Title: Circular File
Author: Gina Rain (ginarain@aol.com)
Category:S, A, MSR
Rating: PG-13 (language, hint of general naughtiness)
Spoilers: None. Set post-season 8
Archive: Anywhere, just let me know
Disclaimer: CC and Co. own it. Yada yada.

Notes: As always, a big thank you to my beta, Christina.

Summary: Scully makes a decision; takes a stand; and kicks some butt.

She ran her fingers over the cover of the bland manila file folder she had just closed. In it was the final proofed version of an autopsy report on one P. Willis Hankins.

<X-file, my ass, > she thought. <Their collective knowledge of what constituted an x-file wouldn't fit in a thimble. >

She sighed. Doggett and Reyes were fine people. Good, solid investigators but they weren't. . .

<Enough of that. >

Great. She was now using Mulder's favorite "William fussing" expression to try and stop her own less than charitable thoughts. She let her mind drift to the man she found herself internally quoting. A smile crossed Scully's face as she wondered what the two of them might be up to now. She leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes. She could clearly picture Mulder patting powder on Will's soft little bottom, while he wriggled and kicked his legs in a little baby protest dance.

She opened her eyes to face her cold, stark office. Time to go. Might as well face whatever music was waiting for her at FBI headquarters.

She had done little more than pass through the Hoover building since she gave birth. Quantico was home base now. Brief consultations at the special request of the X-File Division were about the only thing that would get her in the building. Or, as in this case, receiving a special summons--by Skinner's secretary, Kimberly, of all people. For something that "could not be discussed over the phone." She couldn't not go. She owed it to her for the kindness she showed when Mulder was--well, dead.

Kim asked her to come to the office at 11:45. Lunch would be at 12:30.

Scully walked through the bullpen to various barely concealed half-smirks and knowing smiles. A few people nodded. One or two actually greeted her with a brief "hello." Almost everyone gave her abdomen a good long look before moving their gaze up to her face and then dropping it to their computer monitors or unfinished paperwork. <Yes, I did lose the pregnancy weight, you useless motherfuckers. >

"Agent Scully." The formal greeting surprised her as Kim had taken to calling her by her "Dana," at her insistence, months ago. She handed her a sealed interoffice envelope. "The AD is out of town but he left this file for you."

Kim's gaze was steady on her face. The two of them were the only occupants of the office but Kim seemed to be "playing to the crowd" beyond the opened outer door.

Scully didn't ask questions. She accepted the envelope, formally thanked Kim and left.

As soon as the elevator doors closed behind her, she opened the envelope. There was a yellow Post- it note attached to a standard manila folder scotch-taped on all sides. Kim was taking her cloak and dagger routine to the nth degree.

<Meet me in the park. Our usual place--K. >

Scully smiled. Our usual place. The two women had gone to lunch exactly three times. Once when Mulder was missing. Twice after they had found his body. Those times were really blessings. They weren't friends, by any means. They barely had anything in common. However, in retrospect, Kim had chosen three times when Scully was very nearly at the end of her rope and needed to get away. Needed to listen to someone chatter about nothing in particular, while she was trying to choke down the food her developing child's body needed so badly. Desperately needed conversation peppered with Mulder mentions. Not morbid "he was a good man" type of things but funny, cute anecdotes of things he had said or done before even Scully knew him. No hushed tones. No funeral dirges. No avoidance of the quasi-"widow." For that small amount of time, she was allowed to keep the man she loved alive in conversation. Kim had given her that gift. Scully sat down on the park bench and began carefully pulling off the tape from the file. It contained one xeroxed page.

"Dr. High and Mighty Baby Challenge

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it is simple.

We need the following questions answered-- preferably in essay form:

Baby's Father:

Kid's Legal Last Name:

Kid's most distinguishing feature (be creative. Large proboscis, red hair and green skin are pretty much a given):

Current "family" set-up:

Bonus points if you can answer the age-old question:

Just how did they manage to "resurrect" old Spooky after he took tail and ran over impending daddyhood? (Assuming, of course, that's the paternity theory you choose)

Submissions will be judged on creativity (although NOTHING was more creative than that bullshit "death" story and the thousands of tax dollars spent on searching for a "missing" agent. Nice to have friends in high places, huh?) and/or visible proof (feel free to try and hack into birth records, get old Dana to show you pictures of Scully, Jr. or anything else you can dig up. This is the FBI, you know).

