xf emily

Fourth Christmas

the series is as follows so far:

FirstSecond ThirdFourthFifthFifth Christmas, Part 2SixthSeventhEighthNinthTenthEleventhTwelfthThirteenthFourteenthFifteenthSixteenthSeventeenthEighteenthNineteenthTwentiethTwenty-firstTwenty-secondTwenty-third


She hadn’t decorated that year. She’d flown out to California with her mother several days before Christmas and wasn’t supposed to return until just before New Year’s so she made the executive decision to leave her decorations in the closet.

Mulder had also refrained from decking her place out in her absence.

It was fairly difficult for him.

But then he got the phone call, had to fly out to her and all manner of holiday cheer was forgotten, shoved to the wayside in the wake of news he never expected to turn out anything but bad.

Now, they were just leaving the airport, January 3rd and the world depressed around them. They rang in the New Year piecing together a funeral, Scully holding him at arms’ length while she pushed her mother away completely, choosing to sit idly in his hotel room rather than face champagne, fireworks and Dick Clark. He’d cracked open the mini-bar in the room and paid an exorbitant amount to help Scully drink her sorrows down, drowning them for a few precious minutes in cheap whiskey and off-brand gin.

They’d left for their plane right from the church, Scully having once again told her mother that she was fine traveling home without her. Maggie had been not-so-subtly hinting about staying a few extra days with her new grandson and given Scully couldn’t picture being trapped on a plane beside her mother for six hours minimum, she paid extra, informed her mother she was leaving with Mulder and walked away, trying not to think about the funeral they would have to attend first.

The flight was quiet but not awkward, surprising given the last two weeks of their lives. Mulder, to his astonishment, felt a small, cold hand slide over his arm, her fingers fitting between his like they were meant to be there, as they took off. He didn’t react, thought, except to twist his hand upside-down, palm to palm, weaving knuckles, warming bone.

Disembarking the plane, they entered the insanity of National Airport and Mulder all but curled himself around her, blocking her from running passengers, shopping bags, backpacks, rogue rolling luggage, that mumbling guy that seems to be in every airport they’ve ever been in, just wearing a different hat. Guiding her to baggage claim, he grabbed their bags, clearing a path she trailed close behind in as they aimed towards his car.

Finally, eventually, they were on the road, Scully small in her seat, Mulder quiet in his, until, “is it strange that it feels like it was never Christmas?”

Worrying his cheek between his teeth, he shook his head, “not really. I mean, you got out there and the world went weird, then surprising then completely terrible and now you’re back home in January and you never had time to stop and realize it was Christmas.”

Head back against the seat, she let her face fall towards the window, away from her partner, “I don’t want to go home, Mulder.”

“Then we won’t.” Instead, he took them to his apartment, opening her door for her, taking her hand as she stepped up the curb. Soon, they were in his place, door safely locked behind them, Mulder gently guiding her towards the bedroom, “go take a nap. I’ll go back out and get some food for this place and when I get back, we’ll have dinner and watched Christmas movies until March.”

She had a protest crawling up her throat but it never saw the light of day as she nodded, defeated by the world and uncomfortable in her own skin. Walking first out of her shoes, then pulling off her sweater to reveal Mulder’s Care Bear t-shirt she had stolen, loaned back and commandeered once again, she made it under the covers before she began to cry. Watching her from the doorframe, he gave her a minute while he pulled his own shoes off, relinquished his overhead, closed the blinds to the falling twilight as well as the soon-to-be-glowing streetlights. Finding the box of Kleenex in the living room, he set it beside her on the nightstand, then leaned into her, hand on the mattress, “do you want some company or would you like me to go find some food?”

Her non-committal, soggy, shoulder shrug gave him his answer and without another syllable, he climbed up and crawled right over her, jostling her, accidently-on-purpose rolling her onto her back, t-shirt chest smushing her nose, blankets all bunched by the time he went horizontal beside her. She was still crying but her lips were curled up instead of down and that was progress in his book.

Once he’d gotten under the covers, straightened them, made sure they were tucked around her opposite shoulder tightly, he manhandled her lightly, rolling her the rest of the way towards him, tucking her head against his shoulder, “hit me if you want me to go away.”

Then he cried with her.


It seemed hours until she finally fell asleep, the last bottled up 11 days pouring forth in an ugly catharsis of Kleenex, sobbing hiccups and soaking wet cotton until she finally passed out, mouth open, nose congested, eyes so puffy he’d be surprised if she could see anything the next morning.

