TITLE: Almost Home (21/?)
AUTHOR: Shoshana
EMAIL ADDRESS: shoshana1013@excite.com
DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT: Gossamer, Spookys site, Xemplary,
etc.
SPOILER WARNING: Seventh season episodes through Requiem.
RATING: NC-17 (Most of the story is rated R, NC-17 parts will be
clearly marked)
CONTENT STATEMENT: MSR
CLASSIFICATION: SRA
KEYWORDS: Mulder/Scully Romance
SUMMARY: Post ep for Requiem. Mulder comes back... but he's
missing something.
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me.
NOTE: Thanks to my great beta readers Amy, Keleka, Lisa and Sallie!

Almost Home (21/?)
By Shoshana

February 26nd, 2001
Monday
12:45 p.m.
FBI Headquarters

"Relax, agents," Skinner chuckled. "You might want to reconsider
sitting with your back to the door from now on."

Mulder and Scully cringed at his words, painfully aware of their
lapse in security. The basement office seemed so comfortable; it was
easy to get complacent there.

"Sorry, sir. In light of why we've asked you to meet with us today--
I feel very foolish letting down my guard," Mulder apologized.

"Please sit down, sir. We're not late, are we?" Scully said,
checking her watch.

"No, you're not. I'd feel better talking to you down here. I
believe this office was just swept for bugs," he remarked.

"How?" Scully sputtered. No one was supposed to be using their
office while they were on vacation.

"Frohike, Scully. I must have told him last week we were going to
use the office today. How did *you* know, sir?"

"I happened to be in the neighborhood at two o'clock this morning,"
Skinner told them.

"Thanks, sir. For not busting Frohike, that is. I gave him
permission, after all," Mulder explained.

"Well, both of you are damn lucky I have a sense of humor," Skinner
replied with a small smile. "What did you want to see me about,
agents?" he added, getting directly to the point.

"You probably already know about my stay at the hospital over the
weekend. I imagine Human Resources got a fax from Westerly this
morning."

"Are you all right now? Will this illness be affecting your fitness
for duty?" Skinner asked.

Mulder looked to Scully for guidance, uncertain how much to reveal.

"We're not sure yet, sir. We're going to see a neurologist this
afternoon," Scully interjected quickly.

"I'd like a full report as soon as possible. I didn't expect you to
go back to work right away, Mulder. But I'd like to know if your
abduction will prevent that eventuality--so, please keep me
informed," Skinner told him.

"I will, sir," Mulder assured. "My hospital stay isn't the only
thing I wanted to discuss with you, sir. We drove back to DC with
Scully's mom and brother; we dropped them off at her home in Maryland
Sunday night."

"You drove?" Skinner inquired.

"Yes. I felt fine by then. I had plenty of rest in the hospital; I
felt okay. It's just a short drive down 295 so we should have been
home in less than an hour but we were followed by a single vehicle
for several miles. I didn't notice them behind us right away and I
managed to lose the tail by speeding up and taking the first exit I
could. I don't think they caught up with us again," Mulder
concluded.

"You never got a good look at the car behind you?" Skinner asked.

"No, I took off as fast as I could once I noticed headlights in the
rear view mirror one too many times," Mulder responded.

Skinner heaved a sigh, then relaxed his posture in the straight
chair he'd been sitting in. He clasped his hands together and looked
from one agent to the other.

"The car following you was one of mine, Mulder. I'm sorry... I
assigned protection to both you and your relatives as soon as you
returned a week ago. I should have told you about this but--"

"They were FBI? Since when do you have agents following us around?"
Scully inquired furiously.

"Scully..." Mulder whispered, placing his hand over hers as she
seethed over what she perceived to be a violation of trust.

Scully snatched her hand away, resisting his appeal for calm. She
wondered if Skinner had been protecting her since last September when
Mulder disappeared. How many other agents knew of their predicament?
She didn't appreciate the infringement upon her privacy this
'protection' implied.

"How long have you had a tail on me, sir? Since last fall?" she
snapped.

Undaunted by the steely glare accompanying her ire, Skinner plunged
ahead, "No, I haven't been keeping tabs on you since last fall, Agent
Scully. There've been times I was tempted to--but I knew you had
three friends to do the Bureau's job--"

Scully blushed at this revelation, recalling how attentive the
Gunmen had been until Mulder returned just one week ago. Their
vigilance must have included surreptitious round-the-clock
surveillance. She didn't know whether to kiss them or kill them for
looking out for her.

"Thanks, sir. At least we know what happened now," Mulder
placated.

