Title: she
Author: gillian (cerulean_blue)
Written: December 2001
Email: blue_cerulean@hotmail.com feedback moves me
Keywords: MSR
Caveats: these characters were created by folk at Fox, thank you for that gift of imagination
Spoilers: not really, unless you have no idea about Will, and, well, you should...

Summary: Scully muses Christmas and being away from Mulder at the end of this extraordinary year

She'd been waiting for him all day. He had come unexpectedly on his birthday. She had found him, sitting quietly in the corner of her apartment, childishly shaking the present she had so carefully wrapped up for his one-day return. She hadn't expected him to be there, but finding him, sensing him in the room, and then feeling him against her, had been one of the most amazing moments of her life.

And, while they had agreed that seeing each other on Christmas was way too risky, she thought he would come anyway. Will's first Christmas. She knew the day, in and of itself, didn't mean too much to him, never had, but he knew what it meant to her. Will was too young to appreciate anything about the day, but she had felt certain he wouldn't have wanted to miss this.

She had spent Christmas Eve alone at her own place. The tree was trimmed, and she has just made herself a small dinner, and sat with one of those books she had promised herself for years she would read. There had been so few quiet moments that reading felt luxurious. She had picked up a copy of Barbara Gowdy's most recent short story collections. Gowdy was one of her favorite Canadian women writers, a delicate weaver of words who was able to whisk her away to new characters and new places in only a few pages. A dynamic author who told ordinary tales of the extraordinary. Sadly, she hadn't been able to get into a novel since Will was born, but she could read a short story a night.

Since she had begun teaching at Quantico, she had started to experiment with different means of reaching her students. Forensic medicine was a difficult subject, and one that was often conventionally taught. But in order to reach the diversity of students that she had, she has started to use other media and writing. She had small discussion groups with her students, and asked them to read some carefully chosen fiction, as a way to explore the race, class and gender issues that were inevitably part of her work, but so often ignored. Selections from writers like Toni Morrison, Oliver Sacks, and Alice Munro. Authors who challenged their readers by subverting stereotypes, with gracefully, penetrating writing.

One of her students had written a paper, and had praised Scully for the unconventional approach to medicine, science and forensics, that the course raised.

The student had written, "Dr. Scully challenges us to think creatively about the subject of forensic medicine, to be open to extreme possibilities. And she does through the lens of some amazing women writers, like the great Caribbean-American writer, Barbara Gowdy." It has made Scully smile, firstly, because Barbara Gowdy was a white, Canadian woman, but more importantly because the student had written such a great and sincere paper. She had comprehended and articulated the complexity of the issues raised in the subject, and while she may never have read Barbara Gowdy before, she understood that learning to think about extreme possibilities required a special kind of openness.

So, Scully had been quite content, this year, to share her Christmas Eve just with her beautiful son, and with the words of one of her favorite writers. But, way down, in her heart of hearts, she had expected Mulder to come.

He hadn't.

The phone hadn't rung. She recognized each of the gifts under the tree, and none of them were novel to her. The gunmen had come by with small gifts for Will, and had stayed while she opened them. Each one, a beautiful, exquisite, smartly chosen gift. But none of them contained a secret message for her.

She desperately wanted not to be disappointed. And, she knew, by expecting him to surprise her, she was setting herself up. Most of all, they wanted each other to be safe. And, if there was ever a moment when he would return, one would think, it would be now. To see his son's first Christmas. It made no sense to take this kind of risk.

But she wanted it.

She awoke Christmas morning after an unusually long sleep. Will had slept through most of the night, for the first time, it seemed, in ages. He was an amazing sleeper. So alert and wide-eyed during the day, but a slumbering quiet baby at night. Whenever she wondered if in fact they were wrong about Will's parentage, if in fact, there was any chance he had been conceived otherwise, she would sense in him something of Mulder. Like this. So attentive and curious about the world while conscious, so dead-to the world while nothing else was going on. It too, made her smile. She wanted Mulder around to raise Will. Parenting was, after all, all of this conditioning. But every once in a while when she sensed in her son, something innately of Mulder it made her feel even more connected to this amazing bundle of joy.

