Scully walked to the living room and smiled as Danny looked up at her. “You winning?”
“I think he can read this thing’s mind too.” Langly groused.
“I guess you are.” She grinned. She spotted Katy asleep in her carrier. “Hey, where’s Frohike?”
“He had to run out. She’s been fine.” Langly looked over at the baby as well.
“I’m sure she has.” Scully was too, with Danny right there beside her. “What about Mulder, have you seen him?”
“Uh, no, not lately.” Langly responded, then returned his attention to the monitor.
“Do you want me to find him?” Danny offered.
“No, that’s okay.” She smiled at him. “Just stay here with Katy. Did you eat?”
He nodded, already absorbed in the game again.
She wandered back toward the kitchen herself, but didn’t spot Mulder, or Walter for that matter. Finally she moved to the backdoor, surely they both knew better than to go outside or some place where they might be spotted.
Apparently not. She immediately saw Mulder, his back to her, facing out of the alley. She couldn’t tell what he was looking at. “Hey.” He jumped slightly and turned.
“You shouldn’t be out here.”
“And you should?” Her eyebrow rose, then she saw his expression. “Mulder, what’s wrong?”
He shook his head, but she moved closer, sliding her arms around him and resting her head against his chest.
“Talk to me Mulder. We’re in DC; you haven’t gotten the itch to ditch me again have you?” A small smile played around her lips.
He looked down at her surprised, “Never.”
“Then talk.” She squeezed him.
“Let’s go inside. It smells a little better in there.”
“Yes,” she agreed, “but it’s kind of crowded.”
He didn’t respond, taking her hand, tugging her back inside and bolting the door. He leaned against the counter, not quite looking at her. “Mulder?”
“Why are you with me?”
She blinked at that, then moved into his space looking up at him. “Because I want to be, you’re my husband, you’re the father of my children. Where else would I be?”
“Somewhere safe; somewhere stable.”
“Stable? Mulder what are you talking about? Where is this coming from?”
"When I was . . . gone, why didn't you marry Skinner?"
"He never asked me." She watched his head jerk up and saw that the fear in his eyes nearly rivaled what she had seen when he realized he was going to have to deliver Katy. She slipped her arms around him, "And then there was that pesky thing about not being in love with him."
"But you could have been; you could've fallen in love with him."
"You think I’m that easy?” She tried to keep it light, but was shaken at that statement. “Damn it, Mulder, I had just gone through hell delivering your son and then giving him up. I wasn't shopping for a new relationship."
"But later - " He looked traumatized, she shouldn’t have kidded him about this.
"Mulder, I'm in love with you. I have been for a long time, longer than you know, hell, longer than I probably know. I love Walter and I don't know how I would have survived without him, but I don't feel that way about him." She felt his arms tighten around her.
"Yes ma'am." He murmured into her hair. "I'll try to remember that."
"Good. Now, want to tell me what brought this on?"
"Sk - Walter left everything to you in his will. You're his sole beneficiary, so you'd be okay if something ever happened to him." He saw her lips part in surprise and held himself back from kissing them. Now wouldn't be the best time.
"We need to find him."
Mulder nodded and reluctantly released her. She took his hand to pull him along toward the others.
"Scully, what was worse about delivering Danny?" He wasn't entirely sure he wanted to know, but he had to ask.
She glanced back up at him, "You weren't there." He absorbed that as she pulled him along.
Frohike entered as they did, distracting them. “Where have you been?” Mulder asked, glancing over at Katy.
“Don’t worry, she was asleep. Danny and Langly were with her. I wanted to check this out.” He held up a small paper bag and rattled it.
“Yeah?” Mulder asked, still not really over his earlier trauma.
“It’s magnetite. Got a friend who owns a rock shop, crystals, like that.” He emptied the bag onto the desk. Six of the polished, silvery looking stones spilled out. “And this.” He picked up one that had been mounted as a necklace on a black cord. “For you, Lovely Lady.” He inclined his head and displayed the stone as a pendant.
Mulder didn’t look especially happy, but something made Danny grin, which eased him slightly.
