Woven Deep By Maureen B. Ocks email@example.com Disclaimer: Fox Mulder, Dana Scully and all other familiar X Files characters belong to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions and FOX. No copyright infringement intended. Archive -- Sure, just tell me and keep my name with it. Spoilers: "The Sixth Extinction: Amor Fati", the flashbacks in "Per Manum". Keywords: Nope. Author's notes at the end. x-x-x Sometimes idiosyncrasies, which used to be irritating, become endearing, part of the complexity of a partner who has become woven deep into our own selves. -Madeleine L'Engle x-x-x Thursday, 12:45pm x-x-x It took nearly three hours to get me out of the hospital. Dr. Harriman joked it took only minutes to get me out the last time. Scully shot him a look that was as venomous as anything I've ever seen. She made it clear that I was leaving soon and if the paper work wasn't handled professionally and with great speed, the FBI, IRS, INS, CDC, NIH and any other alphabet agency she could find would be living with North Georgetown in general and Dr. Harriman in particular. The man moved pretty fast after that and kept his jokes to himself. Scully hired a private ambulance, which was unbelievably embarrassing leaving the hospital and totally humiliating when we got to Hegal Place. Mrs. Griffith, the 82-year-old woman who lives in 34, was in the elevator with me, Scully and two EMTs, commenting that she used the same private company when she got her new hip two years ago. I'm in with the "in" crowd now, huh. Scully ordered the EMTs to put me in bed and talked to them after I was all tucked in. Jesus, I'm exhausted and my accomplishments for today are waking up, being jostled into an ambulate and being jostled out of it. Getting old sucks. When Scully returned to the room I got my first good look at her in non-hospital light since we left the basement a few weeks ago. She looks awful. Not mean awful, just drawn, tired and obviously unhappy. She's in a suit -- with a skirt -- and wearing a pair of kickass pumps. There's a nice image to take to bed. Hmmm...I must be feeling better. "You need anything?" "Are you leaving?" She should, she obviously needs to rest, but I'm way too much of a needy, selfish prick to let that happen. "No, why?" "Just glad you're here." I confess in a yawn. "Drink this." She has some Windex-blue drink in her hand. "Dr. Harriman is still worried about dehydration." "When was the last time you ate or drank anything?" "Just drink it." she sighed. When I don't make a move to take it from her she answers, "I had two cups of coffee, a danish and a powerbar from the hospital cafeteria this morning. Plus I ate about half of that stale muffin they gave you for breakfast." I do remember her picking at that so I take the glass of Windex. "Get some sleep, you're still exhausted." She sits on one of the kitchen chairs that suddenly appeared in bedroom. I give up the fight against sleep in minutes. x-x-x Friday, 3:20am x-x-x Oh boy do I need to take a piss. And not in that urinal that Scully has so delicately left on the chair she was sitting in before I dozed off. A quick look at the clock tells me I did more than just doze. "God Mulder, you're sleeping your life away, get up," sounding more in my head like Scully than me. After struggling with the covers and two attempts to actually stand, I'm grabbing the chair, then the chest of drawers and finally the bathroom door. A few minutes later, I'm the most relieved man in the state of Virginia, quite possibly the eastern seaboard. After about four glasses of water and a quick rinse of my face, I'm leaving the bathroom to find the most horrifying vision in weeks. Walter Skinner is sitting on the corner of the bed. This is not what I was hoping to wake up to -- not at all. "Where's Scully?" I offer as a greeting. "You need to get back in bed." "Sir, did you miss last month's sexual harassment seminar?" I manage to get back to the bed under his watchful eye. How messed up am I -- I'm exhausted from taking a leak. Flopping on the bed I ask him again, "Where's Scully?" "Did you drink something? I was told you should be drinking water, Powerade or Ensure." "I had a couple of glasses of water. Where's Scully?" "Get some sleep, we'll talk about this in the morning." Skinner isn't supposed to be here, either Frohike or Langly should be. Skinner was still in Scully's doghouse and probably would be there for some time. Something is seriously wrong. "Where is she?" "Mulder." "Where is she?" I don't have the energy for this. "Answer me." This usually works so much better when I'm at one hundred percent. "She's in the hospital." As I try to stand again, he's pushing me back into the bed, "She left your friend Frohike here around four o'clock to check in at the office. She got to Hoover without incident but collapsed outside of your office. According to the security camera, she was unconscious about fifteen minutes before Agent Flagler found her. When he couldn't wake her, he called the paramedics and went to the hospital with her. They called here and Frohike pretended to be you. I've got baby-sitting duty" On a normal day baby-sitting duty would have pissed me off, but I had other priorities right now. "Shit, I have to.." I start to get up again but that doesn't work. "You have to stay here. She came to in the ambulance and wanted out. Flagler told the EMT's to keep driving, that she wasn't in her right mind." "I bet that sat well." "Didn't matter, when they got her to the hospital her fluid levels were all over the board." Shit. "What sort of fluids...." "She was dehydrated, running a slight fever and probably has since she was in Africa. She had bug bites all over her arms. Some of them were infected. Her system just quit on her. They're keeping her overnight, maybe longer." "Her doctor..." "Her doctor at North Georgetown wanted to talk to a family member but since she now only has you listed on her contact forms, we just got the general rundown. Or I should say Agent Flagler did. They know