Title: His Child
Author: Jaime Lyn
Keywords: Story, some angst, occasional MSR
Disclaimer: I don’t own either of them. Not even the baby. (Although I’m sure many writers in the fanfic world and some shippers in general would claim they thought of it first…)
Summary: Sometimes, life can be a series of bad dreams. When does Scully start to feel like a mother?
Archive: Sure, lots of places. Email notice would be nice so that I can go and visit.
Feedback: YES please. What a great birthday present.
Author’s note: In the great tradition of writing fanfic as a birthday present to myself (and to my readers) I wrote this short vignette after reviewing in my head the first half of season eight. I wondered about Scully’s state of mind and her attitude towards the baby, especially considering how we’ve seen such little mention of the baby thus far. I figured she would probably not be feeling too much like a mother right now, what with her investigating cases and searching for Mulder and all. Plus, she’s not showing yet. (And she does seem a tad depressed, if I do say so…)
For my cat, Duncan, who puts up with my crazy X Files habit with little protest. And for my roommates, who are equally tolerant.
# # #
Maggie Scully was away from her phone again.
“Mom?” Dana Scully tapped her fingers on the wooden desktop. She pushed a string of red hair out of her eyes. “Hi, it’s Dana. If you’re there, pick up…”
Nothing greeted her but static.
“It’s actually kind of important…” Dana touched lazy fingers to her flat stomach and stared at the wall with tired blue eyes. No movement met her prodding fingers. Not that it would have, of course. Dana shook her head. Taking a breath she amended, “actually, no, I guess it’s not really all that important. I just wanted to say hello and uh, and I love you and…” She thought of Agent Doggett, of tomorrow’s autopsy results and yesterday’s expense report. Determined, she pushed sentimentality to the back of her mind. “I’ll talk to you later, mom. Good night.”
Dana clicked off the phone and rubbed her temples with her forefingers. She’d had a monstrous headache all day.
An hour later, after a dinner of grilled chicken had been prepared, eaten and meticulously cleared away, Dana buried herself in mounds of leftover paperwork and research from last week’s McPherson case. Agent Doggett called her to clarify a blood work-up discrepancy. Her mother called her back and said good night. The Advil slowly started to kick in.
By seven forty five Dana could barely keep her eyes open. She felt lethargic, worn, as if she’d been wrung out over a sink. Then at eight o clock her stomach lurched and groaned, sending her flying into the bathroom with cupped fingers over her mouth. She threw the door open and fell to her knees.
“Oh… God,” she managed, her forehead pressed against the raised toilet lid, sweat gluing snarls of auburn hair to her cheeks. She hunched over the toilet and gasped, expelling the contents of her stomach until there was nothing left but bile and the occasional dry heave.
Fifteen minutes later Dana wandered into bed with wobbly knees, her normal evening ministrations forgotten. She was asleep within seconds.
The walls were ivory and lumpy, as if someone had smeared popcorn on the foundation and painted it. Dana scrunched her nose at the idea and folded her arms in front of her, feeling suddenly very conspicuous in her blue paper gown.
She had never liked ivory hospital walls or the false security of doctors’ offices. Such places rarely brought her good news, and they almost always smelled of antiseptic and stale Jello, reminding her of the cinder block insides of prisons. Some were strewn with medical posters, statistical charts or happy pictures with happy animals and happy babies. Gynecological offices weren’t as dreary, not as death-like as emergency rooms or ORs, but they were still bad. In the past, gynecological offices had delivered nothing but unhappiness and disappointment. Dana, it’s hopeless, the walls screamed in big, fat letters.
This time was different.
“Dana, you’re pregnant,” the doctor said. “Yes, without a doubt. It’s true,” he said. “Congratulations,” he said. She nodded. He grinned. She was tired. The doctor didn’t need to say anymore after that.
“Oh,” Dana said. She smiled at the pleasantry, at congratulations, her eyes swollen and rimmed with red from holding suspended tears. She thanked the doctor politely, her glassy blue eyes fixed upon the kitten calendar posted on the far wall. Always a happy animal to brighten the mood of white-washed cinder block, she thought.
