TITLE: Almost Home (22/?)
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 (22/?)
By Shoshana

February 26th, 2001
Monday
4:00 p.m.
Alexandria Hospital

Mulder popped a pill in his mouth, then leaned over to slurp some
water from the fountain. He wiped the back of his hand over his
glossy lips, then licked them thoroughly, eyes gleaming with
mischief. Scully was watching his every move, agape with unconscious
abandon.

"You'll catch a lot of flies like that," he teased.

Scully smiled back and offered him her hand. They were openly
touching one another in public now; by tacit agreement they hadn't
gone back to their practice before Mulder's abduction--keeping a
polite professonal distance for appearances' sake.

There really was no point in disguising their relationship anymore--
FBI employees with only a marginal interest in their saga knew about
Scully's pregnancy and Mulder's recent return to DC. No one assumed
anything, but it was a pretty good guess their colleagues thought
they might be headed for the altar. Ten or twelve of them had
ambushed Mulder and Scully as they'd strolled casually across the
parking garage an hour and a half ago.

It was less difficult than either of them could have imagined--they
shook everyone's hand and smiled shyly as a group from the bullpen
congratulated them on two counts, the baby, and Mulder's successful
return from wherever the hell the infamous alien hunter had
disappeared this time. Mulder was well known for getting himself
into impossible predicaments, surviving them by sheer luck, or
through the intervention of his loyal partner. Fortunately, the
friendly agents were on their way to a seminar at Quantico and
didn't detain the couple longer than necessary.

When their admirers had left, Mulder and Scully realized they'd been
gripping each other's hands tightly as they chatted it up with the
crowd--something they'd never have risked last year. Not a word had
been sent down from the upper echelons of the FBI bureaucracy
concerning their partnership, but both agents were well aware the
continuance of the X-Files was by no means a sure thing. There was
some cause for worry when they both returned to work, presumably as
newlyweds, but neither Mulder nor Scully wanted to dwell on this
possibility. They had other dilemmas to focus on; futile worry over
their marital status would only distract them from their own, more
timely, agenda.

"You think this medicine will work, Scully?" he finally asked when
she offered no retort to his lighthearted comment.

Her eyes shone with a contentment she'd only embraced in the last
week; his whirlwind return and recovery had shaken her makeshift
universe, the one which had offered her strength to cope through five
months of alternating hope and despair. She'd depended not only on
her faith in Mulder's uncanny ability to survive disaster, but also
on her renewed belief in a higher power, one which had graced her
body with a child, a sliver of Mulder's soul.

Scully answered him confidently, "Brian thinks so. He's a top-level
specialist, Mulder. He looked over your recent EEGs, CT scans, and
all your bloodwork from both hospitals, and I don't know any one
better qualified to treat you. I know you had a bad experience with
phenytoin when you were hospitalized a year and a half ago, but that
was a thousand milligrams and Kritschgau was not a physician--"

"I know, I know. You'll make sure I get my dosage adjusted weekly,
I'm sure," he responded with cautious, but cheerful optimism.
"Millions of people live with seizures. I just hope mine aren't
chronic--they should diminish as all my memories return, don't you
think?"

"There's no guarantee, Mulder. Medication can control the problem
to some extent, but we'll have to be careful the next few months. I
guess you're just going to have to allow your personal physician to
accompany you everywhere you go. Would you like that?"

She playfully swung their joined hands between them as they strode
down the corridor. He grinned back and said, "*Everywhere*, Scully?
Even my bachelor party?"

"You've got to be kidding!" she replied, feigning disgust with the
inevitable ritual. She'd expected the guys to throw Mulder a bash,
but she didn't have to sanction it, especially if it included
consumption of alcohol.

"The guys... they're insisting. Sorry, Scully. No girls allowed."

She shook her head in mock exasperation, suppressing a grin. She
knew she wasn't fooling Mulder with her disapproving act. She smiled
in spite of herself and told him, "I'll entrust the three Stooges
with your welfare, Mulder... but you'll have to stay sober if you're
going to take your medication. I don't want anything to mess with
your recovery."

He nodded his head in agreement. "Deal, Scully. I'll let the guys
do the heavy drinking this time."