you there and Frohike didn't quite pass for you." Skinner moves away from the bed and toward the door. He leans against the bedroom door, his eyes boring right into me, "When did her mother fall off the family members list?" "After Emily Sim died. She had some issues with her mother. Her business." Not yours Walter, barely mine. Skinner sighs and shakes his head. "Sir, my relationship with Scully..." "...is no one's business but your own. The same with her relationship with you. I know. That's been made very clear to everyone who deals with the two of you. I'm sure it's no one's business why she just spent a week in Africa to try to help you, why you went to the end of the world last summer because she was missing, why she tells the truth all the time except when it comes to you, why you don't trust anyone in this world except her." "Listen..." "No Mulder, you listen. Whatever you and Scully do or don't do really isn't my concern at this point. You two have narrowed your universes to each other. You wouldn't have believed her last week -- jungle gear and her hair pulled up in a clip marching into my office making demands. Not for herself, no, she'd never ask for a damn thing for herself. No, she's making demands for you." "Sir.." "You were the same way a few weeks ago after she got hurt here by your neighbor. I went to the hospital to see her but the nurse at the emergency room desk told me that you made it clear that no one was to get near her except her doctor." I think about Scully weeping on my floor and how I knew she'd never want anyone to see her that way, how oddly honored I felt that she would open that up way to me. "Sir, she was.." "Mulder, you don't have to explain any of this to me. I don't want to know, I'm beginning to think no one can know with you two. You just need to realize that there other people in this world who do give a damn about the two of you, as a pair and individually. If you think you can go through life as a self-contained unit, you need to do a better job coordinating your downtime." I nod my head in agreement. x-x-x Friday, 2:10pm x-x-x When I wake up again, I'm no longer being watched by A.D. Skinner. There is, however, noise in the living room. "Who's out there?" My throat is dry. "Me dude." Langly walks into the bedroom with a copy of Spin magazine in his hand. "I'm going to take a shower." "You up to it?" He disappears into the living room "I think so." I stand slowly wondering where he's going. "You need to sit on this and put this on your head." He's carrying a plastic chair and a plastic bag in his hand. Great, a plastic shower cap. Mrs. Griffith's ambulance company, now a Rubbermaid shower chair and fish covered Drip Drop shower cap. "You can't get any water in your stitches." "I'll wear the plastic thing but no chair." "No chair, no shower, man." "Langly..." "Look dude, the whole idea here is that you don't get screwed up on my watch. You want to take a shower, do it, just sit on the chair. Scully will kick your ass and mine if you fall down or wind up with wet stitches." "She's in the hospital, she won't know." "She's Scully, man, she'll know." He had a point. So I sat on the stupid chair with the dumbass shower cap and cleaned myself. I think my last real shower, at least in this life, was over two weeks ago. Even in the chair, it was glorious. Well, Langly asking "How's it going?" three times wasn't glorious, but the rest was. I'm able to put on a pair of sweat pants and a tee shirt -- feeling human for the first time in days. As I walk into my living room, Langly is sitting on the couch watching MTV2 and holding more of that Windex-blue mixture. "Drink this." "I'm hungry." "Instructions say you can drink the blue Powerade or drink some Ensure." Langly stands and moves to the kitchen. "Ensure?" It will be years before I have any cool cache again. "High protein." He returns with an open can for me and a straw. "Vanilla, kosher if you are so inclined." "I guess. You watching this?" Langly remains standing while I sit down. I take a long sip of the Ensure. The Windex stuff tastes better. "No." I switch on SportsCenter. "You like baseball?" "It's OK. They play "Blitzkrieg Bop" at Mets games." "Ramones even sang at some Mets games. We're watching SportsCenter." "Yankees are going to play Atlanta in the Series." "No, the Yankees are going to beat Atlanta in the Series. Again." x-x-x Friday, 11:10pm x-x-x After watching two hours of SportsCenter and a promise from Langly that he'd burn me a copy of his new prize possession -- the Ramones' Leathers from New York CD -- I needed to go back to sleep. Sitting around doing nothing is quite exhausting. Before I decided to go back to bed, I had Langly call North Georgetown for me. Scully was in good condition and would likely be released from the hospital later in the day. When I woke up, she was sitting on a chair in my room. "You're back." I wasn't the pride of the VICAP and the BSU for nothing. "I've learned that napping on the floor outside your office is a bad idea." She's wearing her glasses, a blue sweater and jeans. She's also reading something. I can barely make out the words "American" and "Practices". "You were pushing that blue junk on me when you were the one that was dehydrated." "Not really. It was more the infections from the bug bites, too much coffee and not enough food or sleep over the last five days." "You can't be sick when I'm sick." "I got the speech from Skinner tonight as I was checking out of the hospital. Mom's back on the contact list, after you." "My mother is completely off my contact list." "Good." She seems to have regretted saying it the minute it slipped from her mouth. "I need to use the bathroom." She starts to pull out the urinal. "I've been going like a big boy since last night or early this morning actually." "Mulder you.." "...I need to go to the bathroom. Now." I'm standing and walking without assistance -- showing off for Scully. "Not only did I go to the bathroom today, I took a shower." She didn't seem that impressed. While