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Offspring *R* 1/5
Deslea R. Judd
Copyright 1996
This piece was written in 1996 by the author for personal 
entertainment.  It is copyright and may not be used or distributed 
(except for the purposes of private entertainment) without my 
written permission.
This book is based on The X Files, a creation of Chris Carter 
owned by him, Twentieth Century Fox, and Ten-Thirteen 
Productions.  Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Walter Skinner, Bill Mulder, Mrs Mulder, 
Samantha Mulder and her clones, Maggie Scully, Melissa 
Scully, Captain Scully, Sharon Skinner, Kimberly Cooke, the 
Cigarette Smoking (Cancer) Man, the Well Manicured Man and 
his offsider, Frohike, Quiqueg, Gautier, Jean Gautier, Ellen, and 
Alex Krycek remain the intellectual property of those parties.  Dr Karen Koettig, Agent 
Grbevski, Melissa Samantha Scully, Grace Skinner, Clone 1 
(Cynthia), Clone 3 (Carolyn), Clone 4 (Catherine), Dr Sam 
Fieldman, Dr Paul Sturrock, Dr Marion Pieterse, Wendy 
Tomiris, Serena Ingleburn, Amarette, Dr Jillian Maitz, Hallie, 
and Emily Trent are mine and copyright. 
Timeframe/Spoilers:  To Avatar (Season 3).

Rating:  R for low-key sex.

Summary:  When Scully and Skinner fall in love, their troubles have only just begun...

Offspring (1/5) 
Deslea R. Judd 
Copyright 1996 
Assistant Director's Office 
Federal Bureau of Investigation  
Washington, D.C.  
September 10, 1996  
     Assistant Director Walter Skinner rifled through the papers 
on his desk, trying vainly to muster some enthusiasm for his 
work.  He hadn't slept well, plagued by an eerie sense of unease; 
and that unease had not been dispelled by a morning of 
     His glance fell on a framed photograph to one side of the 
desk.  He picked it up, not so much out of sentimentality as an 
inability to concentrate on his work.  Damn it, he felt like he was 
waiting for something.  A bus...or a bomb.  Shivering faintly, he 
looked thoughtfully at the picture in his hands.  
	    It was of a woman in her early twenties.  She was 
playful and headstrong, with a shock of auburn hair and emerald 
green eyes.  Her name was Grace, and she had been his wife two 
decades before, dying a cruel death of cancer less than a year 
after their youthful marriage.  Their daughter, who would have 
been born only two months later, died with her.  He never spoke 
of her, and perhaps those who ventured into this office sensed 
something of the tragedy, because not once in those decades had 
anyone commented on the picture he could sometimes hardly 
bear to look at but could never quite put away.  
     In an effort to clear his unexpectedly swimming mind, he 
turned his thoughts to an agent who resembled Grace in a way 
that sometimes unsettled him.  Special Agent Scully - although 
he called her Dana in his mind, a fact he would not have 
disclosed to anyone - was Grace's spitting image, but the 
resemblance stopped at appearance.  Where Grace was playful, 
even wilful, Dana was strong and graceful and dignified.  
     Dana was a scientist, a medical doctor recruited by the FBI 
after an impressive academic career, including the publication of 
her thesis, "Einstein's Twin Paradox:  A New Interpretation", 
now a widely quoted source in scientific circles.  The FBI's 
interest had been in her forensic expertise; but four years before, 
she had been assigned to partner renegade agent Fox Mulder in 
his work on the X Files, cases dealing in paranormal and 
unexplained phenomena, with the intention of debunking his 
work.  Skinner, who had long been watching Mulder's work, one 
eye on the truth and the other on his own superiors who would 
like to see it concealed, had been fascinated by the interaction 
between Scully and Mulder.  Dana, he knew, was a confirmed 
unbeliever, and for the most part this was unchanged - despite 
the fact that the growing body of evidence was compelling; 
despite even her own unexplained abduction two years ago.  Yet 
she worked happily with Mulder, and seemed to hold him in high 
esteem.  The two were firm friends.  
     Skinner himself held both in the greatest respect.  He had on 
more than one occasion broken his own rule and gotten involved 
in their cases, once making a deal which had saved both agents' 
lives.  Another time, he had been shot for his efforts to keep 
open an investigation into an attempt on Dana's life, which had 
killed her sister, Melissa...his survival had eventually led to the 
murder of his second wife, Sharon.  He had played it safe 
throughout his career, never ceasing to seek the truth, but never 
stepping far enough out of line to endanger himself.  In the last 
three years, Mulder and Scully had unwittingly dragged him, 
mostly against his will, into a new commitment to the truth - one 
far more radical and dangerous than ever before.  He had a 
sneaking suspicion that the two of them would one day be his 
downfall - but until that day, he was a changed man.  
     He considered them friends, the three of them; but where 
Mulder was someone he respected and would put himself on the 
line for, Scully was someone for whom he had true affection, as 
well.  His second marriage had lasted seventeen years before 
Sharon's murder just six months before.  Skinner had been 
framed for her death, and Scully had suspected him.  That had 
hurt.  Mulder had believed in him and searched determinedly for 
the truth; Scully had feared his guilt (as he had himself) and been 
reserved in her efforts in the investigation, reluctant to prove it.  
It hadn't been until after he was cleared that Scully had healed 
the breach, staying with him after Sharon's funeral.  She had 
been very kind to him that day.  Sharon's photograph was 
missing from his desk; that wound was too fresh.  
     His door burst open; the decorous, respectful knock which he 
had come to expect absent.  He wasn't surprised to see that the 
culprit was Agent Mulder.  Protocol was not the man's strong 
     But even Mulder's protocol was not normally quite this bad.  
