questions. And she didn’t want to reveal that she’d been eavesdropping by asking Sam what was going on. She’d find out soon enough.

*~~~~~*~~~~~*

Scully was singing quietly to the baby the next morning and trying to decide if a Tom Clancy novel would be worth reading when she heard Sam’s chainsaw stop. She started up from the bed, trembling all over. A few moments later she heard the back door slam, footsteps and men’s voices.

Familiar men’s voices.

“You bastard,” she muttered, but managed to keep her face neutral when Sam unlocked the door—he’d been very apologetic that morning when he informed her Paul wanted her to stay locked up all day—to reveal himself, Dobson, and Alex Krycek.

“Dana,” Sam said, “This is—uh—Arntzen.”

Alex bowed his head to her, smirking. “Stanislav Arntzen,” he said in a softly accented voice.

“Dana Scully,” she said, not taking her eyes off his face.

“See, I told you, comrade,” Dobson said, laughing nervously. “Didn’t I? She’s real and there’s actually a kid and—and it’s just like I told you. And—and—and those other folks I was talkin’ to, I wasn’t gonna accept anything without talking to you, of course. I mean, it’s your job. I wouldn’t—you know. I wouldn’t.”

“Have you been harmed?” Krycek said to Scully, ignoring the other men and still affecting the Russian accent. “Are you well?”

She glanced from him to the miserable Sam and the fidgeting Dobson, and Krycek said sharply, “Both of you, leave us. I wish to speak to Miss Scully alone.”

“I don’t think—” Sam began.

“It’s all right, Sam,” Scully said, so reluctantly the other men left the room.

Krycek shut the door and listened for several moments, then shook his head and came to her, to start untying the knots that bound her wrists. He said, the accent gone, “I’m so sorry about this, Dana.”

“Was this part of your plan? Scare me off and then have Dobson kidnap me?”

“No,” he said emphatically. “No. All I asked him to do was find you. Dobson’s a two-bit hood. He dabbles in counterfeiting documents and petty theivery. He’s nothing. This is way over his head.”

“He’s had offers,” Scully said, rubbing her wrists. “I heard Paul and Sam talking about it yesterday.”

“Really? Huh.” He sat down on the bed. “They must really want you to be so open about it. Well, I’ve put the fear of God into Dobson so he’s not going to make a move without my approval.”

“You mean you’re not going to get me out of here? Then why did you come?”

“I came to make sure it was actually you. You wouldn’t believe how many reports of small, pregnant redheads I’ve gotten in the last three days.”

She asked quietly, “And Mulder? How many reports of small, pregnant redheads is he getting?”

Krycek made an uncomfortable gesture and said, “We move in slightly different circles, Scully. I’m hearing more than he is.”

“How is he? Is he okay?”

“I haven’t talked to him. You know how he gets.”

“I know why, too.”

“Scully, don’t hold grudges. You trusted me once.”

“Yes, and look where it got me! I want to go home, Krycek. I want Mulder. You told me I’d be safer if I left but both Mulder and the smoking man found me. And now this—I just want to go home. The stress isn’t good for the baby.” She sat down on the bed too, despondent and so lonely for Mulder she ached.

“Hey,” Krycek said after a moment. “I know it’s not much comfort, but if you can hold on for just a few more days I swear I will bring Mulder to you and we’ll figure something better out. You’ll be safe with the redneck twins. Paul rubs me the wrong way but he’s not a bad guy. I think Sam’s done really well with you, too—Dobson’s says he’s really protective of you.”

“Done really well? What do you mean?”

Krycek grimaced like he’d said the wrong thing. “Sam . . . okay. He killed a girl when he was seventeen. The finding was manslaughter and they were lenient with him because he tests at slightly lower-than-normal intelligence, and I really think it was an honest accident, but that’s one of the reasons why they live so far out here. To keep him away from people.”

“And that’s why Dobson brought me here,” Scully murmured. “Blackmail. Notifying the police would just get Sam into more trouble.”

“That’s probably what he thought.” He said after a brief pause, “I’ll convince Mulder to come with me. I’ll tell them that he’s a buyer and we’ll get you out of here. After that, Scully, honestly, you’ve got to get out of the country. You’ve got to find a place you can hide and stay hidden.”

“And where would that place be? I’m not going to live in the middle of nowhere.” She realized her hand was cupping her belly again, and that Krycek’s eyes had followed the movement.

“Are you willing to go underground?” he said, meeting her gaze again.

“I don’t know. I can’t make that decision without Mulder.”

“Right,” Krycek said. “Of course. Just a few more days, Scully. Dobson knows what I’ll do if he tries anything behind my back, so I swear you’ll be safe. Okay?”

She had no choice, as far as she could see. “Bring me Mulder,” she said quietly.

“Right,” he said again, and stood. “Okay. I’ll be back soon. Oh, and Paul was making some noise about the cost of feeding you so I gave Sam some money, so you can get whatever you’re craving. What is it, pickles and ice cream?”

“Potatoes,” Scully murmured. “They’ve been very good about that, actually.”

“Okay. Well, if the ice cream comes up before I get back Sam will get it for you. See you soon, Scully.” He opened the door and left the bedroom.

Scully waited until she heard them talking down the hall, then exhaled and lay down again. She could do a few more days. She could hang on.

She rubbed her belly with the heel of her hand and whispered, “Would you like to hear a story about your daddy, little baby? Once upon a time, your mommy and daddy had to go to a beautiful place called Pueblo Bonito . . .”

*~~~~~*~~~~~*

~Memory—September 2000~

Scully was on the phone with her mother when Mulder leaned over and said, “You’re busy Saturday night.”

“Hold on,” Scully said to her mother. “What?” she said to Mulder.

“You’re busy Saturday night. Don’t make other plans. Please.”

“Apparently I’m busy Saturday night,” Scully said into the phone. “I’m not sure what with. Well, that’s because he hasn’t told me. Chasing mysterious lights in the sky, most likely.” Mulder poked her with his toe and she stuck her tongue out at him. “So I’ll see you Sunday? Okay. Bye.” She hung up the phone and looked with exasperation at Mulder. “What are we doing on Saturday? Please tell me we’re not going far away—I still have dry-cleaning to do.”

“We’re not going away. We’re staying here.” He resumed typing.

Scully watched him for a moment, then said, “But apparently you’re not going to tell me anything more. Like the imp
ortant detail of what we’re doing.”

He smiled. He said, still typing and smiling, “You are being swept away by a dark and mysterious stranger for a night of satisfying your desires. How does that sound?”

Scully swung her foot idly. “Are you paying this guy by the hour?”

Mulder chuckled. “Per diem.”

“Well, I hope he’s cute, anyway.”

Mulder took his hands off the keyboard and folded them on his chest. “Scully, tell me one thing. Why is it in the past three months you have yet to let me take you on a simple date?”

“Let you? I don’t recall you ever asking. This isn’t even asking. This is ordering.”

“Scully, I order you to go on a date with me.” He grinned at her.

Still, she curled her mouth and said, “Thanks, but I have to wash my hair that night.”

“Scully . . .” The annoyed look was replaced with concern, and he leaned forward to put his hand on her knee. “I thought you were feeling better. Is your head still bothering you?”

“No.” It was hard to say what was wrong. She felt antsy and ornery, ready to pick a fight, ready to throw Mulder on his back and ride him hard. The Gunmen had said nothing was wrong with her, but that was a month ago . . .

He was still rubbing her knee, watching her, waiting for her to tell him more. She said, “Come over tonight.”

“Talk about ordering somebody around . . .”

“Yes. I order you to come over tonight and fuck me. Up against the wall, I would hope.”

His fingers slid underneath her knee and tickled her lightly. “Yes, ma’am. And on Saturday night I order you to put on your favorite date outfit and come with me for dinner and a movie. Perhaps sex afterwards, if you’re so inclined.”

“Dinner and a movie?”

“I thought a normal date like normal people would be a nice change.”

“Mulder, I don’t think we could be like normal people even if we tried.”

“So, let’s try. If we aren’t, does it matter? There will still be sex afterwards.”

“Ah, yes . . .” Scully said vaguely, drifting a bit from the touch of his fingers on the inside of her knee.

Mulder started to smile. His fingers were warm, the tips smooth. “Or,” he began, and his voice was a good octave lower than normal, “. . . or . . .” He plucked futilely at the mesh of her nylons, “Or, we could just lock the door—”

“Oh, you’d like that, wouldn’t you,” Scully said, but it had none of the intended effect since her voice had suddenly gone breathless and girlish.

“Cure for what ails ya,” Mulder said, rising to his feet, his hand still inside her skirt. “A little good lovin’ always puts you in a better mood.”

Scully meant to say something that would remove his hand from her skirt, that would remind him they were at work and had to behave like professionals—but instead something like a whimper escaped her throat. He’d been tender and considerate while she recovered from her accident—too tender, it seemed to her now, too considerate. She wanted to pull him down onto her. She wanted to do something quick and dirty, right here on his desk.

He kissed her and she melted into him as his hand slid further up her thigh. She felt him gasp when he found the top of her stocking. “Oh, Scully,” he whispered, kissing her neck. “You’ve got the garters on today . . .”

His phone began to ring, and he moved away from her to answer it. “Mulder,” he said, wrapping his hand around hers. He stroked her palm with his thumb as he listened. “All right, sir, we’ll be right up.” He hung up the phone. “Duty calls.”

“Come over tonight,” she said again.

“Promise you’ll wear the stockings?” He picked up his suit coat and put it on.

“And nothing else,” and she laughed as Mulder’s eyes grew wide.

“Oh, boy . . . you know what I like.”

~Truly Madly Deeply: If the Fates Allow 5~

Two days she could wait, and three—but when fourth day passed and there was no sign of Krycek, Scully told herself she’d been a fool to trust him again. She’d allowed herself to relax a bit, believing she would see Mulder soon, but it became clear to her she would, in fact, have to find her way to him instead of waiting to be rescued.

Well. She’d never been comfortable as a damsel in distress.

