Title: It's Gonna Be Pretty
Spoilers: All the way through Season 8. everything is fair game, though nothing is really SPECIFICALLY mentioned.
Keywords: MSR (married), Holiday-fic, Fluff
Archive: Go for it, just let me know so I can link back to you?
Disclaimer: If I owned these characters and stuff, I wouldn't be fretting about student loans, grants, etc. So obviously I own none of them. it's all about 1013 productions, FOX, and all those around it.
Summary: Mulder, Scully and William enjoy the Fourth of July together.
Author Notes: Basically in the same universe as 'Vanilla and Silver' (which can be found at my site). Same house, same living "arrangements". Only, that was set in 2002, this one is set in 2003. No, you do NOT have to read VAS to read this one. It stands completely on its own. Same rules though as that one. ONLY difference is that I wrote VAS last summer before Season 8, and this is after Season 8. So, their child now has a name and Mulder doesn't work for the bureau. More notes at the end.
"I look at myself, and instead I see us
Whoever I am now, it feels like enough"
~ Looking Through Your Eyes
Recorded by LeAnn Rimes
A jangling noise penetrates the depth of my sleep, and my automatic reaction is to reach out and slam the alarm clock off. As I reach out for the offending machine, a deep, husky chuckle comes from behind me.
"Wrong one, Scully," Mulder says, his voice hoarse from sleep. I force my eyes open just as he reaches across me and plucks the telephone receiver out of its cradle. The noise stops immediately, much to my relief.
I shift onto my back and he looms over me, propped up on one arm. His hair is slightly tousled and he looks as groggy as I feel. I rub at my eyes, trying to wake myself up more as he answers the phone.
"Hello? . Hi! . No, no, it's not too early. It was time to get up anyway." He grins at me, and I glance at the clock I'd just assaulted.
The clock proudly reads 9:15. It takes me a moment to realize that I'm not late for work; I have the day off. July 4th. Independence Day. Hot dogs, watermelon and fireworks. Right.
"Uhm, just a sec," he presses the phone to his chest and looks at me, "Are you awake?"
I swat at him with a smirk, and he tells the person on the phone that I am.
"She just tried to hit me!"
I take the phone away from him, pushing firmly against his chest. He feigns pain as he flops down onto the bed. I roll my eyes as I put the phone to my ear.
My mother's chipper voice meets my ear. July 4th has always been one of her favorite holidays, and she has always found a way to celebrate and have a good day -- even three years ago when Mulder was missing and it was the first time I'd seen Bill since I'd learned of my pregnancy. Somehow amid my lost feelings and Bill's ranting, she succeeded to creating a beautiful holiday picnic and we were able to set things aside for a few hours.
Mom chatters on about various things; I'm waiting for the punchline. Actually, I already know what it is. we haven't spent July 4th together since that one.
The following year, William had been so young that Mulder and I chose to celebrate quietly alone. Then, last year, Reyes had gotten sick, forcing me to have to go out into the field with Agent Doggett. Besides being a particularly rough case, I was upset about being away from William and Mulder on a holiday, but at around 8:00 that night a knock came upon my motel room door. I'd opened it to find them standing there. Mulder had packed everything up and flown out to surprise me. How he was able to fly that whole way with a one-year-old, he still won't reveal to me, but I was so glad he had. It was raining, and he looked so pitiful, drenched, carrying William and all that goes with traveling with a toddler. We ordered a pizza, and spent the night watching various fireworks displays on TV, sharing the full size bed with Will nestled between us. It is easily my favorite Independence Day memory.
". and so since Charles said he'd probably be there, and Bill, Tara and Matthew are here, do you think all of you could come as well?"
I smile and tell her I'll see what Mulder thinks. I pull the phone from my ear, and press it against my chest. I look down at Mulder, who has shifted himself around and is now using my stomach as a pillow. He is gazing up at me with a look in his eye I can never resist -- one that I could only call a mixture of love and adoration. I gaze back at him and chuckle softly.
"Mmm. yes, very. What's up?"
"Mom is making supper for everyone, and then wants us all to go see the fireworks. You know Bill is up and Charles apparently is going to try to make it."
"Sounds like fun."
I shake my head in disbelief. A few years ago, the thought of us going on such a domestic holiday adventure seemed as farfetched as many of the X-Files we investigated. Bill still doesn't like Mulder, he still blames him - and me in some cases -- for so much, but it seems a truce has been called for atleast the holidays.
