Chapter 26: Glorious
March 27, 1998
6:30 a.m. The Condo
Scully woke to a slow thumping on her hip. She reached back, realized that two small, pajama-ed feet were bouncing up and down, and smiled. She rolled over to see Tyler lying horizontally between the two of them, head snug against the small of Mulder’s back, feet flying up into the air and then bouncing down gently.
He smiled at her, and said, “Mama.”
She said, “Baby,” and he patted his belly. She nodded. “That’s right. You’re the baby.”
He arched his head around until his nose was up against Mulder’s back, flipped the rest of his body over after, and rolled up to a sit. Scully wrinkled her nose and said, “You need new pants, baby boy. That’s stinky!” He scrunched up his face, and tugged at his jammies. Mulder appeared to be still asleep.
She sat up, tugged her camisole into place, and slid off the bed. He crawled over to her, and held up his arms. She took him into the bathroom, and stood him on the long counter between the sinks. He cocked his head and braced himself looking into the mirror while she stripped his jammies off and tossed them into the little hamper under the sink. She popped the tapes on the diaper, and said, “Peeeeeee-eeew”, rolling it on itself and taping it shut before sliding it into the ridiculous encapsulator that Mulder had insisted on getting. Tyler said, “Pew”, and studied the baby in the mirror.
She turned the water on in the sink, tested it with her wrist, and scooted him over to wash his bottom off. He seemed to approve, and spent a few minutes trying to grab the stream of water as it flowed from the faucet. She decided that she liked the setup. Two sinks were more than they needed, really, but the long counter and the shelves next to the sinks, as well as a few little drawers and a nice open kick space meant space for diapers, toiletries, garbage, hamper, all without spending space on a changing table.
She pulled a flat cloth diaper off one of the shelves, and turned off the water. Then she used it to pat him dry, and then wrapped a fresh disposable around him, taping it in place. She said to him, “We didn’t use these when I was babysitting. Cloth and pins, and crackly rubber pants.”
He frowned at the diaper, and tugged it a little. “You can stop wearing those when you start telling us when you have to go potty,” she said.
He looked up at her, and she pictured very clearly a little boy peeing into a potty. He looked skeptical, and she laughed. “When you are ready to do that, no more diapers.”
He shook his head. “That’s right,” she said. “No more.”
She picked him up, and he settled against the curve of her hip. She walked out, and set him down on the floor while she opened the drawer they’d set aside for his clothes. He tugged open the bottom drawer and started throwing Mulder’s socks onto the floor. She pulled out a onesie and a pair of stretchy pants, and closed the drawer to find that he had already climbed into the bottom drawer.
She sighed. “Can I get you dressed now?” she asked.
He put a pair of boxers on his head and said, “Da!”
She glanced over at the bed, to find Mulder watching them. She tossed the clothes at him, and said, “How about you get Prince Charming dressed while I go make some breakfast?”
Mulder smiled, and rolled out of the bed. He came over, gave her a kiss and said, “How about we neck until he’s hungry, and then you make breakfast?
She rolled her eyes, and pulled away. “He’s already hungry.”
Tyler was watching this. “Da.”
“See?” Scully said. “Eggs?”
Mulder shrugged. “Sure.”
She put on a bathrobe and went downstairs. She scrambled enough eggs for the three of them, toasted bread and cut a banana into chunks.
Mulder came down a few minutes later, with Tyler’s clothes draped over his shoulder and Tyler sitting on his forearm, leaning a little on his shoulder, still dressed only in a diaper.
She gave him a questioning look, and he strapped Tyler into the high chair. “I figured that the clothes would survive better if he wore them after breakfast.”
She smiled and brought the food over.
The banana turned out to be a hit. Or rather, it hit the floor after being enthusiastically squeezed into mush. “He did eat some of it, didn’t he?” she asked, as she bent to retrieve the sticky pieces.
“Tif said she didn’t like feeding the boys banana when they were dressed, because it turned their clothes black,” Mulder said. “But yeah, you can see it on his face too.”
Tyler grinned up at them through a sticky face, and said, “Ba-na-na. Mmmmm.”
They looked at each other. “There you have it,” she said.
Her fanny sack buzzed on the counter, shrilling when she opened the zipper. She answered the phone, and then smiled. “Would it be safe for us to head over to visit before they leave?” she asked.
She hung up, and said, “Want to take our boy for a ride?”
He nodded. “Definitely.”
7:00 a.m. (ab)Normal Heights
Skinner and Krycek had stayed at the home that night, so for the first time in weeks, all three gunmen stayed the night at their place together. Over cold, two-day-old pizza, they discussed the day’s plan.
“So we’re going to help them get loaded up and out, and then what?” Frohike asked. “We’re not going with them. We don’t need to be where we’ve been. Krycek doesn’t want to start the next phase yet, so what? Play D & D all weekend?”
