Title: A Wonderland Life II
Feedback: Yes.E-mail: Cookie8302@aol.com
Keywords: SSmarried, babyfic
Summary: Skinner and Scully have a late night talk over their new daughter before returning to D.C.
Scully shivered in the cold February morning and hurriedly snuggled against her husband's warmth. Skinner instinctively wrapped his strong arms around her and nestled her against him.
"Laura hungry again?" he asked, his voice still husky from sleep.
"Mmm," she whispered, all ready dozing again, "I think a full night's sleep is a thing of the past."
"Mama said she'd start sleeping through the night soon or at least more than two hours at a time. Want me to get the next one?" he asked, kissing her hair.
Scully shook her head, "No, you have to get up in the morning, I can nap when she naps during the day if I need it."
Skinner let it go and felt her breathing steady. Scully and he had agreed that she wouldn't go back to the X-files until after Laura's first birthday so she could have the time to bond with their daughter. Even he had begun keeping more regular hours, so that he could be home with Laura.
Mulder had tried to convince Scully to return much sooner that either she or Walter thought was prudent. He used every method from polite asking to childish begging, but in the end, he realized she would return and was still his best friend and partner, even if in an altered way.
Skinner's thoughts were interrupted by the shrill ringing of the telephone. He quickly grabbed the receiver so that it would not wake Scully.
"Skinner," he whispered into the mouthpiece.
"Hello, Mr. Skinner, this is Dr. Peter Monroe from DC General Hospital. Is Mrs. Skinner available?"
"Mrs. Skinner is asleep, Doctor. Can I help you?" he asked all ready having an idea as to what the doctor wanted.
"I'm trying to contact Mrs. Skinner as she is listed as the next of kin for one Agent Fox Mulder. We need to get in touch with her."
"Hold on, please," Skinner instructed the man as he rolled over to nudge his sleeping wife, "Dana, it's a Dr. Monroe. He says he's calling about Mulder."
Skinner watched and listened as Scully dealt with and spoke to the doctor. She was upset when she ended the call and rose from the bed, "Mulder's been shot. He's in surgery."
"Christ," Skinner grunted, "How?"
"I don't know. It's in his knee. I have to get down there."
Scully was all ready dressing quickly, shrugging into her clothes. Skinner rose after her, "What about Laura?" he asked.
"Can't you stay here, with her. They need me at the hospital," she declared, pulling on her shoes.
"Dana, I need to leave for work at 7:00 a.m., you won't be back from the hospital by then," he told her.
"No, so take off or call my mother to stay with Laura," she instructed, as if it were as simple as a snap of her fingers.
"Remember, your mother's out of town, visiting your Aunt Penny. And I can't take off of work today either, I have the monthly Administration breakfast and a meeting with the Deputy Director."
"Then I'll take her with me," she provided, knowing full well that idea would be countered. She was not disappointed.
"Oh no, you won't," he stated firmly, "I'll not have her exposed to that kind of environment, why there's all sorts of germs and things there. I won't allow it. Laura is only a baby, she should be your first priority Dana."
"She is my priority, I put my career on hold for her, I'm at home with her. You are her father, you can take responsibility for her once in a while," then her tone softened, "Please, Walter. I'll be quick. I just have to make sure he's being well cared for."
"All right. I'll bring Laura to work with me, show her off on the fifth floor," Skinner capitulated, caressing her cheek, "You be careful and call me with updates."
Scully leaned up on her tiptoes and kissed Skinner, "I love you, Walter," she whispered hugging him.
"I love you, too," he said holding her tightly before releasing her to go, once again, to Mulder's side.
DC General Hospital 4:46 A.M.
Mulder was in recovery by the time Scully arrived. Dr. Monroe, the ER doctor and Dr. Grey, the orthopedic surgeon spoke with her about Mulder's injuries. The bullet had shattered his knee and while Dr. Grey did her best to repair it, he'd need some intensive physical therapy and would be off duty for nearly six months, and then for another six months on a desk. Scully knew the implications of that for the X-files, with both she and Mulder out, the brass would have the perfect excuse to close them down, no matter what Walter did to try to prevent it.