Paul was easier on her—no longer insisting that her hands be tied most of the day—but still no happier to have her with them. Sam would talk to her sometimes, but only if Paul wasn’t around. She had only herself for company, and the baby of course.

It occured to her one night, when she caught herself talking to Daisy aloud again, how real to her the baby was now—more than a blurry sonogram and a heartbeat, she now had a name, or at least a nickname, and made her presence known with her delicate movements. It was comforting, or would have been if Scully weren’t so afraid.

When she had been with the brothers ten days Dobson visited them again. Sam’s chainsaw went silent, and she saw the two of them talking by the workshop with a third man—a squat, bulky man with a shaved head and a black goatee. Baldy started towards the house several times but Sam stopped him each time, until finally Scully could hear their raised voices if not what they said to each other.

She tried to keep out of sight—but all three men turned their heads at one point, catching sight of her through the kitchen window. Both Sam and Dobson frowned, but what chilled her was Baldy’s smile, as predatory as a crocodile eying a wounded bird.

Scully raised her chin and opened the back door to join them. Sam shook his head in dismay, but said, “Hey, ma’am.”

“Hello,” Scully said, crossing her arms  to hold her cardigan more tightly closed.

“So this is the little girl,” Baldy said, stepping closer to her. He reeked of cigarette smoke. His front teeth were chipped. “Prettier than I thought.”

“This is Agent Scully,” Sam said, stepping closer still.

“And who are you?” Scully said coolly.

“John Silver, like the pirate. Different kind a’ long, though,” he added with a smirk. Scully refrained from rolling her eyes. “You’re awful pretty,” he said again. “Most nutty chicks are kinda homely. But I wouldn’t mind a taste of you myself.” He waggled his tongue at her.

Sam’s chainsaw roared into life. “Try it!” Sam yelled, wielding the chainsaw to ward Silver off. “I want you to try it!” There was rage in his face and murder in his eyes.

“The fuck!” Silver cried, jumping back. “What the fuck is wrong with you!”

Dobson’s face had turned a dangerous shade of green, and he muttered, “Jesus, Sam, you are fuckin’ nuts.”

“Get in the house, ma’am,” Sam said above the roar of the chainsaw, which shook him head-to-toe with its force. When Scully didn’t move, he screamed at her, “Get inside!” and she didn’t wait for him to tell her again. She fled to the house, into the spare bedroom, slammed the door and wrapped her hands around the knob to hold it shut. She didn’t relax when she heard the chainsaw shut off again—only breathed deeply when she heard Dobson’s car screech and rattle away.

A few minutes later she heard footsteps, and a soft knock on the door. “Ma’am? They’re gone.”

Slowly Scully opened the door. Sam looked like he was about to cry, and he was still shaking. “I don’t care what Paul says,” he said and sniffed hard. “This isn’t right. When Paul gets home, I’m havin’ him drive you to our sister’s. You can call your folks from her place. This isn’t right. It’s not right at all.”

He started to cry, brokenly like a little boy, and after a moment of hesitation Scully put her arms around him and lowered his head to her shoulder. She whispered as she patted and rubbed his back, “I’ll tell them I got lost.”

*~~~~~*~~~~~*

The three of them sat around the kitchen table late that night, half-eaten meals on their plates. Sam couldn’t meet Scully’s eyes, and she wondered what had embarrassed him: his outburst with the chainsaw or his tears afterwards. “So,” Paul said at last. “Silver’s involved in this.”

“Who is h
e?” Scully asked.

“Dobson’s cell mate for a while . . . was it at Talladega, Sammy?” Sam nodded without looking up. “Sick fuck,” Paul continued. “He done stuff I’ve never even heard of. He’s like a bounty hunter, only he don’t hunt escaped criminals. He hunts . . . other folks.”

“Not a nice guy,” Scully murmured.

“No, ma’am.” Paul sighed, drank a pull of his beer, and said, “Sammy’s right. We’ve got to get you out of here. Whatever Dobson planned, that ain’t what this is, and we’ve gotta get you out.”

“Thanks,” Scully murmured again.

“If Arntzen ever shows up we’ll have to tell him we got rid of you already—what?” he said when she sighed.

“Arntzen—I forgot about Arntzen.”

“Don’t you worry about him. We won’t let him find you.”

She smiled at him gratefully, but said, “Arntzen isn’t quite the person you think he is. I’m not saying he’s a good man—but he’s not like Mr. Silver.” I don’t think, she added mentally.

“Well, even if that’s so,” Paul said, “you’re going to Karen’s tonight. I don’t trust Silver and I don’t trust Dobson much now, either. Sammy, will you come too so I stay awake on the drive home?”

Again Sam nodded, and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. “You’re not mad about the money, Paulie?”

Paul picked at the label on his beer bottle, then said roughly, “You know if Silver’s involved we’d never see a penny—if there was any money at all. I’m not mad.”

Daisy started kicking abruptly and Scully put her hand on her belly, grimacing. “You okay?” Sam said.

“The baby’s kicking. I’m okay.”

Paul watched her for a moment, then said, “It’s a real kid.”

“It’s a real kid. A girl. I think it’s a girl.”

“I bet she’s gonna be right pretty,” Paul said softly, and Scully smiled despite herself.

After they’d eaten and cleaned up the kitchen, Scully went to the spare bedroom to change back into her own clothes. As kind as Sam had been and as much as Paul was relenting, she was glad to leave this place. She wanted home. She wanted Mulder.

Sam knocked on her door again. “Did you bring a coat, ma’am? It’s awful cold out.”

“I didn’t, no. Dobson lent me his when we drove here.”

“Okay. I’m gonna find you a spare coat. We can’t have you driving for hours without one.” He shut the door again.

Scully, sitting on the edge of the bed, rested her head on her hands and just laughed for a moment or two, quietly. Soon all these absurdities would be over and she’d be back with Mulder. It would be difficult to find someplace to raise their baby in peace, if such a place existed. But if it did exist, Mulder would find it for them and they would rest there, safe.

Her head snapped up when she heard glass breaking and a popping sound from the front of the house. “No,” she whispered, getting to her feet.

Footsteps pounded down the hall and Paul slammed open the door. “We have to go, we have to go now, back door,” he said, throwing a denim jacket at her. “Come on!”

Scully struggled into the jacket and followed him through the house to the back door. Paul had turned off all the lights already and she let him lead, her fingers wrapped around his jacket and their footsteps close. “Where’s Sam?” she whispered when he paused.

He didn’t answer for a moment, only easing the door open, then muttered, “Down.”

“Oh, God, Paul—”

“Shush. Looks clear. Let’s go.”

Keeping close to the wall of the house, they made their way through the backyard to Sam’s shed. Paul held Scully’s hand, or rather her wrist, to keep her close as they moved past the shed and into the trees. There were no street lights or neighboring houses to light their way, but the moon was out and the night was clear.

“It’s Silver, isn’t it?” Scully whispered.

“Prob’ly.”

“I’m so sorry about Sam.”

Paul frowned and said, “Yeah. Me too.”

They walked in near-silence for a while, feet sliding on dead, wet leaves. Ideally, Scully thought, Paul would open up about his family, his protectiveness, and Sam’s past—but his face was wary and he was listening to anyone who might be following them.

Which was fine, really. She wasn’t in the mood to chitchat either.

“Where are we going?” she whispered finally.

“There’s an old church about four miles north of here. It should be a good place to hide until morning.”

“And then, in the morning?”

“And then I’ll have to think of something else.”

She nodded. If it was a forty-minute drive to the nearest town it would take all night and most of the next day to walk, and her toes were already stinging with cold. Even if there were neighbors closer, Paul either was unwilling to endanger them or didn’t trust them enough to turn to them for help.

And, she thought with a grimace, if by some miracle Krycek showed up, any clue she gave for him to find them would also give their location away to Silver.

Damn you, Dobson, she thought. And damn me for getting complacent.

She would have enjoyed the walk if it weren’t so cold and under such circumstances. The forest smelled loamy and cool. Moonlight shown silver-blue on the leaves. As her eyes adjusted to the dark she could make out trees, stones, and the faint path they were following deeper into the woods.

There was a twinge deep in her middle, and Scully stopped with a gasp. “What is it?” Paul whispered, his hand shaking around hers a little bit.

“I—give me a moment.” She pulled her hand from his and bent over her knees, her hands on her thighs, breathing through her teeth until the pain had passed. “It’s the walking,” she said when she could speak again. “It’s making me have contractions.”

“We’ve got a ways to go still. We have an old deer-sighting platform near here but you’d have to climb a tree to get to it. I’ve done night huntin’. This is nothin’ like it. I don’t know what to do.”

She took a deep breath through her nose and let it out through her mouth. “We keep walking—we’ll just have to stop periodically.”

“‘Kay.” His hand was still shaking when he took hers again, and his pace was much slower as they walked on.

The straps of her sandals were beginning to painfully rub her toes, her fingers felt numb and her nose had begun to drip from the cold when Paul stopped, listening. “I hear him.”

Scully listened too, but it was hard to hear anything above her pounding heart.

A branch snapped behind them. Paul pushed her behind him, shielding her against a tree. His body was tense as he watched the path. Abruptly he whispered, “If you follow this trail you’ll get to the church. I’ll get you—if I don’t, follow the—” He stopped, listening again. “Go!”

She didn’t stay to ask—she turned and ran, following the trail north. She kept one hand under belly, praying that the exercise wouldn’t hurt the baby. She heard shots fired as she ran, but didn’t dare to turn or stop.

Abruptly she found herself in a clearing, with a small, white clapboard church in the center beyond a small creek. She crossed a stone footbridge over the creek and climbed the front steps. The door was not boarded or nailed shut, and creaked when she opened it. Her footsteps echoed on the floorboards, but the floor felt solid.

Scully closed the door behind her, scanning the empty pews. The air smelled comforting, of pine trees and cool water. However, in the dark she couldn’t find even an abandoned umbrella to use as a weapon—but she did find, behind the pulpit, a staircase leading up the bell tower. There was no bell, but there was a platform, empty and just a bit dusty, and if she stood or crouched she had a clear view of the surrounding meadow and trees.

