Title: Bedtime Stories
Author: Polly - firstname.lastname@example.org
Feedback: Welcome and appreciated
Classification: MSR, post-episode
Spoilers: Post "Vienen" (Season 8), and little references to lots of episodes
Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, Skinner, the Lone Gunmen, and Doggett, belong to CC, 1013, DD, GA, et al. No money is being made - who would pay me for my writing? No one I know.
Archive: If you want it, it's yours; just let me know.
Notes: Written for the Haven March Challenge to "Tell Us a Story"; elements at the end. Couldn't find a beta, so all errors are mine; I apologize in advance.
Thanks: Thanks to all those who inspire me to keep trying, and to Steph for her patience as I put aside our joint fic project to work on this first. (I wasn't too mean to Doggett in her honor.)
Summary: Mulder tells Scully a bedtime story.
* * *  * * * * * * * * *
The humming was the last straw.
The day started badly and went downhill from there. She had initially been summoned to an early-morning meeting in Deputy Director Kersh's office, along with Mulder, Doggett, and
Skinner, but that order had been rescinded by a phone call at 5 a.m. Instead, she was to report to Quantico to conduct three autopsies, the first scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. *sharp*. Punishment doled out by Kersh for her insubordination on the Galplex Petroleum case.
That phone call was followed by one from Skinner 15 minutes later. He was being sent to a marathon budget meeting at the Justice Department, more of Kersh's wrath. When Kersh told him Scully was being sent to Quantico for the day, he had tried to intervene on her behalf, he told her, citing her "delicate condition"; but Kersh countered that if she was healthy enough to conduct unauthorized autopsies, she was healthy enough to conduct authorized ones.
She had spoken to Mulder briefly when he and Doggett touched down in Galveston, learning they were both all right but not much else about what transpired in the Gulf of Mexico. They couldn't get a flight back to D.C. until late last nigh, so that was the last time she talked to him. As she showered and dressed quickly in order to make it to Quantico on time, she wondered if Mulder and Doggett were still due in Kersh's office or if each had been sent on his own punishment detail.
By the time she returned to the Hoover in the late afternoon, she wanted nothing more than to find Mulder to dole out her own brand of punishment. First, she'd give him a piece of her mind for scaring her half to death, and then she'd show him just how glad she was to have him home safe and sound. Both would be sheer torture, each effective in their own way. When he finished begging her for mercy, she wanted to hear every last detail of what happened out on that oilrig.
She had headed toward the basement office, intent on propping up her swollen ankles while typing her preliminary autopsy findings as quickly as possible. Instead, she was met by a frantic Skinner who quickly filled her in on the details of Mulder's dismissal from the Bureau. He explained that after Kersh happily lowered the boom, Mulder returned to the X-Files office, spoke briefly with Agent Doggett, turned in his badge, gun, and cell phone to Skinner's assistant, and left the building.
Skinner said Doggett had tried to call Scully at Quantico, but her cell phone was turned off and he was informed she had left explicit instructions not to be disturbed.
She had left no such instructions, of course, and she swore at Kersh under her breath as she listened to Skinner detail the steps he had taken to locate Mulder, all to no avail, after returning from the Justice Department. Skinner was just leaving to conduct a personal search when he had been called to an emergency meeting with the Director and the Attorney General. Now the search would be left up to her alone.
'Don't worry,' she had told Skinner. 'I'll find him. I'll keep you posted.' She was sure Mulder was fine, just laying low, taking some time to feel sorry for himself and heal his wounded pride before picking himself up, dusting himself off, and starting all over again. She was sure he wouldn't do anything rash or foolish. Would he?
Her first stop had been Casey's Bar. Mulder wasn't ordinarily a drinking man, but she knew he had frequented Casey's a time or two when the future of the X-Files was in jeopardy. As desperate as she was to find him quickly, she was relieved that no one at the bar had seen Mulder all day.
Next stop, the Gunmen's office in Takoma Park where she had hoped they weren't answering the phone at Mulder's insistence. But she was dismayed to find them arriving in their parking lot the same time she did, just returning from an all day conspiratorial reconnaissance mission. She waited while they checked voicemail and email, but no messages from Mulder. As she climbed in the car, Frohike held the door and told her, 'We'll find him. Don't worry.'