Winner will receive two tickets to the Lion King at the Kennedy Center, as well as the proceeds of the pool."

Scully sat there with the file in her hand for quite some time. Boring, dull looking things containing all manner of evil. She smirked to herself over her sudden dislike of an absolutely ordinary everyday item.

The silent scream that only she could hear was back. It had come back the moment her maternity leave ended. The moment she went back to the FBI. Sometimes it faded, sometimes--it was deafening. It was always there. Just like the first time. That happened the moment she found out about Mulder's abduction. One constant companion replaced by a horrible, mocking new one.

She felt a hand touch her shoulder and reeled around sharply. It was Kim.

"Sorry, Dana. I didn't mean to scare you."

Scully let out a deep breath.

"I guess you've had time to see it. Sorry for the weirdness but I didn't want anyone to know I was passing this on to you. You know they have these stupid pools all the time--over everything--but this one is. . .well, it's nastier than most and more than that--they are actively trying to get into personal records that they have no right to. I just thought you should know."

"There aren't any names on this."

"No. But it's the usual perpetrators. Watkins and Dobrenitz. It's being passed on to a lot of people, though."

"Thanks, Kim."

"What will you do?"

"I don't know yet. Maybe nothing. I just don't need to deal with this at this time of my life."

Kim looked down at her paper sack and pulled out a sandwich. She seemed to hesitate for a moment before giving voice to what she was thinking.

"Is anything wrong?"

"No. No. Things are fine. Just--certain options have opened up to us and they have to be considered. That's all."

"Options?" Scully knew Kim was curious but also knew she wouldn't push. They both felt a dividing line in their relationship. It would always exist. But she needed a female friend and pushed herself to show a little initiative in breaching that line. Even if went against all her instincts of self-preservation. Scully frowned a bit and tried to visibly relax her features.

"Mulder and I have been offered teaching jobs. Actually, we would both teach one course in our fields of expertise and one course--well, it's one of those odd courses that people look at in the semester guide and wonder why anyone is getting college credit for such a thing. This one is based on the oddities that basically were the X-Files. And we'd alternate as instructors for that course. Probably give the students whiplash with the seemingly opposing points of view."

Kim's face lit up with genuine interest.

"I would love to take such a course. When I was going to school--all we had in the way of a fun sort of experimental course was in woman's studies but I still remember it to this day. The kids will love this. You guys would love this. It's such a great opportunity."

"Well, it would have its advantages. I mean, one of us would be around to take care of William at all times. Along with Mulder's writing, we'd have enough money to get by rather nicely."

"But. . ."

"But," Scully leaned back and closed her eyes, pointing her face toward the afternoon sunlight. "it's in Boston. It would mean a complete change. It would mean giving up something I've sacrificed nearly everything for."

"The FBI still means that much to you?" Kim asked.

"Not in the way you think. I just don't know if I can leave before my business is finished."

Scully walked into her apartment quietly. She never knew what Mulder would be doing with William. He didn't keep much of a schedule. But this evening, there was no William in sight and Mulder was busily typing on the computer keyboard. Nothing like a man in a navy blue tee shirt, shorts and glasses. Mulder's hair was in desperate need of a cut but she liked it longer. That errant lock that always fell in his eyes was back with a vengeance. She had missed that in his weedwacker hair cut days.

"Are you ogling me, woman?"

Mulder looked up briefly and gave her a quirky little smile while still typing away.

"You are a sight for sore eyes, Mulder."

"Ah, I believe that term is eye-sore."

"Nope," she walked over and gave him a quick kiss on the top of his head. "What have you done with my baby?"

"I don't know about your baby but our baby is all powdered and diapered and down for a nice little nap. And that will probably be all it is because he sure won't sleep through the night after going to bed so early."

"That's all right. I want to play with him a bit later anyway."

She sat down on the couch for a moment and closed her eyes. Listened to the sound of Mulder tapping away on the keyboard. It was nice. It was comfortable. Safe. Madness-free.

