Title: 48 Hours
Author: ML
Email: msnsc21@yahoo.com
Distribution: Ephemeral, Gossamer, yes; if you've archived me before, yes; otherwise, please just let me know and leave headers, email addy, etc. attached. Thanks!
Spoilers: Nothing Important Happened Today
Rating: PG
Classification: Post-ep
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine, they belong to Chris Carter, TenThirteen, and Fox Broadcasting. I mean no infringement, and I'm making no money.

I was a father for forty-eight hours.

For two short days and nights, I held my son in my arms and looked into his eyes. I observed him as he looked at his world for the first time, and the world was new for me, too.

I had a normal life for forty-eight hours.

I went to bed at night and held my lover in my arms. I listened to her heart beat and dreamed of a future that we could share. I woke up with her when the baby cried. I watched her nurse our son, and after, I walked him around the room, holding him to my chest and humming until he soothed. When I came back to bed, I held her closer. We talked quietly of everything and nothing until we, too, dropped into sleep again.

I pretended that this life was mine to keep, for forty-eight hours.

I knew what I had to do. I'd already started planning, before Will was born. I'd hoped it wouldn't be necessary, but I couldn't gamble with Scully's life -- or Will's. When I went to Scully's, just a few days after he was born, I knew I was going to have to tell her that I was going away.

When I saw her with Will, so completely happy for the first time since my return, it almost broke my heart to know that once again I was going to leave her. And when I kissed her, it was nearly my undoing. I almost decided, to hell with it, I'm staying, no matter what.

Later That Night, I told her. I could tell that Scully hadn't thought that far yet. I could understand that; she'd been focused on other, more important things. But then she surprised me; though she wasn't happy about it, she listened. And in the end, she agreed. Not happily, but she agreed. She still keeps me guessing. I think what made the difference for her in the end was Will, thinking of his future, his safety.

After that night, we didn't spend a lot of time discussing it; time was too precious for that. We acknowledged it, and then ignored it for the short time that we could.

I tried to make a lifetime of memories in forty-eight hours.

We agreed that we wouldn't do anything drastic or desperate. I made the arrangements I needed to make, and then, I pretended it wasn't going to happen.

We sat together on Scully's couch and held hands. I kissed her and she kissed me back. Much as I would have liked to do more, it was too soon after Will's birth to risk it. I pretended that I'd have all the time in the world to make love to Scully. I watched her bathe and change Will. I held him while she showered, memorizing his serious baby face, willing him to remember me. We put him down for a nap, and ate a dinner we had no appetite for.

We agreed not to tell anyone what I decided, or where I was going. We decided it was safer if she didn't know, either.

I hope that we won't be separated forever. We didn't speak that fear; we pretended that this was a temporary measure, and that somehow, soon, we'd be together again.

I'm not running away. I'm going away for Scully and Will. I would risk anything, personally, to stay with them, but by staying I was putting both of them in danger. I wanted them to come with me. I wanted it so badly, but we both knew it wasn't time, for so many reasons. I have to be sure I can keep them safe.

When she wasn't looking, I took one Scully's soft tee shirts out of the hamper and stuffed it in my bag. I also took one of Will's little shirts. Not a very original idea: when I came back, I found one of my shirts under Scully's pillow. I never told her I found it, just as I didn't tell her I was taking one of her shirts. When she notices it's gone, she'll know where it went.

I didn't dare pack any pictures. I don't want anything obvious with me, just in case. It was a risk taking even an article of clothing. But I want at least a small reminder of what I held in my hands for such a brief time.

At the end of our forty-eight hours, I loaded my bags into the nondescript older car I'd paid cash for. I had my new identity in my pocket; Fox William Mulder was no more. Scully kept her distance while I did my loading. Will was fussy, as if he knew that changes were afoot. As if he knew that his little world was about to be turned on its head. Scully paced with him, back and forth, back and forth. She wouldn't look at me.

Finally, all bags loaded, I stood before Scully and Will. Her eyes were wet and her mouth trembled, but she looked me in the eye and kept her back straight, just as I'd seen her do hundreds of times in the past. I held her face in my palms and gave her one last kiss, and then one more. I smoothed Will's hair with my fingers, stroking the soft down over and over again.

I kissed her again, and turned away. I didn't say goodbye, and neither did she.

One day, Scully and Will will simply disappear, and we will be together again. In the meantime, I don't even dare get in touch. I'm relying on the Gunmen to get me word if necessary, but we both agreed that any regular communication would be a bad idea.

I'm far away now. It seems even farther than when I was abducted and held against my will. Then, though I struggled and cursed, I was unable to return. Now, I'm my own jailer, and it's infinitely harder. Too many times in the first thousand miles I nearly turned back. At every stop, it was a battle to keep from calling.

Another forty-eight hours have passed since I last saw Scully and Will. How many more will have to pass before this ache goes away? How many more before I can return to them, or ask them to come to me?

I have to believe that this is the right course to take.


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