By Christine Leigh

Summary: Will turns five. Tenth 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.
Rating: G
Category: Vignette, AU
Spoilers: None.

May 20, 2006

"Then we laughed at each other, hard. The fact that we were standing there soaking wet and talking just like you and I are now, but ignoring the falling rain made us both silly. One thing I remember quite well, though, is how pretty your mom looked, Will."

"Did you tell her?" Will could see his dad smiling behind his eyes as he asked this question. And something else. Grownups were confusing sometimes.

"No, I didn't. We didn't know each other very well yet. It wouldn't have been appropriate. That is to say -- right. It wouldn't have been the right thing to do."

"How do you know when it's right, Daddy?"

Now Mulder smiled wide. Will was definitely precocious. He wondered what that talk would be like when it came along. Hopefully not for a few more years. Time to deflect.

"You just do, Will. Now, what about this afternoon? Is my birthday boy excited about his party?"

"YES." Will had been up very early this morning. He'd beat Daddy and Mommy by two hours and Kaylie by one. He had started his day his way with cartoons and Cheerios and the family room all to himself.

"Are you happy to be five, Will?" The years had gone so fast. Some days Mulder felt much older than he'd ever thought he would be, but when he looked at the expression on Will's face, he felt young at heart in the truest sense. His small yet wise son was the driving force behind that.

An up-and-down nod signaled that the answer was yes. "I get to go to school for real."

"That you do. Do you think kindergarten is ready for you?"

"YES." And with that he ran to the yard one more time to look at the decorations that his parents had put up after breakfast. Mommy was picking up the cake at this very moment.

"Will, buddy, maybe you should cut back on the caffeine." Mulder laughed and followed, two things he would do many times throughout the rest of this day..

"Where's Mommy and Kaylie? I want to see my cake."

"They'll be back soon."

"It's chocolate and has colors on the frosting."

"That's what I hear. You're a good cake picker, Will. I'm sure it'll be delicious."

"Grandma made my cake last year. It had chocolate frosting."

"It sure did. Grandma's a good cake baker."

"I miss Grandma."

"That was fun having her here last year for your big day, wasn't it?"

"I wish she could come now."

"Will, I'll bet Grandma is wishing the very same thing." Mulder had an inspiration. Scully really was due back momentarily, and the timing just might work. "What do you say that we practice with the candles? Blowing them out, that is."

"Okay." Will's face brightened at the suggestion. Mulder went inside hoping that the half-used box of birthday candles that had been floating around a kitchen drawer for the past year was still there. Ah, success. He returned to the yard with his haul which also included a lighter they kept on hand.

"Here we are. We need something to stick them in, though." He looked around. More inspiration. He eyed a container that Scully had planted with rosemary two days ago. He brought it over to the table that would later be surrounded by partygoers, and carefully inserted five candles into the soil.

"Are you ready, Will?"


"All right." Mulder lighted each candle. "Now, you know the routine. Close your eyes." He heard a car pull in to the driveway. Perfect.

Will's eyes were scrunched tight, and Mulder could feel the energy coming off his son. Then there was a big exhale. Will opened his eyes. All five candles were out.

"That was terrific. Will, I think you're ready. It looked like you were doing some serious wishing.''

The up-and-down nod again. "Mommy's home."

"I thought I heard the car. Shall we go inside and check out your cake?"

"I'm not supposed to tell you my wish, am I?"

"No, but maybe if you just whisper it to me, it'll be okay." Mulder knelt down, and felt a little hand on his ear. He listened carefully, and then smiled at the hopeful little face next to his. "Will, are my eyes playing tricks on me? Who's that I see through the window?"

"GRANDMA." He was off and running.

Mulder was feeling quite proud of how it all came off, but mostly he was happy for the most special five-year-old on the planet.

"Happy Birthday, Will."

~ End ~

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This story is (c) Copyright 2006 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.