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Find the Future

Chapter Text

Dare to Dream
by xphilernj and Fibbie

* * *

May 2001
A.D. Skinner's Office
F.B.I. Headquarters

 

Scully couldn't take any more. She walked out of the office and
with hands on her hips, paced the hall. Within minutes Mulder
followed her out, closing the door behind him.

"Mulder, if any of this is true ..."

"If it is, or if it isn't, I want you to forget about it,
Scully."

Scully stared at him in disbelief. "Forget about it?"

Mulder replied firmly. "You're not going back out there. I'm
not going to let you go back out there."

Surprised, Scully asked, "What are you talking about?"

"It has to end sometime. That time is now."

"Mulder..."

"Scully, you have to understand that they're taking abductees.
You're an abductee. I'm not going to risk..."

He looked at her sadly, meaningfully, his voice breaking a
little.

"... losing you."

She walked slowly into his embrace. They clung tightly to each
other.

"I won't let you go alone," she said, tightening her hold on him.

* * * * * * *

Bellefleur, Oregon woods
Next evening

 

Skinner stopped the car along side the Oregon wooded area,
popped the trunk and both men got out, moving around to the
back.

"This is starting to feel like the snipe hunt I was afraid of,"
Skinner stated as he took in the surrounding area.

Mulder retrieved a backpack out of the trunk and started off into
the woods, then turned back to Skinner.

"There's no such thing as a snipe, sir," Mulder replied with a
smirk.

"Hey, you know, my ass is on the line here, too, Agent Mulder,"
Skinner shot back with irritation.

"I know that."

Mulder headed into the woods while Skinner took one more look
around and then started to follow.

* * * * * * *

A.D. Skinner's office
Same Evening

 

Scully and the Lone Gunmen were still looking through files long
after Skinner and Mulder had left for Oregon. Scully looked at
one of the files with concern and drew in a shaky breath.

"This just can't be."

"What are you looking at?" Frohike queried.

She inhaled deeply and slowly began to speak. "Medical records
-- Billy Miles and other known abductees in Bellefleur, Oregon.
They all experienced anomalous brain activity."

"Electro-encephalitic trauma," Byers said as he stepped up beside
Scully.

The other two Gunmen gathered around them.

"Which is exactly what Mulder experienced earlier this year," she
said with a sigh.

"I don't understand," Langly said, confused.

She turned to Langly and explained. "There was something out
there in that field. It knocked me back. Because it didn't want
me. Mulder thinks that it's me that's in danger of being taken."

"When it's Mulder who's in danger," Frohike worriedly replied.

Scully slowly turned back to Frohike, looking weak and
disoriented.

"Scully?" Frohike inquired as she slowly closed her eyes, swayed
and then collapsed. The three men caught her as she fell to the
floor.

"Scully! Whoa! You okay? Oh, gee." The three Gunmen called
out at once with worry and dismay over the latest event.

* * * * * * *

Seven years ago -- a lifetime for some -- a solitary man walked
alone. His vision was clear and his pursuit of the truth
relentless.

The truth was his quest.

The quest was his life; it was all-consuming and he had little
time for the vagueries of a so-called "normal" life, for liasons
or romances. He stopped for no one, gave little quarter and did
not suffer fools gladly.

Of these things, his enemies knew all too well, and plotted,
not-so-subtly, for his downfall.

So, then the man was unexpectedly blind-sided by someone who he
believed to be a spy, in the form of a partner assigned to "help
him" with his work.

It was a very obvious, very intentional breach in the deepest
caverns of the J. Edgar Hoover Building, the headquarters of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington D.C.; an invasion
into the basement office -- the lair of the infamous Lone Wolf.

He took this breach *very* seriously, trusted no one, kept his
own counsel, watched his own back -- and waited for the other
shoe to drop.

From the very beginning, however, the tenacious little redheaded
female pathologist gave him a run for his money, hanging on like
a remora on a shark. Though he ditched her at every opportunity,
deterred her at every turn and tried his best to scare her away,
her dogged determination and rigid beliefs, which were deeply
rooted in impirical facts and the hard sciences, soon proved to
him to be invaluable.

Before he realized it, *she* had become invaluable to him on a
very personal level.

After seven years of struggling, dancing around the shadows of
conspiracy, dancing around their feelings for each other and
walking headlong into an unknown future, everything changed,
literally, overnight.

Now, on that day, Special Agent Fox Mulder stepped into a life he
thought had been forever lost to him. A life of which all dreams
are made; a fairytale borne of pain -- physical, mental and
emotional -- and more tears and heartache than even he, with his
eidetic memory, could remember.

On a trip back to Bellefleur, Oregon, where their partnership had
begun seven years previously, Mulder's partner, Special Agent Dana
Scully had become ill.

When Mulder and Scully returned to D.C., she had said she was fine
but Mulder was not convinced. Given her experiences in their
earlier years working together with her near death due to a three
month abduction and disappearance, life-threatening cancer and then,
for her, the final blow, that of the discovery of infertility due
to the unexplained, unremembered but obviously horrific tests and
experiments done on her during her abduction, he was terrified
something heinous was happening to her once again, at the hands of
their enemies.

Convinced she was being set up to be abducted again (or worse,
taken to her death to punish both of them), Mulder simply refused
to let Scully go back to Bellefleur with him. He absolutely would
*not* change his mind.

Scully, on the other hand, would not allow Mulder to go back to
Oregon alone, so their immediate superior, Assistant Director Walter
Skinner, had the luck of the draw.

Before he left, Scully gave Mulder her most important possession --
the small gold cross her mother had given her as a girl, and Mulder
wore it as a sign of his deep love for her.

Concerned for Scully's health, and out of a soul-deep need to stay
in touch with her, Mulder would not even consider going into the
forest without proper communications abilities.

Mulder and Scully's somewhat bizarre but loyal friends, John Byers,
Melvin Frohike and Ringo Langly -- the Lone Gunmen -- came to their
rescue by providing Mulder and Skinner with a satellite phone, as
well as GPS devices.

As it turned out, the sat phone ended up being extremely fortuitous
because, while out in the woods, Skinner received a call from the
Gunmen, and their 'nice little trip to the forest,' was cut short:
Scully had collapsed, was sick and in the hospital.

Unfortunately for Mulder, no one could or would tell him what was
wrong with Scully, and he couldn't get back to her fast enough.

Their subsequent Pacific-to-Atlantic cross-country plane trip was
the longest and most nerve-wracking flight Mulder had ever
experienced. No amount of consoling on Skinner's part could settle
Mulder's frantic concerns and rampaging paranoia.

* * * * * * *

Upon their arrival at Dulles International Airport in D.C., Mulder
was fit to be tied and Skinner was ready to clamp the handcuffs on
him and throw Mulder in the trunk of his car.

In Mulder's mind, Skinner couldn't drive fast enough to the
hospital. He gnawed at his fingers and chafed at the seatbelt,
feeling confined.

