New! ANGST! Life Cycles VI: Grieving 1/5
Date: Sat, 27 Dec 97
by Susan Proto (STPteach@aol.com)

Category: MAJOR ANGST WARNING, Pregnant Readers may want to wait until
after the birth of their child and/or until the baby is about 27 years
old, MS-Marriage

Rating: R for some language, possibly some graphic scenes, and did I
mention MAJOR ANGST. (This is not a lovey-dovey story, and those who are
extremely sensitive or squeamish may want to avoid it at this time. This
may reduce my reading audience, but I don't want to be the cause of any
traumatic experiences or nightmares. I cried while writing it, folks.)

Spoilers: Through season 4

Summary: The honeymoon brings a surprise for the newlyweds, but as we all
know, things rarely go smoothly for our heroes. This is a story of grief
and how society's (and our own) expectations on how to deal with that
grief does not always go hand in hand with the reality of what is needed.

Archive: Yes.

Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully belong to 10/13 productions and Chris
Carter. Since I have learned to play nice in the sandbox, I am only
borrowing them and promise to return them at the end of the story.
Honest. I promise. Believe me. Please, because I couldnít afford to be
sued on my salary.

Introduction: Here's number VI in the Life Cycles universe. The stories
are going in a chronological order, so for continuity's sake you might
want to read the others first, but if you don't want to do that, I believe
all of them could be stand alones, maybe.

Life Cycles VI: Grieving
by Susan Proto (STPteach@aol.com)

Part 1/5

Friday, February 21, 1997

When Scully walked through the basement office door at around eleven
o'clock, Mulder sighed with relief. She had complained earlier that
morning that she wasn't feeling very well, and she had made an appointment
with the doctor to check herself out.

They were supposed to go out for brunch this Sunday in celebration of her
birthday, and he hoped they would still be able to do so. He had hoped
she was okay, and now that she was here in the office, he felt relieved.
If she were really sick, he reasoned, she'd have gone home straight to
bed.

"Hi Dane," he greeted as he rose from his chair to embrace her. "How are
you feeling? What did the doctor say? Flu? Something you ate?" He was
so glad to see his wife of almost two months, but he was anxious for her
as well.

"I'm feeling much better, now that I have an idea of what's causing me to
feel so__, so__, so blah," she finally admitted.

"So, what's the cause?" he asked curiously.

"G-Man, you'd better sit back down," she said with a slight smile on her
face. Then she added under her breath, "I know I sure needed to."

"What?" he asked with a little apprehension. "Dane, what's wrong? Are
you okay?"

"Shhh, Mulder. I'll be fine. Nothing that another seven months or so
won't cure, at any rate," she revealed.

He looked at her curiously when, suddenly, the implications struck him.
"Dane?" he questioned aloud. "Dane, you don't mean you're___?"

"__Pregnant," she cut in. "Yep. I am. Pregnant. Amazing, isn't it?"
she asked, still a little shell shocked.

"But Dane, we never had unprotected sex. Well, except for our wedding
night, but it was only that one time," he remembered aloud.

"Mulder, I know I'm a doctor and all, but surely someone taught you how
babies were made, and that sometimes it only takes _one_ time." she
reminded.

"Yeah, Dane, I know, but, shit! Pregnant?" he looked at her with wide
eyes. The expression was difficult for Dana to read, and suddenly she was
very anxious.

"Mulder," she paused, and tried desperately to collect her thoughts
because she didn't know if what she was about to say was going to be
received well. "Mulder," she repeated, "I know we weren't planning on
starting a family so soon, and I know it's a shock. Believe me, I was
just as shocked, but Mulder, it's our baby, and I can't___, I mean could
never___," she hesitated, and then began to wipe furtively at her eyes
which all of a sudden started to tear.

Mulder was listening and watching his beautiful wife intently, but he
hadn't caught on to what was worrying her until he saw her tears. Then he
realized, and he stood up and pulled her into his arms.

"Dane, don't. You're right. We weren't planning on starting a baby this
soon. I was hoping to not have to share you with anyone for a little
while, but Dane, please know that _not_ for one minute would I ever think
of not having this baby."

He pulled away just enough so he could see her face and she could see his.
He wanted her to see how serious he was and how much she meant to him.

"And God, Dana Katherine Scully-Mulder, knowing your religious beliefs,
how could you think I would ask you to even consider, much less go
through, terminating this pregnancy.

"Dane, I love you, and I love our baby. _Baby!_ Ohmigod, Dane, a baby?!"
he chuckled as the idea became more and more of a reality. "This is going
to make for one helluva announcement at brunch on Sunday. Mom's gonna
faint!

"And Skinner? Whoa, what's he going to say? This is amazing, Dane!
Absolutely amazing!" he concluded.

"Wait, Mulder. Listen. I don't think it's a good idea to make a general
announcement yet, since it's still so early in the pregnancy. I'd like to
tell Mom, and if you want, we could let your mother know, but as for
everyone else__," she stammered.

"Not even Skinner, Dane?" he asked.

"God, especially not Skinner!" she replied.

"Why? Don't you believe he'll think it's good news?" he asked curiously.

"Oh, I'm sure he will. And since he's been out with Mom a few times now,
I know Mom will be dying to tell him, but I think it would probably be
best to wait." When Mulder continued to look skeptical, Scully continued.

"Mulder, if Skinner finds out I'm pregnant, he'll have me transferred to
Quantico so fast both our heads will spin. Is that what you want?" she
asked.

"Well, gee Scully, maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea if you decreased
your field time. I mean it might _____," Mulder attempted to explain, but
Scully cut him right off.

|"___Fox Mulder you listen to me, and you listen real good. I may be
pregnant, but I am __not__ an invalid. Being pregnant does not
automatically mean I have to reduce my physical activities. So get that
thought out of your head right now. Do I make myself clear, Mulder?" she
asked almost defiantly.

"Yes Mom!!" he replied teasingly. "Hey, that sounds good on you, Dane."

"Thanks Daddy," now calmed down, she answered in kind. "Sounds good on
you too, G-Man."

#####################################################

Maggie Scully was, of course, absolutely delighted at the news that she
was going to made a grandmother again. The fact that it was to be child
of her daughter and son-in-law made it that much more special. She agreed
with Dana that it would be wiser to keep the news private for a little
while longer.

It was not so much because she feared AD Skinner would force Dana to desk
duty, (in fact, she actually hoped to use her newly acquired influence on
Walter Skinner to encourage him to do just that!) but it was the
traditionalist in Maggie that made her want to keep the news close to her
heart. She knew it was probably based upon some old wife's tale
somewhere, but she didn't want to jinx the birth.

Besides, if, heaven forbid, something did go wrong, it was that many fewer
people that needed to receive an explanation. So, Maggie, as well as Dana
and Fox, would just have to bite their tongues for a little while longer,
until they made the happy news public.

#####################################################

Sunday, February 23, 1997

The birthday brunch was a wonderful success. Mulder and Maggie arranged
to have many of Scully's good friends attend, as well as her boss. Of
course, Walter Skinner was there more in the capacity of Maggie Scully's
escort, but he was equally delighted to partake in the celebration of his
young agent's birthday.

"You look beautiful today, Dana," he said. "Birthdays certainly agree
with you!"

Dana laughed and thanked him for the compliment. "I'm not sure, Sir, just
how many more birthdays will cause me _this_ much happiness though!" she
added somewhat cryptically.

Skinner noticed the young woman was glowing, and certainly believed that
birthdays and marriage was the perfect combination for her. When he
looked over at Fox Mulder, he realized that it was most likely the perfect
combination for him too. He was more determined to keep these two
together, no matter how much pressure the upper echelon put on him to
separate them.

Scully benefited so much from not only their personal relationship, but
their working relationship as well. It seemed that working with Mulder
gave her the freedom and permission to think beyond the realm of logic and
scientific reason.

No matter how many times she posed the scientific explanation for some
unexplained phenomena, he always had a way of providing proof around the
scientific data. Though she rarely out and out ever agreed with him, the
number of times that she at least considered his rationalizations as
plausible increased every moment they were together.

On the other hand, Fox Mulder depended so much upon the intelligence and
strength of his wife to keep him tethered to the realities of the world.
She provide him with a stability that he hadn't had in a lifetime.

He was able to share his deepest feelings and worries about himself and
the world at large with her. Only her. He occasionally confided in
Skinner, but they were mostly surface issues. It was Scully to whom he
turned to with all of his fears about things that go bump in the night.

Skinner considered the two of them as he observed them joining together by
the buffet table, arms around each other's waist. They were like two
halves that made a complete whole. He suspected that both could survive
without the other, but that's all it would be, survive. He didn't think
they could really live without each other.

Especially Mulder. No, Skinner doubted that Mulder could really even
survive without Dana Scully at this point in his. She was more than just
his other half, she was a part of him. So, if it took him having to call
in every favor he had coming to him, he would keep them together. This
was one promise Skinner intended to keep.

#####################################################

Tuesday, March 18, 1997
2:30 A.M.

The notion of a baby coming into their lives thrilled Mulder no end, but
it also scared him half to death too. He didn't want to voice these fears
too often to Scully, since she was a little nervous too. He felt
uncomfortable talking about these concerns with Maggie, because he thought
she might mention them to Scully and that was something he wanted to avoid
in the first place.

The only other person he trusted on occasion with his fears was Walter
Skinner, but since Scully had insisted that they keep Skinner in the dark
for a while about the pregnancy, he was left to deal with the anxiety on
his own. And the traditional method by which Fox Mulder dealt with fear
and anxiety was to get two to three hours of sleep during the night due to
waking up to a horrific nightmare.

Which is exactly how he managed his anxiousness that night. He woke up in
a cold sweat, but grateful that he didn't wake up Scully. She hadn't been
feeling particularly well that day, and he was glad he didn't disturb her
sleep. He got up, made sure to tuck the covers around his sleeping beauty
to keep the heat in, and kissed her on the forehead. She didn't feel
warm, but she looked a little pale, and Mulder hoped she wasn't coming
down with something.

He put on his sweats and a wind breaker. As he tied the laces to his
favorite running shoes, he looked once again at his wife. She was
sleeping soundly for now, but when she woke up in the morning, he was
going to insist that she call the doctor for a check-up. He didn't like
the way she looked.

#####################################################

As he ran about the streets of Annapolis, he passed by the toy store that
he'd began frequenting a lot lately. He knew it was foolish, and if his
late Nana knew he was buying toys for the as yet unborn child, she would
be yelling in Yiddish, "Kayn aynhoreh!" It was, as his wise old Nana used
to say, a magical phrase to ward off any evil eyes that might looked upon
you.

