Title: Five Wishes
Author: firstofoctober
Rating: PG-13
Category: F/M
Relationship: Fox Mulder/Dana Scully
Characters: Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Walter Skinner, William Van de Kamp
Keywords :Fluff and Angst, Post-Episode s10e06 My Struggle II, The X-Files Revival, Reunion

Summary: Set after My Struggle II.
“Besides, Scully. I knew you’d save me. You always do.”

"No. I didn’t.”

 

Notes:
A huge thank you to Sarah (@jamofappreciation) for volunteering to beta read this thing. She's been more helpful than I ever imagined as both a sounding board and for letting me know when I start dropping articles left and right.

I don’t typically write fic, but this wouldn’t leave me alone. It’s incredibly self-indulgent, but that’s what happens when I have to fix all of the mistakes of the show. And finally: I went to law school, not medical school. That’s my excuse for googling “stem cell therapy.” What’s yours, Scully?

AO3/Tumblr/Twitter: @firstofoctober


3:19 p.m.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital
Washington, D.C.

Fox Mulder wished someone would just take pity on him and put a bullet in his head already.

Surely being dead wouldn’t hurt as much as this? Actually, he knew it didn’t hurt as much as this. Every part of him ached and he felt chilled to the bone.

Against his better judgment, he slowly prepared to open his eyes and figure out where the fuck he was now . The last thing he remembered was somehow driving himself to South Carolina to meet with the reanimated corpse of CGB Spender. Had it all been a trap? Was he still there?

He squinted against the bright lights. The white tiled ceiling above him and the antiseptic smell reminded him of every hospital room he had the pleasure of visiting in his fifty-four years. Mulder became aware of a pair of unfamiliar voices in the room just beyond his bed.

Sure seems like a waste to do the transplant tomorrow. After only a few days of chemo?”

“I don’t think his system could handle much more – we’ve got no choice.”

“I sure hope Dr. Huang is right about this. I don’t think there’s been much improvement in his vitals since Dr. Scully brought him in.”

Even the mention of Scully’s name couldn’t stop Mulder from sliding back into unconsciousness once more.


10:47 p.m.
Friday, March 25, 2016
Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital
Washington, D.C.

It wasn’t as bright the next time Mulder was awake. His eyes adjusted more quickly in the dim room and he could see a sliver of light that came in from the cracked open door and illuminated the far wall. He flexed his muscles – a bit achy, but nothing he hadn’t survived a dozen times before. He didn’t think he’d be dying in the next ten minutes anyway.

His fingers caught on the smooth strands of a very familiar head of hair. He still couldn’t quite recall all of the details that led to his current predicament. It could have been 1998 again. Him: unconscious in a hospital bed in Nowhere, Alabama or Small Town, Iowa. His partner: keeping bedside vigil until he woke up (even if she usually spent most of it asleep herself). But it wasn’t 1998, she wasn’t thirty-three and Scully’s back was going to kill her in the morning if she didn’t find a more horizontal sleeping position for the night. 

“Scully.” His voice was quiet, hoarse and unused.

She didn’t even stir.

He swallowed, trying to relieve his scratchy throat and attempted again. “Scully.” He gently stroked the back of her head with his fingers. “Scully!” His voice was still not much louder than a whisper.

“Mmmmmppppffffhhhhhhh,” she grumbled, clearly annoyed at being woken up. Mulder felt a twinge of guilt from waking her up (he always did) but knew she’d regret spending the night hunched over his bed. He watched as she slowly blinked and began to regain awareness of her surroundings. As she realized the cause of her interrupted sleep, she was suddenly far more alert than Mulder remembered her ever being in the morning before two cups of coffee.

Scully’s still slightly unfocused eyes found his face and he was rewarded with a big, toothy smile.

He couldn’t help but do anything other than smile back at her. “Hey,” he attempted lamely.

Still smiling, her eyes had taken on a watery quality. “Hey,” she paused and took a deep breath. “You’re going to be alright, Mulder.”

His eyes met hers. “Of course I am, Scully. Not much can keep me down. Even if I’m not thirty-five anymore.” He let out a small laugh. Despite the fact that Mulder generally felt like complete shit, he didn’t want to be anywhere else at the moment.

Scully turned around and found a cup of water sitting on the small table next to the chair she had pulled up right next to his bedside. She helped him and placed the straw in his mouth. His throat immediately felt better after a couple of swallows. Her smile faded as she took the straw from his lips and set the cup back down on the table. She looked at him; her mouth now set in a hard line and a single eyebrow raised.

“Is that why you decided to once again, go off on your own and ditch me? While you were dying of an alien virus, I might add. Why didn’t you say anything to me? What the hell, Mulder? Back to this same old shit,” Scully sighed and looked down at her hands in her lap. She continued in a softer voice, “I thought we were doing better than this. After everything.”

“How long’s it been since-?” he asked.

What Mulder thought was an innocent question set Scully off.

“Since when, Mulder? Since you drove off without telling anyone? Since Agent Miller found you nearly comatose in South Carolina and brought you back to DC? A week.” Her voice began to take on an elevated pitch. “Since I had to beg the doctors to flood your half-dead body with chemotherapy? Five days. Since I’ve gotten back to DC? Three days. Since your transplant? A day after that.” Scully fell silent, hastily wiping at the tears that had begun to roll down her face as she recounted the last week of her life to him.

Still, she continued on. “Mulder, you were on a ventilator for day… The last time you were this sick… I buried you.” Scully shook her head and looked up at the ceiling. “And then with Mom…” her voice trailed off.

Mulder internally winced. “Scully… I…. I didn’t know if… I didn’t know I was sick at first,” he lamely tried to explain. Just how sick had he been? Did she say chemo?

She shook her head, rejecting his half-formed excuses. Scully pinched the bridge of her nose and took a few deep breaths. Mulder could tell she was trying to either stop herself from yelling at him further or stop herself from crying. Probably both, his brain supplied.

“Mulder, I cannot do this right now. It’s late. You’re still recovering and frankly, I’m beyond exhausted.” Scully paused as she looked up at him again. “Everything’s going to be fine. You’re going to be fine.”

