Scully stepped out of her office toward the main room. She looked at the front door as it opened and spotted her nephew Sam. She started to smile at him when a woman’s scream shattered the air.
Scully’s eyes turned immediately toward the upstairs. She barely turned to Sam, “Find Mulder and Walter, get them here, now!” She was already moving, not waiting for his acknowledgment.
Sam gave the barest of nods and was already at a full run before leaving the porch. He didn’t bother with the stairs, leaping to the ground and racing toward the office.
“Mulder! Grandpa!!” He burst into the building and on into Mulder’s office without stopping - a first for him.
Mulder was already rising to his feet. “Sam? What?”
“Grandma screamed, she was upstairs with, with Bill and she screamed. Dana told me to get you and she - “ But the men were already moving. Sam couldn’t keep up with their speed on the way back.
Walter realized he was terrified, for very nearly the first time since Viet Nam. How the hell had Mulder handled knowing Scully was in danger all those years?
They burst into the house, guns in hand. Everyone was silent, even the children were making no noise and all eyes were on the stairs.
Mulder barely beat Walter to the second floor. There stood Maggie sobbing in Mary’s arms. The door to Bill’s room was open and Todd stood there, gun drawn, ashen.
“Where’s Scully?” Mulder didn’t wait for an answer, moving to the door.
“Mulder.” Hearing her voice shot relief through his system. Walter had stopped and had Maggie in his arms, but he looked over at Mulder.
Mulder shook his head and moved cautiously to the door. Scully was standing by the bed, looking at something that had fallen to the floor. He couldn’t spot Bill.
“Where is he?” He did a quick sweep of the room.
“I think this is him.” She pointed to the desiccated pile of what he had taken as trash.
“What?” He moved closer, holstering his gun. He knelt down for a closer look.
“Mulder, I’ve never seen - “
“I have. In the Antarctic, when I gave you that injection. The . . . the tube that was down your throat did this. As soon as the vaccine got into your system, it shriveled up and . . . “
He looked up at her and neither spoke for a long moment. Then Mulder got back to his feet. “We need to get this downstairs and do an autopsy. Can you handle that?”
“You haven’t touched it?”
“No. Let me go figure out some way to move him.”
Mulder nodded and took her hand to lead her from the room. He stopped when he saw Maggie. “Mom? Mom, listen to me. That was not Bill Scully. Do you hear me, that was not your son and therefore your son did not stab Kevin or me. Listen to me. Bill hasn’t hurt anyone, because that’s not him.”
Maggie looked up at him then, in wonder. Scully was watching him too. With all that was going on, his first thought was to reassure Mom?
Maggie reached for Mulder and hugged him. “Thank you.” She whispered, then turned back to Walter. Walter’s eyes were wet, both with relief and gratitude. He nodded to Mulder.
“Why don’t you go on downstairs, help keep the kids calm while we take care of stuff?”
The body, or what was left of it, was moved into the back examining room, and the door locked. There didn’t seem to be anything toxic about the body, but no one was willing to take any chances.
Mulder watched as Scully washed her hands once more. He had observed the autopsy, and been what help he could.
“Mulder, there was nothing wrong with him when I examined him.” She looked at her notes again. “His blood pressure, pulse and temperature were all a little low, but not even enough to comment on.”
“Did he act, I don’t know, normal?”
“He made a crude remark that was totally unlike anything I’d ever heard Bill say.”
“It’s not important. Frohike made him eat his words.” She was concentrating, anything else? “When I spoke to him, about Mom coming over, he seemed distracted and . . . and he was a little unsteady on his feet when he went upstairs. I thought it was because of the cuffs. He didn’t say anything.”
“Did he eat anything, drink?”
Scully faced him; “It had to be the vaccine. Beth gave him a shot. We told him it was polio, because we didn’t . . . the vaccine couldn’t do this to him.”
“The vaccine couldn’t do this to a man. Katy said he was dead, remember? Maybe he just wasn’t human.”
“Not . . . but what does that make him? He didn’t have the green blood, he didn’t melt away. He . . . he mummified in about an hour.”
“Did you take any blood?”
Scully almost smiled at the question. Thank goodness she’d followed her instincts. “Yes. Byers has it.”
“I think that’s where we have to start. Let’s lock this room back up and go check on everyone.”
