Title: All There Is To Know
Author: poo
Written: May 2001
Feedback: poo@mninter.net
Rating: PG
Category: Vignette, Angst, Existence post-ep
Archive: Okay. If you really want to.
Spoilers: Through the end of season 8

Summary: A sleepless Mulder wonders about the truth.

The three of them were in Scully's bed. The Gunmen had left a couple hours ago. Mulder lay awake watching mother and child sleep. The curtains were closed, but the hall light was on through the bedroom doorway, and he could see them both faintly. He listened to William's quiet, regular breathing--like Scully's, only faster and softer. Every so often it was lost in her louder exhale, and he found himself leaning nearer to the tiny body bundled between them until the two distinct breaths were discernible again.

Scully had asked him for the truth, but he wasn't sure he knew.

Perhaps had never really known. It was a mystery too fathomless for words. So he had kissed her instead.

Her face fell into deeper shadow as he touched her cheek with one finger. She was soft. Warm. He had this powerful feeling he might never really understand her. That she would always be just beyond his reach. That she would never let him in.

He used to think he was good at solving mysteries. But he realized now that he had never solved the most important ones.

And he was not sure he had it in him anymore to keep searching for the answers.

What if all the mysteries were the same? Would aliens invade?

Would the Red Sox ever win the Series? Would Scully ever be able to say the words? Were any of these mysteries really different from the others? Were they each unknowable?

There were so few answers that were dependable. And there was almost no truth, no real truth to be found. Except maybe this one--this miracle--lying between them.

Even the word miracle seemed inadequate. What did you call it when you came back from the dead after being abducted and tortured by aliens and discovered that your barren partner was carrying a child of mysterious origins.

Or not so mysterious.

Would they ever really know for certain? Could they live their lives, continue their work, and protect this child?

There were a thousand things, a million ways they might lose him.

Mulder thought of the virus and vaccine in his own blood, the strange chemistry in his head, the abduction, even his death. There was Scully's chip and her cancer and her once (still?) barren womb. There was William's DNA, and the aliens that had seemed to want him, then changed their minds. And there was the threat of alien invasion, which he felt was still coming, but he was less certain than ever of the motives.

The list was longer even than that. Any one of them might die in a car crash tomorrow. Or from complications of the flu, or an accidental ingestion of some innocuous cleaning fluid. There were the chicken pox and chest colds. There was mad cow disease.

There were a million ways they might lose each other.

And maybe that was the truth. That there never would be safety or security. He searched back in his memory, reaching for a time before Samantha's abduction. But even then there'd been the fighting and arguments, the strangers in their home.

He reached over to kiss Will's cheek, then dropped his forehead against his son's ear. "I won't let them hurt you," his voice was low, tight with emotion. "I will keep you safe," he whispered--a litany, a spell against the universe of dangers.

"We will, Mulder," Scully spoke softly. She reached for his hand, squeezing it tightly, as she emphasized the first word. "We will keep him safe." Then she pulled his hand to her lips and kissed it fiercely, closing her eyes against a gloss of tears. "We have to," she whispered into his palm.

Mulder searched her desperate face. "Try not to worry, Scully," he said as calmly as he could. "I love you.

Try to get some sleep."

She gave him one of her smallest, most enigmatic smiles.

"You too, Mulder." He felt her relax back, but she didn't let go of his hand. He spread his fingers to loosen her grip, but he let her keep it and closed his eyes.

He lay there for a long time, listening to her breathing, hearing it unhitch and soften, blending with William's once more. As he finally drifted off to sleep, the last thing he remembered was his own breath becoming one with theirs.


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