a/n: first chapter from my new dorm! sorry it's short... there's an awful lot going on here.


He loved to surprise her. But when he watched her walk through the door that afternoon, surprising her became the last thing on his mind. She looked utterly exhausted and defeated.

"Hey," Mulder greeted her, springing off the couch but remaining at his spot just in front of it. She had stopped in the doorway just before the living room, barely looking up even though they hadn't seen each other in over a month.

"Hi," she said, tears brimming her eyes.

"What's the matter?" he asked, tentatively stepping closer.

She looked up, almost pitifully, reminding Mulder of the Donnie Pfaster case. Being transported back eight years to that night, Mulder did the only thing he could do. He opened his arms wide, and she entered them. Scully's tears began to fall softly as she buried her face against his chest.

"I'm so happy you're here," she almost laughed. Mulder stroked her gorgeous long hair, her rock through the storm.

"Did something happen?"

Scully could barely lift her eyes to meet his. For the past month she'd been planning on moving to Philadelphia to be closer to him, but now a road block was thrown in the way. As soon as she started to live her life and be truly happy again, something had to prevent it. Just like the conspiratorial "Them" she and Mulder had fought against during her time on the X-files, there were other forces at work to keep her stuck and solitary.

She asked the love of her life to sit down and proceeded to tell him about her interviews and aspirations in Philadelphia. As she did, a disbelieving smile spread over Mulder's face. They were exactly the same.

"I mean, my life just makes more sense out East. My mom's out there, my brothers have both been transferred out there, you're there… why are you smiling?" she asked, grateful for the momentary distraction.

"I just can't believe this."

"What?"

"Us."

"Mulder," Scully said in a warning tone, letting him know she wasn't in the mood for his cryptic statements.

"Alright alright. Scully, the past month while you've been considering taking a position out East… I've been working on getting a job here."

Her mouth dropped open, and within seconds she had jumped into his arms. Mulder didn't know whether she was laughing because she truly thought the irony of the situation called for it, or because she was losing it, but he held her just the same. He still didn't know why she initially was upset, and still had to get to the bottom of it.

"Well that just makes everything better. That just makes everything so much easier," she said sarcastically, still laughing, still crying, still scaring the hell out of him.

"They asked me to start teaching psychology and criminology at the University of Utah. But I could just as easily say no."

"I don't know what to do anymore. Why can't we ever just be normal together?"

He chuckled now, kissing the side of her head.

"You need to tell me why you came home crying."

Scully took a deep breath, trying to dry her eyes and be strong once more for him.

"I want to move out of this place, Mulder. I really do. Like I said, my family is on the East coast, you're out there, but for me too. This city just holds too many bad memories. And I don't want my daughter to grow up with an unhappy mother. I want to be the best mom I can be for her. But I can't do that here."

"So accept the job, move out East, and we'll live happily ever after," Mulder said like it was the simplest thing in the world.

"Sam's father isn't going to make that easy," she explained quietly, hoping Mulder would remain calm for her and not act on his immediate and instinctual response to protect her. No such luck.

"Where is he?" Mulder asked, red already rising in his cheeks.

"Stop."

"Tell me!" he shouted, not realizing how much he was scaring her. She was terrified, but she straightened her spine and put on all of her armor.

"You think that finding him and 'making' him see your point of view is going to help me any?" she shouted back.

"What business is it of his where you live? He sees her one weekend a month! He couldn't possibly think that you moving is going to affect that! What kind of rights does he think he has anyway?"

"He's perfectly within his rights. And despite what he did to me, he is a good dad to Sam. We went to mediation with our lawyers today, and I tried to make it clear to him that the move wasn't going to affect his visitation, but he wouldn't have it. Paul is suing me for full custody."

As soon as those words came out of her mouth, Mulder realized how truly broken his girlfriend was. And he tried his best to put her back together.

"Scully…" he kissed her over and over and over, "you are the best mom in the world. No court is ever going to take your baby away from you. I'll make sure of it."

"I can't imagine going through this again. It was hard enough the first time, and she was a baby then. Paul was working a lot, and he more than conceded to having her one weekend a month and two weeks during the summer. I don't know if he's trying to be the World's Greatest Dad now that he's got another wife and a new family, but he doesn't understand the hell he's going to put us through. She's four now! She's four and she knows what's going on! She shouldn't have to experience this," Scully finally resorted to sobs again. It took a few minutes for him to be able to speak.

"I'll be here," was all he could offer her.

And for that night, it was enough.