The crowd descended on the clinic for dinner, and Mulder found himself tackled around the knees by Lexie. Her eyes were sparkling.
“What in the world have you been up to, Baby?” He picked her up and her arms went around his neck. She saw Alex behind him and reached for him to give him a hug around the neck as well.
“Todd and Will have to go get the presents!”
“What presents?” Mulder looked over at Scully, who shrugged. He noticed then that the backpacks were out and being readied for a trip. He found Todd over beside Anne. “You goin’ somewhere?”
“Apparently.” Todd grinned. “Will and I have an assignment.”
“Yep.” His grin widened. “And no gardening for a few days.” Todd’s hand caressed Anne’s stomach. “We won’t be gone long.”
”You’ve got four months. You better not use them all. I'd really like you there this time.” Anne said quickly.
“It’s just a short trip.” Katy explained. “Over to Bristol. They can always use more vaccine and this time some potato buds and lettuce.”
Todd nodded, “We can handle that.”
Bill watched the byplay from the door. No one bothered to notice him or his growing anger at their obvious good spirits.
Missy turned to look at him and he moved away from the others, heading toward his room to wash up.
Maggie’s smile faded as she watched him distance himself from everyone again.
Dinner conversation consisted of stories from past excursions, remembering names, places and treats they could carry with them, things that wouldn’t add too much weight to their packs. MJ had assured them of fairly good weather, though there would be showers most afternoons.
“Why just two of you this time?” It was Mary who asked. “Usually it’s three.” She looked over at Katy.
“It’ll be okay. There’s no one around to bother them. They’ll be back in a week.” She smiled at her aunt.
Bill jerked forward to ask a question, but stopped when the children turned to face him.
After they set off the next morning, amid kisses and waves, Katy approached Kevin. “We need to check on the barn.”
She nodded, “It needs some fixing up.”
“Is this about the ‘present’?”
She bit her lip, but smiled. “Come on.”
He laughed as he took her hand and let her lead him away.
Mulder was at the house with Chrissy. She didn’t seem the least bit interested in a nap, but Scully had said to put her down. He was in the middle of a serious discussion with the child on the subject when he heard the banging on the door.
Surprised, he placed Chrissy in her carrier and hurried to let whoever it was in. Around here it was usually a tap and then the head stuck in the door, unless maybe their hands were full.
Mulder hesitated when he saw Bill, scowling, on the other side of the door. He took a deep breath and opened his house to the man. “Bill, what can I do for you?”
Bill looked him up and down, hostility plain on his face. “Where’s Dana?”
“She’s working with Walt.”
“Lessons.” Mulder didn’t add any more.
“I thought Charlie and the gnome taught the kids.”
“Frohike.” Mulder said dryly. “She’s working with him on medica - “ He stopped abruptly, but it was too late.
“Medicine? What is he, four?” The scorn was heavy in his voice. “Because he’s your son he’s some kind of genius?” His face was red; any talk of children set him off. The very sight of the kids, especially Mulder’s, infuriated him.
“Actually, I’d say any brains our kids have would come from Scully.” He’d said it as a conciliatory statement, just trying to ease the tension. It backfired.
“Dana! Her name is Dana!” His first punch landed on Mulder’s jaw without warning, throwing him off balance. Then Bill’s hands reached for his throat.
Mulder ducked, then realized that Bill had stopped, frozen in place. What the hell?
Several kids were in the barn with Walter and Kevin, cleaning and getting ready to paint when Katy’s head jerked up. “Daddy.” The others were right behind her as she raced from the barn.
Walt, Scully, Charlie and Frohike joined them as they ran toward the house. No one had any doubt who was involved.
Mulder looked over at the door as it burst open and assorted members of family and community spilled in. Katy and Walt approached Bill, while Scully flew to Mulder’s side and touched the blood on his lip. “Oh Mulder.” She turned to Bill to demand an explanation when she realized he hadn’t moved or spoken.
Before she could speak, Katy smiled, “Thanks, Chrissy. You can let him go now.”
Instantly he collapsed to the floor, a puppet with his strings cut. Scully gasped, taking an involuntary step toward him, but Mulder held her fast against him.
“Bill?” No one moved to assist him as he pulled himself to a seated position with shaking hands.
“What . . .what did you do to me?” He managed to choke out to Mulder, his anger already resurfacing.
Mulder met Charlie’s eyes over Scully’s head. The red-headed man mouth the question. “Chrissy?”
Mulder nodded, then held out his hand to pull Bill to his feet. “There’s work to do. This evening, after dinner, we’ll meet here - all the Scullys’, and we’ll talk.” First he needed to think about what had just happened here.
“That’s it? You want me to go back to your fields and - “
“Tonight. Bill.” Mulder’s face was cold and hard. The blood still staining his lips made him look especially dangerous. Charlie took Bill’s arm.
“Come on.” He pulled his older brother out of the house as the children watched.
Once the door closed, Frohike approached Mulder and Scully. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah. It was a lucky punch.”
Frohike nodded. “I guess you’d like to be with your family. Come on kids, let’s give them some privacy.”
