Good-bye To All That
By Christine Leigh
Summary: William comes home.
It was time for dinner, but there was nothing in the house to fix. Mulder was going to have to get accustomed to grocery shopping, a fact he'd yet to face. He'd gotten lazy since having her in his life, but in a good way. And she'd not minded shopping, whereas he'd only done it to survive. He guessed he'd better get himself back into gear. He walked into the living room where Will was pouring over an album of pictures. It was one that Scully had managed to bring from home, and had hauled from place to place every time they moved. It was old, though, and didn't really have what the boy wanted to see. Which was Scully as she'd looked as an adult, as his mother. He looked up upon seeing Mulder standing there. Mulder could see it coming, the questions. It was sort of a game that they'd played ever since Will had arrived, but it wasn't fun. Not for Mulder. He kept trying to hide that from the boy. He was smart, though, and Mulder knew he probably wasn't succeeding. How could he not answer him, though? He'd want to know these things, too, if their positions were reversed.
"She was pretty?" Will asked this while looking at a picture of a teenage Scully, who in Mulder's estimation had been very pretty, but not yet what she would be. Not a good question, but he can't tell the boy that. How to tell him that her beauty was unmatched? And not just to him. He remembered how he'd seen Skinner looking at her on occasion. It had always been fleeting, but unmistakable. And even Frohike upon first setting eyes on her had instantly known the difference between her and the babes he ordinarily lusted after.
"She was pretty there, yes. Later on, however, she was stunningly beautiful, but not like the models and actresses you see on magazine covers now. More like Grace Kelly and Ingrid Bergman."
"Well, they were actresses as it so happens, but from a very long time ago. She was as though from another era, in other words."
Uh, oh. He'd better stop that talk. Mulder knows that kids seldom like hearing about pasts and people that they don't know.
"I remember her voice."
Now Mulder would have to be careful. Her voice. Memories of that are the most painful. He'd had her voice inside him for so long that he couldn't really distinguish it from his own. Words would come out in his tones, but they might as well be hers."She had a good voice. It could make you listen, you know?"
"Did you listen?"
Had Mulder really thought this would get better as the days passed? Had he?
"I always listened to her. From the very first time she spoke to me. That was a new thing for me. I wasn't used to wanting to hear anyone else. She broke me of that habit."
"She was persuasive?"
The boy has an excellent vocabulary for an eight-year-old. Mulder had observed that right away. He was grateful that life on the farm hadn't been exclusive of good schooling. Not that it would be, but it was hard sometimes to shake the stereotype. Will is articulate for his age. Scully would have been so proud of him.
"She was empathetic. Which is to say that she was persuasive naturally."
"Are you all right Will?"
He doesn't know what else to say or ask the boy. Maybe asking this will deflect the fact that he, himself, is far from all right. Will is like her. He's intense, but not hard or humorless. He's a fantastic boy.
"What about dinner? Are you hungry, Will?
"Pizza? Or maybe spaghetti? Pasta Forever was sure good the other night." Mulder hadn't eaten much besides the garlic bread and a house salad, but Will had gone through his plate of fettuccine with purpose.
"Why don't you get washed up, then, and we'll go in a few minutes." Will got up, leaving the album opened. Mulder didn't want to look at it, but really couldn't help himself. He stared at the bright-eyed sixteen-year-old. He'd often thought that it would have been amazing to know her back then. If he had, though, it most likely would have meant that they wouldn't have been together for life. It was strange, how it is rarely the first love that lasts.
This is as good as it gets for the two of them, for now. One day, Mulder hopes, it will be better. But it will never be enough. Without Scully, they will never be what they should be. Father and son after too many years apart, and now reunited, will always be wanting because the woman who brought them to this place in life is gone. Mulder knows that he should be demonstrating his joy or something at having his son back, but just now, all he can do is answer his questions in the most perfunctory manner. One day he will tell Will that she loved him so much that she nearly lost her sanity; that she regretted her decision; but that she knew he would someday come back to them. She knew so much. But Mulder would never stop wondering if she knew it would all happen too late for her. He knows that she would never have said a word to him if she had, so he wanted to believe that her innate ability to see things had faded toward the end. He had to. It was a crutch, but it was necessary. Life needed to go on, apparently. She was pretty. So very pretty.
"She's pretty. So pretty." He was nearly shouting now.
Scully sat up. This was the second time this week. She laid a hand on his shoulder. He awoke.
"Mulder." He was gasping."Mulder, it's me. You're all right. We're all right."
He looked at her. This new nightmare was a killer. This was the second time he'd had it. It was far too real.
"Scully." He sat up and pulled her into his arms.
"Was it the same one?"
"Yeah." He tightened his embrace. "I don't understand why this is happening now, Scully." He'd had nightmares galore about losing her, but none in recent years. Then three nights ago this had happened.
"Mulder, don't you think that perhaps you're just on an emotional overload? I know I am. It's been wonderful, but the stress factor is still there. We're new at this. And for the first time, there's no immediate threat of things changing. We're all stuck with one another."
That made him smile. Damn right they were stuck. And they were going to stay that way. Getting Will back was a near- miracle, and he wasn't going to take anything for granted about it. The four-year-old who was sleeping soundly in the other bedroom was where he belonged and life was going to be good. Mulder was determined. Before was gone; good-bye to all that.
"Scully, something happened tonight when I tucked him in." She waited in the dark, squeezing his hand. He sounded almost shy about whatever this 'something' was.
"I sat there for a minute while he dropped off to sleep, just watching." Mulder did this every night. They would read a page or two, and after that Will was usually about out. "I got up and started to leave, but then Will opened his eyes and said something." She guessed what it was, and started to tear up.
"What was it Mulder?"
"He said 'Thank you Daddy.'" Mulder's voice was thick.
"Mulder, were you thrilled?"
"Beyond belief, Scully. I'm glad it happened in the dark. I don't know that he needed to see me cry on top of everything else that's happened over the past few weeks.
"He's a strong little boy, Mulder. That's one thing I've noticed so far. He's had to deal with a lot in such a short space of time, and he seems to be handling it. Now, if his parents just don't dissolve into piles of emotional goo along the way, then I think we'll make it. No, I know we will."
"Scully, thank you."
"Mulder, just keep dreaming about a pretty woman, and lose the rest, okay?" She said this in an effort to lighten things a little.
"Scully, have I ever told you how beautiful you were at sixteen?"
"Well, you were. Not quite the you of now, but you were amazing."
"Gee, Mulder, I could have stood hearing that then. Where were you when I..." She stopped before finishing the expression.
"Nothing, Mulder." Now was when she needed him the most. And he was here, thank God.
"Scully, he's really back with us." How many nights had they fallen asleep with those words on one or the other's lips?
"Yes, and he gets up early." Mulder took the hint.
~ End ~
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This story is (c) Copyright 2003 by Christine Leigh. "The X-Files" and its characters are the property of the Fox Network and Ten-Thirteen Productions and are borrowed here without profit or intent for profit.