The floor is a sea of LEGOs, and William sits in the center, presiding over the mess like a king over his loyal subjects. He frowns in deep concentration, searching for something.
“This one?” Mulder asks, reaching across the pile to pluck out a dark gray wheel.
Will shakes his head. “Needs to be bigger, like this,” he says, holding up his creation, pointing to the desired piece.
“Perfection is the enemy of productivity,” Mulder mutters, tossing the wrong wheel back as he continues rummaging through the mess.
“Got it!” Will says after another moment or two, sticking the wheel in the last available slot. “It’s a car boat. The wings make it fly.”
“Nice,” Mulder grins. “What’s that part do?”
“That’s the capt-a-pult,” he says. “See?”
He puts a block in the bucket, then presses the end of the lever, watches it sail across the room in an impressive arc, rebounding off the living room window with a definitive clunk.
“What was that?” Scully calls from down the hall.
“Just engineering the future,” Mulder replies, hopping up to check the window.
“You two better not be engineering us out of a security deposit,” she fires back. “Will, it’s time to pick up. You have school tomorrow.”
“Even the great inventors had to answer to their mothers, Will,” Mulder says as the boy’s face droops in an exaggerated pout.
“Aww. Five more minutes? Please?”
“Tell you what,” Mulder says, getting to his feet, positioning the empty LEGO bucket on the other side of the mess. “Show me your best three-point shot.”
Scully throws herself on the couch with a soft groan of relief. “He’s asleep.”
“How many monsters this time?”
“Only three,” she sighs, tipping her head back, closing her eyes. “All closet dwellers.”
“Ahh,” he says. “Thankfully banishing closet dwellers requires a less involved method than under-the-bed dwellers.”
“Mmm. Is this your professional expertise speaking, Agent Mulder?”
“You know it,” he says, tipping his beer toward her. “Spooky’s monster-banishing, at your service.”
“Who knew all those years in the basement would come in handy?” she says wryly.
“You can always come back. I’ll tell Doggett to take a hike. He’d probably thank you for putting him out of his misery.”
She shakes her head. “As much as I miss it, Will needs one parent who isn’t in the line of fire on a regular basis.”
Mulder snorts. “You’re more than enough parent for both of us. I don’t know how you do it. One night with him and I’m exhausted.”
“Most days I’m not sure, myself…but we manage,” she says, giving him a tired smile.
Mulder nods thoughtfully, comfortable in their familiar silence.
“He asked about you the other night, you know,” she says after a few minutes.
He raises an eyebrow. “Yeah?”
“He’s observant for his age…he’s started to notice things…differences, between him and his peers. Like why his classmate Graham has two mommies, and why Alex has a mom and a dad. He’s curious.”
“Two mommies, huh? Please tell me Graham is Will’s new best friend,” Mulder says.
She rolls her eyes, ignoring this. “He knows the basics,” she continues, sipping at a beer. “Sperm meets ova. But I think he’s starting to put the…social aspects together.”
“So what did you tell him?”
“I told him you were the sperm,” she says, pressing her lips together in a thin line in a vain attempt to keep a straight face.
“The…I’m the sperm.”
She giggles. “I’m sorry, Mulder. It’s the truth, and I couldn’t…he asked and I couldn’t come up with a better explanation off the top of my head, so…”
“Great,” he mutters. “That’s just great, Scully. Thanks.”
“You’re more than that to him, you know,” she amends. There’s a false lightness in her voice, in the way she sips at her drink, the long-necked bottle kissing her lips.
“I, um…I’m glad,” Mulder says, the words struggling to escape. “He’s a great kid.”
“His Fox,” she murmurs, looking at him softly.
Something sparks between them in the quiet, something that steals his breath. He has to look away or he might burn up under her gaze. He reads the fine print on his beer bottle three times before he finds it in himself to speak, his tone deceptively light.
“‘The sperm?’” he asks, shaking his head at his partner. “Really?”