Scully looked up at Mulder. She certainly wasn’t expecting this. Mulder was looking over at Katy. He nodded to her then turned back to Scully.
He leaned down to whisper to Matthew, “She is an angel. And she wants you to be happy. Think you could live here?”
Matthew looked over at him. Mulder met his eyes and after a moment he nodded. “Good to have you here, Matthew.” He stood up and held out his hand to shake. After a long moment, Matthew held out his right hand. His left gripped Scully’s even tighter.
Bill stood on the far side of his horse, watching. His eyes narrowed when Matthew voluntarily shook Mulder’s hand. Something made him look down and he realized Esther and MJ had appeared beside him and were watching him, their faces impassive.
Bill ran his hand over his forehead, and sighed. Of course Mulder would be able to reach him. He could walk on water, right?
“Let’s go over to the clinic, Matty. Your Grandmother is there.” Scully coaxed him gently.
He pulled back slightly. “A lot of people?”
“They won’t bother you. Everyone is very happy that you’re here.” Scully hugged him again. “I’ll be with you the whole time.”
That didn’t completely relax him, but he let her lead him in that direction. “I’ll catch up in just a second, Scully.” Mulder squeezed her hand and she nodded.
Mulder turned back to the rest of the group. He smiled at Charlie as he approached him. They grinned, hugging each other. “You missed me.” Charlie chuckled.
“Yep, I did. Kevin kept me on compost just about the whole time.”
Charlie laughed out loud at that and Mulder turned to Sam. “Did you keep the old guys in line?” He asked.
“I tried, but they’re pretty old.” He responded, giving Mulder a hug himself. “I want you to meet someone very important.” He turned to Lynne.
She stepped forward shyly and held out her hand. “Hi.”
Mulder shook it and looked her over. “Lynne, right?”
He winced. “Mulder, please. I’m not that old.”
“Mulder?” Her eyes widened, “You’re Mulder?”
“Pleased or horrified?” He asked with a grin.
She blushed and looked over at Sam. He stepped closer. “He’s always like that, Lynne. Tell him horrified, it’ll help his ego.”
She gave a nervous laugh. Mulder rolled his eyes. “Now I know who’s doing compost duty tomorrow. Yeah, I’m Mulder. The little redhead that left with Matt is my wife, Scully.”
“Little redhead? Just try to put me on compost.” Sam began unloading the donkey.
Charlie moved in then to rescue Lynne. “Don’t listen to them, they’re always like that. You’ll get used to it.”
Jerry, who hadn’t spoken until then, nodded. “He’s right. But they’re relatively harmless. We’ll get these animals unloaded and bedded. Go on up to the clinic and get a bite to eat, rest up a little. Don’t worry about your livestock, Lynne; we’ll take good care of them.”
“Thanks. I’ll check back later. They shouldn’t give you any trouble.”
Mulder looked over at Bill then, “We’re glad you’re home.”
“Is that the royal ‘we’?” Bill asked, his tone as angry as always.
Mulder nodded as the smiles slipped from Charlie and Sam’s faces. “Your mother is anxious to see you.” They started for the clinic, but Lynne stopped and looked back. “Bill? Are you coming?”
“In a minute.” He turned away from them. Charlie took her arm and they moved toward the clinic.
Mulder looked over at Charlie. “We need to debrief, Mulder.” He said quietly, “but give us a little time to get settled.”
“Take all you need. You’re home.” Mulder agreed.
They spotted Trisha running in from the large field then and Sam raced to meet her. Sam picked her up and swung her around. Mulder and Charlie exchanged glances, but didn’t comment.
When they turned back to look at the clinic, Mary was running toward them. The smile that came over Charlie’s face caused Mulder and Lynne to fall back a little so that they could say their hellos alone.
“I think they like each other.” Mulder said in a stage whisper to Lynne. Mary looked up then, blushing. Charlie winked at them, then turned to Mary. “I’d like you to meet Lynne, our new vet.”
