Author: Char Chaffin
Category: Mulder/Scully Romance, MS/Skinner Friendship, Angst
Rating: NC-17, for Just About Everything: Violence, Language, Adult Situations -
If you are Underage, Bail Now!! This story deals frankly with intense sexual situations and has scenes of a frank and violent nature.
Feedback: GOD, yes! I'd beg, but it's so undignified (please please please)
Distribution: Sure, Just Ask!
Spoilers: Tiny ones, for "FTF", "Chinga", "The Red & the Black", "War of the Coprohages", "
Humbug", "The Host", "Arcadia"
Disclaimer: I want them, but I can't have them…
Summary: If you had your memories torn away from you… the very essence of what made you human… what would you become? Mulder and Scully are about to find out…

With thanks to: Two incredible authors, Hillary (Foxsong) and Hester (Stormlantern), who offered advice, ideas, encouragement, and a lot of friendship during the writing of this… I couldn't have done it without them…


The "Eden" Series

Part 1: The Other Side of Eden


The jungle floor was damp and slimy with the recent storm, giant ferns trembling with the lingering breezes which had carried the worst of the bad weather further north. The fat drops of rainwater flicked from the whorls of the fern's petals dripped into his swollen face, bringing him into a stinging awareness of being alive; of being alive and very sore and aching, everywhere all over his body. Slowly his eyes opened; slowly he looked around, in shock at the unfamiliar landscape, numb with the cold and the wet moss clinging to him. Half-covered with rotting leaves and broken palm fronds - instinctively he'd burrowed into them during a semi-conscious moment, needing some kind of warmth and protection from the biting storm. It hadn't helped - his naked form shivered violently, teeth chattered uncontrollably, arms tight around himself, curled into a fetal ball. As if from a great distance he heard his own keening moan of pain and terror. There was no realization of how to get warm. There wasn't a knowledge of what could produce heat. At that moment, he knew nothing of what surrounded him; wet and nasty to the touch - but he didn't understand what it was.

He didn't understand what he was…

** Chapter One **

The man in the huge, four-poster bed was having a nightmare.

In his REM fantasy, he was standing over the woman, staring intently at her slumped, bound form there in the straight-backed chair. The harsh light overhead threw into stark shadows the bruised face and swollen jaw, the broken nose. Eyes half-closed with pain and utter exhaustion, still she managed to exude the aura of impenetrable strength, of force of will. Half his mind admired her - half his mind despised her, for in her defeatless defeat, she was the better person; better than he could ever have hoped to be - better than he was on the day of his birth… and that knowledge burned like the worst kind of poisonous gall, deep inside him.

In his nightmare, he saw again his rough tugging of her hair, how he wound it around a fist and pulled her head up with a mean jerk, up until he could look into her damaged face… her unblinking blue gaze. The expression of quiet superiority in those wide orbs had unmanned him in the worst possible way. He saw again his other hand, drawn back as if to hit her once more - and in his nightmare, the flames which shot from her amazing eyes found their mark deep in his soul and shredded him from the inside out… the overwhelming pain of it caused him to drop her hair, loose her head from its bondage, as he doubled over in agony and screamed hoarsely in his native tongue…a language he hadn't used in years and years… and her suddenly serene and calm blue eyes smiled slightly in tandem with her still-unmarked mouth…

The man awoke with the sound of his hoarsely-feeble screams still smoking in his ears and the wet dampness of his own loosened bladder staining his pajama bottoms; tears rolling down his cheeks… gasping for air. And he knew with chilling lucidity the inevitability of future nightmares just as vividly abounding.

** Chapter Two **

Mid-morning in the jungle… when he awoke again the sun beat down in a hot stream which at once soothed his aches and made him scratch at the dried mud on his legs. With a grunt of effort, he rolled to a crouching position, eyes darting everywhere, looking for anything familiar to him… finding nothing. He slowly unfurled his body to its full length, cautiously stretching his cramped muscles… aware of the need to relieve himself - somehow remembering how. Without bothering to aim, he wrapped a hand around himself and let loose into the earth below, shuddering as the last of it was expelled. He swung a sharp gaze around, still rubbing at himself; it felt good to him, although he had no awareness of why it should. He tried a few steps on still-shaky legs; found himself on a wide stretch of white beach, although he didn't know what the fine warm stuff between his toes could possibly be. He sniffed the air; something alive out there; something unpleasant-smelling, although the smell attracted him and made his belly churn with hunger… he knew hunger but not the why of it. He walked toward the smell, there at the water's edge; looked down. Odd-looking crawling things; mottled blue and green. He didn't know green; didn't know mottled. Didn't know hurt, as he reached out a hand to grasp it and a large pinching claw caught his palm. He yelled, a wordless sound, and angrily stomped at the thing until he'd made it stop moving. Then he picked it up again, turning it in his hands, sniffing at it, the hunger intensifying until with a snap of strong teeth he'd found a place to pierce and he fed. It was not good - although he still wasn't sure of good. It filled an empty place inside him and that's all he cared about, for the moment.

Hidden in the deep fronds of fern and short palmettos, she watched the tall being as he crammed into his mouth the hurting crawly he had picked up. She knew it hurt because she had tried to pick one up earlier that morning, and it had hurt her. She didn't know hurt, except it made her open her mouth and force a mewling from her throat. The sound had scared her and she'd dropped the crawly and run into the fronds. Her belly ached with hunger - but yet she didn't know hunger. Her face was cut and swollen, lips sore, nose healing crookedly, once broken. She didn't know broken. It was pain, but she didn't know that; only knew she didn't like it, was distressed by it. She huddled herself into a small folded shape and watched the tall being throw away the crawly remains; heard him belch; saw him scratch at himself. With unsure, cautious fingers she imitated his act; closed her eyes in relief at the feel of her torn fingernails easing the itch of her enflamed skin, covered with tiny insect bites. She scratched harder, digging into her arms, her flanks; a low rusted sound of contentment radiating from her throat. She laid down on the shadowed, cool moss and scratched herself to sleep. And as she dozed, she felt no immediate fear of the tall being. A sense of comfort radiated from him… although she couldn't grasp the concept of comfort.

The heat of the sand on the beach intensified in the late afternoon, forcing him to seek a cooler place. He didn't understand cooler - but he knew that under the shelter of a palmetto tree the burn on his body went away and he was slowly learning, remembering what each new experience felt like; what it taught him. He spent most of the remainder of the day watching the small monkeys which zipped from tree to tree and chattered endlessly; watched bright parrots flitting at the tops of the tallest palms; they made a noise which grated on his nerves. He didn't know nerves… but he knew something made him not feel good… and he had already figured out good. He rubbed himself again, remembering the good of it. The rubbing was making him hard. He wasn't able to comprehend the science involved in what was happening to his body - any more than he was able to understand the blinding, sudden good as he rubbed himself into a state of climax which shot his fluids into the jungle moss much the same as that other wet stuff he'd gotten rid of, hours ago. Except this wet stuff was good when it came out. He would remember that feeling… he would do it again. He curled himself into the palm fronds and fell asleep.

She wandered along the inner island paths, rough trails made by other larger mammals than she… perhaps more dangerous - but she didn't yet know fear. She was thirsty - her throat burned and her face ached intolerably from the sun and the insect bites. He skin was burned in places, scratched raw in others. Coming across a fresh-water stream, she plunged into it head-first, mouth open, gasping for the clear liquid… letting it wash over her mouth and down her parched throat with a moan of pleasure. She drank and drank, until she was overfull; until she heaved up all the water she'd absorbed. Weak, but still thirsty, she drank again - and vomited again - several more times, until she was clean inside, and her belly stopped moving. Reaching out in the water, she caught a small golden fish in her hands, and sniffed it a few times before popping it, live, into her mouth. Chewing… spitting out scales… it was not good, but it made her belly feel better. She had already grasped the concept of making her belly good. She had already figured out good. Scratching was good. Sitting in the water was good. She would remember good. She hunted around for more of the squirmy little wet things. The sun continued to beat down on the little island; the breeze blew softly.

** Chapter Three **

In his lab, the man who had nightmares popped four more antacid tablets into his mouth and chewed hastily, needing to get them down into his stomach where they would hopefully afford him some relief. He stood at the big metal sink, gulping tepid water, trying not to dwell on the horrid dream of the night before. He tried to be realistic about the experience - tried to tell himself it was just because his unconscious attraction to the woman had made him feel the guilt which in turn triggered the dream. During her interrogation, it had taken all his concentration not to reach out to her, to unfasten the electrodes monitoring her responses to the drugs, the shocks - to take her into a back room and ravish her, over and over again, until she felt for him the enormity of what he was beginning to feel, for her. He had never met a woman so determined, so innately strong - so overwhelmingly powerful. He had only performed this procedure on one other woman, and she had collapsed into a heap of weak, blubbering hysteria within one minute of his application of the shocks. He hadn't even gotten a chance to try out the serum. He'd turned away in utter disgust, signaling to the silent hulk of an assistant hovering nearby to take her out of his sight. A real waste of time - she'd had very little viable information to impart…

But this deceptively delicate woman… ah, there was a treasure trove of wondrous items of worth, to him and to the organization he supported. If he could have gotten access, he could have named his own ticket with his peers and superiors. But he was denied the chance to learn her vast knowledge; she'd somehow thwarted him. And in his absolute fury at her strength, he'd lashed out at her in the most heinous of methods… so controversial it hadn't been perfected on a human yet; so diabolically exact in its method of cleansing that not one shred of awareness would be left behind. Before the actual procedure, he'd vented out some of his spiraling hatred by maiming and marring her lovely face, displacing the beauty with ugly blue-green swellings. She hadn't made a sound through any of it. That unbelievable solidity of being, that superiority of hers, drove out any lingering pockets of lust from his body and he suddenly found himself freed from the desire, freed from the craving of her soft white skin. And freed from the nagging uneasiness of subjecting her, using her, as a human lab rat for his serum. A temporary reprieve, unfortunately… because now he regretted… now he chewed the proverbial nails… now he sensed the terrible turn his once-charmed life had taken. And the man was very afraid.

** Chapter Four **

It had been light and then dark two times before he first spotted her.

He had been afraid of the dark at first, when it had crept over the sand and the palms, quieting the chattering monkeys in the trees and heralding a whole new range of odd animal sounds. He'd found a burying place, there in the moss and fronds, and had shuddered all night, finding some small respite from the fear by rubbing at himself, and bringing on again that deep good. It had helped, so he'd done it several times, finding through experimenting on himself a way to twist his fingers, to move his palm, to give himself more good each time he did it. He'd finally fallen asleep in exhaustion, only waking when the loud monkeys started in again. And his belly hurt, and he was thirsty, and his bladder full. He'd found himself already falling into a sort of routine, where he woke, and stood and stretched and scratched and urinated and rubbed and did the good on himself, and then went in search of some food. He'd eaten slugs, bugs, small squiggly squid-looking things… leaves full of moisture, odd-colored lumpy fruit hanging in abundance from certain trees. He'd vomited every day, sometimes a couple of times a day… each time managing to remember which eaten thing had made him feel so unbelievably not good… and he'd stayed away from it thereafter. Some things tasted nasty and he'd wanted to spit them out, but somehow he knew he needed the fullness in his belly, so he'd forced himself to swallow. Some things were good, and these he gorged himself with, almost making himself sick from the good of it. He was able, by the third day, to achieve some sort of balance. A feeling came over him… if he'd had enough awareness of self, he would have recognized the feeling as pride.

He was crawling through the jungle on all fours, searching for grubs - they had been one of the good things - when he saw her, on the beach, feet sifting through the sand, searching for whatever she could find to eat. He dropped onto his naked ass in shock, staring at her half in fear, half in fascination. A tremor of knowing came over him, intense and scary; he didn't understand why. Her smell came wafting to him, and he shuddered anew at the familiarity of it; the nuance of heat and musk and some undefined thing which pulled at him, down there where he rubbed at that part of himself which got so hard and big. He still couldn't grasp why it got big, but then he still didn't know big. All he knew was that for some reason, her scent was making him hot and tight there… and he wasn't even rubbing it. He looked down at himself, dumbfounded. He looked up at her. She had not seen him yet; still hidden in the fronds, sitting very still. She dropped to her knees suddenly, poking at something in the sand, obviously finding a morsel of food, chasing it with a couple of fingers - and her perfect, rounded cheeks and smooth back presented itself in his vicinity of view - knees apart, steadying herself in the slippery sand - and something in her posture zapped a message to his brain, triggering a primitive sense of need… and he very quietly slipped through the silent moss on all fours, angling behind her, out of her side vision… getting closer, the scent becoming stronger… more necessary… until without a sound, fast as lightning, he leapt upon her back and knocked her to the sand, body pressing all the air out of her lungs. He pinned her, there on the beach, chest and flanks tight against her, instinctively wriggling between her legs, finding with hidden radar the soft open spot at the juncture of her thighs… figuring out in a moment of awkward movement where to put himself, his hardness… pressing it with unerring aim, deep into her body. Throughout the few minutes it had taken for him to impale her, she had not shown any surprise, or any fear… she had not fought him. She had remained still and poised, not assisting him but not resisting either - as if she knew his actions were the correct, natural procedural destination of her day. He buried his mouth against the tender back of her neck and began to move inside her, not sure why he knew how to move but understanding the incredible good of it. She pressed her neck into his mouth and let him discover the good. His hands moved to her breasts and he held onto them as he pushed harder, blindingly fast now, deeper, stronger. Her small body shuddered beneath him, so frail but more than able to sustain his use. She couldn't breathe; had forgotten her hunger; felt the sand grinding into her knees and her elbows. It didn't matter. The good was the only important issue, and she keened low in her throat from it, but before she could understand how good it could be for her, he suddenly stiffened, then shook violently over her and groaned out a huge bellow which pulsed in her little ear, and she felt the thick wetness within her, and the pumping of that hard thing he'd put inside her. And she smiled, even though she hadn't gotten a chance to get the good of it. He collapsed upon her, shoving her face down into the sand, the sun beating hot on his back; she turned her head before she hit the sand and avoided getting a mouthful of it. They lay in the same position, both still winded, gasping for breath. He didn't want to move; didn't want to remove himself from inside her. An image came to him then, of a reason for his mouth to be of use other than the opening to his belly; he pressed his lips to her neck; to her soft cheek within reach; to her ear. He liked it, for her skin was warm and comforting to him. There in the full sunlight, they both slept, still connected, front to back.

A chill breeze, slipping over her exposed body, awoke her and she opened one eye, focusing in blurry drowsiness the setting sun, feeling the sand almost cold beneath her. She had been dreaming, although she didn't know what dreams were. She had seen odd shapes behind her closed lids as she slept; vague forms at once familiar yet at the same time frightening to her; then a sound from one of the shapes; a sound she knew; coming from the same kind of opening in the shape which she could feel, there on her face… she had awoken with her fingers in her mouth, probing at her tongue. She didn't know why a sound would come out from there.

The warm body which had covered her all during her nap had vanished, and she slowly rose to sit in the white sand, looking all around for him, the tall being who had come upon her and had put himself into her and had given her a lot of good. She missed him, although she still didn't know miss. She wanted… wanted him to come back; wanted him to lay upon her and put his hard part inside her again… wanted that wet good deep within. So she laid a cheek on her bent knees, and waited. She didn't have to wait long… from between the deeper fronds, there in the soft sunset dusk, he moved toward her, holding several odd-shaped things in his hands. His gaze fastened on hers, intense, never wavering, as he drew closer and closer, finally reaching her side and laying upon the sand at her feet an assortment of food which he'd been gathering. She broke her locked eye contact reluctantly, only long enough to see what he'd laid before her. Several large, lumpy pieces of fruit, a handful of moist leaves, on which crawled a handful of fat grubs… a long skinny curved food the same color as the sun above them… he dropped to his knees before her and picked up the largest grub, offering it to her. She held his gaze, expression just as serious as his, slowly reaching out her open mouth, rather like a baby bird; he placed the grub onto her pink tongue, fingers lightly touching her bottom lip; not sure why it was important to feed her first, giving her the choicest pieces of food… just knowing it was the right thing to do. He was slowly learning the right of things; this was one of them. This was a good thing. She chewed; smiling at the taste, the texture of the offering. She put out a hand and hefted the sun-colored long thing, eyeing it curiously, sniffing at it, knowing somehow that the better food lay beneath the outer layer. With her little fingers she tore at the outer until she uncovered the inner; broke off a piece and put it against his lips, pushing it lightly into his mouth, smiling when the sweetness of the food teased at his tongue and he grinned in delight. She bit into the food and her reaction mirrored his. They sat in the cool sand, under a darkening sky, still-warm breeze floating over their skin, enjoying a veritable feast… enjoying the being, each with the other. They didn't know lonely… but they didn't feel it, either - not alone, together.

** Chapter Five **

"We're getting closer to him, Sir… or at least, in knowing where to zero in our search." The young agent standing in front of the cluttered desk laid a thick sheaf of papers down on the clearest spot, and stood back, waiting.

AD Walter Skinner, visibly exhausted but stoic as ever, briefly rubbed at his tired eyes before replacing the spectacles on his nose and opening the sheaf to flip through the top papers. The first several sheets were actually an earlier report which he'd already practically memorized - but he didn't reprimand Agent Halliday for his repetitiveness - he knew how hard the young agent had been working lately trying to piece together the impossible; to help all he could in the ongoing search for Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Without even glancing at his calendar, Skinner knew they'd been missing for exactly two months, sixteen days and twenty hours. Every precaution had been taken, every possibly bad scenario planned for… their covers had been perfect. It was inconceivable to Skinner how so much could have gone wrong, so quickly… Mulder and Scully had only been in deep cover a month when they disappeared… and almost immediately, word had filtered back to his office that his agents were dead, had been exterminated as soon as their cover had been blown. Other, more painful rumors centered around the lengthy interrogation and subsequent torture of both agents, before they were killed. With all his heart Skinner had prayed for their passing to be swift; no pain… no awareness of the extent of their agony. At first, Skinner believed they were dead. He waited for closure, the innate knowledge that he'd lost two friends… but closure didn't come. It was then he'd somehow known they were not dead after all - but instead hidden away somewhere, perhaps in very serious physical condition, dying but not dead yet - the almost psychic connection he at times had with his agents not severed yet. He would feel it… would somehow know. Those operatives involved in the agents' disappearance would most likely not risk killing them; they wouldn't want that kind of exposure, that much heat, coming down on their heads. Skinner knew that much, just as he knew without any doubt that someone in his division, someone fairly close, was leaking information… top-secret, deadly information. And he didn't have a clue as to the identity of this person. Until he could find out a name, a place to really start… he was stymied in his search for Mulder and Scully. Walter Skinner didn't like being stymied - it gave him indigestion.

** Chapter Six **

In the night sky, buffeted by the ever-present ocean breeze, stars twinkled brightly upon a perfectly clear, black canvas; the full moon radiating all the bright needed to see in the darkness. Upon a padding of shiny, cool palm fronds and dry moss, they lay, on their backs, side by side - looking up at the sky with intense curiosity and a feeling of hard-won peace - the first peace they'd known so far in their short but eventful island life. They had finished all the food; had gone to the fresh-water stream which she'd found earlier; had splashed and soaked and drank deeply of the delicious water. They'd found a spot deep enough to stand upright and still be mostly covered with water, although he'd only gotten wet to the waist. She had ended up in water to her chest, faltering a little when she realized how deep it was… gasping in surprise and flinging out a panicked hand which he'd automatically grasped tightly, as though he'd steadied her a thousand times… it had seemed so right. She'd moved closer to him and had placed her other hand, wet with cool water, upon his shoulder; had drifted in the movement of the stream until her breasts butted against his warm skin, and the electric contact of that part of her body jolted through him like a shot. He'd sucked in a startled breath, eyes boring into her wide blue gaze… not completely understanding why just that little touch would make him hard and big, again without him having first rubbed it. He decided it must be her; she was doing this somehow. And he wasn't angry or worried about it - he decided he was glad about it, although he still wasn't sure of glad. But it made him warm and then hot and then a feeling as if the bottom had dropped out of him - hollow and full and good as if he'd eaten lots of things to fill his belly up, but his belly needed so much more. So much more… as he wound his hands into her hair to tug her closer, and in this fashion dragged her out of the water and up onto the dry, cool bank, down into some high grasses - hearing her cry of pain at the tugging of her scalp, yet she didn't fight him - letting go only after he'd pushed her down onto her stomach and climbed on top of her and made room for himself, there between the sweet curves of her perfect cheeks… finding again the warm soft place and driving into her with eagerness, with remembered anticipation of the monumental good it would bring to him. He drove her roughly, going deeper this time, because he knew the way to get the best good… he'd remembered and stored it, in his ever-expanding mind. The force of his thrusts bounced her small body against the scratchy grasses, but she didn't try to get away - didn't want to get away. His urgency was somehow feeding her own, even through the pain of being used so roughly. She bore up a little, steadying herself on her knees, and opened her legs wider, some intuition feeding her the idea that it would make the good better, at least for her. The extra width of her forced a groan from his throat as he slid deeper; he began to shudder with it, that blinding good, once again. His hands bit into her soft skin, teeth bared against the silky hair curling on her shoulder, as he felt the hard and big of himself swell and explode into her. He slammed against her one last, furious time… felt himself pumping madly… and then felt her small hand pressing him down where he was inside her, as if to keep him in there, holding him deep; the touch of her fingers against her own sensitized body triggering a good which she'd never felt before - not when she ate the food, or when the stream had tickled over her, that first day. She cried out with it, shuddering violently, holding him tightly inside her, making it last longer, for both of them. And when her suddenly boneless hand slid away, loosening the grip upon him, and he let his weary and leaden weight press her down into the grasses, she relaxed every muscle, feeling her body melting into his as they rested by the stream in the darkening night, still inside her, face buried in her soft shoulder, mouth open upon her skin. She moved her hand up alongside her face; his hand joined hers there, fingers laced into hers. She smiled, eyes flickering closed; he sighed into her skin and slept.

And now they lay next to each other and stared at the night stars and neither thought to wonder who they were, or what they were, there on an empty beach in the dead of night with the sounds of nocturnal life all around them, yet they didn't fear because they were gleaning strength from each other. They didn't know strength, yet -but they would, very soon. With a mutually-simultaneous shiver, they turned toward each other, using their combined bodies to keep warm, falling into a sleep thick and dreamless and good.

** Chapter Seven **

The man in the wide, rumpled bed, sheets twisted around his restless legs, was not so lucky in achieving a good, dreamless sleep… the events which had placed him in this particular dark place in his otherwise charmed life were swirling behind his tightly-closed lids and he lay helpless to do anything more than let them reel out like the worst kind of horror movie…

He stood over the woman who sat slumped over in the hard-backed chair, bruised and weary and marred - until she raised her face and revealed the utter contempt burning deep in her eyes, for him. He'd so wanted her to look at him with the same soft gaze which she had bestowed on her partner… who sat slumped over in another chair only a few feet away. Dark hair sticky with blood, cuts everywhere, all over his shoulders and his chest. The man reluctantly tore his gaze from the woman's unwavering regard, and flicked it once in the other's direction, noting with vague approval the hatchet job his assistant Leonie had completed, during the interrogation. She'd taken one look at this captive, half-naked and bound to the chair, and had begged to do the honors… and Leonie's interrogation methods were brutally to-the-point. He briefly thanked a God he didn't usually acknowledge for the advantage of having her working with him instead of against him. This partner of the woman's, unconscious now and seeping blood, had also not uttered a single sound during his ordeal - had not closed his eyes against whatever pain was inflicted…had stared straight ahead, clear, hazel orbs unflickering and undaunted by the physical damage being wrought upon him. The woman had not flinched, either, even though she'd been forced to watch - he'd held her face tightly between his hard fingers and had kept her twisted in the right direction, so she might experience the full effect. Waiting for a reaction, something - anything which could be used against her, against them… he'd waited in vain. She'd watched, an almost bored expression on her face, breathing calmly, face serene. He'd been beside himself with inexpressible fury. That's when he'd broken her nose…

Later, in his outer lab, behind the deceptively solid-looking wall which served admirably as a two-way mirror, he and Leonie had sat and smoked and watched their reluctant guests as they sat facing each other, the woman dozing fitfully and the man finally rousing from his unconscious state. As his eyes opened and he forced his head high enough to look around, the woman also blinked and sat up - and their gazes locked together. Noting their sudden intense expressions, Leonie nudged her superior and pointed at the wall; surely now they'd reveal something useful… but she was disappointed, for they merely watched each other intently, no words passing between them. Steady regard, sitting almost at attention… their eyes never faltered from each other, barely even blinked. And the man knew with indefinable certainty the connection these two people had, between them; stronger than words and deeper than gestures… rarer than diamonds.

Behind his closed lids, the man witnessed again the red haze of fury which had descended upon him and had forced the decision which he'd acted upon and which would cost him his sanity as well as his soul. He'd stripped them barer than bare, inside and out… then left them in No Man's Land… to die.

** Chapter Eight **

Over the next several weeks, their days fell into a pattern which in some strange way was soothing to them both, establishing an order which they'd seemed to need, for they thrived on it.

They had explored most of the island, filing away in their newly-activated memories the exact location of the best foodstuffs, the cleanest water and the most sheltered areas to hide out during the frequently violent storms hitting this time of year. Not yet knowing what they were, they had figured out the rightness of their mating, for obviously they were of the same type of creature. As they moved around their new home, learning it as well as they were learning themselves, they found the bond established between them tightening and thickening with each passing day. In the morning they awoke to the feel of their warm skin pressing together, of sleepy eyes and large yawns and much scratching. They would begin by scratching themselves, then taking turns scratching each other - the scratching would lead to touching, which would escalate into one of them pushing the other onto the mound of palm fronds… they had learned a lot about their bodies, and what felt good. They had learned a lot about good. Touching was good; touching all over, hard in some places and very gently in others. With no inhibitions to restrain them, no social and psychological taboos and mores to stop them… they'd let their feelings, their needs, dictate to them what they would give, and learn, together. Surprisingly the monkeys had provided them some insight as well - monkeys were notoriously sexual, almost perverted at times… and their intimate antics were observed carefully, every chance they got - some imitated as well. Their bond grew and strengthened.

Food was plentiful on the island; they never went hungry. In their silent but decipherable manner, they had relayed to each other their own personal food discoveries; what had made them sick and what had not. Careful to choose only enough to get them through a day, somehow understanding that leaves and fruits had to stay on the tree to live, they did not waste their bounty. Everything alive was eaten raw, for they had no knowledge of fire and would not have been able to produce it had they even known. They learned which live things tasted best and steered clear of the rest. They had enough water; had learned early on the importance of getting plenty of it. A small pond, fed by another, less clear stream, was discovered in the second week; they'd fallen into it, rolling their hot bodies through the cool liquid, soothing insect bites and sunburned skin, learning to cut through the water with strong strokes, easing sore muscles. The pond helped to cleanse their bodies as well; helped combat the infection which they faced on a daily basis. They didn't know infection, didn't yet grasp the issue of cleanliness. They just knew the water felt silky and good, so they spent a large part of their mornings soaking in it.

At times they would sit on their bed of palm fronds, deep in the shadowed vegetation, facing each other and touching lightly, all over. His fingers wound through her hair, gently pulling out burrs and tangles, soothing against her constantly-itching scalp. She would close her blue eyes and purr deep in her throat at the good of it. He touched her cheeks, her little crooked nose, her full lips, feeling inside her mouth for her teeth, sliding along her tongue; curious, inquisitively probing. He wanted to feel with his fingertips those areas of her which gave him so much good, so he touched them all, very gently, for he'd learned within a few early encounters the need to be gentle; that gentle gave her the best amount of good. And he wanted her to have the good in the same amount as he was getting. Instinctively he'd understood the need to be unselfish; that by giving her good he was also giving it to himself. And with each coming together, a little more awareness of self was gained… as new memories were made and filed away within their eager minds. His hand roved over her flat belly and probed her softest spot, where he put himself when the good was flowing between them. She was so soft there, softer than her hair… softer than her tender skin. He rubbed her there much the same as he'd rub himself, listening intently for the breath in her throat to lock up, for her tiny gasps and her purring, which always sounded the best to him. Her hands were never idle during these learning sessions, for she probed and stroked and trailed fingers of fire everywhere she could find on his body, as curious to know as he. His hard part was especially fascinating to her, the part of him which would bind her, lash her to him in their moments of highest good… and she probed him there most assiduously, using both hands to measure the length and girth of it, using her soft cheek laid upon his equally silky skin to feel the heat of it, the pulsing blood underneath the surface, the blood which turned the flesh to steel. He closed his eyes against the pleasure of her, and gasped through his mouth, while his body shook. And she turned her head, and gazed upon his hard skin… and acting upon a long-buried image, pulled from deep inside her somewhere… she put her lips on his skin, and trailed her mouth up and down his length, feeling him tense under her and groan thickly… her tongue darted out to slide along the same path which her mouth had taken, just a few seconds ago - and the shock of her hot little tongue against his sensitive skin made his entire body clench as he stiffened, back arched like a bow… then his climax shot through him and he cried aloud with the intensity of it, falling back onto the palm fronds and pulling her with him. He wound his arms around her tightly and wouldn't let go. She cuddled close to his still-shaking form, a slight smile curving her mouth, knowing she had given to him something very, very good. She raised her head and looked into his sleepy face, half-closed eyes still glowing, lips curved in a smile which her fingers had to touch… finding herself beginning to succumb to the need for sleep, they both dozed off in that position, with her fingers on his smiling mouth. And they dreamed, both of them, wrapped up in each other's skin… they dreamed of shapes, much like their own; shapes whose open mouths formed sounds which wafted over their ears, telling them of love, of caring - of warnings and caution and impending doom. And as they dreamed, they whimpered, as one - and clung together.

** Chapter Nine **

"Any news, Mr. Skinner? Anything at all?…" the voice on the phone trembled just a little despite its attempts to remain steady. Walter Skinner sighed softly, wishing for the hundredth time he could offer any kind of assurance, however minute.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Scully… nothing yet. We had a couple of leads which fizzled out, and we're looking into calling in a few favors, just to see if there's any reliable information out on the street. I wish I could give you more to go on…" his voice petered out and he sighed again, in frustration. Her next words went a long way in offering him some comfort, although he knew it should have been the other way around.

"They're not dead, you know… they can't be. If they were dead I'd know it, I'd feel it… deep inside, I'd feel it." Softer now, more confident. "I felt it when Melissa was hurt… I knew something had happened, to one of my girls. There's an ache that won't go away, and a sense of panic which invades the very soul…" She laughed a little, into the mouthpiece. "You probably think I'm nuts…" Skinner was shaking his head in denial, even though he knew Maggie Scully certainly couldn't see him doing it. His voice dropped and he spoke very softly as well.

"No, I don't think you're nuts at all… if that's nuts, then many people in this world are afflicted, including me - because I don't feel it either." She blew out a relieved breath and her voice lost its tremor.

"You'll find them; I know you will. You won't give up - you can't give up. You'll find them and they'll be safe and you'll bring them home… to the people who love them…" soft sniffles now; steady voice, but crying. Skinner closed his eyes and bit down hard on his bottom lip to stop its sudden trembling.

"I'll find them, Maggie… I won't give up. I want them back so much…" His voice cracked a little, then strengthened. "And when I get my hands on the persons responsible for all of this…" he couldn't go on; she finished the sentence for him, in a manner which shocked him to the core… and caused him to admire her even more than he did already….

"…When you find them, you'll assure they get what's coming to them - after you rip their fucking arms off and stuff them up their asses…if you like, I'll help you. Will I need a badge for that?" His shoulders shook with unexpected laughter; on the other end, a small, teary chuckle.

"Oh, Maggie… I needed that… thank you."

** Chapter Ten **

The wind was blowing very hard and the overcast skies were swollen with what would fast become a vicious storm. There had been more and more of them lately; smaller and less violent, but still enough to blow coconuts and mangos off the trees and scatter the monkeys into their nesting places. In the shadowed jungle, amongst the palms and ferns, they had concocted a shelter of sorts, mostly made from the larger fronds and assorted debris they'd found on the jungle floor. It hadn't been very big, but it sheltered them adequately enough and withstood the softer breezes; but there wasn't a hope it could withstand the sort of wind now being whipped up by the incoming storm. Standing on the beach, chilled but not really cold yet, he looked up into the sky and watched the dark clouds churning. She came up behind him, also peering upwards at the storm, and twined one arm around his slender waist, pressing her body to him for warmth. She'd been sick again; he could smell it on her. She'd vomited again. The sick had started a few days ago; she'd run into the palmetto's underbrush right after they'd eaten, and violently thrown up everything. He'd run after her, afraid she'd eaten something not good; something on their mental list of 'bad things'. They'd been very careful to stay away from those things, and were confident they had found all the bad things on the island; had she found something else, something they had both overlooked? His eyes asked her; she shook her head. They had eaten the same thing, and he wasn't sick. He was anxious now, and so he watched everything she put into her mouth, making sure he ate some of whatever she did. So far, she'd been sick, but not him.

Now she curled into his back and enjoyed the warmth radiating from his body, still a little queasy but feeling better… feeling hungry again. She noticed a snail, barely moving, there at her feet in the sand. She bent to pick it up, remembering these were a good food. She pried it out of its shell with strong, nimble fingers and took a healthy bite, offering the other piece to him, grinning when he shook his head and pointed at her. She downed the rest of it and dropped to her knees looking for more. His hand staying her arm made her pause; she looked at him and he pointed up at the sky, then stared at her until she understood the need to seek shelter, right away. He pulled her up and they dashed into the jungle underbrush just as the first cold drops hit the beach. As they snuggled together, keeping each other warm under the shelter, he thought about the hole in the earth he'd seen, just a few days ago when he was out foraging for food. It was small and stuck out the side of a ridged cliff, on the other side of the island. He didn't quite know what it was, but something about its basic shape and size triggered a fogged-over memory of sleeping, all enclosed in earth… and he knew it would be a good place to stay, away from the storms. He shook at her gently; she'd fallen asleep and he didn't want to wake her, but they had to get there, now. She woke quickly, and sat up, yawning at him. He smiled at her sweet face and motioned at the distant hill, then looked at her expectantly. She nodded, and let him pull her to her feet; held onto his hand as they ran out of the shelter and around the thick clumps of vegetation, toward the other side of the island.

The cave was small but not too cramped. He'd gone in first, cautiously, looking for signs of something else living there, but the cave looked as if it had never been used by any creature. He poked his head back out and motioned her in. Later, when the wind died down, they would go in search of something to line the dirt ground for sleeping, but for now they were just happy to be away from the cold rain and howling wind. They snuggled together, she sitting in front captured between his legs, his hard part pressed against her lower back. It felt good there and she wiggled a little, rubbing herself on it, hearing him gasp out a shaky moan as she pushed into him. She twisted in his arms and faced him, grinning at him, seeing him smiling back at her, cheeks flushed behind the hair on his face. Nose to nose, they stared at each other, still smiling… until some tiny thread of awareness, buried so deep it was almost non-existent, caused her smile to fade, and in her mind she saw a flash of two heads, very close just like this, but connected at the mouth… how odd. But she was curious, and so she leaned in just a tiny bit, and her lips touched his. He jumped at the contact, and gazed at her in bewilderment… then his mouth parted on a groan, as she touched it more firmly, with hers… The image was stronger now, dancing in front of her unfocused eyes, two mouths touching and moving against each other… she tried moving her head, awkwardly mimicking the image, and he reached out his hands and wound his fingers into her long hair, and his mouth suddenly opened wide and he felt the inside of her mouth, and her little tongue… The world outside spun away, off its axis as they kissed more deeply, both of their mouths open now, eating at each other's lips, until she was crying great tears of salty wetness, down her cheeks, and he was licking at the tears, at the salt, and his hands held her face between them, big palms cupping her wet cheeks, and she felt a tearing from deep, deep inside her body, in a place which had until now been locked to her; a sound which clawed its way from her stomach up through her lungs and out her unused throat, startling her and scaring her with its utterly foreign audio -


** Chapter Eleven **

"His name is Friedrictoph… Dr. Pell Friedrictoph." The voice on the phone was deep and melodious, the sort of voice one would expect could sing arias, deliver full-bodied soliloquies on stage… instead of being one of the FBI's most notorious informants. Very few agents trusted this man… Skinner was one of the few who did. In five years of association, he'd never been led astray. He didn't expect it to happen now. This informant knew exactly what would become of his life, should anything false cross his lips when speaking to AD Skinner. Their odd relationship was nested in a weird compliance of respect and an admiration of sorts, one to the other. Whatever it was… it worked for them.

"Friedrictoph… German?" Skinner was curious. The voice hummed briefly in thought, then replied with uncertainty.

"I don't know right off, but I could probably find out for you. Think it would make a difference?"

"It might… see what you can dig up, would you? I'll take it from here, see if I can find out where this guy fits into their little Mickey Mouse Club…" Skinner pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to ease what amounted to the third headache of the day. He sighed heavily, and the voice in his ear clucked at him half in amusement, half in sympathy.

