Once upon a time there was a young assistant professor at Harvard named Fox Mulder. A handsome and exceptionally intelligent man, passing genetical muster in every possible way, who one rainy, November day found himself in dire need of cash.
He turned to his friends for council, since they, being as broke as he was, were no good for money.
“You’re a fine specimen of the male animal,” said Langly opening his fifth beer that evening, “there’s a market for that.”
“I don't have time,” Mulder began but Byers cut him off.
“Not like that."
Langly grinned and wiggled his eyebrows. "A sperm bank."
“Donate.” Langly said mater of factly, while Mulders’ jaw landed on the table. “I did.”
“Then they’re not too picky.”
“Fuck off," he bristled, "I finished MIT, top of my class.”
“Right, no.” Mulder said, with uncharacteristic finality, but the idea stuck.
20 years later, standing in the middle of the auditorium, he looked at a striking red-head, sticking out among sea of young faces.
“Logically I would have to say no,” she said, sticking her chin out defiantly, “energy requirements of intergalactic travel,”
“Mom, c’mon that was a rhetorical question,” said William under his breath, slight blush barely noticeable on his warm complexion, so unlike her and yet.
“It’s okay William,” Mulder said, sitting on the edge of the desk at the centre of the room, and turned back to the woman, huge smile on his face.
“Conventional wisdom, very practical," he said and spoke to the room in general. "It’s practicality that got us to the moon, and one day will get us beyond our solar system. Dreamers would get nowhere without the skeptics keeping them in line and making them work to achieve their dreams.” Her forehead smoothed and she smiled back. “Perhaps the technology is unimaginable to us now, but one day we might think of space travel they way we think about flight. Thank you, mrs. Scully”
“Miss,” the woman corrected him, still smiling, “I was never married.”
“That explains the practical part.” Mulder said and addressed the rest of the class. “You managed to sidetrack me, as usual.” They laughed and he grinned at them, “but since this is our first class this year, I’ll let it slide. That’s it for today, go bother someone else.” He waved his hand and the room started to clear out, laughs and friendly smiles sent his way as people passed him by.
With the corner of his eye, he saw William linger behind with his mom.
“Questions, Will?” He asked the boy when they approached, but his eyes were on the blue ones of the petite, elegant woman next to him.
“I didn’t mean to ruin your lecture,” she said, before Will spoke up. “Will kept going on and on about this course all summer.”
“You didn’t ruin anything, we’re always open to discussion around here.” Mulder grinned, and leaned back on the desk again, “you have a great kid, miss Scully.”
“I’m standing here,” Will said, obviously embarrassed.
“You brought your mom to school,” Mulder laughed, “bare the consequences like a man.”
Scully laughed, and patted his arm.
“It was my idea, a dare, sort of,” she said, turning back to Mulder, “I didn’t think you’d notice, and then I got carried away.”
“Good thing you have a cool mom,” he said to the boy, “your reputation will recover.”
"Can we go now?" Will said to his mother, eager to get out.
"We could have lunch," she said, looking Mulder in the eye.
"People do tend to eat around this time."
"Would you like to have lunch?" She said and Will turned on his heel.
"I'm going, bye, see you next week, professor."
"Have a good one, Will." Mulder said, never looking away from his mom. The doors opened, swung shut, he smiled. "So, about that lunch."
"About those aliens," she said and grinned back.
"Why are you still up?" Scully asked hanging her coat in the closet.
Will's feet dangled from the armrest of the couch, game on tv played on mute.
"Extra reading from professor Mulder, due tomorrow."
"Oh, you won’t have class with Mulder tomorrow."
"What?" Will looked at her over the edge of the book. "You broke my professor?"
"I did not break him," she said, feigning outrage, "cold did, I only refereed."
"Seriously, you have to stop messing with my college education."
"It was dinner, nothing more."
She smiled and stopped on her way to the kitchen, to lean over him and kiss his forehead. Will coughed.
“You still have that cough?"
“I'm fine," he sighed, catching his breath, "it’ll pass eventually.”
“It's making me worried," she said softly, perching herself on the edge of the couch, "come to the clinic tomorrow, we’ll draw some blood, do an x-ray.”
“Fun but I can’t, I’ve got school.”
“You have an hour to spare,” she said, brushing fingers through his chestnut mane, “humour your mother.”
“Fine, whatever.” He said and picked up his book. She left him reading and went to fix herself a cup of tea.
Mulder sipped coffee from a paper cup on his way to work. It's been a while since he talked to Scully and he was starting to feel the pull again, to pick up the phone and call and take her out to dinner. He didn't think he could be friends with a woman and it surprised him, how simple it was. Watching his friends and colleagues being dragged through courts by the very women they claimed to love forever, he never once felt the need to put himself through that. He had his job, his students, an odd girlfriend twice a year, he was content with his daily run, weekly basketball game at the Y, and semi-regular poker nights with the Gunmen. It was a happy life. But! If he could add some regular time with the good doctor he wouldn't mind. She was sharp and gorgeous and fun, and he didn't mind she had a kid, at all. He liked Will, so much that his absence from class was starting to worry him a little.
The coffee grew cold as he wrapped his last lecture that week. Will's empty spot like a gaping hole in the lecture hall, filling him with irrational sense of dread.
He dismissed the class and as the students filed out, he caught Will's name in one of the conversations.
"We should go see him," said a cute blonde, Kimberly something.
"At the hospital?" Her friend said, taken aback.
"Kimberly?" Mulder called, before she stepped out.
"Yes, professor?" She said, batting her eyelashes at him, as usual.
"Do you know why Will isn't coming to classes anymore?"
"Oh, I was just talking about that," she said, her smile fading, "he got sick, apparently it's bad."
"How bad?" Mulder's blood went cold.
"I'm not sure, but I heard some talk about organising a blood drive so," she sighed, hugging her binder tight.
"I'm sure he's going to be fine," Mulder said, trying to keep his tone warm, despite his instincts screaming at him that something was very wrong, "let me know, if you need any help with the blood drive."
"We will, thanks." She forced a smile and followed after her friend.
No wonder Scully didn't call in weeks, though it wasn't as if they agreed to anything, except keeping things casual.
'Well, screw casual," he thought, finding his way through the crowd and out to the parking lot. He had an appointment at the Boston General.
She didn't pick up her phone, which could only mean she was working. Boston lunch time traffic was a murder, but the drive felt too short anyway, his emotions still reeling when he entered the main clinic. A young nurse at the registration caught the worst of it.
"Sir, I need you to calm down." She said for the third time.
"You don't understand," he said, trying to force the panic back down, "I need to see doctor Scully, now."
"Do you have an appointment?"
"No, but," her kid is sick and I need to do something, he though then paused. Who was he to assume, he just wanted to know what was going on. "Just, tell me where I can find her."
"Neurology ward, but," the girl began but he didn't listen. One glance at the directory on the wall and he was heading for the elevator.
He knocked on her office door, heard her call out and pushed the door.
"Hi," he said sheepishly, doubts finally catching up to him.
"Mulder," Scully said, rounding the desk, "is everything okay?"
She reached out for him and he knew she did it unconsciously, guiding him to the couch and making him sit. For once he didn't find the lack of space funny.
"Me? Are you?" He said folding her hands in his, "I heard about Will, how bad is it."
She choked and he noticed her sunken face, worry lines on her forehead, dark bruises under her eyes. She looked like she would never smile again and he pulled her into his arms.
"It's okay," he said, gently stroking her back.
"No, it's not, it's bad, he will need a bone marrow transplant." She shuddered on the last words.
"There are donor banks," he soothed, holding her tighter, realising the chances, "tell me everything."
"It was just a cough," she said, against his shoulder, "but then his blood work came back and his cell counts were abysmal. It all went down hill after that."
"He's a strong kid," he tried, but really, what did he know, "he'll get through this."
She crumbled in silence, melting into his arms, and he didn't know what else to do but hold her up.
"It’s all mu fault," she whispered after a while, "God is punishing my pride."
"I thought I could do it all by myself."
"You did good," Mulder whispered, rocking her lightly.