How did they get to this point? Life with Mulder a calm experience? A happy one? Amazing. Pathetic to the rest of the world, she supposed. Not that she cared. Not really.

"Tell me about it," he whispered as he settled himself next to her.

"Tell you about what?"

"Whatever is bothering you."

"Nothing is bothering me, Mulder. How's the writing going?"

"Ruby has just called Franklin "Reynard." Late night--on a stake out. In a car. Anyway--he tells her he allows no one, not even his parents, to call him that. She just looks at him and tells him that he has to make an exception to that rule. He gives her a devastating smile--she hands him a can of iced tea and they're soon going at it like bunnies." "What?" Mulder's literary pursuits never failed to make Scully smile. "You know that's not what happened, Mulder."

"Well--I'm not some sadistic bastard, Scully. I can't tease my audience. I won't. What? You want me to make them wait for seven years worth of novels before they get some tame little love scene? That's just cruel. We already had all that sexual tension in the first one. That's enough. We've got to take literary license here. Damn the truth. Besides, you know you wanted me right at that moment and I kind of had a hankering for you, so. . . I just decided to let the two R's act on their desires instead of following our turtle- paced romance."

Scully was presented with the adventures of Ruby Kiner and Reynard Franklin every evening. It was actually quite a bit of fun and more than that--it touched her. It wasn't really what Mulder was writing at all. He was writing a novel based on their experiences but these spicy short stories he gave her each night were for her eyes only and solely for her entertainment. After he fell asleep or sometimes before work, she'd sneak into the living room and print out the real work, which she'd peruse over lunch. He knew about it. It was just a strange little game they played.

The real story was very good. Very telling. A lot of unspoken emotions were given a voice. It was almost as if she was getting a more complete version of something she had already experienced. Mulder was a natural storyteller and obviously very gung ho about writing. He knocked off the first novel in five weeks and started this one well before the first one was due to be published.

Still, she worried about him being in the apartment nearly all day. Writing squeezed in between baby duties. She wondered how long he could be content with such a life. And yet, it was one he not only embraced but had originally suggested.

It had seemed like a very good plan. Once William arrived, Mulder sprang into action. He gathered the gunmen and literally started a bizarre x-file "army." That's what it seemed like. They gathered a small group of people. Former abductees who they deemed to be "serious," and not crackpots or possible alien replicants. Others who were interested in the phenomenon. Still others who had not had abduction experience but who had some form of encounter with something in the nature of an x- file. Mulder and the gunmen spent a few weeks just "storytelling." Passing on more or less everything they knew. Scully sat back in shock as this went on. This man, who believed very much in the "trust no one" theory relinquished that long held belief in order to give his son a normal life. "Maybe someone will screw us, Scully, but hopefully, not everyone." And when he was through, Mulder backed off--completely. He didn't even want to hear rumors of progress or defeat in the cause. She didn't know how he managed to squelch his rampant curiosity, but he did.

Mulder poked her cheek with his nose.


She snapped out of her musings.

"What? I'm sorry. I was thinking."

"I was trying to follow my German-named counterpart and make out with my own Ruby on the couch and you go off in a daze. I think I'm highly insulted. Maybe I have to write in another woman to piss you off a bit."

Scully smiled at him and pulled his face to hers.

"You do and I will erase her from your hard drive."

"Sounds painful."

"It will be."

"You're not going to tell me what's wrong, are you?"

"Not now. I can't. You know that."

"Yes, I know. I've heard it all before. I can't be a part of it because you can't leave it behind then. Very logical. But I am your best friend. You can't change that."

"No. And I wouldn't want to. But I just need to work out some things on my own."

"Well, you do know where I live."

She put a hand up to his cheek and smoothed it over his five o'clock shadow.

"Yes, I do."

She didn't necessarily know what she wanted to do about the idiotic office pool. She had almost always handled the idiocies of office politics by ignoring them but this time, they had stepped quite a bit over the line. She let a week go by and a brief idea presented itself as a possible solution but she wasn't sure if she wanted to go through with it.

Mulder was in the kitchen while Scully was trying to disengage William's fingers from the tight hold they had on her hair.