I'm in the bathroom, I brush my teeth and wish again I washed my hair while I showered. Scully has some new liquid mess for me to drink. This isn't Windex-blue or Ensure, however, it is more swamp brown. "What it is?" "Whey protein, a banana, a little bit of peanut butter, some soy milk and a dash of vanilla for flavor." "Eww Scully, are you trying to poison me?" "Just drink it." Three gulps in I realize that I need to get really healthy in a hurry because I'm not drinking this shit again. God, this makes the Ensure seem tasty. "All done." I show her the empty glass. "Now you drink one." She walks over to the chair where she was reading and pulls a glass out from under it. "Mine had strawberries instead of peanut butter." "Oh sure, keep the tasty stuff for yourself." "No one will ever mistake this for tasty." She passes me the pink stuff and the smell is enough to have me return it quickly. "You have a doctor's appointment tomorrow at eleven. Dr. Harriman wants to run some tests." "I want to eat some real food." "We'll talk to him about that. You burned through so many calories while you were sick you may be on Ensure for a few more days." "You're looking a little puny yourself there, Agent Scully." "The food in Africa was delicious, the portions were small. Few more glasses of 'the tasty stuff' and I'll be fine." "We're a mess aren't we?" I get back into bed. I'd love to talk to her, really talk to her, but if I fall asleep during our conversation, I know we'll never talk about this again. "Where are you sleeping?" She fusses with my pillows, tucking me in before sitting on the bed holding my hand. "I'll sit with you until you fall asleep. Skinner brought over an inflatable mattress. He moved your coffee table and ordered me to sleep on the mattress, not your couch." "Geez, you'd think he's the boss or something." She tries to smile at me but it doesn't really work. I don't want her sleeping on that floor -- not after Philip Paget and Dr. Nacimiento. "Hey, Scully" I whisper. "Yes?" She leans in a little. "Come here." I'm even quieter this time. As she leans more I pull her down to me, toppling her onto my shoulder and chest. "Stay here for a while." I mumble into her hair. If she thought of struggling or getting off the bed, she didn't make any moves that way. Instead, she took her glasses off and tossed them next to mine on the night table. Still on top of the covers, she drops her shoes to the floor, finds a comfortable spot on the bed and wishes me a good night. Kissing her forehead, I wish her the same. x-x-x Saturday, 9am x-x-x The God-awful moan the pipes make when the shower is shut off wakes me. I'm alone and from the smell of the bed and her glasses still sitting on my night table, I've only been that way for a few minutes. I now officially can't tell Skinner I've never slept with my partner. I'm negotiating my way out of the bed when an adorably damp Scully -- towel turban on her head, bath sheet seemingly double wrapped around her -- exits. I perk right up. "Hey." Scully turns a lovely shade of red as she mumbles an apology and she dashes into the living room where her clean clothes seem to be. As I get to the bathroom I call to her, "I need to ask a favor." "What?" "The top of my head is an oil slick." Panicked, she runs into the room, barefoot, black jeans unbuttoned, pulling on a long sleeve white tee-shirt. "What's wrong with your head?" "Nothing. My head is fine. My hair is so dirty, however, that if you threw some seeds in there you'd have a garden next week." "Vanity thy name is Fox Mulder." "With some of the hair cuts I've had in the last few years, I'm willing to give you a fight on that when we're both feeling better." "You can't wash your hair until the stitches are out." "My head itches, if I don't get to wash my hair pretty soon, I'm going to scratch the stitches out." "Take a shower and I'll try to figure this out." "Thank you." x-x-x "You're much better looking than Hank at the barber shop." "There's the sort of compliment I flew twenty-two hours back to America to hear." Scully bends over me to run the water through my hair. The view from where I'm sitting is glorious. "Mulder, close your eyes so you don't get anything in them." I think I'm busted. "And I don't mean shampoo." So busted. I'm a good boy as Scully soaps and does a much better job of massaging my skull than Hank ever did. She is careful to keep the stitches dry. She wraps most of my head in a towel. Tilting my head forward, her careful work proves successful -- I feel better than I have in days. "Happy?" "Delighted. Remind me to tip you generously." "They really did mess with your brain." I finally see why Scully was in suits, sweaters and long sleeve tee-shirts. Jesus, the bites on her arms are awful. When she notices me staring at them, she rolls down her sleeves. "What kind of bugs did that?" "Promise you won't laugh." "Not with those bites." "Locust." "You were attacked by locusts. How many?" "A lot." "So a plague of locusts." "You promised." I did, so I didn't push it. "What was Africa like?" She points to another one of the kitchen chairs and like a good puppy dog patient, I switch chairs obediently. As she removes the towel from my head, draping it around my shoulders, Scully starts combing my hair. She begins, "It was beautiful. When I lived in San Diego as a kid, we use to go to the beach a lot but the beaches there were nothing like this. Cliffs, white beaches, Dr. Ngebe mentioned that it is thought of as the African Riviera." "Dr. Ngebe?" "She was a colleague of Dr. Merkmallen. She was a great help to me, Mulder." "Where was this African Riviera?" "West of Abidjan. Dr. Merkmallen had workers at a site. There was a craft." "I know." "How?" "When you visited me in the hospital..." "You heard." "I heard everything, Scully. Out of your mouth, in your head." She stops combing and leans on the table to look at me. "In my head." "That's what the dissonance was." "My head?" "Everyone's. Yours, Skinner's, Dr. Harriman -- his wife probably