Rating: R, because you might find some of the descriptions confronting. Proceed with caution.
Category: SA, DSF.
Spoilers: Existence and Emily, general XF knowledge all the way up to 8th season particularly mytharc. Timeline: Only up to Existence; I can't make calls on a season I haven't yet watched. :-) I'm gonna pretend I didn't read some of those spoilers, too.
Archive: I've already posted to XFMU; Ephemeral and Gossamer, yes.
Why?: Because Cassie asked if Scully had the guts to get DNA testing done. And then Bel complained that she didn't have the time to write giant mytharc fic. Neither do I, but my muse responded like so anyway. Thanks, Cassie and Bel.
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine, nor do I intend any infringement. They belong to CC etc. and especially the actors who portray them. The mytharc isn't mine, either. I just like to play with it. <g>
"... now you are suspended between earth and sky. Tubes feed you glucose intravenously. Naked you lie In your special room in Ward Fifteen. Is your life Opening again or closing finally?..."
Intensive care units always had a particular smell. Metallic like blood, like the machines that lined the room and beeped and whirred. Scully stood outside the window looking in, knowing her sweaty hands would leave palm prints tracked with the few tears she had shed that night.
William was ill and she almost panicked, remembering an ugly green cyst puckering at the base of another child's spine. In her own fevered rush she had looked back at his medical records, created at her insistence to track any anomalies. Nothing then, nothing yet.
Now he was fevered and sick and curled up in a machine, his small body breathing on his own. But he was small and his symptoms were odd and they were all doing the best they could. Special Agent Dana Scully, M.D was a mother too, and as a doctor and a mother and a federal agent she often had to suppress the urge to move the pediatricians away and work on her son herself. Even now she still dressed in the greens and stood by the doctors as they delicately worked to bring down Will's fever. Transfusion wounds marked his heels. His dummy was taped into his mouth.
But he responded when she stroked his arm, and his pulse was still strong. And his blood was red. Small reassurance, perhaps, but knowing that his blood was red was relief in itself. When he turned his head and opened his eyes to stare at her with heartbreakingly blue eyes, she felt something within her rise.
Something that felt distinctly like hope.
She had so many questions, many of which she didn't know who to ask. William was a mass of unanswered questions, a gift she didn't even know she was capable of. In some of the days he survived Scully found herself thanking a god she had feared the existence of ever since she had stood on the edge of an African shore and a desperately ill Mulder had been slamming his head against a wall to try and stop it from invading the minds of others. Scully had lost so much, and she never expected it to return. But there it was, all coming back to her in the space of one year. A life committed to the grave. Fertility. Faith. She had lost the first again to the quest that consumed them all, but new life still existed in the form of this child.
Questions, turning slowly in her mind.
She sensed warmth behind her and knew who it was. "John," she said, turning to face him.
"Dana," he said, and it felt natural. They weren't Special Agents of the F.B.I, not at this moment. They were parents. He who had lost a son, and she who was hoping to hold onto hers. "How's the little tyke doin'?"
"Holding up," she said. Understanding glimmered in his eyes. He offered her a moment of comfort in a gentle hug, and she accepted it briefly before she pulled away.
"Will's a strong kid. He's fighting, even now. He'll pull through."
Scully nodded. "I know. I doubted, at first, but he will. He's recovering well."
"He's got your genes, Scully. He'll bounce back." He would look out for them both, Doggett had promised himself. Look out for them, so they wouldn't get hurt nearly as much as Scully had been in the past few years.
She glanced up at him "What was it like, when Luke was born?"
1989. Caesarians were still commonly performed at the time, but Julia had wanted a natural birth. Doggett remembered the tears squeezing from both their eyes, Julia's hands curling around his, swearing and laughing and confessing their love for each other and their children and everything in the whole world. It had hurt for her, he knew, but a joyful kind of pain that lasted even beyond the grave. He remembered the few details Reyes had told him about William's birth. Knew that Scully would have been hurt, too, knew it from the emergency team crowding around her when the helicopter had arrived at the hospital.
There were good kinds of pain as well as bad. The stinging ache he had felt in his chest when he looked down into Luke's humidicrib, all those years ago, was a bitter, melancholy, heartening pain that reminded him once again just how human everyone was.
Scully watched the play of emotions across Doggett's face and decided not to push the topic. He would tell her, in his own time.
She turned her head to see a fellow doctor, William's doctor, approach her. Scully sighed. She knew what he was going to say...
"Get some rest. In your own bed. You need comfortable sleep, just like your son. You can come back in the morning."
Doggett's fingers brushed along her elbow. She resisted the tempation to lean against their support. "I'll take you home," he said.
That's what it was, pain. Ripping through her like nothing else, like everything else.