But she *was* worried, more so as the hours passed with no word on Mulder's whereabouts. In between calls to his answering machine and hers, she continued to search.
The secluded park near the Tidal Basin where they had picnicked and made love only a few weeks before he was taken.
*Their* bench beside the Reflecting Pool.
The baseball diamond where he'd taught her about the importance of doing unnecessary things and how to slap a piece of horsehide with a fine piece of ash.
All devoid of Mulder.
Just like his apartment, where the only signs of life were his fish gurgling happily in their aquarium and the frantic blinking of his answering machine. Nothing to indicate he had been home since leaving for work that morning. Nothing to indicate where he might be.
So she had headed for home, a dull headache building behind her eyes, ready to give up the search and wait for him to come to her, as she knew he eventually would. Wouldn't he?
Her resignation quickly turned to relief as she searched for a parking space and noticed a familiar car parked outside her building. Her feet barely touched the ground as she flew toward her apartment door, making a mental note to modify the torturous agenda she had planned earlier in the day. First she would comfort him, cry with him, support him, and love him. *Then* she'd kill him for breaking his "no ditching" promise twice in three days.
All day she had feared what his reaction to this setback would be, but nothing prepared her for the sight she beheld when she opened the apartment door.
A basket of folded laundry sat on the floor beside the television set. The kitchen table was set for two, placemats and linen napkins, a vase of fresh flowers in the table's center, candles standing in her grandmother's candlesticks, waiting to be lit.
She took some cautious steps forward and closed the door behind her, fearful she was in some alternate universe. She peered into the kitchen and saw her partner standing in front of the stove, tea towel tossed over his shoulder, face flushed as steam rose from the pot he was stirring. Spaghetti sauce was bubbling on the back burner, its aroma filling the apartment.
He had looked up as soon as he sensed her presence and immediately asked where she'd been. He was getting worried, he said, having called Quantico and being told she had left hours ago.
"Where have *I* been?" she'd asked incredulously. "Mulder, where the hell have you been?"
He proceeded to tell her how he'd spent his day, all the while sipping iced tea and tending to the dinner he was preparing, stirring the spaghetti, adding dressing to the salad, and placing the garlic bread in the oven.
After his meeting with Kersh he had come back to her apartment, took a nap because he hadn't gotten much sleep for the past few days, then gone to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients so he could surprise her with dinner. In the afternoon he had done three loads of laundry, and while waiting for the last load to finish in the dryer, he had organized her storage area in the basement.
"I figured after the baby comes we're going to have to move some of your things down there, to make room for the crib and the cradle and stuff. I just thought as long as I was down there I'd get it organized. You really shouldn't just toss stuff in there, Scully. You'd have a lot more room if you just stacked it neatly."
Her mouth had been hanging open during his entire explanation. He had cleaned, and cooked, and done laundry - concepts as alien to him as any extraterrestrials; he must be *really* shook. She was finally able to form words, asking why he hadn't answered the phone when she and Skinner had called.
He slapped his forehead like a V-8 commercial. He'd turned the ringer off, he said, so he could take a quality snooze, and he'd forgotten to turn it back on. He apologized for worrying her unnecessarily, checked the garlic bread, and suggested she go change, as dinner was almost ready.
"I don't want to eat, Mulder, I want to talk about what happened today," she said, just as her stomach betrayed her with a loud growl.
"Ah, your lips say 'no-no' but your tummy says 'yes-yes'," he replied with a twinkle in his eye. "Go change, Scully. Food first, conversation later."
She took a few steps and then turned back. "Mulder, are you *sure* you're all right?" she asked.
"I'm *fine*, Scully," he said, taking hold of her shoulders and planting a light kiss on her lips. Then he spun her around and gave her a little shove toward the bedroom.
This was all a dream, she decided, as she slipped out of her tailored maternity suit and into her sweats. She'd probably somehow been exposed to another giant hallucination-inducing mushroom and this whole day had never happened. Since Skinner and the Gunmen had been part of the dream, before returning to the kitchen she called them to report that Mulder had been found and seemed no worse for wear. She'd have a good laugh about this - once she woke up.
