Mulder spotted her in the rocking chair, nursing Chrissy, when he returned from his run. She smiled up at him as he approached, reaching down to give her a quick kiss and letting his hand caress the baby's head. He sat for a moment to watch them.
"What?" She asked quietly.
He shook his head, "I just love watching you. This one scared me."
"All of our kids have scared you, admit it." She retorted with a grin.
"Not like this one. This one sent me over the edge. No surprise she's the redhead in the bunch."
Scully cut her eyes at him, but Chrissy looked over at him and gave him a milky smile in agreement.
He chuckled and rose from his seat at the foot of the bed. He stopped again just outside the bathroom. "What would you think of me growing a beard?"
She looked up and appraised his face with loving eyes. "Depends. What's the occasion?"
"MJ says it's going to be a really cold winter, like when Ruthie was born. Think it has anything to do with Anne being pregnant again?"
"I doubt it." She said dryly, "and she won't be pregnant by then anyway."
"Good to know." He ducked in the room, but left the door open and took a quick shower. When he returned she was changing the baby’s diaper. “We’re working harvest in the big field again today. You can’t imagine my delight at the new animal help. Where are you?”
“I’m taking the mobile kids to the kitchen gardens. Anne will keep the little ones.”
“What about Matt?” He looked up at her sigh. “Did he work yesterday?”
“He will today. That’s why I took this assignment from Anne. He can’t refuse when he’s on my crew.”
“Has Bill talked to him?”
“I’ve seen him try,” she said sadly, “but he did just get here.”
“So did Lynne. She was at the barn when I ran by.”
“It would be terrible for me to trip Katy and have her kind of fall into him, wouldn’t it?” She looked up at him, cuddling Chrissy to her.
His grin was large, causing her heart to flip. “That sounds like something I would say. But I’d warn Katy first.”
Scully rolled her eyes.
He took the baby from her, “Are we having breakfast here or at the clinic?”
“I need to get on over there, so I can make sure everyone knows what I expect.”
“Will there be cuffs and whips? And can you bring them back here afterwards?” He cut his eyes at her, but she just moved around him, shaking her head. He looked down at Chrissy. “Your Mom’s ignoring me.” She waved an arm at him and blew a couple of bubbles.
At the clinic Mulder rounded up breakfast for the kids and himself as Scully settled Chrissy and visited with Anne. Alex joined them at the table, slipping in between Walt and Lexie.
Mulder nodded to him, then looked back quickly. “Where’s your arm?”
“Phil’s looking at it. I think I dented it or something. It’s not fitting right.”
“Oh, well, he should be able to fix it.”
“Hope so. In the meantime, I’ll be helping the kids in the kitchen gardens.”
Mulder nodded, “Scully will be there too.” He took his seat and passed the honey to Lexie.
Scully held Esther’s hand as they walked to the garden outside Brittany’s house. Most of the other kids were already there with Alex. Matt trailed them, looking down and not responding to any of the greetings.
It wasn’t long before he was whining that he was tired and his back hurt. Scully ignored him for a little while, but when several of the baskets were full, she turned to him. “Why don’t you and Alex take these over to the kitchen at the clinic.”
“It’s too heavy.”
“I’ll be carrying half.” Alex said, somehow emphasizing where his sleeve was pinned up.
Matt’s face flushed and he noticed that everyone was watching him. He grabbed one side of the basket without looking at Alex. Alex and Scully exchanged glances, but said nothing. The other kids returned to picking beans.
Alex and Matt made several trips. Matt was complaining about blisters when he returned. “Matt, have Walt look at your hand.” Scully said quietly.
Matt looked up stunned and backed away from her.
“Matt? It’s okay, Walt can - “
Scully started back at the vehemence in his voice. “Why not?”
“He’s not human. If he touches me I’ll be infected.”
Alex stepped closer to Scully when she grew pale at his words. “Matt - “ He said, but Scully’s hand on his arm stopped him.
“Walt is my son, Mulder’s and mine. That is as human as you can get. If you are going to live here with us, you better understand that. Yes, he can make your hand feel better because his brain works in areas that mine doesn’t, but he, and all of the children here, are human. Suzie, Pete, and John weren’t born here, but they have learned to do what the other children can do. Do you think that makes them less human now?”
The other children had stopped and were watching them now. Matt seemed to want to shrink away, he hadn’t meant to say that out loud. His angel was angry with him and he was surrounded by danger.
He turned and ran from them. Alex looked up at Scully, but she shook her head. She turned to Katy, “Keep an eye on him, please.”
Katy nodded, then all of the children returned to their work.
When they broke for lunch, Maggie looked over the crowd and turned to Scully. “Is Matt not with you?”
“No. He didn’t want to work with us.”
“Dana, he - “
“Don’t worry. He’s at your house.”
“He got some blisters and I suggested he let Walt look at them. He . . . he freaked. He’s terrified of the children.” She shook her head. “I’m not sure what to do. I can’t force the children on him.”
“Give it more time, Dana. He’s a little boy whose life has been turned upside down.”
“I know, Mom. I keep reminding myself of that.” She sighed. She realized Bill had come into the house and was watching them. After a moment he moved to join them.
“At Mom’s house. He had a problem working with us.”
“Is he okay?”
“He’s probably tired. They did a good job on the beans at Brittany’s this morning. He has some blisters.”
“Didn’t Walt . . . “ Bill went quiet then, realizing what he was asking.
“He didn’t want Walt or any of the kids to touch him. I’m sorry.”
Bill nodded and turned away. Maggie's hand came up, but she let it drop back to her side when he walked away.
They were back at Brittany's, the largest of the kitchen gardens again, and hoping to finish it up today. Maggie, Mary, Jennifer and Anne had already begun the canning and freezing for winter. Matt had shown up. Scully had the impression that Bill had had a conversation with him, but he stayed to one side and his production was the lowest.
Without warning Katy jerked upright. "No!" The other children froze for an instant, then they were all running for the clinic. Alex scooped Ruthie up in his good arm, Scully had Esther's hand as they raced after the children. Stunned, Matt watched for a moment, then still unsure, trotted after them.
Scully spotted Mulder racing to meet them, Will and Sam on his heels. The others weren't far behind.
Nothing was said, the kids already knew what was happening and apparently there wasn't time to educate the others. Mulder noted they took their seats in a circle in front of the fireplace. Later he would puzzle over the arrangement, for now he merely noted it. The 'heavy hitters' were at the top of the circle. Walt was beside him; Katy, holding Chrissy sat between he and Scully. Lexie was on Scully's other side. Missy and MJ sat opposite each other at east and west in the circle. Esther and Ruthie were at the other end; Will and Jennifer, holding Malcolm, and Sam and Trisha, holding Louise, flanked them. Suzie, Pete and John were arranged in the spaces between.
The adults had joined them as well. Mulder could feel Walter behind him, Alex stood behind Scully and Kevin had placed himself behind Katy. Charlie and Mary were holding hands behind Missy, as Frohike and Beth stood behind MJ. George took his place behind John as Julie and Jerry took up a space behind Esther.
Lynne, looking scared, none the less joined the circle and Byers took her hand, smiling reassuringly at her.
Unexpectedly Katy spoke, "Anne, no! You can't. Todd, keep her back."
Todd didn't hesitate to follow the orders of this six year old and took Anne's arm, pulling her from the circle. As everyone closed their eyes, he took her in his arms, turning his back on the circle to shield she and their unborn child with his body.
Only Bill didn't join them. He spotted Matt, face pasty white, sidling for the door. He hurried to the boy’s side, and put his arm around him. "Stay here with me. We'll be okay." He whispered to the terrified boy and for the first time, Matt's hand gripped his.
Bill felt the energy rise in the room. The hair was standing up on his arms and he heard Matt whimper. Then as suddenly, it was over. Bill had no idea how much time had passed, but he saw the other's open their eyes, and immediately droop again. He saw that Walter managed to get Maggie to the couch before both collapsed. The others seemed to drop where they stood, falling asleep even as they sank to the floor.