“Thank you Frohike. It’s lovely.” She slipped it over her head and it fell to her breasts, displaying her cleavage to full advantage. Which is what Frohike took, full advantage. Mulder growled, but Frohike just grinned, then Mulder noticed Langly’s bright red face and threw his hands into the air. Danny laughed out loud, which for some reason caused Langly’s face to redden further.
“I’m gonna kill you both.” Mulder muttered, but Scully’s hand came to rest on his wrist and he subsided slightly.
“So, what did you learn about this rock?”
“Not that much. It’s a common iron oxide mineral. It’s the only mineral that exhibits magnetism. Mostly they’re just small grains; chunks like this are called lodestones. It can act like a paleo-compass; they used to use them on ships before modern compasses.
Before Mulder could ask any questions, a phone rang. It was the phone they had set aside for Doggett.
Mulder grabbed it immediately, “Yeah?”
“Just wanted to say hi. Probably won’t get over there too early today, we’re real short handed.”
“Yeah, a lot of kids didn’t show up to play today.”
“Anyone we know?”
“Everyone we know, plus a few.”
There was a pause then, as Mulder considered that.
“So anyway.” John continued, “I might be late, but I’d understand if you had to leave.”
“You think we should leave?” Mulder asked quickly. Scully looked up at him, her hand gripping his arm.
“You should check with your people, but things are strange around here.”
“Okay. We still have our two friends here.” Mulder said quietly, looking toward the makeshift morgue.
“Yeah, I have that covered. Don’t worry.” Doggett reassured him.
“Hope to see you for dinner.”
“Me too. Bye.” John disconnected the call, his eye obviously on his watch.
Mulder sighed, “We need to make some decisions. Where’s Walter?”
“Haven’t seen him. He might be with Byers.” Langly offered.
“No, he left there before I did.” Frohike responded.
“Would he be with the bodies?” Langly asked.
Mulder glanced over at Scully, who shrugged. “We’ll go check.”
He took her hand, they did need to find Walter, but he wouldn’t mind five minutes alone with her either. There had been a lot of togetherness with others lately, of course they couldn’t ‘do’ anything yet, but it would be nice to hold her without someone walking in on them.
He was ahead of Scully as they entered the room. Walter wasn’t there. “Where could he be? There’s only so many - “
“Mulder.” Her tone stopped him in his tracks.
“What?” He turned back immediately.
“Look.” She pointed to her breasts.
He glanced at her, confused. When had he ever not looked at her breasts? He finally met her eyes again and saw her look of disgust.
“The necklace, Mulder.”
“Oh.” Then he was able to focus on the small pendant. It was no longer lying against her skin, but suspended in air, pointing toward the corpses. “What . . .?”
“Magnetite, magnet, their upper spine . . . Are you in there?”
His eyes cleared, “An early warning device.”
Finally a small smile appeared on her face. “Without the kids.”
He nodded. “I’ll go get the guys.” He left her there and hurried back to get the stones and the guys. Without telling them anything, he grabbed up the stones. Danny looked up at him, his eyes wide. Mulder shook his head.
“I need you guys to see something.” He stuck one of the stones in Frohike’s vest pocket and another in Langly’s jeans.
“Hey!” Langly jerked back.
Langly met Mulder’s eyes and after a moment nodded.
They followed him into the makeshift morgue, with Danny following closely. Mulder stopped them just inside the door, but Danny continued on to his mother’s side.
“Hey man, what . . . “ Frohike reached into his pocket and pulled out the stone, but lost his grip on it as it flew across the room and slammed into Drum’s neck.
“What the hell was that?” Langly had removed the stone from his pocket as well, but held it tighter.
“Are you having any trouble holding on to it?” Scully asked.
“No, not now that I know not to let go. What is it?”
“Frohike’s magnetite. Could we use it as an early warning, have John and Monica wear them around the office?”
Frohike’s eyes gleamed. “There were other necklaces with this stuff. I’ll get back over there.”
“Do that. We need to do some testing. Where is Walter?” Mulder looked around.