Even before Skinner pulled to a stop, Mulder was out of the car and
running through the emergency entrance to the hospital, stopping
only long enough to get the information of his partner's
whereabouts.

The elevator ride also seemed agonizingly slow. Mulder's mind was
a gridlock of confusing thoughts and overwhelming worry. Had his
and Scully's worst fears become reality? Would they, once again,
have to face the possibility of another long uncertain revelation?
What if it was cancer again? Could he live through it if she
didn't? Would *they* have a future?

Mulder's heart had been beating like a trip-hammer. His fate was
inexplicably tied to Scully's and had been for some time. He
honestly didn't know if he could live without her.

More to the point, would he want to?

The doors opened, jolting him from his reverie. After rushing
Skinner to get him there, Mulder was now virtually paralyzed by
fear. He felt he was moving so slowly it was as if he had been
caught, like an insect, in hardening amber.

However, Mulder steadily made his way to Scully's room. He could
clearly see her through the small window in her door; she was
staring out the window into the hospital's courtyard. She looked
pale to him, which did nothing to quell his uneasiness.

Mulder knocked lightly, released a small breath of a sigh and then
cautiously pushed the door open. Attempting to put on a good front
for her, he allowed a gentle smile to grace his lips as he
approached her bed.

He didn't realize it, but he could not, however, hide his emotions
from her. Scully looked up into his fretful expression and
reached for his hand.

"Hey, Scully. Howya feeling?" Mulder asked as his fingers gently
entwined with hers.

Scully grasped his hand with both of hers and tugged lightly until
he perched on the edge of the bed next to her. She turned toward
the window for a moment, took a deep breath and slowly released it.

"Scully?" Mulder prompted softly, needing desperately to know, yet
overwhelmingly afraid of any forthcoming answers.

"Um ... I'm fine, but ... there's something I need to tell you,
Mulder." Scully struggled momentarily, as if trying to gather her
thoughts.

"Scully, you're alright, aren't you? I mean, the cancer, it's
not ... back, is it? Scully?" Mulder squeezed her fingers to get
her attention again and bent slightly toward her, needing to look
into her blue eyes. Concern laced his voice very thickly.

"No, Mulder. It's not the cancer. They checked when I was brought
in. I was frightened of that possibility, too. In fact, I had them
check twice to be certain." Scully began to explain. Her other hand
gravitated to his cheek, caressing him. "There *is* something,
though ..."

At the continued look of worry on his handsome features, she
continued hesitantly. "It's something good ... and I hope you'll
think so, too. Mulder ... um ... oh God, I can't believe this is
happening," she broke off with a choked sob.

Mulder grasped the hand that still held his face; pain and confusion
evident in his eyes and in his voice. "Please, Scully ... please
... just tell me. We'll work through it together. You know I'll be
here for you, whatever it is ... no matter what happens."

Scully looked up at him, meeting his eyes, desperately needing a
reassurance about which she was not certain. "I don't know how it
can be, but ... Mulder, I'm pregnant." Scully scanned his face for a
sign of what he might be feeling.

Mulder sat unmoving for a few moments, stunned, unable to grasp what
he had just heard. Too many questions needed to be answered. Too
many questions to ask.

He blinked away his confusion and fear, and for the first time since
his arrival, he truly saw her; truly saw his Scully.

Even though she wore no make-up, even though her hair wasn't done
to it's normal perfection and her beautiful face was streaked with
tears, Scully glowed. In fact, Mulder couldn't remember a time when
she'd looked more gorgeous than now, at this exact moment.

A smile very slowly lit up his face and eyes. Mulder released her
hands, then placed his on her cheeks and his thumbs chased the
tears away. He leaned in and kissed her very, very tenderly. He
felt her arms stretch up and encircle his neck.

Mulder dropped his arms down around her waist and pulled her closer
to him to deepen their kiss. He leaned back from her and buried
his nose in her hair. His audible sigh did not go unnoticed.

"Mulder?" Scully whispered. With uncertainty, she asked, "Are
you okay?"

Within his embrace, she nuzzled his neck. A shiver of delight
raced down Mulder's back and he smiled again. He leaned back and
looked into her beautiful blue eyes, which were filled with tears.

"Scully, I was terrified from the moment Skinner told me you were
in the hospital until I walked into this room. I didn't know what
to think or do." Mulder shook his head slightly in disbelief, but
the smile didn't disappear. "Scully, I have so many questions for
which I know we'll never get answers. I thought because the IVFs
failed that you would never ... God, Scully, how can this be?
How ... who?"

Scully couldn't help herself, she laughed at his question.

"As for 'how' ... the birds and the bees ... and the monkey babies,
Mulder." Scully shyly smiled at him and blinked back another
onslaught of happy tears. "As to 'who,' well ... you, Mulder, only
ever you." Scully's tears broke loose and cascaded down.

"Me, Scully? Really? But I thought ..." Mulder stopped and then
with realization dawning, his face lit with the most beautiful
smile Scully had ever seen. "Oh." Mulder blinked his own teary
eyes, leaned in again and placed soft kisses across her face.

Scully giggled, actually giggled, at Mulder's brief discomfort,
then simply enjoyed his sweet kisses. He dropped his head on her
shoulder and chuckled, happy he could bring her a smile, even at
his own expense.

"Scully, this is so unbelievable." He raised his head and clasped
her hands between his. "Are you happy, Scully? Are you okay with
this? I know how badly you've wanted a baby, but ... are you
really, truly, fine with this?"

"Oh God, yes. Yes, I am. But, Mulder, what about you? I know we
didn't really talk about what would happen if I did get pregnant,
but it became a moot point when the IVFs didn't take." She
hesitated for a moment, looking into his bright hazel eyes and
then continued. "I don't want you to feel obligated in any way,
but I *do* want our baby to know his or her father ... I want you
to be a part of our baby's life, in whatever way you want to be
involved. I want you to be there for us. But only if you want to
be ..." Scully's voice trailed off into a whisper with the last
statement, slightly hoarse.

"Scully, I won't lie to you. I'm absolutely terrified at the
prospect of being responsible for such a small life." Mulder took
in a deep breath and then continued. "You know me, Scully. I've
been responsible for only myself for such a long, long time and,
in some respects, for a short time, yours as well.

"Scully, I never thought ... never dreamed that this would be an
option for me. After I found your ova during your cancer, and
then told you ... and then the IVFs didn't take, I gave up every
one of my own hopes and dreams for a family of my own ... and
fatherhood.

"And, Scully, I wanted the IVFs to work. I truly *did* have those
hopes and dreams ... but with you. Only with you. You ... you
never knew it, but I grieved with you, for you, for us..." Mulder
squeezed her fingers lightly, and reached up to wipe a stray tear
away, allowing his thumb to soothe her soft skin long after the
tear was gone, then continued.

"I'm not sure what our future will hold, but Scully," Mulder told
her as he looked deeply into her eyes, "I would love to find that
future -- together, as a family -- with you and our little one."

