Something In Between

6 May

Title: Something In Between
Author: Rain
Category: MSR, A, Doggett
Rating: PG-13
Archive: go ahead, but please let me know where.
Disclaimer: Anybody you recognize doesn’t belong to me.

First posted: 5 November 2004

Summary: What happened between Three Words and Empedocles? Changing graveyards, a kicking baby, death, resurrection, and flirting over pizza, among other things.

looks like freedom but it feels like death
it’s something in between, i guess
– Leonard Cohen, Closing Time

Pine Grove Cemetery
Annapolis, Maryland
11:22 am

It struck Scully as appropriate that their first case together would involve a graveyard.

The cemetery was old. Most of the graves were crumbling, covered in moss. Pine trees, stone angels, grey crosses and boxy pillars mingled together, all streaked with grime and worn away by decades of weather. Here and there newer-looking headstones of polished marble stood out starkly against the muted background. A few of these had been decorated recently. Sodden teddy bears, vases of daisies, and plastic-wrapped photographs had all been left behind by visitors who still remembered and took care of the dead.

Nobody spoke as the Bureau-issued Taurus pulled up to the curb. Mulder and Doggett were still feeling their way around each other, and not liking what they thought they found. Scully was silent for her own reasons. Doggett was trying, she could see that, and Mulder was not making it easy for him.

The undercurrents crackling through the car were making the baby bounce on her bladder as if it were a trampoline.

She scanned for signs of a public restroom as she hauled herself out of the car, and found herself ankle-deep in a mud puddle. The water oozing into her sensible shoes annoyed her, but did not particularly surprise her. Graveyards, rain, and ruined shoes were the Unholy X-Files Triumvirate, if you didn’t count aliens, swamp
things, and all things associated with the Morley Tobacco Company. Sloshing her way to the curb, she gritted her teeth as a well-placed kick from the baby jolted the tender spot just to the left of her belly button.

“Hey, Scully, get over here!” called Mulder, already three rows in. Doggett hung back, watching her, making sure she made it over the curb.

She wanted to kill them both.

Doggett was so concerned about her pregnancy that he’d stopped telling her things, as if pregnancy had dulled her need to know, as if not knowing had ever been an option for her. Mulder, on the other hand, was acting as if she wasn’t pregnant at all, as if she was just as he’d left her, dizzy and nauseous but flat-stomached and barren, ready and able to follow him on one of his wild adventures at a moment’s notice.

Wasn’t the baby supposed to sleep during the day? It felt like he or she was shooting hoops in there. She sighed and made her way into the cemetery.


The whirring of a weedeater drifted over the hill. Spring was on its way, and all Scully wanted to do was hibernate. Instead, she maneuvered her body into a crouching position and examined the grave Mulder had been looking at. She wondered, as she ran a finger along the grooves of the inscription, what it had meant to
the person who was buried there, and to the person who had been left behind.

She didn’t want to be left behind again.

“This is one of them, Scully!” said Mulder, practically shimmering with intensity. “Look. It used to say: ‘Beloved husband and father’. It was in the file.” His eyes still held the same feverish glow they’d had since he’d tried to sneak into the Census Bureau. He felt the need to prove himself, Scully thought, to prove that he was necessary and Doggett was not.

Doggett had come up behind them by now, and was leaning into the grave, a puzzled expression on his face. “‘I am not here; I do not sleep’,” he read.

Mulder and Scully looked at each other for a moment, then Scully looked back at Doggett, silently willing him not to say anything too cynical.

Mercifully, he didn’t. “Where are the other graves?”

Mulder straightened up and pointed, then leaned back down to take Scully’s arm and help her up. He had always been possessive when men he considered potential rivals were around; this much hadn’t changed with his death.

“How are you holding up?” he asked, as they followed Doggett further into the tangle of gravesites and memories. Evidence of recent rainfall was everywhere, and the air smelled fresh and new. Somehow it seemed right that she and Mulder should be among the dead again, pursuing signs of the coming apocalypse while bursting with new life.

“How am I holding up? Isn’t that Agent Doggett’s line?”

“What, I’m not allowed to be concerned about my very pregnant partner?”

She closed her eyes. “Mulder.” Now and then he would acknowledge the obvious, but never in regards to himself. It was always ‘your baby’, and ‘your pregnancy’. Sometimes she wondered if he even acknowledged to himself that he had a genetic stake here too. Post traumatic stress, she reminded herself. But it still hurt.

Her sensible flats were still full of water, and squished with every step. She had to curl her toes to keep from sliding right out of them. The baby kicked again.

Mulder raised an eyebrow. “Scully, did your stomach just move on its own?”

She shrugged. “Looks that way.” She stopped and tugged on his hand to make him stop too. “Would you like to investigate further? He’s pretty active today.”

He hesitated.

“You know, total strangers have been coming up to me and thrusting their hands onto my belly.” She quirked an eyebrow at him. “I think you’re allowed.”

He looked startled. “Really? They just come up to you and touch you?”

Scully nodded. “It’s very disconcerting. Especially when you don’t know who…” she trailed off, watching his face. “Mulder, he’s kicking again. Or her. Here.” She grabbed his hand and placed it on her belly, holding it close by curving her own hand around it.

Out of the corner of her eye she could see Doggett, already at the next grave, looking back at them with an unreadable expression. The baby kicked. And kicked again. She really had to pee.

Mulder blinked. “Wow. Scully, the entire cast of Riverdance is living in your stomach.”

She chuffed a quick laugh. “It feels that way sometimes. Apparently FBI training can be passed on through the genes. This child has one hell of a roundhouse kick, Mulder.”

She felt him tense again and sighed inwardly as he gently removed his hand from her stomach and continued walking towards the gravesite. This was not how she had imagined his return, back when she’d allowed herself to imagine it, before his funeral. Before watching his casket being lowered into the ground.

The second grave had changed as well, from a sedate Biblical “Lamb of God” to a more upbeat e.e. cummings quote. “‘I who have died am alive again today’,” Scully read, frowning. The pattern was disturbing, given Mulder’s recent resurrection.