He had been chatty and cheerful during dinner, excited about starting the Lamaze classes with her next week and anxious to go shopping for baby furniture. He had deftly changed the subject each time she mentioned Kersh, the Bureau, or the oilrig.
He whistled as he cleared the table, suggesting she go get ready for bed while he loaded the dishwasher. If this isn't a dream, he's having a nervous breakdown, she thought, heading for the bedroom.
So now she sat in bed, propped up by the pillows behind her back, twiddling her thumbs, waiting while he brushed his teeth in the bathroom.
Brushing his teeth and humming. Three Dog Night. 'Joy to the World."
It was the last straw.
By the time he snapped off the bathroom light and paused by the nightstand to remove his wristwatch, she was loaded for bear. But her resolve to get to the bottom of his uncharacteristic behavior was nearly undone by the sight of him. Other than 'au naturel,' this was surely her favorite vision of Mulder: hair spiky and damp from his quick shower, plaid pajama bottoms, gray tee shirt, barefoot, unshaven.
Nope, she would not - could not - be distracted. She had to be strong. For his sake as well as hers. Finally, she spoke. "Mulder, what the hell is wrong with you?"
"What?" he rubbed his wrist and met her stare. "What do you mean?"
"Mulder, you were *fired* today. Canned, axed, sacked, shown the door, handed your walking papers."
"Sounds like crap when you say it." He sat down on the edge of the bed, keeping his back to her, and fiddled with the watch he had placed on the night table.
"It's not funny, Mulder," she said, punching his pillow and scrunching it in her lap. "When I found out what happened and I couldn't find you today, I was terrified. I had a thousand different scenarios running through my head, and they all ended badly."
"Geez, Scully, is that what you think of me?" He turned his upper body to face her. "It sounds like you expected to find me with my head in the oven. Sorry if I disappointed you."
"Well, *I'm* sorry if this hurts your feelings, but I was more prepared to find you with your head in the oven than putting a loaf of garlic bread in one." She reached out her hand to him, but he turned back to face the wall. "Mulder, I think this whole foray into domestic tranquility is your way of not dealing with your real feelings."
"No, it's not," Mulder said, sliding into bed beside her. "Just because you didn't come home to find me in a babbling heap on the floor doesn't mean I'm not dealing with my real feelings, Scully. I'm dealing with my feelings just fine."
"Mulder, you're taking this lying down, and I know you. Those are *not* you real feelings." She reached for his hand and this time he didn't pull away. "I'm not saying I expected you to fall to pieces, but I'll tell you what I did expect. I expected anguish and distress, followed quickly by outrage and righteous indignation. I expected ranting and raving and throwing things and vowing to make the bastards pay, no matter what. Because you were right, Mulder. You've been right about this thing all along. And this is how they repay you for being right and it sucks."
He laughed out loud and a huge grin plastered across his face. "Did I hear that correctly? You said I was right all along?"
"Mulder, I know that you're putting up this brave front for my sake, and I appreciate it, I really do, but you don't have to." She pulled his hand between both of hers and held it tight. "Things are different now. We're not alone in this anymore. Skinner and Doggett, they've both seen what we've seen. We can fight this, Mulder. We can get your job back."
"I don't want my job back, Scully."
She looked at him as if he'd grown another head. "What?"
"I don't want my job back. I've been thinking about this for the last few weeks, since you were in the hospital." He glanced down, gathering his thoughts, then looked her straight in the eye. "I didn't tell you because I wasn't sure before, but now I am. Kersh did me a favor today, though I'd never let him know that. Saved me from typing up my resignation. I just thought I'd let him have his jollies, didn't want to rain on his parade. My last act of goodwill as a federal employee."
Scully frowned. "But I don't understand. Why? Why now? After everything we've ... why?"
"Because of something that happened to me out on that oilrig. It made things crystal clear."
"Okay, that settles it," Scully pushed herself up straighter in the bed. "I want to hear exactly what happened on your little pleasure cruise and I want to hear it *right* now."