wouldn't like the way he thinks about that Nurse White." "My head?" She stands and starts combing again -- fussing really. "Scully," I pull her arm hard enough that she's back leaning on the table. She looks like she's trying not to cry. "What?" "Nothing." She'd like to start combing again, I'm sure, but I won't let go of her hands. Besides, I don't have that much hair anymore. "You were the easiest person to be with. I'm thinking I was probably suffering a lot longer than I knew but I didn't have any problems until other people came into the picture." "I don't..." "The voices happened when I could hear," I tap my head, "one thing while the person was saying something else." "But the elevator." "When other people got on at three it happened but when they got off at the lobby, I could hear just you again." I smiled. This is good news, Scully, after months we're on the same wave length. Be happy. "So everyone else was lying to us?" "No, I think Chuck was fine but it was still pretty early into the process and I couldn't manage the two of you at the same time." "And I was easy." "I wish." I offer my best leer. "Excuse me." She's back playing the game -- properly offended and stifling a smile. "Before I got sick at the University, I only saw a few people. Dr. Demento at the lab was covering up that he killed Merkmallen and that made me sick. I was fine in the car with you, I was fine in my apartment alone, I was fine back at Hoover with you. Skinner was a problem." "Why?" "Krycek. Back in the winter, when he was sick. It was Krycek. He's had Skinner on a leash ever since." "Dammit." "Scully, he was helpful while you were in Africa. Don't write him off yet." Doesn't take a mind reader to think she's done just that. "But when I was with you, you weren't saying one thing and scheming something else. Skinner was, Kritchgau was, Diana was, Spender was." "The old man." "Yea -- I was in bad shape at that point but he was able to fill my head with some ideas. None true, some possible, some I really wanted.." "Like?" "Like you never being sick. Like Melissa never getting killed. Like some of my worst mistakes not having the consequences they did. My sister living two blocks from me in this Arcadia- like subdivision in suburban Virginia." "How did he do that?" "Don't know. I was so exhausted, in pain. Then I'd see this life I could have had if I just got with his program." "And my sister wouldn't be dead? Samantha would be with you." "The X Files didn't happen. I was some sort of upper management paper pusher somewhere, had one of those normal lives you were so interested in a few months ago. I was told you were safe, happy I figured, if I took this other life." Scully sat down in one of the other chairs. "Normal life is what, a wife, kids?" "Yea...." I have to tell her, "Diana." She nodded. "Kids?" "Two boys. Don't remember too much about them. The life I saw was very clear in the present but the future was more like looking at someone else's photo album. Wedding picture, maternity clothes, little boys, gray hair...it all went by so fast." She nodded again. "Did you..." she shakes her head violently and stands. She is back combing my hair. "Did I what?" "Nothing." "Scully." "Did you lo...were you happy?" "I was...I was dying. I was tired, I was so fucking tired. I saw this life where you were safe, you had your sister and I had mine. Samantha was there, she had a couple of kids." "You had a couple of kids." A-ha. "And I missed you." I turn around in the chair and looked at her. "I told you once that I would give up everything if I could keep you safe." "I don't need to be protected." "No, but if I could give you back everything -- Melissa, your health, your future..." "I..." "Don't say you wouldn't want it. I saw my sister. I know what that's like. If you had the opportunity to have two minutes with Melissa, you'd take it. You'd have to. The same with your health -- what if you never got sick." "I wouldn't trade my life for one without..." "You say that now. When you were in the hospital two years ago, I walked up to you with a chip and a story -- you took it." "I did." "I was dying. I could live, you'd be safe, happy, healthy without me." Why can't she see the logic in that? "That assumes I'd be happy without you." She mumbles as she pulls the towel off my shoulders. "I need to get you to the doctor." x-x-x Saturday, 4:10pm x-x-x I'm cured. Well, not really. I'm better. I'm gaining weight, I'm not that exhausted and things are looking up. Well, not if you look at Scully right now. She's been quiet since this morning's hair washing session. She was properly interested in all the medical tests -- including the stitches being removed from my head and the latest CAT scan. But mostly she's been keeping her own counsel. "I want real food for dinner." I advise from my lounging position on the couch. Scully doesn't look up. She is sitting in one of the chairs by the TV, reading. It is the blue book she had last night. It can't be all that engrossing, since she hasn't turned a page in quite some time. "I think I'm going to shoot some hoops with the Kramer kid on two, wanna watch?" Nothing. I point at my window, "Look, Scully, aliens." That gets a confused "Wha?" as she returns to my apartment from wherever she's been. "Tell me about the book." "It's about Native American cultures, their belief systems, values, history...." "The Anasazi tribe." "They have a chapter. Navajos too. After all the help Albert provided, I want to go to talk to him, to thank him and to learn more." "I thought Albert was sick." Last time Scully spoke of Albert, he was losing his battle with cancer. "The tribe performed a healing ritual, what you said they did to you when you were hurt a few years ago." "He got that better. Gee, maybe we should relocate to Gallup." "Yes, because I'm not up for any more doctors right now." "Any?" "I'm reconsidering everything right now." She takes her glasses off, closing her eyes and pinching the bridge of her nose. She puts the book on the floor, her