Scully took off her jacket and eased herself down in the corner, leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes. Hunters, she knew, looked from side to side but never looked up. She had to hope Silver wasn’t smart enough to look up. She had nothing to fight him off if he was.

She waited. She watched.

*~~~~~*~~~~~*

~Memory—O
ctober 2000~

Mulder’s hands were sliding up Scully’s ribs as he kissed her, and he made happy “mm, mm” noises in his throat. Scully ran her fingers through his hair, marvelling again at its softness and thickness. She loved every bump on his skull.

Mulder stopped kissing her and whispered, his lips hovering above hers, “How’s your head today?” “Fine,” she muttered, raising her mouth for more kisses. “It’s fine.”

His fingertips rubbed circles into her temples. “It’s just, you’ve been so poorly lately. I’ve wondered if your concussion has come back or something.”

She caressed his cheek. “Oh, sweetie . . . concussions don’t come back. I’ve just had a bug the last few days.”

“A tummy bug or a head bug?” His hands slid down her body and he rubbed her stomach, looking at her through his eyelashes.

“A tummy bug.” She smiled at him, and he bent and kissed her belly, which was pale and slighty round between her bra and the waistband of her trousers. Scully raked her hand through his hair.

He whispered, “No more tummy bug,” and laid his cheek on her stomach.

“I love you,” Scully said. He looked up at her with a shyly pleased smile. “You’re silly and sweet.”

“You make me happy,” he said simply, and moved up to kiss her mouth.

This is a perfect moment to tell him, Scully thought, but only held his face and returned his kiss. She imagined herself whispering, “I’m pregnant” into his ear—and then he would fumble back into his clothes and make excuses to leave as quickly as he could.

No, that’s not fair, she thought, ashamed. Mulder was a better man than that. Still, she couldn’t imagine he would be pleased with her news—he’d never said a word about wanting children, not anything she could take seriously.

Mulder raised his head again and rubbed his nose against hers. “Hey,” he whispered, “come back  to me.”

“I’m here. Just thinking.”

“Are you sure you wanna do it tonight? You’re a million miles away.”

“I’m fine,” she insisted. “Maybe a little tired. But I want you, Mulder, I need you. We’ve hardly had time to make love lately, what with—everything.” There was no need to reiterate what they both knew: her car accident and the resulting concussion, and only a brief respite before her fatigue and nausea set in. Mulder assumed flu—and so had she until a pregnancy test and her doctor told her otherwise.

I should tell him right now, she thought as he kissed her. The longer I put it off the worse it will be.

“I’m going to the doctor again tomorrow,” she began.

He looked up at her at once, worry creasing his forehead. “Again? What’s going on, Scully?”

Her mouth worked for a moment, but her nerve failed her. “They just want to make sure everything is okay.” She pulled Mulder’s mouth down to hers and kissed him hard. I’ll wait, she thought. If the baby’s fine I’ll tell him—if the baby’s not—if it’s not—

Scully wrapped her arms around Mulder’s neck. She wanted to share her worries with him—she wanted to share everything with him—but she didn’t know where to begin.

“You’ll tell me if everything’s okay?” Mulder said seriously. “Even if it’s not? You’ll tell me whatever they say?”

“I will.” She cupped his face in her hands and traced his lips with her thumbs. “I’ll tell you everything.” More than you ever expected to hear, she thought—but he was kissing her again, and she was tired of worrying.

“Love you,” he whispered. “Love you, always . . .”

“Always,” she whispered back, and hoped it would always be true.

*~~~~~*~~~~~*

In the belltower, Scully crossed her arms over her belly and slept.

~Truly Madly Deeply: If the Fates Allow 6~

~Memory~

Her hand sliding up the wall.

He’d noticed it from the very first, the way her hands got restless as they made love. He liked it. He liked to capture her wandering hands and kiss them and then release them again. He liked to watch her hands move over the furniture, his chest, the floor, the tiles, the sheets, whatever was close enough to touch. But it wasn’t until just before she disappeared to the wilds of Alabama that he learned why she touched things so much.

They’d been making love a long time, most of the evening, she had come more than once and he was close, so close. Her moans were soft and low, her eyes were closed, a faint smile played around her mouth as she arched and writhed against him. Her hand slid up the wall and her fingers scraped against the paint. “Mm,” she moaned, “everything feels new . . .”

He loved that. When they made love, everything was new.

*~~~~~*~~~~~*

~December 2000~

Mulder awoke with a jerk and stared blankly out the car window. The sun had started to rise while he slept, and they’d left the interstate for a wooded, winding mountain highway. He yawned to make his ears pop.

“Where are we?” he asked Krycek.

“Mountain Ridge, Alabama.”

Mulder watched the trees pass for a while. “How much further?”

“Not much. Twenty minutes.”

The needle on the spedometer crept closer to ninety, but Mulder didn’t remark on it. Considering how wrong his assumptions had been compared to Krycek’s information, he didn’t feel he had the right to criticize.

*Scully.* His hands clenched together and he willed them to relax. He’d assumed she was in the hands of the black-lunged bastard—she wasn’t. He’d assumed she was out of the country—she wasn’t. He hoped Krycek was still right about the most important thing: that she was safe and waiting for them. If she wasn’t . . .

His hands clenched again.

*Not much longer, baby. I’m coming for you. I’m bringing you home.*

Krycek said conversationally, “You two should leave the country as soon as possible.”

“Yeah.”

“You want me to get in touch with some people? Work on fake passports and funds?”

Mulder said after a moment, “We’ve got it covered. We’ve been preparing for this possibility for a while.”

“Do you have a place to go?”

“We have a starting point. Beyond that—”

“Don’t tell me. It’s better if I don’t know.”

“True,” Mulder said, looking out the window again. He worried his lower lip with his thumb. “The guys she’s with—are you sure they’ll treat her okay?”

“Yes, already. Of the two of them the only one with a record has served his time and wouldn’t hurt her now.”

“One of them has a record?”

Krycek glanced into the rearview mirror. “Manslaughter.  He served twelve years and he’s harmless. Don’t worry, Mulder. You’ll have her back in no time and you can get back to raising your mini-Mulder.”

“Daisy,” Mulder murmured, but didn’t press it. Krycek was driving fast and the road was narrow—Mulder didn’t want to distract him.

Krycek didn’t speak until they had pulled up in front of a small frame house deep in the woods, tires crunching on the loose gravel drive. “Do you remember the script? What we’re going to tell them?”

“I am a researcher for a major corporation, the top amount I am allowed to bid is three million, I am to call you Mr. Arntzen and I am not to call her by name.”

“She’ll play along. Don’t worry. Let’s go.” He got out of the car.

Mulder got out as well, and took a briefcase from him when Krycek pulled it from the trunk. He kept his pace deliberate—he had to pass for a man in no hurry, a man who could buy and sell human life without a qualm.

*Act like the smoking man,* he thought grimly.

Krycek paused before they’d gone far. “Something’s not right.” He picked up the pace, jogging up the front steps, but he stopped abruptly again at the door. The glass in the front window was broken. Krycek took his gun from the waistband of his pants and eased open the door, Mulder close behind.

At once they saw the body on the floor. Krycek holstered his gun, knelt down and turned up the young man’s face. “Sam,” he said quietly.

“You said she’d be safe.” Mulder clutched the handle of the
briefcase until it dug into his fingers. Krycek gave him a flinty glance.

“It explains why Dobson didn’t answer his phone last night. Poor Sam.” He closed Sam’s eyes and stood.

“So now what? Where is she? Who did this?”

“I don’t know much more than you do, *Fox*.” He stepped over the body and continued cautiously through the house, opening doors before entering rooms, his footfalls silent as a cat’s. Mulder put down the useless briefcase—there was nothing in it but paper, cut and bound to imitate stacks of bills—and followed the other man though the empty house.

“Paul’s not here,” Krycek said when they’re gone through every room. “He must have taken Scully somewhere.”

“So much for her being safe.”

“If she’s with Paul, she’s a lot safer than she’d be otherwise.”

“Would Paul have killed—?”

“No,” Krycek said in a soft but firm voice, going to the back door. It had been closed when the passed it, and Krycek quietly turned the knob to peer outside.

“They wouldn’t have had time to close it,” Mulder said, understanding, he hoped. “So whoever killed Sam—”

“Followed them,” Krycek murmured. “But where? The truck’s here, and Dobson’s car.”

“Do they just have the one car?”

“Yeah.”

Mulder looked around the small, plain house. There was nothing to suggest that Christmas was coming: no gifts, no lights, no tree. There were shabby, overstuffed chairs; a clean but simple kitchen, treadworn carpet, wood paneling on the walls. There was no denying it was someone’s home, but Mulder couldn’t imagine Scully being comfortable here.

But he knew she’d been here. He could smell her in the air.

There were several pictures on the paneled walls, of two sunburnt young boys playing in trees, a girl with wildflowers in her hair, their smiling parents in front a white clapboard church—and who were not, Mulder noticed, in the pictures of high school graduation for the boys and college graduation for the girl. Mulder asked, turning away from the pictures, “Do you know what’s in the woods?”

“Deer, rabbit and squirrel, but nothing dangerous, I don’t think.”

“But they don’t have an old treehouse out there, maybe? Someplace where they played when they were kids?”

Krycek stared at him for a moment, then said, “I don’t know, but we should find out.” He yanked open the back door completely and took off into the woods. Mulder had one last look around and ran after him.

*~~~~~*~~~~~*

Scully awoke with a gasp, certain Silver would be standing over her—but she was alone in the bell tower. Birds cautiously chirped in the surrounding woods. The winter sunrise was pale and watery but warm on her face. Her legs and back were achy and stiff, and her entire body felt chilled through. She longed to stand and stretch, but didn’t dare expose herself so much while she still didn’t know if she was alone.

