Charlie let himself out of the house. He wasn’t sure what Katy had seen or what it meant, but his relief was real. Not to say he was really worried about Mulder and Dana, they’d still be together a millennium from now, but it felt good to see it. Dana had really been wiped out by whatever she’d done, to still be asleep now, and after holding Walt for so long last night. Well, Mulder could handle it. He chuckled to himself, he was like one of the kids at times, but Mulder could handle anything.
The smile on his face, when he entered the clinic, seemed to relax everyone and he marveled a little at their concern.
Mulder had taken Katy into his lap and they sat in the chair Scully used to nurse, both watching her sleep. Katy didn’t ask any questions, she saw what she needed to feel happy and secure, which was okay with him. She was too young to hide her feelings or show guile. He was going to miss that as she grew.
It wasn’t long before Scully stirred, and smiled at them when she opened her eyes. “Hi, guys. What time is it?”
“After eight.” Mulder offered. “How do you feel?”
She smiled at him, “Good. But you shouldn’t have let me sleep so long. It’s been, what - “
“About 11 hours.” She blinked at that. “I bet you’re hungry. Why don’t you get washed up and I’ll fix us something.”
“What about work?”
“Oh, they called from the office, gave you the day off.”
“They called, huh?”
“Yep, took it myself.” He was standing over her now, gauging her abilities, and helping her to her feet. She made no protest.
Once she was in the bathroom, he turned to Katy, “Want to help me fix her some breakfast?”
“Yeah.” She took his hand and they moved into the kitchen.
“What do you think she’d like?”
Mulder looked at Katy; Scully usually didn’t indulge herself, saving such treats for the kids. Then he nodded, “I think that’s a great idea.” He pulled out the pan, as Katy got the dishes out.
“What made Mommy sick?” Mulder turned back to look at her. “It’s okay, she’s better now, but what did she do?”
“Well, do you remember that man we had here that you said was all black?”
She nodded solemnly, “the one that was dead.”
“Uh, right. Well, it turns out he was a . . . a fake man.” Katy nodded as though this was the most normal thing in the world. “Your Mom was trying to find the real man, with her mind.”
“Oh him, why does she want to find him? He’s not any nicer.”
Mulder literally dropped the frying pan onto the floor, staring at his four year old. Scully came hurrying from the bedroom. Mulder was a lot of things, but clumsy wasn’t one of them. He was standing there, making no effort to pick up the cookware. “Mulder? Mulder, what’s wrong?”
“Uh, I . . . I forget how special my family is sometimes.”
He sighed, “What you’ve been killing yourself trying to do, our daughter has already done.”
Scully’s eyes swung toward Katy, who looked like a deer frozen in the headlights.
“I don’t . . . “
Mulder held the chair and Scully sat, looking between the two of them.
“You were killing yourself?” Katy’s eyes were still huge. Mulder’s eyes closed, realizing what he had said.
“Oh Baby.” He reached for Katy and pulled her into his lap. “I didn’t mean that. You know I was kinda mad at your Mom because she did something that hurt her. Well, I just said that to give her some grief.”
The little girl looked up at him, trustingly.
“I didn’t mean to scare you, Honey. You know your Mom’s okay, you can see it yourself and so could Walt.”
Katy glanced over at her Mom, obviously scanning her. Then she reached for Scully and Mulder moved her to her mother’s lap.
“Don’t you worry about me, Katy. Your Daddy does enough of that, right?” Katy giggled and shot a sideways glance at Mulder. He shrugged and made his puppy dog face at her, causing both of his girls to laugh.
“What are we going to do with him Katy?” Scully squeezed her daughter.
“Just love him.”
Mulder blinked at that, but Scully nodded. “Yep, I guess that’s about all he’s good for.”
Scully focused back on the little girl, “Enough about me, what were you and Daddy talking about?”
“The fake man that was here.” Scully looked over at Mulder, her eyebrow high. Fake, huh? Well, it was a way to keep it on Katy’s level.
“What about him?”
“Well,” Katy glanced back at Mulder, “Daddy said you were looking for the real man. That’s what made you sick.”
“I just had a headache.” She looked over at Mulder in admonition again. “Did you, did you find him?”
Katy looked back and forth between her parents, not understanding the tension. Finally she nodded.
