Mulder had convinced Scully to lie down. Things had been quiet since Malcolm’s birth. Scully had experienced no more contractions, but he was taking no chances, and for once she agreed with him.
George had retreated further into himself. Mulder wondered if Jerry had had a conversation with him, but hadn’t asked. The kids had not reported any trouble and for a change, he hadn’t pushed.
Mulder handed the last plate to Katy to dry. The two younger ones were playing near the fire. “Dad, I need to tell you something.”
He looked quickly down at her. “What?”
“It’s Uncle Bill. He’s coming here.”
Mulder looked down at her, speechless for the moment. He glanced over toward the bedroom door. It was ajar, but Scully was napping at his insistence, following dinner.
“Uncle Bill?” It was about all he could say.
“The real one this time. He won’t be here for a long time, but he’s coming. Someone’s with him.”
“I don’t . . . it’s not human. I can’t tell.”
“One of them?” He asked quickly.
“I’m not sure. One of them or one like the other Bill.”
He nodded. “A long time?”
“After it gets warm again.”
He took a deep breath, “Okay. Your mom’s been through enough right now. We don’t need to worry her.” She just looked at him. “Katy, I don’t want her worrying about him. Not now.”
“It’s okay, Dad. We won’t say anything.”
He had the definite impression he was being placated. He's need to share this with Walter, but no else needed to be in the loop yet.
The winter was cold, but they had good company and good times together in the evenings. Marie had found a spinning wheel in one of the older unused houses and brought up the idea of building a loom and putting in a small crop of cotton. That put Brittany and Greg to work researching the crop, and Phil to put aside plumbing to check into the construction of a loom.
It would be an experiment, but the women were enthused and everyone agreed it would be nice to be able to do more than continue to repair older clothes. Todd and his crew always brought back everything they could carry, but there no trips out in the winter, and empty places he hadn’t searched were farther and farther away.
Kevin brought up another project in private with Mulder. “I’d like to build Katy a room.”
“A what?” Mulder looked up from his chart.
“A room. I’ve been drawing some plans. I know you and Scully didn’t plan to have four kids when you moved into a place that has one and half bedrooms and loft.”
Mulder chuckled, “True. What are you thinking?”
“Well, taking half of the screened in porch as a new bedroom. That way the foundation is already there. You could put the new baby in Katie’s old room and Walt and Lexie can keep the loft for the time being. When they’re too big to share a room, Walt can have the little room and this new baby can move upstairs with Lexie.”
Mulder looked over at him, grinning. “You have given this some thought.”
Kevin shrugged. “Katy will like it. We can’t really get started on it until after planting when it gets a little warmer, but I can start getting the wood together.”
“Kevin, you don’t have to - “
He shrugged, “I want to. She’s growing up and I’m sure she’d like a little more room and a place that’s hers.”
“You spoil her worse that we do.” Mulder chuckled.
Kevin grinned, but didn’t deny it.
It had been a bright, sunny day, not yet spring, but the promise was in the air. Now everyone was gathering for dinner, while there was still light for a change. They arrived at the clinic wiping muddy boots and chattering about their day. With more sunlight, the moods had swung upward.
Everyone was startled into immobility by Esther's scream, "Daddy!" The other children were only an instant behind her in reacting. Walt grabbed his father's hand to pull him toward the door. Scully started to rise.
"Sit right back down. You're staying here. We'll bring him to you." Mulder barked, then looked over at Walter. "Don't let her out of that chair."
Walter nodded and for once, Scully didn't argue. Besides, Mulder was already gone. Todd, Greg, Jerry and Will racing after him.
"Walter, let Beth and I get the room ready. I'm not going to lift anything heavier than a sheet." Scully looked up at Walter.
After a minute he nodded, but his look at Beth spoke volumes. Scully rolled her eyes and stood without using his proffered hand. His eyes narrowed. "I'm on his side this time Scully."
She looked down, chastised, "I'm sorry. I just - "
"I know, but if you don't look after yourself like we want, then we will do it for you. It's important, indulge us."
He tilted her head up toward him, "I'm not your boss anymore, Scully."
"I know, you're someone who loves me. I'll be good, I promise. Now, I really do need to get the room ready."
"Okay." Again he looked over at Beth, who nodded and came to his side.
"Do you know what happened?" Beth asked Scully.
"He's hurt, it's serious." Scully looked over at Esther, in the midst of the other children, no longer crying but somber. The children had formed a small circle. Scully was a little surprised to see that John, Pete and Suzie had automatically joined the group, and Suzie had Malcolm in her arms. "Walt's on his way to him. Come on." The two women walked back to the examining room.
Mulder had grabbed Walt up once they were outside. He was fast for his age, but he couldn't match Mulder's long strides yet.
Nothing had been said about where they were going. They knew it was George, and had headed for the wood pile. Mulder spotted him on the ground, blood pumping from his leg where the axe had hit. The remaining snow was bright crimson.