Slipping the jacket back on, she crawled to the trapdoor and carefully opened it. She listened for several mintues before slowly climbing down into the church. The pews were empty, but she gave them a quick explore anyway to see if she could find anything that would help her: a lost phone, a pocketknife, a flagpole. She found only a heavy Bible beneath the pulpit, and another staircase leading into the church basement which held a small office, a lavoratory, and the children’s Sunday School room.

Scully tried the dusty phone on the desk, but set it down with a sigh when she heard no dailtone. She used the toilet and washed her hands and face, and drank several handfuls of water. She stretched her arms and legs, twisting her back and rotating her ankles. She wanted a shower—or better, a long, indulgent bath. Or better still, a long, indulgent bath with Mulder sitting behind her to rub her shoulders.

Daisy was doing her morning ablutions too, bumping and turning. Scully smiled and murmured, giving her belly an answering rub, “Are you as tired of this as I am, baby girl? I’m seriously thinking of walking to the highway and taking my chances there. Do you think that’s a good idea?” But she shivered, remembering the pains she’d had the night before from their walk in the wooods. Finding the highway meant walking—and more worrisome, going towards Silver, and she was in no position to do that.

That left waiting—for Paul to come or Silver to find her or the world to end, whichever came first.

Scully climbed back up to the main body of the church and sat in one of the pews. She stared at the simple pulpit, which was undecorated: no crosses, no doves, no saints or angels. Just a country church, abandonded.

God is where you seek Him, she thought, and got awkwardly onto her knees, leaning against the pew. She folded her hands together like she had as a girl and closed her eyes. She whispered, “I’m scared. I want to go home. I’m tired of being scared and I just want to be safe with my love. Tell me what to do. Tell me.”

The door banged open at the back of the church and Scully dropped herself flat against the floor. Brown thick workbooks walked slowly down the aisle, and Scully was about to lift her head and say, “Paul,” when their wearer called out, “Are you hiding here, little girl?”

Scully crawled under the pews, her mouth dry and her heart racing. Silver. Of course.

“I thought I saw a pretty thing in here . . . I’ve been looking all night for you . . .” He reached the front of the church and she saw his feet turn to face the entire church again. “No one’s coming to help you, little girl. The dummy’s dead and so is his brother.” He chuckled, pacing slowly up the aisle again. “Everybody knows about you. Everybody’s sayin’ you’re worth your weight in gold. There are more bounties out on you than I’ve ever seen. Who knows where that commie Arntzen is—fucking some piece of tail in New Orleans, last I heard. He don’t scare me. No one-armed fag is gonna beat me, girlie, so quit playing fucking games!” He overturned the pew in front of Scully and she scooted herself further away, trying to keep her body hidden underneath the pew. She was certain he could hear her panicked breathing.

But he only muttered, “Fuck,” and turned away. In a moment he spotted the doorway to the stairs and hurried to inspect the rest of the church.

Scully didn’t wait—she crawled beneath the pews to the door Silver had left open and ran down the steps, across the bridge and into the trees.

Cramps seized her and she stopped, panting and clutching her side. “Hold on, baby,” she whispered as she leaned against a tree for support. “Just a little longer for Mommy, okay? Please, baby.” Deliberately she slowed her breathing and waited for the contraction to pass.

All too soon she heard footsteps again, pounding down the path. She ducked behind the tree and crouched low to the ground, prepared to run if she had the chance. If she kept path in sight and followed it back to the house—

Two men—one more dear than life itself—came running towards her, so intent on their journey that she knew neither of them noticed her, hiding here in the leaves. She got to her feet and gasped, “Mulder!”

They stopped with comic abruptness a few yards ahead and turned. Mulder’s eyes grew wide and he smiled like he didn’t realize he was smiling. “Scully,” he whispered and then her face was in his hands and his lips were rough and relieved on hers. “Scully, Scully,” he said, and she was too overjoyed to answer him.

Krycek allowed a few minutes for their reunion then said, “Come on, we have to get going. Paul’s dead, Scully.”

“I know.” She leaned her head against Mulder’s chest, her arms around his waist. He ran his hands wonderingly over her hair and back. “Silver—the one who killed them—he’s in the church up ahead, and he said he killed them both. Krycek, he’ll follow—”

“Don’t worry about him,” Krycek said, his face going hard and blank. “I’ll take care of him. Mulder, take her back to the car. I’ll be along.”

“But, Alex—” Mulder
said, but Krycek was already stalking away.

“Go!” he said. “Just go already.”

Mulder shook his head but didn’t try to stop him again. He kissed Scully once more and they began to walk, holding onto each other. “Are you okay? Did he—did anyone hurt you?”

“I’m catching a cold,” she said, squeezing him. “I had to sleep in the open last night. I’m not hurt.”

“I have been so scared,” he confessed quietly. “I thought the black-lunged bastard had you.”

“It could have been worse,” Scully said. “It could have been a lot worse.” She had to stop, biting her lips against the cramping, and Mulder bent over her in concern.

“What is it? Are you hurting? Are you okay? Is it the baby?”

“It’s the walking.” Breath in, breath out. “It makes me have contractions. I need to go slowly.”

“Should I carry you?”

“Mulder, it’s four miles. We have to stop sometimes, that’s all.”

He embraced her, pressing his lips to her hair. “Hey—I’ve got something for you. You dropped it.” He took something from his pocket and slipped it onto her finger.

“My ring! I thought I’d lost it forever.” She smiled to see it sparkling on her finger, and she kissed him. They began walking again, Mulder’s arms tight around her. It was easier somehow, with him to lean on, and even though their pace was slow she felt she could finally relax again.

When they reached Paul’s body she had to stop. His eyes were closed. He almost looked peaceful. Scully knelt at his side and put her hand on his, which someone had folded on his chest, covering most of the bleeding. “They were kind to me, in their way,” she told Mulder, and he squeezed her shoulder. “We can’t just leave him here.”

“We’ll call the police when we reach the car—tell them where to find them. Scully . . .” He hesitated. “Krycek tells me—and I feel like I should believe him about this—that there are a lot of people looking for you and the baby. We need to get you someplace safe. Someplace far away from here.”

“Not without you,” she said, and he smiled again.

“No, not without me. Not for long.”

“Mulder,” she began.

“But if we report this and the police take you in for questioning, that may put you in more danger. I can stay, answer their questions, and Krycek can take you—”

“No.”

“Scully, will you not fight me on this, please? Your safety and the baby’s safety is the most important thing.”

“And we are not safe without you!” She got to her feet again and grapsed Mulder’s hands. “I will tell the police anything they want to know. They won’t arrest me. They would have no cause.”

“Anything official will let the people looking for you know where you are. I can’t risk it.”

She rubbed his hands and said quietly, “They have a sister. I’m not sure where she lives, somewhere two hours away. Her name is Karen. I don’t want her to spend the rest of her life wondering what happened to her brothers—God knows I couldn’t bear it, if it were me.”

Mulder bowed his head. “Okay,” he said thickly. “Okay. But I am not letting them take you away from me, not for a second. Anyone who shows up could be working against us.”

“Okay,” she said. She gave one last sorrowful look to Paul and then she and Mulder continued their journey up the path.

~Truly Madly Deeply If the Fates Allow 7~

Mulder said good night to the officers and softly shut the hotel room door. He sat down on the edge of the bed where Scully lay, asleep. She was nude beneath the blankets, her hair still damp from her long shower. Her cheeks and lips looked healthily pink, and her face had a sweet roundness that made him want to rain kisses all over her.

He had her back. He could hardly believe it. Back—but for how long, this time?

Forever, he thought, and moved his fingers through her hair. I’m never letting go again.

Scully stirred and her eyes blinked open. She smiled when she saw him. “Hey, you.”

“Hey.” He went on stroking her hair.”What a day.”

“Yeah.” Too much of a day, to his mind—too many questions and too many people who knew their names. Krycek had disappeared into the woods as soon as he heard the police were coming, leaving the car keys in Mulder’s hand. “I’ll catch up,” was all he said, and Mulder didn’t know if that meant they should wait for him here in Alabama or he’d show up at their next destination . . . wherever that might be.

She sat up and put her arms around his neck, to kiss him gently and rub her nose against his. “Now what, love?”

He stroked her arm. “Scully . . . we have to leave.”

She nodded and laid her head against his chest, sighing. “I know.”

“I have some friends overseas who’ll help us out.”

“All right.”

“Scully.” He raised her face so he could look into her eyes. “It might mean being over there for a long time. Years, Scully.”

“All right,” she said again, nodding. “Will there be enough time for me to say goodbye to my mother?”

“We can make time. And I want to make time, too, for us to get married before we leave the country. It won’t be a big wedding—”

“I don’t need a big wedding.”

“Just us and some family and friends. Will you be okay with a justice of the peace?”

“Of course.”

He kissed her forehead. Of course. Scully was nothing if not resilient. “But in the morning,” he whispered. “You need some rest.”

“Can we trust them?” She nodded towards the window.

“We’ll be all right.” There was a squad car parked outside their hotel room. Mulder thought the local police were making sure they didn’t leave, not protecting them, but he saw no need for her to know that.

Scully lay down again, trustingly, pulling Mulder with her. She pillowed her head on his arm and he watched her eyes close, her breasts slowly rise and fall as her breathing deepened. With his free hand he traced her cheekbone.”Did they hurt you?”

She smiled without opening her eyes. “No.”

“You look good.”

“So do you, baby.”

“You look bigger.” She snorted lightly and opened her eyes, and Mulder amended, “I mean, your tummy. The baby. You’re, um, bigger.”

“I know.” She took his hand and pressed it to her belly. “I need a doctor as soon as we’re settled somewhere. She moves all the time but I just need to be sure she’s okay.”

“Okay.” He circled his palm on her bulge, which felt as tight and firm as a drum. She put her hand on the back of his neck.

“Mulder,” she whispered in a tone that was hardly more than a sigh. “Are you all right with this?”

“It’s a pretty comfortable bed.”