Byers shook his head. “I think we need to be prepping for the hit on the cryo storage facility. The last thing we want is for them to still have her embryos and ova when this is done. I do NOT want to have to do this again.”
“Buck up, bucky, you get to see your girlfriend today,” Frohike said. “What about you, Langly? Going to join us in the light now? Or should we call you Darth Ralph?”
Langly rolled his eyes. “If this is the light,” he said, gesturing around the dim space, “you’re doing it wrong. Anyway, I’ve been doing the same thing you have. Sitting around, trying to be useful. Waiting for the pieces to fall into place. But I’ll tell you, I’ve had enough RPGing for a while.”
“Should we be jealous?” Frohike asked.
Byers said, absently, “She’s not my girlfriend.”
“Dude, you SO need to just get over it and ask her out. Carpe diem and all. One of us ought to have a life.” Langly stood up and dumped his paper plate in the garbage, then started picking up trash from around the room.
Frohike rushed over and reached up to put a hand on Langly’s forehead. “Okay,” he said, as Langly batted his hand away. “Now I know you’ve gone darkside. You’re cleaning. It’s creepy.”
Byers disappeared into the bathroom.
Langly raised an eyebrow at Frohike. “You should try it sometime. Makes the place smell better.”
Frohike shook his head in disbelief, then went over to check his email.
A little later, Byers called in sick, Frohike quit his job outright, and by 8:30, they were on the road to pick up the moving truck, sitting still empty in Escondido.
9:00 a.m. Rancho Bernardo
The Cavendish household was in utter chaos when Mulder and Scully arrived. Boxes were everywhere, Mandy and Joel were arguing in the kitchen, and Carl was sitting on the floor, howling around fingers in his mouth while Gwynne tried to persuade him that the world was not ending. Jessie and Sarah were doggedly loading the truck with boxes, while the Gunmen were struggling to fit a couch out the front door.
Scully slipped the sling across her body and stuck Tyler’s feet down into it, sitting him in the fabric like a hammock. Mulder grabbed the diaper bag, and they started up the driveway.
Frohike dropped his end of the couch, and Langly started swearing, still in the house, the door almost completely occluded by upholstery. Frohike said, “Shut up, Ringo. There are children present.”
“That never stopped you, dude,” Langly said, and the end of the couch lowered. When he saw Mulder and Scully, he grinned. “Oh, well, why didn’t you say so?”
“Give us a minute, guys,” Frohike said, and turned to try to lift his end of the couch. Mulder dropped the diaper bag and ran forward to help him, and two minutes later, they had it loaded in the truck.
Tyler looked at the Gunmen, and then reached for Frohike, saying, “Mug.”
Byers said to Mulder, “By the way, we’ve been working on new identities for you. Would you guys rather have the last name of Schuyler or Miller?”
Scully said “Miller” at the exact same moment that Mulder said, “Schuyler.”
They looked at each other, and she said, “Really, Miller would be better.”
Mulder shrugged. “As you wish.”
“Okay,” Byers continued, “then what should we call Tyler?”
Scully answered, “Joshua,” without thinking. Mulder shot a look at her, and said, “Why?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. It just popped into my head. Doesn’t he seem like a Joshua to you?”
Mulder looked at Tyler, and said, “Are you a Joshua?”
Tyler nodded seriously.
Mulder laughed. “I guess that settles it, then.”
“For you, Dana, our first choice was Anna, but we could use Kate, Sara or Danielle, unless you have another strong preference.”
She thought for a moment, then said, “Anna would be fine.”
“Mulder, you’re harder. We’ve been brainstorming, but we’re not sure...” Byers gave a slightly apologetic shrug.
“Just give me the list,” Mulder said.
“Malcom, Forrest, Frank, Felix, Fawke or Falk, Fritz or Faris,” Byers said.
Mulder cringed. “Couldn’t it be something simple, like Jack?”
“Why Jack?” Frohike asked.
“Why not? It’s simple, short, a nickname, and there have to be five thousand Jack Millers in the US,” Mulder said.
Tyler said, “Jah!” and Scully laughed.
“See, Joshua there agrees with me,” Mulder said.
“Jack and Anna Miller, with their son Joshua.” Frohike squinted at them. “I guess I can sort of see it.”
“Make him Joshua Taylor Miller,” Scully said. “I can be Anna Kathleen, and he can be John Fawke Miller.”
“Fawke?” Mulder said, with a tinge of indignation.
“Would you prefer Felix?” she asked.
“Actually... um... yes.”
Byers nodded. “Got it.”
Frohike handed Tyler back to Mulder, and they all walked up to the house.
Gwynne looked up and smiled. “You got him!”
Scully nodded. “Safe and sound! I assume you heard about yesterday.”
“Yep. Boys told me. It’s a relief, though I’m sure that it’s not over yet...” Gwynne looked at Carl. “Go find your mama, sweetie. And your Grandma.”