"Headache, right? Another one? You're killing yourself with this one, you know that, don't you?" Only this man could have gotten away with being so familiar, without Skinner wanting to flatten him. "I know what's going down with you… I like those agents of yours too, you know. I promise you, I'll keep my ears well open, and sooner or later, someone's gonna slip up, and sing like a bird… you gotta be patient." Skinner sighed again, and the sharp pain between his eyes eased up, just a little. He spoke a brief, tired thanks into the mouthpiece and hung up. He looked down at the tablet on his desk, where he'd written the name he'd been given. Friedrictoph… German, he'd bet. This was the one, then - the name of the scientist heading up the project which Mulder and Scully had been sent to infiltrate… the scientist who was somehow responsible for their disappearance, their… he refused to say those words out loud; refused to betray for one instant the unwelcome possibility that all this effort was too late in coming. He had fresh hope now; he had a name. Very soon, he would have an address. And then… Skinner bared his white teeth in a wide, awful grin… then he'd have a reason to do a little torturing of his own…

It was quiet in the dark cave; quiet and humid and devoid of movement except for the steady stroke of his hand upon her tangled hair, as she lay with her head in his lap. His eyes never left the shadowed outline of her face; eyes anxious and worried, although he didn't yet know worry. She'd fainted dead away, right after she'd shuddered against his mouth, after she'd turned her wide, frightened eyes on him and had uttered that sound, a sound he had never heard her utter, not in the daylight hours, not during their feeding times… not during their times of good when he was inside her. He was terrified by the sound of it, there on her tongue; rusty and croaking but yet full of a feeling he was rapidly beginning to know, to possess, for her… She'd made the sound and then her eyes had turned up in her head and she'd fallen into his arms. He'd held her and rocked her and felt the wet of his eyes falling upon her still face. He had placed a hand on her chest, so happy to find it still moved. The early days in the island had taught them both not to eat anything until it wasn't moving; and so they both knew moving and what it did or didn't signify. He pressed his cheek to her hair and rocked her some more.

She came awake slowly, aware of being held and rocked, just as she'd been when she was a little girl and she'd had a bad dream. Strong arms, there in the darkness; they felt wonderfully reassuring and so she snuggled into them, somehow knowing them by their shape and strength, the elegant fingers and wide palms holding her so carefully. Mulder, she thought dreamily… Mulder's got me and I'm all right now. Had she been in the hospital again, she wondered? Were they in her apartment or his? Didn't matter - one place was as familiar to her as the other. She drifted a little, not wanting to fully awaken yet - liking the feel of her body pressed against his…

Her naked body…

With a muffled gasp of shock, she sprang upright, arms flying inward to cover herself, complete bewilderment and disbelief marring her face; Mulder gaped at her in the dim light, not understanding why she had jumped like that. He stared at her worriedly… to find her staring back at him in absolute horror, wide eyes moving all over him, noting with mounting panic the long, wildly tangled brown hair… the thick untamed beard… the muscular, very naked body… finally locking her gaze on his eyes… seeing the truth of the situation in one fell swoop. His eyes… untamed as his hair, wild as can be with no awareness in them other than a soft glow of concern for her, but not in the way one human would regard another. Her head spun dizzily… Mulder…. She sat back, away from him, not letting any part of her touch him… thinking furiously with whatever part of her brain not numbed by shock. Come on, remember! - she screamed at herself… She saw herself packing her bags, in her apartment; outside hailing a cab; meeting Mulder at the airport, both of them unsmiling, intent on their newest case -

Their case…

With a gasp which startled Mulder anew and made him jump and moan under his breath, Scully saw again the men who burst into the lab… who twisted her arms behind her roughly, and handcuffed her tightly; she saw them do the same to Mulder, there across the table from her… she saw again the way they were half dragged, half walked out of the bigger lab and into a smaller, dimly-lit lab… thrown into hard chairs and strapped at the ankle and wrist… she saw the scientist, Pell… and her eyes widened even more in abject horror as she whispered his name, to herself. Pell… he'd found them out. He'd discovered their assignment; their deep cover assignment… Her body went hot and then icy cold at the unwelcome remembrance of him. Pell Friedrictoph, a mad scientist indeed… he'd been coldly polite to Mulder during the research sessions - but overly, sickeningly cordial to her. When he thought she wasn't looking, his eyes would crawl over her body, assessing, imagining… she'd felt as if worms were sliming their way along her skin. He'd asked her to dinner… she'd refused as gently and politely as possible, not wanting to anger him, but a rebuff just the same - and he'd not taken it at all well. What he did to them, when their cover was blown… she clutched at herself, arms wound tightly around her belly, and rocked, moaning anew…

What he'd done was unspeakable.

** Chapter Twelve **

"I found him, Sir! We've got him in custody! You'd better get over here…" Halliday's excited voice bounced and echoed on his answering machine; he'd just gotten back from a much-needed run; had hated to leave the apartment even for a moment, in case something had happened - but God, he'd needed to do something! Now it looked as if he'd missed the single most important call in his life…

"Shitfuckshit…" he mumbled to himself as he threw on fresh clothes, not bothering with a suit… grabbed his keys and tore down to the parking garage below.

"Where is he?"

Skinner burst into his office just as Halliday rose from the side chair where he'd been waiting; reached out and gripped Skinner's hand. Skinner squeezed back hard, once, and again demanded, "Where is the little motherfucker… I want him tied down, naked, on a bed of poisoned nails… where's that cattle prod you guys brought back from Texas and gave me as a gag gift last year? I want that too…" Halliday laughed tiredly; AD Skinner was beginning to sound like himself… finally. He had to walk fast to keep up with his AD's longer legs as they strode down the hall toward the interrogation rooms. "Where… how did you find him?"

"It was your informant, the guy with the voice… man alive, I've never seen a more cooperative snitch! He must have a hell of a regard for you, Sir… he was relentless; put himself in harm's way several times, to get you the info needed to nail this guy. It was something to see…" Halliday was impressed. Skinner snorted a brief laugh, walking a little faster and reaching the cipher-locked door first. As he punched in the numbers, Halliday added, "There's something else, Sir… your guy also figured out the insider; our little Benedict Arnold. Sir… it was Barratelle…" referring to one of Skinner's proteges, someone he'd recommended for Special Projects himself. Skinner's eyes clouded over in sudden pain and disillusionment, but only for a moment. In a while, he'd think about it, try to analyze it. Right now, he had more important things to worry about… He thought again of the incredible help his informant had provided, for his agents, and turned to smile briefly at Halliday.

"My informant has always had a soft spot for Mulder and Scully - they saved his life once, years ago. He's never forgotten…" Skinner pulled open the door and stepped through, eyes immediately fastening upon the man who sat slumped in the hard-back chair, wrists and ankles restrained, seemingly unconscious… but as Skinner approached, his head slowly lifted, affording Skinner and Halliday a polite half-smile, eyes somber and calm despite the obvious pain he must have been experiencing, from the dark and swelling bruises on both sides of his face. Skinner raised an eyebrow at the marks, turned to Halliday and inquired mildly, "Who had fun with him before I got my chance?" Halliday had the grace to flush slightly. Skinner nodded and turned back to his 'guest'.

"Dr. Pell Friedrictoph… I believe we have quite a lot to talk about…"

She was shivering… couldn't stop shivering. Mulder held her tightly, rubbing at her arms, trying to warm her, but she couldn't stop shivering. Shivering… cold… so cold… colder than Antarctica, colder than the alien tank of muck… so, so cold… She spoke aloud, teeth chattering, somehow back there, naked and impaled by the tube forced down her throat… choking and spitting up green shit… "Cold… I'm cold…" He didn't understand her words, didn't understand words at all. To him they sounded like the chattering of monkeys… But he could tell she was scared, more than he'd ever seen her scared… and he got scared with her, for her… but not because of her. He gripped her tighter. She was looking up now, with glazed-over eyes full of unspeakable amazement… then suddenly her gaze swung level, and there crept into her eyes the most terrifying fear… and she was somehow on a bridge, somewhere deep in her fevered mind… and she was seeing the burning, all the burning people… and she was crying over and over again, "Oh My God!… Oh My God!…" She suddenly ripped her body out of Mulder's arms and scrambled up against the far side of the small cave, glaring wildly at him, damp hair in her eyes, spitting words, almost incoherent words, at him… he didn't know the words but he could feel the waves of animosity and hatred steaming off her as she screamed, "YOU BITCH YOU FILTHY BITCH GET YOUR GODDAM HANDS OFF OF HIM DON'T HURT HIM LEAVE HIM ALONE… MULDER!…" And Mulder heard that sound she'd made when she'd looked at him in shock… the only word he recognized, so far; the sound she called him. She was afraid? For him? Why… when…? It was very hard for him to understand any of this. He reached out for her; she fisted her hands and punched at him, knocking his hands away from her. Eyes still spitting immeasurable hatred, body tense, every muscle outlined, breathing heavily and hotly, through her open mouth… she drew her hands up to her face suddenly, covering her eyes, shuddering as she fell to her knees and her forehead hit the dirt floor of the cave… she whispered more sounds, in a terrible, broken voice - Mulder couldn't begin to understand the sounds, but he did hear that sound again, the one she'd directed at him; the one which must be him…

"MulderI'msosorryIcouldn'ttellhimIcouldn'tstopherOhGodpleaseMulder…" one long, drawn out sound of incomprehensible pain. Her hands lifted and the look of complete despair on her face tore into his soul. He pulled at her until she fell against him, suddenly limp, letting him comfort her; she leaned her head against his chest and sobbed anew.

** Chapter Thirteen **

The mad scientist restrained in the very uncomfortable straight-backed chair smiled politely at AD Skinner, as if he'd just been offered a cup of tea and had to refuse because of religious reasons. Regret in those icy blue eyes, hidden between thick black eyeglass frames; he'd not answered a single question, merely smiled his little smile and made inane comments about the weather and the huge amount of dragonflies he'd seen in and around some of the DC parks. Skinner was about at the end of his rope; Halliday'd had to grab at his arm twice, to keep his boss from taking a huge swing at the scientist. Skinner now paced back and forth behind Friedrictoph, thinking furiously of his options. They had been interrogating the man for three days… and they'd gotten nothing. They had deprived him of food and water, had not let him sleep… it hadn't seemed to touch the monster. In fact, he still looked as if he'd just gotten out of nothing more strenuous than attending church, while Skinner and Halliday were decidedly ripe. It was so damned frustrating… Skinner passed a weary hand over his face, preparing to begin in again… and a soft knock at the door provided a momentary interruption. Halliday moved to open it, to admit one of the older agents, who'd been digging through Friedrictoph's hotel room in Munich, for the past week… and who'd promised to bring anything of interest back with him. Now that agent stuck his head in the open door, waving a plastic bag which appeared to contain a lot of VHS tapes. From across the room, Skinner could see the victorious grin on Simpson's face as he called, "Guess what I found… interrogation tapes. Quite a few of them… the sick little cabbage-fermentor must have been watching them while he was holed up in his hotel room…" Simpson passed the bag to Halliday, then reached behind him to open the door further, rolling a TV/VCR unit into the room. Friedrictoph clapped his hands in delight and beamed, "Oh, movies… how lovely! You must let me spring for the popcorn…" Skinner moved his open hand almost casually, watching with detached curiosity as the back of it made jarring contact with the side of Friedrictoph's smiling face. He squealed in pain, yelling, "You simply cannot inflict bodily damage upon me! I have diplomatic immunity…"

"Shut the fuck up, asshole… Halliday - plug in the unit. Simpson… have a seat. This is going to take a while…"

Seven hours later, Skinner finally turned from the still-flickering TV screen, and wiped at his eyes, not bothering to hide the tears… stomach still clenching from what he'd had to watch. The tapes had been produced with clinical efficiency, the lighting perfectly balanced, the sound expertly controlled. He'd watched most of it… had seen Mulder and Scully dragged into the room, flung into chairs and restrained… had seen Friedrictoph go to work on them, starting with Dana… had heard the questions, posed to them in a jocular, caring voice which had seemed more suited to a father dispensing advice to a child, rather than a monstrous, criminally insane doctor probing a prisoner. Throughout the interrogation, Scully had remained calm, almost disinterested. Skinner had watched her being slapped, then hit, poked and prodded, had seen the way Friedrictoph twisted her hair and jerked up her face to punch her… had sat with teeth gritted, fists clenched, as the son of a bitch leaned in close and uttered his lewd suggestions in her small ear, almost drooling as he invaded her personal space with his loathsome presence. Scully had never acknowledged him, not once. Skinner had jumped up, cursing, when on the screen Scully's pretty nose had been broken. She'd not uttered a sound as her head snapped back on her slender neck. In the chair across from her, forced to watch it all as well, Mulder had kept his jaw clenched and his eyes locked to Scully's, sending her his strength, his control… his love. It was there to see, in his eyes; even Skinner could decipher it. All through the unrelenting questions… who was their operative on the assignment… who was the organizational informant that had let them in… tell us about the cases which led you to our little world, Miss Scully… tell us… tell us. Skinner was speechless with admiration for her incredible fortitude, her strength and power… and Mulder's, when his turn came. And it came with a vengeance, when Friedrictoph's tall, big-boned assistant Leonie walked into the room and began on Mulder. She had been relentless… had grilled him over and over, in a shrill nasal voice which grated worse than a schoolroom of childish nails on a chalkboard. When she failed to get any kind of response, Leonie had donned a pair of gloves, tipped in very thin, wickedly sharp-looking needles… and raked them over Mulder's exposed torso, obscenely kissing him and licking at his blood which welled up each time she 'caressed' him with her gloved weapons. Scully had watched it all, forced by the hand which was still twisted in her hair. She hadn't broken down, even then… but through the lens of the whirring camera, even from the TV playing the tape… the utter anguish in her huge blue eyes was plain to see. And when Mulder finally lost consciousness, when Scully, weakened badly by what she'd endured herself and by having to watch Mulder's agony, fainted and slumped in the chair… when Friedrictoph and his assistant realized they had been defeated… Friedrictoph had produced, with a flourish, the hypodermic needle from his pocket… and had injected first Scully, then Mulder… and had brushed the tousled hair off Scully's forehead, almost lovingly… and had then sat back to watch, as Special Agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder violently and with immense mental and physical agony… literally lost their minds and their identities.

** Chapter Fourteen **

They had been in the cave for two weeks.

Mulder had gone out in the torrent of rain and wind every morning, when the storms had been mildest, and brought back as much food as he could carry, refusing to let Scully help him. He'd brought back all her favorites… the little snails and the grubs, the thick moist leaves and the yellow fruit which he know knew was something called a banana. He couldn't understand why her face turned green at the sight of the grubs… but she did manage to eat the leaves and the fruit. She wasn't eating enough… and she was still vomiting every day. He wished so badly to find out which food was making her sick. It worried him greatly… and he now knew worry.

Outside the opening of the cave, Scully had just finished vomiting yet again, and had sunk back wearily against the damp ground, trying to regain her strength. Her breasts were tender, ached… she cupped them gently, trying to ease some of the ache. Tears welled in her eyes and rolled down her cheeks.

She was pregnant.

She, Dana Scully, supposedly mostly barren (most of the doctors assigned to her so long ago had agreed she would never bear a child), naked and trapped on a remote island in God knew what ocean, with her partner who wasn't really her partner… more like her wild 'pet'… was having a baby. She wiped at her streaming eyes. Why now, she thought - when I cannot possibly enjoy being pregnant; when every day was fraught with so many dangers, from infection to poison food, to the very real possibility that whatever large predators dwelling on the island would eventually figure out that humans were a tasty dish… when she couldn't even remember making love (or having sex - she really hadn't known which) with Mulder… A Mulder who was still wild, who hadn't remembered anything yet… although that was probably a blessing in disguise, she thought with a shudder.

The things which she had begun to remember were the true stuff of nightmares.

She remembered the interrogation… of having to watch that hideous bitch assistant of Friedrictoph's slice up Mulder's prefect torso… she remembered the indescribably agonizing feeling of having her mind, her identity ripped away from her, memory by memory. Everything good in her life, every memory of her father, her sister… gone; it had slipped away on a foggy dark cloud from her as she'd reached out to it in the depths of her mind, sobbing aloud, "NO! COME BACK… DON'T LEAVE ME HERE!! MELISSA! Daddy…" Childhood images, gone. Emily's sweet face… gone. Her mother, Charlie, Bill… Mulder. The hallway. Their shared pain and glory… all gone. The serum had done its work diabolically well… it had been designed to cleanse the mind while affording the victim the ability to actually feel, and react to, the stripping. It had been the single most horrendous experience of her life… because she felt it happening… was powerless to prevent it from happening. Scully dropped her head into her dirty hands and moaned in pain… then her head snapped up in horror as it dawned on her what Mulder, with his obsessive need to embrace his angst, would have to endure when the knowledge of their ordeal finally hit him between the eyes. My God, she thought… he may not make it through the remembering! It had very nearly killed her… She scrambled to her feet and ran back into the cave to wait for him. Whatever happened… she had to stay by his side… to somehow help him get through it.

Somehow she had to break through to him and find a way to communicate.

** Chapter Fifteen **

Three more days… nothing. The bastard had finally been allowed to sleep, for very short periods during which he screamed and shook in the throes of very obviously terror-laden nightmares.

It had been the only bright spot in this whole mess, as far as Skinner was concerned. Obviously Friedrictoph was lousy with guilt. But, how to use that guilt against him… Skinner paced his office furiously, thinking hard. Trying to figure out a way to force the scientist's hand… because time was running out for his agents. Skinner suddenly stopped dead in his tracks, in mid-pace. He knew what to do… he knew how to get the bastard to talk. He ran out of the office, punching numbers into his cell phone as he ran.

In the interrogation room, Halliday stood guard at the door, alert and bright-eyed despite the fact he hadn't slept in over twenty-four hours. In the hard chair Friedrictoph dozed fitfully; he'd had a nasty bout of nightmares, all through the short time he'd been allowed to sleep. Halliday had enjoyed the screams and moans coming out of the monster's throat… was satisfied knowing he was suffering. Too bad his dreams hadn't dished up any viable information, unfortunately. Even in his sleep, the animal was thwarting them. Halliday turned away from him in disgust, wanting to get out of there, just as Skinner flung open the door and strode in, shedding his jacket and rolling up his sleeves. He snapped at Halliday, "Don't just stand there, Agent… wake up our boy! I've got a nice little surprise for him…"

It had finally stopped raining, and the sun came out hotly, steam rising off the saturated palm fronds and lower vegetation. The white sand of the long beach, a silvery gray when wet, became white again quickly, drying up in that strangely instant way only very white, very pure sand can do. Monkeys and exotic birds came out of their hiding places, sending the tops of the trees and palms into a concerto of raucous activity. Sand crabs bore up through clumps of still-wet surf, claws clacking in a frenzy, prowling for food. And in the cave, dark and cool and still nicely dry… Mulder awoke first, opening gritty eyes and rubbing at them with a grimy hand; next to him, on her side pressed up and into him, Scully slept on. She'd had a restless night; had tossed around a lot, mumbling and occasionally crying out softly, unintelligible sounds to him, although he knew by now that to her they meant something. He just wished he could know. He knew lots of things now; had remembered every experience in the time they'd been on the island… could still see it in his head, if he wished to look for it… like a deeply-buried morsel from a life he barely recalled living; all the days they had been here, all the food they had eaten… every time he had moved to lay her down on their bed of moss, and put himself inside her, to feel her under him or over him or alongside him, body full of him and shaking sweetly as he gave the good to her and received it back a hundredfold… each of these were in there as well, from which he took comfort. And now as he lay behind her with his hand warm against her little rounded belly… Mulder worried about her, even though he knew she was eating better and had stopped being sick. He caressed her belly, gently… and gasped aloud as he felt the soft pressure under his hand, as something in her belly moved against his palm. He lay very still and pushed his hand more firmly, there on her belly… and felt an answering push from inside her. Mulder was dumbfounded. Something was in her belly… alive in her belly. She'd eaten something alive, something moving… and it had stayed alive in her belly! How could this be…? Her hand suddenly covered his, still cupping her there, and she pressed it tightly to her as the movement increased. Half asleep, Scully turned around, to face Mulder, sleepy eyes noting with a bit of amusement the complete look of confusion there, almost fear. She looked up, into his eyes, smiling reassuringly at him, sliding a hand over his face, watching the confusion melt away and a slow burn of awareness begin in his eyes. His body was hardening against her, and she trembled at the feel of it, telling herself that this too had to be familiar to her… after all, how else could she have gotten in this condition? But, it was one thing to be pregnant… and an entirely different matter to remember the events during conception. And since she'd had her memory return, still spotty but filling in slowly… Mulder had been very careful and had not pressed her to mate with him. She was amazed at the depth of his caring, of his protectiveness, considering his still mostly-wild state of mind. But now… with the obvious cessation of her morning sickness, and her slow but steady resurgence of strength… Scully knew it was time - time to decide what to do about this strange relationship with her partner, the father of her child… she trembled anew at the truth of it. Mulder was the father… of her baby… inside her, a baby… against all odds, in spite of everything the doctors (sorry, the quacks) had told her, had scared her with… there was now a baby. She was alone on a deserted island in the middle of goddam Tarzan-land with a pet partner in total memory-drain mode, a baby growing inside her, and no pre-natal vitamins, no milk, no added calcium, no way to cook the meat which would give her the iron which would be depleted from her body as the tiny embryo inside fed on her… not that they'd been able to find any meat, save the monkeys in the trees, she thought insanely… Dear God in Heaven!… how was she going to take care of this tiny life? She turned back onto her side, away from the building questions in his anxious hazel eyes; her hand curved his more fully against her belly, feeling him scoot himself closer to her, cradling her in his warmth. Her eyes drooped with weariness and she slept. A few minutes later, lips buried in the back of her soft neck… Mulder slept as well.

When he awoke again, she was gone.

He sat up in a panic, rubbing the grogginess from his face; he'd been dreaming again; strange visions like the ones before; shapes the same size as he. Making those sounds at him; the sound of what he was called. He shook the cobwebs left from the dreams out of his head; looking all around for her. He went to the mouth of the cave and looked… he didn't see her anywhere. He listened, for sounds of her bring sick somewhere… nothing. He was scared now - she was still not herself yet, had still not begun to eat enough food yet. Anything could happen to her … anything. He tore down the side of the cliff, eyes anxiously searching all over… then he heard a splashing, and he skidded to a halt, nearly doubled-over in relief. She was in the water… safe, in the water. On shaky legs he climbed the short distance to the spring-fed pond, where they bathed each morning… although they had both avoided the place during the storm. He reached the pond site, stopped and looked for her… then went dead-still, as his suddenly fevered eyes took in the breathtaking view of her rising from the water, glistening from head to toe, wet, long hair slicked back from her lovely face… her body, rail-thin but still beautifully curved, except for the little round belly… slender legs with their curling patch of red hair at the juncture… high sweet breasts tipped with pale rose nipples. She came toward him and his legs gave out on him and he sank to his knees before her, pleading eyes turned up, staring into hers… And with a murmur of that sound, that sound she called him, she fell to her knees in front of him, and wound her arms around his waist, and held him with a tight grip - and then he was rolling her underneath him on the soft long grasses next to the water, and they were kissing hotly, mouths opening wide to each other, to caress deeply within, everywhere they could reach with their tongues… his body trembled and shook over hers as she reached out a small hand to hold him gently, moving her fingers up and down his length as he moaned and gasped and shook harder… then he was opening her with hard fingers and pushing himself deep into her body, so tight, not enough room in there anymore… why!… he didn't know why, only knew the tight was making him get harder and harder… it was becoming more difficult to move… he couldn't catch his breath… he plunged deeper, faster… felt her winding her legs around his hips and holding on tight - until with a scream she shuddered all around him and he emptied himself into her endlessly, yelling her name in one long sound; a litany pouring from inside his heart, where she would always dwell -


** Chapter Sixteen **

The mad scientist saw the needle coming toward him and began to squeal worse than any swine had the right to squeal…

Skinner, hip propped against the table, watched detachedly as Halliday approached with the hypo in hand; a long, wicked-looking needle filled with the one substance that Friedrictoph would not be able to resist… his own serum. Skinner knew the little swine recognized it, for it had a strange color, almost a glow, about it… also an odd smell which was discernable even through the plunger. Skinner stood up and approached Friedrictoph almost gently, thoughtfully assessing him, choosing his words carefully, before he spoke.

"Dr. Friedrictoph… I assume you know what is in the hypo that Agent Halliday is holding. Let's cease these little games and this playacting of yours… and get right to it.

"I don't want to have to inject you with your own poison… but I will in a heartbeat, if you don't tell me and tell me honestly… where are Agents Mulder and Scully? Where do you have them stashed?" His wide eyes never leaving the needle in Halliday's hands, the scientist tried to bluster his way out of answering, sputtering," Mr. Skinner, please! Give me credit for more intelligence than you show at the moment… do you think I can't identify my own serum? That is, at best, a poor imitation, a fake…" Then he cried out a full-bodied scream as Halliday pounced on his strapped-down arm and made to plunge the needle in. Halliday paused, just short of touching the small hairs on the terrified man's exposed arm… looked over at Skinner and winked, commenting, "Oh, yeah… a fake. I knew it all along…" Skinner afforded himself one weary grimace of a smile before he leaned both hands on the arms of Friedrictoph's chair, snarling in his pale, sweaty face, "I want a location and I want it now, Doctor. Where are my agents?"

The insane Friedrictoph tried producing one more shaky ace. "Really, Mr. Skinner! Were you not watching my excellent recording of the events leading up to the demise of your agents? They are dead, Sir! Dead, dead, dead! Deader than a doornail, deader than anything you could imagine… irrevocably dead! I dropped them on that island myself…" his voice petered out as he realized just what he'd revealed, and the very tiny gasp he emitted at his error was not lost on the agents in the room. Skinner got in his face, nose to nose, eyes narrowed fiercely, and growled deep in his throat, "WHAT ISLAND, YOU PORTENTOUS FUCKHEAD?" The doctor merely smiled at him benignly, replied graciously, "Why, Mr. Skinner… I really can't answer that, you see… I don't have to answer that. And do you know why, Sir?" He paused and suddenly all the fear was gone from his face, all the panic, as if he'd just remembered something wonderful, something too exquisitely fine…"I can't answer your question because, as you and I both know… I have diplomatic immunity…"

Skinner then grinned the most evilly courteous smile, teeth bared wide and white… his eyes went dead black and for just a second, the doctor wavered… then knew, quite certainly, that he was about to lose it, lose everything… in a mad panic, he stuttered in a shrill voice, "South Seas! South Seas! Please… South Seas…" over and over again, his wide and terrified eyes never leaving the needle in Halliday's hand as it again made its descent to his wildly twisting arm, strapped in two places on the arm of the hard-backed chair… as AD Walter Skinner leaned in and whispered in the gibbering man's face…

"Fuck diplomatic immunity, Dr. Friedrictoph… and, fuck you.

"Halliday - go for it…"

** Chapter Seventeen **

Dana Scully was rocking him gently in her arms, and stroking him with a soft hand. Murmuring soft things to him, mouth close to his ear, as he shuddered and shook and sobbed and gulped great heaving breaths, head pounding and heart triphammering in his body… There wasn't anything else she could do for him, except hang on with all her strength, and pray very hard, and try to let him feel her caring, her love…

Mulder was remembering. Mulder was remembering all that he'd been forced to lose… and the knowledge of that which he'd lost was killing him.

In the VHS of his brilliantly photogenic mind, he saw it… saw it all. Saw it torn from him, bit by bit. Everything he loved, all he'd ever held dear… ripped from him. Samantha, torn from his arms a second time, in a more heinous, more evil way than she'd ever first been taken, her essence, her very soul buried and protected in his memory, desiccated and shredded before his horrified minds' eye. His mother, gone… his father, ripped from him as well… and his knowledge of life, his intelligence, his precious mind, the one stronghold constant of his life… the only thing, besides his partner, his Scully, which he could trust not to fail him… gone… as was Scully. He saw it… saw them all leave him, whirred away too fast for him to try to clutch them back… leaving him alone and broken; leaving him to die.

Leaving him… he couldn't bear it; couldn't live through it, not again… a low, hoarse moan, building in the pit of him, boiling up through layers and layers of unspeakable pain, erupting from his throat as he screamed and screamed with it, causing the monkeys in the trees to scatter in fright… doubled over in Scully's desperate attempt to hang onto him no matter how his twisting fingers on her arms bruised her. She was almost lightheaded from the force of holding him; they hadn't eaten anything in hours and hours; she had such little strength left in her thin body… and he slumped in her arms and was still. She peered down at him, worry and fright for him blinding her with hot tears as she cried, "Mulder! Mulder, God, please! Wake up, dammit! Mulder! DON'T LEAVE ME…!"

"I need the most detailed map of the South Sea island territories you can find… when? Now, damn it! In my office, on my desk!" Skinner barked into his cell phone, then stabbed the disconnect button and rapidly dialed another number, grating into the mouthpiece, "This is AD Walter Skinner… I need a helicopter and a pilot… make that two… how long… shit, how should I know! Until I say they can stop looking! Have them ready to go in half an hour. What? I don't give a rat's ass how many people you have to wake up… what time do I think…

I don't know; who cares? Three in the morning? So what! Just do it… or I'll have your badge and your commission pulled so fast you won't know your dick from a pencil!" He slammed the phone shut and turned to Halliday, standing nearby hopping up and down on each foot impatiently. He growled, "You ready?" Halliday nodded grimly.

"I've got all the gear ready to go, packed in a Rover I pulled from Motor Pool. Let's go." The men headed for the elevators. As the doors shut behind them, Halliday touched Skinner on the shoulder, reassuringly, not letting go even when Skinner clutched his hand and held on with a punishingly tight grip

"Sir… we'll find them..."

With a weary sigh, Scully gathered the last of the fresh palm fronds and scattered them on top of the springy moss, then with a groan for her aching back, sank down upon them, turning gingerly to her side and reaching out a scratched and sore hand to wind fingers through Mulder's hand, curled next to his sleeping face. She watched him anxiously, gauging his eye movement, checking his pulse every so often. It was steady and strong, albeit a little rapid; he was dreaming. Scully hoped his dreams weren't the stuff of nightmares. God knows we've had enough of them lately, she thought sourly. Her stomach growled and she reached for a banana with her free hand and peeled it awkwardly, not willing to relinquish contact with Mulder even to feed herself; managed to get the fruit open and ate quickly. With a sigh of satisfaction, her hunger assuaged temporarily, she laid her head down next to his and continued her vigil.

Mulder had been asleep for several hours… after he had collapsed in her arms, Scully had been frantic, checking his pulse, his breathing, screaming her prayers into the hot wind blowing through the palmettos… but he'd only fainted. She'd laid him down and run for water and had trickled it on his forehead, down his cheeks… but he had remained unconscious. Knowing there wasn't anything she could further do, and feeling more helpless than she'd ever felt in her life - she'd sat close to him and watched him carefully. After a while her back began to ache and so she'd risen and set about foraging for fronds. Nothing to do now but keep an eye on him, so she could be there in his eyesight the moment he woke up…

So he would know she had not really been torn from him.

** Chapter Eighteen **

A low moan roused her from her fitful doze; she opened an eye and stretched stiffly, emitting a huge yawn. The small of her back was aching again, probably from not padding the ground enough before she lay down. She looked over at Mulder, still lying close to her… and his eyes were open and looking straight into hers. She flushed a little; Mulder's gaze was direct, and clear, thanks be to God… and cognizant. His eyes flickered over her, slowly; his gaze taking in her too-thin, bruised body, sprinkled with insect bites… her narrow hips and fuller breasts, nipples darker now with developing milk ducts; the rounded belly, even more pronounced due to the leanness of her overall body; the long, tangled hair and thin face. Her eyes so weary… Scully gazed back at him helplessly, blushing furiously, wanting nothing more than to shield herself from his inspection but knowing it was mostly useless; he'd seen it, touched it… tasted it all before - although not with quite this level of awareness in his eyes! He reached out a trembling hand to cup her cheek; Scully pressed herself into that hand and fought back overwhelming tears. Mulder… he'd remembered, and he'd survived it. He'd somehow been able to rise above the indescribable pain of all he'd been through; all he'd been forced to watch her endure. Thank you, God…

Mulder stroked Scully's cheek, not touching any other part of her, unsure of whether his touch would even be welcome. She was so pale and thin, so exhausted-looking… so thin, except for her enlarging belly… compliments of his handiwork… he shuddered anew at the imaginings of what he must have done to her, in the half-wild state which he now knew must have been his mindframe. Hell… what mindframe! He'd been reduced to an animal, he knew that now. He would have had to react to her as an animal, which meant he would have attacked her, probably violently... he moaned low in his throat; unable to fight the despair caused by the image flaming through his mind… of a terrified Scully, naked and vulnerable, being pinned down by his brute strength while he -

"NO! STOP IT, MULDER! IT WASN'T LIKE THAT!" Tears were streaming down her cheeks; she'd flung her arms around him and was holding him fiercely; she'd seen the look on his face. She whispered in a broken voice, "It wasn't that way Mulder… the way I know you're picturing it. It wasn't! It couldn't have been… you wouldn't have treated me that way… you aren't capable of it…"

And in her tight embrace Mulder shook all over, burying his wet face in her neck, sobbing into her skin hoarsely, "How do you know, Scully? You were as unaware as I was! How would you know what was violence, and what was normal! Both of us acting like animals… you would not have been able to stop me…" his voice broke on a fresh sob. Scully pushed away enough to look into his drenched eyes, hands holding his face firmly.

"Mulder, listen to me. You're right… we were both animals; we probably reacted to each other like animals. But Mulder, think about it… what does the female of the species do during the mating process… think! Use that mind of yours and think… what does she do?" Mulder sniffed and tried to force his aching head to concentrate… then his eyes widened as he realized what she was getting at… and he looked into her equally wet eyes, and whispered shakily, "She prepares herself for mating by the positioning of her body and secreting the inner fluids which will ease…" He was suddenly too flustered to go on, but Scully nodded and smiled and hugged him to her fiercely. She whispered tenderly into his ear.

"Exactly, Mulder… she prepares herself. She gets ready for the salami to be slipped to her…" Mulder emitted a shaky chuckle at that so Un-Scullylike remark, and gave her a squeeze. She squeezed back, relief swimming through her at his body's sudden relaxing. She held his gaze and spoke low and with absolute certainty. "Mulder… there is no way you could have forced me, because I was ready for you… I know it as surely as I know anything… as I know how much I love you. It may have been rough, and it may have hurt, but that's because you're so big, and I'm pretty narrow and tight. But never doubt for one moment that I didn't want it… because the animal within me surely did…" His wide, disbelieving eyes met hers in amazement.

"Scully… what did you say?"

"I said I was ready for you…" He shook his head impatiently.

"No, after that… what did you say…!" She smiled in sudden understanding; held him close and pressed small kisses down his neck softly.

"Mulder… I said I know how much I love you… and you know what? I also know how much you love me…"

"How do you know, Scully?"

"Because… you talk in your sleep, Mulder…"

"Oh… Wanna go take bath with me, Scully? I'll wash your back… I'll wash your front. I'll wash your…-"

"I get the picture, Mulder… race you to the pond…"

** Chapter Nineteen **

"Anything, Halliday?"

"Negative, Sir… no sign of human life here…"

They were on the fifth island in the territory below the Tropic of Capricorn; they had avoided as many inhabited islands as possible and had kept their search minimized to the myriad of tiny islands dotting the more remote areas of the South Sea belt. Friedrictoph had become the proverbial fount of information, right after Halliday had shot him full of the serum… and right before the effects of the drug began to take hold. He'd spilled his guts in six different directions… perhaps hoping, in some mad way, he could stay the inevitable. Hadn't worked quite that way… and Skinner and his agents had not stuck around to see the show; they had a helicopter or two to catch. And even though Friedrictoph had not been capable of pinpointing the exact island before he lost all cognizant thought… he'd narrowed it down considerably. Still… they'd been searching as much as possible, every day, for two months. Skinner stopped pacing along the white stretch of beach log enough to take a much-needed swig of tepid water.

So damn frustrating…

They had to be on one of these islands! He knew it, could feel it… he squinted and stared out over the surf, trying to spot the next one, another little dot of land somewhere, a place they might have missed. Hell, it was easy enough to miss one… so many of them weren't even on a map, weren't more than a little floating hill of land, with lots of vegetation and very little wildlife, save the inevitable monkeys and birds. They found themselves doing a lot of circling, over and over the same areas, trying to spot an island they had possibly missed… they had just about given up looking at a map. Instinct alone, instinct and a weird sort of intuition would most likely get them further, at this point. Skinner flipped open the walkie-talkie and spoke into it.

"Let's head out, Halliday… there's nothing here…"

** Chapter Twenty **

It was getting more difficult for her to get around lately… she was growing very large.