“No, I mean, leaving. Leaving the X-Files.” She gazed at him seriously. “Leaving it all. I don’t want you to hate the baby because of all you’ve had to give up.”

“What am I giving up, Scully?” He brought his face closer to hers. “A job where I’m a joke? Lonliness and fear, for comfort and family? The world is open to us, Scully. We can go anywhere and do anything. We can start over, if that’s what we want.”

“It’s not ‘can’, it’s ‘must.’ How are we going to make a living? That’s what really worries me.”

“I have a few tricks up my sleeve.”

“Mulder . . .”

“You will never be without a roof over your head.” He hesitated, feeling her petal-like breath against his lips, and said, “There’s some . . . some blood money. It needs to be used for something pure. It needs to be used on you.”

“But, Mulder, if it’s something we shouldn’t touch—”

“My father set is aside for Samantha if she ever came back,” Mulder said quietly. “We both know she won’t. On top of that there are three houses to sell and some money they both left me and things I’ve been setting aside for the last ten years . . . I’ve always known this day would come, Scully. What I didn’t know is that you’d come with me.”

Her smile deepened. “Are you sure you want me? A cranky, pregnant trouble-magnet?”

“Sweet, beautiful and beloved,” he answered, kissing her. She sighed against his mouth, and her hand cupped the back of his
head to pull him closer.”I’ve missed you,” she whispered. “I missed you so much.”

He’d missed her too—his body was aching for her—but still, he said, “I don’t want to start anything you’re too tired to finish.”

Scully gave a little “hmph” of disappointment but moved away, to curl up against the pillows and fluff the blankets. “You’re right . . . it’s late.” A mischeivious look came into her eyes. “Do you think you can wait a few days, for our wedding night?”

“Maybe,” he said. “Maybe not.” He smiled as he kissed her good night.

He got up to take a shower and brush his teeth. Money, really, was not a worry—even if neither of them ever had an income again, they’d be comfortable. What did concern him—what made him lean his forehead against the shower tile and wonder what madness he was leading her into—was if there truly was a place they would be safe. The steppes of Siberia, a farm in Africa, an island in the Aegean? A city full of fellow expatriats, where Americans were as common as loaves of bread?

The pretty ring on her finger stood for a multitude of promises, and the greatest was that she would never be afraid again.

Mulder shoved his hands through his wet hair and turned off the shower. He toweled off quickly and got into bed, making Scully squirm. “You’re wet.”

“Sorry.” He kissed her and she chuckled, looping her arms around his neck.

“You’re forgiven.” She kissed him back.

“Hey, you know how you’re making conversation with strangers and you ask a desert island question, like what book would you take or which five CDs can’t you live without?”

“Is this going somewhere?” She smiled, running her fingernails lightly over his chest.

“We’re faced with what’s a rhetorical question for most people, but for us, it’s not. If you could go anywhere in the world, possibly for the rest of your life, where would you go?”

Her brows wrinkled for a moment, and she shook her head. “It’s too big of a question, Mulder.”

“We can go anywhere.”

“I know, and that’s why it’s too big. I want to stay near my family . . . but that family is you and Daisy now. Where would *you* go?”

“I don’t know either. I want us to start with some friends in England but after that . . .”

“Why not stay? You said you were happy there. Except for the incident of She Who Will Not Be Named,” Scully added with a teasing grin.

“I was happy there.” Thoughtful, he rested his chin on her shoulder. “Do you think you’d like it?”

“Yes. You did.”

“But it was college. This will be different—I’ll be coming back as a grown man with a family to take of, looking for a job and a quiet place to live.”

“Then what better place than among friends,” she said gently.

“England,” he said. “Oxfordshire. It won’t be anything like Miss Marple.”

“Will it be like Inspector Morse?” she teased and laughed softly when he snorted. “I don’t care, baby. I really don’t. Anywhere we go, as long as we’re together, it’s home.”

Mulder smiled again and exhaled deeply, closing his eyes. “I started the process for us to go before Krycek and I left Washington,” he murmured, fighting to keep his eyes open.

“Shh. Tomorrow.”

“Scully . . .”

“Shh. It’s all right now. Just rest, my love.”

He was going to say he wasn’t tired, but he was sleeping too deeply to speak.

*~~~~*~~~~~*

“Make it stop,” Mulder groaned, pulling a pillow over his head. Scully grumbled and burrowed deeper into the blankets, but the pounding on the door continued nonetheless. Finally Mulder pushed himself to his feet and pulled on his jeans, and said through the closed door, “What is it?”

“Open up, Agent Mulder.” There was no mistaking Skinner’s stern voice.

“Scully, put some clothes on,” Mulder said, and when she’d scrambled into the pajamas and bathrobe he’d brought for her, Mulder undid the deadbolt and the lock.

Skinner looked grim, his gun drawn. Four other agents were with him, weapons also at the ready, and before Mulder could say hello he was grabbed and shoved against the wall with his hands yanked behind his back. In a haze of shock he felt handcuffs click around his wrists and heard Scully crying out, “What are you doing? What’s going on? Walter, stop them!”

“Has he hurt you?” Skinner barked. “Are you all right, Agent Scully?”

“Yes, of course I am, let him go!”

One of the agents grabbed her when she went towards Mulder, and he shouted at the other man, “Don’t touch her!”

“He hasn’t hurt you?” Skinner said to her. “He didn’t kidnap you?”

“No, of course not!”

The room was tense and silent a moment. Skinner nodded to the agent holding Scully so he released her, and a moment later the handcuffs came off Mulder’s wrists. Scully rushed to him and at once began inspecting his head for bruises.

“What the hell is going on?” she growled at Skinner, stroking Mulder’s back as he held her and bent his head over hers.

“Wait for me outside,” Skinner told the agents, so they filed out of the room. One of them, the one who had restrained Scully, paused for one more look—but when Scully narrowed her eyes at him he quickly looked away.

“Explain this,” Scully said.

Skinner sighed, holstering his gun. “There is some question among my superiors of Agent Mulder’s involvement in your disappearance. We were given photographs that indicated he was holding you against your will.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Scully said.

“You know I was searching for her.”

“You all but disappeared too,” Skinner said. “I don’t like my agents just running off into the blue, Agent Mulder—particularly when I get word one of my agents has threatened the other.”

“Who says he threatened me?” Scully said. “Who would think that Mulder is a danger to me?”

Mulder sat down on the edge of the bed and leaned his face in his hands. Scully sat beside him, still worriedly stroking his hair. After a moment he lifted his head. “Someone wanted to lay the groundwork with you for framing me for Scully’s murder.”

“Mulder,” Skinner said, incredulous.

“It would get rid of both of us,” Mulder said. “Scully dead, me imprisoned—it would discredit our work and make taking our—” He stopped himself and took Scully’s hand.

“Then we have to get you back to Washington right away and prove that she’s unharmed. We can put her in a safe house while we investigate who you think wants Scully dead.”

“Scully won’t be safe in any federal program. She’s probably not safe in this hemisphere. I have to get her someplace where we won’t be bothered—by anyone. Even you, sir.”

Skinner said, “You have my word.”

“It’s not enough.”

Scully whispered, “Does he know?” He shook his head. She told Skinner, “I’m going to have a baby, sir. Someone thinks my baby is of extraterrestrial origin and is willing to pay a lot of money to find out if it’s true.”

Skinner sagged, suddenly looking like he’d been awake for a week. “Nothing with you two can ever be simple.”

“We’re coming home long enough to say goodbye and get married,” Mulder said. “And then we have to leave. If Scully gives birth in the states we’ll never see our child. I’m convinced of it.”

“Where will you go?”

Scully touched Mulder’s cheek and he smiled up at her briefly. “I don’t know, sir.”

Skinner rubbed his jaw a moment. “I could take Scully to meet you somewhere—anywhere.”

“No more separations,” Scully said. “Anywhere we go, we go together.”

“Are you certain it’s safe for you to travel together?”

“Safer than it would be apart.”

Slowly Skinner nodded. “When do you want to leave?”

“We should leave right away,” Mulder said, glancing at Scully, who nodded with resignation. She kissed his cheek, gathered up her clothes and went into the bathroom to change. Mulder picked up his shirt and pulled it over his head.

“Who would want her dead?” Skinner asked him, his voice low. “Who would think she’s a threat to them?”

“It’s not really having her
dead—it’s getting their hands on the baby,” Mulder said as he put on his shoes. “So few people know about the baby that they could arrange to take it and no one would know until Scully’s body was found. I wouldn’t tell anyone that you know about it, either.”

“But why? It’s just a baby.”

“I don’t know,” Mulder said as the bathroom door opened again and Scully came out. He smiled and stood, held her face in his hands and kissed her. “Ready? Do you have everything?”

“Yes. What were you talking about?”

“Theorizing. About the baby.”

“Oh. The impression I got was that they think the baby is a naturally-conceived alien-human hybrid.”

“Oh,” Skinner said faintly.

“Let’s go,” Scully said, her arm around Mulder’s waist. “I want to go home.”

~Truly Madly Deeply: If the Fates Allow 8~

Scully finished patting her face dry and hung the towel on the rack. The Pullman car bathroom was tiny and brightly lit, and no bathtub, of course. There was something soothing about the rumble of the train, though, as it sped down the tracks. She thought she would have no trouble sleeping tonight.

Mulder was certain the airports would be watched, and Scully felt flying was too risky at this stage of her pregnancy now anyway. Driving would have been far too uncomfortable—she couldn’t bear the thought of twelve hours in a car at this point—so they settled on the train. They’d driven to Birmingham, where they dropped off three of Skinner’s agents at the airport before catching the train. Skinner asked the fourth to stay with them for the journey. Additional protection, he said, was never a bad idea, but thy didn’t want to attract attention to themselves, either.

Scully thought they could be wearing t-shirts that said “Fugitives” in blinking red lights and they still wouldn’t attract attention—the train was nearly empty of other passengers, and the staff didn’t see anything amiss with three men and a woman travelling together. They’d been able to talk without fear of being listened to in the dining car, and dinner had been much more relaxed and friendly than Scully had anticipated. Still, after a day spent with strangers, she was happy to have Mulder to herself.

