Mulder looked up as Walter entered the office. He looked at him for a moment, “How’s Mom?”
Walter shook his head, “How do you do it?”
“Stay sane when someone you love is in so much pain?”
Mulder just looked at him for a beat, “Thanks for thinking I stayed sane.”
Walter huffed at him. “She’s not stupid Mulder, it didn’t take her any time to realize that the real Bill had been, or was being, used.”
Mulder looked away. He’d known as soon as he realized their ‘Bill’ wasn’t human, but he’d hoped . . . That was stupid, Maggie was one of the smartest women he’d ever known. Hell, she’d raised Scully.
“It’s idiotic to think of trying to rescue him.”
Mulder looked up started, “You are kidding.”
Walter shrugged, “I don’t know.” He looked out the window. “I don’t know how else to help her.”
“We’ve all lost people. Do you think we could ever go searching on the slim hope that - “
“That’s how we found Maggie.” Walter said mildly. “Krycek told us about her.”
“Krycek’s dead, and he couldn’t go back. He’d escaped as well.” Mulder leaned back to watch Walter.
“Sounds like you’ve forgiven him.”
Mulder shrugged, “He saved Scully, and Walt. He gave me Lexie. Maybe we’re even.”
Walter took a deep breath. “Maggie would never ask any of us to risk going to look for Bill. She knows he’s probably dead, but the uncertainly, the what-if’s, are going to eat at her.”
“Do they eat at you? I mean, you had friends out there.”
“Friends, not children. Hell, Mulder, I’m not sure I even planned to stay here. I think I knew the guys wouldn’t make it here without me. That probably sounds conceited, but it felt true. And it was a goal, to find you and Scully. Living here with you . . . I guess I didn’t think that far ahead. I don’t think anyone thought ahead back then - it was before Katy.” He grinned, “Before I had grandkids and a family. Now the woman I love, the woman I went to Ohio to get, is being eaten alive with worry about her son. How do I watch that?”
After a long moment, “Let me talk to Scully. Maybe since things have calmed down, she could see something.”
“I’d appreciate it.”
Mulder headed over to the clinic for lunch. Walter headed home, knowing Maggie would be there instead. Katy raced toward him as he entered, Lexie right behind her, crawling at top speed.
“How are my girls?” He knelt to kiss them. Lexie’s hands opening and closing in the age old ‘pick me up’ signal of babies. “Dada!”
He took them both up and kissed them. “Did you guys have a good morning?”
“Kevin and I were drawing.” Katy offered. Lexie buried her face in his chest. Katy scrambled down and Mulder tickled Lexie lightly, causing peals of laughter.
Scully came out of her office, smiling at the sound. “Daddy must be here.” He grinned down at her and she met his lips with a semi-controlled passion.
“Um, Mom’s here too. I’m here for a lunch break.”
She looked around the busy room. “Well, food is all you’re getting here big guy, so calm yourself.”
“That’s me. Come on, I waited for you.”
He followed her to the kitchen and played with Lexie and Walt, who was ‘helping’ feed Ruthie while Anne dished up some soup.
“Before you ask, Mulder, yes, we do have some sprouts coming up in a couple of the green houses. If you can pretend patience for just a little while longer. Okay?” Anne grinned at him as she placed the bowl in front of him.
His eyes narrowed in a mock threat and she chuckled at him. “Here, give me Lexie, so you can get some of the food in you.” Mulder did as she bade after a last sloppy kiss.
“I’ll take you back in a minute, Lexie. Let Daddy eat.”
She babbled something, but allowed Anne to take her. Mulder couldn’t help but think back to the frightened young girl Walter had also brought back from Ohio and be pleased at how she had blossomed into this woman.
Scully leaned in and whispered, “Don’t tell the kids, but we also found a hovel of rabbits, so there’ll be some fresh meat that isn’t seafood soon.”
Mulder’s eyes gleamed. If they could grow their own rabbits, plus the seafood, next winter might not be as bland. Scully turned away to keep from laughing. If they found some pepperoni, he’d probably come right here in the kitchen.
After lunch he pulled Scully into her office. “Mulder, you know we can’t - “
“So many rules. This place is really getting crowded you know.” He winked at her, then grew serious. “Actually, we need to talk.”
“I forget sometimes I’m married to a seer.”
“You know we knew what the other was thinking long before we came here.”
“She doesn’t want us to go looking for Bill.”