"And now I will loose him."
“You won’t,” he said, a little more forcefully, drawing her closer, “and you're not alone, it’s gonna be fine.”
"Mulder," she sighed.
"Never give up on a miracle." He said, before reason sent her under again.
He held her for long minutes, breathing her shampoo and hospital disinfectant. He knew he had no power to make this right, they had dinner a few times and the kid was his student, but something in his heart broke and he couldn't sit idly and watch them suffer.
"Test me," he said once her silent tears dried out.
"I can’t," Scully said, looking up, "I can't ask you for that."
"And you can ask strangers?" He raised one eyebrow at her, and she softened a little. "We have the same blood type."
"How do you know that?"
"It came up in a discussion once," he shrugged, "I'm a universal donor, 0 negative, so test me."
"There's more things to consider. The probability of finding a match,"
"Is zero if you don't try," he cut her off and she frowned, "c'mon, I'm sure you have that sterile swab thing here somewhere."
"I do," she said.
"Go get it then."
She pulled away and got up, and he instantly felt better. Not because she was gone, but because he was finally doing something to help them. Scully rummaged through things in the glass cabinet and came back a minute later, plastic tube and a syringe in hand.
"Blood will be better," she said.
"You're the doctor," he said, and shrugged out of his jacket.
Scully rolled up his sleeve and tightened the tourniquet above the elbow. She prodded around the crook of his arm for a few seconds and looked up.
"Are you sure you want to do this? I won't hold it against you if not."
"Do your worst."
He said, confident as ever and she snapped on a pair of latex gloves, broke the seal on the needle and drew blood. He didn't flinch. She was that good.
"There," Scully said a minute later, pressing a piece of gauze to the crook of his elbow, not letting go.
"I know it's not the time to make vampire jokes," he said, "but there's definitely one in here somewhere." Corners of her lips went up for the first time since he walked in.
"You should talk to Will about that," Scully said and the smile vanished again, taking last of Mulder's humour with it. She could stop his arm from bleeding, but not his heart, not with her hands at least, so he leaned forward and pressed his mouth to hers, gentle but solid, making his heart skip a beat, because she kissed him back.
"You won’t loose your kid," he said, leaning his forehead against hers, her breath on his lips warm and sweet.
"I can't." She said and cupped his cheek, brushing one more kiss over his lower lip.
Mulder paused by the door, peeking inside, not wanting to disturb the boy in case he was asleep. He wasn't. Will laid in bed, hooked up to an IV, a book spread open on his chest while he looked out the window. It was as grey as it could be in Boston in late November.
Mulder knocked and peeked inside.
"Hi," he said, "mind if I come in?"
"No, sure," Will said, slightly embarrassed, scrambling to sit up, as if he was okay, though clearly wasn't. "Hi professor."
Mulder wanted to stop him, words ready, but before he spoke, Will hissed and froze, cradling his hand to his chest.
"Easy there," Mulder said, crossing the room in three strides, "everything okay?"
"I pulled on the IV line." Will sighed and looked at his hand.
"You want me to call someone?"
"No, it's okay, it didn't go out."
"You seem to know your way around this stuff."
"My mom's a doctor, I learn fast."
Mulder pulled up a chair, hung his jacket over the back and sat down.
"So," Will said and paused.
"So," Mulder replied, in standard male.
"Mom finally told you?"
"No," he sighed and leaned on his elbows, "your friends from class, Kimberly."
"Kim?" Will shook his head, exasperated. "She's not my friend, she only wished she was."
Mulders' eyebrows went up. "Whoa, that's harsh."
"Why? Because I won't lead her on?" He challenged, a hint of scorn in his voice.
"Will, I know you think this sick thing is permanent."
"No, it's been going on since before I got sick." The boy said and sank into the pillow, not pleased. "She's been batting her lashes at me this whole semester."
"Nothing, I just don't look at her that way, she's so…"
"What?" Mulder asked, trying to hide a smile.
"I don't know, not my type."
"So you have a type."
"Sure I do."
"And what' might that be?"
"Someone with enough brains to hold a decent conversation."
"And Kim's not that girl." Harvard student with no brains? In his class?
"Nope." Will said and looked at Mulder, catching his frown. "I mean, she's nice and cute as hell, but we're completely different people. She's from Atlantic City and she never heard about the Jersey Devil."
Mulder couldn't help himself, he laughed.
"I'm not saying I believe it exists," Will said, arms folded over his chest, "but I accept the possibility."
"Right, listen," Mulder said, balancing the chair on its' hind legs, "with bar set this high, you might have a problem finding a girl."
"I don't care, I've got standards." He said, then cocked his head to one side. "How about you?"
"You've got a type?"
"I'm too old to have a type."
"How about my mom?"
"Your mom?" Mulder let the chair drop.
"Yeah, what's going on between you two."
"Nothing." Mulder said, remembering her soft mouth.
"Bullshit." Will said narrowing his eyes. "You smiled."
"You're a funny kid." He tried to deflect, unsuccessfully.
"No, that's not it, you smiled because you remembered something."
Mulder sat up straight, a slight warning this time. "Now look."
"I'm not a kid," Will said, firm but not challenging, sounding just like his mother, "I know you're both adult and single, but let's be honest, when I'm gone."
Mulders' anger vanished and he said softly. "Will."
"I need to know if you plan on staying." Will said, looking out the window again.
"Will, you can't think like that." Mulder sighed and got pinned down with a glare. Right, not a kid. "Right now, me and your mom, we're friends, and whatever she needs, or you need, from me, I'll do my best to make it happen, no strings attached."
They looked at each other for a long moment and finally Will's expression softened.
"You really believe that."
"I do," Mulder said and picked up the book, now sitting closed on the edge of the night table, ready to change the subject. "What's this?"
"It's moms', Moby Dick." Will said, curling up in bed. The little match made him look exhausted.
"Couldn't she find something lighter to read?"
"Grandpa Ahab used to read it to me, when mom worked nightshifts."
"So grandpa liked ships." Mulder said, pausing to look at the drawings.
"He was a navy captain," Will sighed letting his eyes fall shut.
Mulder flipped through pages and a bookmark fell out, an old polaroid. In frame, on a pier in front of a huge grey-blue aircraft carrier, Scully crouched behind Will, six years old at best, his tiny palm touching the visor of a white sailors' hat, sitting on his head, adorably askance. They both laughed.
Mulder looked up at the boy, then the book in his lap, and began to read.
Scully took Mulder's blood sample to the lab and called Walter, asking him to get back to her with his opinion, as soon as he got the results.
The past few weeks, worry was her default state of mind. Once Will went through all the children's ailments, he never really got sick. He laughed about it, running around in shorts when she burrowed in scarves and long sleeves. Now the thought of loosing his warmth made her blood run ice cold.
The minute she saw Mulder walk through her door, she thought, not you, too. He was practically a stranger, someone she laughed with over chicken marsala and cheesecake desert. Yet in that moment, his face and kind eyes and warm hands, made her feel like he could, and would, put himself between her and the edge of darkness. Most guys would stop taking her calls and run, but he came looking for her and for the first time in weeks, she felt comforted.
Scully's phone chirped and she sighed, seeing the caller ID.
"Hello honey, how's Will?"
"He was alright this morning when I went to see him."
"Good, that's good, and how's the other thing going?"
"It's not like opening a phone book, we're looking, and I told you, it's a precaution, we're waiting to see, how he responds to treatment."
"And if the treatment doesn't work and you won't have any time left?"
"I am not sitting on my hands." Scully said, thinking, I just stuck a needle into someone I just met.
"If you would let me find some private foundation, it would go…"
"I know it would go faster," Scully said bitterly, "but let's wait with kicking someone out of the line, till we know there's no other way around it."
"I see no reason to wait."
"Well, I do, mom," I'm not giving up yet, "and I have to go."
"Alright, we'll talk more about this later."
I hope not, Scully thought and hung up.
She went to see Will around dinner time to keep him company, and as usual, he tried to send her away.
"Go home mom," he said smiling faintly, "you'll need your strength to save me."