Any response from Scully was cut off by the trilling of her phone.
She reached into her coat pocket and flipped it open.

"Scully," she said solemnly, although her eyes were still smiling
from Mulder's latest concession to her wishes.

"Oh. Okay. We'll be there in twenty minutes, all right? Thanks,
Byers. See you soon," she concluded.

She thumbed off the device and replaced it in her jacket. Mulder
watched her expectantly, his head tilted to one side.

"So?" he asked when he saw her expression lose its levity.

Scully's shoulders slumped with the weight of her newfound
knowledge. She didn't want Mulder haring off across country as soon
as she told him the latest news. Her mouth opened and closed once
or twice before she found the words to articulate Byers' message.

"Teresa Hoese is back. So is her husband, Billy Miles, and other
abductees from the area. All of them were returned in the last
twenty-four hours, but the news reports just came over the wire now."

"Are they all right?" Mulder asked.

"For the most part. They've all refused to be interviewed by the
media, thank God. They haven't told authorities much. Billy and Ray
are both law enforcement, but they don't want to talk about their
experiences," she replied.

"I don't blame them. I don't want to talk about mine."

"I thought they didn't hurt you--" she voiced with concern.

"I don't know for sure what happened to me, Scully. I started to
remember things last Saturday that I don't want to tell you, maybe
I'll never be able to tell you. I don't want to upset you, Scully--
not, not now. You understand, don't you?" he asked, sweeping his
hand through her hair until he gently cradled her head.

She moved closer to him, placing both palms on his chest. "I do.
I've never told you what happened to me. I don't remember much, you
know... I don't think I want to remember. I may have entertained the
thought of retrieving those memories through hypnosis at one time--"

Mulder leaned down and gently kissed her forehead, then pulled back
and said quietly, "You do understand."

Scully gave him a glimpse of a smile, then moved her hands to his
waist and responded, "I do."

He grinned at the two simple words, imagining how beautiful they'd
sound in an entirely different context in less than two weeks. If
they were lucky. If he didn't get them into hot water before then.
Mulder wanted to assure her he wasn't going to take the next plane to
Oregon and disappear into the mists of the forest again.

"I'm not going anywhere, Scully. I'm not leaving you again," he
whispered softly in her ear.

Scully murmured back, "Of course you're not, Mulder."

He kissed her softly on the lips. "That's my Scully. Come on,
Frohike will cook for us if we're nice to him."

*********************************************************************
Lone Gunmen's residence
Somewhere near DC
4:45 p.m.
 
"Whaddaya got for us, boys?" Mulder asked, escorting Scully through
the security door and over to the vintage vinyl couch.

It was dark in the Gunmen's headquarters, more so than usual. The
guys were all present, ready to show off the fruits of their labor.
They'd been monitoring satellite news feeds from the television
station near Bellefleur since last September when Mulder had
disappeared.

"I'm sure Scully told you about the news reports we recorded. Those
were local news reports--they didn't amount to very much because they
were interrupting afternoon soap operas. There's a three hour time
difference so the best reports will be at eight o'clock our time.
Here's what we have so far--I'll run it through the set over there,"
Frohike said, pointing to a fairly large television near a phalanx of
computers.

"Yeah, and it's Langly's fault there's no sound," Byers sniped.

"Is *not*, asshole. You're the one who left the sound switched
off," Langly protested.

"You're supposed to check it, *moron*, before you tape anything,"
Byers shot back.

"Hey, cut it out! It doesn't matter, dickheads. I'll tell them
what's being said. For God's sake, you two belong in pre-school,"
scolded Frohike.

"Do you read lips, Frohike?" Scully asked.

"Yeah, my grandpa was deaf. He knew sign language, but when I was a
kid there were no closed captions on TV programs. He enjoyed showing
me how well he could interpret what was said. After awhile I could
do it too--we'd kill the volume and take turns being the characters,"
Frohike replied.

"Who took the female roles?" Mulder teased his friend.

Frohike laughed and told him, "We watched an awful lot of Westerns,
Mulder. I guess I had to be Miss Kitty a few times on 'Gunsmoke,'
but only when my neighborhood pals were absent."