“The nurse’ll be right outside,” the doctor said. Dana nodded absently.
Pregnant. Her mind snatched up the word and replayed it over and over: pregnant pregnant pregnant. Without a doubt.
She touched her stomach, fingers slipping and sliding over the coarse hospital gown.
How could she have slipped into bed each night, woken up nauseous and off kilter each morning, gone to work with dizziness gripping her skull like a vice, and not have known? Why hadn’t she guessed, put a hand to her midsection, felt an instinctive pull or a motherly instinct? She should have sensed a shift or change or… something.
She should have known. She would have. It was the reason she woke up in the dead of night, agitated, sweaty and restless, her hands shaking, clutching the seams of her comforter. She’d dreamt of becoming a mother, wanted it ever since she could remember. But she had long since given up. Two years given up. Something had gone wrong with her, had made it impossible for her to conceive.
“Oh my God,” she finally said out loud.
September, the kitten calendar said, a bright orange tabby peeking at her from behind a big wooden box. For five minutes after the doctor left with the chart, Dana stared at the wall, at the cat, at the photographer’s signature, at the squares with the dates. She wanted to disappear inside them.
The nurse called on her a minute later. Soon the bumpy, ivory room was gone. Dana felt no better. Briefly, she wondered how many days it had been since he’d said goodbye. The very thought made her queasy.
“I’ll see you soon, Dana,” the doctor said with a wave. Dana smiled weakly. She sighed, found her wheelchair waiting outside the examining room door.
“There’s an Assistant Director Skinner waiting for you in your room, Ms. Scully,” said the nurse.
“Okay,” said Dana. Her voice was small.
The nurse clucked her tongue. She gripped the plastic handles on either side of Dana’s shoulders and pushed, the wheels groaning against the white linoleum. For one agonizing second the creaking sound scraped inside Dana’s head. Then the nurse stopped, turned the chair, said, “oh, and one other thing I forgot—“ She touched Dana’s slender shoulder. Dana turned.
Her blue eyes stared right into the dirty, chipped black barrel of a gun.
“Bang,” said the nurse.
# # #
Shooting bolt upright in bed, Dana grasped her temple, her cheeks, her ears, her chin, sought out the frenetic pulse inside her neck, her frantic hands flying everywhere at once. She was saturated in her own sweat. Her arms and legs shook uncontrollably.
"Calm," she said out loud. "Calm down. Okay.”
Once Dana determined her head was still on her shoulders, she glanced at the bedside table. 3:02am.
“Fucking wonderful,” she muttered, and slumped back onto the mattress.
Sometimes Dana found the situation invariably hard to believe.
When she ran her hand along the flat plane of her abdomen, let her fingers trace circles around her bellybutton, or the place where her waistline zipped and buttoned neatly, she imagined she was dreaming. After washing she’d look into the mirror—the wide one that ran from her bathroom sink to the ceiling, and she’d pull her blouse taut against herself, wondering if she’d grown in twenty-four hours.
I haven’t. Not at all, she’d think, frowning into her own eyes, and then she’d wonder whether she’d eaten enough that day. Bran muffin, bagel—heavy on the cream-cheese but definitely no coffee. Soup and salad—real ranch dressing. Chicken-vegetable medley at six pm.
Two days a week she carefully weighed herself. The procedure was always the same. At nine-oh-one pm she disrobed and stepped onto her digital scale, her eyes fixed upon the glowing red numbers, her heart pounding as if waiting for sentencing to be pronounced. She had a special, black and white composition notebook littered with these numbers: 114, 115, 117; all scribbled with the same black, roller-ink pen. Each weight was important. Normal progression and organization of the progression was important.