Scully blinked, tears now freely streaming down her cheeks.
"Mulder, I ... we ..."

Mulder stopped her with a finger to her lips.

"Scully, I love you ... more than I can ever say in mere words,"
He stroked her cheek with the palm of his hand and then kissed her
forehead.

Scully nervously laughed. "Is that a proposal, Mulder?" She was
only half serious but hopeful just the same.

"Yes," Mulder quietly replied, although a bit hesitant.

Her eyes closed and she sighed. "I love you, Mulder. With all my
heart, all that I am, all that I'll ever be."

Scully tilted her head up and Mulder met her lips eagerly with his
own, hugging her tightly to him, then quickly backing off and
looking down at her abdomen, fear obvious in his eyes. Scully
lifted his face to hers and reassured him with a sweet smile that
it was alright, that he was not hurting either her or the baby.

She took his hand, placed it on her abdomen where their baby was
growing and held it there gently. Mulder watched their hands for
a moment, dreaming of a future he could still only imagine, of a
beautiful new baby with auburn curls and blue eyes.

"We have our miracle, Scully," he whispered.

Then, smiling broadly, Mulder looked up to see a matching smile on
Scully's face, leaned forward and kissed her deeply and lovingly;
he never wanted to let her go again.

If anyone could arrange such an occurrence, it would be Fox Mulder.

* * * * * * *

Outside the door of Dana Scully's room, Skinner watched his two
favorite renegade agents engage in their intimate embrace. He
paused a moment longer and then started back down the hall to
give them the privacy they so badly needed. He would find out
the why's and wherefores tomorrow.

For now, both agents were safe and together. What the future held
for them, he didn't know.

However, A.D. Walter Skinner was smiling as he left the hospital,
heading home.

* * * * * * *

Chapter Text

'erms
by xphilernj & Fibbie

* * *

November 21, 2005
Monday before Thanksgiving

 

The bright mid-morning sun chased the chill of the Fall morning
away as a father and son explored their world. The three year old
boy ran ahead pointing and asking one question after another. Fox
Mulder smiled, taking great pleasure in the simple act of spending
time with his son, William.

Three years before, Mulder and, his partner, Dana Scully worried if
they would ever have a future as a family. They had worked
tirelessly making sure *that* future became a reality; that the
world at large had a future as well.

The days and nights of looking over their shoulders, jumping at
moving shadows and being an ever-vigilant presence in their son's
young life almost took their toll. They tried very hard to give
William the life an innocent little boy deserved by keeping him out
of the line of fire and leaving the stress outside the door of
their home.

Unlike the majority of the world, they were privy to the inner
workings of a global conspiracy, a Consortium, that was working
with what most people would think impossible: extraterrestrial
biological entities -- in other words, aliens.

And these aliens weren't even close to the friendly, benevolent
ones portrayed in Spielberg's 'Close Encounters' film.

The Consortium had been a cluster of old men and Their minions who
collaborated against the world and with the aliens for decades in
order to greedily save themselves at the expense of humanity --
all five billion plus of them.

At one point, Mulder and Scully believed that the Consortium had
been destroyed, but, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, at
least one of Them -- the most heinous of them all -- had survived
and resurrected a new Consortium, but with basically the same
plans.

The Consortium, with the aliens, were working on a virus that
would, in essence, wipe out all but a select few of the humans.
Scully and Mulder both had been purposely exposed to the vaccine,
and from their own blood and DNA, they hoped a vaccine could be
found.

Mulder and Scully married a few months after his return from
Oregon. Scully chose to return to Quantico and teach until her
maternity leave.

After many late night discussions, Mulder, having had fairly
recently discovered his sister Samantha's fate and, in essence,
the truth, had decided his work as a Federal agent was done. He
felt that helping to raise his and Scully's baby was much, much
more important.

Not long after, Mulder resigned from the F.B.I. and decided to,
with much encouragement from his wife, write a line of Young Adult
books about his and Scully's escapades into the paranormal realm,
which combined action and adventure with learning and reading
activities. Mulder had been overwhelmed by his books' success,
but Scully, knowing her husband's genius, sense of humor and
proclivity toward creativity, was not at all surprised.

Her usually effusive husband had been stunned speechless the day
she brought home Book Review Magazine where he had been described
as "possibly the next J.K. Rowling." English teachers were
actually using his books in their classrooms as the basis of school
projects, and he was asked and paid to talk to school auditoriums
full of avid fans of his stories.

On the practical, real life side of things, with Scully's
connection and reputation within the Medical Community, she was
able to secure an 'underground' lab run by scientists, who like
herself and her husband, believed.

Mulder's contacts, who were considered to be less than reputable,
were able to obtain many items needed. Behind the guise of a
defeated and uninterested retired Federal employee, he was able
to move about more freely than he and Scully had anticipated.

Mulder had turned the tables and was now monitoring *Their*
whereabouts and activities, unbeknownst to Them, instead of vice
versa -- how it used to be for them when they were field agents.

After many false starts, when a trial vaccine proved to be the
virtual 'Holy Grail,' the synthesized product was mass-produced
and introduced into the medical main stream. Hidden behind the
ruse of a new and fast-spreading "deadly pandemic viral plague"
which could only be avoided by vaccination, the unsuspecting
public was given a second chance.

After all the veiled death threats against Mulder, Scully and
their newborn son, Mulder and family finally began to live their
lives on their own terms.

With the help of their friends, Mulder was able to secure a future
in Culpeper, Virginia. In the process of remodeling their home,
he brought his mother-in-law, Maggie and his mother, Teena down to
live with them as well.

It was a bit touchy for awhile trying to convince their mothers to
move, but in the end they knew it was for the best.

Mulder and Scully had the room, Maggie Scully's youngest
grandchild lived fairly close, and her own house was large, and
she was alone, so she decided to move to Culpeper to spend more
time with her family members who lived closest. With both Bill
and Charlie being sailors and, like their father before them,
moving from port to port, Maggie felt this was her chance to
settle down. Her sons could come to Culpeper to visit as easily
as they could visit her in Baltimore.

Teena Mulder was a bit more resistant at first, having closed
herself off so much with the loss of her daughter at such a young
age, but William was a sweetheart and had innocently ingratiated
himself into his 'Gamma's' good graces. Teena, frankly, could
not get enough of the little boy; he reminded her so of Fox at
that age.

Looking out across his backyard, he admired the numerous flora,
shrubs and vines Scully had planted not long after moving to the
farmhouse. An old wooden rail fence enclosed a modest amount of
land to make a very active little three old boy happy. Mulder
had a five foot privacy fence placed two feet on the outskirts of
the railed fence providing the 100 by 200 foot yard security for
William's curiosity and he and his wife's peace of mind.

Mulder was drawn out of his thoughts by his son's voice. He
looked and had seen William prancing from one foot to the other
waiting to show his Daddy what he had found.

"'ook, Daddy," the little boy yelled while pointing at the fence.

"What, little Buddy? Whadaya see?" the little one's father
questioned.