She nodded, and felt his hand on her lower back. She couldn’t remember a time when it hadn’t been there. She never wanted to be where it wasn’t.
They walked into the great room and everyone turned to stare at them. Mulder’s steps faltered. He was the loner, he always had been. Hell, for most of his life, people had tried to get away from him as fast as possible. But this group of people had actually traveled, facing hazardous conditions, just to live near him.
He looked around the room. Kevin was in one of the easy chairs, with Katy wedged in beside him. Maggie and Walter were on the small sofa with Todd at her feet. They seemed to be sharing Walt, while Walter held Lexie. Charlie and Mary were cuddled in one corner of the larger couch, with Charlie holding Missy. Will and Sam were at their feet keeping MJ amused. The newest couple, Megan and Greg were on the other end of the couch, and Megan was holding Ruthie as Anne perched on the arm of the couch. Langly was talking quietly with one of the other women. Mulder racked his brain, but wasn’t sure if it was Becky or Marie. The others were mingling around, Brittany and Jerry were talking to Stan. Byers hurried past them and took a seat on the floor next to Will, and MJ climbed into his lap. Byers hugged his ‘nephew’ fiercely for a moment.
For just an instant, Mulder felt the desire to bolt and run, then he felt Scully’s arm go around him.
Scully looked up at him and saw the turmoil. It felt like she’d known this man forever. The white that had appeared in his hair when she’d contracted the virus had grown a little, no doubt at Will’s birth, but it only made him more desirable to her. In many ways she felt like everyone else here, there was nothing this man couldn’t do.
He looked down at his petite red head and saw the love. He felt himself relax.
He cleared his throat and the room grew silent. “Well, it looks like we’ve got a new use for the vaccine. From now on everyone who comes here will receive it.” He glanced over at Beth.
“Already taken care of.”
He smiled at her, “Then I’m even more pleased to see everyone here. We don’t have all the answers for you, but our crack scientific staff,” he glanced over at Byers and grinned. Byers blushed slightly but nodded, “will no doubt have those answers shortly. Right now, I think we should all just be glad we’re here and safe. I wouldn’t mind having some lunch.”
Scully chuckled at that. “Not a bad idea G-man.”
Anne smiled, “The kids have already eaten. We waited for you.”
Scully’s eyes looked suddenly moist, but she smiled, and nodded. “Then we shouldn’t keep you waiting any longer.”
“You sit here.” Mulder led her to the seat beside Maggie. “I’ll bring yours.”
“Mulder - “
“Shh, you did all the work. I just handed you things. Todd?” He held out his hand to assist the younger man to his feet. Walt settled himself in Scully’s lap.
In a low voice, Mulder spoke to Todd as they headed for the kitchen; “You okay?”
“I feel like there was something I could’ve done.”
“There wasn’t. You got Maggie out and you held things together until Walter and I could get here. That’s all I could have asked. The living are what matter Todd. Look around that room. And now none of us have to decide how to punish ‘Bill’. I’m damn grateful not to have to make such a decision.”
Todd smiled grimly and nodded.
Mulder dished up a bowl of the fish stew and pulled off a hunk of bread, then headed back to Scully. He exchanged the bowl for Walt. Lexie reached for him and he grinned and took her in his other arm.
“Mulder, be careful.”
“It’s okay, isn’t it Sweetie?”
Lexie answered in her own language and rested her head against his chest.
Frohike appeared then, carrying two bowls. “Mulder, you hungry?”
“Yeah, thanks.” He sat on the floor at Scully’s feet.
“Mulder, take my seat.” Greg started to rise.
“No thanks. The kids are better off down here.” He took the bowl from Frohike. Greg and Stan exchanged glances. They’d just never envisioned Mulder so . . . so human. They watched enthralled as the man ate around the kids climbing on him.
Mulder glanced over at Langly and the woman. Should he make a guess? “You weren’t home when I came by this morning . . . “
“Becky. No, I was doing laundry. I’m sorry I missed you.”
“Me too. What is it you do? Watch it Sweetheart, that’s hot.” He moved the bowl out of Lexie’s reach.
“Well, before, I was a student. I had my B.S. in chemistry and I got in one year of pharmacy school before they shut down the university.”
Mulder’s eyes widened and he looked over at Byers, who had forgotten to put the spoon in his mouth at those words.
“Hot damn.” Frohike breathed.