"You--ouch--have some grip." She finally had some success and he settled for grabbing at the front buttons of her blouse. Like father; like son.

She looked at him. Such an adorable baby.

Something twisted inside of her. People were taking bets. Mocking him already.

Like father; like son.

Mulder came out and watched the two of them for a few moments.

"He has a little diaper rash, Scully. I put that disgusting fish smelling stuff on him. Check him out later, okay?"

"Sure. It's Desitin, by the way. Not fish stuff."

"Take a good sniff and tell me there aren't anchovy parts in there somewhere."

She smiled and lightly bounced Will on her knee.

"Daddy has an odd sense of humor. You'll get used to it."

Mulder crossed the room and sat in the armchair across from them.

"So. . .are we getting close to a decision, Scully?"


"The job offer? We have to give them an answer by the end of this week. Have you given it any thought?"

"Why am I the ultimate decision maker in this case, Mulder?"

"Because--you have something to leave. I don't."

She let out a breath of air.

"I'm not sure how you could--do what you did."

He leaned forward a bit.

"Are you, at long last, taking me to task over getting fired or you just want to hear the reasons behind my lack of separation anxiety? Want to make sure we're on the same page before I go spilling my guts here."

"I. . .understand why you were fired. And why you did what you did before you got fired. That's not an issue. I just don't understand how you could let it all go without a second glance back."

"Maybe because, for the first time in my life, I wasn't looking in that direction. I was looking ahead of me."

"And I'm not?"

"I don't know, Scully. You tell me."

"I can't. I don't know the answer to that. I just know--as much as I hate it, I feel compelled to stay."

"Then we'll stay."

"Mulder. . .you want this job."

"Yes, I do. But if you don't or if you aren't ready--forget it. I'm not taking off without you, if that's what you're getting at. You'll have to throw me out bodily if you want to get rid of me. And even then, I can't promise I won't come back for more."

"I. . .this job. . . is frivolous, you know. It's a vanity course."

"Frivolous? Is the job you did for 8 years--the one you are agonizing over leaving--frivolous?"

"Oh, come on, Mulder. The job was serious but the course is bullshit. It's--what? The equivalent of taking shop or something."

"I don't agree with that at all."

"What? We're teaching them what? That class will be full of UFO crackpots or kids who want an easy A with no studying."

"At the very least, we're teaching them that there is more than one way to think, Scully. To show what can be accomplished when two people--with opposing viewpoints and ways of thinking open their minds to possibilities. Tell me that's not an important life lesson.

Face it, Scully. They gave you power when you walked into that basement and encouraged you to use it--freely. They wanted you to shut me down. And you could have done it right off the bat. Come in and given them clear, cogent, scientifically based arguments against the theories I was trying so hard to prove. But, even if you thought I was nuts. . .even if you thought I was full of shit-- you went with me for the ride and sometimes--you proved your theory right and sometimes--things you discovered surprised you. We learned from each other--and we accomplished--a lot. Don't think I don't know that. We accomplished it by being-- reasonably--open. At least to each other. Kids in school don't necessarily have that skill yet. Don't even consider it a skill. They know what they know and that's all that's worth knowing. The end. This is a sort of pleasant way of slipping that knowledge in their minds before they set their opinions in stone. I think that's very important. Or did all of your schooling consist of dry courses?"

"I don't want to fight about it, Mulder."

"We're not fighting. We're discussing. And, frankly, I told you we didn't even have to discuss it. You don't want to do this. That's fine. You wanted to get ahead in the FBI. That was a fact. You told me so yourself a long time ago. So. . .you can still do it. You can overcome whatever bullshit they're throwing your way."

"What bullshit is that, Mulder?"

"I don't know. Flack over having Spooky Mulder's child? I'm assuming that might have something to do with it. You never confirmed their suspicions and never have to. Sooner or later, your work will speak for you again. A more juicy "scandal" will replace your little mystery and since I'm not there to walk the halls. . .they'll forget soon enough."

She stared at him for a moment.