glasses on my coffee table. "He's beautiful." "Excuse me." "Our son, he's beautiful." Scully looks like she's been hit. "You saw..." "I've been having dreams about a boy. I couldn't figure it out. When you told me that the treatments failed, I sort of buried the idea. I've spent too much time on..." ".. on things you can't have." "On things I want that are just out of my reach. This isn't the time and it isn't my place..." "What isn't your place?" "I thought you gave up too early. That there were other options open to you," I wave my hand to try to dispel the topic. "But I thought at some point we could talk about it down the road." "But you saw him? Him?" "I had these dreams about a little boy. Started around the time this all started. I still had them while I was where ever I was. I kept going back to them. I finally figured out why." I only figured it out when I saw her this morning when she was just out of the shower... how much she looked like the little boy, our little boy. "Our son?" "He'd have to be. He was alone at the beach and I saw other parents with their children and I was just focused on this child. He wasn't scared of me, didn't call me mister or anything." "But you saw your own children with..." "No, this boy, he's yours. Ours, whatever. He's fair like you. He's smart, working things out on his own. He's beautiful." Like you. I should say that to her. "Like you." Scully smiles for a minute and closes her eyes. "What were your other sons like?" she asks, opening her eyes again. It's official -- she's stuck on that life. "They were pictures -- images. He was real. Whatever Spender was feeding into my head was nothing compared to whatever connection I have to you. The boy is the reason I stayed sane in that life I was never meant to live, the same way you're the reason I'm alive today." She smiles again and asks what I want for dinner. x-x-x Saturday, 11:10pm x-x-x I pull out one of my last clean shirts and only after my shower do I realize what I'm wearing to bed. "We have to do laundry tomorrow," I call to Scully, still banging around in the living room. "We?" I can almost hear that eyebrow going up. "Yes we, you're the one who's taking me to the doctor, watching me nap, cooking me dinner. How about giving a brother some support when it comes to laundry?" "Mulder...." she replies as she enters the bedroom. Looking at my tee-shirt -- 'Bone's Cockfights - Williamsburg, Brooklyn 11211' -- "OK, we have to do laundry tomorrow." I smile instead of "see I told you so"ing her. "Where did you get that?" "Head shop on St. Mark's Place in January." I see the wheels clicking in her mind. "It was funny at the time. Especially since I wore it at the hotel gym when I knew Ritter would be there." She just shook her head and tried not to smile. "I'll be outside if you need anything." "Outside?" "I moved your coffee table, I'm going to inflate the mattress..." "Don't." "What?" "I don't want you sleeping there." "Mulder, I don't want to leave you alone until you're a little.. "No, I'll sleep on the air mattress." "Absolutely not. Mulder, you need..." "I don't need you sleeping on the floor." "I have the mattress." "No." "You're not sleeping on the couch." "Last night worked out fine. You slept well, right?" "But..." "I'll be good, I promise. Perfect gentleman." The eyebrow starts to creep up a little, "What fun would that be?" She looks at the bed, then me, "Same sides?" "If it works for you." Scully goes to the living room and brings back her overnight kit, "Good, I couldn't figure out how to inflate Skinner's mattress anyway." "I don't think its his mattress you inflate, Scully," I joke as I turn down the bed, "I've seen what's inside that bald head." Scully walked past me as beet red as I've ever made her, "You said you'd be good." "It's Skinner whose not being good." "Mulder, I'm about to get into bed with you and you're talking about Skinner. Is there something I should know?" One point for the beet red doctor. "I'll be good now." Scully comes out of the bathroom wearing a nice dark blue pajama set and none of that face cream she wore in San Diego. I'm about where I was last night and wouldn't mind if she assumed last night's position. OK, assume the position is probably something I shouldn't be thinking as Scully comes near the bed. "Door locked?" "Like they don't get in here anyway." I mumble as she goes back into the living room with her dop kit. I hear the door chain rattle, watch the lights go out just before Scully returns. "Door's locked." Scully looks for a second at the bed and then just climbs to the spot she had last night. "Good." "Night, Mulder." "Sweet dreams, Scully." I'm asleep within minutes. x-x-x Sunday, 4:10am x-x-x The dream was fine until Scully announced she was leaving to work on an Indian reservation. I wake to find her staring out the window. "If you're worried about the van, Mr. Mitchell on six decided to deliver newspapers in his retirement. He's driven about every kid in the surrounding two counties out of business." "What did Mr. Mitchell do before he retired?" I pull myself up to sit, leaning back on the headboard. I put the pillow behind my back. The light from the street lamps and whatever moon there is paints her in a beautiful blue. Or maybe she paints the light beautiful. "Former military. Marine." "My father never did anything after he retired except make my mother nuts." "Excuse me?" "She ran a household for thirty plus years without him and suddenly he's telling her how to clean the fruit and a more efficient way to store her pots." She shakes her head. "Can't imagine why that just popped into my head." "Why is that a problem?" "It's not. Why aren't you sleeping?" "Asks the woman who is staring out the window analyzing her parents' marriage." "I don't know if I'm on Africa time, New Mexico time, Washington time. I sleep until I wake up and when I'm up, I'm up. Why are you up?" "Odd dream. Why aren't you sleeping?" She closes her eyes, obviously tortured by something. "Tell me about our son," she