Title: Battling Hearts, Crumbling Allegiances
Summary: Two Agents, the Doggett family, and Thanksgiving. Warning: DSR.
Personal note: No one ever show's Doggett's emotions, and he seems like he was the family type before his son died so I don't really see that changing, which is why I put him as such a family man here. Also, I wondered how Doggett would feel once Mulder came back, and everything that Doggett called his is taken away.
The cool water slid down his parched throat, and he sighed as he set the Styrofoam cup back down on the desk. It had already been a long day, and he was eager to get home. After all, it was Thanksgiving and he had a dinner appointment to keep up. Agent John Doggett studied the folder again, wondering yet again how Agent Scully's methods of solving cases worked. He'd never encountered such theories, ones that were so far-fetched, and it made him think about all the cases that had been "solved" through regular causes. Had they truly been solved, or had people just been looking at the simplest and most logical explanation?
He hadn't been on the X-files very long, and Agent Scully held that as a major strike against him. He knew that defensive look in her eyes when he attempted to put his own opinion in about a case or person, the way her lips pursed shut as if she were about to say something but held herself back. Oh no, she'd had a hard time learning to trust him, because of Mulder and all the things that were a constant reminder of him.
The man had been gone for months but his presence still clogged the inside of the room, sometimes making it so stifling and congested that John sometimes had to leave to get some fresh air. It wasn't a bad stench, it was just that he felt that he was forever competing with a ghost. And not just on the professional level either.
Because Special Agent John Doggett was in love with Dana Scully.
He didn't mean for it to happen, hadn't even WANTED it to happen, but it did. Dana Scully was a beautiful woman, but she worked and lived as though she were unaware of her beauty, although John knew that other agents at the bureau the male population to be exact were perfectly aware of it. In fact, they dubbed Agent Scully as the "queen of ice" because of her continuous refusals of any kind of relationship with any other agent of the bureau with the exception of A.D. Skinner and, of course, Agent Mulder.
But that wasn't what truly drew John Doggett to Scully. He wasn't the kind of guy to fall for a woman just because of her beauty, but after they'd worked together for a while, John was convinced that Scully was no more the "queen of ice" as the other agents called her than Barney was a green midget named Bert.
She was strong, with a temper that flared rarely but was strong enough to break your head off. John had often been the butt of her temper, but he enjoyed it, often tossing back comments that were smart yet not exactly offensive. Dana Scully was strong, with a good head on her shoulders, and it didn't matter to John that she was in love with another man.
But the one thing that had truly drawn John Doggett to Dana Scully was not her beauty, her brains, or her willfulness. It was the fact that Dana Scully was strong. He knew the mental strength it took one to get over the loss of a loved one, after all, he had lost his own son. That loss alone had made him a workaholic, intent on getting justice where it belonged, for those he COULD save. Luke's memory was a constant reminder to him of how he had failed, in many ways. Dana had lost a daughter, a sister, and now she'd lost Agent Mulder. She'd almost lost herself to cancer, but had also survived that.
"Agent Doggett?" He heard a voice say. He looked up from his desk, surprised to see Dana Scully standing at the doorway.
"Hey, Agent Scully." He greeted her, standing up as she entered the room, "what brings you here at," He looked at his watch, "six o'clock."
"I should say the same for you," She said, raising an eyebrow in an act that John had come to enjoy seeing. It made her appear more human, despite the skepticism it also represented.
"Me? I'm just wrapping up some paperwork," He answered, clearing his throat as he stacked up the manila folders on his desk and placed them one of the desk's drawers. "It's Thanksgiving, why aren't you out somewhere with your family?"
Her eyes looked slightly troubled, "My mother flew out to be with my brother and his family. I wasn't really up to the flight," She said, patting her stomach. It swelled with her advanced pregnancy, "I thought I'd just come in here to do some work for a while."
"Oh no," He answered, flashing a grin at her, "it's thanksgiving! You shouldn't be here filling out some stupid papers." His concern touched her, and she smiled back at him. He had looked completely at home when she had arrived, only wearing his white collared shirt, the sleeves rolled up, his feet resting on the edge of the desk. He managed to look like a tough workingman with a blue-collar job.
"What do you mean?" She asked, taking a seat behind her own desk.
"You're having dinner with me and my family," he answered, picking up the phone and dialing a number before Dana could protest.
