Empathy
by Creedog VanDrey

Category: The X-Files
Genre: General, Humor (just a smidgen)
Rating: PG-13
Language: English
Summery: Season 5, post-cancer, pre-Emily. Mulder and Scully are assigned to track down a killer with a fetish for pregnant women. It's an undercover mission. Prosthesis is involved. (Just read it.)
Spoilers: Doesn't spoil, but mentions Scully's abduction and its aftereffects. If I've already said too much, you don't have the background to understand this story.

A/N: This is my first X-Files fanfic. I don't think it's half bad. Anyway, this is not an MSR, but if you are an M/S shipper (as I am), you will enjoy it. It's a rather light-hearted fic, not necessarily up to stock with one's of CC's funny episodes, but I think it's enjoyable.

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Empathy

MAY 4, 1998
J. EDGAR HOOVER BUILDING
WASHINGTON, D.C.

Asst. Director Walter Skinner rubbed his chin as he carefully read the words in the e-mail on his computer monitor. He mouthed the words, shaking his head. He opened the top drawer of his desk and pulled out two files folder. He opened the first, a personnel file with Agent Mulder's picture on it. In the picture, he was giving a very Mulder-esque smirk, hardly smiling, looking serious but not composed. He quickly returns it two his drawer. He opens the second file, Agent Scully's file. Skinner grins widely at the older picture of Scully, hair to her collarbone, somewhat darker. She looked very… typical in the picture. "Homely" was the wrong word, too harsh. She looked fresh, an uncomfortable, serious look on her face.

He quickly scanned the columned section of the file, looking away as if hearing information he already knew. He returns this file as well, and, in the process digs to the back of the drawer, pulling out a 5×7 photograph. The photo features Agent Scully, Agent Mulder, and himself. The three are in a natural setting: grass, trees, and sunlight in the background. It was at the FBI picnic last year. He was giving the slightest trace of a smile. Mulder had the dumbest, yet very Mulder-like grin on his face. Scully's smile mimicked her bosses, an I-can't-smile-on-cue smile. It was a happy picture nonetheless. Skinner couldn't deny that Agents Mulder and Scully were the best agents he could ask for, which is why he was so resistant to volunteer them for this next case. If only…

MAY 5
J. EDGAR HOOVER BUILDING
WASHINGTON, D.C.

There was a silence that filled the conference room before Asst. Director Skinner raised his hand. Two dozen eyes turned toward him, all unfamiliar faces. "I have two agents working under me, a man and a woman. They are both in their mid-thirties, and the woman, Special Agent Dana Scully, has very red hair. Agent Fox Mulder," he starts as he hears mummers from the crowd. He does not know whether they are joking about his "Spooky" status or his expertise in criminal psychology. The lack of smiles told him it was the latter, surprisingly. Usually, he would be glad that Mulder's more respectable reputation would be conjured, but in this case, he felt it work against his wishes. "Agent Mulder is highly skilled criminal psychologist. He spent a few years in Violent Crimes."

"Did excellent work, I hear," a man jumped in.

"His performance evaluations state so. Currently, he and Agent Scully work on the so-called X-Files."

"The unexplained stuff? All those cases we let drop through the cracks?"

"Yes," Skinner replied to the oddly tactful description of the stigmatized cases.

A man standing in front a projector screen smiled. "Thank you, Mr. Skinner, for offering the use of your agents."

Skinner sat back in resignation. He knew what was going to happen next. His suggestion was far the best. The FBI was tracking a serial killer in Memphis. His profile showed a strong tendency toward young women in their twenties. He had raped and murdered four women in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. The fourth woman was four months pregnant. From there, he'd suddenly taken on a new fetish: pregnant woman. Within the last three months, four women, all visibly pregnant and all four redheaded, went missing. Although the cases seemed unrelated, thought both in dire need of attention, new evidence pointed toward a single serial killer, Darren Gaba.

"Gaba," the moderator stated, "in the case of the first four victims, left a small piece of parchment, a high-thread count strip of cotton, probably from some sort of garment, with a word written on it in a colored of ink. The words were all abstract characteristics, popular ones, in fact: Optimism, Courage… we have been unable to find any links in between the words and the victims they were left for. Of these new women who have gone missing, similar parchments were found in their rooms, written in red ink, by a fountain pen as you can clearly see," he states, putting up a close-up photograph of a piece of fabric with "Loyalty" written in ornate yet uneven red ink.

And so he droned on, as Skinner sat back in his seat, dreading the conversation to come later that day.

THAT AFTERNOON
OFFICE OF A.D. SKINNER

Agents Mulder and Scully sat reverently before him, Mulder's eyes bright with anticipation and Scully's with dutiful interest. He inquired, "Agents, the reason I called you in here is that we are profiling a case. I assume you've read the account."

"Yes, sir. Typical FBI case." Scully commented, flatly.

"That's what gets me," Mulder began, "is it doesn't appear to be an X-File."

Skinner sighed, this conversation having already played in his mind several times today. "I know. The reason that this case was given you to was that… they want to stage an uncover mission."

"We have this case because I'm a redhead?" Scully asks, shielding her emotions half-successfully.

"That's a small but integral factor in it, Agent. Given the fact that Agent Mulder is such a revered criminal profiler, added to the range of your ages and your exemplary working relationship, you two were merely the best candidates."

Mulder's attention piqued, "There were others?"

"This Gaba person has the FBI absolutely fuming. This guy shows no signs of being a criminal genius, but we've basically been unable to capture him. In reality, we've put out a first-class effort for this guy, but so far, he's made us look hapless by what appears to be nothing more than dumb luck. Orders from way up have asked for suggestions for good candidates to do this sting operation. There are a handful of redheaded female agents, though some are really outside maternity ages. In reality, Agent Scully is above the desired median age, though not at all outside the normal spectrum, and given the fact that you work with a hailed profiler made it look like a perfectly wrapped package."

Scully tilted her head, saying, "You sound as if you didn't want to us to do this."

Skinner sighed, "It's not as if I don't think you two are qualified. You are. I just feel as if I'm loaning you two out purely based on the fact that you're the one set of talented, thirty-something, male-female partners with the right hair color."

"Sir, only about 2 of the American population has naturally red hair. As you said, it seems integral to the case," Scully commented, "but, um, would I be correct in my assumption that you want me to go undercover as a pregnant woman?"

"You would; in plain speech, it's exactly what I mean."

Mulder, still tickled, asked, "And my role, sir? Am I the daddy? Did I not comply with Mandate 8901, Section 2.2?"