This was one time Mulder wanted to brownnose the AD, appreciating
Skinner's interest in keeping Scully safe, even if she felt her
privacy was invaded. He understood her objections to not knowing--he
would have preferred to know himself. However, he couldn't take
offense at Skinner's efforts; Mulder knew he would have done the same
thing himself.

Scully lifted her eyes from studying the vinyl floor beneath their
feet and added, "Yes, sir. I'm sorry I lost my temper." She looked
thoughtful for a moment then continued, "The protection was
unexpected, but I guess I can't say completely unwarranted
considering our situation. You have agents assigned to all my family
members, then?"

"Yes, even the ones overseas, Scully. They have no idea they are
being watched."

"Did you hear from Krycek, sir?" Mulder asked, anxious to get to
issues surrounding the baby's safety.

"Yes, in a way. I bugged the bugger, so to speak. He thought he
was controlling me, agents. Little did he know." Skinner gave them
a satisfied smile, and continued, "I have something to show you.
It's not a pretty picture, and I don't want to upset Agent Scully..."

"I'll be all right. If you have any worries at all, show it to
Mulder first, sir. I'm sure he knows my limits by now," she assured.

Skinner reached inside his suit and pulled out a 5 by 7 glossy
photo. It was black and white, but Mulder recognized the dead men
immediately.

"You were bugging Krycek's apartment?" Mulder asked.

"Yes. After he reappeared last fall, I found the right men to do
the job. I'm sure you're familiar with them, so I won't name names,"
Skinner replied.

"Our friends?" Scully asked anyway.

She held her hand out, expecting Mulder to hand over the photo, no
matter how gruesome. She'd probably seen worse and she wasn't going
to be coddled if it concerned Krycek and his involvement with the
Consortium. Mulder looked over at Skinner with resignation, then
shrugged his shoulders and handed her the piece of paper.

"Smoking Man? He wasn't dead?" she gasped when viewing the two
corpses.

"No. He survived Krycek's assault on him last fall, with the help
of his nurse, but Cancer Man couldn't survive a bullet from our one-
armed friend. It appears they shot one another during a heated
argument, and by the time I'd mobilized a team to collect the
bodies, someone had cleaned up the mess. Apparently, we weren't the
only ones watching Krycek. Of course, this means we can't be sure
they are both dead--but the photographic evidence is pretty
damning..." he concluded.

Skinner then stood up and said, "That's all I have for you, agents.
I'd still like to see you take more vacation time. I think both of
you deserve it. I'd like to know what the neurologist has to say
also."

"Sir, there's something we haven't told you yet," Scully informed
him.

Mulder almost spoke, but thought better of it when her eyes begged
him to do otherwise. He leaned back in his chair, hands interlocked
behind his head. Memories from the last year and half had flooded
his consciousness the last few days, confirming what he'd already
discovered within minutes of 'meeting' Scully last Monday night--she
could convey so much, so well, with just a glance his way.

Mulder was beginning to feel like his old self--every new
recollection seized and held by electrical activity in his brain. He
didn't think it would have been possible to recover so rapidly
without Scully's love and patience. If it had been the other way
around--if she'd been the one to suffer such a devastating loss of
memory--he only hoped he could have given her as much or more tender
loving care.

"What is it, Scully?" Skinner asked anxiously.

Skinner had sensed something different about Mulder last Tuesday
morning; he still wondered what had aroused his suspicions about him
then. Mulder seemed perfectly normal today; he bore no visible
effects from his physical collapse over the weekend. Why had he
seemed so distant his first day back?

Skinner hoped to learn the truth of the matter but would be
summarily disappointed. Scully had decided to conceal Mulder's
memory loss from their boss as long as possible, and Mulder would no
doubt agree with the wisdom of that choice when she explained her
remarks later. She was more concerned about enlisting the AD's help
in finding and fighting the Consortium than trying to explain
Mulder's partial amnesia to her wary superior.

"Krycek approached us last week in a neighborhood park and warned us-
-he told us the baby was unique--there were men interested in him..."
she stammered.

Scully was battling tears as she spoke. Why was this so hard for
her? She'd rehearsed this twenty times in her head while waiting for
Mulder to get her lunch. Dammit, she thought to herself, pull
yourself together. She lowered her eyes to the floor and blinked her
eyes in frustration.

"Scully?"

Mulder had moved beside her and taken her left hand between his own.
She was embarrassed by the attention, but determined to stave off a
full fledged bout of weeping in front of Skinner. She reached inside
her jacket and extracted a tissue, then dabbed the wetness from under
her eyes.

"Finish for me," she choked out finally.