“Did they send you?”
“Well, they asked for volunteers, and I thought, I hoped, I could be useful.”
Byers had his eyes closed, shaking his head. Mulder chuckled, “Yeah, you might be. Byers do not overwork her.”
“The other woman . . . “
“Thanks. Is she here.”
“She was a minute ago. She might be in the kitchen.”
“What kind of secret skills are we looking at with her?”
“Well, I don’t know about secret, but she’s the best seamstress I’ve ever seen.”
If possible Mulder’s smile grew wider.
Greg leaned forward, “All the volunteers have to have some sort of skill to make them useful to you.”
Mulder turned toward him, “To me?”
“Well, your community. We wouldn’t send you free loaders.”
Mulder looked up at Scully. She brushed the hair off his forehead. “Go with it Mulder. I have to put up with seeing the future.” He actually chuckled at that.
Will looked around, the youngest girl, Tricia had disappeared again. He nudged Sam and they slipped out.
“Where we going?”
“To find Tricia. Come on.”
They found her sitting on the dock, looking at the lake.
“Hi,” Will sat beside her, and Sam reluctantly sat on the other side of her. “Aren’t you cold?”
“I’m okay.” She didn’t turn to look at Will.
“Why are you mad?” Sam asked.
She did turn then, “Wouldn’t you be, if you’d been dragged across country to live somewhere strange?” They were surprised to see a stud in her nose.
Will decided not to comment. “Not if it was to live here. We came here from Ohio and it was the best thing that ever happened to us.”
“Why, do you think Mulder can walk on water too?”
That startled both of them. “You don’t like Mulder?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think he’s so wonderful that I had to leave all my friends and hike for months. I wanted to stay home. I could’ve hung out with Marcy’s family and not had to come here.”
“What about your Mom?”
“It was four years ago, when they first came.” She shrugged.
“Our Mom almost died when our sister was born.”
Tricia looked at Sam disdainfully; “Women don’t die in childbirth anymore.”
“She would have, if it hadn’t been for Dana and Mulder.”
“Scully.” Will offered. Tricia nodded at that. “She’s our aunt, so our name’s Scully too.” Will shrugged, “We call her Dana.”
“She’s your aunt?”
“Our Dad’s sister.”
“Does Mulder own all the women here?”
“What?” Will looked at her strangely. “What do you mean?”
“Well, he’s in charge, doesn’t he tell all the women what to do?”
“Why would he do that?”
“Because he thinks women aren’t as smart as men, like all men do.”
“What room were you in? Dana is the doctor around here, Beth is the next thing to it.”
“Is she a real doctor?”
“Yeah.” Will was beginning to get ticked off now.
“What does she do?”
“She does doctor things, she stitches up cuts and sets bones and delivers babies.”
“Did she deliver all those babies in there?”
“Yeah. Ruthie was born over at their house during a snowstorm and she delivered Walt all by herself.” Will shrugged.
“Wait, isn’t Walt her baby?”
“Yeah. She delivered him all alone in a cabin down that path.” Sam pointed.
Sam looked over at Will but kept quiet.
“It sounds like she’s more important than Mulder.”
Sam bristled at that, “Mulder’s Mulder. He’s the one that looks after us.”
“Okay, sorry.” She eyed the boy. “Didn’t mean to step on any toes.”
“Sure you did.” Will said. “You’re mad and you want everyone else to be mad too.”
“Well, aren’t you the budding psychiatrist?”
“You’re acting like a kid.”
“I am a kid.”
“Not around here you aren’t. They don’t treat us like kids.”
“When we had to make decisions about whatever you brought here that attacked Kevin and Mulder, we were in the meeting just like everyone else. Only the little ones didn’t get a vote.”
“For real?” She looked hopeful.
“Yeah. You have to do your share of the work, but so does everyone else. I have to take my turn cooking and keeping the babies as much as I do in the greenhouses and carpentry.”
“Will, it’s cold.” Sam complained.
“It is.” Will agreed. “Come on Tricia. I’m hungry.”
She nodded and rose, then stopped and removed the stud from her nose. “It really ticks Dad off.” She shrugged.
“Did it hurt?” Sam asked.
She hesitated, then nodded, “Don’t tell him.”
Both boys nodded and she followed them back to the clinic.
