Chapter One

It's funny how your life can change in an instant, for better or for worse. One morning in late February, Walter Skinner found out just how swiftly this can occur. He found out just how rapidly the earth balance can shift, changing your life one way or another. He was seated at his fiancée's kitchen table that morning, enjoying a cup of coffee and some homemade pancakes. He loved spending his mornings with her, eating well and feeling happy before he started his day, be it a weekend as it was now or a workday. Maggie was beaming as she moved about her kitchen serving him.

"Walt, I have something to tell you about Dana. I know she hasn't even told Fox yet, so don't say anything, but, oh, Walter, I had to tell someone or I'd burst," Maggie gushed.

Skinner smiled. He adored seeing that look on Maggie's face.

"Well, for God's sake, Margaret what is it? She isn't sick or you wouldn't be
this happy."

"Walt, our daughter is going to have a baby. We're going to have a
grandchild." Lately when referring to her youngest child, Maggie had taken to saying "our daughter." She realized the special protective love Walt had for her baby girl.

"Margaret, you all ready have grandchildren. Between Bill Jr. and Charlie, you have six," he said, not correcting her that Dana was not his real daughter. It felt like it was true. He should share Maggie's elation, but knowing of Mulder's feeling on that very subject colored his reaction to the news.

"I know, but, she's my baby, my daughter. My baby's having a baby. It's different to be the mother of the mother." She beamed and gave him a quick kiss on the top of his head. He smiled.

"And she didn't tell Mulder?"

"Nope, only her mother. But I couldn't keep it a secret. Well, I could from Fox, but Dana is so much like your daughter now, it wouldn't seem right not to tell her father."

"I take it I can't tell Mulder." Walter really felt Mulder should know. Judging from the discussion he had with him the other day, he knew the surprise would not go over well.

"I would hope that you wouldn't even let Dana know I told you. She'd have my head. She's going to have us over for dinner tonight to tell us and Fox together. I just wanted to share it with you. That's what I love about this relationship. I have someone to share things with."

"Maggie, come here a minute. Sit. Mulder and I had a beer last Friday and he and I got to talking about family. And he's not all that keen on starting one." He felt forewarned was forearmed. Fox Mulder was not a family man he was too dedicated to the X-files.

"Well, that's because he's no in the position for it to matter. No man as involved in his work as Fox really thinks about family until it's time to."

Maggie, the optimist, Skinner thought.

"Well, maybe Mulder isn't ready to start a family with Dana. Actually, he told me he never even thought about it, but if it were to come up, no, he's not ready to start family. Mulder isn't one to mince words, Margaret."

"Well, maybe he's not ready now, but he will be. As soon as Dana tells him, he's going to be a daddy, his heart will just melt. I know I've been there. Bill was not at all ready for Bill Jr. But he dealt with and loved every minute. Fox will feel the same way. I mean how would you feel if I told you I was going to have a baby?"

"I'd think it was time for the second coming...no, seriously, Maggs, I'd think it was great. I happen to want to be a grandfather, I've always wanted children. I'm just not sure that Mulder does. But we aren't talking about me and you. We're talking about Mulder and Dana."

"Actually we are talking about me and you. I wasn't going to tell you. I wanted to wait, but well, I have to tell you something. I was going to wait until tonight, and I know you probably won't believe me, but I'm pregnant. You're going to be a father.

Walter said nothing. He just stared at Maggie, a blank expression on his face. If she were ten years younger, he'd be delighted with the news that he was to be a father, but this, a baby at fifty-three, was far too big a risk.

Maggie took in the expression on his face. It showed nothing. He just said he'd be happy with the news, yet he just stared.

"Well, Walter, say something. Are you happy?" She moved closer to embrace him.

"Um, surprised is more the word for it, Maggie," he said pulling away, straightening his tie.

"Oh, I know it's a shock, darling, but there are worse surprises, right?"

What was she thinking? Nothing could be worse than this. "Wrong. Margaret, you are fifty-two, almost fifty-three years old. It is impossible for you to be pregnant. It just can't happen."

"Well, it did happen, and you did have a part in it, you just remember that," she started clearing the dishes. "I think it happened around the twelfth of last month; making me, effectively six weeks pregnant. Although I'm not really all that regular since I started the change, the doctor figures that is about right."

"Six weeks. That's it. Oh Lord, then it's not too late," he sighed with relief. Six weeks she could get an abortion. She'd be safe.

"Not too late to do what? Walter Skinner, if..."

"Face facts, Margaret. You may have been able to conceive this child, but you'll never be able to carry it to term. It may be biologically possible to conceive it; but you'll never physically be able to complete the race." He hardened his tone to hide the plethora of emotions running through his mind.

"Women much older than me have had healthy babies, Walt. I'm going to be monitored very closely and have all the tests, it's all going to be fine, you'll see." She sensed his fear and tried to reassure him, making light of the situation.

"I doubt it. This pregnancy, it's..."She cut him off again, reading his mind.

"Oh, God, Walt, don't go all Fox Mulder on me. This is a perfectly natural, normal and God-willing healthy pregnancy and to be honest, I'm thrilled at the idea of a fifth baby and honored to be giving you you're first one. You just said you'd be happy with this news."

"Ten years ago, I'd be happy. Now, I'm appalled. I don't want you to have the baby, Maggie. While I'd love a child of my own, I don't want to lose you because of that. I love you too much to do
that to you. I care too much for you to take such an enormous risk."

"And I love you, Walter; enough that I want to take this risk. I want to give you a baby, and I'm not getting an abortion."

"Margaret, I'll be happy with you. And, I'll be happy with Mulder and Dana's child, a grandchild. Dana is enough daughter, and believe me, Mulder is enough son, to satisfy me." He changed his tactic; perhaps sweet talk…She spoke again.

