These are the Clouds


AUTHOR: bcfan
FEEDBACK: bcfan@shaw.ca
THANKS: and virtual hugs of gratitude to my two beta readers, MaybeAmanda and Redwyne
RATING: NC-17
SUMMARY: sequel to Whose Work Has Come to Nothing. Mulder, Scully, and their teenage son Will deal with the fallout of having their dreams come true.

***
Hope Slide
***

Taut muscles and white knuckled hands on a crowbar levered the ramp down, piece by piece. Sweat ran in rivulets under Mulder's t-shirt and cooled his thin body. A grim smile of satisfaction.

A muted cough at the kicked up dust, but Scully heard anyway. She poked her head out the back door.

"Are you okay?"

"Better than okay." The sun crinkled Mulder's eyes as he stared up, nodded.

"Will could help, you know."

Mulder bit his teeth together to prevent sharp words that wanted to become an argument. The muscle in his jaw clenched.

"I can do this, Scully. Just think of the symbolism." Mulder's arm swept the yard. It was steady and firm, the tremors of three months ago completely disappeared.

"Well, just don't symbolize yourself into back spasms, Mulder. You know you're still supposed to pace yourself."

"Yes, mom."

Mulder bent down and begin to throw splintered planks into the wheelbarrow. Scully silently ducked inside, then came out with a broom. She began to sweep the old cement steps, which had been unused for the last two years. Mulder felt waves of disapproval from Scully as the broom jerked in her hands.

He ignored her, last night's quarrel still fresh in his mind, and turned back to the task. They worked silently for the next hour finishing the ramp tear down and cleaning debris, side by side but not together. Not like they used to be.

If Mulder began to grit his teeth against the pain of bending and straightening, if he blinked back tears of frustration at his still weakened body, if his anger at Scully's goddamned doctoring dissipated with the realization that she was once again right - well, he wasn't ready to acknowledge that. Mulder deliberately moved to the edge of the beach house and muttered, "Going for a walk," only breaking his firm stride and slumping with pain when he knew he was out of Scully's sight.

He hobbled to the bench overlooking the beach and dropped heavily down, then dry swallowed three Advil.

Eyes slipped closed.

This was supposed to be their happy ending, but it was day to day happiness that was coming close to tearing them apart, the pickpickpick of nerves that were at last allowed to fray.

Mulder knew he was a total shit. He'd received nothing but unconditional love and acceptance from Scully during his long illness, and yet now she was driving him mad.

Don't forget your medication, Mulder.

Can't you pick up after yourself, Mulder?

Can't you find something to do?

No, he couldn't. He was fifty-four and his quest was over. The alien threat had come and gone. He had no job but without the burden of medical expenses, money was the least of his worries.

Mulder had no desire to travel - years on the run had cured him of that. His health had returned and he was getting stronger every day, yet still felt the regular aches and pains which had been masked, until now, by greater health concerns.

His own mortality seemed to mock him. Weren't things supposed to be better? Shouldn't he feel happier?

Mulder opened his eyes. The sun was shining, but without the goals that had driven him for a lifetime, the day seemed grey and colourless.

Mulder absently rubbed the fresh scar behind his right ear, then jerked his hand down as footsteps approached. He saw Will's lanky frame and still face. A small smile curved Mulder's lips.

"I do believe," Mulder drawled, "that you were sent to spy on me."

Will laughed. "Mom's worried."

"Mom's always worried."

Will settled next to him on the bench. He seemed to mimic Mulder's hunched posture and Mulder began to wonder anew what was going on in Will's head. They rarely talked. Maybe it was time.

"I've just been thinking-" Mulder began.

"Good for you, dad."

"Smartass," Mulder grinned. "I've just been thinking about how different our lives are now. When I was your age, I lost my sister. I felt like I'd lost everything."

"I know dad. You told me."

"I did?"

Will shrugged. "Not in so many words. But I know."

"Yeah. You know. But Will, that's what worries me. You know about us, but we don't know about you - unless you tell us."

"I - I wanted to find you and mom. And I did."

"That's not much of an answer. Are you happy, Will?"

"Everything's fine." Will stood and held out his hand, helping Mulder to his feet. Mulder reached out and gave his son's shoulder a squeeze.

"Thanks." For helping him up. For a cure. For his life.

"No problem. Mom said you should come back and soak in the bath before dinner."