"No, Agent Doggett, I couldn't possibly-"
"Hello, Mom?" Doggett turned his back towards Scully. "It's me. Yes. No. Yeah, did Caitlin get in already? Okay, that's good. Yeah, I'm bringing a friend over. Okay? About an hour. Okay, love you too." He hung up the phone.
"I couldn't really, Agent Doggett-" Dana started, surprised by Doggett's casual display of affection towards his mother. She'd always thought of him as an emotionally removed type of man, one who kept his emotions to himself.
"No, I insist," He said, "Thanksgiving is the one day that we Doggetts get together, and we have this enormous party at my mother's home. You won't be the only 'outsider' there, we have a lot of friends coming over too," He added.
"Are you sure?"
"Of course," His grin became teasing, "unless you're scared."
"Scared?" Damn that smug look on his face, she though. She took the challenge, and he knew it from the way her body stood up straighter, "I'm not scared."
"Okay, good, I'll pick you up in an hour at your place," He answered quickly, and she snorted when she realized she'd been tricked.
"Fine. I'll see you then."
Dana adjusted her blouse, studying her figure in the mirror in her bedroom. Her stomach swelled slightly, but her pregnancy wasn't extremely obvious. She sighed when she realized how vain she seemed, admiring herself, and turned away to put on her high heels.
Thanksgiving. In truth, she hadn't really wanted to go see Bill Jr. and the rest of her family. She knew what Bill would be saying, that it was better that Mulder was gone. No, he wouldn't believe the truth about Mulder's disappearance, that he had been abducted, he'd rather believe that Mulder was a good-for-nothing bastard who had left his little sister pregnant.
She didn't want to hear that.
Mulder had meant the world to her, she thought as she stroked her stomach lovingly. He'd given her the one gift in the world that she never thought she'd be able to have. A baby. But even the joy of knowing she would soon be a mother hadn't been able to dull the pain that she had in her heart every time she walked into Mulder's now hers and Doggett's office and then realize then that Mulder had been gone for nearly five months.
The doorbell rang, and she went to answer it. Doggett was there, looking a bit sheepish and embarrassed as she stepped aside to let him in.
"You look great, Agent Scully." He said, admiring her black slacks and light green blouse. She looked beautiful, a little bit nervous, as if she hadn't been out on a 'date' in a while, even though this wasn't even a date. Her place was neat and tidy, graced with a woman's touch, one thing that Doggett's own home lacked.
"Thank you," She answered. "Are we taking your car?" He looked handsome, wearing a pair of khakis and a gray sweater. The simplicity suited him quite well.
They both headed down to his car in silence, neither knowing what exactly to say. Doggett's black Mustang was parked in front of the complex.
"A Mustang?" She said, a little surprised as he opened the door for her.
"Yep. What, can't an FBI agent fancy old cars?" He joked as he got in. They pulled away from the curb and into the flow of traffic.
Mama Doggett's home wasn't as far as Scully thought it was. John got out of the car, and let her get out by herself, knowing that she valued her independence. Instead, he extended his arm towards her, so they were linked together as they started up the front walkway.
"Agent Doggett, are you sure it's okay?"
"Yeah, don't worry about it, everyone brings over a new friend or two," John said, patting her arm comfortingly, "and it's John, okay? It would seem kind of awkward if we used 'agent' when we're at a Thanksgiving party."
"Okay .John." As they got closer to the home, music and laughter could be heard coming from the house. All the lights were on, and some people exited when they saw John coming up the walkway.
"John!" A tall man said from the porch, grinning widely. He jogged down the front steps towards them, and Scully couldn't help but notice the large similarities in their facial structures and builds. The man came over, giving John a huge bear hug. She thought that Agent Doggett was much better looking, although she would never admit that to anyone.
"Hey," John answered, releasing the man, "Jake, this is Dana, a friend of mine from work. Dana, this is my older brother, Jake."
"Pleasure to meet you," Jake said, shaking her hand, "Where has John been hiding a pretty woman like you?"
"In the basement," Scully joked while John laughed out loud. They followed Jake inside, where dozens of people were crowded into the house. When John entered, there were loud shouts and many people came up and hugged him. He was obviously a people person, Dana thought as she studied him. That was one thing he had over Mulder, Doggett knew how to play the political and social fields.
After the mass of people welcoming them had cooled down, John shot an apologetic glance at Dana, "Sorry for the herd, I just haven't been coming around to visit a lot." He led her into the dining room, to a woman who looked like she was in her mid sixties. John immediately hugged and kissed her, and Dana knew immediately that this was his mother by her blue eyes.