“The inscription is different, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything,” said Doggett, keeping his voice carefully steady.

“You saw what happened to Billy Miles, and what almost happened to me. You talked to Absalom yourself, Agent Doggett.” Mulder was still pushing hard, still seeking to reassure himself that his place in the world was still there.

“It doesn’t look like it’s been re-chiseled.” Scully broke in before Doggett could say anything. She felt herself slipping back into her old role as the voice of science and reason. It didn’t
fit quite as well as it used to. She’d been stretched out of shape while Mulder was gone, and now that he was back she found that she couldn’t snap back into quite the same configuration.
She wondered if it was temporary, a residual effect of his absence. Or maybe her belief system would shrink back to its old self when her body returned to its former, slimmer shape. Or
maybe this was permanent.

Mulder and Doggett were watching her and she realized she’d stopped talking. She cleared her throat. “Look, the stone is still smooth. There are no abrasions or lacerations on the face of the headstone. If this is the work of vandals, it’s the work of prepared vandals. They would have had to move in a whole new grave marker.”

“Or had access to a technology that we don’t have,” Mulder pointed out.

She nodded. “That is a possibility. We should still check, though, if any funeral homes got  orders for headstones with these inscriptions, and if any dollies or heavy lifting devices have
been rented. And the engineering school at the University of Maryland. This seems a bit morbid for them, but they’ve been known to pull pranks before around this time of year.”

Mulder leaned in. “Given what we know about the latest attempt at colonization we can’t take this too lightly. I think we should start getting permission to exhume these graves. Find out if
anyone’s home.”

A jolt of horror shot through her, as she comprehended the implications of what he’d just said. “Do you mean to say that they might be … alive down there, like you were?”

Mulder looked sick. “I meant the graves might be empty.”

She looked around the grounds. “I don’t see evidence of recent digging.”

Doggett cleared his throat, and both Scully and Mulder turned their heads to look at him. He looked awkward, shut out of the bubble that Scully had been told she and Mulder often erected
around themselves. At least in this way they were back to normal.

“We shouldn’t leap to conclusions,” Doggett said. “It’s much more likely that these are pranks. Mulder was dead for … ” He paused, his face showing how difficult it still was for him to believe that Mulder had been buried for three months and now walked among them, came along on cases, made Scully smile and Skinner tear out his nonexistent hair. “Mulder was, uh, buried for three months. This grave is six months old. And the date of death on the other one was almost a year ago.”

“Absalom said he’d been doing this since the turn of the millennium,” Mulder insisted. “He’s not a math geek like Scully, so he probably meant the beginning of last year, the year 2000. Scully says putting me on life support sped up the progress of the virus, and the same with Billy Miles. Who knows how long the natural incubation period of this thing is?”

“You think they dug themselves up? Or that they’re still down there, ‘incubating’?”

“I don’t know. But the inscriptions were changed for a reason, and we owe it to these people to find out why.”

Scully shifted from one foot to the other. “We should talk to the manager of the cemetery. He may not have told us everything over the phone.”

Mulder nodded. “Is that his office over there?”

God, Scully hoped so. If he worked there, he had a bathroom.

Pine Groves Cemetery Guest Center
Annapolis, Maryland
11:45 am

Phil Haufler, Pine Groves Cemetery Funeral Director, was a short man with brown glasses and a vivid sunburn. “Just got back from my slightly too-tropical vacation,” he explained, with the air of one who had repeated the same phrase many times over in the past few days. His office smelled like floral air freshener, the type that Scully’s stomach had rejected wholeheartedly during her first trimester. Mulder would have liked that, she thought. Perhaps not at the time, but he would have delighted in teasing her about it later. Another missed opportunity.

She showed her badge. “I’m Special Agent Dana Scully with the FBI. These are Special Agent Mulder and Special Agent Doggett.” Her two partners. Actually, since she was supposed to be on desk duty, and very close to maternity leave, she was officially unpartnered right now. Mulder had been reinstated but not reassigned, spending his time in the X-Files division until he was told otherwise.

Haufler glanced at her stomach. She cleared her throat. At least the baby seemed to have settled down a bit. “You called about the graves with the changing inscriptions. We’d like to ask you a few questions about that.”

He nodded. “Of course. Please, have a seat.”

Scully remained standing. “Actually, I was wondering if you have a restroom I could use?”

Haufler grinned. “Of course. I remember when my wife was pregnant. Man, she couldn’t last for half an hour without visiting the ladies’ room. Down the hall to the very end, on your left. Watch out for the birds.”

Scully raised an eyebrow. “The birds?”

“Yeah, we left the upper windows open for ventilation, and a robin built its nest on the window sill. Just don’t get too close to it, and the mother bird won’t bother you. Oh, and leave the lid
down. My assistant is terrified that one of the babies will fall out of the nest and drown in the toilet bowl.” He rolled his eyes, smiling.

Scully knew Mulder was laughing at her, and one glance at him confirmed it. “Dive-bombing robins, Scully? Maybe you might want to wait to find a less dangerous washroom.”

She ignored him. Let him try carrying around an active 30 week old fetus next to *his* bladder and see how he liked it. “Thank you,” she told Haufler with dignity. “I’ll be right back.”


She walked down the hallway, surprised at how long it was. A thick beige carpet, threadbare in spots, covered the floor and absorbed most of the music that filled the air – something classical that she almost recognized. Several bouquets of irises could not quite mask the damp, musty scent. There was a doorway every few feet. Most likely rooms for private family viewings,
Scully thought. Benches waited outside each room, and a lone woman sat hugging herself on one of them, her eyes squeezed tightly shut. Scully hurried past her, remembering herself a few
months ago and fighting a sudden wave of loneliness.

Could the graves really be empty? Was this it? Had colonization begun, perverting the sorrow of all the families in the graveyard into something so horrible that most people couldn’t even –

Her right shoe caught a snag on the carpet and held fast. Momentum carried her forward as her foot slid completely free, still slippery from her earlier encounter with the mud puddle. Cursing inwardly, she stopped and prodded at the shoe with her toe, finding to her chagrin that it was stuck fast, firmly ensconced in the clingy carpet.

