It was just another case. Just another abandoned storage facility that Mulder wanted to investigate.
The project was terminated, the consortium defeated and Samantha’s fate uncovered. Scully felt like there was nothing left for them to investigate and they were just wasting their time. Even if they found something new, it would hardly matter, since the enemy was thoroughly defeated, in every way.
Yet Mulder was still restless. He was still searching for something and Scully doubted that even he himself knew what or why. The files on his desk kept piling up, the new locations emerging fastest than ever and they just kept running and gathering evidence that would’ve endangered their lives not so long ago, yet now was useless.
Scully wondered if Mulder would ever stop, if he even knew how, after all these years. She was ready to stop and she planned to tell him that same day, if only she manages to gather the courage, look into his eyes and break his heart. She kept trying for the past few weeks, but the words never left her mouth. She was entering her sixth month of pregnancy and would soon not be able to follow him even if she wanted.
She didn’t want. Not anymore. Her heart wasn’t in it for a while. She yearned for a simpler life, away from the darkness, for herself and her baby. And Mulder, though she more and more doubted he would ever be satisfied with a life that even remotely resembled normalcy.
“I’m leaving The X-files,” she gathered the courage to say. “There’s nothing left for me to do there anymore and frankly you should ask yourself if your heart’s still in it.”
He didn’t hear her. Or maybe he just ignored her. That was another thing she was growing tired of, speaking to a wall.
“Scully,” his voice was shaky, as if he was afraid. “I found it.”
“You found what, Mulder?” she approached him. “Have you even heard what I said?”
“You… what? Sorry, I… What, um, did you say?”
She looked at him, really looked at him. There was definitely fear in his eyes, and not just fear. He looked terrified and it alarmed her.
“Mulder,” she touched his arm. “What’s wrong?”
He handed her the file he was holding. “They had me, Scully. They didn’t just take Samantha instead of me. They had me before they had her.”
She looked into the file. Mulder, it said. Fox William. Followed by Mulder’s date of birth, blood type, medical history, school grades… She flipped the papers full of information and Mulder read it all with her above her shoulder.
“They had me, Scully…” his voice was getting softer, quieter, as if he was trying to hide.
“Do you recall being taken?” she asked him, still flipping the papers. “Being away from home?”
“No,” he was trying hard to remember, but his mind was blank, even though his body started to shake for some reason. “No, Scully, how could I forget something like that?”
She closed the file and turned to him. “Maybe it’s for the best. When faced with a severe trauma a mind can shut down and lock the memories inside, to protect itself from the pain that it’s unable to handle. You know that, Mulder. Whatever is in this file, it might be best left alone.”
“I need to know the truth,” he demanded, trying to take the file from her. She pulled it away from him.
“You may not be ready for what’s inside.”
“As if I will ever be ready,” he grabbed the file and she let him. She couldn’t argue with him. If it was the other way around, she would need to know too, no matter the consequences.
The info, though detailed, was generic enough, but then came the pictures. Horrible, impossible pictures.
“Oh my god,” Scully gasped. These pictures… They didn’t show atrocious tests and experiments. It was even more evil than that, worse than Mulder and Scully could have prepared themselves for.
It was pedophilia.
“No,” Mulder handed her the pictures, turning away from her. “No. I don’t remember that. I don’t remember.”
Scully tried to say something, but the words didn’t come out.
“I don’t remember,” Mulder kept repeating, walking up and down in front of her. “I don’t remember… I don’t remember… I don’t remember… I don’t… I… I remember. I… remember… Oh, GOD!!!”
He fell down on his knees and Scully felt his scream penetrate her bones, permanently imprinting itself on every cell of her body. It was a horror she would never forget.
Her knees gave up as well and she found herself on the floor, next to her partner.
“Mulder,” she tried to reach him, but he rolled away from her, screaming the desperate plead, “Don’t touch me!”
Through tears that were flooding as if the dam had been broken, she watched him crawl to the corner and curl himself in a fetal position, leaving the wet trail of urine behind him. She watched the little boy from the pictures trapped in an adult body in front of her, going through the nightmare that she couldn’t save him from, because she wasn’t there, she hadn’t even been born then.
She closed her eyes for a second, in a silent prayer to the God she wanted to believe in, offering to lay down her life in exchange for his suffering to be taken away.
Alas, it wasn’t what her God had in mind for them.
Scully was singing. It was the same song, over and over and over again.
Jeramiah was a bullfrog…
She didn’t know what else to do to reach Mulder, curled up on the floor and trapped in hideous memories he didn’t know he was carrying for all his life.
The song wasn’t reaching him, not for a long time. But Scully was able to move closer without scaring him. Slowly, inch by inch.
“Mulder,” she called, carefully, hoping it wouldn’t alarm him. “It’s Scully. Dana Scully. We need to get out of here. Please.”