"Mom, this is Dana Scully. Dana, my mother, Claire." The woman smiled demurely at Dana, but Dana could feel the woman's eyes scrutinizing her. She glanced back at John, who pretended not to see his mother's look and turned to greet some friends who had just entered the room.
"Come, sit," She said to Dana, patting the chair next to hers. Dana sat down, and Claire smiled again at her, but this time it was more genuine. "Do you work with John?"
"He's a tough man to work with, I know," She said, looking at her son with eyes full of love.
"I can be pretty stubborn myself," Dana admitted, although she didn't know why.
"Really?" Claire turned back to Dana, "then you're just right for each other then," She smiled, standing up, "I must go check in the kitchen, make sure my grandchildren aren't burning the place down." She left before Dana could reply.
Everyone ate dinner, although there wasn't much room at the table for all the visitors. They all linked hands, expressing their thanks for the food. The prayer was led by Claire, whose voice was no longer soft as it had been when she'd talked with Scully, but now radiated power and volume. John's hand felt warm in hers, and he squeezed it every now and then during the prayer.
Dana took time to observe John, completely baffled about his change in attitude. So THIS was the real John Doggett, the man outside of the FBI badge. He wasn't this hard edged FBI agent anymore, he was Uncle John, Papa John, Johnny-boy, and he was so at home playing with the small children that Dana couldn't help thinking what the other agents at the bureau would think, seeing big bad Doggett on the floor with a couple of kids on his back. He had a family, a family life, something that Dana had always wondered about. Now she envied him for it.
"You okay?" He asked later as they sat down on the front steps. The air was cool but refreshing compared to the house's warmth. It was also quieter, which was why they had decided to stay outside.
"Yes. I'm just a bit overwhelmed."
"My family does that sometimes," he said, taking a sip of the glass of cold orange juice he held in his hand. He seemed deep in thought for a moment, staring down the street intently at nothing in particular.
"Are the holidays tough on you?" She asked before she could stop herself.
"You mean, are they tough because Luke's gone?" He studied the juice in his glass for a moment, "yeah it's hard. It's like, I used to have a family of my own, a son, a wife. I never even thought of having to go to someone else's home for Thanksgiving because, hey, I had my own home. But it is tough," he looked at her, "you never stop grieving."
"I know," Dana agreed, leaning her head against his shoulder and sighing. Oh, how she knew. Doggett was still for a moment, surprised by her rare physical display of emotion, but didn't push her away.
"Look at those two out there," Helen, John's eldest niece, said as she spied out of the kitchen window at the two figures huddled together on the front steps.
Claire gently whacked her on the shoulder with a wooden spoon, "don't spy on your uncle." When Helen moved away from the window, Claire took her own glance out.
"She's gorgeous, don't you think?" Karen added, another one of John's nieces, as she popped open a can of soda, "wouldn't that be funny if Uncle John managed to snag her?"
"Shoo, don't pry into other's people's business." Claire said, shooing Helen and her other grandchildren out of the kitchen. No, she thought as they all went back into the dining room, it wouldn't be funny. Because she had already snagged HIM.
Dana sat at her desk, idly twisting a pen with her fingers. John had left earlier, saying he had a couple of errands to run, and she was alone in the basement for the time being. She opened the top drawer of her desk, pulling out a small photograph. It was of Mulder, one of the rare photographs that she had of him. He was smiling at her, a smile that was carefree and full of trust because he knew who was taking the picture and trusted her completely. She'd taken it when they were friends, adored it when they became lovers, and now cherished it because it was the only way she could remember what Fox Mulder looked like. She never wanted to forget, but the image of his face, the way he laughed, were already dwindling in quality inside of her mind.
She laid a hand on her belly. Inside of her was the only living evidence the world had left of Fox Mulder, and she was going to guard this child with her life. She kissed the tips of her fingers, gently placing them on to the cold glass of the photograph.
"I love you Mulder, I just hope you can hear that, wherever you are." She said, placing the picture back into the desk. She would always love him. Everyone had given up on finding him, and she willed herself to believe that her own hope would not dwindle into dust. But there were other things to think about. Herself, the X-files, the baby.
She drove back to her apartment in silence, her head full of thoughts that seemed to have just been jumbled in there, like pieces of a puzzle that were shuffled around inside a box. Pieces of Mulder. Pieces of John. Pieces of herself. Even the baby didn't seem to make sense anymore, creating a racket by kicking continuously in her womb.