Christmas morning.

She sat up in bed with a start. Then she closed her eyes and listened, hoping to catch even the slightest indication that Mulder was in the apartment. But there was no sound. She slipped out of bed and padded into the living room, scanning to see if there was anything that indicated he had been there. If only to leave a note, or a gift for Will. Or to be there.

She chastized herself for her selfishness. And still, felt disappointed. Almost angry with him for not being here. For missing yet another first. His first smile. His first small noise. His first tooth. All of these firsts had been conveyed by whispered telephone calls. By clandestine e-mail. But nothing would ever replace his being there for them. It hurt her heart that he had to miss all of this. That she had asked him to go. But even with everything that they had been through, she still felt kinda pissed off that he hadn't somehow made the effort to be here.

The day was filled with plans that were all out of her hands. She could already feel her anxiety level rising, and that no matter how much goodness there was in the day she was going to be grumpy. She was glad that her entire family would be in Washington for Christmas this year. They had entirely done it for her. It would have been so much easier for everyone to meet in San Diego. But, for her, they had all shifted their plans to meet in D.C. And unlike other years, there was still sort of an underlying gratitude to her that she was coming at all.

They knew not to ask questions.

She wished that there wasn't things that couldn't be asked. She wished that she could just talk about her child, her life, her job, her partner. That somehow everything wasn't dipped in secrecy and wrapped in clandestiny. She had used that word twice in the last 24 hours. It would make a good subtitle to the novel of her life. Hidden. Fate. Family. Somehow all of those things seemed to comprise her of late.

Damn you Mulder, its Christmas. Where the hell are you.

The day had passed quickly. Thank god. All of the grandchildren were there for the first time. There were pictures, and presents and thankfully very little time to talk earnestly to anyone. Will had been fussy, which was odd. But Maggie had been amazing, and had taken him for a good chunk of the day. How lucky she was that Will had one grandparent, and one grandparent that loved him so unconditionally. It seemed like her mother had gotten younger since his birth. And gentler. And less concerned about her. It was odd.

Even Bill had been great. Like the old Bill that she had loved so much as a child. Telling self-deprecating stories and making everyone around him laugh uncontrollably. And it was the first Christmas that Charlie had been able to join them, for years. She couldn't even remember the last time they had all been together. And yet, they weren't all together. She felt conscious the whole time that Mulder was missing. Noone mentioned his name all night, but she felt certain that they were cognizant that he was missing too.

It was time to sleep.

To accept he wasn't coming and to go to sleep. Have this holiday be over.

2001 had been an unbelievable year. 2000 had ended heartbreakingly with Mulder's death, and the difficulties in her pregnancy. The real millenium. "Nobody likes a math-geek, Scully." But she had picked herself up, continued in the X-Files. Taken care of her health and the life growing inside of her. And, as if she somehow knew, she had kept Mulder's apartment. She had paid the rent and fed the fish, and refused to clean it out. She just kept it tidy and slept there on the nights that were particularly hard.

And then, he was back. That part almost seems now like a dream. The hours at his bedside, and then the agonizing days as he tried to figure out who he was in her life, in his own life. His anger had been hard to deal with. And there were moments when she knew she had failed him. But bit by bit, they had come back to each other. And to Will.

"The truth we both know."

It was true. Will was their child. Yet the words had hardly been spoken before he had to go, again. And the months since then had been filled with figuring out how to be a mother, and how to do that on her own. And then, how to be a teacher.

Her first real lecture had been September 12th. It seemed surreal, she had been prepared to walk into the class room and give "Introduction to Forensic Medicine" to a class filled with first year students. Cadets, many of whose life dreams were filled by the chance to do what she had been doing for years. Some who had come from other careers, and some who weren't sure that this was the right place for them.