Without missing a beat or cracking a smile, Skinner plainly spoke, "Under the guise, Agent Mulder, you will be Agent Scully's husband. However, your real job is to protect her." Skinner added before Scully had a chance to comment, "I have no doubt, Agent Scully, that you are fully capable of taking care of yourself. However, given the circumstances we will be putting you in, your ability to do so fully may be compromised, possible severely. One of the reasons that I nominated you, besides the fact it's my responsibility to do so, is that Agent Mulder has already shown an unprecedented concern for your life and safety, Agent Scully, even without orders. Agent Mulder, for this assignment, your orders are to let nothing happen to your partner. Do you understand?"

"Absolutely, sir," Mulder replied seriously, but then turned his head to look his partner up and down, making the gesture obvious, and grinning. Skinner's and Scully's eyes were already rolling as Mulder began saying, "Sir, though I am always honored to make a trip to the Thank-You-Very-Much" (he pronounced à la Elvis Presley) "Capital of the world; Scully, while apparently redheaded," the look he received from the woman beside him could have cut steel. Nevertheless, he continued, "she doesn't appear pregnant. And will it take several months to resolve that, adding to the time it will take to find her a…"

Humorlessly, Skinner cut him off, "Agent Mulder, I would implore you to reconsider finishing that sentence. Agent Scully, we will be fitting you for a prosthetic vest. Given your short stature," he paused to gauge her reaction, and seeing none, continued, "we will be fitting you for a vest that will indicate only second trimester or so pregnancy as so to alleviate as much of a back problem as possible. Unfortunately, this pregnancy must look very real, and that mandates a solid… structure to the prosthesis." He then lowered his voice, "In addition, I have arranged for accounting to overlook a considerable expenditure for any maternity ware that is purchased today. While the prosthetic vest will realistically give the impression of an expectant abdomen, I do encourage you to go for the… covered look."

"It's going to be like Christmas for you, Scully." Matt commented, a goofy grin still present on his face.

Skinner explained, "I felt as if you were pushed into this, Agents. Also, there is the issue of…" Scully gave him a signal to stop if he felt necessary; he complied. "I want to alleviate as much stress as I can."

Desperate to lighten the mood, Mulder quipped, "Especially if she's going be packing an extra twenty pounds upfront." Scully couldn't help but grin.

"Sir," she said, "thank you for pulling strings. I know you are sympathetic to my cause and weren't exactly jumping volunteer us. I will be taking advantage of the shopping spree offer, though. Maternity ware is expensive."

"And, Agent Scully, please limit yourself to about four outfits. I don't want to test the loyalty of the bean counters."

"Understood, sir."

Outside Skinner's office, Mulder lightly ribbed his partner, "So, you hang out at maternity ware stores."

"I've been in one or two. Not lately, though," she said softly. She tried not look at Mulder, but failed briefly. The grin dropped off Mulder's face in a split second. He started to rub his partner's arms from behind, "Are you going to be able to deal with this, Scully?"

Struggling from his grip, she nodded, giving her partner a forced but meaningful smile, "I'll be fine."

MAY 6
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE

Mulder was extra fidgety in his seat on the plane ride into Memphis International Airport. While she had allowed him to accompany her to shop for maternity outfits (which had hung baggily on her petite frame when Mulder had coaxed her into modeling them), she had not allowed him to see her in the prosthetic vest. She'd locked it in her suitcase. But still fresh in her mind was the promise that he'd get to see her wear it when they arrived at the hotel. Scully couldn't help but notice that her partner was absolutely itching to view her in her disguise. She even pretended not to notice that he spent the majority of the plane ride staring at her upper torso.

11:21 AM
BAYMONT HOTEL MEMPHIS

Mulder drove up in the rental car with Scully in the passenger seat. As she went to unbuckle her seat belt, Mulder touched her arm, saying, "You'd better wait in the car. The hotel staff should think you're pregnant. Luckily, the rooms open to the outside, so we'll sneak you in. I'll go check in Mr. and Mrs. Mulder and 'Chris Goodwin' into adjoining rooms." He hadn't said it, but Scully caught on that she'd soon have to adopt the prosthetic vest. They were at the hotel and she had promised.

ROOM 259

Mulder was leaning against the wall near the bathroom door in the room rented out to "Mr. and Mrs. Fox Mulder." Skinner had suggested they use aliases, but Mulder had taken advantage of being the one to sign them in, though he had made sure to refuse the any offers to assist them in taking the bags to the room. He had wanted to quickly shuffle Scully into one of the rooms without any witness to notice her not pregnant one moment, then six months with child the next. One suggestion that Mulder did take to heart was to request two adjoining rooms with king beds, so that the married couple story was more plausible. Scully was taking her sweet time in the bathroom, and Mulder took advantage of the time to lay on the bed that was more than large enough for his tall frame for several minutes.

"C'mon, Sweetie," Mulder feigned marital enthusiasm, "show me the new wardrobe."

The door opened and Scully shyly wobbled out. True to Skinner's promise, Scully was not burdened by a huge weight in front of her, though definitely a bulge indicative of a six-months pregnancy; more than obvious, but did not appearing as if "ready to pop," as Mulder had so tactfully put it twice in the last twenty-four hours.

Scully wore a silky, Merlot-red blouse with bloomed cuffs and a dark beige calf-length skirt. The blouse more than covered her stomach. Mulder was to say the least impressed; the effect of the belly was first rate.

"Scully, you look radiant," he commented, not so much a compliment as it was a remark of surprise at how well Scully pulled off being pregnant.

"They put in this face cream in with the vest; supposedly, it imitates maternity glow."

"These guys thought of everything, didn't they? What's it like?"

"Well, minus the weight, it's actually pretty comfortable. True to its name, it's a vest that wraps around my torso to support the weight. The front is very form-fitting, so it's actually quite an interesting sensation."

"Can I look?" Mulder asked curiously.

"I'd let you, but it's so form-fitting, I'm wearing my underwear on the outside. And so you won't ask: one size bigger, something I picked up at A Pea in the Pod when you weren't looking."

After a chuckle, Mulder commented without reserve, "You don't have to be modest, Scully, I'd known you for two and half days the first time I saw you in your underwear."

After a hot glare, Scully lifted the side of her shirt instead. "The vest is made from a very durable, sheer material. These four small hooks that you see are how I attach the garment."

"Can I touch it?" he asked, eyes wide, very much looking like an eighth grader. Scully smiled, dropping the side of the shirt and lifting the center to expose the flesh-colored protrusion. Mulder reached out his hand and lightly touched the smooth curve.

"Feels real, except for its cool, but it's definitely has the soft of human skin. And just the right amount of jiggliness. Does the color match?" he said, the sides of his mouth curving upward.