A slug being yanked from her spine. A bullet tearing through her body. The hand of a ghoul tearing through her torso, clasping around her heart. The flashing, recurring memory of bright lights, of mechanical rape. Blood, so much blood. Yes, she knew pain, but this seemed so much different, she was creating new life not watching it die --
Rush of blood and water.
Lowing like a cow, heaving with fear and exertion, staring fixedly at the crowd of replicants who had arrived to witness the birth.
"It's MINE!" she bellowed. "You can't take him! You won't!"
She awoke in the car with a start. Doggett's hand left the gearstick to touch her lightly on the shoulder.
"You were dreaming."
"I was remembering." Couldn't shake the memory of the almost empty stares of the replicants, the final violation in a gestation that had been full of them. They clouded her mind like she was merely a foetus herself, tumbling headlong in the amniotic fluid, surrounded in memory and conspiracy. She leaned against the window and stared at him. "You never answered my question."
"About Luke's birth."
"Oh," Doggett said, and grew quiet, introspective. His eyes averted slightly to the dashboard, thinking, before focusing on the road. After a long moment of silence and negotiating traffic he finally said something softly, as if to himself.
"John?" she asked.
"Luke was a twin." At her inquiring, curious look, he nodded. "Fraternal twins. Runs in the family. My brother and sister, Tim and Sarah, they're twins."
She looked at his face, clouded with memory. "What happened?"
"Julia didn't want a caesarian birth, but when they came out early it would've been necessary if she wasn't already too far gone." His smile was happy but bittersweet. "God, I remember when Luke was born. She held my hand and swore she would gut me if I didn't stop laughing."
Scully smiled at his unexpected comment. "You were laughing?"
Doggett shrugged, a proud smile still playing at his lips. "I was happy."
Happiness still shone from him with his memory. Scully silently memorised the lightness in his features, the levity in his gaze. She had seen her partner laughing and chuckling, but never before had she seen his smile radiate from him so completely.
That's probably me when I look in the mirror, Scully thought.
"They were early. I think Luke wanted to get out and start living as soon as possible. Rachel came a few hours later. It was a hard labor."
Scully nodded, slowly absorbing herself into her partner's story. Doggett's face lost some of its lightness as his brows began to furrow.
"Rachel was strong as she could be, but she was also tired.
We had to make a choice."
He didn't need to mention the transfusions or the sprawl of machines that kept her living. Scully had known that herself, if only for a few tense days before William began fighting back. He and Julia didn't know whether or not to start grieving, even when they knew Rachel would never make it unsupported, because Luke was always in the next humidicrib, kicking and blinking up out at the world occasionally with his curious brown eyes.
Doggett remembered walking into an intensive care unit more than ten years ago to find that Luke had wriggled his way over to the edge of his humidicrib, wires and all. The edge that was closest to his sister's. Rachel had ceased her brave fight only a few days later.
He swallowed back the lump in his throat and turned to Scully with his eyes bright, his voice firm and reassuring.
"Technology has come far in the last ten years. And Will's still fightin'. He'll keep his shot at life, Dana."
He said it with all the conviction he could summon from the world around him. Scully simply watched him for a while, enough to pique his concern.
Then Scully smiled, and Doggett knew she had found the strength in him that he was offering.
//Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight...//
Nursery rhymes, of all things.
Feeling her water break, knowing the time was nigh.
Ominous feeling, like doom.
//First star I see tonight...//
Sweet Jesus, she was going to have a baby. Where was her mother? Where was her sister? She was going to cry, but she couldn't, she had to be strong for her child.
//I wish I may, I wish I might...//
Those lights. Those cars. That wasn't Mulder or Doggett or Skinner anyone who would save her. Too many cars. Too many lights.
Not the stars. Those lights weren't the stars.
Focusing back to the present. Staring at the determined face of someone she barely knew. Doggett knew this woman. Knew that in these times she would help in any way she could. Scully faltered for a moment, feeling a wave of fatigue flood through her body.
No. She couldn't sleep. Not now. Not when there was the threat these visitors would take her child away. She had to put her faith in something. That this child would be born. That help was out there. That her child would remain hers.
Reyes' dark eyes, trying to channel her own strength into Scully.
Scully put her trust into Reyes' capable hands and heaved as hard as she could.
She missed Pendrell, the adorable lug.
Every time she wandered back into the Sci-Crime labs part of her still expected to see his smiling, boyish face, his unfaltering admiration. Sean Pendrell was an agent who at the very least, respected the journey of the X-Files. They may have pushed his scientific curiosities with their cases, but he was always a loyal ear.
Two hours earlier Scully had stood outside the doorway of the Sci-Crime labs, knowing that there wasn't an agent inside who would be willing to step outside normal procedures for an unofficial X-File. Now she was acting outside official channels, having gained access to a biotesting facility with her credentials and a little aggressive persuasion. She wasn't sure who she could trust with this.