He wouldn’t trade her for a damn thing.

Inching out of the bed, he got his shoes back on and disappeared out the door, food and other things on his to-do list.


It was well after midnight before he fell asleep on the couch and after 3am before he felt the softest of kisses on his cheek, then the heavier of kisses on his mouth. The quiet ‘thank you’ made him open his eyes, deciding he would be a terrible person if he followed her mouth for another kiss but the debate was there, the contemplation, then, her lips on his again, just the corner of his mouth but it held warmth and promise and tasted a little like Almond Chicken sauce.

“You found dinner.”

“I did find dinner.” Sitting on the coffee table, she leaned forward, elbows on knees, “and I found Christmas.”

Smiling so wide his eyes disappeared in crinkles, “I couldn’t let you not have Christmas.”

Scully pointed over her shoulder, “you broke into my house again. That is not the reason you have a key.”

Behind her, her tree was twinkling beside Mulder’s desk, lights, ornaments, stockings, candy canes all stolen from her hall closet and apparently transferred, while she was dead asleep, from her place to his and set up, spewing forth Christmas joy where there hadn’t been any when she went to sleep.

“I do that.”

“I see you added garland. Where in the world did you get garland after Christmas?”

“Magical elves and post-holiday blow-out sales. I could have also bought 1.2 miles of Christmas lights for $.60.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“Where the hell would I hang 1.2 miles of Christmas lights?”

“We could have made it work.”

Sitting up, he patted the couch beside him, “come here.” She scooted to him before he continued, “how’s your head?”

“Throbbing. How do my eyes look?”


Her barriers were still down, as they tended to be more and more around him and without pretense, she shifted her legs over his lap and leaned into his upper arm, “I found the new ornament.”

It was a glittery snow globe of Santa on a beach, feet up, reindeer lolling on his back in the sand.

“Bought it a few weeks back and was just gonna slip it in your box when I was over next and then, well, this seemed better.”

Hugging his arm next, “I love it. Thank you very much.”

Once his arm started moving, he wasn’t about to stop it and soon, it was around her shoulders, his feet on the coffee table, his other hand on her knee. Giving it a small squeeze, “I think we should pretend that we are couch potatoes whose world extends no further than this apartment.”

“Can it extend into tomorrow maybe?” Looking at her watch, “we only have 3 hours until we are supposed to leave for work.”

“Are you suggesting Christmas hooky?” Simply nodding her ‘yes’, he ‘hmm’d’ his agreement in his throat, then rested his head against the top of hers, “any of that Chinese food left?”

Muscles tightening to stand, he held her in place instead, “that wasn’t a hint to go get me food. I’ll get something later. Right now, I like you here and me here and … I like us … right here.”


He was almost back asleep, head heavy on hers, when he heard her say something. Not opening his eyes, “what?”

“How can I miss her? I knew her for less than two weeks.”

“But she was your daughter. Doesn’t matter how long you knew her.”

“How do I know if I miss her as a person or as an idea?” He could hear the waver in her voice, “what am I supposed to do now?”

“Right now,” turning her in a twisty, contorted, shifting, sliding kind of way, he managed to get them both lying on the couch without either falling on the floor, “I think you should stop thinking and close your eyes,” gripping her and turning her a few degrees until her hip wasn’t digging in his parts, “and listen to my voice while I tell you,” now running his finger lightly over her eyebrows and forehead, “a story,” moving his finger over her cheek and chin, “about how Santa is really an alien.”



“I really wanted to keep her.”

Squeezing her tightly to him, he mumbled into her hair, “I know you did.”

the truth we both know (1/3)

emily au (season 9)

set in the same universe as the unspeakable fear of things and the follow-up christmas ficlets, although it is not necessary to have read those to read this. this is basically just… season 9 but emily’s there. warnings for some events of the episodes existence and nothing important happened today part i

i already have this entire story drafted so it should be up within a couple of days! (i’m posting it segments cause it long.)

The pain washes over her in waves, Mulder and Monica’s voices blurring with the faces of strangers. Mulder’s hand is wrapped around her ankle, fingers leaving warm lines on her sweaty skin as he stands in front of them protectively, one hand over the butt of his gun. Clutched protectively to her chest, their son wails incessantly.