Kind of like not looking a gift horse in the mouth, Mulder often thought.
So, not wanting to push his luck, he compromised and secreted away
whatever wonderful toys and baby paraphernalia that he thought their child
would need, in the bowels of their basement office. Scully would never
check in the places he hid the toys, but of course, if he continued to buy
things at the rate he was buying them, he would soon run out of hiding
spaces there too.

He looked in the window and saw they hadn't changed the display yet. The
object that caught his eye now was the same as the one that caught his eye
at the beginning of the week. It was a brightly colored crib mobile of
the planets and space ships and even a flying saucer. When Mulder first
saw it in the window, he had to buy it. It felt as though the
manufacturer had created it just for his baby.

As he started the return jog home, Mulder realized it was getting closer
and closer to the time when they would announce their good news publicly.
He told Scully he wanted to let Skinner know first, in person, and she
readily agreed he deserved that courtesy.

When he finally got back to the apartment, he noted the time was about an
hour and a half after he'd left. Lingering by the toy store sure didn't
help his times any, he thought to himself. He grabbed a bottle of water
and chugged it down as he went back in to the bedroom. He took a quick
look at Scully as he was about to go into the bathroom to shower.

Something didn't look right to him. He wasn't sure what it was that made
him go over to her, but he did and when he bent down to touch her, she
felt cold and clammy. She felt like she was in shock, and Mulder suddenly
found himself ready to panic.

He called her name softly, and then when she didn't respond, called out
louder and more urgently.

"Scully? Scully? Wake up, Dane__, wake up!" he called. Finally, in an
attempt to get her to respond he pulled the warming bed covers off of her
in one felled swoop. When Mulder looked down at his wife, and saw what he
saw, he began to panic in earnest.

Blood.

There was blood everywhere.

"Scully! Oh God, Scully! Wake up, Dane! Please, wake up!

"Mulder?" she finally whispered. "Mulder, I don't feel well. I think
something's wrong. The baby, Mulder. Help the baby."

"Dane, I'm calling 911 now. Hold on, Dane. Please. Hold on," he pleaded.

The ambulance arrived just as Mulder was finishing his call to Maggie. He
told her which hospital they would be going to and to please meet them
there. He decided, as much as he would have liked to, not to call
Skinner in the unlikely chance the baby could be saved. Besides, he
didn't know how much Scully wanted Skinner to know about the situation, so
he decided to hold off until he could speak with her about it.

#####################################################

University of Maryland Hospital
Tuesday, March 18, 1997
4:45 A.M.

Maggie rushed into the hospital emergency room, looking frantically for
her daughter and son-in-law. When she saw Fox slumped in a chair in the
waiting area, she hurried over to him.

"Fox?" she called out tentatively.

"They just brought her upstairs to do a D & C. She was bleeding pretty
heavily, but she hadn't expelled all of the birth matter," he said
tonelessly. He explained it to Maggie in the same way it was explained to
him by one of the young interns.

"Oh, my poor baby," Maggie cried out. "This is going to be so hard on
her. Damn it, Fox. I can't believe this is happening to her."

He wanted to say he couldn't believe it was happening either, but for some
reason he felt kept quiet. Maggie seemed to need this time to vent and
work out her own grief. If Mulder were to say aloud that he felt a loss
also, well, for some reason that seemed to be too intrusive at the moment.
There would be time for him to express his grief and need for support
later. For now, he felt he needed to provide some strength for Maggie
and, of course, Dana.

By the time Dana was brought back to the recovery room, an hour or so had
passed and Mulder realized he would need to call in for himself and Dana.
He didn't know quite what to say other than to report that Dana was
taking some sick leave and he would need some personal time to take care
of her.

However, by the time Mulder found his way into Scully's hospital room, he
realized that plan was going to change. Maggie moved in right next to her
daughter, to which Scully seemed quite appreciative. Mulder hung back for
a bit and listened to the two women making plans.

"Of course you'll come back to the house to recuperate. This way Fox
doesn't need to take time off, and I'll be able to provide you with some
extra TLC," Maggie said.

"Oh Mom, I don't want to put you out," replied Scully, not meaning one
word of it.

"Dana, sweetheart, you're not putting me out. I want to do this. I know
how hard it can be when you___, "she hesitated a little bit, since she
didn't know how her daughter would react to hearing the word, "___have a
miscarriage."

Scully winced a bit when she heard the word, but what neither woman
noticed was Mulder standing off to the side shuddering as well at the
mention of the term.

"I remember only too well when I miscarried, Dana. It's a terrible
feeling, but you do get over it. You just need to take care of yourself,
sweetheart, and I'd like to be able to help you do just that," Maggie
continued.

It was settled without any further comment from Scully or Mulder, and so
the two of them would be staying in Baltimore for the remainder of the
week while Scully recuperated. Though it was certainly more inconvenient
for Mulder due to the increase in commuting time, he wasn't about to
begrudge his wife and mother-in-law this opportunity to help overcome
their grief.

Scully asked Mulder to let Skinner know that she would be requesting
medical leave as she was recovering from "female problems." She didn't
want him to go into an explanation about the aborted pregnancy, because
she didn't feel she could handle all of the additional expressions of
sympathy people, other than her immediate family, would be offering.

Mulder hesitated at first before he agreed. He objected to the idea since
he felt it was like lying to Skinner, and he felt Skinner deserved more
respect than that.

"Scully, I really think Skinner should be told why you had the
D & C," he began. "Maggie, wouldn't you want to talk to him about it
too?"

"Mulder, I said I didn't want the AD to know about the pregnancy. Please
respect my request. He doesn't need to know anything more than it was
female related, and if you present it like that to him, he won't ask you
any questions. Trust me," she stated emphatically.

"Fox," Maggie added, "if Dana wants to keep this private, than I will
respect her wishes."

In the forty-five minutes they had all spoken, it was clear to Mulder that
Dana had very specific ideas on how to best meet her needs. He was glad
her mother was there to give her the support she so obviously craved from
her.

He just wasn't sure where he fit in. In the time he was in the room, he
hadn't so much as touched Scully's hand, much less given her a hug of
comfort. He wasn't sure why he hung back exactly, but he sensed an
emotional wall between Scully and himself.

He didn't understand why Scully didn't seek him out , but since she
hadn't, he didn't feel it was his place to force himself on her. So he
felt grateful that his mother-in-law was there to provide her with the
comfort she obviously felt uncomfortable taking from him.

Now, if he could just figure out why that was. He felt as though there
was no one for him to turn to. He'd just lost his baby, and Fox Mulder
felt like he needed permission to cry.

End of part 1/5.

-----------------------------------------------------

Part 2/5

Wednesday, March 19, 1997
7:30 A.M.

Mulder met Dana at the hospital for an early morning breakfast. He knew
she was going to be released today, and he wanted to make sure he had
packed everything she would need and want while she recuperated at her
mother's house.

"Good morning," he said with a warm smile.

She looked back at him with puffy eyes that were begging for some more
sleep. "Good morning," she echoed tonelessly. "Why are you here so
early?"

He looked at her somewhat surprised that she would even have to ask such a
question. It was always their habit to be there for the other whenever
one was cooped up in a hospital room. He wondered what made this time
different in her mind.

"I wanted to help you get ready for your release later on this morning. I
packed a suitcase for you to take to Mom's house, but I wanted you to look
it over and make sure I didn't leave out anything essential. We can go
over it after breakfast though, if you'd like," he explained.

"I'm sure it's fine, Mulder. You don't have to stay here and baby sit me,
you know. I'll be fine. I just___, I just need some time to work this
through," she told him quietly.

"Oh Dane, I understand that. It's just that, I want you to know that I'm
here for you too. You do know that, don't you?" he asked earnestly. He
moved towards her to embrace her into his arms, but she stiffened at his
touch, so Mulder sat back and looked at her with questioning eyes.

Dana returned his gaze and was silent. She was hurting so badly at the
moment. All she could feel was a sharp, empty void, and she didn't know
how to explain the terrible hurt she felt to him. She wondered how he
could possibly understand what a failure she felt like as a woman.

She wondered how he could understand how angry she felt for that failure.
And how angry she felt toward God for allowing the failure to happen.
And how angry she felt toward Mulder, for not being there to help her
avoid the failure in the first place.

She knew it wasn't rational, since there was absolutely nothing any more
that Mulder could have done, but she still felt this inexplicable anger
toward him. And she knew if she had to deal with him any more than
necessary at the moment, she would probably say something she would later
regret.

"Mulder, please, go to work. I'm not really hungry, and I just want to go
back to sleep. Mom will be here shortly, and she'll check out the
suitcase with me. If I find something necessary missing, I'll call you
at the office. Okay?" she asked somewhat impatiently.

"You want me to go?" he asked.

At hearing the hurt tone in his voice, Dana became angry. She
resented the idea that he was trying to turn this situation into a
sympathy session for himself. "Not everything is about you, Mulder," she
said aloud with a steely edge to her voice. "Yes, I want you to go now.
I need to be alone, so I can start dealing with my hurt. I have to deal
with this on my own for now."

Mulder looked at her and tried to keep his own emotions in check. He knew
the last thing she needed right now, as much as he wanted to, was for him
to break down in front of her. He tried to reach for her again to hold
her, but he saw her flinch as he drew near.

He pulled back his hands. As he stood up and moved back away from the
bed, Mulder could see her sitting rigidly on the bed. He started putting
his jacket on and then said, "Dane____?"

"___What!?" she interrupted harshly.

*I love you,* he thought to himself, but aloud he said, "I'll call you
later, Scully." And he walked quietly out the door.

#####################################################
J. Edgar Hoover Building
AD Walter Skinner's Office
10:00 A.M.

"Thank you for coming up so quickly, Mulder," the AD said. "I just
received word that Agent Scully is requesting some medical leave time?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Is everything all right, Mulder?" Skinner asked with concern.

"She had some, some female related problems, Sir, but she'll be fine," he
said in a quiet, even voice.

"Oh, I see," he replied, a little ill at ease. "Well, how long will she
need to be on leave?"

"The doctor had told her to take it easy for the next two to three days,
so she has requested leave time for the remainder of the week and would
like to have some flexibility in taking some personal leave, if
necessary, after Monday, Sir."

"Very well. You will let me know if her status changes, yes?" Mulder
nodded an affirmation and got ready to stand up.

"Agent Mulder? I don't recall dismissing you," the AD said sternly.

"Oh? I'm sorry, Sir. I thought Scully's leave was the reason you wanted
to see me," Mulder replied contritely. The last thing he wanted to do was
get the AD angry with him. He didn't think his somewhat fragile ego could
handle it.

"No," he said more softly, when he realized the agent made an honest
mistake, "I called you in for another reason. VCU sent me an E-mail
requesting some assistance on a case they've recently begun working on.