"Jesus." Was Mulder's comment as he looked to Walt for instructions. The boy had his hands on the man's leg. Walt’s clothing was already bloody as he let his fingers explore the wound. Mulder had seen that expression on Scully's face, those moves with her hands, and despite the obvious seriousness of the situation, he relaxed.
The others had caught up now. Todd was shaking his head and Greg was mumbling something, probably a prayer.
"Mulder, stay here with Walt. We'll get a stretcher." Todd's hand touched Mulder's shoulder to get his attention. Mulder nodded and the others moved back, out of the way while Will and Todd headed back for what they needed at top speed.
Mulder finally forced his eyes away from the wound and realized that George hadn't lost consciousness. Mulder knelt by his head. "It's going to be okay, George. Walt is here."
"How, how did you - " His voice was slurred, and his speech slow.
"Don't talk, just relax. Esther, she screamed 'Daddy' when you were hurt."
"Shh. She loves you. Don't worry, okay?" He found he was clasping George's hand, and even to his untrained eyes, the blood flow had lessened. Walt was concentrating and Mulder didn't want to disturb him.
In no time Will and Todd had returned with a stretcher that Todd had brought in from one of his excursions, blankets and a sheet to wrap around the leg. Julie was with them. She stopped at Jerry's side and his arm went around her for a quick squeeze, then he released her to move forward.
"Julie?" George focused on her, standing behind Mulder. Her hand was on Mulder's shoulder to steady herself.
"I'm here, George. Let Walt take care of you."
George closed his eyes, but his breathing was steadier, shock and panic receding. Mulder took the blanket from Will and covered his chest.
"Dad, we can move him now. We need to be real gentle." Walt looked up at Mulder. "Mom needs to stitch this. She can do it, Dad." He responded to the frown that instantly appeared on Mulder's face.
Mulder didn't comment, and the others gathered around setting the stretcher up. Walt kept his hands on the leg as they moved him, but George moaned at the movement anyway.
"We've got to get you inside, George. Just hold on." Mulder reassured him.
The men held their pace to Walt's and Julie stayed by George's head though she looked at Jerry for reassurance several times.
Once in the clinic, they moved swiftly to the examining room and carefully transferred him to the bed. Scully was there and uncovered the wound. Beth stifled her gasp, barely. Scully looked up at Mulder, then at Walt.
"Okay, we need everyone out of here except Walt." She reached for her instruments.
"Not likely, Scully." Mulder murmured to her, taking his place at her side. She sighed lightly, but didn't bother to protest. She knew it would be a waste of breath.
In the warmth of the building the blood had begun to flow again and Walt returned his attention to the site. George moaned again, but they had nothing to ease his pain.
"Get Esther." Walt didn't bother to look up, but Mulder nodded and moved to the door. The little girl was right outside, holding Katy's hand.
"Thanks." He took Esther into his arms and carried her to the bed. He stood her on the chair by George's head and watched her hands start lightly rubbing her father’s face. George turned to look at her and Mulder saw conflict in the man's eyes, but kept quiet.
Beth took the pan with the bloody strips of cloth away after Scully removed her gloves. George was asleep now, having fallen asleep under Esther’s tender touch and probably a nudge from Walt.
Mulder’s arm went around Scully, steadying her and massaging her back. She looked up at him and he moved her away from the table. “Don’t even think it.”
“What?” She asked him, confused.
“You’re not staying here tonight.”
“Mulder - “
“No.” He leaned in and whispered in her ear, “You are not using your energy on him. I’m taking you home. Byers will be here. And I have no doubt all of the kids will be tuned into him.”
“I feel fine.”
He led her from the room. “As I recall Katy was already born before you got this pregnant.”
He looked down at her. “You’re not pulling that stunt on me either.”
She leaned heavily against him. “No, I really want you there this time.”
His finger under her chin had her looking up at him. “Are those tears?”
“Not really. Maybe I am tired.”
He blinked that she would admit that, and his arm tightened around her. He glanced over at George again.
“Dad, go on home. I’ll stay here with Esther and Julie. Jerry will stay too.” Walt looked over at Mulder.
“Walt, you can’t - “
“Mom, I’ll be fine. You did a good job on his leg. Now you should go on home and rest.”
Those words caused Mulder’s head to jerk up. His eyes asked Walt the question. Walt smiled indulgently it seemed. “Walt.” He spoke sharply.
“Dad, Mom and my sister are fine. Just go on home. Don’t worry.”
Mulder opened his mouth to respond, but Scully’s hand on his arm stopped him. “Walt’s right, let’s go on home.”
He looked back down at her and nodded. He led her from the room and found her coat, which he wrapped gently around her.
“Where are the girls?”
“Kevin took them home while you were stitching George up. Lexie is probably asleep. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, Mulder. Stop fussing. All I did was stitch up his leg. Walt did all the work.”
Mulder glanced back at the room. “Why do I feel like I was just called into ‘Skinner’s’ office and put in my place?” He groused.
Scully chuckled. “I think you were. He’s short but there may be some marine in the boy. We apparently picked the right name for him.”
His arm tightened around her and they headed home.
Both girls were asleep, though Katy was on the couch, where she had fought sleep until the last minute. Kevin was banking the fire when they entered. “Hi. I hear George is going to be okay.” He spoke quietly.
Mulder nodded. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
“Mulder, you’re not going to put me to bed.”
“Sure I am. Come on.”
She rolled her eyes, and Kevin grinned but kept his mouth shut. Mulder motioned for him to wait, so Kevin moved Katy to her bed and tucked her in while Mulder did the same with Scully.
When Mulder emerged, pulling the door closed behind him, Kevin looked up and smiled. "She okay?"
"Yeah, just damn pregnant. Her back's bothering her and standing over George's leg didn't help."
"How's he doing?"
Mulder shrugged. "Walt and Esther are staying at the clinic with him tonight. Did you put Katy down?"
Kevin glanced over at her door. "Yes. She didn't even stir. Listen, if you want to hang out with Scully tomorrow - "
"She'd scalp me." Mulder interrupted. "No, but I'm not going far."
Kevin nodded. "I'll let you get to bed too. Let me know what you need."
Mulder walked him to the door and shut down the rest of the house for the night. Then he moved into the bedroom and quickly got ready for bed himself.
He slipped carefully under the covers, so as not to disturb her. Scully rolled over, "Warm enough?"
"You're supposed to be asleep." He chastised her mildly.
"I was until your youngest woke up."
He moved her nightgown up and let his long warm fingers caress her swollen stomach. Then he lightly dropped kisses over it, approaching her belly button. "You know, when this pops out, I think she's done." He glanced back up at her.
She tried to glare at him, but watched him loving her with moist eyes.
He leaned in then, "Let your Mom get some rest, little girl." He was startled back by what had to be an elbow to the lips. Scully laughed lightly.
He returned to the pillow and kissed the laugh away. "We're going to have trouble with this one, Scully. She's already telling us what to do."
"She does seem to have a mind of her own, but that's not really new with our kids."
Mulder shook his head and rolled her over to spoon around her. She immediately pressed against his arousal. "Mulder, if you want - "
"Not tonight, Scully. Besides I know all about you horny pregnant women. We guys just aren't safe anywhere."
"Could be awhile before you get another chance." She cautioned him.
He nuzzled her ear, "Just so we're not talking five years again, I think I can handle it." He smiled then to realize that she had already dropped back off to sleep. He’d never mentioned it, she would have his hide, but the way she fell into sleep when she was pregnant fascinated him. He smiled and held her close, his hand resting on their now quiet daughter.
He lay there, awake, holding her safe against him. When had her safety taken on these monumental proportions to him? It hadn't started with the virus. Years ago her safety had become so much more important than his own. He could still remember the terror he'd felt when he had heard Ed Jerse attack her over the phone. He'd been helpless to aid her at such a distance. Yes, he'd demanded 911 assistance, browbeating them with his badge. He'd been on the first plane out, but to have her so far away and vulnerable had marked him.
He loosened his grip on her as she stirred. He didn't want to wake her.
But even that wasn't the first time. As far back in their partnership as Tooms, he'd reacted with near panic when she was in danger.
He smiled when he remembered that they had been back from Antarctica for days before it had hit him what he had done. He had literally gone to the ends of the earth for her without giving it a second thought. He'd had to get to her regardless of the obstacles. It was more important than his own life and it still was.
The next morning, at Katy's insistence, they had breakfast at the clinic. Katy and Lexie took over watching George while Walt and Esther got some uninterrupted sleep. MJ and Missy would take over for them at lunch.
George had slept through the night, with Walt's help. Scully was very pleased with the healing that was already evident around the wound.
Scully stripped off her gloves and gave both of her girls a kiss, then let Mulder lead her from the room. Once seated in her office, she looked up at Mulder, shaking her head. "I don't know how they do it, but I'm grateful. George would have lost that leg, possibly even died without Walt and the others. I have no doubt in a few years, if they continue to get stronger as they grow, stitches won't even be needed."
"You can still stitch me up if you want to keep a hand in." Mulder grinned at her.
"You can do the same things they do, Mulder. I've seen it." He shook his head, but she persisted. "You stopped my contractions; you were the one that held the nexus when they healed Esther. I'm glad you can."
"It should be you, Scully. You're the doctor. You know what you're doing. I'm clueless about this stuff."
Scully chuckled lightly at that. "It does seem backwards, you get healing and I see the future." She pinned him then, "Like Bill coming."
He looked suitably embarrassed. "I just didn't want to upset you."
"Some day you're going to realize I'm not some China doll, Mulder."
"You're my China doll and if I could wrap you in cotton and keep you in a closet, safe, I'd do it in a heartbeat."
She sighed, "I'm not going to argue with you, but you better remember that I can find these things out."
"Yes ma'am." He kissed her forehead.
"Now, go to work. If I need you, I'll find you."
He grimaced, but nodded. "Don't forget."
She smiled, "Never."