“I’m glad you’re here. Everyone’s so excited to have you. Come on in.” She led them up the stairs and onto the porch. Missy tackled Charlie around the legs and he picked her up and swung her up in the air. She giggled wildly and hugged his neck, then looked over at the others, “Hi Lynne!”
“Uh, hi. You must be Missy.”
The little girl nodded and scrambled down. She took Lynne’s hand, “Come on, we made sandwiches.” Lynne looked back at the others and flashed them a grateful smile, then followed the little girl inside.
Charlie spotted Dana and Matthew on the couch. His mother was on Matthew’s other side and still had tears on her cheeks, though she was smiling now. Matthew still clung to Dana’s hand.
Mary joined the other women, “Matt? Can I get you a sandwich?” He looked up startled that someone had spoken to him.
“You should eat something, Matt. People will be coming in for lunch soon; this will put us at the front of the line.” Maggie stroked his hair again.
He looked over at Dana, then nodded. Mary headed to the kitchen and returned shortly with food for the three of them. Mulder took a seat in the chair next to Dana. “I know you’ve been on the road for a while now, Matt, but you’re home. We’re all looking forward to getting to know you.”
Matt wouldn’t look at him, but seemed to move closer to Scully.
Mulder continued smoothly, “We’ve got a lot of young people here. Most are younger than you, but they’re good kids. I guess you met Missy. She’s Charlie and Mary’s youngest. The rest are around somewhere. They’ll try not to overwhelm you, but it’s just because they’ve been looking forward to meeting you.”
“Why would they want to meet you?” Mulder asked confused. At the boy’s nod he continued. “Well, you’re first cousin to a lot of them. Charlie has three kids, you know Sam and Missy. Will is older than Sam. And Scully and I have four kids, Katy, Walt, Lexie and Chrissy. I think Walt will enjoy having another boy around.” He smiled at the boy.
“They’re different, aren’t they?” Matthew asked suddenly.
“Different?” Scully asked this time, and Maggie went still beside him.
“I heard them talking about the new kids; how they were different from humans.”
“They’re very human, Matt.” Scully said quickly. “I don’t know who you heard, but everyone here is human.”
The boy looked frightened then, that he’d upset his angel. She saw his fear and hugged him again. “They’re your cousins and soon to be your friends, Matt. Don’t worry.”
Katy came in the front door then, carrying the cat and stroking it. She joined them and took a seat in Mulder’s lap.
“Katy, this is Matt, your cousin.” Mulder introduced them, knowing it was unnecessary on her part.
“Hi. Is this your cat?” Katy asked, again knowing the answer, but finding a topic for them.
“Uh, no. It’s Lynne’s.” He answered a little sullenly.
“She’s pretty.” Katy let the animal down and it scampered to Lynne, who was sitting at the table listening to Missy. Missy had her hand lightly on the young woman’s arm.
“Wanna come see our school?” Katy offered, as Matthew finished his sandwich. She held out her hand. Matthew looked up at Scully, who smiled and nodded. He seemed to think about it, but then rose, though he didn’t take her hand.
They headed for the classroom, but Matt glanced back at Scully one more time before disappearing into the hall. He didn’t notice Bill at the front door. Mulder and Scully exchanged glances but before they could speak, Bill was standing in front of them.
Scully rose and hugged the large man, “I’m glad you’re home safe, Bill.”
“Really?” He glanced over at Mulder.
“Really.” Maggie said as she stood and also hugged her son. “Was it a good trip?”
Bill glanced toward the classroom. “Not exactly what I’d hoped.”
“Honey, he’s unsettled. Give him a little time.”
“Right, that’s what everyone keeps telling me.” He glanced over at Mulder.
“Once he feels like he’s home, Bill, he’ll calm down. The other kids will help him, like they did with Pete and John and Suzie.”
Bill’s look said it all, the other ‘normal’ kids. Mulder felt Scully bristle and took hold of her hand. She took a deep breath and managed to keep quiet.
“Why don’t you get cleaned up and rest today, Bill.” Mulder spoke. “I’d like to hear about your trip in the day or so.”
“We like to hear what’s happening out there.” Mulder said mildly.
“Ask Katy.” Bill turned then and stalked up the stairs.
