He pulled into Scullyís apartment complex and parked. He walked slightly behind them, not ready to be separated from either of them yet.
"You know, Samantha, we need to get you some clothes. Why donít we plan to go shopping tomorrow?"
"What about all my stuff at home?" Mulder closed his eyes against the pain of that statement. His mother hadnít been able to clean out her clothing and toys. His father had finally gone into the room and jerked everything down, dumping it in boxes and carting it off. Mom had rescued a few items that were special to her. That scene was burned into his memory, the yelling, and the pain. Heíd have to go through the house and try to locate those things now.
"Well," Scully glanced at Mulderís face and away again, "weíll just get a few things to tide you over. Why donít you go ahead and get ready for bed. You can sleep in that t-shirt again, canít you?"
She nodded, tired and frustrated. This was taking a lot longer than she had thought it would to find her parents.
Scully showed her the bathroom and bedroom, then retreated with Mulder into the kitchen to talk in private. Samantha changed into the t-shirt and came out looking for them. She heard a quiet ringing coming from Mulderís coat and walked over to it.
It sounded like a phone, but it was coming from his inside coat pocket. What kind of policeman was he? Did he have a shoe phone too, like Maxwell Smart? She grinned to herself and reached into his coat to pull out the phone. His badge and ID fell out and landed open at her feet.
The phone had stopped ringing, so she bent over to pick up what she had dropped. She was standing, staring at them when Mulder and Scully came into the room. Before either could speak she turned and thrust the ID at them.
"Why do you have my brotherís name? Who are you!" Her voice rose and there was a trembling they hadnít heard all day.
Scully stepped toward her, but Mulder put his hand on her arm. "Samantha, please sit here with me a minute and Iíll try to explain whatís going on. Itís complicated."
Well, he hadnít hurt her yet and Scully was here. She sat on the couch and waited, her body language showing her fear. Mulder sat gently beside her and put his hand out though he didnít touch her.
"Do you remember the story of Rip Van Winkle?" She nodded. "Well, I think thatís kind of what happened Samantha. You see, I am your brother Fox and Iíve been looking for you for twenty-five years."
She frowned at him, obviously not believing then glanced over at Scully. She wasnít protesting, in fact she was nodding slightly.
"Iíve been asleep for twenty-five years?"
"Well, kind of. I canít explain it to you, not yet anyway, but that night you remember as night before last? It was November 27, 1973. Itís 1999 now, and Iíve gotten older, but you havenít. Thatís what the tests were for today. Scully is a doctor and sheís trying to figure out Ė"
"Whereís Mom?" Mulderís shoulders slumped. Scully opened her mouth to respond, but Mulder put his hand on her arm stopping her.
"Samantha, Honey, our Mom. . . sheís, she died."
The little girlís eyes grew huge and round. "No. Youíre lying to me. No! You arenít my brother!"
"Samantha, I am not lying to you. Scullyís trying to find out what happened. Iím not going to let anything happen to you. Iím here and I promise to look after you."
"I want my Mom! I donít know who you are! Leave me alone!"
"Samantha please!" He reached for her now, desperately wanting to hold her.
"Samantha." Scullyís voice was still calm, or at least sounded that way. "Heís telling you the truth, Honey. He is Fox Mulder, he is your brother. Heís been looking for you all these years. Let me show you something." She stood and went to her suitcase still sitting near the door. She pulled out a large book and returned to them.
"Do you remember this picture Samantha?"
"Y. . . yes. Thatís Fox and me at the lake."
"Look through the album Honey."
Samantha looked at them both, then began turning the pages. After a few minutes she looked up at Scully again. "Why no more pictures of me?"
"You vanished, Honey. But can you see your brother growing up? You recognize him, donít you? Keep looking, youíll see him grow into this man. Take your time."
Mulder was watching Scully now. Sheíd thought to do this? She didnít believe, this flew in the face of everything she did believe, but sheíd brought the album. She hadnít even told him, just automatically doing whatever would help him.
Finally Samantha closed the book, but didnít say anything. "Samantha? Do you want to ask me questions? I canít explain what happened to you, but I know you Ė I knew your favorite pizza, remember? I know your best friend was Kathy Simpson and you had matching bikes." She glanced up at him and quickly away. "You had a crush on George Douglas."
"Fox!" She spoke without thinking, embarrassed.
He grinned, "Sorry, I overheard you tell Kathy that."
"You arenít supposed to listen to my. . . " She stopped confused. "You canít be my brother, youíre too old."
"I know." He said sadly, "but now I can watch you grow up and feel young again. Should I tell Scully what you wore on Halloween?"
"No!" She blushed.
"What was it Samantha?" Scully asked, a smile in her voice.
"Let me tell her, then youíll believe me." She hesitated, then slowly nodded. "You were a black cat with a long tail. I kept pulling on it and Mom painted whiskers on your face. I wasnít real nice about having to take you around for trick or treat. Iím sorry, but - "
"Youíre really my brother?" He nodded and when Samantha looked over at Scully, she nodded as well. "Momís dead." Tears came to her eyes. This time Mulder didnít hesitate, taking her into his lap. "Dad?" She managed to ask with a trembling voice. Mulder sighed looking over at Scully.