Scully giggles, laying her hand on her exposed faux midriff. The prosthetic stomach looks very natural, and though the color is half a shade darker than Scully's very fair skin, Mulder wouldn't have been able to tell if he wasn't comparing the prosthesis to her hand side by side.

As a sincere gesture, he offered, "The miracles of today, provided by our tax dollars. By the way, the clothes look good."

"Thank you," she replied courteously. She took a tentative step forward and Mulder grabbed the hand she was holding out for balance.

"Still shaky?" he asked.

"I'm getting used to it."

Mulder set the wobbly Scully down on the bed, giving her a manila folder to look through. Mulder watched as she became FBI Special Agent Dana Scully again, her eyes deeply absorbing the information in the file. "Gaba has no residential address, however, these last four murders took place in this area. They've done interviews with the husbands and found no real connection between the women themselves. They don't have the same obstetrician, but do all go to the same hospital, yet the staff there was unable to identify Gaba's picture. Nor were they able to find any correlation between the women and the words that were left in their homes."

"That's not surprising," Mulder began. Scully didn't even respond except for meeting his eyes, waiting for him to continue, "It's a personal signature. These women did not know Gaba, or else their husbands would have been able to ID him. I would find it strange that he would leave personally relevant objects for these women because of that. I read through his choices of words on the plane. They were virtues you could pull of out of a book. And correct me if I'm wrong, but only one pregnant redheaded woman has been found, right?"

"Yes," Scully responded, flipping through the sheets, "Susan Daniel, of a heart attack. Tox screen showed she had a lethal amount of methylphenidate."

"I've heard of that somewhere. Isn't that a drug to improve concentration?"

"It's being tested as a medication for attention disorders, yes, but the only reason you'd find it nowadays is in the production of imitation methamphetamines. A bad imitation at that. You read medical magazines?"

"Just the ones you leave in the office. Had she been raped?"

Scully's brow wrinkled, "Rape kit was negative. Daniel showed signs of sexual activity, but it didn't seem forced. Husband admitted they had been sexually active the night before her abduction. Tests out."

"I got the impression that that was a bit comfortable and sometimes painful during pregnancy."

"Not painful in inself. There is the risk of applying pressure to the bladder or other organs, or even the fetus, but you of all people should know that there are ways to improvise." While Scully was able to get through her statement in a rather detached monotone, she suddenly wished she had more to say because the resulting silence made it hard for her to keep a smile off her face.

Mulder's voice clearly indicated he wished to make a crack at that, he instead replied, "Regardless, why did he suddenly learn to keep in his pants?"

"Maybe he felt guilty about violated such a sacred symbol."

"Yet he felt fine committing first- and second-degree murder? And he did rape the fourth woman, who was pregnant, too."

"You're the psychologist. The fourth woman was only four months pregnant. While she would have been showing somewhat, it would have been less apparent. And this woman, Leslie Adame, was a brunette. And she died of…" Scully paused before finishing, "strangulation, like the first three women. Why did he poison Susan Daniel instead?"

"Can we be sure that this isn't someone else with a thing for expectants who forging Gaba's signature? I mean, Gaba never touched a woman over thirty and in the first four cases had no preference for hair color or size, but all of a sudden he narrows himself to a certain physical attribute and hair color? He would have also broken his racial exclusivity. The first four women were Caucasian, but wasn't one of the four new cases, the redheads, African-American?"

"Yes, Dominique Namatjira; she's a descendent of an African-American man and Australian Aborigine female, which explains the red hair."

Mulder looked out the window, "Let's go for a walk."

"Where we going?" Scully asked, attempting to get up off the bed, but found her efforts thwarted by her engorged stomach. Mulder held his hand out and pulled up his partner, slipping a diamond ring on her hand in the process.

"I want to visit the Memphis Botanical Garden," Mulder replied, putting a ring on his own finger.

"Really? Why the sudden interest in flowers?" Scully asked, examining her hand.

"I'm testing a theory. Leave Junior on… Dana."

"Alright… Fox. By the way, what's this for?" she said, displaying her now adorned finger, "Kind of late, don't you think? I'm only twenty-four weeks along."

"Well, Mrs. Mulder, Skinner gave them to me to help with the disguise. It adds credibility to the 'we're married' thing."

"I know I have to return it, but a two-carat Princess cut? I'm impressed. I should have acted mad about this assignment. Who knows what Skinner would have pulled for us?"

2:13 PM
MEMPHIS BOTANTICAL GARDEN

Scully plopped down on a bench, breathing heavily. She looked up to her grinning partner, stating, "I always had respect for my mother for going through four pregnancies, but not as much as I do now. How in the world did survive us at nine months?"

"Well, after Bill and Melissa, you probably seemed kind of small in comparison."

Scully chuckled, "I was born two days after my due date. Eighteen inches and six pounds, one ounce. I practically could have snuck out."

Mulder laughed, saying, "Let's play a game. What should we name the little guy?"

Scully rubbed her stomach, "He's male? I thought we agreed we were gonna be one of those parents that didn't want to know." Mulder nodded in response. She continued, "I don't know; what do you think of William?"

"It's not original, I mean, between my dad, your dad, your brother, and the fact it's my middle name. I can't say I don't like the name. So does that means we're gonna consider Katherine if it's a girl?"

"Katherine's pretty." Scully considered, toying with her ring and stretching her neck, and reluctantly asked, "You're not thinking of Fox, Jr., are you?"

"What's wrong with Fox?"

"I just can't see naming my kid after an animal."

"Expect a call from my mother," he teased.

Scully laughed hard; it felt good to do that on assignment, "So, no Fox, no Dana, deal?"

"No problem, but to tell you the truth, I'm really okay with Dana. Though having my wife and my daughter named the same? Oh, the insanity."

A soft click alerted Mulder's attention. He looked to the right and saw a man with red hair snapping pictures of him and Scully, so he ran over. "Hey, what's the big idea?"

The man smiled, "Sir, this has nothing to do with you or your wife. There was a beautiful cardinal on the tree above you. I'm an ornithologist." He pointed; there was no longer a cardinal, but there was a yellow songbird, so Mulder sighed, staring the man in the eyes; he didn't flinch, so Mulder calmly stated, "I apologize, Sir. I'm a federal agent, so I have to be careful. You can continue snapping photos. Forget I confronted you." The man walked away with a carefree gait, and Mulder returned to Scully.

"Birdwatcher," he said, "I don't think he's lying. He didn't fit Gaba's description at all. Probably nothing to worry about." Mulder continued to stare into space.

"Fox," she started, still a little shaky with the name, "what are you thinking?"