"Since Scully's on medical leave," the AD continued, "and you don't have
any X-File cases ongoing or upcoming, I__, well, I volunteered your
services," Skinner said somewhat hesitantly. He knew how much Mulder
hated going back to work with the Vicious Crimes Unit.

"Oh," was all Mulder volunteered.

"I told them to send a messenger with the file directly to your office, so
you could bring yourself up to speed before you meet with them tomorrow at
eight A.M."

"Yes, Sir. What type of a case is it?" Mulder asked quietly.

"I'm not sure of the details, the E-mail suggested it was a simple
strangulation case," Skinner responded hopefully. He was amazed that
Mulder wasn't going to give him an argument on being loaned out to VCU.
This was certainly a first for Skinner.

"Serial case?" asked Mulder.

"Not that I know of," responded Skinner.

"I'll take a look at the file when it arrives," said Mulder. "Anything
else, Sir?"

"No Mulder, you're dismissed." He watched Mulder ascend from the chair
but now felt a little uneasy. This was not the Mulder he was used to, and
he was a little concerned.

"Mulder?" Skinner asked, and when Mulder stopped he asked, "Are you sure
Dana's all right?"

Without turning around, Mulder simply replied, "Scully's going to be just
fine. Thank you for asking, Sir." And with that, Mulder left the AD's
office to go view his next case.

#####################################################

J. Edgar Hoover Building
X-Files Basement Office
1:15 P.M.

By the time the messenger brought over the file with all of the evidence
pictures, Mulder had time to clear his desk and Scully's desks of back
paperwork, and grab a bite to eat. He had spoken to Maggie Scully earlier
to confirm that all was well with Scully and that she was released from
the hospital on schedule. Maggie informed Mulder that Scully was indeed
resting on the couch in her home.

She had asked Mulder what he thought of the idea of bringing in some
people from a bereavement group that dealt specifically with women who
suffered miscarriages. Mulder didn't know if Scully would go for it since
he refused to talk to him about it, but perhaps she would feel more
comfortable with other women.

"Have you spoken to Scully about?" he had asked.

"Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I did mention it, and she seemed open to
the idea," she had said.

"Well, I guess then that's settled, isn't it?" he had asked rhetorically.
He had wondered why Maggie didn't just tell him the group of women were
going to come over, rather than pretend that he would actually have a
voice in the matter.

"May I talk to her, please?" he had asked tentatively.

"I'll check to see if she's awake." Mulder had waited a few moments until
Maggie got back on the phone. "She fell asleep, Fox."

"Oh. Well, tell Scully I called, okay?" he had said.

"What time can I expect you for dinner, Fox?" she had asked.

"I'm not sure. I've just been handed a new case and I need to go over the
case file a few times to try to get a handle it. I'll call later when I
get a better idea, but don't wait dinner for me. Okay, M__, Maggie?" he
had stuttered slightly.

"Of course, dear. I'll speak to you later," she had replied and hung up
the phone, wondering what exactly was it that bothered her about that
conversation.

So, he had just been getting ready to call the florist to send Scully some
roses when the messenger had finally arrived. He had thanked him and
pulled the file out of the sealed envelope.

Considering it was a new case, Mulder was surprised to see it was
relatively thick.

When he opened the file to the first of several photographs taken at the
scene he knew why. The images that assaulted his eyes were some of the
most gruesome he'd ever seen. He was mortified that a human being could
do this to another human being.

It was when he looked at the close-up photos that he felt the bile start
traveling up his esophagus and into his throat. Mulder knew if he didn't
get to the men's room soon, whatever evidence he had in his possession
would be ruined.

He rushed quickly into the stall of the basement men's room and vomited up
every morsel of food that remained undigested as well as some that was.
He hugged the bowl for dear life as he continued to dry heave for several
minutes more.

When he was finally able to lift his head, he stood up shakily and walked
to the sink. He cupped his hand to bring some water to his mouth in order
to rinse it, but the water was so distasteful to him, he felt nauseous
again.

He left the bathroom and searched for a bottle of leftover iced tea that
he was sure was in the office somewhere. When he found it, he took a
small swig of the warm liquid and swallowed. He held the glass bottle in
his hand while he took another look at the photos in glorious technicolor.
As he noted the details of the photo, Mulder felt himself getting sick
again, but this time, rather than get nauseous, he got angry. Very angry.

He heaved the glass bottle of iced tea against the wall as hard as he
could and the glass smashed into thousands of tiny shards that flew all
around the room. He then picked up the file, walked out and slammed the
door to the basement office shut, and went directly back to Walter
Skinner's office.

As she looked up from her desk in the outer office, Kim, Skinner's very
efficient secretary, noted a very agitated Fox Mulder.

"Is he in?" he growled with clenched teeth.

"Well yes, but he's in___," she began.

"__Good. I need to see him now," he broke in and proceeded to march
straight into the AD's office without being announced.

"__a meeting," Kim concluded to Mulder's back just as he began ranting at
the top of his lungs. *Well, I guess I should find the suspension form
and save a little time for later,* she thought to herself.

When Mulder barged in, he found the AD sitting at his desk and looking
intently at his computer screen. Before Skinner had a chance to look up
and even acknowledge him, Mulder began screaming directly at him at the
top of his lungs, without ever taking his eyes off of him.

"Simple strangulation case? Who the fuck's idea of a sick joke is this,
Skinner? Are you fucking crazy? Simple fucking strangulation case my
ass! What the hell was the point of telling me that? Talk to me you son
of a bitch! What the hell was the point?! There's nothing simple about
this God damned case, Skinner. There's some God damned fucking animal
walking around out there, and you're fucking calling this a God damned
__simple__ strangulation case! You and all of the other assholes at VCU!"
At this point he slammed down the file on top of Skinner's desk.

"Agent Mulder, get control of yourself this instant or I will call
security," demanded Skinner in an even, but commanding tone of voice.

It was at that moment that Mulder took the time to catch his breath and
look about the room. He observed four men and one woman seated at the
large conference table at the far end of Skinner's office. Skinner was
obviously downloading some information from his computer when Mulder had
barged in.

Mulder suddenly felt like an idiot, and was immediately apologetic for his
actions.

"Sir, I am sorry. Please, accept my apologies for my inexcusable
behavior. I__, I__, I've had a tough couple of days, and though it
certainly doesn't excuse my behavior, I hope it at least explains it.
I'll leave now. Umm, I'll see you when it's more convenient for you. I'm
sorry, Sir. I really am sorry," he repeated over and over again as he
picked up the file and backed out of the room.

When he closed the door to Skinner's office, he looked over at Kim. She
returned his gaze and prepared herself for a bawling out by him, demanding
to know why she didn't warn him. Instead, he looked at her and said
quietly, "You tried to warn me, didn't you?"

When Kim nodded silently, Mulder returned the nod, and said, "Thanks for
trying. I'm sorry if I've gotten you in any trouble."

Kim informed Mulder it shouldn't be a problem for her, but she'd have the
proper forms ready for him to sign just in case. She tried to smile as
she said it, hoping he would realize she was trying to make light of the
situation, but Mulder realized there was more than a hint of truth to what
she said. He gave her a small smile of thanks and left.

Mulder walked into his office and felt the glass pellets crunch beneath
his feet. He dropped the file on his office desk and decided he needed
some fresh air. He figured if he was going to be suspended for
insubordination, he might as well have a clear head about it.

Meanwhile, inside of Skinner's office, Walter looked at the participants
in the meeting and said somewhat lightly, "Well everyone has their cross
to bear in life, and I guess Agent Mulder is mine." That eased the
tension in the room considerably and they were able to get on with their
meeting, of which Skinner hoped to wrap up soon so that he might go check
on Mulder.

Mulder was known for his impulsiveness, but this was out and out
insubordination, in front of witness no less. How the hell was he
supposed to let Mulder off the hook for this incident? And even more
important, to Skinner, was learning what the hell was in that file?

#####################################################
Reflecting Pool
4:45 P.M.

Mulder sat quietly on their bench, contemplating the events of the last
thirty-six hours or so. On Tuesday evening he went to bed a happy, if not
nervous, newlywed and father to be. He was madly in love with his wife,
and he was going to be a daddy. He had a good job that he enjoyed and
could be a good provider for his family.

But now, all of that seemed to have changed, he mused sadly to himself.
His wife couldn't stand to have him touch her, his baby was dead, and
there was a very good chance he was going to be suspended for
insubordination. And to top it all off, there was some loony toon out
there who got his thrills by cutting open pregnant women and strangling
their fetuses with their own umbilical chord.

So why couldn't he give himself permission to cry?

#####################################################

The X-Files Basement Office
4:45 P.M.

Skinner knocked on the door and then entered. He was hoping Mulder was
just ignoring his incoming calls, but it was plain to see he wasn't in the
office to take them. Skinner looked around the office and marveled at how
he was able to make any sense out of it.

It was immediately evident where Scully's work station was, as it was neat
and efficient looking. Then there was Mulder's desk. It was piled high
with numerous files and isolated memos as well as various newspaper
clippings and magazine articles.

Skinner walked to his desk and looked at the case label for the file on
top. He was relieved to see it was the case that VCU referred to him, and
was grateful that he would have the chance to see what it was exactly that
caused Mulder to go off the deep end.

When the AD opened the folder to the full color photo laying on top, he
gagged. He closed the folder immediately, and sat down hard in Mulder's
chair. "My God," he said aloud to no one but himself. "My God, how does
he do this?" he wondered.

Skinner deftly placed the offending photographs under the written reports
and skimmed the data that was known. So far there were no leads, and they
were apparently looking to Mulder to profile the bastard so they could
determine if there were going to be anymore butcherings.

He then pulled the photos out again and tried desperately to scrutinize
them with an objective, cold eye. However, he could barely look at them
without his eyes tearing up, so he replaced them where he had found them
and closed the folder.

The contents of the photos hit way too close to home for Skinner, so he
put the file on top of the pile where he had originally found them. He
was about to stand up to leave, when he changed his mind and reached for
the phone.

He dialed the Baltimore number that had only over the last couple of
months become a part of him and his routine. When he heard the voice of
Maggie Scully he was relieved, as he wasn't sure if he was ready to speak
with Dana yet. Something was bothering him, and he needed to scout the
territory, so to speak.

"Hello Maggie, it's Walter Skinner," he said.

It amused Maggie to hear him identify himself by his surname as well.
She'd told him a couple of times that he was the only Walter she knew, and
that his first name was more than enough identification for her, but she
figured old habits were hard to break.

"Hello Walter. How are you?" she replied.

"I'm okay. I wanted to know how Dana was doing?" he asked.

"Oh she's resting now, Walter. She had some minor surgery, but she's
going to be just fine. It's just going to take a little time, that's all.
She's staying here, you know, while she recuperates," she informed.