After a split-second assessment of the situation, she continued down the hallway. Her bladder was not willing to wait much longer, and she was certain that her shoe was. Here I am, she
thought, Early 21st Century Pathologist Woman, barefoot and pregnant in a cemetery. She wondered if she should slip out of the other shoe to balance things out, but thankfully she reached the end of the hallway, turned left, and entered the ladies’ room.

The baby robins watched her suspiciously as she relieved herself, but she was so glad to give into the demands of her bladder that she didn’t care. She’d certainly seen more disturbing things in her career than a nest full of tiny bird heads with little open beaks, chirping excitedly as their mother returned to the nest to feed them.

Actually, she thought, they looked like little alien heads. She shivered. She had run as many tests as she could, but in her darker moments she knew that she wouldn’t be satisfied the baby
was really human until she actually saw him. Or her. Even then she’d need Mulder to witness the whole thing, so he could tell her that the babies hadn’t been switched.

Agent Scully, welcome to your normal life.

The mother robin didn’t like it when Scully stood up. Cheeping angrily at her, it fluffed up its feathers and fluttered its wings. Scully flushed the toilet and remembered to put the lid down. The robin was not appeased. “Look.” she told it. “I know how you feel. I’m a mother too. I’ll just wash my hands here and then I’ll leave you and your family in peace. OK?”

She was talking to a robin.

She carefully dried her hands and opened the door. She could see her shoe, still marooned halfway down the hallway. Taking a deep breath and squaring her shoulders, she began limping towards it.


Mulder, striding out of Haufler’s office, found her in the middle of the corridor, dangerously close to muttering to herself.

There was so much that was stuck right now, and she couldn’t even fix this one small thing. If she couldn’t even extract a shoe from a clingy carpet, how on earth was she going to untangle
everything else that was paralyzing her life?

Mulder broke into her thoughts. “Shoe trouble, Scully?” She shot him a look, which he deflected with one of his own before crouching down beside her to see if he could help. “What  happened?”

“I don’t know, Mulder. It’s just stuck.”

He gave it an experimental tug. It didn’t budge. “Hmm.” He began working at the carpet fibers with his fingers, trying to smooth out individual knots. “It’s not just stuck. It’s well and truly stuck, Scully.”

He worked at it for a minute. She watched him, rubbing her right arm. “What did Haufler have to say?”

“Not much.” Mulder shrugged. “Families came to visit, found the gravestones altered. They complained.” The corner of his mouth twitched slightly. “He heard about us from a three-year-old issue of The Lone Gunman that somebody left in his waiting room.”

The shoe came free.

Mulder ceremoniously placed it in her hand. “The lucky girl who fits this glass slipper wins a free trip to Disneyland.”

“Stop it, Mulder.” She slipped her foot back into the shoe and stalked off down the hallway, trying to pretend she wasn’t waddling.


Doggett was still in the funeral office, talking to Haufler. “You OK, Agent Scully?” he asked as she re-entered the room. Mulder followed her in.

“I’m fine.”

“How were the robins?” asked Haufler.

“They were fine too.” She winced internally as the baby elbowed her in the rib cage. “Mulder tells me that nobody saw or heard anything – that the altered inscriptions were discovered by
families of the deceased?”

Haufler nodded. “As I said, I was on vacation. My assistant actually took the complaints, but when I got back I went out and looked at the stones, and they looked so … untouched.” He
scrunched his nose slightly, dislodging his glasses. He pushed them back up. “I remember the old inscriptions, though. So, I’d read about your division of the FBI, and thought it couldn’t hurt
to give you a call.”

Mulder nodded. “I’m glad you did, Mr. Haufler. As Agent Doggett was telling you, these stones could be important evidence in an ongoing investigation being undertaken by this unit.” He flicked his eyes over to Scully, then they both looked at Doggett.

Doggett looked uncomfortable. “I was just explaining to Mr. Haufler here about how we’d be looking at getting a court order and the families’ permissions to dig up the graves, just to make

Haufler shrugged. “I don’t know who’d want to bring in whole new gravestones and *advertise* that they were stealing bodies, but you folks know better than I.” He pushed his glasses up again. “Once you get the documents, just let me know when you want to dig. As long as we don’t have something else going on, you’re more than welcome.”

Doggett and Scully looked at each other, then over at Mulder. “Got any plans, Mulder?” she asked.

“Apparently, I just can’t get away from the exciting world of cemeteries.” He strode out the door, the set of his shoulders making her jaw ache. She closed her eyes, then opened them to
find Doggett watching her sympathetically.

“Let’s go.” she said. Haufler regarded them with an odd expression as they bid their goodbyes and followed Mulder out.

It had started to rain while they were in the building. The mist felt good on Scully’s face, cooling down the hot anger she was feeling at everybody and nobody. She turned her face up to the
sky and let the water wash over her, then turned to try to see where Mulder had gone.

Doggett made a brief gesture of protection, as if he were holding an umbrella that wasn’t there. He glanced at her, then glanced toward the car. Mulder was nowhere to be seen.

“Do you want me to bring the car around, Agent Scully?” he asked, his eyes flicking skyward, indicating the grey clouds and dripping overhang.

She sighed. “I won’t melt, Agent Doggett. I have to find Mulder.”

Their eyes met, briefly, as they realized what a terrible and familiar phrase she had just uttered. Doggett nodded. “Do you have any idea where he might have gone?”

She rubbed her eyes. A large raindrop snuck past the collar of her jacket and began to wind its way down her back. She had no idea where he might be. He was not the same Mulder who’d
disappeared in Oregon, and she didn’t know how to make him familiar again.

“He probably went back to the gravesite.” she said. “Or he might have gone looking for the rest of the altered stones. Why don’t you check the older section, and I’ll go back to the grave we were first looking at?”