I tell Mom that we'll come, and then hang up the phone. I look down at Mulder and run my fingers through his hair. He closes his eyes and sighs contently. He takes one of my hands, and traps it between his hand and his chest. I feel his heart pounding strong and steady. I continue to stroke my fingers through his hair, letting my nails lightly scrape his scalp.
I just woke up, and I'm about to fall back to sleep. I am putty in Scully's hands; now I know why she likes having me brush her hair now and then. This is the most relaxing thing in the world.
I love weekends. I love holidays. I love holidays that land right on the edge of a weekend. I get Scully for three whole days. I wouldn't trade my time with William for the world, but, at the same time, I miss spending my days beside Scully. It's not the work I miss - Scully puts my profiling skills to work often by bringing work home - it's because I know she'd be sitting right there beside me. Moments like this, I'd even sit through a chewing out by Kersh for one more day as her partner at the bureau.
In a few minutes, though, we'll go get William up, and those thoughts will fly right out of my head. I'll realize that she is always right beside me. even when she isn't present physically. I see her in William's eyes. I feel her looking over my shoulder whenever I consider drinking out of the orange juice container. I hear her when I get in the car and she's set the radio to one of her favorite classical music stations. I'm happy to fix her favorite supper, feed William, and draw a warm bubble bath all at the same time to see her smile after a long, hard day at the bureau.
No, I wouldn't trade this for anything in the world. Who knew? Fox Mulder, happy and content in a "normal life".
Scully's hand goes still on the top of my head. I barely notice. Silk-covered Scully-stomach is my favorite pillow, and I intend to stay here as long as I can. I drag my eyes open, and I look past her breasts, up at her face. Scratch that, her stomach is my second favorite pillow. Since her pregnancy, her breasts have remained a bit fuller, and they are much softer than her firm abdomen. She smiles down at me, as if she just read my mind.
"It's the Fourth of July," she says.
"Yes," I reply. "Yes, it is."
"Independence Day," she continues. She's thinking about something, and I wonder if she's going to share.
"That's generally what the Fourth of July is," I say, trying to lighten her mood some, and she responds with an amused glare, but there is solemnity in her expression.
"Mulder, I'm serious," she admonishes me. "It's Independence Day, and. knowing all that we know."
She pauses, and gets the expression on her face that tells me she is thinking hard. I shift so that I am once again propped up so I can focus on what she is saying better. I trap her body between my arm and torso so that we are almost face to face.
"You're wondering if celebrating our 'Independence' is worth it, if we really are free," I finish for her. She nods, indicating I'm right in my assessment of her sudden melancholy mood.
"I love this holiday," she says. "Mom always made this one of the best days of the year, even when Dad was out at sea. It's a carefree day, when worries should only extend to whether or not there is enough potato chips to go with the hot dogs."
"Which is why we have to celebrate it every year, even when we know what we know. It reminds us why we are fighting this fight; why the sacrifices that have been made weren't made in vain."
She nods slowly.
"Besides," I continue, "when else can people blow stuff up, have thousands of people watch, and not have to worry about being arrested for it."
She rolls her eyes and pushes against my shoulders, trying to get up. I grab her around the waist and pull her down onto the bed. She fights, but not seriously. We wrestle a bit, and soon find ourselves in the mother of all tickle-fights. Scully may be small, but she's quick. It doesn't take long until I'm the one pinned down and helpless. I finally use my size advantage and pull her down against me, wrapping her in a tight hug. We lay like that laughing for a few minutes.
After awhile, we calm down and lay sighing. Every now and then one of us chuckles lightly. She pushes up after a few minutes to look down at me.
"I was serious, you know," she says.
"I know," I reply. "So was I. This is a good, important holiday, one we all deserve."
"Yeah," she says. "It's just that every holiday I think about what you told me the English gentleman told you before he died, about it all happening on a holiday when people are away from their homes. Couldn't happen on a more fitting day."
"You've seen 'Independence Day' too many times," I reply.
"Never seen it," she says dryly, "and I don't plan to either. After all I' ve seen, I'd probably end up laughing through the whole thing."
I chuckle at that. I can just see her sitting there, watching the movie, picking out the scientific inaccuracies in it, among other odd facts regarding extraterrestrials. Bill would love that.