“She doesn’t?” Mulder watched her closely.
“No. She knows it’s too dangerous.”
“Bill’s her son. Now I know what that means.” She looked down, but came into his arms. “We’d do something if it was Walt.”
“What are you suggesting?”
“Can you feel him? I know I’m springing this on you, but you’ve gotten stronger every day. He’s your brother. We both know there’s a link, however faint. Do you think you could concentrate on him, see if . . . see if he’s alive?”
She was quiet for a moment, “I can try.”
“I don’t want you to hurt yourself.”
That brought a slight smile to her face. She caressed his cheek. “I’ll be careful.”
He nodded, “I better get back. I’m on compost duty this afternoon.”
“Shower before you come home.”
“I thought you liked your men sweaty.”
“Will you get out of here?” She pushed him toward the door.
She was concentrating so hard that Tricia had to knock twice to get her attention when she came by. “Scully, are you okay?”
Scully roused then, “Tricia? I’m sorry, come on in.”
“If this is a bad time, I can come later?”
“No, now is fine.”
“Are you okay? You’re kind of pale. I could, I could call Beth.”
“Thank you, Tricia, but really I’m okay. I was going to examine Kevin, probably release him. Would you like to help me?”
“Are you serious? Yes, please!”
“You’re interested in medicine?”
“Yes, and it’s one of the few places where a woman can be equal to a man.”
Scully looked at her curiously, “You don’t think women can be equal in any field?”
“I do, but not many men seem to.”
“It was that way in Texas?” Scully gathered up her supplies to take into Kevin’s room.
“Wasn’t it in Washington?”
“I suppose, in some cases. But I was an FBI agent and - “
“Oh everyone knows what you were, but you’re different, special.”
Scully stopped and looked up at her, “I’m special?”
“Well sure, you’re Scully. Mulder’s partner and a doctor on top of that. Will and Sam say it’s not that way here, that everyone’s equal.”
“I’d say that’s mostly true. Your father’s on kitchen duty tonight I noticed, and Mulder’s on compost.” She grinned. “I guess neither of them will ever have to nurse Ruthie, but that’s about it.”
Tricia laughed at the thought and took the things Scully handed her, then followed her to Kevin’s room.
Tricia watched fascinated as Scully removed Kevin’s bandage and examined his scar. “You really want out of here, don’t you Kevin?”
“Come on Scully, I’m fine. Between your skill and the kids’ input, I’m practically 100%.”
“You’re at 40% and if I catch you lifting anything heavier than a full plate, I’ll haul your butt back in here so fast - “
“I got it, Scully. I got it. I’ll be good, just spring me from this place.”
She gave a light snort. “After dinner tonight. I’ll let you sleep at home and I guess you can go to the office in the morning, if you’ll take a nap in the afternoon.”
“I’ll sic Katy on you.”
“Got it, a nap.” But he grinned.
“Tricia, would you like to rebandage him?”
Her eyes widened, “Please.”
Kevin’s eyebrow rose, “I’m a guinea pig now?”
“You’re the only one injured, get over yourself.” Scully responded, and directed Tricia to apply the antibacterial cream liberally, then attach a clean bandage. “The old one goes in the bleach and we’ll reuse it when we need it in the future.”
“You can’t throw it away?”
“We don’t throw away medical supplies. There’s no drug store to run by and pick up more.”
“Oh.” Tricia looked embarrassed for a moment.
“It’s not the kind of thing people think about, Tricia. I’ll need your help to make everything last as long as possible. If you really are interested in medicine, you’ll be helping Byers, and now Becky, in the lab too.”
“I’m not real good at chemistry.”
“We do hands on stuff. I wouldn’t worry about written exams for now. Okay Kevin, you’re all set. Eat a good dinner and I’ll let you try staying alone tonight.”
“Yes ma’am.” He snapped off a salute and winked at Tricia, who followed Scully out. She caught Scully massaging her temples.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
Scully looked up and managed to smile, “Yes, I’m fine. Thanks for your help in there. What do you do now?”
“Class.” Tricia grimaced.
“It’s important. I still have to do research, and I make notes so you’ll know what I did in years to come. We don’t all have Mulder’s memory. Go on, I’ll probably see you at dinner.’’
Scully turned back toward her office. Tricia watched her disappear into the small room, then took a deep breath and turned toward the room Charlie had set up as a classroom.