His sleeves were rolled up and his collar, open.  Appearance was 
not something which concerned Skinner particularly (although 
he was meticulous with his own); but it jarred with the 
atmosphere of the office.  He suspected that whatever it was he 
had been waiting for all morning had come.  
     "Something's wrong," he noted.  It wasn't a question.  
     Mulder nodded.  "It's Scully.  She's missing."  
     Skinner turned half-away so that the other agent wouldn't see 
his expression, one of stunned fear.  He prided himself on 
keeping a cool head - or at least seeming to do so.  There was 
nothing more frightening for an agent than a frightened superior 
officer.  And that was what he felt now:  raw fear.  He didn't 
puzzle on the source of his fear, but rather concentrated on 
making his expression the right blend of concern and 
professional interest.  He turned back to Mulder.  "Tell me."  
     Mulder pulled up a chair without being asked.  "Sir, I think 
it's aliens."  
     "You would," Skinner said curtly.  Aliens were Mulder's pet 
subject, and his explanation for all that was inexplicable in the 
world.  His sister, Samantha, had mysteriously disappeared in 
Mulder's presence as a child.  He maintained that aliens were 
     Suddenly, Skinner felt ashamed.  He knew he was indicting 
Mulder unfairly.  He was something of an expert in the field, and 
had a certain amount of evidence supporting his beliefs.  "I'm 
sorry, Agent Mulder.  That wasn't fair.  Tell me what you have."  
     Mulder took out a notebook and scanned it.  "She was seen 
walking last night at approximately 22:10 in the business area of 
Annapolis, maybe a half-hour's walk from her apartment.    No-
one seems sure of why she was walking.  We found her car a 
short distance away, but it was fine.  If anything was wrong, it 
isn't now.  She passed a couple of late night shops, but no-one 
remembers much.  Some kids who were skateboarding in the area 
reported seeing a bright light, and then she drops out of sight."  
     Skinner nodded slowly.  "Supposing you're right.  Where do 
you think she is?"  
     Mulder shrugged slightly.  "The abductions Scully and I have 
investigated extensively all seem to suggest some government 
orchestration.  Some would say that they are fabricated by the 
government from start to finish.  I lean towards the view that they 
are genuine alien abductions, in co-operation with our 
government."  He paused.  "If that's the case, she could be 
anywhere.  Abductees have recalled being on trains and disused 
railroads, in disused warehouses, in purpose-built 
facilities...anywhere.  The only solid location I know of is the 
railroad she was on last time." 
     Skinner was quiet for some time.  Finally, he said 
thoughtfully, "Agent Mulder, I can't allow you to waste time on 
your hare-brained ideas.  An agent is missing.  You are to devote 
all resources to conventional follow-up:  hospitals, arrests in the 
time following her disappearance, the usual."  
     "But Sir, I-"  
     "That's on the record."  He paused.  "Off the record, do 
whatever you have to do, call in any favour you must, follow up 
any lead you deem worthwhile.  But find her, and find her 
       Mulder's brow creased.  Skinner had long turned a blind eye 
to his less orthodox methods, but never before had he condoned 
them in words - not even off the record.  "Yes, Sir."  
      "And this conversation never happened."  
A Bridge  
Unmapped U.S. Government Territory  
September 13, 1996  
	    Mulder picked half-heartedly at his sunflower seeds.  
Scully had been missing for three days.  He supposed he had 
slept about three hours in that time.  The fear he had felt in the 
first few hours had given way progressively to depression, then 
	    He always felt a little at a loose end when he worked 
on a case without her.  He felt like he was straining to think of 
something or do some tedious task.  Scully helped him to think - 
and helped him to stay at least halfway within the bounds of 
reason.  He knew his predisposition was toward the unusual.  
More often than not, he believed, he was right - that was the 
nature of the X Files.  But to be fair, often he wasn't - and more 
often still, the grains of truth were spread evenly between Scully 
and himself.  Scully was his corrective - an essential one.  
Working without her was unsatisfactory at the best of times.  
Now, when the stakes were so high, he needed her badly.  And of 
course had she been there, there would have been no need.  
	    Mulder was not a cautious personality.  He rushed 
headlong on sheer instinct into situations other agents would 
avoid.  Normally almost recklessly confident about his ability to 
resolve a given situation, the very fact that it was she he was 
fighting for made him feel uneasy and inadequate.  He loved her 
dearly, and he feared for her greatly.  As much as her refusal to 
accept the reality of so many of the things they investigated 
frustrated him, he loved working with her.  She knew him so 
well, disagreed with him totally almost all of the time...and 
respected him absolutely.  The feeling was mutual.  But Mulder 
wasn't in love with Scully.  It went far deeper than that.    
	    Not that he wasn't attracted to her - he was.  But 
they'd been through so much together that the idea of romance 
with her seemed almost trite.  To call them friends, too, seemed 
just as ridiculous, though he valued her more than anyone he'd 
ever known.  The truth of the matter was that she was the other 
half of his soul.  He was incomplete without her.  In Dana 
Scully, Fox Mulder had found the humanity in himself that he'd 
thought he had lost the day that his sister disappeared.  No 
experience either of them might have in their lives would not be 
filtered through the lens of the bond that they shared.  He never 
tried to protect her - they weren't on those terms - but the times 
in which he had been faced with the possibility that she might 
not be there with him and for him had so shaken him that he had 
felt as though he must start his life all over again with nothing to 
hold on to.  Faced once again with this appalling prospect, he 
felt all the things that he had built his life on slipping away.  