Mulder turned to Skinner and continued, "Krycek seemed to think the
baby's immunity to the alien virus would make it the perfect test
subject. He told us the Project was not totally disbanded--there
were parties dissociated from the Smoking Man who were aware of
Scully's pregnancy and our medical histories. He said he was doing
us a good turn. Naturally we didn't believe him, but--"

"It's plausible someone would be interested in the child, Mulder.
That's why I've arranged for even more protection now than before you
returned. I don't know what connection your release has to this
threat but I do take it seriously. I know you're both capable agents
--I'd feel better if you'd respect my efforts and not try to escape
your protection, as you did the other night," Skinner told them.

"It won't happen again, sir," Scully promised, with a steadier,
stronger voice. She smiled weakly, and continued, "We appreciate
what you've done in the past."

"All I've done is watch out for two of my best agents, Scully. I
hope you and Mulder will come up with a solution to the overriding
problem you've been investigating all these years. I know you can.
I know you will."

Mulder was surprised to hear Skinner allude to colonization in this
way; he'd clearly become a believer since last autumn. Not having to
argue this point with their AD would help navigate the rough road
that lie ahead. At least Skinner didn't think he was looney tunes
anymore.

"Thank you, sir," he told the AD, nodding his head in acknowledgment
of the older man's confidence in them. "We'll try our best."

Skinner rose from his chair, evidently satisfied with their meeting.
He grinned briefly at the agents, both waiting for his final word of
the day. "I know I can't keep you away from this office, but I'd
appreciate it if you conduct your research discreetly. You're on
maternity leave, Scully, and Mulder, you better get yourself fit for
duty. Go see that doctor and get a clean bill of health. Then you
can see about going back to work. I still think you both ought to
take it easy for another few weeks--"

"We will, sir. We're not planning on going very far afield. We
have plenty to do in the interim, though, and I promise you we'll be
careful if we use the FBI lab. We may not have to go there--I think
I know an alternative," Scully answered thoughtfully.

"Don't hesitate to ask me for assistance, Scully. I want you both
to know you're not alone in this. It's far from over, in my opinion.
Take care of yourselves, agents," he concluded, slipping out the door
before either of them could respond.

"Well, that went better than I expected," Mulder told her
immediately.

"I guess... for you at least," Scully responded, uneasy about her
loss of control in front of Skinner.

Scully had managed to remain stoic around her supervisor and the
guys for the most part while Mulder was gone. As her pregnancy
progressed, and Mulder's absence dragged on, she'd excused herself
more than once when in the company of her four protectors. It was
more difficult to display her emotions in front of them than Mulder--
it always had been.

She knew she'd return to being a more staid, less demonstrative
person once the baby was born. It was the way she'd garnered respect
in the past, carefully restraining her reactions when among her peers
in the FBI. The times she'd lost her temper, lost all that well-
practiced discipline which prevented her from exhibiting how she
truly felt, were always justified in her mind and heart.

It was close to impossible to avoid displaying her heart on her
sleeve now--less than three months to go, she thought. The baby will
be born soon and I won't have to worry about hormonal outbursts
anymore. Then she felt the baby softly kick from within her womb and
she wished for more time to savor their child's growth--especially
now that Mulder was here to share this miraculous experience.

"Scully?" he asked, interrupting her thoughts. The serene look on
her face vanished when she turned her head.

"Yes?" she asked, as a smile bloomed across her face.

"When's that appointment with the neurologist?"

"Three o'clock. It'll take thirty minutes to drive over to
Alexandria and it's--" Scully glanced at her wristwatch quickly,
"close to two now."

"Good. Just enough time," he told her, crossing the room and
throwing the deadbolt on the door. Mulder sauntered slowly across
the office, then stood comfortably behind her.

"What do you have in mind, Mulder?" she asked, rolling her head back
against his stomach. She smiled as he caressed her shoulders,
working out the tension their discussion with Skinner had fostered.

"Scully... please. It's not what you might think--I have a fantasy
I've always wanted--" he pleaded.

"Mulder," she warned lightheartedly, "I don't think the desk is a
possibility in my condition--"

She took his hand and gently pulled him around to her side. He
chuckled softly as he knelt beside her, placing his free hand on the
slope of her belly.

"Scully, what would make you think I ever entertained a fantasy like
that?" he teased back. He pulled her hand to his lips and kissed
each finger before entwining them with his own.

Scully smiled shyly, then told him, "I bet I can match every one of
your office daydreams with one of my own, Mulder."

