New! Abah 13: Don't Worry, Be Happy
Date: Thursday, September 02, 1999

Category: Angst, Story, continued series…A/U

Keywords: Married with children….

Rating: PG13 for language!

Spoilers: Be prepared for information through season six, though I do put my
own twist on things…

Summary: An old friend of Scully's asks for help in determining the cause of
some mysterious deaths that results in a shocking new discovery for Mulder
and Scully.

Archive: Yes.

Disclaimer: Fox Mulder, Dana, Maggie Scully, Walter Skinner, Elizabeth (I
STILL can't believe he called her Teena) Mulder, Samantha Mulder, and Jack
(a/k/a CSM) Stein belong to 1013 Productions and Chris Carter. They're not
mine, and I won't keep 'em. But since I've learned to play nice in the
sandbox, I'm willing to share my characters too, so if CC needs to borrow Dr.
Marshall and/or Sarah, go ahead. No problem.

Introduction: This is the next story in the series, number XIII. The story
picks up where we left off in the Abah alternate universe, so
I recommend you read the preceding stories to fill in any giant plot holes.

You can find the series archived at the ever wonderful, Shirley Smiley's
MulderTorture site at:

Thank you, Vickie. Feel good, my friend. We're both in this for the long
haul, and doncha forget it! <VBG>

Feedback: Oh please. And now that school is resuming tomorrow (<gasp!> Did
I say tomorrow? <sigh>) writing and then hearing from you becomes
therapeutic! Thanks in advance.


Abah XIII: Don't Worry, Be Happy
By Susan Proto (

Part 1/4

Scully looked at the screen so intently, she didn't hear him calling her.
She'd read the e-mail letter quickly at first and then began to reread it
more thoroughly with a keener eye to the details.

"Dana? Wha's up?" Mulder called out to her. She sat at the computer table
they'd set up in their small office den. Usually it was Fox who sat at the
desk, perusing the various files and information sent to him which he read in
his role as 'FBI consultant, extraudinaire,' as his wife teased him

"Dana, come up for air," he said lightly, but he was a bit concerned by the
fierce concentration she showed on her face.

"What? Sorry, I'm just reading __," she mumbled as she remained focused on
the screen. Moments later, she felt something hit her head. "Ow!" she
startled. She picked up the wadded piece of paper, turned to her husband,
and asked, "What was that for?"

"You were talking, bu' only you and the computer screen knew wha' you were
saying," he explained.

Dana realized immediately what the problem was. "Mulder, I'm sorry," she said
as looked directly at him so he could easily read her lips. "I just got so
engrossed in this letter_," she said as she began to turn around to face back
toward the monitor.

"Scully! Please!" he shouted in frustration. At that moment, Dana turned not
toward Mulder but toward the door.

"Damn, Sarah woke up," she said to her husband. Scully stood up, and when
she heard Mulder call to her again, she turned her face back towards his and
said, "Mulder, the baby woke up. I'm going to see if I can settle her back
down." She left the room to attend to their thirteen-month-old daughter.

Mulder felt a little guilty, since he realized it was probably his loud mouth
that woke the baby up in the first place. He hadn't even realized she was
crying, since they'd already turned off the light monitors when Scully came
home from Quantico. It was only when he was left alone with Sarah that the
visual monitoring system (a most appreciated piece of hardware from the
Gunmen) was left on continuously.

He waited for Dana to return from the nursery. He stood up with the help of
his ever-present cane, stretched, and meandered over to the computer screen.
His eyes fell on the piece of email that had held his wife's interest so
completely. He felt a little guilty reading it without her knowledge, but he
assumed she was going to share the contents of the message eventually.

Well, maybe.

The message began innocently enough. It was from an old med school
classmate, Jeanne Marshall, a name Mulder had heard once or twice mentioned
in the past. It started out chatty enough; the usual 'how are you?' and
'how's the family?' kind of questions. When he came to the sentence, 'Dana,
I need to tap into your professional expertise, given a rather bizarre
problem we've been experiencing here,' he peered more closely at the letter.

It read: "I don't know how to explain it without sounding totally off the
wall, Dana. But we are stumped at this point and I don't know to whom else
to turn.

"We've got patients turning up totally devoid of all physical functioning.
They don't respond to anything but the most basic pain stimuli. Some of the
patients have been exhibiting severe symptoms of hardening of the arteries,
which given the ages of many of these patients wouldn't be surprising.
However, it's the accelerated pace at which the symptoms occur.

"Dana, one minute they're fine and then the next minute they're hearts are
literally exploding because of the lack of efficient pumping of blood through
the major arteries. It's the scariest jumble of symptoms I've ever seen.

"I remember you had told me some time back that you and your husband used to
work on unusual types of cases. Well, this is one that I believe easily fits
that criteria. Dana, I could really use your help on this one. People are
dying here at an alarming rate, and I don't know why.

"Let me know if you're interested in checking this out.


He suddenly felt a tap on his shoulder and turned around. He felt
embarrassed, and as he was just about to apologize for poking his nose into
her private email she asked, "Well, what's your gut reaction?"

"My gut reaction?" he echoed with a modicum of surprise at being asked his
opinion on this. When she nodded he paused momentarily to collect his
thoughts and think about the symptoms Jeanne had listed. "Nanocytes, Scully."

Dana smiled. When the man went into his role of 'Consultant Extraudinaire'
he always reverted back to calling her Scully. It was like a security
blanket that he enveloped himself in every time he lapsed back into calling
her by her surname.

"Nanomachines?" she clarified.

"Yes," he responded. "There seems to be some similarities to the 'January
Ki'nappings.' The lack of response to any other 'timuli other than pain is
what we saw in those victims. The only difference is these aren' children,
are they?"

"No, you're right. Jeanne works in one of the finest nursing homes in New
York State. The Ellen Neuman Senior Care Facility has an excellent
reputation. Of course, if its cost is any indicator, there shouldn't be any
question about its quality, as it's also one of the most expensive nursing
homes in the country."

Mulder nodded at this and then asked, "You're planning on going to check it

Scully nodded in the affirmative and said, "I was going to email her and then
pack my bag."

"You shoul' call Mom firs'," he responded.

"Mom?" Scully felt confused and her face expressed her puzzlement perfectly.
"Why do you want me to call Mom?"

"We nee' to see if she's available to watch Sarah."

"Sarah?" She realized she sounded like a broken record, echoing his every
word, but she had no idea why she needed to call Maggie just because she was
going to New York to see an old friend.

"Scully, if we're going to be checking out a potential X-File, we can' be
dragging the baby with us. Call Mom an' see if she's available."

"We?" Uh-oh. She was doing it again. Little Miss Echo.

But now it was Mulder's turn to look nonplussed until realty reared its ugly
head and bit him in the ass. She was planning to go by herself. She'd never
intended for him to read the letter; she'd never intended to include him in
on this case.

"Shit," he mumbled. He didn't know what to say. It was his own damned
fault. He shouldn't have poked his nose where it didn't belong. He hadn't
been out of the house on a case in months; what the hell made him think she'd
want him tagging along now? "I'm an ass, Scully. I'm sorry," he whispered
and started walking toward the door.

"No, Mulder wait," she cried out as she reached out to grasp him and stop him
in mid stride. "I'm sorry, Fox. I reacted poorly, but to be honest, I'm
surprised you'd want to go." At his wide-eyed expression, she continued.

"Think about this seriously, sweetheart. You've only just begun to leave the
house without going into a full-blown panic attack."

"Damn it, Dana, I haven' ha' a panic attack in weeks," He argued. I've been
seeing the doctor and going to the sessions. When do I finally ge' to the
poin' where people believe I'm okay?"

"Mulder," Scully began, but stopped when she realized she lost eye contact.
"Mulder, please, look at me." She placed her hands on top of his shoulders,
which forced him to look directly at her.

"You have made an incredible amount of progress over a relatively short
period of time. To think there was a time not too long ago when you couldn't
make yourself leave this house out of fear for Sarah's safety is a testament
to just how far you have come.

"But, sweetheart, you're still subject to mild anxiety attacks. The thing
is, do you think it's wise for you to risk leaving town for a case that has
the potential for being a very high stress one, while you're still not a
hundred per cent?"

"I have to ma'e the attemp' sooner or later, Scully. It seems this case is
the one to force the issue, don' you?" He looked at her and hoped she
understood. "Dana, how can I noT go on this one with you?"

