Title: Frederick
Author: Lilydale
Classification: Angst of the Scully family variety
Timeline: Season four, sometime after "Herrenvolk"
Disclaimer: The characters you recognize are not mine. They belong to 1013 Productions, Chris Carter, and Fox.
Archive: Sure. Please let me know so I can visit.
Contact: Speak to me at lilydale10@yahoo.com and visit me at my newly relocated site http://home.earthlink.net/~lilydale1/fic

Summary: "To love one child and to love all children, whether living or dead - somewhere these two loves come together." -- Marguerite Duras, author and filmmaker

Thanks: Blueswirl, Emma Brightman, and JET all deserve hearty praise for helpful beta. Thanks also to Bonetree for organizing the E-Muse Beat the Heat Fic Challenge for which this story made its debut last week.

Summer 1996
Margaret Scully's house

Margaret Scully thinks most about Frederick when she's sewing. That may help explain why her sewing machine's been behind towels in the linen closet for the bulk of the last thirty years. She loves Frederick, but she doesn't like to think about him.

Melissa wore a lot of homemade outfits, but her next three children all sported store-bought clothes. The only hand- me-downs they wore were leftovers from their Navy neighbors. It was easy enough to explain. Easy enough to appear normal. "Oh, once little Missy arrived she kept me so busy that I hardly had time to shop for clothes, much less make them." Any new mother could say that, right? Especially by the time she had four young children all vying for attention and growing like weeds? Yes, yes, that's always been her story and her comfort.

Appearing normal.

On the Naval base the Scullys fit right in, probably even stood out, and not just because of their red-topped heads. As a family they always seemed so happy, proper, and full of love. Not just seemed, Maggie thinks. That's how they were. She smiles at the memory, her beautiful, caring family. A house full of six is a marked contrast to her current house of one and her dwindled down progeny of three. Four, if you count Frederick.

When she first found out she was pregnant, she created a miniature wardrobe of yellow and green. Back in the early '60s people couldn't find out the sex of their babies like they could now, and all the fabric stores had plentiful supplies of yellow and green yarn and cloth. Women also sewed a lot more back then. She wonders who's more out of touch, who's missed out on more, her or young women around Dana's age.

The only Scully baby who wore any of those handmade clothes was Melissa. There's something to be said for the olden days of yellow and green, colors good for a boy or a girl. And something to be said for a lack of monogramming. Maggie's noticed an increase in monogramming over the past few years on other people's grandbabies at church. Maybe it's just her awareness of other people's expanding families that's increased given the ever-dwindling size of her own. She prefers to think that people were just more familial and practical when she was a young mother. Women on the Navy base passed around assorted baby supplies and clothes like recipes.

Most clothes, anyway.

Missy wore some of the clothes made for Frederick, but once she outgrew them Maggie packed them away because even though Frederick never wore them they were more a reminder of a lost boy than of a happy, smiling girl. Some clothes Missy never even grew into before they were given away to other families in the friendly base community way or packed in tissue paper as secret memories and tucked in the basement.

Her husband never asked what happened to all those little crocheted booties that he sometimes wore on his fingers like puppets to make her laugh.

When Dana stopped in for a surprise visit earlier that night she had on a light yellow cardigan. It wasn't monogrammed but was adorned with her name on an FBI tag.

"Dana! What are you doing here?"

"Can't I just stop by to say hello to my mother?"

"Of course, honey," Maggie said as she ushered her daughter inside, wondering if Dana was okay. Maggie hoped she hadn't already eaten all the Oreos she bought last weekend because Dana really needed to eat more. And rest more. Her poor baby girl always looked so tired.

They sat in the kitchen for a while chatting about nothing in particular, about people they both knew at church, about the radio superiority of NPR, and picking at a plate of grapes and cheese. (She had indeed eaten all the Oreos.) They moved into the living room after a refill of iced tea.