	    But beneath the depression, another emotion was 
simmering - one far stronger.  It was rage.  Once before, she had 
been abducted, and then he had nearly killed a man who held the 
key to her disappearance.  He had a suspicion that if she weren't 
found soon, he might do the same again.  He also feared that this 
time, if that became necessary, he would be too late:  When she 
had been taken before, he had been told, "I like you.  I like her, 
too.  That is why she was returned to you."  The fact that she had 
been taken again indicated that such liking was no longer 
	    His car door was yanked open.  Mulder jumped, 
grabbing for his weapon, but put it away again.  "Skinner!" he 
gasped, then, "Sir.  What are you doing here?"  
	    Assistant Director Skinner seated himself in the 
passenger seat, eyeing Mulder in disapproval.  "Woolgathering, 
Agent Mulder?  I've been standing outside the car for the last five 
minutes.  Very sloppy."  Mulder offered no defense, and he went 
on a little more kindly, "Well, I've done my share these last few 
days, I suppose.  No harm done.  Just be careful."  He paused.  
"How much sleep have you had?  You look awful."  
	    "And you're a thing of beauty as always.  Not 
enough," Mulder added, annoyed.  
	    Skinner, who could care less that Mulder was 
annoyed, said,  "So I see.  Are you going to tell me what you're 
doing here?"  
	    At the risk of stating the obvious, Mulder told him, 
"I'm staking the place out.  How did you know I was here?"  
	    "You left a piece of paper with this location on your 
desk.  Like I said, very sloppy.  What brings you here?"  
	    "What brings you here?"  Mulder demanded.  "Surely 
you didn't come halfway across the country to check on my 
stakeout skills?"  He suddenly caught himself.  For crying out 
loud, Mulder, this is the A.D. you're talking to!  "I'm sorry, Sir.  
I'm on a short fuse.  This railroad - the one over the bank - is the 
one Agent Scully and I found earlier this year, where we think 
she was taken last time.  I was beginning to think it was a dead 
end, but an hour ago I got a tip-off on a train headed this way.  It 
should be here within the hour.  If I'm right, Scully is on it."  
	    Skinner ignored Mulder's earlier outburst.  He 
couldn't stand insubordination, but he also knew that Mulder 
was never subordinate to anyone - not really.  It was infuriating, 
but with Mulder, that was the way things were.  You could fight 
it, or you could accept it and move on.  And in Mulder's case, 
insubordination was a strength, not a weakness.  He nodded 
slowly.  "Have you any reason - besides past experience - to 
think that Scully is  on it?"  
	    Mulder considered Skinner for a moment, then said 
with vehemence, "Cancer Man is on it."  
	    "And where Cancer Man goes, trouble follows," 
Skinner said grimly.  
	    Cancer Man was not the name by which Skinner 
thought of the man - in fact, truth be told, he tried to avoid 
thinking of him as much as possible - but, he reflected, it was 
appropriate.  In all his years in the Bureau, he had never once 
seen him without a cigarette in his hand.  Mulder had coined the 
name, along with Black Lung, and a few other monikers.  None 
of them were complimentary.  
	    Skinner himself knew little about him.  He knew that 
he had power over the FBI, the CIA, and most other government 
intelligence agencies; and he had been advised by people 
superior to himself not to cross the man or disobey him.  The 
consequences could be dangerous - a fact with which he was 
personally acquainted.  However, the man's actual position was 
unknown to him, and not for lack of inquiry.  Skinner suspected 
he was positioned within the military, but was unsure of how or 
where.  What he did know was that he was deeply interested in 
the X Files and appeared to have some involvement with the 
government forces opposed to their investigation.  On more than 
one occasion, attempts had been made on both Mulder's and 
Scully's lives on his orders, resulting in the deaths of Mulder's 
father, Bill, and Scully's sister, Melissa.  Sharon's murder, too, 
lay at his door.  Cancer Man, Skinner thought, was the contents 
of the X Files personified.  "All right," he said at last.  "Do you 
have a plan?"  
	    Mulder nodded.  "Yes, Sir.  Here's what I had in 
	    It was a relatively simple plan (and calling it a plan, 
in view of its lack of detail, was to Skinner's mind rather 
generous).  They would get on board.  They would leave some 
rags on the tracks in the hope that the driver would mistake them 
for an animal or person and slow down, enabling them to get on 
safely.  They would wait high up on the bank, however, until 
they were certain that the train would  slow down.  If it didn't, 
they would take the more risky course of jumping onto the roof 
of the train and clambering down to one of the doorways.  Once 
inside, they would overpower anyone they had to in order to 
search the train, find Scully if she was on it, or ride the train to 
its destination if she wasn't in the hope that the destination 
would provide enlightenment.  (Just how they would do that 
undetected if they had overpowered half the train, Mulder didn't 
volunteer.  Skinner, annoyed, told him to arrange someone to 
trail the train on their behalf in case they had to make a quick 
exit.  Mulder was put out at his impulsive determination being 
thwarted, but telephoned someone named Frohike to do so).  
	    Mulder was anxious to confront Cancer Man, if he 
were on board.  Skinner baulked at this.  It was an unnecessary 
risk.  He just wanted to get Scully out of there, and he sure as 
hell didn't want Cancer Man knowing he'd been personally 
involved if it could be avoided.  His own position had become 
increasingly tenuous since he had first defied the man two years 
previously, re-opening the X Files after the latter had had them 
shut.  He knew that already there was certain information to 
which he was no longer privy.  His job, he could take or leave, if 
it came to a crisis:  the Marines would take him back in a second.  
But when Cancer Man was involved, the stakes were a lot higher 
than that.  He had a gunshot scar on his stomach and a buried 
wife to prove it.  