Teena appeared first, cocking her head at Tyler and saying, “You brought him home!”
Scully nodded. “We got him last night.”
They introduced Tyler to the rest of the family, and Lisa took the two little boys out to the backyard with Mulder to keep them away from the chaos of boxes. Gwynne and Scully ended up on the patio, watching Mulder on his back with Tyler on his stomach and Lisa chasing Carl in circles around them.
“How are you doing, Dana?” Gwynne asked.
Scully smiled. “It’s all turning into a blur, but a mostly happy one.”
“It hasn’t hit you yet, has it?” Gwynne asked.
Scully watched Tyler tip over, giggling. “It did, a little, in pieces. But not really. No. It hasn’t been safe to let go. And right now, with him... he makes it very hard to be sad.”
“That’s good,” Gwynne said. “It will hit at some point, when you’re safe.”
“Will we ever be safe,” Scully asked, “really?”
“I have to believe you will,” Gwynne said. “We’re working very hard to make it happen. If things get bad, and you have to run, we’re setting up a string of meeting places, prioritized. If one is compromised, go to the next. If you manage to get the girls out, we want to send you down to Oaxaca. I have a friend there, a partera, with property. I think it will be easier for you going that way then trying to explain the girls here in this country. There, you can be a missionary, if you will, and the hacienda is an easy place to be for a while, very private.”
Scully sighed. “I don’t speak Spanish.”
“You’ll figure it out. And Doña Isabel is fluent in English.” Gwynne smiled, watching the children play. “And maybe it won’t be necessary. Krycek seems to have made a dent in the threat already.”
Scully frowned, staring at her canvas sneakers. “I wish I could feel better about that. But I’m afraid that it’s more of an opening salvo than a serious blow. Right now I’ll just be happy if we have the four days we need to get that cure done and into the girls and the children. How am I going to run with a toddler?”
“You’re going to put him in a carrier, sling a pack over your shoulder, and go. We’ll be making an emergency kit for each of you. Water treatment. Powdered formula for him. We’re already setting up a contact in Tijuana.”
“New names, new faces. When is it going to stop? Fourteen years from now when the sky falls?”
“You’ll be together. Do the names matter?” Gwynne asked.
Scully gave a dry laugh. “You have no idea. Calling Mulder anything but Mulder is ridiculously hard. On the other hand, his hatred of the name “Fox” makes it easier to let go. The last time I tried to call him Fox, he just about jumped out of his skin. Jack. I wonder where the hell he got that.”
“Joshua?” Gwynne asked.
“It... Tyler never quite seemed right, and the name just popped into my head.” Scully laughed. “When I was a little girl, I thought I would call my son Lancelot. Then again, I was eight years old and deeply in love with Arthurian legends. Joshua never occurred to me before this morning.”
Gwynne laughed. “My mother was, too, which is how I got saddled with Genevieve. Genny was fine, until every baby girl born between 1970 and 1974 ended up named Jennifer. Gwynne was an easy switch. And there was no one around to call me anything else. It made the change much easier. But my kids... their names were compromises. The funny thing is that I wanted to name him Joel, but Frank said it sounded too Jewish. And Angelica, we both liked Jessica better, but her father was so attached to the name. Karen said that the name Sarah just popped into her head when she was about 7 months pregnant. It fit so well that I never thought twice about it after she was born, although it wasn’t my first choice before that.”
“Strangely enough, Martin and Sally feel like nicknames now. It’s easier to call him Martin than it would be to call him Fox.” Scully chuckled. “It’s a testament to the oddity of our relationship.”
“How is it going?” Gwynne asked.
“Mulder is... He’s trying so very hard. And succeeding, really. I’m not sure I knew he had it in him, but he...” She smiled in the general direction of her knees. “He’s kind of a sap, at heart. And this... finding Sam, Tyler, being together... I’ve never seen him so happy in his life. It feels kind of crazy to be happy in the midst of all this insanity.”
“Good-crazy, or crazy-crazy?”
“Good. And it makes me so scared that it will all come crashing down. It feels like a fragile sort of normality creeping over us. I don’t want to move, for fear it will fly away and never come back.”
Gwynne reached over and patted Scully’s hand, then squeezed it. “All happiness is transitory. Things change. It’s a universal. The one constant. But the good thing is that the change goes both ways. You’ll find it again, even if it all goes to hell for a while.”
Scully chuckled. “I hope so. That’s what the cards have been pointing at.”
“Cards?” Gwynne asked
“I got this crazy new aged tarot deck in Ashland. Voyager.”
“I know it. You’ve been doing readings? I’m surprised.”
Scully shrugged, “I got it to tease Mulder. But it has been an interesting perspective. Spooky, almost. We’ve decided that Tyler is the child of wands. He came up in the outcome twice. It’s more meditation than prognostication.”
