It was a little after two when Todd woke. He realized Anne wasn’t in the bed and sat up. He spotted her in the chair. “Anne? You okay?”
She nodded, but didn’t speak.
He got up and came to her side. “Anne?” He knelt beside her, “Are you having the baby?”
She smiled then and took a deep breath. “Yeah.”
“Why didn’t you wake me?”
“You needed some rest.” She caressed his cheek.
“You’re having my baby. I’m not planning to miss that again.”
She chuckled then, “Don’t worry. I wasn’t going to wait that long.”
“Do you want me to get Scully?”
“No. We have plenty of time. She needs some rest too.”
His frown showed his opinion of that statement, but he kept quiet for now. “What do I do?”
“You keep me company; maybe walk with me.” She held out her hand to be helped to her feet. “We need to be quiet.”
He hesitated, then helped her to stand, his arm going around her back. They walked to the main room and on to the kitchen. His grip tightened when her breathing changed and she leaned against the counter. “Anne?”
She didn’t respond, so he waited. When she relaxed, he pulled her against him. “I really am okay, you know.”
He nodded and when she started walking again, fell in step beside her. “Are you sure you don’t want Scully? Even Mulder? Or maybe Walt would be - “
Her finger pressing gently against his lips quietened him. He gave her a sideways smile. “Sorry. I guess I’m more nervous than I thought.”
She leaned against him. “You’re doing fine.”
“I want to do more.”
“Just be here with me.”
“I’m not going anywhere this time.” He automatically massaged her back as she liked, faltering only when he felt her breathing change. He held her as she labored to give him their son.
When the contraction ended, they continued walking. At her request he quietly told her stories of his childhood.
She was hanging from his neck, swaying. She was no longer able to get through the contractions without vocalizing and his pseudo-calm was wearing thin. He felt her knees buckle at the next contraction and took on her weight.
“That’s it. I’m getting Scully.”
She nodded tiredly against his chest. When she was able they returned to the room and he helped her onto the bed. He gave her a quick kiss. “I’ll be right back.”
She grabbed his hand, stopping him and he held her until the contraction ended. He brushed her hair back and tried to smile. It didn’t come off and she chuckled quietly. “Go on.”
“I’ll hurry.” He took off up the stairs and knocked quickly on Mulder and Scully’s door. “Mulder!”
Mulder jerked in the bed, what the . . . “Todd? Anne!” He glanced over at Scully, but she had already vaulted out of the bed and was reaching for her clothes. “We’ll be right there.”
“Todd, go back to her. We’re on our way,” Scully called through the door and they heard his running footsteps retreating. She looked over at Mulder and blinked back quick tears at his expression. “She’ll be okay.”
“I know.” It was all he could get out, but he took her hand and they hurried to the stairs. He held her elbow as she rushed down to the first floor. Todd was holding Anne as she moaned softly, swaying with her.
His expression of relief when Mulder and Scully entered the room would have been comical if Mulder were capable of such an emotion right now.
Scully was at Anne’s side and helped her recline when the contraction ended. “How are you doing?”
“Pretty good.” Anne relaxed back, her breath returning to normal.
Scully took the precious rubber glove from Mulder’s hand and began her exam gently. “How long have you been having contractions?”
“They got regular around nine.”
Todd’s head swiveled in her direction. “Nine? It was two when you . . . “ he looked over at Mulder, who shrugged at him.
“We were all busy and I knew we had plenty of time. My water hasn’t even broken yet.”
“I’m surprised the kids didn’t . . . “ Mulder stopped when he looked over at his wife.
Scully smiled, “They knew, didn’t they? I saw every one of them touch you as they were leaving. I thought it was because they might not see you for a couple of days.”
Anne smiled, “No, they knew.” Her smile was cut short by the next contraction.
“That’s right, breathe through it.” Her hand rested on Anne’s stomach. “You’re already at seven. Did you say your water hasn’t broken? I’m wondering if that’s the kid’s influence. It does make it easier on you.” She glanced over at Mulder to see his reaction to her theory and caught his expression.
He was holding it together, but barely. This was hard on him, and he was tired on top of everything else. He couldn’t be her focus right now, but she let her hand caress his arm and his eyes lightened slightly.
Todd was holding Anne’s hand and Scully saw both he and Mulder pale at the next contraction. “Would you like Walt?” she asked Anne quietly when she relaxed.
Anne took a cleansing breath. “Do you mind?”
“Of course not.” She looked over at Mulder and he nodded, moving toward the door.
Walt was already up and waiting at the door of the classroom when Mulder looked in. Walt took his hand and a feeling of reassurance came over Mulder. He nodded at Walt who smiled at him.