"Stay here." Todd sat Anne in a chair as far away as possible and motioned to Bill. "There are blankets in Scully's office. We need to cover at least the little ones. Come on."
Bill leaned down to a quivering Matt, "They're just asleep. Come on, help me with the blankets." He didn't know if Matt nodded or just twitched, but he followed his father to Scully's office. Todd handed them each a stack of thin blankets.
"Matt, it's okay. Someone was in trouble, or hurt. The kids helped them. It's okay." Todd looked at the boy and felt a moment of sympathy. "It just exhausts them to help from a long distance."
Matt didn't respond, but he followed Bill and Todd back to the main room. Anne rose when they returned and helped them cover the children and the adults as far as the blankets went.
When they were finished, Todd looked up at Anne. He saw the grimace flit across her face and he took her arm. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” He wouldn’t let her look away, and after a moment she nodded. “I’ve had a couple of contractions.”
His eyes widened, “It’s too soon. That’s why Katy wanted you away.”
“I’m sure it’s just the tension.”
“I want to take you to Scully’s office. You need to lie down, put your feet up.”
“I need to stay here, near Ruthie. I’m okay.”
“Come here.” He led her to one of the larger chairs and settled her in, pulling an ottoman up for her. He blanched as he watched her breathing change again. “Anne?”
“Sit here with me.”
Bill finally approached them, Matt trailing him. “Can I get you anything?”
Todd looked up at him, “No, we’ll be okay.” Anne smiled at him.
“Did you . . . do you know what happened?”
Todd’s arm pulled Anne closer, but he shook his head. “I wasn’t there when they finished the connection, but it had to be big. Katy called the adults too. This wasn’t like Esther.”
“Esther?” Bill asked.
“Yeah, you didn’t live here then. Before they joined us, Esther was attacked by a woman in their old home. She knew Esther was . . . different. She tried to kill her; poured a pot of boiling soup over her.”
“Was she burned?”
“Yep, but you’d never be able to tell it. Since she’s one of the family, Katy knew it when it happened. The kids and Mulder joined, like you saw and saved her. Then I guess Katy talked her parents into coming here - “ He stopped and turned back to Anne. “It’s okay Baby. Just relax. Remember what happened to Scully when Malcolm was born.” He kissed her brow, but Bill could see his tension.
“What happened to Dana when Malcolm was born?” He asked quietly, not sure he’d get an answer.
It was Anne who spoke this time. “Scully was pregnant with Chrissy when Malcolm was born. Chrissy got ‘in touch’ with Malcolm and Scully went into premature labor.”
“How did they stop it?”
“Mulder was able to stop it.”
“Of course he did.” Bill looked away.
“Get over it.” Todd said immediately.
“Get over it. Mulder and Scully belong together. They were made for each other. They’re married, they have four children and they’ve made your life paradise. Get over it.”
“Paradise?” Bill shot back immediately.
“Yeah. You now live in the safest place on the planet because the kids keep the aliens away.” Todd responded.
Bill drew back slightly, but he didn’t speak.
“You have plenty to eat, a warm safe place to sleep. We have luxuries a lot of other people don’t. Humans have gone back to a barter system, you do know this. For the longest time the only thing we had of value was the vaccine, but people sent us gifts. They still do. We’re in Rhode Island; we don’t grow a lot of cotton up here for example. But most important you have your son with you, alive and well.”
Bill looked down at the boy, hovering at his side now that Bill seemed like the best of the bunch. Then he met Todd’s eyes and gave one short nod.
Everyone was quiet then. Bill and Matt moved off to the other end of the room.
Mulder was the first to stir. With his memory, he knew instantly what had happened. He reached for Scully and the feel of her strong and steady pulse steadied his own. He moved to sit up and Todd was there to help him.
“How ya doing?”
“Good question.” Mulder looked around the room. “Everyone?”
“Everyone but Bill, Matt, Anne and I. Mulder, she’s having contractions.”