Mulder opened the door to his home and looked around. He didn’t announce his presence in case the little ones were asleep. Scully apparently hadn’t heard the door, she might be in with the kids.
He found all three of them playing peacefully in the little room that served as Katy’s bedroom now. “Hey guys, where’s Mom?”
“She’s in the bathroom.”
“You guys’ doing okay?”
“Yeah.” Kathy answered and Walt looked at him, smiling.
“Good. I’ll go check on Mom, then we’ll fix something to eat, okay?”
They’d already turned back to what they’d been doing, so Mulder backed out and turned into his bedroom. “Scully? You in here?”
“Yeah, just a sec. I’ll be right out.”
“Take your time. I’ll start dinner.”
“Did you shower?”
“You’ll find out when you get out here.”
It was fish stew again, but he’d stopped by the clinic and picked up some fresh cornbread to go with it. Soon, very soon hopefully, there would be something else. He turned as he heard Scully join him in the kitchen.
“Hi, are you . . . Scully?” He brushed off his hands and moved to her side, taking her arm. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, I’m fine.”
“No you aren’t. What is it? Talk to me.”
“Mulder, nothing’s wrong. I have a little headache.”
“It’s more than a little headache. Why?”
“Why? I don’t know. It’s just a little headache.”
“I’m getting Walt.” He turned toward Katy’s room.
“Mulder.” She sounded exasperated, which didn’t slow him down at all.
“Hey buddy, can I borrow you for a minute?” Walt raised his arms to his Dad and rested his head against his chest. “Did you have a good day, Big Guy? Good, me too. Why don’t you go to your Mom for a minute.”
Scully rolled her eyes, but accepted their son into her arms. The boy immediately put his hand on her face.
“You’re fine, huh?”
“Mulder don’t start.”
He held his peace with the boy here. He’d talk to her later, when the kids were asleep. “You two just sit there. I’ll finish getting dinner together.” She opened her mouth, but at his look, closed it again.
They both looked over as their daughters joined them, and he did smile, but the worry didn’t leave his eyes. He found the bibs and fed Lexie while he ate himself, but his appetite was gone. It was hard enough to eat this stuff when he was hungry. When he’d seen Scully, what little appetite he’d had vanished. Okay, he admitted to having a blind spot where she was concerned. Walter’s question this morning had been on target - but to walk in and see her that pale, in obvious pain had stopped him in his tracks.
They were both quiet, making sure the kids were fed. When everyone was finished, Mulder rose. “I’ll clean up.”
“Fine, I’ll give the kids their bath.”
“No. Just let them play for a little longer. I’ll bathe them in a little bit.”
“I haven’t gotten to spend much time with them today. I’ll dump them all in the tub together and do a group scrub.”
“Yeah!” Katy chimed in, “Daddy does a good group scrub. Please, Mommy!”
She sighed, “Okay. I’ll read the story tonight. Think I can handle that Mulder?”
“Maybe.” He looked straight into her eyes. She looked away first.
When he had everyone in their pj’s, they all converged on Mulder and Scully’s bed to listen to Scully read. Then he picked up the two little ones, held them out for Scully to kiss and carried them, one under each arm to their crib. Walt touched his face as Mulder leaned over them to tuck them in and Mulder smiled at the reassuring gesture.
He gave Katy a piggyback ride to her bed and tucked her in as well. “Don’t be mad at Mommy.”
His eyes opened wider in surprise. “I’m not mad at your Mommy, Sweetie.”
“No, but you’re mad because she didn’t feel good.”
He felt his shoulders sag, “You’re right. I’m sorry. You know how much I love your Mommy.”
Katy beamed at him. “I know. Nitey nite.”
“Nitey nite, Baby.” He touched her cheek lightly and then flipped off the light and pulled the door to.
Scully was waiting for him on the couch.
“I’m in trouble, right?” He said as he joined her.
“You’ve got to get past this Mulder. I’m going to have headaches and backaches and sore throats and whatever. You’ve got to allow me to have normal aches and pains.”
Mulder sighed and pull her into his lap. “I can only try.”
“Things were a lot less complicated when I was just watching the videos.”
“Less complicated maybe, but way too predictable.” She shifted in his lap and her hand moved under his waistband.
His eyes widened, “I thought you had a headache.”
“Walt cured me. But if you’re not in the mood . . . “ She started to withdraw her hand, but he grabbed it, twisting and pinning her lightly on the couch.