Maggie’s sadness tore at Mulder. He put his arm around her, hugging her to him. “Don’t worry about it, Mom. He’s upset about Matthew. Give him a little time.”
Maggie nodded, but left them and disappeared into the kitchen.
Mulder’s arm went around Scully. “Are you going to be here this afternoon?”
“Yes, I’m working in the kitchen, so I can keep an eye on Matty. At least he seems comfortable around me.”
"Looks like Katy's taken him in tow. That should help."
"It's because of her guilt about Bill." Scully sighed, "But if it helps Matty . . ."
Lexie opened the door and led everyone in. Scully turned toward the kitchen to get a large glass of water before nursing Chrissy. Mulder adjusted the baby on his shoulder to a more comfortable position so she could stretch her legs. He looked over at Katy. "Angel?" His tone was dry, sarcastic.
Katy rolled her eyes as Lexie giggled and even Walt smiled. "That's not what I sent." She sat on the couch, leaving the end for Scully. "I know for sure Uncle Bill is his Dad." She sighed.
"What do you mean?" Scully asked as took her seat.
"They're both thick as bricks." Katy muttered.
Mulder's laugh turned quickly into a cough and he nuzzled Chrissy's neck. Scully glared up at him and reached for the baby. He surrendered their youngest to her and sat in his chair. Lexie immediately climbed into his lap. "So what did you send?" He asked, hugging Lexie to him.
"Safety, home, love. He has almost no real memories of Uncle Bill, just what his grandparents said about him. They didn't like him much. He has some of his mother, but even they're fuzzy. We thought he needed something to make him feel better. I didn't send pictures of Mom with white wings." She sounded disgusted.
"But you may have made her seem like a Madonna." Mulder said. "Imagines of her with you kids, being a doctor. Whatever he got, you're right, he needed to feel safe and that happened."
"Will you be able to train him?" Scully asked. "He and Suzi are about the same age."
"Only if he'll let us touch him." Again Katy sounded put out. "Not human." She shook her head.
Scully looked over at Mulder then. He rose with Lexie in his arms. "Bedtime. I know Kevin has you guys in the Clinic garden in the morning before classes. I'll be inspecting teeth in a couple of minutes." He gave Lexie a light squeeze and put her down.
The kids hurried off to get ready for bed. He kissed Scully and shook his head. They would talk later.
Mulder came out of the bathroom and spotted Scully lying on his side of the bed, waiting for him. He couldn’t help but smile. Seeing her there, even after all this time gave him a feeling of warmth he couldn’t express.
He crawled in beside her. “You okay?”
She cuddled in close. “I don’t know. It wasn’t what I was expecting.”
“I know. But they’re home now. The kids will help him.”
“If he’ll let them. Where did he hear that the kids weren’t human? Are people out there saying things like that?”
“I don’t know, Scully. But it doesn’t matter. We know they’re human; they’re ours, part of you and me.”
“But if someone is spreading stories about them, they could be in danger.”
He pulled her even closer, “Our kids can look after themselves. And they’re not alone. Look what they did for Esther. They can look after each other.”
When Mulder arrived at his office the next morning, he was surprised to find no one else there. It was rare that he beat Kevin, and since Walter hadn’t been at breakfast, he had assumed he’d already eaten and headed this way.
He pulled out the work chart and saw that Kevin had been working on it, adding new responsibilities for the growing number of animals, as well as the fast approaching second harvest.
He looked up when Walter walked heavily into the room, and rose immediately. “Are you okay?”
Walter waved him down, “I’m fine, just didn’t sleep much.”
“We had Matt, excuse me, Matthew at our house last night. After you and Scully headed home, he flatly refused to stay with Bill and pitched a fit. Maggie tried to calm him down and talked him into sleeping at our place. He did, grudgingly, but nothing suited him. Mulder, he’s a spoiled brat. I think even Maggie is disgusted with him, thought she'll never admit it. I left her asleep; and him of course. Look, I know we’re spoiled by the kids here, but I don’t remember other children acting like him.”
