Title: Home to Stay
Summary: Scully waits, Mulder returns. Author's Notes: I started this one before TINH, so for now, that ep doesn't exist. There maybe more to this one...
She mumbles softly into the darkness of the room. Caught in a dream, she twists and kicks, the sheets becoming a part of her private hell as she fights to escape. Her mumbling turns to screams as arms pin her down and it seems her heart stops beating as he disappears again…
She sits straight up in bed, alone. It was a nightmare, born of the desire to see him. She can't have him, not now, and so her mind conjures up images of him. But even her unconscious knows she can't find him, and tears him away from the one place she might be able to have peace, in her dreams.
The cries of her daughter fall upon her ears and she separates herself from the tangled mass of sheets and blankets. She glances out the window to see the moon still high in the sky. It is past the midnight hour, but she doubts sleep will be returning to her this night. "Shh, Kristen, it's okay, baby," she tells her daughter, wishing she could believe it. She picks her up and heads back to her bedroom.
Once there, she sets the toddler on the bed and pulls the sheets up over her. Kristen instantly curls up and closes her eyes and Scully knows her daughter is headed back to a place she herself can never seem to reach anymore. She crawls into bed behind the little girl and softly strokes her hair. She whispers words of comfort, needing to hear them more than her daughter does. The little girl smells so sweet, still a slight baby smell to her, though she is turning more into a little girl everyday.
Scully knows Kristen is the anchor that keeps her here in reality, keeping ahead of insanity by only steps some days. Every morning, she has only to look at her daughter to know she will find the strength to face another day. And every night, Kristen is there and Scully knows her searching is not all for naught. She will find him…she has to.
Sunlight streams in though the open blinds and she knows it is the start of another day. She feels a peaceful dream slip just out of reach. She wishes she could hold onto those instead of the dark and dreadful nightmares that usually plague her.
A small hand runs through her hair and she jolts as though she's been shocked. Emily.
She turns her head to see Kristen is awake and playing with her hair. "Good morning, Love," she says.
Kristen smiles and snuggles in closer. Scully wraps her arms around her daughter and remembers another small child held in her arms… and her dream comes back in fragments, nothing but small pieces of the whole. In what she can remember, Emily sits in her arms, safe and smiling.
Kristen starts to wiggle and Scully knows the moment has passed. With the dream gone, she climbs out of bed and swings Kristen down. As they head to the kitchen to start another day, a feeling of peace and well being floods Scully. She stops for just a moment, reaching out to take hold of this feeling, almost alien to her now. She stands in the patch of sunlight, her daughter's warm hand in her own. She closes her eyes and the peace that floods her heart and soul is more welcome than the rain falling on desert land.
Kristen tugs on her hand and Scully opens her eyes to smile at her daughter. The feeling follows her throughout the morning and she wonders just what this day has in store for her.
"Thanks for breakfast, Dana," her mother tells her.
"Thanks for watching Kristen this morning. I really need to get some work done for Doggett."
"Anytime, Dana. She's such an angel," Maggie Scully says as she rinses the dishes and stacks them in the dishwasher. "I think it's great they let you work from home so much. It's good for your daughter to be around you, that you don't have to work as much."
Scully smiles at her mother as she sits back down across from her at the table. "Yes, and thanks for being with her when I can't."
Maggie reaches across the table and squeezes her hand before standing up and gathering Kristen's diaper bag and various toys she 'must' have with her. "We'll just do a little shopping then maybe head to the park for awhile. Get your work done and don't worry about us."
Kristen comes running over to her grandmother and grabs her legs in a hug. Maggie picks the little girl up, then gives Dana one last hug before heading for the door. "We're going for a little trip, Kris, then we'll see Mommy again. Wave bye-bye." The little girl turns and waves to her mother, then claps happily as they disappear out the door.
The silence that is left behind is a bit unnerving. "Never realized just how noisy one toddler can be," Scully says to herself, her voice filling the silence. She flips on her computer then heads to the bathroom for a nice, long, Kristen-free shower.
She sits back in her chair, rubbing her eyes.