"We can't undo this, Walter. I'm pregnant, and the only way this baby is coming out is if I miscarry it or I give birth to it. There will be no abortion! If you really don't want this child, I suggest you get down on your knees and pray that I lose it!" She was angry, but he wouldn't, he couldn't waver.

"Well, I guess it's settled then, isn't it. You're going to do what you
want, no matter what I have to say about, and no matter what you're other children will have to say about it. Or do they all ready know. Am I the only one in the dark? Please let me be the first to know?"

"No one knows about this but you. I didn't want to take the spotlight away from Dana. And I didn't want to upset her; she's having her own pregnancy. This will shock everyone, but you'll all have to cope with it." She turned back to her dishes.

Angrily, Walter sighed and rose from the table. "I'll see you at Fox and Dana's tonight. There's no reason to ruin this moment for her. Maybe by then, when you seen how happy she is, you'll reconsider risking you're life and just be there for the children you all ready have. I have to go."

Before Maggie even had the chance to respond, he kissed her cheek and
walked out the door. She turned back to her dishes, her shoulders slumped, as tears streamed from her eyes and made ripples in the soapy water.

Walter got in his car and drove through town. No particular destination in mind. He could go to the office, but the last thing he needed was more stress. His head all ready ached from it. No, he'd just drive. The car seemed to steer itself until he ended up at Mulder's place. Mulder's car was in the driveway and Scully would not be home for an hour or so, so he pulled in behind it. He needed to talk, to another man. Was he being unreasonable about this? If anyone would set him on the straight and narrow, it would be Mulder. He was a pain and they almost never agreed, but he was fair and honest and had the answers.

Mulder had never hesitated to be blunt with him, even before he had married Scully and they had become "family". He would tell him the truth.

Fox Mulder was startled to see his father-in-law-to-be at his door nearly six hours early for the dinner party Scully had insisted on throwing, but he smiled when he opened the door.

"Come on in, Sir." Mulder looked relaxed in his jeans and shirt. He seemed another person at home.

"Fox, when we're on matters like this, it's Walter or Walt or Dad, shit, I don't care," he said as he sat down heavily, "You aren't going to believe this." He was never one to beat around the bush.

Mulder smiled and brought him a beer. "Me, not believe something? Come on, try me. What's wrong?"

"Sit."

He sat, "What is it? Is something wrong? Is Scully sick? Is Mom sick? I
know neither one has been filled with energy lately, but Scully said
that...oh, God what's wrong?"

He should have known Mulder would freak, he should have said this better.

"No one's sick, Mulder, relax. At least not physically, but Maggie has
definitely lost her senses."

"What does that mean?" He didn't want to take sides in Skinner's woman troubles.

"Fox, she's pregnant." There, Walter, plain and simple.

"Who? Scully? No, it can't be, we're not ready yet." Mulder brushed it off

"Mulder, not Scully, well, I don't know. Maggie is pregnant. She's having a baby." Skinner watches Mulder's face go from fear to shock to surprise. Then he began to chuckle.

"Oh, man. She's too old. That was a good one. There's no way." Mulder realized Skinner wasn't laughing.

"Obviously not. She said she's been to the doctor, it's confirmed. She's pregnant. And I don't have clue one what to do about it." He leaned forward and put his face in his hands.

"What's she going to do about it?" Mulder asked him, all ready knowing what she wouldn't do about it.

"She's adamant on having it. She's ecstatic, Mulder." Skinner took a long sip of his beer.

"And you?"

"I told her I didn't want it, not if means her life is in danger. I don't need a child, I only need her. I've lost too much to lose this."

Mulder could sense Skinner's pain. He'd nearly lost his first wife in childbirth and that baby had died. Now for him to have his beloved Maggie at risk, he couldn't reconcile it.

"You said this to her?" If he had, Mulder surmised, it wouldn't have gone over well.

"Pretty much, yeah."

"And she said?"

"No, Walter, I'm not getting an abortion."

"And you said?"

"I'll see you later, maybe by then you'd have come to your senses. Then I left and came here. I knew you'd get it, you know?"

"Oh, no. You shouldn't have left you know. You have to work this out."

"Yeah." He sounded defeated. Mulder touched him gently.

"Oh, no. She's probably pretty upset."

"She's upset. What about me? I only said that because I love her, I don't want to see her hurt, either if she has the baby and can't handle it or if she loses it. She so wants this baby. She wants it for me. If she thinks I don't and loses it, she won't feel like she let me down." It sounded stupid even to his ears.

"But instead of her feeling like she pleased you, she feels like your
love is conditioned on her being perfect. If she can't have this baby,
she'll feel degraded somehow, all women do, and she'll need you. Mom, will not abort this baby. She doesn't believe in it, but she may will herself to lose it or she may leave you. She must feel disgraced anyway at being unmarried and pregnant at her age.
 
"Oh, God, Fox. I want this child, I do, but I don't want to lose Margaret. She's all I have, and I'm not willing to sacrifice her for my happiness."

"That's not true, you know. Dana and I, we'll be here, good or bad."

"I know. I just can't accept the pregnancy, Fox. I can't."

"Maybe you need time to think about it; to adjust. This is not something that happens every day. Go out to the gym, I know that's how you work through things, relax a bit, come and have dinner, and then address the problem after you've calmed down a bit. There' nothing you can do this wound up, and Mom is probably so mad, she won't listen to you now anyway. But think about it either she has this baby with you by her side, and you might lose her or you leave or continue to insist on abortion and you will lose her. The decisions clear to me. Think about it. And don't work yourself up."

Impulsively, Walter embraced the younger man, "Thanks, Fox. I know there was a reason I didn't fire you years ago."