"I'd like to visit the police station. I'm curious to see what else they've dug up on Gaba."

"What do you want me to do?"

In response, he extended his hand, "I want you to accompany me. I value your expertise in these matters."

"You don't want to leave me alone. I am packing, you know."

Helping her up, Mulder replied, "It's my responsibility to keep you safe… Dana. I don't want you to feel helpless, but your abilities are not at 100. And," he said after a pause, "where exactly are you hiding it?" He lifted her arms, looking for telltale bulges on her body.

"You ever worn the Briefs?" she said with a large grin on her face.

"No, I'm a boxers man myself,"

"They're a pair very low cut spandex shorts that act as a holster. The gun is hidden in the crevice on the upper thigh."

"Must get a lot of 'Is that your gun, or you happy to see me?' jokes,"

"Only you… Fox, only you…"

MEMPHIS POLICE DEPARTMENT, SOUTH PRECINCT

Agent Scully grunted with frustration again as she backed away from the counter after leaning forward to read the top of the file and bumping the prosthetic stomach into the counter. Mulder unsuccessfully stifled a laugh, before asking, "Still getting the hang of it?"

"Yeah," she groaned, walking away from the counter.

"Where're you…?"

"You try having twenty pounds pressed into your internal organs every few minutes and see what happens."

"Scully, it's just occurred to me that you just walked off without giving me a straight answer to where you were going and that I haven't mentioned extraterrestrials in days."

Scully laughed but continued to walk away, "Maybe later I can drop innuendoes and you can roll your eyes at my lack of professionalism."

A young officer chuckled, "They really let the two of you work together?" He gave Mulder another file.

"She's not really pregnant," Mulder replied impassively.

"I thought there'd be some kind of rule where you're not allowed to be married."

"There is and we're not. The rings are borrowed, part of the disguise."

"You flirt with each other. I'd almost expect…"

Mulder looked up finally, "We've been working together for the better part of five years, including some very traumatic events, stuff you wouldn't even begin to believe. We have a very strong friendship…" Mulder explained dryly, trailing off to continue reading the file. "What the…?" he exclaimed suddenly as he examined the file carefully.

"Much better," Scully sighed as she walked over to Mulder looking very satisfied. "What's up?"

"The first redheaded pregnant woman that Gaba kidnapped worked at the Botanical Gardens."

"And why is that relevant?"

"I wonder if that's where Gaba is finding the women." Scully gives him an incredulous look. "It's just a theory," he defended.

"Mulder, that's a hypothesis built on very little evidence."Then she had an epiphany,"When you took me to the Botanical Gardens earlier today, we're you thinking the same thing?"

"Yeah, something along those lines," he answered, without an expression, and turned back to the file.

"Mulder, I trust your intuition, but this theory of yours seems to have come out of nowhere."

Mulder looks back, paternally, "Well, wouldn't you think that a pregnant woman would be more likely to hang out at a garden walkway than the average person?"

"Well, yes. However, if Gaba was really looking for pregnant women, it would make a lot more sense to visit Lamaze classes or the obstetrics wards in the area, especially given his rate of success. We already know he doesn't have a permanent address, at least under his real name, so what we should be looking for it a way for him to have access to many pregnant women, at least close enough so that he could see their hair color. It would require tracking them and following them home, learning their daily habits, planning a system of attack, and doing it without being seen. His face has been on the news for days. All I can say is that he is very dedicated to his desire. He's eluded us so far, and what we need to find is a flaw in his inner workings. That's not a lot of breathing room even with your uncanny sense of foresight."

"You're so hot when you're pregnant and logical," was Mulder's only reply, rubbing Scully's cheek with his hand for effect. Scully appeared extremely unamused. Both then turned their heads toward the young officer, who had witness the entire episode; he scuttled away nervously. Mulder turned to his partner again, "How much you wanna bet that the missing women frequented the Botanical Gardens?"

"Mulder, I wouldn't be surprised at all, but I wouldn't necessarily expect it."

"Well, I suggest we go talk to the husbands."

10:13 PM
BAYMONT HOTEL ROOM 259

Dana Scully was lying on her bad in the hotel room, wearing the belly under a large tee-shirt, reading the case file. Of the three husbands they talked to, one stated that the Gardens were one of his wife's favorite places. Another said they'd been once, but she wasn't pregnant at the time. The third said they'd never visited them. Scully's head ached of the lack of connections. She almost didn't blame Mulder for only having baseless hypotheses. They'd even gone back for another rendezvous at the Botanical Gardens, but had left after forty-five minutes.

There was a knock at the connecting door. "Come in," she called.

Mulder walks in carrying two aluminum cans of Diet Coke. "Thirsty?"

"Please," she replied, holding out her hand. "Caffeine Free?" she asked, looking at the golden can.

"You know pregnant women aren't supposed to have caffeine."

Scully took a sip and balanced the can on her stomach, "You're really enjoying this, aren't you?"

"What about you? You gonna sleep in that thing?"

Scully smiled, "Heavens no. I just wanted to see what it's like to lie down in it."

"And…"

"Even more respect for my mom. I can barely breathe when I lie down." With this, she pulled herself up into a sitting position, laying the drink on the nightstand. Mulder grabbed a chair and sat near the bed, commenting, "By the way that was a pretty cool trick with the soda can on the tummy."

"Yeah, I remember when my aunt was pregnant. When she was in her last trimester, she could hold a glass of wine on her stomach while in a slightly slouched position."

"And I thought my family was weird." Scully chuckled softly as she absent-mindedly rubbed her faux stomach. Mulder smiled and spoke seriously, "You really are enjoying it, are you? Because…"

Scully nodded, her mouth twisting, blinking her eyes to avoid tears, "Mulder, it's not the end of the world that I'm infertile. I do feel as if something's been stolen from me, but I'm lucky, doubly lucky, to still be alive. Don't feel responsible for my ova, Mulder. My barrenness is not your fault. We all know you did everything you could to stop it. Plus, the reason I'm still alive is you."

"Well, somehow, someday you'll make a great mother. Those kids are gonna have first-class treatment of their boo-boos."

Scully smiled, realizing just how much she'd done of that in the last couple of days, "Thanks, Mulder. I think you'd make a good father, too."

"Scully, I don't know the first thing about raising kids."

"Mulder, I'm not saying you're not clueless," she started, with Mulder interjecting an "Oh, thanks!" in between. She goes on, "Mulder, when she's pregnant, you'll have time to learn the details of taking care of children."

"Making sure to use the exclusive pronoun there, aren't you?"