"Another one done," she says to the empty apartment, forgetting for a moment that her daughter is out with her mother. She glances over at the clock and wonders where her morning has gone. She sighs, then stands up to start some cleaning. Reality can be a messy place, especially with an 18-month-old.
She starts in Kristen's room, tidying up the toys and putting new sheets in her crib. Next is the bathroom, a job she doesn't relish. Then on to her own room. She piles the dirty laundry in the corner, time for that tomorrow, she thinks. She pulls a T-shirt out from under her bed before she realizes whose it is and why she keeps it under the bed.
She sits heavily upon the bed, the T-shirt in her arms. "Mulder," she murmurs. She closes her eyes and he is there standing in front of her, on his face a lopsided smile. She lies down on the bed, the shirt still in her arms. She waits for the feelings of defeat and depression to overwhelm her, but they don't come. They wait just outside the door, but don't come in today. She opens her eyes and watches the small patch of sunlight dance on the floor as the gentle wind causes the branches of the tree outside her window to sway. The pattern is dizzy and her eyelids become heavy.
She feels his hand on her face, the back of his fingers soothing her cheeks. Her breath catches as she feels his lips on her neck, then her cheeks, then brushing against her lips. This dream has teased her a thousand times since he disappeared two years ago. And always she wakes up, her heart and her arms empty. This time, only her arms are empty.
There is a knock on the door and she doesn't allow herself the hope that a knock once raised within her. It is not him, she repeats in her mind but her heart still gives a little leap, refusing to let hope die.
She stands up and makes her way out of the bedroom and down the hall to her door. She glances out the peephole, but can't see anything. She knows who is there even before she hears her mother's voice.
"Kristen, Mommy can't see with your finger covering the peephole."
Scully opens the door and smiles at her daughter. Kristen giggles then holds her arms out. "Mama," she says. Scully takes her from her mother and turns into the apartment.
"She was an angel this morning," her mother says, following her in and setting the diaper bag down in the hallway. "Did you get your work done?"
"Yes, thanks Mom, for watching her."
Scully sets the wiggling Kristen down on the floor and she takes off on sturdy little legs, content to knock down the tower of blocks she had spent the morning making. Scully and her mother watch for a moment, then Maggie Scully steps forward and hugs her daughter.
"Kristen and I went grocery shopping this morning," she says as she pulls back, "and I need to get the frozen food home before it all melts into a puddle in the trunk. Bye, Dana."
"Bye, Mom." Scully shuts the door behind her mother then turns to find her daughter with her arms full of stuffed animals, the very ones Scully has spent the morning neatly putting away. Kristen giggles as she trips on the tail of a stuffed tiger and lands on the soft pile she has in her arms. She rolls over, pushes herself up and starts again. Scully can't help but smile, her daughter has her refusal to quit and Mulder's patience to finish the task, to get done what needs to get done.
Scully signs and turns to the kitchen to get a lunch together for her and her daughter. Kristen follows, tripping every few steps, but persevering all the same.
"And that is how Theresa found her teddy bear," Scully reads. In the quiet that follows, Scully can hear the even breathing of her daughter and relishes in it. It is in the peaceful moments that Scully has come to find her strength, with the solid weight of her toddler on her lap, the steady breathing and the rhythmic beating of her heart in the circle of her arms. She holds Kristen close for a few moments, reveling in her stillness, so unlike the usually flurry of motion that is her daughter.
She tells herself she has more work to do, but she doesn't get up, not yet. Holding his sleeping child in her arms, she can almost feel him near, watching. What would he say? What would he think? Would he think she was doing a good job raising Kristen?
The questions overwhelm her and she carefully stands and lays Kristen in her crib. She is quickly out growing it, as she is everything. She will be tall, like her father. Scully stands over the crib and watches her daughter's chest rise and fall. She sets a hand gently on Kristen's chest and closes her eyes. Life goes on.
