A Chance Meeting
My entry for this week’s @txf-prompt-box challenge: An ex-boyfriend or girlfriend comes back. Bonus: An ex that is established in the show. Double bonus:Someone gets punched.
Set in some alternative universe where Mulder and Scully are allowed to be parents.
“Dana? Dana Scully?” Out here on the busy sidewalk, people rushing by chattering about this and that, it’s a wonder she even hears it. And it’s not the sound of her name that stops her and makes her turn around. It’s the voice. No matter how many years pass, she’ll always recognize Daniel’s voice.
“It is you!” He says, walking towards her with a huge, surprised grin. Scully, more than surprised to see him here, is unable to move into either direction.
“Hi.” Daniel says once he’s right in front of her. He sounds out of breath. Scully is at a loss for words, even unable to give a simple hello. As if noticing her distress and trying to help, William, sitting in his stroller, kicks his legs and squeals.
“Is that…” The tone of Daniel’s voice is slipping.
“This is William,” Scully finds her voice and unbuckles the baby to take him out, “my son.”
“That’s wonderful, Dana. I’m really happy for you. How have you been? It must have been two years since we’ve last seen each other.” Daniel eyes William curiously. Her son, who has yet to understand his father’s motto of trust no one, smiles at Daniel, tries to play peek-a-boo.
“I’m fine, Daniel. But how are you? Your heart?”
“Healthy as a horse.” He laughs and William joins right in making spit bubbles in the process. “You look good, Dana. Very good.” His eyes drift lower and graze her hand. There is no ring on her finger. Her t-shirt hugs her body tightly; too tightly. It’s all she had this morning. She wanted to do a load of laundry last night only to discover they were out of detergent.
“Thank you.” She finally says as William, obviously bored in her arms, begins to play with her hair.
“How old is he?” Daniel asks.
“He’s turning one in a couple of days.” Her lips curl upwards. Talking about William has that effect on her. There is still so much to do. The cake. Wrapping presents. One year in, parenthood is still one big bowl of surprises. William squirms in her arms as if agreeing with her.
“Adorable. He looks a lot like you.” Daniel says and tentatively reaches out his hand. It looks more like he’s about to pet a dog, not say hello to a child. William, however, doesn’t know the difference. “I think about you a lot, Dana.” Daniel steps closer much to the delight of William who must have glimpsed Daniel’s glasses. He tries to get at them; her son is fascinated by glasses, has to touch each pair he sees. Has to give them a taste test, too.
“Dada.” He babbles. “Dada, dada, dada. Dada!” Scully tries to tighten her hold on him, but William only has eyes for the glasses. It’s Mulder’s stubborness. Though both he and her mother like to remind her that she, too, can be quite stubborn. No matter where he gets it from, William, even at one year old, has his own mind.
“I’m not your dada.” Daniel chuckles uncomfortably and looks at Scully, who blushes. There was a time in her life when the children she dreamed about had Daniel’s eyes. The same nose. The dreams died a long time ago. Were replaced with images of babies with Mulder’s pouty lips and his intense eyes. A dream that became reality. William, her little Mulder, sighs in frustration, pouts. He turns in her arms to look at her.
“Dada.” He tells her and she nods. She, unlike Daniel, understands. She faces her former teacher and lover, who watches mother and son in wonderment, still trying to figure something out. Scully knows this look. After all this time, Daniel, older than she’s ever imagined with his pale skin and wrinkly texture, is still somehow exactly the same.
“Uhm, how about we go get a coffee?” Daniel suggests.
“Daniel, I think you’re getting the wrong idea here. I’m not-” William chooses this exact moment to try and get at Daniel’s glasses again. He’s good at picking the right moment to do things he is absolutely not supposed to do. In his over-zealousness he is too quick for Scully, who barely manages to keep his small body in her arms. It’s too late anyway. William had leaned forward and his fist connects with Daniel’s cheek. Hard. William squeals, grabs the glasses, as Daniel holds his cheek in unpleasant surprise.
“Oh Daniel, I’m so sorry.” Scully says. She has to bite her lip in order not to laugh. Daniel stands there flabbergasted staring at William, who happily plays with the pair of glasses he just stole.
“It’s, it’s all right,” he says through gritted teeth, eyeing William carefully. The boy grins at him. “Quite a punch he’s got.” Still rubbing his cheek. Scully is about to have a look at it, when her son once again has other ideas.
“Dada!” William yells out letting go of the glasses. They fall to the ground, forgotten. Daniel quickly picks them up and puts them back on. William waves his arms around and Daniel takes a step back. Scully feels herself smile, relax. She watches Mulder rush towards them, the bag in his hand swinging back and forth.
“There you are.” He says once he reaches them; he doesn’t notice Daniel standing close, has never before seen the man.
“Dada!” William’s voice is insistent and Mulder takes his squirming son from Scully. The boy’s pudgy hands immediately reach for the pair of sunglasses dangling from his shirt.
“Daniel, this is my… this is Mulder, William’s dad.” Mulder throws her a look, must see something in her eyes or expression, and turns around. Scully watches as her past collides with her present and future. Mulder extends his hand.
“Fox Mulder. Father of William. Partner of Dana Scully.” Scully sighs inwardly. Daniel’s expression is tight; it’s obvious he wants to be anywhere but here. She can relate.
“Dr. Daniel Waterston.” He stops there, luckily. Former lover of Dana Scully, she adds in her mind. Mulder knows that, though. He nods at the other man.
“Nice to meet you, Dr. Dana and I really need to get going now. I spent too much time in that supermarket, but her mother is waiting for us."
"It was really nice seeing you again, Dana.” Scully waits for him to offer her his hand, it twitches at his side. In the end, though, he decides against it. A sad smile on his face, a reminder of their shared past, he nods at her, then at Mulder and William. He walks off, his steps as certain as ever, just slower.
“That was strange,” Mulder blows a kiss at William, who giggles. Scully looks at them, smiles and forgets Daniel. When she tries to find him again in the distance a moment later, he is gone. “Weird guy. Did you notice the bruise on his cheek?”
“I did. William did that."
"He what?” Mulder laughs, looking at his son. William is happily chewing on Mulder’s glasses, glancing at his father with his big, blue eyes. "You did that, Will? I think we’ve got the next big baseball star on our hands, Scully. You’re gonna be a pitcher, aren’t you?“
"We need to get going, Mulder. We’re already late.” Scully puts the bag of groceries into William’s stroller and starts walking; she knows Mulder will follow.
“I can’t believe our son punched your ex-boyfriend, Scully.” His chuckles turn into full blown laughter. William watches his father, spit running from his mouth, before he, too, guffaws. Scully takes this scene in, still can’t believe it sometimes that this is real, her very own life, and finally she lets go, too, joins them in their happy sounds.