"It'd be much more awkward with the inclusive 'we.'" Picking up the drink again and taking a sip, Scully continued, turning to her frowning partner, "Mulder, you've shown me that you are capable of putting all your energies into, sometimes even your life into, the pursuit of saving another's life. To say the least, you're full of devotion. Don't think that doesn't transfer to other things."

"Ah, stop it," Mulder joked, "You're making me blush."

"Uh," Scully groaned, "I'm going to get out of this thing." She left and went into the bathroom. Mulder busied himself with studying the case file. When Scully reemerged, rubbing her neck, she saw Mulder. "Hey, I'm going to bed, so see you tomorrow, 'kay? You can take the file if you want to."

"Thanks. Neck hurt?" he asked, noticing her continued rubbing.

"I have a backache something terrible."

"You… want me to give you a massage before I leave?"

"Uh, I'm not sure if that's…"

"It's your choice. I just know how."

"Five minutes…" Scully admitted.

Somewhat surprised, he told her, "Must be bad if you're gonna let me give you a massage. Lie down, then."

Scully did so, and started to moan after only a few seconds of Mulder's touch. "You're good," she breathed.

Mulder laughed, "I know a good technique. I'm not that great; you're just very tense. I suggest you limit wearing it as much as you can tomorrow."

Her voice deeper, Scully replied, "I second that motion. Turn around for a second."

Mulder lifted his hands, "Why?"

"I'm taking off my shirt." Mulder's only reply was an incomprehensible, guttural noise. "Relax, just don't look as I take it off and give me my four more minutes as I lay flat on the bed. Please; I really need this. I promise; I will take you into Graceland when the case is done. I'll even cover for us. Right now, my back is killing me. And if it's overriding my good judgment, so be it."

Mulder stared at the ceiling, almost burning a hole in it, trying not to listen the rustling of cloth. Something in the window caught his eye, a red glow. He remarked sharply, "Scully, put your shirt on."

"Mulder, are you really that scared of Mandate 8901? I think you can control the…"

"There is a dull red light in the window. It might be a photographic aid for taking pictures in low light without a flash." He heard Scully quickly putting on her shirt. He grabbed the gun from his calf holster, checked out the window, opened the door quietly, and slowly walked out.

Outside, he attuned his ears. He ran left, hearing footsteps, and then catching sight of a figure walking up the stairs. "Freeze! Federal agent!" Mulder cried at him, the familiar FBI agent groove returning to his psyche. The figure raises both arms. Mulder runs up to get a better look at him. "Turn around slowly." His eyes widen at the person's identity: a lanky man with longish red hair and a goatee, the ornithologist from the Botanical Gardens. "What are you doing here?"

"Going back to my room. Why?"

"Where's the camera?"

"In my bag," said the scared man.

"It got a low-light red glow?"

"I have a night vision attachment. But no red glow. That stuff's really expensive, and you use it for moving targets, like for military reconnaissance. Pictures don't develop well. You need a flash for my kind of work."

"Did you hear anyone walking around before I followed you?"

"Yeah, I think I heard some footsteps from around there." He pointed around corner toward Scully's room. "They faded away. I think he ran straight the other way from where you came from."

Mulder cursed and said, "It's your lucky day. The FBI is going to develop your pictures free of charge."

"I develop my own pictures. But you're welcome to observe as I do."

"The roll you got in the camera right now, it full?"

"Uh-huh. You gonna take it from me?"

"For tonight. I'll bring it to you tomorrow, and we can develop them." Mulder stood, his suspicion fading as he watches the ordeal that the man goes through to get sthe film. He unzipped several bags to get to his camera. It appeared dissembled. After several minutes, he handed Mulder the roll in a case.

"Thanks. You'll get it back tomorrow. Have a good nice and sorry to bother you."

"No problem." The man fled rather quickly to his room. Mulder eyed the film canister and reentered Scully's room. She was halfway through tying her shoes.

"It's okay, Scully. It was just that photographer from earlier."

"How is that okay?"

"He said he had no red-light of the sort, and his camera was packed away pretty tightly. There was no way he could dissemble it and repack in the time it took me to catch him. I got the canister in his camera anyway."

Scully started to untie her shoes, commenting, "Well, that's enough excitement for tonight."

"You're telling me. Night, Scully."

"Night, Mulder."

"Oh, did you want me to finish…"

"Don't worry about it. Thanks anyway. You're the best," Scully offered with a sincere smile.

ROOM 318

Jed Lewis pulled the small camera out of his over coat. He then proceeded to pull out the small tripod, connected to a semispherical light cover, and set it all this on his dresser. He opened a suitcase and pulled from it a long cord, which he plugged into his camera and into his laptop.

His face glowed with blue light as he typed in several addresses to his e-mail account, creating a message and attaching a numerically-named JPG file.

He clicked Enter on his keyboard and the window disappeared. A smile formed on his face and he checked his watch, before going to the bed and picking up the phone.

"It's done."

MAY 7
MEMPHIS POLICE DEPARTMENT, SOUTH PRECINCT

Scully stood behind Mulder, who was staring at a dry-erase whiteboard with various names and lines drawn from places to place. For the last few minutes, Mulder has been tapping a marker next to the words "BOTANICAL GARDENS."

"I wonder if he can turn invisible," he finally said.

"Maybe…" Scully replied, not wishing to go down the path, but finding no other way of responding.

"In England, they're working on this cube that uses cameras to project the image it's taping on the opposite side of the cube. If you look at it right, it seems invisible."

"If you look at it right. A friend of mine in college conceived of a way to use one way mirrors and obtuse-angle cameras to make an object appear invisible using microscopic semispherical shells. The nanotechnology involved was thirty years in the future, Mulder."

"Government technology is as much as thirty-five years ahead of civilian technology."

"Still, Mulder, that's for static objects. If you're implying that he has a suit or something that would do that, that's more than thirty years in the future. The implications are ridiculous involving the angles and what image is to be shown where and the logistics behind such an endeavor."

"I agree," Mulder replied, holding the pen to his chin.

"Then why are we discussing it?"

"I don't think it's Gaba."

"Okay, back to your copycat theory. I've seen no evidence against it. It's entirely plausible. That's a big leap just the same."

"What if the killer, Gaba or not, doesn't have a plan or a pattern. What if he just looks for pregnant redheads and pursues them."

"Mulder, he found four pregnant redheads in three months."

Mulder countered, "Well, what if he just saw Susan Daniel at the Botanical Gardens, and then, used alternate methods to find the others?"

Scully sighed, "Maybe. The OB/GYN was a bust, and we have four women and two different sessions of Lamaze classes. One couple didn't even use Lamaze, and it wasn't the Daniels."

"I know."

"I know you know. This is what you do. Any theories?"

