Mulder headed into the great room and spotted Scully bundling up to go outside. He was at her side immediately. “Running away?”
“Not for long. I just want to check on Becky and Julie. I don’t want either of them out.”
“Do you think something’s wrong?”
“No, I’m sure Walt has everything under control.”
“But you want to see them yourself. Why?”
She met his eyes then, “I’m not sure. The kids would tell me if there was a problem, but it just feels like one of them might be getting ready to go into labor.”
“It’s too early.”
“Okay.” He reached for his scarf.
“You don’t - “ His look stopped her. Besides, they’d be ‘alone’ for a few minutes. That would be nice. She loved all of these people, but going home to their little house was becoming something she relished more and more these days. He located Walter and let him know where they were headed.
Mulder took a lantern along automatically, but it was actually light enough to see their way to Brittany’s house. He wondered idly if it was actually lighter or if their eyes were just becoming adjusted to permanent dark. He decided it was probably a little of both.
Mulder followed her, shielding her from the wind as much as possible. There were days now when it didn’t rock the house.
They received a warm welcome. Scully hadn’t seen Jennifer in ages, though Will had come to the clinic a couple of times. She had matured greatly and Scully could see she and Will as a couple now. They were young, so much younger than when she and Mulder had finally acknowledged their feelings, but not much younger than Charlie and Mary when they fell in love. There was a comfort there, seeing the next generation grow and continue.
Becky was glowing and peaceful. The morning sickness completely gone now, and her energy had returned. Langly still seemed slightly bemused by the whole thing but his happiness was undeniable.
When she was through with her examination of Becky, they returned to the living room, and sat to visit for a little while.
“How’s Samantha doing?” Brittany asked. “Langly told us about her. I can’t imagine what it’s like for you.”
A slight smile appeared on Mulder’s face. “It’s been good. She’s here and she’s safe. I just don’t know . . . “
“Mulder,” Scully’s hand rested on his arm.
He nodded. “She’ll be okay. The kids are working with her constantly. And Bill has been a big help with her. She’s beginning to try to talk, and she’s walking alone.”
“That’s really good, Mulder.” Langly met his eyes, and Mulder’s smile widened.
“Yeah, it is.”
Scully turned to Alex then, insisting he expose his arm. “It’s not real attractive right now.”
“I’m not expecting a body builder. I heard it was growing pretty well, that your elbow was forming.”
Alex nodded and slipped the sweater off, then started unbuttoning his shirt. He fumbled with the button, and Scully rose. She stepped over to him, taking over. She could feel Mulder’s eyes on her, as well as Alex’s. She cut her eyes at Mulder, shaking her head; then turned doctor’s eyes on Alex’s arm.
They were right about the elbow. It was forming. It should be cripplingly painful. She touched it gently, then a little more firmly, finding the bone and not attempting to move it. “Does that hurt?”
“I can feel it, but it’s not pain. I’m attributing that to Lexie.”
“I think you’re right. Alex,” she looked up at him, “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
“I know. We wait, right?”
“Scully?” Mulder drew her attention.
“I know, we need to go if we’re going to see Julie too. Do you guys need anything?”
“We’re doing okay,” Brittany spoke up. “We’d like to be able to go outside, but I don’t think it will be that long. MJ’s sending us alerts two and three times a day now.”
Mulder nodded. “I do think we’re getting a piece of it.”
Will grinned and his arm went around Jennifer.
Mulder led the way to the house Julie and Jerry shared with Chloe and Peter. The wind had died down a lot and he wondered if the kids were in any way responsible for that, knowing he and Scully were outside.
Jerry had taken to living with a large extended family with extraordinary ease. Mulder and Scully had been concerned about the fact he was living with George’s brother as well as married to his ex-sister-in-law, but it appeared to be a non-issue.
Julie was lovely in her pregnancy too, delighting Jerry.
Esther was overjoyed to see Mulder, jumping into his arms as soon as he got his coat off.
Chloe brought hot tea and they settled in the living room, Esther in Mulder’s lap. “How are things at the clinic?” Peter asked.
“Pretty well. We do have some news, good news,” Mulder said when he noted the tension. He took a deep breath. “Did you know I had a sister?”
“A sister? No.” Jerry looked over at Peter, who shook his head as well.
“It’s a long story, but she’s been returned.”