"No problem. I'll see you later. And try to be on time, I don't want Byers and his current squeeze to be the first ones here. His girlfriends are usually a little scary." Mulder smiled glad to see some of the tension melt away.

"No problem. Do you have any idea why Scully is having this shindig?"

"Not a clue. Impulse I think. Want to play homemaker. Now get, I'll see you later."

Walter felt a little bit better after his talk with Mulder, but he still had a lot to think about before he saw Maggie at dinner that night. And by the time the day was over, Mulder would have a lot to think about as well. Walter did take Mulder's advice and work out. Then he showered at his own apartment. By that time he had to leave for Baltimore to get Maggie. She was still mad at him and they didn't speak in the car.

The living room in the Mulder house was filled with people by the time they arrived. If Walter hadn't told Mulder what had happened between him and Maggie, it would have been impossible for him to see that. Walter had his arm around her shoulders and she had hers around his waist.

"Mom, Walter, you remember the guys. Frohike and Langley. And this is Molly Weston and her husband George our neighbors across the street. This is Margaret Scully, Dana's mom, and her fiancé, Assistant Director Walter Skinner. He's our supervisor at the Bureau." Mulder introduced everyone with a polite smile.

"Oh, God bless you," Molly quipped.

The couples shook hands warmly and exchanged smiles. Molly leaned in near Maggie and whispered, "Do you have any idea what this is all about?"

"I don't know for sure," she fibbed, "But I have an idea. I hope Dana
doesn't wait all night to let us know."

Meanwhile, Walter asked Mulder "Is everyone here? Where's the guy in the suit?"

"Oh, Byers?" asked Frohike, "He's..."

The door opened and Byers entered accompanied by Kimberly, Skinner's
secretary. The shock that registered on his bosses face was something for the record books, and similar to the look Mulder imagined him having when Maggie announced she was pregnant with his child. Skinner approached Kim and asked pointedly.

"Kim? You're dating this man?"

"Yes, Sir. I know I should have said something, but, well, I wanted this to be a surprise. Nice to see you again, Mrs. Scully."

When Dana heard Kim's voice and her mother's she knew that all of her guests had finally arrived. She could hardly contain her excitement another minute, but she didn't want to indicate to Mulder that anything truly special was going on. Normally, this was not the kind of thing she'd reveal with a bunch of strangers around before telling Mulder, but given what she knew about his feeling of becoming a dad, she thought this gathering for the best.  Perhaps, by the time it ended, he'd realized that her pregnancy was a blessing. He'd been after her for two days to tell him what this dinner was about. She'd said it was just a get together, oh, if he only knew.

"Dana? Honey, are you in here?" her mom called.  Scully was at the stove, stirring her sauce.

"Yeah, mom. Hi, I am so excited. I can't wait to tell Mulder and everyone. This is so perfect. Mulder and I are having a baby. I haven't been this happy since my wedding day." Dana was beaming, she was the picture of radiant expectant motherhood.

"I know, baby, and I'm happy for you. I really am." Dana could tell that there was more to her mother's mood than that.

"What's wrong, Mom?"

"Oh, it's nothing. Walt and I had a little argument, it's over now. I can't wait to see the look on Fox's face. When are you going to tell everyone?" She hoped it was soon. She and Walter needed to talk.

"I thought we'd eat first, why?"

"I won't be able to eat, Dana. I could hardly contain myself in there."

Just then Mulder entered to ask, "Scully, when can we eat. Everyone's starving out here."

"One minute, Honey," she called from the kitchen. With a glance at her Mom she left and headed to the parlor. All eyes were on her as she stood next to Mulder and spoke. She fidgeted a bit then studied her shoes.

"Um, actually before we do that, I have something I want to tell everyone. The real reason that I wanted to have everyone over today is that I have something I need to tell everyone and I wanted everyone that was special in my life to be here when I did it."

Mulder's face fell and he reached out to hold her, as if he didn't hear her words, "Oh, God, I knew something was wrong. I knew it, I could feel it. Honey, what ever it is, we'll beat it, I know it.

"Mulder, now calm down. There's nothing to worry about. This is not bad
news; this is good, no great news. Mulder, everyone, we're going to have a baby."

Chapter Two

Shouts and cheers of joy arose from the crowd gathered in the Mulder's living room. Maggie rushed forward to hug her daughter as if she was just hearing the news this minute. Walter's gaze fell on Mulder, who was staring at his wife with his mouth hanging open. Dana was being passed from her mother's embrace into that of the Gunmen, first to Byers, then to Frohike, who held her a little too close for Fox's taste, and finally to Langley. Before he knew it she was standing in front of him and he opened her arms to receive his protective fatherly hug, which he topped off with a gentle kiss on the top of her head. His eyes caught Maggie's across the room and he saw the pure joy in her gaze. He knew they still had a few things to work out, and they still
had some things to talk about, but he felt they'd be okay.

"Well, Mulder, what do you think?" Scully asked expectantly.

"I think that this is a real surprise, and we are most certainly not ready for this. We just got married; we're so not ready for a baby. We never even talked about this and you just went right ahead and did it." He yelled at her. He was angry.

The joy in the room was quickly killed by the tension arising between the host couple.

"Well, I didn't do it by myself, Fox," Dana returned, hands going to her hips, eye brows arching.

"No, that's right, she didn't. You both created this miracle and you both deserve the utmost in congratulations," said Maggie, hugging her son-in-law and trying to calm him down, so he would not embarrass her daughter or
himself.

Mulder relented for now but Walter could sense that the discussion over the pregnancy was not over.

The rest of the evening progressed uneventfully, with the Gunmen teasing Mulder about the old "ball and chain" the real thing now, and the women gushing over Scully talking about what she hoped the baby would be, if she wanted to know the sex before hand, and if she was thinking of any names in particular. She was so happy that day, only Mulder's reaction had dulled it a little. They were ready for this baby, although they hadn't discussed it, they were ready she knew it. They loved each other, they made a decent living, they were ready. Now she only had to help Mulder believe it.

