Author: Josan, aided and abetted by Virgule Vaughan
Betas: Skif and her virtual blue pencil. Karen-Leigh, who is to "blame" for these sequels by sending me all those Nick Lea tapes. I claim any inaccuracies...none of them are anyone else's fault.
Date: November, 2000
Summary: If you've read the first story and then you read the title of this one, you know what it's about.
Pairing: Sk/K
Rating: PG...
Comments: jmann@mondenet.com OR, if you're getting bounced due to the anti-spam filter my server has added, try jmann@spam.mondenet.com
DISCLAIMER: Skinner and the original Krycek are the property of CC, Fox and 1013, but the others belong to me.
DEDICATION: To Virgule Vaughan, who wanted a story for for the picture. You'll know which one when you read it.

* * * * *

Walter was greeted with a tight hug from Dana Scully as behind her the girls squealed, called out "Hello, Uncle Walter!" and rushed out to meet the others.

Mass was the only one getting out of the car, looking around him like a child.

"Mass, come meet everyone." Walter grinned at Dana who was staring, mouth partially open, at this version of Alex. "Sebastian and Alex are following in the Explorer. There was too much baggage to take just one vehicle."

Mass was wearing those thigh-high boots of his, jeans under them and a thick, beautifully knitted, colourfully patterned sweater that some cousin had made just for him. His hair was down. Grinning delightedly at all the females watching him, he strolled up to the steps, sexuality turned up to full.

It was, thought Walter, not as though Mass were doing it on purpose; that sensuousness was as natural to him as breathing. He doubted that Mass would be able to turn it off even if he wanted to.

Walter sighed.

"Dana Scully. Massimiliano de Gama."

With old world courtesy, Mass bowed, took Dana's hand in his, brought it to his lips. "No one told me what a beautiful woman you are, Donna Scully. Intelligent. Determined. Resourceful. But they forgot to mention your beauty." And he turned her hand so that he could place a kiss in her palm.

Walter had never really seen Dana Scully speechless before.

"And these are the equally beautiful Scully sisters?"

Walter settled against the front stoop railing and watched as Mass wrapped three little girls around his finger as he had so smoothly done with their mother: bowing to each of them, calling them "Signorina", kissing the backs of their hands, all the while the girls giggled.

The only one who didn't look impressed was Lissa, who, as usual, watched from the sideline.

When Mass moved towards her, Dana finally unfroze. "No. It's okay," said Walter, holding her back. "He's learning."

About four feet from Lissa, Mass stopped, crouched so that they were eye to eye. He made no move to touch her, to take her hand and kiss it as he had done her mother and sisters. Instead, he allowed her to look him over carefully. "La signorina Melissa. Alex has spoken to me about you. But he never mentioned that your eyes are so bright that I would need sunglasses to look into them."

Lissa stood very still. Then she looked from Mass to her mother. A very female smile slowly made an appearance. Two members of the female species exchanged one of those silent communications that men would never be able to decipher.

Walter suddenly realized that Mass had been right. They were no longer just children, but girls on their way to becoming women.

Lissa turned her face back to Mass, hesitantly offered him her hand. Moving very carefully, knowing that he was being honoured by such a gesture, he placed his hand under hers, allowing her the opportunity to pull away at any time, leaned over and brought both up to his mouth.

Lissa barely allowed his lips to touch before she pulled her hand back, but her eyes were bright.

The Explorer pulled in and, almost shyly, Lissa made her way around Mass to run for Alex who was getting out of the driver's seat. They all watched as Lissa was caught, hugged and, hanging on to Alex's shoulders, was carried back.

Walter finished the introductions, grinned at the enthusiastic reaction of the girls to the three men who looked alike. Mass began unloading the car, ordering Sebastian to stop flirting and to bring the cases into the house. Sebastian pushed his glasses up his nose, demanding to know who had made him boss.

"I am the eldest. It goes with the territory. Am I not correct, Signorina Domina?"

Domina, who recognized a fellow dictator, agreed, ordering her sisters to grab the smaller packages.

Alex refused to help: "I've been ill, remember. I'm not supposed to do anything strenuous."

Zanna rushed up to Mass, took his paints case from him with awed respect. "Uncle Walter says you draw all the time. Will you be drawing here too? Could I watch?"

