Title: Family Ties
Disclaimer: If you recognize them, they belong to Chris Carter, 1013 and Fox, if you don't they're mine
Summary: Scully sends her son to camp, and gets a surprise at the door
Time Period: Way past season 8, some references to other eps but not many. I'm off on my own tangent again. It's very nice in my own little world, wish you were here
Classification: MSR, very angsty beginning but bear with me, it lessens as the story unfolds
Archive: Anywhere just keep my name on it and let me know where it's headed.
Feedback: Don't make me beg firstname.lastname@example.org Rating: PG Thanks: Many, many to Kristen who reads this stuff before you do, and to Corinne who didn't get beta credit on the last one I wrote!
"What is it, now?" Dana Scully answered for the fifteenth time that morning.
"Are you sure it's okay to take the glove?"
She could only chuckle. "Yes, Will, I'm sure. Take the glove. You better finish packing your clothes though, John will be here any minute."
"I'm on it, Mom."
Scully paused in her bathroom, still amazed at the older face that stared back at her. Fine lines at the eyes, a gray here and there, and glasses that were becoming necessary more often. She laughed softly. "You're getting old, Scully."
She heard her son rummaging through his room and walked back to her own. Taking a deep breath, she sat on the bed and removed the picture frame. Mulder's face looked back at her. It was one of the precious few pictures she had of him. "Mulder," she sighed, "our little boy is heading off to camp today. Baseball camp. I think you'd approve." With a finger, she traced the contour of his face and blew out a breath.
"Dana?" John called from the front door and Scully shoved the picture back in the drawer. If Doggett knew she spoke to Mulder's picture on a regular basis, he'd have her to a Bureau shrink in a nanosecond.
She greeted him moments later with a warm hug and a few tears. "How're we doing, Mom?" John teased, knowing how to get a smile from his partner.
"I'm fine, really. I wish everyone would stop asking me that. He's only going to be gone a week."
"Hey, Uncle John," Will said as he dragged his duffel bag to the front door. "How's your back?"
"Never mind his back. Load your own gear, kiddo."
Will only chuckled as he began carting his clothes
and equipment to the truck outside
"My God, John," Scully commented as she watched her son. "He looks just like Mulder. I've seen pictures of him at this age, and it's uncanny."
"And that isn't easy, is it?" John took her hand.
Scully looked into his eyes, tears forming in hers and shook her head. "Thanks for doing this, by the way. I wanted so badly to go with him, but I could tell by the look in his eyes that he'd rather not have me drop him off. FBI agent or not, I'm still his mom and that just isn't cool."
"It's my pleasure, Dana. Since this is the closest I'll ever get to baseball camp, it's a thrill for me, too. He's my haven of testosterone when the estrogen level gets too high in the house."
"How are the girls?" Scully smiled, thinking of her goddaughters. She sent a silent prayer of thanks to Analise Doggett for having the strength of character to not feel threatened by her husband's single female partner. The strength to welcome her as a part of their family instead.
"I'm all set, Uncle John," Will announced, wiping his hands on ripped jeans.
"Then let's get out of here," John stood and grasped Scully's hand as he passed her. She returned the squeeze and moved towards Will.
"Call when you get there," Scully said as she hugged Will goodbye. He'd passed her height at eight and showed every sign of carrying his father's height along with everything else.
"I will." Will tried not to squirm from her embrace, but couldn't help it. "It's only a week, Mom."
"I know. It's a Mom thing. Love you."
"Love you too," Will called behind his back as he ran for the truck.
Scully shut the door and walked to the window to wave a final goodbye to her son. As the day wore on, she cleaned Will's room of the mess he'd left behind, and wandered aimlessly through the silent apartment.
She knew she should have moved years ago. As Will grew, it was becoming more and more cramped. But she refused, vehemently. Instead, she'd had her apartment renovated, turning her one big bedroom into two smaller ones. To anyone who asked, she said it was the excellent school district. Only to herself did she admit the truth. If she moved, Mulder might never find her. Even though she had abandoned all hope that he was still alive, she remained.
As night fell, Scully went to the kitchen. She opened the fridge, but wasn't hungry. Pouring herself a glass of wine instead, Scully raised her glass towards the ceiling.
"I hope you've found him, Missy," Scully addressed her sister. "Tell him I love him." It was her only real comfort, she thought. The hope that Missy and Ahab, and Mulder, Samantha and their parents had all met up in whatever existence waited for her when this one was over.