“You want to help Anne?”
“Sure.” They walked back to the examining room. Mulder hesitated when he heard Anne. “It’s okay, Dad.” The boy squeezed his hand, then moved to Anne’s side.
Walt’s hand rested lightly on her stomach. “Are you ready, Anne?” He looked up at her.
She looked up at Todd, then over at Scully. “Yes.”
Walt smiled, “Okay. He’s ready too.”
Her water broke then and Scully jerked forward. “You could warn me,” She said to Walt, her eyebrow high. He grinned at her, then all attention was on Anne.
“I have to push,” she said calmly.
Mulder saw Todd’s Adam’s apple bob, and moved closer to him. “Support her back. She has to do the work.” He let his hand rest lightly on Todd’s shoulder.
Todd nodded and leaned down, whispering something in her ear. She nodded and took his hand. Scully began to count then Todd took over the count for her.
“You’re doing great, Anne. Again.” In no time the head was crowning. “He is ready, Anne. Come on, push again.”
Mulder looked over at Todd when the head was out. His eyes were huge and Mulder couldn’t see any sign that he was breathing. He smiled slightly, that he could understand.
“One more, Anne.”
Anne’s hand tightened on Todd’s and she pushed. Scully held the infant boy up for them to see. His eyes were open and though he didn’t cry, his mouth was open and he was pinking up beautifully. Scully lay the boy on Anne’s stomach.
Todd’s trembling hand settled on his son’s back. He opened his mouth to say something, but then just closed it, shaking his head in wonder.
He leaned over and kissed Anne.
“You need to cut the cord,” Scully said quietly and he looked up. He nodded and took the scissors Mulder handed him.
Anne was watching him as he cut the baby’s umbilical cord, transfixed by his expression. “Well,” he cleared his throat, “I’d like you to meet Fox Lee Cooke.”
Mulder rolled his eyes and Scully leaned against him, hugging him tightly. “Let’s take the cord blood over to the lab and give them a little time. Anne, I’ll come clean him up in a few minutes. Just rest.” She tugged on Mulder’s hand.
Once out in the hall he stopped, “She’s okay?”
Scully nodded at that, “She’s good, Mulder. Come on, let’s get some tea.” She took Walt’s hand and they left the younger couple.
Walt looked up at them, “I’ll get Ruthie.”
Scully nodded, “Okay, try to keep quiet. Everyone else is asleep.”
He smiled and turned toward the classroom. They watched him for a moment, then she tugged on Mulder’s arm. They placed the placenta and cord blood in the lab then she took Mulder’s hand and led him toward the kitchen.
“How you doing, Mulder?”
He cut his eyes at her, but didn’t bother to respond. Scully came into his arms and they closed around her. “I . . . I thought it wouldn’t be as hard when it wasn’t you. No, that’s not right, but it would have been 1,000 times harder if you . . . “ he shook his head.
“You were wonderful with Todd.”
He huffed and released her when the water began to boil. They both looked up as wind whipped around the corner in a sudden gust.
“Anne and blizzards.” He took a sip of the hot tea. “I’m gonna talk to Todd about looking at a December conception for the next three.” He tried to speak lightly, but she could feel his stress. He put the cup of tea on the counter and she saw his hand shake slightly.
“Why don’t you go back to bed, Mulder? It won’t be dawn for an hour or so.”
If there is a dawn, he thought, but just shook his head. “I’ll wait for you. I know you want to check Lee out again.”
“Okay. I’ll do that now, but we both know he’s okay. And Mulder, so is Anne.”
He nodded and pulled her back against him.
Bill came downstairs stretching, and spotted Todd. He did a double take when he realized Todd was holding a newborn. “Anne had the baby?”
Todd nodded. “She’s asleep now.”
“Wow.” Bill said as he moved closer, staring down at the baby. “I would never have thought I could sleep through a woman having a baby. She must have been quiet.”
“She was.” Todd looked back down at his son.
“It was . . . it was unbelievable.”
“Weren’t you there when Ruthie was born?”
Todd shook his head, “I didn’t get there in time, so this was a first for me.”
“You’ll never forget it.” Both men turned as Matt stumbled down the stairs, rubbing his eyes. “Hey, Matt, come see.”
Matt scowled, but moved in their direction. “It’s still dark,” he grumbled.
He looked over as his grandmother and Walter joined them.
“Oh my god! Lee? Anne had the baby?” Walter turned at his wife’s words. Maggie sounded more than a little irritated. She looked up at Todd, her eyebrow high.
“Uh, it was late, everyone was asleep.”
“I still expected to assist,” but she looked less formidable now.