“Is he, is he okay?” Scully tried not to sound anxious.
Katy shrugged, “He’s mad.”
“Mad?” Mulder asked, not sure how to phrase what he wanted to ask.
She nodded, “They like him mad.”
“Who likes him mad, Honey?’ Mulder asked.
“The different ones. The ones that can look like us, but aren’t.”
Scully’s eyes widened and her hold on the little girl tightened involuntarily.
Mulder brushed his hand through the dark hair so like his own. “How do you know about them, Sweetheart?”
“Well, you guys think about them a lot. And, and they’re the reason you give people shots.”
Scully closed her eyes, and kept them closed when Mulder’s hand caressed her cheek, pressing into it slightly.
“Sweetheart, do you know where he’s living?”
Katy looked slightly confused, then shrugged again, “Not here.”
Mulder smiled, “I guess that’s a pretty good geographic answer for a four year old. I think we should stop there for a little while. Weren’t we going to fix your mother an egg?”
“Oh yeah!” Katy smiled and moved to get down from Scully’s lap.
“Honey, why don’t you eat the egg?”
“No, you’ve been sick. Daddy and I want you to eat it.”
“Right.” Mulder winked and took Katy’s hand. Scully made no further protests, looking a little limp.
Mulder broke the egg into a bowl and let Katy scramble it while he poured Scully some tea. “How you doing?” He whispered.
“I’m a little overwhelmed.”
“Yeah.” He kissed her and turned back to Katy. Together they cooked Scully’s breakfast, then Katy carried it to the table smiling.
“It looks delicious. Thank you Sweetheart; you too Sweetheart.” She smiled up at Mulder.
When she had eaten and went to dress, Mulder washed up with Katy’s help. She looked up at him from her position, standing on the chair to reach the sink. “You want to ask me more questions about the real man.” She stated it as though waiting.
“Yeah, we do. But he’s alive, that’s what your Mom wanted to know. When she’s feeling a little stronger - “
“She feels fine.”
Mulder glanced quickly down at his daughter, then laughed out loud. Scully joined them then.
“I couldn’t explain it, but I think there’s a lot of you in our daughter here.”
“Oh? I thought she was a little clone of you. You know we should go get the babies.”
“Katy and I can pick them up. You’re supposed to be resting today.”
“I feel - “
“Fine, I’ve been told. Humor me.”
“When do I not?”
He raised an eyebrow at her and Katy burst into giggles.
He huffed, “My women are conspiring against me.”
“Should we give in Katy?” Scully turned to the little girl.
“Yeah, we love him.” And nodded once adamantly.
“You win, as usual Mulder. I’ll sit here on the couch and do nothing more strenuous than fold laundry. You guys pick up the little ones.”
“Ah, a plan.” Mulder picked Katy up and tossed her over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry. “I’m off to grab more kids, I’ll use this one as bait.”
He was at the door, helping Katy fasten her coat, when Scully approached him and kissed his cheek. “Why don’t you ask Walter and Charlie to come by later? We could discuss things.”
“Yes ma’am. We’ll be back soon. Will you take it easy?”
She sighed lightly, “I promise. Now go get my babies.”
Katy was tugging on his hand as well, “and I want to see Kevin.”
“All these demanding women in my life.” He slung Katy back over his shoulder, winked at Scully, kissed her quickly and headed for the clinic.
He was aware that everyone stopped to look at him when he entered and placed Katy on her feet. She ran off immediately in search of Kevin. Charlie had said that he had frightened everyone last night, so what was he supposed to say now?
The newest ones, they didn’t know him and while he’d never really cared what people thought of him back in his old life, here things were different. He looked up gratefully when Beth and Anne approached him and hugged him.
“How’s Scully?” Anne asked, loud enough for the others to hear.
“Better. A lot better, but I wanted her to rest today.”
“And she didn’t want to?” Beth smiled.
“Scully, think about herself? You know better.” But he could feel the others relax. It reminded him slightly of he and Samantha, on edge when they’re parents had fought. He looked around the room at the different projects halted by his presence. Had he and Scully become the ‘parents’ of all these people?
“We were missing our babies. Anyone seen them?” None of the littlest kids were in evidence.
“Frohike has them all in the classroom, something about practicing.” Anne shrugged.
