Title: Homecoming
Author: Vickie Moseley
Spoilers: Mulder was abducted last season, so I guess is spoiler free.
Rating: PG-13
Category: MSR, A, LGM, Doggett-free
Disclaimer: Suck eggs, Carter. You just can't stop screwing it up, can you? So I fixed your mess, again. Just give it up, OK? We'll all be better off.
Subdisclaimer: the rest of the story is a lot less acerbic than the disclaimer, so you can read without fear
Archives: yes
Comments: to me, vmoseley@fgi.net This was beta-less, so don't blame anyone but me

Summary: It's not a post ep, so it must be a 'this is how it should be' story. A different view of the Lone Gun men upon Mulder's return.

"Langly, you drop this and your ass is MINE," I growl as the Ozzie Osborne wannabe lets his grip slip and I feel every ounce of the 150 pound object we are carrying shift to my side. The damned elevator would pick this day to be on the fritz!

"I got it, I got it," Langly huffs in reply. I have to say this for him, he does manage to be useful, occasionally. Today isn't one of those times, unfortunately, but I'm trying to make the best of it.

We manage the last flight of stairs and after much juggling, get through the fire exit door. It's just about 30 feet down the hallway to the right door, which, thank you Byers, is standing open and waiting for us. We get through the door and then stand there, waiting.

"I have a place for it," Byers announces like the true interior decorator I know him to be. "Follow me."

Langly rolls his eyes, but lifts the weight again and off we go, following our over dressed friend to the first room on the left. I walk in and almost can't believe my eyes. Byers has indeed been a busy little camper while we were loading the delivery truck.

"OK, right here, against that wall," Byers points and Langly and I negotiate the various boxes on the floor to the appointed position. Sure enough, the object of my current back strain fits neatly in the space Byers had indicated. In fact, it looks like it was built to go there.

"Damn, that looks great!" Langly admits with a big grin on his face. "In fact, the whole place is shaping up."

"Yeah, but look at the time," Byers reminds us, holding out his wrist as if we'd bother reading his Timex. "We have a lot to do and only 2 hours to accomplish it."

The three of us exchange tired sighs and get immediately back to work.

It had all started innocently enough. When Mulder was returned, and in pretty bad shape, the week after Thanksgiving, we all thought the worst was over. He was in a deep coma, but at least he was home and Scully was over the moon with relief. Unfortunately, the stress of searching for him all those months was too much for her and the baby. She went into premature labor the same day Mulder regained consciousness.

That was a bad time. Scully in the 'Child and Maternal Health' wing of the hospital, Mulder in a 'step down unit' from the Intensive Care room he'd been in since Skinner brought him back from an Oregon forest and Skinner, Maggie and the three of us running back and forth between the two of them. Thank god for the Internet. After convincing the nurses that it was the only way we'd keep them occupied and in bed-their respective beds, both patients were allowed laptops and phone lines for the duration. Instant Message was a life saver, in more ways than one.

Then, just as Mulder was about ready to head for home, someone else decided to make an appearance.

Well, I lost the bet. They didn't name him William, like I thought. And not Sam, so at least I didn't have to hear Langly crowing over his winnings. But Skinner of all people, to pick Andrew! I suspect he had the inside track, but he refuses to admit it. So the three of us reluctantly forked over a 10 spot per, making Skinner $30 richer just because he could guess a name.

Little Drew, as Mulder calls him, made his debut on December 31, at 9:15 pm. Just in time to give Mommy and Daddy a nice tax deduction for the year. At just a little over 4 pounds, he had to spend his first few nights in the high rent district, or special care nursery. That caused all of us some worry. But Mama Scully didn't give birth to a lightweight for long. In a week he topped the scale at 5 pounds and cleared up a nasty little respiratory problem he'd brought on himself by sucking on his amniotic fluid.

Scully wouldn't admit it to us, but she was in the hospital after the birth for a reason. She said she got clearance to stick around because Drew couldn't go home and she'd just be up feeding him every two hours. But I could see the dark circles under her eyes. Mulder could sense it, too. Of course, he was none the better. He'd lost about 20 pounds, which would have made me buff, but on Mulder, it was more a scarecrow look than anything else.

Even so, some bunch of dumbass doctors decided that the little family would get more rest at home. Personally, I think medical care in this country went to hell in a hand basket the day 'managed care' came into the language, but that's the way things are done these days. We found out they were being released late yesterday. We've been working our asses off ever since.

In exactly one hour and fifty-five minutes, I look skeptically around the living room of Scully's apartment. The place is scrubbed to within an inch of its life. The drapes have been cleaned and rehung, the blinds have been dusted, the rug has been shampooed. If that baby or either of the adults pick up one germ from this apartment, they brought it in on their shoes!