"'on't know." The boy looked up at his Daddy and shrugged his
shoulders. His hands thrust out, palms upward, the only way a
three year old could. He lifted his arms up and demanded, "Up."

"Up what, Son?"

"Up peez, Daddy," the little one answered. Just as his Moma had
taught him.

"That's a good boy, William," Mulder said as he lifted his son
up close to his chest and kissed him on the cheek. "Now, what did
you want to show me?"

William pointed to the fuzzy little creature that was slowly
crawling across the top of the fence rail.

"'ook, 'erm," William said with a frown and pointing. He
wrinkled his nose and said with disgust, "'uk!"

Mulder laughed at the face his son was making. "No Buddy,
that's a caterpillar."

With a much too serious look on his face for such a small
boy, he shook his head and pronounced, "Uh uh, Daddy. Dat's
'erm. 'uk!"

Mulder knew, just as with his mother, when he had lost an
argument. William could be just as stubborn as she. Mulder
smiled and looked into his son's eyes and asked, "You want to
take it home and show your Moma?"

William shook his head with a surprised look and placed his
hands on either side of Mulder's face. "No Daddy! Moma 'on't
'yike no 'erms! 'uk!"

"I guess you win. No "'erms" for Moma." Mulder laughed, swung
his son up on his shoulders and William placed his small hands
on top of Mulder's head. Then he slipped his hands down and
covered his Daddy's eyes.

"Hey! Who's doing the driving here?" Mulder laughed as did
William.

"Peek boo! Daddy!" He squealed with delight when Mulder pulled
William's hands down and blew raspberries in each palm.

Still giggling and laughing, father and son made their way back
up the path along the old fence that bordered their backyard.

"Daddy, war 'erm goes?" William questioned while leaning his
head down trying to look into his Daddy's eyes.

"Whoa Son, hang on there." Mulder shifted William and tilted his
head, thought for a moment and then spoke. "Well the caterpillar,
um ... worm will make a home and sleep for awhile. And then, when
he wakes up, he'll be a beautiful butterfly. The butterfly will
fly away."

"War he go, Daddy? I 'ant ta fy Daddy," William proclaimed,
throwing his hands above his head.

"To see the world, Buddy. To see the world." Mulder reached
up, grabbed William around the waist and lifted him above his
head. William's laughter made Mulder chuckle with delight.

"I 'ant ta see the 'erd, Daddy."

"You will, Son. One of these days, hopefully, you will," Mulder
replied thoughtfully, trying to stave off thoughts of a teen-aged
William leaving home for college.

As they got closer to the house a screen door screeched and then
banged against the door frame. A petite redhead, hands on her
hips, shook her head, a smile on her face.

"What are you guys up to?" She asked. Mulder placed the boy down
on his feet when he stepped up on the porch.

"I go fyin 'yike uh ... uh," William stuttered and then turned to
his father and said, "Daddy?"

Mulder bent down and whispered to William, "A butterfly."

William swung around, arms out as if flying, and whispered,
"utfy. An I taw uh ... uh ... 'erm."

"A worm!?! Yuk!" Scully exclaimed with wide eyes, wrinkled her
nose and then spoke with a serious tone. "I don't like worms."

William turned around quickly, stomped his foot and looked up at
his father with his little hands on his hips. "To'ya, Daddy. Moma
'on't 'yike no 'erms."

Scully patted her son indulgently on his head, chuckled and then
announced, "Lunch is ready. Come on in and wash up." She opened
the screen door and started inside.

"Just like your mother." Mulder muttered then asked loudly,
"Whatta we having? Sandwiches and worm soup?"

Scully and William both exclaimed as one with a look of disgust
on their faces. They wrinkled their noses, eyes wide.

"Mulder!"

"Daddy!"

"Yuk!"

"Uk!"

"What, what did I say?" Mulder threw his hands up in
self-defense. Grinning with mischief in his eyes, he
followed Moma and son inside.

* * * * * * *

Chapter Text

'eefs
by xphilernj & Fibbie

* * *

November 22, 2004
Tuesday before Thanksgiving

 

Once again, the backyard resembled a patchwork quilt: maroons,
scarlets, reds, oranges, ambers, yellows and greens. Yes, Fall
had arrived and Mother Nature decided to redecorate the back
yard, once again.

Mulder sighed, picked up the rake and headed for the far end of
the yard. It was Tuesday and this job had to be done by Thursday.

After about an hour and a half, he had five multi-colored piles
of leaves and was slowly working on the last. He paused for a
moment and wiped his brow. A screech and bang of the back screen
door alerted him to an intruder. A smile played at the corner of
his mouth when he heard the crunch of leaves and the shuffle of
small feet creep closer.

"Daddy, Moma to'd me to gif dis to 'ou." William announced as he
slowly walked closer, mindful of the glass of iced tea he was
holding. He held it up to his Daddy, proud that not a drop had
spilled.

"Why thank you, Buddy. I really needed this. I'll have to thank
mom later." Mulder gently patted William on the head and then
winked at his son which elicited a giggle from the little boy.

"Daddy?"

"Yeah, Buddy."

"'ou pay in da 'eefs? I 'on't ta pay too, Daddy," William
announced enthusiastically as he jumped up and down. Then
without warning, and before Mulder could reply, his energetic
son dove for the nearest pile of neatly raked leaves.

"William Fox Mulder!" Mulder yelled as he stood stunned for a
moment, watching as his little boy rolled around, scattering the
neat pile. Mulder shook his head and chuckled. He stepped over
to the porch, set down his glass and turned to see William running
as hard as his little legs could carry him.

"No! William!" Mulder took off running and snatched up a
laughing little boy before he could dessimate another pile. "Oh
no you don't, Buddy. I didn't spend the past hour raking so you
can destroy it." Mulder said laughing as William squirmed in his
arms to be let down.

William stopped wiggling and said, "'ut Daddy, I 'ont ta pay, too,"
William said, his bottom lip prominently sticking out. Sometimes,
Mulder thought, looking at his son, it was like looking in the
mirror.

Mulder sighed as he looked between the leaves and his pouty son.
Apparently, to his young son, raking leaves was child's play.

Surprised, William squealed with delight and clapped wildly when
his Daddy suddenly plopped down in the middle of the biggest pile
of leaves, scattering them everywhere. William picked up a
handful and tossed them on top of his Daddy's head.

"Pay, Daddy, pay wif me!" William called, little fists full of
leaves.

"Hey, you! I'm gonna getcha for that!"

His Daddy grabbed his short leg as he tried to scramble away and
shrieked as a handful of leaves was dumped on top of his head.

Father and son tumbled around laughing and destroying yet
another pile.

* * * * * * *

Scully shook her head as she stood at the kitchen window
smiling, watching her two boys play amongst the fallen leaves.

"Mulder's gonna have to get those leaves raked up by morning.
But, I doubt he's gonna mind it too much," she said aloud and
chuckled.