“Cured you, huh?”
He pulled the blanket down over them from the back of the couch, as she nestled into his chest, to keep the chill off of them.
“Too predictable, Agent Scully?”
“Umm, I do have one regret.”
His hand faltered in its caress of her back. “Regret?”
“That we never did this on your couch in your old apartment.”
“You thought of that?” he grinned.
“What? Nice Catholic girls can’t have fantasies? Did you never fantasize about that?”
“Oh, I thought about taking you on the couch, and the rug and my bed and your bed and your couch and the desk in the office . . .” He smiled at her expression. “Come on Scully, you kept me celibate for years. What was I supposed to do?”
She looked up then, her cheeks a bright pink. “I can’t believe you and I are having this conversation.”
“We have three kids, two of which are asleep in their crib in our bedroom, which is why we’re out here in the first place.”
She pressed her cheek against him to enjoy the rumble of laughter in his chest. “Come on Scully, where else did you think about us doing it?”
Scully hesitated an instant, “Well, the chair in the office.”
His eyes widened as he visualized that position. “Scully?”
“What? I’m not allowed such thoughts?”
He groaned as she shifted against him. “I just wish you’d shared that with me a decade ago.”
“You wouldn’t have appreciated it as much.”
“You should have tried me.” He pulled her closer.
Katy found them there the next morning. Mulder opened one eye at the movement, then looked around, slightly disoriented.
“Daddy? Why are you and Mommy out here naked?”
Scully looked up then, “Oh my god.”
But Mulder was no help, laughing out loud now. She glared down at him. “Give me the blanket.” She hissed.
“Would you rather her see you naked Scully, or me?” He tried to look serious, but winked at Katy.
Another glare, but she looked over at Katy. “Honey, could you be really quiet and slip into our room to get my robe?”
“Okay.” Katy grinned widely.
“What’s so funny, Squirt?” Mulder asked.
“You’re both so purple.”
“Oh god.” Scully buried her face in Mulder’s chest, he was laughing again.
“I thought you said your Mom and I were always purple.”
“Yeah, but you’re both so bright purple today.” Scully shook her head, not looking up. “You’re even brighter than Hickey and Beth.”
That brought a new spasm of laughter from Mulder. Scully punched him then and he huffed, trying to control it.
“Could you get that robe, Katy?” Scully asked again.
Katy nodded, grinning and moved toward the bedroom.
“Come on Scully,” he whispered, “Aren’t you enjoying the visual of ‘Hickey’?”
“I’m going to hit you again G-man.” She slipped on her robe quickly and Mulder wrapped the blanket around his waist. He watched with amusement as she belted the robe officiously around her, then he slipped into the bedroom and pulled on some sweatpants and a t-shirt.
He rejoined them as Scully dished up some oatmeal. Scully sat beside Katy, “Honey, you know you can tell Daddy and me anything, but you really shouldn’t mention how, uh purple Frohike and Beth are sometimes. That’s kind of private.”
“Okay.” Katy brushed it off, already forgotten as Mulder tried again to suppress his grin. Then as an offhanded remark, “Beth’s having a girl this time.”
Mulder sputtered into his tea and looked over at Scully. She had gone inside of herself to check out this new information. Then she was back with him and nodded.
“Well,” Mulder tried to think of something to say besides - no wonder they were so purple. He could feel Scully’s eyes on him, narrowed. “Looks like we’ve got a lot of little girls around here. MJ and Walt are sure going to be outnumbered.”
“Oh, it’s okay.” Katy responded, “Anne’s going to have three boys before she has another girl.”
Mulder again glanced over at Scully, but this time she could only shrug. Katy was stronger than she was - less years of not believing to get through. Too bad she didn’t have a connection or a reference to Bill.
Mulder looked over to see Walt crawling toward them.
“How does he do that? I know the side of the crib is all the way up and latched. He never does it when I’m in the room.”
“He doesn’t need to then.” Was Mulder’s comment.
Scully shook her head and picked up the boy. Mulder noted that Walt’s hand automatically came up to touch Scully’s face, then moved on to something else. He relaxed, relieved. Scully kept quiet, she’d thought last night had reassured him enough.
“I need to get dressed, guys. I’m on kitchen duty today.” Scully announced as she rose. “Any requests?”
“Double cheese pizza with extra pepperoni?” Mulder suggested.