“I, uh, I got Mulder and Scully, then I didn’t leave her side.”
Maggie smiled then, “Well, I’m glad you were there and I know Anne was too. Okay for this time, but in the future . . . “
“Yes, ma’am,” he smiled.
looked over Maggie’s shoulder at the baby. “Personally I’m glad you called
Mulder and Scully, and left me in bed.” Maggie swatted at him.
“I guess you’ve never seen a baby that’s only about four hours old, have you?” Todd tilted his arm to let Matt see the baby. When the boy approached, something made Todd look over toward the kitchen. He saw Katy watching them.
Lee’s arm came free from the blanket as Matt let his hand come close to the infant. Without hesitation, Lee’s tiny hand curled around the boy’s finger.
Instantly Matt froze and his eyes rolled back in his head. “Matt!” Bill grabbed his shoulders, but he didn’t fall.
Katy rushed in from the kitchen. “He’s okay, Uncle Bill. He just wouldn’t let us touch him. He didn’t think anyone as young as Lee could do anything. We can help him now.”
Bill’s eyes narrowed, but before he could speak, Mulder was racing down the stairs. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, Dad. Lee touched Matt, now we can help him.” She took Matt’s hand. “Could you move him to the couch?”
Bill scooped him up and carried him to the couch. “What are you going to do to him?”
“Make him feel better.” Katy sat on the edge of the seat and held her cousin’s hand. Bill looked over at Mulder, and for a moment it almost looked like he wanted reassurance.
Before either spoke, Katy looked over at Bill. “He has good memories of you.”
“What?” Bill turned back to her.
“You took him to the zoo. He rode on your shoulders and you laughed at the monkeys.” Katy watched him as he stood there, dumbstruck. “And one time you were lying on the couch and he tried to sneak up on you. When he jumped out to scare you, you grabbed him up and put him on your chest and tickled him.”
“He remembers that?”
“He will now. And he’ll remember Tara better, more real instead of what his grandparents told him.”
“He . . . he is okay?” Bill looked back down at Matt.
Mulder put his hand on Bill’s shoulder. “He is, Bill.”
After a moment Bill nodded.
“Come on. Matt’s in safe hands. Let’s get some breakfast.”
“He’s right, Bill.” Scully put her hand on his arm.
“I didn’t hear you come down,” Mulder pulled her against him, giving her a quick hug.
She smiled, “You were busy.” She took Bill’s arm and led him toward the kitchen.
Lexie, Ruthie and Walt joined Katy as they moved away. Mulder stood near them for a moment. “Do you need anything?”
“We’re okay, Dad. Go eat.” Katy smiled up at him. “We’re good.”
Mulder looked around. Todd had disappeared with Lee; probably back to Anne. Maybe Matt could be okay now.
George and Alex came downstairs then and both men stopped when they spotted Matt unconscious on the couch, surrounded by the kids. “What, uh, what’s going on?” Alex asked. “Is he okay?”
“Yeah, he will be. The kids are helping him.” Mulder looked back at them for a moment, then the three men moved to the kitchen.
Alex moved to the back door and peered through the glass, “I was hoping this was an illusion from my window.”
“Nope, sunrise should have been over an hour ago.”
Alex opened his mouth, then looked over at Maggie and Scully and closed it.
George lowered his voice, “How long can we go without sun?”
Mulder shrugged, “We’ve got supplies stored for months. I just don’t know, without adding to it . . . “
“Surely by spring, I mean . . . “ George looked back and forth between Mulder and Alex.
Walter joined them at the door. “Maggie wants you all to come eat. There’s nothing we can do right now.”
They nodded and joined Bill and Scully over warm oatmeal. At Walter’s encouragement, George went over instructions for tanning the hides that awaited them on the utility porch.
In a few minutes the kids joined them. Bill rose immediately. “Is he - “
“Matt’s asleep now. Please don’t worry; we won’t hurt him.” Katy took a seat next to him and Lexie took his other side. That was a first.
“I, I know that.” He forced himself back into the seat.
Scully looked at the kids, “Has everyone checked in?”
Katy nodded, her mouth full.
“Wait a minute,” Mulder looked around the room, thinking. “What about at Brittany’s?”
“He can send; can he receive?”
“Sure can. We’ve been training. He’s good at it now.” She took a sip of the milk that wouldn’t last long.
“Good, and the barn?”
As though surprised at the question, Katy just looked at her father for a moment. “Kevin’s there.”
He chuckled, “Of course. How stupid of me.”
Once breakfast was over, Scully returned upstairs to nurse and dress Chrissy. Maggie handled wash-up and the men retreated to the utility porch to work on the hides.