She gently closes Kristen's door behind her and goes back to her computer. She has a few more files to look at; Doggett needs her professional opinion for a case, and then next week he wants her to accompany him to the site of this bizarre murder, this X-File. She sets her elbows on her desk and puts her head in her hands. She takes a deep breath, hoping that will settle her as her feels her life closing in around her. She shakes it off as best she can and reaches over to turn on a little background music. Lately, she has been enjoying the oldies station, though she isn't sure why. If she turns it up, she and Kristen will dance around the room together, eliciting laughter and smiles all around. Scully smiles when she thinks about her daughter dancing around to Born to be Wild, Rock around the Clock, and Shake, Rattle and Roll.
She glances back up at the computer screen and resumes her typing. Its rhythmic pace settles her just a bit. She is almost done typing her findings when an odd sensation fills her heart and soul, the same sort of peace she'd felt earlier in the day. She stops typing, flips the music off, and sits still for a moment. Only silence greets her.
A knock on the door startles her from her reverie. She sits straight up, her heart beating frantically in her chest. "No, it's not him," she tells herself, out loud so her ears hear the words her heart is refusing to believe. She stands up and turns to the door. There it is again…and then she hears it, a voice she hasn't heard but in her dreams for the last two years.
"Mulder!" she yells and almost trips over Kristen's blocks in her effort to get to the door as quickly as possible. She doesn't even look through the peephole, she doesn't have to. She pulls back the deadbolt and throws open the door. And there he stands, flesh to the ghost that haunts her midnight hours.
"Mulder," she whispers, not sure if she believes he is really standing in front of her. He reaches out and sets his hand on her face, and tears slide silently down her cheeks. "Are you real?" she asks, her voice barely a whisper.
He nods and puts both hands on her cheeks, resting his forehead against hers. "I am home."
They stand in the doorway, all senses open to each other, to what they have been denied for too long. It is Mulder who breaks the contact. He steps back, but reaches down and takes her hand in his. She closes her eyes and holds tight to his hand, as if by sheer will alone she can keep him from ever leaving her again.
"Scully," he says and his voice plays upon her heart, bringing back life and love. "Open your eyes," he says softly, "I have brought someone back with me.
She opens her eyes, expecting to see a brown-haired girl smiling up at her. What she sees stops her heart once again. She can't breath as she looks down into the face of a young girl with blue eyes and blonde hair, peering out from behind Mulder's leg. This face, it's another ghost haunting her dreams.
She kneels down on the floor in the doorway to her apartment and slowly reaches out a hand to Emily. Mulder kneels down also, and Emily slides between his legs, trying to shrink back into his chest. He wraps his arms around her and whispers into her ear. She nods then looks back at Scully. Emily slowly reaches out her own hand and their fingertips touch. It is not enough, but Scully knows she must let Emily lead in this dance.
The little girl looks past Scully and her eyes light up. Scully turns her head and sees the pile of blocks and the scattered stuffed animals. She stands back up and steps back into her apartment. Mulder picks Emily up into his arms and steps into the apartment behind Scully. He eyes her questioningly as he sees the toys scattered around. She smiles as she realizes she also has someone for Mulder to meet.
"Emily?" Scully says, her voice cracking with the intensity of her emotions.
The little girl turns to look Scully right in the eye.
"Do…do you remember me?" she asks.
Emily nods slightly, then turns to look at Mulder, her arms going a little tighter around his neck. "Daddy said you are my mommy," she says, her sweet child-voice just like Scully remembered it.
"Mulder?" she says, looking at him as soon as Emily's words register.
"We'll talk later," he whispers and glances again around the room and the toys littered on the floor.
Scully turns back to Emily. She nods, "Yes, that's right, sweetheart."
Emily nods and looks down at the toys again. Mulder sets her down and she goes instantly to the blocks, outlining a house for the nearest stuffed animal. Mulder watches her, then feels Scully's eyes on him and turns to her. She stares at him for a minute, then turns to the kitchen and sets the kettle on the stove. She stands facing the stove, not able to turn back around, not yet. She couldn't face it if he wasn't really there.
Arms wrap around her waist from behind and she leans back into him, her arms cover his own. Tears fall from her eyes, and she can feel his own landing on her neck as he buries his head there.
