TITLE: At A Moments Notice
AUTHOR: Lari R
CLASSIFICATION : MSR, Post Existence, G
SPOILERS : None
DISCLAIMER : They do not belong to me. I couldn't afford to keep Mulder in his Armani. If I owned him, he'd be running around in his black silk boxers, tight Levi's and gray tee-shirt. That is within *my* budget. (Oh, okay Heidi, I'll spring for a pair of glasses as well)
FEEDBACK : YES PLEASE, to : firstname.lastname@example.org
ARCHIVE : Sure, I would be honored. If possible, just let me know where so I can drop by for some tea and scones.
SUMMARY : Some humor, some angst, and a lot of schmoop!
"Shi...your mother is going to kill us."
The dire significance of this statement was totally lost on the eight month old infant who was sitting regally in his feeding chair, kicking his little legs in joyful abandon and grinning proudly at his impromptu handiwork in the kitchen.
Mulder looked around the room and groaned. A chalky, vomitus green substance had mysteriously ensconced itself into every conceivable nook and cranny of the kitchen in the three seconds he'd diverted his attention to retrieve a spoon which had been unceremoniously thrown onto the floor. The pristine white cupboards, the walls, and the countertops were sporting an unhealthy smearing of this compound, also known in certain gourmet baby cuisine circles as "creamed peas".
"Shit," Mulder cursed softly without censoring himself this time, as a gooey, green mass slipped off the overhead ceiling fan and landed in a squishy mess on his head. "There's an "Exorcist" joke in here somewhere," he muttered. This triggered off a fresh peal of giggles from the cherubic perpetrator of said crime who, like his victim, was also rather liberally splattered with the incriminating evidence.
"You think this is funny, huh? Flinging handfuls of those creamed peas that she'd insisted I feed you tonight. She's going to ground us for life," Mulder teased while lifting little William out of the chair and high into the air. "Well, maybe not *you*. She can't resist that toothless grin of yours." He playfully rubbed the green goo from his head onto the baby's rotund belly. William fastened his sticky fingers into his father's hair and chortled happily while they made their way down the hallway.
"But, I am a goner, and I thought I was going to get lucky tonight. Hey Willster, you're a guy. You caught that smoldering look your mommy threw at me, didn't ya, before she left to do "an urgent autopsy" on a Saturday night of all nights?" he complained to his son. "Maybe she doesn't think I'm so bad at that."
Mulder reached his destination and bent down to fill the bathtub with water while balancing William on his hip.
"But that Agent Doggett needs to get a life, don't you agree, buddy?"
William was now busy trying to shove three creamed pea smothered fingers into his little mouth. "Well, that's one way to get you to eat your vegetables. Okay, you little terror, let's get you cleaned before Mommy gets back," Mulder instructed while removing William's soiled clothing and kicking off his own rapidly congealing tee-shirt and jeans.
"Scullee, Scullee," shrieked the baby happily.
Mulder smiled, tested the temperature of the water with his big toe and slipped into the tub with the squirming infant in his arms.
"Yeah, Scullee," he mimicked and placed a kiss on William's downy hair. "I miss her too."
Their son had apparently decided that he was going to call her "Scullee" instead of "Mommy". She'd complained that it was all Mulder’s fault, but he knew she loved it and positively beamed whenever William said it.
Their leisurely bath was interrupted a few minutes later by the shrill ringing of the phone. The baby started his "Scullee" chant again while merrily splashing the water with his chubby hands and catching his father directly in the face as he stretched for the portable phone.
"Hey, Scully, watcha doin'? The Willster and I are kickin' back, just done watching the Knicks game and re-painting the kitchen in this kitschy moss green which is actually all the rage this year according to Martha Stewart..."
"Mulder," a distinctly masculine voice interrupted, "it's Skinner."
"Hey Skinman," Mulder greeted warmly while ineffectually trying to brush off some the water that William was still enthusiastically splashing into his face. "What's up?"
There was a lengthy pause before Skinner answered hesitantly, "It's Scully..."
"What's wrong?" Mulder asked, immediately standing up with William in his arms. He jumped out of the tub and hugged the baby closely to his chest, his heart pounding rapidly. "Is Scully okay?"
"Mulder, she's been shot. The doctors are working on her right now."
He cradled the phone between his neck and shoulder and wrapped a towel around himself and his son with an unsteady hand. "Where is she?"