Mulder absorbed this quietly. “I could go over and get him up and put him to work. I don’t think he’d refuse me outright, but that puts me in the position of discipling Bill’s son.” He shook his head, “That would get ugly in a hurry.”
Walter sank into the chair and sighed. “Then who is gonna do it? Bill?”
Mulder gave a silent laugh then. “When we debrief Charlie, let’s beg for ideas.”
“Soon. I don’t want that boy in my house long.”
“Suzi, John, Pete, they weren’t like this.” Mulder agreed.
“They worked, even as babies. Now that Katy and the rest have trained them in whatever they can do . . . “
Mulder mused on that, “We talked to the kids about that last night. Think it's possible?”
Walter just looked at him, “Not if he doesn’t want to be. I heard about his non-human remark.”
“Gee, I’m glad Bill found us.” Mulder sat back in his chair and they both turned to the chart.
Kevin came in a few minutes later, laughing and escorting Lynne. “Hi, about time you guys showed up.” He tossed toward Mulder and Walter.
“Beg pardon?” Mulder looked up. “Where were you?”
“Come and gone already. Lynne’s been giving me a lesson in animal husbandry. Now she’s going to help me revamp the duty rosters to make sure everything's covered.”
The two older men just looked at him. He grinned back, “Ever milked a goat, Mulder?”
Mulder groaned and shook his head, not in answer but in disbelief. “Lynne, are you encouraging him?”
She grinned, “Well he did seem to enjoy the thoughts of you mucking out the stables.”
“You know we created a monster.” Mulder looked over at Walter who nodded. He took a deep breath. “Give me a quick overview. I need to get to work.”
Kevin motioned for Lynne to take his seat and he leaned over her, showing Mulder and Walter his notes.
Lynne fit in well and her laugh was infectious. Mulder even heard her singing to herself as she worked with the animals. She loved giving the kids rides on the horses, and worked with them, showing them how to groom and care for them.
She also volunteered to work in the kitchen and the classroom. Smiles followed her. Mulder had even seen Bill smile at her once, though it hadn't lasted.
Scully was curled up next to Mulder on the couch. The kids were all in bed; Chrissy had been nursed and was down as well.
“What are you thinking about so hard?” He tucked a strand of red hair that had worked its way out her braid behind her ear.
She glanced up and snuggled in a little. “I’m a little relieved.”
She sighed lightly, “That Katy’s taking Lynne so well.”
“Well, Lynne’s spending a lot of time with Kevin and . . . “
“You know Kevin and Katy have always had a special bond. And he’s spent a lot of time with her.”
“Katy’s a baby; did you think she’d be jealous?”
“Katy’s not a baby and I don’t mean jealous exactly, but . . . Anyway, I’m glad things aren’t, aren’t uncomfortable.”
“Are you playing match maker for Kevin?” He grinned. “What about Marie?”
“You’re not paying attention, Mulder. Phil is quietly courting Marie. They’re both so quiet I’m not sure anyone’s noticed. They are cute together.”
“Like us?” He nuzzled her neck, his hand cupping her breast.
She nearly strangled on her laugh. “Cute? You and me?”
“Hey, I’m adorable.” He pretended to be hurt.
“Yes you are, dear.” She pulled his face down and kissed him.
He mock glared at her, but she was off in her head. “What now?”
“Just thinking about how people come here and then find their mates. I mean, I suppose the kids could be involved, but don’t you think it a little odd that these people find each other in such a small place? Frohike and Beth, Todd and Anne, Julie and Jerry . . . even Mom and Walter. Don’t you think the odds of that are a little high?”
“I, I never really thought about it. I got my true love here, why not everyone?”
Her smile softened her face. “Mulder, every once in a while you say just the right thing to me.”
“Mmm, why are we out here, when we have a bed in the next room?”
“To make sure Chrissy is really asleep. Don’t ruin it, Bub.”
He snatched her up in his arms, causing her to squeal. He carried her into the bedroom, and after lying her gently on the bed, shut the door softly. “Don’t disturb the baby, Scully. You need to keep it down.”
“Me, huh?” He couldn’t answer since she was suckling his lower lip.