After the Future - XVII (PG-13)


He walked over to the clinic with Katy

He walked over to the clinic with Katy. Scully had gone over earlier to check on Kevin. Since Katy was calm, they werenít really worried. In fact, she was skipping, trying to get Mulder to hurry.

Scully greeted them with a smile. "Heís doing very well. He was awake a few minutes ago; Katy do you want to say hi before he goes back to sleep?"

The huge smile on her face was all the answer they needed. Mulder took her in his arms and they entered Kevinís room. He turned to look at them and gave Katy a big smile. "Hi Sweetheart. I hear you were looking out for me yesterday."

She nodded solemnly. "Youíre all better now."

"Pretty much. Iíll have to stay here for a few days. Your momís orders."

"I can stay."

"I bet you would, but you need to sleep at home. You can stay with me until I go to sleep, okay?"

She squirmed out of Mulderís arms and pulled a chair over, then took Kevinís hand.

"Well, it looks like you have everything you need, Kevin." Mulder stood watching this devotion. Kevin looked up at him.

"You okay, Mulder?"

Mulder looked down at his arm and shrugged it off. "Iím perfect, thanks to you."

"No problem. We need to talk later."

Mulder nodded, not in front of Katy. "Get some rest, it doesnít feel right at the office without you."

"Iíll do that." His eyes were already closing. He squeezed Katyís hand and relaxed.

Mulder followed Scully out. Once the door was shut, "How is he really?"

"He is really very good. Beth says itís because of Walt."

"Not your excellent doctoring?"

She lightly punched his good shoulder, "I knew Iíd have one fan in the bunch."

"Not to bring up unpleasant subjects, but have you seen Bill this morning?"

"No and Iím not sure I want to." Mulder just looked at her. "I know, I have to face him. Will you come with me?"

"Iím not sure I - "

"I wonít go without you."

After a moment he nodded. "When?"

"Now. Katyís busy and Anneís with the babies." She turned toward the stairs. Heíd been housed in one of the upstairs bedrooms. They werenít as warm, especially with the door closed as it was now, but when it had been really bad this past winter, everyone had congregated here and it had been almost a dormitory atmosphere. Christmas, with all of the children around, was one of the most special memories of living here. Seeing Byers, Langly, Brad and Brittany get to share in that had been truly priceless.

Just outside of the room, Scully hesitated again. Mulder didnít speak, but took her hand. She nodded and opened the door. Bill had been reclining on the bed, but sat up when they entered. Mulder checked immediately to see that he was still cuffed to the frame.

"Thank you for coming Dana."

"It was Mulderís idea."

Bill winced slightly at that, and finally forced himself to look at the man. "Mulder."

"Bill, have you been brought anything to eat?" Mulder asked quietly.

"Yeah the blonde man with the ponytail."

"His name is Langly and heís a very good friend of ours, Bill." Scully responded. Bill nodded. "I donít know what to say to you, Bill."

"Youíre not going to hit me, like Charlie did?"

"Iím not sure I could inflict enough damage." Bill blinked at that. "You tried to make me a widow; you tried to orphan my children. Mulder tells me I should give you a hearing; that youíve suffered greatly over the past four years. Part of me wants to care about that, then I remember Kevin lying downstairs recovering from emergency surgery and I see the bandage on Mulderís, on my husbandís, arm. I am very sorry that Tara is gone and I grieve for her and for Matthew. But I will not sacrifice my own family to your grief."

Bill swallowed and glanced at Mulder, then back at her. "What do you have? A boy, a girl?"

"We have two daughters and a son." Mulder answered him. "Katy, Walt and Lexie. Katy is four, Walt and Katy are less than a year."

"Twins?"

"Not exactly." He offered no further explanation.

"Charlie said he had a new daughter." Scully nodded. "And that Mulder delivered her?"

"Again, not exactly, but I was there."

"I guess thereís nothing you canít do now, huh?"

"Letís just say anything he canít do, isnít worth doing." As Scully spoke and Billís face darkened. Mulder put his hand on her shoulder and she seemed to relax a little.