"I bet you can--and maybe someday we'll exchange thoughts on that.
But now--"

Mulder took both her hands in his own and pulled her to her feet.
She followed him cautiously as he walked backward, luring her toward
the filing cabinets. He gleamed triumphantly when they arrived,
dropping her hands and entreating her in a low, gravelly voice, "Open
a drawer, Scully."

"You've lost your mind, Mulder. *This* is your fantasy?" she
responded incredulously.

"Humor me. It's harmless fun. You heard what Skinner said--no
one's watching us--there's no surveillance cameras in our fire
sprinkler heads, no bugging devices at all."

He swept his hand over her arm, touching her lightly on her elbow,
then her wrist, before resting his warm fingers on her hip. He
gently pushed her closer to the metal structure.

"All right, Mulder. I'll humor you, but there better not be
anything worthy of a honeymoon video. This is still the place we
work," she shot back.

He leaned over and kissed behind her ear, then whispered roughly,
"This is the most innocent of fantasies, Scully. Not everything is
rated Triple X in my mind."

"Okay, you win... I'm opening the drawer, Mulder," she said, slowly
inching the metal container along its tracks.

"Find a file, any file," he urged. "Start skimming through the
contents."

Scully turned to give him a dubious look, but obeyed his seemingly
inane request. She stood before him, his hand on her hip, his lips
caressing the crown of her hair. He moved closer, slowly soldering
his lower body to her own.

She felt his body heat, his growing arousal, as he snaked his arms
through her own. He lowered his mouth to the back of her neck,
kissing her there while he removed the file from her still hands.

She gave it to him willingly, leaning back against the immovable
barrier of his torso. He dropped the file back in the open drawer,
freeing his hands, moving them along her velvety curves.

His hands grazed lightly beneath her breasts, just enough to make
her wish for more of his gentle touch there. He continued to rain
small kisses over her shoulders and neck, never stopping too long in
any one place.

Scully felt a little weak, not quite ready to swoon, but strongly
shaken by his quiet, patient seduction. She turned around slowly in
his arms, then lifted her hands to his face, sweeping his lower lips
with the pads of her thumbs.

Mulder smiled down at her, then imitated her gesture, bringing his
palms to rest on her cheeks. Her face returned his joyous
expression, silently urging him to diminish the distance between
them.

Mulder kissed her tenderly, soothing her lips with feathery touches
of his tongue. She opened her mouth to him and they kissed deeply,
passionately, for several minutes, forgoing respiration as pleasure
diffused through their bodies.

When they finally broke the kiss, Scully placed her hands on his
chest, allowing a little distance between them. She stroked her hand
from his breastbone to his collarbone, a bemused expression on her
face.

"That's it? That's your office fantasy, Mulder?" she asked, no
trace of sarcasm in her soft inquiry.

His lips curved up slowly, eyes darting over her radiant features.
"Uh, that's the one I've had the most. As far as I can tell anyway--
from the memories I recovered. I'm sure I've been having the same
one since the day you walked in the door of this office, Scully. I
know I thought you were beautiful the first day I met you because I
wrote it down in my journal. Didn't you ever peek at my first
entry?" he asked seriously.

"No, no. I, I avoided the first few years when we poked into your
personal diary, Mulder. I didn't think there would be anything of
value to our search. I--" She lifted her hand to his face again and
softly caressed his cheek with her thumb. "I thought you were
handsome. I wonder how well I concealed that from you," she said
with a warm smile.

"Pretty damn well according to my first impressions. I wrote
several weeks later that I was sure you'd leave the X-Files and
settle down with some guy before too long. I suppose I was wrong,
wasn't I?" he asked, the timbre of his voice expressing doubts even
now, even after all they'd been through.

She clutched his hand possessively. "Yes, you were, Mulder. I
remember, I know, I would never have settled for anyone less than
you. I didn't tell you... I denied it for years... I knew I'd never
leave your side."

He sealed her lips with gentle fingers, then replaced them with the
soft texture of his mouth. They shared a few more kisses, then
pulled slightly apart, grinning with unspoken happiness.

"Time to face the medical music, Mulder," she told him, brandishing
her wrist in his face.

"Yes, Doctor Scully. I agree. Speaking of medical advice... will
you rest tonight? Please? I know we have a lot to do here, but by
the time we're done at the hospital--"

"Okay, Mulder. We'll call it a day, but we're going to call the
guys and find a lab to use tomorrow. We have to find answers to all
the questions we've posed. We have to know why there's so much
interest in our immunity, in the baby's immunity, to the virus."

"All in good time, Scully. All in good time," he whispered as they
crossed the room to leave for his appointment.

fin

Please send feedback to: shoshana1013@excite.com

Please visit my web page at
http://members.tripod.com/shoshana1013