I’m not going to let you take him, she tries to say. This seems fairly obvious - the people will have to go through Mulder and Monica to get to them, but there are many of the strangers and three of them protecting the baby, and she is so wracked with pain that she won’t be much protection. She hates this weakness, inability to be a mother. She thinks, helplessly, of their daughter, far away with her mother. She wants to be back at home - in their apartment, the sunny space that she and Mulder and Emily picked out together, that is entirely theirs, where nothing bad has ever happened and the baby’s room is ready and she has her gun drawn and can protect them all. Here, she is helpless and exposed in this tiny, dirty house.

Their son cries, and the strangers begin to retreat. Mulder squeezes her ankle, and rounds the bed to sit beside her gently. She winces a little at the motion of the mattress but sags gratefully against him. “They’re leaving,” Mulder whispers. “You’re both safe, Scully.” He presses a kiss to her head.

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Emily - Episode 104. I was moved by the opening sequence of this episode so I adapted it into this sort of dreamy, fairy-tale like image - something that evokes the innocence of the doomed Emily along with the pain of Scully’s loss.

the truth we both know (3/3)

emily au (season 9)

one /// two

warning for events of the truth.

They don’t win.

Scully visits Mulder’s cell right before the trial to see him in private for the first time in months. She tries to bring Emily, but they refuse to let a seven-year-old see a purported murderer so she goes on her own and holds him on the dirty floor and fills him in on the past eleven months (only the happy parts; she leaves out the kidnapping and the fear and the blood on the floor). She testifies at his trial and tries to stay for the rest of it, but they won’t let her.

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anonymous asked:

idk if you're still doing this but I wish you would do a fic where after Emily, Mulder drives Scully home but instead, he drives her to his place and they cuddle up together

Sure thing! I’ve been LABORing on this all day. (Ugh… labor day jokes…)


She is either still too in shock to give the cab driver her own address, or she knows he’d insist that he stay with her, but either way, they both get out when the driver pulls up at Mulder’s building. She’d flinched at the airport when he’d tried to guide her with a hand on the small of her back so he doesn’t do it now as they exit the elevator and walk to the end of the hall.

“You can stay here tonight,” he says, though he thinks it’s pretty obvious.

“Thank you.” Her voice is low and tight. She ducks under his arm when he opens the door and deposits her bag in front of the couch.

“Take the bed, please,” Mulder insists.

She responds only with a curt shake of her head. Mulder moves to the bedroom and puts down his own bag, messily packed and repacked full of clothes that were a little too warm for San Diego. He goes back out to the kitchen to make coffee. His 1997 calendar hangs on the wall above the trash can, obsolete now.

As he pulls it down, he calls over his shoulder, “The Calendar Police are gonna get me this year.”

There is a pause, and then her voice comes distantly from the living room, “Huh?”

He pours the pre-made grounds into the coffee maker, afraid that in the whirring of the grinder she’d slip out the door unnoticed and be gone for good. She is five feet away from him but she’s so far away. He’s only just got her back. He can’t lose her again.

“When I was a kid,” he explains, “I used to tell Samantha that if we didn’t take down our calendar exactly at midnight on New Year’s, there was a special task force of police who’d come to our house and arrest us.”

“The Calendar Police, huh?” She’s risen from the couch and leans against the wall in the kitchen, as if even standing up is too exhausting.

“Not one of my more imaginative ideas,” he admits.

“So your penchant for tall tales goes way back, huh?” she teases, and cracks a smile. “Thank you for letting me stay here tonight, Mulder.”

“Of course. Anything you need.”

She manages a smile and looks like she’s about to say something when the coffee pot beeps. Scully clears her throat and turns away, and he moves to the cabinet to get mugs. When he turns back around she is sitting on the couch, flicking through channels with the volume on low.

“Cream, no sugar,” he announces, placing the mug before her on the coffee table.

“Thanks.” She picks it up and pulls the sleeve of her sweater over her palm to hold the steaming cup without burning her hand.

The channel surfing seems to have stopped on old Scooby-Doo reruns. He glances over at her, a quip rising to his lips, but even though she’s staring at the TV she doesn’t appear to be watching. He falls silent, sipping his own coffee too quickly and burning his tongue.

He hisses, “Shit,” at the same time she says, “I never even really liked the name Emily.”

He sits up on the couch, sloshing a little more scalding liquid out of his too-full cup and onto his shirt. “What?” he asks, his tone a little too harsh as he reaches for something on the side table to blot the stain.