"Shape-shifter?"

"You really want this to be an X-File, don't you?"

"Scully, X-Files interest me. To tell you the truth, they make my head hurt from thinking so hard. You go around citing the most obscure theories you can think of and you'd get headaches, too. I'm glad to take a break every once in a while."

"Okay, a shape-shifter. Great, those either want to kill me or seduce me. How do we catch him?"

"We make ourselves known. Scully, how 'bout I treat you to a full tour of the town today?"

"Okay, as I interpret it, you want to drag me around town, in hopes that we'll catch his eye. Mulder, if he was actively searching for a new victim, he'd have to expose himself. And he would have been found by now for doing so. There are still three women that we don't know where are. I'd say he's pretty sated for now."

"We gotta find him somehow."

"Okay, but only because your crazy plans always tend to work out somehow."

"Just like on Scooby-Doo."

"Great. I'm having a child with a cartoon dork."

"We're all cartoon dorks."

7:58 PM
BAYMONT HOTEL ROOM 259

Scully fell facedown onto the bed moments after entering the room, prosthetic vest and all. Groaning, she immediately sat up and started to unbutton the olive-green dress shirt that she was wearing over the prosthetic vest. Mulder watched the shirt fall to the ground, revealing the straps of a beige brassiere over the sheer material of the vest. He turned around and closed the blinds, keeping his back to Scully's.

"Mulder, get over here already."

Mulder had no choice but to comply. Having spent the better part of the day sight-seeing, Scully had been wearing the vest for almost seven hours straight, including enough walking to tire even Mulder's nimble legs. No sign of Gaba, and Mulder felt that this was the least he could do, shirt or no shirt.

He turned around slowly, even reluctantly, breathing a heavy sigh seeing Scully had put the shirt back on over the elastic black pants she was wearing. The bottom corners of the shirt flared out from under her, so he seriously doubted she'd button it all the way down.

"Mulder, how slow can you be?" she whined, her voice slightly muffled by the bed. Mulder began to massage her back, stepping over the discarded vest and undergarment. She was even more responsive than the first time and he did his best to tune out her frequent moans. Since Scully was not one to leave clothes on the floor, he immediately decided to continue until she stopped him.

After twenty minutes, Mulder's hands were starting to numb. He'd given a thorough massage to Scully's shoulders, arms, and all of her back three times over, and she laid there in a stupor the whole time, minus the inhuman moans and sighs. She finally turned over, smiling with satisfaction, giving him a heartfelt thank-you.

"Now what?" Mulder dared to ask, glancing at her exposed midriff.

Scully started to button the rest of the button and then proceeded to flip a leg into Mulder's lab, wiggling her feet. Mulder gave her an incredulous look, but immediately started to squeeze the soles of her feet. "Mulder," she said, sighing heavily, "I don't think we're gonna catch him. We can read file after file and visit every square inch of this city and we're not going to see him unless we're incredibly lucky." Scully inhales sharply, stifling a moan as Mulder hit a bundle of nerves on her arch. He felt the recoil of her muscles even through his numbed thumb. Ooh, a sweet spot, he thought, grinning.

"Scully, I think you're right. This guy is a ghost. You thinking of heading back and letting the local law enforcement figure this out?"

Scully makes an obvious nod despite her swaying head, "We're not doing any good here, Mulder."

"No problem. You wanna call Skinner or me?" He pressed on the knot in her foot again for good measure.

After quickly regaining her normal breath rate, Scully volunteered, adding, "I'll even call in the airline to get tickets for Friday around six."

"Why so late?"

"I thought we were going to Graceland."

Mulder pressed on a new knot on the ball of Scully's foot, causing her to gasp again, before saying, "Oh, yeah. Sound like fun. Thanks."

Breathily, Scully replied, "No problem," before jerking her head up again and looking at her partner lethargically. She picked up the phone and hung up. "That's funny, the line was dead."

"I'd try the one in the other room." Scully nodded, but didn't get up. Mulder, curious, looked up, "You waiting for something?"

Pulling her leg away and replacing it with the other, "Yeah, for you to do the other foot, unless you're gonna come with me and do it."

"Gladly, but if you moan like that with Skinner on the line, you'd better have a good excuse."

MAY 8, 12:34 PM
MARLOWES RESTAURANT
TWO BLOCKS FROM GRACELAND

Scully's face scrunched pensively as she began to chew again. She swallowed and looked to Mulder's shining eyes and ear-to-ear grin. "So…?" he asked.

"Not bad, I don't think…" She picked up the grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich and carefully took another bite. She nodded. "Once you get used to it, it's actually pretty good."

Mulder, satisfied, took an enormous bite out of his own sandwich and a sip of ice tea. Scully too took a sip, but looked away eyes wide. "It's pretty sweet, isn't it?"

"That's how they do it down here," her partner replied, smiling, "Remind me to take you to Atlanta some time." Scully takes another large sip. She probably didn't realize he noticed, but she was eating quite a bit more to compensate for the energy lost from when she was wearing the vest. She wasn't wearing it now, of course, but the fact that her appetite matched his was a sure sign.

"So, what's next? We still got plenty of time."

Mulder shuffled through his bag of souvenirs and looked to Scully with a sly smile.

Scully rolled her eyes, "Oh, that is not a good look. What are you thinking?"

"Pictures…"

"Of what? I think I've had enough photography for this weekend."

"Scully, we looked at every picture on that roll of film. Nothing but birds, except for that one of us with the cardinal. I was thinking that we ought to get a themed picture of us at one of those joke photography places."

"If you're thinking Elvis and Priscilla, slim chance." Mulder looked at her coyly. Scully suddenly shifted in her seat as she felt a strong leg pull hers forward. In an instant, her shoe was on the table and Mulder was pressing the sweet spot on her foot under the table. After she recovered from the sudden shock, Mulder asked, "Now?"

"Chances are broadening, but if I visit Quantico and that picture is the background for all the computers, they're going to have to start a whole X-Files division to find what happened to you."

3:42 PM
BAYMONT HOTEL

Mulder, his bags packed, stands outside as he waited for Scully to emerge from her room. He briefly considered knocking, but decided against it. Scully had been hot and cold all weekend and he didn't want to risk it.

Scully finally emerged, and much to her partner's surprise, looking six months pregnant in a dark plum blouse with flared sleeves and a full-length charcoal skirt.

A mischievous grin appears on Mulder's face, "You're really gonna wear that on the plane?"

In a smooth voice uncharacteristic of Scully, she replied, "I got a plan. You'll see."

FLIGHT 5656
9:14 PM

"Would you like anything else, ma'am?"