“She was abducted when she was eight years old. She’s the reason I got involved in searching for aliens. As payment for helping clear the atmosphere, they’ve sent her back to me.”
“Mulder, that’s incredible. Is, is she okay?”
“Not yet. She’s learning to walk again, and has said a couple of words.”
Julie leaned forward, squeezing Mulder’s arm. “Are the children going to be able to . . . “
“They already are. Bill’s been the most help though. He found her, outside, and got her in before she could freeze to death. She bonded with him. She was . . . I scared her. I was too intense.”
Scully squeezed his hand then. It was good that he had recognized this about himself. He was learning.
“None of them look like they’re going to go into premature labor,” Mulder helped her up the steps to the clinic.
“I know. I knew it was silly before we went, but I just couldn’t shake it.”
“I’m not complaining.”
“I know and I appreciate it.”
“It was good to see the others. Makes me miss Frohike.”
She chuckled. “Well, Beth’s not pregnant, but we could go visiting sometime soon.”
“You’re on.” He pushed the door open, and they entered into chaos. Samantha was sobbing uncontrollably, though Bill and Maggie were trying to comfort her. The children were at her feet and Walter hovered behind Maggie. George, Greg and Megan were there, but staying back out of the way.
“What the hell is going on?” Mulder demanded as he started removing his outer wear. George hurried over to help him and Greg did the same for Scully.
On hearing his voice, Samantha looked up. “Fos!” then tore free from Bill and ran, ran, to Mulder throwing her arms around him.
He clutched her to him, confused and concerned. “It’s okay. Samantha, I’ve got you. It’s okay.” He looked over her head toward Walter. “What happened?”
Walter sank down onto the arm of the couch, beside Maggie. “She realized you were gone and she panicked. Even the kids couldn’t get through to her.”
“But I’ve gone out dozens of times.”
“This time Scully was with you. She’s already picked up that you’d never leave her. When you took her . . . “ Skinner shrugged.
Mulder looked over and met Scully’s eyes. She was smiling at his bemused expression. His delight that his sister had turned to him was obvious.
“Samantha, look at me.” He tilted her head up. “I’m not leaving you. I might not always be here at the house, but I’m not going to walk away from any of my family. Not Scully, not the kids, not you. Do you understand?”
A shy smile begin to grow on her face, even though tears still slipped down her cheeks. “Fam-lee.”
“That’s right, you’re part of my family, always.”
She visibly relaxed then and the others began drifting off to give them some time.
At dinner that night Samantha sat between Mulder and Bill, with Scully across from her. They brought greetings from the others and gave first hand weather reports.
Mulder and Scully turned in early, as soon as they got the kids down, having expended a lot of energy moving around outside and were sound asleep when Lexie burst into their room.
“It’s time! We have to go to the barn.”
“Wha - Lexie? What’s wrong?” Mulder struggled up from sleep as Scully came awake beside him.
“It’s Elsie! She’s having her calf. We need to go.”
“We?” He looked over at Scully. “Is this the birth you thought was imminent?”
She was trying not to laugh. “Probably. I knew someone was getting ready to go into labor.” She shook her head. “Lexie, do we need to be there? Can’t Lynne handle it?”
“Yes, but Dad witnesses all the births and I can go with him to help out.”
That’s when her parents noticed that Lexie was fully clothed, only needing the outer wear to leave.
Mulder slumped slightly and looked over at Scully. “Do I have to?” he whined.
She tried not to laugh, but failed. “You are the Mulder.”
“Oh god,” he muttered as he started to rise from the bed. “Uh, Lexie, I need to get some clothes on.”
“Okay, but hurry!” She left them and ran back down the stairs.
“Should I take her?” Mulder was reaching for his clothes.
“I wouldn’t have thought so, but none of the children are there and you know how much she’s missed the animals. I’m positive the other children will keep an eye on both of you. I’ll keep your side of the bed warm.”
“Gee, thanks,” but he smiled as she scooted into the space he had vacated and snuggled in. Shaking his head, he made his way downstairs. Lexie was already in her coat. Mulder finished wrapping her securely, then donned his own overcoat, gloves and hat.
“You need to hold on to my neck inside my hood, to keep you as warm as possible.”
“We’ll be okay, Daddy.”
He winked at her and took her into his arms. It was worse at night, and his arm tightened around his daughter, while he kept one hand on the guide wire to the barn. Moving as quickly as possible he made his way to the barn and straight to the door they had added to keep from opening the large animal doors. He pushed it opened and Kevin was there.
