Chapter 1: NW
He’d never had her picture up on his desk, didn’t even have one in his wallet. If anyone thought it odd—even his new partner—no one ever said anything.
After their third case, Scully finally asked him her name.
“Lauren,” he said, and left it at that.
It amused him how short Scully was, how she’d have to tip her head almost all the way back to look at him when he stepped up into her space. Sometimes he did it just so she’d have to. But she is never flustered by it, never alarmed. Sometimes he thinks she is maybe amused by it, too.
His wedding ring is nicked, scuffed, scratched. Dull and lifeless. He used to take it off when he went to the gym, trying to save the shine from the textured-grip bars of the free weights, but now he doesn’t bother.
Some days he daydreams of flushing it down a toilet at the Hoover, flinging it into the Potomac, but he’d get an earful about it at home even if he claimed it was an accident and he doesn’t want to catch the grief.
It was a hot day, stifling, the kind of brutal DC weather they usually got in July, but it was only early May. Nevertheless, they’d both agreed they needed to get out of the office for lunch. There was a cafe just past Ford’s Theater they both liked and it was her turn to pay.
He was holding down a rare open table, lost in thought, when Scully handed him a styrofoam cup of iced tea with the good, pebbled ice, a lemon wedge she’d already squeezed in. He thought of her fingers touching the skin of the lemon and the lemon touching his tongue.
“Are you okay, Mulder?” she asked. He vaguely wondered when was the last time Lauren had asked him how he was. He couldn’t think of it.
“Never better,” he said, and shot her a grin.
The sun was coming through the window just so, and it slanted on her hair; it shone like a new penny. She reached out and squeezed his shoulder.
“I’ll be right back with the food,” she said.
He could still feel her grip as she walked away.
Lauren was a brunette, leggy, an only child who acted like it. She had pouty lips and full even breasts with nipples the color of sun-drenched brick. She was an executive at a PR firm, had clients that were dick-pic sending senators, cheating congressmen. She was trying out vegetarianism, and liked her martinis dry.
She had gone to Mexico with a bunch of girlfriends for her 30th birthday and she’d called him at 1:00am Pacific time on the night of and slurred “you don’t even know what you have.” When she got home, she told him she wanted to have a baby.
He would have never been into Scully in high school, probably not even college. She was short, smart and a little prickly because of it--she had a beauty mark she tried to hide and soft daylily hair.
She had only started to figure out how best to dress her body in the last year or so, and Mulder found her comportment utterly captivating. Gone were the overlarge blazers from their first year or two together, with the big buttons and the monster shoulder pads. Scully suddenly had a waist, a bust, shapely legs emerging from sharply cut pencil skirts, trim ankles that dipped into three inch pumps.
“Is your partner still shopping at TJ Maxx?” Lauren would ask, about every 4 months.
Mulder would always answer “yeah."
He started taking more cases out of state, and Scully never once complained. She would simply meet him at the airport with a smile, sometimes a coffee, and a light “you ready to go?”
There were times he caught her staring at him, a thoughtful look on her face. She had learned long ago not to ask about Lauren, though sometimes she asked him how he was doing, and he knew it was the same question.
Finally, on an airplane over Utah, he blurts, “Lauren wants a baby.”
Scully, next to him in the window seat, nods once and then reaches out to slowly lower the sun shade, then turns to him.
“Do you want a baby, Mulder?” she asks, and he doesn’t answer right away. He’s thought about it a lot.
“I thought maybe I didn’t,” he says, “but…” with that one word, he notices the way her breathing changes, hitches a little. On her lap, the fingers on her right hand flex. He makes a decision, steels himself. “But… lately when I think of having a baby, it only ever looks like you.”
He doesn’t see her for over a week after his mid-air confession, and her absence has his gut roiling. When she comes back, she has freckles sprinkled across her nose and she acts carefully normal.
He acts carefully normal, too.
Two months after that, he stands up from the desk and shrugs on his suit coat. It’s just after 1pm.
“I gotta get to court,” he says, and Scully half-rises from where she sits, a look of surprise on her face.
“We have to testify?" she asks.
“No,” he says, holding up a hand to stop her, “just me.” She retakes her seat.
“Which case?” she looks puzzled, usually she’s the one who talks with whichever DA, schedules the legal stuff.
He pauses in the doorway, flattening out his collar.
“Mulder vs. Mulder” he says, and leaves before he can see her face.
He races into the hospital, pell mell, not knowing where to go, his thoughts running too fast to articulate what he’s looking for when he grasps at a passing nurse. Finally he gets it out and she points him in the direction of the elevator, says “ninth floor.”
He almost trips over his own feet as he enters her room, the door bouncing off the rubber doorstop.
“Scully,” he says out of breath.
From the bed, her face is wan, but her eyes brighten a bit when she sees him. Her hair has grown out since her short bob days and hangs limply over her shoulders, lightly snarled in places.
“Mulder,” she says, and he walks lightly to the bed, sinks down next to it on his knees.
On her chest rests a small bundle, wrapped in a blue and pink striped blanket.
“You have a son,” she says on a tired smile, and turns the baby so he can see its face.
“He looks like his sister,” he says. He still can’t catch his breath.
Chapter 2: SW
From a prompt from linlo-eggshellheart: “ I’m obsessed with your Drabbles and Ch 3 of the Tumblr prompts (where Mulder is married when Scully joins the X-Files) has me feeling some kind of way. I’d love to read the same thing from Scully’s perspective. Also, I’d love to know more about how they get from 9 to 10 (since clearly a lot happened 🤣). Thank you for being amazing!! 🥰”
He wore a ring, but never mentioned a wife. Nor should he, she supposed; they’d only just been assigned to each other, they’d only just met.
She considered that perhaps he was a widower, but didn’t feel comfortable asking. She thought maybe he was just a closed off, private man, until she found herself on his hotel bed in her robe, and he was telling her all about his family, his missing sister.
Then they had been three cases in, and there was still that ring. She finally asked him his wife’s name.
“Lauren,” he said.
She’d heard enough men talk about their wife in that tone of voice to know the relationship was not one like her parents, was not one she’d want herself.
She felt something close to pity.
He saved her life in the Twin Cities.
Donnie Pfaster was something more than evil, and when he told her he’d prepared himself for what he was going to see, she’d wished he’d prepared her, too. She was so thrown by the case that in addition to seeking out Karen Kosseff and availing herself of the therapist services supplied by the Bureau, she had plowed right past the fact that her partner had taken on the case for the sole purpose of taking her to the Redskins/Vikings football game.
She’d been with married men. She’d seen what havoc could be wreaked from the pursuit of such a relationship, and she had decided long ago that she would never do it again.
Mulder had become her best friend. Lately, her only friend. Their reassignment had been difficult, but she talked to him more days a week than she didn’t. She tried not to notice that she was number one on his emergency contact list, and Lauren was number two.
She loved him as a friend, loved him as perhaps something more, but wasn’t convinced of his feelings for her until she was sitting atop Skyland Mountain with her hands tied in front of her, bound and gagged, and amongst a confusion of lights and sound, Mulder stumbled onto the scene, appearing as if from a TARDIS, and threw a haymaker so vicious it knocked Duane Barry out cold. He kicked him in the gut for good measure, and then tenderly removed her bindings, scooped her up in his arms and carried her down the mountain despite her shaky protestations that she could walk.
She had met Lauren only once, near the beginning of their partnership.
Lauren had dropped by their office to take Mulder to lunch on his birthday and had arrived 30 minutes early. As Mulder had told Scully he’d planned to meet his wife in the lobby, she concluded that Lauren had shown up early on purpose, most likely with the sole intention of meeting Scully in the flesh.
She’d given Scully an assessing once-over and then smiled at her with barely concealed conceit and distaste. She then turned on her clippy Manolo’s, and purred Mulder’s first name.
He had the look of a man headed to the gallows.
Scully had tried dating. For a while she accepted every offer, let her mother set her up on blind dates, went through the produce section of her local market with a wandering eye.
In the end, she had a few second dates, two one night stands, and a heart that was closed to all but one.
Each night she would soak in the bath until she pruned, cry until the water turned cold and lament her role as Eponine. In the morning, she would meet her partner at the airport, hand him a coffee with a cheerful smile and board the damn plane.
“You’re in love with your partner.” Missy said it as a statement rather than a question.
They were trying an organic tapas restaurant her sister had found and Scully’s appetite disappeared before Melissa had finished the sentence.
“Missy!” she said with horror and embarrassment, which Melissa brushed aside with a flick of her wrist.
When Scully was 12 and 13, she kept a diary. No matter how well she hid it, Missy would always find it, pick the lock, and read it back to her whenever she walked in her room.
Now that they were older, it didn’t matter if Scully’s secrets were at the center of a maze; Missy was forever Theseus, gaining its center and slaying the minotaur. Scully could keep nothing from her--she didn’t even know why she tried.
“I can hardly blame you,” Missy plowed on, popping an olive into her mouth, “he’s a dish.”
Scully slumped in her seat.
“So’s his wife,” she said.
Missy narrowed her eyes at her sister.
“Is she mean?” Missy asked.
Scully wouldn’t answer.
“I knew it,” Missy said, then, “how mean? Like on a scale of Heathers?”
Scully touched a napkin delicately to her lip. “Shannon Doherty” she said, with all the dignity she could muster.
Missy leaned back in her chair. “You and I are going shopping,” she said.
On an airplane over the arid West, Mulder told her, in no uncertain terms, that he was in love with her.
When their plane landed, she called Skinner and requested a week of PTO and an immediate transfer. She would not be a homewrecker again. She would not.
After three days next to a pool in Key Largo, Skinner called with an offer: Salt Lake City, take it or leave it.