"Is Mom . . . Dana, I didnít mean to hurt her. I didnít know - "

"And you didnít try to find out. You found out somehow that Mulder was alive and your prejudice for his abilities, your hatred of him, gelled. Did you even try to find out if I was alive? I can understand you not knowing that Charlie and his family were here; we donít exactly advertise. But didnít it occur to you that I would be with Mulder?"

"Maybe I thought I could free you."

She turned then without a word to leave the room, but Mulder stopped her. "Scully."

"How could he even think I wanted to be free of you?" She looked up at Mulder.

He closed his eyes and gathered her against him. She pressed her cheek against his chest. Bill had to look away, but Mulder looked over at him and caught his eyes. They looked at each other for a long moment. Finally Bill lowered his eyes.

"Langly or someone will be up to let you wash up, bring you lunch. Until then youíll have to stay here. You understand that, donít you?" Mulder asked.

Bill nodded. "Do you think Mom would come back?"

"I donít know. Sheís . . . sheís very upset. Iíll ask her." Mulder answered, though the question had obviously been directed at Scully.

"Youíve seen her?"

"Yes, last night. Scully hasnít, but weíre going to have lunch with her today, she promised. Iíll talk to her about seeing you then."

"Thank . . . thank you." The words tried to stick in his throat but he forced them out.

Mulder nodded and led Scully from the room.

"Scully, you okay?"

"I must be numb. I didnít feel anything for him. He could have been anyone. But I didnít like him. I didnít see my brother in him at all."

He sighed, "Letís go. Weíve both got work to do. And I want to talk to Charlie."

"Why?"

"Just to check on him. He was shaken yesterday too. I wanted to give him time with Mary last night, but I just think I need to check on him."

"Should I come with you?"

"Why donít I do this now, and you can see him at lunch."

After a moment she nodded and they headed downstairs. She went to drag Katy away from Kevin and he decided to try the office first, since Kevin wasnít on duty.

Thatís where he found him, cleaning up the blood in the office.

"Charlie, you shouldnít . . . thanks."

Charlie shrugged. "I didnít want Mary to do it and she was on her way over here." Mulder nodded.

"Howíre you doing?"

"I donít know."

"I wanted to tell you how much I appreciated what you did yesterday."

"What I did?"

"Telling Bill off like that." Charlie snorted. "Donít think that was a little thing Charlie."

The younger man turned away and returned to his task. "Maybe it wasnít a little thing Mulder. But I wanted to do it."

"Why?" Mulder sat in his chair. Charlie was silent so long that Mulder thought he wouldnít respond, then he spoke in a low voice.

"I never was interested in a military career. I always thought my father was disappointed in that. He never said anything and he was always supportive of my education, but . . . you know. Bill was the golden child, following in Dadís footsteps, the athlete, the patriot. I was the younger son, I actually enjoyed reading. Oh, I played football, basketball, baseball, but only because it was expected. I wasnít as good at any of them as Bill of course." He wiped up the last of the blood and stood, facing Mulder.

"I really enjoyed college, and I found Mary. I wanted to settle down, not spend months of every year away from her and then from the boys. I knew I wasnít the manís man that Bill was since I was a little boy."

"Whatís a manís man to you Charlie?" Mulder asked.

Charlie blinked at him then, "the quarterback, the pitcher, the military officer."

"Not to me. To me, a manís man is someone who takes care of his family, who keeps them safe in a hostile environment and makes sure a Ďstrongerí man doesnít take advantage of his mother or his wife. A manís man holds his wife while sheís in labor and doesnít care if anyone sees that heís scared to death she might die during it, or lets his baby daughter and her Ďtwiní sleep in his arms so theyíll be warm. He would be delighted at his motherís joy in finding another mate later in life and treat that mate with respect and love." Mulder stretched but kept his eye on the man standing with his mouth slightly open in front of him.

"You know, the kind of man that would come over here and clean up the blood rather than let his wife do it."

"I might like a man like that." Charlie smiled.

"I know I do." Mulder offered.

Charlie took the seat in front of the desk then, "What are we going to do with him?"