Mulder rolled his eyes.

"It's time for Dr. Scully to give up her practice."

Nonetheless, Mulder wandered into the bedroom once he got back. He winced as he stripped off his t-shirt, smelled it, then tossed it into the hamper. He continued to disrobe as hot water filled the tub.

Mulder eased himself down for a soak and sighed with relief. Hot water combined with his earlier Advil was loosening sore muscles nicely.

Baths were his new luxury. When Mulder had been unable to raise himself up, he'd been confined to the shower. As he relaxed, he caught himself staring glumly at the grey strands in his pubic hair.

Mulder shrugged.

Thoughts drifted to an old saying - snow on the roof, a fire in the furnace. To his immense relief, his furnace was able to fire quite nicely these days. Even with the awkwardness of his teenage son in close proximity. Even with arguments and tension.

Maybe even because of arguments and tension. Mulder was back all the way - and this was one way to prove it.

Mulder started humming. Come on baby light my fire. The time to hesitate is through. No time to wallow in the mire.

"Hey, Scully," he called, "you busy?"

***
Answering Service
***

Will suddenly got that better-leave-my-parents-alone feeling. He didn't mind. It eased his mind when his parents were happy, even though it felt uncomfortable and a bit embarrassing to know the reason why.

Will wandered outside, softly closing the front door behind him. He walked down to the end of the path to pick up the mail, nodding politely to the inevitable crowd of gawkers who gathered to glimpse him, his parents or his house. He'd begged on the news for the calling and pleading to stop, and it had.

The crowd now stood silent, with hungry eyes. It used to be the curious, now it was the sickly.

Will walked with deliberately measured steps and sat on a tree stump at the back. He knew his mom and dad accepted him unconditionally, loved him and cared for him. His fears of being seen as weird or different were eased from their first meeting.

But other people - they only knew what they heard or read. And there was no room for subtlety in a newspaper. It was black and white for a reason.

"Will Van de Kamp Saves Father's Life!"

"Alien-fighting Teen a Miracle Worker!"

"Thousands Flock to Quonochontaug in Hopes of a Cure!"

Will traced the puckered scar behind his ear. He was happy - more than happy - to help his dad. But he didn't want to be a saviour, or a guinea pig, or anything but a teenage boy living in a small town.

Will started kicking the grass, wearing out an angry path. He couldn't make friends. Everyone looked at him like he was an alien. He couldn't even go to school. The first day he'd tried Will felt alternating waves of fear and curiosity coming from his teachers. He told mom and dad he'd rather do distance education at home. Couldn't they tell it was a lie?

He began to wonder when the hell he could ever do what he wanted. When his dad asked if he was happy - it was almost a laugh.

Will narrowed his eyes in resentment. Why didn't they realize how crappy his life was?

Will's childhood dreams were of baseball. He'd imagined what it would be like to be a major league player, the best home run hitter in the world, idolized by fans and rich, rich, rich. Will shook his head, remembering.

Now he knew how hard it was to be an idol, an icon.

Then, in the facility, he'd dreamed of escaping the tests and finding his parents. That dream had come true, even if he'd never predicted how difficult his life would become.

But what was his dream now? Will bit his lip and swallowed. He couldn't imagine a new dream. Where could he go that fame wouldn't follow?

Will heard an unfamiliar ring coming from inside the kitchen. For their own protection, the Mulders had an answering service screen all calls. Their short list of friends rarely rang them up. Will ignored the ring. His shortlist consisted of one person who hadn't kept in touch.

The ringing stopped, then his mom swung open the back door.

"Phone's for you, Will."

Will blinked in surprise, couldn't stop the delighted grin.

Minji. It had to be. Finally!

Will strode into the kitchen and almost slipped on the linoleum in his eagerness to grab the receiver. He noticed his audience.

"Mom," he hissed, "it's private."

Will scowled as his mom smirked at him before walking out of the room. He turned his back and cleared his throat, feigning nonchalance.

"Will Mulder here. Who's speaking, please."

"Will, it's Minji. Do you remember me?"

As if he could forget her. Ever.

"Yeah, uh, sure. How you doing?"

Smooth, he chided himself. Really smooth.

"I'm taking classes at Boston College now." Minji's voice sounded bubbly and completely at ease.

"That's great, Minji."

