Title: Hush Child
Author: phantagrae
Rating: G
Category: Vignette
Spoilers: Anything having to do with William, maybe The Truth
Keywords: William, MSR
Summary: "Hush, child. Let your mommy sleep into the night until we rise."
Feedback: Yes, please. phantagrae@earthlink.net

Archive: Yes, just let me know where.
Disclaimer: Not mine, no money made, yada, yada, yada...
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Sting for the inspiration, and to Lil Sis for a mother's POV beta.

Author's notes at the end.

Mulder's eyes slid open and he stared into the moonlit darkness, listening.

He heard it again, a soft cry, snuffling, fussy grunts. He turned his head to look at the baby monitor on the nightstand. He had it on his side of the bed tonight, hoping that Scully wouldn't be disturbed.

She had been so tired lately, and William was still settling in with them. It hurt him that the baby didn't quite know him. He hadn't had time to bond properly with him and now he was trying to take opportunities where he could find them.

He scrubbed a hand across his face and carefully got up from the bed, turning off the monitor. He wanted to get in there before William started crying in earnest.

"Hey, buddy," he whispered as he approached the crib.

William sat against the far side of the crib and regarded his father with sharp blue eyes, his tiny lips curled into a pout Mulder recognized from some of his own baby pictures. Tears were pooled in his eyes and he seemed to be gearing up for a full-blown wail.

Mulder bent forward a little and held his arms out to him, but William didn't move.

"Ma-ma," he said softly, keeping his distance.

Mulder straightened for a moment. Which mama? he wondered. He beckoned to him with a wiggle of his fingers. "It's okay, son. Daddy's here."

William frowned a little and turned to grasp the crib railing. He pulled himself to his feet, wobbling a bit on his chubby legs. He seemed to ignore Mulder for a moment, concentrating on trying to walk along the side of the crib.

Mulder watched him until William plopped down onto his bottom, one little hand going to his mouth. Mulder heard him take in a breath and was afraid he would start to cry aloud, so he bent and lifted him from the crib. He settled him up against his shoulder, patting his back and swaying back and forth in the millenia-old dance of parents.

"Hush, now, son. Don't wake your mama. Mommy's tired and needs to sleep."

William started to relax, but then planted his hands on Mulder's shoulder and pushed himself upright and turned to look at him.

His eyes are too wise for his age, Mulder thought. Was that a good thing or a bad thing? Maybe it was just his imagination. They had all been through so much.

William reached out one chubby hand and grabbed at Mulder's stubbly cheek. "Mmgaahh!"

"Shh, shh." Mulder turned his face a bit as the baby's little fingers pinched at his lips. He took the opportunity to kiss William's palm.

William slapped his hand softly against Mulder's nose and mouth. "Mmgaahh!" His babyish voice sounded very loud in the quiet bedroom.

"Hush, now," Mulder whispered, taking the little hand in his. "It's time to sleep, son."

The boy quieted a bit and stared at Mulder again in that slightly unnerving way. "Mmgaahh," he said more quietly.

"Mmgaahh to you, too," Mulder whispered with a smile. "What are you trying to tell me?"

William dropped his head onto Mulder's shoulder for a moment, then pushed himself up again, fighting his need to go back to sleep.

Mulder took him to the rocker and rubbed and patted his back, trying to get him to settle down on his shoulder again. He did settle a bit, though his body remained tense in Mulder's arms.

Mulder's heart broke a little as he wondered how William must feel. He wasn't exactly the infant he had been when Mulder had left so many months ago. He had been through so much in his tiny life. Mulder hoped that the future would be easier for him, but he knew he could promise only so much.

William's eyes were still wide open, seeming to demand explanations--explanations the child could not possibly understand.

"If only you knew, son," Mulder whispered, his own eyes beginning to sting with tears. He didn't want to cry, so he stopped talking and looked away for a moment.

William reached up and touched Mulder's jaw, his throat, his mouth, finally grabbing a handful of Mulder's t-shirt. "Da..."

Mulder's heart constricted with love and sorrow and hope all at once. He pressed William tightly to his chest and smothered the sudden sob that escaped him into the soft cotton of the baby's sleeper.

"Oh, my God, I love you. I love you, son. I love you." He ached with love for this tiny person and with fear for his future and with sorrow in knowing that one day they would be parted, that one of them would die, either of old age or accident or mishap, and that no matter when it happened, it would be too soon. He wept silently, his face buried in William's soft little neck.

At last Mulder took a deep breath and wiped his eyes, patting William's back and petting his fine soft hair.

William's eyes were drooping slightly now, blinking slowly, tears all but gone.

Mulder ran a fingertip across the perfect bow of William's lips, traced the curve of his chin, stroked his rounded cheek. "You go to sleep now. Daddy's here. Daddy will stay with you. You can go to sleep."

When William's eyes finally closed, Mulder rose carefully from the rocker and swayed his way over to the crib, gently lowering him onto the mattress.

A little kick, a little grunt, and William took one long shuddering breath before finally giving in to sleep.

Mulder stood there, waiting to make sure he was really asleep. He knew now, more than he thought he had known, that nothing else mattered but the future of this child, that their lives were bound up together, that he would somehow find the strength he would need.


Author's notes: Though I suppose some would technically call this a songfic, I never thought of it that way. But it was indeed inspired by a Sting song--a lovely little thing that appears only as a bonus song on a CD single of "You Still Touch Me" from the Mercury Falling album. From the moment I first heard this song I thought of Mulder and William in the middle of the night.

My premise assumes that M&S left that Roswell motel room and headed out to Wyoming. ;0)

The lyrics follow:

"Lullaby To An Anxious Child"

Hush, child.
Let your mommy sleep into the night until we rise.
Hush, child.
Let me soothe the shining tears that gather in your eyes.
Hush, child.
I won't leave, I'll stay with you to cross this Bridge of Sighs.
Hush, child.
I can help the look of accusation in your eyes...
In your eyes.

The world is broken and now
All in sorrow.
Wise men hang their heads.

Hush, child.
Let your mommy sleep into the night until we rise.
Hush, child.
All the strength I'll need to find, I'll find inside your eyes...
In your eyes.