Classification: MSR, angst
Disclaimer: They’re not mine. ‘Nuff said.
Spoilers: Season 9, specifically NIHT
Archive: If you want it, it’s yours. Just please let me know so I can come visit.
Feedback: I live for it.
Thanks: To my beta, Robin. Her words of encouragement alone could lift even the heaviest of doubts. And to the lovely Circe for giving my fic a home.
She could feel him distancing himself from her. She could feel him distancing himself from William. He hardly knew his son and he was already choosing to not know him any more. She knew why, could even understand it if she tried. But she was also angry at him for it, hurt that he would rather watch the tiny child from a distance rather than hold him in his arms.
He hadn’t said the words, but she knew he was leaving.
During the past two nights, they’d fall asleep together in her bed. He would spoon up against her and hold her close, one hand splayed out gently on her still-swollen belly. She would lie awake and listen to his breathing behind her, feeling the soft, warm puffs of breath against the skin of her neck as he fell into a deep sleep. Then and only then would she allow herself to rest, too. With a lingering glance towards the crib where William slept first, she carefully settled into his unconscious embrace and closed her eyelids that had been heavy with exhaustion for almost a full year. She relished the feel of his solid form behind her and for the few moments before sleep came, even thought that everything would be fine.
She really should have known better.
She didn’t let on to him that he woke her, but her eyes immediately flew open when she felt him move away from her during the night. She relaxed her body and kept her breathing even, even as he slid his left arm from beneath her and recoiled his right from around her. She couldn’t stop the light shiver that ran through her as he did so, however, his warmth all of a sudden lost. The bed jostled slightly as he moved away several inches and were it not for his minute movements, she would have thought he’d simply shifted in his sleep. But she could feel him looking at her, staring at her, his hazel eyes filled with guilt and burning a hole in the back of her head. She could feel him move a hand to rest on her again, and she could feel him pull in back in second thought. She wanted to turn around and tell him she loved him. She wanted to turn around and tell him she hated him. She wanted to turn around and touch her lips to his. She wanted to turn around and bombard him with her fists. She wanted to comfort him and she wanted to yell at him. She didn’t have the energy for any of it, though, and closed her eyes once again, ignoring the single tear that escaped from beneath her lashes.
William’s small cries woke her instantly. She rose immediately and approached her eagerly awaiting son and smiled down into his crib. His tiny hands were formed into fists that waved through the air and his face was rapidly turning a deep shade of red that signified a loud wail was on the horizon. She quickly reached down and lifted him up to her before he could cry out and ushered him out of the room, but not before grabbing a fresh diaper and the box of baby wipes. Mulder never stirred.
After a much-needed change, Scully sat in the solitude of her living room and breast-fed her son. His tiny mouth latched onto her nipple eagerly and she leaned back against the soft cushions of her couch as he ate. It was still such a new, exhilarating sensation and though her body was tired, she wouldn’t trade the bond she was forming with her baby for anything in the world. It wasn’t long before his mouth stopped moving and his eyelids began to close and sleep took over his little body.
She didn’t see Mulder’s eyes on her as she walked over and laid William back down. She didn’t see him turn his head to watch her as she smoothed her nightgown and let out a long, deep sigh. She didn’t notice the quick return of his head to its pillow and his eyes snapping shut again as she turned and took the few steps necessary to reach the bed. And as she got back under the covers, her back facing his, and closed her eyes, she didn’t know that his heart was breaking.
When William woke his mother again, the morning sun was shining through the window. She sat up groggily and rubbed her eyes, ever aware that her son was becoming crankier and crankier as each second passed. She stood and stepped over to him, greeting him with a warm smile. He calmed a little at the sight of Scully’s face above him and it was then that she heard the water running. She turned to see that Mulder was no longer in bed, his side a mess of tangled blankets and sheets. She felt a small twinge of delight knowing that he had a restless sleep, too, but regretted it instantly. She turned her focus back to William and picked him up just as his cries began to take on a little more force. She bounced him lightly in her arms and walked over to the bathroom door, closing it so that Mulder could finish his shower without interruption. It was then, as she turned towards the hallway, that she saw the bags. It was then that her heart dropped.
“You have to know we don’t have a choice,” he said.
She could only nod, her eyes welling up with tears and a lump in her throat. They hadn’t discussed him leaving, but she knew it was inevitable. She just wished she had prepared herself better for it.
“You could come with me,” he offered. “You and William.”
She felt a smile on her lips for a brief second at his words, but she knew just as well as he did that she wouldn’t go. She loved him with every fiber of her being, but she wasn’t ready to drop everything in her life. Not yet.
“I’m going to go say goodbye,” he said.
She didn’t move as he walked past her and into the bedroom. She could hear William gurgling softly, could hear him stop as Mulder probably approached, and could hear the quiet whispers as father said goodbye to son. Tears flowed freely down her pale face and she couldn’t control the light tremors that had begun to run through her body. She wrapped her arms around her self and sank down into the couch, waiting.
When he emerged, his eyes glistened with tears. She simply watched as he closed the door gently behind him and made his way over to where she was sitting.
“He’s asleep again,” he said.
She nodded and slowly moved to stand up and face him. She wanted so badly to tell him not to leave, but she didn’t for the single reason that she knew he would. He would because she asked. Instead, she wrapped her arms around his waist and laid her head on his chest. He held her in turn, almost sensing how weak she felt, and rested his cheek on the soft bed of her hair. All that needed to be said was conveyed through their touch; the translated silence would be deafening to those outside their shared embrace.
Finally, after what simultaneously felt like several hours and mere seconds, he released his arms and stepped back. She stood still, unable to move even slightly, as he opened her front door and picked up his bags. She didn’t, she couldn’t, look up, even as he walked out into the hallway and reached to close the door behind him.
“‘Bye, Scully,” he whispered.
She heard the door click shut and he head snapped up. She strode over to the thin barrier that now separated them and laid her palms flat on the cold wood. Her breath hitched and her eyes blurred and she suddenly couldn’t control the sobs that poured out from deep inside. She rested her forehead against the door and pounded her fisted hands lightly against it, her diaphragm already aching from her cries.
“Oh, God, don’t leave me,” she said softly. “Please don’t leave me. I can’t handle this…”
She sobbed freely, uncontrollably, and struggled to take adequate breaths. Her mind raced with second thoughts and haphazard plans, desperate to reach a conclusion that wouldn’t hurt quite so much. All of her strength left her tired body and she sank slowly to her knees. The ache that flowed throughout rivaled only that of which she felt when she thought he was lost to her forever.
In some ways, it was even worse.