Title: Second Chances
Spoilers: A few small ones throughout the various seasons, but mainly Existence /William/ Requiem. Takes place a few months after IWTB.
Archive: Sure, just keep my name attached to the story, and let me know where I can find it.
Feedback: Is always appreciated - firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters - I wish I did, then I could quit my day job and play with them whenever I wanted. They'd have much more fun with me ;)
Author's notes: Written in response to a Nursery Files challenge. Want to know which one? Read on, and you'll find out at the end.
Summary: When Scully is taken ill at work, memories of the past come flooding to the surface.
In all of her years as a medical doctor and pathologist, Dana Scully had faced some gruesome sights: victims of a murderer with a penchant for collecting their hair and fingernails, the horribly disfiguring result of a mother's love for her sons, a dismembered body. And yet in over 16 years of working with bodies - both live and dead - of all ages, of different shapes and sizes, from all walks of life, she'd maintained a cast iron stomach. Sure, she'd vomited after viewing her first dead body whilst at med school, and of course she'd felt sick to the core at the thought of Donnie Pfaster and his fetish, but that was to be expected.
But it came as a complete surprise to both Scully and her colleagues when she fainted during a routine operation at Our Lady of Sorrows Hospital. She hadn't complained of feeling unwell prior to the appendectomy - not out loud at least - and the theatre wasn't exactly at its warmest, so it wasn't due to a sudden rise in her temperature. Onlookers would retell the incident just as it had happened - that no sooner had she cut into eight year old Thomas Edwards" body, she took one look at his open abdomen and fainted, catching her temple on the side of the operating table as she fell to the floor.
All attention immediately switched to her, and moments later, upon regaining consciousness, Scully found herself on a hospital gurney as her colleagues assessed her likelihood of concussion. Just a short while later she was pronounced free from head injuries and advised to spend the rest of the day taking it easy at home, just to be on the safe side. Knowing that she didn't feel up to driving, she reluctantly made a phone call to Mulder, asking him to pick her up and assuring him that everything was fine, realising he'd no doubt worry himself sick otherwise. Memories of her past battle with cancer still lingered between them, and though she'd been in almost perfect health since going into remission, there was always a thought at the back of her mind, of the day her "luck" would run out.
No more than 20 minutes after receiving Scullys phone call, Mulder found her in the doctor's locker room at the hospital, now clad in her everyday attire of black trousers and a pale green blouse, folding up her scrubs. She looked up as he walked into the room, her cheeks reddening with what he suspected was embarrassment. "S'up doc?"
She frowned. "I was about to come and meet you out front. You shouldn't be in here." Not that she'd ever complained before. She was frustrated, he surmised, at being seen as "weak" by her peers.
"I know, I just wanted to make sure you were ok." He smiled. "That you didn't need me to carry you to the car."
He anticipated her words before she uttered them. "I'm fine."
Nodding, Mulder walked further into the room, before sitting himself on the bench in front of his partner, who now seemed unable to look him in the eye. "What happened exactly?" Turning her back to him, Scully rummaged around in her locker, for what he didn't know. "I just fainted and caught my forehead. I'm fine. No major damage done, just a few brain cells lost", she relayed casually, but he knew it was more than that.
"Just fainted? Since when did you start "just fainting" Scully?" He noticed her tense momentarily. "Since I started rushing around and skipping lunch."
"Why did you skip lunch? Don't they allow you a break around here anymore?"
"Of course they do. I just had a lot on this morning and didn't have time."
Hearing Scullys hesitation, Mulder knew immediately it was a lie. "That's not very sensible."
"I know. Lesson learned. Now can we go home?" She turned back around to face him, but still wouldn't meet his eye.
"What's wrong Scully?" His voice was filled with concern, and he leaned forward, resting his elbows on his thighs in a bid to catch her gaze.
"Mulder, I told you, I'm -"
"You're fine. I get that. Now tell me the truth."
She threw her head back to look up to the ceiling, as though looking for inspiration, before sighing heavily. "It is the truth."
"Then why won't you look me in the eye?"
Lowering her head to meet his gaze only momentarily, Scully then turned, removed her jacket and purse from the locker and closed it behind her. "Ready?"
"What aren't you telling me Scully?"
"Because not once did I ever see you faint over a drop of blood, in all the years we worked together." He hesitated before asking his next question. "Was it because of William?"
"What?" Her eyes met his again, and this time he saw a look of confusion cross her face.
"You said last night you were operating on a little boy, and -"
"Not every little boy reminds me of our son." They both knew she was lying. "It's nothing to do with William, it..." Feeling herself well up, she paused, trying to compose herself. "I don't want to get into this right now."