Mulder looked up at Beth, remembering suddenly, “You doing okay?” he whispered, not sure who was in on the news.
“Great. We thought we’d tell everyone later.”
He nodded, “We’re really happy for you.”
She smiled, “I know. Will you be there?”
“If you want me.”
“We want you. Mark your calendar.”
He nodded and she moved off. He turned to the hall, to collect his brood. When he was just outside the door, he realized that Tricia had joined him.
He stopped and looked at the girl. “You want to ask me something?” He waited, hoping he didn’t look intimidating.
“Did you hit Scully?”
His mouth opened, stunned and he saw her father move quickly toward them. “Tricia!” he took the girl’s arm, looking pale and shaken.
Mulder put his hand on Stan’s shoulder, “It’s a legitimate question.” He turned to look at Tricia. “No. I didn’t hit Scully. I would never hit Scully. But I did lose my temper and I cleared off a shelf of books. That’s what you heard.”
Tricia looked up at him, straight in the eye, and after a moment, relaxed. A small smile appeared on her face. “I believe you.”
“Thank you.” He said it solemnly.
“Will and Sam are right, you don’t treat me like a kid.”
“You’re not a kid, not here. You’ll pull your own weight. And just so you know, no man hits any woman here, not me, not anyone. It’s not going to happen.”
She nodded, then looked up at her father. He was obviously still reeling from her audacity. “If you ask a question, then you get the answer. Isn’t that one of the reasons you wanted to come here?” She moved away then, not waiting for an answer herself.
“Stan? You okay?”
He nodded, then swallowed, “I . . . I’m sorry she was so insolent.”
“She wasn’t really insolent. She was brave enough to ask what you were probably thinking. Just to state it again, I did not hit my wife, that’ll never happen.”
“I, I would never - “
“You would never ask. That’s what I appreciate about Tricia and Will and Sam, they haven’t learned to hold back. They’re a lot more honest than we are. But I do want to apologize for upsetting everyone.”
“Is there, is there anything we can do?”
“There might be. We’re still investigating the being that came here with you. As soon as we know more we’ll have to decide our next step. For now, I need to get back to my wife, and I want to take my kids. I’ll talk to you later.”
Stan swallowed again and nodded. Mulder knew he wasn’t completely reassured, but that would have to come with time. He did have a mild curiosity about this place where Tricia had spent her early years, but that was for later.
All the kids looked up and greeted him as he entered the classroom. “Practicing, huh?” He spoke to Frohike.
“Yeah,” he grinned, “who would have thought that I’d have a couple of kids.”
“I’m not sure I’d have put a lot of money on it a few years ago.” Mulder glanced over to see Walt attempting to walk toward him. He squatted down and held out his arms. The boy smiled broadly and took the steps into his fathers waiting arms. “Way to go, Big Guy.” He picked him up and rose to his feet.
Lexie had obviously heard his voice and came racing toward him on hands and knees to be picked up as well. He couldn’t help but laugh, his mood instantly improved just by being near his kids.
“Scully okay?” Frohike asked.
“Yeah. Beth tell you about the nose bleed?”
Frohike nodded, “Don’t blame you for freaking. I had to explain it to Beth, but when she got it . . .”
Mulder nodded. “Well, I’m gonna pick up some lunch and take the crowd home. She promised to rest, but I am married to Scully.”
“Right. If you need anything . . .”
Mulder clapped him on the shoulder and left with one kid under each arm.
He found Walter in the kitchen, and grinned at the apron. Walter glared at him for an instant. “Things okay?”
“Things are becoming interesting. Think you and Charlie could come over this evening. We have new information.”
Walter looked at him carefully, “She found him?”
“No, Katy did. Keep it quiet and we’ll talk.”
Walter’s mouth had dropped open, but he closed it and after a moment turned to fix them some lunch to take home.
Scully was napping on the couch when they opened the door, and he motioned for Katy to be quiet. Walt had obviously done the same to Lexie because all three went silent. Mulder took the little ones into the bedroom and changed them, while Katy carried the lunch into the kitchen.
Scully was still asleep when he returned and he wondered again at exactly how hard she had been trying, but stopped himself. That was a sure way to become angry again and would serve no purpose.
The babies played quietly around the couch, and Mulder put the lunch on to heat, then finished folding the laundry. He just wanted to be near her.