Maggie didn't want to pry, and she didn't want to upset Dana, but something wasn't quite right with her daughter. It wasn't like the time that year when Dana was truly not herself, paranoid at the world and waving a gun at her partner and then at her, but there was something uncharacteristically soft in her voice and something sad in the way she smiled.

"Is everything okay, Dana?"

There was that melancholy smile again. "Yes, Mom. Everything's fine. Really. It's just..." She took a conveniently long sip of tea. "It's just that Mulder's mother is sick. She had a stroke. I was there, in Rhode Island, at the hospital with them a few days ago."

"I'm so sorry. How is she now? Will she be okay?"

"Yes, it looks that way. She's awake, responsive, her cognitive abilities quickly and almost completely restored. She's gaining strength." A pause. "I wouldn't have left if I thought she wasn't going to be fine."

Her daughter said "she" but Maggie read it, heard it, as "he." Dana cared about Mrs. Mulder because she cared about Mulder. It wasn't something they talked about.

"Good, good," she said, supportive but noncommittal. "I didn't know his mother lived in Rhode Island." She in fact knew that his mother did not live there thanks to a few conversations with Mulder when Dana was missing, but she wasn't sure if Dana knew she knew, so she decided again to take the vague route.

"She doesn't. Mulder's family has a vacation home up there."

Maggie nodded her head as she murmured an "I see."

"We went there, between visits. It was nice, big," Dana said as she stared off at some random point by the bookshelves. "It's right on the sea."

"So it felt like home," Maggie said, knowing that for their entire family the water always made them feel like they were at home. For years the only time the kids felt like they were a complete family was when she took them all to the shore, explaining that their daddy was out there on a boat, sailing the very ocean lapping at their toes.

"Yes, it was a little like home," Dana said with some of the sadness noticeably absent from her face. "But not enough. That's why, uh, why I wanted to come see you. You're home, Mom."

Maggie's heart constricted as she thought about how a child, your child, has the unique power to make your heart feel for one brief moment that it's stopped pumping blood, overwhelmed by love and pride.

Especially Dana, who only rarely talked about what and how she felt.

Soon after, Dana announced that she needed to go, claiming that tomorrow would be an early day. Maggie hugged her before she left, stroking her hair like she would a baby's.

With the house now again quiet and empty, Maggie wishes that all her children could visit on any random night just to say hello and eat some of her food. Bill and Charles live too far away, she can only see Melissa in pictures, and Frederick...Frederick is gone.

She wonders if Frederick ever wants to come see his real mother, make sure she's happy and healthy and safe. Does he hate her? Does he think that she doesn't love him anymore? That she never did? Or does he never think of her at all? Maybe he doesn't even know about her. Maybe he's not even alive. Is there anyone to stand by his side when he's sick?

When he's sick. They lost Frederick because he was sick and would be forever.

At first he was a healthy little boy, acting the way she was assured he would, keeping them up at nights with his wails and shaking his chubby legs so much it was hard to pull on his tiny socks. But then suddenly, with each passing week, he became a little more lethargic, a little more glassy-eyed in front of the toys his baby blue eyes used to track with curious awe.

She remembers what it was like when her doctor told her that he was sick. She wishes she could forget.

She also remembers what it was like every time they went to the specialist's office. It felt like she was struck with a bolt of lightning every time she saw that building. She remembers that specifically, feeling the shock and paralysis of Zeus's lightning every time she saw Zeus Genetics.

She thought Zeus struck her dead when the doctors quietly told her and William that Frederick was simply too sick to live with his parents anymore, too sick to even see them. Their parting was gradual, waning slowly with sporadic hospital visits, but it eventually was complete. Forty years ago, it didn't seem all that uncommon or cruel to take a sick boy away from his parents.

She's not sure now what it was that was so wrong with him. The doctors said that Frederick had some sort of severe anemia with complications, but it seemed nobody could ever pinpoint those complications or figure out an effective treatment. Whatever was wrong, it made him so very, very pale and weak, and it never got better even after all those office visits.