It hadn't been an easy eleven years, but it was getting easier. Every day she woke up without him, she felt the absence a little less. And that was the hardest thing to cope with.
A year after his disappearance, she'd let Mulder's apartment lease lapse and officially adopted the fish.
Two years later, she'd gotten rid of Mulder's belongings, save the couch she had stored at her mother's house and a few boxes of personal stuff for Will. The baseball glove she'd found in one drawer had just left for camp.
Five years later, he'd been officially declared dead. She, Doggett and Skinner had gotten drunk at a bar together that night.
"You should be here with me, Mulder," she said to the empty room. "You should be taking your son to camp, and celebrating a week without him with me. Damn it," she wiped at the unwanted tears.
Attempting to shake off the mood, she set the wine on the coffee table and reached for the TV remote. Scully answered the knock on her door without a second thought.
"John," she said as she opened the door. "I told you I'd be fine," Scully trailed off as the words were stolen from her.
"Scully?" her visitor said, equally confused, "What's wrong? Who's John?"
And she dropped to the floor in a dead faint.
A few minutes later, Scully opened her eyes and saw the ceiling. She must be on the couch. As she moved to sit up, his voice stopped her.
"Don't sit up too fast, you'll pass out again." It may have been eleven years, but it sounded exactly the same.
She stared for a long time before she trusted herself to speak. "Mulder?" she croaked.
Scully swung her feet to the floor and stared at the man sitting on the easy chair across from her. "I've got to be dreaming," she said wiping her hand across her face. "This can't be happening."
When he didn't respond, she wiped her hand across her face again.
"You've been crying," Mulder said.
"Yeah," she laughed bitterly. "For years."
"Years. . . Scully, what are you talking about?"
"Where have you been?" she said suddenly.
"I was in Oregon with Skinner, you know that."
"Mulder," Scully sighed deeply. "Take a look at me. That was eleven years ago."
Now it was Mulder's turn to stare, mouth agape. Then he seemed to study her face and realize what she was saying.
The phone rang just then, and Scully left Mulder to his thoughts as she picked up the receiver.
"Mom? I'm sorry. Uncle John made me promise I'd call after I got settled in. I just remembered." Scully talked with her son for a few minutes, praying that her voice sounded steady. Luckily, Will was so energized by his new adventure, he didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. He had no idea that his mom was sitting across the room from the father he'd never met.
The father that hadn't seemed to age a day since he'd disappeared.
"Who was that?" Mulder asked when she replaced the phone.
A loaded question, she thought. Years ago, she'd had that answer all rehearsed. Now, though, she didn't know what to say.
"My son," she heard herself reply. "He's at camp for a week."
"You're son," Mulder said on a whisper. That whisper cut through Scully like a blade.
"Our son," she confessed, her voice not much louder than his.
"Our. . ." Mulder stopped. "But I thought the IVF didn't work."
"It didn't," Scully smiled, allowing herself the memories she'd banished years ago. "I guess the old fashioned ways are still the best." And she let it go at that.
Mulder stood suddenly. Scully watched as his long form paced around her apartment and then came to a dead stop at her desk. The gallery of pictures she'd framed over the years held him in rapt attention. He pored over each photo, each milestone in their son's life, occasionally touching one with a shaking finger.
"What's his name?" Mulder asked softly, bracing his hands on the desk's surface.
"He looks just like me."
"I know he does," Scully rose and moved over to
stand next to him. As she looked at his left hand,
she noticed the pinky. He never did get that break
re-set, she thought, and caught herself. "Open
your shirt," Scully said suddenly.
"What?" Mulder faced her, perplexed.
"I need to see your shoulder," Scully said with force. Without another word, Mulder unbuttoned his shirt and pulled at the collar to bare the scar she'd given him. Scully sighed, front and back, same bullet wounds. Even the scars left from her unpracticed stitching job were the same.
"You gonna start asking me questions next?" Mulder said buttoning his shirt and beginning to sound exasperated.
Scully placed her hand on his cheek and turned his face to hers. He didn't speak as she searched his eyes, making sure the only way she knew. When her Mulder looked back, straight into her soul, tears filled hers and spilled down her cheeks. "It's really you," she said.
"It's really me, Scully," Mulder agreed and then caught her up into his arms.
The next thing she knew, Mulder had swept his arm under her legs and was carrying her towards the back of the apartment.
