Someday Your Child May Cry
At first, the only thing that Mulder feels is a stupendous sense of relief.
His first thought, when Scully had asked to come over tonight, had been the same thing it always is whenever Scully says she has something important to talk to him about: he had worried that she was finally leaving. Leaving the basement, leaving the Bureau, leaving law enforcement… leaving him. And once her words have penetrated to the extent that he understands that he’s not going to be suddenly and painfully deprived of her companionship, the knot of dread that has taken up residence in his gut finally begins to dissipate.
And then he realizes what she’s just asked him.
If he had been thinking clearly, he would have been able to see this coming. He had known about her doctor’s appointment this afternoon, had known its purpose, and it should have been a fairly quick and easy leap of logic from there to where he and Scully are sitting now. If the news had been good, it would make sense that Scully’s next step would be to figure out the other half of the equation with which her doctor had presented her. She could have just used an anonymous donor, certainly, but there’s a lot of uncertainty in that… and he’s well-aware, by now, that Scully never deals in uncertainty if she can avoid it.
It follows, then, that the next logical step would be to ask a favor from a man she trusts. And unless she’s been doing an astoundingly good job of keeping something from him, he’s at the top of what is likely a very short list.
It doesn’t escape him that she hasn’t specified the exact capacity in which she expects him to involve himself. Will his contribution end with his donation, or will she want more than that? He’s not sure which is more terrifying- the idea that she wants his role in this hypothetical child’s life to end with a gasp and a jerk into a sterile plastic cup… or the idea that she wants him to be there, to be present, for the whole thing.
To be a father.
A father to Scully’s child.
Mulder suddenly realizes that he has voiced precisely none of these musings, that he has, in fact, been sitting here, staring at his coffee table, in total silence, for at least a full minute since Scully had stopped speaking. He glances up to find her chewing her lips the way she does when she’s nervous, and he reaches out, across the couch, trying to capture her hand in his. She gives him her fingertips- barely- and when he meets her eyes, he suddenly realizes how terrified she is, how difficult it must have been for her to come here, to ask him for something so intimate and personal. But before he can open his mouth to try and allay her fears, she speaks.
“I don’t want you to answer me yet,” she tells him. “I’m aware that I’m asking a lot.”
“Scully, you’re not-” She holds up her hand, and he falls silent.
“I’m also aware,” she continues, “that this crosses all sorts of lines when it comes to what’s considered… appropriate.” He wants to interrupt her again, but he bites his tongue and waits. “I want you to think about it for at least twenty-four hours,” she says. “The whole weekend, if you want. One way or another, I don’t want your answer until at least this time on Saturday.” He nods solemnly, and she huffs out a deep breath and stands. “I’m going to head out,” she says. “I’ll talk to you later, okay?” And she turns and leaves, striding quickly out of his living room before he can stop her.
The sound of his front door closing jerks him out of his trance, and he leaps to his feet, rushing after her to call her back.
But as his hand closes on the doorknob, he pauses, thinking. Scully knows that he’s terrible at following directions, that he jumps into things without giving any thought to the consequences, that he’s reckless and careless and dangerous. And none of these are qualities that Scully would accept in someone with whom she’s going to raise a child.
Not that she’s given him any indication, yet, that she wants him to be that involved. But if she’s considering it, wouldn’t it be to his advantage to prove to her, just this once, that he’s perfectly capable of following instructions- at least, when it comes to this?
Reluctantly, he lets go of the doorknob and shelves his enthusiastic, whole-hearted “Yes!” for this time tomorrow.
Standing in the hallway, her back pressed firmly against the wall next to Mulder’s door, Scully holds her breath as she listens to the doorknob rattling under his hand. She waits… but after a moment, there’s silence. He is not, then, going to come running out after her.
She takes five long, deep, measured breaths… and pulls herself upright, and leaves.