The children came over and each of them touched Mulder, then followed Frohike outside. He pulled the door closed, leaving Mulder, Scully and their four kids alone.
“Scully - “
She shook her head, leading him to the couch. Walt was already getting her kit as the girls took up positions, sitting on either side of him.
“I’m fine.” He spoke gruffly, watching his family care for him.
“It’s a good thing you are.” Scully spoke weakly. He could hear the tremor in her voice.
“Scully - “
“Let me finish.” She cleaned the cut on his lip, washing the blood away to determine it was no worse than she suspected. He didn’t tell her the pain was already gone, just silently thanked Katy, Lexie and Walt.
“Scully, stop. I’m fine.” He took her hand then and pulled her into his lap. She made a vague protest, then allowed him to cuddle them all to him. “I think we need to tell Bill about the children.”
Scully gave a hiccupping laugh, but didn’t dispute him.
At Mulder’s insistence, he accompanied the children back to the barn. Work was progressing and no comment was made regarding the morning’s events. They worked smoothly together until the sound of something approaching reached them.
Mulder and Kevin exchanged glances even as they took in the delight on the children’s faces. They all hurried outside in time to see Todd and Will ride up on horses, each leading another animal piled high with supplies. Will was leading a third horse, while Todd, the much less accomplished rider, led a cow. The cow was obviously none too happy to be moving at such a rapid pace.
At the sight of Mulder, their faces cleared and broke out into smiles. Everyone was talking at once then as the children caressed and petted the animals.
“You’re okay?” Todd asked as he finally reached Mulder. “Will got a shout from Katy, then nothing.”
“I’m fine. Bill and I had ‘words’ this morning.”
“Words?” Will said slyly, eyeing Mulder’s lip.
“So, is there a posse after you for rustling?” Mulder grinned at the new livestock.
Todd stretched, “No, but I’d have given myself up for a nice wagon ride.”
“You don’t ride?”
“He got on the job training.” Will chuckled.
Others were gathering now, so unpacking and stabling the animals took little time. The kids remained along with Kevin, but Mulder, Scully and Walter accompanied Todd and Will to the clinic. Todd’s limp drew more chuckles than sympathy.
“You wait. I’m gonna find Anne and Ruthie, and then soak in a hot tub for a couple of days.” Even as he said it, his two girls came out of the front door of the clinic to greet him. Jennifer was right behind them and threw herself into Will’s arms.
Todd’s walk became noticeably less painful with Ruthie in his arms and they all headed for the long table, as Mary and Megan hurried to bring them food.
After their first hunger had been satisfied, Mulder leaned forward, “Horses? A cow?”
“Presents, like Lexie said.” Todd grinned.
“No one has that kind of wealth.” Mulder protested.
Todd shook his head, “They were bred especially as gifts for you, Mulder. Brought across country by some grateful people from western Kentucky. Not Kentucky Derby winners, but according to the guy in charge of them, the horse Will was riding and the cow are pregnant.”
Scully’s mouth fell open, who could give away something so valuable? Will caught her expression. “A thank you gift, Scully. Don’t you know what you’ve given them?”
They were all assembled in Mulder’s living room. Maggie sat beside Bill on the couch, Charlie on his other side. Scully was in the large chair, holding Chrissy, with Mary perched on the arm. Walter had pulled up a kitchen chair beside Maggie. The kids were on the floor in front of the fireplace, Lexie in Sam’s lap, Missy in Trisha’s. Jennifer had joined them as well.
Bill was rigid with anger. After everyone was settled, Mulder stood upright from where he’d been leaning against the mantel. “Bill,” the man tightened even more if possible. “You need to know about our kids.”
Bill blinked, his mouth dropped open for an instant. He’d been expecting marching orders and had been ready to fight that. This had caught him off guard.
“A little background. I was given an injection in Russia. I won’t go into the whole story, but it made me immune to the virus that the aliens used on us.” Bill flinched but kept his mouth shut. “When I went after Sc-Dana in Antarctica, I gave her a similar injection. As far as we know, we’re the only couple that was immune prior to colonization. Then we had Katy.” He looked over at his oldest and smiled. “We didn’t know anything was different about her, I knew she was special, she’s Scully’s, but we had no idea. Right after she was born, Scully came down with the virus.” He swallowed and looked over at Scully. “She was treated with Katy’s stem blood and she . . . she recovered. The only person we know of that survived. That led to the vaccine you were given.”
Bill looked away then, but Mulder continued. “It wasn’t until she got a little older that we realized she was more than just ‘immune’. She can do things, see things, and so can - “
“Is this what that show was about? Are you saying they’re not human?” Bill interrupted, his eyes narrowed.
“Bill - “ Maggie started, but she was interrupted.
Katy rose to her feet, her disgust obvious. “Give him Chrissy.”
“What?” Scully tightened her grip on the tiny girl.
“Let him hold Chrissy.” Katy said. Walt nodded, so Scully looked over at Mulder. He gave her a small shrug.