"Not tonight, Scully," Mulder said. "You've been on your feet all day. You're beat. We'll have plenty of time to talk about it later."
"No way, Mulder. We're going to talk about it now. I'm not that tired. And besides, I couldn't sleep now even if I wanted to." She rubbed her hands across her belly and winced slightly. "The baby has decided to play kickball from one side of my uterus to the other."
"Not kickball. Basketball," Mulder said, spreading his fingers over her stomach. "He knows that the Knicks are playing the Lakers later tonight and Daddy's gonna get up and watch. I'd invite you and Junior to join me, but you need your rest, Scully. You're sleeping for two, now."
She flashed a mocking smile. "I think it's more likely that 'Junior' is reacting to the three pieces of garlic bread I had for dinner, thank you very much, Martha Stewart."
"Hey, I don't remember holding a gun to your head," Mulder began drawing small circles on her tummy with his fingertip. "Besides, I don't have one any more."
"Seriously, Mulder, let's hear it."
He stopped the stomach massage and slid down in the bed, opening his arms to invite her in. She complied willingly, spooning up against him with a small sigh as he pulled the covers over them. "Not sleepy, huh? Well, then I think I should tell you a little bedtime story."
"Mulder, I don't want to hear a bedtime story. I want to hear what happened out there."
He squeezed her tighter and whispered in her ear. "Well, if you sit back, relax, and listen carefully, Scully, you might get lucky and get two for the price of one."
She raised an eyebrow just slightly and settled back against his chest, the steady beat of his heart thumping softly in her ear. Hard to believe only a few short months ago she thought she'd never hear that heartbeat again.
"Okay, Father Goose. I'm all ears."
He chuckled a bit and began the story.
"Once upon a time there was a brave and gallant knight, Sir Mulder of Hooverland. He was known as Mulder the Fox because he was not only sly and cunning, but astoundingly handsome and charming as well."
"Shh ... no interrupting. Yes, he was incredibly modest. The modest-est in the land. The good people of Hooverland knew him as the Tireless Crusader, Champion of Lost Causes, Friend to the Friendless, Seeker of the Truth."
"Are you sure his name wasn't Sir Mulder of Hubris-land?"
"If you keep interrupting, you won't hear the story," he said in a singsong voice.
"Okay, okay," she apologized. "Proceed."
"Let's see ... where was I ... oh yeah. It was a dark and dismal time in Hooverland. The kingdom was under the rule of the evil dictator Alvin the Awful, a despicable man who governed with an iron fist and who made it his personal mission to thwart Sir Mulder and his theories and beliefs at every turn. Now, because of his incredible intellect and highly developed intuitive senses, Sir Mulder suspected that danger was lurking nearby ..."
He ignored the snort from the woman filling his arms.
"... and he prepared to depart straightaway to investigate and gather more evidence in his search for the truth."
"But King Alvin took great pleasure in denying Sir Mulder this opportunity. Ordinarily, Sir Mulder would have taken this decision in stride because the investigation would have been in the good hands of his beautiful partner, the one he loved the most in all the world and the one who completed him and made him a whole person."
He paused for a moment to kiss Scully's hair.
"Her name was Lady Starbuck St. Scully. She was as ravishing as she was brilliant, sagacious yet enigmatic, and she had a dazzling smile that she saved only for her beloved Sir Mulder. The day that she joined Sir Mulder's quest was the best day of his life; and even though he sometimes led her into danger, or worse yet, made the mistake of leaving her behind without a word, she remained steadfastly by his side. And sometimes when he'd been beaten and battered, or when he came crawling back from one of the adventures he undertook without her, or when he just wanted to quit, it was her faith and her smile that kept him going. And he should have told her that more often."
She sniffled. "Mulder ..."
"But this time, Lady Starbuck could not pick up the gauntlet for the love of her life as she was heavy with child, the product of their perfect union, preparing to bear the fruit of his loins ..."
Scully brushed away a tear and laughed. "I thought bedtime stories were supposed to be 'G' rated."
"Whoever told you that?" Mulder purred, pulling her tighter. "I'll try to keep this one PG-13, but if you keep wiggling over certain *areas* like that, I'm not making any promises."