"What are you taking in high school, Will? I bet you're pulling in good grades."

"I'm, I'm studying from home. Just until the end of the year," he lied. He didn't want to appear to be too much of a dork. Not in front of Minji.

"Does that mean you have some free time? I just finished midterms, and I wondered if you could come to Boston for a visit this weekend. I could show you around the campus. It would be fun to see you again."

"Hold on a sec, Minji. I'll look at my schedule."

Will held the phone against his chest, then eased the receiver off, afraid Minji could hear the furious pounding of his heart. He so much wanted to go. Why shouldn't he? He didn't have anything to do around here.

He considered asking his parents' permission for less than a second. Fuck it. Now was the time for him to do what he wanted, not act like a kid.

"Sounds like a plan, Minji. My schedule is open. When should I get there?"

"How about Friday afternoon. Want me to pick you up at the train station?"

The thought of riding a train jolted Will back to reality. Crowds of people would be too much to bear.

"No thanks. I'll drive." He couldn't help the note of pride which crept into his voice. It deflated when Minji laughed.

"Oh, that's right! You're the only thirteen year old in America with permission to drive."

Damn. He was hoping she didn't remember his age.

Will hung up the phone, folded a paper with scribbled directions in his pocket, and headed towards his bedroom. Dad called him back. Mom and dad sat in their customary places, sofa and chair.

"What's up, Will?"

Will sighed. He could read his parents' feelings. Curiosity and an anxiousness that circled his mom like an aura.

He knew they loved him, but did they think of him like an adult even though he was so mature, had already done so many things? No. That was the problem. An ember of resentment burned brighter inside him, made him sound angrier that he needed to be.

"What's up? I'll tell you what's up. I'm going away for the weekend to see my friend, my only friend."

"Now wait a second, young man," mom interjected. "Let's discuss this."

"No. It's my life and I can decide what to do with it!"

His dad stood up and Will felt something new. Disappointment. His hot feelings suddenly cooled, and he felt himself shift nervously where he stood.

Dad spoke evenly. "Apologize to your mother, Will."

Will's lips pressed together, then he nodded, sharply.

"Sorry for shouting."

Mom nodded back, her back rigid and eyes narrowed in a glare.

"Now start again - have a seat and tell us your plans. So we know what's going on."

Will slumped into a chair. He focused on a spot on the warn carpet as he outlined his weekend. He looked up to see his dad sitting next to mom, their hands gently clasped.

A stretch of silence, then mom finally spoke.

"We're new at this, Will. Being parents I mean. But I can remember what it was like to be a teenager."

"I faintly remember," dad chimed in, "back in the day."

Mom smiled at dad, then continued, "Thank you for telling us what you'd like to do. Frankly, I have lots of concerns."

Will saw dad give his mom's hand a squeeze before he spoke.

"Mom and I will talk about this, Will. Can you wait a couple of hours before we get back to you?"

"Sure. Can I go now?"

At their nod, Will rose and walked quickly to his bedroom. He was careful to lock the door - his need for privacy and time to sort out his whirlwind of emotions was overwhelming.

Will flung himself on the bed and threw an arm over his eyes. His fantasy of Minji in her bikini was crowded by new dreams of Minji on campus, at parties with him, in the bedroom. His future suddenly seemed endlessly possible as he felt his body respond.

***
The Wager
***

"Let's go for a drive, Mulder."

Scully was right, Mulder knew. It was impossible to know how much or how far Will could read them, and they had something important to discuss. Perhaps even more than one something.

Mulder carefully backed out of the driveway, a dozen people moving silently out of the way to let them pass. Their presence reminded him of Will's dilemma.

Their son was an icon and a teenage boy at the same time. Mulder knew he had to be lonely.

And the boy's parents? Well, Mulder now realized how his own dad must have felt. Proud and dazed and a little bit irritated by his son's unique abilities. For a man used to obscurity, who treasured his privacy, Mulder found it galling to be in publicity's constant glare.

Mulder empathized with his fish on a new, visceral level.

Will was simultaneously his greatest source of pride and the root cause of an unreasoning jealousy that he tried mightily to deny. Mulder hated himself for the jealous part, but felt helpless to resist. It was as if the spotlight of Scully's affection could only be pointed in one direction. Will was haloed by her shining light whereas she seemed to continue to see Mulder as needy.