"I donít know. I was kind of hoping Scully would have a Ďfeelingí about whether or not he should stay, like she did with Krycek. If she has, sheís not talking about it yet. The question is, how do we feel about him leaving? He knows about us, he knows we have kids. Iíd like to think heíd do nothing to hurt his mother and sister, not to mention his nieces and nephews but . . . " He shrugged. "Just how damaged is he? How much does he want his revenge on me?"

Charlie looked down, "Yeah. No easy answers here. Have you talked to the people that came with him?"

"Just for a minute during Kevinís surgery. That was one scared group of people."

Charlie nodded, "I really didnít get the impression that they were in on it."

"I agree. But Iíd like Scully to meet them, and maybe Katy. Just see how they feel about them now that things have calmed down a little."

"Good idea. Well," he stood and dusted his knees; "I understand weíre having lunch at your place?"

"Yep, all the non-incarcerated Scullys, Skinner-Scullys and Mulder-Scullys just to make sure everyone is okay. I want Will and Sam to be there, theyíre not kids anymore."

Charlie nodded, started to say something else, but thought better of it, and left.

It might have been an illusion, but it seemed to Mulder that Charlie looked just a little taller when he left.

Mulder leaned back in the chair. Man, he hadnít played psychologist in a long time. He hadnít really missed it, either. But Charlie had reminded him, he needed to talk to the new people, feel them out better than he had when they arrived. That was a lesson that he had learned the hard way.

*****

He opened the door for Mary and family as Scully looked up from the stove. "Come on in. Is that hot?" He reached for the dish Will was carrying.

"Nah, I got it." Will was getting tall now. At fourteen he was already as tall as his father and didnít seem to be through yet. Sam wasnít that far behind at twelve. They both seemed to have matured over the winter, maybe seeing their people not only survive, but thrive through their help with the food seemed to have made an impression on them.

"Did you see Mom and Walter?"

Charlie shook his head. Theyíd wait a few minutes; this wasnít a meal that should be rushed anyway.

They werenít that far behind. Walter brought in a tray, but held onto Maggieís arm as well. She looked drawn and older than Mulder had ever seen her.

Nothing was said, specifically, but Mulder hugged her and she managed to smile up at him. "Where are the little ones?"

"With Anne and Frohike. We canít tear Katy from Kevin anyway."

Maggie nodded, but she just seemed . . . smaller somehow.

"Everything smells great and itís hot. Letís go ahead and dig in." Mulder motioned toward the table and, though she tried to demur, Walter led Maggie to the table to fix her plate first.

They spoke of trivialities while they ate. Will moaning a little at some of the reading material his father had assigned. "Could he have picked a more boring list?" He turned to Mulder, "You just had to have been able to save the classics, right? If I have to read, why couldnít it be Larry Niven or someone else good?"

Mulder chuckled, remembering his own battle with some of the classics years ago. "Yeah, I know, but if you survive reading them, youíll always remember them. Trust me. I canít get The Scarlet Letter out of my head no matter how hard I try."

"Oh, youíre a big help." Charlie muttered as everyone laughed.

When the meal was done, Mulder and Walter took up the dishes and placed everything in the kitchen, out of the way until they could clean up. While they were away from the group, Mulder turned to him, "How is she?"

Walter shook his head; "Iíve never seen her like this. Iím worried about her."

Mulder nodded, he was too, but this meeting had to take place. He squared his shoulders and returned to the living room area. Everyone stopped talking and looked up at him. He drew a chair from the table and turned it so that he could straddle it as Walter took a seat next to Maggie.

"Sorry guys, but we need to have a family meeting. Itís a serious matter and I want to hear everyoneís opinion. You know that Bill is here, what happened and that heís over at the clinic, under guard. We have to be honest, and not be afraid to speak the truth here. I know some people will be hurt by our discussion, but itís better to have everything out in the open. Agreed?"

They all nodded.

"Will, tell me what youíre thinking." Mulder looked over at his oldest nephew.

Will looked up a little startled to be treated as one of the adults, but he straightened up and, after a quick glance at his grandmother, spoke up, "I donít want him here. He came here to murder Mulder. He might have succeeded if Kevin hadnít jumped him and gotten hurt himself. I donít want someone like that where I live, around Missy and MJ and, well everyone. And since Aunt Dana hasnít said heís needed . . . " he and everyone else looked over at Scully, who looked down, her cheeks pink.