Scully never yelled at him too much when he was still in the hospital. They’d have it out later when she could be sure he wouldn’t pass out on her. 

Mulder watched as she yawned and stretched her arms above her head.

“I’ll be back in the morning,” she told him, leaning forward to place a soft kiss on his forehead.

He tried to stifle a yawn. Apparently twenty minutes was his limit for consciousness lately. “Leaving so soon, Scully? Losing your touch, g-woman. I never knew you to be the type to abide by such banalities as hospital visiting hours.”

Scully let out a small laugh and looked down at her wristwatch. “I should get going. I need to check on Agent Einstein and a few other things before the conference call with the CDC tomorrow.” She grabbed his left hand and stroked the back of it with her thumb. “I’m sorry. But I really need to go. Get some sleep, Mulder.”

As he watched her leave, he couldn’t help but wish she had stayed.


9:34 a.m.
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital
Washington, D.C.

“Are you sure? Already? It’s only been three days since the procedure.”

“Dr. Scully, I’m looking at the results of your husband’s blood test that was taken just earlier this morning. Same as what we saw yesterday evening.”

Mulder groaned. Scully and Dr. Huang didn’t seem too concerned about the fact that they had interrupted his sleep.

Scully took out her glasses to read the test results handed to her by Dr. Huang. She skimmed through what were the results of what had to be eighty-six blood tests Mulder figured had been done on him over the past week or so.

“…But his platelets are within normal levels. Even the red and white blood cells-“

“Allogeneic transplants can be quite effective, Dr. Scully. It helped that we didn’t have to wait while we searched for a viable donor and that Agent Mulder’s HLA was such a close match.”

“Yes, but we shouldn’t be seeing numbers like these for at least another week or two, Dr. Huang.”

“Dr. Scully, this is why we’re continuing to monitor him closely. Agent Mulder’s health is much better than most patients we see. Patients who have been battling terminal illnesses for years and have no choice but to finally look to stem cell therapy. We also took a chance by administering the transfusion of the stem cells after only four days of chemotherapy instead of the typical seven.”

Scully looked up from the papers in her hands and met Mulder’s eyes. She smiled.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you sleep so much before, Mulder.”

He moved to adjust the bed so he could sit upright to face her.

Dr. Huang was an intelligent man and knew his presence in the room was no longer necessary. “I’ll be in later, Dana. I need to go and check on some of my other patients.” He met Scully’s eyes briefly with a quick nod. “Let me know if you think of any other concerns.“

Scully turned and opened the door for Dr. Huang as he moved to leave. “Thanks Ed. For everything. We’re thankful for all you’ve done. ”

The door closed behind Dr. Huang as he left Mulder’s room. Mulder was glad it was finally only the two of them once again. If he were ever given the choice, he’d prefer it was always just them. However, he would rather be sitting on their couch with Scully and Daggoo instead of the sterile atmosphere of this hospital. Well . Assuming Daggoo wasn’t driving Mulder crazy with all of his pent-up energy for once.

“Can’t stay away, can you Scully?”

“What can I say, Mulder? You know I like ‘em helpless and on bed rest as they recover from an emergency stem cell transplant. “ Scully was joking. Not a common occurrence, but such occasions had become much less rare since they had been back at the FBI together. She sighed and continued, “Mulder, you are aware my things have been back at the house for over a month now? You didn’t have to go off on some noble quest to impress me or something like that. I would have settled for a nice dinner. Hell, I would have been fine with Netflix and takeout on the couch.”

“Awww, Scully, you know me, I gotta keep you on your toes. I can’t have you getting complacent after sixteen years.”

“Hmmmmm.” She was standing near the foot of his bed; her fingers smoothed the folds of one of the blankets.

He smiled at her. “Besides, Scully. I knew you’d save me. You always do.”

Her fingers stopped, suddenly still.

“No,” she said. “I didn’t.” Her voice was suddenly smaller and without the gentle teasing it held just a moment prior.

Mulder knew Scully was terrible at taking a compliment - she would probably graciously refuse the Nobel Peace Prize if ever given the chance. He acquiesced. “Alright Scully, fine. Some other people helped too. But it was still your brilliant mind - your vaccine. Your special DNA saved everyone.” He was always so proud of her.

Still not making eye contact with him, she spoke again, “Mulder, you were too far gone by the time the vaccine was created and distributed. Spender sure made certain you were infected long before the first wave of civilians even started showing symptoms. I was not exaggerating when I said you were half-dead when I finally found you that night with Agent Miller on the bridge.”

“Okay, so then the vaccine didn’t work on me? I... wait, what did you say? Got your stem cells? Is that what the bastard meant when he said you were protected? ”

“We don’t have compatible blood types, Mulder. You’d never be able to receive a direct donation from me.”

Silence.

“I couldn’t… If I… I would have done it in a second if I could have Mulder. Believe me. But you were dying. Right in front of me. I didn’t have another option.” Scully looked up at him. Mulder saw a familiar feeling of desperation in her eyes. Memories of her mysterious remission and of a spontaneous rescue mission to Antarctica flew through his mind.

They certainly were a matched set. Codependent was probably an understatement at this point in their lives together.

Scully paused and took another breath, as if summoning the courage to continue her story. “I received a call from Skinner shortly after finding you and Agent Miller on that bridge. He had spoken to Monica earlier and knew… Skinner was the only one who knew how to… If there was ever an emergency…”

Mulder kept his eyes on her face and she collected herself again.

“After getting you here and leaving you in the hands of Dr. Huang and Agent Einstein, I got on the next flight out to Cheyenne.” Scully’s fingers drew light circles on his arms, still not looking at his face as she spoke.

“Oh Mulder… Our baby.” She took another breath, tears rolling down her face as she continued. “It was terrible. I hated it. It was nothing like I had ever let myself imagine. You were dying in a hospital bed halfway across the country without me because I had to beg a child – our little baby thatI gave away – to endure a painful procedure just hours after the last parent he ever really knew had died.”