Three days later, drained of tears and out of sunscreen, she called him back: leave it.
She returned to work on Monday. She pretended she never heard.
Two months later, Mulder stood in the doorway of their office and told her he was on his way to divorce court.
Scully sat at her desk, dazed, thrilled, scared out of her mind. A laugh bubbled up from inside her and burst into the dusty air at the bottom of the Hoover building.
Six weeks after the paperwork went through, Mulder showed up at her door at 9:00pm on a Friday and kissed her soundly on the mouth.
Five minutes later they were completely undressed, each het up to the point of frenzy. When she sunk down on him, took him all the way inside of her, she felt something pass between them, something heady and true. From that moment on she would always be a little less of a skeptic.
Later, when he was tracing lazy patterns over her skin with his fingers, their heads just touching on the pillow, he asked thoughtfully, “Is this what forever feels like?”
She took a moment to just look at him. Then, “Yes,” she said, matter-of-factly.
“I never knew,” he said, his voice full of wonder.
Two years later, in a bed in Bellefleur, Oregon, in the place where it all started, he looked up from in between her legs and licked his lips thoughtfully.
“You taste different,” he said.
She did some quick math in her head, then reached down and ran her fingers lightly through his hair.
“I think we should go back to DC,” she said with a tremulous smile.
Thanks to admiralty for the beta.
“But… lately, when I think of having a baby, it only ever looks like you.”
He had watched her face closely as he’d said it, knowing it was the biggest, worst, best thing that could have come from his mouth. He’d been a coward for almost a decade, stuck in a loveless marriage because he hadn’t had the guts to end it. It had taken him too damn long to realize that Scully was the one for him, that he was the one for her.
Her blue eyes went wide and color shot to her cheeks.
“Mulder,” she said in a tremulous voice, her face wearing a small smile, tears brimming in her eyes, her gaze on her hands.
“Scully, I--” right then, the captain came over the loudspeaker, announcing that they were beginning their descent, went on to announce the local time and weather, then passed it off to a flight attendant, who announced a long list of connecting gate information. The cabin lights brightened and the passengers around them started raising seat backs, lifting and locking their tray tables. The moment, the spell, such as it was, was broken.
When he looked at her again, her face was set, she would not look at him.
He saw her eyes dart to the wedding ring still on his finger.
She avoided him during the case, staying in the morgue, the lab. They were seated in different rows on their return flight and when he got into the office the next day, he was informed--by Skinner of all people--that she’d taken a week off.
On day two of a Scully-less office, he had decided that come hell or high water, he was asking Lauren for a divorce.
When he finally worked up the nerve, Lauren threw things. A decorative bowl they used to keep keys and loose change, a baseball signed by Sparky Anderson, an antique brass compass Scully had gotten him for Christmas after the third year of their partnership.
The first, which had just been handy, shattered as it hit the wall behind him. The second, which she’d chosen because it meant something to him, and which she’d pulled from a bookshelf next to her, hit the mantle on the fireplace and dropped to the floor -- the signature half scuffed off. The third, which she’d thrown with a victorious glint in her eye, hit a wingback chair, bounced onto the floor and slid under the couch.
He ignored the first, winced at the second, and with the third, he casually walked to the couch, slid an arm under it until he found it, and stood, pocketed the compass, then marched directly out the door.
He didn’t stop to examine the compass until he’d gotten in the elevator--he didn’t want to give Lauren the satisfaction--and found that it was perfectly intact.
Relieved, he thunked his head against the elevator wall and called the Gunmen, asked if he could crash with them.
Two weeks later, while Lauren was at work, they helped him move his things into a storage unit out on Fort Hunt Road.
When he got into the office the day after he’d announced his divorce to Scully, she was already there, sitting at her desk. Waiting for him on his, was a still-hot cup of coffee from his favorite coffee shop three blocks from the Hoover and a small rectangular package wrapped in butcher paper.
He cut his eyes to his partner as he sat down and it picked up.
“Steak for dinner?” he said, holding it up.
“They don’t sell ‘Happy Divorce’ wrapping paper at Papyrus,” she said, “sorry.”
He grinned and tore it open. It was an old, first edition copy of The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody .
She leaned back in her chair and gave him a warm smile.
“You’re in good company,” she said.
He laughed, delighted.
“When did you get a cat?” he asked.
He was at her door with a skinny latte and an almond croissant that she always said she didn’t want but inevitably ate anyway.
They had a local case for once, and they were expected at the morgue in 45 minutes.
She stopped what she was doing in the kitchen and leveled a look at him. It was the same unblinking judgmental look the cat was giving him -- sitting on top of her kitchen counter, swishing its tail back and forth.
“About a year ago,” she finally said.
“In Japanese culture, black cats are considered good luck,” he said, hoping to get out of the doghouse.
She finally sighed, smiled.
“I guess she finally worked,” she said.
Of all the scenarios he’d ever dreamt about ridding himself of his wedding ring, none of them felt right. He had a vague daydream where he had it melted down and cast as a bullet that he could fire into his past, in a kind of walk-ten-paces-turn-and-fire scenario, but it felt a little too on the nose, and besides that, it was probably illegal.
Instead, he walked to the National Mall, sat on the bench he and Scully used to meet at back when they’d been reassigned, and sat looking at the reflecting pool.
He took off his ring, set it on the bench next to him, and walked away. He caught a cab on 17th street and rode to Georgetown.
When she opened the door, he did not hesitate. He took her face in both hands and kissed her. Hard.
After a quick inhale of surprise, she kissed him back, and then it was quickly all tongues and teeth, his name from her lips whispered into his ear over and over.
He hoisted her up and carried her--her legs wrapped around his waist--into her bedroom. They wasted no time undressing each other, hot and impatient.
One word ran through his head when he was deep in the bundle of her pelvis: finally, finally, finally .
Scully, in his head always saint-like and virtuous, had seemed immune to sin, but in bed she was downright peccable, giving in to her baser instincts; her skin was a home to lust, her lips to gluttony, her hands to greed.
He pumped into her with the desperation of a thousand nights worth of wanting, of regret. Finally, she shuddered under him, and he followed her home.
He thought it was probably questionable judgement to give her a jewelry box on her birthday when they had only been together for such a short amount of time, but the look on her face was one of intrigue rather than trepidation and when she opened the small box, her face softened.
“Regifting, Mulder?” she said, looking down at the antique compass.
“Turn it over,” he said.
She lifted it out of the box and palmed it, brushing a thumb over the glass of its face before she flipped it over.
To finding our way… the inscription read. She smiled and looked up at him.
“... to each other?” she asked.
He smiled, nodded.
“I told Skinner,” he said, then.
Her eyebrows went up.
“We could have done it together,” she said, reaching up and rubbing her thumb over the rasp of his jaw, “I would have gone with you.”
“Felt like I needed to,” he said.
“And?” she said.
“He said ‘about time,’ and then told me to get my ass back down to the basement and help my partner with the expense report he wanted two days ago.”
Scully laughed and then leaned over, planting a soft, chaste kiss on his waiting lips.
He gave her a small smile when she pulled back.
“World didn’t end,” he said.
She smiled back.
“No, it didn’t.”
They had just gotten back from Bellefleur, Oregon the night before. He had slept at Scully’s, as he did most nights.
He was still in bed, trying to snooze for a few more minutes before the second alarm went off and he had to drag himself into the shower. He had just cracked an eye to look at the time when Scully breezed in from the bathroom, wearing a silk robe over her pajamas and a queer look. She held something in her hand.
“Scully?” he said, only letting a hint of concern into his voice. He pushed up until he was sitting against the headboard and Scully sat down on the edge of the mattress next to him.
In answer, she handed him a small plastic wand.
A pregnancy test. With two blue lines.
He whipped his eyes up to Scully who was wearing a shaky smile.
“Is this…?” he said, and she nodded at him, bit her lip.
“Holy shit!” he practically laughed, and grabbed her face in both hands. He kissed her for dear life.
Later, when he was stepping out of the shower, Scully stood in the doorway of the bathroom holding the phone to her ear, a look of concern on her face.
What is it? He mouthed at her.
She lowered the phone.
“It’s Skinner. He has Covarubias with him,” she said, and her expression became more grave, “and Krycek. He wants us to come in.”
Mulder felt his stomach drop and then a sense of resolve wash over him.
“Tell Skinner that he can handle it. That I trust his judgement. But we’re not coming in.”
Scully nodded slowly then raised the phone to her ear.
Mulder could hear a dull barking from the receiver. After a moment, Scully ended the call and walked into his embrace.
He looked at their reflection in the dewy mirror, the air thick with the scent of lavender and Scully’s expensive shampoo. He knew it was too early to see, but there was a gravid lushness about her, a softness that had settled onto the bones of her face. She was a mother, now.
He tightened his grip on her and called his soul home.
Thanks to admiralty for the beta!
He was 26 when she met him, rarefied New England stock. She could smell the old money on him, but what grabbed her at first were his eyes. Mossy green with flecks of brown one minute, straight hazel the next. His jaw was just on this side of square, his brown locks thick and he was cut with the harmony of a Canova sculpture.
She had just graduated from Georgetown and was out celebrating with friends. He was on a rare evening off with other cadets from the academy and she played just hard enough to get.
The months flew by. She sparred with him over politics and art history, gave him his space and fucked him like a port wench.
With his lost baby sister and broken home, he was putty in her hands; addicted to her drama, which she knew when to rein in. Both of his parents loved her--she was the daughter they’d barely had. He asked her to marry him the week he graduated.
The carats were sufficient, her mother was thrilled. Another box checked by 24.
Their first year or two of marriage had been good, she thought. She was hired on at Schuster & McClure and started bringing home a decent salary. He was mostly a peon at the FBI, and was home every night by 6, the weekends were theirs.
