Title: Not Just A Little Boy
Disclaimer: The characters and situations of the television program "The X Files" are the creations and property of Chris Carter, Fox Broadcasting, and Ten-Thirteen Productions, and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: A young Mulder deals with the reality of Samantha's arrival.
Special thanks to Rebecca Rusnak, for her feedback and encouragement. She writes some incredible pre-XF stories, so make sure to check them out on the Gossamer archive. And to AnneC - always my source of inspiration.
Not Just A Little Boy
November 23, 1965
Four year old Fox Mulder lay on his stomach in the middle of the living room floor in his home in Chilmark, Massachusetts. He was trying very hard to stay between the lines of the picture he was coloring. This had to be perfect. It was for a very important person. It was for mom.
A long time ago - his father said it had only been a couple of days - his mother had been whisked away in the middle of the night. She was going to the hospital to have a baby.
He could still remember how frightened he had been. His mother crying out in pain from behind the closed door of the bedroom. His father talking quietly to someone on the phone. Soon, an ambulance arrived, its red lights casting scary shadows on the wall.
Strange men had come into the house and laid his mother on a bed with wheels. They were going to take her away. He wanted to go with her, but Mrs. Galbrand, the lady next door, said that he couldn't.
As he stood at the top of the stairs, tears streaming down his face, his father came by carrying a small suitcase. Dad was leaving too, he realized in horror. He latched onto his father's hand, pleading not to be left behind. His father pried the grasp of small fingers from his own, and guided Fox back to Mrs. Galbrand.
"I am going to the hospital with your mother," his father said. "Stay here with Mrs. Galbrand, and stop crying. Big boys don't cry. I'll be back in the morning." With that, his father, his mother, and the strange men were out the door.
He had done his best to stem the flow of tears as he stood at the window of the front door, watching the ambulance pull away. He rubbed at his eyes and bit hard on his bottom lip, but the tears kept coming. Mrs. Galbrand must have understood how hard it was for him. She knelt beside him on the floor and slowly rubbed his back, cooing soothing hushes. Finally, she pulled him into her arms and let him sob on her shoulder.
When he woke the next morning, he was tucked soundly in his own bed.
True to his word, his father had returned that morning, along with Grandmother Mulder. Fox wasn't sure what to think of the old woman. She lived far away, in Boston, and she didn't visit often. Whenever Fox had gone to her house, he had to be very careful not to make too much noise and never, ever, touch anything. She ignored him as she came into the house.
His father, however, was very happy to see him. The elder Mulder picked up his young son and hugged him tightly. "You have a beautiful baby sister," he said.
Fox stopped coloring and laid down the crayon, cocking his head to the side as he listened for the sound of an approaching automobile. He frowned, not certain if he had heard anything. He had better make sure.
Hauling himself up from the floor, he quietly padded to the window, pulling the curtain aside for a better view.
He was straining to scan the street, when he felt a presence behind him. Turning slowly, he found himself at eye level with the material of his grandmother's skirt.
"I thought I told you to stay away from the window," she scolded. "I just cleaned that this morning and now it's covered with prints."
She grabbed his arm and roughly pulled him away from the window. "Now, either do as you are told or I will teach you to behave."
He mumbled an apology, squeezing his fists into tight balls to keep from crying. He had made the mistake of crying in front of her yesterday and his bottom was still a sore reminder. With his head lowered, he returned to his coloring book.
When he heard another car pass, he looked up, but didn't move. He wished that they would hurry.
His father had said that he was going to the hospital to pick up his mother and baby sister. Fox had asked to go along; anxious to see his mother and not wanting to spend time alone with his grandmother, but his father had said no - a hospital is no place for children. So he had decided to color a picture as he waited for his mother's homecoming.
He picked up the red crayon and carefully resumed his work.
A baby sister.
He wasn't sure he liked that idea. A baby brother would have been better. His best friend Mark had a baby brother.
If he had a baby brother, he could boss him around; tell him what to do like the older people did him. And when the baby got bigger, he would have someone to play with. They could play baseball.
Fox could hardly wait to play baseball. His father said he wasn't old enough yet. But when he was real old, like seven, he could play. That would be neat.
But for now, he was stuck with a sister. Yuck.
The sound of a car in the driveway brought him out of his reverie. He stood quickly, watching for his grandmother's approach. When he didn't hear her coming, he started for the front door, but stopped short as she suddenly appeared from the kitchen.
"They're here," she said cheerfully.
Fox followed her as she opened the front door. He stood inside the storm door and watched as his father got out and walked around to the other side of the car. With a flourish, he opened the passenger door and leaned in to take a small pink bundle from his mother's arms.
The baby. His baby sister.
But Fox was more excited to see his mother than to be bothered with the bundle in his father's arms. His mother had finally come home. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, wishing that his grandmother would just open the door and set him free. He didn't care that it was cold outside. He wanted to see his mother.
Suddenly, she was out of the car and taking the baby back from his father, cradling it tightly to her chest. His father took hold of her arm and guided her slowly to the front entrance. When they mounted the steps, his grandmother pushed Fox to the side and opened the door.