Scully stopped and let her weight fall into the chair at his bedside. Mulder wished there was something he could say – anything at all to make her stop crying.

She sniffled a bit and then continued on, “With everything that had been happened, Cheyenne didn’t have the ability or the resources to handle the transplant. We left to come back to DC shortly after we arrived.”

Mulder strongly suspected he was getting the abbreviated version of the story. He knew there was so much that Scully hadn’t told him, important details he’d need to know later. But in this moment, he had a single concern.

“He’s here?” he asked, pretty sure he had misunderstood what Scully was trying to tell him.

“Well, since we had much less preparation time than is typical for a stem cell donation, he’s still taking it easy... Dr. Huang decided it’d be best if he recovered at the hospital since he’s a child and... well... considering the unique logistical circumstances. His red blood cell count is still lower than what I’d like to see, but that should improve in the next few weeks with iron-“

“Scully!” He grabbed at her hands with his and attempted to catch her attention. He forced her to look him in the eyes. “Stop. Stop . Scully, our son is here? William is here?”

Scully stopped her recitation of William’s medical condition. The hopeful look in Mulder’s eyes was alone enough to allow herself a smile – one full of relief and shared amazement. A small laugh bubbled out. The past week hadn’t felt real at times.

Even after all the shit that had gone down, despite everything they had lost, everything they had yet to figure out, maybe she could give him this. Perhaps she could finally give him his son, even now. “Yeah. Yeah, Mulder he is. He’s here.”

Mulder ran his right hand through his hair as Scully still held on to his left.

“Wow,” he exhaled. He didn’t even know what to say. His mind frantically tried to catch up and put the pieces of Scully’s story together. Mulder looked over at her. She seemed to be waiting for him to say more. Her fingers played with his as she waited for him to speak.

“Scully… I… You’ve met… Are you sure he-William is all right?” Mulder still couldn’t believe what was happening. Their son was here? In DC? She had seen him? Talked to him?

He clamped down on a sudden, unexpected surge of jealousy that rose within him. Mulder knew the additional ten months Scully spent with William were both a blessing and a curse to her. She had less than a year with their baby, all culminating in a single scheduled pickup of most of William’s baby things by the nearby Georgetown charity shop. She had sprung the details of the hell she went through during the weeks after his adoption on Mulder during one of their early fights when they were first on the run together.

He didn’t have any right to his jealousy of a few days. The jealousy quickly twisted into guilt as he remembered she had spent much of the past few days worrying over not only his health - but the health of their son. The guilt continued to grow as he realized the magnitude of what William had endured for him, a perfect stranger.

It was as if Scully could read his mind. “I told you Mulder, he’ll be fine. He’s doing much better than you. There is very little long-term risk to donors, but Dr. Huang and his staff are keeping a very close eye on you both.”

“Can I go see him?” And make sure he’s okay. And ask his forgiveness for this. And for the last fifteen years. And thank him. And hug him. And kiss him. And then take him and his mother to an island somewhere in the middle of nowhere in hopes that the universe might finally leave his family alone for once in his life.

“You can’t.” Scully’s denial stung. “Mulder, we put what was left of your immune system through hell. As it stands, I’m barely allowed to be in here with you. Dr. Huang will need to clear you to receive visitors. And then we need to be sure William isn’t harboring any infection from the donation procedure.”

She still held on to his left hand with her right and traced a path from his forehead to his chin. Scully removed her hand from face and laid her head on his chest. She placed small kisses on his hand and she brought it to her mouth. “Mulder, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

His son was so close. Still in denial about exactly how sick he had been, Mulder didn’t give a shit if he caught a runny nose from his son. However, he knew a losing battle when he saw one. Well, he usually did. What difference did another day or two make when it had already been fourteen years and ten months?

Mulder silently nodded his acceptance of Scully’s terms.

He just wished he could figure out whatever the fuck he was going to say to the poor kid.


12:26 p.m.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital
Washington, D.C.

He didn’t even realize he had fallen asleep again until the sound of Scully’s voice woke him. She was on her phone, arguing about the last known location of some primers or something that had apparently gone missing. He really did not envy whoever was on the other end of that phone call.

She was pissed.

“I’m telling you, Director, all of the materials are still in the lab. Frankly, I fail to understand why it’s so important that the CDC find the remains of the unsuccessful trials of the vaccine, but it’s all there, regardless. I will remind you that the FBI has been nothing but cooperative. It was Special Agent Dr. Einstein’s quick thinking that prompted the quick distribution of the contents of the vaccine that prevented the deaths of nearly ninety-five percent of those affected by the virus. A.D. Skinner will be sending over another agent to assist in the name of inter-agency cooperation-"

“Scully I realize your patients these days are dead, but it’s only been three months. Have you already forgotten your bedside manner, Doctor?”

She cupped her hand over the bottom of her phone and narrowed her eyes at him. “Oh shut up Mulder,” she hissed in his direction.

“Director, you can expect assistance from DC to arrive in the next hour. Skinner will be acting as liaison between our agencies. Please contact him, as I am otherwise occupied with family matters. Goodbye.” The annoyance on her face faded as she shoved her phone into her pocket.

Scully came closer and stood next him. She bent down and placed a soft kiss on the top of his head.

“How are you feeling, Mulder?” She was already too far away from him again.

“Good enough to tell you to knock it off with the G-rated crap, Scully.” He grabbed at her hip to pull her back into him.

Mulder…” Scully looked down at where his hand rested on her hip. He thought she let it linger for a second longer than necessary before she batted it away, rolling her eyes at him. “You do know the door isn’t locked, right?”

“Funny. Never seemed to bother you before.”

Scully narrowed her eyes at him. “You’re impossible. Once you’re out of here, I’m going to contact the FBI about their return policy.”

“They’d never take me back Scully. You’d just end up having to support me. I’d have no choice but to become a trophy husband. That reminds me, I need to brush up on my Emily Post.”

Scully muttered something under her breath that sounded an awful lot like ‘fucking ridiculous’ just as there was a knock at the door to Mulder’s room.

She stepped toward the door and opened it a few inches. Mulder saw her posture immediately relax.