"I'll call Mom."


Scully called her mom and was informed she'd be delighted to watch the baby.
Maggie then put her husband on the phone so Dana could clear matters with
him. Even though she worked out of Quantico, she continued to have
professional ties with the AD through the X-Files. If ever a case that even
remotely resembled an X-File came across Skinner's desk, Scully always got
first crack at it. It was an unwritten agreement that the bureau hadn't
reneged on.

When Mulder became strong enough to consult on a part time basis, the number
of X-Files that came their way increased. Skinner was still in charge of the
X-Files division. Skinner was still the person to whom Scully sought
permission to sign off on field case requests.

Tonight was no different.

As Scully filled her stepfather in on the limited details of the case, Mulder
pulled the suitcases onto the bed and began to pack. It had been quite a few
months since he'd packed a suitcase for a field trip, and he started to feel
the old adrenaline start to flow. The anticipation of gathering the clues,
putting them together as one would put a jigsaw puzzle, and then finally,
looking at the picture the pieces created to solve the crime, were what
enthralled Mulder about his work in the field.

Since Mulder had become permanently disabled, his role in the actual act of
capturing an UNSUB was greatly reduced due to his inability to keep up
physically; his role in putting the puzzle pieces together, however, remained
paramount. Even though he was now on a permanent disability leave, Fox
Mulder was still the man the FBI turned to when they needed the
unexplainable, explained.

He looked up from the piles of underwear to see Scully, still on the phone
with Walter, his Abah. She pointed toward the door and signed the words for
baby and crying. Mulder nodded and signed 'O.K.' and then promptly left the
room to tend to their crying daughter, Sarah.

As he walked towards his daughter's bedroom, he realized the three of them
were using sign language more and more, particularly when they went outside
and environmental sounds obscured Mulder's hearing. He smiled to himself
when he thought about how proficient those little one year old hands were at
talking to her daddy.

Mulder walked into Sarah's room and saw the baby standing in the crib,
practically straddling the bar. Thirteen months old and she was already
proving to be a daredevil. Mulder's heart was in his mouth as he cried out,
"No, Sarah!" which only served to startle the child and cause her to lose her
balance. Luckily, Mulder was close enough to prevent any real serious
injury, but the child's cries were now twice as loud.

Fox picked up the baby and wrapped her up in his arms. She immediately laid
her head on her Daddy's shoulder and settled in. No matter how upset Sarah
was, she always settled down on her father's shoulder.

Mulder held her securely and murmured over and over, "Shh, Sarah, shh. It's
okay, Daddy's go' you."

"Mulder?" she called from the doorway, and waved her hands to get his
attention, "Are you sure you'll be able to leave her?"

"No," he admitted truthfully, "but I don' think I'd get any work accomplished
if she were to come with us. Unless you think Mom might want to make the
trip," Mulder said half seriously.

Scully smiled at that, because she knew in reality which half weighed more.
"No, I don't think she'd feel terribly comfortable accompanying us on a case
like this."

Mulder nodded and then asked, "What did Abah say?"

"Lots of things."

"Such as?" he inquired.

"He's concerned for you. He's not sure if you're ready emotionally to handle
a case such as this. He's worried for you and a little bit for me, too, I
guess," explained Scully.

"He's worrie' I won' be able to cover your back? Damn it, Scully, you know I
will always cover your back!" he whispered adamantly.

"Mulder, Abah has seen you in the middle of a full-blown anxiety attack," she

"Jeeze, Scully, I haven' ha' one of those in almos' two months.. C'mon,
gimme a break."

She listened to his speech, as it became a little less clear when he was
agitated. She watched him hold the baby a little closer; Sarah became his
shield, though Scully wasn't sure of what, or whom, it was against.

"Jus' tell me if he approve' the 302 or not, Scully, and if I'll ge' my usual
consultan' fee."

Scully took the now miraculously sleeping baby from Mulder's arms and laid
her back in her crib. She then turned to him and said, "He's approved the
302. He's approved your fee plus travel expenses. But he wants nightly
reports, Mulder."

"Nigh'ly repor'? Wha' kine of crap is tha'? Wha' the hell is going on,
Scully? Doesn' he trus' us? Doesn' he trus' me? The AD never e'pected
nightly repor' before!" he complained angrily.

"No, Fox. The AD doesn't expect nightly reports," Scully explained gently,
"Abah does."

End of Part 1/4
Abah XIII: Don't Worry, Be Happy
By Susan Proto (

Disclaimers in Part 1

Part 2/4

The flight was less than hour and a relatively easy one, though Mulder
experienced some discomfort with the air pressure in his ears. It was ironic
since he'd always been the more confident flyer, while Scully had always been
the one who sat with stiff, white-knuckled fingers. Not so any longer;
Mulder now sat in anticipation of the air pockets and resulting pain in his
ears. No matter how many sticks of gum he chewed or how many times he
swallowed hard, he couldn't escape the earaches. As Scully helped Mulder
disembark, she seriously considered turning in their return flight tickets
and driving back to DC when the case was over.

"Mulder," she asked as she tapped his shoulder to gain his attention, "are
you still in pain?"

"I'll be okay, Scully," he responded without answering the question.

She let it go; she knew he would not admit to the discomfort, especially when
there was very little either one of them could do about it. She also knew
the pain would ease eventually.

They grabbed their carry-on luggage and went directly to the rental car area.
They picked up the standard Ford model and drove the twenty-five odd minutes
to the village of Larchmont in suburban Westchester County, New York. It was
a relatively small, affluent town nestled between the larger Town of
Mamaroneck and City of New Rochelle.

They decided to drive directly to the nursing home as it was relatively early
in the day, and get a recommendation on motel accommodations from Jeanne.
As they drove along the aptly named Weaver Street, Mulder looked out the
window and observed the large, older homes of the area.

"Looks like a pretty nice place to live, doesn't it, Dana?" he asked.

Dana smiled as she realized Mulder's ears were probably feeling better by
that point. He sounded more relaxed and his speech was clearer as a result.

"Yes, there's some beautiful homes here, but it's hard to tell if there's any
land in the back. I suspect it's expensive to live here, though, big
backyards or not," she replied with the practiced ease of a contortionist as
her face was turned three-quarters toward Mulder while her eyes maintained a
steady gaze on the road.

He watched her lips intently. Though he heard sounds with his latest style
in hearing aids, it was apparent that Mulder's hearing was deteriorating
rather than improving. The frequent ear infections certainly didn't help,
and though the last set of aids certainly maintained his ability to hear
sound, it didn't allow him to truly hear speech without looking directly at
the speaker. It merely clarified the words he saw formed with the speaker's
lips. It also helped Mulder by giving him feedback on his own speech

"This area reminds me a little of Mom's neighborhood, though this is a lot
more ritzy," he commented. "But still," he paused a moment before speaking
and then added, almost wistfully, "It seems so normal here, Dana."

"Yes, it does. Hard to believe there's a possibility that the consortium has
touched this small town with their nanotechnology," she acknowledged.

"We're supposed to turn on Palmer Avenue, right, Scully?" he asked with a

"Umm, yes. We make a right?" she replied in confusion.

"A right? No, you gotta make a left. Turn left at the light, Scully,"
Mulder directed.

"Mulder, you're still my ace navigator," she teased.

"Why do I have a feeling you're not being totally truthful with me, partner?"
he asked rhetorically.

She smiled in a silent agreement.


As they pulled into the parking lot of the Ellen Neuman Senior Care Facility,
Mulder pulled out Scully's cell phone. She looked at her husband in
puzzlement, as she knew he couldn't use the phone with any great facility.
"Mulder? You calling someone?"

"No, you are."


"Please, Dana, just make sure she's okay?" he pleaded softly, all the while
alternately opening and closing his hands into nervous fists. This was the
first real sign of anxiety Mulder had shown since they'd left DC. Since she
didn't want him to become discouraged or give him any more cause for worry,
she nodded her head.

"Okay," she agreed, and Scully punched in the speed dial for her mother and
stepfather's home. When she heard the familiar voice respond, she said, "Hi,
Mom, I just wanted to let you know we're at the nursing home."

Mulder watched Scully's face to both observe her lips but also her
expressions. He was always able to read her like a book, so even if her
words said everything was fine, he knew he would be able to discern the

"How's Sarah doing?" she asked. She listened quietly and then suddenly
started laughing. "You're kidding? Really?" She laughed again, and Mulder
found he was able to breathe a little more easily.