She wiped her hands with the dishcloth, made another glass of
tea, peeked in the oven and then headed out the door to find
her two hard-working boys.

* * * * * * *

Delicious aromas drifted across the yard and the sound of the
screen door closing alerted the two prone figures that someone
was approaching. Father whispered to son. The son giggled and
nodded.

Scully set the extra glass of tea on the porch, slowly walked to
where her two boys were huffing and puffing, clearly exhausted and
a little dirty from their romp through the gorgeous color palette
of leaves. She was oblivious to the conspiracy about to unfold.

"Hey, you two, whatcha ... ?" Her question was abruptly cut short
by two large hands grabbing her waist and pulling her down between
father and son, leaves once again flying everywhere. She yelped
when her son doused her with the fallen leaves.

William giggled behind the small hands that were covering his
mouth. He started inching away from his squirming Moma.

"Daddy, to'd me ta do wit," he announced as he pointed his finger,
a very Mulderesque smirk tempting the corners of his mouth.

"Traitor!" Mulder yelled as he lunged for William.

Scully laughed as her son screamed and started running to get away
from his Daddy. Mulder caught William and they both tumbled into
another pile, rolling and laughing.

"No! Da ... deeeee!" William screamed as his Daddy tickled him,
legs kicking wildly in his attempts to escape.

Mulder and William were so engrossed in their bonding session that
they did not see or suspect Scully was sneaking up behind them.
Suddenly, leaves rained down upon them, causing them to stop
abruptly, mouths agape. They sat up quickly only to see Scully
disappear through the screen door.

"Uh, oh," William whispered breathlessly, looking worried. "Is
Moma mad?"

"Uh, oh, is right. I don't think so, Buddy. But, You know what?
I think we better get these leaves raked up and then get cleaned
up for dinner without Moma having to tell us. Whataya say, want
to help me out here, Buddy?" Mulder asked as he stood and brushed
off his and William's clothes.

"'kaee, Daddy. I git ma yake and hep ya, Daddy," William said.
He ran to the porch as fast as his chubby little legs would carry
him, picked up his little plastic rake and joined his Daddy.

Mulder grinned as his son struggled with the small plastic rake,
stopped, wiped his forehead and then with an exagerated sigh began
again. Even though it took twice as long with his son's help,
they had all the leaves, once again raked, picked up and stored in
the compost bin.

Both looked tired and dirty, but happy as they tried to quietly
slip up the stairs and into the bathroom.

* * * * * * *

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Scully hummed while putting the
finishing touches on their evening meal. She glanced out the
kitchen window and smiled wistfully thinking about the last three
years. Good times overshadowing the bad had been the only way
they managed to survive, considering what it had taken for them
to reach this point. They truly had something to be thankful for
each and every day.

As she was taking the sweet potato pie from the oven and placing
it aside on a cooling rack for their family Thanksgiving dinner,
she heard her two favorite men noisily stomping down the stairs.
A pair of strong arms encircled her waist. Scully shivered as
Mulder's breath blew across her ear. A smaller pair of arms
encircled her leg and squeezed.

"Love you, Scully," Mulder whispered in her ear.

"Wuv 'ou, Moma," William said as he looked up at her with a
sheepish grin.

"Love you, too. Both of you ... with all my heart."

Scully reached down, lifted her son, kissed him on the cheek and
then kissed his Daddy on the lips.

"Ewwwwww. 'uk," William announced and stuffed his face into the
crook of Scully's neck. Both parents laughed at his reaction.

"Come on, my backyard heroes -- let's eat," Scully told them.

Then Mulder and Scully sat at the table to eat, with William
secure on his toddler booster seat, in a chair between them.

Scully looked from her husband to their son and decided that,
yes, they truly had a lot to be thankful for.

 

* * * * * * *

Chapter Text

"'urkee"
by xphilernj and Fibbie

* * *

 

November 23, 2005
Mulder Residence
Wednesday before Thanksgiving

 

Mulder had just finished the last few lines of a chapter he had
been working on. The draft for his latest book was due by the end
of January and with the upcoming holidays, he grabbed bits of time
alone when he could.

His son's footsteps drifted through the open door to his office
just as Mulder shut his computer down. He turned to see William
standing in the doorway.

"Hey, Buddy, finished watching your video?"

William nodded. "Daa ... deee," the three year old whined.

"Will, please don't whine. You know we've talked about this
before. Haven't we, Buddy?" Fox Mulder questioned as he got up
and knelt before his impatient son.

"Yesss, Daddy. 'ou don't yike it 'en I do dat," William replied,
sticking out his very Mulderesque bottom lip and lowering his head.

"That's right, Buddy, I don't like it when you whine," Mulder
lightly scolded.

"I, sowee, Daddy."

"Okay, Buddy. Now, what did you need?" Mulder asked, as he
brushed a lock of light brown hair from William's brow.

"Daddy, 'en Matty get 'ere? I 'anna pay 'if Matty." William
questioned his father, looking up, but still pouting.

Mulder sighed for the fifth time and gathered his already fragile
patience. Needless to say, it had not been the only time today
they had had that conversation. He had been delegated, by his
harried wife, to keep their very impatient son busy so she could
finish the last minute preparations for their family dinner.
Scully's family, Bill, Tara and Matthew, were due almost anytime.

Somewhere, in the back of his mind, Mulder couldn't help but wonder
if this was the kind of frustration Walter Skinner had felt every
time he sat in front of his A.D., attempting to justify some
outrageous X-Files case, usually without prior permission.

It was at times like these, with his own son, when Mulder felt a
deep, abiding wonder, admiration and kinship with his ex-boss'
extraordinary patience.

"Will, I'm not sure when they'll get here, but it shouldn't be
much longer. Hey Buddy, how'd you like to help me with a big
decision about something that's very, *very* important?" Mulder
asked William, hoping to prevent any further questioning.

William nodded as his little face lit up; he loved helping his
much-adored "Daddy". "Okaee, Daddy. I hep 'ou."

"Great. Come on, Buddy, let's go into the den."

Mulder stood up and held out his hand. William eagerly slipped
his small one into his father's big one and both headed out on
their mission.

* * * * * * *

Dana Mulder watched from around the kitchen wall as Mulder talked
to William. With a grin, she shook her head when she realized her
husband had yet again dodged another extensive pouting session.
She was more than familiar with the famous Mulder pout and its
effect. Scully might never tell him, but that plump, pouty lower
lip was one of the very first things that had attracted her to her
partner-husband.

Scully turned back into the kitchen, checked the roast, carrots
and potatoes in the oven, glanced at the clock and then pulled the
vegetables out of the refrigerator. Since she had already cleaned
and prepared the veggies ahead of time, all she had to do was make
the salad. Securing it with plastic wrap, she returned it to the
fridge.

A commotion from the den drew her attention and she slipped quietly
up to the doorway and peeked in, being careful not to interrupt the
intense conversation. Scully quickly covered her mouth with her
hand to forestall the giggle that was tempted to erupt.