An hour after she arrived, they allowed her to visit with Mulder. He awoke when she spoke his name.
"Hey," he whispered drowsily, "Had to get shot to get a visit from you, eh?"
"That's not true, Mulder," she whispered, holding his hand as it rest against the pillow, "and you know it."
"What happened?" he asked, studying his leg, in full cast propped up on pillows.
"The bullet shattered your knee. The doctor did an excellent job repairing it, but you're going to need some physical therapy," she told him gently, for he was still weakened, "You're going to be working a desk for awhile. All in all you'll be laid up for about a year."
"A whole year, Scully, what about the X-files?" he asked, struggling to sit up. She pushed him back down. "Don't worry about the X-files," she told him, "How did this happen, Mulder?" she asked gently.
"I was meeting an informant at the memorial, got surprised I guess," he said in a voice growing weaker and beginning to fade, "And you never showed."
"What do you mean, 'I never showed'? I wasn't aware of any meeting," Scully said a bit loudly, automatically suspicious and defensive.
"Told Skinner" Mulder mumbled softly just before he fell asleep.
Assistant Director Skinner's Offfice 7:29 A.M.
In spite of his best efforts, Skinner was late for work and missed the bi-monthly Administrative Breakfast, a sin that would cause some major gossip in the brass' rumor mill. He settled Laura's carrier he had with him on his desk and saw the red message light blinking on his answering machine. He ignored it for the time, deciding to let Kim deal with it when she came in at 9:00 a.m. He decided to call the Director personally and apologize for his absence.
"Yes," he said to the assistant who answered the phone, "I'd like to speak with Director Richards, please. It's Assistant Director Skinner."
The Director's Assistant placed him on hold while she patched his call through.
'Yes," the Director's voice came on the line, "Assistant Director Skinner, we missed you this morning," he said lightly.
"Yes, Sir. I'm sorry, Sir," he said, "I just called to explain."
"And?" the Director said expectantly, as it was unlike Skinner to miss meetings or breakfasts.
"Well, Sir, it's like this, Agent Mulder was shot and Agent ScI mean Mrs. Skinner went to oversee his treatment. I ended up with Laura, of course and I've never really been out with her on my own."
"Okay, Walter, it's okay," said Director Richards, "Where is your daughter now?" he asked.
"She's in her sleeper on the corner of my desk, Sir," he answered with trepidation.
"Go home, Walter," he said, "go home and tend to your baby."
"But Sir, I have meetings"
"Cancel them. You have plenty of leave time and can't properly conduct business with a tiny baby on your desk. But Walter, I realize this was an emergency, but next time, find a sitter. The FBI is not the place for babies."
Skinner sighed, his boss was right, "Yes, Sir. I know it isn't. Thank you, Sir." With that the conversation ended and Skinner gathered up Laura and prepared to leave.
Skinner Residence 9:05 A.M.
Scully was angrily pacing the living room when Skinner returned home with a fussy, hungry Laura.
"It okay, Little Love," he crooned, opening the door and passing Scully, unaware of her presence as he headed for the kitchen, "Daddy's going to feed you a bottle right now."
"You're in early, Walter," Scully said, causing Skinner to start.
"Christ Dana, you scared me," he gasped, "How's Mulder?"
"Better, no thanks to you," she said accusingly.
"Huh?" Walter grumbled, confused. How was this his fault?
"Mulder said he told you about a meeting he was having with an informant you were supposed to tell me to meet him."
Skinner shook his head, "He told me about the meeting, yes, but he never asked for you to join him."
"He said he did. He said, 'I never showed.'"
"Dana, on my life, I never spoke with Mulder about you attending that meeting," he said with a grave sincerity, hurt evident in his voice.