He took her antiquing, apple picking, because that’s what she thought you were supposed to do.
Thanksgiving with her parents, Christmas with his mom, New Years with his dad.
It wasn’t until he started with the Behavioral Sciences Unit that things started to glitch. He’d work cases where he didn’t come home until after 10:00pm and worked through the weekends. His mood was dark, he frequently didn’t want sex. When brunch with their friends was on the schedule, she went alone.
She didn’t handle it well. She knew she didn’t. She should have been supportive but was frequently petulant. He started staying at work late even when he didn’t have a case.
She got promoted twice, started taking out clients. She got nicer clothes, nicer shoes, better haircuts. He barely noticed. She’d stay out later, he didn’t care. He seemed perpetually in a dark place.
She started doing things she knew would piss him off just to get his attention. Nothing worked.
A week after she cheated on him for the first time, he came home early, said he wanted to talk to her about something. Her gut roiled and she poured herself a drink, then a second. She was certain he knew.
Then he smiled at her, told her about files he had found in the basement of the Hoover Building, unsolved cases, weird cases, cases with no earthly explanation. His excitement was contagious. She asked questions, told him he should go for it, see if he could get the assignment.
They made love that night for the first time in six weeks.
She swore to herself she’d never cheat on him again.
It started to feel like the X-Files was the other woman. He was obsessed with his work, and she felt lonely. Her oath to fidelity did not take.
One night he came home, upset, and once again, she thought she’d been caught.
This time, however, it was because his unit had been assigned another agent.
“That’s great!” she said, feeling guilty and overcompensating with enthusiasm, “that means they’re taking you and your work seriously!”
He gave her a pitying look. She hated his pity. It made her feel stupid.
“No,” he said, “it means they’re sending someone down to spy on me.” He was directing his foul mood at her and talking down to her in the process.
“Don’t do that,” she said, “I hate when you do that.”
“Condescend. You’re pissed off and you’re taking it out on me.”
He rubbed a hand over his face.
“You’re right, I’m sorry.”
She wasn’t expecting him to relent, it made her feel off balance.
“What if you asked for a reassignment? Did something different?”
He narrowed his eyes at her.
“Do you even know what I do? Why I do it?”
It felt like a trap. She generally tuned out when he talked about work. He sounded ridiculous and it made her look ridiculous, too. Every time one of their friends — of which there were fewer and fewer these days —asked about his job, she changed the subject, steered the conversation to something-anything else.
When she didn’t answer right away, he leaned back.
“Of course you don’t,” he said.
She felt the poison of anger tip into her bloodstream.
“What do you want me say? ‘I’m sorry you’re being spied on at work?’ Do you know how crazy and paranoid that sounds? Are you listening to yourself?”
“Am I listening, Lauren?” he said, his voice low and dark, “I’m the only one in this house that does.”
With that, he grabbed his wallet and keys, slammed the door behind him.
She called Peter and told him to come over. They had only ever met at hotels before.
In some ways, Fox wasn’t paranoid enough, she thought with satisfaction, with disgust.
She had been operating on the assumption that Special Agent Scully was a man for the better part of 5 months when Fox finally dropped a pronoun.
“Wait, she?” Lauren said. “What do you mean she?”
“For fuck’s sake,” he said, “you could give a shit about my career. Why take an interest now?”
They picked fights now, that’s all they did.
“Are you fucking her?”
She knew she said the wrong thing the second the words were out of her mouth. She’d only wanted to hurt him.
He ground his teeth, closed his eyes. The veins on his temples throbbed visibly beneath his skin. He took a deep breath.
“No, Lauren,” he said, his voice as cold as ice, “I’m not you.”
She dropped by the Hoover building early on his birthday to take him to lunch. She pretended she’d misremembered the time she was supposed to meet him and took the elevator down to his office. She’d only been there one other time.
This woman, this ‘Scully’, didn’t seem like a threat, for which she was grateful. The woman was short, had a pretty face, but a bit of baby fat through her cheeks. Apparently she was a doctor, but dressed like a stand-in on Murphy Brown .
While at lunch she’d ordered a glass of champagne. She felt like celebrating.
Something happened at the FBI. He was reassigned. He wouldn’t tell her much. She tried to make it up to him--introduced him to one of her clients, Senator Matheson, who had shown interest in her husband’s work.
He came home at normal hours for a while, but was distant. Closed off.
He flew to Puerto Rico for a long weekend without even fucking telling her.
Then she got a call from him--his former partner, the Scully woman, had been kidnapped from her apartment. He wasn’t sure when he’d be home, but he was working the case and would call her. She heard nothing.
She saw him briefly on the news, called him over and over, but he never picked up his phone.
He walked through the door after being gone for days with his hand in a cast. She asked him what happened, but he didn’t talk, just stripped to his boxers and went to bed.
In the morning, she made him her famous waffles and gave him his space. He kissed her before he left for work that day, but only on the forehead. They had not spoken a word.
They found a new normal that lasted a couple years. He had the job he wanted back, working with his partner, Scully. She loved her job, thrived on it, started spending most of her time at the office or out with clients. They didn’t see each other much and found that if they didn’t see each other, they didn’t fight.
He was gone more often than he wasn’t.
Her mother got sick with cancer, fought for months. Fox was supportive, attentive, but still a bit distant. She took whatever she could get. When her mother died, Fox picked her up at the hospital, called her father, made all the arrangements.
She needed to get away, so she asked him to take her to Mexico for her 30th birthday. He couldn’t make it work, but suggested she take a few friends with her and really do it up right.
Everyone but Amy made it -- she was eight months pregnant. They got absolutely bombed on their first night at the resort--someone had thought it a good idea to mix Dos Equis with Tequila (“beergaritas, Lauren!”) and they only found out April was pregnant when she was walking around getting everyone water, her drink sitting untouched on the balcony.
They talked about their jobs, their husbands, and everyone seemed so blissfully happy. Lauren felt like she was missing something. At 1:00am she slunk into one of the bedrooms and called Fox. She didn’t remember exactly what she said.
When April’s husband met them at the airport when they landed at Dulles, he had eyes only for his wife and caressed her stomach before he even kissed her. He carried her bags and treated her like fine china.
When Lauren got home, she told Fox she wanted to have a baby. She felt something like hope when he told her they could talk about it. “Not right now,” he’d said, “but we can talk about it.”
When he asked her for a divorce a couple weeks later, she was so taken aback, she asked him to repeat himself.
“I can’t do this anymore, Lauren,” he’d said, “I want a divorce.”
His eyes were full of sympathy and she hated him for it.
She threw words at him, objects, anything she thought might hurt him like he was hurting her. That fucking baseball--she hated baseball--the antique compass from his fucking partner--the one that got put on the shelf next to their wedding picture. Slurs, tears, things--she threw them all.
He took it, he took her words, he absorbed her tears. And then he picked up the compass and he walked away.
His things were gone from the condo two weeks later.
After court, she didn’t see him for almost two years. He was with his partner, Scully.
She’d been leaving a restaurant in Old Town Alexandria, had met a few friends for lunch on a Saturday, when she saw them walking by.
She’d been about to raise her hand in greeting and say hello when Fox reached for Scully’s hand and brought it to his lips for a kiss. Lauren froze in her tracks.
He had a lightness about him she hadn’t seen in years, and the way he was looking at Scully--who had learned how to dress since Lauren saw her last and looked nothing short of stunning--he had never looked at her like that. He practically glowed from within. Scully returned his look with an easy affection.
They continued walking, now hand-in-hand, and Lauren felt something that wasn’t quite jealousy. She thought she could be glad for him. Someday.
One year later, she finally sought him out.
He agreed to meet her by the carousel on the National Mall on a bright Saturday morning in summer.
He was there when she arrived, sitting on a bench, gently pushing a navy blue stroller back and forth in a rocking motion.
She approached him.
“Fox,” she said, her voice low and quiet in deference to the maybe-sleeping child.
He looked up in surprise and she gave him a small, expectant smile.
“It’s okay,” he said to her in normal voice, smiling back, “she’s out.”
Lauren felt a genuine smile break out on her face.
“You’re a dad,” she said sweetly.
“Yeah,” Fox replied, appearing almost as surprised as she was. “She’s four months old, now.”
“What’s her name?” Lauren asked, sitting down next to him.
“Lily,” he said.
She nodded, tried to peek at the baby, who was mostly covered in a light blanket.
She leaned back and looked at him.
“How are you, Fox?”
“I’m good,” he said, “really good.”
“I’m glad,” she said, and found she was.
“And you?” he asked.
“I’m good,” she answered. “How are your parents?”
“Same as always,” he said. “How’s your dad?”
“Dad’s good,” she said on a laugh, “he moved to Arizona, and is quite the hot ticket at the retirement community.”
“I’m glad to hear it,” he said.
There was a comfortable silence for a few moments. The carousel music filled the air, punctuated by the occasional laugh of a child. A group of Chinese tourists walked past them, cameras out.
She reached in her pocket, pulled out a small pouch.
“Here,” she said, “this is yours.”
He opened the pouch, shook it out into his hand. His grandmother’s three-diamond ring fell onto his palm, 2.5 carats of antique beauty.
He looked at it, flipped it over in his hand.
“Lauren,” he finally said, moving his hand toward her, to give it back, “I gave this to you.”
She reached out and closed his hand around the ring.
“And I’m giving it back,” she said.
He opened his mouth to protest and she nodded at the stroller.
“Give it to Scully,” she said gently, “or save it for Lily,” his eyes rose to meet hers and she knew she was making the right decision, “it never really belonged to me.” She tapped her finger gently on his chest above his heart, “And neither did this.”