“I said I never liked the name Emily,” she repeats, and this time he stills. It’s the first time she’s said the child’s name since they left the church in San Diego. Funerals in January are always so horrible, he thinks, something about the promise of hope and a new year being squelched by life’s unrelenting reminder of mortality. He’s never cared for the holidays.

“You know how you meet one bad kid growing up and you can’t think of their name without picturing that terrible child?” she continues.

“Sure,” he says, the tip of his tongue still throbbing from the coffee.

“Emily Castro,” she says, and then smiles without her teeth. “She was in my Sunday school class in second grade and she used to tease me… call me names, make fun of my freckles, you know, kid stuff. So for years I’ve hated the name Emily. But then I met her and–”

Her chin trembles and he is terrified that she is going to cry. Her voice has taken on that watery quality, placed in the back of her throat, like maybe if she talks there she can keep the sobs from coming out.

“The thought never even crossed my mind,” Scully sighs. “She was so perfect.”

Her eyes shine with the memory of a daughter she’d known for so short a time but loved with such intensity that he starts to well up himself. He’s only recently let himself believe that the pull he feels towards her is love, that the way his gut drops when she flashes one of her rare grins is more than just a friendly affection. Surprisingly, it hasn’t changed much about their relationship; he is still overcome with the desire to hold her hand.

“Well,” he ventures, wetting his lips, “it’s a good thing you’re probably never going to meet someone else named Fox, because I think I’ve pretty much ruined that for you, huh?”

She looks up at him like she almost can’t believe he’s just said something so stupid, but then she gives a small laugh and hugs him, one hand on the back of his neck, the other sandwiched between their bodies as she pulls him close, her fist closing over the coffee stain on his chest. Her head turns toward his and he can feel her breath on his neck, just under his ear. His arms encircle her, coming to rest on her right shoulder, letting her rest her full weight on him.

They sit there for a long time, their coffee getting cold, and he tries not to think about how lovely she smells, sweet like peonies and dark like vanilla.

the truth we both know (2/3)

emily au (season 9)


warnings for events/references to events of the episodes trust no 1, john doe, provenance/providence, jump the shark (altered events), william (altered events), and the truth.

Single motherhood of two children gets easier, or something akin to easier. Living without Mulder doesn’t. He’s been part of her routine for nine years now. A constant part of hers and Emily’s lives for four. He’s been living with them for over two. It’s like a jagged part of herself has been carved out, with only hollow space left behind.

Emily adjusts. She gets sad sometimes, starts to call for Mulder or talk about something she wants to tell him before she remembers, a sadness falling over her face. But she is mostly just withdrawn. She spends a lot of time reading - more specifically, reading Mulder’s books in the bookshelf. (Scully has to take a few away from her, but she lets her keep most of the ones about research on Bigfoot or something like that.) She plays with William, singing to him or dangling the car keys over his head.

Doggett and Monica are irregular appearances in their lives. Emily adores them, calls them Uncle John and Aunt Monica - a relic from their brief partnership with Mulder on the X-Files. (They’d called after Mulder left with a strange case, wanting to see Mulder, and it had eventually come out that Mulder had left and why. Doggett had come over with the case results - super soldiers and experiments and mutations. Scully had refused to get involved besides providing information - she can’t put herself in danger, not when she’s all the kids have - but she agreed to answer the phone when they need it. Doggett had given her a hug at the door and told her that he was sure Mulder would be fine in the end, he seemed to have a knack for close calls. She’d laughed a little and thanked him.) They come over to update Scully on anything they’ve found related to William or Mulder or the super soldiers or the remnants of the Syndicate, which isn’t much. Scully is fine with that, as long as They leave her family alone. Maybe They’ll back off of Mulder and he can come home.

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x files fic for mother’s day

here’s my attempt at giving scully a happy (if not crazy and hectic) mother’s day, and an excuse to continue in the himym au thing i wrote. mostly because it was fun to write and i was bored. also this is the corniest thing i’ve ever written. seriously. this is the fluffiest fluff i’ve ever done. you have been warned.


William is making a card on printer paper stolen from Mulder’s office. It seems to have gone from “simple Mother’s Day card” to “elaborate comic, featuring astronauts, Bigfoot, and the dogs”. There’s crayon smeared on the table. Emily grabs the Clorox wipes from under the sink. “So, I was thinking for Mom’s present, I could tell her that I’ve chosen to do my required summer internship with her at the morgue,” she says, spreading her hands in a ta-da motion. “What do you think?”

William shades the fur on the large creature that is debatably Sasquatch or Chewbacca. “I think that you can do better.”