It was about forty-five minutes later when she stirred. Walt pulled up on the couch to touch her as she woke. “Hi guys, I didn’t hear you come in. How are my babies?”
Lexie joined Walt for some Mommy time, then Scully looked up to see Mulder, watching from the kitchen. The look of worry was back on his face.
“Is anything wrong?” She finally asked.
He shook his head.
“How, how long have you been back?” She looked at the pile of laundry and smelled the stew, some sort of red meat this time. Mulder must have begged to get out of eating fish again.
He looked down, then faced her, “Almost an hour.”
He could tell that answer startled her. “But you’re fine, right?”
“Mulder, I do feel good. I can’t explain . . . “
“It’s okay. I don’t want to lose it again. We can talk when the kids nap.”
She nodded and put the two little ones back on the floor, then rose from the couch. “Can I help with lunch?”
He shook his head, “but you can sit here and supervise, after I hold you for a minute.”
She smiled with relief then and enjoyed the feel of his arms around her.
He allowed her to clean up while he put the kids down for their nap, then pulled her back onto the couch, enfolding her against him.
“You didn’t try anything while we were gone?”
She sat up and locked eyes with him. “No, Mulder, I promised I wouldn’t. Besides,” she shrugged, “Katy’s better at it than I am.”
He nodded, “So this is residual from yesterday.”
“Mulder, I don’t have a headache, I don’t feel ill. Walt doesn’t seem concerned.”
Mulder glanced toward the bedroom, it was true that Walt didn’t seem upset. Finally he nodded, “I talked to Walter, told him a little about what was going on. He’s going to bring Charlie. The next meeting can include Mom and whoever else should be here.”
She leaned against him and his arm went back around her.
Mulder opened the door for Walter and Charlie later that evening. The littlest ones were in bed asleep. Scully was reading to Katy.
“Glad you could come.” He offered them tea, but both declined.
“I hear my niece has a new talent.” Charlie settled himself in the chair opposite Walter, leaving the couch for Mulder and Scully.
“Seems so. Now we’re talking a four year old, but she says she knows the ‘real man’ that the ‘fake man’ came from.” He shrugged, “Her comment was he was with the different ones that can look like us, but aren’t. And that they like him mad.”
Walter took a deep breath and looked at the two younger men. “That sounds like she had a good grasp of the situation to me.”
Charlie nodded, “any location?”
Mulder grinned, “Not here.”
“Well at least she narrowed it down.” Charlie grinned back at him. Walter rolled his eyes.
They all turned when the door opened and Scully and Katy joined them. Katy smiled and settled herself in Walter’s lap. When Kevin wasn’t around, he was her next choice. Walter looked up at Mulder, then back at his precious first grandchild. “I hear you’ve been exploring.”
She grinned, “You all want to ask me about the real man.”
“That’s right Katy, His name is Bill and he’s my brother, like Walt is yours.” Charlie spoke.
“He’s not a good brother like Walt. He doesn’t like to help people.”
Mulder made a point of not looking at Scully.
“Honey,” she leaned forward and touched Katy’s hand. “He wasn’t always like that.”
Katy looked at her father, but he seemed not to notice. Scully looked over at Mulder too, then away. Bill was a sore spot between them, moreso now that her search for him had caused her . . . to be ill.
Scully swallowed, then turned her attention back to Katy. “Honey, you said ‘they like to keep him angry’, what do you mean?”
“When he’s mad, he doesn’t think right, so they keep him mad.”
“Not think right?” Charlie leaned forward.
“He’s not very smart.”
Mulder rolled his eyes and Katy grinned at him.
“I don’t understand, why would Bill work with them, even be around them.” Charlie remarked.
“He doesn’t know they’re the different ones.”
They all turned then to gape at her.
“He doesn’t . . .” Mulder finally joined the conversation, looking at Walter.
Walter cuddled Katy against him. “Sweetie, look at Grandpa.” She looked up at him. “Bill, the real Bill, doesn’t know he’s working with . . . with them?”
“He doesn’t believe there are them. They keep him mad so he can’t think right and he thinks the people that believe in aliens are . . . ‘fucking idiots like Mulder’.”
There was dead silence for a long moment, then Scully spoke. “That’s a very bad word Honey. Don’t ever use it.”