"Okay, Mom, I'll let you go. Yes, give her a kiss from me and her very
protective dad," she said with a smile. "I love you, too, Mom. Give Abah a
kiss for me also, okay?" She paused, laughed again, and said, "Mom, please.
My daughter's there. Let's not even go there, okay?"

They repeated their good-byes and Scully disconnected the call. She turned
to Mulder so she was fully facing him and said, "She's fine. In fact she's
more than fine, though she apparently misses you. Mom says she keeps
creeping into rooms calling for her 'Dah' and making rather funny faces when
she discovers you're not there."

While Scully giggled over the visual she got from picturing her firecracker
of a toddler doing her own imitation of a search and seize, Mulder's
expression grew more pensive. It took a couple of moments, but Scully
finally realized her husband wasn't seeing the humor in the situation.

"Mulder, the baby's fine."

"But wha' if she ge's upse' when she can' fin'e me, Scully?" he asked

"Mom is there, Mulder, and Abah will be there tonight. They will make sure
she's not upset; I promise you, Mulder. They'll give Sarah enough hugs,
kisses, and love to make sure she's not traumatized by this. In fact, if you
promise not to get crazed by the thought, I wouldn't be surprised if we
didn't start a nice new tradition again by leaving her overnight. Mom and
Walter are going to spoil that baby of ours rotten, you know."

Mulder nodded in concurrence, but he was still feeling a little anxious. He
knew Sarah was fine and in very capable hands. It's just he wasn't able to
get the potential problems out of him his mind, and he knew he'd never be
able to live with himself if something happened to her while he was away. He
didn't think he'd ever be able to forgive himself.

"Mulder," Scully called sternly to get his attention. She had her game face
on now, and Mulder knew it. Agent Dana Scully has entered the building, and
if 'Elvis' was going to join her, he'd better get over the self-pitying
anxiety shit and get ready to work. Dana looked at her husband with a
combination of tenderness and firmness all at once. Even Mulder was

"Are you going to be able to clear your head enough so we can figure out
what's going on here?" she asked seriously. Mulder merely nodded. "I'm
serious here, Mulder. If you think it's going to be too difficult for you to
keep your mind on the case, then perhaps you should return back to DC now,
before we _both_ get in over our heads."

That last comment made him jumpt. "Scully, I'll be there to cover your back
no matter wha'. You go' to trus' me on tha', okay?"

Scully nodded. She knew she'd thrown him for a loop with that last little
zinger, but every now and then Mulder needed a kick in the pants. Sometimes
he had to be reminded not everything was about him, and it was important for
him to realize there were others who were effected by his actions, or at
times, lack of action.

After they got out of the car, she laced one hand into the crook of her
husband's right arm while he used his cane with his left hand and walked
toward the entrance together. The time had come for 'just the facts, ma'am.'


"Dana! Dana, over here," called out Jeanne Marshall, M.D. excitedly. "I
can't believe you're actually here."

"Jeanne, it's so good to see you," responded Dana with equal joy. "It's been
too damn long."

Mulder observed the two women embrace and marveled at the dichotomy in front
of him. As fair skinned and petite as his Scully was, that's how tanned and
long-legged Jeanne Marshall was. The woman had what's known as a swimmer's
body. Her torso was slender and her arms, legs, and neck were elongated as
well. She even had long, straight, sun-streaked brown hair.

Scully's small stature seemed to be engulfed by the other doctor who was
almost as tall as Mulder, who was, at that point, beginning to feel a little
left out. He cleared his throat to get the women's attention. Scully was
the first to turn around and take notice.

"Oh, Mulder, I'm sorry!" she said directly to him. "This is Jeanne
Marshall, my friend from med school."

Jeanne extended her hand out toward Mulder and said, "I'm really glad to
finally meet you, Mulder." She then looked over at her friend and said,
"Dana has told me so much about you, it feels as if I know you."

"Excuse me?" Mulder said.

Jeanne turned her and looked at the tall man with one of those "huh?" kind of
expressions, as she didn't understand what had confused Mulder.

"I didn't understand what you said, Jeanne. I need you to look at me so I
can read your lips," he explained.

"Oh," Jeanne replied with an embarrassed blush, "I am so sorry."

"Don' be," Mulder consoled, "It takes some getting use' to, for all parties
concerned." He gave Jeanne his most compassionate Mulder smile in an attempt
to make her feel more at ease with him.

"I just said," she began in a voice a little louder than necessary, and with
enunciation a little too exaggerated, but which usually worked for her hard
of hearing geriatric clients, "I feel like I know you already."

"Thank you, Jeanne," Mulder replied politely. He wanted to tell her she
needn't overcompensate, but he felt embarrassed about bringing it up. Of
course the fact that Fox hadn't done anything to warrant feeling embarrassed
was beside the point. Mulder didn't want to chance becoming more noticeable
than necessary, so he kept quiet for now. He didn't want to become the
'bureau guy with the hearing aids,' or worse, the 'deaf FBI guy.' He decided
he'd tell her later, or better yet, he'd ask Scully to mention something to
her. "Okay," he continued, "how abou' we ge' to work."

Scully looked hesitantly toward her partner. Her partner. Though he was no
longer known as Special Agent Fox Mulder, she continued to think of Mulder as
her professional partner. It didn't matter if he wasn't on the full-time
payroll any longer; Mulder was her primary backup, for now and for always.

But now she hesitated when she looked at him, because she knew he'd suddenly
become uncomfortable. When she looked at him again, she sought an
affirmation that he was all right. Happily, Mulder realized what Scully was
seeking and he smiled reassuringly at her.

"C'mon, ladies, le's ge' to work," he affirmed.


Jeanne gave the duo a tour of the facility and was quick to point out that
even though Ellen Neuman was an expensive facility to reside in, the clients
got their money's worth. Neither Scully nor Mulder could disagree; the
facility was beautiful and the services they offered were top notch.

They had a fully operational medical facility that could even handle minor
surgery, as well as a walk-in clinic for those clients that felt a need to
check in with the sweet Dr. Marshall and tell her their problems. It hadn't
gone unnoticed that most of the drop-ins were male in gender when Dr.
Marshall was on duty.

They also had occupational and physical therapy areas, as well as a full
dining facility that offered waiter/waitress service. Jeanne said she even
ate in there on occasion. The food wasn't merely edible; it was actually
pretty tasty.

There were social programs too which ranged from exercise classes to dance
classes to yoga. Art classes were also offered as well as discussion groups
that talked about the latest best selling books. For those clients whose
eyes weren't as functional as they'd once been, there were books on tape
available as well.

"Jeanne, this is an incredible place. How do the clients pay for it?" Scully

"Well, we do take a small percentage, well, admittedly a very small
percentage, of Medicare clients. The rest are, quite frankly, independently
wealthy and aren't out to make their heirs rich, I guess. But believe it or
not, as expensive as it is, there's a waiting list to get in," Jeanne

"Well, I can see why," chimed in Mulder. "When the time comes, Scully, I
wan' to be admitted to this place, okay?" He smiled, for he knew Scully
might have taken his little joke too seriously. There were times in his
medical past when a nursing home had been an all too real possibility.

"Yeah, well, as long as I can have my electric wheelchair to keep up with
you, Mulder, all right?"" smiled Scully in response. Both Jeanne and Mulder
chuckled out loud at that; Jeanne reacted to the humor, while Mulder
responded in relief.

They discussed the history of the nursing home while they nursed cups of
coffee in the staff lounge. It was built almost twenty-seven years ago, back
in the beginning of 1973. It was designed with the wealthy residents of
affluent Westchester County in mind, and it continued to receive its support
from those very clients.

Next, Scully asked for a quick summary of the patients who had been affected
by the mysterious symptoms. Jeanne had a list of their names and gave a
quick synopsis of the patients' basic medical histories and those symptoms
that led to their deaths. Both Jeanne and Dana knew these were very cursory
overviews, and Jeanne let Dana and Mulder know the patients' files would be
available for a more careful perusal.

The varied symptoms ranged from those that had led to apparent strokes to
cardiac arrests, as well as leukemia to brain tumors. The only thing that
appeared to be common among all of the cases was the incredible rapidity in
which the symptoms took control of the victims' bodies and proved fatal.
There had been six victims so far in the last four weeks. The latest patient
succumbed last night.