“Hey…” she said softly.

“Is he… Is he okay?” asked a small voice.

“Yeah… Yeah, Mulder’s doing better… Hi Walter.” The mention of Skinner’s name still managed to make him sit up that straighter as if preparing to deliver a fervent rebuttal.

“You good Dana?” came Skinner’s reply.

“Yeah… We’re doing just fine.”

“Well, ah, alright… I’ll be around if you need me. I have to go meet with Agent Einstein about some demands she’s getting from the CDC.”

“I was going to text you about that – I suspect Director Vaughn will be giving you a call any minute now. He wants confirmation from you that his team will be getting at least two more agents from our office to assist in addition to Agent Einstein.”

“Interagency cooperation my ass! Oh… uh… sorry. I mean, well… what good does it do me to have liaison-type people to handle exactly this sort of thing if they’re in Boston? It’s enough to make me wish those bastards had just succeeded already with the whole damn apocalypse thing.”

Mulder could hear Skinner’s exasperated sigh from the other side of the door.

“I’ll be going - apparently I’ve a country to sort out, no thanks to the CDC.”

Scully gave Skinner a look of sympathy before he left. She then opened the door wider to let someone in the room.

Instantly, Mulder felt the air leave his lungs.

William.

“Mulder, you have a visitor.”

He barely heard her. His eyes were transfixed on the boy in front of him. Mulder’s mind collected one observation after another, as if hoarding these tiny details about their son for another unbearable fourteen-year winter. Brown hair. Or auburn? Is that the light?

William shuffled forward and caught Mulder’s gaze with his own. Scully’s eyes stared back and Mulder could finally begin to reconcile the week-old infant with the fourteen year old that stood before him. He could spot the familiar lines of his own jaw and cheekbones; William’s features were still slightly rounded from childhood.

Mulder felt Scully’s eyes dart between him and William. He realized he had to say something. Anything. He was certain ‘bittersweet’ didn’t even begin to describe the sensation of having to introduce himself to his own son for the first time ever. At least as far as William would remember anyway.

“Scully, you still sticking to that story from fifteen years ago? Because he still definitely looks like Skinner.”

The words fell out of his mouth of their own accord. While his attempt at humor went over William’s head, he got another eyeroll from Scully. Mulder ran a hand through his hair before he continued.

“Well... ah... now I suppose this all ruins my plan of a big Darth Vader-style reveal if you already know who I am.” He paused. Mulder cleared his throat in an attempt to stop the emotion from making his voice any heavier than it already was.

“I know you’ve had a rough week kid, but… thank you. You really didn't have to do what you did and I want you to know that we can't possibly thank you enough for what you've been through.” He finally realized what Scully meant the day before when she told Mulder how terrible her own reunion with their son had been. He hated that William had suffered because of him yet again. It never stopped.

“It wasn’t a big deal. I mean, uh, you’re welcome.” William glanced down at his feet and shrugged. “You’re going to be all right though?”

“That’s what they tell me.” Mulder replied.

Scully stepped closer, just a foot away from William and put her hand on his shoulder. “He’s going to be fine, Will. We’re already seeing signs that engraftment is occurring and your cells are encouraging the growth of new blood-forming cells. Mulder’s blood cell counts and platelet levels are nearly back to normal. There have been no signs of graft-versus-host disease or any other kind of infection.”

William’s forehead scrunched up a bit. Mulder could tell he was processing everything Scully had thrown at him. Mulder knew only half of what was going on because Scully had explained her work a thousand times to him when she was practicing full-time, but he wouldn’t put it past Scully’s kid to just have an innate knowledge of all things science.

“Oh. Okay. Good.” William seemed to be satisfied enough with Scully’s answer. Mulder didn’t think he looked entirely convinced, but suspected that had more to do with losing his dad only a few days ago than Scully’s medical doctoring.

“William, did Dr. Huang give you any prescriptions when he discharged you this morning? I can get those filled for you before we leave.”

“Nah, just said to let him know if I had anymore pain or felt sick or whatever.”

Mulder’s head shot up. In the awkwardness of of the moment before, the reality of the situation had somehow momentarily escaped him. His son had been in actual pain because of him.

“Scully, are you sure he should be up?”

Scully sighed. “Mulder, I told you. He’s been cleared and discharged. He had to be in order to be admitted as a visitor because of your high risk for infection.” She then turned her attention to William. “You should be taking it easy though, William. Sit down.”

Content that their son was doing fine enough for Scully’s liking, Mulder kept his finger off of the nurse call button. For now.

William was moved over to the couch on the other side of the room by Scully. As she guided him with her hand still on his shoulder, Mulder could see that the half-inch she maybe had on their son was entirely the result of the heels she was wearing. Mulder struggled to remember exactly how tall he was at age fourteen and wondered if William would shoot up even more at age sixteen like he had.

Mulder hoped he’d get to find out.

“Do you think I’ll have a scar from where they got me?” William asked Scully, with a bit too much excitement in his voice. Mulder laughed.

Scully shot Mulder a dirty look. “What? No, no. No, baby, you don’t have to worry about a scar. The needles aren’t that large in diameter and you’re healing very well. I promise.” Focused on the horror of him being scarred from the surgery, Scully missed the brief flash of disappointment on William’s face.

Mulder struggled to stop laughing. “Scully, relax, he’s not worried. He wants a scar.”

William gave him a small smile and Mulder knew he had been right. Kids.

A knock at the door stopped Scully from commenting further. The door slowly opened and Skinner motioned for Scully to sit back down.

“I was going to go grab some lunch from the deli across the street before I have to meet with the CDC. Do you want me to grab you anything?” Skinner asked, still standing in the doorway of Mulder’s room.

“Nothing for me - I can’t bring myself to pass on another opportunity to eat the delicacies from the cafeteria.” Mulder answered. 

“No danger of that, Mulder. I wasn’t offering to get lunch for you .”

Mulder held his hand up to his chest and feigned hurt.

Skinner rolled his eyes. “Agent Scully?”

“That’d be great. Alright if I just text you with what we want?”