Doggett nodded. “I’ll call you if I find him.”

She wasn’t sure what Doggett thought of Mulder. He was playing his cards close to his chest. He was obviously loyal to her, and obviously glad for her that Mulder had been returned. But she wasn’t certain that he liked Mulder at all. Skinner had told her about the first meeting between the two, how Doggett had eagerly risen to shake Mulder’s hand, and how Mulder had pushed him down and accused him of working for the dark side.

Typical Mulder, of course. Trust no one, except when you trust everyone. Doggett was the man who had taken his place in the X-Files and his place as Scully’s partner. Doggett had watched
Scully’s stomach grow, her breasts enlarge, and her appetite change. Doggett had saved her life. Doggett had been there for her when Mulder had not, and she wasn’t really sure how to tell Mulder that it didn’t matter. At least, not in a way that he would truly believe.

She heard voices from over the hill, Doggett’s and Mulder’s. Squaring her shoulders, she started upwards, hoping she wasn’t going to lose her shoe again. Glancing down to make sure of her footing, she noticed a robin tugging at something on the ground and wondered if it was the one from the bathroom, out to provide for its family, digging out the earthworms that had been driven to the surface by the rain.

Doggett’s voice was getting louder. “You’re acting like a real asshole, you know that?” Scully stopped walking. “Do you *know* what she went through while you were gone?” She’d heard Doggett angry before, but there was a sharpness to his voice that was not at all familiar. “I can appreciate that it must be weird for you, but Mulder, you are treating her like shit.”

“Do you? I doubt you appreciate anything.” Mulder’s voice was also developing a dangerous edge. “Do you really understand what happened to me? I don’t think you can even comprehend it.”

“Suck it up, Mulder.” Doggett said bluntly. Scully bit her lip and considered whether or not to interrupt them. Doggett continued. “She loves you. You might think I don’t know what’s going on, but she needs you right now. For God’s sake, look at her!”

Scully hustled over the hill. They were hidden from view by a tree, and she burst around it, fixing both of them with an angry glare. “I can take care of myself, Agent Doggett. Do you

The three of them sat frozen for a moment. There was a roll of thunder in the distance.

“I’ll meet you back at the Bureau.” said Doggett, flatly. He strode off down the hill. Scully briefly wondered if he was going to leave them the car.

She and Mulder looked at each other. Rain-plastered hair, a torrential downpour, and a dripping cemetery. It seemed their relationship always came back to this. She wished for a moment that they could step back to that first case together, to the moment when she’d suddenly understood where his theory was coming from, and had been unable to stop from laughing at the sheer audacity of it. How could she have known what she had started at that moment, all those years ago?

“Mulder – ” she began, but he interrupted.

“Do you know what I missed, Scully? I missed the World Series. I missed all the confusion over who the President was. I missed celebrating the real turn of the millennium, zombie-free. I missed – Scully, when I left you weren’t feeling well. I was afraid – I was afraid of a lot of things. And all of a sudden you’re huge, and you’re going to have a baby. A baby, Scully! I don’t even
know what that means.”

“I know,” was all she could say. She watched as he blinked rapidly and took a deep breath. A tear ran down his cheek. She reached forward to brush it off.

“Mulder, I do understand what it’s like, to some degree. It was hard enough for me, and I was only gone for three months. And I didn’t come back to find you about to give birth.” The corner of his jaw twisted up briefly. She smiled too, imagining a pregnant Mulder. “These past months have been strange for me as well. When you left for Oregon, I didn’t suspect I was pregnant either. And then I found out, and I was so happy, and so afraid, and half an hour later I found out you were gone.”

They had stood like this too often, two solitary pillars, miserable, alone but together.

“I missed you, Mulder. I wanted you to… be there…” Her eyes filled with tears. Damn hormones. Now her throat was closing up. “I wanted you to share everything. I wanted you to worry when I wasn’t eating breakfast, and tease me about stopping at every bathroom I encountered, and worry with me about…” her voice broke.

He ran a finger along her cheek. “I’m sorry, Scully. I just – it’s so strange to come back to life like this. Half the time I don’t even feel like I’m really here. And the other half of the time it seems like life has gone on so well without me that I’m not needed at all.”

She took his hand and squeezed it. “I know it’s hard, Mulder, but please believe that I need you. And having a baby won’t make me need you any less. We talked about this a long time ago, and my feelings haven’t changed.”

He squeezed back, then dropped her hand and opened his arms. She stepped into his embrace, trying to ignore the clammy feeling of damp cloth pressing against her body. There came a time when you were so soaked through to the skin that it didn’t matter anymore, and that time had long passed for both of them.

“Scully, I’m trying,” he said into her hair.

“I know. I just want you to know you’re always welcome, Mulder.”

He squeezed her tighter, bending awkwardly around the bulge of her belly. When he next spoke, she could hear the humor in his voice. “You said this child would never come between us.” She smiled against his chest. The baby chose that moment to kick.

Mulder yelped. “I don’t think he likes me, Scully.”

She chuckled, wiping away the last of her tears. “You just have to spend a bit more time getting to know her.”

He tugged her hand. “Can I get to know him or her inside? We’re getting really wet out here.”

She nodded, walking with him towards the cemetery entrance.

X-Files Office
Hoover Building

Doggett was waiting for them when they returned to the X-Files office, sitting behind Mulder’s desk looking thoughtfully up at the pencils in the ceiling. He watched them come through the door and appeared to consider speaking, then changed his mind and offered Scully a paper towel. “You could maybe wring out your hair a bit. At least it won’t be dripping all over your shirt.”

She accepted it. “Thank you, Agent Doggett. Have you made any headway into arranging the exhumations?” Awkwardness made the air in the room heavier, harder to push with her voice. She gathered her hair into a ponytail and squeezed it with the paper towel. Her hair was drier, but now she had little bits of paper stuck in it. She shivered.

“Scully, you should go home and change,” Mulder said. “I hear they’re saying hypothermia is bad for unborn babies these days.”

