Title: Kaleidoscope
Author: Becka F.
Written: October 2001
Classification: V
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Existence
Disclaimer: They don't belong to me. However, they will be returned in relatively good condition. :)

Summary: This is what you see when you look through.

His fourth birthday was the most difficult yet.

It had been relatively easy the past three years. He'd sent him things he needed. Supplies, toys, books. Toddlers could never have enough of those, and he knew Scully appreciated it.

But this year was different.

He wasn't a toddler anymore. He was a boy. And he was growing up fast.

Scully had been more than generous when it came to pictures. And letters. And just about everything William made or did. He'd kept every last one, and vowed he always would. He had seen his little boy grow up from a distance, and right before his eyes at the same time.

This year he wanted to send him something special. Something that would catch his eye at first sight, something that he could always keep, and something he would always cherish.

He'd attached two notes to the gift. One for Scully, and one for William to open one day when he would understand.

When he was finished, he tucked Scully's letter into the envelope and sealed it tightly.

Then he began William's, which in a post-script he'd asked Scully not to open for him until he was older.

Just like every year, he ripped through his mountains of presents with an exuberance she knew came only from his father. They were surrounded by family and friends, sharing in the pure joy of the little boy who in another year, surprised and intrigued them all in more ways they never thought possible.

His shrieks of joy were muffled only by the chuckles of his adoring family, who delighted in his excitement on his special day.

Basketball and hoop from Uncle Bill and Aunt Tara.

Socks and underwear and every imaginable article of clothing from Grandma.

Playstation 3 from Mama.

All was good. All was very good.

At the end of the day, many happy thank-you's followed many happy goodbyes. A very tired, albeit happy four-year-old skipped into his bedroom and threw down the covers, waiting for his mother to finish the birthday ritual.

"What did Daddy gimme this time?" he wondered aloud, itching for his mother to bring in the last present of the day.

He squeezed his eyes shut, imagining a huge box with a huge bow being brought to his bedside. What could it be?

"Well, I guess William's asleep. He'll have to open this present tomorrow..."

At the sound of his mother's voice, he snapped open his eyelids and hurled the covers off of him.

"No Mom! I'm awake!" he exclaimed, holding out his arms hungrily.

He stopped dead in his tracks when his mother offered up a small box for his inspection.

"Happy Birthday from Daddy, Will."

"What is this?"

"William, this is your present from Daddy."

"But it's not big this year, Mama."

Scully frowned. She didn't raise her little boy like this.

"Just because it isn't big doesn't mean it isn't great, Will."

His brow wrinkled in confusion as he lifted the light box from his mother's hands. He held it up to his ear and shook it slightly. He licked his lips and began to tear slightly at the wrapping paper.

Two notes slipped out, one marked William and one marked Dana. Fortunately, Scully managed to scoop them up before William paid much attention.

As her son wrestled with opening his gift, Scully wrestled with keeping her emotions intact as she read her letter from Mulder.

Scully: I know it doesn't seem like much. He can't very well play very much with it, and I know it doesn't seem like the most useful gift I could have sent him. But I know he'll love it now, and I know he will understand its importance later. Love always, Mulder PS: Give his note to him when he's ready.

She knew even before she finished she'd honor his request.

She turned her watery eyes back to her son, who had finally conquered the wrapping paper and was now gaping at the present he held in his tiny hands.

"Cool!" he exclaimed, and dove into the box, pulling out the brightly coloured tube.

He quickly found the hole and held it up to his eye, aiming it directly at his mother.

He giggled at the shapes of coloured glass that jumped out at him.

Scully smiled at him. She smiled at his happiness, at his wonder, and even at his energy at eleven o'clock at night.

She smiled at the two notes in her hand, and clutched them tightly.

"Bedtime, young man," she said, trying to be stern. Trying to sound like she meant business. But she knew that neither of them were going to sleep tonight.

"Okay," he replied absently, twisting the kaleidoscope in his hands, his eye glued to the tiny peephole.

She planted a kiss on the top of his head and left his room without turning out the light. She'd leave that to him, at whatever obscene hour he decided he was tired tonight.

"Happy birthday sweetie," she whispered as she closed the door behind him. Her voice was met with a delighted giggle on the other side of the door. She could hear his tiny footsteps jump out of bed and paddle across the room to the large bay window overlooking the ground below.

She fell asleep relatively quickly that night, lulled by her thoughts of the amazing man who's gift inspired their young son to remain wide awake with wonder on his fourth birthday.

William however, remained awake until the early hours of the morning, transfixed with the gadget in his hands. As he looked out at the stars, he felt a connection with the father he barely knew, knowing that he was out there.

Looking out at the stars, and looking back into the kaleidoscope, he knew that the world, just like his dad, was great.

And that there would be many more birthdays like this to come.

The End

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