Misconceptions

"Damn, I hope the Gunmen got outta there okay," Doggett said to Scully as he unlocked his car door. He looked anxiously back the way they had come. "I don't think we're bein' followed, I just hope it's not 'cause they already got their hands full."

"Don't worry." Scully reassured him. "The guys know enough to stay put until it's safe. This isn't the first time they've been involved in...well..." her voice trailed away, not wanting to describe what they'd been involved in tonight.

"Okay." Doggett said as he got behind the wheel. "You be safe. And see what you can do with that one." He nodded toward Mulder, slumped in the passenger seat of Scully's car. "He's gonna get himself killed for real next time. And I don't wanna go down with him. I don't want you going down with him."

If Scully answered, Mulder didn't hear her. He didn't turn his head as Doggett's engine started up. Scully put the car in drive and pointed it towards home. Mulder stared out the window as they sped through the city streets. The silence between them grew thicker by the mile but Mulder found it too exhausting to give a damn...The rage that had filled him, had spurred him into this reckless adventure had drained away, leaving him too tired to feel anything.

Why couldn't they have just left him in peace?

If he were still 'dead' he wouldn't have to worry about any of this. Not the X-files, not the end of the world, not Scully and...

Maybe they had left him.

Maybe he was well and truly dead.

Maybe no one had come looking for him. No one had rescued him. Maybe he was dead and this was Hell.

That would sure explain a lot.

Someone else had his job, Scully had a different partner and soon she'd have her child.

There was once a time...he almost remembered a time when he thought that he and Scully could have everything.

I'm George Bailey, he mused, and the angels of Hell are showing me what the world would be like if I'd never been born...and no one misses me at all.

He would have smiled at the cinematic allusion but it would have been too much work. He was vaguely surprised. He'd thought that despair would be more than this heavy listlessness. He'd read once, in an article on demonic possession, that in Hell one couldn't pray or hope. When he'd been on the ship, he'd prayed like never before in his life. He had prayed and hoped for just one thing...now he had no iea who to pray to and all his hope was gone.

And he was supposed to stand by and act pleased while watching all he had ever wanted move beyond his grasp?

Yeah, this could definitely be Hell.

He felt completely deflated; drained of anything remotely resembling energy, emotions or life.

Scully, on the other hand, seemed to be growing more brittle by the minute. Parking the car in front of her apartment, she yanked the key out of the ignition, practically kicked open her door and heaved her awkward body out of the car. With quick, jerky movements she marched to her front door and stabbed it with her key.

Mulder slid out of the car and had no trouble catching up to her despite his lethargy. Once she turned the lock, he reached over her shoulder and pushed the door open, then followed her inside. He closed the door softly behind them, leaning against it with a sigh as she threw her keys onto her kitchen counter. He watched apathetically as they ricocheted off the backsplash, skittered all the way across the counter and off onto the floor.

He cut his eyes towards Scully in time to see her wheel on him, murder in her eyes.

"Do you miss your grave so much, Mulder!?" she raged at him. "Is that it!? You just can't wait to get back in the ground?!"

"No."

"Then what is this suicide mission you're on? Tonight you couldn't wait for any kind of verification-you just ignored all warning and common sense and charged into the cross hairs!"

"You said we could trust Doggett."

"Agent Doggett is the one who tried to warn you. He didn't want to give you that information in the first place and he was right!"

"He almost got me killed."

"He saved your life! Your own stupid impulsiveness is what almost got you both killed!"

"Damn it, Scully, what do you want me to do?" he asked, wearily, letting his head roll back on his neck and rest against her door. "Just stand by while they move their project forward? Sit on my hands and pretend I don't know what's going on?"

"What is going on? Maybe if you filled me in on a few details, I could help you!"

"DNA profiling, small pox eradication, cataloguing us, keeping tabs on us through the department of social security, everything we've seen and done for years..."

"That's right. It's been there for years and it isn't going anywhere."