Skinner nodded. 

“Can I come with and help?” piped William. Mulder was sure William was bored out of his mind being cooped up in the hospital. He was nearly insane with boredom and he wasn’t a child.

“Sure you can. I mean, um, well, so long as it’s okay with your… with… with you two?” Skinner seemed to be struggling with the concept of Mulder and Scully as parents to an actual child that was here , instead of William simply existing in the abstract. Mulder knew Skinner preferred to ignore certain facts about his agents such as owning a house together, signing a marriage license, and having a child together.

However, their boss’ awkward stumble didn’t appear to faze William. He looked to Scully, who looked to be clearly as uncomfortable as Mulder felt when it came to whatever roles they might play in William’s life. “Alright if I go?” he asked.

“Sure, yes, of course.” Scully was still shocked William had asked permission from her to do something. She reached down into her bag and pulled out a bill, putting it into William’s hand. “You have my number if you need anything, otherwise just stick with Skinner.”

William glanced down at the twenty in his hand, as if unsure if he should take the money. Scully didn’t notice his hesitancy as she dug into her bag and pulled out a green field jacket. Mulder met William’s eyes and gave him a quick nod to take the cash. William shoved the bill in the pocket of his jeans as he stood up to leave.

Scully held the jacket up to William. “Take this. You can use it until we have a chance to get something at the store. It should be fine.”

“But…” William’s voice trailed off.

“I’d take the jacket if I were you, kid. Not worth the argument and she’s always right anyway.” Mulder supplied. It was over fifty degrees outside but that didn’t stop Dana Scully, M.D. from insisting their son take a coat with him when he went outside.

William threw on the coat without protest; it was a little long and baggy on him, but Mulder thought it looked fine enough on the kid.

Mulder addressed William directly, “Don’t let Skinner make good on his promise to starve me. He’ll try.”

William let out a small chuckle and shoved his hands in the pockets of Mulder’s jacket as he moved toward the door.

“Oh for god’s sake, Mulder. Somehow you’re a bigger pain here than when you’re in the same building as me.” Skinner let out an exasperated sigh. Ignoring Mulder, he turned to Scully as William walked past him to leave, and told her they’d be back soon.

As the door closed behind Skinner and William, Scully looked at him. The smile on her face made her look more content than Mulder remembered her being in a long time.

“I can’t bring myself to really believe it,” she said. “I think it’s starting to hit me now.”

Mulder wasn’t quite convinced this wasn’t all a cruel coma dream.

He has your eyes, Scully.” The observation seemed oddly sacred. His son had Scully’s eyes.

“And your mouth. And your complexion. And probably your height.”

“Scully, I don’t think there’s much of a question there. He’s already taller than you.” 

Barely .”

Mulder shot her a look of disbelief. “Lose those shoes and then we’ll talk.” He gestured with his hand at her three-inch heels (which might as well be surgically attached to her feet these days).

Scully playfully scowled at his comment.

“I don’t think he has really grasped what’s happened yet, Mulder. We had to leave so soon after his father died. And then there was the surgery, his recovery, your recovery…”

The reunion with their son had come at a very high price. Mulder tipped his head back against the bed. The joy he felt from seeing William again had temporarily blocked out his awareness of the tragic circumstances which brought the three of them together again.

“We’ll do what we always have done for William, Scully. We’ll have to talk to him and figure out what’s best for our son. Then we’ll make the best of it we can for his sake.”

Mulder wished whatever they could do would at least be somewhat adequate. His family had suffered enough.


10:10 a.m.
Monday, March 28, 2016
Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital
Washington, D.C.

He figured he should be used to waking up to the feeling of a blood pressure cuff around his arm, but it had been well over a decade since his last extended hospital stay. A definite perk of cohabitating with a medical doctor.

Mulder shifted in the hospital bed, sitting up to face Claire, whom he remembered as his nurse from yesterday morning. She had an intense look of concentration as she stood recording his vitals.

“Everything is looking good here, Agent Mulder. Dr. Huang hopes to have you out of here in the next few days,” she told him.

Claire removed the blood pressure cuff from his arm and handed him a paper cup with pills. Mulder knew he’d be taking anti-infection meds for quite awhile and quickly swallowed them, chasing them with the water on the table beside him.

She took the empty cup from him and made another note in his chart. “I’m off at noon, so it’ll be probably be Rashka this afternoon who’ll take your blood for today’s test.”

“Again? You sure you’re not all vampires?”

A small laugh came from behind Claire. Mulder hadn’t realized from his sitting position that there was another person in the room. He certainly wasn’t used the idea of anyone but Scully being at his bedside, much less their son.

Claire rolled her eyes at Mulder’s joke and William’s reaction. “Hilarious. Never heard that one before,” she deadpanned.

Mulder smirked as she began gathering up her blood pressure cuff and stethoscope. “So I’m leaving now. Like I said, I’m done at noon today so please try not to suddenly take a turn for the worse until at least then.” Claire instructed him as she left the room.

And then, for the first time in nearly fifteen years, Fox Mulder was alone in a room with his son. Where was Scully? What should he say? Was William supposed to be in here? Or should he be recovering somewhere with nurses and doctors looking after him?

“Should I go get Dana?” The boy’s question cut off his inner dialogue momentarily.

Mulder looked at him. William was sitting on the small loveseat just a few feet from his bed. He was thankful that the private room meant no one had to be witness to his awkward first attempts at connecting with his teenage son.

“Nah, I’m sure she’ll be here soon. Scully has a spooky sense of knowing when I’m awake and she’ll probably just make those nurses draw more blood from me.”

William seemed to consider his response. Mulder knew that all the shit he and Scully had been through over the past two weeks or whatever – what day was it again? – the kid had it far worse.

He nodded his agreement to Mulder, as if he knew Scully, as if he knew her tendency to hover and poke at those she loved with various medical instruments until she was satisfied they were going to be all right this time. Mulder then realized with a familiar twinge of guilt that William probably did know that side of his mother thanks to the donation procedure he had endured for Mulder’s sake.