"Will, do you remember him, from before?" Scully asked quietly.

Will shrugged, "Iíll be honest, Iíve never liked him. He was always so hard and cold. I remember feeling sorry for poor little Matthew, that heíd gotten the bad brother for his father."

Charlie looked up startled at that and Mulder met his eyes, then nodded briefly.

"Grandma, Iím sorry."

Maggie smiled tiredly at him and shook her head. "I want you to be honest, Will."

After a brief pause, Mulder looked over at the boy next to Will, "Sam?"

"I agree with Will, but . . . well isnít he going to be punished for what he did? I mean, he really hurt Kevin and . . . well, I donít think he should just be sent away. Whatís to keep him from coming back?"

Mulder glanced at Walter and Charlie. "From the mouths of teens, huh? I hear you Sam. Itís something that we havenít decided yet, but I appreciate you putting it out there for us. Anything else?"

Sam shook his head.

"Mary?"

Mary glanced at Charlie, "The boys said it. Maybe he didnít come here intending to hurt Missy and MJ and Walt and Lexie and Katy, but look at what he did. How much more could he have hurt them if he had succeeded? I know heís family, but I donít want him here. Iím afraid of him." Charlie put his arm around her and placed his forehead against hers.

After a moment, Mulder turned to Walter, "We need to hear from you Walter."

"Maybe I ought to pass. Iíd never met the man before yesterday and he didnít exactly make the best first impression."

"All the more reason to hear from you." Mulder said.

Walter sighed and squeezed Maggie a little. "I guess itís hard for me to reconcile the fact that heís the same relation to me as Charlie and you. Heís my son-in-law and I know it, but I donít feel it. I guess Iíve been spoiled by you two, youíre both incredible men, men that I am proud to be close to and to have as family because of this wonderful woman . . . " He shrugged. "I donít want to mess that up. The man that attacked my family yesterday, whoever he is, is not someone I want around me and mine. I know there are extenuating circumstances and that we need to look at all angles, but thatís my gut feeling."

"Charlie?"

"I think I made my feelings pretty clear yesterday. As harsh as it sounds, I wish heíd never found us. But Samís point . . . it does make the decision more difficult."

Mulder nodded and looked at his wife. "Mulder, I wish I knew what to do. I feel nothing for him or about him. Thereís just a blank when I try. I can feel every one of you in this room and the kids. Iím aware of Anne and Todd and . . . but Bill, thereís nothing there even when I try to feel him. As much as what I can do scares me, this is even worse."

She looked down at her hands and Mulder regretted that he was sitting so far away from her. As though sensing that, Charlie reached around her with his free arm and hugged her to him.

There was a silence for a long moment, then Maggie sat up straighter. "My turn I guess. Mulder, I want to apologize again for what my son did and tried to do to you."

"Mom - "

"No, listen. I canít control what my grown children do; I know that. But I am appalled and hurt and . . . and guilty. The boys said it best. Itís not safe with him here. I donít want him hurt; he is my flesh and blood. But I donít want him to live here. How do we do that?"

The three men exchanged glances. "We havenít gotten that far. I wasnít about to make plans for anything until we had this discussion. I think we all need to sleep on it one more time and then Iím open to suggestions. Bill is safe now, even comfortable. I still need to talk to his traveling companions; see if that can give us any insight, but for now, letís try to get back to normal. I am okay and Kevin will be. Bill did not succeed and thatís what we need to remember."

That brought thoughtful nods and tentative relieved smiles. "Okay, I know Will is anxious to get back to his book, so letís adjourn this, pick up our little ones and do not hesitate to let Walter or Charlie or me know your suggestions."

Will cut his eyes at him, but then grinned. Mulder was reminded that Kevin was only a few years older and already very much an adult. Maybe this kind of environment made kids grow up faster. Whatever, he was pleased.

The others gathered up their things and left to get on with their days. Once he and Scully were alone again, he took her against him. She pressed herself into the comfort of his body.