Maggie, Kim, and she cleaned up the supper dishes while Molly set out the dessert she brought over. When Dana went upstairs to the bathroom, Kimberly questioned Maggie.

"Mrs. Scully…"

"Maggie," she corrected smiling.

"Maggie, I hope I'm not being presumptuous here, but I'm worried about you. You look so worn, no offense or anything."

"Since we're in the business of keeping secrets, I'm going to let you in on one. Dana," she said, as she approached from the stairs, "I want to tell you this too, but it's a secret for now. I'm pregnant too."

Dana gasped and stared at her mother, blue eyes wide with fear and disbelief. If she hadn't seen her fair share of strange occurrences during her time on the X-files she'd have laughed at her and insisted that it had to be a joke. Yet something in her mother's demeanor and in Skinner's face since arriving at the party told her that her mother was telling the truth.

"Oh, Mom. What are you going to do?" she asked, her voice filled with concern. Her mother was too old to have a child. She was in her fifties. Women did not have babies in their fifties.

"What do you mean, what am I going to do? I'm going to have a baby, that what I'm going to do. You're starting to sound like Walter." Maggie brushed off her daughter's concern.

Kimberly had felt the tension in the room increase a degree and quietly excused herself to help Molly serve dessert. She eyed Skinner and sent him a silent message with her eyes that the "jig" was up and the news was out about Maggie's pregnancy. As subtly as possible Skinner rose and joined his lover and her daughter in the kitchen.

"Well, Walter's a reasonable man. If he has reservations about this then…"

"Walter's only a reasonable man when he agrees with you. If you wanted to run off somewhere with Fox and he said no, you'd be witching about it for weeks. Complaining and whining about how unfair he is, but now when he agrees with you well…"

"Margaret." Skinner's voice came clearly through the doorway, cutting her off. "Dana and I love you; we only want what is best for you and your health. Don't be angry with her. She is in a delicate way herself and neither of you should be getting overly upset. Now, there is a party going on outside and unless you want this family's private business all over the neighborhood and the FBI by tomorrow morning, I suggest you both cool it and rejoin the guests."

On that note, he turned around and left the room.

"I'm sorry, Mom. I just don't want anything to happen to you. I love you and so does Walter. Just please promise me you'll consider the consequences before you make any final decisions about this pregnancy."

Dana's voice was filled with emotion and Maggie realized she was only speaking out of love, yet her mind was all ready made up. "Dana, the decision is all ready made. I'm sorry if you can't accept that, I'm even sorrier if Walter, this baby's own father can't, but there is no other choice for me. I'm pregnant and whatever happens now is out of my hands. I appreciate your concern and I love you for it, but please, let me handle this in my own way."

Dana Scully always knew when she was defeated, like right now. Her mother was not going to go against her principles no matter how reasonable the argument in favor of that. She accepted her mother's offered embrace with resignation and went to rejoin the party.

Chapter Three

It had been a few weeks since the dinner party at the Mulder house, and Dana and Margaret's shocking announcements. Doubt still weighed heavily on the four expectant parents, with Mulder still highly resentful of Dana's pregnancy and Walter's fear preventing him from being happy about Maggie's. It seems that couples had almost joined forces against each other. Dana and Walter stood firm in their mutual opposing of
Maggie's pregnancy, and while Maggie didn't oppose her daughter's condition, she claimed she understood Mulder's feelings and tried to support him as well as her daughter. The entire situation spelled disaster and finally came to a head one spring day in April.

Scully and her mother were now thirteen and twelve weeks pregnant
respectively, and both were now free of the troubling morning sickness that had gripped both mother and daughter for over a month. It was the day of Scully's three month check up and an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach brought the stepfather to be to her office.

Walter Skinner hadn't been feeling right for weeks, either he was troubled with indigestion, heartburn, or some other stress related ailment, possibly even an attack of angie, but this feeling was different. It was the kind of feeling he always had when someone he cared about was hurt or sick or threatened in some way. He knew that if
he didn't check on his "daughter" he'd never get any of his work done, so he strolled down to the X-files office to find her seated at Mulder's desk, tears streaming down her cheeks, her forehead delicately placed on one hand.

Walter was careful in his approach so as not to startle her and upset her further. Upset was not healthy for her or for her unborn child.

"Dana?" he asked gently, "Dana, what is it?" he pried, placing a consoling hand on her down turned shoulder. "Is something wrong with Mulder? Or the baby?"

At the mention of her unborn babe, Dana erupted into a fit of uncontrollable,
heart wrenching sobs, and practically jumped into Walter's strong waiting
arms. She was shaking so violently that he feared she'd fall if he released
his grip on her even a little. He'd never seen her this way. In the year that he'd been seeing Maggie, he'd seen Dana at some of her most vulnerable moments, something must be very wrong. Yet, he knew that trying to find out what would be futile until she had cried herself out and once again had control of her emotions. His only course of action would be to hold and calm her.

"Ssh. Hush now, sweetheart," he cajoled, "Whatever it is it can't be so bad
that we can't work it out. I'm here now, and I'm never going to let
anything hurt you. Calm yourself, now," he said in a soft, fatherly voice as
he rocked her and stroked her hair, and waited for her sobs to quiet and her
shuddering to stop.

He held her as tight as he could without hurting her and continued to stroke
her hair and cradle her to his chest. She seems so small and weak at this
moment, so much like her mother and yet so unlike her as well.

Finally, his soft comforting words and gestures penetrated Dana's
consciousness and she let out a shaky sigh, pulling out of his embrace and
looking up at him. She expected to see disdain and anger there, but what she
did see almost caused her to melt into tears again, his intent dark gaze was
three parts concern and one part tenderness. She needed that, she needed
that so much.