Doggett nodded. “I’ve called the judge. She’s going to try to rush the order through. Until it does go through, there’s nothing else we can do here. You should go home, Agent Scully. Rest up. I assume you’ll want to be involved for the autopsies.” He looked at Mulder. “You get your drivers license back yet?”

“I can drive,” said Scully. “I’ll get into some dry clothes and then check up on any mentions of this sort of thing happening elsewhere.”

“I looked for other casefiles already. There weren’t any,” Doggett said, still treading very carefully. She reminded herself that the situation could not be easy for him either.

“This isn’t really the sort of thing most people would call the FBI over,” she said. “I’ll check on the Internet. Media reports, newsgroups – I’ll get the Gunmen on it. You wanna help, Mulder?”

He nodded, then turned to Doggett. “Give us a call if you find anything, or if the judge gets the orders earlier than expected,” he said. He did not offer to call Doggett with any information he
and Scully might dig up. But he did place his hand on the small of Scully’s back as they left the office, and she almost stumbled with an unexpected rush of happiness. “You OK?” he asked in her ear as they waited for the elevator. She bit her lip so she wouldn’t shiver again.

“I’m fine, Mulder.”

And just for a second, she was.

Scully’s Apartment
7:17 pm

There were no reports of altered grave markers in any of the law enforcement databases that Scully had access to. It didn’t mean anything. She stretched forward to reach the keyboard of her laptop – the days when she could use it comfortably on the couch had vanished about the same time as her lap had. She slumped back into the cushions. “Are you hungry, Mulder? I’m still not having any luck.”

He held up a finger. “I think I’ve got something. Hang on.” He was at the other end of the couch, tapping away at his own laptop. Just like old times, she thought, as her stomach growled

He looked up in surprise. “You really *are* hungry. Wanna order a pizza?”

She firmly ignored the fact that she was salivating at the thought of pepperoni and mushrooms. “What did you find?” she asked.

“Check it out,” he said, handing her the laptop. The cord didn’t stretch quite far enough, so she scooted over a bit closer to him on the couch.

He’d been checking out abduction-based newsgroups. The newsreader was open to a post with the subject “***They even take dead people!!!***” She furrowed her brow and read out loud.

“My uncle was abducted at least twenty times over the course of his life. When he died last fall I thought what a blessing at least he will be at peace but my family just went down to the  cemetery and his body is gone!!!! You may wonder how we know this well his gravestone was changed and my dad had them dig him up to make sure because he didn’t trust that guy who buried him anyhow and nobody was in the grave!!!! They took his body those BASTARDS.” She trailed off and swallowed.

Mulder gestured with his chin. “Check out the name of the poster.” She scanned down to the bottom of the message, blinking at the elaborate ascii alien. “Oregongrrl.” she read.

They looked at each other in silence except for the sound of Scully’s rumbling belly. “Do you still keep your phone book in the end table?” Mulder asked finally.

“What?” she asked. “Yeah, it’s there, I can get it for you.”

He waved her off. “No, stay there. I just think – I think we could use some food. We need to eat. You need to eat. Do you still like Thai?”

She shrugged. “I’ll pretty much eat anything. I’m mostly past the nausea stage. Mulder, just because her screen name has Oregon in it doesn’t mean she really lives there. Or that what she wrote on that newsgroup was anything more than a product of her own imagination. All we know for sure is that she’s forgotten several things she learned in English class.” She sounded unconvincing to her own ear.

“Come on, Scully. You can’t deny the fact that what she’s described is almost identical to what we saw today. How much do you want to bet that when we do get permission to exhume the
graves they’ll be empty?”

“But Mulder, why would they advertise these grave robberies by altering the gravestones? Couldn’t they just steal the bodies away in the dead of night leaving nobody any the wiser?” She was unconsciously leaning closer to him, seeking the comfort of a physical touch, a reassurance to herself that he was real and he was there.

“It doesn’t make sense, but everything else about the story does. Come on, Scully, I’m a living breathing example that it can happen. You witnessed it yourself. I’m here, sitting in your
living room, when three weeks ago I was lying there under a grave marker of my own.”

Scully bit her lip and willed herself not to imagine again what would have happened if Skinner hadn’t taken a leap of faith. Mulder was insistent. “What would I have mutated into if you
hadn’t stopped it – how many of those people are out there? People who already have identities, but who won’t be reported missing by their family and friends, because they’re already dead. People who can infiltrate themselves easily into society and nobody will ever know the difference. This is huge, Scully. And I don’t -” he cut off, watching her face. His eyes were alive.

“How can you-” she asked. “Mulder, how can you just – you were almost -” She couldn’t talk. Her throat had closed up again. She couldn’t even breathe.

Mulder lifted his laptop off of the couch and placed it on the floor, then moved over to where it had been sitting, taking her in his arms. “Shhh, Scully, I’m here.” She could feel him breathing
into her hair, but she still couldn’t speak. She shuddered. He ran the palm of his hand across her shoulder blades, and there was still an unfamiliar formality in the way he touched her.

“Scully, I’m OK.” His voice was low, urgent, and just as she had remembered it. “I had a narrow escape, but that’s why we have to stop this from happening to more people, and we have to stop whatever they’re planning to do with the people it’s already happened to. You of all people know how personal this is.”

Mulder was sitting on her couch, touching her, discussing a case. This was everything she had wanted during his absence, everything she thought she’d never have again after his death, and nothing about it was right at all. As if to remind her of how very wrong it was, the baby kicked. She burst into tears.

Mulder squeezed her tighter and rubbed her back, more naturally this time. “Shh, Scully, don’t cry. It’s OK.” He kissed the top of her head. She cried harder. She’d been doing a lot of sobbing
over the entire length of her pregnancy, and it frustrated her. If Mulder wasn’t exactly the same as he had been, she conceded, perhaps she wasn’t either. She’d blamed the pregnancy for her
new, surface-level emotions, but what if that wasn’t it? What if she had become a different person too, and she and Mulder never regained what they’d had during those perfect few months before everything had fallen apart?