Katy nodded, “I’m sorry.”
Mulder sat, his hands entwined at his lips, thinking, then he leaned forward, “Katy, Bill truly doesn’t believe that aliens are responsible for the . . . for all the people that have, have died?”
The little girl shook her head, “He thinks that it was all because the scientists at the CCD did something stupid.”
“Could that be CDC, Honey?” Scully asked gently.
Katy nodded. “He thinks if the soldiers had been in charge, then the god-d -
“Katy! Sorry, that’s another very bad word.”
Katy looked at her mother exasperated, “He uses a lot of them.”
Charlie laughed out loud then. They all turned to look at him. “Sorry, I just know she’s got the right guy.” Scully struggled not to smile, but Mulder was thinking furiously.
“He thinks he’s with a radical survivalist group. Only it’s ‘them’. They know his connection and they’re using it.”
Walter nodded, “That means he’s guarded, even if he doesn’t realize it and has no idea he even needs to be rescued.”
“Does he need to be?” Mulder asked the three adults. “I mean he’s fed and probably protected, since they obviously know who he is to us. He may be living better than we are.”
“He’s not tired of fish.” Katy offered.
Finally Mulder smiled. “That settles it for me.” But they all knew better. Maggie would have to have a say in this.
“It’s bedtime.” Scully stated firmly, and Katy made a face. “In fact, it’s past bedtime so no argument from you, young lady. Kiss all these guys and I’ll tuck you in.”
Katy sighed, obviously feeling put upon to have to leave the group, but her glance at her father showed her there was no reprieve, so she made her rounds, telling everyone goodnight, then Scully led her off.
When the door was shut, Charlie turned to Mulder. “I agree, he’s alive and ‘well’, let’s leave him a lone.”
Mulder turned to Walter, “Mom?”
Walter shook his head, “I don’t know. We don’t have a location and we’re certainly not equipped to ‘break him out’ as it were.” He sighed, “I guess I better go talk to her.” But he didn’t rise.
“Remember, ‘Dad’, the good sons-in-law are here.” Charlie offered.
Walter huffed, “If I’d stayed in DC - “
“You’d never have had me as a daughter.” Scully remarked, closing Katy’s door behind her.
Finally Walter smiled, “Ah, at last a positive.”
For just a second Mulder flashed on the kiss Walter had given Scully just before he, Todd and Krycek had taken off in search of Maggie and felt a moment of relief at how things had turned out. Life here was good, he hated to add such a wild card as Bill to the mix in any case.
Charlie stretched and rose. “I’ll let you guys go to bed, and try to sleep on this.”
Mulder nodded, ‘Hey, do we have a US map anywhere?”
“Yeah.” Charlie nodded, “the classroom.”
“Okay.” They could all see the wheels turning.
“Mulder, if Katy points to upper Idaho, can we send anyone out on just that?”
Mulder shrugged, “I’d have to see it.”
After a moment, Walter nodded and rose himself. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Walter,” Scully touched is arm, “are you going to say anything to Mom?”
“You think I can get out of it?” He gave her a half grin.
“Do you want me to come with you?”
Walter was speaking before Mulder’s tension registered. “No. You can talk to her tomorrow. We’re not going to resolve this anytime soon.” He lay his warm hand on her shoulder. “Get some rest. Everyone needs to see you tomorrow.”
She looked a little confused by that statement but nodded. Mulder walked the two men to the door. “Goodnight.”
Charlie started to say something, thought better of it and followed Walter out. Mulder immediately returned to the couch and pulled Scully into his lap. She sighed her contentment.
“Better now.” She let her hand run across his five o’clock shadow. They sat that way for a couple of minutes.
“Do you think I’m a ‘fucking idiot’?”
She sat up a little then, and looked at him, “No, I think I am.”
“Yes, for not taking you the first time I saw you and enjoying myself on top of those stupid slides.”
“Aw, that would’ve just been lust Agent Scully.”
“There’s more?” She asked innocently, her eyes sparkling.
He grabbed her around the waist and, tickling her slightly, had her down on the couch again. Her arms went around him.
“Oh no you don’t.” Mulder complained, “You’ve got me on this couch again and you’re trying to take advantage of me. You just want my body.”