"Oh. Well is Mulder staying with you too?" he asked hopefully. He hoped
Mulder would seek out the Scully residence as a safe haven.

"Yes, he is, but he's not here yet, Walter," she responded.

"Oh," Skinner replied, disappointed. "Maggie, is everything all right? I
mean I know having surgery, no matter how minor, can be stressful, and I
was just wondering if everything was really okay."

"Of course it is, Walter. Dana is going to be just fine, honestly," she
affirmed. "Walter, she's just getting up now. I need to go to her. Do
you want Fox to call you when he gets here?"

"Umm, yes. Please, unless I find him first. He's been assigned to a
pretty gruesome case, Maggie. He may need a little extra support," he
said.

"What? Yes, dear, I'm coming. Oh, I'm sorry Walter, Dana's calling me.
I'll speak to soon, okay?" and before Skinner could say good-bye, Maggie
hung up. Skinner put the receiver back on the base of the phone and stood
up.

When he left the office, all Skinner could think was, *Run Mulder. Run as
fast as you can from this.* But of course, he knew he wouldn't. He knew
he couldn't.

End of part 2/5

#####################################################

Part 3/5

Maggie Scully's Home
Baltimore, MD
Wednesday, March 19, 1997
8:40 P.M.

Mulder walked in the door to find a group of eight women, including his
wife and mother-in-law, sitting in a circle sipping coffee and tea.
Maggie got up to greet him immediately, while Dana sat quietly on the
couch listening to one of the women share her story.

"Hello Fox. You're home so late, dear. I've kept dinner warm for you,"
she told him.

"Umm, thanks, but I think I'm gonna go out for a run to help clear my head
a little bit. Don't want to run on a full stomach, you know?" he hedged.
"I'm gonna change my clothes, but thanks anyway."

He started toward the guest bedroom and looked curiously at the person
who held everyone in rapt attention. Mulder thought he'd recognized her
from somewhere, but he couldn't place where.

Next, he looked at Scully. She was so intent on listening to the young
woman speaking so quietly, yet so passionately about her experience, that
he realized she didn't even know he had arrived home.

When he emerged from the bedroom in sweats and running shoes, Mulder saw
there was a lull in the discussion and called out softly to his wife.
"Dane? Hi."

Dana looked up, surprised to see him standing there with his jogging
clothes on. "Hi. When did you get home?"

"About fifteen minutes ago. How ya doing?" he asked.

"Fine. They're all very nice, and they understand exactly what I'm
feeling." She paused for a moment and tried to find the words that would
best explain her needs to him. "Mulder, It's important to me to know that
someone else understands what it feels like to lose a child," she
explained gently.

Mulder winced slightly at her words which were truly double edged, but he
was certain she wasn't aware of the impact they had upon him. This didn't
necessarily comfort him, because it just proved to him once again how
alone he felt these last couple of days.

"I'm going out for my run now," he began. "I need to clear my head a
little." When he moved toward her to offer a hug, she retreated by taking
one small step back. To anyone else in the room, it was an insignificant
little dance, but to Mulder it was yet another rejection.

"I'll see you later, Scully," he said numbly. When he passed Maggie in
the hallway, he merely nodded toward her and rushed out the door.

He needed to run tonight. He needed to push himself and then push himself
some more until the endorphins kicked in, and he felt the runner's high.
He needed to be able to feel something, somehow, because he didn't seem to
be able to feel anything real at the moment.

When he returned about an hour later, he noticed the group of women were
getting ready to leave. When Maggie told him his dinner was ready any
time he was, he informed her that all he really wanted was a hot shower.

"Thanks anyway, Maggie, but I'm just not hungry right now. I rarely am
after I run," he explained.

It was then that Maggie remembered the request Skinner had made for him to
call him back. He nodded towards her in acknowledgment of the message
and went into the bedroom. He dialed first the office, but when he
received no answer, he dialed Skinner's home number. *One of the perks of
having your boss as your Best Man,* Mulder thought wryly.

"Hello," Skinner said.

"Hello, Sir. It's Mulder. Maggie said you called and wanted me to call
you back?" he asked.

"Yes, I did. I went looking for you down in the basement after your
little escapade in my office. When I didn't find you in the office, I__,
I became a little__, a little concerned," Skinner explained.

"You don't have to be concerned about me, Sir. I'm fine. I really am
sorry about my behavior, Sir. I don't know what came over me. It was
totally unprofessional and, well, I'm really sorry. I'll try to control
my emotions more in the future," he said seriously.

"No, Mulder, listen. I read the damned file while I was down in the
basement. You were right. Those bastards at VCU have a sick sense of
humor. They knew I would pass on that information to you, about it being
a simple case. I'm sorry. I should have made sure I was briefed more
thoroughly before I passed the information on to you. I apologize,
Mulder," said the AD.

"Sir, I burst into your office, made a complete ass out of myself, and
__you're__ apologizing to me? Excuse me, but what's wrong with this
picture?" Mulder said dryly.

Skinner could sense just a hint of a smile on Mulder's lips as he posed
that last question. The AD was relieved to hear a little of Mulder's dry
sense of humor make its way back into the conversation.

"When did you get home?" he asked.

"Around twenty of nine. I needed to go over the file a little more before
I went home. I didn't want to take this one back here to Maggie's place,"
informed Mulder.

"I can understand that, but Mulder, you need to take care of yourself on
this one, okay? This one is going to be a bitch and the VC guys aren't
going to ease up on you until this one is solved.

"Mulder, did you eat anything yet?" he asked out of the blue.

"I just came in from a run. I'll grab a bite later. Okay __Uncle
Walter__,? he jibed.

"Mulder, don't bullshit me. You need to eat," Skinner said emphatically.

"Look, I'm not bullshitting you. I really did just come in from a run,
and if I tried to eat now I'd just throw it all up anyway. Listen, I'm
awfully ripe. I really need to go take a shower, or my wife will really
never let me touch her again. I'll check in with you tomorrow, okay Sir?"
he concluded.

"It's after hours, Mulder. Walter."

"Yes, Sir. I'll check in with you tomorrow, Walter," he responded.

"Good night, Mulder." And with that Skinner hung up the phone. But
something Mulder said was gnawing at him, and he wasn't sure what it was.
Maybe it was more how he said it, than exactly what he said.

Something wasn't quite right in the Mulder-Scully household, and it
disturbed Skinner greatly that neither Mulder nor Maggie felt comfortable
enough to be willing to confide in him about it.

#####################################################

Quantico/ VCU Dept.
Thursday, March 20, 1997
8:00 A.M.

Mulder sat quietly and fingered the folder in front of him. He listened
carefully to the debriefing the SAIC presented to the group. There were
two other new agents brought on board to work the case, but he was the
only new certified profiler.

The SAIC was going over the physical evidence at the scene, and reviewing
the profiles they had come up with previously. As Mulder listened, he
realized they had it all wrong. Their original profile, based on the
evidence, was completely off target.

He wasn't sure how he was going to present this information, because he
knew even though he was requested to become a member of the team, he was
not welcomed. Each and every time VCU had requested him to help solve a
so-called unsolvable case, and then provide the profile that solved it,
his name was somehow always mysteriously left off the credits list. It
never occurred to Mulder to make waves about it, since just knowing
another perp was in custody was rewarding to him.

But even he acknowledged, to himself at least, that every now and then it
would have been nice to receive some recognition for all of those hours he
put in, getting into the UNSUB's head and slowly draining his owning
sanity.

So today was no different. He knew the current profile of record was
wrong, but he hadn't yet completed his own. He would have to work on it
tonight, but not at Quantico. He would go back to DC to the basement
office of the X-Files and complete the profile there. He made a mental
note to phone Maggie and Scully and let them know he would probably be
home very late.

"Any questions? Agent Mulder, I asked if there were any questions?" the
SAIC chided, shaking Mulder out of his personal thoughts.

"Umm, no, Sir. Not at the moment, except I do have some additional ideas
about the UNSUB and his profile," he said quietly.

"Ahh, Spooky's gonna strike again, eh?" called out Patrick Armstrong, one
of the new agents on the team.

"What's the matter, Spooky? Can't stand that anyone else might have a
have a handle on a case before you do?" rebuked Agent John Masters, the
profiler of record.

"I don't think it's necessary to automatically condemn Agent Mulder's
ideas before he's had an opportunity to present them, do you, Sir?" Agent
Riichi Obayashi asked, directing his question to the SAIC.

"No__, no, of course not," replied SAIC Edward Peterson. "Mulder, do you
have your write-up yet?"

"No, Sir," he answered quietly. "I only received the file yesterday
morning. I plan on working on the profile tonight, and have it for you
tomorrow morning, if that meets with your approval."

"That would be acceptable," he responded. "Okay gentlemen, let's see what
we can do to go find this bastard."

The group broke up, and Mulder gravitated toward Riichi Obayashi. He
extended his hand in greeting and thanked Obayashi for coming to his
defense.

"Mulder, there's nothing to thank me for. It just drives me crazy when
they automatically jump down your throat, but in the end somehow manage to
take credit for all of the work __you__ do."

"Well," Mulder reiterated, "thanks anyway. I'm looking forward to working
with you again." Mulder recalled not only the last time he saw Riichi was
at his wedding, but also the last case he was called in to work VCU gave
him his first opportunity to work with Agent Obayashi. He found him to be
not only a fair and open minded person, but a very good agent as well.

#####################################################

11:30 A.M.

"Gentlemen, may I have your attention?" called out SAIC Peterson. "It
looks like our isolated perp has officially become a serial killer. We
got another victim."

"Shit," Mulder whispered, and shuddered slightly in reaction to the news
that the killer struck again.

"Mulder, Obayashi, Armstrong, and Masters, I want you four to go check
out the crime scene. I expect a full written report on your findings by
seven o'clock tonight," commanded the SAIC.

He gave the four men the site location and directed them to drive down
together so they could discuss their findings. Unfortunately for Mulder,
Peterson didn't know the only person he was ever able to have a coherent
discussion with about his findings was Scully. Everyone else looked their
nose down at him, because they found his ideas too farfetched, yet Scully
always managed to find the balance between the rules of science and
unusual phenomena .

Mulder got up without an argument, and he wondered cynically to himself
how long that was going to last. He followed the other three to the
garage where they picked up the bureau issued Taurus. By the time they
arrived at the scene, Mulder was already anxious. He hadn't slept all
that well the previous night in anticipation of discussing this case, but
the last thing he had expected was visiting a fresh crime scene with this
particular M.O.

Mulder watched warily as the other agents converged on the scene. He
slipped on his latex gloves to avoid compromising any fingerprints that
might have been left at the scene. He watched the other agents make
perfunctory observations of the victim, no, victims, as the fetus would
have been viable. He saw them also occasionally taking notes.