whispers, trying so hard not to cry. "He's about four or five. You don't dress him funny." "Excuse me?" "He had cool clothes -- the stuff you see in Gap for Kids or whatever they call that store." "You were concerned I'd dress our son funny." "Well, your clothes when I met you..." She tosses a tee shirt from the laundry hamper at my head. She's not trying to not cry anymore. "So I don't dress him funny." "Nope." I toss the dirty shirt back into the hamper, "Two points. He's in shorts, sneakers, dark shirt." "His father's son." I'm amazed at her use of "our" and "father." Maybe I am more than the donor. "He's got one of those little boy bowl hair cuts. Looks cute." "What color hair?" "Closer to mine than yours. He's fair like you. Your nose, very important there." "You said you were on a beach." "Yeah." I thought about the beach. "It wasn't the Vineyard, wasn't Quonochautaug." "West Coast maybe?" "No. Definitely the Atlantic. You were on the other side of the Atlantic. I'd have stayed near you." That stops her for a second. "Where was I? Was I even there?" "Probably doing mom things in the house." "Mom things?" "When we were kids, my mother was always happy to leave Quonochautaug. Samantha and I would go through a couple of tee shirts, bathing suits, shorts, socks, lots of socks, every day. We were on vacation, she was doing laundry." "I'll remember that." "Jersey Shore maybe, Long Island." She nods her head and looks out the window for a minute. "Was he happy?" "Not with me." She starts to say something but I continue, "whenever I was lost, I'd find him in my mind and watch him play. He made me happy. When I bought into the whole life away from you, he'd was angry. If I never met you, he'd never be." "He may never be." "I refuse to believe that." "But the doctor said ..." "Scully, the doctor said I was dying ten days ago and now I'm not. You were told you had incurable cancer and now you don't." "There isn't a chip for..." "You don't know what that chip does. And there are other treatments we can look into." "We?" "Yes, we." How does she go from "our son" to being surprised by "we"? "Dammit, you seem stuck on this imaginary family I had with Diana. I'm not marrying Diana. I'm not sleeping with her. I'm not going to be the father of her children. I never thought I'd be the father of anybody's children until you asked me and I haven't wanted anything else since you asked." "I'm sorry." "Why are you sorry, because the first round of treatments didn't work? How friendly are you with your new hospital buddy Joe Flagler?" "He asks me an occasional medical question sometimes. Said science wasn't his strong suit in college, he studied accounting. Last year I helped prepare him for some testimony in a case where the victim was poisoned over the years by her husband. He offered to do my taxes in return." She smiles at the memory. "You know him?" "We went through the Academy together. I see him at the pool a lot, we're fairly friendly." And if you want to know why he wouldn't let you blow off the ambulance, he thinks I'm just crazy enough to kill him if anything happened to you on his watch. "Anyway", I try to get the image of me drowning Joe in the pool out of my head, "he and his wife were trying to have a baby for six years. She's had three or four surgeries, fertility treatments, hormone therapy, IVF, ART, AI, a dozen other letters groupings. She had him in three different kinds of underwear, didn't let him swim for six months at one point. You name it, they did it." "So." "Lila Anne Flagler was born last March. He calls her his two- hundred thousand dollar baby. Honestly, I've seen more pictures of his kid than I have any other live, non-missing child under the age of two. Ever. Digital cameras are a pain in the ass. Had to completely beg off watching the birth video." "You'd do that for me?" "Watch the birth video, no Scully, that's where I draw the line." I'd get out of the bed and shake her but I'm still not that steady on my feet. That and she'd probably kick my ass. Instead, I sigh loudly for affect. "You know, Skinner was here the other day and he told me about your little performance at Hoover the other day. Dana Scully Queen of the Jungle. You did that for me." "Of course." "Do you think I'm such a selfish prick that I wouldn't do this for you? That I wouldn't do this for us?" "I was never sure you wanted to be that involved." "You keep referring to him as our son, his father's son, our child." "I hoped." "I told you months ago that I'm in this as much as you want me to be." She turns to me, the first time I'm not sharing her gaze with Mr. Mitchell's van. "How much is much?" "That night you came home and I was sleeping on your couch," she nods her head, "if you told me that you were pregnant, I would have suggested we get married." I've officially shocked Scully. She's seen alien craft, digesting mushrooms, dog people, several hundred year old photographers and hurricane swamp monsters in the last few months, but I've officially blown her away. "You would have proposed?" "I don't think I would have gone down on my knee or anything, but I would have tried to appeal to ..." "To?" "It would have been the next logical step." "I thought people normally got married first, then decided to have a child." "There's a flaw in that proposition." "Flaw?" "You're assuming we're normal people." She gives me that "I'm barely tolerating you" look before gazing out the window again. "So it would have been the next logical step. What, you would have had a slide show or something?" "Or something. I would have explained that there are financial benefits to being married, you get everything in case anything happens to me, I would want to make sure the child is cared for as well." "So this would have been a financial transaction." "It would have been anything you wanted it to be." "What do you want it to be?" "You're driving the bus here, Scully." "What do you want it to be?" I fidget in the bed, finally sitting up completely, leaning against the headboard. "What I