Everyone chuckled, then fell silent when the tape finally rolled.
The guys knew this was serious business for Mulder and Scully--they
could possibly discover where Mulder had been held for five long
months.

Frohike began his narration, "The news reporters are all shouting
'Where have you been?' and 'Did aliens abduct you?' at Teresa and Ray
as they try to walk up the sidewalk to her parent's home. Ray just
said 'No comment. Please leave us alone,' to the camera. Okay,
that's all... I told you these were brief. Here's the clip with
Billy--he seems to have a little more patience with the press. He
says 'There will be a full report on file at the Sheriff's
department. You'll have to wait until then for details, folks.'"

Billy Miles turned away from the media and escaped inside his house
as reporters continued to shout questions at him. The video ended
and everyone blinked when Byers turned the lights back on.

"Not much to go on, I know--but at least you know they're all back
and they look reasonably healthy. We'll tape the evening news for
you and if you like we'll bring it over later tonight," Langly told
Mulder and Scully.

"We'd really appreciate that, Langly. We're both pretty bushed.
We've been to two doctors today, plus we had an audience with Skinner
at headquarters," Scully answered.

"Um, did he mention anything, uh, you know--" Frohike stammered.

"Yes, Frohike. He told us he ran into you last night. We wouldn't
have had a conversation in our office if you hadn't debugged it for
us. Thanks for doing it," Scully replied.

"Your wish is my command," Frohike told her, waving his hand in the
air with a flourish.

"Seems to have been my wish, wasn't it?" Mulder countered.

"Oh, Mulder... when will you learn? Everything is about Scully, not
you," Byers quipped.

Scully's expression reflected both her amusement and embarrassment
at being the center of so much male attention. They probably would
have gone all out for Mulder if she'd been the party in question--
they most likely already had several years ago when she'd been
missing. None of them had ever discussed that dark time in their
lives, but she imagined Mulder had turned to the guys for their
expertise years ago.

"And all this time I thought it was me, me, me..." Mulder responded.
He sensed Scully's consternation and attempted to deflect the
spotlight to more pressing matters. "Have you guys intercepted the
police reports yet?" he inquired hopefully.

"Working on it," said Langly, tapping away at his keyboard.

"You two hungry?" asked Frohike.

"Ah, there, I told you, Scully... Frohike's gonna feed us," Mulder
said, breaking into a broad grin.

"Okay, fifteen minutes and counting. Make yourself comfortable,
folks," Frohike replied.

In twenty minutes, they were all balancing plates on laps or beside
computer monitors. Mulder and Scully took the couch, and each of
their friends had some favorite spot around the room.

"How ya feeling, Mulder? I haven't spoken to you since you asked me
to take care of your office for you," Frohike said.

"I'm much better. Scully didn't tell me until this morning she'd
gotten in touch with you. She's been too busy supervising every
detail of my recovery," he said wryly.

Scully ignored his gentle barb and said, "Mulder went to see a
neurologist today. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with
him--but the episode Saturday night left him with some lasting
effects."

"Like what?" asked Byers with interest.

"I seem to remember last year, maybe all the way back to the fall of
1999. It's a jumble... it all comes back randomly, then fits
together after I have time to think about it," Mulder told them.

"That's great! Both of you must be really happy about that!" Langly
remarked.

Mulder smiled, then reached over and affectionately caressed
Scully's hand. "It is great. I remember a lot of good stuff that
happened last year."

Scully averted her eyes as a blush of color swept over her cheeks.
Even though the Lone Gunmen were truly among her best friends now--
they were still *guys* and she was somewhat abashed at the
implication of Mulder's words. Despite her fears, not one of the men
adopted an inappropriate leer. They smiled quietly--the only noise
interrupting their temporary silence was the tap tap of Langly's
fingers across his keyboard.

"The doctor give you anything to prevent more medical problems?"
Frohike asked.

"Yeah, it's not a sure cure, but it might work. Scully thinks so,"
Mulder claimed, dipping his head to one side, catching her eyes with
his own.