She’d thought she’d never cry again if only Mulder could be returned to her.


Eventually her sobbing reduced to sniffles and the occasional gasp for breath. Mulder let her go and peered into her eyes, with an odd expression on his face. “Are you OK?” he asked.

She nodded, wiping at her eyes with the sleeve of her shirt. “Pregnancy hormones. I’m sorry.” He reached behind him to the end table and offered her a tissue. She blew her nose.

“You’re scaring me, Scully.” The corner of his mouth twitched up into a grin, but she wasn’t entirely sure he was joking. She wasn’t the same person he had left, no more than he was the same person he’d been when he was taken.

“I just – Mulder, when you were taken it was – imagine how you felt when I was gone, but add six years and a relationship of the sort that we didn’t have back then. And then when you were
returned to me, not in a coma, but…” she took a deep breath. It was still hard for her to say. “…dead…”

He took her hand and squeezed it. “It’s hard for you to talk about this because you keep thinking of me in the same situation.”

She nodded. “I gave up, Mulder. I gave up on you before you were really gone. I believed you were dead, and you weren’t. You could so easily still be…buried…”

He looked away. “I’m not, though. We can’t get stuck on what might have happened. If I think about it too much, I don’t want to go on, and we have to, Scully. It’s very important right now
that we do. For – if nothing else, for this guy.” He patted her stomach, a little less tentatively than before.

“Or girl” she automatically corrected him.

Mulder looked glad of a chance to change the subject. “You really don’t know which it is?” he asked. “I would have thought you’d have already done enough scientist stuff that you’d be able to predict what colour his hair will be, or how tall she’ll be at that crucial age of 13 when she attends the eighth grade prom.”

She smiled. “It doesn’t work that way Mulder. Science can’t predict those things yet with anywhere near that level of accuracy. And if the baby won’t uncross his or her legs during
the ultrasound, it’s pretty hard to tell if it’s a boy or a girl.”

Mulder wiggled his eyebrows. “I bet it’s a girl. She takes after you. Modest. You never let me see you naked before I started putting out.”

She shrugged. “I don’t make a habit of baring all to just any guy I work with.” She began to haul herself to her feet. “Besides, you saw me naked on more than one occasion. Antarctica, for
instance. And I saw you checking me out in several decontamination showers throughout the years.” She edged her way around the couch.

“Hey, you don’t have to leave! I only looked because I wanted to make sure your skin was being properly sterilized!” He turned around to watch her as she headed for the bathroom.

The corner of her mouth turned up. “Don’t worry, I’ll be back. My bladder of steel has become a lot less spacious lately.”

He grinned. “Speaking of space, I have a large amount of it in my stomach, and I know yours was grumbling earlier. Is pizza OK?”

“Anything,” she called over her shoulder as she entered the bathroom. “555-2222. Get lots of toppings.” She closed the door behind her and smiled at her reflection in the mirror – messy
hair, tear-streaked cheeks, puffy pregnant face, and just a hint of something which could be happiness.


“Scully, should I be concerned that you know the pizza delivery number off by heart?” Mulder polished off his third slice of pizza and reached for a fourth.

“Pass the dipping sauce, please” she answered demurely, wiping a string of cheese from the corner of his mouth. He raised his eyebrows but didn’t pull away.

Their easy companionship had been so natural that they hadn’t even noticed it until it was gone. In all of Scully’s months of wanting him back, she had never considered how strange it would be if he finally did return. But they were getting it back, slowly but surely. They were going to make it.

Scully stroked his cheek with her thumb. Their eyes met, and they both smiled. “My dipping sauce?” she asked.

He passed it to her. “You know you’re going to have major garlic breath, Scully. I hope you weren’t planning on kissing anybody after eating that.” He regarded her solemnly.

“Oh, I don’t know” she said. “I guess if I were to kiss anybody it would have to be somebody else who’d been eating garlic too.” She slowly dipped her crust into the small plastic container and smiled as Mulder’s hand came down over hers and redirected the pizza to his own mouth.

“Dip your own, Mulder. I’m still hungry.”

He dipped.

Scully’s Apartment
The Next Morning

Doggett called at 7, sounding apologetic and still cautious. “We got the order. I’ve cleared everything with Haufler and arranged for a backhoe to meet us at the cemetery at 9.”

Scully nodded, although she knew he couldn’t see her. “We’ll be there.” She hung up without saying goodbye and yawned.

“Doggett?” asked Mulder, stirring in the bed beside her.

She nodded again, blinking the sleep from her eyes. “We’re meeting him at 9 for the exhumation.” She hauled herself into an upright position. “I get the bathroom first.” The baby kicked approvingly.

“Do you know now that you’re bigger you steal a lot more of the covers?” asked Mulder, rolling over and sprawling his body across the half of the bed she had just vacated. He stretched and
sighed, closing his eyes. “Ahh, that’s more like it.”

“I don’t recall inviting you into my bed in the first place, Agent Mulder. So really, you have no cause to complain.” She was smiling, despite her best efforts. She bent down and kissed him,
then headed out of the room without a backward glance. She caught a glimpse of her face in the mirror as she entered the bathroom. She looked better than she had in months.

Mulder had been sleeping at his own apartment since his release from the hospital. It was something else Scully hadn’t anticipated. He’d needed the space, and she supposed she had too, to get used to the new him, and the new her. The new them. The emotional upheaval of the night before had left them giddy, flirty in a way they hadn’t been since they’d headed to Oregon together on that last fateful trip.

Munching on the crust of the last slice of pizza, he’d leaned close, exhaling the scent of garlic dipping sauce. “You still hungry, Scully?”

She’d smiled. “Maybe.”

He kissed her then, tentatively, and she responded, mixing pepperoni and spicy sauce and garlic and cheese and Mulder into something so good that she felt she almost couldn’t be  contained, even by her new super-sized body. It was a while before they broke apart, both of them flushed and breathing heavily.

“I’ve never done it with a pregnant woman before” said Mulder, stroking her collarbone with his thumb.