want isn't the issue." "It is now. You told me that life you saw with Diana wasn't the life you were supposed to have. That was a life with a wife, kids, a house." "That life was settling. It was existing in a life where I could make sure you were safe. The life I want -- you're the," I was about to say "wife" but stop short. "You're there, the boys are ours, the house is ours. We live somewhere nice I'm sure, but I'm no paper pusher and you're not walking out of the house in a sweater set and a skirt carrying a mug of coffee and watching me grab the mail." She looks a bit confused by that reference but continues anyway, "OK, so you're not a paper pusher and I'm not in the sweater set. What are we doing?" "I don't know. God I hope we're not doing what we were doing the last few months." "Excuse me." "Tip toeing around each other, trying to find the one or two things we agree on and going from there." "I was upset." "I was aware of that, talking about it would have helped." "This from the man who kept secrets from me." This is the argument I've been waiting for this since I told her about the vial. "There were reasons." "Name one." "You were dying. I saw what an effort every day was for you, watched you get thinner and thinner." "I got better." "And Emily died. And you almost died on that bridge in Pennsylvania." "So there was always something. Poor Dana had to be protected from the truth." "No. Not poor Dana and not protected. 'Hey Scully, good thing you're dying of cancer, it isn't like you were going to have much to live for anyway.' 'Gee Scully, sorry about Emily, you know, she may be your last shot at motherhood.'" That made her gasp. "You were so pissed off at me after El Rico that I figured we'd either implode or work our way out of it. I wasn't protecting poor Dana from the truth. I wanted to find the right time to tell you, and the elevator to my office probably wasn't it, but..." "But you thought I had the right to know." "I thought at that point it wouldn't change things." "And now?" "You're still angry, you should be. I still think I did the best I could." She looks at the floor. "You usually do your best." Her attention turns to me, "You never answered. What is the life you were suppose to have? Not the house in the 'burbs, not tip toeing around with me, what?" She really doesn't miss a thing. "I want...I want," I scrub my face with my hands and sigh, "I want what we're doing right now. I want to talk to you, Scully, really talk to you. I don't want to worry about tripping some hidden wire that screws us up. I want to spend time with you." "We're together constantly." "No, we're working constantly." "I never thought you saw a difference." "I have always been aware of the difference between Agent Scully and Dana Scully." She has a slightly startled look on her face. "I don't under..." "The problem has always been I never saw a difference between Agent Mulder and Fox Mulder." "Oh." She looks at me for a minute, she tries to say something twice but finally reprises, "Oh." "For the longest time work was enough. Being with you at work was enough." "And now it's not." "No. I don't think it ever was really, but I had low expectations." "Why did they change?" "Small things kept piling up. Christmas with you last year was the end." "After we thought we killed each other?" "No, well yes, but not that part. More spending the time with you." "You could have called that night. I would have dropped by." "That's not how we work." She smiles, "No it's not." "I want things to change." "So there is a difference between Fox Mulder and Agent Mulder." "You're the difference." That earns me an eyebrow lift. That, however, is followed by a yawn. "I never thought I'd get to say this to you but come back to bed, Scully." That earns me a world class Scully smile. "If you remember anything more about him." "Our son." "Him?" "Him. Smart, stubborn, beautiful -- just like his mother." She walks back the bed and into my arms, "His father's son." We doze off, holding on to each other for dear life. x-x-x Sunday, 9:35am x-x-x Her elbow in my ribs was the first clue that she was waking up. There was this awful moment when it was obvious she didn't remember where she was but then this rather nice moment when she did remember and relaxed in my arms. Scully waking up in my arms -- I like that. Oh man, I've got this bad. From yesterday's talks, I'm thinking she does too. "Can you see the time?" she half mumbles into my shirt. "Almost twenty to ten." "It's Sunday, right." "Yep." "You feeling OK?" She's leaving. "I'm good." "You think you can be here alone for a few hours or should I call Byers?" "I'm a big boy. I think I can take care of myself until lunch or so." When she pulls away from me, I get my first good look at her today. She has that small smile that makes her dip her head when she's happy. I put my hand under her chin and tilt her head up so I can see her. "Thank you for last night." "For what?" "For talking to me." "I talk to you all day, Mulder. There are days I think I'm the only one who talks to you." I move my hand from her chin to her temple. "This part of you talks to me all day. Science, opinion, fact -- that part of you talks to me every day." I kiss her other temple, mirroring where my hand is. She takes her hand and wraps it around mine. "But this part," I move our hands down to her chest, "hides a lot." She starts to speak but I turn my hand so we're holding hands over her heart. A slight squeeze silences her as she moves her other hand over mine. "Your trust, your friendship, it's a gift." "I've gotten to this point in my life where", she looks down and at our hands and then straight at me, "you're the only person who can hurt me. It scares me sometimes." I interrupted, "I'm sorry." "Don't be. I have regrets, but none of them come close to what I've gained." "Ridicule, bad career path, infected bug bites from Africa." "Respect of the only person whose opinion matters, an interesting and challenging career path that took me from Washington State to Africa and everywhere in between. More than that, took me from the lab and the theoretical to the field and what's real. Don't sell yourself short, Mulder. You gave me real." "You've lost so much." "Gained more." "An invalid partner with a ton of dirty laundry." "Take a shower, I'll gather up your laundry." "You take a shower, I'll gather up my laundry." "And?" "You could drop it off on your way to church and we'll get lunch or brunch after Mass." "How'd you know I was going to Mass?" "It's Sunday and you wanted Byers to baby-sit for a few hours. Dropping off laundry, checking your apartment, going to Mass. A few hours." "Profiling me?" "Drawing logical conclusions based on the facts available." "Logical? You?" "You're a bad influence." I give her a kiss on the forehead and start to get up. Scully starts to the bathroom but turns back to face me. "Mulder?" "Yeah." I'm stripping the bed. If she's not coming back tonight, I don' t think I can deal with the pillow case smelling like her. "Is this really happening? Is this going where I think we're going?" "I hope so. I'm thinking of upgrading my bedding for you. Where do you buy your sheets?" "Sorry I didn't get to see the waterbed." "No one is sorrier than I." x-x-x Sunday, 9:45pm x-x-x I answer the phone, "Yes Dr. Scully, I'm watching the game and soon I'll be on my way to bed." "Your team is winning." "And I'm going to listen to Vince Scully on the radio as I go to sleep. Is he a relative?" "My father thought he was distantly related." "Oh, another attractive part of the Scully family tree." "The laundromat deliver your clothes?" "How much did you have to pay them to get this done before seven?" "I'll submit my expense report when you return to work." "I wanted to talk to you about that." "Oh no. Skinner doesn't want me in before noon tomorrow and doesn't want to see you at all this week. I'll be happy to play the voicemail for you." "I can't sit here for another week." "Yes you can." "You know what you can do for me?" "Practice making knots in cherry stems with my tongue?" "You can do that? Why didn't you tell me you can do that?" "What can I do for you?" "Besides the cherry stem thing, e-mail me a file tomorrow." "Absolutely not." "Just one. Please." "No." "I can get Frohike to send me one." "I've already spoken to the guys. You'll get no help from them." "Why do my friends wind up being more loyal to you?" "They owe me after Vegas." "True. Very true." I look at the ballgame for a second then turn my attention back to the phone. "Hey Scully, what are you wearing?" "Obviously, you are feeling better." "If I told you I had a headache, would you come over here and make sure I'm OK?" She suddenly becomes serious, "Do you have a headache? Are you..." "Lonely, yes, I'm lonely." "Well," her voice becomes a whisper, "as soon as you feel better, we'll work on lonely." I am not going to sleep anytime soon with that voice in my head. "Good night, Scully." "I'll talk to you in the morning, Mulder." x-x-x Tuesday, 11:00am x-x-x I am shocked to find her at the door. She said she might drop in after work, not before. "Scully, what are you doing here? Actually, I was just getting dressed to come see you but I couldn't find a tie to go with my victory cap." The Yankees are on their way to another win and since they're not beating her Padres this year, I can kid a little. She tries to take my cap off. "Mulder, no work. You have to go back to bed." She pulls at the tie but I pull back. "Oh, wait. Tie goes to the runner." That was so lame I'm getting a sympathy smile. "Scully, I was coming down to work to tell you that Albert Hosteen is dead. He died last night in New Mexico. He'd been in a coma for two weeks. There was no way he could have been in your apartment." "He was there. We prayed together. Mulder, I don't believe that. I... I don't believe it. It's impossible." She's shaking her head and trying not to get emotional. "Is it any more impossible than what you saw in Africa or what you saw in me?" Scully is near tears. "I don't know what to believe anymore. Mulder, I was so determined to find a cure to save you that I could deny what it was that I saw. And now I don't even know, I don't know, I don't know what the truth is. I don't know who to listen to. I don't know who to trust." I try to say something useful but she cuts me off, "Diana Fowley was found murdered this morning. I never trusted her, but she helped save your life just as much as I did. She gave me that book. It was her key that led me to you. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I know she was your friend." Scully puts her arms around me, offering comfort and probably looking for a little from me, "Scully, I was like you once. I didn't know who to trust. Then I chose another path, another life, another fate, where I found my sister. The end of my world was unrecognizable and upside down. There was one thing that remained the same." I move my hands to her face and look at her, "You were my friend and you told me the truth. Even when the world was falling apart, you were my constant... my touchstone." "And you are mine." x-x-x Author's notes. Last spring I got "focused" on the "Biogen" trilogy. Watched it over and over again. There was a lot of really good stuff there sprinkled between "The Last Temptation of Mulder". This was supposed to be about 15K where Mulder explains to Scully that the little beach boy is their son. Like a fungus, it sort of grew. Skinner showed up, Dr. Harriman wouldn't go away and Langly, who knew. Many, many thanks to Shari. There isn't a person in the world who is more patient with my inability to remember how to punctuate dialogue and difference between its and it's. Buy her jewelry -- it is fabulous: Beady-Eyed Designs For the Screamers, my friends who make me laugh, teach me things and send me pictures of guys offering "huge big ass beers". Those are true friends. Now on to the dozen or so half-finished things I still want to do. Feedback is like the Yankees in the World Series, all good.