Walter pulled out his handkerchief and blotted the tears away from hers eyes
himself, as if she were a little girl. She finally spoke when he was finished, "I'm sorry," she said. It was a whisper.

"There is nothing for you to be sorry about. Now, tell me what this is
about. Nothing gets you that upset."

"It's silly."

"If it makes you cry it can't be silly, honey. Now tell me what it is." He stepped back and held her gaze. His strong hands remained on his shoulders.

"I can't do this," she whispered, her head bowed.

"Do what?" he asked confused.

"You're my boss," she gestured at him. "It's awkward." She was embarrassed even after all they'd been through.

"I'm not only your boss, Dana. I'm the man who is going to marry your
mother. You can talk to me, you can trust me," he assured her.

"Can we go somewhere and do this? I don't want Mulder to know how upset I
was." She needed him, he could sense it.

"Of course we can. Get a jacket and I'll buy you something to eat. You're
still too thin for a pregnant woman."

Dana smiled lightly and followed Walter to a small cafe he frequented. The
same cafe in fact where he'd been shot in eight months ago for looking into
Melissa's death.

After ordering himself a coffee and Dana lemonade, Walter began to probe
again.

"Tell me what happened. Is the baby okay? Are you all right?"

"The baby is fine. I'm fine. I went to the doctor today, that's how I know that. And well, this is the silly part. Dr. Ragner said that today was the day to see the baby and she asked if I wanted to wait for Mulder, but I knew he didn't want to come. I asked him to come
with me this morning and he said, 'You don't care about what I think, so why should I?' He didn't even want to see his baby for the first time," she said her voice breaking again, "I thought for sure he would have changed his mind by now."

"Then I thought about what we've been doing to Mom. And how she is scared
that she won't be able to carry this baby and how she is going through that
all alone because neither one of us will support her. I don't want mom to
see your baby all alone next week."

Skinner didn't answer. He tried but found he couldn't. He felt like his tie was choking him and he couldn't get enough air. Dana looked up at Walter and noticed how pale he'd
become and how much he was perspiring. He'd loosened his tie and was massaging his arm.

"Walter? Sir? Are you all right?" she asked, recognizing his symptoms for
what they were. Walter Skinner was showing all the signs of a heart attack.

No answer was forthcoming, at least not in spoken form. Instead, her answer
came when her stepfather to be collapsed to the table with a sickening thud.

Chapter 4

In the years that Dana had known her husband, she spent her fair share of
time in hospitals. Mulder's been shot, stabbed, and even poisoned, but never
had a situation occurred when his own body betrayed him completely. When he
was shot or injured by some other evil force, she had someone to lash out at,
someone to hold accountable. In Walter's case however, that wasn't' true.
His current condition was the result of his own body's betrayal and she had no
one to blame for that, no one but herself.

As soon as she saw Walter collapse she called the ambulance and began CPR.
The realization that her stepfather and boss had a severe cardiac episode
never fully penetrated until she arrived at the hospital and called her
husband.

Mulder had reacted in much the same way she did. Action first, shock and
disbelief secondary. His immediate thought, as Dana's had been, was of
Maggie and the unborn child she and Walter shared, and had volunteered to go
to Baltimore and pick up his mother-in-law, so Dana could focus on getting
information from the doctors.

By the time Mulder arrived with her mother, Dana had been allowed into the ER
exam room to be with Walter while the doctors waited for X-rays and blood
test results. It was clear by his color and breathing and EKG that he had a
cardiac episode of some kind and had yet to regain consciousness. She held
his hand close to her chest, whispering for him to think of her mom and his
child, and about the grandchild that was coming. She whispered how she knew
he was strong and could survive anything and they were all going to be here
for him, her mom, Mulder, herself, and everyone else he cared about and had
touched. By the time Mulder and her mom entered the cubical, she had her
forehead pressed to his chest, shoulders quaking with the force of her sobs.

"Dana?" Maggie's voice was laced with shock and terror,
"Tell me he's not dead. Please."

She lifted her head and looked at her mother's tear stained, ashen face and
shuttered, "No, Mom. He's alive. He's unconscious and the doctors are
waiting for the test results. They believe he had a massive coronary
episode," she said trying to don her doctor's hat and regain her composure.

"How serious? Does he need surgery?" asked Mulder.

"No one knows yet, the doctors are still waiting on the tests. His pressure
was really high when he came in and they're trying to reduce it to prevent
stroke."

"Oh, God," gasped Maggie, stumbling back into Mulder's strength.

"Mom," Mulder said, "Mom, take it easy. Take a breath. Come sit here next to
Walter. Talk to him."

Carefully, Fox led his distraught mother-in-law to her fiancée's bedside and
helped her sit.

"Walt, I'm here, now. We all are. Fox and Dana, and our little one and our
grandchild."

Looking at her mom, tenderly cradling the hand of the man she loved, suddenly proved too much for Dana's fragile control, and with a sob, she bolted from the room.

Mulder's own mind was in turmoil as well. His boss and lately very dear
friend and father figure was in serious condition, the mother-in-law that he
loved more than his own mother was distraught and in the early stages of
shock. And his wife, whom he'd not exactly been attentive to lately, had just
escaped the sick room her emotions almost completely out of control. How
much of that was stress and fear over Walter and how much of it was pregnancy
hormones he didn't know. What he did know was Dana needed him. Walt had
Maggie, Maggie had her faith, but Dana, who'd been battling issues over God
for most of the time she'd been on the X-files was lost and had nothing. She
needed to know that in spite of his doubts about becoming a parent she had
him.