I walk into the kitchen and have to smile. Langly is a pain in the ass, but he can make a mean pot roast. It's in the oven and smells heavenly. Mulder has been bitching about bland hospital food, so we decided to go the 'comfort food' route. My first thought had been my famous 'paint stripper/chili', but Byers showed me the error of that way real fast. Aside from Mulder's delicate constitution, no one in their right mind would allow that stuff to be transformed into breast milk and fed to a newborn. Besides, Langly got a four pound roast, so there will be plenty of leftovers and Maggie won't have to haul over as many meals for a few days.

Just as I was about to open the oven for a peek, I heard the key in the door. Seconds later, Maggie came in with Skinner carrying the baby carrier and Mulder and Scully helping each other through the door.

I think we succeeded in surprising them.

"What the hell have you three misfits been doing here?" Skinner greets us, warm and inviting as always.

"Is that a roast I smell?" Maggie asks, ignoring Skinner's glares. We had to let someone in on our plans and Maggie seemed the most logical choice. She walked past me on the way to the oven and winked. "Did you find everything on the list?" she asks in a low whisper as she leans over to open the oven door.

"Yeah, but we had to make some last minute executive decisions. The pattern you described was on back order and wouldn't arrive until the kid's in college. We improvised."

I saw her gulp, but recover and smile brightly at me. "I'm sure you did just fine," she says, but I'm pretty sure that's the same line Scully used to get when she announced that she ran out of flour for the pancakes and used another box of something she'd found in the cupboard. Maggie's comment sounds an awful lot like absolution, but I'm trying to keep an open mind.

"Mom, I told you that you didn't have to clean my apartment," Scully says, making her way gingerly over to the sofa and lowering herself down with a loud sigh. Mulder looks around, but he's too tired to notice a difference. Soon, he's seated next to Scully, about ready to drop off.

"Oh, I didn't do this, dear. But I think I know of some elves that worked very hard today," she winks again in my direction. Scully is too zoned out to even hear her at this point.

"Uh, where, um, do you, ah," Skinner stammers and we all realize he still hasn't put the baby carrier down.

"The coffee table is fine," Scully waves in the general direction. I guess it's all right. I mean she is a doctor and from the little I've seen of the squirt, he doesn't look like he could tip the thing over-yet.

I figure out the method to her madness as she leans forward with effort and after much untying, unzipping and unbuckling, she has the sleeping mini-Mulder safe in her arms. She leans back against the couch, which now has the added cushion of Mulder's arm for back support, and sighs again. This time, it's a happy sigh, I can tell.

"Well, everyone just relax. Dinner will be ready in about 15 minutes," I announce and then head back into the kitchen to make sure that happens. Byers comes out of the hallway, looking nervous.

"Did you tell Maggie about the pattern?" he asks in a voice that is just a little left of panic.

"Yes, she said that she's sure we did just fine," I assure him, moving him aside so I can reach the milk in the fridge for the mashed potatoes.

"I don't know, Frohike. Maybe we should have waited and let Scully decide."

I glare at him then look back into the living room. Scully, Mulder and the baby are fast asleep on the couch, Maggie and Skinner are discussing where to stow the bundles of disposable diapers and arranging vases of flowers that Scully received while she was in the hospital.

"Who out there would have time or for that matter 'energy' to go shopping, Byers?" I reply with all reasonableness. I mean, that's what we'd discussed at the time and I still think we did the right thing.

"I know, but this is so, so, 'personal'," Byers frets.

Luckily, the microwave chirps before I can dump the bowl of mashed potatoes on his head.

"Grab the corn," I hiss.

Langly wouldn't let any of us near his pot roast, so he's been 'Julia Childing' it up at the counter. When he steps back, even I have to nod in appreciation. And drool. Damn that looks good. But if we eat, it means less for tomorrow. We're here to help, not eat them out of house and home.

"The table's only set for four," Maggie says, ever the watchful one.

"We ate already," I lie. She looks like she's not going to buy it, but shrugs and let's us be.

"Wait, I want to put the baby down-oh, shit!" Scully says from her little corner of the couch. "Damn, Mom, did you remember to bring over the cradle?"

"It's all taken care of, Sweetheart. Here, let's go put the little guy to bed so we can enjoy dinner. Fox, want to tuck him in, it's the first time he gets to sleep in his own bed," Maggie conjoles. I have to admit, she's smooth. I never could have figured out a way to get them both in that bedroom.

"Yeah, sure. Sir, could you, uh," Mulder waves his arm toward Scully and Skinner is there in a flash, helping her to her feet and supporting the baby in her arms. Then he reaches down and helps Mulder up and steadies him. God, maybe we should camp outside, they look like they're gonna need more help than just Maggie. But I keep my trap shut. You don't impose like that, especially not after what these two have been through.