He drove up the narrow track to the lookout point, purposefully blocking the lane so no other cars could pull beside them. He flung his arm behind Scully, gently rubbing her neck with his palm.

"I feel a teenage headache coming on - how about you, Scully?"

Scully leaned back into his caress. "God, Mulder, I'm trying to block out all the stupid things I did in high school. If Will starts smoking-"

"He'll be doing just what his mom did."

Scully gave a rueful chuckle.

Murder's teasing voice turned serious. "I did a lot of stupid things then too, Scully. It's almost like you have to do those things. People only learn from their mistakes."

"But Mulder, Will's so vulnerable right now. How can we protect him when so many people want something from him?"

Mulder sighed and withdrew his hand.

"Scully, when you were Will's age, did you want to be protected?"

Scully narrowed her eyes. "I see where you're going with this."

"Did you?"

"No I didn't, but-"

"But what, Scully? He can read people's feelings better than anyone. I know his gift hurts him. He's aware of the greed and avarice of others, much earlier than he should be. But his gift can protect him, too."

"It didn't protect him from government tests."

"I know. But we can't keep Will locked away from the world. He'll start hating us if we try."

"He already sounds like he hates us." Scully turned her serious face towards Mulder, and he felt a pang. His love for her washed over him, and he impulsively leaned over and kissed her. Scully's worry lines eased slightly as she smiled.

"Sex isn't the answer to everything, Mulder."

"It's a good answer, though."

Scully slapped his arm. "Get serious. What are we going to do?"

"We're going to rent a cell phone and give it to him. We're going to sit down with Will and talk until we're sure he'll call us if he has problems. And we're going to let him go."

"He's only thirteen, Mulder."

"He's a thirteen year old who saved the world and his father's life. We can't make all of Will's decisions for him. We have to bet that he'll make good decisions for himself. Will trusts Minji, Scully. She's one of the few people he does trust."

Scully looked troubled, "But what if Minji tries to use Will?"

"He'll know."

At her reluctant nod of assent, Mulder turned on the engine for a tight u-turn down the lane. He hummed atonally along with the radio, while Scully stared out the passenger window. Passing a florist, he impulsively pulled to a stop at the curb.

"Mulder?"

"Be right back."

Within two minutes he opened the car door, and presented a small bouquet of roses to Scully with a flourish. "Happy Mother's Day."

Scully shook her head. "Mother's Day isn't until May," but she eagerly reached for the flowers, smelling their fragrance, her eyes slipping closed in appreciation.

"Actually, if being a mother is making hard decisions - today is your Mother's Day."

He winked. And felt immeasurably more cheerful on the drive home.

***
Pub Crawl
***

Will was smiling as he pulled up outside Minji's residence. Minji's directions to Voute Hall were perfect. Even better, no one had recognized him on the drive. With his sweatshirt hood pulled up and sunglasses against the autumn brightness, he blended in with other students. No problem.

He was lucky for his height. Dad had told him he had sprouted up early too.

Will shuffled his size twelve sneakers through the tattered remains of leaves and reached for the door - when Minji suddenly burst through, shouting, "Will!"

Minji grabbed him in a hug, and colour rushed to his face. He patted her awkwardly on the back, then took a step back as Minji released him.

"Hi, Minji."

"I've been waiting for you - I have our weekend all planned! I hope you don't mind, Will."

"No, that's great. But," Will hesitated, "there's one thing."

"What?"

"Do you mind not telling anyone who I am? I mean, I'm not ashamed or anything but-"

Minji looked at him seriously. "I know, Will. I read about how people have been mobbing your house, following you around. I told everyone you're my friend from my old high school."

A sigh of relief. "Thanks."

Will fell headfirst into Minji's whirlwind of a campus tour. His head was spinning as she chatted excitedly about her courses, her new friends and her plans.

"I'm going to major in Film Studies, Will. We just analyzed Potemkin and Metropolis. Have you thought about what you'd like to do after high school?"

"Not really."

"I know it seems so far away now, Will, but it's not. You'll see. I'm not sure if you'd want to come here, though. This is a Catholic college."

"My mom's a Catholic. This place is really nice."

"She is? That'd be great then. I could be like your big sister on campus."

Will flushed, and had to turn away to keep Minji from seeing the sudden flash of sorrow in his face.