She entered the complex, trudging up the stairs slowly. Her keys jingled in her hand, in rhythm with the sound of her heels on the steps. She arrived at her apartment, opening the door and tossing her keys on the nearest table. She paused. A small sound came from the direction of the bedrooms. She headed over cautiously, her hand on her gun, prepared to defend herself.
But what she found, in the nursery, was John Doggett.
"Surprise!" He yelled, grinning aloud. He then saw the gun, raising his hands in protection. "don't shoot!"
The incident made Scully laugh herself into hysterics.
"What do you think?" John asked as soon as she stopped laughing. The small nursery was painted a lively yellow, with small blue ducks scattered over it. Scully stared in amazement at the walls.
"Wow, John, I'm impressed. I never thought you had it in you to be a painter." He grinned at the compliment, still admiring his handiwork. Over the last month, they'd grown closer. At first it had been the grief, the loneliness, that had drawn the two together, but now it was a mutual affection that kept them together. Of course, there was still a fine line between them that kept them from making their relationship anything more than a friendship. One was that Doggett and Scully would be the objects of intense gossip and focus by the other agents at the bureau, and the second was that Scully didn't think she was ready for a relationship so soon after Mulder and the baby's delivery coming soon. The unborn baby brought them closer in many ways, but also kept them apart because Scully felt that by involving herself with John Doggett would be disloyal to Mulder.
She stepped forward, still smiling at the freshly painted walls, when her face contorted with pain. John, who had been watching her, proud that she was happy with his work, tensed up.
"What is it, Dana?" They'd long lost the formalities of "agent" and now used their first names.
"John, I think my water just broke," She said, almost in disbelief
Assistant Director Skinner entered the hospital several hours later, carrying a bouquet of flowers and balloons that had the corny phrase "it's a BOY!" splayed across them in big bold letters. The hospital doors slid open and he headed directly for the maternity ward. He wasn't surprised to see Agent Doggett by the nursery window, smiling proudly into the glass at one of the red, screaming faces.
"Agent Doggett," Skinner said. Doggett turned, not bothering to take the grin off of his face. A goofy, stupid grin, Skinner noted, as if the man were the father himself.
"Afternoon, A.D. Skinner." He said, shaking Skinner's hand. He turned back to the windows, putting his hands on his hips. He still had a smear of blue paint on his cheek, long forgotten due to the change in events earlier. The look of complete awe and wonder came back onto his face. The objection of his obvious affection was wailing loudly, crying heartily with the rest of the newborn babies. He lay, swathed in a blue blanket, a small notecard that read "Scully" identifying him as Dana's baby.
"Wow, he's a beauty," Skinner said truthfully, regretting that he'd never had any children of his own. The child cried lustily, outwailing all the other children in the nursery. His facial features were unique and already beautifully formed compared to those of the other babies. He waved his small arms around, as if boxing an imaginary figure in front of him.
"Yeah, you should have seen him when he came out," Doggett added with pride, "he's quite a kid." He handed Skinner a small cigar, with the inscription "it's a boy" on the cigar's plastic wrapping.
Skinner's laughter rang throughout the maternity ward.
She still couldn't get over his beauty. She knew some would think she was being biased, but the child was beautiful. He was gorgeous, and when he first opened his eyes at her, Scully had almost cried when she realized that they were the exact shade of hazel that Mulder's were. He stared back up at her, studying this creature holding him so protectively and lovingly.
"Hey," Skinner said, entering the room. Scully looked up from the baby, smiling at him.
"I brought you these," He said, placing the flowers and balloons on the small stand next to the hospital bed. He seemed a bit awkward, his hands clasped together in front of him as he smiled down at the baby.
"Thank you," Scully answered, "do you want to hold him?"
That was one of the few times she'd ever see A.D. Skinner get flustered, "Well I- I "
"Don't worry, he doesn't bite," She assured him, laughing a little as Skinner took the baby in his arms. Today could not be ruined by anything. God had given her a miracle she'd long given up on, and she was grateful for that.
"You know," Skinner said, still holding the baby, "Agent Doggett's outside."
"I know." She replied, trying to ignore the feelings that came inside of her.
"He's so proud of this kid," Skinner said, looking over the baby's face and making silly faces of his own, "like it were his own. He's running around with cigars, the whole works."
"I know," Scully repeated, tears brimming in her eyes, "I think I may love him, Walter."