Freshly scrubbed and emotionally drained from work, she’d sit upon the edge of the porcelain tub, dressed in nothing but a ripped Knicks tee shirt. An hour was then spent in complete concentration: medical data and statistics, weigh-ins and calorie counts for the day, nutritional information, all needed to be compounded in sections and hand-drawn graphs, listed in order of importance with dates written in the upper right hand corner of each page.
Subject still reporting in healthy, she’d write, if the day had been normal and successful. No further spotting or anomalies detected. Once or twice she’d debated with herself over whether she was being truly scientific, if one could ever be completely unbiased when it came to self, and whether the use of the word “subject” instead of the casual first person was technically necessary. After much debate, however, she decided that one-sided conversations generally went nowhere.
Daytime hours were scientific, rigorously rigid and organized. Her pregnancy was just like any other health issue: one to be carefully monitored with utmost precision. In all matters she was the same, physically fit and determined to get on with life. Dana Scully was used to being professional and objective. That was her life. She’d made a career of it.
Most nights she crawled into bed like an over-tired child, bare legs splayed, book in hand, her usual nightclothes slumped over a chair in the darkest corner of her bedroom. Some nights she didn’t care what she slept in, or else she’d just forgotten to get up again after lying down. Other nights she liked wearing the tee shirt; the one she swore still smelled like his aftershave and shampoo.
“117,” Dana said to herself, mentally noting the number she’d read from the scale. Same as the day before. She jotted it down in her notebook, remembering to date and timestamp the page. Slowly, she recited out loud what she’d had for dinner: “Grilled Chicken with steamed carrots and broccoli, apple juice and a corn muffin.”
After noting dinner on the lines beneath her weight, she set the notebook down upon the tile floor. With a sigh, she crossed her legs and stared at the black and white splotched cover. She’d been living through that notebook for weeks now, months even.
Living through science is easier than living through sentiment, she reasoned. And besides, she was far too busy to worry about maternity clothes, or whether or not pregnant women needed notebooks and notations to document their gestation.
That night she was a customer at a road-side diner; some run-down, ramshackle place that usually fell off the exit of some forgotten highway. The walls and ceiling were rain-slicker yellow, the booth the color of puckered lips. The air was still and soundless, devoid of the usual jukebox music and ceaseless chatter. The waitress came over, brought a cup of coffee, said, “this be all for you, ma’am?”
Dana nodded. “Yes. I’m just waiting for someone.”
“In a way.”
“Honey, there ain’t no in between when it comes to husbands.”
“No, I suppose not.” Dana’s lip quirked in amusement and she tapped the rim of her water glass. “Could I have the check, please?”
“Sure thing darlin’,” the waitress said. “But how bout I bring you a piece of pie too-- on the house.”
Dana’s fingers were laced tightly in front of her. She hadn’t eaten anything so blatantly stuffed with fat and sugar in a long time. Years maybe. “Oh no really—that’s alright, I--”
“Oh come on now, honey. I’m sure that baby’s hungry. And your husband--well, he certainly can eat, can’t he?”
Dana looked down at her hands. “I suppose.”
The waitress shook her head. “Always supposin’ you are. Never a straight answer.”
Dana shrugged. When Mulder returned he was wearing a pair of old blue jeans—the ones she’d spilled iced tea on two years ago. His hazel eyes sparkled at her and he stopped at the foot of the table, brushing a lock of brown hair from his face. He looked so tan and healthy.
“Your pie,” the waitress said, holding out a plate.
Mulder grinned and winked at Dana, caught her anxious gaze with his. Dana swallowed back a taste like stale crackers. “Mulder?” she asked.
“Go ahead,” the waitress said. “Eat it before it gets cold.”
“Mulder? What’s wrong? Say something.”
The waitress wagged an index finger at her. “Go on, honey. Eat the pie.”
“It’s good pie.”
Mulder said nothing.
When the diner vanished, Dana awoke to pitch darkness and the sound of dripping water coming from her bathroom faucet. The bedside clock read four-oh-five.