But instead of that first substantive lecture, she put on a pair of jeans, sat on the desk and talked to them about what might be happening in the world around them, and what that meant to them as they set out in a career so dependent on the rule of law. The events of the previous day had not yet unfolded fully, but she talked honestly and earnestly with them about her experience in the F.B.I. through moments such as these. She talked to them about some of her greatest fears about what might happen in the next few days, weeks and months. And then, she sat back and let them talk to each other. It was a moment in the classroom that years from now she would remember with acuity.

And then, she had settled into the routine of teaching. She loved it. The only hard part was coming home each night to find that he wasn't there. She wanted to share each one of the stories of her day. Laugh and delight in the ways that they were learning and struggling with the materials, her students. How they came to her office even when they really didn't have a question to ask, but just so inspired to learn that they couldn't contain their excitement.

And now it was the end of the year, and what 2002 might bring, she had no idea. She just knew that this year had brought two of the most important moments of her life. Mulder's unbelievable return from the dead. And the birth of Will. No matter what else the year had provided, incredible highs and lows. Unspeakable tragedy in the country, and painstaking choices in her own life. And yet, she had more to give thanks for this year, than in any other. Mulder safe. Will.

She could hardly wait to sleep. Then Christmas would officially be over. New Years would be a bit painful, but not like the day had been. They would see each other sometime in the next month, she knew that. It had always been the plan. It would come soon, January. And he would keep his promise, he always did.

She stepped into her apartment and immediately closed her eyes. Hoping, again, that she could catch an indication that he was there. A rustling. His whistling snore. His smell. Nothing. For the first time that day she could feel the tears welling. And then, as if on cue, Will woke and began to fuss. No time for temper tantrums for her when he needed her the way he did.

Like father, like son.

She had one gift still to open. Bill had slipped it into the pocket of her large coat just as she was leaving. He had been so amazing this year, and yet she could still feel his stiffness with her and with Will. It seemed only fair that he would give her a small gift away from the others, and that she would open it at home.

After Will was settled, she pulled the tissue paper off the small square box from her brother. She knew that he didn't know her that well anymore, and that it was more than likely that it was Tara that had picked it out. This year she didn't care, though. A little gift from her big brother seemed like exactly what she needed.

It was a small brown wooden box. It seemd oddly familiar, like a music box from her childhood. She ran her fingers along its gently smoothed cover, before carefully lifting it, expecting to hear the "Music Box Dancer" or some other wistful tune.

Inside was a small piece of paper, folded.

As she opened it she caught his scent. It was from Mulder.

Scully - l.o.m.l.

Your brother Bill has been amazing to me in the past few months. As the most unlikely member of your family for me to contact, I have been in touch with him. He had done a lot of work to enable me to join you this year for Christmas. But when the plan shifted to D.C. he felt it wasn't safe. And he was right. Instead, he promised to take care of you, and to make sure that you got this from me. I hope you will forgive me for not being with you and Will today, and keep these words to remind you that even when I am far away from you, physically, I am always with you.

You have my heart, Scully. Please take care of it until I can be back where you are. So we can be the family that until Will was born, I couldn't believe was possible.

This has been an extraordinary year. It neither started, nor has ended, in a way that I could have imagined. At both ends of this year I find myself alone. Away from my centre, my touchstone.

I know that this year has been a hard one for you. That you stayed with me through it will always amaze and astound me. So much I have missed. And yet, you brought to me the gift that has made everything worth fighting for. Your love in Will.

I will come back, I promise. I have always been a better person when you were with me, then I could ever be apart from you. So many moments when I know it only makes sense to do this in the same place. At the same time. Together.

I wish I had more words and better words. All I can say, is that we are close.

And, I love you.

Always, Mulder

Scully gently folded the paper and put it back in the box. No wonder Bill had been so careful with her tonight. Why noone had fought her when she said she only had the day. Why noone had pushed her to talk about Mulder. He had taken care of that.

Seeing his words on paper, and feeling his tenderness had moved her. Strengthened her. Given her a little more resolve. Yes, Mulder, this has been a hard year. And yes, we are close. And yes, we are better together than either of us are apart. And yes, we are a family.

And I love you too.

the end...

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