"I've got plenty," she replied patting his hand, "I'm so strong, you can't even imagine."
"I can imagine quite a bit."
"Well, multiply that by one hundred and you'll know how strong I can be."
"Wow, can I have some of it?"
"You can have it all," she sighed, keeping her voice even as tears stung her eyes.
"Good, I always wanted to leap over buildings and race speeding cars."
"My hero," she smiled and picked up the book from his night table, found the bookmark and stared at the picture. "You did some reading today."
"I had help." Will said, turning to his side, "professor Mulder stopped by. I hope Harvard won't charge us extra for home visits." Scully huffed out a laugh and closed the book, when Will added. "I like him."
"He's a great teacher, from what I heard," she said.
"No, I mean for you."
"I'm almost twenty, mom, it's time for you to start dating, for real this time."
"I'm too old," Scully sighed, but the memory of the kiss softened her smile.
"Maybe in dog years," Will chuckled, laying on the sarcasm, "you keep up that talk, and I'll make you a grandma."
"As soon as I get out of here."
"You will most certainly not." She laughed, swatting his arm.
"Ouch!" Will faked a yelp, but didn't let go of the subject. "Mother, you're forty six, which is the new thirty five, you're hot, and you already have a guy lined up."
"William," she warned.
"I'm just saying."
"How about we make a deal." She said and he crossed his arms, "you get better and I'll give the dating game one more shot."
Will paused, his expression cleared and he grinned, sticking out his hand out, ""You're on, shake on it?"
"Deal," she said and smiled. "Now tell me, why won't you take grandmas' calls."
He groaned and threw the sheet over his head, making her laugh.
An hour later she was sitting in the ringing silence of her car, no one to go home to, no one to talk to. Will was right, it was time.
Mulder yelled, trying to rub water out of his ear and zip up his jeans, all at the same time. Failing at both, he let the towel drop around his neck and with the button undone and his t-shirt untucked, he opened the door, and froze.
"You're not my usual delivery guy." He said and smiled, leaning on the doorframe.
Scully smiled back and held up a takeout bag. "29.99"
"Got change for a hundred?" He stepped back and gestured her in.
"Nope," she said and, climbing on tiptoes, kissed his cheek.
"Keep the change." He grinned and took the bag, saying, "Hi, again."
"Hi." She smiled and looked him up and down, from towel-dried hair and six-o-clock shadow on his cheeks, grey t-shirt and faded jeans, all the way to his bare feet. He looked warm and solid and completely at ease.
"Can I have your coat?" Mulder said, then added, a little uncertain, "I assume you're staying."
"You assume correctly," she said, then paused, "wait, you ordered already?"
"Yup, Chinese, great minds think alike," he took her coat and hung it on the rack. "We'll have seconds," he said and headed for the kitchen, giving her a minute to look around.
The room was warm, another pleasant surprise after the wide porch and warm light from the outside. There was fire in the fireplace, a rug under the couch and the coffee table, papers and knickknacks and books in bookcases. Actually, books seemed to cover every inch of free space, even stacked on steps leading to the second floor, which made her chuckle. Well, he was a professor of psychology at Harvard, she might have expect that. She followed Mulder and found a kitchen that was just right, with its' small dining area. Cutting boards and oven mitts looked used, knives had worn handles and banged-up mugs hung by their ears on a railing over the work table. There was even some dishes left in the sink, and she loved the place for what it was, not a flashy bachelors' pad, not an overgrown sleeping area, but a home, lived in and comfortable.
"There's beer in the fridge," Mulder said, taking plates and napkins to the table. "You want some?"
"Why not." She opened the fridge and to her surprise, there was more than just beer there too. She picked two bottles of Shiner Bock and opened them both, handing one to Mulder.
"Cheers," he said, clinking his against hers and pulled out a chair for her, like a real gentleman. "Sorry about the mess, I didn't expect company."
"What mess?" She said and started to unload the cartons of fried rice, spicy pork and sweet and sour chicken. "You should see our place when I work double shifts. Will does most of the cleaning anyway."
"Wow, you raised one hell of a catch." Mulder chuckled, draped the towel over the back of his chair and sat down, accepting chopsticks she held out.
"There was only the two of us, so we grew up fast."
"Yeah, I know what that's like."
"And what made you grow up?"
"My little sister, she went missing when I was twelve."
She dropped her gaze, and Mulder could almost see the light in her fade. He couldn't have that.
"Hey, it was long time ago," he said, and started forking out rice on her plate. "Here, eat, you need it."
She picked up a chunk of sticky rice, put it in her mouth and tried to chew, but suddenly her throat closed. She looked at the food, at his hands, and the room turned into a warm-coloured blur. A sob broke free and huge, hot tears ran down her cheeks, and then warm darkness took her in.
"Shhhh, it's okay, let it all out, don't hold back"
Mulder crooned, his arms tight around her for the second time that day, and she sobbed even harder into his shoulder, feeling gentle hands cradle and soothe her. She fell in deeper, pulling him closer and did as he said. She thought about the injustice of it all, felt the pain and anger and helplessness, and let it all pour out of her, not in words but raw emotion. She fell apart, letting him hold her together as she bawled, while the food grew cold on the table.
When she quieted and her breath came almost even, he asked softly. "Better?"
"I'm sorry," she whispered, "it's so unlike me. I never break down like this."
"Your kid is sick, I'd be worried if you wouldn't." He said, his own voice not quite steady.
Scully looked up and there were tears in his eyes, wet trails on his cheeks. "Hey, and why are you crying?"
"You should never cry alone," he said and his eyes fell shut when she wiped his cheeks, "it's bad luck."
"Who makes up these rules?"
"Fuck if I know, think you can eat now?"
She glanced at the cold pork, it still looked fine. "Yes, sorry about that."
"Stop apologising for everything, it's bad luck."
"Mulder?" She said, letting go and missing his arms instantly.
Mulder grinned and leaned in, brushing her tearstained cheek.
"For luck," he whispered and pulled up a chair to sit beside her.
They ate the second delivery while it was hot, packing up the first as leftovers and took their third beers to the couch.
"You wanna watch something?" Mulder asked, jumping because he almost sat on the remote. Scully leaned on his shoulder, pulled her feet up and sighed.
"I'm so full, I can't think right now."
"Good." Mulder said and flipping through channels found Julia Roberts on third try. Short hair, ugly dress, Sally Fields. He changed it, and fast.
"Thanks," Scully murmured.
"No problem, let's see it we can find something safe," he chuckled, "like WWE."
"Hokey," she chuckled.
"Swimming," she said, teasing, "young, toned and practically naked."
"Did I tell you I was on the swim team?"
"You have now." She giggled and snuggled closer.
Mulder stopped flipping through channels, when he saw Mel Gibson feeding biscuits to a Rottweiler.
"That's a very guy movie."
"You've seen that one too?"
"I have a son." She said, but there was no pain in her voice anymore, only drowsy, full stomach contentment.
"Okay, so you pick a movie and I'll make popcorn."
"You still have room left?"
"For popcorn? Always."
She took the remote and turned to look after him. 6 feet tall, he couldn't weigh more than 180.
"You have a gym in the basement I should know about? Where do you put it all."
"I lied, I never quit the swim team," he chuckled rummaging through one of the cupboards, "and I run."
"Oh, here, there, depends on the day, why?"
"I might join you sometime."
"You see, we do have things in common." He said and slammed the microwave doors shut. It whooshed and soon enough, began to pop.
She fell asleep, with her head on his shoulder and her whole weight leaned under his arm, and when the credits rolled and Sting sang how he'd lay down his life for a friend, Mulder thought, "You and me both, man."
God, she was a beautiful, with her features relaxed, lips parted in sleep, and a stand of hair falling over her cheek. Awake she was too distracting, he couldn't keep up with her smiles and tiny frowns, she was a sensory overload, and he didn't even dare to imagine, what she'd be like to touch. If he tried, he wouldn't be able to stop, and after the day she had, she needed rest to regain her strength. He knew how to be patient.
