Title: After Mulder: 2. Moving Mountains
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Spoilers: Season 8
Archive: Yes to XFMU and Addicted to Doggett. Drop me an email if you want it elsewhere. :-D
Disclaimer: No, they aren't mine.
Author’s Note: Dedicated to Trust and Jess. You two know why. Thanks, gals.
Summary: Second in a series.
"Cherry or mahogany?"
No response. Doggett glanced over at Scully, who was relaxing on his sofa looking at one of many baby catalogues she had collected over the last couple of months. Her legs and feet were across his lap, making a perfect target. Slowly, his fingers switched from kneading her muscles to tickling the middle of her feet.
"Wha…hey!" Scully playfully slapped at him with the catalogue she had been holding. "Okay! Okay!" Her swollen body squirmed under his fingers. "I give up! I will do whatever you want!"
"That’s more like it," he remarked with a mischievous grin. "What type of wood do you prefer for the baby’s room? Cherry or mahogany?"
"You know I don’t care. Why do you keep asking anyway?"
Doggett just smiled and kissed her kneecaps. "It’s a surprise. No more information." The surprise was something he had wanted to do for his own child but never had the opportunity. In the last week, he had drawn up plans to build a rocking chair for Scully and the baby. "You know, things would be easier if you’d just find out what you were having."
"Good try but the answer is no. I just want the baby to be healthy." Scully rubbed her hand across her stomach with a sigh. "You’ve been so good to me, John."
Scully was the first woman in many years to effectively break down the wall he so often put up for protection. As he slid his arm slowly up to her shoulder and let the back of his hand brush against her cheek, Doggett considered every piece of the puzzle that had to fall into place to push them towards this moment.
As a blush began to creep along her cheekbones, he focused all of his attention on her. Caressing her soft skin, he kissed her gently. As he broke away, he looked into her eyes. "After these last few months, I…Dana, every time I look at you and I feel the baby move, I know why I got assigned to this unit."
"John…" Scully traced the outline of his lips with her fingertips.
"Tell me I’m not just a substitute for Mulder."
She drew him to her, hugging him tightly. Conflicting emotions rendered her speechless – of course, she could just blame it on hormones and forget about it. However, the tension would not cease. And now…now he asks her to tell him this. It felt like she had to draw a distinction between the two men who had been so important to her.
"Dana?" He pushed back ever so slightly to look at
her face. She was crying and his heart sank. "I’m
sorry. I – "
The shrill ring of the phone prevented any further apology. Doggett rushed to answer it only to learn the job was taking him away from home. "Skinner," he explained, "Apparently he’s got a case he wants me to look at involving unexplained deaths."
"Oh, okay." Scully gathered her purse and coat, "You don’t mind taking me home, do you? I’ve got a few things to take care of." That was true, but she really needed to be alone. She needed to think. Things were getting complicated and it was unnerving.
Time away from Doggett was necessary. ‘Tell me I’m not just a substitute for Mulder’ he had asked. Why had that scared her so much?
She knew the answer yet could not bring herself to tell him the truth. She had to come to terms with Mulder’s death first.
Scully somberly removed a box from the closet and placed its contents one at a time on her bed. A NICAP ball cap, a framed portrait of a lost sister and her brother, a swatch of an old Knicks t-shirt, and that Apollo 11 key chain he gave her so many years ago – every item had a memory attached to it, a memory so dear she could recall it as if it were yesterday.
She pulled the swatch of fabric from its plastic bag and held it to her chest. ‘I’m going to be a good mother to our baby, Mulder.’ Her vow was silent, as was the room. Even the air seemed to understand this was an important moment for Scully.
Since she never came to the door when he knocked, Doggett used his spare key to let himself in. The door to her bedroom was slightly ajar. If she was asleep, he would not disturb her. She was sitting on the floor by her bed when he peered through the crack. "Dana?"
Scully jumped suddenly, snapping out of her reverent state. "John. I…I didn’t hear you."
"I knocked…" He trailed off as he noticed what was in front of her. Items from Mulder’s desk. His mouth felt dry and cottony. "Anything wrong?"
"No," she shook her head and replaced the items in the box, "I was just, uh, going through some things I haven’t had time to look over. Everything’s fine."
Doggett crouched to pick up the box lid. As he did, he caught Scully’s arm and looked into her eyes. "Am I just a substitute for Mulder?"
His voice was so quiet and sad as he asked it, Scully almost broke down at that point. She was already nervous enough but now…she had never intended to hurt him. And he wasn’t. They were both two different men who were in her life at just the right times. Why couldn’t she bring herself to say that?
"John, never-" Scully stopped and clutched her stomach.
"Dana!" Doggett helped her from the ground, "Can you walk? Is it the baby?"
Scully only nodded. ‘Make it,’ she told herself, ‘Trust him.’
Doggett made a desperate rush to carefully take Scully to his truck. There was a panic in his eyes, but he stayed calm as he drove her to the hospital. He loved her. He loved her child. "Hold on, Dana.
Just hold on."
He paced the hall.
"You aren't family. You can't stay in the room."
So they made him stand in the hall. He couldn't be beside her. He couldn't hold her hand. He couldn't whisper to her and make promises only he could keep. He couldn't tell her that he loved her, that they were meant to be a family.
"Mr. Doggett?" A nurse appeared from nowhere, her face beaming. "You can go in, sir. For just a few minutes."
He wasted no time and pushed past the nurse to get to Scully's room, anxious to see the new arrival, anxious to be near her again.
"Hey, little man." Doggett whispered in awe over the little bundle of perfection Scully held tightly. "What's his name?"
"William," she was in awe, herself, "In honor of both his grandfathers." Scully pulled back the blanket from his face as he began to yawn. "He's so tiny - his fingers, his toes, even his ears are small."
"He's a 'baby', Dana," Doggett teased her, "they're supposed to be small. I can tell William has your coloring." He ran his hand over the light smattering of blonde peach fuzz that was William's hair.
"I hope he has his father's spirit. He'll have a long fight ahead of him."
"We know he'll have your spirit." Doggett kissed her softly.
Silence. There was an uncomfortable moment that neither of them could deny. It wasn't as if he had breached a barrier they had agreed upon - they had touched before. Yet, there was a difference.
"Dana," he brushed the back of his hand against her
cheek, "I'm sorry he can't be here for you. I know
what it would mean - "
"He could have fought his way back but he chose not to." Her voice broke as she kept her eyes on William. "I think he knew all along about the baby. It's why he didn't fight back. To sacrifice your life for your child, well, it's the ultimate sacrifice that could be made."
Doggett visibly flinched. His body felt as if she had thrown acid on him. He burned inside and out. "Some people don't have a choice."
Scully looked up, caught off guard by his whispered response. Then it hit her - her words followed by his response and what he meant. "Oh, John, I didn't…I mean…I spoke without thinking. You know that wasn't directed towards you."
"You should probably get some rest."
"John, I'm sorry." Scully started to reach for him just as William began to cry. "Shh, Willy. Give Momma a second. John, please. Stay."
Doggett softly kissed the top of William's head. He wanted to stay but knew he couldn't. Not right now. He was holding back as long as he could. "I'll be back in the morning, Dana. Get to know your son." He left before she could beg him again.
Once outside, he held back no longer. Through angry sobs, he prayed his son would forgive him for not sacrificing his life.
"I would have, Luke. You know I would have."