Title: Duty
Author: Menagerie
Written: September 2001
Archiving: Anywhere except "worst of" lists, I guess. Just tell me so I can visit!
Feedback: It feeds the lonely writer. Please!! Please?! menageri@linkline.com
Spoilers: Existence
Classification: V
Keywords: M, S, Sk, Will
Disclaimer: I don't own Mulder, Scully, or Skinner, They belong to many many lawyers at Fox, 1013 etc. I'm not making a profit, just having fun.
Rating: PG

Summary: There but for the grace of God...

Author's Notes at end

"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can
do for you - ask what you can do for your country. My fellow
citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you,
but what together we can do for the freedom of man."

John F. Kennedy
(1917 - 1963), Inaugural address, 1961


She glances up at me for a moment before her eyes are drawn back to the screen. I know she does not mean to dismiss me, she just can't take her eyes off the scene in front of her.

The carnage.

The horror.

It is a realization that refuses to sink in, needing to be fed time and time again with images of burning, crumbling, exploding ruins. Of tear and dirt-streaked faces. Bloody limbs. Glazed eyes. Desperation in every stuttered word. Feeding, feeding the need to understand. To comprehend.

It isn't working. The newscasters keep saying five thousand. Missing. Maybe more. Two hundred firefighters have vanished and half as many police officers. Our brothers in civil service. Gone.

I watch her watching, wondering if she has any idea how tightly she is clutching our sleeping son to her breast. His face is serene and innocent in repose and it make my stomach ache. It could have been him. It could have been her. There but for the grace of God or Allah or whoever you want to pick, goes the only thing in this world that matters to me. My family.

I sit down on the couch next to her. She doesn't blink. Her mouth is slightly open, a soft "O" of disbelief as the cameras show the thundering cloud of debris rushing through the streets of Manhattan. The New York skyline is the least of what will never be the same.

"Scully?" I try again, a little louder this time. She looks at me fully then, turning her body away from the television. She waits for me to continue. "Scully, I talked to Skinner. The FBI is sending a group to New York to help. The military has the Pentagon covered." I pause, not wanting to say the next part, but knowing it's what she wants to hear. "Skinner's willing to add you to the group, if you want to go."

She looks down at Will, her brow furrowed and I know what is zipping through her mind. She has never been away from him. He needs her for more than just cuddles and kisses. She is torn even as she opens her mouth to say no. I jump in.

"Skinner has also arranged to give me temporary credentials to go along. I could stay in the hotel with Will while you work. I could bring him to you."

"I don't want him anywhere near that scene," she says quickly. "It's too dangerous."

"He wouldn't be near the scene. Neither would you. They need forensic pathologists to help identify the remains. The help determine how each person died."

"To collect evidence," she says and I am surprised to see tears in her eyes. "They'll especially need to know about the people on the planes. If they were alive when the plane hit. If anyone, especially the flight crew, was killed beforehand."

I nod, watching as she turns it over in her mind.

"I have a breast pump," she says slowly. "You probably wouldn't have to go anywhere near the labs." She gives me a sharp look, her blue eyes drilling through me until I feel their silvery glint in my heart. "How are you going to handle sitting in a hotel room with a baby all day, day after day, Mulder? You don't sit still very well."

I grimace at her truth and shrug. I've already thought about it.

"I'm going to be helping profile the terrorists that did this." I hold up my hand as she opens her mouth to protest. "Not really profiling, Scully. There isn't any need for that. I'm sure they already have a very good idea who did this. But they need to pinpoint details, finesse their understanding of who and what they're dealing with. I can do that from a hotel room and fax whatever I come up with to the rest of the team."

She's watching me like a hawk now and I hold my breath. The truth is, I really don't want to do this. I want to stay safe at home with Scully and Will. Her maternity leave isn't quite up yet, and I am in no hurry to see it end. We've talked about the future, but it seems to be coming a little early. Imagine that.

"Why did you call Skinner?"

"Because I know you're itching to go and help," I say, honestly. "And I knew you couldn't do that unless Will came with you." I reach over and stroke his downy head and I can't help the smile that curves my lips. He has that affect on me, my son does. My son. I still haven't really absorbed that reality yet, either.

"It's going to be really tough," she says, although I think it is mostly to herself. Her eyes go back to the screen, to the firefighter who is talking to the reporter, tears streaming down his face.

"Yes," I say simply, as the firefighter, overcome with emotion, holds up a hand and turns away from the camera to shuffle down the street.

We look at each other at the same time. I kiss her lips and our son's forehead before I rise to go and call Skinner.


As the tragedy sweeping America continues to play out in the images and voices around me, I find that there is so little I can do to help. Some money here, some blood there, and it doesn't seem to be enough. I can not imagine how this feeling is magnified for the people around the world who have the skills to help the families and the victims, and yet are unable to do so. It only follows that our own heroes, Mulder and Scully, would certainly feel that way. I sincerely hope I have not offended anyone with this fictionalized account of this tragedy. No harm or insult is meant.


Read More Like This Write One Like This
Baby William
AU After Existence
Keeping William
Season Eight Missing Scenes Challenge Pack
William's Alternative Outcome Challenge
Season Nine Missing Scenes Challenge Pack

Return to The Nursery Files home