Scully's eyes practically lit up. "Jeanne, I have to do the autopsy."

Jeanne nodded and told her she'd already procured the family's permission.
The victim's body was being held at Ellen Neuman's and there was small
autopsy bay for Scully/'s use.

Once the cups were refilled with fresh coffee, and the basic medical
information was out of the way, Mulder posed some questions of his own.

"Jeanne, has anything unusual or out of the ordinary occurred in the last six

"Other than the deaths?" she asked and when he nodded, she merely shook her
head. "Mulder, I'm not sure what you mean. It's a nursing home; granted,
it's a rather lavish one, but still, it's just a nursing home. I mean, not
much really goes on here. The doctors and nurses come in and do their jobs.
The aides probably have the toughest job of all, but they're compensated well
here, so we don't have as large of a turnover as other senior care facilities
have. So, I guess, I'm just not sure what you mean by unusual."

"Oh, anything, anything at all," he cajoled. "Has there been a sudden
increase in new staff or new patients? Have you been given different duties
of late that veer off from the your normal routine?"

"No, there hasn't been any new staff that I know of. We did get three new
clients, what with our recent losses, but their names have been on the
waiting list for almost a year, so I don't see anything suspicious about
that." Jeanne sat quietly for a moment, and then looked like she was about
to say something, and then changed her mind.

Both Mulder and Scully picked up on her hesitation.

"What is it?" they asked in perfect stereo.

"God," Jeanne chuckled, "Dana said you made each other a whole person, I
didn't realize she'd meant it literally." The partners blushed a bit, but
were actually rather pleased with the notion that they 'still had it.'

"Well, be that as it may," Mulder said, recovering first, "you still looked
like you thought of something. Jeanne, no matter how inconsequential, you've
got to tell us everything you can think of."

"Well, the director, Dr. Henry Toland, asked me to show this couple the
facility," she began. Mulder, and then Scully, nodded in encouragement, and
the young doctor continued. "Well, they came by around seven, maybe eight
weeks ago. They were looking into the facility for her elderly aunt. She
claimed the aunt was like a mother to her, and they wanted only the best.

"Well, they must have been back here three more times, and each time the
Director insisted I show them around and answer their questions. I'd never
been asked to do that before, nor have I been asked to do it with any other
potential client's family. Just this couple," she explained.

"When was the last time they were here?" asked Scully.

"About ten days ago," she responded. "I remember Mrs. Johnston had taken
quite ill, and I didn't want to leave her, but they'd showed up and Dr.
Toland insisted I deal with them. That was odd. He's never asked me to put
a patient second before. I remember feeling quite pissed off, actually."

"What do you remember abou' them?" asked Mulder in an almost tentative voice.
Scully noticed it and shot Mulder a look, but he was too intent on focusing
on Jeanne's lips in response.

"She was about average height; perhaps at one time she was even a bit taller
than average. She didn't stand quite as tall as she once probably did; maybe
a stroke victim, I'm not sure. She was actually a rather handsome looking
woman. Pure white hair, stylishly done, and lovely blue eyes. She wore a
suit; skirt and jacket, with pearls. She spoke with confidence and you could
tell she came from money, you know? I kept thinking she belonged in another
time, another era.

"Now he was rather tall. And very thin. I don't know that I'd say he was a
handsome man, but he certainly had an air of distinction about him. He wore
a dark suit. He spoke with a bit of an accent, and though I can't quite
place it, I'm almost positive I've heard it before.

"He asked a lot of questions about the facility, as did she, for that matter.
Intelligent questions, and many of them really didn't seem to have anything
to do with the quality of care her elderly aunt would receive," informed

"Is there anything else you can think of that you remember about them,
Jeanne?" Mulder asked softly.

"Oh, yes. He fiddled with his fingers the entire time. I knew why of
course. I could smell it on him a mile away. The poor man had one
continuous nicotine fit from the moment he arrived till the moment he left,"

Mulder and Scully gasped in perfectly stereo one more time.


End of Part 2/4

Abah XIII: Don't Worry, Be Happy
By Susan Proto (

Disclaimers in Part 1

Part 3/4

Jeanne took one look at them and at first wasn't sure which one needed her
medical expertise more. Dana had turned chalk white and seemed ready to
almost hyperventilate. Mulder, on the other hand, appeared to lose
consciousness; he was in the throes of a petite mal seizure.

Jeanne looked to her friend for guidance. "Dana, what's wrong? Are you
okay? Is Mulder going to be okay?"

The mention of Mulder's name shook Scully out of her stupor. She quickly
looked over at her husband and correctly diagnosed the peitit mal and nodded
her head. "He'll be okay, it's a small one. It's just the stress, that's

"Dana, I don't understand. What got him_, hell, what got you _both_ all
stressed out all of a sudden?"

"I'll fill you in shortly, Jeanne. I want to make sure Mulder's okay first,
okay?" When she saw her friend and colleague nod her head, Scully reached
over and touched Mulder's hand very gently. She simply rubbed her thumb
around the topside of his hand in small, tender circles. Within a couple of
minutes, Mulder's eyes began to refocus.


"I'm right here. You're okay," she comforted.

"Big or little?"

"Little," she confirmed.

At hearing Mulder sigh in relief, Jeanne couldn't help but wonder how often
he had a 'big' seizure. "Are you okay, Mulder? Can I get you something to

"Yeah, water woul' tas'e real goo' righ' now," he said.

"Mulder, I think we're going to find a motel and get settled in for a bit.
We could both use the time to catch our breaths," Scully stated with a gentle
firmness, which of course translated into, 'no arguments.'

Mulder felt thrown for a loop; he knew who the couple was that Jeanne had
been directed to lead on multiple tours. He didn't want to believe it was
the two of them, but they'd given him enough proof by the end of the January
kidnappings to make them very strong probabilities.

Mulder could place blame on Jack Stein easily.

Jack was responsible for letting Krycek out of jail, which in turn had led to
the assault of several adults when they futilely attempted to protect the
babies in their charge. Mulder and his own baby daughter had been victims in
this hateful crime.

Yeah, it was easy to peg this all on Jack.

It was the blame Elizabeth Mulder deserved that he had a little more
difficulty in dealing with.

But it was becoming more and more obvious to him that his own mother was
obviously a key player in the consortium's plans in the past, and now it
appeared she played an important role in the consortium's present.

And Mulder suddenly felt as though he was going to be sick.

"Okay, Dana, le's go. Now," he agreed as he tried to stand up from the
chair. Both women rose quickly to offer him assistance, and since Mulder was
feeling a bit lightheaded and queasy, he accepted the help more readily than
he might have normally.

"I think you'll be most comfortable at the Ramada Inn, Dana. It's in New
Rochelle, but that's only about fifteen minutes away," she said, and then
added almost as an aside, " It's also very close to New Rochelle Medical

Dana merely nodded, as she recognized her friend's concern. She next asked
for and received directions, and finally told Jeanne they'd meet her for an
early dinner wherever she suggested.

"There's an excellent Greek diner on the Boston Post Road in Mamaroneck
called The Unicorn. It'll be on your left when you come back from New
Rochelle; the MacDonald's is on the opposite side of the Post Road."

A four thirty time was agreed upon. Dana also asked Jeanne to arrange for
the use of the autopsy bay for after dinner, so she might get started on a
preliminary report. Jeanne agreed and the two friends bid one another good
bye until later in the evening.


They found the Ramada with little trouble and Scully was grateful for the
greater creature comfort it offered than the usual dives they stayed in. She
was also succored by the knowledge the medical center was close by just in
case. Scully realized Mulder hadn't heard Jeanne's offer of that bit of
information, because he would have taken great offense if he had.

At least she hoped that was the reason. As she watched him strip down to
take a quick nap, Scully wondered if having him go on this trip was wise. He
hadn't been out in the field in so long; the last time he received a gunshot
wound. She worried that this would be all too much for him to handle,
especially if Jeanne's touring couple were who she thought they were.

The bastard.

That bitch.

"Dana? You okay?" asked Mulder with concern.

"What?" She looked directly at him and saw the anxiety in his eyes. "I'm
fine, Mulder."

He rolled his eyes at hearing the all too familiar expression. "Bullshi'!"
he replied angrily. "You know as well as me that neither of us are _fine-,"
he practically spat out.

