By Christine Leigh
Summary: Season eight. Post-Within/Without. Scully brings her mother up to speed on recent events in her life.
Category: Vignette, Angst
Maggie Scully turned out the lamp beside her bed. The book she was reading was holding her interest only at the so-so level, and she'd decided that she would rather dream herself to sleep. She had been doing that for about five minutes when the phone rang. It was a quarter past ten on Saturday night, not a time she usually received calls, and she said a fast prayer before picking up.
"Dana. Hi. Is everything all right?" There was no point in not getting right to the point. Too many calls over too few years conveying less than desirable news had caused Maggie to become queen of the wary.
"Mom, I'm sorry if I woke you. Were you asleep?"
"No. I put my book down just a few minutes ago. What's going on sweetheart?" Dana had left her a message a couple of weeks back, but every time Maggie had tried to return the call there had been no answer.
"Mom, there are some things I need to tell you. I don't mean to sound mysterious, and I know this must seem very out-of-the-blue, but are you busy tomorrow afternoon?"
Maggie's heart rate had increased at least threefold, but she tried to remain sounding calm.
"No. Why don't you come over for lunch? And you know you're always welcome to go with me to church." It had been several weeks since they'd gone together. What, dear God, she thought, could this be about? She could hear her daughter's steady breathing as the offer was being pondered.
"I think I might like to do that."
"Good. Dana, please tell me you're all right."
"I'm all right, Mom. I just need to talk to you."
Need. Maggie could probably count on her fingers the number of times she'd heard this word from Dana beyond the age of fifteen, and now she'd heard it twice in one conversation.
"Well then, do you want to come here first, and we'll go together in my car?"
"It might be better if I meet you there."
"Okay. I'll wait outside for you on the steps."
"Thank you, Mom."
"Love you, sweetheart."
"I love you too, Mom. See you tomorrow."
They hung up.
Maggie lay in the dark and waited for her heart to stop pounding. She should probably get up and get a glass of water, but she really didn't feel like moving. She looked across the room. It was a gorgeous night and she had a window open, and through it poured a beam of moonlight. She stared at it and willed her mind to think of anything else. Tara had called today. She'd held the receiver for Matthew and let him talk to his grandmother. Maggie was so proud of how well he was able to communicate for a two-year-and-a half-year-old. Tara was really missing Bill, Jr. They didn't speak of it -- there was no need to do so. Both women knew that it didn't really help the situation any to talk about it. Better to focus on looking forward to his next leave. Always, the next leave -- only now she wasn't thinking about Tara. Oh, better not to go there, Maggie thought, but she couldn't help herself once she'd started, and her heart slowed some as she allowed her mind to wander back. Back through years of many conversations with young children and lonely nights. Then she remembered another night. One that had been made for love, and that while already special, in the end turned out to be even more so.
Like tonight, it had been June. She and Bill had finally stolen some time alone together and had gone swimming in the ocean on that moonlit night. He'd been back three days, but they'd had no time to themselves until, finally, the only sitter Maggie trusted had become available on Saturday night. So, while Bill, Jr. and Melissa were safe in bed back at the house, their parents swam and then sat on the beach eating a picnic dinner, enjoying good wine, and necking like a couple of teenagers. It was a favorite spot of theirs and they had it to themselves that night. Bill would have taken things further, but Maggie had said that perhaps they'd better leave those scenes to the movies. She remembered how wonderful it felt, though, to have her man back in her arms, and the feel of the saltwater foaming all around them. When they returned home, Bill quickly paid the sitter. Cathy lived very near by, something Maggie had always taken for granted, but for which she was now quite grateful. Bill walked her home and was back in a matter of minutes. They conceived their third child that night.
Please, God, Maggie prayed, as she finally started to drift to sleep. Please let her be all right.
They met just in time to go inside the church before Mass started, so did not talk. Maggie was able to steal glances during the service, though, and could see that Dana was quite pale. She also noticed that Dana knelt with her head bowed in prayer for the duration following Communion, not sitting down until Father had. After Mass ended, and as they were standing to exit the pew, Maggie wondered about Fox. It now occurred to her that she hadn't thought to ask Dana about him last night. She knew he'd had a tough time after his mother's death, but the few occasions since then that she'd spoken to him on the phone when he'd answered at the office, he'd been as he always was, very kind and polite. Surely, though, if Fox were ill or had been injured, Dana would have told her. Too, if that were so, Dana would be with him, so it couldn't be. No, it must be something else.
"Dana, I'd like to light a candle."
Scully nodded in assent and the two of them headed to the alcove off one of the side aisles where a statue of St. Jude was located. Maggie started to reach inside her purse, but her daughter beat her to it and put a donation into the candle box. Scully could see the question in her mother's eyes, but suddenly lighting a candle seemed a comforting thing to do. The familiar was becoming necessary in ways other than the one which she could no longer touch. She placed a hand on her mother's arm and for a moment they just looked at each other, their hearts so full that neither wanted to speak. Each took a match. Maggie lighted one candle and Scully two.
Who are you lighting these for Dana? Please, God, don't let it be the cancer.