A pit stop for pizza later, Minji and Will were walking back to residence when a rusted Civic pulled next to them at the curb. Will watched silently as Minji rushed over to greet her friends, then tentatively stepped into her warm circle of introductions.

One of the guys - Brad or Brett, Will wasn't sure - asked about going up the hill for a beer.

Minji glanced at Will. "I don't know-"

"Sounds good." Will stuffed his hands in his jacket pocket.

"Hop in. You can pay for the first pitcher."

Will squeezed into the back seat. Minji was dizzyingly close, so close her tangy sweat tickled his nose. Not unpleasant. Fresh. Will squirmed slightly to adjust his suddenly tight jeans, hoping that Minji wouldn't notice.

As he sank into an aching moment of physical closeness, Will felt simple good feeling and silliness from the three others on the periphery of his consciousness as the car chugged up the hill.

Minji spoke quietly, her breath tickling his ear. "Are you sure about this, Will?"

"No problem. You worry too much."

Will felt like he was moving underwater as they swarmed into the bar. His dream Minji now seemed childish. He felt like an idiot, a kid, a dork. Pleasure at being unrecognized warred with the fact that he was at a loss to know how to behave with Minji's raucous friends.

Will was almost shocked when the waitress took his money without a glance. People looked at him so constantly that it was a novelty to be ignored. One beer, he thought. I'll pace myself.

Peanuts and smoke and loud music changed Will's mind. He staggered and almost fell as he headed towards the back. Sighing as he relieved himself, Will felt a push from behind. An unseen hand grabbed the hood of his sweatshirt and spun him around.

Will choked back the bile that wanted to rise. One man held his arm as the other roughly grabbed his chin, stared at his face with blurry eyes.

"Hey, you're that alien kid, ain't you?"

"What?" Will tried to back away.

"Not so fast, boy. Lookee here, Charlie, we got someone here that might be worth something to somebody."

The vise on his arm tightened, and started to drag Will out of the bathroom and towards the back exit. The other man pushed him from behind.

Will panicked, tried to scream - and a filthy hand clamped over his mouth. He bit down as hard as he could while twisting away. Suddenly he was shoved to the ground when Minji looked to the back and started shouting. He tried to raise his head, saw two pairs of battered work boots running, then began to vomit helplessly.

Will moaned. His head was throbbing in time to the spinning room. He squeezed his eyes tight as he felt himself pulled into the night air and into the back of the Honda.

Humiliated, he curled tight and covered his head with his arms.

"I'm sorry, Will," he heard from an echoey distance. "I should have taken better care of you."

Tears of frustration and loss stung his eyes. Will bit his lip hard to stop from sobbing.

As the bumpy ride down the hill stretched time into chaos, Will felt himself sink into a dark, dreamless sleep.

Down.

Down.

Until he suddenly jerked himself awake.

The first thing Will noticed was the fetid taste in his mouth, then the pounding in his head, spiking behind his eyes. He consciously had to peel his eyes open to a dark room.

Will levered himself up off a scratchy green sofa and a blanket slid to his waist. Someone had settled him there fully clothed - hadn't even bothered to remove his shoes or coat.

He stuck his hand into his pocket and felt his lifeline - the cell phone mom and dad had rented for him. He flipped open the phone and looked at the dial.

I could call mom, he thought. She said I should call.

Will sighed. No. He got himself into this mess. He could get himself out.

He swallowed and sat blinking, then staggered to an open door and peeked in. The bathroom. Will then rummaged in a kitchen drawer until he found a paper and pen, stuck his note on the fridge, and quietly left the apartment. His breath came out in frosty plumes as he unlocked the car door.

Time to head home.

***
Fringe Festival
***

Mulder glanced up and caught Scully sneaking yet another look at the unblinking light of the answering machine.

He shrugged - he'd hoped to ease Scully's worries about their son's trip, but it wasn't happening.

"C'mon," he urged. "Let's go to bed."

Their bedroom smelled like candle wax as they disrobed, slipped under the sheets. Mulder settled pillows behind his neck and head, grasped Scully's hand and idly played with her fingers.

"What would you think about moving, Scully?" Scully propped her pillow behind her and looked up, obviously surprised.

"This is your family home."

"I know. It was great to be able to move back here when we had nowhere else to go, but to tell you the truth, I don't feel sentimental. I'm ready for a change. And we saw how the good folks of Quonochontaug treated us before Will came back."