Desperate to change the subject and step away from the encroaching never-ending guilt spiral of Mulder’s regrets about his son, he attempted to change the subject, but William beat him to it.

“Do you always call her Scully?

Mulder laughed. “Pretty much, yeah. I don’t get away with calling her ‘Dana’ too often. We have an agreement. She keeps any use of ‘Fox’ to a minimum in return.” He stops, remembering just a month ago as they sat on a log with her mother’s ashes at their feet discussing the very person in the room with him at the moment.

William arched a perfect Scully eyebrow. “Then were your parents hippies or something? William Fox? I was never sure before, I thought maybe my mother was a hippie and that was why I had such a weird middle name.”

“Yeah, sorry about that,” Mulder grimaced. “You come from a long line of Williams on both of our sides, but you were technically named after my father. He went by Bill. Your middle name is entirely the fault of Scully, so you can blame her for that sentimental move.”

William smiled. “It’s fine. Not like anyone knows middle names anyway. But most of the time I just go by Will,” he wrinkled his nose. “Otherwise I feel like I’m at school or in trouble or something.”

Mulder knew he was going to have to become accustomed to learning basic facts about his son. While he wanted to know everything about him - his life, his preferences, his habits – it still hurt that it was happening this way instead of over the last fourteen years of Will’s life. He’d never be able to fully let go of his regret over he and Scully not being there with him in his early childhood while these preferences and personality traits emerged. They both would always want those years back, but Mulder wished for a chance to experience at least some of what they had missed.

He looked up at William again; the kid had a laptop balanced on his knees and tapped at the keys. He must have felt Mulder’s gaze on him because Will finished with whatever he had been typing and closed the lid of the computer.

“Sorry,” he stammered, “I don’t think my chemistry teacher got the memo that it’s supposed to be spring break.”

“Some spring break.”

“Yeah,” William paused, maybe considering exactly how terrible his spring break had been for the first time. “But I don’t think they’ll make me go back to class until after the funeral.”

Will was quiet for a moment and ran his hand through his dark auburn hair. “Man, I can’t believe there’s a freakingalien diseaseoutbreak and all we get is just a dumb extra week off from school. It’s bullshit.”

Mulder raised his eyebrows more out of surprise than anything else. He sure as hell wasn’t in a position to scold the kid. Especially not when he and Scully had probably equally contributed to Will’s budding proficiency with profanity. (Scully would deny it - she was basically an amnesiac when it came to her own use of a few choice expletives.)

“Sorry. I mean it’s stupid.”

Mulder hoped William didn’t think he was trying to parent him. “I won’t mention it to Scully - our secret.”

William caught his eyes and gave him a toothy grin in response. He then let out a heavy sigh and continued, “I guess… well, then I’ll probably have to stay with my Aunt Kathy for school. Or maybe Alex’s family I guess. He’s in Scouts with me.

Mulder tried to control his internal panic at Will’s mention of returning to school. In Wyoming. As in more than halfway across the country from him and Scully. He knew the loss this time would violently tear open the shared wound they had desperately tried to let heal over the last fourteen years of their lives. While he knew theoretically that kids had to go to school, the practicalities of such a requirement never quite occurred to him. Of course he’d have to continue school. William would only be in what, 9th grade? Of course he’d want to be near the family he had known his entire life after losing his dad, not to mention near all of his friends from school.

He swallowed. “You have an Aunt Kathy?” he asked in what he hoped sounded like a normal voice.

“Yeah. My, um, dad’s older sister. She lives about an hour away or so. Out in the middle of nowhere.”

“Seems to me like the entire state is out in the middle of nowhere.”

Will laughed. “Feels like it most of the time.”

Mulder knew he had to risk it now before he lost the courage to say anything. “If you want, I mean, if you’d have to switch schools anyway,” he paused briefly, knowing this was coming out awkwardly. “Well, you can… you’re more than welcome to come and stay with Scully and me. For spring breaks or long weekends or summers or whatever…“ Or forever.

“Really?” Will looked up at Mulder, his Scully-blue eyes wide and bright.

“Yeah, I mean, whatever you want to do… just let us know and we’ll make it work. Whatever you want,” Mulder tried to remain somewhat nonchalant; he didn’t want the kid to feel obligated to uproot his entire life to come live with two perfect strangers in Virginia. The one thing he did know about parenting was the importance of acting in the child’s best interest instead of Mulder’s own selfish desire to never again let his son leave his side. After all, it was Scully’s show of incredible strength and selfless love for their baby by giving him up that had allowed Will to grow up safe and happy.

“Okay. Cool.” Will nodded, but then appeared to think of another question on his mind. “But I mean, I don’t want to be in the way or anything. Don’t people here live in apartments?” William’s nose once again scrunched up as if he couldn’t believe apartments were ever meant for more than one or two people. Mulder seriously doubted whatever small town William had known growing up in Wyoming had much of a need for high-rise apartment buildings.

“We actually have a house just outside the city in Virginia and drive in for work. It’s worth the commute into the city, especially since getting Daggoo. That dog requires a lot of exercise. We’d be kicked out of an apartment in a week. We’ve lived there for about twelve years now.” Mulder didn’t feel the need to mention the short amount of time Scully had kept a separate apartment.

Not caring too much about the history behind Mulder and Scully’s real estate purchases, Will immediately focused on what was really important: “You have a dog?”

Mulder smiled at his enthusiasm. If he had known that Daggoo would the best way to bond with his son he would have had Scully sneak him into the hospital if that’s what it took.

“We’ve just had him for a few months now. Scully actually stole him after we finished up a case we were working. The guy responsible was head of animal control.”

A knock came from the other side of the door to the room. Not waiting for permission, Scully entered the room. She smiled as she saw that Mulder was awake and that she had clearly entered in the middle of a conversation between father and son.

Will turned to face her as she entered.

“Is it true? Did you really steal a dog? Is he at your house? Can I meet him?”

Scully’s eyes broke contact with William’s as she looked at Mulder.

“Mulder, what the hell have you been telling him?”