Then they knelt and prayed -- for their loves and for their lives, for a recognizable world. For impossible things.
Outside they parted and went to their individual cars. Maggie sensed that even if Dana had been with her on the drive home that it would have been a quiet ride.
"Do you want coffee or tea?"
"Actually, orange juice sounds good. Mom, you don't have to wait on me. I'll get it." Scully started to get up from the couch.
"Stay put. I have to throw some greens in a bowl anyway."
"There are some new pictures from Jeana there on the table. The house is coming along on schedule so far. Charles has a beard." Maggie tossed these tidbits out, trying to keep things light as she went to the kitchen.
Scully picked the envelope up and removed the photographs. Sure enough, the first one showed Charlie sporting his new look. With the beard he resembled Byers, she thought. She looked at it for a few seconds and then returned it and the rest of the photos to the envelope, and placed it back on the table. She needed to stay focused on the matter at hand.
For the thousandth time since yesterday, she wondered where she would start. She was tired and numb. She knew that she would cycle back into being unable to speak Mulder's name without crying, but was now grateful for the numbness, not to mention the lack of morning sickness. She'd not had that yet today. She needed to get this out; wanted to. Her mother deserved to know the situation. She kicked her shoes off and swung her legs up onto the couch, and grabbed one of the big pillows and hugged it to her. This was something she'd done many times as a child, often falling into a wonderful dream world until something, or more often someone, came to break up her reverie. She had no dreams today.
"Here we go." Maggie placed a tray with a glass of orange juice and a glass of iced tea on the coffee table. She picked up her tea and drank. Dana left her juice on the tray, Maggie noticed. Dana had endured so much in recent years and she was strong, but looking at her sitting there hugging that pillow made her seem so vulnerable, and Maggie wanted to hold her tight as she had when she was a little girl.
Scully looked at her mother and decided, finally. The beginning -- she would start there. She had an odd flashback to her freshman year in college. This was the only time in her life she'd ever watched soap operas and all around her any given afternoon, there would be fellow students relaying all the details to other students who had missed that day's episode. Perhaps, Scully thought, if I pretend that I'm doing that, I'll get through this. She was desperate to do this without falling apart. She knew her mother was waiting.
"Mom, I'm sorry that I haven't spent much time with you lately. I've . . . No. We've been so busy."
"There's no need to apologize, Dana. I know how intensive your work is."
Scully nodded. But she didn't know how else to start this.
"Mom, you see, the thing is that this time it wasn't just the work."
Well, now. Maggie tried not to react with too much surprise.
"Mom, I know you know that in addition to being partners that Mulder and I have been close friends. Best friends, really."
Maggie's heart leapt. Well, if that is what this was all about, then why was Dana so pale? Maggie was well aware that her daughter and Fox Mulder loved each other, for better or worse. And while Maggie was quite fond of Fox, there still were times when it seemed for worse. She didn't like feeling that way, but couldn't help it. It wasn't that she didn't want them together. She wanted them together and safe. And then, there was Melissa. She bore no ill will toward Fox over Melissa's death, but the same could not be said of everyone in the Scully family. In the end none of that mattered, though. Fox was the man for Dana, and her daughter had every right to the kind of happiness that she herself had once known.
"Sweetheart, I do know. I also know that Fox would give his life for you, and you yours, for his. I don't like to think about that aspect of your friendship, but at the same time, it's always been a comfort knowing it."
"We're more than friends, Mom. We love each other. That is, we're in love. We've been together since April." Scully let a breath out after saying this. She'd never said aloud to anyone besides Mulder that she loved him.
Maggie bowed her head, and smiled.
"Sweetheart, I'm happy for you. For both of you. Come here." Maggie set her tea down and opened her arms. Scully removed the pillow from her lap and entered her mother's embrace. Oh, how she'd envisioned this moment in the past. Telling her mother that she and Mulder had finally taken that next step was going to be a glorious revelation. Only now, the glory had a shadow. For just a few seconds, though, she let her mother hold her as though all were right and well. When they let go, she stayed sitting next to Maggie.
"Where is Fox today? Do you think he'd like to join us?"
Scully took a deep breath and then picked up her glass of juice and sipped. It went down well, and she put the glass back on the tray.
"Mom, there's more to tell. I started at the beginning because I couldn't think of any other way to do this."
More. That could be good or bad, Maggie supposed. She waited, as Dana took another sip of her juice. Something had shifted. It was nothing Maggie could pinpoint, but Dana seemed very far away as she continued to speak.
"A few weeks ago Mulder and I went to Oregon on a case. It was actually a follow-up to the very first case we were on together seven years ago. Back then there had been a series of prior disappearances of several high school students that couldn't be explained in any conventional way, and we were called in when another one had just occurred. It was never said officially, but I do believe now as Mulder did then, that those boys and girls were abducted. Arguably by what would be called aliens." Scully paused. There was no other way -- she just had to say it. "We received a call a few weeks back from Billy Miles, a young man who had been taken and returned seven years ago. He was calling to say that it was happening again, so Mulder and I went to investigate. It felt so strange to be there again. Aside from the faces being older, nothing much had changed. And of course, there we were, so far from where I would have ever thought we'd one day be."