"Mulder, don't do this to yourself," she began, but he cut her off quickly.

"How can she do it? How can she be a party to the killing? Godammit,
Scully! How far back does she go? How high up is she?" he cried out.

Scully sat down on the bed next to her husband and reached out to pull him
into her arms. He was trembling with anger and frustration. She held him
tighter in an effort to still his quivering.

It was several minutes until his shaking ceased. Once she felt he was calm
enough, she placed her hand gently on his chin and pulled it up so he was
making direct eye contact.

"I don't' have any answers for you yet, Mulder. I don't know if we'll ever
find any that you, or I for that matter, will be satisfied with. But you
have to remember, _I_ am here for you now, and I will _always_ be here for
you. We'll seek out the truth together, my love. Will you promise me to
remember that always?"

He nodded his head but remained silent. The ramifications of what they may
find were beginning to feel all too overwhelming. The thought that perhaps
he should return home crossed his mind, but he discarded that in about a
second and a half.

"I think I nee' to lay down for a little bi', Dana. Wha' ti'e are we meeting
Jeanne?" he asked with sudden fatigue.

She gave him the details for the evening plans and nodded in response to his
request that she wake him in time for him to shower. "You shoul' lay down
too, while you go' the chance," he encouraged.

"Oh, but I thought I'd start the preliminary __," she began to say until she
saw the need in Mulder's eyes. "You know what, maybe you're right. I think
I will lay down for a bit. Move over, G-Man," she ordered with a smile. The
smile he returned to her was worth the headache of starting the report from
scratch later on.


He'd fallen into a deep sleep relatively quickly. Scully herself had managed
to nap for about forty minutes or so, but she was wide-awake now and
delicately extricated herself from Mulder's arms and legs. How he managed to
become part octopus every time they fell asleep was an X-File in and of it
self. She managed a soft chuckle at that thought, but then sobered quickly
when she thought of what was next on her agenda.

She reached for her cell phone and scrolled the menu with her speed dial
numbers. When she came to the Greenwich number, she hit send and waited as
the ringing signaled someone was waiting to speak to the lady of the house.
Finally, Scully heard a "Hello."

"Elizabeth, how are you?" Scully responded confidently.

"I'm fine. Who is this?"

Scully sighed. She thought by now her mother-in-law would have recognized
her voice, but that was never the case. "Elizabeth it's Dana."

"Dana. What an unexpected surprise." There was a very definite pregnant
pause until Elizabeth thought to ask, "How is Sarah? Is she all right?"

"Yes, Elizabeth. Sarah is doing very well." Silence ruled again until
Scully couldn't stand it any longer and added, "Fox is doing very well, too."

It drove Scully mad that her mother-in-law never asked about her son. A call
from her own mother wouldn't end until she'd asked Dana how her son-in-law
and granddaughter were, yet Mulder's own mother couldn't find in her heart to
seek out information regarding her own child's health and being.

"That's nice to hear, dear. Has he begun to go outside more often?" she
asked without any hint of real interest.

"Yes. Yes, he has, and as a matter of fact he's consulting on a new case
with me. We're in New Rochelle, New York at the moment, and since Greenwich
isn't even twenty minutes away, we were planning on being in town tomorrow.
I know he'd love to see you."

Then without missing a beat, Scully asked, "What time would you like us

Mrs. Mulder was, to say the least, surprised at the news her son and
daughter-in-law were on a case, and that it was practically in her own
backyard. She felt as though she'd just been ambushed on all sides and
didn't have the chance to think through her response. So she merely said, "I
suppose one o'clock?"

"Fine, we'll bring a coffee cake. Good evening, Elizabeth," and with that,
Scully hung up without giving the older woman a chance to bid her good-bye or
change her mind.

"Who was that?" asked a groggy Mulder.

"On the phone?" she asked. When he rolled his eyes she realized she couldn't
forestall the inevitable. "Your mom."

"My mother? Elizabeth Mulder?" This time Scully rolled her eyes. "I'm
sorry," he responded, "I'm just confused. She called here?"

Scully realized he was still a bit dopey from sleep and the earlier seizure.
She wondered if he remembered the information Jeanne had told them both

"No, Mulder, I called her. I invited us over for coffee. We're bringing the
cake," she said with a slight smile.

He rubbed his eyes a bit and asked Scully if there was any bottled water in
the hotel fridge. She found one and opened it for him. She knew he was
stalling; he was trying to regain his sense of time and replay the
information he'd learned at the nursing home. Scully knew the moment his
recollections returned.

"Oh, shit." Funny how that word always came out clear as day.

"Mulder, we have to speak with her. You do understand that, don't you?" she
asked gently. Dana knew this had to be very difficult for him.

He'd always had doubts about his mother's loyalty to him and his father; the
fact that she'd been involved romantically with Jack Stein while still
married to his father; the fact that Jack was more than just a family friend
for all of them.

"Mulder?" Scully placed her hand on his shoulder. "Hey, come back to the
present, okay?"

He smiled at the fact his wife knew him so well. "So, was she su'p'ise' to
hear from you?" he asked curiously.

"Yes, I think she was. Actually, I believe shocked might be a more apt

He nodded at that interpretation and then looked reflective. He opened his
mouth to say something, but then closed it again. Scully noticed this, and
she knew. She always knew.

"She asked about you and the baby."

"She did?"

"Yup. She wanted to know if you were going out more and that's when I broke
it to her we were in New Rochelle."

Mulder looked relieved. He needed to know his mother gave him a passing
thought every now and then. Scully wasn't about to tell Mulder that dear old
Mom didn't think to ask about him at first. No, that wasn't necessary at

Besides, he was probably going to figure it out tomorrow over coffee and cake.


They'd met Jeanne at the diner as planned and placed their orders. Mulder
ordered a cheeseburger deluxe, very rare, with well-done french fries and a
slice of raw onion. Scully was about to raise her eyebrow when Mulder cut
her off, mid-raise. "Scully, don' you dare! I haven' ha' one of these in so
long, please don' ma'e a big deal of it now."

She realized he was absolutely right; it had been a while since he'd eaten
something that was akin to his beloved junk food. She waved him off
good-naturedly and ordered a scrod dinner. Jeanne joined Mulder in the
cheeseburger, though she added mushrooms to her order.

"Fungi? How can you ea' tha'? he asked earnestly.

"Oh, but Mulder, they add a real earthy flavor to the burger," answered

"Don' wanna ea' no dir' with my burger," he grimaced.

Both Dana and Jeanne laughed and concluded 'it must be a guy thing' since
Dana recalled her father and two brothers hated mushrooms and Jeanne admitted
her boyfriend hated them as well.

"How is Roger anyway?" asked Dana.

"Oh, he's wonderful, thank you for asking," she replied giddily.

"How long have you two been living together?"

"It's going to be three years in January and no we still have not set a date
and I'm not going to dwell on this with you , besides they have the best cole
slaw and pickles here," rambled Jeanne in an obvious attempt to deflect Dana
off of the subject of marriage.

"Okay, you win," Dana acquiesced with a chuckle.

"You're getting easy in your old age, Dr. Scully. I can remember a time when
you would have gone after me like an unrelenting pit bull," declared Jeanne.

"Tha's because she saves her pi' bull routine all for me," interjected a
smiling Mulder.

"Gotcha," Jeanne replied and then added in a stage whisper, "Thanks for
taking the heat off of me."

Mulder smiled and chewed on a pickle. He wasn't sure how to phrase the all
important question he had to ask Jeanne, so he decided he'd just jump right

"Jeanne, wha' was the name of the couple who you showed aroun'?"

"Oh, they were Mr. & Mrs. Stein."

Mulder felt his stomach lurch. He wondered if they really were husband and
wife. He knew so little of his mother's life in Greenwich, that anything was
possible. The feelings of ambivalence were overwhelming.

Jack was a very important part of his life when he was small. He would
always be grateful for his support during those awful times, but his most
current actions made it almost impossible for Mulder to accept him as his
mother's husband.

He pulled a picture from his wallet. He had to cut it down so it would fit,
but it was one of the few, relatively recent pictures he had of his mother.
It had been taken at the baby's first birthday party last month. It showed
Auntie Samantha holding Sarah with Elizabeth and Jack on either side of them.

Everyone was smiling.