Mulder hung up the phone and launched out of the bathroom without even hearing the rest of the word.
He stared unseeingly at the neon "Emergency Vehicles Only" sign, their letters appearing blurred through the rainy windshield and tried to school his rapid breathing. He was totally paralyzed with fear. It was as if the last eight months had lulled him into asense of complacency, effectively blocking out the real horrors that were always seething under the surface, ready to erupt at a moments notice.
Bowing his head on the steering wheel, he spent a few wasted seconds attempting to regain his composure. A whimper from the back seat mobilized him into action again. Lifting his son with hands that were shaking, Mulder embraced him tightly and tucked William under his jacket, next to his heart. They ran across the wet parking lot and through the ER doors.
It was surprisingly deserted for a Saturday night in DC. A handful of people were seated in the waiting area, including a young kid with a broken nose and an elderly woman in a wheelchair who was coughing deeply.
His eyes desperately sought out an admitting clerk, a nurse or a doctor, someone he could speak to, someone who could tell him...something, anything. His breathing was becoming labored and he felt lightheaded.
He whipped his head around at the mention of his name to see Skinner standing with Agent Doggett and a nurse at the opposite end of the corridor at the nurses station. Mulder broke into a sprint and ran towards them, cradling the baby in his arms.
"Where is she? How is she?" he shouted frantically.
"Slow down, Muld..." Skinner grabbed his shoulder, but Mulder shrugged out of his grasp.
"I have to see her. Dammit, where is she? Where's Scully?" his voice sounding hoarse and shaky.
"Sir, you have to calm down," bustled the ER nurse next to Skinner. "She is having a head CT Scan right now, and should be out in a few minutes. You can talk to Dr. Firth once they are done."
"Where is the doctor? I need to speak to him *now*," Mulder screamed at the cowering woman.
"Mulder, settle down," Doggett chided gruffly while nodding knowingly at the baby.
Mulder then noticed that the little bundle in his arms was whimpering softly, his lower lip quivering, and his eyes filling up with tears. Inhaling deeply, he hugged his son tightly while covering his fuzzy head with kisses.
"Hey, buddy. Shhh, it's okay, I promise. We...we're gonna find mommy, okay," he whispered, his voice breaking slightly.
The baby visibly perked up when he heard this and bestowed a sweet gummy smile upon his father. "Scullee...Scullee," he chirped, much to the surprise of both Skinner and Doggett.
Mulder shook his head in agreement and smiled back at him, afraid to speak, terrified that he may break down completely. He had more than himself to think about now...his son needed him.
"Mulder, I'm sorry. I asked her to come down to the crime scene to give me her opinion before she started the autopsy. We didn't know the shooter was still at the scene," Doggett said apologetically.
"Will someone just fucking tell me how she is? Please!" Mulder whispered furiously.
"Sir...Mr. Mulder," interrupted the ER nurse who was in the process of hanging up the phone at her desk. "Dr. Firth will see you now. If you'll follow me..."
Dr. Firth was a handsome, hot shot doctor barely out of medical school who stood almost at eye level with Mulder. He extended his hand to Mulder and gestured towards an empty chair in the office. The room was cast in a muted blue-gray light, as a collection of x-ray films shone atop bright light boards.
"Well, you must be the young man that your mommy was talking about," cooed the doctor while he attempted to tweak William's cheeks after Mulder declined to sit.
"Would you *please* tell me how she is?" Mulder demanded softly through clenched teeth, breathing deeply while he felt his heart pounding erratically in his chest.
The baby instinctively sensed his distress and started to cry. He tried to comfort both the child and himself by humming softly and gently rocking him in his arms. Mulder then realized how a single event could touch the lives of so many people. For all of the times that he'd had little regard for his own safety, there was always somebody worrying about him. Scully. But now there was another person who depended on him to make sure that they all got through another day.
"Actually, she is remarkably well for someone who sustained a GSW to the head at near point-blank range. The bullet just grazed the temporal soft tissue on a superficial level. All that Dana has is a concussion and a minor abrasion that the bullet left behind."
Mulder shakily sat down on the chair with legs that threatened to stop supporting him and hugged the baby close to him. He closed his eyes tightly and swallowed deeply.
"Can I...Where is she? I...*we* need to see her," he said gruffly, running a hand over William's downy head.
"Of course. She should be in her room shortly. She'll be admitted to the neurology ward on the fourth floor for overnight neurological observations. Give them a few minutes to get her settled. I'm sure she must be as anxious to see the two of you."
