He had his head in the freezer when the phone rang. "Mulder."
"Fox, its Margaret Scully. Are you busy?"
A smile came to his face. "Never too busy for you. What’s up?"
"I was wondering if you had eaten yet."
"As a matter of fact, nope. Just trying to decide which gourmet meal to nuke."
"Good. I made a pot of chili and I need someone to help me eat it."
"You’re not by any chance trying to bribe a federal officer are you?"
"Maybe, come on over and find out."
"How about forty-five minutes?"
"Perfect. See you then."
He was smiling when he hung up the phone. Life was a lot better since Mrs. Scully had adopted him. All the Scully women were special and he felt very lucky to be in their world.
He stopped and got a bottle of wine on the way over and still made the forty-five minute deadline. Not a good idea to keep free food waiting.
Mulder was mildly surprised that Scully didn’t join them, but it had happened before. He was surprisingly comfortable alone with her mother. They had a good visit, catching up with each other. She always asked about his own mother, which as usual brought the contrast between the two women fresh into his mind. He helped with the dishes and then they took their wine into the living room.
"Now comes the payoff for the bribe, Fox."
"Uh oh, should I make a break for it?"
"You may want to in a minute." Her face was suddenly serious. He felt himself tense, what was this?
"I need to talk you about something, and I know it won’t be easy."
"What is it?"
He tried not to flinch but was not entirely successful and he knew she noted it.
"Mrs. Scully, you need to talk to Scully about that."
"I’ve tried, Fox. She’s not able to talk about it yet and there are things I need to know. She suggested that I talk to you. I thought she was going to warn you, but I see that I got to you first."
"She wants me to talk to you?"
"I don’t expect you to take my word for that, Fox. Let me get her on the phone. I know you could never break any confidence of hers."
She went to get the phone and Mulder tried frantically to think of ways of escape. Except he couldn’t escape Margaret Scully, and part of him didn’t want to. But to discuss Emily, damn. He was aware she was dialing.
"Dana? Hi, its Mom. Yeah, listen Fox is here and apparently you hadn’t spoken to him. Okay."
She handed him the phone.
"Scully? What do you want me to do?"
"Talk to her."
"But…" she had hung up the phone. Great, she was in pain once again and as usual he was at the center of it, if not the cause. He put the phone down and turned to face Mrs. Scully. "What do you want to know?"
"Everything you can tell me."
"I’m not entirely sure what that is. I don’t want you to know so much that you could be in danger."
"We’re talking about my daughter and my granddaughter. Tell me what you can."
So Mulder began explaining about the harvesting of Scully’s eggs during her abduction which had left her sterile, and the fact that a surrogate had carried the child. He left out the information about the hybrid clones, which could be dangerous and he couldn’t really explain anyway. He also didn’t mention the fact that the surrogate was older than Mrs. Scully herself. He was really uncomfortable discussing her daughter’s reproductive system. Even though he’d been aware of Scully’s sterility longer than Scully herself, and thought he’d come to terms with it, this was bad. He’d never been placed in a position like this before, but this was Mrs. Scully. He had to keep reminding himself she wasn’t judging him. She asked several questions, which he answered to the best of his knowledge, then she stopped and looked at him. He tensed up immediately.
She put her hand over his, "Fox, I know this will be the hardest question, and I’m sorry, but I have to ask. Could you have been the father?"
He closed his eyes against the pain the question caused in him and when he opened them, had to turn from the sympathy in her eyes.
"If, um, if I had been, the genetic testing would have picked that up."
"Are you absolutely sure, Fox?"
"It’s something Dana said, I can’t remember the exact words, but it made me think…it made me think she thinks of you as the father. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on her part, but…"
"What? What did you say?"
"That she wishes you were the father."
He just stared at her, speechless.
"Oh Fox, you and Dana can go on denying yourselves as long as you need to, but I can tell you as one of your mothers," she smiled, "that the way you two feel about each other is the worst kept secret this decade. You were such a help to her in California, when the rest of us couldn’t even get close. And you came to her with no explanations required, just that she needed you. You were on the next plane. I know what it meant to her, and what she has to mean to you, for you to react like that. Go on, now. And when you get there, tell her I love her."
He leaned over and brushed a kiss against her cheek. Then stood to leave. What was it about Scully women, that they always knew what he was going to do before he did it? Even Melissa had been able to do it. And he was the one that was suppose to be Spooky.
He lost no time getting to Scully’s apartment. The lights were on, but there was no answer to his knock. He used his key and let himself in. She was there, on the couch. Her knees pulled up under her chin, arms tight around them. The tears weren’t falling, but still much in evidence on her cheeks. He had never wanted to take her in his arms more, but how would she react?
He came around the couch and sat beside her. "Scully?"
She didn’t react, so he placed his hand on hers where they were clasped around her legs. She turned her hand to hold his, but still wouldn’t meet his eyes.
"Scully, it’s going to be okay."
A fresh tear splashed on her knee. He scooped her into his lap and was rocking her before he would allow himself to weigh the pros or cons of the action. Her arms went around his neck and she buried her face in his chest.
He held her, murmuring nonsense in her ear until she had cried herself out. When she finally stopped the shuddering breaths, and was able, she rose from his lap and left the room. He ached from the loss of her against him, but did not follow.
She washed her face and combed her hair, then returned and sat beside him. "Thanks."
"No problem. You okay?"
"I’m fine, Mulder." She realized what she had said and gave him a rueful smile. "Well, better anyway. How’s Mom?"
"Better than either one of us."
She looked deeply into his eyes, but decided not to pursue the thought.
"I appreciate you handling it. I just wasn’t…"
"It’s okay. Hey, it was your Mom, she always makes things as easy as possible. I did give her the watered down version and she knew it. I also explained that it was for her own safety, which she seemed to accept. She said to tell you she loves you."
He came so close to continuing the sentence. He wanted desperately to know if Mrs. Scully was right. But this particular boat didn’t need any more rocking at this point. He chose not to ask, or reveal his own thoughts. She was worn out emotionally with the grief from losing a child. One that she hadn’t even been aware existed a few weeks ago. If they’d been keeping score, she was ahead now. A sister and a father was bad, but a sister and a child…
"Go on home, Mulder. Try to sleep. At least we don’t have to go into the office tomorrow."
"Oh, I’d forgotten. The communication seminar. Scully…" He nearly whined.
"They’re going to keep after us, Mulder. We might as well get it over with."
"Do you really think we need it?"
"Go home, Mulder."
He rose from the couch and held out his hand to pull her to her feet. She walked him to the door, where with only a slight hesitation he kissed her forehead. He let himself out and she shut the door, then leaned against it.
She whispered, "No, Mulder, we don’t need it. We already communicate with our souls…"