Shifting, he stretched out on the couch, never easing the grip on her, making her shift with him, and Scully went down with him. Wedging herself between him and the couch, half draped over his side, not even half awake as he pulled the blanket over them both.
"Shhh, it's okay," he whispered, when she shifted to fit his arms more comfortably.
"Kiss," she mumbled, "bad luck."
"Right," and stifling a laugh, he kissed her forehead. "Goodnight."
"'Night." She sighed and was out.
Mulder clicked the tv off, and last ambers in the fireplace were the only light that was left.
"I don't want to love you," he thought, but as he did, he knew it was already too late.
She woke up with a cramp in her neck, a dead arm and beginnings of a headache somewhere behind her eyes. She was also alone, a bit too warm and definitely needed to do something about the teeth and breath situation. Embarrassing was the word.
She just went ahead and spent the night, and they didn't even have sex yet. She just cast herself as the weepy-needy middle-aged… the front door opened and in came Mulder, bringing with him the scent of rain, his windbreaker dripping with water. Scully sat up and tried to look like none of the things she felt like and thought, "Don't call me sunshine."
"Good morning." Mulder said, stepping out of his wet shoes, bakery bag in hand.
"Hi," she tried, had to clear her throat, tried again. " Morning."
"You brought dinner, so I thought it was only fair to bring breakfast."
"You didn't have too," she said, looking for her shoes, "I imposed on your hospitality enough for one day." Try a decade.
"You needed sleep, I didn't mind company," he must have noticed her chagrin, because his tone turned alarmed. "Wait, where are you going?"
"Home," she said, combing fingers through her hair and pushing herself up from the couch. Without the afghan she instantly felt cold, but it sobered her up. "I've got things to do."
He stood there, half way between the kitchen and the couch, looking dumbfounded as she crossed the floor and kissed the air next to his ear.
"Thank you for dinner." She said and turned on her heel, grabbing her purse and coat from the rack on her way out.
"But, I brought muffins." Mulder said as the doors slammed shut behind her.
Rain pelted against the roof, drowning out the ringing silence, the gunned engine and wheels spitting gravel, and Mulder went back to the kitchen. He took one of the mugs he left sitting next to the coffee maker, and hung it back on its' hook over the worktable. The story of his life. Maybe next time, or maybe another life, he will have more luck.
He poured himself a cup of coffee, took the newspaper out of the delivery bag and went to his office in the basement, Saturday morning as usual. The muffins stayed on the table, untouched in their paper bag.
For once morning traffic was on her side. Rain probably made everyone have breakfast in bed, sipping coffee snuggled between sheets, or on a couch, sharing blankets and toast.
Well, she couldn't afford that, she had things to do. She had to clean the bathroom and change sheets, and do some grocery shopping, and all of that, before she went to see Will. Yes, she had to keep on moving. Otherwise she'd start to think, how well she slept, for the first time in weeks.
She got home and turned into a pinball. Shrugging out of her coat on the way to the kitchen, she fed the coffee maker water and ground beens and flipped the switch, then went through the bedrooms, Wills' and her own, stripping sheets and her clothes, she picked a pair of yoga pants and a faded hoodie and went to the bathroom, starting the shower and a load of laundry while she was there. By the time she was done showering and brushing her teeth, the coffee was done, making her feel better, if only slightly.
An hour later, she barely heard the intercom over the noise from the vacuum cleaner.
"Help, I'm drowning!" Said a familiar voice and she buzzed the visitor in, opening the door and looking down the flight of stairs. Squeak followed by a squish, and soon enough, a tall, lanky figure turned the corner.
"You hear that?" Charlie said looking up, "that's the sound of the biblical flood."
"You better not get any of it inside, I just scrubbed the floors."
"Hey! I crossed the ocean to see you!"
"Charlie, you live on the other side of town."
"Nag, nag, nag." He said, and grinned, stopping to wipe his shoes before leaning over to kiss her cheek. "Hi sis."
"I'll get you a towel." She said and let him in.
"And I'll remember you in my will."
With a mug of coffee and a towel draped behind his neck, Charlie sat at the breakfast bar in her kitchen. Short, red curls bouncing back to their usual, casual messiness did nothing to dilute the sharp focus of his gaze behind horn-rimmed glasses.
"You look better." He said, cocking his head to one side and watching her make sandwiches. "Is Will out of the woods?"
"No," she sighed, slicing tomatoes, "his blood work is still crap. Mom is insisting on pursuing alternative routs to finding a donor, in case he needs one."
"Walt says, it's best to cover all fronts."
"I wish I could help."
"You did, you didn't match," she said and joined him, setting a plate between them, "you can't help your genes, even if we share most of them."
"Right, so, it's not Will, and it's not good news from the big boss, so what is it?"
Scully filled her mouth with bread, careful not to look up.
"Nothing, I just had a good nights' sleep." She said, when silence stretched.
"I tried calling yesterday," he said.
"No one answered."
"Why didn't you call my cell?" She said, swallowing the last bite.
"It wasn't exactly an emergency." Charlie replied, then shook his head, giving up, "fine, keep your secrets."
"I slept with a guy." She blurted out, hiding her face in her palms.
"Hallelujah," Charlie grinned and patted her head.
"I mean, we didn't have sex," she said, "we just fell asleep, after dinner."
"And that's why you're embarrassed, I get it." He teased.
"No!" She moaned, her forehead landing on the tabletop. "I'm a terrible mom."
"Because you let go for one night?"
"Oh God, you just don't get it."
"Then explain it to me," he poked her arm, trying to make her look up. "I know Will is in a hospital, but you can't stay with him all day and all night. Who is this guy?"
"He's Wills' professor."
"The Harvard guy?"
"You know about Mulder?"
"Will might have mentioned something?" He hedged.
"I called one night, he picked up, said you were out, I got curious."
"My son is gossiping about my love life."
"Love?" Charlie drawled, poking her some more.
"Okay, this might sound weird but hear me out." Scully looked up, her cheeks flushed, "You ready? Here it goes: people need other people." He said, pausing between each word as if he was speaking a foreign language. "It's okay to have different people around you, because they fulfil different needs. You needed that guy last night, you went for it, life goes on."
"It sounds awful like using people to me."
"Kind of, if you make them feel like they lost something in the end. Did you?"
"I don't know," she sank back into the comfort of her kitchen table, "I ran away."
"Danes," he groaned.
"I brought dinner to his place, then I cried and fell asleep on his couch, and when I woke up, I panicked."
"Why? I thought you wanted to be there."
"I did, but my son might be dying," she said meekly, "and I'm a wreck, and no one deserves to be dragged into this. It's not fair."
"What did he do, when you broke down?" Charlie asked, suddenly serious.
"He hugged me."
"Okay, come here." He tugged at her sleeve and she went, rounding the breakfast bar to stand in front of her brother. With him sitting on the bar stool, they were almost the same hight. "Closer." Charlie said and took her hands, drawing her into his arms, warm and solid and familiar. She rested her cheek on his shoulder and sighed, wrapping her arms around him. "Did it feel like this?"
"No," she said, honestly.
"Good." He said and let go, and she straightened, meeting his warm, blue eyes. "He gives you something on one else can, and from what I hear, he does it willingly. Don't be a martyr, Will needs his mom, sane and lucid, and if this Harvard guy can keep you this way, give him a chance."
She groaned and fell forward again, certain he'd catch her.
"Now what?" Charlie asked, patting her back and failing to stifle a chuckle.
"I hate it when you're right."
He laughed and rocked her gently, patting her back.
"Will's gonna love this." Charlie said and pushed the door open, grinning. "Hey kid!"
"Uncle Charlie!" Will beamed, pushing away his lunch tray, the food barely touched. "Mom didn't say you'll stop by."
"She didn't know," Charlie said and glanced at the tray, "I didn't know, I'm sorry, but what is that?"
"The flat thing with the brown thing," Will said, vaguely disgusted.
"Okay, you're not eating this," Charlie said and set the paper bag on the table, "we brought you real food."
Will glanced inside and almost jumped. "Mom's lasagna," he said and puled of the lid, moaning in pleasure, "still warm!"