"I would like to match it with a sample I have," she had told the pathologist in charge, but she made no mention of the second sample.
Now she stood among the complicated machines that would confirm or debunk her suspicions. After adding the DNA splicing bacteria to William's blood, Scully opened the chilled box she carried and stared at the lone vial. This had been Mulder's, for a while.
Scully found that undergoing the usual motions of hard science comforted her in a different way to investigating. This was scientific evidence she was gathering here, solid fact. She worked letting all thoughts fade except that of her son and the task at hand. This was proof, she thought, worriedly glancing at the second vial. Proof that she couldn't trust with any other scientist in the business.
She turned the empty vial thoughtfully in her hand after she placed the recombinant DNA cultures into the incubator. Wondered what her colleagues in the science world would have said if she had asked them to handle this case. Pendrell, he would have expected something weird. Thrived on it. Anyone else... she wasn't so sure.
Scully missed him. Aware of his crush on her, she had long thought of him like a brother she saw more often than her own. He would have been proud to know she had a child, she knew. Maybe she would have made him godfather as well as Skinner. Lucky William could have too. Or at any rate, he would have been Uncle Sean, with his floppy red hair and easy-going manner. He would have been a friend. Scully had Skinner and Doggett and Reyes and Mulder, out fighting the future while she resolved her past.
It would take time for those tiny little bacteria to break down all that DNA, to make it part of them. Scully sighed and looked away. She just had to be patient. These things took time. She would have to wait another day, get the staff here to complete the electrophoresis if she couldn't make it... but the main part, that which she had to conceal, was done.
She knew this child was hers. She had long known this child was hers. The tests with Dr. Parenti confirmed that, even though she had done nothing about confirming its paternity. The failed IVF, the incident with the Smoking Man... she couldn't shut either thought out. The origins of this child still remained unknown...
Waking up in the car. Miles from home. A near stranger taking her to location unknown. She had to trust Doggett's judgement on this, with his friend, the place he had suggested for her child's birth. She did trust him. Enough to put her life in the hands of a stranger who reminded her so much like her murdered sister.
When the rush of thought faded, one thought in mind rising and taking over all else.
//This child is mine.//
Nobody, human or alien, was going to take it away.
No matter what they believed it was.
Scully turned to see the smiling face of Monica Reyes and offered as strong a smile as she could manage. "Good morning, Monica." It was odd for her to be using the first names of colleagues when she had grown so accustomed to calling Mulder by his last, but Reyes deserved more than the prefix she had taken care to add to Doggett's name before William's birth. Monica had helped Scully deliver her child. Defended her as best as she could.
"I asked for something to be sent here to this office. Comprehensive results on a DNA analysis I began yesterday."
"Your mail is in the inbox. I was going to drop it over, or ask John to pass it on -- I didn't think you'd be coming in today. Are you well? And how is Will?"
"Will's pulling through," Scully said, picking the envelope up from the inbox on Doggett's desk. She looked up at Reyes again and allowed a warm, genuine smile to flood her face. "He's getting better."
"The doctors keep kicking me out," Scully admitted. "I wanted to stay out in the halls, but they ordered me to get some sleep... and I had to pick up these."
"You could have called, I would have brought it along for you," Reyes said.
"It's okay, really." How could she explain the paranoia surrounding these results? What were the chances that someone could leap out from an alleyway and take all confirmations of William's birth away? She honestly didn't know. Scully looked up from where she was idly picking at the envelope and encountered Reyes' understanding smile. Scully knew Monica wouldn't push the subject, not then.
"I'll leave you be --" Reyes began.
"No, really. You don't have to leave on my account."
Scully held up a hand. "I'll -- be on my way."
"This is your office."
//And yours and Doggett's too now//, Scully wanted to argue, but ingrained territorialism prevented her from saying it out loud.
"I should be heading back to see William." She headed to the door but turned on impulse. "Come with me," she said. "Will could use the company, and your thoughts."
Reyes lifted a file. "Paperwork," she said ruefully. "I'll drop by during visiting hours, though? Later tonight?"
"Thank you," Scully said. Reyes nodded and reached out to touch Scully's elbow.
"You take care of yourself, Dana, and Will."
Scully nodded, and they shared another smile.
There was a security in Reyes' friendship that was much like Pendrell's, Scully mused as she headed along the hallway toward the elevator. No questions asked, only support. A bond became forged when Scully placed her trust and her baby into Monica's hands, and it was the kind of bond that reminded her of friendships she long had lost. Friendships that would last forever, beyond all trials.
As she pressed the button and the elevator opened, Scully mulled over the many trials they all would face. Hoped that Reyes, Doggett, Skinner, all of them were prepared. And Mulder, whom she knew was out there somewhere... that he was preparing, too.