"No, I'm good now. Thank you," Scully politely replied to the flight attendant, her hands on her bulging stomach.

"Sir?"

"If it's not too much to ask, I wouldn't mind another pack of those wafers."

Smiling sweetly, the petite Asian woman nodded and left with a kind, "Coming right up."

"I never knew you were crafty," he said after the attendant was out of earshot.

"I'm just full of surprises, Mulder."

"And Sprite apparently," he mentioned, noticing the two empty aluminum cans floating in the melted ice within the small plastic cups.

"Which, reminds me, little Samuel or Melissa apparently thinks my bladder is a teddy bear. I'll be right back."

Scully emerged from of her seat, holding her stomach with on hand and the armrest with the other for effect. She made her slow hike toward the restroom, trying not to bask in the glowing smiles of those who noticed her assumed predicament. One man, with wiry brown hair and sunken eyes, made eye contact and tried to put on a genuine smile. Scully, however, quickly looked away, hiding her fear. She moved her hand to reach for her gun between her legs, but mentally cursed herself instead for having pulled it out to get more comfortable at the beginning of the flight. She decided to turn around and briskly walk back to her seat. However, she heard the man shifting in his seat, so she continued on her way to the restroom.

Back at Mulder's seat, his cell phone rang. Quietly, he answered, "Mulder,"

"Mulder, it's me," he heard Scully say sharply.

"Scully, what's going on?" he said, more than a bit perplexed.

"I'm in the restroom. Do you have any handcuffs?"

"Yeah, but I think it'd be the first time anyone used handcuffs while joining the Mile—"

"Gaba is on the plane. I think he followed me to the restroom."

His smile gone, Mulder scooted over into the aisle seat and looks down the aisle, "Why?"

Her sharp reply came through the phone, "Why do you think?"

"We're in an airplane. What does he expect to do?"

The rest came as a harsh whisper, "Mulder, just get over here, please. I don't have my gun."Her breathing was labored.

"Don't worry. I got you covered."

Mulder got up and casually strolled down the aisle, encountering a man waiting outside the airline restroom, whose face matched mug shot of Gaba exactly. Without blinking an eye, he inquired, "Excuse me, but is my wife in there? Petite, red hair, pregnant?" Gaba nodded, shrugging. Mulder lightly knocked, "Hey, Babe, it's Fox. You okay in there?" He received a "Yeah, I'm fine." Mulder extended his hand to Gaba, which he took. Mulder politely stated, "Fox Mulder, I'm glad I ran into you." With this, he slammed a handcuff on the held wrist of the wide-eyed Gaba, then twisting his arm, causing the man to spin involuntarily and fall face-forward onto the wall. Mulder slapped the other brace on Gaba's other wrist, and in a stern voice, he pronounced, "I'm with the FBI. You're under arrest for the murders of Alicia Tims, Miranda Carmen, Angela Button, Leslie Adame, Susan Daniel, and their unborn children, as well as the abductions and possible murders of Whitney Brackman, Dominique Namatjira, and Hailey Alexis and their unborn children. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law…"

DULLES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, GATE 48 BRIDGE

11:11 PM

Mulder escorted the still pregnant-looking Scully down the bridge, his hand on the small of her back, the two laughing. Phone calls from the police indicated that the three remaining women were found in a house under an assumed alias of Gaba, practically unharmed. Gaba took credit for the first four murders, but denied any involvement in the abductions of the other four. The case was now out of the agents' hands.

"What a day," Scully commented, putting her hands into the pockets of her overcoat, looking at the slip of cloth, with the word "Empathy" scribbled on it.

"Well, it looks like the D.C. police have him under custody. What are the odds that he'd be on the plane with us?"

"Something like one in five billion. I'm just ready to get home and get this damn thing off me."

"I think you should keep it. It'd make a great Halloween costume. Or… you could visit your mother in it. You don't have to return it till tomorrow. Swing by."

"She'd have a coronary! It's been six weeks since we've seen each other in person. It's entirely plausible that I could be hiding it at four or five months, especially since I wear these overcoats so often. It'd be especially mind-blowing given the fact I'm ova-free."

"So maybe it's not such a good idea, but are you keeping the clothes?"

"Might as well; I've worn them. In case I decide to put on some serious weight, they'll come in handy."

"Or maybe medicine has a miracle or two in store for you."

"Wishful thinking," Scully replied distantly.

Lightly holding her arm so that she would turn to face him, he told her, "Wishful thinking is hoping that someone who disappeared without a trace would reappear. Wishful thinking is hoping that someone will wake up from a coma after being taken off life support. Wishful thinking is hoping that someone would survive inoperable, unidentified, terminal cancer."

"Point taken," Scully commented after a brief moment, leaning closer to her partner as the two exit the bridge into the terminal. Scully looked up, and her eyes became as large as saucers when she noticed who was waiting for her in the lounge area.

"Dana!" Margaret Scully exclaimed, running up to her daughter in a panic.

"Mom, what are you doing here?" she replied, her voice shaky, suddenly aware of the prosthetic vest.

Her mother didn't answer, just stared at her daughter's bulging belly. Scully opened her mouth to explain when a voice said, "My god, Maggie, you were right." It was that of Teena Mulder, who approaches the couple as well, in as much dismay

"Mum, you came all the way down from Massachusetts? Oh, brother," Mulder said, looking up in irony.

Speaking of brothers, Mulder suddenly found himself in the clutches of Bill Scully, who screams in fury, "Just who the hell do you think you are getting Dana pregnant and not marrying her? Or did you, and convince her not to tell us? Huh? Or maybe, that's how she got pregnant: you're the one who said she was barren," he continued, looking at Mulder's wedding ring like a bull would look at a matador's cape. But Bill suddenly found himself pulled back by the remarkably strong arms of his little sister.

Taking control of the situation, Scully proclaimed loudly, "Okay, listen, I'm not pregnant. We were in Memphis doing some undercover work, and they gave me a prosthetic stomach to catch a murderer. And we definitely did not get married. What I want to know is how you caught on to this."

Mrs. Scully replied, "I got an e-mail from someone I didn't know. This was attached." She handed her daughter the picture. Both Mulder's and Scully's eyes widened in disbelief. It was a picture of the two at the Botanical Gardens, her appearing pregnant, the two of them laughing gaily. In the tree above them sat a red cardinal.

Mulder uncomfortably laughed, "This picture is by a photographer we questioned in relation to the case. He checked out, but apparently had a practical joke in mind. I don't know how he got your e-mail address, Mrs. Scully."

"Fox, I got the same picture," Teena Mulder informed her son.