Maggie had already brought one small suitcase in, rushed around her mother to accept what was obviously a bag of presents. "Are any of these for us?"

Another vehicle pulled up, a battered van carrying three more surrogate uncles. There were more squeals, greetings, introductions, all at the same time as Mass continued snapping out orders to the delight of Domina.

Walter looked at Dana Scully and shook his head. "My circus meets yours."

"Oh, well," Dana shrugged. "Barnum and Bailey did merge with Ringling." She started down the steps to help Zanna with Mass's portfolio. "They survived. We will too."

* * * * *

That Christmas was an accumulation of snapshot memories for Dana Scully.

Episodes that seemed to come out of nowhere.

Zanna hung over Mass's shoulder, eyes intent on the way he handled the charcoal. Dana had known how much this child loved drawing, but until she saw the absolute pleasure on her daughter's face as Mass instructed her, she had never really realized how ingrained the desire to draw was in Zanna.

Domina and Sebastian were the next unexpected pairing. But then, they both had the precise minds needed for tinkering with abstract puzzles. Of her four daughters, Domina was the one with the greatest computer skills. Now Sebastian linked her to a math site with puzzles of all kinds and together they discussed logical progression in problem solving.

Dana wasn't all that surprised to find the two of them one afternoon together at the dining room table when the others were all off doing last minute shopping. Sebastian was calmly explaining what he called a simplified version of the theorem of Chaos to a Domina who not only seemed to be following the explanation, but was asking questions that delighted her tutor.

Lissa, of course, disappeared with Alex. Probably up in her cocoon, the both of them, needing time away from the noise, the "chaos" of the house. Still, Lissa was always more open, less quiet when Alex was around. Dana often thought that Alex was also less closed around her daughter. She took pleasure in the fact that they strengthened each other, this child of hers and the ex-assassin.

Maggie and her uncle Walter went to a movie. Some chase/cop/action thing that normally Dana wouldn't permit. But the two of them enjoyed themselves so much that she made an exception to this rule only for Walter. They came back, eyes shining, clothes stained with popcorn "butter", happily tearing the film apart for its inaccuracies.

And in and out were the Gunmen, who set up some extra computers for everyone.

Byers delightedly argued with Sebastian over some theorem she had never heard of.

She caught Langley discussing hacking with Alex, Lissa slouched over his shoulder, head resting against Alex's, listening to every word.

Frohike and Walter took over the kitchen, chasing her out whenever she tried to see what they were up to. Mass ordered the girls to set the table with her best china, supervising like a general with his troops. She had to admit the final product was worth all the noise.

At one point, Alex took her by the hand, led her to Lissa's cocoon and left her there, lying on the floor, head propped on Lissa'a pillow, a glass of wine in her hand. There was a lot to be said, she admitted to herself, for Lissa's method for coping.

Especially when, at supper, she realized that what the girls had in their wine glasses was wine, not grape juice.

"Watered," explained Mass. "But they need to know the taste of a good vintage. An educated palate is an important part of a young woman's upbringing. A man who will feed her an inferior wine is not a man worth knowing."

So, with a variety of nods, some pleased, some uncertain expressions, Dana Scully watched as her daughters took their first steps into womanhood under someone else's tutelage.

They all went to midnight mass. Well, not the Gunmen who felt that religion was solely her domain.

The church was within walking distance. The streets were empty as they strolled back, the girls rushing on ahead to prepare the snacks that Walter had orchestrated for their return and to select the one gift they were allowed to open before going to bed.

At the door, Dana looked back to see the four men, walking side by side down the middle of the street. There was a light dusting of snow falling, the only illumination coming from neighbouring houses. She knew she would never forget this image.

Mass was at one end, Walter at the other.

Mass was wearing those high boots that emphasised his legs, his sexuality. He was wearing black pants under them, another of those sweaters but in black this time. Instead of a coat, he wore a heavy black cape, a black fedora dashingly angled on his head.

He was walking, arms linked with Sebastian who was also in black, a conservative yet exquisite Saville row tailoring that suited his academic life, but that he had accessorised with a long black collegial scarf tossed over a shoulder.

Alex was laughing at something Mass was saying. Of all of them, he was the one who still looked like a bad boy. He wore black slacks, the most formal thing she had ever seen him wear, a black cashmere sweater with a high collar that had been a gift from Mass when he been ill. And that battered black leather jacket that only emphasized the edge of danger that the man would probably bear until the day he died.