She smiled. “Sure you have, you just didn’t know I was pregnant.”

He nodded slowly and ran his hand down to her stomach, serious again. “Scully, I’m still going to need a little time to get used to this. I think…” he smiled “I think we’re starting to get the
hang of this again. But so much has changed.”

She was full and sleepy and extremely experienced in tamping down sexual arousal. She smiled back at him. “We have time, Mulder.” She snuggled into his shoulder and stroked his chest with her fingertips. “Wanna see what’s on TV?”

She wasn’t so sure they had the time. Their relationship had always been one of desperate, stolen moments; when she really thought about the implications of the missing bodies she realized that this was one of them. But this was also the closest she had come in – well, in her whole adult life, really, to the family she’d wanted since she was a child. So she sat on the couch with Mulder and their unborn child and tried to take in as much of the moment as she could.

She knew he was still recovering physically when he was the one who fell asleep first, halfway through Plan Nine from Outer Space.


She was awakened in the middle of the night by somebody sliding into bed beside her. She blinked. “Mulder?”

“Scully, do you think the virus I had is related to the one you had in Antarctica? Is it a variant? I didn’t have to be kept cold, and nothing burst out of my chest, but there was something
incubating in there, and I was turning into something. Do you think my virus could have been a more advanced version of yours, one that they perfected and made a lot less obvious?”

“Maybe.” she said, and fell asleep again.

Neither of them mentioned anything about graves, viruses, or bodies until they had almost reached the cemetery.

“Did Doggett still sound pissed off?” asked Mulder, staring out the window.

Scully sighed. “He sounded concerned. But Mulder, he means well. I wish you’d give him more of a chance.”

There was a long silence, until Scully changed the subject. “Do you remember what you said in the middle of the night?”

He nodded. “About the virus.”

“I think you might be right” she said.

He blinked. “Can you repeat that, please?”

She shrugged. “I think you’re right. I think the two viruses are related, and I think yours represents a progression, as it were. I would like to examine any bodies we find this morning,  but I think it is highly unlikely that we will.” She pulled up to the curb outside the cemetery and put the car in park. In the distance she could see a dingy yellow backhoe with four or five
figures surrounding it.

Mulder nodded. “What we need to know now is how the bodies got out of the graves, and who or what changed the inscriptions on the stones. And whether or not the same person or group of people is responsible for both.”

Scully undid her seatbelt. “We still might find bodies.” She opened the door and got out of the car. Mulder did the same.

Doggett was walking towards them, holding a piece of paper. “Good morning,” he said, nodding at Mulder and looking closely at Scully. He looked surprised, and she wondered if he’d learned to read her poker face. She had to admit that, despite the implications of what they were about to discover, she looked a hell of a lot better than she had the day before. So did Mulder.

“We got permission to exhume three of the graves” Doggett said. “It should give us some idea of what we’re looking at.”

Scully nodded. “Let’s get started then.” The three of them started towards the backhoe. The baby kicked.

As Mulder lagged behind a little, reading grave inscriptions, Doggett fell into step beside Scully. He looked tired, like he hadn’t been sleeping well. “You doing okay?” he asked.
“Everything okay with Mulder?”

She raised her eyebrow at him. “Since when is it your business, Agent Doggett?”

He shrugged. “Been a bit tense around here lately. Bad for my delicate nerves.”

She’d assumed he was being protective again, but maybe she did owe him a bit of an update. She’d come to like and respect him over the months they’d been working together; their bond, very different than the one she and Mulder shared, was nonetheless strong. “We’re okay.” she said. “Really, we are.”

He nodded. This was much more than she normally gave him, and he looked thoughtful.

Mulder came up behind them. “Ready to do a little grave-robbing?” he asked cheerfully. They had reached the site of the first grave, and the backhoe was already hitting wood as it dug. They watched in silence as the men lifted the coffin up and put it on the ground beside the grave.

With a creaking of wood, the lid yielded to the pressure of metal. The technician pushed it aside with the crowbar, and everybody looked in, instinctively covering their noses and mouths against the smell.

Except there was no smell. Not really, certainly not as much as one would expect from a body in the state of decomposition that this one should have been in. There was a body, though, and it looked untouched, if overly made up. Just the way it had likely looked in the open casket funeral that Haufler’s notes indicated it had.

“I think we’ve found a saint.” Mulder proclaimed, glancing sideways at Scully. “Do you detect a slight floral odor?” She looked into the coffin again and furrowed her brows. Doggett’s shoulders slumped slightly.

Scully pulled a latex glove out of her pocket and snapped it on. “Don’t worry, Agent Doggett.” She tentatively prodded the skin of the face. “I think it’s plastic.”

Doggett looked happier, but still confused. “So somebody replaced the body that should be in here with a mannequin? Why?”

Scully shrugged. “Good question. Let’s check the other two coffins and get the bodies into the autopsy bay.”

“You’re going to do an autopsy on a dummy?” asked Doggett. “Is that going to tell you much?”

“Probably not, but they still have to be examined, and I can’t think of a better place to do it” Scully replied. She glanced at Mulder, then made a decision. “We have a theory. I’m not sure
how the replacement bodies figure into it, but the fact that there is no actual body in this coffin tends to support our general hypothesis.”

Doggett started to say something, then broke off as one of the technicians approached. “We’ve hit the second coffin,” the man reported. “You want to come over and see what’s inside?” Doggett nodded and started towards the second grave. Mulder and Scully lagged behind slightly.

“He’s going to have trouble accepting this,” said Scully, wincing as the baby punched her kidney. “But he’ll back us up. I trust him, Mulder. He will help us, and he won’t betray us.”

Mulder was silent for a moment. “He doesn’t believe.”

“He’s skeptical. He’s seen things, though.”

He grinned suddenly. “Reminds me of someone else I used to know.”

She smiled. “I turned out OK, didn’t I?”

He slowly nodded. “If I give Doggett a chance I’m not expected to father any of his children, am I?”