"It's disappearing as we speak." He sighed. "You know that. Do you expect me to give up?"

"No." Her voice took on a pleading tone, "I just want you to slow down. Take some time to recover from the ordeal you've been through." Stay here with me and never leave my sight again.

"I've already lost too much time. I can't waste any more." He stood up straight and looked her in the eye. "You, of all people should understand that."

"Me? Why? I don't understand any of this. I don't understand why you don't seem to care whether you live or die."

"I don't want to die, Scully but I've been through worse and I'm not afraid of it."

"WELL I AM!" she slammed her fists on the counter. "I'm afraid of it! I've already buried you once. I don't want to do that again. Not ever! I'm not asking you to stop but couldn't you just...wait? Until after this baby is born? Doesn't that make any difference to you?"

"That's your holy grail, not mine."

"How can you say that?" she gasped, feeling as though he had slapped her.

"Oh, that's good. That's GREAT!" Apparently one could feel anger in Hell, for an enormous shot of it jolted through him so suddenly that he was shaking with it. Lunging away from the door, three long strides had him towering over her. "You obviously didn't let a little thing like my abduction make you miss a beat in your quest, but I'm supposed to just shelve everything I've worked for over the last dozen years until you've gotten what you wanted? After the last six months, I know more than ever that this project has to be stopped! I know what they're capable of; what they'll do to all of us if they can! I'm fine now, better than ever; you said so yourself! You want me to wait? For what?! Tell me Scully; how long did you wait before you found another donor? A week? Judging by your due date, it couldn't have been much more than that. And who did you ask? Who was your second choice? Oh." He leaned away from her. "Oh, God...I was your first choice, wasn't I?" He laughed bitterly. "Please don't tell me you only asked me because Skinner said 'no'." Shaking his head, Mulder dropped heavily to her couch, exhausted once again.

Scully was silent for a long moment. Her heart broke for him as she realized what he'd said.

"Oh, Mulder, I'm so sorry." She finally whispered past the lump in her throat as she lowered herself beside him. He turned his face away from her.

"You weren't my 'first' choice." She put her hand on his shoulder. He felt as hard as stone. "You were my only choice." He caught his breath but he did not move. "If you had turned me down, that would've been the end of it. It was never enough to simply have a baby. I wanted your baby; our baby."

She reached up and gently touched his hair. He still didn't move. "I found out the day you were taken. That's why I'd been feeling sick in Oregon. I was pregnant, Mulder. We were pregnant. Knowing that I carried our child is the only thing that kept me sane while you were gone. That knowledge was all that kept me from climbing down into that grave with you."

Mulder exhaled slowly.

This was not Hell.

"Don't you know?" Scully said softly as tears ran down her cheeks. "You are the most important thing in my life. You have been for a long time..." Oh, God, it felt good to finally be saying it! "...and you always will be."

"But...the in-vitro...didn't work."

"No. It didn't."

"Then how...?" he finally looked at her.

"The birds, the bees and the monkey babies, Mulder." She tried valiantly to smile.

"But..."

"You told me never to give up on a miracle." She made a noise halfway between a sob and a laugh.

"Oh my God." He leaned forward and put his face in his hands. "I did." he whispered. "I gave up a long time ago."

"I didn't." She said as she stroked his head. "How could I? I was barren and you were dead. Yet, here we are!"

He lifted his head and met her eyes. His were shiny with tears but he started to laugh.

What a fool he was to mistake Heaven for Hell.

"Here we are?" He took her in his arms and laughed like he'd never expected to laugh again.

Just then, the baby gave a tremendous kick between them. Mulder gasped and Scully started to laugh as well. He put one hand on her belly as the baby continued to excercise.

"A monkey baby would be pretty cool." he said, grinning.

"If this baby has a tail, Mulder, I'm going to hunt down Eddie Van Blunhdt and kill him with my bare hands."

"Yeah, but still..."

"Mulder, shut up." She ordered. "Kiss me."

So he did.