Father and son were vigorously debating the merits of watching
football or Sponge Bob Squarepants. Unfortunately for Mulder,
Sponge Bob was winning, hands down.

Scully knew that Mulder was privately and overwhelmingly grateful
that Barney, that awful purple dinosaur, was no longer the number
one video addiction of pre-schoolers everywhere. She clearly
remembered the day when her Mom had offered her vast collection
of Barney videos to them for her youngest grandson's enjoyment.
Maggie had bought and kept them at her house for Matthew's visits
when he was William's age.

Scully also remembered the panic face, which only she could read,
and the vein that had quite visibly throbbed on her husband's
temple at the suggestion. Mulder had very politely declined his
mother-in-law's offer, insisting that she keep them for some time
in the future when William would eventually stay overnight at
Memaw's house.

Scully was certain Mulder had barely avoided an aneurysm over
that one!

Scully was jerked out of her reverie at the sound of knocking at
the front door and she immediately headed in that direction.
The sound of footsteps scrambling through the den behind her had
her laughing as she opened the door.

* * * * * * *

Father and son skidded to a halt behind Scully as she opened the
door. William could barely contain his excitement, pulling on
Mulder's pants and jumping up and down.

"Hey, Bill. Come in, please," Scully said rather cooly but still
hugged her big brother and planted a kiss on his cheek, then
closed the door against the cool fall air.

"Hi, Dana." Bill hugged his little sister, then stepped back.
"Good to see you. You look good."

"Thanks. Where's Tara and Matthew?"

"Oh, they're out by the car. They saw Mom coming up the drive."
Bill replied and then glanced at William and Mulder. "Hey,
little guy. You're getting so big. How're you doing?" Bill
bent over to look at him eye to eye.

"Fine," William shyly replied as he inched closer to his Daddy
while clutching his leg, clearly not comfortable around his
uncle. As much as he'd tried not to show it, Mulder was certain
his son could feel the tension between his "Daddy" and his
"Uncle Bill." Of course, Bill's expected remarks didn't help
matters, even if William didn't truly understand their meanings.

"Well, we know whose son he is," Bill snidely commented as he
stood.

"Bill." Scully warned.

"Mr. Mulder." Bill addressed Mulder, nodding his head and
ignoring his sister.

"Bill. Please, just call me Mulder. Nice to see you. Would
you like to see where you will be staying or would you rather
wait until later?" Mulder cordially addressed Bill, secretly
hoping he would take the offer, and then picked up his son.
William had reluctantly let go of his father's pants leg and
then threw his little arms around his Daddy's neck as he was
lifted up.

Bill turned back to Scully, completely ignoring Mulder. "We
can wait 'til later."

Laughter and excited greetings could be heard from the front
yard. Scully opened the door to smiles and giggles.

"Hey, Matthew. Look at you. You're so big," Scully said as
she hugged him.

"Hey, Aunt Dana."

"Matty!" Will called excitedly out to his cousin, barely able
to keep from jumping out of his father's arms.

"Hi, Will. Hi, Uncle Mulder," Matthew said, greeting both
father and son with a smile. "Wanta go play, Will? Is it
okay, Uncle Mulder?" Matthew asked as Mulder knelt and placed
William back on his feet.

"Hello, Matthew. It's nice to see you. And, yeah, it's okay.
Hey Buddy, why don't you show Matthew your room?" Mulder gently
coaxed William.

"Okaee. 'mon Matty." William looked up at his cousin and
smiled and then both boys rushed from the room. "I yike
'urkee legs. 'ou yike 'urkee legs, Matty?" His excited
chatter echoed down the stairway.

Mulder chuckled, stood just as Tara and Maggie walked through
the door. He watched as Scully greeted both women and then
patiently waited.

"Fox," both women said in unison when they turned from Scully
to see him grinning.

"Hello, Tara. Hi, Mom," he softly replied, hugging both women.
Mulder glanced over at Bill and could clearly see the disgust
and anger on his face. Mulder ignored him and ushered the women
into the den.

"Are you coming, Bill?" Scully asked with a smirk, turning and
leaving a fuming Bill Scully standing alone.

"Should've stayed at a hotel," Bill muttered under his breath
as he reluctantly followed them.

* * * * * * *

Dana, Tara and Maggie were looking through the latest Mulder
family photos. There was laughter and a lot of oohing and
aahing over various cute and adorable father and son antics.
Scully proudly cooed over pictures of William.

Bill sat staring sullenly at the football game playing on the
television and visibly cringed each time Mulder or William was
mentioned. He shifted restlessly, as if trying to find a more
comfortable position.

Mulder watched the scene before him, feeling content and happy.
A smile played at the corners of his mouth when, from the
stairwell, he heard William and Matthew giggling and laughing
over the latest Sponge Bob video. He sighed and shook his head
when he spotted Bill squirming and barely containing his
frustration.

Mulder stood and addressed the women.

"Ladies, I'm going to get a glass of iced tea. Can I get you
something?"

"Thanks, Mulder. I think I would love some iced tea too," Scully
answered with a smile. "Mom? Tara?"

"Yes, thank you, Fox," Maggie replied.

"Yes, that would be nice," Tara softly said.

"Great," Mulder said, then addressed his brother-in-law. "Bill
would you mind helping me in the kitchen? I'd really appreciate
it," Mulder said with a disarming smile.

Bill's venomous look grated on Mulder's nerves, but he made a
point to hide it. He watched as Bill stood, stuffed his hands
in his pockets and huffed out a sigh. Mulder took in a deep
breath and headed to the kitchen. Bill followed slowly behind.

Mulder opened the refrigerator and took out the pitcher of tea,
setting it on the island counter. He then opened the freezer
door and looked back at Bill still standing in the doorway.

"Bill would you mind getting the glasses out of the cabinet over
the dishwasher?" Mulder said over his shoulder, then pulled the
ice container out and set it next to the pitcher of tea.

Without a word, Bill reluctantly did as asked, but was obviously
not pleased about being alone with Mulder.

Mulder went to the sink, washed and dried his hands, then began
filling the glasses with ice. He noticed Bill had moved to the
screen door leading out to the backyard. He sighed and paused
for a moment, glancing at Bill's profile. Then, he filled the
glasses with tea and set them aside.

Mulder turned with his arms folded, leaned against the counter
and lowered his head.

"Bill, Dana and I have been married for four years now," Mulder
began. "She is the happiest I've seen her in a very long time.
Hell, we both are. I can't speak for her but, I believe we've
finally found the life we both had longed for and deserve. We
have a beautiful little boy who is the biggest joy in our
lives."

Mulder paused, with a glance toward Bill. His brother-in-law
hadn't moved, other than the muscle in his jaw which was
getting a good workout from grinding his teeth.

"With the exception of my mother, William, Dana and her family,
by extention, are the only family I have. I want my son to know
his mother's family. I want him to grow up knowing that there
will always be someone that he can count on." Mulder sighed and
turned to the kitchen window. Before he could utter another word,
Matthew and William entered the kitchen.