Scully watched the whole exchange from a distance, afraid to brea the spell, her boy's smile was a rare thing these days. Between meds and the nausea they gave him, he barely ate, which was all the more disconcerting, since he ate for two since he turned twelve. Now he laughed and poked the dish, ready to devour it, layer by layer, as he always did.
"What are you watching?" Charlie asked, sitting on the edge of the bed, fork and a box of his own in hand.
"Dunno, daytime tv," Will said around a bite of pasta, "it's like the food, that thing with that guy on channel eleven."
"Mhmm," Charlie mumbled then moaned. "This is better than moms'," he said, looking at Scully. "Why are you so quiet, sis?"
She smiled and went to sit next to her son, putting her arm around him, "I just like watching you kids."
The sun had time to set, dinner was served and Will finally kicked them out, claiming that it was time for fun tv start.
"Thanks for coming with me," Scully said, as they crossed the street.
"I'll come by more often," Charlie promised, not sounding like his usual carefree self and when she caught his eye, he looked as lost as she felt sometimes.
"He will make it through this, right?" He asked, when they stopped by her car. Scully smiled softly and pulled her brother into a hug.
"He will," she said, rubbing his back. "You will take him to all the games in the spring."
"I'll be there with you, eating hot dogs."
"We have a deal then."
"I've been making a lot of those lately."
"Yeah?" He sighed, letting her go, his smiled back, if not as bright as before. "Well, you usually win, so."
"Let's stick with that version," she smiled and looked away, covering it by smoothing out the coat on her little brother. "You sure, you don't want me to take you home?"
"I'll be fine, and besides, I think you still have someone, you need to see tonight."
"It can wait, I could."
"Dana," Charlie sighed rolling his eyes, exasperated, and leaned in to kiss her cheek. "Take care, sis." He said, and pulling up his collar agains the November chill, turned and walked down the street.
Scully watched him go, until he disappeared in the subway entrance, then got into her car and drove away.
Ringing the doorbell did nothing to calm her pulse, but she swallowed her pride along with the heart in her throat and waited, and waited. She was almost ready to ring again, but the doors opened and there he was, in jeans and a black sweater, phone wedged between his ear and shoulder. His sleeves were pushed up and his cheeks were dark, but it was the glasses, that made him look like a professor. A very roughish professor.
"Let me call you back," Mulder said to the phone and hung up, looking puzzled.
"Was that your usual delivery guy?" She asked.
He smiled and took a step back to let her through. "No, but I am having a weird sense of deja vu."
Scully came in and noticed papers littering his coffee table, the game on tv, and deciding that he was obviously working and she was intruding, held out the paper bag.
"I owe you an apology," she said, straight to business.
Mulder took the bag, without looking inside. "For what?"
"I'm sorry I ran away this morning," she said, meeting his eyes, "I'm not used to being taken care of."
"You brought dinner, I cleaned, so I'd say we took care of each other." He smiled and she rolled her eyes.
"That's not what I mean," she said, ready to make him understand, but Mulder already moved on the the the bag.
"What's this?" He asked, then peeked inside. "No."
"You made this?"
"Well, yes, it's not much."
"Not much?" He parroted, grinning like a kid as he took out the dish, but then the smile faded a little. "You're staying, right?"
She expected him to be cranky not hopeful, and taken by surprise, it was impossible to say no, or dwell on how familiar that grin looked for a second.
"If it's no trouble." She said and his arm was around her, leading her to the kitchen.
"It's no trouble at all, I insist, please," Mulder theatrically rushed through the pleasantries, "share with me this fine meal."
"Can I take off my coat fist?" She laughed, charmed the same as the last time.
"If you must," he said but then added, softly. "Just don't run," he said, no longer teasing, "not from me."
"I'll try," she said, and leaned a little into his side, before going back to hang her coat.
"This is too good for the microwave, it needs the real deal." Mulder said turning the knob on the oven and pulled the lid off the box, then whistled. "There's more than enough for two."
She wrapped her arms around his waist, making his smile even wider. "You planned this," he said, turning to face her and drawing her in.
"It's always better reheated." She said feeling him chuckle. "Don't you love that feeling, when you come home and don't have to cook, because the food's already done?"
"Yeah," he sighed, holding her close while the kitchen filled with the scent of cheese, tomatoes and herbs."How's Will doing today?"
"Better," she said, leaning into him, "it was one of the better days."
Scully leaned her cheek on his shoulder and soaked up his warmth, strength and comfort.
An hour later, Mulder was done singing praise for the food, the cook and the company, and Scully all but forgot about her morning stunt.
She moved to the couch with her glass of wine, picking the corner with the best view of the fireplace. She kicked off her shoes, turned the volume on the tv a shade below whisper and listened to the cracking fire, until Mulder was done cleaning up and came to join her. He took the other end of the couch and her feet into his lap.
"You earned it," he said, before she could protest, feeling her instep, toes and heels.
"I'll take that as a complement," she sighed and let him massage her feet while she looked around, noticing the papers on the coffee table. "I caught you in the middle of something."
"Typical Saturday night, articles to review, papers to grade."
"You sure know how to have fun."
"What," he sounded genuinely offended, "I've got book club next week."
"And what are you reading?"
"Beginners guide to solestry," he teased and kept the gentle kneading. "It's like palmistry but for feet, I could read yours if you want."
"Maybe some other time," she said leaning back, enjoying the warmth of his hands.
Scully sipped her wine and watched him work the tension out, smiling, every time he caught her eye, and it felt impossibly good. She could handle the wine and the food, even his disarmingly unselfish gesture, but the three combined were melting her bones into the couch along with her better judgment. She was not the kind of person who told herself to screw consequences, unless she had a very good reason, like his thumbs sending flashes of sensation to places, her rational mind knew had no connection to her feet. Reflexology was a pseudo-science, with no concrete evidence to support it, except the heat that was building inside her, from the inside out.
"You look better, you know." Mulder said after watching her for a long moment.
"I feel better," she said and leaned over to set the glass on the table.
Gently pulling her feet out of his grasp, she crossed the line to his side of the couch and then straddled his lap. Mulder's arms were around her without hesitation, drawing her closer with that maddening slow confidence, splayed on her back and sliding up. He took everything in stride, her breasts pressed against his chest, her arms around his shoulders, and when she paused with her lips an inch away, she felt his breath and thought. Screw it. And he beat her to it.
She kissed him back like it just might be the last kiss on Earth. Long and hungry and completely unabashed. He might have been the one who closed the distance, but she held on to his shoulders and kept him in place with fingers twined in his hair, shifting against him, stealing his breath. It was a direct assault, no prisoners taken, and he had to push back, forcing her to unlatch, just to get some oxygen.
"Hold on," he panted against her lips, kissing of any sting she might feel, "I'm not twenty."
"Thank God," she teased, but slowed down, feeling his lips in single kisses, "just so, you know, I'm not, desperate."
"I want you."
"Ditto," he grinned and grabbed her ass.
"I'm fine and this is not some,"
"Cry for attention?"
"One day, PC will kill romance," he chuckled and kissed her pulse, "but consent is important."
"It's given, freely, consciously," she grinned, grinding her ass against his hands, "and you talk too much."
"So I've been told," he whispered in her ear then licked her earlobe, "occupational hazard."
She laughed, feeling stubble against delicate skin. "I guess you don't get to be, a professor at Harvard by being a good listener."
"I can listen," he said between kisses, going back down her neck.
"How about," she grinned, scratching his scalp, "you show me, what you've got. And I tell you, if I like it, or not."
Mulder chuckled and looked up, "you want me to apply for the job?"
"I want you," she said, combing fingers through his hair and gently pulling his head back, "to be yourself." She kissed his mouth, sliding the tip of her tongue over his lower lip. "It's not a test."
"You say so now," he smiled against her lips, "but later, you'll sit at lunch with your best friends."
Hand on her breast squeezed then slipped and he tickled her side through thin cotton of her button-down. Scully giggled, trying to escape but only squirming more, his arm around her waist held her in place.
"You watched too much Sex and The City."
"It was research." Mulder chuckled and claimed her lips again.
