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November, 2002

There is a sparse pile of leaves in front of the hotel. William is a little young to be jumping in the leaves on his own, so Scully sits on the lawn with him so he can play with them. He giggles, crumping the multi-colored foliage and throwing handfuls of it in the air. Scully laughs with her son, reveling in this unusual moment of happiness for them. 

“Da?” William asks, pulling on her hair. She doesn’t know what to tell him.

They wait for him hidden in a corner of the train station, passengers rushing by like the tide. She sways back and forth gently, her hair that is now the same color as her son’s brushing his cheek. William giggles, holding on.

Mulder’s been gone for three weeks now, and with everything that’s happened, she can’t help but be more than a little apprehensive.

“Da,” William says, tightening his grip on her hair. “Da-da-da.”

“Daddy’s gonna be back soon,” she says to him quietly. I hope. I hope. “He might have found a new place for us to stay.”


“Exactly.” Scully scans the crowd from the arriving train nervously. “So we won’t have to stay in those gross hotels anymore.”

William giggles again, banging a toy gently against her shoulder. She kisses the top of his No More Tears scented head. She wouldn’t trade having Mulder back for anything, but she’s hated raising her baby in hotels, teaching him to walk and talk in cigarette-scented rooms and on stained carpets. She and Mulder had both agreed that they needed something more permanent, but she’s hated staying in New York while he’s gone. It’s easy enough to disappear, but impossible not to worry.

“Da!” William says suddenly, thrusting his arm out to point. Scully shifts her line of sight to follow his hand, and comes to rest on Mulder, making his way through the sea of people. She waves him over around the pang in her chest, wanting to run to him but not wanting to call too much attention to herself.

He meets them in the corner, smiling just as widely. “Hey,” he says, lifting a hand to cup his son’s head and leaning down to kiss her.

William squeals and holds his arms out. Scully shifts him into Mulder’s arms and lifts a hand to cup his cheek. “Are you okay? Did anything happen?” she asks in a low voice.

“Nothing out of the ordinary. Sc- I got the place,” he says excitedly. She misses hearing him say her name, but they try to avoid calling each other anything in public to avoid attention. Still, the news is incredible. “It’s a little house in rural West Virginia. Incredibly unremarkable. You and Will will love it.”

“And how are we…” 

“Paid for in cash the Gunmen managed to withdraw from my bank account for me. We should be fine for a few years, but the Gunmen think you and Will can have normal live again someday.”

“And what about you?” she asks softly. 

He kisses the top of her head. “They’re working on it. For now, we’ll be fine.”

She sighs with relief. He’s here, they’ll be okay. 

They pack their few things in the two suitcases they have, and leave the Super 8 behind in the early hours of the morning, when it’s still dark outside and the interstate is virtually deserted and city traffic isn’t as bad. “Bye-bye,” William says sadly as they pull away.

Scully bumps his knee with one finger. “Don’t be sad, baby. We’re going somewhere much better.”

“And you’ll have a huge yard to play in,” Mulder adds from the driver’s seat.

The drive takes all day, punctuated by the frequent breaks that come with having a young child in the car for hours. It’s funny, Scully thinks, that she’d once wanted so badly to get out of the car. Now, she loves to be in it, with both of her boys within arm’s reach and the doors locked so no one else can get in. But they’re both on edge even more than usual every time they travel. She tenses every time a police car passes, hand going for the glove compartment where they keep their guns. She hates to think what will happen if they are ever caught, to Mulder, to William.

They arrive in the early hours of dusk, chilly with a breeze blowing strong enough that Scully retrieves William’s sweater from the trunk and pulls it over his head. Mulder jogs ahead to beat them to the house, leaves crunching under his feet. “Ta-da,” he says as he opens the door, making William laugh with delight. He gives a nickel tour of the sparsely furnished house. William’s bedroom is the best room in the house, with toys stacked in the corner and books spread out on a trunk. 

Scully can feel the tension that’s been stacking up for months fall away, and she turns to kiss Mulder in the doorway of his bedroom. “You did all this?” she says in wonder.

“Well, Skinner and the Gunmen chipped in - I didn’t know they had it in them - but I wanted to make it nice for him. I’ve missed out on enough of his life.” Mulder grins sheepishly and she kisses him again. 

They sleep better that night than they have in months.

The next day is Thanksgiving, and Scully is a little more than relieved that they have a house to celebrate in. Last year was a sadder affair without Mulder, the first in a string of painful holidays they spent without him.

They don’t have the means to cook, so she drives to town to pick up a pizza. Mulder and William are outside when she gets back, in the midst of an impressive pile of leaves. William is laughing and sprinkling bits onto Mulder’s head. Scully leaves the pizza on the porch and goes to join them. “Happy Thanksgiving,” she says, kissing William’s cheek.

Mulder’s eyes are immediately wide and guilty. “I forgot,” he says softly. 

“No problem.” She tickles William. “I got a pizza. We don’t have to go all out.”

He hugs her with William in between them. “I’m sorry you can’t be with your family, Scully,” he says with those sad eyes he has that makes her want to give him the moon. 

“It’s okay,” she says, fingers caught in his hair, arm wrapped around their son.  “This is my family. This is enough.”