Once the others had moved beyond the bodies, Agent Obayashi watched Mulder
move in for a closer look. Riichi Obayashi hung back and observed his
coworker from a slight distance. He'd always admired the methodical
manner in which Agent Mulder surveyed a crime scene.

It was as if he drank in the entire scene from the outside, and then
stepped into the middle of it and became almost a part of the site. He
looked in and about every piece of the crime scene, and attempted to learn
its every nuance.

This time, however, Obayashi noticed more tentativeness in Mulder's
actions. *No,* Obayashi thought, *not tentativeness, but more like
reverence.* Though he wasn't quite sure of the reason why.

Some time passed, and while the three agents that had accompanied Mulder
to the crime scene were finished with their perusal of the site, Mulder
seemed to still be going strong. Though Riichi Obayashi was perfectly
content to wait Mulder out, Agents Masters and Armstrong appeared to be
losing their patience quickly.

"Hey, Spooky! What are you waiting for? The five o'clock feeding?
C'mon! We got everything we're gonna get from this place. Besides, I'm
hungry," called out John Masters. "Let's go grab a bite to eat and we can
hash over the evidence."

Mulder winced at the callousness of the remark but then looked at his
watch and noted that it was going on three-forty-five. He understood why
the other agents were hungry as they had worked straight through their
lunch hour with nothing more filling to sustain them then watery cups of
coffee.

But Mulder wanted to get the information down as he saw it, as soon as
possible, while it was still fresh in his mind. Also, he still had the
profile to write. Riichi sensed Mulder's hesitation and walked over to
him.

"Mulder, you need to grab a bite to eat with us so we can all discuss the
case," he said seriously.

"Riichi, but I__, Mulder began.

"__need to learn to play nice in the sandbox," Riichi interrupted. "Look
Mulder, I know it's not always easy for you to deal with these ass holes,
but how are they going to see you beyond your Spooky persona if you never
give them a chance to see the human being side of you too?"

Mulder looked at his well-meaning coworker and decided he respected him
too much to disagree. "Okay Riichi, I'll go, as long as you don't make me
eat all my peas and carrots, 'kay?"

Riichi chuckled in reply, but when he patted Mulder on the shoulder he
noticed the agent flinched slightly at the touch. "Hey, you okay?" he
asked concerned.

"Fine. I'm fine," was the suddenly terse reply. Upon seeing the
disconcerted expression on the agent's face, Mulder immediately softened
his voice and went on to say, "C'mon Riichi, you better throw some food at
me. I'm getting cranky."

Riichi relaxed then and accompanied Mulder to the car, where Masters and
Armstrong were already waiting.

#####################################################

Apollo Greek Diner
4:15 P.M.

The agents placed their orders of double cheeseburgers, french fries and
onion rings, and, since they were still officially on duty, pitchers of
soda. As they waited for their dinners, Masters started to espouse on how
the evidence found on today's site lent credence to his original profile.
Mulder was just about to disagree when Armstrong noticed the waitress
approaching.

"Hey guys, foods coming, and I don't want to talk about this damned case
for a few minutes, okay?"

"Sure, Pat," responded Masters. He then looked around at the three other
men sitting at the table, and said, okay, I've got one for you."

"Oh man, is this gonna be another one of your sick jokes?" Patrick asked.

"But of course, Agent Armstrong. Are there any other kind?" Masters asked
chuckling.

"Oh brother. Listen Obayashi, Mulder, fair warning. The man is the
master of the sick joke for any occasion," alerted Armstrong.

"All right enough of the placating. Here we go," said Masters.

"Why is it so groovy to be a test tube baby?" he asked. "Because you get
a womb with a view."

"Oh Masters, that's awful!" Armstrong groaned while taking another bite of
his hamburger.

Obayashi looked a little confused and Mulder simply looked wary.

"Okay, next one," said Masters. "Why are test tube babies the most
beautiful ones? Because they're hand made."

"Right, got it. God, Masters, that's even worse than the first one,"
retorted Armstrong.

Obayashi looked at Mulder and thought the poor guy was turning a real
putrid shade of green. He looked at Masters and admonished, "C'mon
Masters, we're trying to eat here."

"All right, all right. Look just one more, okay? How do you spoil a
baby?" he asked. "Leave it out in the sun," Masters chuckled.

Armstrong joined in the laughter immediately, while Obayashi just stared
at him. Mulder, on the other hand, stood up quickly, knocked over his
drink in the process, and ran into the bathroom.

"What the hell is his problem?" cried out Masters as he tried to sop up
the spilled soft drink.

"Maybe he didn't get the jokes?" chuckled a somewhat slap-happy Armstrong.

"Jeez, and these weren't even the gross ones. I figured I'd save those
for dessert," Masters guffawed.

Obayashi stood and looked at the two agents before him acting like
schoolchildren. "You two are really morons, you know that? We just left
the site of a horrific double homicide, and you're sitting here telling
dead baby jokes. That's sick, man."

"No, Obayashi," Masters began, "that's called releasing tension. So get
the hell off your high horse, okay? I don't know what the hell Spooky's
problem is, but obviously the man has no sense of humor, so I'm not going
to worry about him. I am going to finish my dinner, however."

Obayashi said, "Fine. I'm going to check on Agent Mulder."

He entered the bathroom and heard Mulder dry heaving in the stall. In
between he heard him gasping for breath.

"Mulder, it's me, Riichi. Are you okay?" In between panting for breath,
Mulder tried to answer, but obviously couldn't. "Mulder, let me in," he
said as he attempted to open the locked stall. When he heard Mulder begin
wheezing heavily, Obayashi raised his voice a notch and demanded that he
unlock the door so he could get to him.

Somehow Mulder managed to raise his arm high enough to release the door
latch. The door swung out and open, so Riichi could step in to determine
if Mulder was in need of any professional assistance. Riichi became
unnerved when he saw Mulder's beet red face.

"Mulder, should I call an ambulance?" he asked with quiet urgency.

Mulder looked down for a moment and began concentrating on inhaling
through his nose and exhaling out of his mouth. He did that six or seven
times and felt himself better able to breath. He figured he looked a
little better too, since Obayashi no longer looked as panic stricken.

"I'll be fine," Mulder gasped out, "Just give me another minute or two."
Eventually, Mulder was able to stand up and walk over to the sink to wash
his hands and face. He even managed to rinse his mouth out with a little
water, and felt infinitely better.

"I think I'm going to call for a cab to get me back to my car at
Quantico," Mulder said. "I really want to get back to DC to work on my
profile. I don't think Masters' profile is too accurate."

"Oh? Just how off do you think he is?" asked Obayashi curiously.

"Totally."

"I'll catch a cab back with you," Obayashi offered. "I don't think I
could handle hearing the really gross jokes over coffee."

Mulder smiled gratefully at the show of support the agent once again chose
to show him. Now, if he could only feel like he deserved it.

End of part 3/5
#####################################################

Part 4/5

J. Edgar Hoover Building
Basement Office of the X-Files Div.
Thursday, March 20, 1997
6:55 P.M.

He just finished sending the fax of his field report from the day's on
site visit. It was thorough and complete, and he was certain it would be
as accurate as the SAIC would want it to be, as well as being completed
before the seven o'clock deadline. It was for that reason and for that
reason only that Mulder allowed himself a little smile.

He didn't want to give the SAIC any reason to be displeased with his work,
and if it meant busting his gut to get reports completed in a timely
manner, than that's what he would do. It was hard enough to deal with
some of his moronic peers, he didn't want to have his superiors on his
back too.

The next major hurdle he needed to overcome was completing the profile.
He tried comparing his notes to the profile John Masters had written up
and found so many glaring differences, he wondered how it was possible for
the two of them to come up with such diverse conclusions.

Where Masters saw a purely evil persona that embarked on acts of total
rage, Mulder saw the UNSUB as a man acting out of anguish.

The evidence at the two scenes pointed to a man who was not acting
impulsively nor hastily. An UNSUB that acted in a rage would leave a
scene in more chaos than this perp did. The victims would have been left
in haphazard positions if Masters' profile was to be believed, but that
was not the case.

Mulder noted in both the crime scene photos of the first incident and at
today's site as well, the victims were positioned carefully, as if they
were being posed. The adult female was found to be in a slightly
reclining position, and although her stomach and wounds were fully
exposed, her clothing was folded very carefully around her. The victim's
child, the fetus, was obviously placed with great care in the arms of the
adult female victim though the umbilical chord was still tightly wound
around its small neck..

Masters' profile had the perp seeking revenge against the mother for
getting pregnant in the first place. According to his profile, the UNSUB
was determined to stand up for the rights of all fathers. Yet Mulder
observed no wedding ring on either of the victims. Mulder believed these
were single mothers, and the UNSUB was acting out feelings of
helplessness in his inability to help the pregnant woman in his life,
and so he chose to be the husband and father figure for both of his
victim's and their babies.

When Mulder realized that it had happened to him, that the UNSUB had also
lost a baby, he quickly wondered if he could really handle completing this
profile. He sat for a few minutes, and finally composed himself. He
picked up the telephone and hit speed dial four.

"Lone Gunmen," said the familiar voice.

"It's me, Frohicke, turn off the tape," he replied.

"What can I do for you Mulder?" Frohicke asked.

"I need you to hack into the local hospital's data base and get me the
names of women who had miscarriages within the last two to three weeks.
If you can distinguish between early term and late term, I'd prefer the
latter.

"Then, if you can cross match those names with the women's professions
and those of the fathers'. I'm looking for someone good with a knife,
Frohicke. It could be a surgeon, a butcher or a sword swallower. But I
need some names as soon as possible, okay?" he implored.

"You got it Mulder, I'll get right on it. I'll check back with you within
the hour, okay?" Frohicke asked.

"Thanks Frohicke. I owe you."

"So what else is new?" Frohicke retorted and hung up the phone to get to
work.

He hung up on Frohicke and then speed dialed number three.

"Hello?" she said.

"Hi, it's me," he said.

"Hi. Where are you?" she asked.

"The office," he replied.

"Which one?" she asked.

"The basement."

"Oh. When will you be getting to Mom's?" she asked.

"After I'm done," he replied.

"Oh. When?"

"Another hour or so. I'm waiting to hear from Frohicke on something.
Peterson expects my profile tomorrow morning. Gotta get it done. No
choice," he explained.

"Oh." She said nothing further and waited for Mulder to speak.

"Well, I gotta go Scully. I'll be there in a couple of hours at the most.
Goodnight." And he hung up.

#####################################################

Thursday, March 20, 1997
10:10 P.M.