Scully responded to Mulder's subtle encouragement, finding the words
to further describe his condition, "He's taking phenytoin... it's no
guarantee he won't have any more episodes, but it's the best we can
do for him at present. There's no precedence for this in the medical
literature, or at least what Dr. Myers has had time to review, which
wasn't much. Maybe you guys could do a little 'research' for us--"

The Gunmen knew this was Scully's code word for 'Could you hack me
some information?' She'd never felt comfortable asking them to
commit illegal acts; an innocuous request for research assistance
sounded less jarring to her ears. Scully knew that brainwashing had
been a popular technique during the Cold War, and military records
were far from public. These closely held records, and others at
major psychiatric facilities scattered around the country, might go a
long way in unravelling the mystery of Mulder's affliction.

"We'd be happy to do it. Ah, here's the police reports right now.
I'll print them out for you," offered Langly.

"Thanks. Thanks to all of you for everything you've done for Scully
and me," Mulder said with evident emotion.

Scully added, "And thanks to Frohike for the huevos rancheros. They
were definitely on my cravings list."

Frohike grinned and replied, "Oh, we're well aware of the contents
of that list, Agent Scully."

Scully smiled back at him shyly, remembering late night snack runs
with all three of her friends in tow.

"So... what do you think you'll do?" Byers asked.

The question of whether or not Mulder and Scully would return to
Oregon in the near future had been weighing on all three Gunmen's
minds--Byers was nervy enough to ask it. Three pairs of eyeballs
focused on the expectant parents, their hands casually joined between
them.

Mulder remained silent, bobbing his head a fraction of an inch in
Scully's direction, telegraphing his desire to abide by her wishes.
He'd meant every word several hours ago--he'd never leave her again,
for any reason. It was up to her whether they interviewed the
abductees in person, by phone, or over the internet. It made no
difference to him, as long as Scully was comfortable with the
investigative method. He was slightly worried about her travelling
by plane this late in her pregnancy, but he realized there was an
even chance he'd have medical difficulties of his own. They would
fly to Oregon together or not at all, he thought to himself.

Scully hesitated before she spoke, pulling her lower lip between her
teeth in unconscious deliberation. Her eyes flitted from one Gunman
to the next, then settled on Mulder's intentionally neutral mask. He
was determined to let her decide their course of action, and
considering the ill-fated one he'd taken five months ago--one which
had resulted in his abduction and confinement--she understood his
reluctance to influence her choice.

She gave her little audience a megawatt smile and asked, "Hope you
guys know where all the internet bargains are--it's time to cash in
all those frequent flyer miles--"

*********************************************************************
       
February 26th, 2001
Monday
9:00 p.m.
Somewhere over Iowa

"Are you sure you're feeling all right, Scully?" Mulder asked. She
was readjusting her pillow for the twentieth time since takeoff.

"I'm fine, Mulder... really good. We had to rush a little but
otherwise I'm happy we left tonight instead of tomorrow morning. We
got a great deal on these seats, and you know I wouldn't have slept
much tonight anyway," she reminded him.

Scully snuggled closer to his side, burrowing her nose into the soft
jersey of his henley. The air temperature had to be at least seventy
degrees; they'd shed their jackets as soon as they realized how warm
it was going to be. What little chill there was from the forced air
flowing through the cabin was offset by Mulder's warm hands, brushing
over her arms and shoulders in hypnotic, circular motions.

"I know. I wouldn't have either. Do you think we should have
phoned Teresa and Billy? They may leave town if the press continues
to harass them," he told her.

"I don't think they'll leave. You're going to laugh, Mulder... but
I have a feeling they're waiting for us."

He leaned over to gently kiss her forehead, tightening his grip
around her right shoulder. "I'm not laughing, Scully... I agree with
you. Billy called us last year when he needed to tell us what was
going down--I doubt if he trusts anyone else to believe him--even if
I ended up being no help at all."

Mulder's dismay was genuine; he'd gone out to Oregon last September
to prevent more abductions, only to find himself among the chosen
few, paralyzed by transfixing white light. He'd breached the
cloaking force field with his hand, then found himself surrounded by
ethereal, strangulating luminosity. Blinding illumination--out of
place in the dank, densely wooded area--he knew the minute he crossed
over the invisible barrier he was in another fine mess once again.