They’d almost reached the second coffin. Doggett was looking inside, an inscrutable expression on his face. Scully reached for Mulder’s elbow, squeezed it. “That will be up to you. Although I’d prefer that you discussed it with me first.”

Doggett looked around as they approached. “Looks like the same kind of thing. Plastic face.” Scully glanced into the coffin and reached in with her gloved hand, poking at the body. She nodded.

“You want to ride back to the autopsy bay with these, Agent Doggett? I’m a little afraid they might disappear along the way.”

He nodded. “I’ll wait for the third body. You go on ahead.” He paused for a moment. “You going to let me in on your theory?”

She pulled off her glove and dropped it into an evidence bag. “You’ve read all the files. You remember my experience in Antarctica.” He nodded.

She glanced at Mulder. “We suspect that Mulder was infected by a version of the same virus, a version that has been modified so that the host’s body remains intact and is taken over by the
parasite from within. We were very lucky that we stopped the process in Mulder in time.”

She took a deep breath. “There might be more cases of this out there. The purpose remains unclear, but it is possible that they could be used as a kind of army. Imagine a group of soldiers with the strength of Billy Miles, who do not exist, officially, because they have died and been buried.”

Doggett bit his lip. “Okay. So why the dummies? Why the changed markings that directed us to dig?”

She shrugged. “Maybe someone is trying to help us. I’ve found that people are rarely direct in this line of work.” She met Mulder’s eyes for a second, and he smiled.

“I’m going to examine these mannequins in case there is some kind of clue,” she continued. I’m also going to do some bloodwork on both Mulder and me to see if I can locate a commonality in our immunities to the viruses we both had.”

“This wouldn’t affect-” Doggett broke off abruptly, but she finished his sentence in her head. The baby. She was trying not to think about that. Doggett knew how paranoid she’d been, still
was, about what her baby might be.

“I hope not” she said. “It shouldn’t make a difference as long as the virus didn’t do any genetic alteration, but…” she trailed off. She was not going to think about this right now.

Mulder squeezed her arm. “Looks like the third coffin’s out” he said, gesturing over to the third gravesite where the technicians were just prying the lid off. “Wanna check that one too before we go?”

“Yes,” she said, firmly. The baby kicked again, and she patted her stomach. It was a baby. It was normal. At worst it might have immunity to something she really didn’t want it to catch.
Everything was going to be fine.

Deny everything.

The third coffin also contained what looked like a well-made fake, although Scully was no longer wearing her gloves and didn’t bother checking. “We’ll meet you in the autopsy bay,” she said to Doggett.

He nodded and started walking with the technician back to the backhoe, pointing at something on his clipboard. “If any of the dummies come back to life, try driving a stake through their
hearts,” called Mulder. Doggett grinned and kept walking.

Scully squeezed Mulder’s hand. “Doggett can handle a few dummies.”

Mulder shrugged. “So you say. We’ll see if he reaches the autopsy bay intact.” He began to steer her towards the car. “Anyway, I’m pretty sure the mannequins are a red herring. The real question is what happened to the bodies that were supposed to be in there.”

She nodded. “And we need to find out exactly what Billy Miles has become. What you were starting to become. What an army of that sort of people could do. And how far the infiltration has gone. Doggett will fight on our side, Mulder, and we’re going to need him. This is big, and there are so few people we can trust.” She looked down for a moment. “I’m not going to be very physically helpful for the next little while. You’re going to need someone to watch your back.”

He took a breath as they reached the car and each headed for their own door. “I trust you, Scully. And I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt on this guy.” They got into the car and sat in silence for a moment.

“Thank you,” she said.

He smiled. “Well, I figure if you trust him he must have some redeeming qualities. You’ve built up a pretty healthy level of paranoia over the years.”

She sighed, starting up the ignition. It was getting hard to fit behind the steering wheel. “Well, I’m carrying around some of your genetic material these days. Maybe it’s having an effect.”

He reached over and pushed a strand of hair behind her ear, careful not to distract her attention from the road. “Scully, I love you.” he said, quietly.

She risked a quick glance over at him. He was smiling, and his eyes were alive. She squeezed his knee as she slowed for a red light. “Me too. You, that is.” The left turn signal blinked as she waited at the intersection, watching cars and trucks and SUVs go about their daily business, completely unaware of the peril they might all be in.

The mannequins were going to tell her nothing. She’d autopsy them anyway, but she agreed with Mulder. But something was happening, and she, although more physically unwieldy each day, was going to stop it.

She and Mulder. Mulder was back and they were going to stop it together.

The End


He watched as Mulder and Scully pulled away from the curb in their Bureau car, continued to watch until the other male agent organized transportation for the coffins, until he too drove away, until the backhoe was packed up and the cemetery was silent.

He could only hope that they’d get his message. He was being watched, tracked, no longer trusted to work on his own. But as he’d gone about his work, removing the incubating corpses, he’d found a way to add a few touches that he hoped would get somebody’s attention. He’d changed the inscriptions on every grave he’d robbed, replaced the bodies with something odd enough to get somebody’s attention.

He couldn’t do much. He could only do this, and hope beyond hope that somebody noticed before it was too late.

Jeremiah Smith feared very much that the point of no return had already come and gone.

The End

Author’s Notes:

Thank you to my beta, Circe Invidiosa. You rock. 🙂

This was a Scullyfic (now E-muse) Improv from <cough>April 2001<cough>. Elements were:

1. Scully, walking down a long hallway with only one shoe (Maria)
2. A bird’s nest full of baby birds in an inconvenient spot (Amy)
3. Mulder in the rain, crying (Shelba)
4. A graveyard where the inscriptions on the stones keep changing (Lil Barb)
5. Doggett repaying Mulder for his “little push” [in “Three Words”] (Cyndi Jo)

Since Element 5 set my story shortly after Three Words, I wanted to try to explore why Mulder and Scully were in a completely different emotional place in the next episode (Empedocles)  and how a better working relationship between Mulder and Doggett developed sometime in the week between those two episodes. Hopefully I succeeded in at least a small way.