She just smiled and continued on to the bedroom. She’d picked that thought up yesterday. As she had known, the sides of the crib were up and their youngest slept peacefully despite her brother’s obvious gymnastics.
Maggie did come into the clinic that morning at Walter’s insistence, and played with the little ones while Scully helped with cooking. Walt seemed very content to sit quietly in her lap, touching her arm.
Walter noticed the improvement immediately when he joined them for lunch, and gave his namesake an extra hug.
Scully took advantage of the lunch confusion to take Beth aside and give her the good news. She watched as Beth slipped out to find Frohike at the greenhouses. They never made it to lunch and Scully wondered just how ‘purple’ they would be the next time they emerged. It was definitely Spring.
When Mulder came by to take his family home for the evening, Scully was in her office and the door was closed. He tapped lightly, but opened it without waiting for a response. She was behind her desk, but her head was down between her knees and she was pale as death.
“Oh god.” He had her in his arms immediately, placing her on the little loveseat she kept in there. The sight of the blood coming from her nose sent terror through every cell on his body. “Scully, I’m getting Walt.”
“Don’t.” She managed to say. “He blocks me and I can’t . . . “
“Can’t what? Scully, it’s not, tell me it’s not . . . “ He couldn’t even say it. Scully looked down at her hand and saw the blood, then touched her face. The look of horror on his face suddenly made sense.
“Mulder, it’s not, I was trying . . . “
“Trying to do what? Whatever it is you’re doing, you . . . you’re trying to find Bill. Shit!”
She winced from the sound and he murmured an apology, holding her against him.
“Scully, I have to get Walt, and you can’t do this anymore. I should never have suggested it. Do you hear me?” She let her eyes drift shut. “Just lie still, I’ll be right back.”
The grim look on his face when he emerged caused the room to go silent. He offered no explanations, just locating Walt with his eyes. The boy immediately started for him on hands and knees, much faster than his tottling steps could take him.
Mulder scooped him up and turned back toward Scully’s office.
She had reclined and was holding her head in her hands. Walt whimpered in sympathy and reached for her. Mulder sank to his knees beside her, allowing the boy to soothe her pain.
In a few minutes she opened her eyes and despite Mulder’s protest, sat up. “It’s better now.”
“Better, but not gone?”
She glanced at him and quickly away. “A lot better.”
Mulder settled the boy in Scully’s lap, then rose to sit beside her. “I don’t want you doing this anymore.”
“What good is having this if I can’t help my family Mulder?”
He just watched her until she looked away.
“Promise me Scully. Promise you won’t try to find Bill anymore.”
She wouldn’t look at him, bringing Walt up to her face to kiss him. Mulder rose and moved to the other side of the room. She didn’t try to stop him. He stood there for a minute, then without warning, backhanded all of the books off of her shelf.
She jumped and pulled Walt closer.
“Maybe you and the kids should stay here tonight. Beth can keep an eye on you.” He moved toward the door.
“Mulder - “
“Don’t.” He held up his hand to silence her. “Just don’t, okay.” He saw the tear escape her eye, but steeled himself from the pull of her. He let himself out of her office and left the clinic without looking at anyone. After a moment, Beth hurried to the office.
“Dana?” She opened the door carefully and saw the destruction he had caused, then spotted the blood on Scully’s face and the way she clutched Walt. “Oh Dana.” She shut the door behind her, locking it and hurried to Scully’s side.
Beth found a cloth and carefully cleaned Scully’s face, not removing Walt from her arms. “Mulder didn’t hit you.”
Scully looked up stunned, “No! No, he would never . . .”
“I . . . I scared him. It’s my fault; I need to talk to him.”
“Dana, not now. Give him a little time.”
“No. When he’s like this . . . I need to find him. Will you keep the kids?”
“You know I will, but - “
Scully smiled up at her. “I’ll be okay. He’s the one we need to worry about.”
“I haven’t seen him like that since . . . “
“It’s been a long time for me too.” She rose from the couch, but had to touch the arm to get her balance.
“That’s it. You’re not going anywhere.”
“Beth, I have to.”
“No, you don’t. Besides, Walter was already going after him when I came in here. Let him handle Mulder for a little while.”
Scully sank back down onto the seat, and Beth began picking up the books that littered the floor.
It was actually Charlie that found him, in the boat house that had become the sanctuary when someone needed a place. He let himself in and noted that Mulder turned from him, not speaking.
“Hi. Thought you might need someone to talk to.”