Mulder was putting the finishing touches on his profile when the phone
rang and jarred him back to reality. His head was starting to pound from
the tension and stress of getting into this guy's head, and Mulder started
looking for his stash of aspirin that he kept squirreled away for just
such occasions.

He reached for the phone with one hand just as he found the bottle of
aspirin with the other. "Ahh, relief is just round the corner," he said
aloud as he picked up the phone.

"Who you got over there with you, Mulder, and does Scully know?" asked
Frohicke in a leering, "Groucho Marx" voice.

"It's Miss Bayer, Aspirin of 1997, Frohicke. What's up?" Mulder asked.

Frohicke paused for a moment because he was unsure as to how to proceed.
He was able to hack into the systems of the local hospitals and the
medical examiner's office. He found out all of the data that Mulder
requested and more. It was the additional information that Frohicke
wasn't sure how to deal with.

"I got the names, Mulder. There were seventeen miscarriages reported in
the four area hospitals. Five of them were late term misses. Of the
five, two of them fit the criteria you set up, Mulder. One, the woman is
a surgeon and the husband is a dentist. The woman had complications,
however and she's still in the hospital.

"The second couple indicated that the woman is a receptionist in her
husband's medical practice. He's an OB/GYN, Mulder, in the Arlington,
Virginia area, but he's associated with the four area hospitals.

Apparently the woman had some substantial bleeding in the seventh month
after a minor car accident in which the husband was driving. The woman
ended up delivering the child prematurely and it died within hours of his
birth," informed Frohicke.

"Bingo, Frohicke! That's gotta be our UNSUB. Give me the name," Mulder
requested.

"Mulder," he hesitated.

"C'mon, Frohicke! Time's wasting. Who the hell is this poor bastard?"

"Wife goes by her maiden name. It's Allison Fieldstone. Her husband's
name is Jacob Burger. Dr. Jacob Burger," Frohicke informed. "Mulder?
You okay?"

Mulder sat very still, numbly holding the phone. He remembered the face
of the young woman who had held Scully's rapt attention with the story she
had to tell. He had recognized her, but he wasn't sure from where, and
now Frohicke's information told him.

He'd seen Allison behind the receptionist's window when he'd accompanied
Scully to a couple of her appointments. Her name plate was plainly in
sight, but he never realized the connection to Dr. Burger. Dr. Jacob
Burger. Scully's obstetrician.

Mulder suddenly felt like the world was spinning way too quickly. He
slowly dropped his head down between his knees and took deep, cleansing
breaths.

"Mulder? Mulder, answer me! C'mon, man, you're scaring me," Frohicke
pleaded.

"I'm okay," he managed to gasp out. "Give me one minute, 'kay?"

After several minutes went by, Mulder managed to find his voice again.
"Okay, I'm okay now. I just felt a little dizzy there for a minute. Long
day, ya know what I mean?" Mulder said trying to deflect the true reason
for his reaction to Frohicke's information.

"Mulder, I know," Frohicke said simply.

"What?"

"I know. About Scully. I'm sorry, Mulder, but it was in the hospital
records that I was hacking into. I'm really sorry. How's she doing?" he
asked gently.

"Doing?" he asked tonelessly. He was totally unprepared for Frohicke's
acknowledgment that he knew of Dana's miscarriage, which of course was
extremely naïve of him given the nature of the information he requested in
the first place.

It's just that Mulder had worked so hard to disassociate himself and his
own feelings from this case. Now he discovered his wife's doctor was a
very viable suspect in the murders and a close associate now forced him to
acknowledge the miscarriage that he had been trying so hard to ignore to
save his own sanity.

"She's doing fine," Mulder finally replied. "She'll be fine."

"Good. That's good to hear. Mulder? What about___," Frohicke began, but
was cut off.

"__I gotta finish this profile, Frohicke. Thanks for all of your help.
I'll let you know how it turns out," and Mulder hung up.

Mulder stared at the phone. He knew he needed to do something, but he
felt so numb, so void of any feeling at that moment, that he wasn't sure
what it was supposed to be. He finally began doing what he did best and
started poking at the keyboard again to make adjustments to his profile.

Sometime passed when he finally looked at the clock and realized that,
given the late hour, the profile wasn't going to get any more accurate
than it already was. He called the VCU office and informed them there was
a strong suspect and requested surveillance be set up at the suspect's
home and office. After he gave them the name and address, they assured
him they would get the surveillance team right on it.

It was well after midnight when he'd finished. Mulder was exhausted, both
physically and emotionally. He saved his file on the computer, sent an
attachment to the SAIC Peterson's e-mail address, picked up the printed
hard copy of the profile, and put it in his briefcase. It was time to go
home. *Well, at any rate, it was time to go to Mrs. Scully's house,* he
thought to himself.

#####################################################

Maggie Scully's residence
Baltimore, MD
3:25 P.M.

By the time he'd walked in the door, stripped, washed up and crawled into
bed, he had been so physically drained he'd thought he would have slept
forever. Of course, that would have held true if he didn't wake up in the
middle of the night from nightmares.

As was his usual habit.

And, of course, there was nothing unusual about this night.

~~ He saw the young mother to be standing in the sunshine, but her face
was in shadows, but he knew her silhouette anywhere. As he moved closer to
her, he saw the pools of red forming around her feet. Now her blue eyes
gazed at him so trustingly. She entrusted him with her life and the life
of her baby. He looked back at her and saw the face he loved with all his
heart. Dana. His Dane.

~~ Her stomach was slowly, but surely, shrinking before his very eyes. He
had to help her. He had to save their baby before she was taken from him.
He took the surgical knife from its brown leather sheath, and sat her
down on the bed. He raised her dress and saw the roundness of the
pregnant belly, though still evident, was shrinking faster and faster. He
realized he didn't have much time, so when he made the first cut swiftly
and surely, she gasped in surprise and pain.

~~ He made the next incision with a sure and steady hand. The blood
flowed out of the areas where the incisions were made, yet when he
separated the folds of skin and pulled the baby out, his hands remained
unstained. He placed the beautiful baby in her mother's arms and heard
Dana cooing to their child, "Samantha, my beautiful Samantha."

~~ He looked from his wife's face to the face of his little girl. It was
the face of his sister, Samantha.

~~ When he looked back up at Dana's face her eyes were closed and her head
laid still on the pillow. "Dana? Dane? Wake up, the baby's hungry," he
cried out. He then looked back at the baby and saw she, too, was still
with her eyes closed, and the umbilical chord wrapped several times around
her neck. "Samantha? Dane? Wake up. Wake up! Oh God, please wake up!

"Oh God, please! Help me! Wake up,please," he cried out loud. He was
sitting up now in the bed he shared with Scully and was sobbing as he
pleaded with God to save his family.

"Mulder?" she called out softly to him. "Mulder, wake up. You're
dreaming. Wake up," she gently implored.

He opened his eyes and saw her sitting next to him, gently shaking his
arm. "What?" he asked. "What's wrong?" he asked in confusion.

"Mulder you okay? You were having a nightmare," she said.

"I was? Oh, it was so__," Mulder began, but Scully moved in closer to
him.

"C'mere Mulder," and she reached her arms out to him to embrace him.

And he flinched. He flinched noticeably. He had been told over the last
forty-eight hours that he could not share his feelings with anyone, and in
an effort to protect himself, he'd shut down. It was almost as if the
window of opportunity had just slammed down shut in both their faces.

"Mulder?" she asked in one of their notorious one word conversations.

"I'm fine. I can't sleep. I'm going out for a jog," he said and quickly
got out of the bed. He couldn't break down now. He couldn't tell her
about the dream without explaining its origins from the case. And he
couldn't tell her at this point he felt the most significant suspect was
her own doctor.

He quickly and wordlessly changed into his sweats, tied up his laces, and
was out the door before either one said another word.

By the time he returned, the sun was starting to come up, and Maggie
Scully was in the kitchen fixing breakfast for her daughter and
son-in-law. Mulder saw Scully reading the newspaper at the kitchen table.
He nodded towards the elder Scully as he walked in the kitchen to get a
bottle of water.

"Good morning, Fox. Breakfast should be ready by the time you get out of
the shower and changed," she said brightly.

"Thanks, but I'm not really hungry," he replied softly.

"Oh nonsense! You have to eat something, Fox. Breakfast is the most
important meal of the day," she insisted.

Rather than confronting her, he chose to ignore her platitudes and went
into the bathroom to shower. The run wasn't nearly as satisfying as he'd
hoped it would be. In fact, he found himself nursing a pounding headache.
When he emerged from the shower, he searched for a bottle of aspirin, but
couldn't find any.

"Scully, where's the aspirin?" he asked tersely.

"In the medicine cabinet?" she answered tentatively.

"No, I checked. Do you have any aspirin?" he asked Maggie.

"Tylenol, extra strength in the cabinet right behind you," she directed.

"No, it has to be aspirin. The Tylenol doesn't work," he commented in an
annoyed tone.

"Well Fox, I'm sorry. Perhaps if you just sit down and eat something, the
headache will work itself out," she offered.

"Damn it, I'm not hungry! How many times do I have to tell you that. I
can't eat. I won't eat. Let it go, already, will you?! I just want some
damn aspirin!" he shouted as he stalked out of the room.

"Mulder!" Scully called out helplessly.

Mulder dressed hurriedly and reemerged from the bedroom. He didn't stop
to eat, he didn't stop to kiss his wife or mother-in-law goodbye. He
merely said, "I may be out in the field today. I'll call you later to let
you know what's going on." And with that he left.

#####################################################

Quantico/VCU Dept.
Friday, March 21, 1997
9:30 A.M.

"Well, look who's finally here. Nice of you to finally show up, you son
of a bitch. Hey everybody, Spooky Fuckin' Boy Genius has finally decided
to grace us with his presence," called out John Masters with a not so
slight hint of venom in his voice.

"What the hell are you talking about, Masters?" Mulder asked tersely.
Mulder knew he was late. In fact, he was very late, but the traffic from
Baltimore to Quantico was awful and then he had to wait for the pharmacy
to open so he could buy some aspirin. He still had a pounding headache,
and was in no mood to deal with this asshole's bullshit attitude.

"Mulder," Riichi Obayashi interjected, "You didn't hear? They caught your
perp. The one you asked to be placed on surveillance last night? They
caught him with another pregnant woman."

"Oh God, no!" Mulder gasped.

"No! Mulder! Listen. They got there in time. The bastard didn't touch
her! When they found them, she was terrified, but he never got the
chance to touch her. But, listen to this. The sonofabitch told her
exactly what he was going to do and why, and Mulder," Obayashi paused to
catch his breath, "she recited the words in your profile practically to
the letter."

"My profile?" he looked at him questioningly.

