Mulder lay boneless as he looked up at Scully. She met his eyes and sank down into his arms, still shuddering herself. “Glad you’re home?”
“Damn Scully.” He buried his face in her hair. “I was gone one night. You trying to kill me?”
“Just don’t want you to think about leaving leave again any time soon.”
“You got it. No time soon.” He tucked her up against him, holding her as he drifted off.
Getting up in the morning was a pain, but he eventually forced himself out of her arms and the bed. A hot shower helped, then he joined his
family at the table. Scully was making pancakes and the kids kept up a running conversation while he ate.
“Esther is so happy to be here. Daddy, did you tell her about us?”
Mulder chuckled, “You mean there are things about you guys she doesn’t know? But no, Kiddo, we didn’t talk too much. Everyone was tired and
we just wanted to get home.”
Katy nodded, she’d felt that. “Well, come on. Aren’t you done? We need to go see them.”
Mulder looked over at Scully for help.
“Relax Katy. They’re going to be here for a long time. They may still be asleep.”
Mulder laughed then. “Okay, okay. Let me finish my breakfast and we’ll head over to the clinic.” Smiles broke out around the table. He
looked over at Scully, “I’ll do the dishes when we get back.”
“I’ll take you up on that. Everyone finish getting ready while your Dad eats.” The kids were down from the table and looking for shoes and
important things to take with them before she finished speaking.
Mulder and his family met Peter and Chloe with their son Pete on the way. The other newcomers were already at the large house. Scully
pointed out that it served as their clinic and community center. Beth, with Louise in her arms, met them as they got to the porch.
“You guys already look more rested,” Mulder observed as they entered the house.
“We are.” Peter smiled. “That was the first full night’s sleep I’ve had in weeks.”
Most of the community had already arrived, and the remaining few trickled in moments later. Mulder motioned for everyone to assemble in
the great room. He’d thought it was crowded before and remembered the meeting they’d held in his home regarding the vaccine all that time
ago. They certainly wouldn’t fit in his living room now.
“I guess I’m in charge of introductions.” He paused and looked around the room. “Shit guys, couldn’t you have sat in families?”
“We did.” Walter observed, looking around the room. “We’re all here.”
Mulder grinned and nodded, “You’re right, I stand corrected.” He settled on Todd. “Okay, there won’t be a written test. Here goes.
You all know Todd, our chief explorer and guide. The lovely brunette next to him is his incredibly tolerant wife, Anne. She is our chief
cook and recipe creator. You don’t even want to know all the things she can do with fish. They have a daughter, Ruthie, who is where?” He
spotted the little girl with Todd’s big brown eyes and her mother’s dark hair in Trisha’s arms. Ruthie’s hand was entwined in Trisha’s
long blond hair, bouncing and chortling as everyone turned to look at her.
“Trisha is in training with Beth to help in the clinic. Beth, over there,” Milder pointed. At one time he would have referred to her, at
least privately, as mousy. That was before Frohike and the family they had created. Now her gentle smile and warm loveliness made her the
perfect nurse in his mind. “Beth helps run the clinic in addition to keeping up with her husband, Frohike.” The craggy man waved from the
door leading to the classroom, where he stood holding Louise.
“Frohike is our head nanny around here. He’s in charge of the nursery and pre-school kids, probably because he’s their size.” Mulder grinned
as Frohike shot a quick, obscene gesture his way. “The little one in his arms is Louise, and we’re all relieved she looks like her mother.
They’re oldest is MJ, over there.” Mulder pointed again. The little carbon copy of Frohike strutted a little for them, causing smiles to
break out, especially from Byers and Scully.
“MJ’s shadow there is Missy. She’s Will’s little sister, Charlie’s youngest.” The little redhead looked down. MJ took her hand. Nothing
was said, but she nodded to the boy, then looked up and smiled shyly. “Missy has another big brother you met yesterday on the way in, Sam.
Our chief fisherman around here.” Sam waved from his seat beside Trisha and took Ruthie as she reached for him. “The mother of this
crew and saint by any measures, is Mary.” The short brunette nestled against Charlie blushed slightly but waved.
“Mary has her Ph.D. in nutrition and helps keep us healthy. Charlie, for those that don’t know it, is our teacher around here, K through
Ph.D. He was a professor of English, now he does a lot of Dr. Seuss.” Charlie laughed out loud.
He spotted Brittany then, sitting near Greg. She was built like a brick and was even shorter than Scully. It was the first time he’d
realized she was also the only woman who bothered to keep her hair short. Must be because she was ex-military too, Navy he thought.
“This is Brittany, one of the few people that were here before we got here. If she can’t grow it, it doesn’t really need to be grown. And,
she truly delights in assigning me to compost duty.”