Charlie looked up when they entered and smiled. He walked over to them, “Tricia, did the guys show you around?”
He nodded, “It’ll be nice to have a girl in class.”
“Class?” Her eyes widened.
“Oops.” Charlie smiled again. “Don’t worry, I’m not a ogre.”
“You’re the teacher?”
“I can show you my credentials. I was a professor of English Literature at OSU.”
“Pro . . . professor?” The word seemed to scare her.
“Not ready for graduate work yet?”
“I, uh, I wasn’t a real good student.”
“That’s okay, I’m an excellent teacher.”
That startled a nervous laugh from her. “Will I have to learn calculus and stuff?”
“Not from me. I can do multiplication tables and simple algebra, but the quantum physics stuff we leave to Langly.”
“Is that the guy with the hair?”
“He’s kidding Tricia. Don’t listen to him. Come on, let’s go eat.” Will turned toward the kitchen after rolling his eyes at Charlie.
Charlie grinned and watched the three of them head toward the kitchen. She was definitely going to add a new dimension to the way things went around here.
Scully opened the door and let herself in. “Mulder?”
“Shh, I just got Lexie down.” He pulled the bedroom door too behind him and joined her in the living room. “Everything okay?”
“Yeah. Only Langly stayed over tonight. Kevin told him he didn’t need to stay, but I didn’t want Kevin there alone with the . . . “
Mulder nodded. “Want some tea?”
“No thanks. Could we just sit here for a little while?”
“You okay, Scully?” He took her arm and led her to the couch, then sat pulling her into his lap.
“I’m . . . “ She looked up at him. His eyebrow was cocked, waiting for that word. “Okay, I’m tired.”
“Keep you up too late last night?”
She smiled then, “No. Mulder, what was he?”
“I’ve been thinking about that. Scully, he was a clone.”
“Yeah. He was created.”
“They sent him here?”
“I don’t know. They lost Krycek; they lost the two they sent to bring Krycek back. They still don’t know about the kids, but they may have caught wind of people becoming immune.”
“We haven’t made that big a presence, Mulder.”
“Bigger than we knew. Remember Ruth’s people were going to move on south and west. These people came from Texas.”
She looked up startled, he was right.
“Did you know there was a symbol?”
“Symbol? What are you talking about?”
“The people that, that . . . “
“Worship you?” She smiled.
“Uh, yeah, my fan club, they have a symbol to . . . to identify each other.”
She just looked at him, blinking. After a moment, “You’re serious?”
“Do I get to know what it is, or am I excluded from this club?”
“Damn, I thought you were the founder.”
He glanced away, then back. “The first person, just doodling or playing in the ashes draws an X and waits. If the next person is ‘one of us’ they doodle an F.”
She had to grin, “Not bad. I always knew you’d be famous.”
“The word is infamous.”
“We need to get out the word that the vaccine is a detection device. We know Ruth’s group can make the vaccine. Could Greg’s?”
“I’ll find out, but I’m thinking yes. Scully, that means we could be to the West Coast by now.”
“Oh my god. Mulder, all the way across country?”
Mulder nodded, “and Canada.”
“It’s moving a lot faster than we thought. If they make the connection to us . . . “
He held her closer against him. “If they knew it was us, they wouldn’t have sent one clone.”
“Mulder, how did they get Bill’s DNA? How did they clone him?”
“I . . . I don’t know, but they . . . shit Scully.”
“Could he be working with them?”
“Bill wouldn’t do that.” Mulder spoke quickly.
“Whatever this thing was, he knew about your relationship with Bill. He knew Charlie and Mom and the kids and - “
“Scully. Scully, stop. That doesn’t mean that Bill is . . . “
“Is a traitor to the human race?” She watched his face.
“Enough Scully. It’s been a long day. Come on to bed. The kids are going to get up at their regular time.”
She nodded wearily. “I’d sure like to go back 24 hours.”
That brought a small smile to his face, but he made no comment, just placing a kiss on her forehead. She rose from his lap and he joined her, letting her lead him to their bedroom.
He’d gone to bed with her, but her questions kept him awake. He lay beside her, watching her sleep. It wasn’t peaceful and he ached for the turmoil she was going through. She had made the leap before him, whoever had created this creature had been in contact with Bill. Not just his cells, but his mind as well.
Links to other sites on the Web
Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunmen and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement in tended