Scully moved slowly and carefully up from the cool pond, where she spent a great deal of her afternoons now. With the days so humid and killingly hot, and her ankles in danger of swelling to majestic proportions, she tried to keep herself as cool as possible. Sometimes Mulder joined her, there in the water, playfully splashing her or just holding her and letting her drift in a semi-doze… much of the time he stayed nearby on the bank, speaking softly to her as she lay in the buoyant water with her eyes half-closed, listening to his words of reassurance; his words of love. They spoke of many, many things, during the long days and shorter nights; rehashing old cases with humor instead of remembered horror; giggling over things like mutant worms and carnival geeks, garbage monsters and playing house… giant cockroaches and pencils stuck in their basement ceiling. They skirted the enemies of their past, including the faceless men who had threatened them for so long… touched briefly on the monsters, both human and inhuman, which they had encountered in almost seven years of partnership. It helped them to re-sharpen their minds, their memories… and they didn't want to forget a thing, for it had made them what they held most dear… it had made them strong partners, deep friends… and committed soul-mates.

They spoke of their coming child, in hushed, gentle tones… wondering what they would have and what they would name her, or him… would the child look like both of them, or favor one parent? They decided their child would have Scully's hair and Mulder's eyes; Scully's ears and her nose, and Mulder's smile… her determination and his intelligence… her courage and his strength of conviction. Their combined, fiercely protective love… that was a given. They tried not to dwell on the inevitability of a difficult labor and birth; of the possibility the baby would not come out head first, that it would be so weakened by Scully's malnourishment that it would not be able to survive… They were as pragmatically optimistic as they could be.

They made love all the time, reinforcing their dedication and commitment to each other. Mulder was tender with her, even when she got demanding and insisted on rougher treatment; recalling with shuddering need the way they had been before, as wild creatures instead of college-educated humans… Sometimes she could provoke him into letting loose his darker impulses, but even when he would give into his wilder side; when he held her tightly to him, pressed face-down on the long grasses next to their pond; even when he thrust himself deeply into her, mouth on her neck holding her still… when his pounding body began to build and build, threatening to overwhelm both of them, and she was shuddering and bucking underneath him… his fingers would wind themselves through hers and he would whisper a torrent of broken phrases and words of love into her small ear, and those words would cause her body to tighten and explode as nothing else could, and she would gasp and scream with it, even as his climax would take hold of him and his body would dramatically ease as he pumped into her… in his frenzy of completion still careful, mindful of the life within her, bathing her gently, softly… lovingly. And as they rested there, still joined, still holding hands… they would whisper to each other of the surety that God was watching out for them… that someone was out there, looking for them… they would be all right. They clung to that shared promise as they dozed, and slept.

Ahead of them, solitary in the calm seas all around them, an island… Skinner consulted his map. Of course, this one wasn't on there… even from this distance he could see how tiny it was. This island wasn't more than a few miles long and maybe a mile wide, if even that. He signaled to the pilot, and they went lower, Skinner looking through his binoculars at the low vegetation, the long stretch of beach, which looked undisturbed. No sign of life, anywhere… but that didn't mean anything. He nodded to the pilot, and they began their descent.

** Chapter Twenty-one **


He'd been foraging for bananas; it was the only fruit she could stomach now and he knew the potassium was vital… he had a huge bunch of them in his hands when he heard her yelling for him. He dropped the fruit and tore off into the shaded fronds, into their palm shelter, where he'd left her, napping. He ran into the palms, and stopped dead at what greeted his stunned eyes: Scully propped against a low palm, red-faced and gasping, hands pressing down on her distended belly. She looked up at him through the hair hanging in her face, and wheezed, "Well, don't just stand there, Mulder! Go boil some water or something… my water broke and the baby's coming…" Mulder started shaking.

"Holy Shit… what do you… where… Scully! WHAT DO I DO?" She laughed weakly at the utter panic on his face, and managed a reply in between the puffing breaths she took.

"Hell, Mulder, I don't know… go pace and smoke nasty cigars, I guess… just get in front of me and get ready to catch this kid when it flies out…Ouch… ooohhhh…" as her contractions started in again. Mulder quickly kneeled in front of her and began to time her contractions, mind going into auto-pilot mode. She whispered. "It's a big baby, Mulder… it has a big head, just like you… have you ever delivered a baby before…?" He shook his head and managed a tiny, shaky

smile -

"Do puppies count? -" hopefully. She sighed and nodded weakly.

"You bet, Sweetheart… now start watching for the tail…"


"Yes, Mulder?"

"Do I really have a big head?"

"Fuck, Mulder! Don't make me laugh, not now…!!"

It was the sound of the helicopter which broke his intense concentration from Scully and snapped his head in the direction of the beach. His excited gaze snapped back to Scully, there in mid-contraction, and he whispered, "Did you hear that, Scully? Sounds like a helicopter…" and he was on his feet and running, vaguely registering her angry, breathless, "DAMN YOU MULDER GET BACK HERE I'M HAVING YOUR KID FOR CHRIST'S SAKE…"

On the beach, Skinner strode from the damp surf and began searching all around… then his eyes widened in shock as he heard a voice yelling, and saw a naked figure tearing out from the vegetation, straight toward him… naked and dirty and thin; long, tangled deep brown hair, matted beard covering all the face, blazing eyes, hazel-bright as he got closer… Mulder.

Oh God Thank You…

And Skinner dropped his binoculars and his water bottle and met the wild being in front of him, half way… and threw his arms around Mulder as they both collapsed into the sand, both men crying openly, unashamedly, Mulder hanging on for dear life and Skinner choked with the tears clogging his throat… until Mulder, with a gasp, cried out, "Scully… OhMiGod… we have to get to Scully, now, Sir! I left her… we gotta get her… hurry… she's in labor… the baby…" Even as he was speaking, he'd pulled loose and was running back up the beach toward the palms. Skinner ran after him, shouting in complete befuddlement:

"Mulder… wait… SHIT! BABY…???!!"

** Epilogue **

William Samuel Mulder weighed in at an impressive ten pounds, three ounces, and almost twenty-one inches.

A headful of dark, wispy hair, cloudy gray eyes which could go either way, long and lanky like his father… and one lusty, loud set of lungs. Screaming his head off for his mother's nourishment, her breasts… Mulder could relate to that need. However… the mother in question had very little natural milk of her own, even though she had been placed on a little vitamin cocktail as soon as she'd been loaded into the helicopter, the co-pilot being a nurse who took one look at Scully's emaciated form and commanded, "Calcium. D-plus Iron IV… now, if not sooner!" As quickly as that, Scully was hooked up, even before her arm was cleaned off, before the baby was cleaned of its birth mucus. Skinner pointed to Mulder, squatting close to Scully, holding her in one arm and his child in the other, tears falling softly in her face, and said, "Connors… think you could attach Mulder to another IV as well?" Connor, the nurse, eyes quickly assessing Mulder's similar condition, replied cheerfully, "You bet, Sir… if we can pry him from his new family…" Mulder refused to let go, however, and so the smiling nurse merely rigged up a temporary IV right next to Mulder and let him stay put. The flight back was going to be a fairly long one… the closest hospital was in Efate´, within the Solomon Island chain; a very small hospital but with everything they would need. Still, they were out quite a distance, and so Mulder and Scully were made as comfortable as possible, and the baby, in surprisingly good condition other than hunger, allowed to nurse at her breast despite the fact she probably had no milk to speak of. But it quieted and soothed the child, which was all that mattered. Skinner had boarded the copter with them; Halliday and Simpson having gone ahead in the second unit.

Now Skinner looked down at the baby, dozing at his mother's breast, a little pink-faced at the sight of Scully's naked bosom, out there for the world to see… then he realized some of what they'd had to endure these past months… and knew their combined nudity was really no big deal, to either of them. Scully caught his eye, noting the reddened cheeks, and laughed softly, reaching out a little hand to squeeze his arm reassuringly. "It's OK, Sir… they're just another appendage, you know. Once they've been hanging out there awhile, out there for God and all his monkeys… and Mulder… to see - well, who cares anymore…!" Mulder choked on the water he'd been gulping and looked at her, aghast.

"Jeez, Scully… might I remind you this is our boss you're talking to, joking about body parts…"

Scully grinned up at her 'jungle-mate' and pursed her lips at him; blushing a little, Mulder leaned down as best he could and kissed her gently. She regarded his wild, bearded face thoughtfully.

"You know Mulder… much as I love your sexy, bare cheeks… you might think about keeping that bush on your face for awhile… it's really a turn-on. And besides… our boss has just become our best friend in the world… don't you think?"

And as usual, Mulder had to agree.


Author: Char Chaffin
Category: Mulder/Scully Romance, MS/Skinner Friendship, Angst
Rating: R, for language and sexual situations

Feedback: GOD, yes! I'd beg, but it's so undignified (please please please)
Distribution: Sure, Just Ask!
Spoilers: Spoilers? We don't need no stinkin' spoilers…

Disclaimer: I want them, but I can't have them…
Summary: As Mulder and Scully attempt to make a life for themselves and their new child, that pesky serum just won't let them be…

With thanks to: The following amazing authors: Hillary (Foxsong), Shoshana and Hester (Stormlantern), who offered advice, ideas, encouragement and help with plot development, kept me sane and focused during the writing of this… you guys are the best!

Author's Note: This fic is the direct result of an overwhelming amount of feedback from readers who threatened to hurt me unless I continued the story of Mulder and Scully from "The Other Side of Eden"… and I would like to thank everyone for their wonderful response to that story and because of their desire to know more, I will take "Eden" into a little series, with "Eden in the City" being the first installment. Again, thanks to all who wrote and voiced their approval and enjoyment… as you can see, "the squeaky wheel gets the oil"!!!

This installment is meant to be a continuation, and will definitely make more sense to the reader if they have read "The Other Side of Eden" first -


The "Eden" Series

Part 2: Eden in the City

** Prologue**

When it happened the first time… Thank God she wasn't holding the baby.

She'd just filled a kettle with hot water, flexing sore shoulder muscles, cursing herself for not taking advantage of the sauna which she still was not used to having, so much that she usually forgot it was right there, always available… maybe a cup of hot herbal tea would help. That, and a sixteen-day soak in hot jasmine-scented water, she thought with an inward grin. No time for a long soak anyhow… she knew with a mom's intuition the certainty of Will's less-than-two hour nap routine - and she'd need longer than that just to peel the clothes from her whipped body. So, tea had to be the answer. She'd put the kettle on the stovetop, reached out a hand to snap on the burner -

And found it digging with frenzied need, along her sweatpant-covered legs, scratching so hard, had to dig hard to ease the bites, all those tiny bites, little bites all over her body from laying upon palm fronds, itchy rough scratchy palm fronds, full of nasty little biting bugs, biting bugs which left behind welts, she couldn't reach all the bites, what were these strange things covering her they were choking her she tore at them, couldn't figure out how to remove them they were strangling her she couldn't breathe she was gasping for every breath down on her knees in the hot hot moss under the palm fronds in the jungle "…MULDERRRRRR…"

She was screaming.

He rushed into the kitchen just in time to see her kick the last of the clothes away from her now-nude body, hands digging and tearing at her thighs and along the small of her back as far as she could reach; a low keening sound of distress and panic coming from her throat, curled up on the floor in a semi-fetal position… Mulder skidded to a stop and gawked in stunned surprise at the sight of his wife, there on the floor; bent down to touch her, not understanding what was happening to her, speechless with shock… only to have her hiss with virulence at him and scramble away from his reaching hands, eyes glazed with faraway purpose, until his shaky but loving voice, repeating her name over and over again, somehow got through to her and she stopped trying to scoot away and stopped scratching at herself and just lay still, uncurling her body slowly as she looked up with suddenly cognizant eyes at him, then with bewilderment at herself and her nudity, finally whispering in a papery, low voice:

"Mulder… what happened? Why am I on the floor naked?"

** Chapter One **

Scully sat on the sofa and sipped at the lukewarm tea, still shuddering, still a little unsure of what had happened, there on the kitchen floor.

Beside her on the leather sofa, Mulder held her free hand and stroked it softy, looking into her downcast face with tender worry and concern; not speaking, letting her think about what had happened and try to put it together in her head before he started the questions. He'd lifted her gently from the floor, wrapping her in his flannel shirt which he'd stripped off, still smelling of the fresh grass which he'd been mowing; she'd let him pick her up and carry her into the living room and deposit her onto the sofa, then reluctantly let go of him long enough for him to return to the kitchen for the rest of her discarded clothes. She'd allowed him to dress her in the sweats, just like a little doll, then he'd plunked a mug of tea in her hands and pulled her partially onto his lap… and now just held her other small hand in his warm, large palm… waiting. She sighed, a heavy deep one, and placed the half-empty mug on the glass table next to the sofa, then curled herself into a folded shape in his embrace, trying to stay warm. He held her gently; spoke softly into her mussed hair.

"So… what happened, Scully? Do you remember - can you tell me?" He stroked the silky hair off her forehead; rubbed her skin there, easing the worry lines. She sighed again and leaned her cheek against his neck, eyes closed, focused inward.

"Oh, Mulder… I'm honestly not sure. One minute I was reaching for the burner switch, a full kettle of water in my hands, and the next… I'm on the floor stark naked just scratching away… it was so weird! It was like I was on the island again… I could smell the salt in the air, the underlying nasty fishy smell, too - I could feel gritty sand under me, feel bug bites all over me… then I was so hot, like something was smothering me… But Mulder… that wasn't the most frightening part.

"The most frightening part was… for that measure of time… I didn't know who I was…" softly, in a scared little whisper… "I didn't know what I was…"

Mulder sat quietly, gazing into the soft embers of the now-dying fire; in one arm he cuddled his now-sleeping wife; in the other, his drowsy son. The glow from the coals warm on his face; still he was chilled, deep inside; worry had caused the cold to seep into his bones… worry and a concern rapidly escalating into panic. Will yawned beside him, dark head snuggled firmly against his chest, little sweet face drooping with the need for sleep but trying so hard not to give in to that need… typical tough-little-boy syndrome, Mulder thought tenderly, as he smoothed away the wispy baby hair from the child's half-closed eyes. On his other side, soft and warm and precious… his Scully; exhausted and very deeply asleep, wound into his arm and against his side and twined so thoroughly around his heart and embedded within his soul… beating through his veins with a life force more valuable than his blood. He needed her more than food, more than water, breathed and spoke her; slept her and dreamed her. It had begun seven years ago, so long ago in that dark windowless basement when she first knocked upon his door and walked into his office and straight into his heart. Over the years it had built and built, harder and deeper and stronger until one day it had almost burst out of his chest on one long frightening stride down a dim hallway, fighting to reach out to her before she closed the door on them, forever… that moment found, then lost in the most agonizing way possible until it had been picked up and carried forward again, in the most incongruous, most inopportune and danger-ridden place, nearly two years later. Found, and consummated, and celebrated with innocent abandonment… then lost yet again, but this time only momentarily; long enough to find the right path to follow, the cognizant path… the best path. And now, having found that path, Mulder was damned if he'd let it go; would fight anyone or anything to keep it from going…

Even if it meant fighting their own minds.

** Chapter Two **

"Say that again, Mulder…"

"She had a hallucination, Sir - right on the kitchen floor, in the middle of the day… I was outside working in the yard, and I heard her scream my name - came running into the house to see her tearing at her clothes, moaning and crying… she didn't remember how she got on the floor… didn't remember pulling off her clothes, scratching and digging at her skin. Later on, she told me she could feel the bugs, from the island - could see and smell it… felt like she did when we were stranded there, before we got ourselves back…" Mulder sank back wearily in his chair, head in his hands. Across the expanse of his desk, AD Skinner stared at Mulder in mounting horror, remembering himself what he'd seen, there on the beach when he'd found them, after being lost to him for months… the naked, dirty and painfully thin bodies, covered with insect bites… Scully, enormously pregnant, deep in the palm fronds propped against a tree, screaming and cursing as her frail body heaved with the effort of giving life… giving life to one helluva large kid. By the time they'd reached her, the baby's head was crowning and the pain of it was causing her to black out. They'd had to slap her face, pull at her toes and shake her to keep her aware enough, conscious enough to deliver the child, as Skinner's copter had brought nothing in the way of a medical kit. The other copter had packed the first-aid stuff. It had taken all her waning strength to get young Will's head out; after that the rest was fairly easy. But the process took an enormous toll on Scully's health… she'd spent several weeks in the hospital, once they'd reached the States; forbidden by her doctors to come back to work, she'd actually been relieved, because she'd wanted someone else to take on the responsibility of telling her she could miss work - ordering her to miss work - to be home for the baby; be home for herself. She was just starting to get back to her old self… and now this. Skinner shook his head in bewilderment; he didn't know when his two favorite agents were ever going to get a break. He turned to Mulder and gripped his shoulder reassuringly; spoke with brusque affection.

"Look, Mulder… even though this has only happened once, to Dana… both of us know it could, and probably will, happen again - and most likely, in some way, to you as well. We haven't been able to break down the components of the base of the serum, and if there were hallucinogenic compounds in the stuff… both of you are in danger of suffering uncontrollable episodes at any given moment… under God knows what circumstances.

"I think you'd better get yourselves over to Wallace's office and see what can be done for you… before this happens in a situation less private than your kitchen floor…"

** Chapter Three **

"Dr. Wallace will see you now, Mrs. Mulder… Mrs. Mulder? Um, Mrs. - "

The receptionist was confused; the petite redhead sitting in the overstuffed armchair either hadn't heard her or refused to acknowledge her; she hadn't moved. The receptionist cleared her throat delicately and tried again.

"Dana Mulder… the doctor will see you now…" With a start, Scully looked up from the magazine she'd been flipping through, realizing with no little embarrassment that the woman was addressing her. She stood, a little sheepishly, and followed the frowning receptionist, murmuring, "Sorry… I'm still not used to being addressed as "Mrs. Mulder…" shrugging helplessly. The receptionist half-turned and smiled over her shoulder at the flustered Scully, then ushered her into a large, comfortable office. Scully perched on the edge of a chair and waited, thinking for the thousandth time how much she hated to talk to therapists. But, if those hallucinations ever happened at work, or even worse, when she was holding Will… Scully shuddered anew at the possible dangers. She had to find out what had caused the black-out; this regressive episode. Before it got any worse - before she hurt somebody, or herself. And when she found out what was going on… Scully smiled to herself grimly.

Then she was going to force Mulder to get himself checked out as well… just in case.

Dr. Marianne Wallace had known Scully for about two years; had counseled her as a doctor, in the past; more recently, as a friend. She'd been one of the first to speak to both Scully and Mulder, after they'd returned from their little island ordeal; had given them some very sound advice on how to get past the more frightening aspects of their lost months and instead focus on the good things. They'd had sessions with her separately, and together; it had really helped them. Scully wouldn't have felt comfortable going to anyone else - as much as she dreaded therapy, she knew it was necessary. Now, as she perched on the end of the chair, watching Marianne open the inner office door and walk through, a smile on her face at the sight of Scully sitting there looking vaguely uncomfortable… Scully hoped the episode on her kitchen floor two days past was simply an isolated incident. She childishly crossed her toes, shod in her favorite low black pumps. Marianne laughed out loud at the look on her patient's face, and pointed one long slender finger at Scully's bunched-up pump. "You're crossing your toes again, aren't you?" she chuckled as she took the easy chair across from Scully, whose cheeks were slightly pink. A small defiant chin thrust up in the air as Scully retorted, "Maybe I am… and maybe I've just got an ingrown toenail…" Marianne snorted.

"Ingrown toenail, my eye… what're you worried about this time, Dana? I promise you I won't laugh, no matter what you tell me." Scully's answering grin faded a little as she tried to piece an appropriate reply; Marianne simply reached out and squeezed one of the fluttering, nervous hands, and softly commanded, "Just spit it out, Dana… whatever it is, we can deal with it. Why else would you have come here in the middle of the day, when I know you're always the busiest?" Dana closed her eyes against the sudden, sharp sting of tears, and nodded her head, just a little. She took a deep breath and blurted it out with no finesse and no preliminary explanation.

"Marianne… I've had a hallucinogenic flashback of some kind, a flashback which took me to the island… to the months before Mulder and I knew we were human… and it's scaring the shit out of me…"

Two hours; Scully had managed to tell Marianne most of what had happened to her and Mulder during the long months isolated on the island. Although Marianne had heard a little of it, and had marveled at the agents' ability to survive in such an environment… the more complete story left her breathless with shock, and full of admiration for their undeniable strength of will. Once Scully had started talking, hesitantly at first, then with more assurance as the tale unfolded… Marianne could hardly believe her ears. To have your mind stripped, utterly, after being intimidated, interrogated, beaten, physically and mentally tortured… to be left to die out in the middle of nowhere with no clothes, or food… and then, to survive it… to find strength and renewed purpose through it… to find love, despite of all the pitfalls against it. Actually, Marianne was beyond admiration for the agents, and she told Scully as much, watching the reddened flush steal over her cheeks and the way she tried to shrug it off, claiming anyone in that position would have done what was necessary to live. Marianne was shaking her head vigorously even before Scully stopped talking. She reached out a hand and touched the younger woman's shoulder.

"Dana… I know of very few people… no, let me be realistic here - I know of no one, no one at all, who could survive even a little of what you went through. I felt that way after hearing only the vague outline of your ordeal - but now that I know the rest of it… I can only say it's a wonder these hallucinations haven't manifested themselves much sooner! You have endured a most traumatic experience; you and Fox both. And, both of you are just beginning to heal on the inside; where the scars do not show. I still think Fox went back to work too soon… and I think you would have been wise to take advantage of your mother's babysitting talents a bit longer, and taken more time for yourself.

"We still don't know exactly what was in that serum you were both injected with… it has components we can't identify and we have nothing to compare it with, in our own labs - and all of the logs and diaries, burned like that! Nothing to go on, save the memories of what you went through, and what we witnessed ourselves, on the interrogation tapes. We don't know about aftershocks of any kind - well, now I guess we do… it obviously does happen. But we still don't know if some chemical compound in the serum is responsible… or just a mental imbalance of some kind, caused by the serum, possibly temporary - or perhaps permanent." She gave Dana Scully's shoulder another reassuring squeeze. Dana expelled a shaky breath and failed miserably at producing a creditable smile, but Marianne accepted it anyway, and smiled warmly back at her. She sat back and regarded Scully thoughtfully for a moment, then scribbled something on a piece of paper and handed it to her.

"I can prescribe a mild relaxant, something to calm you down if you feel any sort of panic coming on which would be related to a possible hallucinogenic episode…although it sounds as if it would come so quickly upon you that you'd not be able to get a pill into your system fast enough… and with a baby you can't afford to be regulated on anything, either." She tapped the pen against her teeth, thinking about other options; options she knew Dana would flat refuse… but it was worth a try. She decided to toss it out there and see what would happen.

"Dana… what about hypnosis of some kind…" she trailed off at the sight of Scully shaking her head vigorously.

"Absolutely not, Marianne… not after the last experience; no way! That session just about sent me over the edge; I won't go through it again! Besides, I don't see how it could help." Scully rose and paced around her chair, restlessly. There had to be something else, something they weren't considering; something they were missing. She thought back to a few short months ago; six months, to be exact…

After she and Mulder had returned to DC, and her mother was firmly ensconced in the apartment, taking care of Will and having a blast playing grandmom, they'd spent a week at Bethesda, going through a battery of physical and mental testing, to see how much damage the combination of serum and internal trauma had caused to their systems. Both had been in serious deficit for just about every major vitamin requirement; iron deprived, calcium, potassium… the list went on and on. Malnourished, emaciated, bone-thin… exhausted and dehydrated. They'd been on mega-protein boosters for months; were still taking them. Their weight was still on the low side, although the high-protein diet and exercise sessions were finally showing a difference. But the hardest part of the week had been the sessions with the psychoanalyst, who had hypnotized them, in an effort to glean any information which would help figure out the possible long-term effects of the serum. The sessions had been awful; not only were they not able to recall anything viable, the actual hypnosis was physically damaging to them both. In their weakened state, their hearts beat too fast, their blood pressure rose alarmingly, and Scully had collapsed during one of her sessions; Mulder helpless and panic-stricken, on the sofa next to her, unable to rouse her enough for the doctors to safely bring her out of it. They'd rushed her into Intensive Care and put her on a respirator. And when she finally regained consciousness, she'd reached out a thin hand and wrapped her fingers around the necktie of the first doctor who'd bent over her face, and informed him in a gravelly-rough voice that if he ever did that to her again, she'd remove his kidneys with a spoon… Mulder, caught between horror at what had just happened to the woman he loved, and helpless laughter at her typically-Scully threat… had sunk to the floor, shoulders heaving with mingled chuckles and tears of relief. Neither agent underwent any further sessions. They'd been released and went back to Scully's apartment; her mother had stayed on several more weeks… long enough to see her daughter and Mulder get married in a small, quiet ceremony outside of Georgetown. They'd immediately begun looking for a place outside the main hub of the city, and had found a small house about twenty miles from the apartment; in a quiet neighborhood with decent-sized lots. After they moved in, each day got a little easier… as they regained their strength and their health. At Skinner's and Mulder's combined urging (and nagging, Scully mentally added), she'd taken an extended leave of absence from work, and took advantage of that time to get to know her son. Mulder went back to work a little sooner than he should have, but his body had snapped back a lot quicker than Scully's, and he also had a temporary partner who was helping him in so many ways it was impossible to keep track… Jason Halliday, the young agent who'd been so determined to find them; had been of monumental assistance to Skinner in those dark months while they were missing. Mulder hated like hell to have someone else step into Scully's shoes, even for a day… but Halliday was proving to be a God-send, for he was so much like Scully it was scary. Open-minded, yet practical; scientific yet spiritual… Halliday was a good match for Mulder, and he was on hold anyhow, waiting for his new partner to be transferred from South Dakota. The temporary partnership worked very well for both of then, and they'd become fast friends. Scully really liked Jason; he was intelligent and dedicated, and he made a huge fuss over Will every chance he could get. Things were looking up… until two days ago, when she'd found herself on her kitchen floor, naked and scratching like there was no tomorrow…

** Chapter Four **


"Well, what, Mulder?"

"What did Marianne say? What did she suggest?" More than slight impatience; she grinned to herself and continued to walk sedately beside him, fingers twined lightly in his. He swung her hand between them, trying to hang on to his patience. She hummed under her breath, teasing him a little, pretending to be in deep thought, before she finally answered.

"Marianne says I should go under hypnosis again… me, and probably you as well. She thinks it's the best way to discover what may be causing these flashbacks." Scully stopped and turned to Mulder, moving close enough to rest her forehead against his shoulder. He ran a gentle hand through her soft hair and waited for the rest. She sighed, still a little shaky from the session, and rubbed her face against his arm. "Mulder… I don't want to be hypnotized again… what if I don't come back this time? There's got to be another way to find out what happened to us… how much damage the serum caused! Something less dangerous, more accurate…" She pushed herself into his chest and he held her, arms suddenly fierce around her; protectively… lovingly.

"Scully… no more hypnosis, for either of us… I promise. I don't ever want to go through what I did when you were lying lifeless on that sofa… I thought I had lost you, for real this time. We'll find something that works… we'll beat this."

They spoke of other things that evening; forgetting with deliberate purpose the shadows in their corners; wanting nothing more than to spend precious time with Will. He was crawling everywhere now, his sturdy little body wriggling with quick intent over the floors and carpets, laughing with babyish glee as Mulder growled behind him and pretended to chase him; allowing himself to be caught and then tossed up into the air. From her snuggled position in the overstuffed armchair, Scully watched their antics with a sleepy smile; it had been a very long day for her. Although she was getting stronger each day, she still tired quickly and fell asleep at the drop of a hat. Eyes in mid-droop, she forced them open again long enough to see Will give a huge yawn; Mulder carried him over his shoulder, fireman-style, to where she lay on the sofa, and lowered him down enough for her to give him a goodnight cuddle and kiss. She waved to him as he was carried off upstairs, giggling, still partially upside-down; the giggles turned to baby shrieks; obviously Mulder was engaging in a tickle-fest before bedtime. Sudden quiet, then a door softly closing, as Mulder came back downstairs and joined her on the sofa, pulling her relaxed body into his arms and folding himself around her. She pressed back into him mischievously, noting with a chuckle, "What's that you have in your front pocket, Mulder? A sword? Are you planning on buttering my bread for me…?" Mulder smothered a half laugh, half groan, into her silky hair, and butted her gently, front to back, murmuring, "Oh, yeah, Scully… my butter on your bread… my sword stuck in your jam jar… my fork testing your bacon for doneness… my…"

"Jeez, Mulder… are you horny, or just hungry for food?" She was trying to keep a straight face as she partially turned to eye him indignantly. He rolled her underneath him and pinned her down into the sofa cushions with both legs tangling around hers. He ran a firm hand up her body, beneath her loose clothes, fingers dancing softly over her tiny waist and delicate ribcage, around and over each breast; she gasped into his neck and bit him there. His hand was so warm as it settled on a breast and rubbed the skin gently. So gently… so caringly. He was unbelievably tender with her, always; moving with careful ease against her when they made love, pouring words of intense passion into her waiting ear, the passion he controlled in small doses, feeding them to her body when it was drawn taut as a bow; careful, so careful. Sometimes it was what she wanted… sometimes it wasn't. He never failed to make her body climax, in great gusts of feeling which drained her to the core and left her shaky and weak - but she needed his roughness sometimes; needed him to take instead of give; needed the pleasure which bordered more on pain; the piercing good that they'd first discovered, there on that tiny bug-infested island, months and months ago.

She decided to provoke him, there above her, gazing down into her face as he caressed her and held himself in tight control, wanting to make it perfect for her. Not perfect; not yet, Mulder, she thought impishly - but it would be, very soon. She slowly wiggled out of her loose t-shirt and drew it over her head, tossing it on the floor; lifted herself up and rubbed her bare breasts against him; then she buried her mouth in his neck and bit him again, whispering hoarsely, "Take off your clothes, Mulder… now." She tugged on his sweatshirt; he jerked it off his body in one hard pull and lowered himself onto her again, pressing down hard against her. She purred, deep in her throat, and wriggled her lower body under him, demanding, "The rest of it, Mulder… I want skin and I want it now…" With a groan at her words, whispered into the bite on his neck, he tore off the sweatpants and boxers in one abrupt tug, and then flicked the rest of her clothes off before his body covered hers again. She wound a leg over his slim hips and pushed into him; he pushed back, suddenly and fiercely… and slipped into her easily. And with the feel of her surrounding him, pulling him in deep; her little body cushioning him as he sunk even further within… Mulder found himself digging into her in long, hard strokes; moaning into her hair as he drove her, and himself; her warmth so tight around him that it should have caused pain to both of them. She coiled her legs about him and took one of his hands, pushing it between their bodies, forcing his fingers to press on her center, crying out when he found her spot and began tugging on it with two fingers, matching the rhythm of his thrusts. She could hear the gasp of her own voice as it left her throat and lodged in his open mouth, begging him to go faster, deeper… he echoed the words back to her, down into her lungs, as he obeyed her requests; he was slamming into her now, helpless to stop, to ease up on the driving thrusts; she wouldn't let him gentle his movements, not a bit. She pushed up against him just as hard. He could feel it coming up, fast; he gasped out her name in an endless chant which caused his fingers to tighten around her softness until she stiffened and screamed her release into his shoulder; echoed in the shouts which left him in a rush of fluids and breath and waning strength. He fell onto her in a limp heap; she cradled him in equally limp arms, drained and sore and utterly at peace. And as she dozed off into an exhausted sleep, it vaguely registered, in a corner of her almost-unconscious mind… they'd barely kissed during the most passionate moments of their union - almost like being on the island, once again… the island. How strange, she thought dreamily… how strange.

They never did make it off the sofa that night.

** Chapter Five **

It was almost a week before another hallucination occurred.

Uneventful days; she'd had lunch with a few of her friends and had done a lot of yard work; spent some lazy afternoons with Will, at the park nearby; then toward the end of the week had gone to see Skinner and attempted to wangle out of him a definite promise of a return to work date for her. Skinner was sweet but firm with her; he'd received his report from Dr. Wallace and based on that report, he wasn't about to let Scully come back to work… not yet. He told her, as gently as he could; her reaction was predictable and pure Scully… she tried to rationalize him into agreeing, stating she was better equipped to handle the case forensic investigations than Halliday, and besides, his new partner was due any day. Skinner, exasperated, finally roared at her, "Agent Scully! Sit down and listen to me - I'm only saying this once.

"You are not ready to come back to work, and we both know it. You aren't physically strong enough yet; Agent Mulder tells me you still tire easily and your appetite is still sketchy… What was that, Agent?…" for she had muttered under her breath, "The traitor… he's toast!" She jerked her head up and looked him straight in the eye, and retorted, "I was merely referring to Agent Mulder as a 'traitor', Sir…" Skinner sighed, moved around his desk to sit next to her, and reached out a large hand to cover her cold one.

"Dana… if I didn't care for you, both as a damn fine agent, and a good friend… I'd let you back in the building in a heartbeat. But I can't do that… not yet. It's only been barely seven months, and that's not nearly enough time for you to return to normal. I know you've made enormous progress, you and Mulder both… but he didn't give birth to a strapping baby in the middle of a sweltering jungle under hideous physical circumstances… and he's been able to snap back a lot faster. I'm still not happy about him coming to work so soon, but he's on office restriction for another month - and he's chomping at the bit, believe me!" Scully smiled at the mental picture Skinner's words conjured up; she knew full well how much Mulder hated to be tied down to an office when there were cases to investigate. Both of them thrived on field work; they always had. She turned to her boss and squeezed the hand still holding hers.

"OK, I'll stay home a while longer… but you have to let me work on this latest case, from home. I can still do a lot of research from the computer, and I can still be some kind of help to Mulder and Halliday… please, Sir? Take pity on a stir-crazy agent?" She batted her eyelashes at him outrageously; he barked out a short laugh and gave her a quick, hard hug.

"All right, Agent - I can see if I don't agree you'll nag me to death. I'll send some files home with you - but, no field work! And stay out of the basement - you got me?" Scully just about blinded him with a smile as she rose and headed toward the door.

"Thanks, Sir…"

On the drive home from the office, she stopped for a red light… and reached up to re-adjust her rear-view mirror which she'd accidentally knocked askew with her head when she'd first gotten inside… and behind her, a chorus of blaring horns aimed at a daredevil motorcyclist weaving in and out of the cars all lined up, waiting for their turn to move… she eased off the brake, preparing to accelerate…

And she suddenly found herself holding her head, fingers pressing hard over her ears, trying to shut out the sound of the chattering in the trees, the endless squawking of the parrots and the monkeys, all day long in the trees, loud and grating on her ears, she'd never been able to get used to it, they were getting louder and louder and she couldn't think, couldn't breathe, above the chatter of monkeys everywhere she could hear her own whimpering and she clutched anew at her head and her aching belly it was so empty she needed food but there was no food close by and thirsty so thirsty and now she was curling into a little ball on the sand hoping her belly would stop hurting and her mouth would not be so dry and she was smothering in the heat too much heat…

The roaring in her head slowly replaced by several urgent voices in her ears; voices repeating over and over, "You all right Lady? Do you need an ambulance…" She slowly became aware that she was surrounded by air bags, one from the driver's side and one from the steering wheel; and that her car was tilted sideways against a concrete embankment in the median between the four-lane road; warm trickling on her forehead which turned out to be blood… and she didn't know how she'd gotten there, couldn't understand why her airbags had inflated… confused and bewildered, she pushed weakly at the airbag in front of her face, and the police officer who'd stopped and called for backup and was trying to deflate her them, heard her as she voiced her thoughts aloud, and replied, "You were weaving all over the road, Ma'am… holding your head with both hands. I don't know who in hell was driving your car but it was a miracle you didn't crash harder than you did. Is there someone we can call for you?" Scully cleared her throat painfully, and managed to squeeze out, "Call my partner, Fox Mulder… FBI." The cop wrote it down and inquired, "What's your name, Ma'am?" She thought very hard and finally remembered, whispered, "Scully… Agent Dana Scully…" The cop also wrote that down and noticing her wedding band, asked her, "Where can we reach your husband, Ma'am? We need to call him and have him meet us at the hospital… " He trailed off at the look of complete blankness on her scratched face.