When she opened the bathroom door she saw that Mulder had pulled out the bed and set up the pillows, and he lay across it, reading a magazine. He was too tall for the bed—his feet were hanging off the edge even though he was mostly sitting up.

“Hey, stranger.” She sat on the bed and hauled herself back against the pillows.

“Hey.” He tossed the magazine aside. “Are you ready to sleep?”

“Not quite.” She leaned her head against his shoulder and tilted back her head so she could inhale the scent of his neck. She’d been too exhausted the night before to really enjoy being back with Mulder, but she felt much better now.

Mulder shifted so he could hold her with one arm. He kissed the top of her head. “How’s Daisy?”

“Just fine. She moves a lot.” She took his hand and laid it on her belly, moving it a few times before saying, “There—do you feel that?”

He waited a moment, then shook his head. “No—just you.” He slowly rubbed her tummy. “Hey—tomorrow’s Christmas Eve.”

“I know.”

“Anything special Santa should bring you?”

“If Santa is handing out sanctuaries, I’ll take one.” Scully put her hand on his cheek and gently kissed his neck a few times. Mulder made a surprised sound and his hand stopped moving. She glanced up at his face—his eyes were closed, his lips parted. “Are you tired?”

Mulder grunted. “Um . . . I could sleep . . . I guess . . .”

“Baby . . .” Tenderly she slipped her fingers into his hair and brought his mouth down to hers.

It was a good, long kiss—he pulled her close and kissed her deeply, his arm under her back and his other hand on her waist. She sucked and stroked his eager tongue, combing her fingers through his hair.

He pulled back from her much too soon. “Scully . . .” He kissed her lips. “Scully, if you need to rest—”

“I need to make love to you.” She ran her hands over his shirt, feeling out the muscles of his chest. “I’ve missed you so much, Mulder. I need you.” She kissed his chest and teased his nipples with her fingertips.

“Scully,” he whispered but didn’t go on, only stroking the back of her neck and breathing deeply as she continued kissing him. She pulled his shirt from his jeans and kissed his stomach, kissed his chest and his neck while she pulled off his shirt. He caught her shoulders and kissed her mouth, then slid his hands down her body to gently squeeze her breasts and start unbuttoning her pajama top. Scully got onto her knees and closed her eyes, biting her lip, as Mulder started kissing her breasts. She moaned out loud when he sucked her nipple. Her fingers clutched into his hair.

“Lie down,” he said gently, moving her from her knees to her back. “You’ll be more comfortable.”

Scully smiled, rubbing her palm against his cheek as he resumed kissing her body, but still she said, “You’re not going to start treating me like I’m breakable, are you? Because you know how that annoys me.”

“You are breakable,” he whispered. “My delicate, fragile girl and I have to take care of you.”

“Mulder.” She took his face in both her hands, lifting his head so she could look into his eyes. “Stop thinking that way right now. I’m not fragile. I’m healthy. We have to be careful about a few things but I’m not breakable. Okay? Stop thinking you’re going to hurt me.”

Mulder sighed and laid his head against her breasts. “I’ve never been with a pregnant woman before,” he said quietly.

“I know.”

“I don’t want to do anything that’ll endanger the baby or hurt you, you know, inadvertently—”

“You won’t, Mulder.”

Again he sighed, and then slowly started kissing her, just beneath her breasts. “I’m just fumbling my way through this, Scully.”

She chuckled. “Sweetheart, you’re doing fine.”

“I love you so much—I don’t want anything more to go wrong.”

Scully didn’t know how to answer that one. She hoped nothing more would go wrong too, but she couldn’t promise him nothing would.

Mulder lifted his head and she stroked his cheek with her fingertips. “Scully?”

“Kiss me,” she whispered.

He kissed her, holding the back of her head in his hand, pausing now and again to whisper that he loved her, he’d always take care of her, he’d never let anything or anyone hurt her again.

*~~~~~*~~~~~*

Ice cream. Any kind of ice cream, but preferably mint-chocolate chip. And—oh—hot fudge sauce, and almonds—

Scully sighed and lifted Mulder’s arm from her side. She sat up slowly, trying not to jostle him. Mulder slept on, dead to the world—which was, she thought, a good thing right now. He needed some peace. She went into the bathroom where she’d left her clothes and got dressed again. Just a quick exploration to see if the dining car was still open, and if it was, if they had any ice cream. Twenty mintues, she thought. Maybe I could even bring it back here.

She took the keycard from the dresser where Mulder had left it, and slipped out of the berth. There were small lights up and down the corrider, but still she had to pause a moment and regain her bearings. Was the dining car to the left or to the right? She shrugged—she’d know for certain if she came to the end of the train, either direction she chose—and started walking, to her right.

She passed a porter or two on the way, and hardly paid attention to another figure by one of the doors until he spoke in a soft, deep voice. “You shouldn’t be walking around alone, Agent Scully.”

“Agent—” What was his name again? “Doggett? What are you doing out here?”

He stepped out of the alcove and leaned against the corridor wall. “Couldn’t sleep. Are you all right? Is Agent Mulder okay?”

“He’s asleep. I had a—a craving. I’m looking for the dining car.”

“I
t’s the other direction. I’ll come with you.”

“It’s not necessary.”

“Anything could happen to you and we wouldn’t know until the train stopped in the morning.”

She wanted to argue that if anyone was following them it stood to reason they would have made their move already, but Doggett’s face had a determined look and she decided it wasn’t worth arguing about. So, she had company.

The dining car turned out to be closed but the bar was still open, and the bartender, with a wink, said he’d try to find some ice cream for her—”I can’t promise hot fudge, though.” Doggett’s order of black coffee was much easier to fill, and they sat in a booth while the bartender went into the train’s food stores.

Doggett looked out the window while they waited, sipping his coffee, and Scully studied him. Skinner, she thought, wouldn’t trust just anyone to picking up Mulder, and if he’d felt there was truly a danger he would have brought a larger number of agents with him. No, he wanted this to be a quiet operation—they might not even have official clearance. And he’d only bring men he trusted to keep it quiet.

She said, “How do you know A.D. Skinner?”

Doggett looked surprised that she’d want to talk. “We’ve run into each other a time or two.”

“So why did he bring you along?”

“I don’t know. Wanted the muscle, I guess.” He looked out the window again.

“And you didn’t mind being away from your family at Christmas?”

He didn’t answer for a moment. “My wife is Bureau too. She’s very understanding.”

“Oh—another marriage come from partners,” Scully said, unable to keep the pleased tone out of her voice. “I’m always glad to hear Mulder and I aren’t the only ones.”

“We were never partners. We met through an investigation.”

“Oh,” Scully said again. “What did Skinner tell you about why you were here?”

“Agent Scully. It’s the middle of the night and I have insomnia. I really don’t want to be interrogated.”

“I’m just trying to figure out your story, Agent Doggett.”

“No story,” he said, sipping his coffee again. “Just a guy doing a job.”

“I’m guessing you were told you’d be rescuing one of your own and arresting the other. And you don’t have any opinion on how circumstances have changed?”

He shrugged. “I don’t enough of the facts to have an opinion. You’re having a baby, right?”

“Yes.”

“And you didn’t run away to keep it from Agent Mulder—or whoever the father is?”

“Not from Mulder, no.”

He swirled his coffee cup and said, “I’m sure you know there are rumors—about the two of you, about Mulder. That he’s not . . . stable. After you disappeared last fall, people said all kinds of things that he was capable of doing. Skinner said none of it was true, but then he got these pictures, and . . . he stopped defending Mulder.”

“What kinds of pictures?”

“You, restrained. All . . .” He shifted uncomfortably. “Bound up.”

“Bound up? How?” He looked pained at the prospect of having to explain it further, and suddenly she understood. “Oh.”

“Whoever sent ’em must have downloaded ’em from some fetish site and Photoshopped your face over the girl. Some sick sh—stuff. Skinner was saying he wanted a team to look into where the pictures came from, because somebody had to have posed for ’em and if they were real . . . sick shit.” He grimaced. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay,” she murmured. “These pictures were sent to Skinner to make it appear Mulder had kidnapped me and was torturing me, right? Mulder thinks someone wanted to frame him for my murder. But I was taken before whoever sent the pictures could get ahold of me . . . were the pictures part of their plan, or in reaction to it being mucked up?”

“Who do you think is trying to kill you?”

“I’m not sure. I have an idea but nothing to prove it.” She leaned her elbows on the table and rubbed her temples.

“Excuse me?” The bartender cleared his throat. “Ma’am? I found some ice cream for you—no hot fudge, but it is mint-chocolate chip.”

“Thank you,” Scully said, lifting her head. “I really appreciate this.”

He smiled at her, put down the bowl and spoon, and went back to the bar. Scully picked up her spoon. The baby, quiet since she’d woken up, gave her a tentative prod, and Scully put her hand on her belly in response.

“Are you okay?”

“The baby’s kicking me.”

He watched her for a moment, then said, “I’m sorry about the hotel earlier. Skinner said you’d try to protect him, no matter what he’d done to you. My job was to keep you from endangering yourself further.”

“It’s okay,” Scully said quietly. “You were doing your best with the information you had.”

“I think I get it. It’s about the kid, isn’t it?” Doggett said, keeping his voice low. “That’s why you went into hiding, that’s why they’re looking for you. They want the kid. But they didn’t use a pregnant woman in the pictures, so they must not have wanted it to be common knowledge that you’re pregnant. But if they had, it would have reinforced to Skinner the danger you were supposedly in. Why would they keep it from him? Why wouldn’t they want him to know about the baby?”

“They knew I was keeping my pregnancy a secret. My own mother doesn’t know. Mulder didn’t know until two weeks ago. Mulder thinks, and I’m inclined to agree with him, that if no one knew about the baby they wouldn’t look for it when I was found.”