His mind had raced through all the possibilities--could he, would
he, escape this? Skinner had been a mere fifty feet away, but it
might as well have been fifty miles for all the good it had done him.
There were no exit signs plastered on the perimeter of his new
prison; he was like the ubiquitous Blattella germanica, wandering
into an inviting, all too grim, roach motel.

"They won't blame you, Mulder. Billy, Ray, all the abductees, know
you're not at fault. Whoever took you in that forest is responsible
for any harm that's been perpetrated against every one of you. I
don't think anyone involved in this investigation will suspect the
victims of collusion with their captors."

"I felt so helpless, Scully. I realized where I was and what what
was going to happen next, but I couldn't turn away from the light.
It drew me like a moth to a flame--"

"Like a lamb to the slaughter?" she interjected facetiously, tongue
firmly in cheek.

Mulder's lips twisted in perverse delight--it was so nice to get
back to their usual banter. "Like lemmings to the sea, Scully."

"A fly caught in an endless web," she countered.

"A, a... oh shit, Scully! I know you're trying to distract me, and
you're doing a good job of it, too," he told her, stroking her
forearm with his fingertips. "But I have to claim some
responsibility for my own actions. I knew more than the other
abductees; I should have given them more warning. I should have told
them all to get out of town, get as far from that ship as possible."

"You didn't know, Mulder. *We* didn't know what connected the
abductees to one another until you left for Oregon with Skinner. I
doubt whether you would have stayed in DC if you *had* known about
the anomalous brain activity. I think you would have gone anyway. I
think, I know, you would have taken the risk. You've put yourself in
the line of fire so many times before. I know you, Mulder, I know
you'd never forgive yourself if you hadn't tried to help Teresa and
Ray and every other person taken that night," she concluded, her
voice wavering slightly at the end of her sentence.

Mulder shook his head vigorously. "I might have gone to warn them,
Scully. I might have thought it was the right thing to do... but I
would never have gone if I'd known about the baby. You know that,
don't you? I couldn't have left you."

He rubbed his cheek against the silk of her hair, then lowered his
lips to her jawline, showering the sensitive skin there with fleeting
kisses.

"It may seem like I don't care about my own safety sometimes, and
that's probably all too correct an assumption. I went back to Oregon
to solve this, to find out what the Consortium, the aliens, are doing
to innocent people. It's gone on too long, and it has to stop
sometime--but I don't think I would have left you here alone. I
think I'd be certifiable if I did, Scully. I would never leave
you--"

Mulder whispered his last words close to her ear, then kissed her
lobe gently. He turned her face toward his with one hand, joining
their lips in a sweet, lasting caress. They were isolated in the
back of the dimly lit plane--not many people flew this late at night.
Their tranquility was shattered by a noise from the seat in front of
them--both agents found it difficult to contain their laughter when
they realized it was simply a man snoring in his sleep--so loudly he
could be heard throughout the economy class section.

"Think he's trying to tell us something, Scully?" he asked, pulling
the blanket she'd lain across her lap back to its original position.

"I think so," she whispered sotto voce, not wishing to insult the
noisy passenger. "He needs to go to a sleep clinic!"

"Always seeing it from a physician's perspective, huh?" He turned
slightly, peering into her sleepy eyes. "I don't snore, do I? I
mean, you'd tell me, wouldn't you?"

"Would you tell me?" she answered playfully.

"No fair, I asked first," he insisted.

"All right. Let's just say... it's not an immediate problem."

"What? What does that mean?" he objected.

"I think it'll be thirty years or more before you sound like a
locomotive in your sleep, Mulder." She reached over and fondly
caressed his cheek. "I'm happy to put up with a little night music
from you."

"I don't know whether I've been insulted," he told her, in a
deliberately deadpan tone. "But you know..." he whispered, more
expressively, "I'd be very happy if you put up with me for the next
thirty years, Scully."

For a few minutes she was so quiet he thought she'd fallen asleep
against his shoulder. He was drifting off himself when he heard her
mumble, "Me, too," in a sleepy soft voice.

fin

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