Gwynne laughed. “That fits. I usually use Daughters of the Moon, and then, only occasionally, when I’m feeling a bit at sea about what is going on around me. I used to use Motherpeace, but it tended to run snippy, and Daughters was a little less strident. At least, the black and white version. The painted version hasn’t really resonated for me.”
“Are you ever at sea?” Scully asked.
“More often than I let on. I wish you could have seen the meeting we had on Wednesday. It was one of those moments, you know? When most of the people you care about are gathered in one place and listening, and then they support you unconditionally.” Gwynne smiled.
“Actually, most of the people I’ve cared most about don’t know the meaning of unconditional. Mom does. But the rest of the people in my life? Mulder comes close. But Dad? My brothers? The people I’ve worked with? It’s always been, ‘If you do it my way, if you are good enough, if you don’t rock the boat...’”
Gwynne laughed. “You haven’t noticed my boys then. Or that Mr. Skinner of yours.”
Scully looked over at her. “Tell me about Wednesday.”
“We had close to 100 people there. And they’re all doing what they can. When Flo realized what was going on for you two...” Gwynne smiled, looking pointedly at Tyler.
They talked for a while longer, then someone came out to ask for Mulder’s help lifting the credenza, and Scully and Gwynne played with the little boys on the grass for the rest of the morning.
Saying goodbye was bittersweet. But Mulder had an easier time than he thought he would, as he hugged his sister. “It would be different,” he said to her, “if I didn’t know where you were going. But you’ll have Mom with you, and Gwynne will help you get settled. I’ll find you as soon as it’s safe.”
“Be careful, big brother. And don’t do anything stupid. My kids should be able to get to know their cousin.” She smiled up at him.
“Cousins, if we’re lucky,” he said.
“Cousins. We’ll keep you in our prayers.” She turned, and urged the kids into the minivan.
Joel came over. “Thank you,” he said. “You’ve helped make things whole for us. I hope you find what you’re looking for.” He smiled, patted Tyler on the cheek, and then moved around to the passenger side of the van.
Scully, holding Tyler on her hip in the sling, watched as Gwynne, with Teena next to her in the moving truck, pulled out onto the street. She looked at Tyler and said, “Can you wave bye bye?”
He gave her a look, and she half expected him to say, “Farewell.” But he held up his hand and watched it open and close, palm towards him. She smiled, and turned to the Gunmen, standing next to her.
Jessie and Sarah were standing next to them. Mulder looked at them curiously. “Aren’t you going with?”
Sarah shook her head. “I’ll go back when the boys do.”
“What about school?” Scully asked.
“I’m taking this term off for mental health reasons,” Sarah said. “Mostly because it was making me crazy wondering what kind of trouble Uncle Muggy was getting the boys into.”
“Me?” Frohike said, “This wasn’t my gig. Blame Byers.”
Byers nodded. “Yep, actually.”
“What about you, Jessie?” Scully asked. “What about the clinic?”
“You’re going to need someone to help with the treatments, once they’re ready. I’ve already got someone covering for me, and they’re prepared to cover me for up to six weeks. So there’s no rush, really.” Jessie smiled. “And while I love my brother dearly, there’s no way I’m letting my kid sister go haring off into danger without someone to watch her back. And I’d like to help John.” She smiled at Byers, who actually smiled back.
“Where are you going to be staying?” Scully asked.
“With Aunt Dot. She’s going to give me rainbow streaks.” Sarah grinned, fingering the fading blue-green tips of her hair. “She managed to compound some more permanent colors than I could buy retail.”
Scully grinned. Then she sighed. “I hate to go, but I need to check on Joe’s work.”
Jessie smiled. “Why don’t Sis and I follow along in the extra car, and get to know what he’s working on?”
“Be my guest,” Scully said.
“We’re heading back to work on the IDs and to prepare to poach the eggs,” Frohike said.
“Um, Muggy? You might want to rephrase that...” Sarah said, cringing.
3:00 p.m. Teen Mothers’ Home
Things were mostly back to normal at the home. They’d managed to get the girls aside to talk to them, and between Maria’s translations and Skinner’s Spanish, the girls understood what was going to happen.
Krycek asked Maria, “How do you all feel about the babies you’re carrying?”
She shrugged. “They are not our babies. We grow them, but we were told coming in that we would not keep them.”
“Were you kidnapped?” Skinner asked.
She shook her head. “They offered us money, a lot of money, to be sent to our families, and they told us that they would get us citizenship, and for our families too, if we helped them. I did not need the citizenship, but I wanted to help my mother. With money, with a connection, she could come back... I miss her very much.” Her voice was soft, young, with a slight accent.
“Where is she?” Skinner asked.
“I’m not sure. She is from Guatemala, right on the border with Mexico. But we have family in Honduras and Mexico. I do not know. I asked them to send the money to my abuela. But I do not know if they did it. They did not tell us they would not let us out again, or let us talk to our families. Or that we might die. Who is the mother of this baby I carry?”
