Hearts and Stars
By Christine Leigh
Summary: Valentine-makers at work. Eighth in a series of vignettes centering around Mulder and Will that may also be read as a stand-alone. The series starts approximately two years after the end of the show.
Category: Vignette, AU
"Will, why don't you try red?"
Purple and orange hearts abounded on the pages that had been produced so far. They were very good hearts, too, Mulder observed with pride -- recognizable as the real thing. Now, if he could just persuade the artist to try a more seasonal color.
"Why? Mommy likes my pictures."
"I know she does, but maybe she'd like to see a red heart. Remember how I picked out the red roses?"
"Daddy, you picked pink."
"That's right. I picked red and pink. Red for Mommy and pink for Kaylene."
After Mulder had placed the order for the red roses for Scully he had spied the most delicate little pink tea roses behind the counter, and his nearly two-month-old daughter would be receiving her own little bouquet on this, her first Valentine's Day.
"Won't Kaylie like orange, Daddy?"
"I don't know, Will. I'm sure she'll consider it, when she's a little older. But we don't want to confuse her. She might think it's Halloween if we show her the orange now."
Will thought about it. His dad was always coming up with something like that. Mommy said Daddy was the smartest man. She also said he was the silliest . . . and something else. That other word. Hamsome? He was that, too, Mommy said. All Will knew was that his dad was his best buddy, and that was what mattered to him.
"Okay, what? Red?"
Mulder grinned at the little head nodding up and down, as Will started on a new drawing.
"That's my boy."
After a few minutes had passed, Will stopped and looked at his handiwork. He had drawn a big heart in red. Then he thought about the flowers his dad had ordered, and looked inside his box of crayons and took out a pink crayon that had never been used. Inside his red heart, he started to draw a pink heart. There was room for three more hearts, if he was careful. That would be five hearts. That would be just right.
Mulder watched his son processing all this, and as always, was awed by what he observed. Life had brought him many things in recent years that he'd never expected to experience, and the love he felt for the boy fast at work at the kitchen table could at times put him on an emotional overload in a blink. He was close to that now.
Will finished the last heart. He had drawn a pink one inside the first red one, and then repeated the pattern and then finished with a tiny red one in the very center.
"Will, that's beautiful. You have five hearts there, I see."
"Five is right."
"Daddy, Mommy, Grandma, Will, Kaylie."
"Valentines are fun. I'm going to make more."
"Will, do you mind if I join you?" Mulder sat down.
"Can you make a heart, Daddy?"
"I don't know if I can match yours, Will, but I'd like to try." Mulder picked up the orange crayon.
"Daddy, not that one. Halloween, 'member?"
"Will, this is a very special valentine. I think this one will be okay for that."
"Mine is special."
"I know, and it will be loved, I'm sure of that. This one needs to be this color, though. It's what is called an exception."
"Ex-cep-tion. It means that it's all right to break the rule, this time."
"Can I break the rule?"
"Will, this is a different kind of rule. This isn't like going to bed on time or trying to eat your green beans. Rules should be followed, most of the time. You've been very good at that."
"Green beans are okay."
"Yes, I agree. We'll both keep on trying there. Deal?"
"Deal." Will's focus returned to the matter at hand. "Daddy, you aren't drawing."
"That's because someone has been bending my ear."
Will stared at his dad, or to be more precise, at his dad's ears.
Mulder seized the moment. "All right. Now, I'm going to draw."
Quiet descended on the scene in the kitchen as Mulder worked on his valentine and Will reverted to his standby, filling another sheet of paper with stars. Several minutes passed before Mulder laid down his crayon.
"Did you draw a heart, Daddy?"
"Yes. Would you like to see it?"
Mulder felt shy almost, as he slid his drawing over to Will. This was one of those moments where he really didn't have any idea how his son would react. It was a funny, odd, and, yet happy, feeling.
"Daddy, you made two hearts." Will laughed and then looked at Mulder, "Daddy, your hearts have faces."
"That they do. Do you know who they are supposed to be?"
The page contained a large heart and a smaller one, side by side. The large one had a big nose, and the little one had big eyes. They both had big smiles.
Will didn't answer. He just kept looking at the hearts.
"Will, who has the biggest pair of eyes, after Mommy, in this house?"
Will knew the answer to that one.
"And who has the biggest nose?"
"It's us, Daddy. You made us into hearts."
"'Cause we like to laugh."
"I think we have good times, Will. I never laughed as much before as I laugh with you."
"We have fun."
"The best fun. This is my valentine to my boy who brings me laughter and love, and whom I love dearly."
Will got up and Mulder met the hug that was coming with full force, and thrilled to the little arms that went around his neck.
"Thank you, Daddy."
They held their embrace a few more seconds and then Will scrambled down.
"Daddy, when will Mommy and Kaylie be back?
"In about an hour or so. The roses should be here soon, too."
"Daddy, can I put stars with my hearts?"
Mulder smiled at the question and was surprised that it hadn't been asked sooner. Will loved his stars.
"Will, I think that if you draw the stars around the hearts, that it would be a very special valentine."
"Okay. I'll make them red and pink."
Soon, the hearts were encircled. Will held the valentine up for his dad to see.
"That's wonderful, Will. Mommy and Kaylene will love it. And you can tell Grandma about it when we call her."
"Can I make the call?"
"Yes. I think Grandma likes it best when you do. In the meantime, we need to clean things up here." Mulder smiled again at Will's valentine.
"I like your ears."
~ End ~
Archiving: If you would like to archive anywhere, I'd appreciate a quick note first. E-mail: email@example.com
Feedback: Always happy to receive it.
This story is (c) Copyright 2005 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.