Mulder head swiveled in her direction. “Thought Katy told you to stay away.” He chastised her slightly.
“I did. But I was in the room, and that was some energy you guys were putting off.” She smiled slightly at him.
He started to rise, but needed Todd’s hand to make it to his feet.
“You need to eat something.” Todd prescribed. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
“I can help - “ Anne started.
“Don’t you move.” Todd turned back to her. “Not an inch.”
“I’ll get the food.” Bill said quietly. “What would be good?”
Mulder blinked, but kept quiet.
“Uh, there’s a cheese in there, you could slice it and some of Frohike’s bread. That should be filling.” Todd suggested, Anne nodded.
“Come on.” Bill motioned for Matt to join him and they headed for the kitchen. “You want to slice bread or cheese?” He looked over at the boy.
“Are you going to help them?”
“One of them is your grandmother, your aunt, my brother. Yeah, I’m going to help them.” He turned away and found the knives. He felt Matt join him at the counter.
When they returned to the main room, Mulder was sitting on one side of Anne, his hand lightly on her belly. Todd was on her other side and seemed calmer.
“Everything okay?” Bill asked.
“Yeah, better.” Todd nodded to him.
“Good.” Bill brought a slice of bread and a hunk of cheese over to Mulder, who took them gratefully. He nodded his thanks.
After Mulder had eaten, Todd cleared his throat. “Do you know what happened?”
Mulder paused, “I don’t . . . I don’t know. There were things falling, chaos, it was bad. A lot of people died. And, and there was water . . . “ He shook his head.
“People died?” Anne asked.
Mulder nodded. “I don’t . . . we’re gonna have to talk to Katy.”
“Just rest, Mulder.” Anne squeezed his shoulder.
“How about you?”
She blinked, “I . . . I haven’t had a contraction since you woke up. Thank you.”
“I didn’t . . . Okay, you’re welcome.” He grinned, then looked over at Greg and Will as they started to stir. It wasn’t long before most of the adults were starting to sit up. Bill distributed the bread and cheese quietly.
When Scully stirred, Mulder started to rise, but Kevin was already helping her up. Mulder winked at Anne and moved over to his wife. She leaned against him and his arm went around her. “You okay?” He asked quietly.
She nodded and took the food. The room was quiet, in deference to the sleeping children. All of the adults were awake now, looking at each other. When Scully was finished eating, Mulder took her hand. “Can you tell me what you saw?”
She looked up at him, her eyes bleak. “It was awful. Things were disintegrating, and the noise, the noise was unbearable. Thousands died, then the water.”
“Water. I remember water too.” He said, “I didn’t remember the sound, but you’re right, it was loud. What else?”
“I don’t know.” She shook her head. “It was too big. I couldn’t . . . “
“Don’t worry about it. Katy will explain it.”
She snuggled into his side and didn’t speak.
Chrissy was the first of the children to stir. Kevin brought her to Scully and she nursed right there, with one of the blankets over her shoulder. When Malcolm and Louise woke, Megan and Beth did the same, not wanting to leave the group. The children ate their bread and cheese solemnly and waited for Katy. She was in Mulder’s lap now and her sadness was pervasive.
After several minutes, Mulder gave her a squeeze. “Baby, we need to - “
“Mulder, not yet.” Scully interrupted.
“No, Dad’s right. We have a lot to talk about.” She met Walt’s eyes and their parents saw him give her strength. She took a deep breath and looked up at Mulder. “They messed up. They made a mistake, a big one.”
“The other ones. They’re . . . “ she looked at Mulder’s eyes, “arrogant. They think they know everything, but they don’t.”
“What did they do?”
“It was at that place in California, where they were holding Uncle Bill. There was a . . . an explosion.”
“A big one.” Mulder nodded, remembering the chaos he had witnessed.
“That’s not the problem. It made an earthquake.”
Mulder looked up quickly at Scully, then back at Katy. “In Southern California?”
She nodded miserably. “It, it’s gone.”
“Gone? What’s gone?”
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.