"Mulder," Scully laughed, "what are you doing?"
"Bedroom's this way," was his only response.
"Yes," she sobered. "Put me down."
"Okay," he said easily, then lay her on the bed and joined her. "You're down," he smiled and framed her face with his hands.
"Now let me up." Scully struggled to a sitting position, but Mulder quickly got her back where he wanted her.
"What's wrong?" Mulder sounded confused. "I don't care if it was eleven years ago, you said when I left that you were better at hello than goodbye. Prove it." Mulder pulled the hair away from her throat and began kissing his way towards her mouth.
"Mulder," she sighed and then gave up. He had a wicked way with his mouth, and after the long dry desert of a life she'd led, her body turned traitor on her. As was always the case with them, words became superfluous. Eyes spoke, hands expressed, bodies shouted.
And when it was over, when they lay side by side, Scully laughed. She felt a joy she hadn't known since before he'd disappeared. Together, they let his absence bleed into the past to make room for an uncertain future.
They spent the rest of the night alternating between making up for lost time and poring over photo albums. Scully told him story after story of their son's life, explaining each picture, each event, until Mulder knew all there was to know about him.
When dawn came, the phone broke into their reunion and the outside world intruded.
"Dana?" John said, his voice before-coffee rough.
"John," she laughed as Mulder kept trying to persuade her to hang up the phone.
"Nothing," she swatted at Mulder's hand, gripping it tightly to keep it from wandering.
"You sound strange."
"I know," she said again, her voice growing huskier as Mulder became more persuasive. "I can't talk right now." And she did something she'd never done before. She hung up on her partner.
"Who's John?" Mulder asked once Scully was prone beneath him.
"My partner," Scully said, running her hands down his back. But Mulder didn't take that news well. He shifted away from her to sit at the edge of the bed.
Scully moved directly behind him, wrapping her hands around his chest. "John headed up the search for you, tried to help me find you. When the FBI officially disbanded the search, we searched on our own when we could. In the mean time, he helped me keep the X Files open."
"But you never found me," Mulder said tiredly.
"Where have I been, Scully?"
"Skinner saw you disappear into that forest, then saw a craft overhead. We assumed you were abducted, Mulder. I don't know why you've been returned, I don't know why it took eleven years, I don't know why you haven't aged. We can figure that out later," Scully pressed herself against his back, kissing the indent between his shoulder blades. "You're home. That's all that matters to me right now."
Half an hour later, they were interrupted by the sound of someone beating on Scully's door. Scully only sighed. "That would be John," she guessed and slipped on the sweats Mulder had stripped from her the night before.
"What is it?" John said quietly when she opened the door. Scully had to cover her mouth to keep the laughter in when she noticed his gun drawn.
"It's okay, John," she opened the door and allowed him inside. "I have a visitor. Would you like coffee?"
"Coffee?" he asked, exasperated. "What the hell is going on? I call this morning to ask you to join us for breakfast, thinking you'd rather not be alone. Instead, I hear laughter from my solemn partner and she hangs up on me. So I repeat, what the hell is going on, Dana?"
"Dana?" a voice said sarcastically from the bedroom. "Since when do you go by Dana?"
"Since I got a partner who didn't mind using it," she said. The scene was almost surreal. Fox Mulder meets John Doggett. "Mulder, this is John Doggett. John, our search is over."
Doggett stood stock still, mouth opening and closing like a fish. "But. . .how?"
"I wish I knew," Mulder responded, holding his hand out to the other man. "All I remember is walking into Scully's building last night. Before that, I was standing in a forest with Skinner."
"Skinner," Scully said on a loud exhale, already reaching for the phone to call him. He'd felt Mulder's loss nearly as much as she had, and now she wanted him to share her joy.
Scully sat on the couch next to Mulder, his hand drawing lazy circles at the nape of her neck, and watched three of the four men in her life bonding over beer and pizza. Skinner had shown up ten minutes after she'd called looking for all the world like a man possessed. She didn't know what she'd expected, but it hadn't been for the deputy director of the FBI to enfold her former partner in a bear hug nearly lifting him off the ground.
And now, the three of them were amusing themselves telling stories about her. Green face cream, invisible men, cricket eating, her singing ability, and cyberScully were all mentioned and laughed over. Doggett kept shooting her incredulous looks, but she just shrugged.
"Well," Scully cleared her throat, "at least I was never strapped to a bed in a psych ward. Oh wait," she gave Mulder her most saccharine smile, "that happened to you twice, didn't it?"