"Mulder," she whispers.
"Shhh," she hears him say. "Shhh," he says again, soothingly.
She turns in his arms and buries her head in his shoulder, allowing herself to let go of two years worth of anger, frustration, and pain. And loneliness. He is here, back in her arms.
Feeling spent but sated, she finally begins to relax. She can feel him begin to relax beneath her arms. Then she feels small arms encircle her legs. She looks down into the face of Emily, smiling as if her life has always been this simple. Scully kneels down and takes her daughter into her arms. Tears form where none should have been able to, not now. She can't believe she has any left.
Emily's small arms go around her waist as she hugs her back. Then Emily pulls back and wipes Scully's cheeks. "Don't cry, Mommy. Don't be sad. Daddy says we are home to stay."
Emily is sound asleep on Scully's lap. She hasn't let go of the little girl since Emily hugged her legs. "Too much time has passed," Scully says softly, stroking Emily's hair. How often had she dreamt of this very moment, only to awaken to an empty apartment. So many times after she'd lost Emily, her young face had filled Scully's dreams, haunting her with her small voice and sweet smile. Mulder squeezes her hand and Scully smiles up at him. "How?" she asks.
"I don't remember all of it. I remember the forest…I remember seeing a space where something bent the light and walking through it. I remember seeing other abductees and a bright light. Then I remember pain and I thought I would never see you again. I don't know how long I was there, but it felt like a lifetime, from the time I woke up until the time they let me sleep, each day a lifetime. How many lifetimes was I gone?"
She closes her eyes and tries to forget. "Two years," she whispers.
"Emily hasn't aged at all, not since the time she was taken."
Scully looks down at her daughter and notices this fact for the first time. "She is still four years old."
"Yes, she is."
Scully looks up at Mulder, not realizing she had made that observation out loud.
"At some point, they brought me back. I knew I was back on Earth, though they wouldn't tell me anything or let me see anything. After many days had passed, I grew weary of keeping track, I was awakened in the middle of the night and told to get dressed. These were not my usual captors, but I did as I was told, hoping I could find a way to escape, a way home to you. I followed them outside and saw the sky for the first time in what seemed like forever. Suddenly a thundering sound filled the air and I was throw to the ground as it began to shake. Light filled the sky. I had the air knocked out of me in my fall, and when I could finally breathe again, the air smelt of fire and destruction and I coughed as smoke filled my lungs.
"The rebels, they saved me and destroyed the lab in which I was being held. They took me back to their own base, and that is where I found Emily. Actually, she was given to me. They wouldn't tell me much, but they did say they had saved her, cared for her, and now she was in my care. I was told she is my…my daughter. They would answer no more questions. We stayed in their base until they felt I was strong enough, then told to go home. They just released us. I turned back to the driver of the car and asked why. 'They have done enough to you. Now, go home and enjoy what has been returned to you.' And with that he drove off, leaving Emily and me with $100 and two bus tickets to Washington D.C."
His eyes were closed, but his grasp on her hand was warm and strong. "So, Emily is ours?" she asks. He nods then opens his eyes. "But now? And why has she never aged?"
"We can have the guys check her out." He smiles and looks down at his daughter, their daughter. "I pray her dreams are more peaceful than mine," he whispers as he runs his fingers along her cheek. He looks back at Scully. "Your turn."
She smiles at him and glances around the room, trying to decide how to start. She looks back down at Emily. "Mulder, Emily…Emily isn't our only daughter." She hears his sharp intake of breath, and is almost afraid to look up into his eyes. She feels his fingers on her chin as he turns her face to look into her eyes. "That night in Oregon…when we were afraid the cancer had come out of remission, it wasn't the cancer. Mulder, I was pregnant." She pauses to let him take it all in. "We tried, we tried so hard to find you, but…" Tears start falling again and she closes her eyes. When did she become so weak?
"Not weak," he says, as if reading her thoughts. "Open."