Skinner smiled. “She is a woman that has worked with me for a long time. We came to find you, to find the babies. She was kidnapped once, and the eggs that were turned into that baby were taken from her. She didn’t know until she found one of her children late last year. But she’s a good woman, a doctor, very kind, and she loves children very much. She has been working to make it safe to take you away from here. All of you.”
One of the girls asked something in Spanish. Skinner frowned, and shrugged.
Krycek said, “What did she ask?”
“She wanted to know about her baby.”
Langly said, “As far as I can tell, several of the babies are in what they call the PN/MF line, and we’re pretty sure that those are Penny Northern and Max Fennig. One is from the BH/DB line. Betsy Hagopian and Duane Barry, interestingly enough. The others, we aren’t sure, but given the sheer number of abductees? I’m surprised we were able to recognize any of the lines at all. And all four of those particular abductees are dead.”
Skinner sighed. “Frankly, if the girls don’t want to keep the babies, they should probably be placed for adoption once they are healthy. The only ones where we know the parents are alive and want the babies are the babies Maria and Lucita carry.”
Maria listened, and then spoke to the girls in Spanish. One answered.
“She wants to know about the money, and her family,” Maria said to Krycek.
“I believe arrangements are being made about money. If the girls wish to return to their families, we’re happy to do that. There will also be an option for school and fostering with our associates,” Skinner said. “If they want to give the babies up for adoption, I can see what can be done to facilitate that.”
More words flying back and forth. Then an argument, Skinner frowning. Krycek watched, slightly annoyed at not understanding.
Maria said, “Most of them do not want to keep the babies. We have not been treated with respect, and the idea of going home with someone else’s white baby... they do not like it. Lucita says she thinks she wants the baby, but I told her that the baby’s mother wants it. She is not happy.”
“And you?” Krycek asked.
“I would like to meet this woman whose children were stolen before they were conceived. But mostly I want my mother, and I want to not be here with the men who look at us like cattle. I do not mind carrying this baby, the last one was not too hard. But I have never thought they were my children.” She said something to Lucita, who said something back.
“She thinks the baby talks to her, and she is crazy as a chicken. She says that the woman who was so careless with her eggs should not treat her as a basket. She did not choose to come here, they just took her because one of the men liked her looks. She says no one promised her anything, and that she did not choose this, but that the child chose her, and she will keep it. I think she is mad because all the other girls are given a choice and she is not, so she has decided she wants it because someone told her no.”
Skinner frowned. “That may not be possible. We will try to be fair with all of you, but that child...”
“She will have my child, certainly,” Maria said. “Perhaps Lucita will change her mind.”
4:00 p.m. The Condo
Mulder and Scully left Jessie and Sarah with Joe, and the rest of the day spun out in lazy domesticity, playing with Tyler, shopping for diapers and around five, meeting with Flo to sign the papers that gave them temporary guardianship of Tyler. Flo glanced up, and Mulder said, “The red glow over there means they’re off.”
She smiled. “Good. I wanted to let you know, I’m working up the paperwork in private, on the side, to get his birth certificate changed to reflect his actual parentage. That will be done as soon as Carol or Gwynne tells me it’s safe to do so. I’ve got a friend down at records who will help me when the time comes.”
Scully chuckled. “That and our marriage certificate...”
“We know how to cure him,” Mulder said. “We will, when we’re ready to cure all of them.”
“Tomorrow there’s a support group meeting,” Flo said. “It’s at the office at 10, in our play therapy room. You should come meet with the parents. I believe the staff members you mentioned will be there as well.”
They looked at each other. Scully said, “We have a way of dealing with them, but it’s permanent. If they are human, it will not affect them. If they are clones or aliens, it will reveal that. If they are, there is another option. If they are merely complicit humans, we should introduce them to an... associate of ours. If they are aliens or clones... We are safest eliminating them.”
Flo frowned. “Will your associate...”
Mulder shook his head. “I don’t think so. He’s capable of it, but if they cooperate with him, he will probably fold them back into the project where he is.”
“I’ll trust your judgment on that one,” Flo said. “I can’t really begin to comprehend the stakes in this war of yours.”
“Thank you,” Scully said. “I can’t either.”
“How do you want to play it?” Flo asked.
“We have injectors with a substance... we need to find a way of injecting them subtly. Is there a way we can meet them before the class?” Scully asked.
“I’ll see what I can do,” Flo said. “Come a few minutes early.”
Flo left soon after, and the rest of the evening felt strangely normal. Dinner, a bath for Tyler, and a quiet peace as they snuggled in the big bed, falling asleep ridiculously early, lulled by the even sound of his breathing as he lay on Mulder’s chest.