Scully sighs, "I think this is just some guy's bad idea of a joke. Right now, I'm exhausted. We'll check it out tomorrow. Mom, trust me, I would definitely tell you if I were pregnant."

There wass a small round of laughter, minus the still fuming, but simmering, Bill Scully. When Mrs. Scully was finished giggling, she commented, "Well, if anything, this is a great story to tell to the grandkids."

Quickly breaking the uncomfortable silence, "Listen, Mom, I'll talk to you soon, but I really have to get out of this vest. C'mon, Mulder, we still have thirty-five minutes before they tack another's day charge on the car. Let's get home before I get desperate and perform an emergency C-section on myself."

Once in the parking lot, Mulder started the car and turned to his side, "You want me to drop you off?"

Scully exhaled heavily, "Yeah, I'd appreciate that. I don't want to drive home. Can you pick me up tomorrow morning?" He agreed. Twiddling her fingers, she shyly turned to him, not meeting his eyes, "I was kind of hoping that I could get one last back and foot massage from you."

She peeked up to gauge her partner's reaction. He seemed tentative, "Scully, I'm not sure that's such a…" His eyes met Scully's wide, begging, puppy-dog eyes. He chuckled, and then replied, "Alright, but this is the last time. I can't believe you used that kind of look on me."

"Please! You use that one on me all the time. Why do you think I follow you to the ends of the earth chasing all sorts of creepy-crawlies?"

"I thought it was my rugged good looks and witty charm."

"No, those are the reasons I haven't put six bullets in your foot for it."

J. EDGAR HOOVER BUILDING
WASHINGTON, D.C.
MAY 9, 10:06 AM

Mulder and Scully briskly walked through the hallway on the way to their basement office. Neither really enjoyed coming on their day off, but the matter of Jed Lewis the photographer had to be resolved. They met Skinner in the hallway; he had a rather stern, quite unhappy look on his face. "Agents, you should know that there have been rumors circulating about a possible indiscretion between the two of you. I quickly quieted the rumors by stating that you two were on an undercover mission where your behavior could be misconstrued. However, I received an anonymous e-mail yesterday that made the violation of Mandate 8901 seem a little less preposterous. There was an image attached."

"Sir," started Mulder, "that's why we came in today. There was a photographer we met in Memphis who we suspected had been photographing us. We thought he'd taken a picture of Agent Scully undressing, but we reviewed his film, and all the pictures were from the Botanical Gardens where we originally met him. We do know of the photograph in question. Turns out he sent our mothers that picture of us in the park, as a practical joke it would seem. We came to report it. He somehow found out how to contact them via e-mail."

"We'll look into that, but the scenery in the photograph I received was not any sort of botanical garden. It was a low-light exposure of a hotel room. Agent Scully's bare back is clearly visible and you, Agent Mulder, are clearly in the room with her." His eyes burned of accusation.

Scully felt the air being sucked out her throat, but Mulder replied, removing the guilt from his voice, "When then, apparently there was a photograph taken of Agent Scully's room. Can you trace the address?"

Skinner, ever gruff, replied, annoyed, "Already in the works, Agent Mulder, but would either of you like to explain to me why one of you would be in the room while the other was in any state of undress?"

There is a deadly silence.

"Sir," Scully stated, in a very scientific tone, "given the low light, I wouldn't find it at all surprising that the sheer fabric of the prosthetic vest would make it look like I was not wearing a shirt."

Mulder continued, "To tell you the truth, sir, during much of the trip, our relationship was at times more platonic than professional, including several situations that might very well appear compromising to say the least. I find it hard to believe that if Scully and I had committed any sort of serious indiscretion, there would be much more explicit proof. The very dubious nature of the photograph automatically calls it into question." From there, he didn't move a muscle in his face.

After a suspicious glance, Skinner's face softens, "You're right, Agents. I had no right to confront you like this. It's just, given the shaky foundation that the X-Files are on, I would hate to have anything arise that would threaten the continuation of your work. File your report and return to your homes, Agents. You've earned it. But I still want a report on my desk by Tuesday morning." With this, Skinner walked down the hall.

Once out of sight, Scully released a huge breath and leans her head against Mulder's chest, and then looked up, "That was close."

"Yeah, I wish I could lie as well as you."

"Hey! I didn't say a single thing that wasn't true."

"Well, Lord knows I have you lie for me enough. Let's just keep the massages during off-hours, okay?" he stated, pulling out his keys to unlock the door.

"I thought I only got one more."

"You'll find I'm pretty negotiable," he replied, opening the door. "By the way, you notice that he gave us an extra day after the weekend to do the report?"

"Oh, I did."

They both entered and stopped dead in their tracks. The basement office was filled with baby gifts. A huge pile of baby clothes littered Mulder's desk, including a jumper decorated with little green men. A bassinet and a crib, both filled with stuffed animals, including an inordinate number of aliens, and a flying saucer mobile over the crib, were sitting in the middle of the floor. A stroller, car seat, and a high chair also limited the agents' mobility.

"Mulder, what are we gonna do with all this stuff?"

"Well, hopefully they kept their receipts. Apparently, your mom and my mom weren't the only ones to get that picture. Gee, he must have e-mailed the entire department. Whatever can't be returned I guess you'll have to give you one of your brothers when a new niece or nephew is on the way. The only other thing I can think of requires extensive fertility treatments and a direct violation of Mandate 8901, Section 2.2." He looks at her with his classic flirty smile.

Scully turned her head, lifting an eyebrow, seemingly considering it. Mulder shared her coy glance, smiling.

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
CREEDOG T. VANDREY

Mulder broke into a fit of laughter, and Scully soon joined him. They embraced, both crying for inability to stop laughing. Mulder fell back into his chair, still howling, and Scully landed on his lap, pressing her face into his shoulder to muffle her giggles.

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
CREEDOG T. VANDREY

A/N: Whew! Boy, did that take it out of me. I have to admit, I came into this story not sure what was going to happen, or really how the plot would progress, but I was able to salvage it. I hope you enjoyed it, because this was one of those times when I was really able to pull something off when I feared I wouldn't. However, this is my first X-Files fic, so if it's flame-worthy, you are overcritical. If you were looking for a MSR, you obviously did not read my disclaimer. Which reminds me, I don't own any of The X-Files characters or 1013 Productions. My genius is dwarfed by that of the Magnificent Chris Carter. I am not making a dime at CC's expense.

(Sonriso) - Snicker, snicker. Really, Creedog, I doubt our friend Chris really needs help establishing romantic tension between our beloved heroes. You just couldn't resist, could you?

Created Saturday, November 20, 2004. Last updated Wednesday, December 14, 2004.