Kevin pushed the door shut immediately and threw the bolt, then lifted Lexie from Mulder’s arms. “Hi guys. Let’s get you settled and close to the stove.” He squatted in front of her and began helping her take off her outer clothes. Once she was able to walk again, she hurried over to the stove.
“You okay?” Kevin asked Mulder.
“Cold. How did you know - “
Kevin cut his eyes at him and Mulder nodded. “Katy,” they said together.
“Well, I’m glad she did. It’s bitter out there. How’s it going?”
“Good I guess. This is way outside my field. Lynne is pleased with things.” He looked over in that direction. “Byers is with her. You ready?”
“Oh sure,” Mulder shook his head, but he followed Kevin in that direction.
Lynne looked up and smiled. “Hi. Lexie, you’re just what we need. Could you sit right there beside her head and just talk to her. If we can keep her calm, this shouldn’t take too long.”
Lexie smiled and took her seat where Lynne directed. Her hand came out to touch the cow, as she crooned softly to her.
Lynne was right; it didn’t take long before Mulder could see the head of the calf.
After that, the gangly, wet calf came quickly. Almost immediately the cow heaved herself to her feet. “Stay in front of her, everyone. She’s got a brand new calf; she needs to know where everyone is.”
They all backed off a little while the cow nudged her calf. It mewled pitifully but the cow only nudged it harder. It finally got the message and scrambled to its feet. Within minutes it was hungrily nursing.
Lynne was grinning ear to ear. “We’ve got a bull, and it looks like he’s doing just fine.” She wiped her hands on a towel, then Lexie hurried to her and gave her a big hug.
“He sure is,” Lynne agreed.
Byers looked over at Mulder, then joined him and Kevin. “Wow.”
Kevin nodded. “It may not be what Mulder’s used to, but it’s a first for me.”
Mulder rolled his eyes, but then took the opportunity to look around. He hadn’t been here in a while, especially since Kevin made regular trips over. Byers usually headed for Frohike’s instead, which was closer. He hadn’t asked about Lynne; an oversight he suddenly faced.
“You know, this place isn’t bad.”
“No, actually it’s not,” Kevin agreed. “We’re probably warmer than you guys with all the animals. Now if I could tone down the aroma, it would be even better.”
Mulder nodded, but it wasn’t as bad as he’d expected. They obviously kept the place shoveled out and as fresh as possible. The animals had been quiet, as though in respect, during the actual birth, but now he was hearing them again. The chickens were mostly quiet up on the upper level, but the pigs were moving around. One of the goats had ventured closer to check out the new addition, but retreated at the shake of Elsie’s head.
“Come on up. Have some tea, unless you want to hurry back,” Byers offered.
At the begging expression on Lexie’s face, Mulder caved. “Sure, I’ll have some.” He climbed the ladder with Byers and Kevin, leaving the ladies to watch over the calf.
Mulder got his second surprise up in the ‘living quarters’. There had obviously been a woman’s hand involved. He’d known Byers long enough to know he lived with what was placed in front of him. Rooms had been created. The walls were thin, but privacy had been created. Each ‘room’ had the character of its occupant. Shades now covered the previously naked light bulbs. Curtains graced the walls and at Kevin’s invitation, he pulled one of them back. A painted scene of bright sunshine greeted him.
“I didn’t know you were an artist,” Mulder chuckled.
“Not me, Lynne. I think they’re pretty good.”
“They are, but I bet you want to get back home.”
“Oh yeah, but I’ve been checking on the place periodically. You know, take a little vacation. And Lynne goes over there to shower, do laundry. I wanted to make sure there was no damage.”
“Good idea. I’ve only been by to check the roof.” He yawned and looked toward the ladder. “I’m going be here the rest of the night, aren’t I?”
Kevin nodded, grinning, and motioned toward his bed. “Lexie will be okay with Lynne. Grab a couple of hours.”
“What about you?”
“We have a different schedule living here. Go on.”
“Hey, Mulder!” Kevin’s whisper was loud next to his ear.
“Come with me, hurry. You need to see this.” Kevin was already moving toward the ladder.
Mulder shook himself awake and hurried after him, following him down the ladder. “What? Is something wrong?”