"The one you e-mailed to me last night at some Godforsaken hour, Mulder,"
offered the SAIC. The only reason I know is because they called me at
home last night to verify your request for the surveillance. I figured if
you were requesting a specific suspect to be on a twenty-four hour watch,
then you must have completed the profile. Opened up my e-mail and bingo,
there it was.

"Since you were running so late this morning, I took the liberty of
sharing it with your fellow agents. I hope you don't mind," Peterson said
seriously.

Mulder's mouth gaped slightly at the SAIC's last words. Here he was, a
good ninety minutes late, and he was apologizing to him, Fox Mulder, for
sharing a profile that was meant to be shared with the team anyway.

"No, I don't mind, Sir," he replied. Then turning to Obayashi, he said,
"She wasn't hurt?" When Riichi shook his head, he then asked, "And the
baby? Will the baby be okay?"

"The baby is fine, Mulder. I'm telling you, thanks to you, they got to
her before he could lay a hand on her," he said, awestruck.

"And it was Dr. Burger. Jacob Burger?" he asked.

"Yes, Mulder. You were right on the money," Peterson confirmed.
"How the hell did you know?"

"A little bit of research, a little bit of detective work, and a lot of
luck," Mulder replied. Mulder stood there silently for a few minutes. He
wasn't sure what he wanted to do next. "Umm, do you need me anymore
today?"

"No, Mulder. We'll need you for the pre-trial hearings and, of course, to
testify, but you're done for today. Good job, Agent Mulder. It's been a
pleasure working with you," Peterson said.

He offered his hand, and Mulder shook it, but Riichi Obayashi was
disturbed by what he saw in Mulder's face. Riichi knew Mulder was
hurting, and he still didn't know why. Here the guy practically
single-handedly cracked a gruesome serial murder case, saved the life of
another potential victim, and yet he couldn't find any satisfaction in
that.

When Peterson grasped his hand, Obayashi observed Mulder visibly wince.
Something was wrong, and Obayashi didn't know what it was or how to help
his friend. His first thought was to call Dana Scully to let her know her
husband was upset over something.

"Mulder, are you going to meet Dana back at the Hoover?" he asked
innocently.

"No," Mulder replied angrily. He looked at Riichi's suprised expression,
and realized he was out of line. "Riichi, I'm sorry. Scully's been out
on medical leave for the last couple of days." When he noted the
questioning look, he added, "She's okay. She had some minor surgery, and
was advised to take it easy for the next few days."

"Oh, so you're going home to see her then?" Riichi asked.

"Umm, no. We've been staying in Baltimore with her mom while she
recuperates, so I'm going to go back to my office and get some back
paperwork done," Mulder answered.

"Oh, okay, Mulder. Well, listen, it's been great working with you again.
Maybe you, Dana, Haruka and I can meet for dinner again one night, okay?
Till next time, man," he said as he offered his hand. Mulder shook it
quickly and nodded in agreement.

He next looked at the remaining men in the room and simply said to all of
them aloud, "Gentlemen, good day." He hastily left before anyone could
even offer their own, personal congratulations.

Riichi Obayashi watched Mulder leave. He didn't want to disturb Dana at
home if she were recovering from some kind of surgery. He felt a little
uncomfortable calling and asking to speak with Mrs. Scully even though
he'd met Mrs. Scully at the Thanksgiving weekend dinner party Mulder and
Scully threw before their wedding and, of course, then again at the
wedding.

But Mulder wasn't even going back to Baltimore now. He was returning to
DC, and Obayashi felt Mulder needed to talk to someone now. Riichi
excused himself and went into one of the cubicles to make a phone call to
the one person he felt could help Mulder out now.

Obayashi dialed the number, and heard the receptionist answer his call.

"Assistant Director Walter Skinner's Office. May I help you?"

End of Part 4/5
#####################################################

Disclaimers in Part 1- REMINDER: MAJOR ANGST WARNING FOR THIS PART!.

Part 5/5

Basement Office/X-Files Div.
Friday, March 21, 1997
10:40 A.M.

When Mulder finally arrived in the safety of his basement office, he threw
his brief case on his desk, jerked his suit jacket off, and sat down
heavily in his chair. He felt so tired and emotionally drained that he
wondered why he even bothered to go to the office at all. *Because it's
the one place I can feel anything without having to answer to anybody,
that's why,* he thought to himself.

He picked up the phone and checked his voice mail and wasn't at all
surprised that Scully hadn't called and left a message. When he'd left
the house this morning he realized he'd made a real mess of everything.
He knew he had acted childishly, but he didn't know how else to respond
without giving both women more information than they could have handled.

He continued to listen to the voice mail and heard Walter Skinner had left
a message. He dialed the extension of the AD's office and informed Kim he
was returning the AD's call. Kim promptly put Mulder through to the AD's
office.

"Skinner."

"Yes, Sir. It's Mulder, returning your call, Sir."

"Yes, Agent Mulder. It's come to my attention that you played a
significant role in solving the latest serial case. Congratulations,"
Skinner said sincerely.

"Yes, Sir. Thank you, Sir. Is that all, Sir?" Mulder was anxious to get
off the phone before the AD asked for more details of the case. Mulder
desperately wanted to put this one behind him.

"So what was it exactly that broke the case for you, Mulder?" the AD
asked. He was trying to do anything to engage Mulder in conversation,
after having received the disturbing phone call from Agent Obayashi. He'd
received one such call from Obayashi in the past and it was right on
target, so Skinner knew better than to ignore the agent's concerns.

"Sir, I'd be happy to send you a copy of my field report and my profile.
I'm behind in some paper work, Sir. So, if there isn't anything else,
I'll get to it. Good day, Sir." Click. Mulder hung up the phone.

Mulder had just hung up on the God damned AD.

"Jeez, Mulder, what the fuck is the matter with you?" he said to himself
aloud. "You just fucking hung up on an Assistant Director of the God
damned fucking FBI! You really are the biggest fucking idiot on the face
of the planet.

"Damn! How could you hang up on your boss, you idiot!? Damn it! You
don't hang up your supervisor! At least normal people don't! Normal
people with half a brain, at least, don't!! Damn it! Mulder, you're such
a shmuck!!"

He stood up and began to pace back and forth. He continued his ranting
and raving aloud for several more minutes. Next, he picked up a coffee
mug , threw it as hard as he could against the wall, and listened to it
shatter in a thousand little pieces.

"Mulder, if you keep that up, our cleaning service is going to charge
double time just to do your office," said the stern baritone voice at the
door.

Mulder's eyes moved toward the door and, with a defeated look,
acknowledged the tall, distinguished man standing there. "Yes, Sir," was
all that he could think of to say.

Skinner walked in and closed the door behind him. He looked right at
Mulder and pointed to a chair. Mulder followed the silent command and
watched as the AD pulled a chair up directly in front of him.

"You realize you hung up on me?" the AD asked.

"I'm sorry about that, Sir. I wasn't thinking. It won't happen again,
Sir."

"Right. And I'm going to grow hair overnight. Okay, Mulder. What the
hell is going on?"

"I don't know what you mean, Sir."

"Damn it Mulder, cut the bullshit, and tell me what's going on?" the AD
asked emotionally. "When's the last time you've eaten anything?"

"You've been awfully concerned with my dietary habits of late, Sir,"
Mulder answered rudely.

"And you've been working awfully hard to get suspended for
insubordination, Agent Mulder. Just answer the damn question!" Skinner
demanded harshly.

"I had some dinner yesterday. I went out with the team and ate at the
diner," Mulder finally answered.

"Bullshit. I have it on good authority that you hared out at the diner
and threw your guts up," Skinner replied angrily.

"Well, then why the hell ask me? Why not just go speak with your good
authority?" Mulder asked with disgust.

Both men sat quietly for a few minutes. Mulder didn't want to open his
mouth and do any more damage than he'd already done, while Skinner didn't
want to overreact to Mulder's verbal attacks, as he was all too aware of
the extenuating circumstances. Skinner then made a decision.

"Mulder, I know about Dana's D&C." When Mulder looked at the AD with
surprised eyes, he added, "I also know it was due to a miscarriage. As
her direct supervisor, I'm privy to her medical condition if it affects
her field agent status," Skinner said quietly.

"She asked me not to discuss it with anyone, Sir," Mulder replied
defensively. "Please don't take offense that I didn't inform you of the
circumstances of her medical leave. She wouldn't let me talk to you about
it." Then in a small, tremulous voice, he said, "She wouldn't let me talk
with anyone about it."

Mulder's eyes began to mist over, and he turned away from his boss.

"Mulder," Skinner said as he reached out to him, "You've got to__," he
began, but Mulder jerked away from Skinner's touch.
However, Skinner wasn't about to give up, and he reached for him again.
Mulder jerked away violently, stood up to move away from his boss, and
growled out, "Don't."

"Mulder, look at me. Talk to me, Mulder. You need to talk to someone
about this, so talk to me," Skinner implored.

"No. Leave me alone. Please." Mulder started to move away from Skinner
as a cornered animal might move, but Skinner didn't allow him to move very
far before he grabbed for his arm again.

"NO!" Mulder screamed. "Leave me alone! Just leave me alone!" He got out
of Skinner's grasp and in his frustration and anger, Mulder began trashing
his office by picking up and throwing files all around the office. "Damn
it, get the hell away from me. Just go away!" He flailed at Skinner each
time the taller man tried to reach toward him.

Finally, Skinner used his physical advantage to overtake Mulder and pulled
Mulder toward him. Mulder pushed into him hard, and they both ended up on
the floor, but Skinner kept his hold onto the younger man.

Skinner had Mulder's back toward him while he held him in a strong bear
hug. Skinner kept Mulder's arms braced at his sides and held the younger
man immobile. The AD held him as tightly as he dared and felt the agent
breathing hard in a desperate attempt to hold back the sobs that
threatened to break through at any moment.

"Mulder," Skinner said whispered into his ear, "tell me what happened that
night." When Mulder remained silent, he repeated his directive. "Tell me
what happened that night, Mulder. Now." Skinner squeezed his arms around
Mulder a little tighter.

Finally, Mulder began to speak. He spoke in a monotone as he told the AD
what he thought he wanted to hear. "There's nothing to tell, Sir. Scully
had a miscarriage. It happens all the time, Sir. Nature rectifying its
little mistakes, Sir."

"So, if it was no big deal, tell me what happened? The report says you
called 911 in the middle of the night. Right, Mulder?" He felt Mulder's
body stiffen noticeably.

"Yes, Sir."

"So what happened that night?" Skinner probed.

"My wife suffered a miscarriage, that's all. Now, may I get back to my
paperwork so my boss doesn't ream me for not getting it back to him in a
timely manner?"