And now he shared this picture with Jeanne. "Do you recognize anyone in this
picture, Jeanne?" he asked softly with a modicum of trepidation.

Jeanne took the picture and first looked at Mulder. She couldn't imagine who
he expected her to know in the picture, unless it was a mutual friend of
Dana's and hers. Next, she looked down at the photograph.

And she did a double take.

"My God, I know all of them. Well, not the baby, but I know all of them,"
she said with some surprise.

"All? I don' understan'," responded Mulder. "Wha' do you mean?"

"Jeanne," Dana interjected, "please, tell us how you know these people."

"Well, that's Mr. and Mrs. Stein, and their daughter, Samantha," she

"You know' Sam?" Mulder asked, totally disheartened.

"Well, yes, she stopped by to evaluate the facilities with Mr. and Mrs.
Stein. Why? Do you know them too?" she asked innocently.

Mulder didn't know what to say. He thought with some hope that maybe it was
totally innocent; perhaps they really were investigating Ellen Neuman's for
an aunt of his mother's. Anything was possible. Anything was, but it was
highly improbable anything innocent was going to come of this. *But,
Samantha? Oh God, not Samantha too,* he lamented to himself.

"Fox, look at me," requested a very determined Dana. "We'll find out
tomorrow. We'll ask her point blank and find out tomorrow."

"Tha's wha' I'm afrai' of."

Scully completed the autopsy of the last victim later that night. It took
her longer than usual as she discovered every major artery had burst, and the
chest cavity was a virtual mine field of blown heart matter. She took blood
and tissue samples from just about every part of the victim's body, as she
wanted to see how widespread the nanocytes were.

As she and Mulder had earlier suspected, all of the preliminary tests
indicated the technical marvels were present throughout the victim's body and
therefore the most likely cause of the patient's death. By the time she got
back to the hotel, she had enough information to prove the nanomachines were
the most likely cause of death.

When she got back, Mulder was still awake and she went over the facts as she
observed them. He nodded and agreed with her preliminary findings; it was as
obvious to him as it was to his wife that the body was inundated with the

"I guess we'll ha'e to wai' for the res' of the tes's to come back for a
definitive assessmen', righ' Scully?"

His speech was off again, and Dana knew he was both physically and mentally
exhausted. She didn't think it was wise to delve into her theories at this
point; he needed a good night's sleep and he had enough to think about
without her adding anything to his already full platter.

"Yes, I think that would be wise. We'll wait for the rest of the test
results so we can better see where we stand. I'm going to shower and change,
Mulder. I'm exhausted," she announced.

"Yeah, I guess I'm pretty bushe' too," he agreed readily. "I think I'll rea'
for a li'l while an' then turn in, okay?"

Scully nodded in agreement and knew he would be in a deep sleep before she'd
even stripped and got into the shower. As she began shedding her clothes,
piece by piece, she suddenly realized Mulder hadn't asked about Sarah all
night. That surprised her, until she realized her laptop was open and
plugged in on the desk. She walked over to it and noted the blinking mailbox
icon. She had mail.

She looked over at Mulder, who as she'd correctly predicted, was fast asleep.
She clicked on the icon and opened the most recent email. It was from Abah.

Dear Mulder and Dana,

Let me know what the results are of the autopsy. I'm as curious as anyone
about the nanomachines. They would certainly provide an important piece of

Good luck tomorrow in Greenwich. I know Elizabeth is not the easiest person
to deal with, but try to remain calm, okay Mulder? Dana, you keep your cool
too. I know Elizabeth can make you a little crazed also. Will Jack and Sam
be there as well? Mulder, don't go crazy yet over the fact that Sam had been
to the nursing home. It could be totally innocent. Don't make a problem
that's not there yet. (Consider that an order from your AD) Okay?

Please? (Consider that a plea from your Abah.)

I'll be expecting to hear from you tomorrow.


P.S. Mom wanted to 'talk' to you, too. Here she is.
## ## ## ## ## ##
Dear Dana and Fox,

We're all fine and spoiling our granddaughter something awful. She's an
incredible little girl, you guys. We are so grateful to have her. She's
still looking for you, Fox, but this clever little child has apparently made
a little game of it. She's not upset, she just calls for her "Dah" and when
she doesn't see you, she calls out "bye-bye."

She's almost impossible to keep up with. I did my best to baby proof the
house on the short notice, but we keep discovering new things to hide. Sarah
certainly keeps us on our toes; she makes me feel like I'm 25 again, though I
suspect by tomorrow I'll feel like a 125. <tired grin> We won't even
discuss how Sarah is running her Sabtah through his paces!.

Well, I hope you're able to solve this case and come home to us soon. We
love you both and miss not having you nearby.

Oh, Fox? Dana told me you were upset about having to check in nightly.
Well, I'm sure Walter has a good reason, as the AD, for wanting you to get
him the information as quickly as possible. But sweetheart, in case you
haven't figured it out yet, you and Dana are too damned important to Abah and
me not to know how *you're* both doing as well.

So, give the ol' folks a break, ok? <grin>

Love to you both, always,

Scully smiled as she closed the email. She'd reply tomorrow morning; she was
just too damned tired now. She showered, changed, and crawled into bed next
to her soundly sleeping husband. Scully felt exhausted to her bones; now if
only her mind would slow down long enough so she could meet up with the
sandman, too.

The problem was Scully's mind was in overdrive. If there's one thing that
Mulder had taught her, it was to be open to extreme possibilities. Well, she
was making her teacher proud.

The one fact that kept gnawing at her was that the little techno-critters
didn't react by themselves; they required a controller. She could think of
only two people capable of controlling them. One was tucked away in prison
in Virginia, and the other was tucked away in the bedroom community of
Greenwich, Connecticut.

She wondered, as her eyelids finally began to close on their own volition, if
it was too damned foolish of her to pray that there'd been a jailbreak.

They ate breakfast at the same diner as last night's dinner. Scully watched
carefully as her husband took his morning medications. She knew it was
pretty much routine for him to take the Tegetrol, but for her own peace of
mind, she had to make sure he also took the meds the therapist prescribed for
his anxiety attacks. If Mulder was aware of Scully's scrutiny, he was
keeping quiet about it. In fact, both husband and wife remained quiet as
they sipped their coffee and played with their eggs.

Finally, Dana couldn't stand it any longer. "Mulder, are you alright?"

"Yes." Succinct answer, so what if he was lying through his teeth?

"Funny, I wish I was," she responded.

He looked at her with surprise; he wasn't expecting his Scully to ever admit
to anything but feeling perfect. "Scully, wha's wrong?" he asked in perfect
innocence. It never occurred to him that she was feeling as anxious as he
was over what effect Elizabeth's and Stein's culpability might have on their

"I'm worried; I'm concerned that we'll find answers this afternoon that
neither one of us wants to find," Scully acknowledged.

"I guess I am too," he admitted, too.

"Then we'll have to face whatever the truth is, together, won't we Mulder?"
End of Part 3/4

Abah XIII: Don't Worry, Be Happy
By Susan Proto (

Disclaimers in Part 1

Part 4/4

They'd met later for a brief meeting with Jeanne at the nursing home, so Dana
could fill her in on the autopsy results. She'd explained in very vague,
general terms what she'd found; she hadn't wanted to go into detail about the
nanocytes before she and Mulder saw his mother. Scully felt it was important
for them to gather as many facts as possible before they made their

So as they pulled into the driveway of her mother-in-law's Greenwich home,
Scully braced herself for a potentially very ugly scene.

She got out of the car, grabbed the chocolate mousse cake Mulder talked her
into buying from the St. Moritz Bakery, ("But Scully," he'd insisted,
"they're famous for their mousse cake!") and came round to the passenger side
to extend a hand to Mulder.

He took her hand firmly, and though he stood up and was able to maintain his
balance, he held on to her with a tight grasp. She gently squeezed his hand;
Scully wanted him to know she was there for him no matter what.

Together they walked up to the front door. It was exactly one o'clock.

He knocked and they waited long enough to warrant a second knock. Finally,
the door opened and Elizabeth Mulder stood in front of them.

"Hello Fox, Dana. I'm sorry to have kept you waiting. Come in," she said

Of course there was no explanation as to why they were kept waiting, and as
much as Mulder wanted to ask her for one, he kept quiet. The phrase 'all in
due time' repeated in his mind, and he shuddered slightly at the complexity
of that particular situation he and Scully were facing.