	    So Skinner vetoed any attempts to get to Cancer 
Man.  Mulder grudgingly agreed, but Skinner knew better than to 
trust that totally.  If they didn't find Scully on board, Mulder 
would lose his cool (not that he had that much in the first place), 
and probably turn the train upside down to get to him.  Who 
knew?  Maybe he'd even kill the man - Scully's life was on the 
line, and Skinner knew that the friendship between those two 
was such that neither dismissal nor a murder charge would stop 
him.  As much as the idea of removing Cancer Man appealed to 
Skinner (who in other circumstances would happily have done 
the deed himself), he and Mulder had to be kept apart at all 
costs.  Frowning at the difficulties that that prospect alone might 
entail, Skinner settled down to wait.  
	    It was growing dark, and Mulder was cold.  There 
was a gnawing feeling in his stomach.  He could cope with 
Scully being gone when he was thinking, working.  But now, 
waiting, he could feel a coiling, tightening sensation in the 
depths of him.  Maybe conversation would kill the anxiety, 
although he doubted it.  He turned to Skinner.  "I'm glad you're 
here, Sir.  You still haven't told me why   you're here, 
	    It was a question.  Skinner answered it.  "I respect 
you both, and the risks that you take for the truth - risks I have 
not always been prepared to take."  
	    Mulder glanced at him suspiciously.  He'd been 
missing himself, and Skinner had never come cross-country 
looking for him  - not until Scully had called him, at any rate.  
Could he really be here simply out of respect?  Mulder supposed 
he could, but then again, there was that grim determination of 
Skinner's expression.  No, it wasn't respect, or protocol.  "With 
respect, Sir, there's more to it than that."  
	    Skinner started, then suddenly grinned.  Trust 
Mulder to cut through the bull.  "Yes, there is," he admitted.  "I 
like  her.  And she reminds me a lot of someone - someone I used 
to care for.  Hardly a scientific reason for being interested in 
what happens to her, but there it is."  
	    "The woman in the photo on your desk?"  Mulder 
hazarded.  He had noticed the resemblance - had in fact thought 
nightmarishly that Skinner had assigned his mistress to keep tabs 
on him until he had surreptitiously inspected the photo and 
noticed its age.  
	    "Grace, my wife - before Sharon," he added by way of 
explanation.  "She died."  
	    Mulder was embarrassed.  "I'm sorry."  
	    "Ancient history, my friend."  
	    They lapsed into silence for a time, Mulder popping 
sunflower seeds.  Skinner tried one and said they were revolting.  
"It's not the taste, it's the texture," Mulder laughed easily.  
"They're just different, that's all."  
	    "Whatever you say," Skinner muttered dubiously.  He 
became aware of a rumbling behind them.  Instantly at attention, 
he hissed, "Listen."  
	    Mulder opened his car door.  "Showtime."  
	    Dana Scully's mind was swimming.  She could see, 
hazily, but the circuits connecting what she saw with her mind 
were fuzzy.  She had a vague idea of whiteness, and of faces in 
masks.  Or was that a memory?  Now that she thought about it, 
the others had scattered after hearing a heavy thudding on the 
roof of - was it a building?  No, it was moving.  She had a sense 
of deja vu.  She knew this had happened before, and she knew, 
somewhere in her mind, where she was and what was happening.  
But she couldn't identify it.  It was like groping in the dark.  A 
ship?  Truck?  God, where was  she?  Where had she been last 
time?  (Last time?  Last time what?)  Trailer?  No, she was sure it 
wasn't a trailer, but that rang a bell somehow -  
	    I'm on a train. 
	    She heard a dull thud behind her, and a moan.  Am I 
hurt? she thought a little incoherently.  She didn't feel hurt.  In 
fact, she didn't feel much of anything.  There were voices calling 
her name.  
	    She tried to answer, but she couldn't coordinate 
herself well enough to form any words.  She made some faint 
sound and stirred a little, but that was all.  She registered two 
familiar voices (Mulder?  Skinner?  What were they  doing in 
this crazy dream of hers?), then drifted off.  
	    Mulder said anxiously, "She's drowsing - probably 
drugged.  Damn it, Skinner, how are we going to get her out like 
	    Skinner leaned over the gurney, his mouth close to 
her ear.  "We did this in Vietnam if we needed to make someone 
come to quickly - to get the wounded out of the line of fire."  
	    Scully felt the bite as a stabbing pain in her earlobe.  
"Ow!" she cried, sitting up abruptly.  She felt woozy, but she was 
alert.  She was conscious of a dampness spreading over the 
shoulder of her blouse.  She touched it, looked at it, and 
grimaced.  It was blood.  Ears always bled badly, she could 
vaguely remember her old anatomy lecturer saying.  She looked 
up.  "What the hell did you do that for?" she demanded, her voice 
a little sluggish.  
	    Skinner wiped his mouth, leaving a pink stain on his 
cuff.  "Sorry.  We didn't know how to wake you."  
	    "Where am I?"  
	    Mulder glanced at Scully.  "A train.  The  train.  You 
were abducted three days ago.  Can you walk?"  
	    "Three days?""  Scully asked, aghast.  "I lost three 
	    Mulder's voice was sharp.  "Post-mortems later, 
Scully.  We don't have time."  
	    "You don't remember anything?" Skinner asked, 
dragging her to her feet and pulling one of her arms around his 
shoulders as she slumped.  
	    Scully shook her head uneasily.  "No.  I don't."  She 
tried to walk, but she just couldn't control her limbs well enough.  
"How do we get off?"  