William was sleeping peacefully in his arms by the time Mulder was finally allowed to see Scully. Skinner and Doggett offered to look after him but Mulder refused to let his son out of his sight. With Scully injured, their son was the only thread holding him to his sanity at this point.
Closing the door softly behind him, he swiftly made his way to the diminutive woman asleep on the bed. His eyes greedily devoured her face, wincing at the bandage around her forehead before they settled on the steady rise and fall of her chest. Relief washed over him and he let out a deep breath he had been holding.
Mulder reached out and pushed a few strands of hair from her face. He bent down and kissed her forehead, his thumb stroking along her collarbone. He softly dragged a chair as close to the bed rail as he could and sat down, the baby still asleep.
"Hey," he whispered, when he noticed her eyes flutter open.
She turned slowly and looked groggily at him, then smiled widely, and suddenly winced in discomfort. "Oh, my head...Mulder."
"Shh, Scully, don't move. Do you want me to call the doctor?"
"No, I just have a king-sized headache, which is to be expected, I guess," she complained huskily, licking her dry lips with her tongue.
"How are you, Mulder?" she asked, a small frown creating a crease on her forehead. "Where's William?" she asked in a sudden panic, lifting her head off the pillows.
"Shh, he's right here." He stood, lowered the bedrail and sat next to her with William in his arms. She traced his tiny fingers as Mulder leaned closer for her to see the baby. "Our little Picasso is totally wiped out from all the excitement."
Her brows piqued in confusion at the new nickname.
"I'll explain later," he promised.
She gave him a shaky smile and placed a gentle kiss on one the baby's chubby hands. Their little angel stirred slowly before he opened his eyes, and chortled gleefully in recognition, "Scullee, Scullee." He then launched himself into her arms, much to the delight of his anxious mother.
"Hey, sweetie, how are you?" she cooed, her eyes filling up with tears while he burrowed hungrily for her breast, whining softly when he wasn't successful.
Mulder helped her slip an arm through the sleeve of her gown and draped the cotton material over her exposed breast. "Are you sure you're up to nursing him right now, Scully? You need to rest."
She shifted around until William was able to latch on her nipple and let out a soul-cleansing sigh, "This is the most relaxing thing in the world for me, Mulder." She watched as her son nursed vigorously, his little cheeks bellowing in and out. "Poor baby, you're so hungry. Didn't your daddy feed you tonight?" she teased and looked up at Mulder.
She slowly lowered her head to place a kiss on William's cheek. He grabbed her finger and began to play with the heavy gold band that resided there. This was an established routine that mother and son had developed during breastfeeding, one that Mulder adored from the moment he'd placed that ring on her finger.
"I'm fine, Mulder," she said reassuringly while stroking the baby's soft head. She knew how much William loved the ritual.
Scully chuckled when Mulder raised his eyebrows at her last remark. "Honestly, Mulder."
He sat quietly, watching them together, these two people who made up his whole world. The significance and earth shattering gravity of the night's events suddenly overwhelmed him, and he started shaking uncontrollably.
He bent forward and placed his forehead against hers, desperately needing this physical contact with her and the baby. She looked deeply into his eyes, allowing him to openly see what he meant to her.
"We're fine, Mulder. Together, we always will be," she promised and kissed him gently on his lips.
"That's a promise I intend to keep, Scully," he whispered. "For all of us."
My eternal thanks to Beduini and Sagan for the kick-ass beta. You duckies ROCK!!! Beduini, you get to have the unbuttoned Levi's(top two buttons undone), the glasses and Firth. Shan, you get to keep the black silk boxers and the red speedo.
I want to also thank my duckalicious duckies for all the love and support they generously shared with me since it was announced that the Sixth Extinction was nigh i.e. a MULDERLESS WORLD!! (Thank you for the loan of the strait jacket and for hiding the gun, the knife, the rope, the noxious gases and the pills. A girl can endure all the miseries of this cruel world after that perfect end scene in "Existence". Who would have thunk that CC was the biggest shipper of us all!!)
Make sure that you visit: http://www.justduckies.org/ for a wonderful shippy treat which will taste as good as Mulder covered in whipped cream and cherries.(well, almost) (Delicious Fic by Beduini, Kemystre, Rah and Sagan) My other stories live at this residence: http://www.justduckies.org/larir.htm