Mulder shook his head and didn’t turn toward him. “Why don’t you go back to Mary.”
“Why don’t you go back to Dana?” Charlie countered.
“Not a good idea right now. Look, I’d really like to be alone.”
“Yeah, I figured. That’s why I’m here.”
“What?” Mulder did turn to look at him then.
“You’re hurting, that’s when you need family. Remember? I think some guy named Mulder told me something like that.”
“Come on Charlie, not now.”
“What did she do? What did she do to make you so angry?”
“She . . . she had a nosebleed.”
“Excuse me?” Charlie sat beside him on the ropes coiled on the floor.
Mulder shuddered violently, “She had a nosebleed, like . . . like when she had cancer.”
Charlie’s eyes opened wide, “She’s not, that’s not - “
“No, I don’t think so, but when I saw . . . “
“What do you think caused it?”
“Bill.” Mulder spat. “He doesn’t even have to be here and he’s destroying everything.”
“Bill? What’s this about?”
He turned to look at Charlie finally, “You’re not going to leave me alone are you?”
Charlie shook his head, “Nope. You’re the big brother I like. What did Bill do now?”
Mulder sighed, “Walter and I, we were worried about Mom.” Charlie nodded, “I . . . shit, I suggested that maybe she could locate him with her . . . with what she can do now. It’s too much for her, that’s what caused the nosebleed and the killer headache last night. It was my suggestion and she followed it and now she won’t stop. She thinks she has to find him and . . . fuck!” He was on his feet again, “A nosebleed! Does she not care - “
“Hey, bro, she cares. She cares too much, about her family, about the people here, but mainly about you.”
“The kids, she should at least care about the kids.”
“Come on, be honest with yourself at least Mulder. She loves those kids and she’d do anything for them. But you . . . you’ve got to know the place you fit in her life. As I understand things, kids weren’t even an issue when the two of you got together.”
Mulder looked at him sideways, but didn’t acknowledge the words.
“Hit a nerve?” Charlie asked.
Mulder just looked down, shaking his head.
“If she is feeling bad, physically, you need to be there. Not here.”
“I can’t watch her purposely hurt herself, kill herself.”
“She’s not going to kill herself. Your reaction back there, hell it probably scared the shit out of her. It did everyone else. She’s no doubt thinking things over right now.”
“You think she’ll listen to me, quit looking for Bill?”
Charlie sighed, “She’s not going to want to quit looking for Bill. But maybe we can think of another way. She’s not going to harm herself, not after that scene you just pulled.”
“I scared everybody?”
“Oh yeah, big time. Especially the newbies.”
“Oh shit.” Mulder let himself fall back against the mattress still hanging from the wall.
“Hey, you’re not perfect, you’re just ‘Mulder’.” He grinned.
“Oh you’re a big help.”
“That’s what little brothers do. I think you ought to head home. I’ll go get Dana for you.”
“I should - “
“Nope, you should probably lay low tonight. Mary and I can keep the kids, or Mom and Walter can.”
“She probably doesn’t want to be alone with me.”
“My sister? Not want to be alone with you? On what planet, Mulder?” Charlie grinned.
“She does love me.”
“That’s not a question is it? You know she does. You wouldn’t be this freaked out if you didn’t.” Charlie rose from the ropes and dusted off his jeans. “You okay?”
“No, but you’re right, I can’t ditch her. I, I need to see her.”
Charlie nodded, “Think you can find your own way home?”
Mulder looked down and chuckled, “Yeah, I think so.”
They both looked up surprised when the door opened and Walter entered. He looked the two of them over and seemed to relax a little. “You okay?” This was obviously directed at Mulder.
“No, but I’m better.”
“Wanna tell me what the hell is going on?”
“Why don’t I do that, Walter.” Charlie put his hand on the older man’s shoulder, “Mulder’s on the way home now. Is Dana there?”
“Uh, no, I think she’s still at the clinic. Beth went to check on her.”
Mulder looked over at Charlie. “I’ll bring her home. Walter, you want to make sure Mulder doesn’t get lost between here and there?”
Walter looked at them curiously, but didn’t ask. He watched Charlie leave, then turned back to Mulder. “Are you okay?”
Mulder shook his head, “I’m an ass, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise to you.”
“Well, no, it doesn’t.” Mulder glared at him for a moment. “But why are you being an ass right now?”