Danny froze, then looked up at his Dad. The fear was plain on his face. “He’s not here.”
“What?” Mulder’s voice was harsh, but Danny knew the anger wasn’t directed at him. “Where the hell - “
Scully’s hand closed over his arm and his lips clamped shut. “Danny,” Scully pulled the boy close to him, “can you feel him?”
Danny shook his head, “He’s not close. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have let him - “
“No. Danny, stop right there. No guilt, remember? The grown ups can mess up fine on their own.” Mulder squatted beside him. “Just let us know if, when he shows up. How about sending Byers in here, then hang out with Katy?”
Danny nodded and Mulder pulled him into his arms. “Love you Kiddo.”
Danny managed a small smile.
It was at least forty-five minutes before Skinner entered the apartment. Mulder had him up against the door, slamming it with Skinner’s body before he was fully inside. Mulder’s arm pressed hard into Skinner’s throat. “Where the hell have you been?” He growled.
Scully was pulling on Mulder’s arm immediately. “Mulder, Mulder stop. Let him go.” She glanced over at Byers, who moved to help her.
Mulder finally jerked back, shoving Skinner against the wall. “Where were you?”
Skinner rubbed his throat, coughing. “I, I had some business to - “
“Business? What kind of business? You could have exposed my family. If they think you’re dead, or one of them, and you were seen . . . Damn it! You know how important it is that - “
Danny ran into the room then, his eyes wide. “Daddy, no!”
“Danny, go stay with Katy.”
“Daddy, he didn’t expose us. He was careful. Honest.”
Mulder looked down at the boy, and after a moment took a shaky breath. He turned away from Skinner, and Scully took his arm. “Mulder, please, relax. We’re okay, Danny says we’re okay.”
He focused on her for an instant, then away. He took a deep breath, “What kind of business?” He repeated.
Skinner took a sip of water from the glass Byers handed him. “I needed to make sure I had access to my funds.”
“Your funds? And you got these ‘funds’ by betraying us?”
Skinner met Mulder’s eyes then. “No. I'd never do that. Your family is important to me. I would never put them in danger.”
Mulder’s eyes narrowed, remembering his gesture to Scully, his entire inheritance. The earlier jealousy resurfacing with his fear.
“I’ve suspected that I’d have to disappear someday, especially after Dana . . . I began making arrangements. I have money put aside.”
“If you’ve made a large withdrawal, now, you’ll be - “
“Mulder, I’m not stupid. The money is offshore, in a numbered account. It’s safe. I hate to lose all the pension I’ve worked for all these years, but - “
“Pension?” Frohike spoke up. “If you’re dead, the pension goes to your estate.”
Mulder shot him a look of pure fury, but Scully’s hand on his arm seemed to relax him slightly. Danny moved closer to his father and leaned against his leg.
Frohike stepped away from Mulder, but looked up at Skinner again. “If we could get you declared dead, that money could be sent offshore as well.”
“You’d need a body.” Skinner spoke flatly.
“We’ve got two in the next room.” Langly said.
It hit them all at the same time. Scully looked up at Mulder.
“Scully, can we do that?” Mulder asked her quickly.
“I . . . maybe. Danny, please go sit with Katy.”
Danny nodded. “It can work, Mom. You can make it work.” He turned and left the room.
Scully closed her eyes and Mulder put his arm around her, pulling her close. After a moment, she straightened up. “We’re going to need some inside help.”
Mulder hadn’t been able to relax as they worked on this latest ruse. This was Scully’s area and she’d needed Skinner. He’d finally snapped, taking it out on Byers.
After a quick apology, he’d disappeared into the kitchen and hadn’t come out.
Scully let Danny open the bedroom door and followed him in, cuddling the sleeping baby. Her nervous energy betrayed by the pacing as she patted the baby’s back lightly.
“Mom.” Danny sat on the foot of the bed, watching her.
“I’m sorry.” She hated it when her anger affected the children.
“He’s just scared.”
Scully looked at their son, then turned and gently lay Katy in her crib. The baby didn’t wake. Scully took a seat beside Danny. “Scared? Of Walter?”