March 28, 1998
10:20 a.m. National City
They sat in the car for a minute after arriving at SDCSS. Scully handed Mulder two injectors, preloaded with a 4cc dose of amber liquid. She kept two for herself, plus a full vial of the stuff. The bottom of the diaper bag was not far from Skinner’s joke about the diaper bag of death. A dart gun loaded with toxin and several dozen empty syringes lay there, covered with a receiving blanket and a small pile of disposable diapers.
“Ready?” she asked.
Mulder nodded. He stepped out of the car, injectors in his suit pocket, and opened the door to get Tyler out.
Flo appeared at the front door. “Hi guys,” she said. “Can I take him for you?”
Scully nodded. “That’s probably best.”
Mulder handed Tyler to her, shut and locked the car doors, and they followed Flo in, Scully carrying the diaper bag.
Every step seemed like forever as they walked down the hallway. Flo pointed at a door, and said, “I asked them to wait in there to meet you.”
They looked at each other. Then they palmed injectors, and opened the door carefully. Susan Chambliss and a middle aged man they didn’t recognize sat behind a small table.
Scully forced a smile, and held out her hand. “I’m Sally Harrod.” Mulder held out his hand at the same time. Mrs. Chambliss gave Sally a funny look, but extender her hand anyway. The man next to her said, “I’m Peter Amglin, nice to meet you,” and as they shook hands, Mulder and Scully both triggered the injectors.
Mrs. Chambliss looked confused as her body froze. *Clone.* But Amglin sagged, deformed, *Shapeshifter,* and Scully said, “Back out into the hall.”
They stepped back, and Scully pulled out the dart gun, fired one into each of them, and slammed the door shut. They watched through the glass as the two workers bubbled green and melted onto their chairs. Scully put the gun back into the bag, looked up at Mulder, and said, “That should not have been as satisfying as it was.”
Then she sagged, gasped and started to shake. He put his arm around her shoulder and said, “Are you okay? What’s wrong... Scully...”
She shook her head, and he realized that her shoulders were shaking with slightly hysterical laughter, on the verge of tears. She said, after a minute, “I’m sorry, it’s just... What she put me through... It was one thing when I thought it was the judge... but she knew. She made it happen that way. She said she didn’t, that it wasn’t her decision, but it was, and... can you take this back to the car? I need a minute.”
He looked at her, uncertain, and then walked back down the hall with the diaper bag. Flo met him coming out of the play room, and said, “Well?”
“One clone, one alien. I think the chairs are probably a write-off. Wait a couple hours before letting anyone in there, and treat it as a chemical spill.” He closed his eyes and tipped his head back. “It was... the protocol we’re developing... it’s very efficient. Would you go to Scully? She’s...”
Flo nodded, and walked down the hall.
The meeting was surprisingly pleasant after that. Mulder had met most of the families, and with the alien presence gone, they were able to explain, finally, what was going on. They termed it as a government experiment, and explained that they would have a final treatment the following week. The families were surprisingly accepting of the explanation. The hard part was explaining that the kids who were damaged might not be “cured”, but that they would stop getting worse, and might be able to start getting better.
On the way back up to the condo, Scully said, “I think that you and Jessie and Joe should be the team delivering the cure to the kids. I’ll take care of the pregnant girls.”
“Are you sure?” Mulder asked.
She nodded. “They know you. And I think I’ll be less threatening for the girls.”
She was quiet for a while, and then she said, “I think I’d like to go to confession this evening.”
He reached over and took her hand. “We did the right thing.”
“I don’t doubt that. The thing I need to talk to the priest about... is how I felt about it, not what I did.” She stared out the passenger window. “They were complicit in the deaths of more than 100 children, maybe closer to 200, I don’t know because the boys only gave me my files, not any of the other ‘lines’. They were enemy combatants, part of the worst enemy humankind has ever known. I don’t feel bad about killing them, I just wish that the actual killing part hadn’t made me so happy. Because that’s not who I want to be.”
“Do you want us to come with you?” Mulder asked.
“No... I’ll drive myself. We’ll bring him to church tomorrow.”
4:45 p.m. St. Williams
Confession may be good for the soul, but for Scully, it was one of the most challenging confessions she had ever done. *Forgive me father, for I have sinned...*
She debated for a while whether to meet the priest face to face, or to sit in the confessional, behind the screen. When the last of the other penitents had filed out, she asked for a face to face meeting, in private.
The starting of the ritual was comforting, but the question of how to say, “I killed an alien today,” left her sitting silent for a long moment.
The priest finally said, “Perhaps you can tell me in general terms, my child.”
She closed her eyes. “I am a soldier,” she began. “There is a war, a secret, silent war, against an enemy worse than any humanity has ever encountered. I do not even know if our enemy has souls. They are not human. I wish I could explain more than that, and I know you must think I’m crazy, but please know that I am not.”
She opened her eyes, and found him looking at her with a small smile on his face. “We all face demons, child. Please go on.”