She was younger than Dana when she had and lost Frederick, and now she can't imagine someone as young as Dana having to go through anything as difficult as that. But Maggie did, and she survived, and she and William did ultimately have a blessed, beautiful family.

Frederick's existence was erased from their lives. They'd thrown away all his pictures. Or, rather, her husband did. As hard as it was for her to lose Frederick, she knew how much his first son meant to William, and any reminder of the son not meant to be was too much for even the steel willed Navy man. Saving clothes Frederick never grew into, however, was practical, economical, and nonspecific, so they were allowed to stay.

She never told anyone about Frederick, as she'd promised to the doctors. And given the honor her husband put to his word, she trusts that he never told anyone either. They'd switched bases from Maryland to the Midwest soon after they lost Frederick, and nobody where they lived knew that the new couple in the tract house next door really had a four-month-old son.

Maggie longs to know what happened to her first baby. Over the years she resigned herself to never knowing. After giving up sewing, it takes times like tonight -- when she feels particularly far from or particularly close to her children -- for her to think about Frederick, her first darling little boy.

Tired, Maggie heads upstairs to go to bed. Sometimes she feels the weight of her husband on the other side of the bed, but she doesn't dare turn around and look because she knows it's not real.

In her dreams, though, in her dreams, she does look to see who's nearby as she sits at the beach, vacations in Rome, or does whatever one does in dreams. William is still there sometimes, Melissa too, and even baby Frederick can appear in her dreams. He's a healthy baby in her head, perpetually young as she remembers him, with drooping, sleepy eyelids as she rocks him to sleep by the window. "Goodnight, sweetheart."

Summer 1996
A little weather-beaten farmhouse

The girl fell asleep before the sun went down. So far tonight he's seen two falling stars through the dusty window next to his bed. He desperately wants rest, but it's slow in coming tonight. He looks at the sparkles in the sky and wonders, "Is that where home is?" He spends his time working in fields with endless rows of identical crops and sleeping in the small wooden house, but this place doesn't feel like home.

His mind paints thoughts not with words but with vivid colors in silent, swirling patterns that remind him of the way sunshine first hits puddles after a rainstorm. When he thinks, it's like he's part of a never-ending dream; awake or asleep, day after day, his world is the same.

He's often wondered if the girl sees pictures like he does, but when he looks her in the eye hoping to see rainbows, he only sees a cloudy brown sun with a black center. "Hello in there, can you see what I see?"

He's tried sneaking looks at the eyes of the others too, but there's a strange sense of understood order at the farm, everyone focused at the task at hand instead of at the people around them. Plus, outside he's usually only close to the girl.

And, of course, to the men.

Sometimes when the men come to watch them work, they pull on her braids. His hair is shorn close to his head or they'd probably pull on him too. They don't seem to pull hard, just enough to get her attention. She never flinches. Maybe she doesn't care. He can't ask and find out. He'd care if it was his head.

Sometimes the men are loud too, their individual sounds blasting through the usual buzzing background.

He doesn't think he's supposed to make noise from his mouth the way the big men do, which is why he's never tried it even when the men aren't there. He suspects that they're always there somehow, even when he can't see them with his eyes.

The men ignore him and the other boys and girls for the most part, sometimes paying more attention to and treating with more care the plants and the bees than they do the children. It's just as well because when the men move close to him, his pictures get angry and fiery, orange and deep red burning inside.

No, he shudders, shaking his head. Nighttime is not for the men. Concentrate on the moon, on the stars, on a time to rest.

He leans back away from the window, closes his eyes, and settles his head of dirty blond hair onto his pillow, wishing for sleep. Sometimes in his night dreams, amidst the sea of vivid chaos, he can hear one word breaking through the waves, lapping up to him and washing over him with comfort. Frederick, sometimes he hears the word Frederick.

Read More Like This Write One Like This
Other Emilys
Non-Canon Kids
Stolen Ova: Another Child Challenge
Baby/Kidfic plot Generator

Return to The Nursery Files home