“No,” he cried, trying to curl into himself even more. “Don’t let them take me.”
At least he was talking again. It was a start.
“There’s nobody here,” Scully tried to assure him. “You’re safe. I promise. But you need to come with me.”
Finally, Mulder dared to raise his head and look around, stopping at Scully’s face. “Scully?” his voice was shaky and pleading for help.
“It’s me,” she dared to touch his arm, and to her relief it didn’t freak him out. “We need to go. Come on.”
She helped him get up and led him to the door. He wasn’t letting go of her hand, squeezing her so hard that it hurt. It was the longest and hardest walk to the car she ever took.
The nausea she felt was worse than chemo and morning sickness combined.
She let go of Mulder in front of the car, to open the door for him and toss the file with pictures on the back seat. She wanted to burn it all, but it was evidence. Perhaps worthless evidence, but if there was any chance that some piece of the justice could still be served, she would do anything to make it happen.
Right now, though, Mulder was her priority. He was refusing to get in the car, looking at the floor and everywhere except her. Scully guessed that he was embarrassed about being wet, but she really, really, really couldn’t have cared less about that.
Not knowing what else to do to ease his mind, she took off her coat and tossed it on the passenger seat. She was feeling hot anyway, while Mulder was shivering.
“Sit on that. You can pay for the dry cleaning,” she offered, wanting to give him the feeling of being in control over something.
Reluctantly and without a word, he obeyed. Scully got into the driver’s seat and waited for Mulder to fasten his seatbelt, leaning to do it for him when he showed no intention of doing it himself.
“How could I have forgotten?” he asked weakly, staring through the window into nowhere. “How do you possibly forget something like that?”
Scully sighed sadly, sparing him the explanation about a coping mechanism, which he knew all about.
“How much do you remember now?” she asked instead.
Mulder raised his hands a little and looked at them as if he was seeing them for the first time. He felt weird in his own body, as if he didn’t really belong in there.
“Not much,” he said. “But I hope no one ever has to profile me and get inside this hell of my mind.”
Scully gently squeezed his hand and pulled it back down onto his lap, then she turned her attention to the road. If she didn’t start driving right away, she felt she would never be able to.
“We’ll get through this,” she said firmly while starting the car.
The ride passed in silence, ending in front of Scully’s apartment building.
“You forgot to take me home,” Mulder said, trying to be witty as usual, but he didn’t recognize his own voice. Nothing was, he realized at that moment, or ever would be, as usual again. His world fell apart. His whole life had been a lie, built on a horrible but hidden truth that he wasn’t ready, nor, he thought, would ever be ready to face.
It was too much.
“I’m not leaving you alone,” Scully said firmly. “You’re in shock and you need help.”
“I’m…” he tried to say fine but the word got stuck in his throat. He wasn’t fine. He wasn’t anywhere near fine. In fact, he couldn’t remember ever feeling fine. It was as alien concept to him as the black oil. If she left him alone, he would pull a gun on himself. Maybe he should. Maybe it would make everything go away. The memories, the pain… Scully… The baby…
The baby. More than anything, he wanted to meet the baby, but what good would he be in the life of an innocent child? It will have Scully, it didn’t need him.
“I can’t be a burden to you,” he heard himself talking. “You’re pregnant.”
“Thanks to you,” Scully closed her eyes with a sigh. Her mother always complained about her wanting to be the strong one, but what choice did she have? This world was a cruel place and only strong people had a chance in it. Her sister didn’t…
Mulder’s scream brought her back to the present moment. He opened the door, but couldn’t unlock the seatbelt and it was causing him panic.
“…can’t…” he gasped. “..breathe…”
Scully quickly did it for him, then she cupped his head between his hands and pressed her forehead onto his, grounding him as best as she could.
“Slow down,” she said, not letting go. “Count with me. One. Two. Slowly. Breathe with me. I’ve got you.”
“Three,” the child in him picked up. “Four.”
“That’s it,” Scully encouraged him. “Five.”
“Six,” his arms searched for the comfort of her body, pulling her close.
“Seven,” he buried his head in her hair and started to shake, followed by desperate sobs on her shoulders.
“Don’t leave me,” he begged, falling apart into billion pieces that she was already picking up, not letting any part of him go to waste or oblivion.
“I’m here,” she said, crying with him but holding them both together. Three of them, to be precise. “I’m here.”
“Eight,” he continued to count when he managed to calm down enough to do so. “Nine.”
“Ten,” Scully kissed him in the head. “Are you ready to go upstairs now? The baby is sitting on my bladder.”
“Sorry,” he chuckled with embarrassment, reluctantly letting go of her. “There’s no point in both of us getting pissed.”
She smiled and stroked his cheek, looking into his eyes until she was sure that he was ready to go.
“I’ll be done in a second and then you can take a shower,” she told him when they entered the apartment.