“Ah Mulder,” Brittany grinned, “After all those years working for the government, you should be an expert on shoveling . . . “
Mulder chuckled, “Can’t dispute that.” He turned toward Greg, “Your other guide is actually the other farmer in the group. The woman in
his lap is Megan, his wife who works in the office with Kevin, my right hand.” The woman looked over at Kevin and smiled.
“Kevin, you’ll all get to know him. He keeps the inventories, handles the work assignments, and as far as I can tell he doesn’t take bribes,
at least he never has from me.” Mulder tried to look mournful, but Kevin just shook his head, chuckling.
“Jerry is the other member of the neighborhood that was already here. He handles the hunting trips around here. I’m pretty good with a gun,
but I’ve never seen anyone like him with a bow. And I, for one, truly appreciate it. Not that I don’t like fish,” Mulder looked back over
at Sam, who grinned.
“The bearded one is Byers. He runs the lab along with Becky and Langly - the blond with the ponytail, but missing the delightful curves.”
Frohike’s guffaw at that drew a glare from Langly.
“Becky was a pharmacy student before landing here and has really cleaned up their act. Byers and Langly, along with Frohike, helped
keep me straight back in DC many moons ago, and usually had better data than the Bureau.” That caused Walter to roll his eyes, but he didn’t
Mulder’s eye’s lit on Alex then, with Lexie in his arms, “Alex here is head of security and intelligence.” Alex’s eyebrow went up at that
title, but he kept quiet. “He has more . . . insight into what we’re fighting than a lot of people, and I think he likes making me stick my
finger for blood a lot.” Alex smirked at him.
“Baldy over here,“ Walter glared at him for an instant, “is Walter. He runs this place and keeps us all in line. Ex-marine, what would you
expect? He’s also my father-in-law, and my very good friend.”
Walter looked startled at that, then nodded. Mulder nodded as well, then turned to Maggie. “Maggie. She keeps Walter in line, and made my
life possible. She’s my mother-in-law.” He watched as the older woman looked over at Scully, then back to him and smiled softly.
“The three kids I haven’t mentioned yet are also mine.” He looked over at his oldest, with Esther in her lap. “Katy. It’s her birth, her
blood, that saved us all.” The little girl looked him in the eye. “The boy next to her, that slightly resembles me,” that brought a
laugh, “is our son, Walt. He’s in training to be a physician, like his mother.” Another chuckle, but the new members looked slightly
confused, not getting the joke. “We’ll explain later.” Their two biological children were definitely his. Katy had softer features, but
Walt could have been cloned, even, down to the nose, poor little guy. That floppy piece of hair that constantly fell over his forehead was a
dead giveaway. “Our youngest is Lexie. She has the distinction of having two fathers. Myself, and Alex Krycek. We lost her mother,
Kelly, but Lexie has been a joy and welcome addition to our home.”
His eyes lit on Scully then and softened. After a tiny pause, “And last, but never least, Scully, my wife, mother to our children, and
doctor to this community.” He stopped then, though his eyes told her more.
Scully blushed from his gaze, curls already escaping the clasp she wore low on her neck, to keep her hair pulled back. Katy’s eyes were
gleaming as she looked at her parents. The purple was spilling all over the place.
“Yeah, okay.” Mulder cleared his throat, “These people that came to us yesterday are,” he pointed to the sandy haired man with cheeks that
turned even rosier at this attention from Mulder, “Lewis, our new master plumber. Next to him is Philip.” The man with an olive
complexion and dark hair smiled tentatively.
“Peter here is married to Chloe and has two kids, Suzie and Pete. Peter is George’s brother. George, over there, is married to Julie;
her sister is next to Will, Jennifer. George and Julie are the parents of John and Esther. Let’s welcome them.” There was a hearty round of
applause. When it died down, Mulder spoke again, “Obviously we don’t know all of your skills or interests yet, but you’ve heard at least
some of what we do around here, so if you’re interested, talk to someone in that area. If you don’t remember a name, don’t worry about
it. Sam and Trisha will be leading a ‘tour’ of the community in a little while so you can get your bearings. There’s no agenda for
today, although the essential work will need to be done, feeding the animals, and the kids, but classes have been called off and no
carpentry for the day. We’ll all be pitching in to get the banquet ready for this evening. Questions?”
“Are you cooking?” Charlie asked Mulder innocently, which caused another wave of laughter.
“No respect.” Mulder muttered shaking his head. “Only for you, Charles. Okay, Walter and I need to meet a few minutes with Todd, Greg
and Will over at the office. Everyone else, have a good day and we’ll meet here when the tour is finished up.”
The conversation swelled as Mulder met Walter’s eye and they made their way to the door.