	    Skinner shook his head, but Mulder said 
determinedly, "The same way we got on.  We jump."  
	    Their alight from the train was not quite so 
straightforward as the boarding.  Most of the people Mulder and 
Skinner had knocked out were still out; but one, apparently, had 
woken.  They were confronted just metres from the door by a 
lone gunman.  He took aim, seemingly at Scully.  Skinner 
whirled sideways in an attempt to shield her, but was hampered 
by her weight.  The gunman got in one good shot which passed 
straight through Skinner in the fleshy part of his arm before 
lodging in Scully's stomach.  In the same second, Mulder shot 
him, as much out of outrage as instinct.  
	    "Is he dead?" Skinner asked.  
	    Mulder was grim.  "I don't know and I don't care.  He 
would have killed her.  Let's go."  
	    Skinner frowned, looking at Scully, whose blouse 
now sported another bloodstain.  "What kind of shape are you 
	    Scully shook her head.  "I can't feel much.  I guess I'm 
pretty doped.  But that won't last.  Let's get out of here."  
	    Mulder dragged open the sliding door.  They paused 
a moment, then jumped.  
	    Walter Skinner watched as his wounded arm was 
dressed.  "Will it be okay?" he asked.  
	    The doctor looked up from her file.  "Oh, yes.  The 
round went through cleanly.  I'd go easy on it for a while; but it 
will be fine.  Watch for any suspicious pain that could indicate 
infection.  But don't worry about it."  
	    He nodded, not really interested.  He'd been shot 
several times in his career, all more badly than this.  It was 
something to say, that was all.  
	    Scully, they had been told, would be fine.  The 
wound was superficial, probably thanks to Skinner in taking the 
worst of the bullet's momentum.  Miraculously for a stomach 
wound, no organs had been involved.  She was sleeping off the 
remains of whatever drug she had been administered while he, 
Skinner, was tended to for his wound.  Mulder was arranging 
their flight home, which they hoped would take place that night.  
It was only eight now.  They could be home by eleven.  He and 
Mulder were rather bruised for their jump from the moving train, 
but Scully, too drugged to tense up her body, had been 
completely unhurt.  
	    Except for being shot.  
	    They had been able to get no sense from her.  She 
maintained that she remembered getting out of her car when it 
stalled and walking a little way.  Then she went blank.  Mulder 
said she might make a little more sense when she was straight, 
but Skinner doubted it.  Now, all he wanted was to get as far 
away from that damned railroad as possible.  
	    As far as he could ascertain, they had not been 
pursued; and even the lone gunman at the door struck him as a 
bit of a token gesture.  He had an uneasy feeling that they had 
gotten away because they had been allowed to do so.  Which 
made him wonder if, in escaping, they weren't playing into 
Cancer Man's hands.    
	    But that was something he couldn't afford to consider 
right now.  They had to get home.  They had been through too 
much, all of them; and especially Scully.  He wondered how well 
she would cope with her experience once she was lucid enough 
to appreciate what she had been through.  
	    Just as the nurse was finishing, a shadow formed 
against the curtain.  "Sir, can I come in?"  
	    "Come in, Agent Mulder.  Close the curtain," he 
added ironically.  To his amusement, Mulder did just that.  The 
nurse moved on.  
	    "We have a charter waiting.  I thought that was best, 
given Scully's condition."  
	    Skinner nodded.  "That's wise.  Is she fit to travel?"  
	    Mulder nodded.  "More or less.  She's dressing now.  
She's conscious and more or less alert, but she's still a little 
disorientated.  She wants to go home, though."  
	    "All right, then," Skinner replied, rolling down his 
sleeve and getting to his feet.  "Let's go."  
	    Their return flight was uneventful.  Scully appeared, 
subdued, her bloodied blouse replaced by a too-big business 
shirt which Skinner recognised as Mulder's.  Mulder himself 
wore an old pullover.  She walked a little awkwardly, and slept 
for most of the flight.  
	    Mulder, for his part, was pouring over his files, 
making excited little notes here and there.  That man loves a 
crisis,  Skinner grinned.  It gets his adrenaline pumping.  He felt 
as though he was watching someone do a crossword.  Skinner, 
however, was content to sit and reflect.  
	    He stole a glance at the motionless figure to his right.  
It seemed to him for a moment that he was looking at Grace, and 
his eyes grew tender.  Quite unexpectedly, he felt something well 
up from deep inside of him - something he hadn't felt since 
Sharon had died.  It was deep and terrifyingly passionate love.  
Not given to fits of great emotion, Skinner blinked in stunned 
surprise, jarred from complacency.  
	    The moment passed.  He shook himself.  It wasn't 
Grace.  It was Dana.  And then, because Walter Skinner was an 
essentially truthful man, he admitted reluctantly to himself that 
that fact made not one iota of difference to his feelings.  
	    He was in love with Special Agent Dana Scully. 
3170 West 53 Rd, #35  
Annapolis, Maryland  
September 13, 1996  
	    Skinner and Scully sat in companionable silence.  
	    They were in her apartment, and it was late; but she 
gave no hint that he should go.  In fact, she seemed eager for him 
to stay.  She had brushed aside Mulder's expression of concern 
when he had left, but now that she was faced with the prospect of 
being left alone, she seemed unwilling to let Skinner go.  
	    Skinner, for his part, was uncomfortable.  Internal 
truth-telling was one thing, but he had a horrible feeling that if 
he stayed alone with her in her apartment for too much longer, he 
would in some way express what he had learned about himself.  
He didn't want to do that.  He didn't want to love Dana.  He was 
just too damned old to deal with that stuff.  He liked being a 
bachelor.  It was lonely, horribly lonely...but it was easy.  