"The whole concept isn't funny, though," I tell her. "We know that better than anyone, and I believe that if this was the holiday he spoke of we'd be the first to know. Whether you and I like it or not, we are still first in all shady character's speed dials when it comes to conspiracies."
"I guess you're right," she sighs.
"When am I wrong?" I smirk. She glares at me for an instant before pushing up off of me. I release my hold on her and she stands up beside the bed. She looks down at me with her hands on her hips.
"Well, Mr. Right, you better get breakfast perfect," she says firmly. "William and I will be starving by the time we get to the kitchen. It better be good."
I give her a mock salute after she gives me a kiss and begins to walk to the door.
"Aye, aye captain."
The day was relaxed. We spent much of the morning getting ready for the evening. I decided to make a cake to take over to my mother's. William "helped" me. Mulder ended up going to the grocery store several times to get things I found I didn't have, or to replace items William made unusable. A gallon of milk and countless eggs later, we had a mouthwatering chocolate cake ready to go.
After William learned we were going to go see the fireworks, he was practically impossible to handle. Getting him down for a nap took a little bribing, two lullabies and three stories. After we got him down, Mulder and I took a nap of our own.
More or less.
We were in bed, but there wasn't much sleep being had.
A few hours later we were on the road, bound for Mom's house. We decided to take our time, and are now driving down side streets and back roads. Traffic is surprisingly light.
William gets more excited and antsy with every passing mile.
"We go see fireworks," he declares from the backseat.
"Yes, we are. They are going to be pretty," Mulder replies.
"Pretty," William echoes.
Mulder and I exchange another smile. If not for William, we probably wouldn't be doing this, or if we were we wouldn't be near as excited. As it is, though, I know that I feel a tingle down my spine thinking about the events to come. I feel like a little kid myself. Mulder has a twinkle in his eye I used to only see when he had a particularly intriguing X-File to present. He's excited, too.
I twist in my seat to look back at William. He's turned his focus, for the moment, to the scenery passing by his windows. I figure he probably only sees the bright blue sky, but it has his attention.
He is so adorable in the small Yankees cap Mulder bought for him. He has my eyes and nose, but he has Mulder's lips. His hair has already begun to darken, and I know when he gets older he'll have his father's dark hair. I' m hoping for some red highlights in it though, instead of the blonde ones Mulder gets after being in the sun for long periods of time.
The doctor already confirmed what I suspected; William is going to be tall. He grows out of clothes at an alarming rate, though everyone tells me that's normal. Right now he definitely looks like Mulder's Mini-me, dressed in a white T-shirt, blue jean shorts, and a pair of tennis shoes.
I look at Mulder, also dressed in a white T-shirt, but wearing blue jeans and black hiking boots instead.
"Mulder, explain to me why you had to dress William in a white T-shirt?" I ask. "It will be dirty within moments after we get there."
He glances in the rear view mirror at the boy in the back seat. William looks towards his father at the same moment. I swear they have a conversation in that look; probably something about how silly Mommy is, that it's a guy thing or something.
"Scully, no matter what we put William in, it's going to get dirty," he replies. "We are going to be outside, and you know that the recent rains have caused us to have a lot of mosquitoes. You yourself told me how those little bugs are attracted to dark clothing. So white was the most LOGICAL," he glances at me as he stresses the word, "thing to dress him in."
I look at him incredulously. There is no way he thought of that before we left.
"Besides," he continues after a few seconds. "I packed another shirt in the bag for later. I just can't resist pushing Bill's buttons now and then."
"Even if you have to use your son to do?"
This should be good. Mulder has never thought ill of Bill, not completely. He told me once that he could see Bill's point-of-view. I told him, in no uncertain terms, that Bill's point-of-view meant little to me at this point. He doesn't have all the facts, and he doesn't want them. Atleast he pretends to play nice now, and in that fact Mulder likes to see how far he can annoy him.
"Well, I don't consider it as using him exactly."
"No. Bill still can't comprehend my abduction and subsequent death and 'resurrection'."
"Mulder, sometimes I don't even comprehend it," I interrupt, but it doesn't phase him.
".and therefore, he still blames me for getting you 'knocked up'. You know, I messed up your life one more time."
"Which you didn't."
".and the fact that William does have a lot of my physical attributes just bugs the hell out of him. So, I'm just playing up a natural occurrence."