I want to stand here and let this be their moment, but damn it all, we worked so hard on that room. So about three seconds after Scully and her lesser half limp down the hall, the three of us, the interlopers, are right there behind 'em. Scully enters the room first. Maggie must have clued Skinner in on the deal, because he's standing off to the side of the door and has a very shit eating grin on his face. Yeah, asshole, mug it up. It's not your back out of alignment. But this is a celebration, or at least I hope it is, and I can't even find it in my heart to resent Mr. Machoman. He's really been a trooper through all this shit and I have to admire that in a stiff necked jar head.

Scully is silent as she wanders the room. Mulder is standing, well, more like swaying, just behind her, his face inscrutable. I'm holding my breath. I'm pretty sure the other two are, too.

"Mom?" Scully says and there's this hitch in her voice and my heart hits the floor because she thinks we've ruined her baby's nursery and this was a lame-brained idea from the start-what do we know, we're three bachelors and we should have brought Maggie and

"Honey, this wasn't me. This was, uh," Maggie waves her hand weakly in our direction. "Your friends," she finally decides to dub us, in place of something more descriptive of our character- like dumbshits.

"Scully, let me explain. I mean, your mom told us about the baby stuff you picked out at the store and we went there yesterday and it was all gone, every stitch and they said that was the most popular pattern and they had it on back order, but that meant the stuff would be in about 2026 and the kid wouldn't need it by then, so we just sort of ..." My voice trails off because I'm so ashamed and so close to tears that I think I'm just embarrassing myself by babbling.

"It's wonderful," she says, and she turns toward me and I can see tears, happy tears, streaming down her cheeks.

"The parenting magazines all state that neonates can see colors, but respond best to red, black and white," Byers jumps in and demonstrates the blocky mobile above little Drew's crib.

"And well, we figured two government employees couldn't go wrong with patriotic colors," Langly chimes in, fluffing, yes, actually fluffing the red, tan and blue teddy bear comforter on the crib. Then we all stand back and watch her circle the room.

Scully touches the blue and yellow afghan thrown over the rocking chair that she was once rocked in, if Maggie is to be believed, and I have no reason to doubt her. She doesn't stop, but moves over to the Jenny Lind dresser with the 'no roll off' pad on top that will serve as a changing table until Drew figures out what that hose in front between his legs is there for. Or at least it's most primary purpose. She fingers the lampshade on the clown lamp, currently set on medium, but I point to the button and she flips it to 'nightlight' and back again with a faint smile on her face. All the time, the little guy is still sleeping, safe on her shoulder. Finally, she moves over to the Jenny Lind crib (I never knew what a Jenny Lind was until two days ago and now I feel like I dated the woman!) and very tenderly lays her sleeping son down on the crisp, just washed in Dreft sheets and pulls the comforter up over his little stomach. When she turns around, she's instantly in Mulder's arms, and the room is silent except for the sounds of her sobs.

I'm back in that scary place, that place where I'm sure I've done something irreparable. She's crying like she's just lost her most treasured possession, or maybe her best friend, but I know that's not the case because he's standing there with his arms around her, kissing her on the top of her head and murmuring sweet whispers in her ear. When she finally comes up for air, and I'm certain we are about to be banished from their lives forever she motions me over to her outstretched arms. Leaving Mulder's embrace, she takes the three of us into her arms and hugs us for all we are worth. When she finishes squeezing the life out of us, she wipes at her tears.

"I never," she says and stops to swallow and Mulder hands her a tissue from box on the little nightstand next to the rocker. "I mean, I dreamed of this. All of this. Of you being home, you big jerk!" she says, half slugging Mulder in his arm, which he takes with good nature. "And the baby and having the nursery be just so, so, ... so perfect," her voice hitches again with unshed tears. "I dreamed it all. And you made all my dreams come true."

Well, now I'm crying and I'm not ashamed to admit it. And I look over and damned if ole Stiff Neck isn't wiping at his eyes. Maggie is crying and laughing and hugging each of us in turn and then announces, "Oh dear, did anyone turn off the oven?"

Mulder laughs, which is a sound I didn't realize I'd missed until I hear it. "Is my account at Vic's pizza still open?" he asks as Scully nuzzles back into his arms.

But fortunately, that's not necessary. Langly had placed the roast on the table and so, with a little jockeying, we are able to squeeze everyone in around Scully's table and settle in to polish off that hunk of meat. Maggie has assured me that she has a freezer full of food to bring over for this week, so leftovers are not that vital.

Besides, as I said before, this is a celebration.

The end.


Semper Fi! My son graduates
USMC recruit training Feb. 2!


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