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Scully's greatest fear is how Mulder will react
when he finds out what she has done--
that is, IF he's still alive.

DISCLAIMER: Not mine; they belong to CC, FOX, etc. William apparently belongs to the Van de Kamps for now.

* * * * *

Scully woke up in a cold sweat. It was only four in the morning, but she knew she would not be able to go back to sleep now. She had a dream, a nightmare--the same nightmare that she had been having every night for the past three weeks. Sometimes it would be a variation on a theme, but it always ended the same way.

She would find herself standing in a cold, dark place. In the distance she could make out the silhouette of a man. It was dim and foggy, and she could not tell who he was. As she slowly made her way toward him, the mist began to lift and a chord of recognition was struck. It was him--it was Mulder! She started to run toward him as he stood there waiting, but as she drew closer, she could see his face and stopped short. The look she saw there was not of love or joy but pain and anger. And then he spoke to her, always the same words: "How could you?!?"

And at that, Scully always awoke with a feeling of fear and panic, and sleep would not return to her. So she established a new ritual. After she awoke at three or four a.m., she would make a cup of tea and curl up on the couch in front of the TV. Sometimes there would be an old movie on, or she would just watch infomercials. The hope they bred gave her some amount of comfort. She could come away feeling that even she could have a happy, successful life if only she would pick up her phone and call right away. She would watch anything, as long as it could distract her from her own reality.

But this morning, Scully was tired of the regular infomercials. After flipping back and forth between three of them, she finally turned off the TV in disgust. It was almost five o'clock now, and she was left there in the dark and the silence, alone with her own thoughts--what she dreaded most.

It was clear from her dreams what Scully both longed for and feared. She wanted so much to see Mulder again. She didn't know where he was or even if he was still alive, but she hoped desperately to see him. It was that hope that kept her going every day. Before, it had been that hope and William's smile. Until three weeks ago.

But now, she was afraid. Afraid that when she saw Mulder again, he wouldn't be able to understand. Afraid that he would blame her for giving up their son. How could she face him again? How could she tell him what had happened?

She hadn't even been able to tell her own mother. Scully had made the decision on her own without talking to her mother or anyone else. She knew that her mother would interfere, so she made the arrangements quietly on her own. It all happened so fast. Within only two days, he was gone. But Scully couldn't bear facing her mother with the news. She had asked Agent Reyes to do it for her. Monica reminded her so much of Melissa. Scully hoped that her mother would see the familiarity, too, and that it might make it easier to hear the news from her.

Her mother had been angry at first. Angry that she had to hear this from someone other than Dana. Angry that Dana hadn't even asked her first or let her say good-bye to William. But then Margaret's motherly compassion came over her. She knew how difficult such a decision would be and how much pain her daughter must be feeling. She had rushed right over to Dana's apartment and didn't even say a word but just held her as they both cried for what seemed like an eternity.

Margaret had then suggested that Dana come live with her for a while, but Scully, always the tough FBI woman, insisted that she would be okay and preferred to stay by herself. But she didn't object when her mother volunteered to clean out William's room and put his things in storage at her own house. Scully had kept her pictures of him, but she turned over all the frames. She couldn't let go of the pictures as well as the baby, but she couldn't look at his eyes because every glance seemed like an accusation.

And now she was alone. Desperately alone. The sad irony of the situation was that so many times she had been threatened with a choice between the two of them. Either Mulder had to die or William had to die. Mulder had left so that both he and William would be safe. But now she didn't have either one of them. She could only hope that her sacrifices had saved both of their lives, but she ran the risk of seeing neither of them ever again.

After another hour, the room began to get lighter as the sun was approaching the horizon, and Scully slowed readied herself for work. She spent another dreary day at the office, just going through the motions. She came home and threw a frozen meal in the microwave for dinner. She took a long bath and then went to bed early, curled up with a book that she knew wouldn't hold her interest. Around ten o'clock the sleeping pills began to take effect. Scully turned off the light and settled into her pillow, hoping for a night of dreamless sleep.

* * *

It was about one a.m. when he quietly let himself in with his own key. The only light in the apartment was the bluish-green glow from the fish tank in the hallway. He stopped briefly to look at the fish, and to count. This time it seems they had all managed to survive. He instinctively picked up the jar of fish food sitting next to the tank and sprinkled some on the water. Somehow that simple action made him feel like he was home again.