"I can't help it," she replied, placing a hand on her stomach. "This bedtime story is having no effect on settling down the 'fruit of your loins'."
Mulder placed his hand over hers. "Hey, kid, chill. The story's just getting interesting."
Scully and Mulder smiled in unison as the flutter under their fingers stopped abruptly. Scully entwined her hand with his and he brought it to his lips, grazing her knuckles with a feather light kiss. "I think that's your cue to continue, Sir Mulder."
Mulder picked up the story with renewed vigor. "King Alvin was obligated to dispatch someone to quell the tempest that had been stirred by Sir Mulder, and he wanted it done as quickly and quietly as possible. So he decided to send Sir Mulder's apprentice, Squire Doggett, to do the deed. Now Squire Doggett was a trustworthy and capable knight in training, but he was close-minded and suffered from a disturbing lack of imagination. He was known throughout Hooverland for his stubbornness and taciturn ways - and for his oddly gigantic ears."
"Mulder ..." Scully interrupted again. "Stop picking on Agent Doggett's ears. It's not very nice ... and besides, that's significant how?"
"I was just trying to be thorough," he quipped, "and besides, it's important later in the story."
"Well, he wouldn't make fun of your nose," she said.
"You know what they say about the size of a man's nose, Scully. And his feet." He rubbed one foot along her bare leg as if to illustrate the point. "I don't believe I've ever heard that same comparison made about the size of a man's ears ..."
"Right." He shook his head sadly. "Pity. Anyway, armed with his assignment, Squire Doggett set out from the land of Hoover not knowing that Sir Mulder was already en route to their destination. And at that point, little did anyone dream that it would be the beginning of the end."
"Time out. Intermission. Hold that thought," Scully said, tossing the covers back and scooting her cumbersome form out of bed.
"Bathroom," she explained. "The 'fruit of your loins' has stopped playing basketball but is now sitting on my bladder. I'll be right back."
When she returned, he was flat on his back, arms outstretched, and she was afraid he had fallen asleep. But as soon as the bed dipped from her weight he opened his eyes and smiled, propped himself on one elbow, and waited for her to spoon up against him again, then tucked the covers around them.
"Very," she said. "I feel much better. You were saying ... 'the beginning of the end' ..."
Mulder stroked the back of her hands as he talked. "After their journey, Sir Mulder and Squire Doggett found themselves face to face with their nemesis: A great white whale known as Galplex Orpheus. Sir Mulder suspected that the great whale had been infected with a virus, placing all of mankind at risk if the whale were to come ashore. But Squire Doggett refused to believe, preferring to spend his time initiating pissing contests with Sir Mulder to prove he was in charge rather than uncovering the truth."
Scully smiled, picturing these two alpha males posturing and preening, each trying to establish dominance. But Mulder's voice quickly brought her back to the story.
"Thanks to the tireless efforts of Lady Starbuck, working behind the scenes at great personal risk to herself and her reputation, Sir Mulder's theories about the great white whale were proved correct. So Lady Starbuck set out to find a way to slay the whale without sacrificing Sir Mulder and Squire Doggett in the process."
Scully's smile turned to a frown, remembering Mulder's comment to 'tell the kid he went down swinging.' How close had she really come to losing him again? She didn't want to think about it.
"Meanwhile," Mulder continued, "Squire Doggett finally opened his mind to extreme possibilities when he was nearly infected by the black oil."
"What?" She leaned forward and turned her head to look at him over her shoulder. "Why didn't you mention that before?"
"Relax, he's all right," Mulder said, pulling her back against him. "Thanks to the quick thinking and fast action of Sir Mulder, that is. Now, it was about this same time that Sir Mulder figured out exactly what was going on aboard the Galplex Orpheus, and realized that the great white whale was about to be destroyed - taking himself and Squire Doggett along with it."
"But thanks to Lady Starbuck, a rescue effort was underway and Sir Mulder and Squire Doggett were saved," Scully interjected.
"Who's telling this story?" Mulder asked, planting a kiss on her temple. "True, a rescue effort was afoot, but Sir Mulder couldn't be sure that help would arrive in time. And as the great white whale started to disintegrate under his feet, he had but a single thought."