After a moment he nodded gently, opened up his hand to look again at the ring.
Then the baby started making noises and the moment was over. He gathered up the small child and brought her up to rest against his shoulder.
“Almost time to find Mom for lunch,” he said.
Lauren rose from the bench and bent forward to look fondly at the baby. She had bright blue intelligent eyes and wispy apricot hair.
She reached out and touched a finger to the baby’s hand.
“Nice to meet you, Lily,” she said, then ran a finger one last time down his raspy jaw. “Be well, Fox.”
He hoisted the baby up and nodded at her.
“Be well, Lauren.”
Lauren turned from them both and slowly made her way home.
Many thanks to admiralty for the beta!
“He left his wife,” she said, apropos of nothing, cutting her sister off mid-rant. Melissa had just walked through the door, carrying a bottle of wine and complaining about the parking in Dana’s neighborhood.
Missy froze where she was, one arm still in her coat.
“You’re kidding,” she said.
“I’m not,” Scully said, trying not to smile and failing.
Missy finished taking off her coat and threw it haphazardly over the back of Scully’s couch, swinging into the seat next to her at the table, her eyes intense.
“Are you sure?” Missy went on, “because they always say they’re going to leave their wife and then they nev-”
“I’m sure,” Scully said, sitting up straighter. “He went to court on Wednesday. I guess it’s been in the works for a while. It’s done.”
Missy sat there with her mouth open like a koi. She put her hand on the neck of the bottle of red wine she’d brought and then looked at it.
“Now I wish I’d brought champagne,” she said, excitement creeping in.
Blackwell chose that moment to jump onto the table. She sauntered over to Scully and gave her gentle head butt. Scully ran her hand over the cat once and then put her back down on the floor.
“What are you going to do?” Missy asked.
“Do?” Scully said, “He literally just got divorced. I’m going to give him some time to heal. I can’t do anything, Missy, the ball is necessarily in his court.”
Missy leaned back in her chair.
“That’s a mistake, Dana,” she said, “what if someone else swoops in?”
Scully smiled, thought of his mid-air confession.
“I’m not worried,” she said.
The morning after he walked into her apartment and kissed her, bedded her, started their forever—was awkward.
It was like taking the invisible fence collar off the dog--it still didn’t feel comfortable leaving the yard.
Finally, at 11:00am, he leaned back in his chair, threw the pen he’d been holding onto his desktop, and huffed a sigh.
“Why is this so weird?” he said, sounding perturbed.
Scully, sitting at her own desk across the room, laughed lightly.
“It doesn’t have to be,” she said, gently.
“And yet it is.” Another sigh.
She looked at him sympathetically.
“Up until very recently, what we did last night was… impermissible. Forbidden. It’s bound to take some adjustment,” she said.
“But I feel like we wasted so much time,” he said.
She smiled again, charmed.
“Can I see you tonight?”
Bless him, she thought, he looked nervous.
“I’d like that,” she said.
Mulder showed up at her door with flowers. Nervous, looking a little sweaty.
She took the flowers from him, smelled them thoughtfully.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve done this,” he said, when she finally looked up and caught his eye.
She pushed her door all the way open, stepped back so he could enter.
“You…” she started, clueing in to his mindset, “you don’t need to court me, Mulder.”
“Sure I do,” he said, swiping a hand across his upper lip.
“You’ve been wooing me for five years, Mulder,” she said, her heart melting a bit at his nervousness, “an intellectual, platonic wooing, but a wooing nonetheless. You’ve got me.”
He pulled at his collar and she had to stop herself from laughing.
“Let me take you out,” he pleaded.
“Mulder, the last time you walked through that door, you planted a kiss on me that ended in my bedroom. I’m kind of a sure thing.”
“Christ Scully, I have flop sweat,” he said, plowing ahead, “please just me do this.”
Her heart ached for him.
“I’ll get my coat,” she said.
Just before they headed out the door, he pulled a tiny terra cotta pot with a small catnip plant growing out of it from his pocket.
“For Blackwell,” he said.
He relaxed over dinner. The bottle of Merlot helped.
They had finished their meal and were waiting for dessert. Scully ran her finger over the top of her wine glass and looked closely at Mulder. She felt emboldened by the alcohol, and the restaurant’s dim light made his eyes dark, brewing with intrigue and a shade of lust.
“You mentioned earlier that you regret all the time we wasted?”
He nodded at her slowly, licked his lips.
“Take me home, Mulder,” she said, “take me to bed.”
He threw a wad of cash onto the table and they were in a cab three minutes later.
She fell back onto the pillows, out of breath and panting, her throat raw. She’d never been loud during sex, but Mulder’s oral fixation had proved to be her undoing.
He crawled back up her body, gave her a peck on the shoulder.
When she felt like she could talk again, she said, “I will never again complain about sunflower seeds. You can leave the husks wherever you want.”
He huffed a laugh and rolled onto his side lazily, his erection bumping into her hip. He looked at her languidly, he seemed in no hurry. She reached down, her fingers light.
“Shouldn’t we do something about this?” she said coquettishly, grasping him in her hand and giving him a long, slow pull.
His eyelids fluttered closed for a moment and then he smiled, grabbed her hand and pulled it away.
She gave him a puzzled look and he leaned in, kissed her softly but insistently. She could taste herself on his tongue.
He pulled back an inch and said “we’ll get to it.”
He began kissing his way down her body once again, stopping at her breasts to lave at and then suck one nipple into his mouth and then the other. Her back arched off the bed of its own volition.
Then he began working his way lower again until finally he was settled back in between her legs in a very oh-I’m-just-getting-comfortable kind of way.
“Oh,” she said, “listen, I can’t… I’m not one of those women who can... twice.”
Mulder quirked a grin at her.
“But you see, Scully,” he said, lowering his head until he was talking directly into her sex, “you’re the skeptic here. Me?” he paused and ran his tongue slowly and firmly from her perineum all the way up to her clit, “I’m a believer.”
Robert Modell had a sister. In the end, they were able to subdue and apprehend her, but she would never forget the raw sound of his voice, nor coming around the corner to the sight of him clutching at Linda Bowman’s body as though it were her.
“I’m going to kill you,” he said when he pulled his gun, and she had never seen a rage as shattering as the one flowing through Mulder when he said it.
After she had fired at and dropped Linda Bowman over Mulder’s shoulder, he had dropped his gun to the floor and wrapped her in an embrace so tight, she feared she might bruise.
It took three weeks for him to let her out of his sight.
A freshly-tumbled Mulder was quickly becoming her favorite view. Hair mussed and sticking up, lips swollen from kisses, penis laying thickly down his thigh.
He came in from her bathroom and paused at the foot of her bed to consider her. She looked her fill.
“Let’s move in together,” he said.
“You think the Gunmen will let you move out?” she asked, as he slid under the covers and wrapped an arm around her waist. “Your presence has upped their cool quotient by a factor of ten.”
“I’m sick of hauling clothes back and forth,” he said, snuffling her ear thoughtfully. “We could carpool everyday, or take the Metro. It’ll be good for the environment.”
“Well, when you put it like that,” she said, swatting at him playfully.
“There’s a place I want to show you,” he said, “get dressed.”
He slid back out of the bed and whisked a shirt over his head. She wondered what she’d done to deserve him.
In LA, he took her to Griffith Observatory. They were still in their formalwear from the movie premiere. As night set in, they looked out over the city, at the vast sprawl, the lights shimmering in the desert heat. The dark void of the Pacific was miles off to their right.
“What did your mom say about the movie?” he asked her, as they leaned over the railing meant to keep people tumbling down the hillside near the top of the mountain. There was a sign warning people of cougars ten feet away.
“She’s thrilled,” Scully said, shaking her head, “she’s getting a big group of friends to go on opening night. How about yours?”
“She’s mortified. She’s pretending it doesn’t exist.”
“I think I’m going to do the same,” Scully said, and pushed off from the fence, grabbed Mulder’s hand. They began walking back toward the waiting limo. Their driver, Carl, had told them to take their time.
They passed a couple of statues scattered intermittently throughout the landscaping.
“Galileo, Copernicus, James Dean,” Mulder said, listing them off.
“All the greats,” Scully said, shaking her head. She squeezed Mulder’s hand. “I’m hungry,” she said, as they approached the waiting car. Carl had seen them coming and was holding open the door.
“I think anyone in that dress,” Mulder said, and held up his arm to twirl Scully around once, “could probably go for a hot dog.”
“You read my mind,” she said, smiling at him.
They had Carl take them to Pink’s.
When Lily was born, Scully wasn’t even sure her labor was real labor, at first. She was a week past her due date, and as far as she knew, was having Braxton-Hicks. By 9:00pm, she knew it was the real thing. Mulder wanted to go to the hospital, but she wanted to be able to eat, so she sent Mulder to bed, thinking it would be best if at least one of them was rested. The contractions were just painful enough that she couldn’t fall asleep.
He was back by her side by 10:00.
“You shouldn’t have to do this alone,” he said.
She smiled up at him, rubbed her stomach. “I’m not,” she said.
By 2:00am he was digging his thumbs into her back while she rested on a yoga ball, her back aching. He would gently ask about every 30 minutes if she was ready to go to the hospital. She would not so gently tell him no.
At 4:00am, she felt a gentle pop and a warm gush. Her water had broken. She told Mulder to make her a sandwich and get the go bag. It was time.
Her contractions, now about five minutes apart, had gotten a lot worse. She had to stop walking to the car twice just to breathe.
It was dark in their neighborhood, quiet. Mulder was doing his best to remain calm, but there was an anxious excitement in his eyes. She looked over at him after a contraction passed, streetlights throwing light on him in waves as they drove down the silent streets, and she felt a rightness to her life.