"So there is something?" He didn't mean to sound so smug, but he knew deep down something was troubling her.
"Mulder, please can we go home."
Tears began to trail down her cheeks, and she moved forward in an attempt to walk towards the exit, but Mulder's hand on her arm stopped her in her tracks. "Scully, what is it?"
"Please Mulder, not here."
"Tell me it's not the cancer." He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw her shake her head.
"No, no it's not that. I'm fine."
"You're anything but fine Scully, and I'm not leaving this place until you tell me what it is."
"Is it this place? Is it the work? Are you having trouble again with Father -"
"No, no work's...work."
Standing to his feet, Mulder tugged on her arm, turning around to face him. Pulling her in towards him, he used his free hand to cup her chin and tilt her head up towards him. "Scully, you're making me nervous." His eyes pleaded with her. "I thought you trusted me."
She gave him a watery smile. "Mulder, you're the only one I trust."
"What is it then?"
Biting her lip hard to try and stop fresh tears from falling, she shook her head once more. "I don't know how to tell you."
"Tell me what?" His heart was racing as he anticipated her words. She'd already told him it wasn't cancer, but from her reaction he knew it wasn't good news she was about to tell him.
Before Mulder could process what he'd just been told, Scully let out a sob, her right hand moving up to cover her mouth. It was a good few minutes before he spoke. "What?"
"I'm pregnant." Her voice was stronger this time, but only just. She searched his face for some kind of reaction, but was just met with shock.
"How?" Of all the things he expected Scully to tell him, he never expected this.
"Surely by now you know how babies are made Mulder." She meant it light-heartedly in a bid to lift the mood, but it seemed he wasn't impressed.
"Yeah, we know all about babies."
She knew he was speaking of William; his words like a slap in the face to her. She instantly stepped back out of his grip. "We should go before someone comes." Surely they already know. Did someone run the tests for you?" Seeing Scully shake her head gave him the answer he was looking for.
"You knew before today?"
She nodded albeit reluctantly. "I took a test yesterday. I...I'd suspected for a while."
"A week. Maybe two."
Mulder chewed his lip as he nodded. "And you didn't think to tell me?"
"I didn't know how."
"You should have tried fainting Scully. It grabbed my attention today."
She ignored his sarcasm. "I needed time."
"Were you ever going to tell me?"
Her eyes narrowed in confusion. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"I practically had to force it out of you just now. You didn't want me to know?"
"Of course I did, I just -"
"Are you keeping it?"
"I...I don't know." Her honesty scared him. "I've barely had time to process this. Not to mention the fact I'm in my forties, and it'll be a high risk pregnancy, and I'm not sure I can go through it all again."
Seeing the results of her pregnancy test the day before brought back everything she'd experienced when carrying William; the joy at discovering she was carrying a child, the immediate devastation that followed after learning of Mulder's disappearance, complications during her pregnancy, her son's traumatic birth, and the heartbreak at having to give him up to ensure his safety. How could she even entertain the thought of keeping the baby with the knowledge that she gave his or her older brother up for adoption?
"How far along are you?"
"I make it about eight weeks."
He nodded, counting the weeks back in his head. "The holiday." When he'd whisked her away to the Caribbean following Christian's surgery, promising her a relaxing break that she wouldn't forget. Eight weeks later she knew they'd both now remember the holiday forever. She knew what he was thinking. "I didn't plan this Mulder."
"How did it happen? I thought we were being careful."
"Weren't you the one who told me never to give up on a miracle?"
He spoke the words before he had chance to speak, and instantly regretted them. "But you did, didn't you?"
"I..." Though she hadn't thought about how Mulder would react at learning the news, she'd never expected this. His shock had disappeared, and given way to anger. And it hurt. Though they'd argued in the years since they'd reunited and gone on the run, they'd never brought up William, at least not in a way to hurt one another. Not until now.
She stood rooted to the spot, stunned, before she collected the thoughts, processing his words. "How dare you," she spat, her face now full of fury. "I did what I had to do for my son, what I thought was right to protect him and keep him safe."
Immediately regretting his words, Mulder moved to approach her once again. "I know you did, I'm sorry." He reached out to place his hands on her hips, frowning as she stepped back out of his reach. "Scully, I didn't think. I didn't mean it."
"Just leave me alone."
She hurried towards the door, with Mulder hot on her heels. "Scully, wait."
"No, I'm going home."
"Let me drive."
"I'll get a cab."
"Don't be stu…" He caught himself before he enraged her further. "I'll take you."
"I don't even want to look at you at the moment."
"Then don't look at me. I'll leave you alone as soon as we get home, but there's no point in getting a cab." He silenced her as she opened her mouth to speak. "And you're not driving either."