	    And if he did tell her?  Now, tonight?  What then?  
She might reject him, and he didn't want to put her in that 
position after her ordeal.  She was injured and vulnerable.  To 
have to fend off anyone's unwanted attentions - least of all from 
her boss, for God's sake - could be the last straw.  And what if 
she accepted him?  He'd never know whether it was real or 
something which happened out of her own vulnerability - and in 
fact it would probably be the latter.  No, he had to get the hell 
out of there.  
	    But first, he had to know that she was really all right.  
	    The silence broken, Scully jumped, dropping her 
mug.  It was empty, but she started to stammer in dismay.  "Oh, 
God, look what I've done.  It'll stain, I know it'll stain-"  
	    She didn't stop, but picked up the mug and put it on 
the coffee table with a clatter and brushed at the unblemished 
rug.  Skinner called her name once more.  She ignored him, 
continued to prattle nervously.  He took her hands.  "Scully!"  
	    Finally, suddenly, she was silent and still.  She 
looked at him for a moment, then looked away, sheepish.  "God, I 
don't know what's happening to me.  For a moment there, I just - 
	    He frowned.  "Dana, you're not okay, are you?"  
	    She bit her lip.  Don't let her cry, I can't bear to see 
that right now.  He cleared the unworthy thought from his mind.  
	    But Scully didn't cry.  Instead, she said in a low, 
ragged voice, "I'm frightened, Walter."  She had never called him 
by his name before, but he didn't seem to mind.  "I've been shot 
at, I've been abducted twice, my sister died - and Mulder gets 
shot at every day of the damned week, for heaven's sake; they 
killed his father and poisoned his water.  When I joined the 
Bureau, I knew danger from the criminals was part of the 
territory.  But it's the government that's trying to hurt me - and 
for doing what I was hired to do!  I just don't know who to trust 
anymore.  I'm frightened.  I can't give up on the X Files, but 
sometimes I get so afraid-"  
	    She stopped short.  Skinner still held her hands, but 
he wouldn't meet her gaze.  His face was averted, but she could 
see a shadow of distress in his features.  "What is it?"  He shook 
his head.  "What is it?" she repeated, more firmly.  
	    "It doesn't matter, Scully.  Why don't you take some 
time off?  Recover?  I don't mean just tomorrow.  I mean real 
time.  Time to regroup - you've been through so much -"  he 
broke off, that look of distress there once more.  
	    Scully's look was contemptuous.  Irritated, she pulled 
her hands away.  "I want you to tell me what's wrong," she 
demanded, annoyed.  
	    Skinner looked away again.  He thought that there 
was rather more truth in his eyes that he cared to reveal.  
	    But Scully, he realised, didn't care about these 
things.  She was forthright and principled, and she wanted the 
truth more than she wanted to be protected or safe.  After a 
moment, he met her gaze squarely.  "All right.  If you must know, 
I hate this every bit as much as you do.  I hate   it.  Damn 
it, Scully, one of these days you're going to get yourself killed, 
and I don't want to be hurt when that happens!"  His voice broke 
a little.  "But it's a little too late for that, I'm afraid.  I already care 
- rather more than I should."  
	    She didn't look shocked, or look away.  She had 
more grit than that.  "I see."  
	    "It doesn't matter, Scully," he said curtly.  "You 
wanted the truth, and I gave it to you.  That's all."  He stopped.  "I 
should go."  He averted his gaze, stared straight ahead.  "Do you 
want me to post guards outside for a few days?"  
	    "No.  I don't."  
	    He started to rise from the sofa.  Scully watched him, 
her emerald eyes clouding with compassion and warmth.  
Impulsively, she took his arm.   
	    He turned back to face her and reluctantly met her 
eyes.  Scully was silent a moment, considering this man who she 
had come to care for - this man who she knew loved her.  She 
made her decision with uncharacteristic disregard for the 
consequences.  Tentatively, she said gently,  "Don't go."  
	    Skinner felt his soundness of judgement leave him.  
He knew he should go.  He also knew that he wouldn't, couldn't.  
They moved at the same instant, and he kissed her with a 
tenderness he hadn't known he possessed (although Sharon 
Skinner could have told him, had she been alive), touched her 
face and her neck and traced the curves of her body, his eyes 
holding hers.  Still not entirely sure how she felt about all of 
this, Scully let him; and in dawning realisation she came to see 
that she did want him, after all.  He kissed her again, this time 
more insistently, demandingly; and this time her lips sought his, 
matching him in passion and fervour.  She felt his hands on her, 
one on her neck, the other on her hip, her thigh; she breathed out 
shakily, pressing her body against him.  She wound her arms 
around him and leaned back, drawing him with her, wanting him 
closer.  She ran her fingertips over the smooth skin of his neck 
and with deliberate precision unfastened his tie and the buttons 
of his shirt.  There was pain in her wounded stomach, but she 
barely noticed it.  As they slid down into the sofa, him carefully 
supporting her back, he felt her pushing his shirt back off his 
shoulders, suddenly tentative - almost shy.    
	    He was intrigued.  She was normally so firm, so 
assertive.  He'd never seen her so unsure.  And yet, wasn't he 
unsure, too?  Somehow the comfortable confidence of being with 
Sharon for so long had made him ever conscious of the 
awkwardness, the unfamiliarity of being with someone new.  