"I have coffee ready. Go take a seat in the living room, and I'll bring it

"Mom, we can sit in the kitchen. There's no nee' to be formal with us,"
Mulder said as he made an extra effort to speak clearly. He knew how much it
disturbed her when his speech sounded off kilter.

"No, it's not often I have company, so please, let me entertain the way I see
fit," she retorted.

Mulder sighed quietly as he watched her turn toward the kitchen to retrieve
the coffee. He wondered if there was ever a time when Elizabeth Mulder
considered him as family, and not some social obligation.

They sipped the coffee, nibbled at the mousse cake, and made some small talk.

"This cake is very rich, Fox. You know it's not good for my cholesterol, nor
yours for that matter," declared Elizabeth.

"Bu' Sain' Moritz is famous for this ca'e, Mom," offered Mulder.

"Still doesn't make it healthy to eat, Fox," Elizabeth countered.

"But it does make it delicious," parried Dana. "I now know why you insisted
we get this cake, Mulder. It's fantastic!"

Mulder smiled in gratitude for the support. He never could figure out why he
always tried to please his mother when he was certain he'd always fail; that
certainty never stopped him from trying. Having Scully by his side was more
comfort than he could ever express to her.

It was about twenty minutes before Scully got up the nerve to ask how Jack

"He's fine, dear," Elizabeth answered calmly.

"Do you see him often?" Scully asked.

"As often as his work allows," she responded carefully.

"Mom," Mulder hesitated, but he couldn't hold back any longer, "are you and
Jack marrie' now?"

He made certain to watch her carefully as he asked the question. He
concentrated on her reaction; Mulder had to work extra hard to block out his
peripheral view of Dana. He needed to be able to see any nuance, any unusual
response that would indicate something was amiss.

Instead he got an answer that surprised the hell out of him.

"Yes," she replied with considerable aplomb, "would either of you care for
more coffee?"

Mulder was amazed her expression never wavered. It was almost as if she was
expecting the question; well, perhaps she was. He stared at her for several
moments before he spoke. When he finally found his voice, he asked, "When?"

"When did we get married?" she confirmed.

"Yes. When did you get married?" he asked softly and with surprising

"Oh, Fox, we've been together for a long time," she said hastily, as if she
could simply brush the question aside and Mulder would let it go.

Of course, she forgot about Dana.

"How long has it been official, Elizabeth? How long have you been legally
Mrs. Jack Stein?" Scully asked with forced pleasantness.

Elizabeth sighed and realized she wouldn't be able to keep the information
from them any longer; it was public record. "We married shortly after Fox
recovered from the plane crash."

"The plane crash?" he echoed incredulously. "My Go', tha's almos' two years

"It's only a little over a year and a half, Fox," she contradicted.

"Yeah, eighteen months, two years, wha's six months among frien's and
family?" he posed sarcastically.

Elizabeth stood up in a huff. She never was very good at dealing with
Mulder's quick, sharp retorts and she wasn't about to deal with it now.

"When were you going to tell me?" Mulder asked quickly, before she could
leave the room.

She'd already turned away from him, but he could see her mouth moving from
the side. "Mom, you ha'e to turn aroun' to face me so I can un'ers'and you."

Elizabeth turned swiftly and faced him with an expression of ire spread all
over her face. She retorted icily, "Why? I hardly ever understand you
anymore, Fox! You never treat me with any kind of common courtesy. Why
should I give a damn if you understand me or not? You've never understood
what I've had to deal with. Never!"

And then Elizabeth Mulder did something rather uncharacteristic of her; she
began to tear up.

"Mom, don' cry," Mulder pleaded when he saw her reaction. He never could
handle seeing tears in the eyes of those he loved very well. "I'm sorry."

Scully watched the display and, for the life of her, couldn't explain how the
tables got turned so quickly. One moment, Fox was accusing his mother of
duplicity, and the next moment he was apologizing to her. It made no sense
and she was sick and tired of watching her mother-in-law manipulate her
husband. She was frustrated that he seemed to allow himself to be
manipulated in the first place.

But now Scully had enough. This was going to stop, here and now.

"For what are you sorry, Mulder?" she asked him directly so there was to be
no mistaking Scully's words. "What did you do, other than ask your mother
why she's kept her marriage to a man you and I have been at odds with for
many years, a secret for the last eighteen months or so.

"Why, sweetheart, do you have to apologize for asking your own mother to look
directly at you so you can better understand what she is saying? Why do you
have to be made to feel guilty because you have incurred a disability that
prevents you from speaking clearly one hundred per cent of the time?

"Why, Mulder, do you always end up being the one to say you're sorry, when
you have done nothing wrong?" Scully said in a clear, even tone. And then
she turned to her mother-in-law and asked in a very calm, but firm voice,
"Why do you make your son apologize for your faults, Elizabeth? Why do you
do that to him? How can you do that to him?"

Both mother and son looked at Scully who now sat quietly and waited. She'd
had her say, and now it was time to wait them out. Elizabeth was going to
both regain her self-control and sit back down, or she would leave the room
never to return until Dana and Fox left.

Of course, then there was Mulder to consider. His breathing evened out, so
Scully was pretty sure he was using the strategies his therapist taught him
to help him overcome an anxiety attack. She hoped so, because the last thing
she wanted to see was her husband appear to be weak in front of that woman.

Scully waited. Mulder waited. Elizabeth waited.

Jack appeared at the doorway.


"Elizabeth, sit down," he said firmly.

"Jack, I will not have the boy talk to me in that tone," she countered.

"He is no longer a boy, Elizabeth, and hasn't been for quite some time. Stop
treating him as if he's twelve years old; it didn't work then, it's certainly
not going to work now. Sit." If a person's look was capable of willing
someone to do something against their will, then that was exactly what
happened between Elizabeth and her husband, Jack.

She sat back down.

"When did you get in?" she asked softly.

"A few minutes ago. Just in time for the floor show," he replied

Jack took a seat in the chair next to her, which also happened to be directly
across from Mulder. It was to him and Scully he addressed his next words.

"I owe you an apology. I know we should have told you about our marriage,
but after very careful consideration, I decided it was for the best that you
didn't know. Given what I know now, I realize that was wrong, but quite
honestly, neither one of us was sure how you would receive the news.

"In all honesty, Elizabeth did want to tell you in the beginning, but I
convinced her to wait. The time wasn't ever right, what with Walter's stroke
and then Sarah's birth. Over the course of time, we used everything as an
excuse to avoid telling you." Looking directly at Dana, Stein added, "The
arrival of your brother's family from San Diego was as good of an excuse as

"And then, finally, of course, were the kidnappings this past winter. It
certainly didn't seem to be the right time then, did it?" Stein asked
rhetorically. "Of course," he continued, "as time passed, it seemed to
become a moot point."

There was a period of several minutes of absolute silence while Mulder and
Scully tried to assimilate everything Jack said. She desperately wanted to
tell them both to stuff their apology where the sun didn't shine, but it was
Mulder who spoke first.

"How am I suppose' to feel abou' all of this, Jack?" he whispered. Scully
feared her husband was showing symptoms of shock. "How am I suppose' to
respon' to the news my mother has remarrie' a man who, for as many times as
he' helpe' me, he ha' also done my family and me harm? How do I answer the
lies? A year and a half's worth of lies, Jack. How do I respon' to tha'?"

At this point, the man's entire body began to tremble. Scully's initial fear
was he was seizing, but then she realized her original concern was correct;
Mulder was symptomatic of shock.

" Please get a blanket, he's going into shock. " Scully requested in her
physician's tone.

When no one moved, Scully repeated her request a little more forcefully.
Jack reacted by telling Elizabeth to get up and get the blanket. She did so.

"You've go' her s'rung up li'e a marionette, don' you, Jack?" Mulder
commented through chattering teeth.

"No, Fox. Your mother has always been and will always be her own woman.
She's upset, and all I did was ask her to get you a blanket," Jack replied.

"BullshiT," answered Mulder venomously.

"No, no bullshit, Fox. Fact."

At that moment Elizabeth returned with a lightweight quilt and placed it on
the edge of the coffee table. Scully couldn't believe the bitch didn't even
have it in her heart to place it over her son's shoulders. That little act
didn't escape Mulder's eyes either.

"Am I tha' repulsive to you, Mom?" he asked forlornly.