In her younger days, Dana had imagined herself meeting someone who didn’t exist, walking down an aisle of dreams, and having children who would wake her up for morning pancakes. When she was seven she’d wanted to be married in Nonnberg Abbey, like Maria Von Trapp. At the age of fourteen she imagined herself in a long white gown, the strains of Fleetwood Mac’s “Song Bird” bringing her up the aisle of a simple chapel outside San Diego. She’d never readily admitted these fantasies to her mother, who always knew her to be one of the boys; climbing trees, catching frogs or playing tackle football with her brothers. She never said anything to her father either. He’d taught her how to string bait on a line, to only shoot at cans, Dana.
In later years, little Dana became Special Agent Dana Scully of the FBI, and the entire idea of a wedding seemed impractical, something that was all too childish and silly and could easily get in the way of her budding career. And then came the X files, ghosts, aliens, horrific brushes with fate and death, making her not only Special Agent Dana Scully, but Mulder’s partner, the consortium’s pawn, truth seeker, and walking medical anomaly for which no doctor could explain or understand. Years passed and time grew slim. Then one day she realized, while gripping tight to Mulder’s hand in an Antarctic hospital, her breath fast and furious, that she would never be married.
But now Dana was pregnant. No aisle, no chapel, no pretenses or pretty packaging, just Special Agent Dana Scully: knocked up and unmarried. If she was seven again, or ten or eleven, she’d probably be disgusted with herself. No, she’d say. I’m supposed to be married first. I’m supposed to be in a big house, making a million-jillion dollars a year, smiling up into the eyes of the man I love. I’m not supposed to be this woman. What happened to me?
During the day she’d throw herself into work and forget, as she always had, that her emotions were a powerful force. For doing autopsies and investigating cases, Dana Scully didn’t need conflicting emotion. She needed a keen intellect and a steady hand. She had both. Emotion was optional, something to be left at the door and gathered at the end of the day. She’d think about it later, tomorrow, next week, whenever. The baby hadn’t changed that. Generally, she felt the same as she always had. She zipped her pants the same way every morning and they still fit. She looked in the mirror and saw a slender, well-dressed female with a steady job and a stable lifestyle.
Internally, she wondered over names: Aaron, Amanda, Benjamin, Bradley, Casey, Cassidy, Deidre, and so on down the alphabet. She always had a careful, premeditated order for every aspect concerning the baby, and as with other things, she wondered alone. Some names were written in the back of her composition notebook in alphabetical order, girls on one side, boys on the other. She only paused when she came upon names like Emily and Samantha. Sometimes she dismissed these names, crossing them off the list. Later she would come back and re-write them, lingering over them for the barest of moments.
115, 117, no change, no change, she wrote in her notebook. Dried cereal for breakfast, whole milk, orange juice, bagel with cream-cheese and noodle soup for lunch, apple juice, blueberry muffin, spaghetti with tomato sauce for dinner, more apple juice. No coffee.
She touched the Knicks logo, crushed the cotton with her fingers and allowed herself to think of him. How would he hold her, touch her, look at her if he knew she was pregnant? Would they be any different—the way they fit so neatly together?
She could just see Mulder staring blankly into the face of their child, holding tiny fingers, making silly faces to garner laughter and flailing arms. He’d do it when he didn’t think she was looking, when he thought he had managed a moment alone. He’d say things like, "wait till I show you how to hold a bat. You’ll be a Yankee yet." Or, "don’t tell your mom I said anything. She doesn’t like baseball, you know. She has better things to do than to hit a piece of horsehide with a stick."
Dana looked down, pausing in her record keeping endeavors. Her black pants littered the bathmat. Dropping the faded notebook to the cold tile beside the tub, she picked up the wrinkled pants and bunched them, turning from side to side to watch her face in the mirror. Her skin was soft and healthy. She was still young. She had every reason in the world to be content, happy even, with her life and the direction she’d taken. So why wasn’t she?
Her eyes drifted down further. Her torso was swallowed, disappeared within the gray tee-shirt that dipped to her knees whenever she sat. How many days since he’d said goodbye, she wondered? Thirty, fourty? A million? She’d lost count.