Once settled in the office, Mulder turned to Todd. “You did a great job, as always. I can’t tell you how scared we were when Katy told us
what you were walking into.”
Todd nodded, his face somber. “The warning saved us.” He glanced over at Will. “Katy got her point across.”
Walter looked over at Will, “How did that work?”
Mulder took a deep breath. Hearing of the encounter in Todd’s words brought back the terror of Katy screaming “Run!” in her sleep. He
looked over at Walter, who seemed slightly pale. It was one thing to send trained men into battle, but a grandson and a man who had become
as close a son as Mulder and Charlie had shaken him.
“They want in.” Walter stated flatly. Mulder blinked, coming back to the present. “The aliens, Mulder. They want in.”
“Yeah, we’re going to have to be extra cautious from now on. The idea with the finger pricks is good, but only when coming in with one of our
guides. We learned a hard lesson when Stan and Greg joined us. We know the vaccine works, but we have to be careful. Any puncture causes
the green fumes, and we don’t know how long it takes for a dose, a regular dose, to affect them. Greg took out the original subject by a
shot to the neck. This ’Stu’ got a mega dose in main arteries. We need to think about this. There will be no more trips out until Spring.”
“Mulder.” Walter drew his attention, “I hate to say it, but we need to alert the kids, Katy anyway, to keep an . . . eye open.”
Mulder’s face showed his conflict instantly. He sat back scowling. Using the kids as lookouts went against everything he believed. He’d
need to think about that, and talk to Scully.
Julie looked nervous and George nearly as much. They’d been asked to meet with Mulder and Scully. Had they done something wrong already?
No one had given them any rules, but . . .
Julie looked up at George, fear in her eyes. He couldn’t reassure her anymore. He was just too tired himself. He merely shrugged and tapped
on the door.
“Come on in.” Kevin called from the desk. He looked up as they entered. “Hi, sorry I couldn’t get up. This map wants to roll up on
me.” He smiled at them. Julie moved closer and put a cup of pencils on the corner of the paper. “Thanks. Go on in, Mulder’s already
here.” Kevin noted their quick glance in the direction of escape.
“Hey guys, don’t worry. Things are going good. He just wants information from outside. Relax.”
“Thanks.” George took a deep breath, then opened the door. Julie trailed him into the office.
Mulder was there, but so were Scully and Walter. Scully smiled at them and Walter pulled out a chair for Julie. The gesture seemed to fluster
her a little.
“Are you settling in okay?” Scully asked, trying to ease the tension.
“Oh yes. Everyone has been a big help. I worked with Frohike in the nursery yesterday.” Julie responded quickly.
Mulder smiled at that. Frohike was good with the kids, but his expertise never failed to amuse him. “Good. I know it’s a new place,
but it’s your home now and we want you to feel comfortable. We did want to know a little about the community you left.”
George nodded. “I pointed it out on the map to Kevin.”
Mulder nodded, “About how many people?” He and Walter drew out the information they needed casually, then, “When were you vaccinated?”
Julie looked over at her husband, “About . . . I guess a month after John was born. A man and a woman came through and vaccinated all the
kids and women of childbearing age. We were told it was for polio at the time.”
Scully nodded, “Did they tell you where they were from?”
“North of us, in Southern Virginia I think. They said their ‘Momma Ruth’ had started the program and they were carrying it on.”
Mulder's head came up at the name. “Momma Ruth? Did they, did they tell you how to make the vaccine yourselves?”
Julie shook her head and looked over at George. “Not that I know of. They had some trouble convincing our people to take it.”
Scully leaned forward, “So Esther is the only one born after the vaccine?”
“Yes. They didn’t want me to have her. The people in charge said there were shortages . . .”
George nodded, “But I didn’t believe it. We had good harvests, I’m sure there was more in storage that we didn’t see.”
Mulder glanced over at Scully. “Did the older woman that burned Esther try to curb the population?”
Julie gasped at that and George leaned back. “How did you know about . . . “
Scully moved closer to Julie and took the seat Walter positioned for her. “You know Esther is different don’t you? Special.”
Julie wouldn’t look over at George.
“She’s just a normal little girl.” George protested, though a beat too late.
“How was she injured?” Scully asked quietly.
Julie looked over at George, then down at the floor. Finally the young man spoke, “Esther was in the kitchen with Edna, Edna Medford. She was
kind of our doctor. She seemed . . . interested in Esther ever since she was born.”
Scully and Mulder exchanged glances.
“Esther was just beginning to pull up, she couldn’t walk yet. They, they were in Edna’s kitchen and Esther grabbed the handle of a pot of
soup. She pulled it over on herself.”
“Esther pulled the pot over. She could reach it?” Scully questioned.