Walter was holding up his end with a Hugo Boss suit in a navy so dark as to be black. He had topped that with a newer version of the FBI "batcoat", also in black. He wore a black Stetson on his head.

Dana leaned against her front door, wondering just what the neighbours would think if they caught sight of all this masculinity on parade.

She muttered to herself, as she opened the door, "Get it under control, woman. They don't need you drooling over the lot of them on top of everyone else."

Christmas morning, as usual with Domina, came far too early. Dana handed Walter a cup of coffee, sat beside him on the couch watching as all the "children", including Alex and Lissa, sat on the floor, surrounded by scads of colourful paper.

"Whatever happened to Barnum, Bailey and the Ringling brothers?" asked Walter.

Dana sighed. "They ran away from the circus. Joined some home, I think."

* * * * *

Then, after ignoring his flirting for three days, Dana agreed to go out for supper with Mass.

"After all," he said, "you are a beautiful woman. You deserve some time at a quiet supper, with a man whose full attention will be concentrated on you. Some good food. A little dancing. You like dancing, don't you?" He leaned against the kitchen counter, watching her, his eyes exuding sincerity. "When was the last time you went dancing? Just because you are a mother does not mean that you should have no time to yourself. Come dancing with me, Donna Katharina Dana."

Dana shook her head, laughing.

"Is it because I look like Alex?" Mass's voice was stripped of all flirtatiousness. "I know that Walter has said that there was a time when you would have killed him had you been of the kind to kill. That you had cause. When you look at me, do you only see Alex?"

She turned to look at the man now watching her without any of his usual playfulness. The face was more Alex than ever. But the man, she thought, was not.

"Dancing?"

"Dancing." The smile grew on Mass's face. "You will make yourself more beautiful than you are. Put on a dress that you haven't had need to wear. We will go as a man and a woman who want a meal, some quiet conversation. And then we will go dancing. Nothing else. I swear."

Strangely enough, Alex was the most upset about this evening out. The others had raised their eyebrows, shrugged and told her not to worry about the girls.

She was putting the final touches on herself when there was a knock on her bedroom door.

"Yes?"

Alex slipped into the room, looking very uneasy. "Scully, are you sure you want to do this?"

Dana glanced over her shoulder. It amused her to see Alex so discomforted by the situation. "We're only going for a meal and then maybe some dancing."

"Dana, he's....he's my brother and I care for him, but he's a lech."

Dana's eyebrows rose as they had in her days at the FBI.

"Well, he is. Look, be careful."

"Are you hinting that I may not be safe with him, Alex?" She sprayed the air with some expensive perfume, walked into the mist. Alex frowned, as if he had never seen anyone ever do something like that.

"You'd better be. No, it's just that..."

Dana took pity on Alex. "I know what he is, Alex. He's not you. He's not Sebastian. He's a very experienced man and a very good-looking one. And I do know how to take care of myself. Remember?"

Still, when Mass came out of the room he was using as his bedroom, dressed in an Italian suit, hair loose, eyes very appreciative of what he saw, it did cross her mind to wonder if she were completely certain of her control.

Alex glared at Mass who ignored him, helping Dana into her coat, swirling his cape around his own shoulders.

Walter tossed Mass the keys to his car. "Just remember that you're not in Italy."

The girls giggled. They'd seen her dress for special occasions before, one or two dates, but Dana hoped that none of them would blurt out that they had never seen her look this gussied up. Well, she rationalized, if one was going out with a man as eye catching as Massimiliano de Gama, one did have to dress a little finer than normal.

Her competitive spirit, she told herself.

The fact that she came home alone, around four a.m., in a taxi was not really a surprise. The fact that Alex was waiting up for her was.

He took one look at her and whatever he was going to say never made it out of his mouth. His shocked expression was the icing on her evening.

Without a word, she came up to him, kissed him on the cheek. Half way up the stairs, she turned round. He was still standing there, staring up at her.

"You know, Alex, I never really realized before tonight just how lucky a man Walter is."

It took Alex a moment to get it.

From the top of the stairs, Dana Scully watched as Alex blushed, beet red.

* * * * *

jmann@mondenet.com