He looked back down at her, shaking his head. At that she buried her face in his chest and sobbed. He held her, rocking her, trying to comfort her until she cried herself to sleep. He had cried with her at times, appreciating Scullyís presence, her hand on his arm.
After a while he carried her to Scullyís bedroom. Scully was beside him, fixing the bed, just offering her comfort. When the little girl was settled they retreated to the living room.
They sat in silence for a few minutes. "Iím going to raise her Scully. With the DNA, maybe I can convince a judge Iím her father. No one would believe the truth anyway."
"Mulder, you canít Ė "
"I have to. They arenít taking her away from me again."
Scully didnít pursue the argument. Theyíd have to discuss this at another time, with less emotion. And, she realized, when she was thinking more clearly herself.
She was tired of this argument but he wouldnít listen. "Mulder, no court is going to award you custody of an eight year old girl. Itís not going to happen. You live in a one-bedroom apartment; your job calls for you to travel at the drop of a hat. Mulder. . . " She was so tired of arguing this, and it seemed so damn futile. The powers that be hadnít let her have custody of Emily either, for some of the same reasons she was giving Mulder right now. At least Samantha was healthy, extraordinarily so.
"Itís got to happen. Iím not letting her go to some foster home. Sheís my family, the only family I have." He was closed off from her, not wanting to hear what she had to say because it was the truth and he knew it.
They were both aware that Samantha had overheard at least some of their discussions about the situation, even though they had tried to keep it from her. They knew she had questioned Mrs. Scully about things when she had kept her. The last thing they wanted to do was make things less stable for the little girl that Scully had grown to love as much as Mulder already did.
Her feelings for the little girl were making things harder for her. She wasnít Emily, but Samantha had slipped into that place that Emily had created in Scullyís heart. Damn everything!
"Fox?" Samantha looked away from the TV and up at Mulder.
"Yeah Sweetie." His hand automatically reaching out for her ponytail.
"When are you going to marry Scully?" Scully stopped dead still in the kitchen, deciding immediately not to enter the room after all.
"Huh, Samantha. . . "
"Come on Fox, tell me."
"Samantha, Scullyís too good for me. She doesnít want to marry me."
"Did you ask her?" She was becoming more insistent.
"Scully could have any man in the world. What makes you think sheíd want to be stuck with me?"
"Do you love her?"
"Yes." No hesitation at all on his part. Scullyís eyes widened and she took a step closer to the door.
"Have you ever kissed her?"
"Well, not exactly. Hey, Butt Munch, this really isnít any of your business you know." He drew himself up, trying to regain control of the conversation.
"But it is Fox! Then we can be a family and we wonít have to worry about them taking me away from you. Just kiss her and ask her to marry you. She would you know."
"What? Has she said any. . ? "
"I just know Fox." She spoke from the lofty position of preadolescent womanhood.
"Listen Ė " He turned and spotted Scully who had now moved to a position in the doorway and was watching him, a slight smile on her lips. "How long have you been standing there?"
Samantha turned to look at her, embarrassed and anxious that Scully would be angry with them.
"I guess Iíll go to bed. See you guys tomorrow." Samantha beat a hasty retreat from the room. Mulder felt an almost overwhelming desire to join her.
"Listen Scully, sheís uh, she just wants security and. . . "
"I know Mulder, Iím not upset."
"Good, because she didnít mean any harm."
"I know." Scully repeated and sat beside him on the couch. Was that all she was going to say? Had she heard him admit he loved her? Of course, she might have thought he was just saying he loved her like a partner or a sister. Thatís not what he meant, but maybe she wouldnít be uncomfortable with that. Yeah, that was probably it, since she hadnít thrown him out yet.
"Nothing." Things had been tense between them, theyíd fought off and on about how to go about applying for custody and here the very object of their battles had said aloud, in an honest eight year-old way, the perfect solution. One neither of them had dare let completely form in their minds. She moved closer to him on the couch, startling him.
She sighed, not quite looking at him. "Out of the mouths of babes, huh?"
"Well, it is a solution."
"Yeah." He was watching her closely, "but not one I thought youíd even consider."
"So you have thought about it?"
"Iíve thought about it, but you heard what I told her."
"That Iím too good for you? Yeah, I heard that. Canít deny it either, but you are an interesting companion, and Ė"
"Interesting? Iím a hell of a lot more than interesting! Iím fascinating."
"Oh?" She had managed not to smile with her lips but her eyes were sparkling.
"Very and you know Iím an open book when it comes to you."
"Open book, huh? What if I donít like science fiction?"
"You. . . we. . ." He actually sputtered and she couldnít keep herself from enjoying his reaction. "Letís just see if you can find me fascinating." Her eyebrow rose but she didnít draw away when he moved closer to her, much closer, finally allowing his lips to touch hers. Encouraged that at least she hadnít slapped him, he deepened the kiss. When her lips parted and he felt her tongue touch his lips his arms tightened around her, not quite ready to believe this was actually happening.
They were startled out of the kiss by the sound of clapping and turned toward the sound. "See Fox! I told you!" Samantha was grinning from ear to ear.
Mulder grabbed a pillow from the couch and threw it at her. She dodged easily and stuck her tongue out at him. "Sheís a better kisser than Cindy Slaton, huh?"
"You little sneak!" Scully burst out laughing, making a mental note to ask about this Cindy person. Sheíd need to know that kind of thing when they were a family, finally.