“They’d know as soon as you were autopsied.” He noticed the bartender watching them, and said, pitching his voice even lower, “We should drop it.”

Scully nodded and went on eating. She hadn’t figured out the theory to her satisfaction yet, but she liked bouncing her ideas off him. Mulder had just looked pained, grabbed her and kissed her a few times when she’d tried to discuss it with him earlier. It was too raw for him right now.

Agent Doggett said, after a moment more, “My wife and I haven’t been married for very long, just a little over a year. I was married before, and we had a son. He was murdered.”

“Oh my God. I’m sorry.”

Doggett nodded in acceptance, and said, “My wife—my wife now—she’s starting to drop hints about having a baby of our own. We’d talked about it before we got married, of course, and I thought I was okay with it. But now that it’s starting to get real, I’m not so sure. It’s a big ugly world, and they’re so little.” His eyes brimmed suddenly and he looked out the window again. Scully reached across the table and laid her hand gently on his. His hand twitched, and then he said, “If I had another child I’d move heaven and earth to keep him safe,” with a ferocity that made Scully realize what his wife saw in him. “So I get all of this. The running away and everything. I get it.”

“Yes,” Scully said, because she didn’t know what else to say.

He was silent a moment more, then took back his hand and wiped his eyes. “When you’re done I’ll walk you back to your berth.”

“I’m almost done,” she said, and in a few bites she was. They paid the bartender and walked back to their car in silence. Scully slid the keycard through the lock and opened the door. “Thank you, Agent Doggett.”

“Sure. No more walking around alone.”

“I won’t. Good night.”

“Good night.” He walked away, his hands in his pockets and his head high.

Scully closed the door behind her and turned on the light in the bathroom. Mulder made a sleepy sound and turned over, muttering. Scully undressed and slipped back beneath the covers, fitting herself against his body. As she knew he would, Mulder turned again to spoon her in his sleep, throwing his arm over her side. “Heaven and earth,” she whispered to him, and fell asleep holding his hand.

~Truly Madly Deeply If the Fates Allow 9~

“I’m back,” Mulder said, lightly rapping his knuckles on the bathroom door.

“Come in,” Scully said, so he opened the door and entered the small room, which was heavy with steam and the scent of soap. Her hair was still wrapped up in a towel, and she l
eaned awkwardly over the counter to brush mascara into her eyelashes. A knit dress in winter-white hung from a hanger on a hook on the door. It was borrowed from her sister-in-law, who was also expecting though further along, because Scully had nothing appropriate and there was no time to shop.

“I found the shoes you wanted.” He set them on the counter. “And I brought a suit.”

“Thanks.” She blinked her eyes at herself and moved onto a small bottle of foundation, shaking the liquid onto a sponge and dabbing it onto her skin.

Mulder knew he should leave her to these feminine preparations, but he made no move to go—instead folding his arms and leaning against the counter to watch. He loved the way she looked without makeup, but this ritual fascinated him too. “Don’t cover the freckles,” he murmured, and she glanced at him and smiled.

“Do you want to take a shower or shave?”

He rubbed his jaw. He *had* shaved that morning, but maybe he should be smooth anyway. “Do you want me to shave?”

“I don’t mind the five o’clock shadow. It’s up to you.”

“I’d have to borrow a razor from one of your brothers.”

“Maybe not, then.” She sighed. “Mulder, where are we going to sleep tonight? There’s no room here and if neither of our apartments are safe—”

“Skinner offered his place. I wanted to talk to you before accepting. I’m not sure it would be any safer than your apartment or mine.”

Her voice dropped to a whisper. “Do you think he’s being watched too?”

“I think every place we’ve ever been is being watched. But I think we should accept. It’s better than a hotel, and I don’t know how much luck we’d have finding a hotel room on Christmas Eve.”

Scully nodded, put down the bottle of base and picked up an eyeliner pencil. Mulder tilted his head, watching her try to lean closer to the mirror over her tummy, and said quietly, “You deserve better than this.”

“Better than what?” she said absently.

“Better than a ramshackle wedding in a borrowed dress. It’s not exactly the wedding of your girlhood dreams.”

She smiled and looked at him straight on, reached for his hand and squeezed it tightly when he gave it. “I have the thing that matters most.”

He couldn’t help himself: “Watered-down punch?”

“No, that would be the thing you need most for a cheap high school prom.” She let go of his hand but stepped close to him, her round belly peeping between the edges of the towel wrapped around her body, and gave him a quick kiss. “Do you want the shower?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Then let me prepare in peace, please. I’d like to give you one surprise today.”

“You mean aside from agreeing to this madness?” Mulder said, but left the bathroom anyway and closed the door behind him. He ran his hand through his hair, wondering how to pass the next hour until the justice of the peace arrived. He was no one’s favorite person right now. Mrs. Scully was furious at him for keeping the pregnancy from her, and taking away her daughter and grandchild in one fell swoop, Charlie was following his mother’s lead, and Bill—well, Bill had never liked him and Mulder had no hope of him starting now. If he knew someone had gotten Samantha pregnant and kidnapped, he’d be looking to crack some heads too.

Her sisters-in-law were slightly more sympathetic, at least. Maybe he’d go talk to one of them for a while.

He started down the hall and heard Matthew’s piping voice through an open door: “Why pretty dress, Mommy?”

“Because Auntie Dana is getting married, honey.”

“Marr-weed,” Matthew said.

“Married,” Tara said gently. “That’s right.”

“Why?”

“That’s what I’d like to know,” Bill rumbled. “He’s taking her off to who-knows-where for who-knows-how-long to have this kid, and for what? Why all the secrecy and the hiding? Something’s not right about this.”

“Why?” said Matthew again. “Why?”

“Because she loves him,” Tara said. “She finds him worthwhile.”

“Dana has never dated a guy who deserved her.”

“All brothers think that.”

“Why?” Matthew insisted. “Why why why?”

“Because because because because!” Bill said, and Mulder heard the boy screech with laughter. When Matthew had calmed down a bit Bill said, “What do you mean, all brothers think that?”

“I mean, my brothers didn’t like you, either. They didn’t want you dragging me off to who-knows-where for who-knows-how-long, even if it is part of being a military wife.”

“That’s different. Besides, how can we be sure he’s marrying her for the right reasons, not just because he knocked—you know.”

Tara sighed and said, “Just look at them, Billy. Look at the way his eyes follow her. You have nothing to worry about.”

“I don’t like all this secrecy.”

“They say they have a reason.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Zip me?” Tara said, and their conversation moved on to other things.

Mulder exhaled and closed his eyes, and continued downstairs. He needed a drink—and maybe a jog around the block.

In the kitchen, Mrs. Scully was frosting the wedding cake. When he’d left to get extra clothes from their apartments, Scully had been telling her mother they didn’t need a cake, but obviously she’d lost that argument. It was just a round chocolate cake made from a boxed mix, but Mrs. Scully had made cream cheese frosting from scratch and had a bottle of red, green and white jimmies out to finish decorating.

“You can use my bedroom to change, if you like,” she said. “And I’ve sent Charlie for some champagne.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Scully.” He got a glass from the cupboard and poured some water from a pitcher in the refrigerator. He drank a few gulps, leaning against the sink. “Thank you for everything. Putting all of this together so quickly—”

Mrs. Scully put down her spatula and said, not looking at him, “I am doing this for my daughter. Not because it’s right or even necessary. You’ve done enough to her. But she wants this and I’m tired of arguing with her.” She resumed frosting the cake, her hand trembling.

Mulder inhaled and put down the glass. “Mrs. Scully,” he said hoarsely, and cleared his throat. “Mrs. Scully—”

“Someday you’re going to come to me to tell me that she’s dead. I know it in my heart.”

“I’d die first,” Mulder whispered. “I’d die before I let anything—anyone—hurt her again.”

“You keep saying that, and she keeps getting hurt! How much is a mother supposed to take! And now my grandchild—” She stopped speaking, getting control of herself with visible effort. After a moment she said calmly, “Mr. Mulder. She’ll always be my baby girl. Someday you’ll understand.”

“I already understand,” Mulder said quietly and left the kitchen.

He stopped himself at the front hall closet, pressing his palms against the door. He took deep breaths, trying to calm himself down. He wanted to run—run fast and run far, as far away from Scully as he could get. He loved her—with all his heart he loved her—but he’d told Mrs. Scully the truth. He did understand. He’d move heaven and earth to keep his child safe, even if that meant leaving.

After a moment he realized Skinner, Doggett and Charlie were talking in the next room—or had been talking until he interupted them. “Mulder,” Skinner said, standing. “Shouldn’t you be getting ready for the wedding? The justice should be here soon.”

“I need a minute,” he muttered. If he left, even if she understood, Scully would never forgive him. Promising to protect her meant protecing her from all pain, even pain he could cause himself. He wanted this—he wanted to give a name to the bond between them. He wanted to hold the child, to feel her little beating heart and squirming limbs. He wanted the dream. He wanted the promise. He wanted to wake up next to Scully every day for the rest of his life.

He couldn’t leave.

He couldn’t stay.

“I have to talk to Scully,” he said to Skinner, who was standing beside him, looking worried. He bounded up the stairs to the bathroom where Scul
ly was still primping. He banged on the door with his palm, and Scully opened it. She was still wearing just a towel, and her hair was dry and curling around her face.

“Mulder? Love, what is it? Is something wrong?”

“Do you love me?”

“Of course I do.” She stroked his face with her hands, pushing back his hair and smoothing the worry lines. “I love you so much, sweetheart. What’s happened?”

“What if they’re all right—even Krycek—what if we’re really safer apart? What if they can find you too easily because of me?”

Her face grew serious. “They’re not,” she said simply. “They don’t understand, Mulder. They don’t understand *us.* They don’t understand who we are when we’re together—and how empty we are when we’re apart.” She slipped her arms around his neck and whispered to him as he bent over her, “You’re more than my love. You’re my soul.”

Mulder was crying and he knew it, but he only pressed his face against her neck and held her tight. She kissed him and wiped his face. “Don’t doubt me,” she whispered. “Don’t doubt yourself.”

“Okay,” he whispered. “Maybe this is just cold feet.”

She chuckled, kissed him again and stepped back. “Go get ready,” she said gently. “I want to marry you today.”

“I want to marry you today too,” he said with another kiss, and then went to change his clothes.

*~~~~~*~~~~~*

There was no processional, no organ playing Bach, no parade of old roommates and cousins in formalwear, no tiny child carefully dropping rose petals to guide the way. No white satin and lace, no tuxedos, no veil, no orange blossoms, no pearls. There would be no reception afterwards, no elaborate meal, no Dollar Dance or Funky Chicken.

A few minutes before the ceremony was to begin, Scully tugged off her engagement ring and gave it to Mulder to use for her wedding band. She had no ring for him, but they had already decided they would buy formal bands later. Just as they were taking their places before the judge, Skinner pressed something into Scully’s hand. “My old ring,” he whispered. “Use it with my blessing.”

So they were married, quietly and simply, in a ceremony that took less than ten minutes but still brought tears to Scully’s eyes and made Mulder’s voice break as he repeated the vows. You, he thought as she stroked his hand. Only you.

Cake was eaten and champagne drunk, the justice paid and kisses given to friends and family alike as they said goodbye. “You won’t be here for Christmas?” Mrs. Scully said, faint disapproval returning to her eyes.

“I think we need to be alone tomorrow,” Scully said, and her mother sighed in acceptance.

Skinner was their rescuer yet again: he took them to his apartment, told them to help themselves to anything, and he would be home from his sister’s on the twenty-sixth.

When the door had closed behind Skinner, Mulder put down the suitcase that had all their earthly possessions and loosened his tie. He cleared his throat uncomfortably. “Do you, uh, need a few minutes?”

Scully eased herself onto the sofa and toed off her shoes. “No.” She smiled at him mischieviously. “Do you?”

“Maybe a minute or two,” he muttered, slowly drawing his tie from the collar.

“Do you want to tell me what happened earlier?” She leaned back into the soft sofa and held out her hands to him.

He sighed and came over to kneel in front of her. Scully cupped his face in her hands. “I . . . I just get so scared.” He laid his head on her knees, exhaling slowly as she stroked his hair and face. “I love you so much. I love this baby. I have to do the right thing—I just don’t know what it is. I thought I did . . .”

“We’ve done the right thing, baby. We’re doing what’s right.”

He raised his head and smiled at her. “Yeah. I hope so.”

“Mulder . . . let’s go to bed. Okay?”

Mulder got ot his feet and helped her stand. “Okay.”

She walked a few paces ahead of him, removing her earrings, quiet in her stocking feet. She led him to Skinner’s bedroom and drew down the shades to block out the lowering midwinter sun.

It was silly to be awed, Mulder thought—they had made love dozens of times, he was as familiar with her body as he was with his own. But when he unzipped her dress, the skin on her back felt like velvet—her hair smelled peachy and sweet—she made tiny sounds in her throat as he stroked her that caused the blood to pound in his ears.

When she turned to him, her skin pearly in the semigloom, he had to close her eyes and lean his forehead against her a moment. She was too much—too beautiful, too trusting, so delicious he wanted to swoop his finger through her and lick off the cream.

He chuckled at the mental image and she whispered, “What?”

“Oh—just, me being me. Nothin’. Do you need anything, some water, anything?”

She kissed him, rubbing her hands up and down his face. “Just you,” she whispered and stepped back, drawing her hand tantalizingly down his arm until they lost touch, and shrugged her shoulders to let the straps of her slip fall. A twitch of her hips and a flick of her hand and she stood before him in bra and panties, round and tempting. Her eyes looked huge and deep. “Take off your clothes, Mulder.”

Mulder hastily began unbuttoning his shirt. Okay, he thought. Okay. Self-doubt had its place, but when a beautiful woman who is your brand-spankin’-new wife tells you to take off your clothes with *that* look in her eyes? You do it. There’s plenty of time for doubting later.

Meantime she had pulled back the sheets and peeled off her underwear. She crawled onto the bed and made herself comfortable against the pillows, smiling as she watched him fumble out of his clothes. “I know,” Mulder muttered. “More physical comedy than ‘A Night At the Opera.'”

“I love you because you make me laugh,” she said sweetly, and Mulder did laugh as he slid, naked at last, across the sheets to join her. They kissed as if their last kiss was much more than a few minutes ago, a kiss that left them both breathless and trembling.

“You’ve lost weight,” Scully reproved, gently scratching her fingernails over his stomach.

“Too busy to eat.” He traced the lines of her ear with his tongue and suckled her earlobe.

“Put some weight on you, love . . . mm . . . keep my company when I’m nine months along and big as a house.”

“I will get roly-poly if that’s what you want.” He put his hand between her legs. “Daily helpings of this will help.”

Scully laughed and pushed her hips against his hand. “Yes, please,” she said simply, raising her knees and opening her legs, but she grabbed him by the neck and brought him in for one more good, long kiss before letting him move down her body.

She’d been right, Mulder thought, to wait a few days before having sex again—a little denial went a long way. She was already wet for him, her thigh muscles tensing beneath his hands. Her breath slowed in anticipation as Mulder softly blew aside her heavy curls, and her hand thrust into his hair.

Gods above and below, he loved the taste of her. She was tang and sweetness and smoke, dark as a secret, hot and slick. He played with her, avoiding her clitoris in favor of the creases of her thighs, her damp labia—circling her little opening and then plunging in to fuck her with his tongue. The response from Scully was exactly what he wanted: a startled shout and then a soft, happy, “Oh, oh, that’s . . . oh . . .” Mulder looked up at her: her eyes were closed, her neck was arched, a pulse was beating in her throat as she waited for him to continue. Her hands clutched at the sheets. Her feet rubbed against his sides.

He pushed her legs further apart, opening her to him entirely. Her clitoris was plump and wet, just begging to be tongued and sucked. Mulder lowered his head and blew a long breath of hot air, getting a low moan in return. He breathed in her scents of arousal and perspiration and hot, wet skin, burying his nose in her, and then opened his mouth to give her clit a deep, long stroke w
ith his tongue. Scully groaned, her fingernails digging into his scalp. He answered with more long licks, coating his tongue with her juices. The rhythm of her hips increased from languid to insistent, nails of both hands now scraping over his head. Her head tossed back and forth on the pillows. She was enjoying it entirely, and he loved it—he loved pleasing her, loved to make her moan and writhe and gasp his name.

When her happy sighs had eased into deep breaths again, Mulder lay his side, propping his head on his hand. She smiled at him, her eyes half-closed. “Pretty nice, mister,” she murmured.

“Think so? It’s my first time.” He grinned at her. She laughed, laid her hand on his cheek, and rolled onto her side to look him in the eyes. She kissed him, cleaning his mouth thoroughly with her tongue. Her hand glided down his body, touching the pulse in his neck, above his pounding heart, his trembling stomach and finally wrapping around his cock.

“I seem to recall this . . . seems like a lifetime ago,” she murmured. She stroked his length and he groaned. “Instead of just two weeks, give or take . . .”

Mulder wrapped his hand around hers, stilling it. “What’s the best way to do this? How will you be most comfortable?”

“Like this—this will work.” She hooked a leg over his hip and wrapped her arms around his chest. “Gently.”

“Gently,” he repeated in a whisper, “gently, gently . . .” He guided his cock into her, where she was wet and tight and welcoming. She always felt so *good*, just *good*—not just pleasurable but like something right.

He cupped her face in his hand. “Look at me.” Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled. “Oh, God, Scully, you’re so beautiful . . .” Her smile deepened and she rubbed her cheek against his hand. “I love you—do you believe me? Do you know?”

“I know. I believe you. I know.” She kissed his hand. “I love you, I love you too.”

He brought her mouth to his and kissed her deeply. He thought, I’m going to miss you.

*~~~~~*~~~~~*

Mulder left her sleeping, curled like a kitten in the center of the big bed. He picked up his pants and shoes, and brought them out to the living room to get dressed there. He took a piece of paper and a pen from Skinner’s desk, and sat down. Dear Scully, he thought. No, Beloved Scully. Darling Scully? Dearest Dana? He grimaced and just wrote, “Scully,” but couldn’t find any words to follow it. He thought, Scully, I’m leaving you because this is the best thing for you and the baby. No. Scully, please don’t hate me. No, no. Scully, try to understand. No.

His gaze wandered over the desk: books, a framed reproduction of an old map, a photograph of a young Skinner in his Marine dress uniform, a photograph of Skinner and his wife on their wedding day. Mulder stood so he could take the picture from its shelf. He knew that by the time this was taken Skinner had seen not only action but death in Vietnam—that he had already been deeply scarred by the horrors of that war.

But still, he had taken this woman and promised her his love, his heart and his future. It had not ended well—Mulder knew little of the details except that she had died—but Skinner had kept the picture. And Skinner had kept the ring.

Mulder set the picture down and twisted the ring on his finger. No. No. He could not do this. He could *not* do this. He had sought the truth all of his life—he could not leave her with a lie. He could not make a lie of everything he’d told her since he first admitted his love.

He crumpled the paper and dropped it in the trash, and rubbed his shaking hand over his face. He went into the kitchen and poured two glasses of water, and brought them both back to the bedroom. He sat on the edge of the bed. “Hey, Scully.”

“Hm?” She stretched her arms and smiled at him sleepily. “Can’t sleep?”

“I wanted some water. Are you thirsty?” He handed her a glass and she drank gratefully. He drank too, settling back on the mattress beside her. He touched her free hand with his finger. “Hey.”

“Hey.” She studied his face a moment, then said, “This is the right thing, Mulder. It is.”

He kissed her. Her mouth was cool the water but warmed up from his tongue. She gasped and moaned softly, wrapping his arms around her neck. He ended the kiss and laid his head on her shoulder. As she stroked his face and hair and kissed his forehead, he closed his eyes and whispered, “I know.”

end part III

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