"My sister and I used to play stickball out on the Vineyard, Scully. Did I ever tell you that? Those were some great times. Most Saturdays we’d go out and not come home till after dinner. I suppose I thought that when I had a kid of my own I’d teach her how to play stickball."
Dana stood and paused in front of the sink, frowned, and took two steps back. She pushed the rolled up pants beneath her shirt and turned sideways, holding one hand tight to the pants and the other around the shirt, gripping it towards her.
What do you think, baby? She thought, staring at her expanded, makeshift uterus in the mirror. She looked about seven months pregnant. You think I look like a mommy now?
She took a breath, inhaling through half-opened lips. How long had she agonized over being this person, this barefoot, pregnant woman staring into the mirror? Was that really her? No, of course it couldn’t be. Oh Mulder, she thought. How ridiculous you’d think I was.
A minute or two passed and she let the pants fall to the floor in a heap, her midsection deflating, the gray shirt falling back to graze her skin.
Weary and unhappy, Dana crawled into bed ten minutes later and left the notebook, open and turned upside down, on the floor next to the tub.
# # #
She was in the no-name diner again. Yellow walls, no music, slice of half-eaten pie in front of her on a canary yellow plate. When had she begun eating the pie?
“Dance with me, Scully,” said Mulder, reaching for her hand over the lipstick red booth.
Dana could only frown, inquiring with her eyes as to how they could dance with no music, or even why he would want to dance with her in a dive like this. It was such a ludicrous situation. She took a breath and exhaled through trembling lips. “Mulder, I don’t think—“
He took her hand anyway. “Dancing’s good for the baby,” he whispered into her ear, grazing the tip of her earlobe with his mouth. When he pulled her from the crisp vinyl seats she realized that she was a lot heavier than she used to be. About twenty pounds heavier, if she were to guess. Her stomach was swollen, distended so far that she felt like the hull of a ship when she moved.
“What happened to me?” she asked.
“Shh,” Mulder said.
“Is this real?”
Mulder lifted her chin with his fingertips, his thumb tracing along her jaw line. She felt prickly all over. He murmured into her ear. “Have you ever thought about real? What is real, exactly? Maybe there is no real and we’re all little plastic figurines. I’ve always wanted to be a plastic figurine—like those army soldiers that come in buckets. I never got to be an army soldier.”
Dana’s brow furrowed. She stared at him blankly. “What?” she asked.
“But I am what I am.”
“And that’s all that I am.”
“Are you feeling alright?”
“Oh come on, Scully. ‘I am what I am.’ Play the game. Now you say—“
She shook her head and grinned, closing her eyes, leaning her head on his shoulder. He smelled of Suave shampoo. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” she said.
“When you assume you make an ass of you and me,” he said.
“What goes up must come down.”
“Can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
When the walls started spinning slowly, Dana realized that everything was brighter yellow. Darker yellow. The night air was black, the music was in her mind and the walls were yellow. How had she gotten here? She couldn’t remember the drive or the car, or even what she had done the day before. Did it even matter? The walls faded in and out as if to their own rhythm. Quickly, she decided that nothing mattered.
“Stay here with me,” Dana said. She took a shuddered breath. She felt dizzy. Her hands were at his shoulders, his hairline, the nape of his neck. He was so soft and warm, the way his lips brushed her cheek, the way his hands traced the skin on her arms. She had to feel more, had to be sure that he was real. She had to touch him everywhere.
“I am here,” he said. “And you. And this.” He touched her abdomen, ran his hand in small circles over the bulge. “We’re all here. I didn’t think it would happen.”
“The sun’s coming up soon.”
Her serious eyes grew tired. “Stay.”
He touched her face. They danced.
“I love you,” he said.
She woke before the dance ended.