“That’s right big boy.” She purred.
“No way, you’ll think I’m easy.”
She couldn’t help it, she laughed out loud then. “Mulder, you’re a lot of things, but ‘easy’ has never been one of them.”
He nuzzled her throat in agreement.
“Let’s move this to the bedroom Agent Mulder. There’s only so much I can explain to Katy.”
“She probably already knows more than we do.”
“Thanks for the comforting thought, Dad.”
He let her up and walked her to their room. This was fun, but he wasn’t going to press further tonight. She obviously felt better, but holding her would be his reward - now tomorrow . . .
The five of them headed for the clinic the next morning. She knew she’d been manipulated into carrying Walt while he had Lexie, but she understood. Mulder had his free arm around her.
He noted that things quieted down when they entered, but she didn’t seem to notice, putting Walt on his feet and taking his hand. His walking was improving rapidly, but a steadying hand helped a lot.
They got the kids seated and brought breakfast over. Conversations had picked back up, nearly to the original level. He ate quickly, there were things he needed to do, but when he rose Scully rose as well. “You’re not through, take your time.”
“I will and I’ll take it easy.” Scully leaned into him and kissed him. No, she kissed him. He could feel the tightening in his groin. What the - Scully was usually more reserved in public. Now in the bedroom, and of course now the couch . . . but not here.
She pressed against him and whispered, “Later Mulder.”
They moved apart, to applause from the onlookers. That startled him and brought some color to his face, then it hit him - she knew exactly what she was doing. She had noticed. He grinned. “Lunch?”
“I’ll check my date book.”
“Yeah, you do that.” He pulled her back against him for one more kiss, then kissed the three kids and headed for his ‘office’.
“Kevin, hi.” He put his hand on the younger man’s shoulder. “Sorry I wasn’t here to greet you on your first day back.”
“Not a problem, gave me time to catch up. Is Scully okay?”
“Yeah, you heard we may have found Bill?”
“You’re kidding, how?”
Mulder grinned then, “Katy.”
Kevin gaped at him and took the seat when Mulder motioned in that direction. “You’re not serious. Katy?”
Mulder nodded and took the other chair. “Yeah, she found ‘the real man the fake man came from’. He’s living and working with ‘them’ but he doesn’t know it.”
“Doesn’t . . . “
“She says they keep him angry, off balance and feed his paranoia. My words, not hers. He still doesn’t believe we’ve been invaded by anything other than a virus that got loose from the CDC. And they’re using him, there may be more of him out there. At least now we have a warning system.”
“What about Maggie?”
Mulder looked away, “I haven’t seen her this morning. Walter was going to talk to her last night.”
“You think we’ll send someone for him?”
Mulder closed his eyes and shook his head. “I don’t want to, but how do I say that to her?”
“Yeah.” They were both quiet for a little while, then a smile crept onto Kevin’s face again. “Katy?”
Mulder looked up, “Yeah. Can’t wait until Walt starts talking.”
Kevin chuckled and shook his head. “Well, according to the schedule, you better get to work. I’ve been moved to office duty until Scully releases me, so, “ he grinned, “you drew compost again.”
Mulder’s eyes narrowed, “This is beginning to sound like a conspiracy.”
said you’d say that.”
Mulder rolled his eyes and moved toward the door.
Todd was already there and grinned as Mulder picked up the pitchfork. “Took Kevin’s shift, huh?”
“He’ll pay, a little stabbing and he milks it like this.” Mulder poked the pile in front of him with his pitchfork.
“Yeah, listen Mulder, word has it you have information about Bill.”
“And Scully thought I would go into catatonic schizophrenia without my cell phone. Who needs the thing.” He shrugged “But yeah, we think so.”
“I want to be on the team to get him.”
“What?” Mulder stopped and looked over at him. “No way, man. You’ve got a family. This one could be dangerous, we know ‘they’re’ involved and holding him. And do we want to rely on an almost five year old’s word about location, even if it is Katy?”
“You need someone with experience Mulder. I’ve got the most. Anne and Ruthie will be here with you, where it’s safe.”
“You’re not feeling guilty about what happened with the clone?”
“It’s stupid - “
“It sure as hell is. He was given the vaccine, everyone is given the vaccine. And it was the vaccine that killed him, it. You kept your head and got Maggie out of there.”