Skinner still maintained him in the firm hold. As much as he knew how
much Mulder wanted to escape his physical touch, he kept him tightly
embraced and unable to move. "Mulder, what happened that night?" he asked
again.

"Sir, nothing__," Mulder began, but then choked out, "I don't want to talk
about it."

"Fox, tell me what happened that night." Skinner held him tightly. He
wanted the younger man to know he was going to be there for him no matter
what he said.

Mulder's eyes began to well up and when he realized the AD wasn't going to
give in on this, he began to speak without emotion.

"I woke up in the middle of the night from a nightmare. I decided to go
out for a run. I covered Scully up, but I saw she looked a little pale.
I thought to myself she should see the doctor 'cause she looked too pale.

"I got dressed and went out for a run. I went running and I passed by the
toy store where I got the ___, oh God. I never should have bought it.
It's bad luck to buy things for the baby before its born, and I did."

"Mulder, what are you talking about?"

Mulder got up to go to the file cabinet near his desk. He pulled out the
solar system crib mobile that had excited him so much only last week. He
brought it back to where Skinner was sitting on the floor, and,
surprisingly, assumed the same position he was in before he rose, and then
continued speaking, while he lovingly fingered the mobile.

"I was gone for an hour or so, and when I went back in the bedroom, I saw
Scully was still very pale. I went over to her and kissed her forehead,
but it felt very cool yet clammy.

"I called her name. I kept saying, Dane, Dane. Dane? Wake up, Dane," he
recalled with more emotion. "I finally pulled the covers off of her to
get some kind of a reaction. When I pulle___." He stopped talking as he
choked back a sob.

"Mulder, what happened when you pulled back the covers?" Skinner asked.

"When I pulled back the cover I saw__, I saw___," and then in a hoarse
whisper, "all the blood."

"You saw blood," Skinner echoed quietly. When Mulder nodded his head in
the affirmative, Skinner said, "You must have been so worried about the
baby."

Mulder pushed the mobile aside and quickly twisted around in Skinner's
arms until he was facing him and loudly cried out, "NO! No__!" Mulder
made eye contact with Skinner for the first time in a while, and
continued.

"No, I knew the baby was gone. Oh God, there was so much blood! There
was so much__, no! I was afraid for Dana!" Mulder looked at Skinner
directly and, as tears rolled down his cheeks, Mulder whispered, "I
thought I was going to lose Dana too. I was so scared I was going to be
all alone again."

"Oh Fox__," Skinner tried to say, but now that Mulder finally began to
talk about that night, it was like a dam that broke and could not be
stopped.

"I kept talking to her, telling her to hold on. I kept telling her to
stay with me, and please don't die. I was so scared, I didn't know what
to do at first.

"Then she finally came to a little, but the first thing she said to me
was, 'Save the baby, Mulder.' She kept asking me if the baby was all
right. Damn it! I knew we lost the baby, but she kept telling me to just
save the baby! I couldn't save the baby, I couldn't. Oh God, Walter, I
didn't know if I could save her!"

At this point, Mulder did break down into sobs and Skinner grabbed on to
him for all he was worth. The AD held him and allowed the man to finally
feel his fears and his grief.

Several minutes passed, when Mulder began to speak again. "She blames me,
I think."

"Blames you? For what, Mulder?"

"For losing the baby. I don't think she believed I wanted the baby. I
think she believes there was more I could have done to save the baby.
There wasn't, but she doesn't believe I ever wanted him," he said in
between needed gulps of air.

"Him?" Skinner asked.

"We had seen an ultrasound of him the week before. At first, Dana didn't
want to know, but then she changed her mind, so we found out. It was a
boy," he paused. "She doesn't believe I wanted my baby, Walter. She
doesn't believe I wanted my son. Oh God, how could she think that?"

Walter Skinner knew exactly how she could think that. He knew all too
well. "Mulder, I know what you're going through. Believe me, the hurt
will pass, but you've got to talk to Dana about it. You have to speak to
her about your feelings, and let her know what you're going through too."

Mulder sat up and faced Skinner. He looked at him with large, incredulous
eyes. "With all due respect, Sir," he began tentatively, "I don't think
you could possibly know how I feel unless you've___," Mulder began, but
Walter held his hand up quickly and Mulder quieted immediately.

"Mulder__," he paused, and then, "Fox, I __do__ know what you're feeling."
At that moment, Skinner reached into his suit jacket for his wallet. He
pulled out a yellowed, aged Polaroid photograph and held it gingerly for a
moment. Next, he gently ran his index finger tenderly over it, before he
handed it to Mulder.

"That was my daughter," Skinner began with his eyes glistening. When
Mulder looked as though he was ready to speak, Walter held his hand up
quickly again to silence him. "Please. I haven't shared this with anyone
in way too many years. You need to hear it, and I need to say it.

"Sharon and I had tried to conceive a child without success for over four
years. We tried everything, but nothing worked. Until, finally, she got
pregnant. It was actually by the old fashioned method, so when we got the
confirmation of the pregnancy we were surprised and amazed and, of course,
ecstatic.

"We'd been waiting for this baby for so long. We had wanted this baby for
so long, Fox. Well, everything was going fine. Sharon passed through the
morning sickness phase relatively unscathed. In her fifth month the baby
started fluttering, and by the sixth month, she was kicking up a storm.
And when Sharon entered her seventh month it was amazing, Mulder, to see
Sharon's stomach actually bulge out in certain places from a fist or a
foot.

"And then one morning, when she was just beginning her eighth month, I
woke up to find her crying. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me
something was wrong with the baby. I couldn't believe she was saying
this, and when I asked her why she thought this, she told me because the
baby stopped moving.

"'What do you mean the baby stopped moving?' I asked her. How could the
baby stop moving? When we called the doctor, I figured he would just tell
us we were being foolish and not to worry so much. But instead, he told
us he'd meet us at the hospital."

As Skinner related his story, the tears started flowing down his face
unchecked. Mulder watched him without moving, as he felt both of them
were in such fragile states, he feared if either one of them moved they
might break.

"The doctor did an ultrasound," Skinner continued, "and discovered that
the placenta had detached. The baby had been without nourishment for at
least a couple of days. Sharon was right, the baby was dead.

"They had to remove the baby and the placenta as quickly as possible,
because it would endanger Sharon's health if they didn't. Sharon had to
deliver the baby, Fox. She had to deliver our dead baby. She couldn't
stop crying. They gave her a local, and I stayed with her in the delivery
room while the doctor performed a C-Section."

Skinner began crying unabashedly at this point, and Mulder felt compelled
to reach out to him. He held Skinner's arms while the older man relayed
the painful memories.

"Fox, when the doctor lifted her up, he asked Sharon and I if we wanted to
see our daughter. Our daughter. At first Sharon said no, but the nurse,
a really lovely woman by the name of Nurse Owen, said it would probably
help to see her and even hold her.

"She took her for a moment to clean her up, and when she brought her back
she was wrapped in a pink blanket. Sharon took her, and held her, and
cooed to her, and___Oh God, she started singing to her, Fox. She started
to fucking sing to her, and I thought I was going to lose it, right then
and there.

"But then Nurse Owen, she told Sharon it was 'Daddy's' turn, and she
handed the baby to me. I got to hold her, Fox. God, I am so grateful to
that nurse for giving me a chance to hold my daughter. She was real. She
was so real, and beautiful. She was the one who took the picture. Do you
see how tiny she was? That's my hand holding her. She was so tiny, but
so perfectly beautiful."

Mulder looked at the picture again, gently touched the angelic image, and
as he handed the picture back to Skinner, he said, "I'm sorry that your
baby died, Walter. But I am so glad you got to hold your daughter. I
really am."

"Thank you. It helped me to get over the grief a little, but I never
allowed myself to talk to Sharon about it. She didn't realize how much it
affected me, Mulder. Now, I know our marriage had other problems, but one
of the biggest was our inability to share our feelings and fears with one
another.

"Don't make the same mistake I did, Fox. Keeping it inside does not
help," Skinner admonished.

"But what if she doesn't want to hear it. I tried, Walter, I really
tried__," he lamented.

"But she wasn't ready to hear it yet, Fox. She had to be able to grieve
in her own way. Give her a little time, and then talk to her. You'll
see, she'll be ready. Don't shy away from her like you've been doing with
everyone else. Don't hide from her or your own feelings," Skinner
pleaded. "Trust me on this one, Mulder. I really do speak from
experience," he added sadly.

"I'm scared Walter. I'm scared if I open up to her, I won't find my way
back. I'm__, I'm___," he started, but wasn't sure how or if he should
speak the truth aloud.

"Say it, Fox. You're allowed to say it," Skinner said.

"I'm angry. I'm angry with her. I'm so angry with her! Damn it! It was
__my__ baby too, and she shut me out! She wouldn't listen to me, and then
she wouldn't let me tell anyone else. Damn her! Damn her for being so
selfish!

"Damn her for not needing me! Damn her for not wanting me! Damn her for
not allowing me to need her! God, that hurt so much. She hurt me so
much, Walter." And with that, the tears fell again.

"Tell her, Fox. You've got to tell Dana exactly what you've just told
me," he told him softly.

"Tell me what?" asked the gentle voice by the door. She walked quietly
toward the two men, and looked gratefully at Walter Skinner. "Thank you,
Walter, for once again taking care of my husband when he needed support.
I think I'm ready to take over the job again, if that's all right with
you."

"It's perfectly all right with me. I am sorry about your baby, Dana."

"Thank you," she said and then hesitated, but went on to say, "And I'm
sorry about your baby too, Walter."

He looked at her and didn't question her on exactly how long she waited
outside the office door before she felt it right for her to come in. All
he did was accept her sympathy and kissed her gently on the cheek.

Next, Dana looked down at Mulder, who was still sitting on the floor, and
asked him if she could see the mobile. He nodded mutely, picked it up
from the floor, and handed it to her. She smiled when he handed it to her
and touched each planet, rocket ship, and flying saucer. "It's perfect,
Mulder," she said softly.

Skinner grinned at that. Before he left the office he looked at Mulder,
squeezed his shoulder, and then pulled him up from the floor. He pulled
him toward him, and whispered into his ear, "You're going to be all right,
you know. You both are."

Mulder actually managed a small smile at that, and gratefully said, "Thank
you, Sir."

"We're off duty, Mulder. It's Walter."

"Yes, Sir. Thank you, Walter."

"Okay you two, it's time to close up shop. Go home. Go talk, but go
home," he ordered.

The young couple looked at each other and smiled, then looked at their
boss, and managed to simultaniously say, "Okay! Good night, '_Uncle_
Walter'!"

Walter Skinner turned on his heels and walked out the door, but not before
he allowed a very large smile to form on his face.

End.
Part 5/5
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