"Do you?" He asked, sitting on the edge of the bed and giving her a comforting hug with his left arm.
"Yes, and the problem is, I don't know if it's right," She said, choking back on her sobs, "I feel like I'm betraying Mulder. Like I didn't really love him at all because I can love someone else."
"Don't think that way, Dana. You've mourned him for a long time, and you have a baby to think about now. It isn't wrong to love Agent Doggett, you can't go on without closure. Isn't that what Mulder searched for? He searched for the truth and closure. It wouldn't be fair to the kid." Skinner assured her, "and that reminds me," He said, looking back down at the baby's face. The child let out a big yawn, "do you have a name?"
"I was thinking David Fox Scully. Mulder never really liked his first name much, but the kid should have some connection to his father, don't you think?"
"You're sure?" John asked, his expression a bit troubled as he edged into the kitchen in Dana's apartment. He didn't want her to see him on the phone.
"Yes," Skinner's voice said. He also seemed troubled, "they found him several miles out of Stockton, California. He's been brought to St. George here in D.C. Stable condition."
"Wow." Doggett answered, unable to think of anything proper to say. They'd found him. The man Dana had been madly in love with before John had showed up, the man who was biologically David's father. He hung up the phone, walking back almost robotically to where Dana was sitting. She didn't bother to ask who it was. She was intent on making the most of her maternity leave with David. John didn't want to tell her at that moment either.
Right now she was sitting Indian style on the floor in the living room, coaching David as he crawled around the room. When John entered the room, David flashed him a charming grin that was so Fox Mulder-like it made John's heart hurt. He headed straight into the bedroom.
Dana looked at her watch, shocked to see how late it was. "Come on kiddo, it's time for bed," She said, picking him up and making baby noises at him. John had answered the phone a moment ago, but had gone into the bedroom right after that. Probably something about one of the cases he was working on, but she didn't put much thought into it.
She entered the nursery, the yellow walls a reminder of John's endless effort to show David how much he loved him. A rocking chair sat near the crib, one that Dana's own mother had rocked her in when she was David's age. She now sat in the chair herself, rocking gently back and forth as David's eyes began to droop with sleep. She envied the easy way small children slipped into peaceful slumber, without any fuss, any problem. When she was sure he was asleep, she planted a kiss on his forehead, placing him gently into the crib. He looked more and more like Mulder with each passing day, and she was convinced that he looked exactly like Mulder at that age. She still felt a little bitter thinking about him, but it wasn't as intense as it had once been. Not with John. John made everything better.
John lay on the bed, on top of the covers, idly flipping through channels on the television. He wore a set of flannel pajamas bottoms with a white shirt, smiling absently at Dana as she got onto the bed and snuggled up to him. He still smelled of his aftershave and soap. She knew he had a briefcase full of paperwork at the foot of the bed, itching to be studied and reviewed, but he never did the work right before they were going to bed, as if he understood her need to take time off from the FBI. He spent most of his free time and nights at Scully's home, but she still wasn't ready to move into his home with him. Or anything more commitment-wise.
"I have something to tell you," He said gruffly, sitting up straight after they lay together quietly for a few moments.
"What is it?" She asked, surprised by his outburst.
"That phone call I got earlier, well, it concerns you too." John said. This was so painful to him, knowing that the next expression on Dana's face would tell him whether he, John Doggett, had won, or he'd actually been competing with a ghost all these months and had lost.
"What is it?"
"They found Mulder. Alive." Her eyes flared wide, her mouth dropped in shock.
"Are you sure?" She covered her gaping mouth, still unable to say anything more.
"Yeah, he's going to make it. He's at St. George right now. They found him in a field in California after the owner saw a bright light the night before." John answered. "I know what he meant to you, Dana. I understand if well you know." He was unable to actually say the words. It was too painful even thinking about Dana loving Mulder. He stood up, not wanting to spend the night in her bed when she might actually prefer someone else.
She pulled back on his arm, tugging gently at him to lie down, "What Mulder and I had was special," She admitted, choosing her words carefully, "he gave me David, and I've never known anyone as I've known Fox Mulder. But I love you, John." She said, "don't leave me."
He looked at her for a moment before succumbing to what she said before finally sitting back down on the edge of the bed. She managed to get him to lie back down. His body was still stiff and tense, but he didn't move away when she wrapped her arms around him.