Julie opened her mouth, but George interrupted. “That’s what Edna said. She was important in our village. She had no reason to lie
Mulder looked over at Scully, letting her take the lead on this. “George, did it seem strange to you, that a tiny little girl like
Esther could do that?”
He shook his head, but wouldn’t meet her eyes.
“There are no burn scars on her.” Mulder offered.
George flinched at that.
“Please, tell us what happened.” Scully let her hand touch Julie’s arm lightly.
“I don’t know.” Julie’s voice was shaking. “I heard her scream, I was in the next room. Her face was burnt, it was red and . . . and she . .
.” Walter handed the woman a handkerchief. George wouldn’t look at his wife.
Julie took a shaky breath after a moment. “I grabbed her up and she was screaming and in pain, then . . . before I could think what to do,
she calmed down as though, as though the pain went away. I was holding her and Edna was . . . was watching. Chloe was there and a woman who
didn’t come with us, Sandra. Esther just, just relaxed. The redness faded and she just went to sleep, there in my arms.”
“Did Edna say anything?” Mulder asked quietly, listening to Julie, but watching George.
“She was . . . stunned. She wouldn’t talk about it, but she . . . avoided Esther after that. It was very uncomfortable.”
“George,” Mulder turned to him, “did you see any of this?”
George shook his head.
“Do you believe it?” Mulder pressed.
“I . . . I don’t know why they would lie to me.”
Mulder looked over at Walter. What a ringing endorsement. Mulder nodded to Scully.
“Julie, we knew about the ‘accident’.” Scully took her hand. “Esther was born after you were vaccinated. She is immune to the virus that
killed so many humans when ‘they’ came. It wasn’t polio. It was a compound that was created here, from the blood of our children. That’s
what Mulder meant when he introduced Katy the other day. That’s what we were trying to do when we started, just make as many of the next
generation immune as possible. There was a side effect.” Scully looked up at Mulder and he nodded to her, his love and confidence plain
in his eyes.
“The vaccine seems to have . . . stimulated a part of the brain in children that are born of vaccinated parents. Esther has been . . .
‘in touch’ with the children here, mainly Katy and when she was burnt, Katy and the others here heard her scream. They’re connected. When
they realized she needed help, they helped her. All of the children linked themselves, through Mulder, and . . . and our son, Walt, healed
George’s head shot up at that, his eyes wide. “You’re kidding, right?”
Mulder shook his head. “That’s what happened, that’s why there’s no scarring. I didn’t understand what they wanted of me at the time, but
I felt it happen. And look at her, there is no evidence that the accident ever occurred.”
“Wait a minute, you . . . you sent people around to inject something weird into my, into Julie, and it made my kid a freak?”
“George!” Julie cringed at the look he threw her. Scully felt both Mulder and Walter tense at George’s words.
Mulder’s voice was calm, controlled when he responded. “Your daughter is not a freak. She has abilities beyond yours, and she is immune to
George seemed to realize what he had said and blanched, keeping his mouth closed.
“George,” Walter leaned forward, “What brought you to us?”
“Why did you decide to come here to live?” Walter asked again patiently.
“I . . . “ he looked over at Julie.
“We started dreaming about this place.” Julie spoke quietly.
Scully blinked at that. After a moment, she nodded and looked over at Mulder. “Thank you. I don’t think we need anything else right now.
The others here all know about Esther and what happened. We all saw our children when it happened, so it’s not a secret. If you don’t want
to talk about it, that’s your decision. If you have questions, or want to talk to Katy, just let me know.”
Julie nodded, George wouldn’t look at any of them. “May we go now?” Julie asked quietly.
“Of course. You’re not in any trouble. We just wanted to make sure you were aware of the children here.”
The young woman nodded again, her eyes bright with tears.
George rose abruptly and moved toward the door, not waiting for Julie. She cast an apologetic glance at the three of them, then hurried to
catch up with George.
Mulder leaned back and stretched. “Well, that went well.”
Walter huffed, but didn’t speak.
“He didn’t seem very . . . close to his wife, did he?” Mulder mused.
Walter glanced over at him then back to the door. “We’ve been spoiled Mulder. The people here are together because they want to be. I doubt
that monogamy is the rule out there anymore.”
Scully nodded and Mulder kept quiet. In a moment Walter rose. “I want to go see my wife.”
Scully smiled, “Good idea.” She watched Walter leave. Mulder was already moving toward her.
He pulled her up and into his arms. “I don’t really see a problem with monogamy.”
She smiled up at him. “Good, because I don’t share well, especially when it comes to you.”
“Mmm, so you want to own me body and soul.”
“Damn straight, G-man. I don’t suppose I could convince you to take an hour off, so I could show you the benefits?”
“Why Agent Scully, are you propositioning me?”