That morning, something incredible happened somewhere between her six am orange juice and her six thirty bowl of cereal. She wasn’t sure exactly how or when it had occurred, for she thought she’d been recording everything precisely; to the number, on the dot, as it happened. Maybe she’d just weighed herself incorrectly the night before. No, that was just silly. It wasn’t that. Maybe the batteries were dying. Maybe the scale was broken. Yes, that last one made the most sense. But still.
Her pants didn’t fit.
She tried them on five times, pulled them as tight as she could. She sucked in her stomach, yanked on the zipper, closed her eyes and squeezed. Nothing. They were still too small. Too small by at least half a centimeter—just enough to keep the zipper from zipping, the button from buttoning.
She tossed the pants to the bed and crossed the room to her closet mirror. She stood with her profile facing the closet door, staring hard into the version of herself that the mirror presented. She touched her abdomen and wondered whether she had missed the baby growing bigger. Would Mulder have missed it if he had been here?
She shook her head and reached into the closet, pulling out one of her more stretchable skirts. Scrunching the material between her thumb and index fingers, she closed her eyes and imagined the child, how big it must be getting, how big it had already grown. She imagined she could feel arms and legs moving around inside her, poking and prodding and awaiting the morning’s first burst of energy. She imagined a countenance that would develop like Mulder’s and a set of serious blue eyes that would be like her own. She even imagined silly things, like hanging an alien mobile from the top of the crib, or posting one of Mulder’s “I want to Believe” posters on the wall. She imagined all sorts of things she dared not imagine before.
Pregnant, she thought, clutching her stomach. Pregnant. When she opened her eyes again she saw that her cheeks were fuller and slightly scarlet. Her throat felt thick, her eyes foreign and filled with regret. Mulder would have certainly noticed this, she thought. And he’d probably find it funny.
Instead of her normal cereal, Scully grabbed a chocolate muffin as she made her way from the apartment. She turned on the radio as the car defrosted, sang softly with Stevie Nicks while she rubbed woolen covered fingers together and blew hot air into her cupped fists.
She pulled away from the curb and murmured, “Rhiannon rings like the bell through the night…” Crept down the street, continuing, “--and wouldn’t you love to love her--” Out past the green light at Paddock: “—She rules her life like a bird in flight—“ Stopping only when she sped onto the expressway and forgot the rest of the words, humming a bar now and then, squinting to see through lazy snow flurries. Halfway through the drive her eyes spilled over, warm tears dripping down her face and staining her overcoat. She didn’t bother rationalizing the outburst.
That afternoon she had apple pie with lunch, pausing once on her way back from the bathroom to glance at the newspaper article framed on the wall. The print was slightly faded and the paper was a dull gray tinged with yellow. “Mets Win 69 Series,” it said. Dana smiled wistfully and touched the glass.
“Gotta beat them Mets,” she whispered. “When your Daddy gets back I think I’ll let him teach you stickball yet.” She folded her arms across her chest, her heart getting the better of her. As she walked away she added, “but don’t tell him I told you so.”
Personal notes and acknowledgments:
What fun I had writing this—especially the stuff about Fleetwood Mac, one of the best bands of the 20th century. (When I watched ‘Christmas Carol’ and saw that Scully liked The Eagles, I figured she’d probably like Fleetwood Mac as well. I took some liberties there.) I am also a huge Mets fan, and the mention of them here is a tribute to my dad, who used to take me to games when I was young. (Even though they lost the series to Mulder’s team, the Yankees. That’s okay. There’s always next year.)
If any of you were curious, my decision to use “Dana” rather than “Scully” in this story was a point of view issue. I felt this was Scully’s story and if she were truly telling it, she would refer to herself as “Dana” and not “Scully.”
Feedback is always the best birthday present for a writer. I hope you enjoyed and I thank you for allowing me to share a part of myself with the X-phile community.
The following items were borrowed, played with and put back neatly:
Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, The X Files and mystery baby
Maria Von Trapp and Austria’s Nonnberg Abbey from The Sound of Music
Rhiannon and Song Bird by Fleetwood Mac
Stevie Nicks, solo artist and former member of Fleetwood Mac