Slowly she rose, Mary’s hand helping her to her feet. She approached Bill with trepidation and hesitated with one more look at Mulder, then carefully placed Chrissy in her uncle’s arms.
Bill took her, unable to refuse. He looked down at her, holding her carefully. Scully stepped back and instantly Bill’s eyes glazed over. His head jerked and with a cry, Scully reached for the baby.
Katy’s hand stopped her. “No.” She and Walt spoke together. “He can’t hurt her.” Katy reassured her.
“He’s having a seizure! Walt!”
Walt rose to his feet then, “He won’t drop her. Grandma, Charlie, we need those seats.” Walter didn’t hesitate to lift Maggie to her feet. Charlie moved nearly as quickly. Katy took Maggie’s seat as Walt took Charlie’s. They didn’t touch Bill, just watched him.
Scully felt Mulder’s arms go around her and she grabbed his hands, clutching them. Mulder saw that Katy’s posture was less rigid, less hostile. Then he spotted the tear that escaped her eye. A tear? When was the last time he’d seen Katy cry? Had he ever seen Katy cry? A soft sob drew his attention to Lexie as she buried her face in Sam’s chest. The boy rocked her gently, as Trisha and Jennifer comforted Missy. Questions burned in him, but he kept quiet, watching them.
Scully turned to Will, “What is it?”
Will faced them, “They’re . . . they’re sad, so very sad.” He caressed the top of his baby sister’s head.
Mulder closed his eyes at those words and his arms tightened around Scully.
Intent on them, he didn’t hear the door open. Scully glanced over and saw Kevin look in. He mutely begged entry and she nodded. He took a quiet seat at the table.
It seemed a damn long time, but less than five minutes later, Katy took a deep breath and sat forward. She took Chrissy from Bill’s unresisting arms and he immediately collapsed back on the couch.
Scully quickly took the baby. Mulder noted that Walt’s hand lightly touched Bill’s leg.
“Katy?” He finally asked when she didn’t speak.
“They hurt him.” Her voice was low. “They . . . they didn’t want him to know about them. They fixed it so he couldn’t believe in them. Whenever he did . . . “
“Can you help him?” It was Walter who finally voiced the question.
Katy nodded, “But he’ll remember everything they did to him.”
Scully’s shiver caused Mulder to look down at her. She’d always maintained she had no memories of her abduction, now he wondered. Now wasn’t the time for that. “What can we do, Kiddo?”
“He needs to spend time with Chrissy. A couple of times a day, everyday.” She looked over at the large man. “He’ll sleep through the night now. Tomorrow he’ll be real fuzzy. He won’t be able to work in the gardens.”
“That’s okay, we’ll find something at the clinic.” Mary rose and took Missy from Trisha, cuddling her close.
“We’ll get him to bed.” Will and Sam rose and took their uncle’s arms, lifting him to his feet. He was unresisting, his eyes open. Kevin joined them. He gave Katy a hug, then they left the house.
Walter overrode her when Maggie started to follow them. “He’ll be okay tonight. The kids said so. I’m taking you home. He’ll need you tomorrow.” He glanced over at Katy, who nodded her agreement.
Mulder shut the door behind them and turned to Katy. She was crying again. “Talk to me, Baby.” He scooped her into his arms.
“We could have helped him. If we’d touched him - “
“No. You can help him now. You have nothing to feel guilty about. Anyone who’s that . . . red, it’s better to avoid them. Please don’t feel bad about this.” He rocked her as Scully cuddled Walt and Lexie. He exchanged looks with Scully.
“I’m . . . I was a little surprised at what Chrissy could do. I mean, she is awfully young.”
Katy shrugged. “She’s the strongest. If you and Mom keep having babies, there’s no telling how strong we’ll get.”
Mulder tensed immediately, but in her current mood, Katy didn’t notice it. Scully did.
“It’s getting late and you’re tired.” Scully said softly. “Come on, let’s get ready for bed.”
When everyone was tucked in and Chrissy fed and down, Scully sank down on the couch next to Mulder. “You okay?”
“Yeah.” He sighed, pulling her close.
“Let’s go on to bed.”
He nodded and rose to his feet. He lifted her to her feet and her arms went around his neck. She pressed against him and he stepped back slightly, shaking his head. “You need to get some rest.”
“I’d rest better - “
He shook his head again and led her to their bedroom. He turned toward the bathroom once inside, but she caught his hand. “Mulder?”
“It’s too soon.”
“No, it’s not. Mulder, I’m fine. Walt - “
He kissed her forehead and removed his hand from hers. He entered the bathroom, closing the door behind him. She stared after him confused.
When he returned to the room, she had undressed and was lying on the bed. He looked away, then climbed into the bed, under the covers. She pulled the sheet back and lay beside him.
“It’s not too soon, Mulder. Believe me, I - “
“You’ll be up in a little while feeding Chrissy. You need some sleep.” He rolled her to her other side and she squirmed back into his body, her ass pressing against him.
He jerked back, “Scully.” It was a growl.
“We’d both sleep better.” But she sounded uncertain now.
He kissed her neck, then rolled over himself, his back to her. “Good night, Scully.”
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.