"I said you should have seen it coming," Mulder raised her hand to his lips and pressed a kiss into the palm.
Skinner and Doggett exchanged a glance, and stood at the same time. "We should be going," Doggett was the first to speak. Mulder made a perfunctory effort at getting them to stay, but everyone in the room knew what he meant was don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Skinner took Scully aside as Mulder and Doggett said their farewells. "Have you told Will?"
"No." Scully took a deep breath. "I don't know how. Part of me wants to rush right up there and pull him out of camp, the other knows how long he's looked forward to this week. I wanted to ask for tomorrow, so I can go up there. . ."
"Agent Scully," Skinner cut her off. "I know I'm not your direct superior anymore, but I speak for the Bureau in this matter. We better not see you at work for at least the next week. You'll figure out the rest," he shot a glance over at Mulder, "together."
"Thank you, sir," Scully said with gratitude.
"You'll tell Mom?"
"I'll tell Maggie, don't worry. The minute she gets back from California. I'd call, but I want to see the look on her face," Skinner grinned.
When Skinner went to say goodbye to Mulder, Doggett enfolded Scully in his arms. "I'll see you when I see you," he said.
"Thank you, John."
"For what?" he looked uneasy.
"For the last eleven years. I don't think I'd have made it without you," Scully wiped at her tears unashamedly.
"Skinner told me once that the pair of you worked like two halves of a whole. Now I know it's true. Mulder just thanked me for the same thing. And it's bull. You'd have made it fine, Dana. You're stronger than anyone I know."
Scully was still smiling as she shut the door on their guests. When she turned towards Mulder, she walked into his arms without a word. They stood in a long, silent embrace.
"I have to pack, and we have to buy you some clothes," Scully said as she pulled back.
"Why?" Mulder asked, fisting his hands in her hair.
"We're going to baseball camp to meet your son," she said.
"Explain one thing to me," Mulder asked as they drove towards the camp.
"What?" Scully reached over for his hand simply because she could.
"Why is Skinner going to tell your mom?"
"She's in California with Bill and Tara," Scully answered.
"But why Skinner? They barely know each other."
Scully laughed and squeezed his hand. "Sorry. They were married about four years ago. Skinner usually goes with her, but, um, let's just say Charile's been more accepting of the marriage."
"Yeah, I'll bet," Mulder muttered, remembering his thankfully few encounters with Scully's big brother. "But married?"
"Yeah," Scully smiled as she told Mulder the long and agonizingly comical courtship of her mother by her boss. "She'd only seen him a few times before you disappeared, but as we searched, and after Will was born, they came into contact more often."
"He certainly didn't rush into things, did he?"
"It took him some time to get her to agree to marry him."
"Seven years," Scully grinned.
"Seems to be the magic number with the Scully women," Mulder grinned back.
Scully merely squeezed the hand she held tighter. "She had a viable argument, though. I mean, she is quite a few years older than him."
The comment seemed to hang in the air, suspended by the current situation. While real time for Mulder had ceased for eleven years, it hadn't for Scully. And when seen together, it looked like Scully was robbing the elementary school, if not the cradle.
"Not that viable, old timer," Mulder cracked.
"We're here," Scully exhaled as she pulled the car to a stop in the camp's parking lot. She had timed it so that they would arrive after dinner. She didn't want to pull Will away from anything more than nighttime roughhousing with the other players. This was going to be hard enough.
The camp director met them at the office and directed them towards the gym, where the campers were assembling for movie night. Scully pulled open the door, but Mulder placed his hand on it to close it again.
"I can't, Scully," he said to the ground. "He doesn't know me. Maybe it's better. . ."
"If you what?" she asked, picking up his sentence. "If you go away, if I hide you away so that you watch him from a distance? He knows you, Mulder, he's just never met you. X Files became bedtime stories for Will as he grew older and wanted to know more about his father."
"I just. . ."
"You're just nervous. It'll be okay," she raised on her toes to kiss his cheek.
Scully opened the door once again and walked through. Mulder hung back as she wended her way through a throng of screaming boys.
"Mom?" Will called when he saw her. "What's wrong?
Who's that?" he asked as Mulder got closer.
"Um," she cleared her throat and glanced over her shoulder.
Will looked stunned for a minute, then blinked his eyes several times. "It's really you, isn't it?"