Maggie reached for her daughter's hand and squeezed it. Unpredictability was about the only consistency there was in this life. Dana continued with her story.
"There had also been a crash of an unidentified craft in the woods there, where the abductions had occurred. The sheriff would not acknowledge this, but there were witnesses. And then Billy, who is his son, disappeared. Presumably, he was taken again. And there were others. There was nothing more to be done at this point, or so we thought, and we returned home."
"That wasn't the end of it, though. Two days later information was given to us that indicated that there actually was something -- the craft that had crashed it was believed, in those woods, and that it was rebuilding itself. I know how this must sound, Mom."
Maggie shook her head. "Go on."
"Mulder wanted to go back to Oregon immediately, but insisted that I stay here. He pointed out that former abductees -- Billy, and Teresa, another woman who had been taken before, were among those being taken now, and that I'm a former abductee. I couldn't refute that, and know I'd feel the same if our positions had been reversed. I didn't want him to go, but there was no way to stop him." She took a breath. "At least then." Scully had lost count of how many times she had played the sequence of events back in her head. If only she'd known what she learned a day later, before he'd left.
"I'm very grateful to Assistant Director Skinner. I asked him to go with Mulder, and he agreed to do that. After they left, I started to read through the medical records of the abductees and discovered that there was a connection between them and Mulder. Mom, last fall Mulder was ill. I won't go into the details now, but he experienced a form of anomalous brain activity called electro-encephalitic trauma. The records I was reading through indicated that Billy, Teresa, and the other abductees had all experienced the same thing."
Maggie felt a foreboding, but tried to shake it off. It couldn't be. Fox was home, surely.
"Also, I experienced dizzy spells while we were in Oregon, and had thought I had a touch of flu or something. I was somewhat better when we returned, but still didn't feel 100 percent so called my doctor for an appointment. However, when I was reading the information in the records that connected Mulder to the abductees, I fainted."
Maggie took her daughter's hand again. She didn't let go.
"Luckily, I wasn't alone, and the episode didn't last long. However, when I contacted my doctor she did want to run some tests immediately, and I entered the hospital for a couple of days."
Now Maggie was turning pale.
"Mom, there is no bad news about my health. Just the opposite, actually." Scully knew she needed to clarify this as soon as possible, and having done so, felt that she could stop for a moment. Breathing normally had become a lofty goal, it seemed, in recent days. This was a surreal situation. She turned to face her mother.
"Yes, Mom. It's true. I'm going to have a baby." Then, very softly she said what she had not yet said to anyone.
"I'm going to have Mulder's baby." The numbness had gone, but in the split second before the dam broke, Scully smiled at her mother.
"Oh, my darling. I'm so happy for you." Maggie was confounded, but thrilled to tears. She tried to hold them back, but they came. She put her arms around her daughter and they held onto each other so tight in this precious moment that neither had thought she would ever experience. There were so many questions running through Maggie's mind, but none that she could ask. Dana was pregnant and that was cause for joy. And what was this? Not joy. No, not at all. Dana was sobbing, harder than Maggie had ever seen her cry. And shaking. Then Maggie remembered the foreboding she'd felt a few minutes ago, and the realization hit her. Fox was not at home or anywhere else that he could answer a phone call inviting him to dinner.
It was several minutes later when Scully's sobs subsided enough for her to move, and when she did she shifted so as to lay her head in her mother's lap. Maggie proceeded to stroke her daughter's hair, while listening to her breathing become more steady. Dana would survive this time, of that she had no doubt. The cruelty of the situation, however, was something very difficult for Maggie to fathom. For her, survival always came down to faith, and Maggie could only hope and pray that this would be true of Dana, also. She knew Dana's faith had been renewed during her bout with cancer. Would it be enough, though, this time to see her through?
"Mom, there is something else."
"I thought there might be."
"Mulder is . . ." Scully couldn't say the words.
"I'm sorry that I'll have to wait to congratulate him, sweetheart. He'll make a wonderful father."
"I have to find him, Mom."
"I have faith that you will. You have to take care of yourself, though."
She knew that if there were no pregnancy that Dana would be in Oregon this minute, and she understood that. But there was, and Maggie was going to make it her mission to see that Fox returned home to a healthy Dana. Strength would be needed all around. Then she recalled something from long ago.
"Dana, do you remember what you said to Fox when he came to see you the morning after you awoke from your coma?"
"That I had the strength of his beliefs?"
"Yes. I hadn't known him very long at that point, obviously, but I could feel the goodness in him when you said that, and then when he handed you back your cross. I knew at that moment that whatever was to come after, that this man would stop at nothing to protect you, and I could understand your pulling strength from him."
"I always have, Mom. Always." Involuntarily, Scully's hand went to her throat. Maggie noticed that her necklace was missing.
"And you will continue to do so. As will he, from you. I believe that."
"I love him so, Mom. I need him."
"I know, sweetheart. I know."
~ End ~
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This story is (c) Copyright 2004 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.