"Husband? I don't have a husband… what makes you think I have a husband…"

** Chapter Six **

It was damn impossible to get a slow elevator moving when your life was passing in front of your petrified eyes and you couldn't even remember how to operate the blasted buttons, Mulder thought, fighting unsuccessfully against the panic rising steadily inside him as he punched at the door buttons with a stabbing finger, then cursing colorfully under his breath, he wrenched open the stairwell door next to the elevator and took the stairs two at a time, clearing six floors in no time flat. He tore down the hospital corridor at a dead run, narrowly missing a run-in with an elderly man wearing a baggy robe and pushing a roll-away IV unit; the man jumped about out of his slippers as Mulder zoomed by him and shook a gnarled, bony fist at him, muttering under his breath; Mulder flung a distracted, "Sorry!" over his shoulder and kept on running, rounding a corner and screeching to a halt at the doors of ICU; a hand reached out to grab at him when he would have burst through the doors. Mulder whirled on the hand, prepared to break it if necessary to get loose; unfortunately this hand was attached to AD Skinner, who held on tightly and growled, "Agent Mulder! Take it easy! She's OK; she's been transferred to a room on the eighth floor… I tried to get hold of you but you weren't answering your cell phone." In a more reassuring tone, he added, "She really is fine; just a cut on her forehead which only needed three stitches and a little shaken up. Let's go up to the room and I'll explain on the way…" pulling at Mulder's arm and urging him toward the elevators. Mulder shuddered once, hard - then allowed himself to be led to the elevator, still not trusting his voice to come out with any intelligible speech, until they were moving up to the next floor. He finally cleared his throat; rubbed an unsteady hand across his face and faced his boss.

"What happened, Sir? I couldn't get a straight answer out of anybody…"

"Well, from what I understand, Agent Scully had another hallucination, of sorts, while she was driving home this afternoon. Luckily, she wasn't moving very fast, had just come out of a red light, and traffic was slow when it happened. The police who showed up told me she was spotted clutching her head between her hands, and the car was weaving all over the road. It hit on the driver's front side first, then spun and smashed into the median embankment. Both her airbags went off and absorbed most of the impact. By the time the cops had reached the car, she had snapped out of it and seemed to be fine…" Skinner trailed off, his brow knit with worry, and Mulder picked up on the uncertain tone of voice and demanded, "There's more, isn't there? What? What is it…" He was beginning to panic again; Skinner grasped his arm again and squeezed hard.

"Agent, calm down! The last thing Scully needs is to see you panic.

She's going to be just fine… physically.

"But mentally… we don't know for sure, because when she snapped out of it, she asked the cops to notify you and have you come to the hospital - but she only referred to you as her partner, and when the cops asked her how to get hold of her husband… she didn't remember being married…"

** Chapter Seven **

Propped up in the uncomfortable hospital bed, trying unsuccessfully to keep the back of her stupid gown from gapping open, Scully finally gave up and wrapped as much of the blanket around her as possible. She was still chilled, even through the room was plenty warm enough. The residual effects of the accident had settled over her, and she was just beginning to appreciate what a close call she'd actually had. The policeman who'd helped her had told her she'd simply taken both hands off the steering wheel and grabbed at her head, letting the car operate on its own. Scully shuddered anew at the mental image that little bit of information conjured up - and found herself wondering, yet again, why on earth she would do such a thing when she was driving. It just didn't make any sense. She rubbed wearily at her forehead; Mulder hadn't shown up yet and she was beginning to worry. When she'd asked for someone to call him, she should have also told them to relay her overall state of health to him as well, for she knew how he would react - and how recklessly he drove when he was in panic mode. Thinking of the cop on the scene also jogged her still-muzzy memory and she remembered him asking her about her husband… Scully shook her head in confusion. At the time, she couldn't understand where on earth he'd gotten such an idea… until he tapped his pen on her left hand, and she'd looked down… and stared dumbly at the lovely diamond solitaire and matching band, there on her slender finger, the fit perfect, the stones flawless. What the -! Where had that come from, she wondered, confused as hell. She'd sat in her wrecked car, staring at the ring, fighting to remember… and then it hit her; of course! Another stupid case, she'd bet; similar to that damn mess they'd had to investigate, in Arcadia… the one she privately referred to as "Agents in Marriage-land"… and she'd sworn up and down she would never let Skinner or Mulder talk her into another undercover like that! Well, they must have wormed their way around her at a weak moment… speaking of worms…

A movement at the door caught her eye, and Mulder was there, peeking around the doorway… eyes anxiously worried, just as she'd known they would be…

At the sight of her, awake and sitting up, looking like a little girl in that baggy gown, with a blue hospital blanket wadded up in her lap… Mulder's heart stopped its frantic pounding for maybe one whole second, before it slammed back against his ribs, and it was all he could do to keep his feet. He forced himself to school his expression into a warm, reassuring smile… to not let her see how frightened he'd been. God, anything could have happened to her, out on the busy streets in the throes of one of these hallucinations… She was looking at him with an expression of concern… for him, as usual; not thinking or worrying overmuch about herself but caring about his reaction… typically Scully-ish, and so endearing he had to fight to keep the tears at bay. He somehow made it over to the side of the bed, reached out two unsteady hands for her… then remembered she was not herself and had one hell of a break in her memory… concerning him. He opted instead for grasping the hand she'd held out to him, and gently kissing the soft palm. Her eyes widened a little at the gesture, but she just chalked it up to excessive MulderWorry and gave him a smile; patted the empty bed space next to her. He sank onto the mattress, still hanging onto her hand, and wouldn't let it go. She smiled again, thinking of how his ever-present concern for her never failed to make her feel warm inside.

"Mulder… I really am all right… even the stitches don't hurt all that much." She turned her head to the side so he could see the tiny line of them, there on her pale forehead. Mulder reached out his free hand to trace the puckered skin, then his head dipped down and he rested it against their joined hands. One hard shudder wracked through him; she felt the vibrations to her fingertips, and she squeezed reassuringly, tugging on his hand a little, trying to get him to look at her again. She suddenly wondered if there wasn't something more going on here, something the doctors and Skinner hadn't told her. She didn't know what else could make Mulder overreact like this to just a simple fender-bender… as if she'd spoken aloud, Mulder pinned her with a stern gaze, and leaned into her, voice serious and deep.

"It wasn't a little 'accident', Scully - and you know it. You let go of the steering wheel and ran into an embankment. If it had been rush hour, or bad weather conditions… God knows what could have happened!" He yanked her into his arms, abruptly, and buried his face into her neck, shaking all over. She was too surprised by his actions to do anything but pat him on the back, awkwardly, and wonder what the hell had brought this emotional display on, for even at his most worried, Mulder always managed to present more of a bracing front than a panicky one, to her. She tried to pry his face out of her neck to get another look at his face, but Mulder wasn't budging. Finally, she sighed and stroked his mussed hair, just holding him and letting him play out his worry and fear on her poor neck, which was beginning to feel the effects of Mulder's five o'clock shadow. More like midnight shadow, she mused, wondering when he'd last shaven. He suddenly gripped her tighter, and his lips pressed into the chafe he'd made on the soft skin between her neck and shoulder, and he opened his mouth and delicately licked her there. Scully jumped in shock at the feel of his tongue, and pushed at him hard, getting a little space between them. She stuck a hand under his chin and pulled his face up so she could look at him… then wished she'd left well enough alone, for Mulder had an expression on him that could only be described as… desire-heated. For her. For his partner, Scully. She was completely confused now and her face must have shown it, for Mulder closed his eyes against the wary probing of hers, and fought hard to bring his roiling emotions under control. He had an awful lot of explaining to do… and he only hoped he'd be able to get through to her.

"Scully… there is something else going on around here… and I want you to listen to me with an open mind and accept what I'm going to tell you as the truth…"

** Chapter Eight **

"Walter… I don't understand… why do you want me to bring Will to the hospital? What's going on?" Maggie Scully was holding her squirming grandson on her hip and trying to talk into the receiver while stirring a pot on the stove; Will was laughing and pulling at the phone cord, chubby little fingers getting twisted in the coils. She kissed his face and set him down on the floor; stuck a plastic Tupperware bowl and a wooden spoon in his hands and tried not to wince as he set about banging on the bowl happily. She moved over to the other side of the kitchen so she could hear above the din.

"Maggie… Dana had a little accident… no! She's fine, really; just a small cut on her head… what? About three hours ago. I would have called you sooner, but… it's been a little crazy around here…" Now there's an understatement, Skinner thought as he tried to calm Dana's mother down. She was speaking now, less panic in her voice.

"I thought she had been at your office all this time, trying to wheedle her way back into the basement and onto Fox's latest case! I was beginning to wonder if you'd perhaps had her locked up for her own good…! Is she really all right, Walter? Or are you just trying to un-scare me? "

"She really is fine… but I would like to see you down here right now, if you can… and bring Will. We do have a little situation here, and I think Will may be able to help…" he went on to describe the 'little situation' to her; and her eyes widened in shock and concern; she interrupted him only once, then replied, "Will and I will be there as soon as we can… tell Fox not to worry."

Fox was worried… he wasn't getting through to her.

At first, when he'd begun gently probing at her, trying to feel out what she remembered, and what she didn't - Scully's responses hadn't been all that surprising. He'd expected her selective memory loss, based on the fact she remembered him, but not the most recent events in their lives. The history they shared in years would more firmly embed him in place; he would have been amazed if she'd not known him. And although he was very disconcerted - and upset - at her inability to recall what they'd become to each other… he understood, and accepted, the fact; knew it was most likely temporary. Well, he'd hoped. She had surprised him, however, with her conclusion about the wedding rings on her hand… she'd flipped her fingers in front of his face and half-grimly, half-laughingly demanded to know how he and Skinner had managed to talk her into another undercover pose as "Mrs. Spooky…" he almost said the words, "We're married, Honey" at that point… almost. Instead, he'd begun to explain about Isarius, and chewed at his bottom lip as he watched for her reaction.

And it was that reaction to his words which had him most worried… her inability to consider anything about their last case; the one which had put them in harm's way only a scant month after they'd begun their cover. Mulder had tossed out a few names, to see how Scully would react… the name Halliday meant nothing to her, even though Jason had been working for AD Skinner for several months before their ordeal on the island. When he'd mentioned the Isarius Project, she'd looked at him with blank eyes at first, shaking her head and asking him what it was all about. He'd tried to explain it to her; told her the project centered around an organization being investigated by the FBI; it had been responsible for several assassinations in key cities across the US. In each murder, a state governor had been the victim; his or her political affiliation the same as the President's… whose Cabinet was being killed off, one by one, for no as-yet apparent or obvious reason. And when autopsies had been performed, in each case it had revealed the victim bore traces of an unknown substance which the FBI would later discover held the rudimentary ingredients of a much more dangerous drug, which would become known as "the serum"… in its final stage of completion untested… yet. However, until access to the main lab could be gained, there was no way it could be discovered exactly what this finished serum could to the human body. And by the time Mulder and Scully, in deep cover, had infiltrated the organization and gained access to the lab, and just begun to discover for themselves the utter horror of the serum and all its effects - they'd been found out, discovered… and disposed of in the most heinous fashion. Scully had listened to all this narrative quietly, though it did not jog her memory and Mulder had no way of knowing whether or not she'd accepted what he had told her. But then, Mulder said the name of the scientist responsible for their little trip through Hell… Pell Friedrictoph. As soon as that name left his lips, Scully had reacted… badly. She'd jumped up, off the bed, backed away from Mulder, moaning low in her throat, "No no no no no no noooo…"; Mulder had reached for her, eyes widely, worriedly fastened on her milk-pale face; she yanked herself out of his hands and stumbled into the bathroom, slamming and then locking the door. He'd pounded on the door, begging her to let him in; she'd told him, in an eerily calm voice, to back off and leave her the fuck alone or she'd shoot him. Mulder had sagged against the door frame, shock immobilizing him, unable to believe she'd used that word against him… then he'd bolted from her hospital room and gone looking for Skinner…

Scully waited until she was sure Mulder had left the room; hesitantly emerged from the bathroom and slowly moved to her bed, sinking down upon it wearily. She felt badly about telling Mulder to back off, especially using such an ugly word against him. She'd never done that before… not to Mulder. Running a shaky hand through her hair, Scully forced herself to calm, from the inside, deep down inside where any tiny thought centering around that name, the name that Mulder had spoken softly to her, in hopes of a reaction (well, he got one, didn't he) could be squashed; she didn't understand the way that name had made her feel, but she supposed her reaction could be considered a bit extreme, beyond the obvious distress over memory loss.

She was also convinced there was a lot more beyond the events and circumstances she'd lost; relationships which she'd forgotten and which Mulder had left unsaid. The way he was acting around her now, his overwhelmingly tender concern, a hundred times stronger than she'd ever seen him show, for her… that was just one instance of a change which she did not recall. He'd kissed her neck… no, amend that, Dana, she whispered to herself… he licked my neck, as if he'd been doing it all his life… as if that gesture was familiar to him; a habit of some kind. She wondered about that new aspect of his personality most of all. And she was beginning to get one colossal headache. Maybe a shower would help. Grabbing a clean, albeit indecent hospital gown from the supply cabinet, Scully headed for the bathroom.

** Chapter Nine **

Maggie Scully swung around the corner, past the nurses' station; Will dozing in his little stroller. Dressed in a navy blue romper with a striped shirt and a little red sweater, he looked amazingly angelic, considering what havoc he'd wrought just an hour ago, when she was trying to get him bathed and ready. Pausing at the station to ask directions to Scully's room, Maggie smiled at the sight of three grown women reduced to tittering fools over Will. With his bright blue eyes half closed and his lashes like feathery fans dusting his little cheeks, Will was indeed a most beautiful child. He gusted out a huge yawn, and all four women hovering around him sighed and clucked over the few tiny, pearly baby teeth revealed, and his tiny fisted hands stretching above his head as he spied his grandmother and demanded quite loudly to be picked up. Maggie unsnapped him from his seat belt and swung him up into her arms, looking around for Mulder or Skinner. She finally located both of them, and hurried toward them; Will squealed in delight at the sight of his father, and again held out both chubby arms. Mulder gladly took him from his mother-in-law, pressing a gentle kiss on her cheek and squeezing her shoulders briefly. Will gave him a smacking kiss on his nose and spotting Skinner standing next to his father, immediately reached out for his glasses, earning him a laughing, "No, no, Willy-Boy!" from Skinner and a tickling in his ribs. Maggie slid a bracing arm around Mulder's waist and regarded him with worried eyes. "Fox… has she remembered anything at all… even something tiny and insignificant, about your true relationship? What about Will?" Mulder sighed and sat down on the nearest chair, Will snuggled in his lap, and Maggie perched next to him, twisting at her hands. Mulder put out a calming hand of his own and stilled her movements.

"Not anything about us, Mom… but she did seem to listen to, and accept the events leading up to our little enforced island stay… although when I mentioned that bastard Friedrictoph's name, she came unglued and locked herself in the bathroom. I never got a chance to tell her of the time on the island - how we really were together, and why. She wouldn't open the damn door. One of the nurses just checked on her; she's taking a shower."

The hairbrush crackled through her hair; she sighed at the comforting feel of it. Standing in the bathroom in front of the mirror, she'd inspected the scratches on her cheeks; they weren't much to speak of and she knew they'd heal fast. What worried her the most was the ability to heal her spotty memory. And the only dependable place to get answers was from her partner… starting with his noticeably more intense familiarity with her. That little lick on her neck… she could still feel it, and her eyes half-closed with the remembered heat of it. His tongue… Mulder's tongue. On her skin. Like it was as normal, as everyday, as the presence of his hand on the small of her back. She blew out a shuddery breath and finished brushing her hair, then slid into the hospital gown, doing her best to tie it up in the back as much as possible. One more glance in the mirror, avoiding her own eyes; she didn't want to admit to anything she might see there. Opening up the door, head bent, rubbing at the still-stiff back of her neck… at first she didn't see them, there in her room. But at the sound of a high, excited baby's squeal, her head jerked up… and her astounded eyes latched onto the sight of Mulder, seated on her bed, holding in his arms… a baby. A baby with dark curly hair; with wide blue eyes and long, thick eyelashes… dimpled cheeks and chubby little hands - hands that were reaching out… to her. She stood frozen to the floor, gaping at the child, her eyes wide and shocked. The baby's coos and squeals were getting louder, more demanding… his eyes shining with unshed tears of want… his blue, blue eyes; eyes the exact shape and color of her own. Her eyes… there, on this child with Mulder's dark hair… with Mulder's mouth…

Holy shit… Scully grabbed for something to hang on to; she felt faint, felt herself going limp; hands caught her from behind, and led her over to the nearest chair; she looked up, dizzy; her mother's worried face swam up there in front of her, still holding onto her hands; Scully squeezed them weakly, just to reassure herself that her mother's presence in her hospital room was real; she tried to speak, tried to tell her mother there was a baby in the room, look at that baby, it looks like every baby picture I was lucky enough to see, of Mulder, ones his mother showed me years ago, except for the eyes, Mom, how about those eyes, just like mine, Mom, how's about that, huh -

She finally managed to squeeze out five words from her dry, tight throat -

"What the hell's going on…" - before she fainted dead away, slumped over in the chair.

** Chapter Ten **

A buzzing in her ears, very annoying; she lifted a tired arm, hand swatting at the damn bee, hate bees; nasty stinging things, damn bee ruined my chance to finally kiss Mulder, kill all the bees, who needs honey anyway they can eat sugar and get cavities like the rest of us… she awoke to the sound of her voice mumbling inanely, about bees. The buzzing slowly became recognizable as the sound of someone's cell phone; through her half-open lids, she saw Skinner flip his phone open; heard him speak softly; words unintelligible and fuzzy to her ears. She made the effort to turn her head; Mulder sat very close to her, holding her hand, stroking the back of it gently. Next to him, her mother; one hand on her arm, the other laid on Mulder's shoulder, resting there as if she'd always been a mother, to him. Very confusing… she coughed and struggled to sit up; Mulder put out two fingers and easily pushed her back down, shaking his head.

"Nope, Scully - you just stay put. Want some water?" She nodded; he reached behind him for a paper cup and lifting her slightly, got some water down her parched throat. She tried to gulp it all; he shook his head again, admonishing her, "Just sip it, Scully - or it'll just come right back up again…" He laid her back down and tucked the blanket snugly around her, then traced her pale cheek with a gentle finger. "Feel better?" She nodded, mesmerized by the look on his face; the look of intense love shining there. She glanced at her mother; saw the look of love there as well; a look which made more sense, to her… she cleared her throat and made another attempt at speech. Her voice was a whispery dry croak.

"Will one of you, or both of you… please tell me what's going on? Mom, what are you doing in DC this time of year? Mulder, why did you lick my neck? Whose baby was that…" her voice petered out as Mulder and her mother shared a tired smile, and her mother spoke. "Do you want to tell her, Fox… or should I?" Mulder shook his head and grasped her mother's shoulder as she bent over him, squeezing it reassuringly, then murmured, "I'd better tell her, Mom… let me have some time alone with her, okay?" And her mother smiled and pressed a kiss on Mulder's cheek, and quietly left the room, with Skinner… left Scully staring open-mouthed after them, then swinging the same expression on her partner, who was now sitting on her bed, very close to her, with his warm fingers twined through hers… and did she just hear him call her mother… 'Mom'…? She shook her head, weakly - and stared at her partner in growing consternation.

"Mulder… you called my mother "Mom"… she kissed you like she's always kissed me… Skinner called me 'Dana' non-stop when he was in here earlier, and he seemed so… caring… to me - weird… and speaking of 'weird'… you licked my neck, Mulder… and I'm still wearing a wedding ring that had to have cost a small fortune… and somewhere around here is a baby with your face and my eyes, Mulder… maybe you'd better tell me, and tell me now…" she slowly pulled herself up, close enough to get right in Mulder's wary face, eyes boring into his as she reached out a shaky hand to grasp his shirt, right at the collar, and twist her fingers into the material until the sudden tightness was cutting off his Adam's apple, and he was making strange little "Guh, Guh" noises… she faced him, nose to nose…"Tell me, Mulder… WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!" Mulder closed his eyes, tightly, and actually found himself praying for strength. He gently pried her tight fingers from his mangled Adam's apple, and retaining hold of her hand, eased himself closer to her, until he was very close; could breathe in the fragrance of the lemon shampoo she'd used. His other hand moved slowly, up to her cheek, thumb tracing the delicate bone structure there… and he held her widened, startled eyes with his as he stumbled over the words, a tone in his low voice which left her in no doubt of the truthfulness of what he was saying.

"Scully… the baby… the baby is our baby… yours and mine. He's seven months old and we named him William Samuel Mulder. He's ours, Scully… conceived during the time we were on that island, the one I told you about; the one we were tossed on during our last case… tossed there and left to die except we didn't let those bastards get the best of us, Scully - we survived. We survived, and we thrived, and we loved, there on that goddamn island… and we made Will…" he broke off, tears welling suddenly in his hazel eyes at the look of complete shock and denial in her face, her rapidly shaking head, trembling all over as in a tiny, hoarse voice she uttered, "No, no, it's not possible, Mulder - I can't have a baby; can't have any children, no children, I'm not even a whole woman inside, how can I have a baby when there's nothing there, when I'm empty as a paper bag inside Mulder, no place for a baby to be created, nothing to grow in there, worse than a desert… nothing there for you to love, God how could you love a shell just a shell with no emotions and no love and unwilling to give anything…" her frightened babbling suddenly cut off by the fierce shaking Mulder was giving her shoulders as he cried to her, tears falling freely from his eyes, mingling with the ones running down her cheeks.

"SCULLY, STOP IT, JUST STOP IT! Jesus, don't you know…" he yanked her abruptly into his arms and held her shaking body tightly against his. Threading his hands through her hair, pressing her head to his chest… now kissing every inch of her face, all over her sweet face as he shook and sobbed through his open mouth… he wound one hand into her hair and pulled her head back so he could look into her drenched eyes, his own softening, vision impossibly blurred as he took in the pale face and quivering lips of his wife. His wife… he covered her mouth with deep, wet kisses, feeling again her shock, then hearing a tiny moan coming from her throat as she yielded to him. She didn't have the strength to kiss back… but she didn't push him away, either. She was beyond rational thought by then; could do nothing more than accept. He broke the long kiss, buried his mouth in her ear, whispering to her, "I promise you I'm telling you the truth… and I'll tell you how we came together, the circumstances behind it, really I will… but for now, the only important thing, the thing you have to believe… is I love you, so damn much I'd gladly lay down my life for you… in love with you years before this island mess ever occurred, only I was too chicken-shit to tell you… and I don't know why you had a baby when a herd of doctors told you it would never happen… but it did. And he's the most wonderful child in the world, Scully… just like his mama. I don't think I'll ever be able to deserve all I've been given, all I've received, from you, and from our child… but I swear to you I will never let another thing harm you, or Will… we will get through this, and we will rise above it… we have to. Because if we don't, then… once again, they've won." He shook her a little, again; gazed into her still-teary eyes, eyes finally beginning to regain some of their cognizant shine, and whispered, "Do you accept this, Scully - do you believe?" She slowly raised her face, and one small, shaky hand touched his jaw; lingered there. She nodded, wearily, and dropped her forehead onto his shoulder.

"Oh, Mulder… I want to believe…"


Author: Char Chaffin
Category: Mulder/Scully Marriage, babies, M&S/Skinner friendship, Angst
Rating: Strong "R", for sexual situations and disturbing imagery

Feedback: GOD, yes! I'd beg, but it's so undignified (please please please)
Distribution: Sure, Just Ask!
Spoilers: All together now…"Spoilers? We Don't Need no Stinkin' Spoilers…"

Disclaimer: I want them, but I can't have them…
Summary: Mulder and Scully are forced to send their child into hiding to save him from the threat of a monstrous threat...

With thanks to: The following amazing authors: My so-dedicated Beta-Muse, Hillary (Foxsong), Shoshana and Dawn (Sister Moon) and Hester (Stormlantern), who have kept up with this series, offered me plot angles, questioned my judgment, offered advice, ideas, encouragement and even sent me virtual food during the writing of "Eden"… not to mention overflowing my email server with wonderful friendship. Also to Alison, one fantastic artist whose ideas and support are just awesome…Once again…you guys are the best!

Author's Note: This fic has become an ongoing event, it seems… just when I think I have it finished, the plot thickens… and I find myself running to keep up with the flow! A lot of readers have emailed me with approval and yes, continue to threaten bodily harm upon my person if I leave them hanging one more time… well, guess what? Hurt me!! 'Cause I am gonna have to let you hang, at least one more time… but I promise you it won't be for long! Thanks to everyone who wrote and told me how much they are enjoying it, and now… the adventure continues…


The "Eden" Series

Part 3: Re-Inventing Eden

** Chapter One **

The cry of his child awoke him from a quasi-nightmare and he sat up in bed with a jerk, forcing his eyes open and his body already halfway to the floor before he realized Scully was not there beside him. In a panic he ran from the room, all vestiges of sleep leaving him as he searched the quiet house. He strode first into the nursery; no sign of her… or for that matter, his son. His panic increased tenfold, as he ran down the stairs, now calling, "Scully! Where the hell are you!" Into the living room he ran, skidding to an abrupt halt… as he took in the reassuring sight of his wife and son, snuggled together on the wide sofa, slightly rocking back and forth. Will had three fingers in his little mouth and lay against her breast, half-closed eyes fastened with great intensity on his mother, who wore a slight smile on her tired face as she hummed softly under her breath. One hand wove through Will's silky baby curls; the other cradled him close. She looked up from the baby, and her sleepy, amused eyes met those of her much-relieved husband; she whispered, "He's almost asleep, Mulder…Mulder? You okay?" For Mulder had slumped weakly against the door frame as the relief of finding them both safe suddenly drained the life out of his legs. Slowly he walked over to the sofa and sat down next to Scully, reaching out a hand to cup her cheek. He smiled, still a bit shaky; her brow furrowed in concern as she noted his lingering worry.

"Mulder… what is it? Where did you think we'd gone…" He gave a deep sigh, and wound his fingers around her free hand.

"It's nothing, Scully… had a bad dream; then I heard crying and thought I was still dreaming… guess I kinda over-reacted…" sheepish smile now, on his handsome face. Scully smiled and squeezed his hand softly; then her smile faded a little and she regarded him with a serious expression.

"Bullshit, Mulder… you thought I was gone, didn't you? You thought I'd left you and Will, maybe even taken him with me. Tell me the truth… you still don't trust me… do you?" She tugged her hand free and ran it over her face wearily, then gently laid the sleeping Will next to her on the sofa so she could turn and face Mulder more fully. He never broke eye contact with her as he replied, "Yes, Scully… I admit it. I thought you'd gone… but not because I don't trust you - and not because I think you would have taken Will. And, certainly not because you're still having trouble remembering some of our life together.

"I thought you'd gone… because I thought they'd come, and taken you… I thought I'd lost you, again…" Her eyes widened in concern, and sudden fear; she gripped his arm hard, not even sensing the damage her little nails were doing to his skin. He didn't seem to notice, either.

"What are you not telling me, Mulder? What happened today, what went on that would cause you to have a nightmare, after all this time… I have a right to know!" She was almost on the verge of tears now, hanging onto him with both hands. Mulder pulled at her, hard, and jerked her into his arms, face buried in her soft hair. She clung to him in sudden panic, pressed herself as close as she could get. He opened his mouth; nothing came out. Shit… he had to tell her… she deserved to know.

"Scully… I got a note today… shoved under our office door. Early today, right after I got in… someone had been watching for me, waiting… and they shoved this note under the door…"

"What did it say?" He swallowed hard, picturing each word on that stark, white paper; a little snapshot in his mind he could very well have done without.

"It… it said… 'The test isn't over yet, Mr. Mulder… and when we are ready to begin anew, your wife will be duly acquired for an extended tour of duty - oh, and perhaps the child as well. Enjoy your life…" his voice trailed off, as he felt her shivering; heard her gasp of shock and fright. She scooped Will into her arms, so deeply asleep he never even budged, and curled both of them into Mulder's trembling embrace. Crying now, tears rolling slowly down her pale face… she whispered shakily, "What're we going to do, Mulder? What can we do? We don't even know who these bastards are!" He ran a reassuring hand over her hair and gripped her and his son tightly; spoke into her hair.

"I've already started doing it, Scully…"

** Chapter Two **

It had been such a long and exhausting three months, since she'd been released from the hospital and had gone home with Mulder. At first Scully had been unable to really accept the indisputable fact of her marriage. It was there, legalized, on paper and reaffirmed by everyone from Mulder himself to her mother. Even her brother Bill had confirmed it, although it still pissed him off to do so. She had a wedding band on her finger, a lovely set of rings exactly the style she would have chosen for herself; had probably somehow helped to choose, as a matter of fact… except she couldn't remember. She had a history with Mulder now, in the most intimate sense of the word. There were her clothes, hanging in the closet of a pretty bedroom which seemed to be a combination of both their tastes. Her clothes, hanging next to his; her shoes on the floor, nudged next to his. Her books nestled on a bookcase next to his - her toothbrush touching his on a little brass rack in the master bath… her soap and his snuggled together in a dish shaped like a swan, there on the lip of an old-fashioned clawfoot tub. Everything theirs, she thought bemusedly, as she wandered through the small but tastefully-furnished house with the large groomed yard and profusion of flowering gardens; everything together… blended. Meshed. Pureed in a soup of marriage that she still didn't recall. And floating in the middle of that soup… a child - comprised of such an even balance of both of them it was scary. Her eyes and skin texture; his hair and eyelashes. Her delicate nose; his wide, full smile. Her cheeks, his lanky body and elegant feet and hands, pared down to a baby size. And a lethal combination of both their temperaments; lethal because here was a child, a baby… so utterly charming at such a young age that he would always, easily, acquire for himself anything he set out to do, or to want. Determination and courage, fierce of heart and softly emotional as well… that was little Will in a nutshell. It took the child exactly five minutes to win Scully over, and another two to convince her that this enchanting bundle of energy bouncing on her lap was indeed, by some miracle, her child. She had gathered him almost painfully close to her, this wondrous discovery, weeping soft tears of joy against his silky hair, and he had not squirmed in impatience as some babies would, when held for too long on mama's lap… he'd cuddled there, wrapping his chubby little baby arms about her neck as far as he could reach, and had planted several wet, smacking kisses on her teary cheek. Then… his little hand had patted at her wet face, wiping the tears away…and she'd buried her face into his hair and howled louder. Several minutes later, finally drained emotionally, she'd looked down into the face of her child, noting with amusement his closed eyes and slack mouth… he'd fallen asleep, during the most momentous moment of his mother's life. And she'd stood up with him in her arms, and turned to climb the stairs, intending to put him in his crib… and she saw Mulder framed in the doorway, tears of his own rolling slowly down his cheeks. He'd witnessed most of the little drama, and since he was smiling as well, she knew they were happy tears. She'd smiled at him in return and had climbed the stairs and laid the baby down in his bed; Mulder had followed her. As she turned from the crib, Mulder had been right behind her… and had silently wound his strong arms around her, cradling her much the same as she'd just done to Will. For a moment she'd allowed it; had even hugged him back… then she'd pulled away, flustered, and had cleared her throat delicately. He'd let her pull away, a little, but still retained hold of her hands. She glanced up at him through her lashes, seeing the dark flush of desire on his face… knowing with sudden clarity just what he was thinking, was waiting for. She'd sighed and rubbed his cheek with gentle fingers.

"Mulder… I'm overwhelmed… can you understand that? I have a complete, other life which I know nothing about, including a husband I don't remember marrying and a miracle baby I don't remember giving birth to… and certainly not in the situation which you and countless others have described to me! I live in a lovely house I don't remember choosing, surrounded by wonderful furnishings which I don't remember purchasing… a garden full of flowers I don't recall planting…" Her frustration was showing in her eyes, in the downward turn of her trembling mouth. Mulder had led her into their bedroom, and had seated her on the bed, kneeling in front of her so he could look into her face. He'd brushed a lock of hair out of her eyes, had left his hand against her cheek gently demanding her attention. She'd looked at him with sad, worried eyes.

"Scully… what's the last thing you remember… really remember… about us? Can you tell me?" She frowned and concentrated, thinking hard.

"I remember packing clothes… casual ones, mostly. I remember digging through my apartment, looking for my passport, and calling you in a panic because I thought you had it. A taxi to the airport… I remember that. The airport was really crowded. There weren't any chairs left unoccupied, and so we sat on the floor and you made a mess with your sunflower seeds and I yelled at you and some old lady sitting next to us on a chair scolded me for treating my husband so badly…" Mulder smiled at the recollection… Scully had been so indignant. He prodded her gently with his hand; caught her wandering attention again.

"What else, Scully? Anything?" She shook her head slowly, still thinking.

"Mulder… right now I can't even remember for myself the specifics of the case, only what you and Skinner told me, there in the hospital. God! How could I have lost almost ten months of my life…" she'd started to weep softly, and with a groan of helplessness Mulder had pulled her into his arms and had slid down onto the bed, cradling her in his arms, letting her sob all over him, wishing like hell he could solve this Chinese puzzle for her… wishing she could remember. So frustrating… for both of them. His memories of her centered around a loving, passionate wife who held him deep inside her in the velvet darkness of their room at night, wrapped so tightly in his arms it was impossible to tell whose skin belonged to whom. And, her memories…? They centered around an FBI partner and friend, for whom she harbored love but not passion, caring but not endless lust and desire… a friend. Just a friend, again. Right back where we started, Mulder thought with bitterness… right back at square one. But for now… he'd held her in his arms, and let her sob it all out, hands clutching and twisting in his loose shirt, sobs and crying and hiccuping and catchy breaths, until she fell asleep in his arms from sheer exhaustion. He'd gently removed her jeans and shoes, left her in her tee-shirt, and had stripped down to his boxers, and he'd put both of them to bed. And in the morning she'd blushed a lot when she'd realized they'd slept together… but that night she'd been waiting in bed for him when he'd come back in from getting Will settled… and she'd held out her arms for him… and he'd come to her, and had gathered her close to him, spooning their bodies together; they'd managed to sleep through most of the night.

** Chapter Three **

It had been roughly a month later when he'd made love to her, for the first time since her accident.

A rough and tense month, trying to work with her every day, to prod at her memory, to drag up anything, however small and insignificant, which would indicate a return of the Scully he knew was buried somewhere deep inside her. They lived together, worked together, for she'd gone back to the basement with him, on a limited basis, just a few hours a day hoping it would somehow jog her memory. They ate and shopped together, played with Will together… slept together. Mulder had been very patient… had not pressured her the least little bit. Still… she knew he had to be frustrated, figuring out somehow that his sexual appetites and needs were strong ones, stronger than even he suspected. She'd felt him tossing and turning in bed next to her, deep in the night; knew he woke up in a sweat sometimes, moaning her name… knew that on those nights he'd quietly get up and go into the bathroom… could just about picture what he did in there, even though he never made any sound. She knew… and she felt very badly about it. She'd searched her heart for the right course of action to take… Mulder had been so careful to not even overwhelm her with something as simple as a kiss. He had kissed her, though; light, sweet tantalizing kisses which brushed at her lips like butterfly wings and left her craving more. After almost a month of frustration, mostly for him but rapidly becoming hers as well… Scully decided it was time to take action… to take back for herself the life she knew was hers, even if she didn't remember living it. She wanted it, dammit… she wanted a normal life, with a house and a baby and flowers and toothbrushes touching on a rack and a Sunday paper that always ended up in the puddle made by the watering hose in the garden she knew she'd planted… a normal life with a man she adored in every way, even if she couldn't recall exactly how they'd been together… just knew it must have been very, very good. She wanted… and one night, about a month after she'd come home from the hospital… Dana Scully Mulder decided to just reach out… and take.