"They were a bit stand-offish."

"Scully, they treated us like scum. Diseased scum."

Scully chuckled. "Things are better now."

"Are they? The walls might as well be made of glass. I feel like an exhibit in the circus."

"I don't know if things would be different if we moved, Mulder. People might gather around Will wherever we go."

"Well, I have this crazy idea - wanna hear it?"

Scully laughed, sounding more relaxed than she had in forever. Mulder couldn't help beaming at her in return.

"Bring it on, G-man. This better be good."

"Now - don't say no until you hear me out." Mulder held his palm out, and Scully's eyes sparkled. This is what we used to be like together, he thought. I want it back.

"First," he tweaked one of her fingers, "we need money."

Scully nodded.

"Secondly, we need something to put our backs up against again. Both of us."

"Mulder-"

"Hold on a sec. Third, we need a place for Will to grow up. It's not healthy here, Scully. Will needs room to meet other people in a setting where he can be himself, discover who he's going to be. He's in transition to adulthood, and he's not happy here."

"Will says he's happy."

"No," Mulder gently brushed her face. "Will says he's fine. He's his mother's son. And we both know that fine doesn't always mean happy."

Scully leaned back, her eyes downcast and sad. "I've been trying so hard. Ever since Will came back."

Mulder pulled her into a quick embrace.

"You're the best mom - the queen of moms - that a boy could have. But the problem is, Will's not a baby, or even a little kid. He came back to us at a time when every instinct and hormonal urge is telling him to pull away. He wants to grow up, Scully. We just have to figure out a way to guide him that he'll accept."

Scully lay, silent. Mulder continued his loose embrace, waiting for her to think things through. As he waited, he eagerly considered where they could go. No big cities - crowd control for Will would be impossible. They couldn't afford a compound or gated community. An island? Somewhere out west?

Old habits die hard, Mulder thought. We're a team now. We have to decide as a team.

"So Scully - ready for my crazy idea?"

"Sure. I guess."

"We could sell this place for a pretty good price. But I'm thinking the way to kill two birds with one stone is to set it up as the Will Mulder-Van de Kamp museum. We'd still get some money, and it would give those people who insist on travelling to see Will a place to go. Kind of like a president's home tour, but not."

"Mulder, you're nuts!"

"Maybe on the fringe of being nuts. But why wouldn't it work?"

Scully scowled. "Besides the whole ego thing, you mean?" She shook her head. "It just seems somehow - wrong - to condone some kind of shrine dedicated to our own son."

"We can't stop people from wanting to be close to Will. This would be their way to do it. And besides, the museum could do some good. Not just for us, I mean."

"How?"

Mulder snuggled back with Scully tucked under his left arm, his right gesturing as he spoke.

"If we charged an entry fee, any profit could go to medical research. I'm thinking Parkinson's research, Scully. When I was so sick, you became an expert. You probably know more about Parkinson's Disease than many of the doctors I visited. And - and - think of what it would mean if you and some others, working with the money we raised, found a cure."

"Mulder," Scully shook her head, but she was smiling. "What a beautiful dream. It would help Will, too, take the pressure off him."

"Do you like my crazy idea, Scully?"

"I'm considering the possibilities. We've got a lot to talk about when Will gets back."

"Will promised to call if he had problems - I'm sure he's having fun with his friend. We've got the weekend to plan."

"I'd like that. To work for the good, instead of fighting the bad guys like we used to do."

Scully's words were mumbled sleepily, but they wrapped around Mulder's soul, insinuated into the cracks. Work for the good. Sounded like something he could get behind.

Feeling a bit tipsy from an unaccustomed bottle of merlot, Mulder tightened his embrace, began to kiss Scully's eyes, her cheeks and finally, her lips.

"Feel like a massage?" He whispered the suggestion in her ear. She nodded and he finally had Scully right where he wanted her. Stretched out on her stomach in the middle of the bed.

He took a moment to drink in the sight. Practical Scully had insisted on throwing a towel over the sheets first - the contrast tingled right under his belly button, deep in his gut. Creamy skin against port red terrycloth. Strands of silken auburn fanning across her cheek. The trail of her backbone leading to two lush globes that were perfect handfuls.

"Mulder," mumbling, "You promised me a massage."