Kevin shook his head. “Something’s right. Look.” He opened the smaller door that Mulder and Lexie had used a few hours ago and stepped outside. Mulder grabbed his coat and followed him. He stopped stunned at the sight. Sunrise.
“Oh my god,” he breathed and immediately sent the thought toward Scully. Sunrise. Now he realized he hadn’t really been sure he’d ever see one again.
He looked over at Kevin, grinning like a fool. Kevin’s smile matched his own.
Scully smiled as Mulder stomped up the stairs, trying to loosen some of the mud. “I don’t want to hear any complaints about the mud.”
“You won’t. But I am glad that George came up with the idea to resole our boots with the old tires.” Mulder bent over to loosen his boots. “We’re going to be late with planting, but at least we’re getting daylight again.”
Scully nodded. “How’s the office?”
“Good and tight. We did a pretty good job of buttoning everything down considering our limited time. The north and west sides of most of the building need some work when we get the sawmill working. We’re working on inventory. Kevin drafted Lynne; they’re used to working together.”
“They are, aren’t they? I mean, they’ve been living together during this crisis.”
“Uh, yeah,” Mulder agreed. “Why?”
“Well, Kevin’s a wonderful man and I’m sure he’s been lonely.”
“Kevin, and Lynne?”
“Well, why not? He’s only a little older than her and they’ve certainly gotten to know each other pretty well over the last few months.”
“Yeah, I just hadn’t thought about it.”
She grinned. “How male. It’s good that Katie likes her.”
Again he looked clueless.
“Mulder, Katie thinks of Kevin as hers. She has since she was born. Another woman in his life could be hard for her to take.”
“She’s just a kid.”
“Honey, she’s Katie. That means she’s not an ordinary little girl. That week that she spent with him when she was just a few days old imprinted him on her.”
“But she likes Lynne, like you said.”
“Yes, and I think that’s a good thing. Look, it’s not something we need to worry about right now, but you might want to check with Kevin, see how he feels about Lynne.”
“When did they vote me everyone’s guardian?” he groused.
She looked at him with mock pity. “When you saved the world, Honey. Live with it.”
Mulder headed to his office and spotted Kevin at his desk. Scully’s words returned to him and he squared his shoulders. “How’s it going?”
Kevin looked up; for such a large man, Mulder sure could move quietly. “Getting there. It’s been nice to see a little sunlight the last couple of days.”
“That’s for sure. Spring seems to finally be coming, even if it does freeze up again at night.” Mulder sat in the chair across the desk from Kevin. “I saw that Lynne was here earlier.”
“Yeah, she was giving me grief about moving the barn up on the priority list. She has a point now that the next generation is here and growing.”
Mulder smiled, “You two work well together.”
“We do, she’s a lot of fun. I heard her singing with the kids the other day. I hadn’t realized how much I missed music. I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, but she’s pretty good.”
“So, uh, you going to make an announcement?”
Kevin, who had looked back down at the desk, looked up again. “Announcement?”
“Yeah, make it official.”
“Make what official? What are we talking about, Mulder?”
“You and Lynne. Am I going to be officiating at another wedding?”
“Wedding! Are you . . . Mulder what are you talking about?”
“You and Lynne.” He repeated. “Aren’t you . . . involved?”
“We’re friends, I enjoy her company, but we’re not . . . Mulder, she’s not my Scully.” He faced Mulder then and Mulder saw the truth. “I’m sure she’ll find someone good for her, but it’s not me.”
“Well, uh, sorry. I wasn’t . . . ”
“Hey, I do thank you for looking out for me.” Kevin grinned. “Maybe I should go out with Todd next time and do some bride shopping.” He leaned back in the chair. “Are you trying to get rid of me?”
Mulder’s face reddened at the teasing. “No! But you’re a grown man, I mean . . . Never mind.”
“How old were you when you and Scully got together?” Kevin asked.
“Uh, we hardly count as a typical couple.” Kevin waited. “38. She played hard to get.” Mulder shrugged.
Kevin chuckled at that and nodded. “Look, I really do appreciate you thinking about me, and I do want to get married and have kids some day, but not with Lynne.”
“Now I have to go tell Scully,” Mulder sighed.
“Tell her thanks too. Now I have to get back to work.” Kevin rose from the desk. “Have a good day, Mulder.” He patted the older man’s shoulder and grinning, left the office.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.