She had never not wanted to address the issue of paternity. No one asked. They were afraid to. And how could she just come out and tell anyone without the issue being raised? A general announcement in the cafeteria? With all the other things happening around her, it was hard enough to walk those halls alone. Her entire being felt like an open wound with everyone tossing grains of salt at her. She didn't want the grains to turn into handfuls. It was all too much at the time.

Sometimes, it still felt like too much.

She didn't like that it was all her choice. And she definitely didn't like the fact that Mulder was lying down and playing dead over the issue. She winced. Really bad choice of thoughts. He deferred to her and what he perceived to be her professional development when it came to any thought of a public acknowledgment of his parental status. That was just plain wrong. They made this baby. They were going to do it "clinically," but that certainly isn't the way it turned out. And he had always wanted to be part of William's life no matter how he came into being. Being "allowed" that was a privilege in his mind; not a right. That had to end. He was the baby's father. Pure and simple. She wasn't doing him any favors by allowing him to take a natural role in his son's life. And she wasn't doing anyone else any favors by continuing to stay in a toxic environment where they couldn't possibly be a normal couple with a baby. Ever.

William was lifting his fist, her button now off her blouse and en route to his drooling mouth. She pulled it out of his hand and he began to protest but quickly stopped as Scully stood up and handed him to Mulder. He immediately held Will close to his face and quietly stroked the child's back. Scully left the room in silence. She needed time to think. She needed time to plan.

They were all assembled around the conference table. Creative bookkeeping couldn't solve some of the problems that appeared in the past year's budget. Explanations had to be given. Even Agent Scully had to attend to justify costs that were incurred during her time with the X-file division. She entered the conference room and some people stopped talking and looked up at her and then, with small smiles or sidelong glances, resumed their rapt attention of the closed files in front of them.

But Agent Scully did not sit down.

She stood at the head of the table and placed a file on it. An official file with the FBI insignia on its cover.

"May I have your attention, please?"

Startled glances greeted her words.

"Thank you. Since you are all gathered in this room, I thought it was a good time to address something that has apparently taken up quite a few official man-hours. Since this is a budget meeting, what better place to make sure the FBI's precious resources are conserved." She cleared her throat and stood even straighter.

"As some of you may know, I had a child seven months ago."

Several agents hid smiles until she opened up the folder in front of her.

"'Kid's Legal Last Name,'" she read as the assembled agents began to shift uncomfortably in their chairs and look at the door, in fear of the Assistant Director walking in at that moment. "My child's name is William F. Mulder. He was born 7 pounds, 6 ounces and was 20 inches tall. He's grown a bit since then. This is really the only information I feel like sharing voluntarily.

If, however, you feel you cannot live without further details of my personal life, or that of my family--now would be the time to ask any questions."

Scully stood and looked from face to face. Each one looked down or at someone else.

"No? Then I trust this matter is resolved. Because if it isn't, we should probably not waste any more time and 'cut to the chase.' I am fully prepared to file complaints against each and every one of you at this point in time. I will not tolerate any covert attempts at obtaining personal information- -either now or in the future."

"All right, then."

They were all about to give a collective sigh of relief at the ending of her speech when she stopped herself while closing the file in front of her.

"Oh--one more thing. Agent Watkins, Agent Dobrenitz--for future reference--while it may have made for some humorous reading, given the level of material for which you seem to have a preference-- it's probably not a sensible thing to scan your pool submissions into the computer with the participants' names fully intact. Some might consider that rather damning evidence."

She fanned out the numerous pages in the file before straightening them back into a neat pile and finally closing the folder.

"That's all for now. Thank you for listening."

She sat down and quietly waited for AD Skinner to come in and the meeting to start. Once started, the meeting was over in record time with all the agents fully concentrating on the business at hand and studiously avoiding Scully's never-wavering gaze.

When it was over, Scully walked to the trashcan and unceremoniously dumped the file and its contents.

Scully knocked on the door of the basement office. After a moment, she used her key. No one had bothered to ask her for it. She would give it to Doggett or Reyes on her way out.

For the moment, she just wanted to sit in the office alone. The scream that only she could hear was silent. It ceased the moment she handed over her last official FBI file.