"Oh yeah."

Mulder smirked, his cock already half-hard from anticipation.

"I picked up some new massage oil. Wanna smell?" He held the small bottle of lavender fragrance under her nose.

"Mmm." Scully's eyes slipped closed. "But what's wrong with the old lotion?"

"Too many memories." Scully's hands had eased his cramped muscles, relieved his pain, on hundreds of past occasions.

Scully raised her head slightly and looked seriously at Mulder, then nodded as she settled back.

His knelt, his long legs straddling Scully right below her ass. He warmed some lotion in his hands, then rubbed it firmly across her shoulders, kneading her neck until he felt tension ease. Focusing on Scully's back and arms, he was aware of every grunt and sigh of pleasure.

"I love your hands, Scully," Mulder whispered as he carefully circled each finger with the fragrant oil.

"Love your hands too."

Mulder began to use his thumbs to massage her backbone, large hands framed on either side of her torso. Up and down, up and down, each sweep going lower until he dipped over her cheeks, sweeping into her crease. Scully began to lift her hips slightly with each rhythmic touch.

"Hmm, Scully, your feet might be a bit dry. I better check."

Scully whimpered in frustration and Mulder bit back a snicker. Moving to the side, Mulder paid careful attention to each leg and, as promised, long minutes on each foot, until they relaxed in his hands. He heard a soft, contented sigh, and began to worry that Scully might be falling asleep.

He moved again, kneeling between her outstretched legs. Mulder pooled a small amount of oil in his palms, and began to rub the stripe of skin between her tailbone and clit. Gentle at first, then firmer.

Scully was raising her hips in earnest now, seeking contact.

"Let me - let me turn around," Scully gasped.

"Yeah."

As soon as she turned, Mulder leaned down and began sucking her breast. Scully grabbed handfuls of his hair as she moaned. Mulder sucked and nibbled her breasts as he held one hand firm over her abdomen and, with the other, continued to rub and tease.

He suddenly bent low and sucked her clit hard as he plunged his slick fingers inside her.

A deep moan and he could taste her as she convulsed around his fingers. Mulder slowly sat back and shared a smile. Scully seemed to be glowing.

"Come here, big boy," Scully teased.

That was all the encouragement he needed. He slid easily inside, then pulled Scully's ass up as he began to move. Scully arched her back, giving him welcome friction.

Almost there.

Almost. There.

Mulder grunted with pleasure as he emptied into her, then collapsed on top, elbows holding some of his weight.

Scully pulled him down all the way, wrapped her arms around him.

He heard a murmur, "Love you."

"You too."

Mulder drifted on the bed, Scully a warm bundle in his arms, until a shove told him he was getting too heavy.

"Do you want to shower, Mulder?"

"Do you think I should - isn't lavender a manly scent?"

They stepped into the shower together. Without the seat that Mulder had used during his illness, they had room to wash each other's backs, enjoying playful splashes and touches.

As they toweled off and got into bed, Mulder spooned around Scully in a loose embrace.

He drifted to sleep thinking of their future.

Next morning, they were relaxing with coffee at the kitchen table when they heard a car pull up in the drive. They stood, exchanging anxious looks. Will wasn't expected until tomorrow.

Scully gasped and Mulder's jaw fell open as Will dragged in, looking dejected.

Flecks of vomit spattered his shirt and jacket and the smell of beer lingered in the air. Mulder took one look at Will's red-rimmed eyes and the tear tracks on his dirty face and threw an arm around him. As he guided Will to a chair Scully gave her son a fierce hug. Mulder saw Will lean into her embrace, knew there would be a story, and hoped Will would share.

"Things didn't work out, mom." Tiny voice.

"Oh, Will," Scully murmured.

"You look like hell, Will."

Will smiled faintly. "Thanks a lot, dad."

Mulder listened to what he was sure was an abbreviated version of his son's adventures. He heard about the campus and the bar, getting drunk and sick, but nothing to explain the bruises on his chin, the tear in his jacket, or why he left Minji and came back early.

Give him time, Mulder counseled himself. This is the most we've heard Will share about himself since he came.

Will's eyes started to slip shut as his narrative petered to a close. Mulder hoisted him under the arm.

"Up you go. Time for a shower and nap. After you sleep we have some things to talk about."

Will blinked blearily. "Thanks, dad."