With hesitancy of his own, he touched her beneath Mulder's shirt 
until she led his hands to the lacy bra beneath.  He felt the 
delicate curve of her breasts, their fiery heat.  "I want to look at 
you, Dana," he breathed, taking the shirt up over her head and 
discarding it.  She sat before him, suddenly vulnerable.  She had 
never wondered about her attractiveness, never really cared, but 
suddenly she thought, Will he think I'm beautiful?  What will he 
	    She was exquisite.  She was very like Grace, but she 
was different, too.  The translucent white skin which glowed 
against the pale blue lace, the perfectly defined lips of her 
beautiful small mouth, the sparkling emerald eyes which 
darkened to sapphire with desire...these were all her own.   He 
gave a low sound of anticipation, and all at once their mouths 
found one another once more.  Dana unclasped the bra, wanting 
to feel him ever closer, and it fell away.  He breathed her scent 
around her neck, between her breasts, in her hair as he kissed her 
everywhere.  His fingers found the warmth at the heart of her, 
and she made the tiniest sound.  He was so utterly absorbed in 
her that he was hardly conscious of her lips brushing lightly over 
his neck and his shoulders, or her hands moving to his waist, 
then lower, and doing to him what he was doing to her.  He 
touched her with the fascinated air of someone who has found 
something completely unique in the universe.  In a way, he 
supposed, he had.  He heard her breathe his name in sudden, 
exquisite pleasure.  
	    He wasn't sure who led who, but they made their way 
to Dana's bedroom.  As they sank back onto her bed, her beneath 
him, her shock of copper hair brushing her bare shoulders, he 
gently touched the bandage over her stomach.  "I don't want to 
hurt you," he said gently.  
	    "It'll be okay if we're careful," she reassured him 
softly.  She touched his wounded arm with a pang of guilt.  "I'm 
sorry you were hurt.  I never did thank you."  
	    "Don't thank me like this, Dana.  That's not what this 
is about."  
	    "I'm with you because I want to be."  So saying, she 
reached up and silenced him with a kiss.    
	    There were no more words after that, only the sound 
of the rain and the gentle rustling of skin against skin and bodies 
rising to meet one another.  In the dark, there was no Skinner and 
Scully, merely man and woman together in the dark dance of a 
love older than time.  And when he entered her, became one with 
her, it was as though that was how it had always been.  
	    When it was over, he held her as she drifted off to 
sleep.  He slept too, but he was restless; and he woke whenever 
she did.  And she woke, often, with nightmares she couldn't 
	    Walter used the time to reflect on the situation.  He 
knew that this affair could not continue.  And the thing that was 
so maddening about it all was that they could have made it work, 
they could have, if only it didn't matter.  
	    If only he didn't love her.  
	    He didn't pretend to know her mind.  Perhaps, for 
her, it was love; more likely, it was the desperate abandon two 
survivors share.  But he knew they could only ever be friends.  
	    But first, there was the night, the morning.  
	    They made love again in the gray light of the dawn, 
their bodies melding against one another, then laying still.    
	    Dana was the one who raised the issue of the future.  
	    He stirred.  "Yes?"  
	    "This can't happen again."  He bowed his head, 
unhappy but acquiescent.  Perhaps misreading the gesture as 
denial, she went on, "You're a superior officer, and we're all 
under scrutiny already.  This could be construed as a security 
risk.  You could be open to disciplinary action."  She touched 
his face tenderly, regret lighting on her own.  "I don't want that."  
	    His hold on her tightened instinctively.  "Dana, not 
now.  Tonight's ours."  
	    She wouldn't let it go.  "And after that?"  
	   Finally seeing that she had to have her answer, Walter 
said (and it pained him to say it), "Friends.  Always."  
	    "Always," she agreed.  
	    They spoke of other things, consequential and 
inconsequential.  Walter told her about Grace.  They drowsed 
again, their embrace tight with the knowledge that it could not 
happen again; and finally, he left her, still sleeping, her touch 
and her taste and her scent already a bittersweet memory.  
Federal Bureau of Investigation  
Washington, D.C.  
October 4, 1996  
	    Mulder looked up from his desk, then got to his feet.  
"Scully!" he exclaimed, pleased; and in an unusual show of 
affection he hurried over to her and kissed her cheek.  "You're 
back at last."  
	    Scully smiled gently.  "Dug up any aliens in my 
absence, Mulder?" she demanded, her voice suffused with 
	    "Just a few of your old boyfriends."  
	    His voice held no knowledge.  It was a reference to 
an old joke, that was all.  "You're welcome to them.  What have 
we got happening?"  
	    Scully, in the end, had taken three weeks off work.  
The first two had been stress leave, which she personally felt no 
need of but which had been beneficial as she recovered from her 
gunshot wound, which had nagged at her for most of that time.  
Towards the end of that time, though, she had been taken terribly 
ill, throwing up and sleeping all the time, and had taken another 
week off.  She had feared infection, but that appeared not to be 
the case.  Truth be told, she was no better now; but she was 
anxious to return to work.  
	    She and Walter had seen each other several times 
since the night they had spent in one another's arms.  Resolutely, 
they had kept to their decision to remain on platonic terms, but 
they had become very close.  She knew that he loved her.  She 
had quite deliberately formed no opinion on the matter in her 
own mind, but she suspected that, were she to examine her 
feelings closely, she would have to say that she loved him, too - 
at least on some level.  But she felt no qualms about coming back 
to work under his supervision, no doubts about her own 
professionalism or his.  
	    Not that it was quite so simple as that.  There was 
one, nagging worry creeping in on her; but she would leave it 
until the day after tomorrow before she would allow it to take 
hold.  Shaking herself, she made herself listen to what Mulder 
was saying.  
	    He was reciting the current caseload, chapter and 
verse.  There was nothing which particularly interested her.  
"Anything on my case?" she asked.  
	    Mulder was silent a moment, before admitting, "No.  