“Yeah. That’s boring!”

“Oh, and a comic isn’t boring?”

“No, it’s funny. She’ll laugh at it. She can pin it to the wall and laugh at it while she cuts people up. It’ll make her boring job less boring.”

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the unspeakable fear of things (1/4)

emily au /// wc:  7510

this is slightly related to my other emily story, the long and winding road, so there are probably some similarities in scenes here. (although if i continue in this au past this story, i’ll probably take it in a different direction.)

warning for the events of the episodes kitsunegari, schizogeny, chinga, and kill switch, as well as emily’s grief over the death of her parents and discussion of those events. also i characterized marshall sim as being a decent guy who was framed by the syndicate, but that’s just my interpretation.

thanks to @moonprincess92nz for helping me out with emily’s characterization


Emily Sim is cured by mysterious circumstances, deemed a miracle by the doctors. Mulder knows better. He checks the hospital cameras but the one outside of Emily’s room goes fuzzy for a few minutes around midnight.  


Emily sits on the couch, looking small against the bulk of the cushions. She folds her hands in her lap, and looks to Scully for approval. She’s been quiet ever since they’ve met, quiet on the flight, quiet on the ride home except for a couple of softly-worded questions about memorials.

Scully turns a chair to face the couch, and sits in it. She leans forward, as if to touch her daughter, and stops at the last minute. She doesn’t want to scare her. Emily has already been shy and quiet, fading into the background, gazing at everything with wide eyes.

“You know,” Scully says in what she prays is a gentle and welcoming voice. “You can call me whatever you want.” She’s not sure exactly where this came from, but she doesn’t want her to feel like she is obligated to call her “Mommy”. Not when her mother died a matter of weeks ago.

(She wants Emily to call her “Mommy” more than anything in the world.)

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x files fic: five ways fox mulder was addressed by his children

so this was inspired by the deleted william scene from s10. (what can i say, i’m a follower. but everything posted related to this is about 10x better than my thing) it takes place in the himym au (pt 1 and pt 2) which i love entirely too much, okay.

also the “mudler” in pt 1 is dedicated to @haikyuucentric and @american-p-s-y-c-h-o, who don;t give a shit about txf, but still believe that “mudler” is mulder’s name.


There’s a small girl on the couch, almost engulfed by the Pomeranian in her lap, fingers tangled in his orange fur. Scully pulls him through the door, muttering something about her being shy. He replies with something about how he can go, but Scully tugs him straight to the couch without argument. “Emily,” she says. “This is my… friend, Fox Mulder.” Friend, he supposes, is the best term for what they are.

The little girl stares at him with wide Scully eyes. “Hi,” Mulder says. “Is that your dog?”

Emily shakes her head. “It’s Dana’s dog,” she says in a soft three-year-old voice. “He has a funny name.”

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the unspeakable fear of things (3/4)

emily au /// wc: 10,399

part two /// part one 

warning for spoilers for the beginning, triangle, s.r. 189 and the beginning of tithonus. slight spoilers/altered events for drive and how the ghosts stole christmas. it gets slightly angstier in this part (although there’s still plenty of fluffy parts) and there’s some confrontational moments. if my characterization sucks for diana fowley, i apologize. one of my goals was to present her as somewhat sympathetic. 

i didn’t actually realize that mulder had the cure for emily until i actually rewatched emily, in the middle of this chapter. (ugh, that would’ve saved me a lot of time.) assume this takes place in an au where mulder never found emily’s cure. 

the resemblance between the christmas scene here and another emily au i wrote (the long and winding road, which i do consider au from this story) is intentional. i literally stole some of that scene. 

thanks to @krolikalert for permission to use her comic as inspiration for the christmas scene!! her art is so amazing and i’m in love with it.

It’s cold in the woods, colder than it really should be in mid-July. Scully buttons a flannel shirt that she found in his suitcase over Emily’s pajamas. The firelight lights up their faces with an orange glow and illuminates Emily’s hair to a color close to her mother’s. (It’s been years since he’s been camping like this [spending horror-filled nights with Scully in the woods doesn’t count] - sometime in 1972, he thinks, him and Samantha on the beach, the ocean at their backs, the moon reflecting off the sand.) Emily’s giggling, and getting bits of melted marshmallow all over her hands. Scully wipes them with wet wipes she’d stowed in her backpack. Mulder smiles at her over the flames.