Mulder was alive. The words rung in her head, like bells that were overwhelming in their volume and intensity. John's body was warm beneath her, long relaxed because he'd fallen asleep. His deep breathing rumbled beneath her ear, assuring her that he was deeply asleep. She got up slowly, sliding to the opposite side of the bed in the dark, pulling the covers back just enough so she could slip out without him noticing. She looked back at him, but he still slept deeply, now even snoring a little bit.
She put her clothes on, scribbling a small note to him. She knew he'd stay once he woke up he'd watch David, she just hoped that he wasn't too hurt that she left him in the middle of the night. She put on her coat and heels, heading into David's room to have one more look at him before she left. As the front door closed, John opened his eyes again, this time filled with hurt and pain. Mulder had kicked his ass in twenty minutes flat.
The drive to the hospital was short, in Scully's opinion. She rehearsed what to say to him, if he was conscious. Her hands clenched the steering wheel, and she pulled into the hospital parking lot sharply, almost cutting off a couple leaving the lot. She ignored the man's insults as she strode into the hospital. After consulting with the nurses, she managed to find Mulder's room. Several agents were posted in front of it, and she noticed Skinner standing off to the side, talking to two agents. He glanced up at that moment, spotting her, and moved away from the agents.
"Where is he?" She asked, knowing how desperate she must look.
Skinner's tone was sympathetic. "He's in that room." She knew the questions he wanted to ask her, like where was Agent Doggett, and what would happen there. He turned to make sure no one was nearby, "don't go in there, Dana, let him rest first."
"Rest first?" She gripped his forearms as she looked him in the eye, "Sir, I have spent the last year searching and worrying about Mulder. I need to see him, I don't care if he gets his rest or not." Her voice was shaky, but it conveyed to Skinner all the emotions that she felt. After a moment he nodded.
She entered the hospital room, her heart beat jumping wildly when she saw him lying down on the bed. He was still for the moment, deep in sleep, and she stopped at the side of the hospital bed, looking down at his face. It was scarred in some places, but those would heal. So would Dana's grief.
His eyes fluttered for a moment, opening. To see those hazel eyes again, it was a relief that Dana thanked God for. He looked around for a moment and when he saw Scully, he started to rise.
"No, Doctors say you should be getting your rest," She said slowly.
"Scully." A simple word. He only gazed up at her face, tears slowly cascading down her cheeks. That was a sight he would have gladly paid his life for, in fact, he almost had.
"It's okay, Mulder." She pulled a chair up to the side and sat down.
"How long have I been gone?"
"Only about a year," She said jokingly. It felt so good to just joke about things with him, to be the usual sarcastic she had once been.
"Have things changed seriously?" He gripped her hand tightly, "I missed you."
"I missed you too." She replied, ignoring his question. He seemed drained of energy, his color paling.
"I'll let you rest now, Mulder, I just wanted to see you. We have a lot to talk about." She told him, kissing him before heading out of the room. He watched her leave before turning on his side and closing his eyes.
He balanced himself on the crutches, wobbling around the office as he studied his desk and the walls. His office was completely different now. Of course, he'd been gone for a year, but he didn't think Scully would change everything.
She had personalized his desk. He was sorry for not having insisted that she have her own while he had been around. He sat down on her chair, studying the things written and posted on her desk. Memos. Folders. He looked at the picture frames on her desk, studying them uniquely. Scully and a baby. Something about the kid's eyes reminded him of someone, but he couldn't exactly pinpoint who. It must be Bill Jr.'s kid, he thought, leaning back. There was another picture of a tall man and the baby, the man's grin so wide with pride that Mulder decided it couldn't be Bill Jr.'s baby. He heard a noise near the doorway, and was surprised to see the man in Scully's pictures standing there, a Styrofoam cup in his hand.
"Can I help you?" Mulder asked politely, wondering if the man had just been lost or eager to see him. Many agents at the bureau were curious about his disappearance and reappearance, mainly if he was coming back to work with Scully. It had only been his first day out of the hospital, but he could hear the whispers going on behind his back. Home sweet home.
The man cleared his throat, "No, I've got it." He took a seat at the other desk in the office, opening a folder and studying it intently. So this was Scully's new partner.
"I'm Fox Mulder," Mulder said, breaking the silence that had eased over them.
The man glanced up from the folder he was studying and looked at Mulder, "I know. I'm John Doggett. I was in charge of the manhunt for you." How could he compete with this? That was all John could ask himself, pretending not to be interested in Mulder as he forced himself to stare down at the papers on his desk. The man was undeniably handsome, and he exuded intelligence right down to his facial pores.
