18.

Mulder fingered the paper in his pocket, reassuring himself that it was there as he walked up the hallway to Scully's room. He paused in the doorway and watched her for a few minutes, waiting for her to hear his heart thundering in his chest and turn to see him.

She didn't hear him though, so he cleared his throat to let her know he was there.

"Mulder," she said softly when she turned around and faced him.

"Hi Scully," he said, equally soft, watching carefully.

"Come on in," she said casually, moving a hand and motioning at the plastic chairs. "Take a seat."

He did as she requested silently, his eyes never leaving hers as she moved gracefully across the floor and climbed up onto her bed, crossing her legs beneath her and meeting his gaze with a calm, steady expression.

"I owe you an apology," she said softly, lifting her hand to silence him when he opened his mouth to protest. "No, hear me out," she requested. "I haven't treated you fairly since this started," she said. "Since before, actually. Even after Antarctica. I didn't see everything you saw there, Mulder, but I saw enough, and I still wouldn't believe.

When… when this started, I didn't talk to you. I didn't tell you what had been given to me. Instead, I ditched you and ran off, determined to solve it by myself and end it. I told myself I didn't need you, but the truth was I was scared, Mulder. I was scared of how I'd react, and I didn't want you to see me if I… if…" she struggled with the words.

"Cracked?" he suggested warily.

A slight smile tugged at her lips. "That's adequate," she agreed. "I didn't want to break in front of you, Mulder," she whispered.

"Sometimes, Scully, I wish you would," he said honestly.

She raised her eyebrows at him. "Why?"

He shifted on his seat, shrugging. "I cry in front of you often enough," he said evasively.

"Did you mean what you said?" she asked suddenly.

"When?"

"When you said you loved me." The uncertainty and shyness on her voice was a novelty, he thought, watching as she stared at the bed beneath her and twisted her fingers together.

"Yes," he said simply. "You know I do."

When she looked back up at him, her eyes were glittering with tears. "I don't hate you," she whispered. "I thought I did, but I don't."

"I'd understand if you did hate me," he said quietly. "I just… I couldn't lose you, Scully. And we both knew he was never ours in the first place."

She flinched at the words, her eyes turning angry as she looked at him. "You're wrong, Mulder. He was ours. He was always ours."

Mulder dropped his head into his hands, rubbing at his temples with his fingers. "I'm sorry, Scully," he whispered. "I'm so sorry."

He didn't hear her footsteps as she walked toward him, so when her arms wrapped around him and she pulled him close to her he was surprised. "Me too," she murmured into his hair. "I'm sorry for running from you when I get scared. I'm sorry for making you choose, and blaming you for the decision. I'm sorry for pushing you away. I'm sorry, Mulder," she whispered against his cheek.

Her cheek was damp and salty against his lips, and he kissed her tears away, tangling his fingers in her hair and pulling her down onto his lap. "I love you, Scully," he whispered against her eyelids. She sighed, kissing his cheek and burying her face against his neck, still holding him close to her.

"What do we do now?" she asked uncertainly, her voice muffled against his skin.

"Your mother was making some serious noises about marriage," he said hesitantly, not letting go.

She pulled back, staring at him intently.

"What?" he asked.

"You want to get married?"

"Why not?" he asked defensively.

"I never thought of you as the marrying type," she said.

"Well, will you?" he demanded impatiently.

"It's too soon now, Mulder," she said. "I'm sorry."

"You've said sorry enough," he said gently. "It's over now, Scully. Now it's just you and me and…"

"And?" she asked, frowning.

He let go of her with on hand, digging into his pocket with the other and finding the letter there. "I got this in the mail a few days ago," he said. "And… I didn't want to say anything because I didn't think the time was right."

"What is it, Mulder?" she asked.

"Read it."

She took the envelope from him, her eyes flicking to meet his when she read the address on it. She turned it over, but there wasn't a return address on it. She reached in and pulled out the note, reading the messily scrawled address curiously before looking at him.

"What does it mean?"

"The other children are still out there, Scully," Mulder said. "Two others, Krycek said. That address is a social services office in San Diego. I called them; there aren't any children there at the moment, but if we keep an eye out…"

She stared at him, uncomprehending.

"We're not allowed to look for them, Scully," he said gently, "but what if someone else is looking for us?"

"I… Mulder?"

"I don't know who sent it, Scully," he said.

"The Smoking man?" Scully asked.

"No, I don't think so," Mulder said, shaking his head. "Whoever it was also sent this."

He pulled the photograph from his pocket and handed it to her, watching her eyes widen as she traced the image. "Adam," she whispered softly.

Mulder looked down at the photo, waiting.

"There is something I don't understand, Mulder."

"What?"

"They kept the embryos because they hoped there would be immunity – and there was. Why was Krycek so determined for us to have Adam and to keep him from the Rebels, and then he ended up giving Adam to the Rebels?"

"I think we were his smokescreen," Mulder said quietly. "With Spender thinking we had taken Adam, he wasn't paying attention to Krycek, who was the real threat. Krycek knew there was no real way for us to keep Adam, so he was safe passing him off to us for 'safe keeping' until he was ready to expose himself."

Scully stared down at the photograph and swallowed. "Mulder, it's too soon," she said.

"It's okay, Scully," he said gently. "As long as we're okay, I don't care what we do."

She smiled and gave him back the photograph, climbing out of his lap. "Maybe one day, Mulder," she said, "but not now."

"What about the murder investigation?" she asked.

"New evidence came to light," Mulder said dryly. "I'm clear."

A bitter smile tugged at her lips, and he reached up to tuck a stray strand of hair behind her ear because he could. He could touch her. He smiled at her, and watched as the bitterness turned to tenderness. "I think that something good may have come from this," she said gently.

He nodded in agreement, watching her as she turned and headed toward a cupboard. "What are you doing now?"

"I'm going to pack my stuff, Mulder, and then we're going home."

"Home?" he asked.

"Home," she repeated firmly. "And while I'm packing, you can get me a coffee."

"I don't think your doctor's going to approve of that," Mulder said amiably.

"Probably not," she agreed, "but I'm fine, Mulder. There's nothing wrong with me." He caught the glint in her eyes just before he walked out of her room. "When we get home, I'll prove it to you."


FIN!


Extra Notes

IVF: Yes, I played with this significantly. Several people have voiced 'disagreements' or 'comments' with my decision to base the IVF just before the episode "Christmas Carol" & "Emily", but in Per Manum, Mulder gave Scully the ova right after she told him she was infertile – and she told her mother in the Emily episodes she had just found out and had no chance, so I figured the timing works there a lot better than later on during the seasons.

Song: Imaginary by Evanescence. Stolen and used shamelessly without permission.

Last Ramble: First of all, MAJOR thank you to Oracle, Kasuchi and Ev for the beta's, comments and encouragement. Oracle especially for reading the original version (which is VASTLY different from the final version) and Ev for her endless patience and support. And Kas for doing the beta, just for me :) These are all fantastic ladies with amazing writing skills, and I'm very very honoured that they'd beta for me. All mistakes are my own, and doubtlessly because I ignored their advise and corrections :)

smooch

I started writing this fic October last year (I think), and had the first version finished at the beginning of November. Real Life interfered though, and writing of all sorts got shelved, which is why this has taken so long to get out. Not to mention the rewriting and dusting and tidying up which had to be done. It was a big project, and for once I feel quite proud of myself!

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And if you've gotten through all of these Notes, then extra kudos to you! And you know, sending me feedback just earns you extra cookies ;) Seriously - any comments, constructive criticism (or, you know, praise) would be absolutely adored, because I'm egotistical and like to think people actually read my stuff ;)