Without another word, Scully threw open the door and led Mulder out of the building, leaving him to wonder how he could possibly make things up to her.
The drive home had been filled with silence, a tense atmosphere that neither Mulder nor Scully dared to break. He was mad at her for keeping her suspicions of pregnancy a secret, while she still felt betrayed at his words at the hospital.
No sooner had Mulder pulled into the driveway and Scully gotten out of the car, she turned to see him reverse the car and shoot back out, away from the house. He obviously needed time to think, time to let off some steam, and she was glad; she wasn't sure she could speak to him straight away without lashing out at him again.
She'd been home for a couple of hours, killing time by taking a bath and making herself a dinner that she couldn't bring herself to eat, before settling herself in front of the sofa, wrapped in her bathrobe and a blanket from the bedroom. The TV droned on in the background, though she couldn't recall what she was watching; she just couldn't face sitting in silence, alone with her thoughts.
She tensed as a key was turned in the lock and the front door opened - if she was completely honest with herself, she hadn't expected him home that evening. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Mulder enter the house, closing the door behind him, and shrug off his jacket, before hanging it up on the hook on the wall and placing the carrier bag he was holding down onto the floor.
He paused momentarily as he caught sight of her on the sofa, his hands slipping inside his trouser pockets. "Hey." He sounded weary, no doubt wondering how she'd react to him.
"Hey." She made no effort to look at him, still pretending to be engrossed in the programme in front of her. He followed her gaze, and it was moments later that he spoke again. "What are you watching?"
He could see right through her pretence. She shrugged, not bothering with an answer.
"I umm…" Deciding to brave the atmosphere, he walked over towards the couch, sighing as Scully brought her legs up beneath her and wrapped her arms around them. "Scully, I owe you a huge apology, and 'I'm sorry' just isn't going to cut it. I was completely and utterly out of line for saying what I did."
"No you weren't", she replied calmly - too calmly for his liking. "It's what you've been thinking for all of these years, I'm glad you were finally able to tell me."
"It's not Scully, believe me. I was just…I'm stunned, and I hit out when I shouldn't, and when you've done absolutely nothing to deserve it."
"But I did though. I gave our son up for adoption, without even consulting you, and I've made no effort whatsoever to get him back. I didn't deserve him, and I certainly don't deserve this baby." She bowed her head, her fingers toying with the blanket wrapped around her. "It's what you're thinking, because it's the truth."
"Scully, the only thing you did was what was best for our son."
"I gave up on him."
"No you didn't, you gave him the best possible chance of a normal life."
"I made you hate me. I made my mother and my family hate me. By now I daresay William hates me too."
Shifting closer towards her, Mulder placed his arm around her, ignoring the fact she remained tense, not sinking into his embrace. "I don't hate you. Far from it. I panicked Scully. I admit you shocked the hell out of me, and rather than tell you how I was feeling I hit out at you. I made you hate me."
She wasn't listening. "I expected you to lash out before now. I've spent the past eight years wondering when we'd talk about it. I mean really talk about it. And now we finally are."
"But I didn't mean it."
"You're entitled to your opinion."
"That's not my opinion. That was out of order. I didn't mean it."
"You said it."
"I know. And I'll spend the rest of my life wishing I hadn't."
"I miss him, Scully." She heard him take a deep breath as he spoke of their son. "Not a day goes by when I don't think of him."
She closed her eyes, trying to shut the tears out. "I know", she replied sadly moments later. "I miss him too."
"I know you do."
"I don't deserve to though. I brought this on. It's my fault."
"No, no you did what you had to do, what anyone else would have done in that situation."
"Anyone else would have followed you."
"Scully, he would have been in even more danger then. And besides, a life on the run isn't any way to bring up a child."
"I convinced you to go."
"We can go on blaming ourselves, but it won't help. We just have to tell ourselves that William's healthy, and happy."
It was a while before she nodded and relaxed into Mulder's embrace. She still wouldn't look at him though. "I didn't plan this Mulder. I didn't even know I could get pregnant again."
"I know you didn't." She heard him smile. "I umm...that wasn't the way I wanted to react to that kind of news Scully. Particularly after last time." Last time when he'd woken from what had felt like an awful nightmare, to discover that he'd been dead for three months, when he feared his partner and lover had moved on in his absence. "You deserve more. You both deserve more."
Taking a deep breath, Scully finally gained the courage to look at him, finding a mixture of regret and concern etched on his face. Reaching out, she took hold of his left hand, which was rested on his knee. "If you want I can go and stay at my mom's tonight, or back at the hospital."