She nodded, then continued. “Today, I did battle with the enemy. And I won the battle. This battle. The enemy died. I am not here to confess that, it was necessary and just and I know in my heart that there was no other way. The thing I am struggling with is my feelings. I feel like I took too much pleasure in the vengeance, that I took the action I did as much because of the harm that my enemy did to me personally as for the larger battle. I do not want to do what I do because of rage, but because I love my children and humanity and want to protect them.”
“Some anger is righteous. To take pleasure in killing is not, but if your enemy is not human, and is thus not ensouled, and your actions were proportional to the wrong done... I do not think this rises to the level of mortal sin. Are there other sins weighing on your heart?”
“I am struggling,” she said, “with the nature of the work we must do now. A great evil has been perpetrated... my fertility stolen from me, the eggs used in horrendous experiments. I learned a few weeks ago that several embryos were created, then divided to make more embryos, against my will. There are twelve fertilized embryos sitting in a freezer, all of which are cloned duplicates of children who have already been born. Am I obliged to try to carry these infants? There are girls who are already carrying two of my children because someone was doing these experiments.
“I helped to create a treatment for a disease created artificially, but the first test was done on a girl who was pregnant, and we were not sure that it would not kill her. But the work we do... if we do not do it, they win. How can I try to parent twelve embryos, when there’s a good chance that by the end of the summer I will be parenting three children under the age of 18 months, none of whom were created in my womb, but nevertheless are my children, my husband’s children, because of the evil perpetrated on both of us? God did not create these embryos, these children. There was nothing of love in their creation. I had no idea it was happening until I met a little girl who was clearly part of my family, who turned out to be my daughter though I’d never given birth.”
She stopped, and the priest was staring at her with an utterly perplexed expression on his face. She held out her hands in a supplicatory gesture, “I don’t know what to do.”
He took her hands, and said, gently, closing his eyes, “Let us pray for guidance.”
He opened his eyes abruptly and said, “You know these children, have met them?”
“Does your heart tell you they are against God? That he had no hand in their making?”
She swallowed. “My son... he... no. He is an innocent. And a wonder.”
“Let God make what he will. Do what you can to end the evil, do not further it.”
She closed her eyes. “Three of those embryos are from the same genes that created my daughter, who died. Three are the same as my son, who is still alive. The other six are the same as two babies in utero. They decided they needed ‘backups’. God help me, they’ve already destroyed so many eggs, so many embryos already.”
“I cannot tell you what to do about the embryos. I do not know. But I can tell you that praying for God to guide your hand, to place the path before your feet, can only lead to righteousness. I understand very well your hesitation about embryos created in such a vile way, but I would say that I do not believe they could become human without the touch of God.” The priest frowned and folded his hands as he waited for her response.
She shook her head. “They have created hybrids who are partly human, partly alien. That is what they were trying to do with my children, and I have found, I believe, a way to reverse the process. I have seen those that looked like humans but who were clearly not, and I have seen an alien act with a kind of grace that verges on the miraculous. I am having difficulty reconciling these things with my faith. How am I to find my way?”
“What do you think you should do?” he asked.
She sighed, and said, “I think I should remove the embryos from their control. Beyond that, I do not know.”
He nodded. “You do not have to decide now. Protecting them is a start. Perhaps the opportunity to give them a more nourishing shelter will arise. The Holy See has not spoken on this matter yet. You are on the cutting edge, so to speak, of Catholic theology simply asking the question. I wish you could tell me more of the war you are fighting.”
She gave a small, helpless laugh. “One of the problems of this war is that we have been given time by people who made horrible promises in order to buy time to find a way to fight the unfightable. One of the promises was to keep it secret. I will not further the evil they perpetrated in this cause, but the battle needs to be fought, and we need every minute.”
“Aliens?” he asked.
She looked at him, willing him to hear the truth in her words. “I have seen a man change shape into another man in an instant. I have felt grave harm in my body healed and lightened by a touch. A child with my genes, my husband’s genes, made in a time when I was not pregnant, could not be pregnant, when we were not together, and yet undeniably ours. I have seen someone who looked like my husband’s sister disintegrate in a way the human body is not capable of, and then seen his sister whole and healthy. My son... can read our thoughts. How can I deny these things? I have seen the spaceship myself.”
“Aliens.” He seemed almost bemused. “Chest bursting aliens? Or the pointy ears kind?”
“Um... there are mind-controlling ones that take control of humans. There are shapeshifting ones who bleed green. I don’t think we have any chest bursters, and I haven’t seen pointy ears. Most of them seem to look human, one way or another. I mean, not the greys, but I’m not sure how they fit into it all, anyway. The more I tell you about this, the crazier it’s going to sound.”
“Greys. It is crazy. But I do not doubt you. I do not hear falsehood in you, and I really should.”
