TITLE: A Rule I Learned in School
AUTHOR: David Hearne
CLASSIFICATION: Post-ep for "Existence"
RATING: PG
DISTRIBUTION: Can go anywhere.
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Website is located at http://members.dencity.com/hearne

Summary: Mulder and Scully introduce their new son to the basement office.


"The body's bone structure had completely vanished. No incisions were found in the corpse. There were no signs of any kind of degenerative disease. As this point, the local MD can't...oh, cool, the baby!"

John Doggett turned away from the viewing screen and towards what stopped his partner's slideshow presentation. A man and a woman were standing in the doorway.

"I hope we're not interrupting anything important," Fox Mulder said as he flipped on a light switch.

Doggett smiled. "Just the usual stuff."

Monica Reyes walked up to Dana Scully. The baby in Scully's arms looked at Reyes with a newborn's incomprehending yet curious attitude.

"Hi," Reyes cooed as she gently stroked the back of the infant's head. "Welcome to the world...uh..."

"William," Scully said, smiling at Reyes.

"I wanted to call him 'Eric Cartmen,'" Mulder said. "but Scully had dibs on naming."

Doggett watched the three adults and the baby from his desk, ten feet away. He said, "So...taking him to the old stomping grounds, huh?"

"That's right," Mulder responded. "Right where he was conceived."

Reyes turned to Mulder with raised eyebrows. Doggett looked down at his desk in a suspicious way.

Mulder squirmed. "Um...I mean..."

"In an emotional sense," Scully explained. "This is where the seeds were planted." Now it was her turn to squirm. "Well, not..."

"We get it," Reyes said.

"I guess...we don't need to explain that..."

"I knew who the father was from the moment I learned about your pregnancy," Doggett said.

"Despite...other possibilities?"

"Let's just say that this is what we were hoping for," Reyes said.

"Amen," Mulder whispered.

The office stayed silent for a moment.

"Maybe you ought to sit down," Doggett suggested to Scully.

"Thank you, I will. I feel fine, though..."

Scully noticed the expression on Mulder's face. "And I do. I really do feel fine."

Mulder nodded and smiled. Scully sat herself in a chair before Doggett's desk.

Then Reyes remembered the image of the boneless human on the screen. "Whoops," she said as she skipped over to the projector and turned it off.

"It's okay," Mulder said. "The kid's gotta find out what his parents did for a living sometime."

"'Did?'" Doggett said. "What are we to infer from that?"

Scully looked up from William to Doggett's concerned face. "Things have changed, Age...John."

"Does this mean you're really not coming back?"

"I'm not sure. Even if I return to the Bureau, I don't think I'll be coming back to the X-Files."

"Oh."

"I think," Reyes said as she moved closer to Doggett. "if anybody can rest on their laurels, it's you, Agent Scully."

"That's what I told her," Mulder said. He placed his hands gently on Scully's shoulders.

"I could say the same thing for you, Mulder. You've both done more than anyone could possibly ask for...well..." Reyes indicated the office.

"Yeah," Mulder said, looking over the filing cabinets and bulletin boards. "I think about everything connected to this place and I feel...tired."

"And it's not over yet, is it?" Doggett said.

Another moment of silence passed by everyone.

"We'll be there for you," Scully promised. "We'll give you any help we can...but..."

Doggett raised his hands. "You don't need to explain it. When you have a kid, it narrows the world down in..."

He stopped himself. After clearing his throat, he said, "Well...it changes everything. Even if the world is being invaded by aliens."

Scully studied Doggett, then asked, "Would you like to hold him?"

"What? No, that's not..."

"Come on."

Doggett hesitated, then stood and walked towards Scully. She held William up. Doggett carefully laid the baby across his own arms. Everybody watched him while he seemed to have a silent conversation with William.

Then Mulder motioned to the blank screen and asked, "So what was the deal with Saggy Pants there?"

Reyes started to explain, but Scully interrupted. "Monica, don't tell him."

"I'm just curious," Mulder assured her.

"That's how it always starts with you. Curiosity. You have left a thousand-mile trail of dead cats in your wake."

"Hm. Cats. Now that reminds me of an interesting case Scully and I had..."

"No, it wasn't, Mulder."

Mulder grinned. "Sorry. Nostalgia has a habit of making everything look good."

"You can only go forward," Doggett said, still watching the baby's face. Then he gave himself an almost imperceptible shake and looked away from William. "And we've all got our things to do, so..."

He returned William to Scully's arms. "Come on, Mulder," Scully said as she stood up. "These people have jobs."

"Sure, sure. Of course, our offer to help still stands. If you need any advice for..."

Scully nudged Mulder. He looked at her in surprise, then shrugged. The two of them headed for the door.

Doggett opened his mouth. He closed it.

Then he opened and said, "Fox? Dana?"

Mulder and Scully turned, both caught off-guard.

"You two give love to that kid every second of his life."

Mulder smiled. "That was the gameplan."

And then he and Scully left.

"Weird," Reyes commented.

"What is?"

"They still call each other by their last names. I guess you can't leave the whole past behind you."

Doggett made no reply. He returned to his chair behind the desk.

"Don't you think?"

Doggett shrugged.

"Well, what *do* you think?'

"I'm thinking...'Boneless guy. What of it?'"


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"Happy endings, nice and tidy. "It's a rule I learned in school. "Get your money every Friday. "Happy endings are the rule."

-- "The Threepenny Opera," translated by Marc Blitzstein

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