He nodded in Maggie's direction so that she would know he was going to see
about Dana and looked out in the hallway for his wife. He didn't have to
look far; she was just down the corridor, leaning against the wall for much
needed support. Fox came up behind her and placed gentle hands on her
shoulders, squeezing lightly.

"Come on," he commanded gently, "Come on. Look at me."

She turned in his arms and pressed her body into his and cried. She let him
hold her and rock her and whisper calming words in her ear. When she stopped
her crying she pulled her head back and looked at him.

"It's all my fault," she said shakily.

"Oh, Angel. No, this isn't your fault. How could you think of this as your
fault?" He pulled her closer to him again and kissed her hair.

"Because I was telling him, never mind. I was talking to him, telling him
not to make Mom see the baby all alone, and the next thing I know, he
collapsed on the table."

"Oh, Dana. That was today wasn't it? The ultrasound was today. Did Walter
go with you?"

"No, Mulder!" she yelled all of a sudden, pushing him off of her. "No one came with me, I was all alone, and I didn't want that for my mother. You should have been there!
Like it or not, Fox, this is your child! Yours. We made this child together,
out of love, and you of all people should know what it's like to not be
wanted by the one person that should love you and want you the most. Don't do
that to this baby, Fox, and don't do that to me. I made it clear that night
at our house that I had no problem raising this baby on my own. Either you
accept the baby as part of me and our marriage, or you don't accept me or the
marriage. The choice is yours, but I refuse to put myself through another
day like this one, hoping you'd show up and see that little person on the
monitor and fall instantly in love."

"I am in love, Dana, with you. I love you..."His voice cracked with emotion.

"You can't possibly love me and still cause me this kind of pain. In order for you to love me you have to love all the things about me. I'm pregnant, Mulder, and this is your child. It is part of me, and if you love me, you have to love this baby too. We're a package deal, we're cheap, but we come together. The choice is yours."

Mulder watched as Scully turned on her heel and headed to the entrance to the
cubical to join her mother's vigil. Just then Mulder saw the doctor heading
in and walked down to join them and lend his support in case the news was not
good.

"Mrs. Mulder, Mrs. Scully, I'm Dr. Sklodonski, the doctor that treated and
admitted the Assistant Director. The blood tests have come back and
indicate that the Assistant Director indeed had a massive heart attack. We
are going to need to perform a triple bypass as soon as he's stable. He's
had a heart condition for years; in fact, it's a surprise it didn't come to
this before now."

"Years? How come he never mentioned it to me? How come he never let me care
for him?" Maggie was stunned that he kept such a secret.

"Walter is a very private person, Mom. He didn't want a nursemaid. When can
he have the procedure, Dr. Sklodonski?"

"As soon as his pressure remains in normal levels for a period of 24 hours.
He cannot afford his pressure to spike on the table. He'll stroke out."

The room hushed at the doctor's words. The situation was serious and all they could do was wait and watch until the AD's condition improved.

Chapter Five

Two days later, Mulder came into the hospital flanked by Byers and Kimberly.
The AD's blood pressure had stabilized, but had not dropped to a safe enough
level for the doctors to operate. Byers had managed to keep Kim away from
the hospital those first few days, but today, she had insisted on going to
see her boss and offering her support to his fiancée.

Kim understood some of what Maggie was feeling, the fear associated with not
knowing if a loved one would live. She'd felt that same fear once herself, when her Dad was ill. Unfortunately, the outcome was not positive.


They entered Skinner's ICU room to find the bed made and Maggie sitting
beside it sobbing brokenly in her daughter's arms. Dana was not shedding any
tears herself, but everyone in the room could sense her tension.

"Mom? Dana? What happened? Where's Walter?" Mulder approached in a rush, his heart in his mouth.

Dana turned to face him and spoke the first words she'd said to him in days,
"He's in surgery. They couldn't wait any longer; they had to do the bypass
immediately. His pressure is still high, and the risks are monumental, but
they were out of options. They couldn't wait any longer."

She said that in such a detached manner, with such scientific coldness, but
Mulder could hear the fear she masked. Maggie shuddered against her and
Mulder moved to put his arm around her on the other side. He took care to
touch Dana's hand with his as he consoled his mother-in-law, and for the
first time in two days, she did not recoil at his touch. Byers took Kim in
his arms and held her, although she did not fully understand why everyone was
so upset, not hearing the original prognosis.

"Did Dr. Sklodonski give you odds?" Mulder asked.

"He has about a 50/50 chance of having a stroke on the table. There's about
a 30% chance he won't survive at all," again, she kept her voice emotionless and detached.

"What is going on? I don't understand," Kim said.


"Walter has to have open heart surgery, but his blood pressure is so high that the risk of stroke associated with any heart surgery is almost tripled, as is his chance of dying. We could get lucky and there could be no adverse after effects at all or we could be unlucky and the damage could be extensive. No one knows," Maggie supplied, trying to compose herself.

"How long will he be in surgery?" This from Byers.

"This type of surgery usually takes about seven hours. Then we'll know what the situation is. Now, if everyone will excuse me for a minute..."Scully informed them before rising and running down the hall to the chapel. Kim followed suit, sensing that she was going to need someone to talk things over with. 

"Are you going to be all right, Mom?" Mulder asked concerned.

"We're going to be fine. We're all going to be just fine. Now I think my daughter needs me, since she obviously isn't getting any support from you." Maggie had sensed the tension between her daughter and son-in-law. She knew the baby had been a point of contention but enough was enough. She was getting fed up with this petty foolishness. Her daughter needed support, she needed reassurance, and all Mulder seemed to be giving her was grief.

Mulder sat heavily in the chair that Maggie had just vacated placing his head in his hands.

"You want to tell me what that was about? Usually, as soon as Scully sneezes wrong you're all over her, you drive her crazy. Now, she's obviously upset, she's pregnant and you know that being upset is not good for the baby. So what gives?" Byers the ever wise man spoke up.

