Spoilers: My Struggle IV
Author’s Note: It’s been forever since I’ve written fic, but that “season finale” inspired me to try to make sense of the nonsense, and maybe give Mulder and Scully a chance to start to deal with the shit they’ve been dragged through.
It’s dawn when Mulder shifts the car into park. A drizzle mists the windshield, muddying the house’s looming form, the dim glow of the porch light their only welcome. Next to him, Scully sleeps deeply, his jacket tucked into the crook of her neck.
He reaches across the console to touch her cheek. “We’re home.”
She stirs, blinking, before fumbling at the door handle in a rush. She’s out of the car before he can offer to help, making her way to the house. He watches with concern as she pauses at the foot of the steps, leaning on the porch railing for a moment as if to catch her breath, before disappearing around the side of the house. He winces when he hears retching.
Skinner was going to make it, they said; a lumbar spinal fracture and two broken legs meant he had a long recovery ahead, but he was alive.
Reyes hadn’t been so lucky. Mulder found her slumped in the driver’s seat of Spender’s car, blood pooling in the corner of her eye. Scully had moaned softly behind him, turned, vomited bile onto the pavement.
It wasn’t until later that he remembered; Reyes had delivered William, had held him as he’d taken his first breath.
Mulder shudders, stumbling forward to check on Scully, finds her crouched over the overgrown garden. There’s a lone rhubarb stalk struggling to greet the day, leaves beaded with rain, a survivor among the bittercress and chickweed.
“You OK?” he asks, feeling helpless.
“I need to eat,” she murmurs, standing. “The nausea is worse if I don’t.”
He reaches for her hand, takes it, guides them inside. She shrugs off her coat, then ducks into the bathroom and closes the door.
Mulder stands in the kitchen, unsure where to begin. It had felt good — too good — to put aside reason, to put his finger on the trigger, aim, and let the bullets do the rest. He thinks of gunpowder residue and blood spatter, pushes up his sleeves and scrubs his hands until they’re raw.
When that’s done, he opens the fridge. She needs to eat. Bread, lettuce, turkey; this, he can manage. As he works, he doesn’t think about the water lapping at the dock, doesn’t think about watching himself fall backwards, doesn’t think about the bullet lodged between his son’s eyes.
He cuts the sandwich in half and sets it on the table with a glass of milk. She doesn’t like milk, but it’s good for the baby, right?
The baby. Christ.
He sinks into a chair as the weight of the day hits him. When she comes out, bathrobe cinched around her waist, he’s staring at the table with his head propped in his hands.
“Thank you,” she murmurs, sitting down, picking up half the sandwich and taking a small bite. Her expression is distant and closed, the dark circles under her eyes betraying her exhaustion. It’s a long time before she speaks again, and when she does, her voice is almost inaudible.
“I had a…a vision,” she murmurs, sipping her milk. “I saw William.”
Mulder’s pulse throbs, a glimmer of hope expanding in his chest. “You…he’s alive? You’re sure?”
She nods, avoiding his eyes. Bite, chew, swallow, sip. Repeat.
“How…?” he leans forward.
“I don’t know,” she sighs.
“If it’s true, there’s still a chance we could find him,” Mulder says, thinking aloud. “We could–”
“Mulder, stop. Not now, I can’t…” She trails off, ducking her chin, and he thinks of the warmth of her stomach against his blood-flecked palm. “He can’t be another quest. You have to let him go.”
Mulder swallows. “But…he’s alive.”
She nods, pushing the plate back. “He’s weak, but he’s safe. For now.”
“Then he’ll find us,” he says, more to himself than to her. “Someday. When he’s ready.”
She presses her lips together. When she answers, her voice is hollow. “I’m going to bed.”
But she’s already on her feet, moving toward the stairs. He watches her go, feeling lost, unmoored.
Mulder wraps the untouched half of the sandwich and puts it in the fridge, pours the leftover milk in the sink.
He finds her in the upstairs bathroom, staring into the mirror, her reflection haunted and pale. Steaming water runs into the basin, unnoticed.
She startles, meeting his eyes before reaching for a cloth, but doesn’t answer.
“Talk to me, Scully,” he says, wishing for a church, for the ease they found over a prayer candle.
“Everything,” she frowns, rubbing at her face with the cloth until the freckles across her nose burn pink. “Everything I tried to prevent for him, everything — it came true.”
She dabs lotion on her chin, under her eyes, punctuating each word with angry, jerky movements. “I lived with the guilt of his adoption, but there’s nothing I could have done,” she says, turning and striding past him to stuff the cloth into the hamper. “I never had a choice.”
“They used me, Mulder,” she whirls on him, voice rising. “They used my body to make monsters. And I loved them, and they were taken from me. How can I bring another child into the world with that on my conscience? What hope do I have of keeping them safe, when everything that’s come before has been ripped from my hands?”
She breaks off, her breath ragged, swiping at the corners of her eyes.
“What they did to you is unforgivable,” he says, approaching her. “But this…this is different. You have a choice.”
“I can’t do it again,” she breathes, eyes pressed shut. “Damnit, Mulder. It’s not fair.”
“No. No, it’s not. But you don’t have to do it alone,” he whispers, taking her face in his palms, searching her eyes. “Do you want this, Scully?”
“I do,” she says, her voice cracking as the tears pool in the whorls of his thumbs. “I do, so much. But I wish I didn’t.”
He wraps his arms around her, pulling her close. “So we’ll make it work.”
He imagines he can feel her eye-roll against his chest, but she softens. “Just like that, huh?”
“Just like that. I’ll trade in the Mustang for a minivan, we’ll get a Baby Björn–”
She sniffs. “What the fuck is a Baby Björn?”
“I have no idea,” he admits, chuckling. “But if the number of missed calls on my phone from Kersh is any indication, we’ll have a lot of free time to figure that out.”
“I’m fifty four, Mulder,” she sighs, her voice small.
“And your breasts will be the envy of every grandma at the AARP.”
She barks a laugh into his chest, fists gripping the fabric of his shirt as her laughter dissolves into a sob. He nuzzles the hair at her temple, kisses it, sways with her until the storm passes.
“What can I do?” he murmurs when her breathing has calmed.
“That’s what got us into this mess,” he says, nudging her cheek with his nose, eliciting a tired smile. He pulls back the covers and follows her into bed, pulling her back against his chest. His fingers trace the line of her hip.
Tentatively his hand slides forward to her abdomen, barely touching, asking permission. She places her palm over his in answer, pressing down, guiding him to the spot just above her pubic bone where a gentle swell has already formed. He swallows hard, overcome with love and sadness and fatigue.
“I don’t have it in me to hope for this, Mulder,” she murmurs, her voice rough.
He kisses her cheek, whispering a prayer to the nape of her neck. “Sleep. I’ll find enough hope for the both of us.”