"Welcome home," his grandmother said as they came in.
His mother smiled, as the older woman leaned in and pulled the blanket from the baby's face. "Oh my. She's lovely. She looks just like you."
Fox stood on tiptoe and leaned around his grandmother, trying to see what all the fuss was about. It was just a baby.
His mother handed the baby to his grandmother and his father helped her take off her coat. "I'm tired," she said with a sigh.
"Of course you are dear. I've got your room all ready," his grandmother replied.
The three grownups started for the stairs. The phone rang as they reached the bottom step and his father detoured to answer it, but the two women continued their ascent.
Fox stayed where he was, confused. Maybe something had happened to him? Maybe he had become invisible and no one could see him? It happened all the time in cartoons.
He held his hands out in front of him, turning them over in close inspection. He could see them. Crinkling his brow in concentration, he went into the dining room, pulling one of the chairs over to the mirror on the wall. He climbed onto the seat and gazed at his reflection.
He could see himself. Why couldn't the grownups see him?
With a shrug, he jumped off the chair and climbed the steps in search of his mother.
Fox stood outside the door of his mother's bedroom. The door was shut and he had been told never to go into a room when the door was closed. He could hear his mother and grandmother talking quietly, but no one bothered to open it for him. He would have to wait.
Sighing with frustration, he sat cross-legged on the floor, supporting his head with his hands.
What was taking so long?
His father's footsteps were heavy on the stairs. He jumped up quickly, hoping that his father would see him. If he didn't, it meant he *really* was invisible. He didn't want to be invisible anymore.
"Fox? What are you doing?" his father asked when he saw his son standing in the middle of the hall, his arms spread wide.
"You can see me?" he asked in relief.
The man shook his head at the boy's peculiar behavior. "Of course I can see you? Do you want to see your sister?"
Fox looked at the closed door, then back to his father. He nodded his head vigorously.
His father knocked softly, then opened the door, ushering his son in with a hand on his shoulder. They walked quietly to the crib in the corner.
Fox stood on tiptoe to look between the wooden rails and frowned. Wrapped in a soft pink blanket was the ugliest baby he had ever seen. She was small like a puppy, but wrinkly like an elephant. He looked up at his father. Surely, there had been a mistake. His grandmother said the baby looked like his mother. He turned back to the baby for another look, then compared that to his mother who was sitting up in bed.
Not even close.
"Her name is Samantha," his father said quietly.
"Can we take her back and get a baby brother? She's funny looking," he said, shuffling his feet
"Fox!" his grandmother warned. He was hurriedly pushed from the room, the door shut behind him.
Dejected, he returned downstairs. He spotted his picture still laying unfinished on the floor and decided to add the final touches.
About ten minutes later, it was done. He held it up and admired his work. It was the best job he had ever done. His mother would be so proud.
He scurried up the steps and nearly collided with his father's legs as he exited the bedroom.
"I made this for mom," he panted, showing the picture to his father.
His father nodded briefly. "She and the baby are asleep. Give it to her later."
Two hours and several cartoons later, his mother emerged from her room, the tiny baby in her arms. Cautiously, she descended the stairs and gingerly took a seat in the living room. Fox, delighted to finally get the chance to see his mother, hopped up from his place on the floor and bounded to his mother's side.
"Careful," she said to the overanxious child. "You'll hurt the baby."
"I made you something," he said with barely contained excitement and ran off to his room to retrieve the picture. He returned and handed it to his mother, his face bright with a huge smile. She only had the chance to glance at it briefly before the baby on her lap began to wail. The picture was hastily tossed aside.
The noise from the infant was deafening. It was amazing that such a small creature could create such a racket. Fox covered his ears.
"I think she's hungry," his mother said over the noise. She rose quickly and made her way to the kitchen, his grandmother meeting her halfway.
Fox looked down at the floor and picked up the discarded picture. Angrily, he wadded it into a ball and tossed it across the room.
He followed his mother to the kitchen, but did not go in. Instead, he leaned against the door jam and watched. His grandmother was bustling about the kitchen, heating water on the stove, checking the milk in the glass bottle. His mother slowly paced the length of the room, rocking the infant in her arms.
"Where's Dad?" he asked, when the baby quieted for a second.
"Your father went to see a business associate," his mother answered.
Fox nodded. It seemed that his father was always at work.
His grandmother removed the bottle from the heated water and dabbed a small amount on her wrist. Satisfied with the results, she handed the bottle to his mother after she sat down at the table. Fox watched with fascination as the baby greedily suckled the nipple. He stepped closer for a better look.
"Can I have something to eat?" he asked his mother suddenly.
His mother shook her head. "Let me finish with Samantha first."
"He just ate less than an hour ago," his grandmother piped in.
"Can I have a drink of water?"
"Fox," his mother sighed.
His grandmother crossed the room in a matter of a few seconds, grabbing him by the shoulder and shoving him out of the room. "You're under foot. Your mother is busy with the baby. Now go," she said, swatting him on the rear.
Fox returned to the living room and threw himself onto the sofa with a pout. He looked at the clock over the mantel, carefully calculating the time. Six o'clock. He wondered how long it would take the baby to finish.
After what seemed like an eternity, his mother came from the kitchen. The baby was laying on her left shoulder, fussing. At least it wasn't screaming anymore. His mother paced the living room for a while, gently rubbing the baby's back. As she passed the sofa, she smiled and made a gesture for him to sit up so she could sit down.
"She's loud," Fox said quietly to his mother.
His mother smiled again. "Yes, she is. But not as loud as you were. You could rattle the windows."
His eyes widened in surprise. "I could?"
She nodded. "You could keep the whole town awake."
He crossed his arms in front of his chest, proud of his past accomplishment, imagining every window in the small town shaking in the onslaught of his mighty wail.
He rested his head against the back of the sofa to get a better look at the baby. Her eyes were shut tight and she was kicking her tiny feet. She still looked funny, but this time he decided to keep his opinion to himself. Suddenly, the baby made a strange gurgling noise and spit up on the towel. Fox grimaced and squeezed his eyes shut, trying to swallow the lump in his throat. He felt like he was going to be sick.
"Ugh," he moaned, pointing to the towel.
His mother lifted the baby away from her shoulder and gently wiped her face. She looked at her son's stricken face and smiled. "It's all right. That's what baby's do."
Fox frowned. This bit of news did nothing to raise his opinion of his baby sister.
His mother stood and took the baby with her, much to Fox's relief. But as he watched her climb the stairs, he had a sudden vision of once again being left alone. He remembered how he felt when they took her away in the ambulance; how he thought he would never see her again.
Baby or not, he wanted to keep his mother in sight.
He quickly mounted the stairs behind her.
By the time he reached her bedroom, she had the baby on the changing table. He stopped at the door, not certain if he wanted to come any closer at the moment. After the incident downstairs, it was hard to say what icky things this baby was capable of doing.
His mother saw him at the door. "You can come in," she said softly.
He shook his head, preferring to stand at a safe distance. "I have to go to the bathroom," he said as she continued her ministrations.
"Then go," she mumbled around the safety pin in her mouth.
Suddenly he felt helpless; yearning for his mother's attention. "I can't. I need help," he whined.
"Fox. You're a big boy. You don't need help." She struggled with the pin on the other side of the diaper.
"Can I go outside?" he pleaded, changing tactics. If she was abandoning him in favor of this baby, he needed to escape.
She turned and looked at him. "You most certainly cannot. It's dark and cold outside." She picked up the baby and gently placed her in the crib. "What's gotten into you?"
His mother's accusing question shot through him. Unable to bare the intensity of her stare, he turned and fled to his room, slamming the door with a resounding bang. The baby broke into a frenzied screaming fit.
Fox leaned his head on the door and listened to the baby's frightened wail. He had done that. He had made her cry. He hadn't meant to do it.
Unfortunately, his father chose that moment to return home. Fox heard the front door open, then close, followed by the sound of muffled voices. Soon two sets of footsteps could be heard on the stairs.
Fox knew that his father would be mad when he found out what he had done. He took a deep breath and looked around his room for a place to hide. Why couldn't he be invisible now? Finally, he decided the best place was under the bed. There might be monsters under there, but it was better than his father when he was mad. He shoved the shoes and books and toys from underneath; sliding on his belly, he wiggled his way to safety.
It wasn't long before the bedroom door opened. Fox pulled his knees to his chest, making himself as small as possible.
"Fox?" his father called. "I know you're in here. Don't make me look for you."
Fox held his breath.
"I'm going to count to three. You had better be standing in front of me when I'm done. One......."
Fox closed his eyes.
Please make me invisible. Please make me invisible.
Fox was still chanting the silent litany when his father's face appeared in front of him.
"Come out from under there, right now!"
Fox swallowed hard. He mustn't cry. His father would be more angry if he cried.
Slowly he inched his way out from under the bed and stood in front of his father with his head bowed.
"I'm sorry," he whispered.
His father grabbed his arms and shook him. "You've upset your mother. Save your apologies for her."
He nodded his head, but didn't look up.
"Things are different now, Fox. It's not just you anymore. You have to think about your sister. You are the big brother. It's your job to protect her. You have responsibilities. I expect you to be a big boy and stop all this foolish behavior. Is that understood?"
Fox stood motionless.
"Is it?" his father asked again, shaking him more forcefully.
"Good. Now change your clothes and get into bed. I want you to think about what you have be told."
Fox obeyed, quickly pulling on his Pjs and crawling under the covers. With a final stern look, his father snapped off the overhead light and shut the door.
He waited a few minutes to see if his father would return. When he felt that the coast was clear, he pushed the covers aside and climbed out of bed. Quietly he padded to the window and pulled back the curtain. The full moon lit the night sky with its intensity; the new fallen snow sparkling like a million diamonds. He craned his neck to see the stars high in the heavens, finding the big dipper in its appointed spot. All was as it should be.
But things had changed today. He had grown a little, been hurt a little, was a little more worldly-wise. He was no longer a just a little boy. He was a big brother now, full of big brother duties.
For better or worse, the arrival of Samantha Mulder had changed his life forever.