Both boys stopped and looked between their fathers and then at
each other. William sidled up to his father and tugged on his
pants leg.

"Daddy, can Me and Matty haf sumpin ta dwink? Peez?" William
asked as he looked up at his father.

"Of course, Buddy. How about some juice?"

Both boys yelled their approval along with laughter and giggles.

"Can we take them back to William's room, Uncle Mulder?" Matthew
asked while jumping up and down.

"Oh no, Matty," William started with a stage whisper. "Moma
don't yike no dwinks in tha woom."

Mulder grinned at his son and then corrected him. "William
it's, 'Moma doesn't like drinks in the room.'"

"Moma dozen lllike drrinks in tha rrroom." William looked at
his Daddy expectantly. "Did I say it rrright, Daddy?"

"You did good, Buddy," Mulder replied, ruffling his son's hair.
He pulled two small juice containers from the refrigerator,
opened them, stuck in the attached straws and handed the drinks
to William and Matthew. "You boys go sit at the breakfast table
until you're finished."

"Thank you, Uncle Mulder," Matthew uttered, carrying his juice
to the table. He climbed up on one of the chairs to wait for
his cousin.

"Tank you, Daddy," Will said as he took the drink from his
father, then said, "Daddy, was that rrright?" William asked,
looking to his father for approval.

"Th ... ank. Thank you." Mulder repeated.

"Th ... ank you, Daddy." William grinned and with both hands
holding his juice turned to join Matthew at the table.

"You're welcome. Just be care ..." Before he could finish,
William tripped on a stray shoe lace, squeezed the container
and spilled his juice on the floor.

"Uh ... oh." William stammered anxiously, staring at the
puddle on the floor.

Mulder grabbed a handful of paper towels. He walked over to
William, carefully took the drink from his son's hands and set
it on the table. Then he handed him the paper towels and gently
prodded him to clean up the spilled juice.

"Daaa ... deee," William whined and then quickly eyed his Daddy,
pouty lip firmly in place.

"William," Mulder said sternly, but gently. "Get to it, Buddy.
The quicker you finish, the quicker you can join Matthew at the
table," he encouraged his petulant child.

William threw his hands up, sighed loudly and then knelt down
on the floor, and as quickly as his little hands could, he
cleaned up the spill.

When he finished, William threw the soiled paper towels into
the garbage without being told to do so, then turned back to
his Daddy with an impish grin.

"Okaee, Daddy?" the child asked his father, walking slowly to him.

"Thank you, Buddy. You did good." Mulder knelt beside his son,
wiped his hands with a damp kitchen towel, and then quickly tied
the loosened lace on his shoe. He brushed an errant lock of hair
off his William's forehead, then patted him gently on the bottom.
"Go on now and be careful, okay?"

"Okaee." William hugged his Daddy and then joined Matthew at the
table.

Both boys began whispering and laughing, being extra careful not
to spill their drinks.

Mulder stood, threw the hand towel on the counter and turned to
see Bill staring in what he thought might be awe. He picked up
two glasses of tea and handed them to Bill. Then he carefully
juggled the other three and motioned with his head for Bill to
follow.

"Mulder, just a minute," Bill quietly spoke. He glanced over
at the boys, walked closer to Mulder and lowered his voice.
"You were good with him. With both of them, actually. I
suppose I'm a bit surprised."

Mulder gave Bill a quirky grin, nodded, sat the glasses down
and spoke seriously. "Look Bill, all I want is to make Dana
and William happy and to keep them safe. All I ever wanted,
since I fell in love with your sister, was a chance to be a
husband and father. She has graciously granted my first wish
and blessed me with the second. You can ask your sister. I
didn't change overnight. I understand your concerns, but Bill,
she is happy. I live to give her everything she could want or
need and deserve. She's the very air I breathe. So is our son.

"I don't know what else I could say or do to make you
understand or accept the life we now live. I can only hope
that one day you *will* see what I see now: a very content
wife and mother, and a beautiful, happy little boy."

Bill looked at Mulder for a moment and then shook his head.

"You speak eloquently now of how you've changed, but it's gonna
take a lot more to convince me. Even though you have this place
and money, I still don't believe you're good for my sister or my
nephew." Bill glanced back at the boys and then lowered his
voice even more. "In my book, you're still a sorry
son-of-a-bitch."

Mulder blinked at Bill, decided that discretion was, indeed, the
better part of valor, and changed the subject. "Let's get these
drinks out to the women."

Bill nodded, smiling smugly to himself, turned and started back
to join the rest of the family.

Mulder picked up the glasses once more and followed behind in a
bit of a quandry. He shook his head. He would have to share
this last bit of revelation with his wife later that evening.

Maybe, there was hope for a Happy Thanksgiving, but then again,
with Bill Scully around ...

* * * * * * *

 

The Year 2004

 

As Fox Mulder's 2004 New Year's resolution, and with the help of
the Gunmen, he had started a search for the perfect place to
settle down and raise a family.

Very specific conditions were placed by Mulder on their massive
search: privacy, plenty of wide open spaces, enough acreage to
accommodate several dwellings.

The most important stipulation of all, however, was that Scully
was not to know about any of it.

The latter condition, as it turned out, was the most difficult of
all to keep.

With the hush-hush conversations between Mulder and the Gunmen,
quick shut-down of computers, hanging up in the middle of phone
conversations and clandestine meetings, Scully was ready to
string them all up and hang them out to dry.

Mulder felt bad for the deception because Scully's patience was
clearly wearing thin.

On March 3rd, after three long months of stomping around the
countryside of northern Virginia, they found the perfect place:
one hundred and twenty-five acres of prime real estate, complete
with two lakes and a large, very old, very beautiful farmhouse.
There was more than enough room for Mulder, Scully and William
... with room to grow, hopefully.

On March 15th, the papers were signed. After four months of
renovations to the main house, roads carefully planned out and
built, agricultural clean-up, landscaping and five lakeside
cottages constructed and furnished, Mulder was ready.

* * * * * * *

Quick thinking and careful planning had the Mulder family on the
road for their first family vacation. "It's a surprise, Scully.
If I told you where we were going, it wouldn't be a surprise,"
Mulder had told her and would not relent on his silence.

Passing the Culpeper, Virginia highway sign and taking the exit
had finally proven to be too much for Scully's overwhelming
curiosity.

"Culpeper, Mulder? What's in Culpeper? Have you ever been here
before? Mulder, what are we doing here?" The rapid firing of
questions had Mulder grinning and shaking his head, continued to
crunch on his ever-present sunflower seeds and glancing in the
rear view mirror to see William taking in the scenery with wide
eyes.

"Patience, Scully," Mulder's jovial tone did not seem to quell
her propensity for wanting all the facts before hand. The 'I'
in F.B.I. had become her motto years ago.

From the back seat came his son's impatient voice. "Aw we dare
yet, Daddy?"