“Of any man that loves you.”
“Walter is our friend. He knows - “
“It’s an old scared. I’m not sure he even recognizes it any more.” Danny looked down at his shoes, then glanced up at his mom. “Did you meet Daddy’s parents?”
“Yes, well I met his mother a few times. Your grandfather died before - “
“Did they really not love him?”
“What?” Scully startled forward.
“Did his mom wish that he had been taken instead of Samantha? Did they not want him?”
“Where . . . your Dad thinks that?”
Danny looked up, tears in his eyes. “He doesn’t on top of his mind, but yes.”
“That’s what you meant, an ‘old scared’?” She asked quietly.
“He, underneath, he doesn’t believe you can love him forever.”
”You know I can, don’t you.” She looked him directly in the eye.
He nodded. “I’ve always known.”
“But you’ve always known you were loved.” Danny nodded. “I don’t suppose there’s anywhere here that your Dad and I could be alone for a few minutes?”
Danny smiled with a shrug, “Uncle Byers wouldn’t mind if you used his room.”
Scully looked over at Katy. “I’ll be here.” The boy reminded her.
“Have I mentioned what a great kid you are lately?”
“You always think it.”
Her eyes teared immediately. “Yes, I do.” She gave him a quick hug, then let herself out of the room.
She found Mulder in the kitchen, he was still fuming, but trying to calm down. Langly was there too, but they weren’t talking. “Hi. You doing better?”
He looked at her, then away. “I should be helping with the body.”
“No. Come with me.” She took his hand and tugged him after her. He glanced at Langly, but didn’t protest. She led him to Byers’ room and closed the door behind them.
“I apologize Scully.” He spoke before she could. “I’m on edge being here. I don’t want you or the kids exposed to - “
“Mulder, I love you.”
He blinked, “What?”
“I love you. Only you. Not Skinner, not John, not Frohike. I love you. I care about them. They’re important in my life, but I’m in love with you. That’s forever Mulder. Do you understand that?”
He hesitated, then nodded.
“No, Mulder, do you feel that? Do you trust me?”
He swallowed hard, “I want to.”
She nodded, “What can I do to prove it?”
He managed a sick sort of smile, “Put up with me?”
She nodded, “And disappear with you, and have your children?”
“Yeah, that should do it.”
“But it doesn’t. You’re scared I’m going to fall in love with Skinner or someone.”
“No, I - “
Her hand on his cheek stopped him. “I’m not going to. I’m with you. I’ve been with you since you looked up at me with those damn glasses down in the basement and asked me to identify the marks on the backs of those kids.”
He gaped at her slightly.
“What scares me, Mulder, is that this surprises you.” She moved into his arms. “When are you going to believe it?”
“I do Scully. I really do. Just occasionally I get . . . insecure.”
“You weren’t when we were in Ohio.”
“I had you all to myself.”
“And I was hugely pregnant?” She added.
He grinned then, “You’re even more beautiful and sexy when you’re pregnant. And you don’t get out as much.”
She shook her head, but she was smiling. “Are you going to be able to handle Skinner coming with us when we leave?”
His grin faded. “I’ll work on it.”
“Will you really have to?” He didn’t answer, his arms tightening around her. “Danny says this is an ‘old scared’.”
She nodded. “You have a family now Mulder, a family of your own. You’re a husband and a father. We’re together. Danny brought us back together because he knew how much we needed each other. I wasn’t in imminent danger, but maybe you were.”
She nodded. “I’m not sure why, but Danny chose that time to bring us together.”
“Whatever the reason, I’m glad he did.”
She smiled then, “Me too. He told me he’s never doubted how much we love each other. I want you to feel the same way. We need Skinner and you know he can’t stay here. But - “ She looked up, pinning him with her eyes, “but if this is going to upset you, make you feel insecure about me, then we’ll make other arrangements.”
His eyes searched her face then for a long moment. “I love you, Scully. I trust you. I’m sorry I’m so - “
Her lips cut off the rest of it.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.