6:42 p.m.
Saturday, April 2, 2016
Mulder-Scully Residence
Rural Virginia

A very reluctant Dr. Huang discharged Mulder from the hospital the previous day. His blood tests continued to show rapid improvement. Dr. Huang all but ordered Scully to continue testing Mulder’s blood as he recovered at their house.

Scully had booked flights for the three of them to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Leaving in a few days, Scully had also talked with William’s aunt a few times assuring the older woman that he was safe with them in DC.

William’s aunt had immediately taken Scully up on her offer to take care of the services for her younger brother. Thankfully, it had been easy enough for Mulder to convince Scully to delegate that task to the local funeral home. The service would be held next week when they were in town.

William still hadn’t said much about his father’s death, only nodding when Scully told him about the service for his father. He then excused himself to go work on an assignment for school upstairs in the guestroom that both Mulder and Scully knew would now never be anything but William’s room.

Mulder’s head swam with the ever-growing list of things they had to do while in Wyoming: The funeral service, meetings with William’s school, talking with child services, their appointment with a family law attorney, and packing up the last thirteen years of Will’s life into boxes. Despite the headache, it was understood by Mulder that the details were worked out. The ever-present, nagging voice reminding him that once again, everything would be taken away from him was quieter than usual, but Mulder knew that was because he was asleep more than he was awake these days.

Right now, Mulder had the house to himself. Even the dog was outside and enjoying the early spring day. Scully and Will had left a couple hours ago to run a few errands. She had all but banned Mulder from doing anything more strenuous than sitting on the couch or lying in bed.

The creak of the screen door opening signaled the return of his family.

“You awake Mulder?” Scully’s voice rang through the living room from the entryway.

Mulder sat up and ran a hand through his hair, smoothing down the the evidence of his late afternoon nap.

“Mhmmm… You’re back so soon.” His voice was still soft with sleep.

“We’ve been gone nearly two hours, Mulder.” Scully had shed her light jacket and walked over to the couch where Mulder sat. She leaned over and Mulder kissed the corner of her mouth in greeting.

She pulled away as she moved toward the kitchen, unblocking Mulder’s view of William who had just entered the house. Their son had a weird look on his face, almost a grimace of sorts that Mulder guessed was the result of middle aged adults having the audacity to show affection for each other in the presence of a teenager.

“Can I go get Daggoo and let him inside?” Will asked him. Daggoo already liked William better than he liked Mulder even after barely a week of knowing him. Daggoo had already taken to sleeping with the boy at night. Scully hadn't protested to the arrangement, especially after seeing the pair together. She told him that Will’s face had lit up in a way she hadn't ever seen before. Mulder didn't look forward to when they'd have to stop indulging William whenever he expressed any desire.

After the last fourteen years without him, neither of them was able to resist the addicting feeling of being able to instantly make their son happy by giving him exactly what he wanted. Finally being able to witness Will’s happiness, much less being able to provide it, was almost intoxicating to them both.

He didn't think he was being too much of a pushover in the moment, as the dog had to come inside anyway for the night. “Sure, just try and make sure he’s not muddy before you bring him in,” Mulder instructed.

While Will went back outside to get the dog, Mulder turned his attention to Scully in the kitchen. He could smell the tomato sauce that meant Scully must have picked up a pizza for dinner on her way home with William.

“William went to grab Daggoo and bring him inside for the night… what kind of pizza did you get Scully? Smells good.” His stomach rumbled in agreement with his words.

She reappeared, leaning against the entryway to the kitchen. “Half pepperoni, half pepperoni, green peppers, and mushrooms.” She paused, then spoke slowly. “Would you believe he doesn’t like mushrooms? My child! Not liking mushrooms!”

Mulder raised his eyebrows in mock horror. “The nerve of him!”

“Clearly this is on your half of the chromosomes - not mine.” Scully sniffed as a smile played on her lips. “I’m just reheating it before we eat. Are you sure you were able to get enough sleep? Maybe it’d be better if you stayed here while we went to Wyoming. I don’t want to overstress your immune system and set your recovery back.”

“Relax, Scully. You already said Dr. Huang okay’d it. And yes, I did nap. I’m practically a narcoleptic these days,” Mulder said, trying to assuage her concern for him.

The loud bang of the screen door once again heralded William’s return with Daggoo at his heels.

“Is the pizza ready yet? I’m starving!” William bent down to take off his shoes, leaving them on the mat by the door.

“It’ll be just a few more minutes Will,” Scully answered.

William sighed in disappointment. “Alright... I’m going to go check my email real quick then.” He turned and took the stairs two at a time.

“We’ve been responsible for the welfare of a teenager for two weeks Scully and we’re already starving him.”

“Hmmmm… I think he’ll manage. I may have gotten talked into stopping for ice cream while we were out.” Scully didn’t bother hiding the affection in her voice as she spoke.

Muder decided to press his luck for the day. A coy Scully wasn’t too many steps from a flirty Scully.

“You didn’t bring me any?” Mulder gave her an exaggerated pouted look.

Scully rolled her eyes at him. “Whatever, Mulder.”

“Guess I’ll just have to settle for a taste. You’re a very messy eater, Scully. Maybe you still have some on your face.”

“Do I? I better take care of that then.” She feigned innocence and smirked at him. Scully moved as if she was going to reach for something to clean her face.

Mulder grabbed her forearm as she reached for a napkin. His hand gripped her arm a little tighter, stopping her movement. She looked up him, her eyes sparkling as he spoke, “No, Scully. Allow me.”

He stepped toward her and backed her up to the the counter next to the oven. Placing his hands on her hips, he leaned forward and kissed her. Her arms went around his neck as she opened her mouth to deepen the kiss. He chuckled softly and lifted Scully up so she was sitting on the counter, now level with him as he stood between her legs.

Lost in the moment, Mulder’s hand was buried in Scully’s straightened hair as he kissed her jawline. Her mouth was on his neck, her hands stroking his back. Neither of them noticed quickly enough the sound of footsteps coming down the stairs. The footsteps stopped right in front of the kitchen before they had a chance to pull apart from each other.

Seriously?”