“But someone has to go and we know I’ll make it back.”
“Sure, Anne’s only had one of my kids so far. We’ve got four more to make.”
“Right, and you’re gonna stay right here and make them. End of discussion, Todd. If I have to pull rank, I will.”
“But we need - “
“No, we don’t. I am perfectly content not to have the real Bill living close by. After Katy’s description of the man as he is today, Charlie is too. I think deep down so is Scully, but it’s hard for her to say. I can also say, without fear of contradiction, that Maggie would have a cow if she thought you were going off for a year or more on a search like this. Forget it.” He turned back to the compost heap, grimacing and after a moment Todd joined in.
Everyone was at the clinic for dinner that night. Mulder and Todd had hurried to join them and both had their wet hair slicked back. MJ and Missy met them at the door, sniffed them and giggling allowed them in.
“Have we been insulted?” Mulder grinned and grabbed MJ as Todd tossed Missy in the air.
“Feels like it.”
They found their wives and kids and settled in for a meal. It was obviously community time this evening and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Mulder caught Scully watching Langly, who was sitting close to Becky. There was a gleam to her eye that he’d have to ask about later.
Maggie had Walt and Lexie in her lap, trying to wipe their mouths. She smiled up at Walter as he gave her a hand. When he took his seat he looked around for Katy. Then they heard the squeaking in the hall.
It was Katy, pushing the big map from the classroom into the main room. The smiles faded from Mulder, Charlie and Walter’s faces. Scully turned to see what the problem was and her face went pale. Katy pulled the map near Mulder, then stood looking at it.
Maggie watched her confused, “Katy Honey, what are you doing?”
“He’s here.” She pointed to the map.
“Who’s where?” She started to rise, but Walter’s arm went around her.
“Maggie, you were asleep when I got in, I - “
“The real Bill, he’s in the green place.” Katy interrupted, touching the map.
“The real . . . “ Maggie looked up at Walter. “What does she mean?”
The room was frozen, everyone except Maggie looking at Mulder. He closed his eyes for a second then rose. He moved at once to Maggie and knelt in front of his mother-in-law. “Maggie, Katy may have found Bill, the real one. He’s alive, but we didn’t know where. Apparently Katy’s been studying the map.”
“Is he . . . is he all right?”
Katy opened her mouth to respond, but a movement from Scully silenced her.
“We think so, but . . . well Katy’s young.”
Again Katy opened her mouth, her eyes flashing, but this time Kevin went over to stand beside her. He leaned down to whisper to her. “Your grandmother’s upset Katy. Let your Dad handle it.”
She sighed and nodded.
“Where does she think he is?” Maggie’s hand tightened on Walter’s.
Mulder looked over at Charlie, who nodded and headed for the map. “Show me Katy.” She pointed again, touching the green. Charlie’s eyes widened and he looked over at Mulder. “Southwest Texas.”
Mulder’s eyes turned immediately toward Greg. “What!” Greg was on his feet, moving toward the map himself. His shock was obvious and unfeigned. “Where?”
Mulder turned to look at Stan, who was being damn quiet. Mulder stood, patted Maggie’s hand and joined Charlie and Greg at the map. “Show me where you came from.”
Greg touched an area near the border of New Mexico. “It’s a small town, St. Luis.”
Mulder and Walter approached the map, Maggie stayed where she was with the little ones on her lap. She’d already made up her mind. Bill was alive and apparently well. Knowing that would have to be enough. On occasion she might ask Katy to check on him, but other than that, this was over. She would not allow anyone from her new family to risk themselves on such a long journey. She’d let Walter know that tonight when they were alone and could discuss it.
The evening ran long, but it was necessary for everyone to feel a part of things. Kevin and the rest of the Scully clan stopped by Mulder and Scully’s place on the way to their own homes. Kevin, who had carried Walt, sound asleep to his crib had stepped back into the living room to join the others. All of the kids were in their beds now and the trip home hadn’t roused them.
Mulder looked over at Maggie once more and Walter caught him, stepping beside him. “Don’t think about it tonight Mulder. Maggie and I haven’t even had a chance to talk. We don’t need to make any plans for a quick trip to Texas right now. Okay?”
Before Mulder could respond, they heard her scream.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter,10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.