“Scully’s been trying to find Bill.”
“Mentally, she’s been searching for Bill. When I walked in there, she was having a nosebleed.” He wouldn’t face the man, but he shuddered again.
Walter’s hand came out to him then. “Oh god. Look, I know what . . . I know what that did to you, but Walt’s with her. She’s fine, I’m sure she’s fine.”
“She, she wouldn’t promise to stop and I . . . I lost it.”
Walter nodded, “You need to be with her.”
“Charlie’s already convinced me of that. He’s gone to bring her home.”
“Then you should be there, to meet her.”
“Think he can convince her to come?”
“Charlie’s pretty persuasive, and I doubt she’ll put up much of a fight. Come on.” He took the younger man’s arm and they turned toward the house.
Scully wasn’t there when they arrived, but Mulder convinced Walter that he would be okay. Besides he did need a little time alone.
Charlie knocked on Scully’s door. “Dana? It’s Charlie, let me in.” Beth unlocked the door and opened it. “She okay?”
“I’m going to take her home.”
“Yeah. It’ll be okay.” He moved over to his sister and stood for a moment, watching her cuddle Walt. “You ready?”
She nodded and handed the baby to Beth. Charlie helped her to her feet. “You want to go home, don’t you?”
“Yeah. Is he there?” Charlie nodded. “Is everyone . . . “
“The place has pretty much cleared out. We’re playing tug of war over who gets the kids.”
“They should come home too.”
“Not tonight. They’ll be fine, you know that.” He put his arm around her and they walked slowly from the clinic. She didn’t talk on the way and Charlie didn’t try to force her.
He tapped on the door and Mulder opened it immediately, taking in her pallor and the hold Charlie had on her. He moved back to let them inside.
“You two need a chaperone?” Charlie asked.
Mulder watched her, taking her lead. She shook her head, “No, we’ll be fine. Kiss the kids goodnight for me.”
“I promise. If you need anything . . .” He backed out and pulled the door closed behind him, taking a deep breath.
Mulder put out his hand tentatively, to take her arm and she took hold of his hand. “Scully, I’m sor - “
“No, I’m sorry. I knew what I was doing. I knew it was harmful. Mulder, I didn’t know I’d had the nosebleed. I would never, I would never scare you like that. It’s not the cancer.”
He closed his eyes at her words. “I shouldn’t have lost it like that.”
“Maybe I should be flattered.”
His eyes flew open at that.
“Well, if I can get that kind of reaction after all these years, maybe I should be grateful. You’re obviously not ready to get rid of me, replace me with a younger woman yet.” She smiled tentatively.
“Scully.” She came into his arms then and they closed around her fiercely. “Will you stop?”
“Yes. I can’t do it.” She swallowed and felt his lips on her brow.
“I can’t believe I went caveman like that.”
“Me either. But it was effective.”
He looked down at her, the fear still evident in his eyes. “Relax, Mulder. I promise, I won’t do it, I won’t search for Bill like that anymore.”
that. What does that mean?”
“I don’t know, I’ll try to come up with some other way.”
“You need to lie down. You’re still shaky. You’ve been with Walt all this time?” She nodded. “Jesus, Scully, how hard were you trying?”
She shrugged, “I won’t be doing it again. You have my word.”
He said nothing, leading her to their bed. He sat her on the side of it and slowly undressed her. “A repeat of last night Mulder?”
He shook his head, “No. I just want to hold you tonight.” She didn’t speak, just watching his eyes. “Will you let me?”
“Mulder.” He took that for a yes and finished removing her clothing, then lay her down and covered her with the quilt. She watched as he removed his own clothes and crawled in beside her.
She relaxed into his arms and drifted off to sleep in spite of herself. He didn’t sleep, just holding her, watching her breathe for the rest of the night.
Charlie and Katy woke them the next morning. Charlie let them into the house and tapped on their bedroom door. Mulder rose and tossed on his robe to answer the door.
“Sorry to get you guys up, but Katy really needed to see you.”
Mulder nodded and picked up his precious older daughter. “I didn’t get a good night kiss. Can I have one now?”
She nodded and gave him a big kiss on the cheek, then turned to study her mother, still sleeping in the bed. After that she turned back to study Mulder and then visibly relaxed.
“As bright as yesterday?” He managed to smile.
“No, deeper and even prettier.”
Charlie looked puzzled, but Mulder blinked the moisture from his eyes and nodded.