— 

Scully’s face had been bright red when she realized their son had been standing in the kitchen and had seen them occupied together. When William asked if they could watch a movie while they ate their pizza, she’d been quick to agree. Mulder pointed him toward their collection of movies.

As William began to look through the the movies, Scully settled herself on the couch. Scully chewed on her pizza while she watched him try to decide on a movie. Every so often, he’d pull a movie from the shelf, examine it, and then place it back on the shelf. He repeated this action a few times. Somehow the responsibility of choosing a movie had briefly distracted Will from his unbearable hunger he had been complaining of only five minutes prior. Mulder sat down next to her and put a slice on his own plate and began to eat.

Suddenly, Will spoke. “Okay. I think I’ve got it. What about we watch either Caddyshack or Star Wars?” William looked up at them for their reactions to his carefully curated options.

Scully narrowed her eyes at their son’s choices. “Will, isn’t Caddyshack rated R?”

“So what? I have seen it before. There’s no like blood or violence or anything.” William’s tone was insistent, almost daring Scully to impose authority against him that he knew she didn’t have.

Momentarily struck by the clear challenge in their son’s voice, Scully didn’t immediately respond. Sensing her hesitation, Mulder quickly jumped in to save Scully from the minefield Will had set. “If you’ve seen it before, you know why it’s rated R. We can still watch it if you really want. Up to you.” He shrugged as he delivered the suggestion to William, leaving the decision up to him. They’d have to figure out this dynamic soon enough, but tonight was not the time to have this conversation.

Mulder then briefly wondered if he could avoid this argument if he told Will there was a decent possibility he was conceived during (or after) a viewing of Caddyshack or if such a revelation would ruin any possibility of their son ever again enjoying the movie. Then he figured he and Scully had already more than fulfilled their parental obligation to embarrass their son for the day. Mulder really doubted any teenager really wanted to watch some of the slightly more mature scenes in that movie with their parents.

Will’s face turned a shade similar to Scully’s earlier in the kitchen as he remembered some of the details of the movie and realization dawned. “Um, actually, let’s watch Star Wars since it’s coming out on Tuesday.”

William returned to his spot on the couch next to Mulder and began to eat a slice of pizza.

“We can pick it up on our way to the airport next week if you want,” Mulder suggested.

Nodding his head, Will managed a noise of agreement as he started on his second piece.

William eventually managed to finish off four slices of mushroom-less pepperoni pizza and, after a brief respite, did not struggle in finishing off more than his share of the two bags of popcorn he popped.

Scully had pulled the blanket off the back of the couch and covered herself and Mulder. Will had shook his head at her offer of a blanket. The early springtime weather still made the nights in Virginia cold, and even Mulder wasn’t going to push his luck when it came to his recovery. Scully would probably revive him just to kill him herself.

As the credits rolled on The Empire Strikes Back, Scully didn’t move. She had passed out within the first twenty minutes of the movie, nestled up against Mulder’s side with his arm draped over her.

Even Daggoo hadn’t moved a muscle. He had curled up next to Scully with his head on her thigh. Mulder never knew Scully could be such a pushover until he saw the shit she let the dog get away with. He was thrilled Daggoo seemed content sleeping with William instead of in the bed he shared with Scully. Mulder thought the dog could use some serious boundaries, but Scully told him he was being ridiculous.

Mulder wasn’t sure if William had been able to make it to the end of the movie. It had been an exhausting couple of weeks for all of them.

“Will? You awake?”

William had turned on his side with his head laying on the arm of the sofa at some point during the movie. He slowly moved to sit up. He may have lasted longer than Scully, but Mulder suspected he wasn’t very far from falling asleep.

“Mhmmm… I’m awake.” The insistent tone of Will’s response was somewhat negated by the yawn at the end of his sentence.

Mulder softly chuckled.

Will glanced over at Scully and looked surprised. “Is she really sleeping?”

Mulder smirked. “Scully was sleeping before they even left Hoth. Your mother can fall asleep anywhere, anytime.”

Will’s gaze went from Scully’s sleeping form then to Mulder.

“I don’t think I’ve seen her sleep since on the plane after we left my… after we left Cheyenne.” William’s obvious concern for Scully made Mulder feel an unexpected swell of love in his chest for their son.

Their kid was pretty great.

“Ah, airplanes are some of Scully’s most favorite sleeping locations,” Mulder fondly told Will as he glanced over at his sleeping wife.

William returned his smile. “She was really worried about you.”

“Scully tends to do that,” Mulder stated. “I worry about her. We both worry about you.” His priorities had changed very little over the last twenty-four years since meeting Scully, expanding a few years later only to encompass William.

“I know.” Will dropped his gaze to his lap where his hands fidgeted. He continued, “The last couple of weeks have been kinda hard, so ummm… thanks for letting me stay with you guys while it all gets figured out and stuff.”

Mulder swallowed against the tightness in his throat. “We’re happy to have you here, kid. It was the least we could do.”

“I’m just glad I was able to save you and that you’re gonna be okay.” He looked up at Mulder, as if to reassure himself of Mulder’s improved health.

William’s quiet declaration rang in Mulder’s ears.

Thank you,” he whispered as he leaned over and placed a kiss on the top of his son’s head.

The faint memory of a forgotten dream, of an impossible wish once wished danced on the edges of Mulder’s awareness. He had already mourned the near-physical loss of that wish, of those lost possibilities.

Now, however, he had hope for the possibility of other moments such as this in their future. He would reclaim whatever happiness he could. For Scully. For himself. For his family. They deserved to try.

Maybe all was not yet lost.


End Notes

Thanks also to Dani (@noifsandsorbees) who kept telling me how excited she was to read this even though she's never read anything I wrote and that I needed to not be so impatient and get a beta reader.

And thanks to Kali (@oodlyenough/thirty2flavors) (even though she doesn't watch TXF and will never read this fic) for always being up for a discussion on writing even if she ships Scully/Winger purely to annoy the shit out of me and for her own amusement.

And no thanks to the rest of you who made me watch this terrible show and encouraged my addiction. You all know who you are and I hate you. < 3333

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