Dead ends everywhere.  I'm sorry."  
	    "I'll live.  Let's get to work."  
Federal Bureau of Investigation  
Washington, D.C.  
October 9, 1996  
	    Mulder watched Scully out of the corner of his eye.  
She had been back for a week, and for the first two days of that 
she had been all enthusiasm, eager to settle back into work.  But 
for the last three, she had been suddenly withdrawn and pensive.  
Neither medical trivia nor light-hearted banter had drawn her 
from her lifeless shell.  Noting the circles under her eyes, he 
wondered if it had been such a good idea for her to return just 
	    But he had voiced that already, albeit tentatively.  
Scully had scoffed at him.  "I'm fine, Mulder.  I've got a virus, 
that's all."  It was true, he supposed; she'd been running to the 
bathroom all week, and she had turned positively green at the 
sight of his lunch yesterday.  Not that that surprised him; his 
greasy junk-food diet offended her to the depths of her scientific 
	    Yet he was concerned.  He couldn't put his finger on 
it, but damn it, he knew   Scully and he knew when 
something wasn't right.  
	    Suddenly aware of his scrutiny, Scully looked up 
from her work.  "What's the matter?" she frowned.  
	    Mulder pursed his lips.  "I don't know, Scully.  You  
won't tell me," he said pointedly, suddenly annoyed.  
	    "Oh, Mulder, don't start."  She dropped her curly 
head back into her files.  
	   "Scully, I know you better than that.  Something's 
wrong and it's affecting your work.  As your friend, I want to 
know.  As your partner, I have a right to know."  
	    She regarded him for a moment, then made a 
decision.  It was bull, and they both knew it; her work was as 
good as ever.  (And, she reflected wryly, he would never have 
pulled such a dirty guilt trip on her, except that he knew she 
wouldn't buy it).  Nonetheless, she wanted  him to know.  She 
had felt very alone these last few days.  "All right.  Off the 
	    Mulder looked at her closely, suddenly noticing the 
dark circles under her eyes.  Her skin was drawn tightly over her 
flawless features.  There was tension in every line of her.  
Whatever it was, it was big.  "You know better than that, Scully.  
Everything's off the record between us."  
	    Her face became wooden, deliberately 
expressionless.  "I'm expecting."  
	    Mulder's eyes widened a little.  He hadn't expected 
this.  Scully was so - so straight.  He wasn't so naive as to think 
she was a virgin, but he hadn't known she was seeing anyone.  
Though reserved, it wasn't like her to be secretive.  And Scully 
wasn't into flings.    
	    With some self-control, he quelled the sarcasm that 
leaped to his mind.  After all, this was Scully.  His friend.  He 
didn't want to be hurtful.  He settled for a surprised whistle.  
"Are you okay?"  
	    "I'll live.  And," she added, "so will the child."  
	    Mulder wasn't surprised.  He knew she didn't believe 
in abortion, and had she not understood his querying look, he 
wouldn't have even asked.  "Who's the lucky fellow?"  He could 
have kicked himself, knowing even before her expression froze 
that he'd overstepped the mark.  
	    "No-one you know," she replied curtly.  She got to 
her feet.  "I'll be back."  
	    "Where are you going?"  
	    Scully bit her lip nervously.  "To see Skinner."  
Assistant Director's Office  
Federal Bureau of Investigation  
Washington, D.C.  
October 9, 1996  
	    "How did it happen?"  
	    "You want me to teach you biology?"  
	    Skinner gave her a withering look.  "I mean, we took 
	    Scully shook her head.  "Who knows?  Breaks and 
leaks happen.  We might not have noticed."  An alarmed look 
flitted across her milky-white features.  She said in a low voice, 
"Walter, I haven't been with anyone else in a long time.  This 
child-" she almost choked on the word.  Dear God, she was 
having a baby!  "This child is yours."  
	    Skinner shook his head.  He wasn't handling this very 
well.  She'd misunderstood him.  "I believe you, Dana.  I do.  I 
just - wondered."  He rose and came around his desk.  He sat 
down beside her.  "What do you want to do?"  
	    Scully lifted her head.  "I want the child, Walter.  
And even if I didn't, I don't believe in abortion."  Her voice was 
not pleading or cajoling.  It was one of dignity.  He nodded in 
mute acceptance of her decision, knowing that even if he had 
wanted her to terminate (and he didn't; abortion was something 
he saw solely in terms of the daughter who had died with his 
wife) this was not a choice he would ever be able to influence.  
Dana's ethics, her will; these were stronger than his.  
	    "How are you doing?  Really?"  
	    She shrugged her shoulders, a crooked little smile 
forming.  "I'm okay.  I wasn't, but I am now."  She paused.  
"You?" she asked awkwardly.  
	    Skinner reflected for a moment.  A screaming, 
irrational part of him was terrified for this woman who was 
carrying his child.  It's Grace all over again.  She'll die if she 
continues with this pregnancy, Walter, she'll die.  Ruthlessly, he 
pushed the little voice down; for the rest of him, it was as though 
he had been given the chance to regain that which had been so 
cruelly stolen from him.  "You know, quite to my own surprise, 
I'm okay, too, Dana.  I'm - pleased."  
	    "You know, Walter, I don't expect anything from 
you.  I'm prepared to raise this child alone.  I just - wanted you to 
know."  The quiet dignity in her voice made him ache.  It seemed 
to him that her very dignity made her more alone than anyone 
should ever be.  
	    Skinner crouched beside her chair and put his arms 
around her.  He drew her against him.  "You're not alone, Dana.  
Not now, not ever."  
	    They stayed that way for a long time.  

To be continued...