"Scully isn't talking to me. She thinks I don't want the baby." Mulder answered, dejected. He'd changed his mind, but the court was closed and not hearing any appeals.

"Well, you don't. The first thing you said when Scully told you she was
pregnant was we are not ready for this baby. You never even though about the other possibilities, about how wonderful this child is going to be. Hopefully, he or she will have your height and Scully's hair, your determination and Scully's reason, your spirit and Scully's drive. This kid is going to be the best of the both of you and the worse of the both of you. This baby is something you did together, a person you created together. Now if you've reconsidered this thing, you better go after her and start eating some serious crow, because you are going to lose Scully and the baby if you don't."  Byers had always longed for a child ever since he'd held his newborn niece and since Kim had accepted his marriage proposal last week, for the first time he had hope that one day he'd have one.


"That's a little out of character for you, man. Since when were you so wise about stuff like this. Byers, it's not that I don't want the baby, I've gotten over that moment of insanity, it's that my whole life is going to change; I have some doubts and fears about that."

"Oh, sure, you have plenty of doubts and fears. But there's one thing that out weighs all of that. You love Dana and don't want to spend your life without her. So you have to love all of her, and that includes the little person inside and the extra thirty pounds that comes with that," he said with a smile, "Now, if you have changed that stubborn mind of yours, you'd better…"

Mulder leapt out of his chair before Byers finished his speech and ran to the chapel. He saw Dana there lighting a candle with her Mom and Kim. When they finished he heard Dana start to speak to her mom and Kim. He stood in the back, waiting and listening.

"I just don't understand how he can't want this child. It's part of him and me and everything that we have. Walter I can understand, that's fear not indifference, he scared of losing you and of not being there for the child later in life, but Mulder and I, we're young and those things don't matter."

"You're wrong, Scully," he said approaching her. "You are so wrong. I am
petrified of losing you and of not being a good father and of something
happening to one or both of us and the baby having no one. But I realize
that all of those things are just silly fears, and that I want you and I love
you and I want this baby. I want him to be the best and the worst parts of
us. I want him to be truly ours, parts of you and parts of me. He'll
really be ours Scully. I want him, I want to love him, and I do. I love
you. Please forgive me."

Scully's eyes were filled with tears as she took his face between her hands,
"No forgiveness is involved. It was a simple miscommunication. Neither one of
us was really listening to what the other was saying. I love you Fox."

"I love you, too, Dana."

Fox held his wife for a long moment, kissing her hair, knowing that no matter
what happened in the next seven hours, they would have each other to lean on.

They left the chapel a bit later and tried to eat. Dana and Maggie forced some fruit and Mulder part of a cheese steak. Finally after what seemed like seven days instead of seven hours the doctor approached.

"Mrs. Scully, Mr. and Mrs. Mulder?" The doctor acknowledged the three of them.

"I have some good news and some bad news." He scanned the room and listened
to the silence that surrounded the cold, white room.

"Mr. Skinner is stable. We have completed the operation and it appears to
have been a success. We have every reason to hope that Mr. Skinner will make
a complete recovery."

The whole room breathed a sigh of release as Maggie turned to her daughter
and embraced her and accepted the strength she offered.

"But..." The doctor continued.

"He will have to receive physical therapy for at least 3 months to get him
walking again. The heart attack and surgery has left him very weak. He's
not paralyzed, it's not a like a stroke, it's just the amount of bed rest he's
going to need in the next few weeks will deteriorate his legs muscles and
even the therapy we'll be giving him in bed here will not be enough. It will
be awhile before he's doing much under his own power. He'll need rest and
some intense care at first, but he will get better. This is really minimal
compared to the amount of damage that would remain with a stroke. This may
bring some awkwardness, but you'll work through it. He's a very lucky man."

"Can I see him?" Maggie asked shaking; one hand placed over her stomach, as
if to protect her unborn child from the news, as if to reassure it and herself that Walter would make it.

"He's still unconscious, but I can let you see him for a few minutes. Mr.
and Mrs. Mulder, you can see him when Mrs. Scully is finished."

Maggie walked down the hall to Walter's room. He looked so vulnerable in the
bed. Fox and Dana just watched her, and then Dana turned and buried her face in
Fox's shoulder.

"This is going to be so hard on her. She's shouldn't be having a baby at her age, but since she is, he shouldn't be doing this to her."

"Whoa, now wait a minute. He didn't do this, Dana. No one did, it's no
one's fault."

"I know that, but it's so unfair, he's so healthy and now..."

"Now, it's going to take a little time, but he'll be good as new. Dana, you
know this, it's in your head. You're a doctor; you know that things could
have been a lot worse. He could have had a stroke, he could be permanently
disabled. He's just a little weak now and needs rest."

"I'm sorry, Mulder. It's the hormones, I sometimes feel like I can't stop
crying. I can't deal with things as well as I used to, " she sniffed and blushed a bit.

Mulder held her a little closer and kissed her hair.

"Let's sit down and wait for your mom to come out. She's going to need us a
even more now."

Maggie walked to Walter's bedside. He looked like he was asleep. Not at all
like he'd just defied the odds and survived a serious operation relatively
unscathed, or like he would be facing months of therapy and rehab. She took his
hand and placed a kiss on his knuckles.

"Hey, sweetheart. I'm here, and it looks like you're going to be all right.
I can't tell you how happy that makes me; I can't tell you how happy I am
that our baby will know her daddy, even if you aren't really ready to accept
her yet."

"Fox, he finally came around to Dana and the baby. He's ecstatic now and when
he really gets used to the idea, he's going to be impossible. There won't be
a book unread or a possibility unexplored. It'll drive Dana crazy."