The office was barely recognizable as the one she and Mulder had shared for so long. A fresh coat of paint, rearrangement of furniture. And plants. Lots of plants. A Reyes touch. Only Mulder's poster remained. A silent, bizarre tribute to the "old guard."

The door opened and Doggett walked in--barely registering surprise over her presence in his office. He sat down on the edge of his desk.

"I heard about your little birth announcement at the budget meeting."

She gave a soft grunt of disapproval.

"Yes. That was about as professional as me throwing water in your face when we first met."

"Well, sometimes, you just have to screw professional."

She smiled and looked around at the much changed office.

"I hated when Mulder always referred to the X- files as his and his alone. At the beginning, I understood it, certainly. He worked very hard to get the department recognized and acknowledged. How it was recognized. . .well, that was another story but. . .after we worked together for a while--he still did it. Kind of the way I sometimes refer to William. As my baby. And that's not some kind of subconscious payback. I just--had to go through so much at the beginning. By myself."

"You didn't have to go through it alone," Doggett said.

"I know you think that. I know Skinner thinks that. My mother thinks that. But, I did. I absolutely had to go through it by myself. Decisions had to be made that I felt were right. Whether they were or weren't. Ultimately, whatever happened with all of us--I could not go through my life feeling my choices were made by someone else. Yes, I took big chances but I couldn't lose either one of them. If others had been more involved--I sure as hell would have lost Mulder. You know I would have. And William--before I even knew he was a William--well, he was mine, too. Mine to take care of and see through the whole ordeal. Mine to take ultimate responsibility for. I was just as possessive of him, I guess, as Mulder had been over the X-Files--because--in the beginning of the life of both--it was all either of us had. When we suddenly had each other--or had each other again, in my case--well, we made an effort to share but it isn't always easy when you get right down to it."

"Then I guess the changing of the guard must be killing you, huh?"

"Well, it's difficult. But they are your x-files now. Yours and Reyes'. Mulder--well, he gave them up by default and I gave them up through a voluntary decision. But it wasn't really voluntary at all. I don't want to do this without him. Frankly, I don't want to be here--in any capacity- -without Mulder. I felt I had to come back after maternity leave. I'm so sick of him being a joke. Even in death--people were too busy speculating whether he was really in the coffin to come and pay respects to one of their own. I wanted somehow--in whatever capacity--to prove him right and get him the respect he always deserved."

"You want the respect of people who would take bets over a child?"

Scully took a deep breath and stood up. She walked over to Mulder's "I Want to Believe" poster and gently touched its fraying edges.

"Promise me something, John?"


"No matter how ratty this gets--always keep it up here?"


"Good. Then we both received the only respect that matters."

Scully walked into her darkened apartment and looked around.

<Ah, there they are.>

She smiled softly as she approached the couch where Mulder was sleeping with a softly snoring baby on his chest. Both of them were soaking wet. She touched the baby's forehead. No fever.

"Way to go, Daddy," she whispered.

For a moment, she debated over picking Will up and taking him to his crib but rejected the idea. It had already been a rough day. She didn't want getting shot added to her list of stressors. Separating Mulder from his child without warning was a suicidal move--even from her.

She quickly removed her shoes instead and added one article of clothing at a time to the discard pile until she reached the bathtub. She got in after only an inch of water had accumulated and laid back to watch it fill with water and jasmine scented bubbles.

"Want me to wash your back?" Mulder asked as he sat on the closed seat of the toilet. He looked tired and his hair was still slick from the perspiration of a feverish child.

"Come here, Mulder," she dunked a washcloth in the bath water and wrung it out.

He lifted himself off the toilet to kneel in front of the tub. She gently wiped the sweat off his brow and neck.

"I see Will's fever broke."

"Yeah. A little while ago. Damned tooth. I think the crying was non-stop for about an hour and a half. Not even Blues Clues calmed the poor guy down."

"Poor baby. Poor Mulder." She dipped the cloth under water again as Mulder rested his head against his elbow and yawned. She faked a move to stuff the cloth in his wide open mouth and he laughed gently.

"I didn't get to write your story today, Scully."

"Oh. That's all right. Maybe we can do something tonight that will inspire an even more passionate adventure than Ruby and the Fox's backseat banging."