"What are you talking about?"

"ForgeT it, Mom. JusT forgeT it," he said as clearly as he could manage
while his teeth chattered. Dana carefully draped the blanket around his
shoulders. It seemed to bring some much- needed relief almost immediately.
Perhaps it wasn't the blanket, but the warming touch of Scully's arm around
her husband.

Scully decided it was time for her to take over the questioning for now.
There were still tough questions to be asked; she figured Mulder would jump
in when he was good and ready. For now, she would lead the charge. She made
sure Mulder was watching her; she needed him in on this interrogation.

"Jack, Mulder and I are not here to pay just a social visit."

"I assumed as much, my dear," he responded calmly.

"We're staying at the Ramada Inn in New Rochelle," she began, "because it's
not all that far from the Ellen Neuman Senior Care Facility in Larchmont. I
take it you're familiar with it?" she probed.

"Now, why would I be interested in such a place" he asked without emotion.

"Because you wan' to put Mom's dear ol' auntie in a good nursing home, tha's
why?" intervened Mulder. "Don' you remember your own cover story? Shame,
shame, Jack, you mus' be losing your memory."

"Fox, I don't know what you could be talking about."

"You've been identified," informed Scully. "Positively identified by a very
reliable eye witness, so may we just cut the crap and cut to the chase. What
the hell are you doing to those patients? We know it's your doing; you're
the only people to have first hand knowledge of the technology other than a
certain rat bastard who had better still be in jail, Jack Stein, or I _will_
shoot you," glowered Scully.

"Dana, stop," interrupted Elizabeth. "Please stop with the 'agents to the
rescue' routine because you haven't a clue as to what is really going on
here. The work has to continue. It's imperative that it be allowed to

"But these people are dying because of you," Dana accused.

"NO! These people are being put out of their misery because of us, all the
while allowing us to test and perfect one of the few weapons we'll have
against the alien colonists when they do arrive," insisted Elizabeth.

"What do you mean? For God's sake, you're killing these people," decried

"Those people were going to die slow, horrible deaths without us, Dana.
Didn't you read their medical histories?" asked Jack. "We did not choose
subjects that were healthy; we chose those who were seeking an alternative to
the pain they were facing before we came along."

"I don' understan'," admitted Mulder. "When di' you speak to these people?"

"Fox, we were at the nursing home, on several occasions __," began Elizabeth.

"__Several? We have a witness who says she saw you three times," interjected

"Ah, Dr. Marshall, lovely young woman," acknowledged Jack. "Yes, she did see
us about on three occasions, but the woman doesn't work 24/7, Dana, does
she?" Upon observing Scully's nod, he continued. "We were there on a number
of other occasions, under the cover of visiting residents. No one stopped
us, as we had the name and room numbers of those people we needed to see.

"Dana, Fox, we thoroughly researched the patients to see who would benefit
from our research. Believe me, there wasn't one patient whose arm we had to
twist. They were grateful to be given the opportunity to put themselves out
of their pain when they chose to do so," Jack concluded.

"Of course, now that the FBI has arrived, the research will have to stop,"
stated Elizabeth irritably.

"You mean, the research will ha'e to be moveD, don' you, Mom?" asked Fox

"Anything is possible, Fox. I don't know that for certain."

Mulder glared at the two of them; he felt so angry at the notion that his own
mother could be a part of a plan that promoted euthanasia in this manner.
But there was one more question he had to ask, and it was the one query he
was most frightened to hear the answer for.

"Samantha?" he whispered. "She's a doctor for God's sake."

"What are you talking about, Fox?" asked Elizabeth curtly.

Scully gave Elizabeth a harsh glare. "Dr. Marshall identified Samantha as
your daughter; she was there at the nursing home with you. Mulder wants to
know how you coerced her into joining your little scam. She's a medical
doctor; she took an oath to save lives," Scully admonished.

"What?" gasped Elizabeth. "You think Samantha?" In the first real show of
emotion she'd shown all afternoon, Elizabeth brought her trembling fingers to
her mouth and murmured 'no' over and over again.

"Elizabeth, it's all right. He couldn't know. He couldn't," Jack said in an
attempt to comfort his wife.

"Couldn't know what?" asked Scully. "What couldn't Mulder, or I for that
matter, know that would explain how Sam's not involved with your damnable

"We refused to give her up again," Jack explained softly. Elizabeth simply
murmured 'no' repeatedly and rocked gently in her seat while Jack continued.
"We were approached and asked to invite Samantha back into the fold, so to
speak. We refused.

"When we were told we didn't have a choice, we informed the consortium powers
that be our daughter would never be a part of the equation again. She'd done
her time as the saying goes, and her mother and I would not subject her to
that kind of life again," informed Jack.

"So that's that? Why was she at the home?" asked Scully.

"She was merely meeting us there. She came under the assumption of our cover
story regarding Elizabeth's aunt. We were finishing up our business early
and Sam was in town for a visit. We were simply meeting for lunch.

"Fox, that's all she was doing there. I swear to you, your mother and I have
taken care that you and your sister will no longer be the subject of
consortium business," he insisted.

"How?" asked Mulder softly. "Whose soul ha'e you trade' this time?"

"Our own," answered Elizabeth. She saw a puzzled expression on her
daughter-in-law's face but saw immediate understanding on her son's.

The boy was spooky.

"They have differen' nanocy'e controllers for the both of you, don' they?" he
asked. Upon seeing them both nod, he sighed. "How often do they remin' you
tha' they own you?" he asked.

"Every day, Fox. Every day," Elizabeth answered.

"Good," he said clearly and with conviction.

Mulder pushed the blanket off of his shoulders and reached for his cane.
This case was closed with regards to the Ellen Neuman Senior Care Facility.
There would be no more mysterious deaths at that nursing home, and he knew
any evidence that might have been left would be thoroughly cleaned up by the
time they returned to the hotel. It would only be a question of time as to
where the research would continue next.

But for now, it was time to go home. He needed his baby girl to look in a
room and find him.



They sneaked into the house without the baby seeing them. Maggie stood
guard, watching Sarah play with the multitude of mixing bowls and wooden
spoons in the kitchen, while Walter grabbed a suitcase from Scully and led
them quietly upstairs.

They walked quietly into their usual bedroom (Scully's childhood room) and
closed the door as much as possible without actually preventing Sarah from
pushing the door open on her own. Walter smiled conspiratorially with his
stepdaughter and son-in-law, and went downstairs to get the tiny sleuth.

Scully could hear Abah and Mom calling out loud, "Sarah, where's Daddy?
Where's Mommy?" She used sign language to explain what was going on outside
the room and they both giggled when she could tell him that she heard Sarah
saying "Dah? Dah? Bye-bye."

Finally, the came closer and closer to their room, and suddenly Sarah pushed
open the door calling out, "Dah?"

"Hi, Sarah," Mulder said softly.

"DAH! DAH!" she squealed with utter delight. She ran to her father with her
hands outstretched and literally fell into him. She was holding onto
Mulder's leg so tightly, it was a good thing Dana was standing right next to
him, or he would have toppled over from the toddler 'g-force'.

"Hi, sweet girl," greeted Scully, at which point Sarah released her
stronghold on her daddy's leg and started jumping up and down, and jabbering
away, in excitement.

"Mamamamamamamama!" Next, the small child reached her hands up to both
parents, and Scully bent down to lift her daughter up into her father's arms.
Scully reached around and embraced her baby girl sandwich style so they
could gather one another up into their typical family hug.

"Dah? Dah?" the little one called out. "Boo-Boo?" she asked.

Walter and Maggie, who were observing the little reunion quietly by the door,
quickly looked at the trio. They didn't see the baby cut herself, so they
didn't understand what was wrong.

Scully, on the other hand, understood the baby's shorthand chatter
immediately and said, "Boo-boo? Daddy doesn't have a boo-boo, Sarah," but
then she looked more closely at her husband and understood. "Oh baby, no,
Daddy's just so happy to be home with his Sarah. Happy tears, Sarah. No
boo-boo, Daddy's happy."

Sarah wasn't about to believe that line, and she started showering her father
with wet, sloppy kisses all over his face. It was just what the doctor
ordered, because soon Mulder was laughing heartily much to the relief of
everyone present.

There were to be no more closed doors or empty rooms for a while.

The Mulders were home.

End of part 4/4

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