"Sorry you had to miss movie night," Mulder said shakily seated across from his son in the hotel room he and Scully were using. Scully was ordering dinner from room service and this was his first one on one with his son. His son. It was still sinking in.
"That's okay," Will kept his face blank, "I've already seen the movie." Then Will lost the battle with his smile.
Mulder met Scully's eyes as she replaced the phone. "You weren't kidding when you said he was just like me."
"No," she ruffled her son's hair, "I wasn't. Of all the things you had to coat your genes with, did that sense of humor have to be one of them?"
"What position do you play?" Mulder asked, changing the subject and jumping on the one thing he knew he could talk about with Will.
"I pitch," he said proudly.
"Pitch?" Mulder once again looked over his shoulder at Scully. "That's great."
"His best friend, Joel, plays right field," Scully supplied helpfully.
"Yeah, and he doesn't whine about it. Says someone has to play it," Will smirked again.
The tension didn't break, but slowly shrank until Mulder and Will were talking baseball like old friends. Will filled Mulder in on the sport's news since he'd been gone, finally finding a captive audience. It wasn't what she expected, but it worked for her.
When room service arrived, Scully pushed the tray into the center of the room. Both of them attacked it.
She fed them both, marveling at the amount of food her son could put away. When she'd asked if he'd eaten dinner at camp he'd just said "yeah" and continued to devour the hamburger in front of him. She was already considering taking out a loan to keep him fed through adolescence.
Will fell asleep two hours later. Scully didn't bother undressing him, she just slipped off his shoes and covered him with a blanket. As she stood from kissing his cheek, she was almost startled to feel Mulder's arms encircle her from behind.
"He's a great kid," Mulder murmured in her ear.
"It wasn't easy, and I had a lot of help," Scully felt unsettled at the praise.
"I'm sure you did, but at the end of the day, you're his mom. And you did a wonderful job. Thank you."
"I love you," she said quietly, still staring at her sleeping son.
"I was beginning to wonder if you'd ever say that again," Mulder whispered into her ear. "I love you, too."
Scully turned in his arms and raised on her toes to meet his lips. The kiss seemed to last forever, and as they pulled away, they were stunned to find Will watching them.
"Mom." It didn't seem to be a question, so Scully sat at his side and waited. "Is he staying? I mean, he's not gonna be gone when I wake up, is he?"
"No, Will," Mulder sat next to Scully and met his son's eyes, the mirrors of his own. "I'll be here. I'm not leaving again."
"Can I still keep the glove?" Will asked, a shadow of the little boy he used to be. Mulder met Scully's eyes in confusion and she explained.
"It's yours now, Will," Mulder felt his throat thickening with emotion.
The next morning, they dropped Will off at the field just before morning practice. With a promise to meet them for dinner, he ran off to warm up. They stayed and watched for a while, Mulder awed at his son's ability.
For the remainder of the week, Scully and Mulder spent their days together, exploring the nearby town and exploring each other. The evenings they spent with Will, slowly becoming the family Scully always hoped they'd be.
On his last night of camp, Will posed a question that floored Mulder. Scully was just about to step out of the bathroom when Will spoke, and she eavesdropped unashamedly.
"Dad?" Will asked, his voice still getting used to saying it. It didn't bother Mulder, though. He was still getting used to answering to it. "Tomorrow is the last day of camp and there's this big game for the parents before we pack up and head out and it's fathers and sons playing together and I know it's been a while since you played but it's like riding a bike, you never forget, and I was wondering if you wanted to play in it. . .with me."
Mulder shook his head for a second at the amount of information Will got out in one breath. But he nearly hit himself when he saw the downward turn of Will's eyes. "Whoa, buddy," Mulder grinned and got Will's attention back. "I wasn't saying no, I was wondering how you said all that without pausing to breathe. Let me get this straight. There's a father son game tomorrow, and you wanted to know if I'd join you, right?"
"Right," Will said softly.
"Can I play right field?" Mulder asked.
"You have to have an arm to play right field," Will deadpanned back, having heard his father say the same thing more than once over the course of the week.
When the game was over, their team victorious, Scully watched as Will headed out to right field. He stopped in front of Mulder, dropped his glove and wrapped his gangly arms around his father. Mulder reciprocated, enfolding Will in an embrace that lifted the boy off the ground.
And Scully found herself sitting in the bleachers on a hot summer day, with the Doggett clan, her mother and Skinner, tears pouring out from under her sunglasses.
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