This time they paced themselves. He untucked her shirt, working his way up through buttons and sloppily returning kisses until the last one gave. The fabric fell away and he felt skin and lace, burying his face in her cleavage and squeezed her breasts. The lace, though soft, spoiled the effect.
"I love this bra," he panted, trying to get his mind straight enough to think about the clasp, but her hands were already there, one pull and the gates of heaven have opened.
He bent down and tipping her back, latched on, laving and sucking, making her moan. Silk and warmth under his hands and her constant shifting in his lap, sent his head spinning. He wanted her now, like this, on this couch, but he also wanted to know her all, learn all the textures and tastes and just enjoy. He was hard and she was hot and it was easy to get lost.
"You like this?" He panted, letting go of her breast, having loved them both.
"It's okay," she said and he looked up, catching up on the tease, "but you're still dressed."
"Sorry, got distracted," he grinned and pulled the sweater, along with the tee under it, off his back. Scully leaned back to make room, and when he surfaced, her shirt and bra were gone, and her arms were open.
"C'mere," she said and pulled him back, pressing her lithe body into his chest.
She kissed him long and hard and wherever her hands wandered, his skin tingled, sending shivers up and down his spine, his cock growing harder with each pass.
He broke free from her lips and pressed a kiss under her jaw. "You want more?"
"I want it all," she panted, dropping the tease, and there was joy in her voice, pure abandon.
He tightened his grip and she held on, letting him lower her to the cushions.
"You're so beautiful," he whispered, kissing down her neck and shoulder, then across her collarbone.
"No, I got stretch marks, and cellulite and things are starting to sag," she whined.
"You're joking, right?"
"Yeah," she laughed, "but tell me more."
"Well, these are pretty outstanding tits, you've got here," he circled his tongue around her nipple then flicked the tip, she shivered, "yup, wonderful, 10 out of 10," he switched and did the same to the other one, "times two."
Scully laughed and smacked his shoulder, folding her arm over her eyes. "Go on."
Scratching her sides gently, Mulder obliged, kissing her sternum, and down her belly, "and you clearly work out, my cutting board isn't this flat."
"Lots of steam to burn off," she sighed, and he chased the motion, turning it into a laugh with the tip of his nose.
"Stressful job, being a doctor," he agreed and moved on, reaching the button on her jeans. "Now this, this I don't like," he said, making her pull herself up, propped up on her elbows, wearing nothing but a frown from the waist up.
"What's wrong with my jeans?"
"Nothing, very nice jeans, great ass inside them, I think."
"I can't see it, now, can I."
"Oh, for crying out loud," she groaned and reached for the button.
"Wait, do it slow." He instructed, watching her hand, and she got it.
Shifting to get out of the way, he watched up close how she arched her back to pull free the belt. He stroked down her thigh and calf till he reached her socks and pulled them off, all the while watching her pop the button through its' hole, find the tab on the zipper and pull it down slow. She hooked her thumbs under the edge, and lifted her hips, right into his face.
"God, you're good at this," grinned and buried his face in her jeans, breathing her in.
"Will you let me finish?" She laughed, and he shook his head, still in her crotch. "Mulder, c'mon."
He didn't let go, but took the edge off her jeans and started pulling them down, just as slow, kissing every inch he uncovered. The pants were a tight fit, but once they cleared her hips, she had no time to think, because his tongue was already searching, slipping past skin and bumping her clit. She fell back, feeling his hands cup her ass and lift her to his mouth, licking and flicking, while her thighs were bound and she was pulled into this one tight peak, like a pinched sheet, swelling around it, but needing more still, it was a cruel tease.
"Mulder?" She warned, and he let go.
Grinning, he pulled her pants down and away, and she was free, and his mouth was on her, her thigh over his shoulder, her breast in his hand, nipple trapped between fingers, and his tongue everywhere. He circled and stroked, and dipped and stroked some more, it was like they never had dinner, and she was his main course. She dug in her heels trying to get some control and he slowed down.
"Too much?" He rasped, letting go, only to kiss the inside of her thigh.
"Slow down," she gasped, felt him shift, the hand caressing her thigh vanished.
"Tell me, when it's too much," he said and she felt his fingers inside her.
Two long digits curling and teasing, while his tongue worked her clit, build the heat until he found the spot, he was looking for. Surprised the first time, she twitched and moaned, but he stayed there, and they began moving and panting together. She clawed at his shoulders and tugged at his hair, but he didn't let go till she vibrated, like a taut string of a fine tuned instrument. Then he sucked hard and pushed deep, cutting off her moans and after a second, she was limp, pulsing and twitching around his hand, no longer fighting him. He kept teasing her clit, but only too soothe, cushioning her fall, until her breathing calmed, then kissed his way up her stomach and back into her arms.
"Was that too much?"
"No," she laughed, basking in afterglow.
"You want more?"
"Yes," she grinned, but it switched to a most adorable pout, when she felt him pull back.
"Condoms," he grinned, and kissed the corner of her lips, unlocking her arms. "If you want to move to bed, now is your last chance."
"Will you carry me?"
"I'd rather not," he called from the bathroom.
"Then get your ass back here."
He rinsed his mouth and downed a glass of water, before filling it again, and bringing it back to her, to find her sitting on the couch, legs stretched out on the seat, crossed at the ankles, naked and disheveled, looking like a wet dream.
"Thank you," she said, accepting the drink and took a sip, watching him reach to unzip his jeans.
"Hold on," she said suddenly, and leaned over to set the glass on the coffee table.
She dropped her feet to the floor and he was standing between her knees, towering over her and she smiled, looking from under her lashes, hands hovering an inch over his, "may I?"
"Be my guest," he said and made room, feeling fingers slip between skin and denim, tugging and pushing.
"Just so you know, you don't have to do this." He said, but then his pants dropped and she pulled on the waistband of his boxer briefs.
"How old are you again?" She said, grinning wickedly.
"Around you, I'm sixteen, be gentle."
"I will," she said and wrapped one hand around the base of his cock, standing so hard and proud, that he glowed. "All this for me?" She mused, and licked the tip gently.
"Yeah," he managed to choke then stopped, because her mouth closed and she was leaning forward and his head was about to explode. He panicked and took half a step back, "Wait, wait."
Scully looked up and smiled, "too much?"
"Too much," he said and she took his hand, pulling him back on the couch.
"You got the condoms?"
"Here," he gave her the packet, trying to calm his heartbeat. "You're staying, right?"
"Yeah, now don't talk," she said and straddled his lap, "let me do this for you."
And when she pulled him forward and claimed his mouth and cock, he didn't have to do nothing, but hold on and watch the stars unfold.
They moved to the bedroom, to be more comfortable. Fire burned in the little fireplace, serving as music and light, and they were beyond teasing and banter, rollercoaster of a day taking its' toll.
"You have a house, yet you live alone," she mused sleepily, voicing a stray thought.
"I bought it of a friend, when he moved back to Oxford."
"I got my BA in England, but came back after a while, finished my Ph.D. here and stayed."
"Why did you leave Oxford?"
"There was a woman, I was young," he scratched her back lightly, the rhythm and his low voice, hypnotising. "I got in too deep and paid the price."
"Were you ever married?"
"Engaged, once," he sighed, "she left, two weeks before the wedding."
"Got a better offer."
"I'm sorry," Scully said, pulling herself closer. How could anyone give up this was beyond her.
"Don't be," he said, pressing a kiss to her forehead, "it's ancient history."
Scully turned on her side and he followed, keeping her wrapped in his arms.
"I wanted a baby," she said after a long moment, "and he thought I can't do both, be a mother and a doctor."
"He was clearly an idiot," Mulder said, if only half awake.
"So, we had a huge fight about it and split up, and then I had Will, without him."
"And now Will's at Harvard and you're a neurologist." He kissed her neck and pulled her closer. "Did I tell you you're awesome?"
"No," she laughed and squirmed, his stubble scratching her skin.
"Well you are, now try to sleep," he whispered, and relaxed around her. The weight of his arms, was as comforting as her own blankets.