After Dana had left that night, David had awoken and cried out. John had rescued him, easing into the rocking chair and comforting David as he'd done many nights before. But this time it was he who needed comforting. He rambled on and on about different things, about Dana, about his work, about how he was going to teach David how to play soccer when he learned how to walk. Could Fox Mulder ever do this? Ever comfort David? Ever love him with as much intensity as John did?
No, he couldn't. Because John had been the one there for every step in David's life, from his nursery walls to his birth to his first attempts at crawling. He'd only seen David for about an hour a day, not wanting to spend the night at Dana's home anymore. They barely talked when he did come around.
"Hey, how are you doing?" Dana said as she walked into the office. She went directly to Mulder, who was staring intently at his "I want to believe" poster. God, he'd missed everything so much.
"Fine." He took her hand, squeezing it affectionately. Being away from her had made him realize just how short life was, how everything was taken for granted. He was going to make that up to her.
Dana released his hand, glancing at John. He had his back towards them, but she knew he was hurt. God, how many times had she wanted to go to him and put her arms around him. When he came to see David he brought toys and gifts for the boy, as if their time together would soon be coming to an end.
"I see you remodeled my office," Mulder joked, picking up the photographs. "Who's the kid?"
How could he not know? Dana smiled to herself. Typical Fox Mulder oblivion. "We never talked about it, seeing as you were in the hospital still," She started, sitting on the edge of the desk, "that's David."
"Cute kid," Mulder said, setting the picture down, "is he Bill Jr.'s?"
"No, Mulder, he's your son." Scully answered. Mulder's jaw just dropped about a foot as he stood up, gripping his crutches.
"Yes." She answered, searching his face. Disbelief. Surprise. Shock.
"Oh my God." He plopped down into the chair again, his head reeling, "I'm a father."
John couldn't handle this anymore, "I'll leave you two alone." He said, his tone almost bitter and cold as he turned to them, "congratulations on the news, Agent Mulder." He said curtly, nodding at them before exiting the office.
"John!" Dana called, chasing him out of the office, leaving Mulder by himself to think things out. His longer legs provided a great distance between them and she ran to catch up.
He pulled away when she tugged at his arm and whirled around to face her. "I don't want to play games here Dana, this bullshit can only go so far."
"You know what I mean," John started to pace back and forth, hands on his hips, "Mulder comes charging back into your life, and now it's like I don't even exist anymore!" He seemed saddened, voicing the truth hurt deeply, "but I don't know if I can handle hearing you tell him that David is his son."
"He IS his son!"
"No, he's NOT!" Their argument bounced off of the walls, but there were no other offices around, "biologically, Mulder fathered him. But does Mulder LOVE David?" His voice almost broke, his expression hardening, "I know what it's like to lose a son, Dana, and David's more MY son than he is Mulder's. It may not be fair to blow up at you like this, but David's MY son!"
"He's not your son!" Dana cried out, wanting him to stop yelling, "we're not married! He doesn't call you Daddy!"
The anger in John's eyes subsided, filled with hurt, "what makes a man a father, Dana? Is it genetics, circumstances, love? Ask yourself that. I hope you're happy with Mulder." He turned and strode down the hall, walking with a stride that appeared to be dangerous and menacing.
Dana watched him leave, unable to say anything to call him back. Inside she was torn, unable to decide what it was she wanted. Many people scoffed the idea of loving two different people at once, but most had never experienced it. She loved Mulder deeply, had spent almost a third of her life as his partner and friend. She had a sweet spot for him a mile wide. But with John, Dana felt worthy. She felt loved, and the way he looked at her left her with no doubt that he loved her back. And he'd never given her any reason, except for his own initial skepticism, not to trust him.
To choose between trust and loyalty. Which was actually love? How was she to choose one of them. Even now she could no longer be saddened by Mulder's disappearance, because it had given her John. But now she'd been given Mulder back, and that changed the situation entirely.
"Scully?" Mulder asked, unsure. He stood near the doorway to the office, standing on his crutches. He'd seen the entire argument.
"Yes, Mulder?" She asked, wiping away a small tear as she walked back over to him.
"You've been seeing Doggett?"
"Yes," She looked up at him, wondering what he was thinking. His thoughts had always been shrouded from her, even though he said he trusted her. "I'm sorry."