She laughed. “I’ve been a skeptic most of my life, Father. Eventually the evidence became overwhelming. I wish it were not true. I wish it was as simple as a government conspiracy. But ultimately, there is nothing else that makes sense given what I have seen. I do not want to believe it, but I know that at this point, to not believe would be to deny the truth in front of my face.”
“I would give you all I can, child, to make this burden lighter. Right now, if that means simple absolution... you have it. Remember to ask God for guidance, for I do have faith that where I cannot help you, God will have a better idea of what is needed.” He smiled.
“I ask every day,” she said. “And since I started asking, prayers I did not even know how to say have been answered.”
He began the rite of absolution. “....may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
He took her hands, “And thank you for fighting the good fight. For us all.”
She blinked, nodded, and went out feeling less at sea.
March 29, 1998
9:00 a.m. St. Williams
Going to church felt almost normal to Mulder, now. It wasn’t that he was suddenly feeling a need to convert, but that he could understand better the comfort the service brought her. He held Tyler, and when the boy got restless, took him back to the back of the church, where an older woman pointed him down the hall to a play room for toddlers.
Scully came and found him after the service, smiling to see them playing together.
As they got out into the parking lot, her phone rang. She answered, then mouthed, “Carol” to Mulder.
“I think we can make that,” she said into the phone. To Mulder, she said, “They’d like us to meet with them this afternoon.”
They got to Carol’s place in La Jolla at 11. Jessie, Dot and Sarah were already there, plus a number of women they’d never met. Sarah took Tyler to play, while they discussed logistics, meeting places.
A woman named Elle, with coiffed grey hair, wearing a shirt with quilt blocks appliquéd to it, stepped forward. “I’ve been working on something for you,” she said, holding up what looked like cross between a backpack, a watercolor quilt and a fisherman’s vest. “I’m hoping it will make any traveling you do easier.”
Scully looked at it, confused. “What is it?”
“It’s a backpack. You can put Tyler on your back, and this will hold everything you need.” She showed a variety of pockets and buckles and pouches.
“Where does he go?” she asked.
“Between you and this part here. Let me show you.”
Sarah brought Tyler over, and Elle bent over, tucking the carrier around his back, and then hoisting him up over her shoulder. She slipped her arms through a set of loops, and then buckled it around her waist. “It’s sort of based on a Korean carrier I saw once, and my favorite backpack, and my husband’s tool belt. Here, you try.” She sat down on the couch, unbuckled it, and then shrugged Tyler off onto the couch.
Scully turned the thing over in her hands, then put it behind Tyler’s back and swung him up. “Hey, that’s not bad,” she said. “He doesn’t feel heavy at all.”
“I put extra padding in the straps, figuring that fully loaded it might get pretty heavy, and if you’re heading south, it’s going to get warm, so you won’t have clothing layers to pad.”
“Thank you,” Scully said, “The fabric is pretty, too.”
“Oh, before I forget, check out the hidden pockets.” She slipped a finger into what appeared to be a seam, and pulled, revealing a small zippered pocket. Then she picked up a strap, and showed how pulling and turning would reveal yet another pocket. “Put money there. Some of the pockets are already loaded with this and that, but I left most of them for you to fill.”
Scully smiled. “It looks enormously useful, thank you. The boys gave us a fanny sack that converts to a baby carrier, but it’s not quite ideal as either. This should be just the thing.”
“Oh, and if you want, you can press here, and here, and take the pack part off. It’s got separate straps, in case you need to share the load. Plus you can unzip this here, and double the capacity, but the weight distribution may be off if you do that...”
When they left, a few hours later, Scully looked across the top of the car at Mulder and said, “Do you realize we may be able to end this? Tomorrow? Or the next day?”
He nodded. “It doesn’t seem possible.” He bent and tucked Tyler into his seat. She sat in the passenger seat and he talked to her while he buckled. “So you’re doing the hospital in the morning with the boys, and you’ll be at the salon after... I’m glad you’ll have Sarah with you through that, if you’re doing treatments on the girls all afternoon, having someone to play with Tyler will be a godsend.”
She smiled. “I’m just looking forward to spending time with you without worrying about cameras.”
“Still have to worry about saving the world,” he said.
“Not this month,” she said.
He climbed into the car, and looked back at Tyler. “Month’s almost over. His birthday is Saturday.”
“We’ll get him a cake and let him destroy it,” she said, smiling. “It’s tradition.”
“Cake? Ms. Soy Milk wants to feed a one-year-old cake?”
“Sure. Organic cake, made with whole wheat flour and evaporated cane juice.”
He cringed. “D’oh. You take all the joy out of it. Needs to have the year’s quotient of refined sugar and bleached flour or it doesn’t count.”
“We don’t even know where we’re going to be on Saturday,” she pointed out.
“Spoilsport. Okay kid, the minute we get a chance, we’ll throw you an all-grandmother cake smashing bash.” He pulled the car out of the driveway, and they headed back to the condo to start packing.
to Chapter 27