Mulder woke up to music and the scent of coffee, remembering last night and grinning like a madman.
"I died and went to heaven," he said to the ceiling and got up. Though his neck and shoulder echoed a little, life still felt pretty good.
He pulled a clean tee and jeans from the chest of drawers and headed for the shower. Pans and plates from in the kitchen told him she wasn't going anywhere.
Ten minutes later, he padded downstairs to see the living room straightened and Scully, by the stove in nothing but his yesterdays' t-shirt. Tips of her hair were wet and she swayed to Marley on the stereo. 'Is this love that I'm feeling' "From your mouth to God's ears, Bob," he thought.
Trying to be as quiet as possible, Mulder wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her in, moving with her as he kissed her cheek.
"Hey, you sleep like a deadman," she breathed, leaning into him as he moved to her neck.
Scully chuckled, squirming but not pulling back. "Do you ever shave?"
"First Monday after fool moon, otherwise no."
"So I'm stuck with a lumberjack," she said then turned and saw his smile ready to land on her mouth.
His lips were soft and his hand on her ass felt warm and she forgot the scratchy beard, bending backwards and holding on, because he was just so tall.
"I'll shave, right now," he said, breaking the kiss, rocking her to the music. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him back down.
"On second thought, I like my man rugged sometimes."
"Yeah? Then how about." Mulder bent his knees and grabbed her waist.
Floor vanished from under her feet and she grabbed his shoulders for balance, laughing, and a second later she was sitting on the counter, next to buttermilk and flour, trapped between his arms.
"Pancakes will burn," she warned.
"No they won't," he said giving the pan a little stir and cranking down the burner. Then hands framing her cheeks, he kissed her for real, slow and sweet but building as she drew him in.
"There's some frozen bagels in the freezer, if you want," he breathed finally, keeping his forehead pressed against hers.
"Didn't find any."
"Has to be," he frowned and let go to rummage through the fridge, "I swear I bought it last time."
Scully hopped off the table and turned the heat back up under the pan, while around her doors banged open and closed.
"There you are! Fraternising with the mayo, huh?"
She laughed and he was back, bumping her away from the stove.
"These will need a minute," he said loading four bagels into the oven.
"You're surprisingly apt in the kitchen."
"Well, at some point, I told myself that it's time to stop living like a frat boy and start behaving like a man." He got up and pulled two mugs from the cupboard above the coffee machine. "What kind of man can't feed himself."
"An average man."
Mulder chuckled filling her mug then handed it to her. "Well, then I'm an alien."
"You're a role model," she took the mug and watched him take a sip.
"Damn, you make a fine cup of coffee," he grinned, pecked her cheek and went to get the paper.
"So this is what you do," she said looking at the book in her hands.
"It's a hobby."
"Nine hundred pages, quite an extensive hobby, "I Want To Believe. A Psychologist's Take."
"Yeah, it's kind of hard, to put it all in one book and still do the subject justice."
"What is it about?"
"People's stories mostly, self-proclaimed alien abductees, cryptozoologists, conspiracy theorists, your average outcast."
"And the psychologist's take?"
"I wanted to give these people some background, explain why they need to believe what they believe in, why the world dismisses and ridicules them, how it affects their lives and why they keep doing it anyway. Some of them are dreamers, some are scared for their lives and some went through things so bizarre that it's almost impossible to imagine, unless you're Steven Spielberg, on crack."
"This is the book Will was raving about all summer."
"Must have found a copy at the library."
"Can I borrow it?"
"Keep it, I've got a box of them in the basement."
"I bet you give a copy to every girlfriend."
"No," he chuckled, "not really."
She folded herself beside him on the couch and he took the book from her, opening it on the fist page and signing it with a flourish before giving it back. Scully glanced at the inscription.
"Hey, it says William, I thought it was for me."
"You get the author," he smiled and pulled her legs over his lap, toppling them over, mouth on hers again.
"I really should be going," she said a good while later, flushed and warm, tangled with him in the cramped space, again.
"Will needs his mom," he agreed, doing absolutely nothing to let go.
"My mom," Scully whined and hid her face in his chest. "She always goes to see him after church, and she'll be there today and nag me about the foundation thing."
"What foundation thing."
"She wants me to look for a donor through a foundation, and what she means by it, is that we should pay someone off and get Will bumped up the waiting list."
"Is that even legal?"
"No, but that's my mom for you, lie, cheat and steal for those she loves."
"You blame her?"
"No, but I don't want to think about it, unless I have absolutely no other choice."
"Let me know if I can help."
"You already helped," he mumbled into his tee, pulling him closer and his arms tightened around her, solid and undemanding.
"You're easy to please."
Scully laughed and made herself let go. "Okay, time to face the day."
"You go girl." He said and sat up with her.
He watched her gather her things, pull on her boots and stash the book in her bag.
"The dish, hold on." He went to the kitchen and met her at the door.
"Thank you for dinner, and breakfast," he said leaning in to kiss her gently, "and everything in between."
"We should do it again sometime."
"I have these papers to grade,"
"And I have to face my mom and see my son,"
"I'll bring food."
"Good man." She smiled, climbing on tiptoes to kiss him one last time, at least for now.
She had a nice lunch with Will, who was thrilled about the book, stroking its' glossy sleeve and the UFO hovering above the trees on it.
"It's sold out everywhere, how did you get it?"
"Had to pull some strings."
"I bet you did," Will grinned wickedly and pulled on the collar on her shirt, revealing a bright pink bruise on her skin.
"You're too young to know about that." She said, feeling the blush creep in as she swatted his hand aside.
"About what?" Will smiled and the smile changed before her eyes. She knew them all, grins and smirks and beams and pouts, but now, with that wicked glint in his eye.
"It's signed!" He exclaimed, before she could pin the thought down.
"C'mon, he's your professor."
"I couldn't ask for an autograph, that's embarrassing."
"Well, good thing your mother isn't as proud."
"I have the best mom," he said in a sing-song voice, hugging her tight for a brief second. "Now leave me, I want to read this."
"You're crazy," she laughed.
"Yup," Will grinned and opened the book and began to read.
Mulder showed up at 8, with a bag of Thai takeout and a six-pack of Shiner.
"Damn, you're hot," she said, pulling him inside and straight into her arms, feeling him fumble with the bags and not giving a damn. "And you shaved," she grinned a moment later.
"Well, you asked so nicely," he said and pulled her back in.
"Okay, food first," she laughed surfacing and pushing him away, uselessly.
"Hmmm, I dunno," Mulder mused, hands starting to roam.
"You trust me?"
"Then food first."
He sighed, keeping her in his arms. "Fine, how's Will?"
"He's fine, loved the book."
"Happy to hear that." He stole a kiss and only then let her go.
"And he's totally onto us," she said, taking the bag from him.
Mulder chuckled, shrugging out off his jacket and following her into the kitchen. "Smart kid."
"How did this happen?" Scully mused stretched out on Mulders' chest, stomach full and every fibre of her body relaxed.
"I know that my life may fall apart, that my son is in a hospital, hooked up to an IV, fighting for his life," she said, laying down her head on his shoulder, "but you make it all bearable, for the first time in weeks, I don't feel like I'm drowning."
"I live to serve," he whispered, stroking her hair. "You'll get through this, both of you."
"Can you promise me that?"
"No, but I can help you believe." He said, completely honest and it was exactly what she needed to hear.
"Will you stay tonight?"
"I've got class at 10."
"And I need to be at the hospital around 9."
"So, what are we going to do with all that time?"
"We'll think of something," she said and puled herself up to reach his mouth.
Her last thought was that, between him and Will, she might need a longer couch.
The next morning, Scully sat in her car, waving Mulder goodbye as he drove off, when her phone pinged with an email notification.
Subject: URGENT good news
We need to talk. Meet me ASAP.
She pulled out from the parking spot and all but stomped on the gas pedal.
Scully knocked on the office door and went in.
Walter Skinner was a tall, respectful man, bald and bespectacled, with an air of a ranking officer, which he was actually, an army doctor who served three tours in Vietnam. People who came to his door found confidence and brusque reassurance. They probably wouldn't try to cry on his shoulder, but they would definitely be in good hands.