Mulder shrugged as he walked back into the kitchen. He lifted his coffee cup and gave Scully a wry smile. "A toast, Scully. To parenthood."

"To parenthood."

***
The People They Would Become
***

What a difference a year makes. Will mulled over the changes as he crested the hill, jogged in place while waiting for his dad.

Changes - and all of them good.

Dad was healthier. He could even run pretty good for an old guy, and his practice with families seemed to be going well. Mom was happier, and it was interesting - damned interesting - to help out around her lab after school. He could only do small things now, but he was making plans.

And school - yeah, school was great too, although he couldn't say that out loud without scoffing and teasing from his friends. They just didn't realize what the alternative looked like.

Will squinted in the bright New Mexico sun, then decided to circle back and see why dad had stopped by the shoulder of the path.

"What is it, dad?"

He bent over next to his dad, started to reach down to pick up the small, dully shining object that was half-buried in the red dirt.

Dad grabbed his wrist, pulled him back.

"Don't touch it." In a voice so strange and severe it made Will shiver.

"Dad?"

Dad walked over to a brush's meager shade, began to pull thoughtfully at his water bottle. Will followed, feeling confused and a little angry. What wasn't dad telling him? What was that thing and what did those strange marks mean?

His dad looked at him, and Will felt that he was looking inside him, seeing his muddled feelings as clearly as if they were written on his forehead.

He smiled sheepishly. His burning desire to know everything immediately collided with the beliefs of his friends. Belief in patience, revering nature. Hard lessons to absorb when they weren't natural to him, but Will was trying.

"I'm not trying to hide anything from you, son," his dad began, "I'm just trying to think of the right way to say it."

"Okay."

"I've seen something like that piece of metal, a long time ago. When I touched it, the shard made me sick."

"Parkinson's?"

"No. Something else, even earlier than that."

Will leaned forward with interest. Mom and dad rarely talked about their life from before. Before the aliens. Before he lived with them.

"The fragment of metal was like a key that opened something up inside. It changed me. I guess I'm getting older."

"You are old, dad."

Mulder snorted. "I guess I'm getting older, because I'm not blindly sticking my hand into everything anymore. I was standing there wondering if I should pick it up and see what happens, or ignore it and keep what we have here."

"It really could make that much of a difference?"

"I don't know. Do you think knowing is worth the risk, Will?"

Will flushed, proud that his dad cared about his opinion. He thought about his new home, where miles without road signs and tightlipped friends kept their lives private from strangers. He remembered the camaraderie of basketball games, the junior prom, and a special girl he was going to ask.

"If we were Navajo," Will began, remembering a story he'd analyzed in class last week, "we'd leave any artifacts we found from people long ago right where they were. We wouldn't touch them, they would be considered sacred. We'd let them remain a part of the earth."

Dad's nod encouraged him to continue.

"If we were scientists - well then, I guess we'd grab it and study it immediately. Maybe ask for a big grant."

Dad laughed, and Will grinned.

"Go on."

"I don't want to decide right away, dad. I'm not Navajo and I'm not a scientist. Can't we leave it for now, until we're ready for any changes it would bring. Just in case it does make changes?"

Dad nodded, wiped his face with his t-shirt. Will shivered a bit as the sweat cooled on his body. A gust of foreboding uncovered more of the metal as Will stared at it.

"It's okay, son. Choosing to think first is always a good idea. Let's go, mom's waiting."

Will marked the time, the day, where his feet stood on the path. His dad had just taught him something important. Decisions about his future were his to make - and with decisions came responsibility.

Will bumped teasingly against his dad as they began the run back home. He was happy to be in the moment. Family, friends, a home cooked meal - these were his now.

The future could wait.


***

END These are the Clouds by bcfan

***

I borrowed the title and theme of this story from William Butler Yeats. In a hard-edged, uncaring world, poetry reveals all that's important.

These are the Clouds

These are the clouds about the fallen sun,
The majesty that shuts his burning eye:
The weak lay hand on what the strong has done,
Till that be tumbled that was lifted high
And discord follow upon unison,
And all things at one common level lie.
And therefore, friend, if your great race were run
And these things came, so much the more thereby
Have you made greatness your companion,
Although it be for children that you sigh:
These are the clouds about the fallen sun,
The majesty that shuts his burning eye.

W.B.Yeats

 


 




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