She never planned anything specific; no big seduction scene or fancy candles and sexy lingerie. That wasn't her, she knew; that wasn't important to Mulder, either; somehow she'd known that. Her planning didn't go any further than a nice dinner with a decent bottle of wine, and Will spending the weekend with her mother. Maggie had not been nosy, when called to see if she was free for the weekend. She'd simply driven over, collected her excited grandson and all his toys and other baby paraphernalia, had kissed Scully warmly and taken off again… no questions asked. Scully couldn't believe she'd gotten off the hook that easily… then she noticed a piece of paper lying on her kitchen table, in the exact spot Will's diaper bag had sat. She picked it up and unfolded it; then laughed until she slid to the floor, weakly; in her mother's handwriting were the words, "You owe me big-time, Dana Katherine Scully Mulder… I want details on Monday, don't even think about squirming out of this… Love, Mom." She'd chuckled all through the long scented bath she'd taken; all through the dinner she'd cooked. She was still smiling when Mulder got home; he'd sniffed at the delectable smells coming from the kitchen… lasagna, his favorite. He had come into the kitchen and had caught Scully around the waist, kissing her gently. Scully had kissed him back, hard… the first time she'd responded so strongly. His eyes had widened in surprise, and desire… and he'd gasped into her open mouth, and had wound her tighter into his embrace, suddenly shivering with the force of what she'd made him feel with just one hard kiss… he'd pulled away enough to look into her eyes, to confirm, to believe… and her soft gaze and half smile of affirmation was his undoing. He'd picked her up and flung her over his shoulder in a fireman lift which had her gasping with lack of breath and dizzying laughter; somehow she managed to reach out a hand to snap off the oven switch so their dinner wouldn't burn… he ran up the stairs, taking them two at a time, Scully bouncing against his shoulder and squealing at the manhandling she was receiving from him. He burst into their bedroom and they both fell to the bed in a tangle of arms and legs and seeking hands… clothing unbuttoned and unzipped and flying all about the room, until they lay naked and shuddering against each other. And suddenly Mulder wanted to take it slow, the initial urgency replaced by a need to acquaint himself all over again with his wife, just as she would have to do with him. He'd brushed over her face with his closed eyes, tickling her sensitive skin with his long eyelashes… butterfly kisses everywhere, until she shivered and moaned with the exquisite feel. His lips traced along the same path as his lashes, stroking her so softly, so sweetly. Then his silky-rough tongue, sliding over the same trails as his lips… touching here, licking there. She was moaning continuously now, in a fever of anticipation; hands clenching and unclenching on the cool sheets, legs shifting restlessly underneath his until with a growl deep in her throat she twined both hands into his thick hair and pulled his face close to hers and demanded, "Mulder! Quit torturing me and kiss the hell out of me before I have to seriously hurt you…" Scarcely had the words left her mouth when he buried his lips in hers and both of them groaned into each other's mouth at the incredible rightness of it… the amazing good of it. And that feeling of good, that tenderness and roughness and rightness of it all bought crashing back to Scully another time, another place where the good was running like a molten river through her… a place where she'd been pressed down into high, sweet-smelling grasses while her mate had buried himself deep within her and had driven her eager body into the ground beneath her… deep, so deep… so big he'd been, and so deep. She found herself pushing at him, a whimper of need erupting from her throat, rolling her body over so she lay on her stomach, then she raised herself up on her knees and elbows, and turned her head to look over her shoulder at him, hair swinging loose over her back… eyes half-closed and glittering with a desire which shattered him to the core, had him still as a statue just gaping at her; at her position there on the bed… and she opened her swollen lips and a low, rusty purr came from deep within her… and he suddenly knew that somehow, she'd remembered. With a harsh moan he grasped her hips, positioning himself behind her… felt her preparing her body for his possession… and he buried himself deep with one hard stroke. She pushed back against him, just as hard… forcing him even deeper. And the good they created there between them, on their soft bed which suddenly had the smell of a jungle about it… the good flowed over them and through them, from the first hard thrust until the last echoing cry which left her throat even as his hoarse shout had him pumping wildly within her. So deep… so good. They slid down onto the rumpled bedsheets, still connected; he twined his fingers through hers, where they lay in limp little mounds on the pillow next to her head... pressed his face into her neck, mouth half-open against her skin, soothing the place where he'd bitten her… and she sighed in utter peace, loving the feel of his body crushing hers into the grasses… no, not the grasses… the sheets… it didn't matter. They remained connected, in that same position, all night long. They slept like the exhausted creatures they were; not needing food, or water… just needing each other. Good, his tired brain was able to assimilate, just before the waves of sleep splashed over him… this was a good thing.

** Chapter Four **

"It's getting better, Mom… Every day I remember just a little more. I think I'm in the home stretch here…" Next to her on the sofa, Maggie Scully gave her daughter a fierce hug, and whispered into her hair, "I'm so glad, honey… so glad. I was worried you'd never remember." Several days had passed since the night of her intimate reunion with Mulder… and Scully was convinced she'd made the right decision to force herself into remembering, even though at the time Mulder wasn't so sure it was wise. He'd wanted her madly, this she knew… but he'd been hesitant that night, until she'd shown him, without words, what she wanted… what she needed. Scully still shuddered to think of the explosion of feeling they'd shared, all through that warm, endless night of loving. They hadn't discussed anything the next day, the why or the how of it; both had accepted the return of their normal life together, and proceeded from there. Suddenly the future was on course again, after being tilted for so long. Scully was grateful… so grateful. She squeezed her mother in return, hard, and gave her a smacking kiss, much the same as one of little Will's. Maggie smiled at the big kiss, then as if she'd spoken the name aloud, looked around and commented, "Just where is my boy this morning? Not still asleep!" Scully shook her head and refilled their coffee mugs.

"No, he's with Mulder… they went into the office to pick up some files and notes from Jason Halliday… he's the agent who's been working as a temporary partner for Mulder until I can get back into the basement full time - that is, if Skinner ever lets me come back for more than two hours a day! That man is worse than ten of you…" Scully eyed her mother in mock indignation as Maggie laughed and patted her cheek.

"Nobody's as bad as a worried mama, Dana… although Skinner is very fond, and very protective of you… always has been, right from the first. But lately… yes, he has been overdoing it a little… why is that, I wonder? Could it be there's something going on that none of you have seen fit to discuss with me… perhaps something to do with a little note…" Maggie pinned her daughter with a stern eye. Scully gaped at her.

"How did you - never mind… I probably don't want to know, do I?" Dana held her mug with trembling fingers; Maggie sighed and gulped down half her coffee.

"No big mystery, Dana - just a nosy mama who knocked a stack of papers off your kitchen counter a few days ago, and found a xeroxed copy of that note in with the stuff I picked off the floor." Maggie gripped Scully's shoulder, and looked into her worried eyes with equal concern. "Sweetheart… what have you and Fox done to protect yourselves? What can be done? And what about Will? How much danger is he in?" Scully rubbed at her face wearily and her shoulders slumped in defeat.

"I don't know, Mom… honestly I don't. We expected to get another note, but whoever wrote the first one is obviously playing a little game with us, so… we wait. Meanwhile, steps have been taken to secure Will in a safe place… that's one of the reasons I asked you to come over this morning. Mom, I need to ask you a very huge favor… and you have the right to refuse, really you do. But, Mulder and I have decided we need to get Will out of here, out of DC, until this thing, whatever it is, blows over and it's safe for the little guy to be with us. I can't function like this much longer… looking over my shoulder, wondering if the house is being watched, or if every time I leave the house I'm being followed. Byers and Frohike sweep the house every other day for us, to assure we are bug-free; they've been doing this since the note was received, over a week ago. In fact, they swept just today, early this morning. But I still worry… for Will, most of all.

"Can you go with Will, Mom? Can you take him and care for him until it's safe to return? I don't know where Skinner will put him, but I do know it'll be a place where he's guarded twenty-four hours a day. Part of the plan is that Mulder and I can't know the whereabouts, just… just in case something happens to one of us, and we are… pressed for information, if you get my drift…" She trailed off at Maggie's vigorous nodding, and sighed in utter relief, hugging her mother gratefully. Maggie held her and stroked her daughter's hair, wondering when on earth her child would ever be able to live a normal life, out in the open.

"You know I'd be proud to take care of Will… for as long as it's needed. Don't even worry about it. Am I to understand the boys must know nothing of this? What will your story be? You know how Bill is…" Scully sighed and nodded ruefully; did she ever know how Bill was! She stood up and paced a little, in front of the sofa, thinking of all she'd need to explain to her family; the cover story which was being invented.

"If I thought for one moment that Charlie or Bill could handle themselves… I'd say tell them. But… these are two men who barely know, much less understand, the kind of danger which Mulder and I have had to face on a daily basis, Mom. I think the full truth would decimate them both. It's better they don't know. I really hope this can be resolved within a month or two, but I can't be sure. Can you go into hiding that long, Mom? Think carefully! Your friends at church, the garden club circle… the rest of the family… Father McQue. All these people are used to hearing from you regularly, and you'll have to keep that up. But you will be living in a place which is un-tappable and impenetrable… and you will only be able to leave this place under guard. There will be a doctor on call in case of any emergencies… and the team assigned to guard you and Will have been hand-picked by Mulder and Skinner. The location is unknown to me, and will remain that way. You will be in complete seclusion for a long time, Mom… can you do it? Think carefully -" Scully stopped in mid-sentence as her mother enveloped her in a bear-hug and kissed her cheek.

"Of course I can handle it, silly… so, as your husband likes to say… 'Bring it on'…"

** Chapter Five **

The tall, stocky woman dressed in black carefully laid the large bouquet of spring flowers on the ground in front of the marble headstone, and brushed away some dead leaves and pulled a few weeds. As she worked, she hummed a bit of his favorite melody; in her rusty but in-tune voice the strains of "Clare De Lune" could be heard on the silent air. Finished with her small task, she sat back on her heels, and wished she could have done more for him - could have given him more comfort when he was alive; more honor in death. As usual, she sensed the lacking in herself; the wanting she herself knew hovered over her, every day of her lonely life… the disappointment she knew he'd seen in her. Never quite good enough; never quite successful in her work; their work, not nearly as dedicated, as focused… as driven. She had tried so hard… all her life, from the time she was a little girl… oh, but that was not strictly a true statement, she supposed - not that she hadn't tried… but that she'd never really been a little girl, not in the truest sense of the word. Every waking moment was spent trying to please him; make him proud. Every high grade received in school; every honor and award, every accolade… for him. Always for him. It hadn't really made much of a difference.

And, even now, with him cold in his grave and the wind settling around her bare, chapped ears… what did she do, instead of honor him, and his genius? She tore at him, tore at a dead man… complained about him to herself, and to a God she still wasn't completely convinced sat on high, looking down at her worthless self… but she always prayed, just in case… just in case. In case he was up there; in case he could somehow hear her, hear the sincerity in her words… see the endless tears which coursed down her face and stung her raw bottom lip… she'd been chewing at it non-stop. Another forbidden action from her childhood… chewing her lips raw. But now, he wasn't around to notice; to announce to her that discipline would be required, to halt that irritating habit of hers... to handcuff her to the tall bed-post in her frilly little girl's bedroom… to whip her on her bared bottom with the leather strap, for daring to show such a weakness as chewing at her lip… to whip her until she begged his forgiveness; his own special form of forgiveness, which he would ultimately give, as he pulled the panties the rest of the way down and held her thin hips steady while he pushed himself into her, from behind… always from behind. Never any other way, for she must remain innocent there, in front, he would tell her as he twisted and moved against her… innocent in the front, and his dirty little girl in the back… she would hang there, locked to the bedpost, tears of pain running salty and bitter into her open, silently gasping mouth… but she never made a sound… never. Not until with one last shudder he would finish punishing her, and then she would feel him slowly move out and away from her, and he would reach into his pocket for the key, and remove the handcuffs. Tenderly he would hold her, and help her dress, and lay her down on her pink silky bedspread, all the while telling her he'd had to punish her for her bad deeds, had to correct her failings, had to discipline her six-year old, undefined, rebellious body… while she sobbed great hiccuping tears of childish agony, into her matted and comforting teddy bear...

After all, what sort of a father would he be, to let his child run wild and undisciplined?

The little girl she'd been had remembered her lessons well… for the woman she'd become still spent her every waking hour trying to please him, though he'd lain in the ground these many months… to please the father who had expected so very much of her…

To please Pell Friedrictoph.

** Chapter Six **

Scully packed the rest of Will's toys in a big box, and carried it down the stairs to place it in the hallway that was already cluttered with other boxes and one large suitcase. As she dropped the box beside the rest of the stuff, she renewed her silent promise not to break down and blubber like a two-year old… she knew they were doing what was best, for little Will. She knew there wasn't a choice to be made. But still… the word 'unfair' didn't even begin to cover what best described this terrible situation… so she consoled herself as best she could with the knowledge her son would be safe, and away from the danger which she was certain would hit at any given time. There had been another note… and this time, she'd been the one to find it… tucked away in Will's sand box, out in the back yard. Folded into the shape of a little origami bird, and perched on the top of a heap of sand cunningly molded to resemble a little birds' nest… a white piece of paper which she'd seen there, from her kitchen window; she had moved very slowly, out the back door and down the deck steps and around her pots of violet pansies, up to the pretty red and white striped wooden sandbox which Byers, Langly and Frohike had made, as a gift for Will on his six-month birthday… reached down with deliberate hesitation, to pick up the paper bird and unfold it and read the words which jumped out at her with stark black letters, chilling her clear to the bone and causing her numbed fingers to drop the unfolded bird back into its sandy nest while she walked back to the house and into the kitchen and up to the phone which she used to dial Mulder's cell phone to hear his warm voice speak her name, just before she lost every last ounce of control and screamed her fright and tears and anger and feelings of violation right into the mouthpiece. And she was still crying and screaming into the phone when he'd burst into the kitchen a mere ten minutes later and gathered her stiff, cold body into his arms and slid with her down to the floor, where he held her so tightly she carried the bruises for a week.

And even though the note had gone the way of that previous note, as evidence in an increasingly fat X-file at work… the words in thick black letters danced on the inside of her shuttered lids, every time she made the mistake of closing her eyes…

"Hello, Mrs. Mom… Nice to see you taking such good care of the child. We need him, and you, healthy and well… we're almost ready for you. Enjoy your life…"

** Chapter Seven **

Mulder loaded the last box into the back of the nondescript van, and slammed the doors shut. A lot of boxes, full of toys and babyish what-not; a playpen and stroller… a box filled with clothes and diapers… there was a brand-new crib and dresser already installed at the facility where Will would be squirreled away, protected from this as-yet unknown menace. Mulder wanted to know the location of the shelter… Mulder was glad he did not know the location of the shelter, for it would be one more mark of strength against the shadowed "Them"… whoever they were. A step behind him; he turned, to see Maggie just behind him, and he smiled a sad little tired smile and reached out a long arm to hook her close to his side. Her arms went around his waist, in true Scully-fashion, and he just buried his face in her soft, dark hair and tried not to shake too much. She rubbed between his shoulder-blades, unconsciously searching for and finding that knot of tension he always seemed to carry; her nimble fingers soothed over the area and he sighed and mumbled into her hair, "Have I told you yet how much I love you, Mom Scully?" She squeezed him in response; her hand left his back and ruffled up his hair.

"I think you may have mentioned it from time to time, yes…" She gave him another tight hug, and peered up into his weary face with all the love and concern for him, shining in her eyes. "I want you to do me a very great favor, Fox… I want you to try not to worry, and try to remember how safe Will is going to be - can you do that for me? Both of us are going to be just fine… you have got to believe that - because if you don't, if you are thinking for one tiny second about our safety… then you may slip up somewhere, or overlook something so profoundly important to your own safety, that you lose the edge you'll need to defeat these bastards… whoever they are. Can you promise me?" She cupped his unshaven face with one hand; felt him nod into it, eyes closed; one tear slid out from the corner of an eye and she brushed it away tenderly, then reached up to kiss his damp cheek. He let her go, reluctantly; hoped she knew just how much he loved her; loved her constant mothering routine; how he'd always felt so much comfort in her little mom ways… apparently she did understand, for he could see it in her eyes, and it made him smile for real this time. A door slamming; they both looked toward the house, as Scully walked out, holding Will in her arms. She'd dressed him in his favorite outfit, which was still very big on him but still he wore it because he loved the colors: bright red overalls and a canary yellow shirt with blue dinosaurs on the sleeves, and red hi-top sneakers. He spotted Mulder and held out his little arms, gurgling excitedly; Mulder scooped him up and held him tightly, breathing in the sweet fragrance of baby and clean clothes and talcum powder; cheek pressed against his soft baby skin. Will wrapped both fat little arms around Mulder's neck and held on just as tightly. The sight of intense father-son communication was almost too much for Scully to bear; she stumbled around the other side of the van and cried in her mother's arms; Maggie crooned soft nonsense words to her and held her close and safe. This double whammy of emotional upheaval was the sight that greeted Walter Skinner's eyes as he drove up in a plain Ford sedan and parked behind the van. A small fleet of unmarked government vehicles, all behind him, also parked nearby; in the street, on the sidewalk and in the driveway. Plainclothes agents in suits waited behind the wheels, eyes somber and sympathetic as they bore silent witness to this most difficult farewell. Skinner got out of his car and walked over to Scully first, extending both arms and enfolding Scully and Maggie within their strong shelter. They promptly burst into tears and flooded his suit with moisture; Skinner merely held them close and let them vent. Mulder walked over to the threesome, still holding Will, and looked into his AD's face, seeing the silent worry and resolve; grateful beyond words for both; for a friend such as this. Without a word, he gently pulled his weeping wife into his embrace, feeling her arms wind around him and his son; they stood and communed in loving silence, there behind the van. Skinner led Maggie away, far enough to afford the family some privacy, and gazed down intently into her still-teary face. He cleared his throat, which was suspiciously thick and clogged with emotion.

"Maggie… these agents are going to travel with the van for the entire journey. You and Will should be very comfortable with them; they are my most trusted agents and will take excellent care of you. You will change vans at least three times, just for safety's sake… and all three changes will occur late in the evening. Your final destination is a shelter which is considered one of our government's most well-kept secrets; I guarantee you won't be found by anyone outside the FBI dynamic… you will both be safe, for as long as it takes us to get our hands on this sick bastard and take him down." He squeezed her shoulder briefly, and bent a little closer, smiling faintly at her sudden grin of relief. "Do you have any questions… any worries? Now's the time to say, for I will be difficult to reach once you and Will are in the shelter, and I will only be able to check in with you infrequently…" Maggie covered his large hand with her much-smaller one, and smiled confidently up into his face.

"We'll be just fine, Walter… and I really don't have any questions; I believe they've been answered quite well, so far. But I just have one thing that I need to say, to you…" and she faced him squarely, and both her little hands went up, curving around his hard-edged jaw, noting with amusement the sudden shock and surprise in his eyes at her touch…"I want you to take care of my children for me - they are more precious to me than I can ever express in words… and I want you to assure they don't worry about Will and me, for I wouldn't want them distracted by thoughts of concern. That means not telling them if Will comes down with a cold, or runs a fever… whatever happens, we are "OK" when they ask… promise?" Her serious eyes held his, and he found himself nodding weakly, ready to promise her anything, as long as she kept holding onto his face with those soft hands of hers. She searched his face for reassurance, and must have found it, for she nodded in satisfaction, then her hands tightened on his face and she rose on her tiptoes for one last admonishment.

"And another thing, Mr. Skinner…please keep yourself safe, as well… for all you've done for my family, and for me… that's a very important issue, too…" And with those soft words, she brought her face close to his and pressed one sweet kiss right on his surprised mouth, her lips lingering for only a second or two before releasing his cheeks, and stepping back from him. Skinner's mouth dropped open and he swallowed hard, then somehow he mustered up a smile and some inane remark of assurance; Maggie couldn't help but chuckle. It had been a long time since she'd rendered a handsome man speechless… nice to know she still had "It".

** Chapter Eight **

The final farewells were made without additional fuss and tears; both Scully and Mulder could not have borne much more. They stood in the dark street, watching the van drive away, the other cars surrounding it in quiet protection; stood in their driveway with their arms around each other, watching two of the most important people in their lives drive off to safety. Scully brushed away the last of the tears and turned to Skinner, silently thanking him with body language only; with strong young arms tight around his neck and a warm kiss on both his pinkened cheeks. He hugged her back, hard, almost squeezing the breath out of her, face flaming now as her whispered words registered in his brain, "Thank you, Sir, more than I can say… and since when have you been on kissing terms with my mother…?" Skinner stuttered a few times, not knowing what to say; then her met Mulder's amused eyes and stammered, "Agent Scully! I assure you, I have the utmost respect for your mother…" his strangled words trailed off at her sudden laugh, and she looked up at him in utter mischief as she retorted, "Yes, I could see that… luckily for you, I could be persuaded to approve…"

"I assure you again, Agent… there's nothing going on that needs approval…"

"Sure, there isn't… you can tell us all about it, over a few good, stiff drinks." He laughed outright at her outrageous comeback, and followed her and Mulder back into the house, arms looped around both his agents' shoulders as he remarked, "What about that pie I saw on the counter in your kitchen? Jack Daniels goes down great with pie…"

"Does it, now? I'll have to remember that the next time I want to get Mulder drunk and take advantage of him…" Mulder snickered, suddenly much relieved and feeling more lighthearted than he'd felt in weeks… thinking they may just make it though this mess. He teased his wife gently.

"In other words, I'll be eating pie from now till Doomsday, right?"

"You got it, G-man…"


Author: Char Chaffin
Category: Mulder/Scully Marriage, babies, M&S/Skinner friendship, Angst, some torture
Rating: NC-17, for sexual situations, language and disturbing imagery

Feedback: GOD, yes! I'd beg, but it's so undignified (please please please)
Distribution: Sure, Just Ask!
Spoilers: All together now…"Spoilers? We Don't Need no Stinkin' Spoilers…"

Disclaimer: I want them, but I can't have them…
Summary: Upon the receipt of yet more threatening notes, and the enforced protection of our Agents' only child… Mulder and Scully must face the evidence at hand, and find a way to trap a monster…

With thanks to: The following amazing authors: My so-dedicated Beta-Muse, Hillary (Foxsong), Shoshana and Cat (Emania), who have read everything I have sent them and actually asked quite willingly for more; offered me plot angles, questioned my judgement, offered advice, ideas, encouragement and support during the entire process of writing "Eden"… not to mention overflowing my email server with wonderful friendship. Also to Sister Moon and to Hester (Stormlantern) who have stuck this series out with me, and have egged me on shamelessly… and Alison, one fantastic artist whose ideas and support are just awesome…Once again…you guys are the best!

Author's Note: At one point I promised "Eden" would end in Part two… then it became Part three… and now Part four - and I don't know how to tell everyone that I just couldn't end it, not yet… so, I'm afraid there'll be more, after this part is posted. The story just won't die; it has a life of its own, now, thanks to all the amazing ideas I keep getting tossed my way… I thank everyone who has stayed with it; I guess you must be enjoying what you've been reading, otherwise I wouldn't still be writing!

Warning: This story deals with subject matter that may be unsuitable for some readers; please proceed at your own risk…


The "Eden" Series

Part 4: To Keep Eden Safe

** Prologue**

The crib stood in the center of a brightly painted nursery; its windowless walls belied by the amount of indirect lighting scattered in each corner. Every effort had been made to provide a cheery haven which would appeal to a baby - and, judging by the excited look on Will Mulder's face when his grandmother carried him into the room and set him down on the floor… the results were a success. His wide blue gaze tried to look everywhere at once; his chubby little body almost spinning in circles as he twisted every which way in his effort to see it all. The colors on the walls and the furniture especially caught his attention, and he immediately began crawling toward a red dresser, which had been placed next to the white wicker rocking chair. Maggie Scully smiled wearily as she watched her grandson scoot over the carpeted floor, then bent to open up the first box that Agent Halliday had carried in. As she pulled out some of Will's clothes and shoes, Halliday brought in the last few boxes and Will, spotting the young agent, chortled in baby glee and took off in his direction, moving like a small tornado. Halliday squatted down, hands outstretched, then scooped Will into a mid-air toss as the child reached him. Will shrieked with laughter and his giggles echoed through the large room. Maggie smiled again at the sound of it, and paused in her unpacking to watch the young agent alternately toss and tickle Will. She spoke, loud enough to be heard over the giggles, "You really have a way with children, Agent Halliday - would you and Jenny like children someday?" Halliday hung the screeching child upside down in his secure grasp, loving the sound of Will's glee, and thought for a moment before replying.

"I would, yes - very much. Jenny and I have talked about it… even decided she'd stop taking the pill, just to see what would develop…" He set Will on his rear again, there on the floor, and the excited baby immediately crawled off to find some trouble to get himself into. Halliday brushed off his suit jacket and watched Will's antics for a moment longer, before returning his gaze to Maggie. "But, when all this started to go down, with little Will, and Agent Mulder and your daughter being threatened… well, we had second thoughts. This is a dangerous job, Mrs. Scully - guess I don't have to tell you that. If we had a child, and something happened to our baby because some lunatic somewhere was taking revenge on me…" He shuddered to a stop, blinking rapidly to clear the unbidden moisture from his eyes. Maggie nodded and reached out a hand to press his shoulder reassuringly, then sighed as her thoughts went drifting yet again - unable to control the flashes of a past when her children were threatened in much the same way; oh, it didn't matter if they were fully grown when it happened… they were still her babies, and they'd been dealt a most unfair hand, by the Fates - Melissa, and Dana. One dead and the other having to hide her own child away to protect him… to keep him safe. Their little 'Eden'… that's what Mulder had nicknamed young Will, right after his birth. Conceived in the most unorthodox place, during a time of terror and danger for both of them - this little baby had been delivered and had survived under the worst possible conditions; had thrived since that terrible day of pain and wonder, deep in that tangle of moss and palms. Against all odds - her darling boy had made it. A miracle he was, and a miracle he would always remain, for all of them. And so, his father had chosen to remember the island in all its terror, and beauty; because he'd found his Scully on that white, deserted beach; and together they'd created their love, and in doing so they'd created little Will. And now, in light of all that had happened to them, and would continue to happen - they, and a hand-picked team of agents, and Maggie Scully herself, had joined forces to take back their lives… to bring down whatever force threatened them yet again…

To keep Eden safe.

** Chapter One **

He awoke with a dry throat; must have been snoring again. Sitting up slowly in bed, Mulder rose unsteadily, on sleep-soaked limbs, and dragged himself to the bathroom to guzzle some water. As he stood there, swaying on his feet , eyes closed, forcing himself to swallow past the pain in his throat… he heard the thrashing about in the bedroom behind him… heard her gasping cries, which snapped him out of any residual exhaustion he'd been experiencing; he dropped the glass back onto the sink and hurried into the bedroom, climbing into bed and pulling his flailing wife into his arms, not even feeling the sharp poke of her elbow in his ribs as she tossed and moaned, still in the throes of yet another nightmare. He feathered gentle fingers through her damp hair, lips pressed against her overly-warm cheek, as he rocked her and soothed her with nonsense words, waiting patiently for his body heat and scent to reach her, and calm her out of whatever nasty place she was currently inhabiting. And he felt her give one last shiver, as she finally began coming out of it, as the familiar warmth and strength of him seeped into her bones, and she burrowed deep into his embrace, and tears ran silent and hot down her chilled face, there against his shoulder. Mulder held her tightly, let her work it all out of her system, until with one last sniffle she raised wet eyes to gaze up, into his concerned face, his worried eyes… and she whispered in a tiny, broken voice, "I had that dream again, Mulder… six nights in a row. It was the same as every other night…" He snuggled her down under the comforter, wound his arms and legs around her shivering frame, and laid a large comforting palm over her heart, soothing her, as he murmured, "Tell me…" She closed her eyes and sniffed again, resting against him like a weary child, and pressed her aching forehead to his neck.

"I see everything through a plastic haze… images are unclear but yet I know who's in front of me, holding the needle… that smell again; the smell of the serum… and I watch the needle coming toward me, toward my arm, which is tied down so I can't move… and that smell is making me so sick… and I'm so afraid but yet I realize the inevitability of being pierced again, with that needle.

"So I wait, and wait… the needle is coming to me so very slowly… but I'm ready for it… resigned to it… knowing my loved ones will be safe, if I take the hit for them. Then suddenly the needle swerves away from me, from my arm… and I stare so hard through all the haze, trying to see why it wasn't meant for me, after all - and that's when I start to scream and fight against the restraints, and inside I am bursting into small sharp pieces as I see who's been chosen to get the needle… and God, Mulder, it's Will, it's our sweet little baby who's tied down next to me behind another plastic haze, and the needle's heading straight for him…!" She broke off her words on a sob of terror and shook violently in Mulder's arms; he fought back his own panic, his own tears, and tightened his hold on her, whispering desperately to her, trying to calm her, to reassure her…

"Shhh, baby, I know, it's alright, it's gonna be okay, don't cry, oh honey, don't… Will is safe, honey, he's safe, with Mom and Halliday and all those other agents watching over them, you know he's safe! Please, Sweetheart… listen to me! He's safe… just like you are, baby… safe. No one's going to hurt either of you, understand me? No one! I won't let them…" His tears overfilled his eyes and ran down his cheeks in twin streams as he held her close and pressed tiny sweet kisses over her face and hair, trying to get through to her, past her fright and terror… Some of his frantic reassurances must have finally reached her consciousness, because she slowly raised her head and wiped at her eyes, and saw his tears… and she became his comfort, kissing away his tears, all over his face and down the strong column of his neck, until they both felt warm again… felt whole again. She raised her wet face and locked eyes with her husband, whispering to him in a still-shaken voice.

"He's safe, isn't he, Mulder? He's safe, and hidden some place where no one can find him… and he's happy with Mom, and doing all right, isn't he? And he's got all his toys and his favorite clothes and I can't remember if I packed his blanket, Mulder, you know the one with the teddy bears on it that he likes to sleep with, Mulder, he needs his blanket and I think it's still in the laundry I can't believe I blew off doing laundry and now he doesn't have anything warm to sleep with we have to get that blanket to him Mulder we have to find out where he is and take him his blanket, Mul…-!" He cut off her panicked monologue with a hard, deep kiss on her lips; swept the inside of her mouth with his tongue, and felt her shudder with her body's reaction to his sudden passion… And he sighed into her open mouth in relief, as she moaned sweetly and returned his passion, fiercely…

At least she'd forgotten about that nightmare.

** Chapter Two **

The woman in black sat late into the night, drinking bitter coffee and planning her strategy; her next move. At her feet, a white Persian cat lounged on a blue velvet pillow, purring deep in its throat; a new acquisition for her and a small bit of leftover rebellion from her youth. Cats had been forbidden when she was a child; she'd never known why. Her father had not allowed her any warm-blooded pets, such as dogs or cats, or even a bird. Her only pets were aquarium fish, as they served a soothing purpose with their endless, graceful floating - and they did not shed, or piddle on the expensive woolen rugs which covered the floors in the elegant house she could never quite think of as home. She had always longed for another companion, since children her age refused to play with her and in her excessively introverted mind, she was too undesirable to bother with. Her own mother had taken her own life, to be rid of her - had overdosed on barbiturates and vodka, leaving behind a letter which stated in cold terms her dissatisfaction with her life in general, and her insipid, weak daughter in particular. The child she'd been had sobbed copious, brokenhearted tears during her mother's wake, trying to cling to her father, who had pushed her away in distaste and had later shown her the letter, even reading it to her in a clipped, emotionless monotone. Later that night, after the expensively-dressed mourners had gone home, after the house was dark and the graceful fish floating in the sparkling aquarium had been fed, her father found a small heap of spilled fish flakes on the glass cover of the aquarium… and had walked with measured steps up the winding staircase, and into the pink and frilly bedroom of his daughter; his six-year old daughter - and had beaten her almost unconscious, with a leather whip. She had not known why, had not been able to grasp the reasoning behind such agonizing punishment, could only scream wildly and sob in her high-pitched little girl's voice, as he whipped her - then scream even louder when the beating finally ceased, and the true nature of his discipline made itself known to her… the handcuffs which fastened her to the bedstead, and the tugging down of her little flowered pajamas… and that first, terrible encounter with her father's other instrument of control. During those minutes of indescribable pain and degradation, her father recited the letter to her, word for word; with every push of his body he seared her soul with the guilt of causing her mother's suicide, in that same flat monotone of a voice. And when it was over, when he'd dressed her again, after tenderly washing her wounds and all the blood from her little body, he cradled her in his arms and forgave her for murdering his wife.

It would be many, many years later before she would discover that he'd written that letter

himself - and had used it as a controlling measure for her complete submission to his will. It would be another year or two later when she would discover how her mother really died - but by that time, her father was dead as well, and her rage, her inability to make him suffer for his crimes was only overshadowed by her still-unhealthy need to achieve his approval… even from the grave.

The woman sat, and re-read the lab notes over and over, planning and planning… jotting down notes in a neat, precise hand, as she drank more of the dark, thick coffee and absently stroked the luxurious fur of her cat as it wound itself around her legs, purring louder. Although the notes were written in German, two words appeared over and over, scattered throughout the journal pages, words which could not be translated into any language…

Mulder and Scully.

** Chapter Three **

Mulder knew their house had never looked so clean, so neat… and so unlike both of them. He walked through the quiet rooms, the faint ticking of the grandfather clock in the foyer the only accompanying sound, and took due note of the spotless furniture, the high polish of the tiled floors and the glittering windows. Everything in its place, looking like something out of "House Beautiful"… and scary as all get-out.

Scully had been scrubbing for days now, and Mulder couldn't seem to get her to stop. Inside surfaces gleamed and shone; the garden was perfectly groomed, and both vehicles had been practically spit-shined. Every day she tackled a different room; a room which had already been cleaned thoroughly only a few days before. Mulder knew she did it to keep from going mad with worry… but she was really worrying him, and he didn't know what to do. They had been getting steady reports from Halliday, and they knew their little Will and Mom Scully were doing just fine - but that knowledge didn't seem to ease Scully's mind one little bit. At first, Mulder had let it alone, knowing she needed this as a kind of therapy. When it didn't lessen up, and seemed to intensify… he knew he'd have to do something to stop it; knew it couldn't be healthy for either of them - her obsessive behavior was so unlike her, so foreign to her inherent personality, which was what made it so very frightening. Mulder slowly climbed the stairs, heading for the master bathroom, where he could hear water running in the tub. Maybe she was taking a bath… he felt a moment of relief, thinking to himself this would be a very normal occurrence for Scully, to be having a bath in the late afternoon… but then, he heard it - distinct sounds of scrubbing - and he groaned under his breath, shoulders tensing. She'd scrubbed the bathroom early that morning, still in her nightgown; he'd been half-awake, and the scrape of the bristled scrubber against the porcelain tiles had been loud enough to wake him the rest of the way… Mulder took a deep breath, and opened the bedroom door; it was time for a little confrontation, with his

suddenly-Type "A" wife…

Inside the bathroom, Scully rinsed the last of the cleanser down the drain and sat back on her heels to view the results. The tub was spotless; the tiles glistened, not a speck of buildup on the white grout… and she was not satisfied… it wasn't done yet. She just knew she'd forgotten to clean something… she began searching all over the tub and shower enclosure, sliding the glass door back and forth, looking for a missed speck of something… her worry about the cleanliness of the bath took on epic proportions as she reached under the sink and pulled out a flashlight, then proceeded to shine it over every surface, still searching for dirt -

Only to squawk in breathless surprise when she was grasped around the middle and lifted into the air and away from her kneeling position on the floor, then spun around in a pair of strong arms, to confront her husband… who wore a dangerously ominous scowl upon his handsome face. She squirmed in his arms, pushing against his solid shoulders, muttering, "Mulder, put me down! Haven't got time for goofing off right now, I have to get the dirt out of this bathroom before I gag from the smell…" All her wriggling and pushing did nothing to get her released, and everything to arouse Mulder, who kept her pressed tightly to him as he spoke low and urgently into her little ear.

"Scully, for Christ's sake… there isn't a single spot of dirt anywhere in this house, the yard, the garage or in a three-mile radius… because you've cleaned it all at least a dozen times! Enough, already… you knock it off, or so help me I'm taking you to the hospital and checking you in for observation…" Her eyes, focused over his head as he'd been speaking, still looking for dirt, snapped to his grim face and her mouth dropped open in shock at his words; she struggled harder to get free, as he held her easily, not letting even one foot touch the floor. She suddenly dug in all ten nails, in his bare arms; he ignored the pain of it and latched on tighter. She growled in fury and glared at him.

"Dammit, Mulder… let go! There's nothing wrong with me… maybe you can live in a filthy hovel, but I sure can't… I have work to do! You're not taking me to the hospital; why the fuck would you want to do that to me… I think you've got serious problems, Mulder… now let go! I can't let Willy come home to this god-awful mess…" At the mention of their child's name, Mulder swallowed a groan of helpless frustration and wound her into his embrace hard, pushing her head down into his neck and holding her there despite her attempts to break free. He fought to keep the tears out of his voice; she was killing him with worry but he couldn't let it show; he had to be tough on her, right now, to snap her out of it.

"Scully… Willy is with Mom right now, and with Halliday, remember? He's not coming home, not yet. It's not safe for him here, you know that… didn't we just get another letter, just the other day? Didn't we find this one in his little bed, propped up against his pillow? While we were out; while we were away from the house and gone shopping… someone came in, got in here… and they left that note for you and me to find… can't you remember that? A note, from the people who did this to us, Scully - from that organization, it hasn't died out yet, someone is keeping things alive within that torture chamber… and Willy is safe, as long as we keep him away from here… can't you see that?" He stared into her red-rimmed eyes, begging her to comprehend what he was saying to her; she was as vacant as a china doll, hanging suddenly limp in his grasp, eyes staring, unfocused, pale face and mussed, tangled hair… then her cheeks flushed hotly red, as red as her hair, and she twisted herself hard within his arms, and managed to break free, and she stood defiant and tense before him, hands balled into little fists… and her voice erupted from her throat in a raw burst of hoarse anger, scalding him.

"I want my boy back, Mulder… right now! How do we know he's safe? Halliday could be lying to us, Mulder - he could be one of THEM, for all you know! They could all be lying to us, how would we be able to tell? And Mom, why would she want to be away from the family for so long anyhow, did you ever stop to think about that? Well, I have… and I'd just bet they got to her, too! I'd bet they got to her, and I'd bet she's in on it, and they're all keeping us from seeing our son, protecting our son! Maybe…" Her glittering eyes caught on his horrified gaze, as she took a step closer and pushed her face right up into his… "Maybe you're in on it, too, Mulder… Is that why you're trying to stop me from getting my baby? Huh? How do I know they didn't finally get to you!" With those ugly words between them, she raised an open hand to slap at his face… and something snapped, deep within him; he actually felt the !PING! of it in his aching head; he caught the hand before it could connect against his cheek, and he spun her around until he had her, back to front, arms pinned across her middle, underneath both of his… and he carried her spitting, wriggling body into the bedroom and flung her down onto their bed and pushed himself down on her to hold her there. His anger at her words, and his blinding worry about her state of mind, her sanity, caused him to leave bruises upon her soft skin as he pinned her down into the soft mattress, and fought to find the words to reassure her, to yell at her for the pain she'd inflicted on him… but the words wouldn't come.

He suddenly couldn't remember what words were; he was beyond them; beyond the concept of vowels and consonants as the blood pounded through his veins and throbbed inside his head; as he found himself pressed into a warm, struggling body which rubbed him into a state of incomprehensible frenzy which made him tug and pull at the odd things covering her, hiding her from him. He felt them on his body as well, not bugs, nothing like that, but something he'd never known before, and he didn't like it, couldn't stand it, had to rip them off, rip all of them off, from her as well as from him; his fingers tore at the stuff, until they were both freed, and now he felt only her hot skin, there in the soft grass, hot soft skin underneath him and she'd ceased to struggle and her little face was turned toward him, mouth gasping for breath as he searched with hard fingers for her open place, finally finding it and moving his body until he managed to slip between her legs, and push himself home. And once inside, the feeling came back to his numbed body, the knowledge of the good which only she could give him, filling his mind… and he moved, hard and deep within her, wanting to get there, wanting her to join him there; he slid a hand underneath her shuddering frame and found her soft center, and tugged at her, until she sent a muffled scream into the grass below her, until she turned her head, enough to reach his mouth and bite at his lips with sharp teeth, sobbing under her breath, until her body tightened with it, and she pushed up against him, opening herself even wider beneath him… and her sudden climax forced a keening wail from her raw throat, as he felt himself fly above their joined bodies, and one final thrust sent him almost straight through her… and he collapsed, spent, pressing her down into the sweet grass… into the soft mattress.

Before he fell into an exhausted sleep, before he let his mind shut down and his body go limp… he wound his fingers through hers, still covering her like a blanket, still connected to her… his last conscious thought one of concern, for the rains that were coming, and would drench them to the bone if they didn't take shelter beneath the palmettos, away from the pond… but he was too sleepy to move, and she felt so good. He never felt her wriggle out from underneath him, tears of remorse stinging her eyes, as she brushed the hair out of his face and pressed kisses all over his skin, murmuring brokenly to him, "I'm sorry, Mulder, oh God… so sorry… I love you so… I love you…" Until, with those words still echoing in her head, knowing he couldn't understand them, as long as he was in that other place, that other time… she curled into a little ball beside him, and slept.

** Chapter Four **

"Scully, for the last time… I don't remember!" Mulder paced back and forth in their bedroom, still nude, hair standing on end, faint reddened scratches on his shoulders and down both arms. On the bed, Scully sat with her knees pressed up against her bare breasts, watching him with worried eyes. She knew what he was going through… it had happened to her, several times already in the past year, although this was Mulder's first flashback experience. She'd been afraid he wouldn't snap out of it at all, but they'd both awoken at roughly the same time, and the sudden, human awareness in his eyes as he'd gazed at her curled next to him in bed, a gaze bordering on panic instead of sleepy love… well, she was worried, and still furious at herself for her deplorable behavior… for it had obviously triggered a reaction within him which had escalated into one serious hallucination. He stopped pacing and stood in front of her; she held out a hand for him, and tugged him down onto the bed, until she could wrap herself around his chilled skin. He shuddered and clung to her, then his face blanched anew as he saw the bruises scattered down each arm and across her pale breasts… his indrawn breath of contrition tore at her heart.

"Jesus Christ, Scully… what have I done to you, this time?"

AD Walter Skinner paced back and forth, in front of the two agents sitting next to each other in his office; paced, and glared, and then paced some more… until he finally stopped dead center between them, and demanded, "Well? What have you two got to say for yourselves, this time? Were you ever going to tell me, or were you going to suffer in silence for a few days longer, until one of you kills the other, hmmm?" Neither agent would meet his hard stare; one pair of eyes looked unseeingly out the window while the other pair watched in morbid fascination as her hands picked at a ragged cuticle on her thumb. Skinner blew out one sharply frustrated breath, and grabbed at the offending hand, stilling its movements with a growled, "Stop that, Agent! And answer the goddamed question…" His voice trailed off when he felt the wet plop of a warm tear on his hand, and bent down lower, to see her face crumpled, wet eyes overflowing; with a distressed sigh, he knelt in front of her, and folded her little body into his embrace, just holding onto her and offering some belated comfort; with another sigh, he grasped Mulder's hand, there on the armrest next to her, and pressed hard. Scully sobbed as Mulder fought to hold it together, and Skinner just waited patiently for both of them to calm themselves, before he reamed them any further… He finally let loose, of both of them; gave Mulder's hand one more squeeze, and pressed a gentle kiss upon Scully's damp cheek, before sitting back on his heels and regarding them, slumped in his office chairs. He cleared his throat, worried as hell about them - but unwilling to let them off the hook, yet.

"Look, you two… not giving that letter to me immediately upon receipt of it was not the smartest move you've ever made, but I guess I can understand why you didn't; and I can appreciate your distress and fear, when you first found it. I mean, whoever placed it just walked into your house as if they owned it, for Christ's sake! I know you always lock your doors, even when you're home, but anyone can pick a lock, and worm their way past a security system. I worry about the significance of placing that letter on Will's pillow - and the possible connotations of that action.

"I spoke to Halliday this morning, before you arrived here, and he assured me that everyone is fine. Scully… I also spoke to your mother." At those words, Scully's head jerked up, a hopeful look lighting her face; Skinner smiled reassuringly at her and patted her hand. "She's fine, Agent; she and Will both. I even listened to Will jabbering away in the background. I assure you, by now I know the sound of his voice, as well as Maggie Scully's - and they are fine. Halliday is doing a great job, taking care of them." Scully's eyes teared up again, and she pressed her face into Mulder' shoulder and wailed, in relief. Mulder held her very gently, rocking her a little, and whispered hoarsely, "Thanks, Sir - from both of us. We've been so worried…" Skinner nodded, once, and stood up, coming around to his desk and seating himself again. His fond gaze, directed at both his agents, became tinged with an implacable sternness, as he spoke again, to both of them.

"Now, about these flashbacks… Mulder, was this the first time for you?" Mulder nodded, wiping at his eyes wearily.

"Yeah… the first one. Took me by complete surprise… Scully, too." He looked down at his wife, still huddled in his arms, and smiled wryly when her indignant, muffled voice floated up to his ears.

"By 'surprise', Mulder? As usual you are the King of the understatement…" Her eyes peeped up at him, all vestiges of tears gone, lit with the same wry humor. She glanced at Skinner, and blushed a little, as she said, "He thought he was in the grasses, next to the pond, where we used to… um… never mind…" Hot-cheeked now, she pinched her husband when he laughed outright, and squeezed her to him. Skinner grinned in sudden understanding, then sobered a bit when he realized how easily she could have been physically hurt. Mulder's realization of the same thing came at the same moment, and he locked tense gazes with his boss. Mulder spoke their combined thoughts aloud.

"I could have hurt her, Sir… you're right to think that way. And if I have another one… very possible since we don't know what really triggered this one… if I have another one, anything could happen… I could really lose it, in the most dangerous way." He loosed his hold on Scully, but retained her hand, as he gave voice to his biggest concerns. "We have to find a way to get more information on the Isarius Project… the original plans, or something. Surely not everything was burned in that fire…" he broke off, as another thought came to him. "What about the log books that Simpson found, the ones he found with all those tapes? What did they have in them, besides all that clinical shit about our interrogation? Any formulas, codes… anything like that?" Skinner shook his head, and reached behind him on the desk to pull out a folder. He opened it and flipped through the sheets, then slid the folder across the desk to Mulder, who picked it up and began looking through it, with Scully over his shoulder he opened a thin notebook, bound in brown leather; they both scanned the neatly-written script. Mulder was puzzled.

"Written in German… did anyone try translating this?"

"Oh, yeah… I gave it to Schwitzer, and he read it through and did a translation… poetry, mostly, he said, hard to tell if the author is male or female. But, just poetry…"

Mulder turned the notebook over in his hands, fingering the smooth leather, and wondering why on earth it would feel familiar to him. Weird… Scully caught his pensive look, and arched a questioning brow. He shook his head with a little smile, and laid the notebook on Skinner's desk, inquiring, "If I want to look at this notebook again… can I get access to it?" Skinner nodded and scooped up the entire file, standing with the thick folder in hand; the agents rose as well, knowing they were being politely dismissed, and eager to get home as well.

"The folder will be in the usual secure place, Agents… should you need it."

** Chapter Five *

"Where is it, Otto? It was the only one that did not burn up in the fire… the only one. The most important of them all, and I can't find it anywhere… which means that you forgot to replace it in the vault, with the rest of them… so, where is it?"

"Dearest, I assure you… it is in a safe place. I couldn't get to it in time; don't you think I tried? There were agents everywhere, my love, swarming over all the tapes, all the folders and the

files - and I was caught up in their search, and assigned a partner as well… I couldn't get away! I didn't see who grabbed it… but I know where it is… I've seen it…" his voice faded off as she grasped his upper arm with painful, curved fingers, nails digging into his skin.

"You saw it? You could have taken it at any time, and you didn't? Why the hell not, Otto? Answer me! Whose camp holds your loyalties, anyway?" He rushed to placate her, to calm her fury, before it could erupt in his face and flay him alive. He'd seen just what the woman was capable of doing…

"My love… I couldn't take it! It's under heavy lock and key, in a guarded area! But, fear not - I was the one asked to translate… I said it was full of poetry… a pure stroke of genius on my part, don't you agree? No one will care what the pages have to say… who reads German poetry?" He smiled triumphantly at her… then his eyes widened, and he paled, whiter than milk… as he noticed, for the first time, what she held in her hands… the smell of it odd and metallic in the small room; the glowing look of it… and he began to gibber in terror, gasping in fright, "What are you doing, I just said it's safe, God Almighty who would think to look in a book of poetry for anything, please dearest… don't do this to us… I love you, DO YOU HEAR? I love you, please…" And into his frightened, panic-filled eyes… she smiled sweetly at him… and slid the needle home… and watched with sadness as the serum began to work on him… then walked slowly to the door, not bothering to turn around as he began to scream with the pain and anguish of loss -

"Oh, I am sure you do love me, Otto… after all, I could have been your first real solved case, couldn't I? And you would have had one under your belt, and perhaps a promotion, all the way up to Special Agent… what a nice ring that would have had to it… 'Special Agent Otto Schwitzer'…" She gently shut the door behind her, thinking once again of how sad she would be, to lose him… remembering with fondness the way he'd held her, and made love to her, whispering those endearments in his smooth voice, those German endearments…

He had even known exactly how hard to ram it to her, as she'd hung there, handcuffed to the bedposts… so much like her father… so much. What was it those vulgar Americans were fond of saying, in their stupid 'pop' culture? Oh yes… she remembered now… "A hard man is good to find…" How very true. And were they not also the very ones who coined the phrase, "My heart belongs to Daddy…" She smiled again, and locked the door behind her; stepped out into the cool evening mist.

Maybe she would take white roses to her father's grave, later on tonight.

** Chapter Six **

"I don't like this one little bit, Mulder… I don't want you to do it. What good will it do? Please… there's got to be a better way!" Scully was fighting so hard to keep her voice even and her panic controlled… but her eyes were huge with worry in her pale face, and she had a death grip on his hand. Mulder sighed, and squeezed her fingers gently, then carefully pried them loose from his hand, and led her to the sofa, pushing her down into the cushions and kneeling in front of her to look into her concerned face. He slid cool fingers through her hair, underneath the heavy silk of it, rubbing at her neck tenderly, as he tried to gather the words needed to make her understand the necessity of what he was about to do.

"Listen to me, Scully… I have got to do this. It's the only lead we have left! No fingerprints on the notes, the doorknobs, or anywhere in the house; no clue as to the author of these notes; our agents have come up with zip on this… Skinner's about at the end of his rope, and so are we. Our evidence consists of four notes and a handful of VHS tapes… and I'm convinced there must be something on those tapes, something which was missed the first time they were viewed… can't you see I've got to watch the tapes for myself…" Her low sob stopped his placating attempt, and she covered her face with her shaking hands and cried into his shoulder, soaking his shirt. Mulder closed his tired eyes and pressed his face into her neck, inhaling her sweet fragrance and wondering, yet again, just when the hell their lives were going to be anything besides weird. He missed his son; he missed his mother-in-law, and he missed the wondrous brilliance of Scully's smile; something he'd not seen in entirely too long. Their nerves were just about at the breaking point - they'd been waiting for over a month now; a month, to see if the monsters behind those little notes would make themselves known, would come out of hiding, and attempt something, anything… Mulder was positive the bastards knew exactly what this game was costing him, and Scully, in sanity. He sighed into her soft skin, and slid warm lips over the delicate collarbone and up to her tiny ear, kissing it gently before he pulled back, enough to look into her wet face.

"Scully… you know I don't have a choice… please don't make this any harder. Let me go, baby… let me get this over with, OK? Skinner will be there, with me, and Simpson… I'm going to ask them today, to help me; and I'll be fine, really I will… let me go now, and let it be done… maybe I can find some missing link within one of those tapes, and we'll go after this piece of shit and take him down, once and for all…" He started to move back and away from her, but she wouldn't let him go; her arms tightened around his neck, and she pulled her face from its hiding place against his shoulder, and her eyes, still damp, blazed into his with determination. He stared at her, suddenly thinking he didn't like the look in those blue orbs of hers, not one bit… and she spoke low and evenly, into his ear.

"For the last time, Mulder… no! No, you're not going to do this; I don't care how many frigging FBI agents are in the room with you… no!" He started to protest, and she slammed a hand over his mouth and effectively gagged him, as she continued, "You're not doing this… not without me, there with you. And no, you won't be trying to change my mind… not this time. I'm going with you; it's final - we will watch those godamned tapes together… and we will either sink, or fly, together… and whatever answers are in those tapes… we'll find them together. You got me, Mulder? Together. No more ditching… no more singular heroics. I'm your partner… your official FBI partner. You have to include me… or else, you can kiss your 'husbandly rights' goodbye… for a very long time…"

His wide-eyed look of almost comical surprise had her fighting to keep a straight face. He sputtered indignantly, finally gasping out, "You'd cut me off, Scully… me? You can't do that; it's illegal! You took vows, woman… you can't cut me off…"! She laughed suddenly, right in his panicked face, and purred, "Yeah, we both took vows, 'lover' - for better or for worse… remember? Well, here's looking at worse…" and she kissed his mouth shut, when he would have protested some more… and she felt the moment he gave in, with a shudder and a hard sigh, into her mouth; he pulled away, just enough to murmur, in defeat, against her lips.

"Okay, you win… together. God help us…"

Dr. Marianne Wallace knocked once on AD Skinner's door, then not waiting for an answer, opened it and walked in, shutting the door firmly and marching right up to the desk; planting both hands upon the polished surface, she waited just long enough for his head to raise and his surprised gaze to register her presence before she pushed her face into his and demanded, "Are you completely off your rocker, Sir!" Taken aback, Skinner opened his mouth to speak, and Marianne raised one imperative finger and pointed it straight at him, admonishing with a hard, "Don't even say it… don't try to justify this, Walter! You cannot, cannot let Dana and Fox view those tapes! They are by no means ready for that… God! Think of it… still having flashbacks, both of them… yes, I know Dana hasn't had any lately, but her last one was the worst; look what havoc that one wrought upon them! And Fox… he just had one lately; I had to twist his arm to get him to talk about it! Now you want to put them in a room with those tapes, knowing what's on them, knowing it could destroy the grasp they have on their sanity to see them…" She paused, to suck in a huge breath, ready to let fly again, and Skinner slapped a hand over her arm, and yanked her down into the armchair facing his desk, leaning over her, his expression resolute.

"Hold it right there, Dr. Wallace… this is not my decision to make. I have no control over what my agents decide to do about those tapes, surely you know that by now. No, I don't want them to see what's on those tapes… God, never that! I watched all of them, Annie… I know what those scenes are going to do to Dana, and to Mulder, when they see for themselves the horrors they had to endure!" He let go of her arm, and sunk into the chair next to hers, holding his head tiredly; he'd not been able to sleep decently ever since his agents had made the request - no, the demand - to have the tapes released to their possession. He'd tried to talk them out of it - then he'd tried to pull rank, and had tried ordering them away from it - they'd just stared at him with identical looks of determination, and had politely requested the surrender of "the evidence", as they'd worded it… and his hands had been tied. But then, they'd requested his presence in the room , during the viewing… and two sets of eyes had gazed into his, with the barest tinge of pleading, behind the determination… and he'd acquiesced. Now, Skinner watched Marianne Wallace struggle with the inevitability of her two favorite patients having to go through so much to glean what she was certain would be just a tiny bit of evidence… and her worry was there in her face, for all to see. He reached out a hand, and squeezed her cold fingers, and murmured, "I'm worried as hell, Annie - and I'll be right there with them, I promise you…" She nodded, once, and stood up, abruptly, walked to the door; as she opened it, she turned and spoke softly.

"Let me know when this viewing's taking place, Walter… because I'm going to be there, too…"

** Chapter Seven **

By the time Scully and Mulder arrived in the small meeting room, everything had been set up and was ready to go. Mulder had tried talking her out of going with him… it hadn't worked. If anything, his attempt at persuasion had resulted in an even stronger determined lift to the stubborn 'Scully chin' - she'd stared him down, not saying a word, and he'd finally sighed in defeat and had helped her on with her jacket… then he'd pulled her hard, into his arms, and they'd held each other close, there in the hallway of their home. He'd kissed her eyes, and her soft cheeks, her mouth; whispered to her of his love for her, of his pride in her courage… and she'd tried very hard not to weep at the sweet words.

Now, in the darkened room, sitting side by side in comfortable chairs, holding hands - with Skinner on one side and Dr. Wallace on the other… they were ready to begin. Agent Simpson had selected the first tape in the series and had popped it in… then paused, before hitting the 'play' button, and spoke for the first time since arriving with the VHS unit. "Agents… are you sure about this? I saw these tapes… and it about killed me. I can't begin to tell you, how terrible… can't even find the words…" he couldn't finish the sentence, just shook his head and took a shuddery breath, caught in the throes of remembering. Scully rose swiftly, out of the chair and moving over to Simpson, standing there next to the unit; she grasped his hand and squeezed it, then gave him a quick, hard hug. The gesture surprised him; Scully the Ice Queen, hugging him… and he suddenly realized just how much she meant to the Bureau, and how much strength and courage was contained in her small frame. He hugged her back, a little awkwardly, and patted her back, as she let him go and whispered, "Thank you for your worry, and your concern, Agent - but we have to do this. We have to know… so please continue; we'll be fine. We're always fine…" And she turned back to her chair, scooting it a little closer to Mulder's, affording him the ability to slip an arm about her shoulders and cuddle her close. The unit whirred; the TV screen came alive with the image of a large room, windowless, bare except for a metal table, several straight-backed chairs, fitted with restraints, and two padded armchairs, nestled side by side. The silence on the tape was unnerving; dead white noise, enough to make a body antsy - then suddenly, a door burst open, flung back by a booted foot kicking at it… and the agents watched with wide eyes as first Scully, then Mulder was dragged into the room by white-clad, expressionless men, and pushed down into the hard chairs; leather restraints were cinched over their wrists and around each ankle; the chairs then maneuvered around until they faced each other. A man had followed them into the room; short and stocky, with thinning salt-and-pepper hair and a white lab coat; he wore round spectacles on his rather bulbous nose and his pale blue eyes held no expression whatsoever, as he entered the room and locked the door behind him. He approached Scully first, placing a pudgy, soft-looking hand upon her cheek; she never moved, nor did she acknowledge in any way the man's presence. The lab-coated man hummed a little, in his throat, then turned to face the camera head-on, a faint semblance of a smile bending up one side of his thin mouth; the Scully sitting outside the camera, watching this, jumped a little, and muttered, under her breath, "Pell…" And Mulder nodded slowly, eyes glued to the screen; his arms tightened around his wife protectively.

Still silent, Dr. Pell Friedrictoph turned away from the camera, and again approached Scully; she stared straight ahead, sitting stone-still, unmoving. He sidled in closer to her, again reaching out a hand to touch her cheek, his lips moved but there was no sound; Skinner had mentioned the first tape or two had no sound; they'd been prepared for this, and the silent observers in the room watched very carefully the scene unfolding in front of them. The doctor's hand laid against her cheek, almost lover-like; the head cocked slightly in her direction… the earnest expression on his face, radiating a sort of concern for her. He squatted down, on his heels, now eye level with her, more words, difficult to lip-read; Mulder motioned to Simpson, who rewound and let it play again; trying to read the lips, but he only caught a few words: "Tell me who… purpose of it… how many, Agent… consequences…" His lips were so thin, and that made reading them difficult. The doctor was patient, kept asking questions, the same lip movement over and over again; Mulder caught a few more words, nothing major… Scully never moved one inch; hardly appeared to be breathing… the Mulder on the screen also staring dead-on, expressionless… and Pell Friedrictoph turned a little, in his direction… and his thoughtful gaze focused there, on Mulder's face… and he rose to his feet, stretching a little, as if to ease cramped muscles… then he suddenly swung out with both hands clasped together, fingers interlaced, like a double fist… and this fist caught Scully on the side of the head, and snapped her sideways, breaking the delicate skin of her upper cheek, and her mouth; she crumpled into her chair but she never closed her eyes, never acknowledged the pain. Her eyes locked with Mulder's, and they stared deeply within each other as the doctor, expressionless and merciless, hit her twice more, with his fisted hands; once on the other side of her face, and once across her shoulder and breastbone. She slumped in the chair… but her eyes were open.

And in the viewing room, seated next to the real Scully… Mulder moaned, deep in his throat, and held onto his wife tightly, shaking from what he'd witnessed, only twenty minutes into the first tape… and there were at least six more to go… and he knew without a doubt, that what he'd witness on the other tapes would be far, far worse than what he'd just seen. He didn't think he could stand it, but he had to stand it, because he just knew there was something vital on those tapes, something so easy to miss… and so necessary. For that reason… he would have to swallow his pain and agony at having to watch the woman he loved, the woman he lived for, being tortured and beaten - the same as what she would go through, when it happened to him, however far into the tape that footage would be.

Mulder hoped their combined strength would be enough for them, to get them through it, when that time came.

** Chapter Eight **

When the door opened, there on the screen, in the middle of the third tape… Scully tensed in her husband's arms, and drew a hissing breath, between her teeth. This tape did have sound, and for the last hour, they'd watched Pell Friedrictoph grilling Scully, hearing the almost sing-song quality of his voice, with its thick German accent, ask her the same questions over and over; hitting her about the face and shoulders when she didn't respond. She hadn't moved so much as a muscle, in hours, on those tapes; the only time her body changed position at all was the result of being slapped, punched or shoved, there in her chair. The doctor seemed to be tiring of the game, for he leaned down and whispered into her ear, so low the words barely carried, "Agent Scully… Dana. One way or another, you will tell me what I need to know… even if I have to fuck it out of you…" And his face pressed against hers, almost like a lover, and his thick pink tongue crept out of his thin mouth, and slid over her cheek and down her jawline; her entire body tensed, but she didn't move. One of his hands found a small breast, and squeezed her obscenely, one eye watching Mulder for his reaction to this violation of his partner… he never looked, never moved. In the viewing room, Mulder groaned at the sight of this monster gripping Scully's breast, the camera showing in awful detain the pressure his hand was exerting, the bruising which had to be happening, beneath the soft knit of her sweater… the dead look on her face; only her eyes showing any life, any intensity, as they remained locked with Mulder's. Their communication with each other, the silent strength they sent to flow between them, was never more evident than in that moment on the screen, right before the door opened… when Friedrictoph, visibly frustrated from the lack of response he'd gotten from either of the agents, sent a swift, hard punch right into Scully's face, breaking her little nose… again, no reaction, from either of them… not a sound. Beside him, Mulder felt Skinner tensing, heard the curse he spat under his breath… and laid a hand on his arm, pressing lightly; Skinner let out one huge shuddery breath, and dropped his face in one hand. Seeing this little scene the second go-round hadn't been any easier; in fact it had been worse, because Skinner had known what to expect… had cringed anew at the sight of Scully's delicate nose being smashed. And,, on the other side of Mulder… Scully had taken one audible, gasping breath… and her eyes welled up with tears of remembered pain, as she watched herself being pummeled by the sadistic doctor…

And as she continued to monitor her image on the screen, watched the way her image kept eye contact throughout the ordeal of having her body mangled by Friedrictoph; almost congratulating herself on being able to sit through it without falling apart on Mulder… the door opened in the middle of the third tape, and a woman entered the bare, darkened room… and Scully hissed in her throat, and a moan slipped out through her gritted teeth; she remembered… remembered the woman. Big-boned, dressed in black… the woman moved with a soundless step, to stand in front of Mulder… and she bent down, close to his face, and her questions started out so softly, almost sweetly, spoken low into his ear. "Tell me, Mr. Mulder… when did you first plan your little escapade into our business, hmmm? How many agents were involved? Their names, Mr. Mulder? How many…" Her voice softer, and softer, against his cheek now, face to face, trying to force him to look her in the eyes, but he kept his gaze locked on Scully. It angered the woman, his lack of response… and she stepped back from him, and reached behind her on the table, for the bag she'd dropped there when she'd first entered; pulled open the drawstring and took out a pair of black gloves. And she slid them on her large hands, the fit very tight; as she tugged them into place, the very tips of these gloves glittered in the overhead lights… slivers of metal in the tips, pointed and deadly sharp… and Scully gasped, sitting there next to Mulder, held by his warm arms; she paled and shook as the light from above the camera caught the little knives sewn into the gloves, and sparkled as the woman extended her hands toward Mulder's bare chest, and one hand raked lightly across his biceps… and left a thin, four-fingered trail of blood behind it. And in the chair next to her husband, Scully cried out at the sight of all that blood, and moaned almost soundlessly, almost incoherently, " No no no nonononononooooo…" Tears blinding her, she stumbled to her feet, and ran for the door; Mulder jumped up to follow her, when another movement on the screen caught his eye, and he turned to look… then his jaw dropped, and the feeling of being trapped in a chair bound with leather restraints, of being in indeterminable pain and despair swept over him once again… as he stared at the screen and watched the woman in black turn back around to face him again, still wearing the metal-tipped glove on one hand… while the other held a slim brown leather-bound notebook… and she flipped it open, and began jotting down notes, while walking a circle around the on-screen Mulder… occasionally swiping out a gloved hand to tear at his skin and leave more dripping blood…

Mulder was almost incoherent by the time he was able to force his numbed lips to speak.

"Holy shit… holy… shit! The notebook, in her hands, Sir - that's the notebook I saw the other day - the one you said had been translated as nothing more than a bunch of poetry… by Schwitzer; Agent Otto Schwitzer…" Skinner had risen to his feet, staring in mounting horror at that little brown book, and his whispered condemnation echoed around the now-silent room…

"Oh, Christ… oh, hell… Schwitzer. He was our 'mouth' to the organization, Mulder… not Baratelle; at least not just him… but Schwitzer, as well. He lied to me about the contents of that book, Jesus Christ… he lied. All this time…" Skinner couldn't believe it. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a cell phone, flipped it open and stabbed in some numbers, then waited one or two seconds before barking into the receiver, "This is Skinner… go get Schwitzer… now! What… hell yes, arrest him! I'll explain later; just get him and make it damn quick!" He closed the phone, and shoved it back into his pocket, as Mulder ran to the door and flung it open, calling over his shoulder, "I want to see the rest of it, Sir… but for now I have to find Scully; make sure she's all right…" And he tore down the hallway, calling out, "Scully! Where the hell are you!" Running down to the elevator, pushing at the buttons…the doors finally opened, and there she was, sitting huddled in the corner of the elevator, arms clasped around her knees… crying tears silent and endless down her white cheeks. He reached for her, pulling her into his arms and holding her pressed so tightly to him, hoarsely reaffirming to her that it was okay, everything was okay now, he was safe and so was she… and her tears fell even harder, as she pressed her trembling lips to the strong pulse in his neck, and her shaky whisper wound itself down into his heart and exploded into his soul - "Mulder… she's alive, we thought she'd died in that fire, Mulder… but she's alive, that woman Leonie… alive! Mulder…" She pushed at him, enough to be able to raise her frightened eyes and gaze into his worried face, "Mulder… she's his daughter… I remember now! His daughter, Mulder… Leonie is Pell Friedrictoph's daughter..."

** Chapter Nine **

"Are you sure, Agent? We were told that five people died in the fire, and one body was completely unidentifiable…" Simpson sat, facing a much-calmed Scully, in Skinner's large office; Mulder, sitting next to her on the small sofa, still had hold of her hand. She was still too pale… but she looked composed, which was better than he was doing. Simpson, consulting the report in his hands, read pieces of it aloud. "Five bodies. Four proven to be male… three burned beyond recognition. Das Gruber, a lab technician, Heinrich Schnell, another assistant of some kind, and Brunot Fledernous, again unsure of his position… all burned beyond recognition. We were able to find dental records which matched; these men all had police records. Pell Friedrictoph… identifiable visually; but the fifth body was so crispy it was just about ash, including the teeth. Could have been male, could have been female… and we ran down every lead we could think of, on the woman called Leonie… why do I have a feeling Dr. Doom in there was yukking it up in our faces, every time he spoke to the woman and called her by name? Maybe because he knew that for official purposes, she'd never even existed." Skinner, perched on the corner of his desk, was puzzled.

"Are you trying to say the knowledge of her birth had been withheld from the world since the day of her birth, Simpson? How can that be possible?" Simpson shook his head dismissively, and gulped at a can of pop.

"It can be done, easier than you think… the kid is born, at home. Educated, at home. Locked inside every night, not allowed friends, probably not even pets… always alone. Maybe she had a mother, once… maybe our mad doctor buddy killed off the mother, for reasons unknown. He obviously seemed to have his own little agenda… and from the few reports we were able to obtain, he was a frigging genius… IQ off the charts. So, the girl grows up, with nobody but Dr. Insane, to pal around with; maybe he abuses her, definitely he teaches her everything he knows, everything he's working on… she was his assistant, his second in command. That much was obvious from the way they interacted, however subtly, on those tapes…" Mulder, who'd been listening attentively during Simpson's brainstorming, suddenly smiled at the agent, and commented, "That's some damn fine profiling you just came up with, Agent… why have you been wasted at that boring desk job of yours, all this time? So what if it pays more…" His little aside to Simpson served to break some of the tension in the room, and even Scully smiled, though she was still too pale. Simpson actually blushed, and harrumphed deep in his throat, before he closed the report and handed it to Mulder, replying, "If you and Agent Scully hadn't been 'bedridden' in the hospital at the time this report was being compiled… I'm sure you would have been able to come up with a lot of the same details listed here… and your profile would be much more dead-on than mine…" Mulder opened his mouth to retort, but was halted by Skinner's bark of, "Enough of this "My inferiority complex is better than your inferiority

complex" bullshit, Agents… we have a lot of work to do.

"Simpson… go back to the crime scene, please… don't worry about the expense report; this one's on me. Don't come back until you find something we overlooked. Mulder, are you and Scully up to watching any more of the tapes, or would you -" his query was interrupted by their combined, determined "Yes!" He nodded, and sent a glance to the fifth occupant of the room, who had been quiet throughout this meeting. "Annie - how about you? Can you handle it?" Dr. Wallace nodded, and smiled reassuringly at Scully and Mulder, then rose and headed to the door.

"Just let me cancel my last appointment for the day, Sir - she's due in an hour, and if I call her cell phone I can probably reach her before she leaves work. I'll meet you back in the viewing room." Opening the door, she grabbed a quick elevator down two levels, to her office, unlocked the door and headed for the phone, punching in a number and waiting a bit before it was picked up and she could speak. "Miss Shaw… this is Marianne Wallace… oh, fine, and you? Well, good! Listen, dear, I have to re-schedule your appointment… what's that? Oh, I'm fine, no emergency, really! Something came up, another case in which my help is required… oh yes, never a dull moment! Now, how about 6:00 PM tomorrow; will that work? What… no, not at all; well, I usually leave at 5:00 but I don't mind staying a little late, since you have a hard time leaving early on Fridays… no it's fine, really. See you then…" Marianne hung up the phone and forwarded her calls to Mona, her receptionist… then turned out the lights and headed back to the elevators…

And, in the sleek, gunmetal gray BMW, one gloved hand left the wheel, long enough to flip the cell phone closed, and the woman in black eased up, just a little on the gas pedal, and smiled a bit into the rear mirror… and her thoughts were easy and clear, for the first time that day… very easy, and very clear. She adjusted the huge sunglasses she always wore when driving; the ones that covered so much of her face they made her look quite eccentric, rather than quite mad, which she was… quite, quite mad. She was looking forward to her session with Dr. Wallace… yes, indeed. She and Dr. Wallace had become fast friends, beyond the doctor-patient relationship… she and Dr. Wallace had some mutual acquaintances. Dr. Wallace had a lot of very useful information, concerning a lot of useful people… and it was time to allow her to 'help' in the woman's quest for continuation of her father's work.

Leonie Friedrictoph smiled again, and drove at a sedate pace… thinking of the lovely information which the good doctor would provide, to her… right before she would become shot full of serum...

Ah, science... such a comfort.


Author: Char Chaffin
Category: Mulder/Scully Marriage, babies, M&S/Skinner friendship, Angst, some torture
Rating: NC-17, for sexual situations, language and disturbing imagery

Feedback: GOD, yes! I'd beg, but it's so undignified (please please please)
Distribution: Sure, Just Ask!
Spoilers: All together now…"Spoilers? We Don't Need no Stinkin' Spoilers…"

Disclaimer: I want them, but I can't have them…
Summary: It's time to get it back, all of it… and Mulder and Scully are ready to kick ass…

With thanks to: So many people, it may take awhile! First, my "squadron" of betas: To Hillary (Foxsong), a very huge thanks for all her advice, scolding, praising and virtual food, sent to me to keep up my strength during the writing of the "Eden" series. She has been with me since "Eden" was just a wisp of an idea in my head… thank you, Beta-Goddess! Also, much deep thanks to Shoshana, Cat (Emania), Sister Moon and Hester Dougan (the four Beta-teers), who have given me overwhelming support and advice as I struggled through this series. And for everyone who read "Eden" from the beginning, and sent me great feedback and encouragement to continue: THANKS!

Author's Note: This series started out as one solitary story… now, several months and 70 or so pages later, I have finally figured out how to end it! It has been fun, frustrating and oh, so rewarding… and I hope you enjoy the final installment as much as I enjoyed writing it.

This is the final piece of a five-part series, so it will definitely make more sense to you if you've read the other four parts: "The Other Side of Eden", "Eden in the City", "Re-Inventing Eden", and "To Keep Eden Safe", all found on my web site http://char.chaffin.com

WARNING: This story deals with subject matter that may be unsuitable for some readers; please proceed at your own risk…


The "Eden" Series

Part 5: Regaining Eden

** Prologue **

"Sir… there's a call for you, from Agent Lorenzo…"

"Thanks, I'll take it - 2456, if you please…" AD Walter Skinner waited three or four seconds, then pushed a quick code onto the keypad. "Agent Lorenzo, what's the problem?"

"Sir… I just received word from Agent Halliday… there's an emergency, at home, involving Jenny Halliday."

"What sort of emergency, Agent?"

"An accident, Sir… she was returning home from a doctor's appointment earlier today, and was hit head-on by what we suspect was a drunk driver, only three miles from home. She was wearing a seat-belt, but she was hit hard - the idiot must have been going at least 60 miles an hour. She's in the ER at St. James… doesn't look good."

"Oh, shit… How's Halliday? Who's with him?"

"He's pretty bad, Sir… Agent Norst is with him, gonna drive him to the airport. I'm keeping an eye on things here, so please don't worry. Sir… Mrs. Halliday is pregnant - that's why she was at the doctor's, for a pre-natal exam. Agent Halliday had just found out, just a few days ago… man, he was so excited… he was going to call you tonight and tell you all about it…"

"Christ… what about the pregnancy… is she holding steady?"

"So far, Sir, but it's not good, as I said before. I'm hoping Agent Halliday calls in, as soon as he makes it over to the hospital. I can give you the number there, and Mrs. Halliday's doctor is McBaird, I believe… any instructions for me?"

"Just keep it together for me, Agent, that's all for now. I have to make a few calls. Keep in touch - I don't have to impress upon you the seriousness of your responsibility, do I?"

"No Sir, not at all. You can count on me…"

Agent Lorenzo hit the 'release' button, waited a few seconds, then punched another series of numbers into the cell phone. Pinching the bridge of his nose, where a headache was rapidly brewing, he waited patiently for the call to go through; for the usual round of clicks and beeps to complete, before a low, raspy voice came on the line, with an impatient, "Yes?"

"It is done, Madam… Agent Halliday is on his way home. I will await your further instructions."

The voice on the other end sent a satisfied "Hmmm" into his ear, and replied, "Excellent work, my dear… excellent. I have everything set at this end, as well - you may proceed as planned. I will await your delivery…" A gentle click in his ear; Agent Marcus Lorenzo folded his cell phone in half with a flick of his wrist, and made his way out of the secure room and into the empty elevator. As he rode it down eight levels, he deliberated on the best way to proceed, from this point…

Maybe he'd just knock the old lady over the head, first.

** Chapter One **


"Dana… honey… it's Mom…"

"Mom, oh my God… is everything all right? Is Will safe… Mom?"

"Will's just fine, Sweetheart… he's eating and sleeping and playing and messing in his diapers just like always… except he's grown some, of course. I just wanted to call you, and talk to you. This is a secure line, so don't worry… Is Fox there, honey?"

"He's in the garage, why? Are you sure everything's alright?"

"Yes, I promise, everything is fine! I just want to hear that boy's voice, that's all - can you get him to pick up on the extension… is the place clean…"

"Yes, Langly swept about an hour ago, and we've been here all morning. Let me go get Mulder, okay? You sit tight…"

Scully dropped the phone and ran out the back door and into the garage; Mulder had been fighting with an inoperative lawnmower all morning, and as she opened the side door, she could hear the clink of tools accompanied by an occasional "shit", or "fuck!" wafting in the air in frustrated MulderTone… she burst through the door and called, "Mulder! Drop the tools and come in the house; hurry!" Mulder's head popped up from behind the cumbersome lawnmower, hair sticking up on end and grease smeared across his chin; he took hurried note of her wide, excited eyes and demanded, "What's going on, Scully? Are you okay - what's happened?" Scully smiled brilliantly and reached out both arms to hug him, hard.

"Nothing's wrong, Mulder… everything's great - Mom's on the phone, with Will…"

He awoke with the metallic taste of blood in his mouth and the sure knowledge that he was in some very serious danger.

He had been drifting in and out of consciousness; a nether-state of numbing cold and the inability to warm himself in any way. Stiff and sore… arms tethered to the chair in which he sat, immovable - legs secured as well, from knee to ankle. His neck ached; he'd been slumped sideways for an undetermined amount of time. A trickle of something warm and wet, slipping down the side of his face and into his bearded cheek - blood, no doubt. Slowly he opened puffy eyes; tried to focus on his surroundings. It was black in the room; black and void of even a tiny smidgen of light. He strained to see anything at all, but he was utterly blind. He tried very hard not to panic, to not fear the worst, that he'd actually become blind. His memory was very fuzzy - he could recall the trip to the video store, with a side excursion to the A&P for some ice cream; could even recall the flavor (butter pecan; he'd deliberately chosen a flavor which only he would eat, just to be contrary); he could remember walking through the almost-deserted parking lot, arms full of videos and ice cream and assorted pogey-bait… could recall seeing his little car, sitting in the distance under a security lamp… but he couldn't see himself getting into the car; couldn't even see himself closing in on the car, there in the distance under the bluish glow of the lamp. Well… judging by his present situation, it was a very good bet he'd been ambushed - by whom, was anyone's guess. His analytical mind began processing possible scenarios leading up to his predicament, none of which made any sense. But, thinking of it did keep his mind off the pain… so he took deep, calming breaths, and turned all his energies to figuring out what had happened to him.

He was so deeply into figuring, that he never heard the echo of a door opening; never spotted the sliver of light along the edge of the door… but he did hear the clicking heels upon the cement floor - and he heard the low, almost raspy voice of the one he assumed must be responsible for his current state of affairs, as she spoke to him, standing directly in front of him in that soupy black void:

"John Byers… how nice to finally make your acquaintance…"

** Chapter Two **

"Scully… eat that; quit picking at it. God… I slave over a hot stove, making you a wonderful dinner, and this is how you repay my hard work? There are starving aliens on Pluto who would be happy to get that food…" Didn't even get a rise out of her; she was so focused inward he had to tug on her hand to get her to even notice him. At the touch of his hand on her arm, Scully jerked as if awakening from a deep sleep, and blinked in confusion. Her eyes met his quizzical gaze, and she gave him a vague half-smile and shook her head.

"Sorry, Mulder, really - I like the meat loaf a lot; and I couldn't find a single lump in the potatoes… I am suitably impressed! How come you never cooked for me when we were partners?" She teased him gently, squeezing his hand, and waited for the little retort she could see simmering behind those bright hazel orbs. He didn't disappoint her.

"How come you never screwed my brains out when we were partners, Scully?"

"I wanted to, Mulder… doesn't that count?"

"You may have wanted to, but you didn't do it… well, maybe I wanted to cook for you, but I didn't do it… so, does that count?" He tossed her words right back at her, still retaining hold of her hand. She pulled at him, and he slid off his chair and landed on his knees in front of her, close enough for her to wind her arms around his shoulders and press her upper body into him, feeling his sharp intake of breath and the little shiver he gave upon contact with her unfettered breasts. She nuzzled his jaw with parted lips, and spoke against his flushed skin.

"Well, Mulder… you did cook for me, finally - and it was delicious, even if it was six years late, so… guess I could screw your brains out in return, just so we break even - is that an acceptable alternative?" Her roaming mouth found the corded vein in his neck and her little teeth bit down, forcing a groaning chuckle from his suddenly breathless lungs, as he tried to answer her before all the blood drained out of his big head and flooded his little one.

"S'okay with me, Scully - just answer one question, if you would…" He pulled away, just enough to gaze into her glittering eyes. "Why were you so pensive, just a few minutes before this attack of 'horny beastess' syndrome?" She sighed and laid her cheek in the curve of his neck, pressing herself close.

"Guess I was thinking about Mom, and little Will… I miss them, so much. It's been almost two months, Mulder… Mom says he's walking, and even running a little, now…" She sniffed, fighting to hold back the tears; Mulder gathered her closer, and rocked her a little, trying to keep himself from misting over as well. Scully wiped at her wet eyes with the back of her hand.

"Talking with them today… it was almost too painful for me. It would almost have been better to not even hear their voices at all, you know? Our baby's going through all this incredible "first time" stuff, and we're not able to see any of it! And it's killing me, Mulder…" She gave up trying to hold back any more, and let the tears overwhelm them both. Mulder held her tightly, then suddenly rose to his feet, with Scully cradled in his arms, and carried her swiftly up the stairs to their bedroom, where he laid her gently upon the bed and pulled the window blinds closed. He returned to her side and lay next to her, pulling her once again into his embrace; she cried all over his sweater, little body shaking with it. He whispered nonsense comfort to her, running long fingers through her hair and kissing each tear away, fighting back his own frustration, his own grief at the loss they were forced to experience… all because of one madman left to run loose in the world. Well… madwoman. But at least, their cherished family was safe… and that made it all worthwhile, the loss and the missing out on these baby landmarks. He whispered those exact words to her, into the wispy tendrils of flame at her temple, and he felt her nod just a little against his lips, before she turned her head enough to catch his still-parted lips with hers, and kiss him deeply, so deeply it eased her sore heart somewhat as he sighed into her mouth and licked softly at her tongue, until she mimicked the movement and her hands began slipping over him, moving aside all his clothing to better reach his hot skin.

And he removed her clothes just as easily, letting his mouth and hands tell her many secrets, things he'd kept buried inside, far inside for the last almost-seven years; his non-verbal words silently compelling, uttered in gasping murmurs into her shoulder, her soft breast… the curve of her hipbone and that small dip behind her left knee. He spoke all his secrets into these places on her body, little spots waiting to hear what he had to say and needed to feel, early in the damp evening with dim lamplight flickering off the white mini-blinds on their bedroom window. He spoke with his mouth, and she listened with her sore but rapidly healing heart; she swallowed each shaky affirmation with an answering sigh, and pulled at him until he lay sprawled over her, pressing her down into the thick comforter on their bed. He tried to ease up on his elbow, fearing he would crush her, but she growled in her throat and yanked on his hair, until he relented and pressed his full weight upon her, murmuring to her of his fear of crushing her. She grinned up into his face, and retorted, "Go ahead and crush all you want, Mulder - I need to really feel you right now, and the best way for me is having you on top…" She slid her feet along his sensitive calves and felt his answering moan and shudder, before he twisted both hands in her loose hair and pressed down hard, pushing himself into her with one fierce shove. She sucked in a shaky, sobbing breath, and arched her hips, taking him impossibly deep. They both cried out with it, there in the private silence of their room.

Neither heard the phone ringing, and ringing…

"No answer… Goddam it!" He slammed the phone down and paced with frustration.

"We have to go over there… we need his help." Frohike stopped pacing long enough to regard his friend and cohort with tired resignation. He slumped into a nearby chair and rubbed his hands hard over his face. They were both exhausted, scared and worried out of their minds… and they needed Mulder's help more than they'd ever needed it before. And the danger that their need presented, to Mulder and Scully both, was overwhelming - but they didn't have a choice. Frohike stood up slowly, grabbed his jacket and nudged at Langly, sitting there on the floor next to his vacated chair. Langly looked up with red-rimmed, tired eyes, face pale with worry.

"Come on, let's go - I'll drive." He started for the door.

"Why do you always have to drive? I can drive; I'm more awake than you are and I'm also sober…"

"Shut the hell up, Langly… I'm driving and that's final." Frohike wasn't in the mood for Langly's usual contrariness. Grabbing his cell phone, determined to try calling again on the drive over, he pushed his buddy out the door and into the elevator, leaning against the far wall as they descended… running through in his mind the last few hours of their lives, like some badly-put together video which should never have happened…

In retrospect, it was a blessing they'd even followed Byers, in the first place. Every Friday night, one of them had the responsibility of choosing the videos and the snacks, for the one evening in the week the Gunmen just kicked back, shut off most of their equipment and relaxed, away from the conspiracies and otherwise nefarious machinations of the free world… After some of the near-misses they themselves had faced, either through association with the X-Files, or just by getting involved on their own - they'd long ago decided to make some time for themselves. Frohike had even gone out on a date… Well, not the greatest date in the world, of course… that one was already taken… but a date, just the same. And Langly was teaching a computer web site class, one night a week. Byers was attempting to get on with his life; a life away from Suzanne; it had been especially difficult for him, but he'd been doing well. They'd all been doing well… and their friendship was stronger than ever. They still bickered, and fought, and squabbled worse than toddlers fighting over the teeter-totter on a swing-set… but they remained the best of friends.

So, when Byers announced he was headed to the video store, and then to the supermarket… and added that because Langly and Frohike had been so short with each other all damn day long, and had bickered even more than usual, they had no say in the type of snack or video to be chosen… the remaining Gunmen had been suitably miffed and had decided to follow Byers, just to mess with his head and to see if his powers of observation were any good. After all, a true Agent of the Truth had to have his wits about him… So, they'd given Byers a small head start, and then had jumped into Frohike's beat-up Volvo and had followed, at a discreet distance; had sneaked into the video store and caught him renting "Saturday Night Fever"… that was cruel, to be sure, but when they followed him into the A&P and saw him purchasing butter pecan ice cream… that was the last straw. John Byers was toast… they'd been on the verge of confronting him in the darkened parking lot, to tell him so, when a black Ford Taurus screeched to a halt, almost on top of him… and two darkly-dressed men jumped out of the back, and grabbed John… and tossed him into the back seat, jumped in after him, and took off. The entire episode had lasted maybe five seconds… too fast for the guys to react. By the time they'd truly understood what had happened, the car was roaring off into the distance… and they scrambled to get to their car, hearts pounding with fear; they'd followed that black Ford as best they could, and were able to at least track it into one of the more distasteful areas of Alexandria. The Ford had zipped down a narrow side alley, and had disappeared into a nondescript parking garage. They noted the street and tore back to their place before they could be discovered. Once safely locked inside, they'd immediately called Mulder…

Who wouldn't answer the goddam phone. Frohike cursed again, and grabbed at the phone once more, just as it rang in his hand, startling the shit out of him so badly he dropped the phone on his foot. With a richly uttered, "Oh, FUCK!", he grabbed the receiver and barked out, "WHAT?"

"Frohike, is that you?" AD Skinner, ah shit… Frohike swallowed audibly and held the receiver gingerly up to his ear as he weakly replied, "Yes, Sir…"

"Frohike, I can't seem to get hold of Agent Mulder… do you know whether or not they're in town?" Frohike blinked, then blurted out, "I sure as hell hope so, Sir… we're on our way over there right now. Something's happened to Byers…"

** Chapter Three **

Scully lay propped against a small mountain of pillows, with Mulder curled all around her, head resting with trusting heaviness, against her breasts. He was deeply asleep, snoring very faintly; how long had it been since he'd slept this hard, she wondered. She couldn't remember the last time. She was always enervated after sex especially if she couldn't fall asleep immediately, and the more forceful Mulder was during sex, the more revved up she became. And Mulder had been quite forceful, this time… almost as forceful as she'd been. She ached faintly, all over; a pleasant ache which confirmed just how thoroughly she'd been loved by her husband. Scully slid feather-light fingers through Mulder's mussed up hair; he sighed in his sleep and his half-open mouth pressed sweetly against the side of her nipple. He'd been forceful for a reason, this she knew; trying to get her mind off Mom, and Will. It had worked, for a little while - but now, she couldn't help but dwell on it, again, and as if on cue her head started pounding… or was that somebody at the door, pounding? She lay very still and listened - somebody indeed, pounding on their front door. She shook Mulder hard, muttering into his ear, "Mulder, wake up, something's going on; somebody's pounding the shit out of our front door…" He sat up, eyes wide open, on full alert; she still wasn't used to seeing him wake up like that, in full FBI mode. He rubbed his face hard, and squinted at her in the darkness.

"Stay here, Scully - let me check this out -" was as far as he got, before she interrupted with a firm, "No way, Mulder - let's go…" They hurriedly threw on the first clothes they could find and made their way silently down the stairs and into the foyer; Mulder checked the peep-hole, then turned to Scully with a blank look of confusion, before he unlocked the door and opened it, to reveal two disheveled, extremely upset and worried Gunmen - and standing right next to them… their boss. Mulder's and Scully's respective jaws dropped at exactly the same moment.

"Mulder… we need your help… they've taken Byers…"

The mini-van coasted to a silent stop about a block from the narrow alley, lights already off. Inside, five tense men sat absolutely still, watching for endless minutes, making sure they had been completely unobserved, so far. Mulder opened the driver's door noiselessly, and slid out; on the other side, Agent Simpson, seated in back, lifted out the vests and the headgear. Both men grimly silent, helping each other with straps and wires; Agent Grimes, Simpson's frequent partner in the field, also got suited up in kevlar and a wire. The fifth agent, Monroe, would stay behind with Skinner and monitor for them. Skinner wanted to go in, but knew they couldn't afford to have both Mulder, and him, in danger at the same time. But he'd argued anyway, until he was blue in the face, trying to convince Mulder to let him go in, as a protective measure - and Mulder wasn't willing to even consider it. "This is my fight, Sir - my fight, and my friend, in there. It has to be me…" Suited up and wires in place, Mulder, Simpson and Grimes moved away from the van and approached the warehouse entrance silently. Skinner sat next to Monroe and listened…

And down the street from the van, in an equally dark Taurus sedan, Frohike, Langly and two back-up agents sat, headphones in place, listening as well. Frohike muttered, almost under his breath, "Man, I don't like this! There should be more than just three of them, going in there…" Behind him, Agent Farrell, Halliday's new partner, responded reassuringly, "AD Skinner knows what he's doing, Mr. Frohike - and so do Mulder and the other agents. They'll be fine - and they'll get your friend out, in one piece, without getting hurt themselves." Frohike nodded, and continued to stare out the window on the dark alley.

"I sure hope you're right, Agent - 'cause Scully will cook Skinner's liver for a midnight snack and feed the rest of him to assorted carnivorous beasties, if he lets anything happen to Mulder…"

Scully paced, and paced… stopped, and rubbed at her aching eyes, then paced some more. "Dammit! I should have gone with them… what the hell am I doing here at home, when I should have gone with them!" She turned in a sweeping fury, to confront the two young agents who had been ordered to stay with her and keep her from trying to tear off after Mulder and company. Agent Franklin knew Scully quite well, despite their dissimilar job responsibilities; he'd been assigned to the Dallas bombing almost two years ago. He was young, but very big, and very tough. He smiled in sympathy, but replied firmly, albeit gently, to her ranting.

"I know you're worried, Agent Scully… but AD Skinner and his team will take good care of Agent Mulder, you know that. Even your friends the Gunmen can be of help; I've seen those guys in action, you know. They've come a long way since their old hacking days." Scully smiled a little at that, thinking back on the first time she'd ever met them… they'd indeed come a long way. She counted them among her very best and closest friends - and knew they'd lay down their lives for her, and for Mulder, if need be. She resumed pacing, still horribly worried, and voiced one of her strongest fears.

"What about my mother… and the baby… are they safe? Is there any possible breach of security; any way at all this incident with Byers could be twisted to discover their whereabouts?" Agent Sorell shook his head; he was a little older than Franklin, and just as quietly capable. He'd worked with Mulder and Scully several times in the past, and had enormous respect, and not a little hero-worship, for both agents.

"No, Agent Scully… not a chance. Only a few top Directors even know where this facility is located. It's so well-guarded that it is considered the most secure establishment the government has. And it cannot be spotted from above ground, nor sensed underground with modern tracking equipment. It's as if the place doesn't even exist. Your mother and son are just fine, Ma'am - please don't worry." Scully nodded wearily, and walked over to the window, leaning her head against the cold glass, despite Agent Franklin's soft command to stay away from the opened drapes. The reflection of the room behind her revealed an image so reassuring in its very normality that it was almost a joke… soft lamplight showcasing a tastefully and warmly decorated room, fireplace snapping flames of orange and yellow, fat pillows on the roomy, wide sofa and signs of life everywhere. So normal… so comforting. And her heart felt as cold as the glass her face pressed against, and her worry about the safety of those she loved reached such monumental proportions in her aching head; and she wanted to go there, to Mulder; wanted to go and stand beside him and rip through the bastards orchestrating this monstrous event; to rip at them and frighten them out of their tiny little minds, just as they'd done to her, and to Mulder.

She wanted to mess them over in a permanent way, for what they'd done to her family… and she would, if she ever got the chance. She eyed the front door, gauging the distance from where she stood, versus where each agent sat, wondering if she could possibly make it to the car parked out in front… and her calculating eye caught the grimly amused gaze of Franklin, and she slumped in defeat at his soft, "Forget it, Agent Scully - you'd never make it. I will handcuff you to the chair, if I have to, you know… don't force me to use restraints, Ma'am…"


** Chapter Four **

The darkness was so all-encompassing that Mulder felt he was drowning in it. Not claustrophobic by nature, he nonetheless found himself almost overwhelmed by the tight blackness of his surroundings. He moved very slowly, feeling his way carefully; creeping down what appeared to be a hallway of some kind, judging by the narrowness of the walls on either side of him. Behind him, Simpson and Grimes moved just as silently, just as carefully. All three agents had their guns out, and ready. But, the utter blackness… Mulder took out a tiny penlight from his pocket, and clicked it on; the glow was very small but it afforded them enough to move without tripping over themselves. He shone it with caution, noting the smooth walls of the corridor, and the lack of any doors as they proceeded. At the very end of the hallway, a door; no light could be seen under it, and some instinct told him this was the room he was looking for. Silently he motioned to the agents behind him, holding out a hand to keep them apart from him; he whispered, almost inaudibly, "A trap, it has to be… keep just a little behind me… I'm going in hard…" With that, he reached out his free hand and grasped the doorknob; turned it carefully. It was unlocked - no surprise there, he thought with bitter amusement - he kept turning the knob, not hesitating; he had no choice in the matter. He was not in control, not at all - had never been in control. He hated it, the lack of control… and he'd make damn sure the responsible party paid for this particular little soiree… damn sure. He loosened the knob, just enough, then placed his booted foot against the metal, nodded to the other agents, and with all the adrenaline pumping through his body, right into his foot… kicked the door open; shouting, "FBI! DROP YOUR…"

Oh, fuck…

In the suddenly-illuminated room, brightly lit from all corners, where it had been black as ink, just prior to him kicking in the door… his all-encompassing perusal of the situation processed several horrific images, all at once: the sight of Byers strapped down to a chair; shirtless, bruised and barely conscious; thin ribbons of bleeding cuts all over his shoulders and chest - and for one awful moment it was as if he was watching the tapes of himself, all over again; the tapes which had been recorded during his and Scully's ordeal, with Pel the mad scientist… Mulder stepped fully into the room, Simpson and Grimes on either side of him; all three taking in with amazed shock the men who stood in a small semi-circle around the chair which held Byers' wounded body, each man holding a gun, all weapons trained steadily upon them…except for the lone figure, next to the chair, but standing partially turned away, dressed all in dark clothing, from head to foot, only an arm and hand visible. In that hand a wickedly-sharp knife, pointed with delicate accuracy at Byers' jugular; and as the agents looked on in growing horror - into the silence, a small coo, and a tiny giggle; Mulder blinked hard, and his face paled to a sickly white, as he fought with the unthinkable reality of that small noise; what it represented… what it meant, to him. He hung there in a state of frozen suspense, never taking his eyes from the black-draped figure, as it slowly turned fully to face him; to show him what had been hidden in the other arm, within those folds of black. A sturdy little boy, dressed in red pajamas, with little bunny slippers on his tiny feet… mussed, dark curls all over his head… sleepy blue eyes and a rosebud mouth, forming a perfect "O" of a yawn, nestled against the shoulder of a monster… he hadn't seen Mulder yet; was rubbing sleepily at his little eyes, Scully's blue eyes… "Oh, God, Jesus help me, God…" Mulder's whisper was swimming in the absolute horror and despair of his soul.

"I'm afraid God isn't here, Agent Mulder… I don't think he'd fit in the room, crowded as it seems, right at the moment." Leonie Friedrictoph smiled sweetly at the three stunned men, still cradling Will Mulder in one arm, and holding Byers' life in the other. She motioned with a nod of her head, and the silent man behind her stepped forward and gently lifted the sleepy Will from her arm, and took up a position against the wall, rocking the baby slightly. Will, falling asleep fast, never stirred; hadn't noticed his father yet - a blessing in disguise, even though Mulder ached to have his son see him, and smile at him. Now was not the time.

With both hands now free, Leonie reached behind her, on a low table next to the chair; picked up a pair of black gloves, and slipped them on. The light above picked up the glint of silver in the fingertips… Mulder's gasp was audible; those gloves - he remembered well those gloves, and the damage they'd done, to him; the same damage so visible on John Byers' chest and arms. The silent, armed men now surrounded them, out-numbering them; one of the men took their guns out of their hands, gently but firmly. Leonie watched with a slight smile, gloves in place on her hands, hovering over Byers almost lovingly, prepared to begin her bloody caresses once again. Desperate to keep his emotions in tight check, petrified she'd turn on his son any moment, and slice into him, or return to cutting Byers… Mulder forced himself to calm; to regard her with complete neutrality. When he spoke, his voice was raspy with unshed fury - but as calm as he could manage.

"Leonie Friedrictoph, I presume… mind explaining to me how in hell you stole my son? And while you're at it, you may as well ask your next of kin to supply some zip lock bags - if you have any kin left, that is - because when I get my hands on you there won't be enough left over to take out of here in a standard-sized body bag." His hands clenching into fists at his side, Mulder gave up trying to keep his rage intact - his entire body vibrated with the overwhelming need to rip her apart with his bare hands. Apparently Simpson, standing closest to him, could feel the waves of hatred rolling off him, because he laid one strong, restraining hand on Mulder's tight forearm, and muttered, "Steady, Mulder - don't do anything stupid."

"I would heed the advice of your agent friend, Fox Mulder - very wise advice. As you can see, I hold the winning hand, in this room - I am in charge in this little world. As for collecting your son - well, that was ridiculously easy, when you consider I had at least three of your agents in my pocket. My assistants are quite loyal to me - I pay them very well. Amazing, is it not, how easily corrupted even the most moralistic of men can become when faced with the chance of gaining unbridled wealth?" Leonie rested one gloved hand perilously close to Byers' exposed artery; Byers had lost consciousness and was blissfully ignorant of how close to death he really was. Mulder's attention snapped from a quick, concerned impression of Byers, to focusing in again on the madwoman facing him with such quiet assurance.

"What do you want, Miss Friedrictoph? Aside from a quick and easy funeral, that is?"

"What do you think I want, Agent Mulder? You are, after all, the most intuitive of men; this I discovered, early on… what would you want, if you were in my shoes?"

"I'd want to release all the unimportant players in this little game of yours, and focus all my energies on playing the main event; I'd let Byers go, and I'd let Will Mulder go… and I'd keep Fox Mulder all to myself, for a little one on one… that about right?" Mulder held her gaze, steady and sure. She smiled with genuine delight, and saluted him with glittering, lethal fingers.

"Bravo, Agent Mulder! You are exactly correct! That is precisely what I want. I desire a chance to match wits, and knowledge, with one of the most dedicated, and incorruptible, agents in the history of the FBI… right up there with your famous Elliot Ness, are you not? Yes, I read American history… I have seen American movies. He was called one of "The Untouchables", was he not? So much like you… so much. Untouched by the baser impulses of the nether world of crime… morals to die for… literally. I am intrigued by you, Agent - I really am. You, and the lovely Agent Scully - so unconquerable, so strong. I was very impressed by your ability to overcome the serum's long-term effects, not to mention your survivability on that nasty little island. My father's brilliant idea… he never dreamed you'd actually live. Had he known, perhaps he would have come up with something a bit more… traditional. I want to understand that strength, which you possess - I want to know why the serum was ultimately unsuccessful, on you and your little wife. I would like the pleasure of your company, Agent Mulder - for as long as it takes for me to finish my experiments - my father's life work.

"In return for your cooperation, I will release your friend Byers, and let your stalwart agents take your son home to his mama. I do like children, Mr. Mulder - I would never hurt a child. It was not my intention to do anything more to your son than use him as a sweet and tiny bargaining chip. He was a very good baby - never cried, ate all his pureed broccoli… quite, quite precious." Leonie smiled tenderly at the brief memory of holding the delightful child; then her gaze swung back to Mulder, and she slowly removed her gloves and stepped away from Byers. She held his regard even as she motioned one of her men to unstrap the restraints; she spoke softly in her raspy, low voice, as her man made short work of freeing Byers, who slumped sideways in the chair, still unconscious.

"Your agents may take him, now - and I will release your son. They are free to go - and you will please send along with them a little note, explaining your pressing need to stay… I am sure you will know just how to word it?" She held a pen and paper in her hands; Mulder took it, nodding slightly. He knew how to word it - but before he did, he wanted one more assurance from her.

"Do you intend to keep my wife out of this little arrangement, Miss Friedrictoph?"

"Oh, please… call me Leonie, won't you? I so despise the clumsiness of my surname. And yes, of course I would not dream of involving your child's mother in any of this, although it was my initial intention to have the amazing Dana Scully an active participant… but that was before I met your enchanting son, and realized the vital importance of a child having its mother in its life. So… you have my assurance, no? Dana Scully will not be harmed, nor your son." Her eyes never left Mulder's during this affirmation; he nodded, inexplicably satisfied with the validity of her answer.

** Chapter Five **

AD Skinner sat up sharply, and gawked, at the sight before his eyes: Simpson and Grimes, weaponless, leading an odd procession comprised of John Byers, being carried in the arms of a hulking lump of a man, while two other men had the guns in their hands trained steadily on the van, and its occupants… and a third carried in his hugely muscled arms a small, wrapped bundle. Skinner got out, very slowly, and faced the men, unarmed; waiting. Behind him, Monroe got out just as slowly, and opened the side door, and stood to the side. The man carrying Byers laid him gently on the seat, and turned to face Skinner; reached out a beefy hand and gave him a piece of folded paper. Skinner accepted the note, already knowing, with a sinking heart, what it said. The hulk spoke in a surprisingly mellow, soft voice, to both agents. "Take him to a hospital; he has lost a lot of blood from his wounds. Agent Mulder will be staying with us. The note explains." All three men then turned to leave, confident they would not be detained, in any way. Skinner looked at the note; unfolded it, noting the handwriting as Mulder's; behind him, Simpson had been handed the wrapped bundle; looking into Will Mulder's sweet, sleeping countenance, he sent a quick prayer of thanks into the heavens for watching over this precious child. Skinner read the note silently, his expression growing more and more ominous, until with a sharp, "Son of a BITCH!", he jumped into the van and gunned the engine, barking onto the headphones, "Agents! Stay here and keep an eye on the warehouse, but do not approach, you got that? Do not approach. Frohike, Langly… get over here, now! I've got Byers, and we have to get him to a hospital, fast!"

In the car, having been on the receiving end of most of the nights' horrific revelations, Langly turned to Frohike, shock and bewilderment on his pale face, and whispered, "Jesus, Frohike… how in hell are we gonna tell Scully…?"

Scully was dozing in an armchair by the fire when the call came. Her exhausted body had given out on her still-active mind, and although she'd tossed and turned a lot in that chair, she'd finally fallen asleep, albeit fitfully. Agent Franklin sat on the sofa across from her, reading through a magazine; one hand on his gun and the other turning pages. Agent Sorell sat in front of the television, channel-surfing patiently. The house was very quiet… which made the ringing of Scully's cell phone all the more louder by comparison. Scully jumped about a foot, coming awake instantly, and grabbed at the phone, flipping it open and barking into it, "Scully!"

"Agent Scully…" Skinner, oh no… she fought to keep the panic down, way down inside where it couldn't escape; managed to steady herself and to hear his words above the buzzing in her ears. "Agent… I have news. We're on our way to St. James Hospital… please have Agents Sorell and Franklin take you there immediately. We've gotten Byers out, but he's badly wounded and has lost a lot of blood…" Skinner paused, and Scully jumped in, suddenly very cold, inside and out.

"Sir… is Mulder with you?" She closed her eyes and prayed very hard, PleaseGodlethimbeallrightpleaseI'llneveraskanythingelsepleasepleaseplease…

And on the other end she heard Skinner give a great, heavy sigh, and her heart sank down to her toes, as she grabbed blindly for the chair behind her, almost missing it completely, falling halfway on the seat, and halfway off.

"Dana… Mulder stayed behind… he's still there. We couldn't take him, couldn't get him out - there were extenuating circumstances…" his voice trailed off, in the sudden and explosive blast of her fury.

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN, COULDN'T GET HIM OUT? YOU LEFT HIM?!!" She was screaming; Agent Franklin had moved hurriedly to her side, trying to calm her down, trying to get the phone from her; she hauled back with her free hand and let it fly, hitting him square in the face and almost breaking his nose; he reeled back in surprise, just gaping at her, blood everywhere. Agent Sorell moved to restrain her, but Franklin, catching the look of utter despair in Scully's eyes, motioned him back. Scully clutched at the phone in both hands now, as if she'd liked nothing better than to have them around Skinner's thick neck, and continued to scream at him, "Tell me EVERYTHING, Sir, right now or so help me I will make you wish you'd never been born… How could you LEAVE him there? What on earth were you thinking? I don't give a rat's ass what Mulder wanted of you… How could you? ANSWER ME, GODDAMMIT!" She had jumped to her feet again, pacing while she ranted into the phone, right on the fine edge of sanity… and Skinner's responding shouts had her abruptly silent, as he finally got a word in through her tirade.

"Damn it, Scully… LISTEN TO ME! I said there are circumstances beyond our control, working here… we were outnumbered and outsmarted, at the onset. And there was something we didn't bargain for, when we went in there, Dana… something which changed everything; all our plans.

"Dana… Leonie Friedrictoph had Will… she was holding Will, in her arms, surrounded by about ten men, all with guns trained on us, and on Byers… she had Will…" his voice broke, as he said her baby's name that final time… and Scully was spiraling outwards, out of her body, there on the phone, half in and half out of her chair; she slid in a numbed heap, out and onto the floor; slid from the chair as slickly as hot butter over popcorn, right onto the floor, where her breathing became too painful and her mind ran a film clip of horrors, such a scary movie… Will lying on a metal table, strapped down, little face screwed up and crying, for her… and she couldn't reach him, too much plastic in the way, couldn't get to his side, she clawed her way through plastic but as soon as she'd made a hole it knitted over with more plastic, good as new, couldn't even make any headway at all and the needle was turning away from her and moving towards his little arm as if it had baby radar and she tried to call out his name to reassure him but no words would come out, she couldn't remember how to form the words, she only knew he was in such danger don't eat that fruit Mulder remember it's not good it made us feel not good and we were sick for days Mulder gotta get all of it out of there we picked so much of it don't eat it where did he go he was so tall and he pressed me down into the hot sand and put himself in me and gave me good and I need the good back I miss the good…

She fainted.

"Sir… it's Agent Sorell… what hospital? Agent Scully fainted, and we're very worried about her; we think she may have had another flashback… we need to get her to you, right away…"

Maggie Scully tried opening her eyes, but the migraine was too powerful, and it kept her down, head buried in the pillow; so much pressure - wonder what had brought it on, this time? It had been so long since she'd had one; months in fact, right after Agent Halliday had brought chocolate ice cream for her and Will…

Will… Oh, sweet Jesus, Will… She sat up so fast her head spun, the knot on the back of her head throbbing painfully, and she moaned, low in her throat; the female agent sitting in the chair next to the bed jumped up and moved to her side, pressing her back down into the mattress. "Shh, Mrs. Scully, take it easy… just lie down, okay? Your grandson is fine, he's safe, Mrs. Scully - do you hear me, do you understand? Safe." Maggie registered the words through a haze of monumental panic, and grabbed at the agent's hands, squeezing them painfully. Agent Shelly Benson winced at the pain, but didn't let go, and smiled reassuringly at the frightened woman.

"Shelly, oh God… where's my baby, where's Will?" it was impossible for her not to panic… in her minds' eye she felt again the agonizing slam to her head, administered to her as she'd sat on the floor across from Will, playing pat a cake with him, such a silly game, but one they loved playing… Will had been giggling, so sweetly… then the pain, and she slid forward in a heap, landing on her side, staring with frozen eyes beginning to glaze over with the flames bursting inside her head, as young Will held up his arms, cooing trustingly; held them up to the tall dark man who bent over, and picked him up, and turned to exit the room, but not before he looked down into her shocked face with a sad, apologetic smile, and whispered to her, "So sorry, Mrs. Scully… so sorry."

Maggie remembered now, in a haze of bewilderment and betrayal… Marcus. Marcus Lorenzo, one of the agents trusted to safeguard her little Will… Oh, God… she had spoken the words aloud, and Shelly turned amazed eyes her way and stammered, "Marcus Lorenzo took Will? Oh, hell…" she reached into a pocket for her cell phone, flipped it open and rapidly punched numbers, then listened for a moment, before speaking. "Sir, it's Benson… yeah, I'm with her, she's fine, just a little shaky and in some pain, but fine.

"Listen, Sir… it was Agent Lorenzo… Mrs. Scully has identified him. Do you want me to… yes, I will, right away. I'll keep in touch…" She closed her phone and grasped Maggie's icy hand. "When you're feeling better, I'm going to arrange to have you flown to St. James Hospital, okay? Your daughter's on her way there, and AD Skinner is already there, with your grandson… you can all have a wonderful reunion, Mrs. Scully… please don't worry…" Maggie nodded, and let the tears come in a flood of relief and residual pain. Shelly slid an arm around her and held her close, letting her release it all on her strong young shoulder. Maggie cried until nothing much was left, then remembered something else she'd wanted to ask.

"Agent Benson… is my son-in-law with my daughter? You didn't mention Fox, dear… where is he?"

** Chapter Six **

They sat in chairs facing each other, the tall, stocky woman dressed in black - and the equally tall, dark-haired FBI agent. Quite the 'Odd Couple', Leonie Friedrictoph thought to herself, as she studied her guest with objective intensity. Handsome, to be sure - wonderfully expressive eyes, an unusual shade of hazel; the long, noble length of nose and the full, lush lips. White, even teeth… satiny skin over taut, hard muscles. Oh, yes, she'd taken due note of that skin of his, all those months ago in another room similar to this one; had gazed upon the wide shoulders and the strong biceps, as she'd ripped his shirt off; remembered well the way he'd never made eye contact with anyone except that partner of his. She'd felt a jealous flare then, just as she felt again, now - found herself in that same stew of resentment at the thought that this woman had something which she would never experience: the genuine regard of a man who thought she walked on water. Even though all those months ago it was obvious that Agents Mulder and Scully were nothing more than friends and partners, she could decipher the strength of the commitment between them. I will never have that for myself, she'd railed to herself, even as she had donned her leather gloves and had flexed her fingers, preparing for the next level of interrogation…

Now, facing this man again, Leonie could only marvel at his control, his strength… it would be such a thrill to break this man, really break him. She had decided not to restrain him; he sat on a hard metal chair, sprawled as casually as if at home on his favorite sofa. Several of her assistants, all armed, stood quietly along the perimeter of the room, assuring that her guest would not be leaving this little party too soon. Her gloves lay on a small table next to her chair, but she resisted the desire to put them on; preferring to render him defenseless without the razors, at least in the beginning. But if he was a very bad boy, well then… she'd just have to do a little disciplining, wouldn't she?