"Tell me." She said, seeing her old friend look up from his coffee and the file in his hand. He took off his glasses and smiled at her.
"I don't want to know whom you bribed, begged or fucked, but it worked."
"We should have looked at the father from the beginning."
"Will doesn’t have a father," she said sitting in a chair opposite him and Skinner raised one eyebrow, "I mean he does, obviously, somewhere. But I told you, I used donor sperm for the IVF."
"You don't have to lie to me, Dana," he said, starting to look as confused as she felt, "I don't care."
"What are you talking about, I didn't even think about looking for the guy."
"You didn't? Because this last sample you brought," he glanced at the papers again, "Mulder, Fox W., is a match, so close that it could only be from a member of immediate family."
Her heart started sucking all the blood back into her chest, in double time.
"See for yourself," Skinner said and handed her two sheets of film.
She took the slides to the light box, and pinned them side by side. The similarities were striking, even for her rusty genetics.
"Oh my God.”
“Nothing short of a miracle,” he said, standing behind her.
“Can we use it?”
“We need to do more thorough exams of the donor, of course, but if he checks out, he’s your best chance. It's best to act quickly, while Will still has strength to go through the chemo. We'll contact the guy, and if he agrees, schedule the appointments. If everything goes well, we can have him donate by Thursday. We'll start Will on preparations as soon as we have the results."
She didn't hear half of what he said, staring at the blinding white light behind thick and thin bands of hard evidence.
Scully didn't know if she should laugh or cry or sing or curl up in a corner and wait for the second coming, but somehow she found her way back to her office. She took messages from the nurse at the nurses station and fumbled with them, looking for the key, when she heard her name called near by. Looking up, she saw a pair of smiling blue eyes.
"Hi sis, I just dropped off some books for Will."
"Charlie," she sighed and finally snapped out of it.
"Something's wrong?" He asked, slowing down, "you look like you've seen a ghost."
She barked out a laugh that had nothing to do with humour.
"You have a moment? I need to talk to someone."
"Sure," he said, radiating concern.
He followed her inside and took off his coat, and sitting on the couch watched her bustle around the coffee maker.
"Shit," she said finally, when the machine began to gurgle and sputter, "there's no easy way to say it, so I'm just gonna say it."
"Remember that guy I told you about?"
"The Harvard guy?" Charlie said, ready to roll up his sleeves and go kick some ass.
"He's William's dad."
His jaw dropped to the floor. "What?"
"He's his biological father, the semen I used for the IVF,"
"Fuck, I know what it means, but how?"
"He must have sold his sperm to the bank, guys do that."
"Did you tell him?"
"Not yet. I just found out."
"Will you tell him?"
Silence. She paced the office worrying her cuticles, while the coffee maker spat and bubbled and Charlie leaned over the coffee table, catching her hands on the next pass and pulling her onto the couch beside him.
"Stop that, you'll hurt yourself," he said, keeping her hands in his. She held on, finally looking up, her eyes wide, terrified.
"What do I do?"
"Whatever it takes to keep Will safe." He said, squeezing her hands, "will he donate?"
"First he needs to talk to Walter, his DNA matches, his blood work is clean, but history matters too."
"Will Walter tell him about the father part?"
"No, the DNA match is what's important, 7 in 10 recipients don't find donors inside their family, and there is a chance, however slim, that it's a coincidence."
"One in five billion?" She said, not believing it one bit.
"Okay, so he is Will's dad. Will he freak?"
"I don't know," she sighed, getting up again, "he likes Will, and he volunteered for the test. But I was practically crying into his shoulder when he did, so he could've been trying to make me feel better."
"I need to meet this guy, looks like I might have a new brother-in-law."
"Don't mock, I had a rough month."
"And you opened up to someone you barely know."
"He's a psychologist, he had training."
"Then I'll send him a bottle of scotch."
She was coming back with the mugs, when she suddenly stopped. "Oh God."
Panic in her voice made him drop the tease. "What?"
"What if he says no?"
"What if he says yes?" He said, leaning over to take the coffee from her, before she fed it to the carpet.
"What if he says yes." She repeated, even more panicked. "How will I repay him?"
"I don't think it's the kind of debt that you pay back."
"He gave me a son, I can't ask for more."
"You have no choice. Will, you're doing it for Will."
"Charlie," she said, her voice smaller, "I like this guy. What if he freaks and runs?"
"But what if?"
"Will you stop? You're starting to spiral."
"I can't, how will I look him in the eye?" She kept going, her voice flat, "now that I know, how can I not tell him."
Her face was going paler and paler and he couldn't stand it anymore, he puled her into a hug and held tight.
"Calm down," he said softly, rubbing her back, "it will all work out."
"It's too good to be true."
"Look at it this way, you can finally tell mom she was wrong."
"Oh no, mom!" She moaned and hid in his arms deeper, "you can't tell her. You know how she was, about this whole IVF deal."
"Yeah, and look, turns out the guy really was great all along."
"One in five billion."
Though they parted very amicably not more than a few hours ago, a voice inside him kept screaming 'go to her!' And life taught him to listen to these hunches.
It wasn't nearly lunchtime yet, but Mulder figured, he might as well drop off the food early. What's the point of bringing lunch, if it's past lunch hour? He breezed by the nurses station and was walking down the hall, when doors to one of the offices opened and a young man came out, with Scully right behind him, her shoulders slumped in distress. The guy turned and pulled her into his arms, dropping a kiss on top of her head as she hugged him back. Mulder watched the scene unfold and his blood ran cold, his steps growing slow. Young, tall and handsome, curly red hair and horn-rimmed glasses, and definitely used to sharing her space. He paused ten feet from them and the guy looked up, catching his gaze, breaking the moment. Scully felt him shift and looked around as well, her eyes fell on him and she blushed.
"Mulder," she said, trying to smile and hide some new fear in her eyes as she turned to the man. "Charlie, this is Fox Mulder, my,"
She hesitated, and Mulder wasn't sure what hurt him more, the pause or the two seconds it took her to let go of the other man.
"Hi," the guy smiled warmly, stepping back from her and reaching out to shake Mulders' hand, "Charlie Scully, Dana's brother."
"Fox Mulder," Mulder smiled back, shaking and trying to shake off the foolish feeling, while trying to figure out what bothered Scully, all at the same time. "Is everything okay?"
"Let's hope so," he said cryptically and turned back to his sister, leaning to kiss her forehead, "I'll leave you two to talk, call me later, 'kay?"
Scully nodded and let go of his coat sleeve, and Charlie tuned to leave, but then paused again. "Oh, by the way, mom called, Missy's in town for Thanksgiving, roll call at dinner on Thursday."
"We'll see," Scully sighed and he nodded at them both one last time before leaving.
Mulder watched him go for a second then turned to Scully, forgetting lunch for a second. She didn't look up so he stepped closer, taking her brother's place and brushed her arm with the back of his hand.
"Hey, what is it?" She managed a glance at him, but it didn't last, her eyes were wet again. "Can't talk about it?" She shook her head, and her shoulders shuddered when she took a deep breath.
"Come by, when you’re finished," he said quietly, rubbing her arm gently, "I’ll make dinner and…"
That seemed to cheer her up a bit.
"You?" She smiled, a little more real this time, sparing a glance at the paper bag in his hand.
"Yeah, you’ve fed me for two days, I'm still one day behind," he said, "we'll eat and talk and see if we can make it alright, whatever it is."
And as he spoke, he watched her transform, puling up walls around her fragile self and putting her game face on.
"You'll get a call from the transplantation institute," she said quietly, "they'll want to talk to you."
"Is this what this is about?"
Scully nodded, dropping her gaze, and it all fell into place.
"Hey, c'mere," he said, relieved, and puled her into his arms, hugging her tight and feeling her arms sneak under his coat. "I won't bail on your son." He whispered and she hugged him tighter, "he'll get through this."
"You think so?"
"I know so," he said, just for her. "If he has even a fraction of your strength, he'll be okay."