“Did you picture this,” she said, “that first day you met me in the basement?”
He looked over at her, his eyes crinkled with affection, and put a gentle hand on her hard stomach.
“This?” he said, “Is why they put the ‘B’ in ‘FBI.’”
The sandwich went uneaten. Lily was born three hours later with a throaty complaint and full head of red hair. It was only the second time she had ever seen Mulder cry.
The baby was sick, had a fever. They’d all been up for at least 18 hours--it was the middle of the night. Lily wouldn’t stop crying, gut-wrenching wails that raised Scully’s blood pressure. She felt like crying, too. She was pacing the living room with the baby -- she had one lamp on and could see nothing out the window but her own reflection; eyes dull, hair a mess, holey yoga pants with dried spit up down the knee. And Lily would not. Stop. Crying.
Movement in the window and she turned to see Mulder shuffling down the hallway, blinking into the light. He’d gone to bed an hour ago.
“Do you want me to take her?” he asked, and had to repeat himself so she could hear him over the throaty wails of their daughter.
Scully shook her head, tears in her eyes, turned away from him, bouncing the baby, even though it didn’t help. She should let him take over, try to get an hour or two of sleep, but she was exhausted and so close to tears herself and misery loved company, didn’t it? She felt like being a martyr.
“Let me take her,” he said, this time not framing it as a question.
She was a millisecond away from picking a fight, but she handed the baby over instead.
“Is it time for the Tylenol?” he asked, shifting the baby to his other shoulder, and wincing when she screamed in his ear.
“She won’t take it,” Scully mumbled, and then on one piercing shriek, she felt the goosebump-flush of her milk letting down--and liquid began leaking from her breasts, soaking her shirt. She felt a drop slide down her abdomen to soak into the waist of her yoga pants.
“What?” Mulder said.
“SHE WON’T TAKE THE FUCKING TYLENOL!” she screamed, and then broke down in tears.
Mulder gave her one good look and then turned and walked the baby down the hallway and into the nursery.
Scully crumpled to the floor, spent.
The wailing continued from Lily’s bedroom, and she jumped in surprise when she felt a gentle hand come down on her shoulder. When she looked up, Mulder was crouched in front of her, his face one of sympathy.
“She won’t take the medicine?” he asked softly.
Scully sniffed, ran her wrist over her eyes and shook her head.
“I should go in there,” she said, and started to rise, but Mulder pressed her back.
“She’s in the crib, she’ll be okay for a minute or two.” Scully nodded again. “I’ve got her, okay? I’ll try again with the Tylenol. You should go try to sleep.”
Scully looked down at her shirt, twin circles of wet fabric looking back.
“Sleep,” she said doubtfully, shaking her head, wincing.
Mulder ran a hand down her face, his touch light as a feather.
“I’ll bring in some clean bottles so you can pump, okay? Just leave them on the bedside table, I’ll take care of them. I’ve got her, Scully. We’ll be alright.”
Scully felt defeated but tiredly acquiesced, shuffled to their bedroom, whipped off her soaked shirt and threw it towards the dirty laundry. Blackwell looked up from where she’d been asleep next to Mulder’s pillow, lazily watched the arc of the shirt until it hit the edge of the hamper and fell to the floor. The cat yawned, bored.
Mulder came in then with two clean bottles. Lily was still crying down the hall. When he left, he closed the door, and the silence felt loud until she turned on the pump and it wheezed to life beside her.
Six hours later she awoke from a dead sleep to find a peacefully sleeping Mulder on the couch with a peacefully sleeping Lily curled on his chest. On the coffee table sat the liquid Tylenol, two empty bottles of breast milk.
Father and daughter slept deeply, their matching full eyelashes fanned decadently across the tops of their cheeks, both their lips wet and loose in the bright morning sunshine. She touched Lily’s back lightly -- her fever had broken.
He was offered answers. Information. The golden ticket he’d always sought. There was a time when she knew he would have pursued it without thought to fallout or consequence, but instead he stepped back.
He chose her.
When she asked him about it, he said “I’ve chosen unhappiness before. Over and over again. I know what lies down that road.”
Two weeks later, they found out she was pregnant with their second child.
Thanks to admiralty for the beta and support. I love you girl!
Mulder’s mother-in-law was sick. Terminal cancer, from what Scully gathered from the little he talked about it. He was gone a lot, accompanying Lauren back and forth between her parent’s house in Newport News and the hospital and home.
Their basement office felt cold, empty without him in it. She felt like every small noise she made echoed off the walls. One Friday, she left early, unable to stand it any longer.
She went home, but felt alone there, too. She drifted out into her neighborhood, the warm sun of the afternoon laying long shadows through the streets.
There was a farmer’s market set up a few blocks from her apartment— an entire block’s worth of a street closed off, with tented stalls lining both sides of the road, selling everything from fresh eggs to flowers to jewelry.
She was looking through the selection of breads and baked goods on the edge of one of the stalls when she felt a light tug on bottom of the sundress she had changed into. She looked down to find a small black feline paw had reached through the bars of the cage in the next stall and had hooked a claw into her dress. Her laugh alerted one of the women working the rescue group’s stall, who rushed over to help release her from the kitten’s grasp, with an “oh honestly , Trouble.”
“His name is Trouble?” Scully asked, laughing.
“Her,” the woman said, smiling at the little black fluff affectionately, “she’s sweet but has an excess of personality.”
“How old is she?” Scully asked.
“Ten weeks,” the woman answered, then narrowed her eyes, seeing a prospective cat rescuer suddenly in her midst. “Here,” she went on, handing Scully a feather-on-a-stick cat toy, “play with her. She’s a hoot.”
Scully bobbed the toy about Trouble’s head, who took one swat at it and then jumped into the air and caught it, growling like a dog. Scully laughed, delighted.
“She plays fetch, too,” said the woman, who was still hovering nearby.
“You’re kidding,” Scully said, tugging on the feather, which Trouble refused to give up.
“I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” the woman said, “wadded up paper ball. And when she brings it back, she drops it better than my retriever ever does.”
Scully was thoroughly charmed.
“You in the market for a new friend?” the woman asked with a smile.
“Oh! No, not really.”
“Well, we’ll be here if you change your mind. Our rescue group has a stall at the Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays and Fridays.”
Scully smiled at the woman and turned away, thinking of buying a bag of apples and a bouquet of flowers.
“Miss?” the woman said, and Scully turned back to look at her, “Trouble won’t be here long. The cute ones get adopted quick.”
Scully smiled indulgently and walked on. On her return trip through the market to head home, carrying a bag of greens, two cartons of strawberries and a small bouquet of yellow calla lilies, she saw a small girl playing with Trouble and a slightly larger orange tabby kitten. The girl’s parents were standing a few feet away and the girl turned to them. “I want the orange one,” she told them.
Scully was insulted on Trouble’s behalf. It was no fun coming in second. She veered back toward the cage and stuck a finger through the bars. Trouble rubbed her face against her finger and sat down, purring.
“Can I get an adoption application please?” Scully said then, and found that the woman was already behind her with a clipboard and a pen. The woman winked.
Two hours later she tumbled into her apartment laden with her haul from the farmer’s market, twenty five pounds of kitty accoutrements and a cardboard cat carrier that had little black paws popping out of the holes in the top.
She opened it up and looked down at its lone occupant, who sat, looking back at her, as prim and proper as a posy. She looked like a ball of black puff with two green eyes, as round as the moon.
“We’re going to change your name, Trouble,” Scully said, “A friend of mine once told me about self-fulfilling prophecies.”
Scully didn’t go to Lauren’s mother’s funeral, but she did send flowers. She tried to strike the right tone with the arrangement, somewhere between work acquaintance and best friend, and leaned into one that was more on this side of ostentatious than not.
She got a thank you card from Lauren, but it was written in Mulder’s scrawling hand.
Scully had voiced a craving for a mid-afternoon latte, and the day was bright and clear, the first in almost a week. He volunteered to accompany her to a nearby coffee shop.
He waited in the back of the shop next to a stack of high chairs and a small creamer station dusted with spilled Sweet’N Low and cinnamon. He watched as she gave her order to the barista, laughing at something the girl had said as she handed over her money. Her face shone amongst the other patrons, brighter and clearer than anyone else’s. It was like she alone was in focus, everyone else in the world walking in an ill-defined blur.
Why had he waited so long, he wondered. Some misplaced sense of loyalty? Things with Lauren had always gone from bad to worse, waiting certainly hadn’t made them better. It wasn’t to spare Lauren’s feelings. It certainly wasn’t to spare his own.
Scully turned from where she stood in line and caught his eye. She smiled at him with a radiance that hit him square in the solar plexus.
How many years had he wasted? How many breaths had he taken, how many nights spent alone in a bed of two?
He smiled back at her, a delicious ache in his chest.
Their first meeting with Skinner after Mulder informed him of their relationship was a budgetary meeting. Kimberly smiled at them in a knowing way when they walked into the front part of Skinner’s office, at which Scully blushed. Mulder wondered vaguely how much Skinner and his assistant talked.
Just before Skinner adjourned the meeting of roughly ten people, he said “Please consider this a reminder to make sure your current address, emergency contact information, and any other pertinent personnel file data is updated and filed with Human Resources.”
Mulder shot a look to Scully, who shot a look back.
The skin at the base of his left ring finger was bare but indented with years long pressure.
One morning, Mulder woke up to find Blackwell sitting on his chest, the end of her fat, fluffy tail twitching slowly up, keeping time like a metronome. The cat regarded him coolly for minute, then yawned once and flopped down to lay atop him, purring gently.
Scully awoke about ten minutes later and cracked a sleepy eye to look at the domestic tableau before her.
“She likes you,” she said.