Through all of this, I've watched his expression. It's remained one of complete innocence, and when he glances at me finally I see a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. I roll my eyes and look back at William again. He's watching us with the most serious expression on his face, making him look even more like Mulder. He does that a lot; it's as if he is following our conversation completely. I wait for the day he interrupts us and gives his opinion on whatever matter we are discussing at the time.
He focuses on my face after a moment, registering the fact I'm looking at him. His serious expression fades into a smile.
"Hi Mommy," he says.
"We're gonna see fireworks," he says to me, as if he's revealing a big secret.
"Yes, William, we are," I laugh. I look over at Mulder who is also chuckling. It's going to be a great evening.
This is life.
It really is. It's been over two years now, and I still have to continue pinching myself. I look at Scully sitting beside me, talking to Tara about baby clothes or something, and I glance at William sitting in my lap. He's reclined back on my chest, staring up at the dark night sky. It's still all so surreal. I have a family -- my very own family. A wife, a son, in-laws who. well, some like me, others hate me, an SUV (I refused to by a mini-van) with a child seat in the back.
I pinch myself again, and it hurts. I'm going to have a lot of bruises for Scully to nurse tonight, but it means that it really isn't all just some fantasy. It's real.
Charles comes over and hunches down beside me on the blanket we'd lain out. We see so little of him that, even after having spent the last three hours together, I do a double take when I see him. He reaches out and nudges William.
William ignores him. He's focused so hard on the sky where the fireworks are to appear at any time. I gently rock and shake him in my arms.
"William, Charles is talking to you."
William slowly turns his head from the sky to look at Charles.
"Hey, look over there," Charles says, pointing towards another area of the sky. I look where he is pointed and recognize immediately what he is referring to. William looks as well. I figure this can go one of three ways: he'll tell Charles what it is after the million times I've pointed it out to him myself, he'll play along with Charles and pretend like it's a really cool discovery, or he'll be oblivious to it as he is more concerned with the fireworks.
"See that star right there," Charles continues. "You know what that is? That's Mars. It's another planet, isn't that cool?"
William turns his head back to look at his uncle.
"We're gonna see fireworks. Fireworks are cool," he replies before looking back to the dark sky in front of us.
Charles falls back on the ground laughing.
"I guess he told me, huh?" he asks me. I laugh along with Charles.
"I guess he did," I agree. "I thought it was pretty cool, though."
"Oh shut up, Mulder," he laughs as he stands up. I give what I hope is an innocent expression.
He just shakes his head in response as he goes to find his lawn chair again. I shrug and look at my watch. The show should start at any minute.
"Impatient, Mulder?" Scully asks me. Just as I am going to respond a loud pop draws our attention to the sky. The show has begun.
It's been years since I went to a fireworks show, and I find myself gasping at the bright colors. The loud pops of the rockets exploding cause William to jump, and he tries to burrow himself into my side.
"Cover your ears little man," I tell him, and I show him how. It seems to help as he relaxes a bit. It doesn't last long, though, as the rockets get higher and seem to explode right over our heads. He once again tries to hide.
"Gonna get me!" he cries.
"Oh no, it won't get you," Scully says gently to him. "We won't let it."
He looks at her with complete trust and nods. I shift him until he is nestled between us. It reminds me, suddenly, of the year before. Only this time we are warmer, drier, and the light show is above us and not on a screen in front of us.
I look at Scully and smile. I feel completely at peace. She smiles back, and I wrap my arm around her. She lays her head on my shoulder, and the three of us stare up at the sky. The colors seem to get more vibrant, and the sparks more complex.
The show draws to a close and three, four, five fireworks explode at once for a few moments. It is practically sensory overload. Finally, the last one explodes and the sky goes dark again. After a few seconds of silence, the crowd around us bursts into applause. I am just going to comment to Scully about how I feel like a kid again when I see in her eyes that she feels the same way. She actually looks younger than ever to me.
She looks at William first and starts to laugh. I look, too, and laugh along with her. William sits between us, grinning from ear to ear, with his hands still tightly clasp over his ears. Scully stands up, and then reaches down to pick William up. I watch her from my place on the blanket as she gets him to uncover his ears. I lay back as he begins to babble on about red and green and pink and blue and white and.
I smile at the simplicity of it. I wish everything could be summed up so easily.
People around us are packing up their things and going toward their cars. I stay where I am, silently watching Maggie take William from Scully for awhile. Bill, Tara and Matthew come over and join the conversation. I can't hear what anyone is saying from where I am. Charles lingers on the edge of it all, listening.