Home. That's what they both wanted so much now. To have a home, together. But there was so much pain and turmoil that prevented them from feeling that peace. At least now they could try to recapture some of the warmth and security that came from resting in each other's arms.

* * *

Scully was dreaming again. But this time it felt different than before. It wasn't the silhouette in the fog, but a presence. A warm presence. As if she could simply feel him near her. And she felt safe again. But something pulled her from her dream and was drawing her toward waking from the lingering haze of the sleeping pill. She felt something on her face. A touch. Something brushing back her hair. And then she made out a shape in the dark, sitting next to her on the bed. She knew she should have been frightened, but she wasn't. Somehow she just knew it was him. What she wasn't sure of was whether she was awake or still dreaming.


"I didn't mean to wake you. You looked so peaceful."

"Peaceful? I haven't had a full night's sleep since...well, in a long time. I took a sleeping pill. I'm still kind of groggy." She looked at him intently, still not able to make out his face in the dark. She reached out her hand to touch his arm, to make sure he was real.

"Can I turn on the light?" he asked.

"Yeah." She sat up in bed as the shadowy figure leaned over and turned on the bedside lamp. As they both let their eyes adjust, they got their first glimpse of each other in months. Scully's eyes briefly met Mulder's and then dropped as she started to cry. After all of those dreams, she couldn't look him in the face. She couldn't confront her own fears that he would be angry with her. But she had to tell him. He had a right to know.

"Mulder...." That was all she could get out. She tried to contain the tears, and the words were contained with them. She just didn't know what to say.

Mulder reached over and pulled her into his arms, as she had longed for so many times through so many heartbroken moments. He settled his chin on her shoulder, buried his face in her hair, and whispered into her ear, "It's okay. I already know."

Scully was shocked by this revelation. She started to pull back, but he held her tight. "But how--"

"It doesn't matter right now. But I came as soon as I heard. I couldn't let you go through this alone."

"Mulder...." Scully couldn't contain her emotions any longer. Everything she had felt since the day he left, all the love and sorrow and fear and pain, they all came flooding out. She wept like she never had before. There was no more attempt at control. She was never more vulnerable than she had been in that moment. And she had never felt safer, there in Mulder's arms. Through the violence of her own sobs, she didn't realize that he was crying too.

They held each other like that for a very long time, hours it seemed. They grieved together as parents who had lost a child, as two people who had lost so much. His sister. Her sister. His father. Her daughter. His mother. Their son. They held each other tight, as two people who had nothing left but each other.

After a long while, they had both quieted, and their desperate grips had loosened. Now they were simply leaning against each other in the calm after the storm. Scully pulled back a little, lifted Mulder's head, and for the first time she was ready to look into his eyes. "You're not safe here. You can't stay."

"I'm not in danger anymore. It was always a choice, between me and William. Now that William's no longer a threat to them, they've moved on with their plans. They're not after me anymore."

Scully's brow creased as she struggled to make sense of it all. "I don't understand, Mulder. What are their plans? How do you know that you're safe?"

"It's a long story, and we'll have plenty of time for me to tell you, because you're not getting rid of me." He held Scully's face in his hands now and looked deeply into her eyes. "I'm never going to leave you again. Whatever comes next, we're going to face it together. I can't bear going through this alone anymore. I need you." Mulder spoke those last words slowly, deliberately, letting their import sink in with each syllable.

Grateful that the responsibility for this decision was taken from her, Scully wrapped her arms tightly around him and hung on for dear life. Because he was her life. She was no longer alone, and now that they were together again, she could feel his strength radiating through her. Together, they could take on anything. And maybe, just maybe, after they had taken down their enemies and made this world a safer place for their son to grow up in, they would be able to take him into their loving embrace once again and finally be the family that they always wanted to be. Maybe.

* * * * *
* * * * *

Author's Notes: Okay, yes, this is a cheesy, happy ending, but I just had to resolve some of the angst! This is the story I wrote after watching "William" the first time; I also wrote another post-ep for this episode (after my second viewing, two years later, entitled "What Must a Mother Go Through?") that I like better, but that one is pure angst. So, I guess it all depends on what you're in the mood for: sweet or sour.

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