“I have a way with women,” he rumbled, scratching a nail under the cat’s chin.
“I’ll remember that the next time she needs her claws trimmed,” Scully said, stretching.
Mulder considered the animal.
“Why did you name your cat Blackwell?” he asked.
“Have you heard of Elizabeth Blackwell?” she asked back. He shook his head. “She was the first woman to graduate from Medical School in the United States,” she said.
He nodded, running his hand along the velvet coat of the black cat.
“Perfect,” he said. Blackwell purred. So did Scully.
He had dreams. Terrible dreams. He dreamt that he hadn’t made it in time to the top of Skyland Mountain. He dreamt that Melissa had been shot dead in Scully’s doorway. Dreams where he showed up at the hospital to visit Lauren’s mother and found Scully in her bed.
In the mornings, he woke to find Scully next to him and pulled her close. She generally woke when he did this, but never once complained.
Blackwell had stopped growling when playing with toys after a week or two of living with Scully, but would still occasionally play fetch. Mulder was so taken with the idea of a dog-like cat, he offered to open an X-File on her and swore he would teach her tricks.
True to his word, as the years passed, Mulder taught Blackwell several, including a high five, “speak” and a version of “play dead” in which he would pull an imaginary service weapon (complete with correct form and safety procedures) say “bang” and over she would keel. True her status as a feline, Blackwell would perform these tricks only five times out of ten, which Scully did have to admit, was pretty good.
On a lazy Sunday morning when Lily was nine months old, Mulder, Scully and their daughter were whiling away in their rumpled bed (Mulder with a book, Scully with a crossword, Lily with an orange teether) when Mulder set the book down on his bedside table and turned to Scully.
“Lily and I taught Blackwell a new trick,” he said.
Scully set down the newspaper and pencil where Lily couldn’t get to them and turned toward him.
“I’d like to see it,” she said, smiling.
“What do you think, Lil?” Mulder said to the baby who babbled a bit in response, a string of drool sliding down to soak into her already damp onesie.
Mulder nodded, pursed his lips and whistled.
A light tinkling sound came down the hallway, and Blackwell jumped up easily onto the bed and sauntered up to Mulder to give him a gentle headbutt.
Scully clapped softly.
“She comes when whistled for now? I’m impressed.”
Mulder pet the cat affectionately and then looped a finger underneath the cat’s collar to bring it up and over her fur.
“And check out the new accessory,” Mulder said.
Scully clicked her fingers and Blackwell walked over to her.
“A new collar, I see,” Scully, said, eyeing the new black collar with equal parts humor and distaste -- it had a repeating pattern of alien heads and ufos.
Mulder nodded as Blackwell sat in front of Scully and then he thrust his chin up and towards the cat.
“That’s not all,” he said, “check out the hardware.”
Lily made a grab for the cat, but was scooped up by her father who lifted her to his shoulder as Scully leaned down to take a closer look at Blackwell’s new collar. Where the bell usually was, hung a platinum ring with three diamonds and an aged patina. Scully sucked in a breath and fingered it, flicking her eyes to Mulder, who looked at her with affection.
“What do you think, Scully? Make an honest man out of me?”
Blackwell sat patiently as Scully unhooked her collar and slid the ring off of it. She held it in her palm, her eyes shining.
“Was this…?” she said, and Mulder knew what she was asking.
“It was the ring I gave to Lauren,” he said, “it was my grandmother’s. She returned it to me a few months ago. She thought you should have it.”
Scully smiled sadly.
Mulder rushed on.
“I understand if you would rather not wear it. I’d be happy to buy you a new one. But I wanted to give you the option. Mulder women have been wearing this ring for close to a hundred years. It maybe doesn’t have the best mojo, but…”
“I love it,” Scully said, as Lily reached up and patted at Mulder’s cheeks. Scully slid it over her finger and it seemed to fit perfectly.
“So is that a yes?” Mulder asked, nuzzling their daughter’s head.
“It’s a yes,” Scully smiled. “And Mulder?”
He looked at her.
“I don’t believe in mojo.”
They buried Blackwell under the dogwood tree in their backyard, eleven year old Lily crying into her mother’s shoulder. Eight year old William, who had inherited his mother’s stoicism and his grandmother’s stiff upper lip stood next to them, watching his father blankly as he patted the soil flat with the back of a shovel.
“She was good cat,” William said somberly, and Mulder reached out and pulled him into a hug. He could feel a wet spot start to soak into his shirt.
“She was, buddy,” he said, and swung his eyes to Scully, who was absently rubbing Lily’s back, her eyes still on the ground. “I think maybe we should celebrate her life with ice cream, what do you say?”
William snuffled loudly, wiped his nose with the back of his hand.
“Vanilla, dad?” he said on another sniffle, “chocolate is bad for cats.”
Scully finally cracked a smile.
“It’s what she would have wanted,” she said, and tucked a strand of bright red hair tenderly behind Lily’s ear.
A blossom detached from the tree and fell gently to the ground, landing softly on the freshly turned earth.
Thanks to admiralty for the beta and support.
Chapter 7: South
These all started with a Tumblr Drabble prompt from @sunflowerseedsandscience: “Mulder is unhappily married when Scully is partnered with him, and while he doesn't cheat (because sorry that's not romantic), he falls for her so hard that he finally gets the courage to end the marriage and start fresh.”
It took on a life of its own.
When he repeated the words “I, Fox, take you, Dana” he made a face, and she couldn’t help but laugh. It was half nerves and half him and bubbled up from inside her. The officiant smiled at her indulgently, and Mulder repeated himself and again made a face, and again she laughed. This time she looked over her shoulder at her mother who was standing witness, giving her an “ honestly , Dana” look while simultaneously trying to hold a one-year-old Lily who did not want to be contained. Mulder repeated the vows one more time.
“I, Mulder, take you, Scully,” he said, changing the words to better suit them, and there was no funny face, and no laugh. There was only a rightness to it, which washed gently over her and settled her nerves.
When the officiant told Mulder he could kiss the bride, he leaned into her slowly, and then wrapped his arms around her tightly, lifting her feet up off the floor. There were whoops and hollers from the small congress of witnesses, one of which she knew for sure was Charlie, and another she suspected might actually be Skinner.
When they darted out to the car after the ceremony, they were pelted with sunflower seeds which Scully didn’t realize until Mulder picked one gently out of her hair and popped it into his mouth.
They didn’t have a reception, just a small dinner at an Alexandria restaurant.
Scully watched the way Doggett and Reyes sat, heads bent together at the other end of the table and nudged Mulder.
He put his arm around the back of her chair whispered in her ear.
“There’s just something about that office, Scully.”
They had both left the X-Files once Scully was pregnant enough not to be out in the field anymore. Scully transferred to her old teaching position at Quantico, and Mulder “retired,” opting to write books for a few years while he finished his PhD, later opening his own practice.
They consulted often with their replacements and Mulder felt like he spent just as much time at various FBI facilities as he did at home working.
When the Lone Gunmen were killed and buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Mulder stepped away, eventually deciding that his consulting days were over.
After William was born, they received a congratulations card postmarked from Arlington, Virginia. It was blank, but for a monogram as a signature, which read simply “TLG.”
As a one-year wedding anniversary gift, Melissa Scully offered to take Lily off of their hands for a week if they promised to go somewhere warm and tropical. Mulder figured Scully had probably put her sister up to it -- or at the very least had her add the tropical addendum to her gift, but either way it was nice to get away from it all. He hadn’t slept in one day since becoming a father.
Melissa came to their door with a small suitcase and a giddy smile, eyes only for her niece. She was rewarded with a big, sticky hug.
Mulder already had their luggage loaded in the car, but Scully lingered in the doorway, she was having trouble saying goodbye.
“Scully, our flight is in exactly two hours and I know you like to get to the airport early,” he said. He would not go back inside himself or he’d have trouble leaving, too.
Finally, Scully gave Lily one last hug and said to her sister, “the terrible twos are a real thing, Missy. Call us if you need us.”
“We’ll be fine,” Melissa said, and ushered Scully outside, Lily perched on her hip. Then she called “I’m not offering when she’s a threenager!”
On their flight home, Mulder reached for Scully’s hand.
“I’m not spending that much money on a tropical vacation again, if we’re never going to leave the room.”
Scully wiped a finger down one side of her mouth and gave his lap a meaningful look.
“Worth it,” she said.
Mulder defended and received his PhD with little fanfare.
Scully made him a celebratory pie (sweet potato), and they sat down on their back porch to eat it with a bottle each of Shiner Bock once they had both kids down.
It was a beautiful spring night, a warm breeze wafting through the woods behind their house. Mulder could almost swear he could smell the cherry blossoms from the district.
He leaned back after finishing his slice in record time and let his fork clatter to his plate. He lifted the beer to his lips.
When he set the beer back down on the table, there was a small brown box wrapped in white ribbon sitting next to his empty plate. Scully smiled at him as she took a sip of her own.
When he opened it, he found the antique brass compass that had passed between them several times.
“Regifting, Scully?” he said to her, mirroring words she’d once said to him.
“Turn it over,” she lobbed back.
Above the old To finding our way... inscription, it now read “ To Dr. M.” He leaned over and gave her a lingering kiss.
When he sat back down and picked up his beer, she reached over with her own and clinked the necks of the bottles together.
“Doctor,” she said to him on a nod.
“Doctor,” he nodded back.
With their second child, Scully went into labor a month early. He’d been speaking at a conference in New York when an organizer pulled him aside as he was exiting the stage from his last panel and told him he had a phone call. It was Mrs. Scully, who sounded concerned but was trying to hide it. In the background he could hear a muffled TV and then a worried three-year-old “ Where’s daddy ?”