Mulder sat as comfortably as possible, considering he sat on a hard, metal chair in a cold metal room with a certifiable psychotic as his charming hostess... At least his arms and legs were not strapped down this time, although he didn't know whether to be flattered by her trust in his promise not to try escaping, or insulted that she though him harmless enough to allow some freedom. He knew they were not alone in that room; her goons were everywhere. And yet, for goons… they were surprisingly polite and well-behaved. Go figure… maybe she'd fed them an extra helping of raw meat that morning.

His eyes never left those of his adversary; realizing with some wonder that he'd only had to face down a woman adversary maybe twice in his life. It was strange… felt strange. He would not, however, be so stupid as to underestimate this woman just because of her gender. He had seen first-hand just how deadly Leonie Friedrictoph could be. The image of his sleepy child cradled in her arms… being held with the same hand which had inflicted so much poisonous damage upon Byers' body… it was almost too much to bear. He felt a wild moan of pain bubbling up through his raw throat, and he ruthlessly shoved it back down again; show no vulnerability, no weakness. She can smell weakness… she can taste weakness. He made himself perform a thorough examination of her face, especially the eyes; the window to the soul… except this woman couldn't possibly possess one of those. Despite the revelations found in the leather notebook which had been confiscated from the original, burned-out lab, he knew so little, about her… and he found himself slipping into profiler mode without even realizing it.

That she hated, feared and yet desired men, was very apparent in her overall manner and demeanor. Mulder had always wondered, in the months following their original ordeal, before deciphering the contents of the notebook - just what her relationship had been with her father. He'd figured out she hadn't been raised around a mother. Actually, he had suspected the father may have had something to do with the possible demise of the mother. Just a hunch, really; the same hunch which had made him decide she'd been an abused child, maybe most of her life. Now, Mulder wondered how deeply he would need to dig, in order to get under that rhinoceros skin of hers; how much time he had, to pierce through the forest of thorns which he knew had to protect her heart. He had a feeling he was about to find out - for it was the key to finding the way out of this nightmare, of this he was very sure. Now was as good a time as any to begin - before her hands got cold, and she needed her gloves…

"So, Miss Freidrictoph… Leonie. I can't help but wonder… exactly how old were you when your father first abused you?"


Scully's head jerked up, wet eyes darting everywhere, at the sweet sound of that little, childish voice, high and filled with baby longing, for her - for his mama. God, her baby boy… where? She jumped out her seat, next to Agent Franklin, who'd seen Will before she spotted him, and touched her arm, pointing down the long hallway of Intensive Care. She turned, still crying - and there he was, in red pajamas, clutching a Paddington Bear, tiny bunny slippers on his feet; running full-tilt down that slippery floor, the rubbery soles of the slippers all that kept him from falling flat on his well-padded bottom. Giggling and screeching with happiness, every step of the way; Scully's vision of him was blurring, badly; her baby, her precious Will… walking! No, running… In two months, running. When he'd left, Will was just beginning to pull himself up, and attempt steps… and now, running. She fell to her knees, in the middle of the waiting room, and held out her arms… and Will fell into them, and she gathered him up, bear and all, and wound him tightly into her arms, sobbing into his soft baby curls, breathing in his talcum powder fragrance, the unique baby skin smell that all babies possess, combined with his own special Mulderscent… and his little hands came up to frame her face, and he laughed into her wet, smiling face, cooing to her as she covered his chubby cheeks with kisses. He pulled away, suddenly impatient for her to see his new bear; Scully duly exclaimed and fussed over the toy, holding her son very close, refusing to stop touching him, to reassure both of them that this moment was real.

Skinner, who'd followed the baby on his wild run down the 'Mommy' hallway, paused a few feet from them, fighting a huge lump in his throat. Watching Scully holding and kissing her son, reacquainting herself with him… Skinner wondered how in hell he'd ever get through telling her that Mulder was still in such danger… how on earth he'd ever forgive himself if anything happened to Mulder, after all his agents had been through. How to tell her they'd lost contact with Mulder, roughly two hours after he'd locked himself in with that bitch…. How he'd deliberately shut the wire down. Skinner dropped into the chair that Scully had vacated, and nodded to Agent Franklin, reaching out a hand to shake his, and mutter, "Mrs. Scully… is she on the way?" Franklin nodded, and checked his watch. "Any time now, Sir… they should have landed about thirty minutes ago. Agent Scully will sure be glad to see her… but what about Agent Mulder? Any news?" Skinner shook his head, sighing heavily, rubbing at his aching eyes.

"Ah, shit, Bob… he unplugged the goddam wire. I couldn't believe it… just shut it down. I suppose he had his reasons; I suppose they might be good ones. But, I swear to you… when I get my hands on that moron, I am gonna fry his balls in butter and shove them down his throat… after I get down on my knees and thank God for his safe return…"

** Chapter Seven **

"You haven't answered my question, Agent Mulder." She leaned over his chair, face to face, almost nose to nose; eyes boring into his. Leonie realized she wasn't intimidating him… an unusual state of affairs for her, since she intimidated most men; well, most except for her father. This was a strong man; she'd known that already; strong beyond anything she'd experienced. His sense of purpose was tightly focused; he was incorruptible, as she'd remarked earlier; all that he was, possessed, made him quite fascinating to her. He had tried to unbalance her, by asking probing questions about her father's treatment of her, as a little girl; Leonie had refused to be baited and Mulder had desisted amiably enough, with an almost-smile on his lips. He'd simply clammed up on her, and had in turn refused to answer a single question she'd slammed his way. Leonie was becoming quite fed up. She had such a need, to destroy him; to dissect that which made him 'tick', so to speak… what made him Mulder. She wanted to accomplish this without the serum, just to say she'd done it, all by herself. She supposed in some small way, she needed to prove yet one more thing to her father; that she was as dangerous, as ruthless, and as perfect, as he'd been, in his lifetime. She had cleared the room of her assistants, but had kept one of the guns; it rested on the table next to her glove. Her men waited outside the door, but she didn't want their help - she wanted to destroy this man in her own unique way.

Leonie stared him down, and he returned her stare with one as equally intense; calm waters in his eyes, no warmth but no coldness; no life but no death either - just a flat stare which told her nothing, gave her nothing. She hummed, deep in her throat, and regarded him again, sitting calmly, watching her. "Agent Mulder, let me re-phrase the question, shall I? The Consortium… I wish to know more about it, about its formation, and purpose; its leaders. Over the last year or so, I have heard things… rumors, if you will, concerning these men. My sources have been able to provide me with bits and pieces, enough for me to deduce a small scope of the power which must be contained, within this organization. Tempting, tantalizing pieces… and I wish to know much more. I wish you to fill in the missing links, Agent. I would think after all I have done for you, and all I can and will do to you and your little family… the desire to assist me would be uppermost in your mind…" She paused, in mid-sentence, at the sound of his sudden laughter; narrowed eyes taking in the head thrown back, laughter pealing from his throat. He stopped then, as suddenly as he'd started, and held her gaze, as he spoke for the first time in more than three hours.

"All you have done for me… and what, exactly, would that have been, I wonder? Assisting your insane father in the relentless interrogation of Scully, and myself… beating her, breaking her nose, and slicing up my skin until I almost bled to death… injecting us with a serum which tore our minds to shreds and then dumping us on an island to die… but we didn't die, Miss Friedrictoph; we didn't perish in that little paradise you dropped us into. We survived, and thrived together; we made it. And then, knowing we'd triumphed over your plan to kill us, you decided to "do" some more for us, and so you sent my wife and me these sweet little love notes… and caused us to squirrel away our son, and Scully's mother, to keep them safe… infiltrated an organization based on honesty, integrity and an oath to uphold the law and maintain order in this sorry world… then, I suppose to impress us further with your "caring" for us… you kidnapped and tortured one of our best friends - and held my baby son in those same arms which delivered such a multitude of criminal atrocities - yes, I'd say you've done quite enough… and I have no intention of telling you anything, Lady - nothing, nada, bupkis.

"So, if you need some words, ideas, to chew on, and consider and examine… why don't you chew on this: your father Pel Friedrictoph was an inhuman monster who repeatedly raped and most likely sodomized his young daughter; victimized her in the most horrifying way, for almost all of her life… never let her play with other children; never let her have a pet, of any kind… never showed her a modicum of caring, much less love.

"Your father did this to you for so long and in ways which had you convinced that his relationship with you was the norm and everything else was odd and wrong - from the time you were barely old enough to take a bath by yourself… up until the day he died, I'd bet - except toward the end of his life, I'd also bet you were quite willing to snap on the handcuffs yourself… nice little set of wrist scars you got going there, by the way." He smiled into her rounded eyes, gone almost black with shock and denial that he should know so much, about her… how…? Then she remembered; the notebook - the brown leather notebook; all her notes, neatly written in German - formulas and experiment results; snippets of observations made during the few early trial runs of the serum… and twenty yeas of ramblings, concerning her father, their relationship… her shame and humiliation at discovering her father lusted after another woman, even as he continued to pound himself into her, from the rear; just as it had always been, since her mother's funeral at age six. Her skin paled, and her eyes, huge with shock, fastened onto his as he whispered, very low, "Oh, don't be so surprised, Leonie… I have a few sources who read and translate German… it was only a matter of time. I know all about Pel's little thing for young girls who're related to him… and I also know about your mother; the way she died, and who killed her… and who got to take the blame. He'd been grooming you for quite some time, huh? Training you, so to speak; molding you in an image acceptable to him; twisting your mind, your need for him, for a mother you'd lost too soon. It's all about control, isn't it? Pel Friedrictoph felt like a big man when he was terrorizing his little girl… and now the little girl is all grown up and doing a little terrorizing of her own."

Her face, chalky white; head shaking violently in denial, as she'd listened to his softly spoken words; all the strength in her body, and in her mind, the backbone which had been her father's influence disintegrating, with each word she'd tried not to hear, but couldn't escape; she pressed against the only door in the room, and her head shook and shook with negative force, so hard her glasses had flown off her face and her dark hair had come undone from its tight bun and flew about her shoulders, whipping at her eyes; red-burned eyes, full of sudden and endless hatred for the man who had stripped away the only memories she had left, to cling to. The need to please her father; that which had kept her going, for over one long year of agonizing loneliness; the inability to relate on any level with another man, except in an intimidating and controlling manner; the pain of what her body had become, of what it took for her to achieve any sort of gratification, either by her own hand or with a partner… She pressed a shaking hand to her mouth, holding back a hysterical scream… just as Fox Mulder, with one soft sentence, nailed the coffin of her non-existent sanity closed…

"I don't suppose I could talk you into telling me about that botched abortion, Leonie… you know, the one your father performed on you after discovering you were pregnant with his granddaughter, and his daughter, all combined in one neat package… three months after the first night he decided he just had to try screwing you face to face…" The unholy screams which suddenly burst from her aching throat stopped him before he could say any more… and she whipped around at him, eyes wild with animal pain, and fury… and she grabbed the first thing she could find, there on the table behind her, and her hand flew up in the air, high up into the air with the weapon in hand, and he steeled himself, prepared to experience anew the serum, or perhaps something as equally deadly…

** Chapter Eight **

Will spotted her first, and the excited wriggling of his sturdy little body had him slipping from Scully's loosened grip, there on the floor of the waiting room, squeals of glee erupting from his gap-toothed grin as he made a mad dash down the slippery hallway toward his Grandma. Maggie Scully dropped her purse, her coat and the bag of diapers and spare clothes she'd insisted upon packing for Will, and flung her arms wide, catching him in full leap, much the way his mama had done, just a scant hour ago. Tears streaming down her face, Maggie held her grandson tightly, not speaking, not able to… her head was still throbbing but she didn't care, and now Scully was running to where her mother kneeled on the floor, and fell down beside her, wrapping her strong little arms around Maggie and Will, both women crying and gasping incoherently to one another, as Will chattered in baby dialect between them. Agent Shelly Benson wiped the tears away and reached Agent Franklin, opened her mouth to speak… and found herself enveloped into a bear-hug of massive proportions, and then kissed to within an inch of her life. After one stunned second of panic, at the idea of showing this side of their relationship to the FBI and the world, in general… Shelly gave up resisting, and kissed him back. In the chair, directly behind her, she registered a pained, "Ah, shit - not again," emanating from the mouth of none other than their long-suffering AD; she flushed beet red and pushed away from Franklin in a panic, stuttering, "Sir, I… we… I can explain…" Skinner waved her excuses away with a tired hand, and smiled at her in wry resignation.

"Save it, Agent - I've heard it all before, y'know. Just maintain some modicum of decorum while on duty, and I'll pretend, once again, that I'm not seeing this."

In the darkened room, Byers opened his eyes very slowly, very cautiously; he ached over every inch of his arms and his chest, and it felt as though a million needles were piercing his skin. He tried to focus, but his vision was so blurry… he turned his head on the pillow, registering a presence slumped in a chair next to his bed; odd - the figure appeared to have two heads. Byers shook his head in pained confusion, almost crossing his eyes in an attempt to force them to clear - and found himself looking at Langly and Frohike, plopped together in one chair, sound asleep. Byers would have doubled over laughing, if he'd not been in so much damned pain; he could just about guess why they'd ended up in the same chair. He weakly cleared his sore throat, and found enough voice to inquire in a rough croak, "Let me guess - you played "Onesies" for the chair, and you both won…" His buddies jerked awake at the sound of that croak, and Langly, off-balance in the chair to begin with, fell off the edge and landed on the floor; Frohike reached out a shaky hand and grasped Byers' hand, not able to say a word… just squeezing tightly. Byers squeezed back, as hard as he could, at about the same strength level as a gnat suffering from influenza. Langly bounded off the floor and grabbed Byers' other hand, equally at a loss for words - and the three Gunmen stayed in that position, connected, smiling the most inane smiles at one another. Byers wanted to ask about Mulder, and Scully… and at the same was almost afraid to shatter the peace of this one oddly soothing moment, between his friends, and himself. And as if reading his mind, Langly harumphed a little, and kept tight hold of Byers' hand, as he said, almost apologetically, "He's still in that warehouse, John… Jesus… it's been so long, and nobody knows what's going on, Mulder pulled his wire. We've been waiting, for you to come out of it, and for some word…" his voice petered out, and the three friends, by mutual consent, kept a quiet vigil, there in the silent room.

** Chapter Nine **

Fighting to hang onto what was left of his sanity, Mulder was doing his best to keep his eyes steadily upon Leonie's, while using his peripheral vision to track the angle of the needle, the barrel filled with a slightly glowing substance, hovering in her hand, there above her streaming face, and she gasped out guttural, broken phrases as she held the needle aloft; voice so deeply raspy he had to strain to understand her words:

"You don't understand, nobody understands, my father was my entire world, he took care of me and played with me and taught me everything! I had no need of friends, or pets… didn't need school. He was brilliant, I tell you… brilliant! Who needed stupid teachers with their ridiculous rules, when my father was smarter than any hundred of them combined! It was only supposed to be the two of us; he said my mother never understood us, and our love; that she wanted to send my papa away; of course she had to die; I knew she didn't kill herself; I knew my father did it… for us. He lived to make me happy, only me, I was everything to him, how could you know what that feels like, to be someone's world!" Her hysteria had risen even higher; she was screaming, at the top of her lungs, now pointing the needle straight at him, tiny droplets of the serum flipping off the end of the needle as she screamed, "HE WAS MY FATHER! I WAS PROUD OF HIM… I LOVED HIM…"

Her head dropped, just a little, and her broken voice was now soft and raw, deep within her soul, as she murmured, "I loved him, and I tried so hard to please him, did everything he ever wanted, just to please him, to please Mein Papa - even when he hurt me, I still loved him because I knew he was hurting me for a reason, to make me a better person." Her eyes, swollen with redness and tears, latched onto Mulder's pale face with a look of virulent hatred, and she hissed, "Obviously I did not succeed, at pleasing him… for he never stopped trying to mold me, never stopped the discipline which I, worthless and incompetent fool, seemed to need… and now, with your obscene prying, into our sacred and private lives, you have taken away the only memory I had left; you have desecrated him, as surely as if you'd invaded his grave… and left me with nothing. NOTHING… which is exactly what I shall be leaving your lovely wife, and son… nothing. And so, when I finish here, with you, I shall pay a visit to your wife - and leave her less than nothing… for she'll discover again the effects of my father's serum… as I apply it to your precious, bouncing baby boy!" And she advanced to the chair, and her gaze held him pinned as she brought the needle closer…

And the bellowing shout that left Mulder's throat as he focused in on the needle, momentarily caught her off guard, and his body surged forward, knocking her arm away; she cried out but managed to retain hold of the syringe. He threw his head forward, and butted her hard, right between the eyes; she cried out again, and fell backward, and he knocked the chair over as his hands reached for her; trying to keep track of which hand held the needle… and his hand wrapped around her wrist, fighting to avoid the syringe full of glistening serum; his hair flopped into his sweaty face as he grappled with her, and her other hand had found its way around his throat and began to pinch and squeeze…

And Mulder found a roar of fury boiling up within him, at the feel of those clawed fingers upon him, trying to bite at him, to tear at him, they'd hurt him the last time, nasty biting crawly things hurt him when he picked it up out of the sand and it was so not good when he'd tried to feed on it, he'd thrown it away, but this crawly had somehow climbed up his body and was on his neck trying to bite him there and he wrenched at it with his free hand, only had one hand to fight with because his other hand was busy keeping that second crawly from spitting that funny sun-colored stuff at him, and he knew that stuff could really hurt him, didn't know how he knew, could only keep fighting them off, both of them, had to stay alive, for her, for his tiny little one who didn't know where he was thought he was on the other side of the island gathering food when he was in the sand battling all the crawlies who had appeared from nowhere, and they had long pinchers and they made a lot of noise as they tried to bite him and he had to get them off his body it was so sore and achy he twisted one of them in his strong hand and he heard a !snap! like the sound the palmetto made when he broke it off the tree, and the crawly was screeching in his ear as he snapped the other claw, the one which was trying to spit at him and he kicked at it until they both fell over into the sand and he rolled on top of the thing, had to kill it kill it now…

Only to suddenly feel his head clear as if a wind had blown through his ears, and sense a body underneath him, a screaming body which had landed on the needle… and was in the process of losing her mind. He scrambled off her, and scooted away into a corner, eyes beyond horrified, yet not able to look away, as he witnessed up close the effects of her own serum. The screams of unendurable pain… the clawing of her hands upon her arms, and legs, as if millions of biting bugs swarmed all over her… the convulsing of her limbs…

When she clawed out her own eyes in a fit of reactionary hysteria, unable to bear the images swirling behind her rapidly-diminishing senses… Mulder turned his face to the wall and quietly threw up.

Agent Simpson listened at the silent metal door, in the solid darkness; behind him, Grimes and Farrell, guns drawn, peered around in the inky gloom, unable to tell whether or not they were alone, or about to be ambushed. The warehouse had been empty, for as far as they could tell; nobody outside, and since the only visible door was at the end of one solitary hallway… they'd taken a chance, and had moved in on the place. Outside, in front and in the back, a score of agents, armed and drawn, ready to swarm the warehouse if necessary; but the place appeared dead. Simpson listened for a few minutes longer, then whispered, on an almost inaudible breath, "Okay… on three…" and he carefully placed his foot in the center of the door; and with one mighty kick, the door flew open for the second time that night, as the agents burst through the door, guns cocked and ready in their hands…

To find Mulder sitting on the floor, head in his hands, moaning softly; an eerie, floating moan the likes of which they'd never heard, surrounded by the bodies of at least six men, lying on the cold stone floor; some in varying degrees of injury; some moaning in pain, others plainly dead. And in the corner of the room, guns held loosely in his huge hands… the man who had carried young Will Mulder out to the van, a veritable lifetime ago, and had placed the sleeping bundle in Simpson's arms. Simpson dropped his gun arm, and gaped at the scene; behind him, Grimes took it all in, muttering, "Holy shit…" The hulk heard him, and raised a tearstained face, eyes almost unseeing, as he murmured, over and over, "I had to do it… they would have killed him… I couldn't bear to see the little boy fatherless… I had to do it." Simpson knelt in front of the distraught man, and gently removed the guns from his loose hands, and spoke to him in a soothing voice.

"You did this… to these men?" The hulk nodded, and wiped at his wet face; then pointed to the far corner, where a dark shape lay shuddering silently, there on the floor. Grimes moved to the body, and shone a small flashlight on the form, then backed away, in shock, gasping and choking, dropping the flashlight. "Jesus and Mary, Christ Almighty…" Simpson jumped up and over to his side, peering down at the shape, utter shock painting his face dead white as he recognized Leonie Friedrictoph, convulsing on the floor, unintelligible whimpers coming from between her bloody lips… more blood all over her hands and embedded in her nails, streaming from her eyes… streaming from where her eyes had once been. And across the room, a whispery explanation, from Mulder:

"She clawed out her own eyes, while in the throes of the serum… Oh, God… her own eyes. She couldn't bear to see the memories draining away…" He slumped over, sideways on the floor, and pressed his cold face into the cold stone. Simpson, backed up against the wall, still horrified by what he'd seen, swallowed hard and flipped open his phone, punching in numbers and speaking in an almost dead voice into the receiver: "All clear… get some ambulances out here, pronto…"

** Chapter Ten **

The child slept, finally… curled around his Paddington Bear, still wearing the bunny slippers, little red-clad bottom sticking up in the air… slept the sleep of the truly exhausted. It had been a busy day for him… he'd been passed from adult to adult, squealing with happiness as he got kissed, snuggled and tickled to within an inch of his life. His mother rocked him and sang silly songs in his ear, and he laughed at the slightly off-key flat notes of her voice, a sound so familiar to him… almost as familiar as the laugh of his tall father as he tossed the boy up into the air and caught him, then hung him upside down and planted noisy raspberries on his little exposed tummy. His Uncle Skinner got a turn playing with him, giving him piggy back rides on his strong shoulders… his Uncle Langly and Uncle Frohike took turns playing horsey with him, there in the floor of the family room in the little house so lovingly decorated by his mother… and his Grandma grabbed him, just before he started to hiccup from the excitement, and shoved a bottle of warm milk in his mouth, and sat in the rocking chair with him, and calmed him down, getting him ready for bed… he was very sleepy now, and so warm and happy, with his bear and his soft jammies and all his family making a fuss over him… it was a good thing; a very good thing. His eyes drooped, and he slept.

Maggie reluctantly gave the precious weight of her grandson over to Skinner, who insisted upon carrying him upstairs to bed, since Scully had finally given into the exhaustion of several sleepless days, and had fallen asleep in Mulder's lap. Equally sleepy, Mulder had only voiced a mild protest at not being able to take Will to bed. Skinner waved him off, exclaiming, "Agent, sit still and don't you dare wake Scully or so help me I'll hurt you… she needs her sleep and so do you. Maggie and I will put Will to bed, won't we, Maggie? You'll help me?" His eyes, pleading behind the wire rimmed glasses, begged her for assistance and she chuckled and forced herself to get up out of the comfortable rocker and climb the stairs ahead of Skinner, a soft admonishment to her son-in-law to stay put and not move. And for once, Mulder was content to let someone else take care of his family. What a day… it had drained the emotions out of everyone. The mad dash to the hospital, complaining all the way that there wasn't anything wrong with him… he just needed to see Scully, touch his son… the absolute joy on his wife's face when they wheeled him into Intensive Care (in a wheelchair - he'd flatly refused to get on that damned gurney); the scorching kiss she'd given him in front of God and everybody had just about fried his balls. The pure sweetness of having his son in his embrace, covering his face with baby kisses and squealing in his ear… seeing Byers through a haze of relieved tears when he was finally allowed a brief respite from the arms hugging him, and the endless kisses. Not that he was complaining… but he'd been especially glad to see Byers; bruised, sore and covered in stitches, but awake and aware. Langly and Frohike hadn't left his side.

Indeed, quite a day. Mulder sighed against Scully's hair, snuggling her closer, and brushed his lips against her soft cheek; eyes drooping in exhaustion; able at last to let his mind relax, and drift… he dozed off with a grin on his face, remembering how Skinner had bullied the poor doctors and nurses to release everyone only a few hours after Mulder had gotten there… all except Byers, who still needed to be monitored. Still somewhat heavily-drugged, he hadn't really cared… as long as Frohike and Langly brought him butter-pecan ice cream… which they promised to do, even though they blamed the damn ice cream for all Byers' troubles. Go figure… Mulder fell asleep, still chuckling.

In the nursery, Maggie lowered the side rail and Skinner laid the sleeping baby on his back, setting the toy bear next to him; Will immediately rolled over onto his tummy, grabbed the bear and shoved it under him, making his little bottom stick up. Skinner whispered, "Shouldn't he sleep on his back? I thought I read once where it's dangerous for babies to sleep on their stomachs…" Maggie shook her head, a soft smile on her face as she brushed her fingers through the soft curls on her grandson's little head.

"No, not in an older baby… it can be dangerous for newborns, but Will is safely past the point of any problems." She bent and placed a soft kiss on his head, and Skinner found himself doing the same. He straightened, and stole a glance at Maggie, to find her staring at him in frank appraisal, a small smile on her face. Skinner flushed a little, and murmured, "What… do I have a pimple on my nose or something?" Maggie grinned, and laid a small hand on his muscled forearm, replying softly, No, Walter… I just wanted you to know how thankful I am to have you as a friend… to have you watching out for my kids. I am so grateful, for everything -"

He shushed her, stepping close and opening his arms so she could walk into his embrace and be held, close to his suddenly pounding heart. She felt good, in his arms… she felt right. He pressed a tiny kiss on the very top of her head, and she smiled into his shoulder and mumbled, "I felt that, Mr. Skinner… you have such lousy aim…" And his laugh rumbled through his chest and against her ear as he moved his face down, close to hers, and his mouth brushed over hers, lightly, and then again, a little bit more… and he whispered into her ear, "Not any more, Mrs. Scully…" before his aim improved a hundredfold… and her gasp of surprise tinkled through the now-silent room.


"Hmmmphfft…" She burrowed into his body with a soft little moan and slept on.

"Sweetheart… we really need to go to bed…" She moaned again, in sleepy protest.

"Mmmph, don' wanna move…" Her open mouth pressed against his throat and her little tongue licked at his skin before she went slack again and actually began to snore, leaving him with a moist spot on his neck and one hell of a hard-on in his suddenly too-tight jeans. He squirmed a little, and tried to adjust himself without waking her. He couldn't get the seam along his crotch to settle someplace else besides the length of his rod. He squirmed again, as unobtrusively as he could, and succeeded in forcing the seam to cut into his swollen flesh with a vengeance. He groaned, under his breath - and caught the faint giggle against his chest; he peered down into her face, and caught her looking at him, blue eyes bright with mirth, knowing exactly what she was doing to him. He flipped her underneath him, and pinned her there, and growled into her mouth, "You are the most monumental brat… you got any idea how much that damn seam in my jeans cuts into me, thanks to you…"

"No… why don't you tell me all about it…" and she slid a hand through his mussed hair, and yanked at the thick locks, until she could reach his mouth, and her tongue licked along his bottom lip, and delicately bit at the fullness there… ran along the hard surface of his teeth and played with the pink of his gums until he gasped and shook and forced his way inside her mouth, eagerly overwhelming her with his kisses, and his aroused body, rubbing himself upon her until with one deep shudder she pushed at him with trembling hands and gasped, "Mulder, stop, we can't do this down here, Mom could come down any minute…" She trailed off at the sound of his deep chuckle, and she stared at the amused hazel eyes, demanding, "What? What're you laughing at? What's going on?" Mulder gazed down at her, just drinking in the sight of her lovely, glowing face… loving her so much he ached everywhere, with the intensity of it. He lowered his face until he pressed, nose to nose, into her; whispering against her soft cheek.

"Well, Scully… while you lay in my arms, snoring… your mama went out on a date, with AD Walter Skinner…" He counted to five, grinning, waiting…


He could smell coffee, and hot cinnamon; the aroma floated across his nose and wound into his sleep, poking at his empty stomach with sharp little knives, and he groaned aloud at the sudden hunger pains, strong enough to wake him out of his thick slumber; he could feel the weight of that hunger, right across his chest… maybe not exactly hunger… he opened one eye, and peered blearily up into Scully's amused face - she was sitting on his chest with a mug of coffee in one hand and a raisin cinnamon roll in the other - and she was stark naked. Both his eyes popped open at the expanse of creamy soft skin filling up his view; he slid his hands up over her thighs and snaked them around her narrow waist as, holding his gaze, she bit into the cinnamon roll, tearing a goodly chunk and holding it between her teeth; then she leaned down, until she could reach his mouth; the piece of warm roll brushed his lips and he opened them in a quick grin as she pushed the roll into his mouth and stayed close enough to lick the sugar off his lips as he chewed. Mulder shivered, and muttered, "What a way to get fed - I think I can relate to baby birds, when their mother shoves in the worm…" Scully's head dropped onto his shoulder and her muffled laughter shook both of them.

"Mulder… you have to be the only person in the world who can take something as sensuous as a mouth-to-mouth feeding orgy, and turn it into a 'National Geographic' moment…" Mulder finished swallowing the treat and put out both hands, divesting her of the mug and the roll, laying them on the bedside table, before he slipped his fingers up through her tangled hair and tugged a little, until he could look into her face. He searched every inch of her skin, each tiny freckle and tight pore, the baby-fine silvery-red hairs which wisped in front of her small ears, and the satin skin of her throat. In the early morning light, watery pale but nonetheless illuminating… Scully was flawless. Her hair flamed around her shoulders; allowed to grow longer and dried naturally, in the air, it spiraled softly into waves tumbling everywhere. Her eyes so blue, lips so rosy - skin fresh and warmly beguiling. Mulder wondered if she had a clue what the sight of her, like this, did to him and his poor heart. Apparently she'd gotten a few not-so-subtle hints, as the evidence of his reaction was sitting up at attention, there underneath her little bottom. She giggled at his gentle prodding, and wriggled a bit, to tease him… and her hand smoothed down over his abdomen and down between their bodies, and she lifted, just a little; just enough to let him adjust himself, and find her ready to take him on… ready to take him inside. He slid up, and in, so deep, very deep, and he managed to grind out one breathless "The baby…" before his eyes rolled back in his head and he couldn't lay still any longer and he began to move, hard and long strokes deep inside while Scully moved in perfect sync with his thrusts, open mouth gasping for air, gasping out a breathy, "Mom… came home and got him… breakfast at McD's…" before her body clenched tightly around him, and she threw back her head and screamed, sending Mulder tumbling over the edge and into oblivion.



"It's really over, isn't it? No more nightmares, no more flashbacks… no more hiding. Over… isn't it?"

"Yeah, baby… it's over." He smiled a most delightful smile, and kissed her softly.

"Scully, you called me "baby"… I like it."

"Well… you are my baby, Mulder… you always were, especially when you - ohhh, God… when you do that…"


"Oohh, yeah… that."

** Chapter Eleven **

Boston, a week later

"Anything, Doctor?" AD Skinner, standing next to the thin figure curled up in the hospital bed, regarded his companion with great intensity, hands shoved into the pockets of his overcoat, eyes just a bit concerned. Dr. Welsley shook his head, eyes flicking with practiced quickness over the chart which hung on the rail at the foot of the bed; puzzlement in his expression, as he mumbled to himself; then he hung the chart in its place and looked up into Skinner's face.

"Not really, Mr. Skinner… not anything significant. A series of small convulsions, appearing on a fairly regulated basis; and the scan results have all been the same: a huge erasure of brain activity, not even enough left to compare with some of the lower species of animal life as we know it. To be frank, I have never in all my days of medicine seen anything quite like it… and if I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed it." Welsley gazed at the still form in the bed; the gaunt face, eyes wrapped in gauze; the scratches over cheeks, the neck, and upper arms, still angry red and seeping a little; the woman breathed, shallow and irregular , frequently twitching all over, as if in the throes of some unsettling dream.

"Will she ever recover?" Skinner was watching the odd movement of her hands; they seemed to be fluttering around chest-level, as if she had to push something unpleasant away from her. Welsely shook his head, regretfully.

"No, I'm sorry; I really doubt it. I know you needed her to be able to stand trial… but she'll never recover, not like that. She may be able to form thoughts, maybe even try to vocalize, eventually - but she will mostly remain in this almost vegetative state, for the rest of her natural life." Skinner nodded, and walked to the door, pulling on his gloves. As an afterthought, he turned, and regarded the doctor, inquiring, "You'll contact me, won't you - if there's ever any sort of change?" The doctor nodded, and pulled the blanket up around Leonie Friedrictoph's frail shoulders. She never moved, except to rumble, deep in her throat; almost a rusty-sounding purr, as she reacted to the warmth of the blanket.

In the elevator, Skinner flipped the cell phone, and punched in numbers, waited a bit, eager to hear the soft voice on the other end; almost able to hear the smile in her voice as she exclaimed, "Walter! I'm so glad you called… guess who I spoke to, not twenty minutes ago?" Skinner grinned and pretended to puzzle over the question, then replied, "Halliday…" Maggie Scully snorted in disbelief, then chuckled, "You set me up, didn't you? Told him to call so I wouldn't worry, huh?"

"Uh-uh, he wanted to call you; he really likes you. I'd say he's got a crush big-time, but he's so nuts over Jenny… which reminds me: did he tell you?"

"About Jenny and the baby, oh yes! It was a very close call, but she's going to be just fine. She will have to stay in the hospital a while longer, but overall she will be fine, and so will the baby. I'm so relieved; I do like Jason, very much. He was so sweet to Will." Maggie paused for a moment, then inquired, a bit hesitantly, "Do you know what really happened, Walter? Somehow I doubt the accident was anything less than planned…" Skinner snorted in anger, at the remembrance of his confrontation, with Marcus Lorenzo. He'd been rather merciless; oddly, he didn't mind telling Maggie. In some odd way, he knew she'd approve. He spoke softly into the receiver.

"Maggie… do you still want to rip their fucking arms off, and shove them up their asses…?"

A gasp of shock on the other end of the phone, and then a hoot of laughter from her, as she remembered uttering those same words to him, so many months ago. Still laughing, she answered him, just as softly and as sweetly as possible…

"Oh, hell yes, Walter! Just get that badge ready… and point me in the right direction!"

** Epilogue **

He fingered the vial carefully, holding it up to the light, seeing the weird glow of it as he turned it this way, and that. So little left… but that was all right, really it was. There was enough to take to the lab; enough to use in the analysis which would yield the correct formula for creating more of this miracle substance… of that, he felt sure. A knock at the door; he replied absently, not looking up from the vial as the hulking man in the dark overcoat entered the room, and closed the door silently behind him. A final gaze into the liquid depths; he replaced the vial in its padded case, and carefully locked it back into the small vault. He turned and regarded his visitor with serious, unsmiling eyes. "Report?"

"She is gone, Sir… she will not recover. I could not locate the missing notebook, nor any of the recovered files or the diskettes from the computer. We have nothing except what you have locked in your vault." The hulking man sank down into the comfortable sofa against the far wall, and stared at his superior with deference and respect. They had been associated with each other for a very long time…

"What I have locked away is enough, I think; for what we need to do, it is enough. We can begin immediately; is everything ready at the lab?" The other man nodded, and withdrew a sheaf of papers from his briefcase, handing them over along with a set of keys and a case of diskettes. He stood up, knowing without having to be told, that he'd been dismissed. As he reached the door, he turned a last time, and silently watched as his superior reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a crumpled pack of Morleys, lit one and inhaled deeply. The hulking man had one more question; something that had been troubling him for days. He cleared his throat; C.G.B. Spender glanced over at him and raised an eyebrow inquiringly.

"Sir… you won't, um… you won't let anything happen to the child, will you?" The hulking man was worried; it showed in his eyes; in the drawn lines of his face. With a tiny smile which looked more like a grimace of constipation, Spender reassured the fretful man.

"I won't let anything happen to the child. He will grow up to be a splendid man… he will live a long and fruitful life. In another universe, another time… he could have been my grandson…" Spender blew out a gust of smoke, and said the words which he knew had to be said, before his assistant would feel better. "The parents are safe, too… you have my word. There are great changes afoot, you know… great changes. If I'd only had this serum, years ago… what I could have accomplished against the alien colonizers… but it's not too late; it's never too late." Walking to the window, he stared up into the black heavens, pensively. There were so many stars out tonight… he took comfort from the sheer volume, there in the night sky, twinkling away. Tomorrow… he would begin. And soon, hopefully very soon…

Those alien bastards would never know what hit them.


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