"Why would Mulder say that then? Why would he lie?" she questioned, not wanting to disbelieve Walter, but realizing he had more to gain by lying.
"Why would I?" he countered, while preparing the makings of Laura's bottle. He sounded so hurt at that.
"I'm sorry, Walter," she said after a pause, "I know you'd never lie to me. But Mulder did say"
"Perhaps he thought I'd tell you and you'd automatically show up, like you've always done," Skinner suggested, "What happened, he get caught without back up?"
Scully nodded, "Must have. Oh Walt, he's going to be off field duty at least a year, out of work totally three to six months while his knee heals."
"Sounds serious," Skinner said noncommittally as he lifted Laura up and cuddled her to his chest while she fed.
"It is," she said, then silence, no more was said.
In fact, nothing was said for the remainder of the day, at least not on that subject. Skinner noticed his wife's distraction, but thought it best not to call attention to it. By supper time, however, when he noticed that all she did was twirl her pasta around on her plate, he asked, "What's on your mind, Dana?"
"I'm thinking about Mulder and the X-files. With both of us on leave"
Skinner could tell where this was heading, but he let her continue.
"Walter, I know we agreed I'd stay at home until Laura was a year old, but I never foresaw this. Walter, I want to file the papers to go back to work."
Skinner of course had predicted it, but was still shocked to actually hear her say it, he dropped his fork to his plate with a clang, "Dana, even without our agreement you still have more weeks left of maternity leave."
"I know, but Mulder needs me to continue the work," she said as if he should already know that.
"Laura needs her mother at home," Skinner countered, "not running around chasing aliens or mutants or God knows what else." Skinner felt his anger rising. This is what he'd been afraid of, he'd feared the day that Scully would put Mulder and the X-files a head of him and the baby.
"That's not what I do and you know that. My mother could look after Laura when she gets back. I could start Monday," Scully reasoned.
"No, Dana, you can't. I won't allow it," he said firmly, like a father forbidding his teen to wear make-up.
"You won't allow it?" she questioned sharply, "I'm an independent woman Walter and if I wish to return to work, I'll return to work."
Skinner didn't feel like arguing with her. If she wanted to go back to work, fine, but he would not make it pleasant.
"Fine," he said, throwing up his hand and leaving the table, "If you want to go back to work, fine, go. Who am I to stop you? I'm only your husband."
"Walter, don't be like this," she begged following him around the kitchen, "I thought you'd understand. You know how important Mulder is to me and how much we sacrifice for our work."
"Oh, I understand perfectly, Scully, or at least I should have. Mulder and your precious X-files will always come first with you. Laura'll be second, and well, I'll finish a distant third."
He kept his back turned while he spoke and Scully was not sure if he was just striking out or if he truly believed what he'd said. She touched his shoulder, "Walter, you are the most important thing in my life, you and the baby. Please never doubt that for a minute. It's just, I feel like I abandoned Mulder and our quest for the truth, because I found my own happiness. It's"
"You deserve happiness, Dana," Walter said softly, touching the small hand that rested on his shoulder, "You've already lost so much to the X-files. Why give up this time with Laura. It's precious and we'll never get it back."
He turned then and pulled her to his chest, holding her securely, gently threading his fingers through her hair, "I'm sorry I got so upset. I guess I'm a bit jealous of Mulder. I've always known while you love me, he's your soulmate."
Scully placed her finger over his lips, "Ssh," she whispered, "You're my soulmate, my heart, my whole life. No one, not even Mulder will come between that."
She rose on her toes again and kissed her husband on the mouth, gently, slowly for a long moment. When they came up for air, she smiled lightly and asked him. "Do you think you could keep an eye on the X-files yourself for a little while. Say until Laura is six months old?" Scully offered in compromise.
Skinner chuckled and smiled before kissing her again, saying, "I think I could manage that."
End Notes: My special thanks to Margie for her excellent beta reading and advice and to Anita for her unending friendship.