"Which was?" Scully asked when he paused.
He held her tighter and buried his head in her shoulder. "He thought he would never get to see his child and his child's mother again."
"Oh, Mulder ..." She turned her head slightly and raised her hand to cup his cheek.
His voice was now soft and intimate. "You see, as the flames and explosions surrounded him, Sir Mulder realized that for the first time in his life he wasn't thinking about losing the evidence that he had worked so hard to find. He wasn't thinking about government conspiracies or the annihilation of the human race. He was thinking that he'd never get the chance to look into his child's eyes. That he'd never get the chance to kiss Lady Starbuck one more time and tell her how much he loved her."
He bent forward to place his lips on hers, lightly but sweetly, and he lingered there a long time before breaking the contact.
"And at that moment, Sir Mulder made a promise to himself that if he escaped the inferno, he would lay down his sword and shield, strip off his suit of armor, and devote the rest of his life to his family."
Scully smiled and blinked back tears, taking his hand in hers. "Is that the end?"
"Not quite," Mulder said, pulling her back to rest against his chest again. "So Sir Mulder and Squire Doggett slew the white whale, in a manner of speaking, and they did escape unscathed, even though Sir Mulder was still hoping to get that peg leg that he'd longed for since childhood. And as they made their way home, Sir Mulder conceded that Squire Doggett had proven himself to be a worthy if somewhat skeptical successor to the quest for the truth. But Sir Mulder remembered an important lesson that Lady Starbuck had taught him: sometimes even *skeptical* people are worth the effort."
Scully smiled a satisfied smile and nodded.
"Not to mention the fact that Sir Mulder was astounded by Squire Doggett's resourcefulness, as he fashioned his humongous ears into giant sails to catch a tailwind and help them return to Hooverland that much sooner."
"Hey, I *told* you the ears were important," he laughed. "So the vanquished heroes returned to the Land of Hoover where Sir Mulder had his armor stripped for him and had his sword and shield, not to mention his cell phone, taken away. But he left with his head held high, shaking the hand of the heir apparent, reminding *Sir* Doggett that the truth was still out there and it was now his job to find it. Now would you like to know the moral of the story?"
"Oh, there's a moral?" Scully asked.
"Of course," Mulder replied. "Every great tale has a moral. The moral of this story is that sometimes you can spend your whole life looking for something. Your journey may take you far and wide - to the ends of the earth even. But one day you'll wake up to discover that the thing you've been looking for has been right in your own backyard the whole time."
He was whispering in her ear again. "You see, Scully, out there on that rig, I found something I thought I'd lost ..."
Her heart skipped a beat as she remembered those words he had spoken to her such a long time ago; it seemed like a lifetime. In many ways, it *was* a lifetime.
"... My way. I found my way, Scully. Remember when I first came back I told you that I didn't know where I fit in? Well, now I know. It's right here. I finally experienced firsthand what Arthur Dales tried to tell me. That at some point it's no longer important to unlock the heart of the mystery. It's important to unlock the mystery of the heart. That's what I learned out on that rig and that's why I had decided to quit if Kersh hadn't beaten me to the punch. I want to spend the rest of my life following my heart, Scully. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, if you'll have me."
She kissed his fingertips. "That's what I want too, Mulder."
"Are you sure? I'm out of work now, you know. A bum."
"But a lovable bum," she countered. "Maybe you could be a kept man."
"Oooh, I like the sound of that." He arched his eyebrows and gave her a lascivious smile.
"I mean, who knew that you had such a talent for cooking and cleaning? It might be kind of nice to get home from work and have dinner on the table every night ..." She giggled at his crestfallen expression. "And of course, I can think of lots of other 'chores' to keep you occupied, primarily in the bedroom."
He laughed lustfully. "Heh, heh, heh. In that case, I might be willing to put in lots of overtime," he said. "But I don't do windows."
"I think that's a deal I can live with," she replied, and turned slightly to look up at him. "I know it's a little soon, but have you thought at all about what you want to do?"
"I'm not sure, but I did think about it a lot today," his voice brightened and he looked hopeful as he ticked off the possibilities. "I could teach, you know? Or conduct seminars. Maybe courses in criminal justice or even in the paranormal as it relates to law enforcement. Think of all the cases nowadays that deal with spiritualism, the occult, that kind of stuff."
She nodded in agreement, pleased with his enthusiasm.
"Or I could write a book, Scully. You'll be my muse. I could write about us - our experiences on the X-Files."
"As long as you promise me it'll never be made into a movie," Scully said. "I can't go through that kind of embarrassment again."
He laughed. "You know, I could write freelance articles for magazines or journals. I've done it before. And if I did that, I could be a stay-at-home Dad and take care of Junior after you go back to work."
"Would you really want to do that?" she asked.
"I think I might like that, actually," he nodded. "I've also been giving some thought to applying for a part-time job with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Despite being fired from my last position, I think I'd have a lot to offer them - my skills as a profiler and FBI agent, and my personal experience in that particular area. I couldn't help Samantha, but maybe I could help other kids."
"Oh, Mulder, I think that would be wonderful," Scully said. "And I know Skinner would give you an excellent recommendation. And I'll support whatever decision you make 100 percent."
He placed another kiss in her hair. "I think we'll be all right financially for awhile. It's time for me to get off my duff and unload those properties that the folks left me. That'll tide us over until I can find something. I know this is right, Scully. I can feel it in my heart."
"You're sure? No regrets?" she asked.
"Don't you even want to get any of your personal things out of your office? Your awards, your plaques ..."
He shook his head. "That stuff doesn't matter to me."
"What about your poster?" she questioned. "Your 'I Want to Believe' poster? Don't you even want that?"
"I *already* believe," he replied. "I think I should leave it there to inspire future generations. Maybe it'll remind Agent Doggett to think outside the box once in awhile."
"Okay," she said. "But what about your basketball? Don't you want that?"
"No, I think I should leave that there to inspire Agent Doggett too. Maybe he'll take up a real sport."
When she looked at him quizzically, he explained. "Agent Doggett likes *NASCAR*, can you believe that? Auto racing - that's not a real sport."
"So it seems you and Agent Doggett bonded while you were out on that rig, huh?"
"Well, I wouldn't say that exactly," Mulder said thoughtfully. "Maybe I respect him a little more, maybe he respects me a little more. We didn't try to drown each other. I'd say that's progress."
She giggled again and then tried unsuccessfully to suppress a yawn.
"Aha, I see that my bedtime story has done the trick!" he exclaimed, reaching over to turn off the bedside lamp. As he lay down again, Scully managed to turn her bulk to face him, and rested her head on his shoulder.
"Better than warm milk, Mulder. Goodnight," she said, kissing the scar on his chest where she'd shot him - something else that happened a lifetime ago.
"Wait a minute," Mulder said before she drifted off. "I forgot the most important part of the bedtime story."
"What's that?" she asked sleepily, another yawn escaping.
"And they lived happily ever after."
She smiled and was silent for a time, slipping her fingers under his tee shirt and running them over the coarse hair on his chest. Finally she spoke again. "Do you really think we can, Mulder?"
"Can what?" he asked, on the brink of sleep himself.
"Live happily ever after?"
"I sure want to try, Scully," he replied. "Goodnight. I love you." He pressed his lips against her forehead and she snuggled closer.
"I love you too, Mulder," she whispered. "Goodnight."
He had just closed his eyes again when a sleepy voice beside him filtered through the darkness.
"And remember, Sir Mulder. You may not have a cell phone or a peg leg or a job for that matter, but you'll always be my knight in shining armor."
He sighed contentedly, and a smile formed on his lips. The woman he loved was in his arms, he could feel their unborn child moving between them, and he was preparing to embark on a new chapter in his life. Trying not to disturb Scully, he reached over and turned off the alarm he had set on his wristwatch. There would be other Knicks games. Tonight, he didn't want this fairytale to end.
* * *  * * * * * * * * * *
Haven March Challenge Elements:
Tell us a story - folktale, urban legend, myth, fairytale - it can be anything or everything
Something or someone getting, being, or becoming