"What if he had - "

"Scully, Iím okay. Iím not leaving you." He kissed her forehead, "Iím not leaving you." He moved down to her lips then.

When they came up for air, she sighed, "Mulder, why canít I feel him?"

"I donít know. That concerns me too."

Her shoulderís slumped and he held her a little closer.

"Scully, could . . . are we sure heís human?"

"When Charlie hit him yesterday, he bled red blood."

"Right, right." He thought for a minute. "Iím going to make a truly bad suggestion, but I need to say it."

She nodded.

"What if we had Katy and Walt check him out?"

He felt her stiffen in his arms. "Told you it was a bad idea."

"No. In fact I was thinking the same thing. But Iím scared. Theyíre babies Mulder, and theyíre our babies. Can we keep them safe?"

"Weíll have to."

"I donít want anyone else to know about this Mulder."

"No, I want Walter with us. Scully, Iíll feel safer then."

After a moment she nodded. "When?"

"The sooner the better."

"I know. Why donít you get Walter and Iíll go pick up the kids at Anneís?"

He nodded, "Iíll meet you at the clinic. Scully, we need to be armed."

Now she nodded solemnly.

*****

They all assembled in Scullyís office at the clinic. "I guess youíve thought this through?" Walter watched the two of them.

"Scully canít feel him. We need to know more. It was unanimous that we want him gone, but we have to do it right."

Walter nodded. "How do you want to do this?"

"You go in behind us, armed. Scully and I will have the kids. What we say doesnít matter. I want to see the kidsí reaction. I just donít want them to be traumatized."

"Okay, this is your call." He pulled his gun from his holster and checked it. Mulder looked over at Scully and she sighed.

The five of them headed upstairs. Walt was in Mulderís arms and Katy held Scullyís hand. Walter trailed them by one step. Mulder opened the door and stepped inside first. When everyone was inside, Scully leaned down to Katy.

"Katy, this is Bill."

The little girl stiffened. Her eyes narrowed and her small hands became fists. Scully looked up at Mulder, then they realized that Katy had turned. She was watching Walt. Mulder looked down at his son and saw that he was crying, not out loud, but tears were streaming down his face. Mulder hadnít known someone this young could even do that.

Then for the first time ever, Walt turned from someone and clutched at Mulder, afraid. Mulder met Scullyís eyes. "Get the children out of here Scully. Now."

He put the baby in her arms and Walt reached for Mulder, another first. "Iíll be okay Walt."

The baby looked at him, looked him in the eye, then went into his motherís arms.

"Mulder?" Walter spoke as Scully and the kids left the room.

"Weíll be fine." Mulder didnít take his eyes off of Bill. "Check on things, okay?"

"You got it. Iíll be close."

Mulder nodded and waited until he heard the door close. Then he pulled a chair over and sat facing his brother-in-law.

"This is where I live, Bill. These are my people. We had a meeting, and we donít want you here. Your mother has asked that we not harm you physically and Iíd hate to disappoint her. But if I think my family, my wife and children are in danger from you, I wonít hesitate. You understand that, donít you Bill?"

After a long moment, Bill nodded slowly. "So youíre throwing me out. Iím not going to be allowed to stay here with whatís left of my family."

"The meeting we had was with your family. It was unanimous. They donít want you here. Youíre welcome to poll the adults, I donít want you bothering Will and Sam."

"Will and Sam? They want me gone and you counted their votes?

"Why not? They pull their weight around here. Iím not sure we would have gotten through this past winter without them."

"Theyíre just kids."

"No, theyíre fourteen and twelve. My own kids want you gone as well."

"Is that what that little scene with Dana was about? You brought them in here and if they act afraid of the stranger, you kick him out?"

"Not exactly. I didnít see either of them act scared though. Katy looked pissed to me and Walt didnít want to leave me alone with you."

"Youíre crazier than you used to be."

Mulder shrugged. After a couple of minutes had passed, he leaned toward his brother-in-law. "Bill, if you were me, if you had to protect your family from someone who had come unexpectedly and tried to kill you, how would you handle it?"

"Are you kidding me?"

"No, Iím completely serious. You were in a command position a long time before I was. What would you do in this situation?"