She knew it would be the hospital. While she was now in contact with her mother, and had been for a couple of years, their relationship had changed since before she'd given up William, and she doubted it would ever return to normal. Though she'd always tolerated Mulder, and his relationship with her daughter, Maggie always believed Scully could do better; that when he left her and their son, she should have moved on with her life. And when their little boy was put up for adoption, Maggie didn't speak to Scully for some time, not understanding how a mother could do such a thing for a child she'd craved for years.
"No", he shook his head. "No there's no need. If you don't want to be with me tonight I can get a motel or something."
She smiled awkwardly, caressing his hand. "I do want to be with you."
"Well that's good." Leaning down, Mulder pressed his forehead against hers. "I want to be with you too. Forgive me Scully."
Before she could reply he pulled back and jumped up from the sofa, making his way back towards the front door. She watched him cautiously, half wondering if he was about to leave, when she saw him retrieve the carrier bag he'd discarded earlier, and bring it back over to her. "I umm…I was driving around earlier, just thinking, and then I saw this store and went in and had a look." Sitting back down on the sofa, he opened the bag so Scully could see. "I know it's early days, but I saw this and thought it might be nice for the baby." He pulled out a tiny white sleep suit, patterned with little brown teddy bears, and smiled. "I figured white's a safe color, for now at least. I don't know if you were thinking about finding out what you're carrying. Neutral colors are good though, and…" Mulder trailed off as he caught Scullys eye, seeing a look of shock on her face. "You don't like it?"
"No I do", she whispered, swallowing hard to try and compose herself. "I didn't think you wanted this."
"I do Scully." Mulder's own voice had dropped to a murmur. "I know you said it's risky, but if you're willing to do this, then we can try. I can get a job and you could cut down your hours, or quit even, and take it easy. I'll do anything to help. You make a great mother Scully, and we can do this together. I want you, and I want this baby." His lower lip trembled. "And we have to accept that wherever William is, he's healthy and happy. And one day, if he chooses to get in touch, we'll tell him the truth, about why we did what we had to do; that it was for his own safety. It's not a case of favoring this baby over him; it's a case of being in a much better, much safer position to look after a child. And…" A smile began to form. "I know we're going to be ridiculously old, and no doubt embarrass the hell out of this kid as he's growing up, but -"
"Speak for yourself." It was the first time she'd spoken in minutes, and Mulder was pleased to see she was smiling too. "And who says we're having a boy?"
"Ok, ok, so no doubt I'll embarrass the hell out of the poor child, but we can do this." His eyes searched hers. "As long as you want to do this. I haven't even asked, and I don't want to pressure you, but -"
"If you want to do this, then I do too. I just don't want to lose you Mulder. I can't do this on my own again." Shifting forward on the sofa, Mulder wrapped his arms around Scullys waist, drawing her in for a hug, the sleep suit crumbling between them. "You won't have to, I promise you. Not if I have any say in the matter." Pulling back slightly, he looked down at the sleep suit between them. "I want to do everything right this time. I missed out on so much, but this time -"
"This time you won't, I promise you." For the first time that day, she gave him a smile that reached her eyes; a smile that offered him hope.
"Oh my god", she suddenly exclaimed, letting out a little laugh. "We're really going to do this?"
"We're really going to do this. There's just a condition first." Mulder couldn't help but smile at the serious expression that crossed her face. "Don't get mad if I faint during the birth, ok?"
She grinned. "After everything you've seen in your life, you think childbirth will be your downfall?"
Shrugging, Mulder returned her smile. "Never say never. And we're not calling this one Fox."
"You'll get no arguments from me." Scully picked up the sleep suit and cradled it in her lap. "We'll decide when the time comes. Together."
"I like that idea.
"I do too. And I promise you Scully, it's going to be different this time and we are going to do this together. I promise you I'll be with you every single step of the way." He smiled. "For every craving, every scan, every kick, every sleepless night and diaper change. We're going to do this properly."
"Every diaper change?"
"What?" Noting Scullys bemused expression, Mulder raised his eyebrows. "You don't believe me?"
"You're volunteering for every single diaper change?"
"Ok, ok, so maybe not every one. But I'll do my fair share. This kid won't want for anything. And we'll make sure that he or she knows all about their older brother too."
His partner nodded in agreement. William was still a part of their lives; he was still with them every day, and would continue to be so. "Yes we will."
"And I'm not going anywhere this time Scully. I love you and I love this baby, and together we're going to be just fine."
Scully turned and kissed Mulder square on the lips, smiling as he tightened their embrace. For once, she didn't argue.
Write a fic set after X-Files: I Want To Believe that features Scully finding out that she's pregnant.
To add some realism to this, have her also either: