Title : Pinwheel
Maggie Scully was a patient woman when it suited her, but today was up for grabs. Short-temperedness was something she judged as a fault in others. A pet-peeve grieviously unbecoming in herself. She loved her grandson dearly, that wasn't the issue. The issue was whether any of the strained spinach would ultimately make it into his uncooperative mouth.
It was Saturday, late in the blustery day, and Scully scooted into the kitchen, returning from brisk last minute food shopping, and it plainly registered in her droopy face. Her harried mother was negotiating some pablum into her babbly grandson's messy mouth. "Please, dear, mind putting out the garbage?"
Not lending undivided attention with her preoccupied mind liberally dispersed amid disjointed thoughts of Mulder's present whereabouts, Scully set the cumbersome perishables down upon the kitchen table, absently going through the shopping bag containing meat and poultry. She spoke to herself. "The garbage, Dana?"
"Hmmm, Mom? Did you say something?" That was funny, she thought she'd picked up another package of ground beef for the wraps she'd promised to make for the mini-soiree at Doggett's, tonight. Going *was* a good idea. She needed a break, get out more. The somber look in her eyes was becoming a permanant condition. The leaner ex-marine, whose bearing always reminded Scully of a clothesline of starched and ironed sheets, had been considerate enough to ask, but Scully had the feeling it was Monica's persistence that had won her an invitation, although she could be reading more into the ex-NYPD cop's reluctance than there really was. Skinner saw no harm in going, neither did she, so she was. The A.D. was picking her up over here in another three hours. She'd prepare the wraps in her mom's kitchen, and heat them up at Doggett's.
"Is it too much for you to put the garbage out, Dana?"
Scully stopped fussing around in the paper and plastic. Her mother's voice, scraping within her ear, was unpleasant to hear. When had her mother begun sounding so short? Counting on her sounding mildly amused, to take some of her mother's edge off, Scully said, "That used to be Billy's or Charlie's job."
"Materialize either one, and the old job is theirs," her mother said, a whispery wisp of irritation coloring her tone. "The basket's nearly overflowing with soiled diapers." William was gumming his clenched left hand's fist as he cooed. Plentiful dribble gushed from the upturned edges of his munching mouth.
No mirth at the moment, as far as her mother was concerned. "Sorry, Mom," Dana replied, her sensitive conscience fluttered. Having her mother pinch hit as babysitter, more times more than less at a moment's notice, was a godsend, and responsible for the contrite tenor of her voice.
'Mind your mother like good troops,' her father's non-arbitrary voice spoke in her mind. Their father's authority, the hallmark of all that ran their household, even beyond the grave sometimes, induced her outside to the Rubbermaid receptacle, without another word, nor loaded glance.
"Thank you, dear." Her mother's voice entreated upon her return from the crisp autumnal air. "Feels like an early frost."
Scully considered that flurry of truth, and resumed sorting through the rest of the groceries.
Maggie paused to smack her lips at William. "That's right, baby. It's good for you. It will make you strong." The little silver-plated spoon hovered, waiting for the hangar to open.
Scully half-heard that last sentiment, with a ripple of a wrinkle creasing the fine, translucent skin of her forehead. If you only knew, mom, she thought to herself, seeing in her mind's eye the eclectic bestowal of the Gunmen whirl, unguided by the physical impetus of a human hand, on a regular basis, at her son's bedtime.
The first time she'd watched the mobile spinning effortlessly upon the air, subdued in half-tones above William's bassinet, she had convinced herself that that wasn't what she'd seen at all. Why hadn't she thrown it out already? Instinctively, a shaky hand drove itself to the back of her neck. Her fingertips kneaded the embedded manifestation, marring her, and fueling Mulder's compelling reason for keeping him away from the people who cherished him most, and he them.
Summoning up the best of her mental effort, Scully steered her mind clear of those worrisome thought disruptors which always had Mulder as their focal point. She encouraged concentration on the upcoming social engagement where, perhaps, unburdened laughter might mingle.
Yet as she did, a recollection from another time settled over her mind, and gave her pause. A mist of a memory devolving upon an inoxious Gunmen achievement begging to be admired. The virtual model of the Antarctic alien spacecraft, loomed, overshadowing her sensibilities.
The piercing cold, driving into her like nails...
Mulder repeating her name like some mystical mantra, bolstering his bid for remaining conscious... She, struggling to respond, but powerless to open her eyes, raise her head from the numbing tundra pillow. Impossible to croak him a writhing acknowledgement above the howling wind.
Mulder, back at the kerosene-heated as well as illuminated installation, insisting that it hadn't been the howling of the wind, but rather of alien propulsion going through its paces. "Gravatational forces are strongest at the poles, Scully."
"Why do you always assume I don't know indespensible factoids such as that, Mulder?"
"Is everything all right, dear?" Maggie Scully wondered what her bemused daughter was going to do with the quart of milk she was holding upside down. Mulder had laid in a hefty supply of his favorite Argentinian cash crops, sunflower seeds, during their layover in Rio Gallegos. Then, he'd used a portion of them drizzling their husks on her, on the return flight from Buenos Aires to D.C., and had kept teasing her about never wanting ice in drinks ever again...or three-minute soft-boiled eggs.
If, by some meteoric miracle he were outside her mother's door this very moment holed up in an AJ Backhoe, she wouldn't care if the drizzle of sunflower seed husks escalated into a vertitable torrent.
"Dana, dear..." Maggie delicately wiped a little pablum from the dimpled corner of William's driveled mouth.
Scully nodded, meandered to the fridge to put the milk away. Her mind spinning. Not tailspinning, but rather wrapping itself around the height and breadth of Mulder. His absence now every part of what there was to miss about him.
"Where were you this time, honey?"
Several weeks removed, at her apartment, getting nowhere with him. His mind had been made up long ago. "That obvious, hmmm, Mom." Her hot cheeks and bright eyes were there for a reason.
Maggie pared the pablum down to a tad over a full spoonful, and waited for her grandson to settle down. "You've got your daddy's determination, you sweet little young man." The hangar popped, reopening, and the Maggie inertial guidance system delivered the nourishing payload.
After the requisite pause for the baby's babbled, but intrinsically perceptive response, which made his grandmother remark again what a remarkable child he was, Scully made quick work of putting away what needed to be, and scurried to get her wraps underway.
"Oooh, I almost forgot this for you, baby."
Maggie eyed the garish offering, nodding her approval as she gently undid the bib from her grandbaby's neck. "What a bright and shiny one, with your favorite colors, dear."
She blew upon the enfolded handiwork before laying it down upon the counter of her child's highchair. The plaything's movement held her in captivation for moments. "I think they're William's too, Mom," Scully said, thinking back to her baby's squeals of delight while in the throes of squeezing the bright red with flaming canary-yellow bill rubber duckie to death, even after his bath water had swirled down the drain.
William was squealing now as his wiggling fingers thrusted for the newest, fascinating novelty. Scully pinched the snugly-wrapped chicken thighs before making room for them on the shelf next to the already open mixed vegetables in the freezer portion of the fridge. Her hand lingered in the cold, reliving the initial sting of frostbite that had threatened the removal of her pinky and its next door neighbor, on both hands. Closing the freezer door, she finalized the thought about having the Gunmen set up another website exclusively for William's developmental jpg's. Eventful development that was proving more astounding, and unsettling, with each passing day.
Maggie picked up the filigreed pinwheel, blowing on it as well after a few moments. "How many of these silly things did I buy for you and your sister and brothers, honey..."
"Loads." Scully nodded while mincing her way over to the drawer which held the utilitarian cutlery. Extracting a three-pronged fork, she replied, sounding nostolgic, "Guess it's where I got the idea from." Back at the kitchen table, with a large white bowl filled with hamburger, she said, "My favorite one was the one that reminded me of strawberry fudge swirl ice cream, when I was six."
Maggie smiled, remembering how 'Starbuck' had even insisted taking the gaudy plaything to bed every night, up until the time Billy had absconded with that pinwheel. It was the most close-mouthed her older brother had ever been, even when threatened on pain of going to bed without supper for unlimited weeks, at Ahab's sole discretion.
All circumstantial evidence that had mounted had squarely pointed to William, Jr. for being the culprit. Baby William squealed again with delight emanating from his contorted face.
"He absolutely loves it," Maggie noted, engrossed in her grandchild's subsequent high-spirited laughter. Thoughtfully, she picked up the breath-dependent novelty from the radiant counter, splattered with dribs and drabs of baby food. The kitchen darkened suddenly, with the random scudding of murky afternoon clouds which sobered the bright color in the gingham curtains. Dana was squishily kneading a hefty portion of juicy meat, smiling over at her winsome son, catching an unruly strand in an updraft of breath to puff it out of her face.
William pealed with snuffly laughter again. His grandmother's ended abruptly as she stared, agape at the pinwheel spinning seemingly of its own accord. Spinning and spinning, faster and faster. Were her eyes playing some sort of erratic trick?
"Dana! Look at this!"
With a mushy 'plop,' the marblized meat fell from her right hand into the bowl, and Scully shut her eyes to the phenomenon on bold display for her mother's wide-eyed wonderment mingled with a building trepidation.
"Is little Will do-?" Maggie shook her head, as though scattering cobwebs. Her eyes first casted about, trying to discover the source of a draft, then quickly overcasted with incredulous suspicion, because there was none. "Dana?" The spike in her voice upped in tensibility. "He is, isn't he. How can this be happening?" Impulsively, she thrust out her hand, curtailing the drivenness of the, now spellbinding toy's, bewitched movement.
"I...I d-don't know how, Mom. But, he can. He just *can*."
"He? He's done this sort of thing before, dear?" Maggie's voice seemed to echo within the kitchen. Scully hesitated before nodding, and as though discussing the extraordinary over with herself said, "He puts on a real show before bedtime with the mobile." What was the use of denying what William was causing again? Making the pinwheel spin with a zest that defied any fabric of denial? Despite her chargin, Dana quirked a half-smile at her son, wishing Mulder were here beside her. "But, surely..."
"I know." Scully's sigh was a breath borne of protraction. "I wish I could, but I can't. I can't explain it, Mom. None of the amazing things Will's capable of."
"What more is there of his list?" Maggie spurted, while fitting the smooth wooden stick into William's chubby left hand whose fingers wriggled like worms teeming in a can. Sanding by the sink now, the bemused younger mother divided her mind between rinsing vibrant green leafage and her mother's wilted inquiry.
Scully held her breath, deciding what more she wanted to divulge, what more enlightenment she was willing to lend to appease her scowling mother.
Before she could say anything further, Maggie wondered out loud, "Dana, you don't suppose this has anything whatsoever to do with your bout with cancer and its sudden, mysterious remission?"
Scully shut the faucet off and laid the water-beaded produce down in the colander. The pinwheel spun again on the heels of the baby's ethereal giggles. "Mom, there are volumes I can't say, because I have no answers. Not yet, anyway, but soon...soon."
"When it's safe for Fox to return?" Maggie arched.
Scully went for her child, and lovingly plucked him out of his highchair. She leveled her forehead against his downy temple, and said within her throat, "I pray that'll be very soon." She directed a small feather-light breath at the pinwheel that had come to be motionless. Gently, William butted his head against his mother's and the plaything began spinning once more...spinning, and spinning, and spinning; blurring out of control.
"Miracles never cease around here," Maggie observed, watching them both in abject fascination, a misty veil having formed in her eyes, as her daughter hugged her son tighter.
In Scully's heart of hearts, the most fervent miracle of all was something she'd never give up on.
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