The train ride back to DC was torture. He was anxious, could barely sit still. He kept calling Mrs. Scully who said she didn’t know much -- they’d had to take Dana into a Labor & Delivery room and Lily was really bothered by the whole situation so she’d taken her home to her house. Melissa, who had planned to be Scully’s doula, was in San Diego with Bill.
Later, when he was holding the baby for the first time, Scully’s doctor came into the room. There had been some complications with the labor, but Scully hadn’t elaborated, and Mulder had been too elated to by the birth of his son to give it much thought.
The OB informed them that she didn’t think it was possible for Dana to have any more children.
While the doctor was going through the finer points of it, Scully reached out and squeezed his hand so hard it hurt. He could only hear the roaring of blood in his ears.
Scully thought “Crusher” was a ridiculous name for a cat. However, family tradition mandated that every pet be named after a female doctor and Will got naming rights on this one. He had recently gotten really into Star Trek .
The cat sat on the coffee table, as black and fluffy as her predecessor, but with a slightly more quarrelsome personality. Scully thought it was probably fitting being that their first born was about to be a freshly minted teenager.
Mulder came into the living room carrying an enormous bowl of popcorn with Lily on his heels, sulky as she plopped into an easy chair. Good grades had earned Will the Saturday evening activity of his choice and he’d opted for a family viewing of the first Lord of the Rings movie. No family member’s presence was optional and Lily loathed sci-fi/fantasy, much to Mulder’s dismay.
He set down the bowl, which Crusher nosed thoughtfully, and cut his eyes to his wife.
“Will’s in charge of the ice cream,” he said, his eyes widening with a look of slightly anxious amusement.
“Is that wise?” Scully asked.
“No,” said Lily quickly with no small amount of sass, earning her a sharp look from her mother.
Will came in then balancing four tubs of Ben & Jerry’s and several spoons. He paused when he reached the coffee table and gave Mulder a significant look.
“They come in pints,” he said with a British accent, which launched Mulder into an uncharacteristic fit of hysterics. Lily rolled her eyes. Scully wondered what was so funny.
Scully had had one of the longest days on record, and if she walked into a messy house one more time, she swore she would walk directly up to her bathroom, climb into a hot bathtub and not get out until morning.
When she got to their front door, she could barely open it for the load of hockey equipment in front it.
“That’s it,” she said to herself.
She would have followed her oath to the letter if she hadn’t tripped on a cat toy halfway through the kitchen. Mulder and the kids were all parked in various spots around the room.
“You okay?” Mulder asked her, barely looking up.
Her silence spoke volumes and eventually the three Mulders in the house were looking at her with a kind of low grade fear.
“Why,” she said, struggling to keep her voice steady, “am I the only person in this house who cleans it?”
Will opened his mouth to say something, but Mulder put a hand on the boy’s arm.
“The mop has a handle, not an access code,” she said, giving them each a cold glare before heading up the stairs. “I will be in the tub,” were her parting words.
When she came down a couple hours later, wrapped in a silk bathrobe and a significantly better attitude, she found the house spic and span, a rumpled looking Mulder sitting quietly at the kitchen counter nursing a Coke.
“The house looks great,” she said, and he smiled at her.
“We’ve implemented a few extra columns on the chore chart,” he said, “and I have a row now, too.”
She reached for the Coke and he handed it over.
“Got you something,” he said, and nodded at a lone parcel sitting on the countertop.
When she unwrapped it she found a hastily made homemade sign, made from what she could tell was scrap lumber that had been sitting around the garage. Painted on it were three words in three different handwriting styles. It read “Bless This Mess.” They had all signed it.
She felt her eyes start to tear.
“It’s hideous,” she said, and Mulder laughed. “You can hang it over there,” she sniffed.
It would hang in their kitchen for the rest of their days.
Lily was 17 and was just getting over the nightmarish huffy know-it-all stage of the early teens. Mulder and William—who had just hit the gawky, all arms and legs stage of adolescence—were sitting at the dining room table, taking apart Mulder’s old VCR. It had stopped rewinding and they had a plan to watch Plan 9 From Outer Space that night. Mulder swore the movie was better on video, so William swore it too.
“We’re missing a screw,” Mulder said to his son, who was in charge of keeping the various component parts together on the table.
“We’re not, I handed them all to you,” Will said.
Lily came skidding into the kitchen, grabbing the edge of the doorway to keep her balance.
“Dad,” she said, her voice tremulous and shaky. Mulder was on his feet before she finished saying his name. “There’s something wrong with mom.”
Mulder tore up the steps, the thundering steps of his children right behind him and skidded to a halt in the door of the master bath. Scully was on the floor--he couldn’t tell whether or not she was conscious.
“I heard a thump and I came in here and she was like this,” said Lily, nearly in tears.
“It’s okay, Lil,” he said distractedly, reaching forward to feel for a pulse on Scully’s neck.
When his fingers met her flesh, she inhaled deeply, and tried to sit up.
“Mulder?” she said, her eyes flickering open “what… what happened?”
“Honey, you passed out,” he said, giving her a hand to sit up.
She looked pale, but glanced over his shoulder at the worried faces of their two kids and said, “I’m okay guys.”
She did a self-assessment and convinced a not-really-convinced Mulder that she was fine, with the caveat that she go to the doctor first thing the next morning, and when she walked into the house after her appointment, she looked shocked and was shaking.
Mulder walked over to her and tipped up her chin to connect eyes.
“Don’t make me guess,” he said quietly.
Her eyes shone and she gave him a tentative smile.
“I’m pregnant,” she said.
Chapter 8: East
He wanted to go to Scully’s door the second he left the courtroom after his divorce was finalized but it felt sordid, fast. He needed to try to be on his own, live in his own head, if only for a few weeks, months. The thing is, needs and wants are two different things.
They took a few out of state cases, and one local one. He discovered that she had a cat.
Skinner sent her to the West Coast and after three days, he decided he was done waiting.
His divorce was final and their coupling was imminent. She could feel the inevitable slide toward him like she was teetering on a hillside, his pull as inexorable as gravity.
They were tentative and shy with each other in the office, and the whole waiting thing felt as stupid as it felt necessary. She had to wait until he came to her. The weeks grinded on, a weight pressing onto her.
Skinner asked her for a consult and so she flew west. With every mile that passed below her, something unclenched around her heart, so by the time she pulled into the small parking lot of the Santa Barbara Field Office, she felt an insouciant lightness.
The local SAC was a woman, and they formed an instant rapport. On her last night, Agent Fielding took her to a small tasting room just off the beaten path and they got tipsy on the local Pinot Noir and shared trench stories from the field and Quantico.
“I had this one case,” Fielding said, draining the last of her glass, “where the local Sheriff called the two other male agents working the case ‘Special Agent,’ but insisted on calling me ‘Miss.’”
Scully gave an exaggerated eye roll.
“Exactly,” Fielding went on, “Finally, I told him if he was going to call me miss, he’d better use my last name along with it, and when he asked what it was, I told him it was ‘Andry.’”
“Oh no,” Scully said.
“Oh yes. That fucker called me Miss Andry for the better part of a week and had no clue.”
They both laughed.
“Tell me about your partner,” Fielding said, running her fingers over the rim of her glass.
“Mulder?” Scully said, “He’s never treated me as anything but an equal.”
“So he’s a good one, huh?”
“The best,” Scully said, missing him suddenly.
As if they shared a heart, her cell phone chirped from her pocket.
It was after midnight on the East Coast.
“Mulder, everything okay?” she said, holding up a finger to Fielding, who watched with interest.
“I miss you,” he said, point blank, “when are you coming home?”
She could feel her cheeks color, adrenaline dumping into her bloodstream.
“Tomorrow,” she said. Tomorrow is a Friday.
“Tomorrow,” he said, the word imbued with implication. They both hung up.
“One of those good ones,” Fielding said, wearing a knowing smile.
Scully nodded, returned the smile. He was.
When she flew back east, his pull was as strong as the jet stream, and everything about the air was verging, each breath in; anticipation, each breath out; hope.
Two weeks in and she didn’t know what she’d been expecting, but it wasn’t this. This kind of sex was as desperate as it was sweet; pure and carnal and sybaritic. They’d scarcely left the bed in two days and she was certain by Monday she’d barely be able to walk.
She stared at her reflection, at her bee-stung lips, the beard burn scrape along her throat. It was 7:00am, time for her contraceptive. She’d gotten on the pill a month ago, and even as she understood the science, she has the urge to take two, just in case—she’d never had so much sex in her life.
Pop it through the foil, water from the faucet. She let it drip onto her bare chest from her chin.
When she got back into bed, Mulder, newly awake, reached for her.
“Is there a word for this?” he whispered to her, his nose pressing into her neck, his erection into her thigh.
“Satyriasis,” she said clinically, and he huffed a laugh into her skin.
“I knew you’d know,” he said.
She rolled to face him.
“I was thinking we could just call it love,” she said, and she saw emotion reach his eyes.
He gave her a tiny, serious nod.
They investigated a mercenary rainmaker in a drought-stricken Midwestern town and encountered a force more powerful than the weather. Here was a man who may love a woman with more passion and devotion than he loved Scully. Mulder was humbled before him; a man with the improbable name of Holman Hardt.
When Holman came to him for advice, he gave it freely. Yes, he was in love with Agent Scully. There was a reason for the mutual gazing. He told him how he had been married to someone else but had been in love with her for five years before he had the courage to end his marriage and tell Scully how he felt. He encouraged Holman to do the same.
“If you love her,” Mulder said, growing emotional despite the ridiculousness of the entire case, “Holman, you gotta tell her.”
Holman marched to Sheila’s office and kissed her soundly.
The happy couple invited him and Scully to join them at their high school reunion, and they surprised themselves by accepting.