Though they were all in the same house, they gave each other space during the days. Scully held some classes for the kids, reading to them from Moby Dick. Maggie, Anne and Lee joined them while the men worked nearly continuously on the hides.
Scully noted that Alex removed his arm as soon as possible when work was over each evening. He didn’t say anything, so she waited until he was alone in the kitchen and approached him.
“I want to see your arm.”
“Getting a little personal, aren’t we, Scully? Do I need a blue light?”
She narrowed her eyes. “What are you trying to hide?”
“It’s nothing. Lexie is looking after me.”
“So why are you still having a problem?”
He looked away then. He took a deep breath and pulled off his sweater. “Hurry with your exam, it’s chilly.”
Scully ignored that and took his arm in her hand. She was surprised when he winced at her touch. “Has Walt seen this?” He didn’t answer. “Alex, talk to me, this is . . . “
“What?” He looked up then, “What’s wrong?”
She was the one that didn’t respond then, “Walt, could you come in here please?” she called into the next room.
Alex’s face paled, but he didn’t speak. Walt and Mulder hurried into the kitchen. “You okay?” Mulder’s eyes scanned her quickly.
“I’m fine, Mulder. I want Walt to check out Alex’s arm.”
At that Mulder looked over at Alex. Even he could see that the stump was red, angry looking. He glanced down at Walt. The look on the boy’s face, the color in his cheeks, caused Mulder to squat down to his level. “Walt?”
“Uh, we, we’re not trying to hurt him.”
“Walt, are you doing this?” Scully sank down beside them as well.
Walt looked up at Alex. “Lexie asked us to try. We don’t know if it will work, but . . . “
“If what will work?” Mulder asked when the boy’s voice trailed off.
Walt sighed, “She wants us to try to grow Alex a new arm.”
All three adults were stunned into silence. Mulder recovered first. He looked over at Scully, then back to Walt. “Can you do it?”
Walt hesitated, “The bone is already longer. That’s why it’s red and the fake arm doesn’t fit right.”
“Why were you keeping it secret?” Scully asked quietly.
“We, uh, we hadn’t asked if Alex wanted it.”
Mulder rose then and helped Scully to her feet. He looked over at Alex. “Do you want it?”
Alex looked at Walt. “Yeah, yeah if you can do it, do it.”
The boy nodded. “It might help if you worked with us.”
“Tell me what to do.” Walt moved to him then and took his hand. Alex jerked slightly and looked down at his stump.
“Let’s go get Lexie.” Walt led him toward the main room.
Scully looked up at Mulder, speechless. He pulled her against him and closed his eyes. “Maybe we should join them.” She nodded and let her arm encircle his waist.
Matt had awoken and was interacting, but was as groggy as Bill had been and had little to say. He ate and stayed with the other children, listening when Scully read to them. Ruthie and Lexie sat with him a lot of the time.
Anne and Todd joined the others for lunch. Todd carried their son and Walter held a chair for Anne and looked over at the baby again, smiling. “Are you feeling okay?” he asked the young woman.
“I’m very okay. It’s so wonderful to have him here and safe.”
“So many babies around here.” Maggie smiled, “I love to see big families again.”
“He won’t be the baby for long.” Katy took another bite of her stew.
Mulder and Scully exchanged glances as Mulder let his spoon settle in his bowl. “Katy, is someone pregnant?”
All of the kids looked up and smiled, Walt chuckled. Katy looked at her mother then back at Mulder. “Yes. Megan’s having another boy, so is Julie, and Becky is having a girl.”
“Becky?” Mulder sputtered, “Langly’s reproduced?” He sounded strangled at that. Walter started to laugh, shaking his head and Maggie grinned. Scully just met Mulder’s eyes, her mouth open.
“Well, it is cold,” Katy said with a shrug. Everyone laughed at that.
Mulder realized that the children’s laughter had trailed off. All of the kids were looking at Katy. Her eyes were wide and, and frightened. He felt Scully’s hand grip his arm.
“Katy? Baby, what’s wrong?” Mulder leaned toward her.
She looked up at him. “They, they’re trying to contact us. They need help.”
Author’s note: Just wanted to let you know that there will be a hiatus on ATF for a little while. I’ve been writing a story a month since March of 2004 - that’s 15 months. I’ve not quit, but I can’t keep up that pace. Chapter 50 is underway but since July is the 6th anniversary of this saga, I’m going to take a break and finish up some other stuff I’ve not been able to get completed. Thanks to all of you rabid fans (you know who you are) and please remember - it’s just a break. Do not, repeat, do not panic <g> Thanks again