Bill looked at him with pure hatred for a long moment, then he seemed to deflate just a little. "Iíd take him out and shoot him myself."

Mulder nodded, "Thatís what I thought." He rose then. "I need to check on my kids. Iíll see you tomorrow. Someone will be up with some food later."

Mulder didnít wait for a reply, leaving him alone with his thoughts.

He hurried to Scullyís office where he found Scully cuddling Walt. Katy was gone.

At the question in his eye, she managed to smile weakly up at him. "Walter took her to see Kevin."

"Howís my boy?" He took Walt into his arms and was stunned into stillness for an instant.

"Mulder? Mulder, are you okay?"

"What? Yeah, yeah Iím fine." He looked down at the boy who was now relaxed and happy.

"Mu . . . Mulder?"

"Scully, it was . . . he was inside of my mind. He was, he was checking me out. He wanted to make sure I was okay, that Bill hadnít hurt me."

Scully paled slightly at that and shook her head.

"He canít . . . heís just a baby."

"Scully, heís our baby."

She sank back into her chair and after what felt like a very long time to Mulder, looked up at him. "It was Katy that saved Kevin."

"What?"

"I picked up my baby girl and ran toward danger with her. She had to be there and if I had tried to leave without her, she would probably have beaten me there. She had to touch him, and she had to touch him again today. It was her idea that Walt help in surgery."

Mulder blinked at that, she hadnít mentioned this yesterday. After mulling that for a little while, he pressed Walt closer into this chest. "Did you talk to Katy?"

Scully shook her head, "I wanted you here for that."

Mulder felt Walt yawn against him. "Tired, Little Buddy? Why donít we find Lexie and see if itís nap time around here."

Walt made some sort of sound that could have been agreement and reached for Mulderís nose. Mulder took his little hand and kissed it, then took Scullyís hand to lift her to her feet.

When the five of them were back at the house and the two little ones spooned around each other in their crib, Mulder took Katyís hand and led her to the living room.

"Hi Sweetie."

She grinned up at him and clambered into his lap almost before he could get seated. "Honey, I need to talk to you about something."

She nodded, "The bad man."

He saw Scully wince out of the corner of his eye. She might feel nothing for the man that now existed, but there was still something there for the brother she had lost.

"Why do you call him that?"

"Heís all black inside." She spoke matter of factly, not at all disturbed.

"I . . . Iím not sure I understand."

She looked up at him indulgently; he was only a Dad after all, at least that was the impression she gave.

"Youíre greens and blues, except when you look at Mom, then youíre pinks and purple." Mulderís eyes widened. This was his three year old?

"What about Mom?"

"Sheís more green than you. Sheís pink with me and Walt and Lexie. Sheís always purple with you." She glanced at her mother shyly. For some reason Scully blushed. Mulder grinned.

"Do you see colors for everyone?"

"Yeah. Donít you?"

"Not as well as you. Youíre great at it." His little girl beamed at him. "Tell me about the others."

"Beth has a lot of green too."

Mulder looked up at Scully. "Healing?"

She gave a tiny shrug.

"Hickey and Beth have purple too."

"I bet your Mom has the most green."

"Nope. Walt does. Heís almost all green."

Mulder and Scully exchanged glances. "Is that why he could help Kevin?"

Katy nodded, no longer really interested.

"Katy, do you know why Bill is all black?"

She was scrambling down and moving toward her doll, in itís bed by the fireplace. "Heís dead."

"What?" Scullyís tone stopped the child. She looked up at her mother startled.

"You just surprised your Mom, Katy. What do you mean, Ďdeadí?"

Katy looked a little concerned then, "He has no color left, not even red."

"Have you ever seen anyone else like that?"

"No."

"Katy, Honey, is he sick?"

"I dunno."

"Okay, thanks Baby. You go on and play."

"Can I see Kevin later?"

"You sure can." She nodded, satisfied and moved on to her doll this time. When she was obviously distracted, Mulder turned to Scully. "You okay?" He stood and moved toward her.

"I have no idea." She let him take her in his arms. He knew she needed support, even if she didnít.

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