"Scully! Such language."

"Such a scene. Good thing I didn't take that to work with me."

"Oh, I don't know, It might have spiced up your day a bit."

She let out a huff of laughter.

"Believe me. It did not need any more 'spice' today."

"Oh? Should I be worried?"

"Oh, yeah. Very worried."

"Who is he? I'll kill him."

"Not him, hon. Me. You will be seeing a lot more of me."

He lifted an eyebrow in surprise.

"I--um--told off a room full of people and went around looking at things one last time and--well-- I handed in my notice. So--U Mass is a go, buddy."

"What? Are you sure?"

"I'm positive. Molding young minds--very important work, you know."

"Who'd you tell off? And why?"

He didn't look sleepy anymore. He was wide awake and wanted answers.

She touched his face.

"When we are all settled in--far, far away from DC--in a lovely, small house with a glowing fireplace and 2 1/2 baths--maybe--one day--when you're in a very, very good mood--I'll tell you."

"That bad?"


He gripped the side of the tub and stood up with a groan. Then, he leaned over and kissed her on the forehead.

<Fucking forehead kisses>

She reached up and grabbed both of his arms and pulled him toward her. He lost his balance,threw his left arm out against the tiled wall and landed with one leg in the tub between both of Scully's and one leg half out of the tub in a hovering, splayed out while doing pushups kind of position.

"Mulder! God! I'm sorry. It--was a lot sexier in my mind than it turned out."

"I think you sprained my penis, Scully. And not in a good way."

She giggled and put a hand to his chest as he valiantly tried not to let his hand slip.

"Get up, Mulder."



"No, Scully. I--you're going to have to slide up and out from under me. If I slip--well, you'll end up getting your first knee to the groin and I don't think it's pleasant for women, either."

She laughed again and slowly backed up until she was at the end of the tub, twisted a bit and then stood up. Mulder let his hands go and fell into the water. He then twisted his body and stood up.

"How's the sprain?" Scully asked--reaching out and unzipping his pants.

"Um--it's fine but Scully. . ."

"I'm just saving you from the discomfort of wet jeans, Mulder. It's nothing personal. We'll save that for later, okay?"

"Fine by me."

"But," she pulled him by his open waistband, "I do want a proper kiss. No foreheads involved."

He put his arms around her wet, naked body and pulled her up against him.

"Good start?" he asked.

"Great start."

He pressed his mouth against hers and was sliding his tongue past her lips when she pulled his pants down over his behind.

"Hey," he said, still kissing, "I thought we were waiting."

"Comfort, Mulder."

"Mmmm. . .comfort."

Hours later, when William was finally down for the evening--or his 2 AM feeding, whichever came first; when comfort went beyond kissing and a naked grope or two--Scully lay in the darkness with Mulder softly breathing behind her--his face snuggled into the crook of her neck.

She made the right decision. They had a chance to be happy. At the very least, they owed it to their son. And, frankly, they owed it to themselves. They earned their happiness.

"Please come to Boston to live forever. . ." Mulder crooned in her ear. Scully groaned.

"Oh, God, Mulder. I hate to tell you this but if you sing inane old songs from the 80's which will keep me up half the night trying to remember the lyrics of-I'm going to have to kick you out of bed."

"Will loves when I sing to him."

"Will is too young to tell you to shut up."

He wrapped his arms even more tightly around her waist.

"I'm happy about your resignation, Scully. That ship, as they say, has sailed. But are you sure about the new job?"

"No. No, I'm not, Mulder. But it's an adventure. And we're doing it together. I think we have a pretty good track record with our joint endeavors, don't you?"

He softly kissed her shoulder in response.

Before she drifted off to sleep she reminded herself to ask Mulder about getting colored folders. New, crisp folders for their new student files. Files filled with possibilities. Files filled with life.

The End

Author's Note: U Mass actually offered a course in the X-Files so it was given the distinction of being Mulder and Scully's future job location. I know I thanked her in my opening notes but Christina has done beta reading duties on almost all my stories and this one wasn't even quite finished when she started asking about it. It gave me just the right "push" to complete what was an annoyingly difficult story to complete. I'd like to thank her for her support and her friendship.

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