Mulder glanced in the mirror once more, grinned and then replied,
"Almost, Son."

William sighed, leaned his head against his car seat and stared
out the window again.

* * * * * * *

The dirt road lead to an old rustic arched gateway. Above the arc
in ornate iron lettering was, M & S. Hanging underneath was a
crude weathered sign bearing the address: 1013 Starbuck Drive.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Scully's mouth open and
close. Her eyebrow raised.

Mulder grinned as he followed the road, about a quarter of a mile,
then made a right turn. The Land Rover traveled another 600 feet
and came to a stop before, what appeared to be, a newly renovated
white two story southern-style farmhouse.

"Mulder, what is this? Who lives here?" Scully asked, eyes
squinted and clearly agitated by Mulder's continued silence and
constant smirk.

"Come on, Scully." Mulder said as he slid out of the Rover and
opened the back door to retrieve his son. "Come on, Buddy, let's
get you out of here."

William patiently waited as his Daddy unfastened his seatbelt,
helped him out of the kiddie carseat and took his hand as they
joined his Moma.

"Mulder ..." Scully's tone left nothing to the imagination. She
was beyond impatient.

Mulder slipped a hand in his pocket and pulled out a set of keys,
handing them to her and grinning.

"Go, go and open the door."

"Mulder, what are you talking about? Who lives here?"

"We do."

"Wha ..." Scully's startled response was cut short by Mulder's
kiss and her son's giggles.

"Just open the door, Scully. Please." He pleaded.

Stunned, Scully slowly took the sidewalk up to the steps and onto
the porch. She hesitated for but a second and then stood before
the door and slipped the key into the lock. She glanced back as
Mulder and William came up behind her, turned the key and opened
the door.

"Mulder," came Scully's soft response to the vision before her.
She stepped further into the foyer, turned and with wide, watery
eyes she looked first at her smiling son and then to her husband.
"Mulder, it's beautiful. How? When? I ..." a hiccupped sob
escaped and her hands covered her mouth.

"Do you like it, Scully?" Mulder asked as he stepped in front of
her and at her nod he nervously continued. "We had talked about
finding a place away from D.C. to raise William and possibly
having his 'Gamma' and 'Memaw' close by. The guys helped me look
for and find this place. I know it drove you crazy and I'm sorry
for being so secretive but I really wanted to surprise you. Do
you really like it, Scully? You will have to do the decorating
'cause you know what my apartment looked like and ..."

Scully stopped his rambling with a kiss. Her arms draped around
his neck and letting go of William's hand, his wrapped around her
waist. She withdrew slightly and whispered. "I love it, Mulder.
I love you."

Small hands tapped Mulder's leg. He looked down to see his son's
smiling face.

"I wanta hug too!" William exclaimed.

Mulder and Scully laughed as Mulder picked him up and hugged him
tightly. Scully reached around her two men and laid her head on
Mulder's chest.

"Is dis my howz, Daddy?" William asked.

"Our house, Buddy. Do you like it?"

"Yup. I yike it," William replied and then snuggled into the
crook of his Daddy's neck.

"We're home. Really home." Mulder said as he kissed the top of
Scully's head, and then their son's forehead.

On August 23, 2004, the Mulder family had finally come home.

* * * * * * *

Present day
Wednesday, late afternoon
Mulder Residence

 

After a couple of hours of terse conversations, offensive glances
and Bill's anxious fidgeting, Mulder had decided to put Bill out
of *their* misery.

Piling into their respective vehicles, with Maggie hitching a ride
with her son-in-law, they made the three-quarter mile trek to where
Bill, Tara and Matthew would be staying while visiting. Scully
stayed behind with William, to Mulder's disappointment, to finish
the dinner she had planned for them all.

"Mom, I don't think Bill wants to be here," Mulder quietly said.

"Fox, don't worry about Bill. The important thing is that we're
all together, thankfully, another year. Give him time, Fox, he'll
come around."

"I don't know about that, Mom. It's been four years and still
nothing's changed. Sometimes, I wonder, if I had stayed away,
things would have been different ... better for ..."

"Different ... better, for whom, Fox? You, Dana, William? Yes, I
agree it would have been different, but I don't see how it would
have been better. William wouldn't have the father whom he
absolutely adores, and Dana would not have the love of her life,
the other half of her soul," Maggie stated quietly with a glance in
his direction, her hands primly folded in her lap. "You wouldn't
have my daughter and your son, and I've never seen you so happy in
all the years I've known you. And, Dana is finally happy ... truly
happy for the first time in a very long time.

"Fox, in case you hadn't noticed, Bill is a very stubborn man and
will have to work through his doubt about you on his own. All you
can do is continue to love my daughter and grandson, just as you
always have. That's *your* job. There isn't anything more that you
can do. Stop worrying about Bill. That's *my* job." Maggie
finished with a smile.

Mulder smiled back and reached out and squeezed her hand. "All
right, Mom. I'll try."

"Good," Maggie said with finality and patted his hand.

* * * * * * *

At the fork in the road, Mulder took a left, passed Maggie's
cottage and came to a stop at the next one. As he exited the
vehicle, he could hear Matthew's excited voice.

"Uncle Mulder, this place is so cool!" Matthew excitedly said and
then turned to his father. "Isn't it great, Dad?"

Bill silently cursed the Mulder name and put on a false smile for
his son's benefit. "Yeah, great," he spoke aloud and then to
himself. *Just great.* Bill slammed the Jeep's hatch after
unloading the luggage and huffed with iritation.

Mulder ruffled Matthew's hair and smiled. He reached into his
pocket and withdrew a set of keys, handing them to Matthew.

"Here ya go, Matt. Why don't you go open the door for your dad?"

"Really, Uncle Mulder?" At his, fast-becoming favorite Uncle's
nod, Matthew turned to his Dad with pride. "Come on, Dad. I'll
open the door for you." Matthew grabbed his suitcase and another
small one and headed for the front door.

Mulder turned to Tara when he felt her hand on his arm.

"It's a beautiful place, Fox. Thank you for inviting us," Tara
said with her soft voice. "And for that." She nodded toward her
son with an appreciative smile.

"Don't mention it, Tara. He's a good boy. And, it's a pleasure
to have you all here. I know Scully has been looking forward to
this for a long time," Mulder replied and briefly touched her
shoulder before continuing. "The house was just cleaned and
stocked. If there is anything and I mean anything that you need,
just let us know. I'm gonna head back to the house. I'm sure
Scully could use a break from William. We'll see you around 6."

Tara chuckled. "Thanks, I'm sure we'll be just fine. You go
before Dana comes looking for you."

"We'll see you later," Mulder said as he climbed back into his
Land Rover and headed back to the their home.

* * * * * * *

Later that night, while William slept safely and peacefully down
the hall, Scully curled up against her husband's sated body.

Mulder closed his eyes and sighed with contentment. His family
was safe.

His family.

That would always be his greatest source of strength and
happiness. He smiled and gently pulled Scully closer.

* * * * * * *