I stay where I am, watching them, the people around us, the sky, and after a few minutes it seems like a decision has been made. Scully takes William from Maggie. Bill and Tara gather up their things as Charles holds Matthew's hand. I decide I better get up.
"Let's go home," Scully whispers to me when I stand. I nod and grab all of our stuff. The eight of us walk back to the cars. Well, seven of us walk. One gets carried.
"Which ones were your favorite, William?" Tara asks.
"Blue!" he replies
"Is blue your favorite color?" Bill asks, keeping the conversation going.
William just nods as he puts his head on Scully's shoulder.
"I think someone is tired," Maggie interjects.
"Yeah," I respond. "It's a bit past his bedtime and it's been an exciting day."
"That, is has."
When we get to the cars, we load our stuff up. William quietly sits in his car seat as Scully and I exchange our good-byes. Tara and Maggie each give me a hug, and Charles and I exchange a firm handshake. Bill and I eye each other wearily for a few seconds, before he puts his hand out. We shake hands and even change a few pleasantries before we each get into our own vehicles.
Traffic is brutal for awhile, until we really get on the road toward home. It thins out a bit, and I'm able to relax some.
I glance in the rear-view mirror, and I see that William is sound asleep. I'm glad we changed him before going to the fireworks display; he is wearing a New York Knicks T-shirt that is a few sizes too large. Now, we won't have to jostle him too much before putting him to bed.
Scully takes my hand from the steering wheel and entwines our fingers. I shift in my seat so that I am leaned more towards her. We exchange a look, but don't say anything.
Mulder looks tired, but content in the light from the dashboard. We'll be home soon, and I'm ready. I love my family, and I do regret not seeing them more, but I love being with just Mulder and William more.
I lean over and put my head back on Mulder's shoulder. I close my eyes and listen to the tires hum and the three of us breathing. Without meaning to, I drift off to sleep. When I wake up, Mulder is pulling the Explorer into the garage and a classic rock station plays softly on the radio.
I sit up slowly and rub my eyes.
"Hey," he whispers after turning the truck off. "Good nap?"
I stretch the best I can and nod silently. The garage door closes automatically behind us as we climb out. I open the back door and gently lift William from his seat. He stirs, but doesn't wake up. Mulder grabs the blanket and bags from the back, and then unlocks the house. I follow him inside, and take William straight to his room. After being outside like that, I'd like to give him a bath, but it's so late and I don't want to wake him. I lay him in his crib, take off his shoes and shorts and put them away. I give him a kiss goodnight and then I creep out of the room.
I find Mulder in our room, lying across the bed sideways. I walk over and stand in the v of his legs.
"Did he stay asleep?" he asks. The room is dark, save for the moonlight that shines through the window, but I can tell he is watching me.
I simply nod again and I bend over him so that we are eye to eye. I place my hands on each side of his head to hold myself up.
"Good," he whispers just before trapping my mouth in a deep kiss. He grabs my waist and pulls me down to him. We break apart only when my arms tire and I collapse down onto him. We fight to catch our breath, and from where I lay I can hear and feel his heart pounding.
A few minutes pass before Mulder finally breaks the silence.
"Very good day," I agree.
I finally push off of him and stand up. He sits up slowly as well.
"Tell you what," he says conspiratorially. "I'm going to go tell William good night, you go get comfortable, and I'll meet you back here in 10 minutes."
I feel a tingle of excitement up my spine.
"We're gonna see fireworks?" I ask innocently, matching William's intonation from earlier.
"And they're gonna be pretty," he says nodding. I lean down and kiss him one more time before heading for the bathroom.
"I can wait," I whisper.
Started: 07.04.2001 Finished: 07.08.2001
Author Notes: Okay, I had planned to have a 4th of July fic finished by 4th of July. (I meant to write one last year, but it never happened.) Instead I started it on the 4th of July. A lot of the stuff, I pulled from personal experience or stories I've been told about my nephew. The Mars thing? That was me and my nephew. We were killing time waiting for the show, and I tried to show him Mars. He was NOT impressed. The ears and "gonna get me". really happened. The main difference between what William does in here and my nephew is the fact that William is 2 and my nephew is 3. So, anyway. this was a way for me to talk about my nephew without talking about my nephew. See? Oh and unlike Scully, I have seen "Independence Day". LOL
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