Samantha didn’t like ghost stories. (Or stories about anything scary, really - he remembers thinking it was unfair that aliens took her, once he’d figured it out, because she always hated aliens. She’d screamed for about five minutes straight one time when he’d read aloud from War of the Worlds to bug her.) Emily asks for ghost stories with excitement. Mulder remembers that Scully had claimed The Exorcist as one of her favorite movies, and wonders if interest in the creepy stuff is a genetic trait. “Hey, Scully, we worked a case with that ghost way back in 93,” he says, piquing Emily’s interest.

“Oh, that was not a ghost.” Scully settles Emily in her lap, smirking over her head.

“What wasn’t a ghost?” Emily demands.

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christmas 1999 /// emily au

so this is the first in a series of christmas themed ficlets set in the unspeakable fear of things au. (although you don’t necessarily have to have read ufot to understand this story.) kind of spoilers for per manum. 

“I want to have a baby,” she says suddenly.

Mulder looks up at her in shock, and immediately looks down to check on Emily, see if she’s still asleep. Newly five and having grown exponentially in the past year, she looks considerably less small than the last time they were on a plane - on the way back from New York - with her limbs tossed carelessly across the airplane seat and red-gold hair strewn over her face in sleep. He pushes some hair behind her ear mindlessly, and Scully is reminded of why she wants him to be the father of her children.

He turns back to face her and takes her hand, rubbing her knuckles with his index fingers. “You want to have a baby,” he repeats, more in acknowledgment then anything else. She can’t read his reaction.

She nods, suddenly embarrassed. “I mean, it’s not… you know I love Emily more than anything. And I’m more than happy for this, our chance to raise her; I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world… but I hate that we missed those first few years of her growing up.”

He laughs quietly. “Em told me she was asking Santa for a sister this year.”

“A sister, huh.” Scully smiles to herself. “Why didn’t she mention it to me?”

“She thought you’d say no, like you did to the guinea pig.”

“A baby is a little different from a guinea pig, Mulder.”

“I know that. I’m just saying that you saying no to the guinea pig made no sense from my perspective. You want another dog, and what I don’t understand is how one little furry thing is different from another.”

“A dog is very different from a rat that I would probably end up taking care of…” she starts, the beginning of a speech she is tired of giving.

He chuckles, holds up his hands in a surrendering motion. “Hey, I’m not arguing with you, Scully.” He takes her hand again earnestly. “My point was that Emily wants this.”

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christmas 2001-2002 /// emily au /// 3rd in series of christmas ficlets

i should note that this was originally just supposed to be the second half but i couldn’t resist a dose of angst


William cries almost all night on Christmas Eve, which seems to align with the consistent sharp pang in Scully’s chest. Emily blinks blearily, sadly up at her from the doorway to her bedroom on the third time she has to get up. She tries to smile, says, “Santa can’t come if you can’t go to sleep, sweetie.”

“I don’t care about Santa,” Emily replies sadly. She disappears back into her room, shutting the door sharply before Scully can call out to her.

She hates the new apartment with a passion. It may be bigger, and Mulder’s inheritance may cover the rent, but it’s unbearably lonely. She wants somewhere that he was at some point, some echo of Mulder still in their lives. She paces around William’s room, staring at the walls that Emily and Mulder had painted together and made a spectacular mess of, and tries to soothe him despite not being able to soothe herself. “Shh, it’s okay,” she whispers to her son. “Your mom’s here.” Your dad should be here.

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x files fic: the long and winding road 

She’s spent years with one foot out and one foot inside the car. Now, it’s all in.

“Did you see anything cool?” Emily asks, swinging her legs.

“Not really.” Mulder is trying to remember how to give William a bottle. “New Mexico is boring.”


“Really.” Mulder shifts the bottle a little, and William starts sucking up the milk. “What about you? What did you do?”

“I helped Mom with William,” she says. “And I worked through a whole homeschool book.”

“Really?” he asks, impressed.

“Yeah. It was really boring without you around.”

“So that makes you a… third grader?”

“ Fourth grader,” Emily corrects him. “Remember? I already did the other ones.”

“Oh, yeah.” He remembers her working on the floor of the office, just out of sight in case someone abruptly walked in, on days Maggie couldn’t babysit. She’d only worked through kindergarten in the time he could remember, but apparently, she’d had a lot of working time in his many absences.

“You’re not gonna leave again, are you?” She rests her head against his arm.

“No,” Mulder says, sure of himself for once. “Never again. I promise.”