She opens her eyes, but she knows what he means. They lean in, forehead to forehead again, tears falling and mingling together upon their daughter's sleeping body. Their lips meet as desire flares up inside. She doesn't think she can ever get enough of him again. "We have the rest of our lives, Scully," he says as he pulls back. "I would like to meet my daughter."
She nods and he gently lifts Emily off her lap and into his own. She walks to Kristen's door and opens it as quietly as she can. Even now, it calms her to watch Kristen sleep. She gently lays her hand on the toddler's chest, feeling it rise and fall. She leans over the crib, brushing auburn curls off her daughter's forehead with her fingers, letting them linger over smooth baby skin.
"Kristen, Sweetie, time to wake up." Kristen's eyelids flutter and she rolls over. "Kristen," Scully tries again. The little girl's eyes finally open and Scully is rewarded with a smile. "Hello, Love. Time to get up. There is someone who wants to meet you."
Kristen pushes herself up into a sitting position and holds out her arms. Scully lifts her out with a grunt. "Oh, you are getting so big," she says as she holds her daughter close for just a moment before turning and walking back into the living room.
Scully turns to the couch. Emily is still curled up on Mulder's lap, but she's awake now. Scully sits down in the spot she had previously occupied, Kristen in her lap.
"This," she starts, looking into Mulder's eyes, "is Kristen Samantha Mulder."
His eyes close and she can tell he is fighting tears. He opens them and stares at the toddler on Scully's lap. Life is full of surprises, he thinks to himself. He can see her mother in the shape of her eyes and her auburn curls, just a shade darker than Scully's. He sees himself in the eyes, more green than blue, and in the strong jaw line. He glances down at Emily and can see the resemblance. He looks up and his eyes meet Scully's. He remembers something he said to Scully once, something he wonders if she remembers now. When he'd said it, he never even imagined this, didn't even dream it could happen. He must not have been listening to his own words. Never give up on a miracle, he'd told her. If he had only known…
He can see in her eyes that she is also reliving that moment. "I never gave up," she whispers, and he knows she doesn't just mean the miracle with his bright eyes and last name. "Kristen, I want you to meet your daddy." She points at Mulder, feeling a bit silly. How does one tell a child so young that all of a sudden, while she was sleeping, the father that has been missing for her entire 18-month-old life knocked on her door?
Kristen follows Scully's finger and stares at Mulder for a minute. Mulder smiles back and tries not to scare this young girl, his daughter. He reaches out a hand, but just like Scully and Emily, he waits for Kristen to make the move. He wiggles his fingers and she reaches out and grabs one of them. She giggles and Mulder's smile widens.
Emily giggles and Mulder glances back down at her. He looks back up at Scully, deferring to her. Scully nods and leans in close to Emily.
"Emily, this is Kristen. She is your sister. You get to be a big sister now, and that is a very important job. Think you can do it?"
Emily sits up straighter in Mulder's lap and looks from Scully to Kristen and back up to Scully. She nods very solemnly and looks back at Mulder.
"I think Emily will make a great big sister," he says then winks at Emily. She smiles a bit shyly, then reaches out a hand to Kristen.
"Kristen," she says softly. Kristen claps and bounces up and down on Scully's lap.
Emily claps back and Kristen giggles. Emily smiles and covers her hands with her eyes. She pulls them off and says, "Peek-a-boo!" Kristen's giggles turn into shrieks of laughter as she is caught up in this game with Emily. Soon both girls are out of breath and lying in the middle of the couch.
Emily stands up and goes over to the shelf of storybooks Scully keeps for Kristen. She flips through a few then selects a colorful one with pictures of farm animals. She sits down in the middle of the floor and looks back at Kristen. The toddler swings herself around and slides off the couch. She walks over to Emily and plops herself down next to her on the floor. "Would you like to hear the story?" Emily asks.
Kristen nods her head and points to the book. Emily begins, looking over each picture and telling her own story.
Mulder slides closer to Scully on the couch and puts his arms around her. She leans her head on his chest and just watches their daughters. "Our daughters," she whispers. Tears are not coming this time. She is done crying. Now is the time to live her life, her family has come home to stay.
The End...for now.