She rushed to the bathroom, leaving him alone for the first time since they found the files. He could hear her pee, but he couldn’t see her and it caused another panic attack.
Scully found him sitting on the floor hugging his legs to his chest, counting and swinging back and forth.
“I’m here,” she said, placing a hand on his head. She was too tired and too pregnant to crouch down again, even standing was hard enough. “Let’s get you into shower.”
He didn’t react.
“Please,” she whispered, thinking about getting help. But who could she call? Lone Gunmen? “Do you want me to call someone?”
“The Smoking Man,” Mulder offered. “Or Kryczek. Whoever wants me dead the most.”
“I need you alive.”
“You said you were leaving,” he finally stood up. “Before I showed you the... You said you were leaving.”
“I said I was leaving the X-files. Not you.”
“I am the X-files, Scully.”
“Not to me.”
She offered a hand and he let her take him to the bathroom, but he didn’t let her leave him alone there. As ashamed as he was of letting the pregnant woman take off his clothes for him, he wasn’t able to do it himself. His hands were shaking, refusing to be controlled.
“You shouldn’t be doing this,” Mulder said weakly.
“It’s ok,” Scully assured him. “I’m a doctor.”
She didn’t feel like a doctor. This wasn’t a grown man standing naked in front of her, this was a scared little boy trapped in the adult body. Just a child who needed help. That’s how she saw him in that moment, for the first time. It woke maternal instincts in her. She was still sad and worried about him, but at the same time she was at peace, knowing that he was safe with her, that she was able to protect him.
“You’re my partner,” he argued. “This is inappropriate.”
Scully almost laughed at that. Inappropriate? Said the man who she asked to masturbate in a cup so that she could be impregnated.
“Mulder, look at me,” she demanded, cupping his face when he refused. She turned his head towards hers, forcing him to meet her eyes. “You are in shock and you need help. There’s no shame in that. Just like you shouldn’t be ashamed of anything that was done to you. The people who hurt you… Mulder, the shame is on them, not on you.”
He closed his eyes to avoid her piercing gaze, but Scully wasn’t having it.
“Mulder,” she said firmly, not letting go of his head. He started to shake harder.
“Mulder!” she called again, louder this time.
He said something that she couldn’t understand.
“Get in the tub,” she ordered gently and firmly at the same time. Mulder obeyed and let her wash him. It wasn’t easy, since he was so much bigger than her and wasn’t able to help.
His mind was elsewhere.
It felt like it was yesterday.
Men. Bad men. Their hands in places that no one else touched him. Some of them naked. Pictures. Lots and lots of pictures that he didn’t want to take. They told him the project needed the money and he had to do his part. Otherwise, they would take his sister. He didn’t want that, did he?
The taste in his mouth after being “a good boy”.
The taste in his mouth…
The taste of…
“Mulder!” he felt Scully’s hand on his forehead. “Are you ok?”
He realized he was kneeling in the tub, covered in vomit.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered.
“Shhh,” Scully resumed washing him. “Let me help you.”
It was a tedious job that took forever, but she finally had her partner in her bed, clean though frightened, still shaking from sobs and coldness. She gave him something to help him sleep, something that would also prevent dreams.
“Don’t leave me,” he begged, not letting her go sleep on the couch, even when she promised to leave the door open. She was going to wait for him to fall asleep, but she didn’t have the strength to sit by the bed. The bigger she was, the quicker she was getting exhausted, and today she’d already reached her limit.
She propped herself on the pillows on the empty side of the bed, to at least raise her feet and Mulder quickly cuddled to her, needing her warmth.
“Don’t let them take me,” he pleaded.
“I’ll die first,” Scully promised.
“You can’t,” Mulder said while finally drifting to sleep. “You’re pregnant.”
And there it was again. He acknowledged her pregnancy for the second time today, after not mentioning it for a couple of months, ever since their unexpected custody fight that almost tore them apart.
Scully’s pregnancy had barely been starting to show, when Mulder dropped the unexpected request on her.
“I think I want to appeal for a shared custody,” he said one day, out of the blue.
“Of what?” Scully raised her eyebrow in complete confusion.
“The baby,” his voice was getting cold.
“My baby?” her voice was getting colder.
“It’s not just yours, Scully,” Mulder argued. “I have rights, too.”
“Mulder, you signed off your rights when you gave the donation,” Scully reminded him.
“Well, I’ve changed my mind. That was just a… donation,” he said the word with discuss. “I didn’t think it would work.”
“You didn’t think it would work?!” Scully stared at him in disbelief. “And what the hell were you thinking?! That you were just humoring me? That you’d never have to deal with the actual baby?”
“Exactly,” he confirmed. “I didn’t think there would ever be a baby. But now that there is, I can’t just walk away from it.”