"No, I'm sorry, Scully," Mulder said, wiping a tear from her cheek as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders comfortingly. They walked back into her office, where Dana finally let herself cry.
"Don't worry, little guy, everything's going to be just fine," John said. He and David sat in Dana's living room on the couch, the baby watching his movements in fascination. The babysitter had left when John arrived, for as far as she knew, John was the father. John coughed, clearing his throat as he absently played with one of David's toys. "This may be the last time we'll ever be together like this, I blew up at your mom earlier." David gurgled at him, "Just don't forget me, okay? Even if I'm just Uncle John or Agent Doggett from now on, don't forget who has loved you from the moment you were born."
He heard the front door open behind him, heard Dana and Mulder talking as they came in. She was laughing softly at something he said, opening the door wider for him to enter as he wobbled in with his crutches.
"Hello, Agent Mulder." John said, picking David up. The two men shook hands, sizing each other up, but Mulder was more fascinated with his son than with Doggett. "Hello, Agent Scully."
Ouch. That hurt. The pain was visible on her face as she winced. "Hi."
"I'd better leave you guys then," John said, feeling awkward. He planted a long kiss on David's forehead, "see you little guy." He left the apartment, striding towards the elevator, alone.
Mulder and David got along fantastically. Mulder was still fascinated by his son, eager to get to know him. The two crawled over and under the tables, chairs, desks, and played with David's toys. Dana watched them play, a small smile on her lips, but her thoughts were with John.
What was he doing right now? Was he back at his home, or at a bar, getting stinking drunk? She didn't want to know that part, but she missed him. She missed hearing his deep, throaty voice, or that laugh of his that just shouted out of his chest when he heard something funny.
"You okay, Scully?" Mulder asked, taking a seat on the couch next to her. She smiled distractedly at him, leaning back into the plush cushions.
"I'm fine, Mulder."
"You don't seem fine," He commented, still keeping his eyes on David. He reached for her hand, giving it a squeeze. "Scully, you love Doggett."
Dana's eyes widened, but she wasn't surprised by his knowledge, but more by his bluntness. "Am I that obvious?" She joked, wiping a small tear from her cheek.
"A bit," He replied, "Listen, I know things aren't as they were before. You're my best friend, and I trust you more than I'll ever trust anyone else in my life. But just because we trust each other and love each other doesn't make us right for each other, Dana." He pulled her close, his eyes full of understanding of the situation, "Maybe if I'd told you I loved you, seriously, before I- left then we could try for it. But you love that man Doggett, although I don't know why, he scares me." He joked. It was too late to make things up to her in that sense, Mulder knew this much. Why try to salvage something that had barely existed?
"What should I do, Mulder? I've screwed everything up."
"Go talk to him. You never know when life's going to throw a curve ball at you," He glanced at David, "I didn't."
"Mrs. Doggett?" Dana said loudly, knocking on the woman's door. There was no answer for a moment, "Mrs. Doggett!" She repeated as she rapped on the door.
A moment later a light came on and Claire Doggett answered the door. Her eyes narrowed at the sight of Dana. "What do you want?" She asked bluntly, not caring for the formalities.
"I need to speak with John. He's not at his house-"
"Well, he's not here," She answered, starting to shut the door.
"Mrs. Doggett, please," Dana said pleadingly, keeping the door open with her hand, "I need to talk to him. We had a fight, and I need to tell him I'm sorry. I NEED to!" Claire's expression softened slightly at that.
"It's okay, Mom." Dana heard his voice say behind the door. Claire gave Dana one more look before going inside. John came outside, looking quite uneasy as he stepped onto the porch. He stuffed both his hands deeply into the pockets of his jeans. "Dana-" He didn't finish, because Dana threw her arms around him in an enormous hug.
"I'm so sorry, John. I'm sorry for ignoring you, for acting like you don't mean as much to me as Mulder does," She sobbed into his sweater. He stood still for a moment, and then she felt his hand running over her hair.
"What are you trying to say?"
"That I love you. I want to be with YOU." She answered, almost afraid now to look into his eyes. What if he found that he didn't want her back anymore.
He tilted her face up to his, giving her a long kiss before wrapping his own arms around her. "Does this mean I'm forgiven?" She joked.
"You'll still have
to make it up to me," He said, smiling against her lips. It would work, he
decided, they would make it work. He'd never be the one David called Dad, that
was Mulder's rightful place, but he'd be there for David. And David and Dana
would be there for him. That was all he needed.