"Mulder always did drive Dana crazy. Let's just hope he doesn't take us
along for the ride..." Walter said weakly, not opening his eyes, but squeezing her hand

"Walt, are you all right. How do you feel?"

"Like my head weighs too much for my body. My chest hurts." He had no power in his voice, no strength at all.

"I know, sweetheart, and it will for awhile. Just try and relax. Do you
want an extra pillow? Are you warm enough?"

"Yes, Maggie, you don't have to fuss. How am I? What did the doctor say?" He was concerned for himself but more so for her and the baby. If he were very sick…

"Well, he said that you are going to be fine but it's going to take some time
for you to recover. You're heart condition and the surgery has left you very
weak. You are going to need a lot of care at first, but you'll be as good as
new. You should even be able to go back to work in a few months."

"Care? What kind of care?" He didn't like the sound of that.

"Well, I don't know, at first you'll have to stay in bed most of the time.
And later, I suppose just whatever help you need with whatever is hard for
you. And I'm going to make sure you are cared for, I lost one man I loved to
a bad heart, I don't want to lose another one." She massaged his knuckles and felt him relaxing a bit at his prognosis.

"So I'll be in the hospital?" He hoped the answer was yes, she didn't need the hassle.

"No, I'll take care of you at home," she told him, giggling like she saw something funny.

"I don't think that's such a good idea. What about you and the baby. You
need rest; you don't need to keep after me. You have someone even more
precious to take care of. Our little girl or little boy needs you to be
healthy, I can take care of myself," he protested trying to sit up, but not
having the strength.

"No, it's seems quite obvious that you can't. You can't even sit up by
yourself. You are going to have to let me help you. I love you, and I'm
going to be there for you. Now, I know Dana and Fox want to see you before
the doctor kicks us out for you to rest, so I'll get them. I love you so much, Walt."

"I love you too, Maggie." He meant it. Hopefully, Mulder and Scully would see it his way, if he couldn't care for himself.

Maggie went down the corridor where her daughter and son-in-law were waiting.
They went back to Walter's room and saw that familiar, determined AD look on
his features, Mulder and Scully exchanged looks.

"Hello, Sir. How are you feeling?" Scully asked in a voice she could have used on peds patients.

"Very worried and frustrated. Tell me Scully was your grandmother as
stubborn as you and your mother? Because if she was, I hope this baby's a boy.
Let me put this plainly, I don't want your mother to take care of me, it's
not fair to her, having a baby and having to do everything for me. I wanted
to ask, could I stay at your place just for awhile? I realize that Dana is
pregnant too but your place is bigger and I can hire a nurse..."his voice
trailed off as exhaustion seemed to overtake him.

"All right, Sir, you can stay with us. You are all ready overdoing it, rest
now," said Scully, kissing his head before she and Mulder left the room.

"Your mom is really going to hate this idea. She's like the Red Cross, the
United Nations and the good fairy all rolled into one." Mulder quipped. He knew Skinner was right, it would be easier.

"Well, which one of us is going to tell her?" Dana asked, knowing Mulder was right.

"Tell me what?" asked Maggie who had walked over to them, a snickers bar in
each hand, "Here, not healthy but it'll hold us over until dinner. Tell me
what? Walter's not worse or anything is he?" She felt her heart rate quicken with worry.

"Um, no, Mom, listen," Mulder began, "He has asked Scully and I to oversee
his recovery. It's not something he wants to burden you with."

"It's not a burden, I love him, and I want to do this for him." She put it simply. Her mind was made up.

"I know Mom, but, Walter doesn't want that and we have to honor his wishes.
And Scully is a doctor and she could help him on a deeper lever than you or
even I could. Now, let's go home and we'll see if we can talk to him
tomorrow." Mulder wanted to keep her calm, and he hoped Skinner would agree to let Maggie help out with his recovery, but for now, they both needed to rest.

Maggie let Fox lead her out of the hospital and insisted on sitting in the
back seat on the way home; so that her daughter and son would not see the
pain she held in her eyes or discover the rejection she felt in her heart.

That night, Mulder held Scully closer than he had in a long time.  He felt awful for the things he'd said to her when she first announced she was expecting a child.  Scully sensed her husband was still distressed about something, so she rolled over onto her side to meet his hazel gaze, "What is it, Mulder?"

"I'm just so damned sorry, Scully.  I didn't mean to hurt your feelings about the baby, it's just that…" he trailed off, and she raised her eyebrow at him.

"What, Honey?" she questioned.

"It's just that I'm so scared that something is going to happen to you.  If something did, I'd never live throught it…"

"Mulder," she cut him off.

"It's true, Dana.  You complete me. You are my entire life and without you in it, it's not worth anything.  It's not worth living."

Scully smiled a tiny smile and reached out to caress his cheek, "Fox, I understand you're frightened, but, Sweetie, I need you with me now, not against me, I need your support and your love.  I hate it when we fight, Fox and I was so scared that you'd decide you really didn't want me and the baby anymore."

Mulder tightened his grip on Scully and kissed her with fierce passion, "I'm so sorry I made you feel that way.  Please, my love, forgive me?" he asked.

"I all ready have, Fox.  Now, if you don't want me to angry with you all over again, you'll hold me tonight while I get some sleep.  I need to get to the hospital early tomorrow otherwise Mom will be there by herself and with Walter still so weak…"

"It kind of makes you think, doesn't it?" Mulder asked as he held her tighter, "about what's important."

"It most certainly does," she whispered. "I just hope that Skinner decided to let Mom take care of him, it will break her heart if he persists with this foolishness."  Mulder nodded against his hair and placed a kiss there. "I love you, Scully," he said after a moment of silence.

"And I love you, Mulder," she whispered drowsily, falling asleep in his arms.