Scully leaned back as the elevator moved, opening the envelope. The transparent photographic sheets of the electrophoresis slid out easily. She hesitated. She didn't think she wanted to know. But she slid the sheets over one another anyway, watched the small black bars collide and pass in slow motion.
Her eyes frantically tracked the crossover movement of the little dark lines. As match after match consolidated themselves, certainty grew harder in her gut. Yes. There were no doubts. Science itself told her this.
Science created this child. Science proved its existence, its heritage.
The elevator opened to the parking lot floor.
The hospital. Looking up at her new partner's face in fear, wondering what was done to her.
//I was drugged. Oh, God, I heard alien screams,
but that can't be possible, how could she have
given birth to an alien -- //
Her child. What had they done to her child? Was it as easy as replacing a tape in a VCR, tacking a different label onto it and terming it human? Was it that simple? Was a few missing hours all they needed to --
//He knows. Doggett knows about my baby.//
His hand on her shoulder, reassuring,
But how? How did he understand? And would their partnership progress to the point where she could learn the answers from Doggett himself?
It did, of course.
His door was like any other suburban front door. Only more welcoming, because she knew the man on the other side of it. Scully hesitated only a moment before her knuckles rapped sharply on the wood.
She could hear his distant, muffled call. "Just a minute." Less than a minute later he was opening the door, looking straight at her.
"Agent Doggett," she said, slipping immediately back into formal mode without even realising it. He simply nodded, still watching her.
"Are you alright?"
"I don't -- I don't know."
He stepped forward, dropping the prefix and the pretense. "Dana -- what is it?"
She opened her hand. A small vial, much smaller than the original, containing liquid tainted with green glinted accusingly in the morning light. This had been Mulder's, for a while. They belonged to her, to a child she barely knew about. All she knew was that there was a sibling out there, turning in green amniotic fluid, with her genes and God knew what else.
"Stem cells," she said at his inquiring gaze. "With a genetic code that matches William's one hundred percent."
"Identical twins?" Doggett suggested, his expression troubled. He had no inkling of why it would be green.
Scully carefully tucked the vial back into its chilled pouch. "Mulder kept this from me at first," she said. "He did so in good faith, and now that I have this it presents another mystery to me. John, the child these stem cells are from would have been born three years ago."
He glanced up at her in surprise. "What do you mean?" he asked.
Scully chewed on her bottom lip. "I'm going to see William," she said. "I'll tell you on the way."
But even after she had tried to explain it all on the drive to the hospital, it still didn't make any sense. Scully stood outside the window of the intensive care ward again, staring in at her son.
She tugged at the sleeves of her hospital greens to make sure they were secured. Glancing at her reflection in the wire-strengthened glass to ensure all exposed surfaces were properly concealed, Scully pushed open the door slowly. The sucking pressure of the door was almost comforting. She looked back at Doggett's warm, understanding gaze. He nodded, and she took a breath and stepped quickly inside.
William's humidicrib sat in the corner of the room. Scully looked down at her hands, still fearing the risk of some contamination.
"Hey, William," she said, stroking his arm. He stopped fussing and looked at her with big blue eyes. Her eyes. She looked up at the heart monitor. At her contact, his pulse had dropped slightly, to a more normal beat.
He knows me, Scully thought and smiled. She glanced up at the window to see Doggett watching her. She shared her smile with him, and watched his tense shoulders relax slightly.
Scully looked back down and gently touched William's small fingers. This child was an impossibility. An impossibility, or a clone. She remembered cradling the limp body of a full-grown daughter she had known only for scant days. She remembered watching Emily suffer horribly in those days. The pressurizing machine casting her nerves and veins into high relief on her skin. The fear in Emily's eyes, the look of betrayal, the accusations that Scully had said it was going to be okay but it wasn't, there was pain like her flesh was being invaded like worms or slugs or bullets or hands...
Questions, turning slowly in her mind. More, now that she had some kind of proven answer.
"Will..." Scully said softly, leaning over the humidicrib. "You've got a sibling out there somewhere. Someone just like you. Exactly like you." She paused and sighed for a moment, thinking about all the ambiguities the X-Files had presented her with for the last eight years. "I just have to find him."
She glanced up at the snicking sound of the pressurized door opening. Doggett still stood in the window, shooting her a resigned look. The nurse's face as she approached was concerned but firm. Scully knew she would be asked to leave soon, to let her little boy recover. But William was responding to her, contentedly reaching for her gloved fingers around the tubes that supported him. Her hand tightened gently over her baby boy's small arm.
William's pulse was strong.
And so was hers.
Scully faced the nurse down. The other woman opened her mouth, her eyebrows creeping into a firm line.
"I'm not leaving yet," Scully declared. "I'm not. This one's mine."