Scully took a deep breath and buried her head in her hands. This wasn’t happening. She fought so much to get her miracle, and Mulder was there for her every step of the way. Was she really going to have to fight him too now? Was getting him involved a terrible mistake?
She took another deep breath, composed herself and forced herself to look at him again. “What do you want?”
“I want this child to know me. To count on me.”
“Mulder, we see each other almost every day,” Scully’s eyes filled with tears. “You call me in the middle of the night for no reason. I often find you waiting for me in the dark when I come home. I couldn’t keep you away from this child even if I wanted to. Which I don’t. What did I ever do to make you think otherwise? How can you consider involving lawyers before even talking to me?”
“Because what you say doesn’t matter. Things change.”
“You’ll meet someone. Someone nice, stable, successful. A better man, a better father.”
“Right,” Scully said bitterly. “I don’t see any handsome, available men standing in line.”
“But I do. I get asked for your number all the time. You have it all, Scully, you are smart, beautiful, caring… Sooner or later you’ll realize it and you’ll want only the best for you and your child. You won’t want me around.”
“Is that what you think of me?” Scully let the tears fall freely. Mulder wouldn’t see them anyway. He wasn’t looking at her, as if he didn’t care anymore. Or maybe he just didn’t dare. Either way, Scully felt incredibly lonely and betrayed.
“No,” Mulder answered. “But I didn’t think that about my mother either, and it turned out that’s exactly what she did.”
Scully stood up and went to get her coat. She couldn’t stand being in the same office as him. She couldn’t listen to him anymore.
“You know what I went through to get pregnant,” she said accusingly. “You know this was my last chance.”
“That’s just it, Scully. It’s my last chance too.”
“How. Dare. You. Say. That.” Scully said through her teeth, gathering all her self-restrain to prevent her barren self from pulling a gun on this perfectly healthy and potent man who could impregnate an army of women willing to jump into his bed wherever he went.
She slammed the door behind her and they never mentioned a custody or even her pregnancy again.
Scully thought about it now, while broken Mulder slept on her shoulder. She was too exhausted to sleep, but she tried to avoid taking sleeping pills, for the sake of her baby and the man who she promised to protect with her life.
How could this be the same man that threatened to take her baby from her?
Scully thought about it, trying to make sense of it. She’d been keeping an eye on him, checking his trash and his e-mails, but she never found anything that would indicate he contacted a lawyer. Maybe it was just an empty threat, but maybe Mulder was waiting for the baby to be born before taking actions.
The trust between them has been seriously diminished. She still followed him, but her heart wasn’t in it anymore. She started to explore other opportunities.
Mulder never apologized, but he also never took his threats any further.
They were in a pat position. Frenemies.
Now Scully felt it was her turn to apologize. She didn’t listen to him and she didn’t acknowledge his concerns. She realized now that Mulder was afraid of losing her, along with the baby, and he wanted to do whatever he could to at least be able to see the baby.
He wanted to be a father and Scully didn’t want him to be that. She finally admitted it to herself. She wanted Mulder to be around, to be in the baby’s life, but she didn’t want him to make decisions. He could play with the kid, teach him baseball, watch movies with him, but when it came to parenting styles, nutrition, choice of school and medical needs, Scully wanted to make the decisions by herself. She didn’t want Mulder’s input in anything that was truly important.
Mulder was always a father figure for her baby in Scully’s eyes. A father figure. Not a father.
Why did he want more? And why was she so afraid of allowing him more?
She remembered how he said this was his last chance too. She was so angry at him at the time, but now she wondered what made him say that. She felt ashamed now for never asking, for not giving him a chance to explain.
His sample passed all the tests. IVF was too complicated and too expensive for anything to be overlooked. The quality of Mulder’s sperm was exceptional and he knew it. What made him think that this baby was his last chance?
Scully was aware that Mulder never dated anybody, but she always thought it was due to his obsession with his work. He was handsome and knew how to charm a woman, yet he never seemed interested in anyone. More than once, Scully caught him with some woman, annoyed with his unprofessionalism. But now that she thought about it, she never saw him initiate a kiss. He always seemed to be pulling back, looking embarrassed and a bit frightened. Scully used to assume that reaction was due to her watching, but she wasn’t so sure anymore.
Was he homosexual? She wasn’t getting that vibe from him, but then again, did she really know him as well as she thought? Yet, all his videos and magazines were anything but gay.
No, Mulder was definitely attracted to women, even if he seemed to fear them.
Maybe he was hurt by one in the past and didn’t think he would ever love again.
Or maybe he was never loved…
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, passing a hand through his hair. “I was being selfish. I had no idea… I’m so sorry.”
They needed to talk. She didn’t know how, and she knew he didn’t know either. But they had to grow up or they would destroy each other over this baby that didn’t ask to be born.
Scully wasn’t having Mulder’s baby anymore. She was having a baby with Mulder. As frightening as it was, things had to start changing.