They danced to 10CC and The Hues Corporation and they drank watered down cocktails and made out in a high school hallway.
When they flew out the next day, the clouds--every last one from here into the horizon—were in the shape of hearts.
“There’s a place I want to show you,” he said, “get dressed.”
He hauled on jeans and had to lift up Blackwell to find his other sock, which she’d been using as a pillow.
He’d been wanting to broach the topic of moving in together for months, though when he’d asked her five minutes ago, he did so casually, like he’d only just thought of it.
When they pulled up to 42 Magnolia Avenue in Alexandria, Scully looked over at him, confused.
“Mulder, what is this?” she asked.
The house was gorgeous. It was a two-level, craftsman-inspired behemoth with a large two car garage and a deep front yard. There were twin magnolia trees on the front of the property, and while the yard was shaded, it got lots of light.
“It’s an Open House,” he said, not quite lying.
“Mulder, we could never afford this,” she said, looking at the neighboring houses. This was a neighborhood of lobbyists, congressmen, even. The lots were large, beautiful, and so were the homes.
“So?” he said, stepping out of the car, “we’ll get an idea of what we like.”
She looked dubious, but got out of the car, too.
When they got to the front door, the realtor opened it and gave Mulder a nod.
“Welcome,” she said, “come on in and take a look around.”
“Wow,” Scully said, impressed. The foyer wasn’t overly large, but was big enough for bench seating and and had a decent sized closet. But what was beyond the foyer seemed to have grabbed her attention. It opened up to a large open concept living room that rolled into an impressive kitchen. The appliances were new and stainless steel. There was a fireplace in the corner and a large bay window that looked out over a spacious back yard dotted with dogwoods and lined with large trees.
After touring the upstairs (“Blackwood would love the sun in that third bedroom,” she said “and that master bath is lovely,”) she came to stand in front of the big window in the living room, looking out over the back. The realtor was standing in the kitchen with her arms behind her back and a confident smile on her face.
“So,” Mulder said, coming up behind her, “can you see yourself living in a house like this?”
“Only if I’d married that thoracic surgeon,” she said wistfully, stepping into him and smiling into his chin.
“Is that a yes?” Mulder said.
“It’s a yes,” she said, tilting her head back, “this house is perfect. Maybe it’ll be up for sale in another 20 years when I’m running the Bureau.”
Mulder turned to the realtor.
“What do you think, Marie? Could you see us in this house 20 years from now?”
“And beyond,” Marie said, with a pleased smile.
Mulder nodded at her and she nodded back, stepping out into the foyer and closing the front door behind her softly.
“Mulder?” Scully said, giving him a look, “what’s going on?”
“I’m glad you like the house, Scully,” he said, leaning down to give the end of her nose a gentle peck, “it’s yours.”
Despite the huge fight it had caused, he was glad he had gone ahead with the pre-nup with Lauren. The money he’d inherited from his maternal grandmother had finally been put to good use.
Scully’s brows were creased in confusion.
“Both of our names are on the deed,” he said, “it’s just waiting for your signature. Marie has it out in her car.”
In Winston-Salem, she would not leave his bedside. He was her medical puzzle to solve and she left the policing to Skinner. Weaver, Drs. Voss and Scobie, even the malevolent Morley Tobacco Company, none of them mattered. Eventually, she figured it out, and Mulder was saved.
It wasn’t until nearly a week later that she looked at her birth control pack and realized that the days did not line up. Somewhere in North Carolina, she lost track of time.
Scully was waiting on a bench outside of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History when he pushed Lily up in the stroller. The baby was making fretting noises, just on the verge of all-out tears. She stood when they approached.
“Hey you two, everything go okay?”
Mulder nodded and kicked the brake on the stroller, lifting the muslin blanket he’d had draped over the top of the bassinet compartment.
“Someone’s getting hungry,” he said, and Scully reached in and pulled Lily out, sitting down on the bench and unhooking the strap of her nursing bra.
Mulder dug a hand deep into the pocket of his jeans as if checking for change before he sat down next to her. Lily latched on and began to nurse. He reached out and tucked a piece of hair behind Scully’s ear.
“Is Lauren okay?” Scully asked kindly.
He leaned back, surveying the mall behind the Smithsonian.
“She’s good,” he said.
He felt a sense of peace descend on him. A part of him had always felt responsible for the bad years with Lauren--he should have never asked her to marry him in the first place. To see her happy and light brought him a lightness, too.
His father died when Lily was 15 and William was 12. The whole of the Scully/Mulders packed up for a week and drove up to Massachusetts.
His mother met them there from Raleigh, looking frail. There was a dowager’s hump starting to form on her spine and her hair looked thin and impossibly white. Looking at his father’s casket, he felt all of his fifty-five years.
He recognized nearly everyone at the wake, but there was a woman lingering over the cheese plate that looked out of place, but he couldn’t put his finger on why. When he approached her, she drifted away ahead of him and he was about to search for her in earnest when Scully grabbed him by the arm.
“I’m going to take the kids down to the beach, give them a little reprieve from Aunt Edna asking about Tinder.”
He nodded, kissed her cheek.
He was grabbed by a distant cousin as soon as Scully left his side, and was caught in small talk for the next forty five minutes.
“You’re… you’re what?” he asked, certain he didn’t hear right. He’d been expecting the worst.
“Pregnant,” she said again, and for a moment he was too stunned by the reversal. Then it dawned on him that it was not bad news. That it was traditionally good news.
He grabbed her face in both hands and bent his knees until his face was level with hers.
“Holy shit ,” he said, practically laughing. He flashed on the moment he found out she was pregnant with Lily and felt a kind of synergy.
“You’re happy?” she asked, hedging.
“I’m… are you ?”
“I’m stunned,” she said, “after Will was born…”
Mulder remembered her slick hand in his, her white-knuckled grip when Dr. Wong told them she would no longer be able to conceive.
He dropped to his knees before her, put his hands on her hips, his forehead over her womb. After a moment he leaned back.
“We got rid of all our baby stuff,” he said.
“We did,” she said.
“We specifically had a garage sale to get rid of it.”
“Our hoity-toity neighbors were really irritated by the whole thing.”
“We’re going to have to buy all new stuff,” he said, his enthusiasm starting to wane.
“We are,” she said, “though the safety stuff would be expired now, anyway.”
The wheels were spinning in Mulder’s head. They would have to start a whole new college fund.
Scully grabbed his hands and sunk down to sit next to him.
“I was afraid you were going to be upset,” she finally said.
He gave her a look and squeezed her hand.
“Never,” he said, and she nodded, believing him.
“I warn you now, if you bring up my age in relation to this pregnancy, I will handcuff you to the pipes in the basement.”
Mulder pursed his lips, huffed out one small laugh.
“Don’t threaten me with a good time, Scully,” he said.
She shook her head, tipped it until it was leaning on his shoulder.
“Do you really think we can do this again?” she asked him earnestly.
He grabbed both sides of her face and they connected eyes.
“You might be the skeptic here, Scully,” he said, another call back to something he’d said to her once before, “me? I’m the believer.”
They debated about when to tell the kids. Scully argued for waiting, citing all the possible issues associated with geriatric pregnancy (a term she would not let him use on pain of death), but Mulder reminded her how worried the kids were from her episode the night before and they thought they could both handle it, no matter what happened.
When Lily and William got home from school, their parents were sitting at the dining room table waiting for them. William had pulled off the tie from his school uniform, but Lily was buttoned up and tense. She must have been worried all day.
“Hey guys, come have a seat,” Mulder said when they’d dumped backpacks and slipped off shoes.
They each sat; Will drumming his hands nervously, Lily looking pale.
“First of all, Mom’s fine,” Mulder said, looking at each of them in turn. They both swung their eyes to Scully for confirmation.
She nodded, smiled at them reassuringly.
“I’m okay, guys.”
“However, we do have some news that you’ll need to keep to yourselves for a while.”
He looked to Scully, who paused before speaking.
“I’m pregnant,” she finally said.
Both their jaws dropped.
“You-” started Lily.
“You’re going to have a baby?” Will interrupted.
“If everything works out all right,” she said, “yes.”
Will had a surprised smile on his face, while Lily looked horrified. Then William looked suddenly puzzled.
“Wait,” he said, “does that mean you two…”
“Do not finish that sentence, Will, I swear to God ,” broke in Lily in a fit of pique.
Mulder and Scully exchanged an amused glance.
“Well, you do know how this works,” Mulder said, and put his arm around Scully.
Lily brought her hands to her temples and lowered her forehead to the tabletop.
“This is so embarrassing ,” she said.
Will, on the other hand, punched at the air like he’d just scored a goal.
“I’m not going to be the youngest anymore!” he said.
“Can I please go to my room?” Lily said, refusing to look up from the table.
“Sure,” Scully said gently, and Lily rose immediately, “just… guys?” They both finally looked to her. “We’re going to keep this news to ourselves for about another month, okay?”
They both nodded and Lily all but ran upstairs.
Will looked at both his parents, smiling.
“Can I have a snack?” he said.
“Feed Crusher and Apgar first,” Scully said, and Will moved off toward the pantry.
How quickly life moved, Mulder thought. How quickly everything changed, and yet it didn’t change at all.
He leaned over and pressed a kiss to Scully’s temple.
“Here we go again,” he said, his voice low.
Her face blossomed with a simple smile and she leaned into his touch.
From a desk in the heart of the District, a secure phone rang.
The man lifted the receiver to his ear.
“We have confirmation,” the voice said, and then it disconnected.
He returned the phone to its cradle and exhaled. A plume of smoke rose from his lips and dissipated into the stale air.
For those thrown off by the end of this, fear not: I’m already writing a sequel!