Title: Memory's Promise

Authors: Susan Proto (STPteach@aol.com)

Completed: April, 2001

Category: Vignette, Angst

Spoilers: Post-ep fanfic for Empedocles

Summary: What was the significance of a simple rag doll?

Archive: The Garden, Ephemeral, Gossamer, and any other site that has received prior written permission. All others, please contact the author.

Disclaimer: Mulder & Scully & their families belong to Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen Productions, and Twentieth Century Fox Television. They are used here without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Notes: Re: above disclaimer...what I really want to say is, in the words of my very wise and knowledgeable evil cyberTwin, *Chris, bite me!* It's been a while since I've posted anything on my own; I know there are many out there that probably reveled in the hiatus, while others have threatened.... I mean, encouraged <g> me to stop my foolish endeavors in other fandoms and get back home to our sandbox. Well, I'm convinced that CC will not ever do right by our hero, but I for one never intended to abandon him. So, here I am testing the waters again; the water is still a bit cool, but I'm willing to jump back in feet first if you find the effort worthwhile.

Let me know? Okay?

Thanks Vickie & Mary for taking a look and standing by me even when it looked like I was a lost cause.


Memory's Promise

By Susan Proto (STPteach@aol.com)

Mulder rediscovered the box a few days after he'd gotten home from the hospital. He'd been scrounging around his clothes closet, trying to find something that would fit his way-too-thin body. He rationalized that it could have been worse; after lying supposedly dead in a grave for three months, losing a few pounds sure beat the alternative.

But it was while he was trying to find a pair of jeans that wouldn't fall to his knees that he saw it. It had been so long since he'd shoved it to the back of the closet that he had to think for a second or two about what its contents were.

He pulled the large cardboard box out and noted the black magic marker label. "Children." It was at that moment that he realized he had no clue as to what was actually inside; he'd dragged it home from his mother's house after she'd committed suicide. He'd planned on opening it and seeing what his mother had felt important enough to stow away, but the shock of her death was still too deep. He hadn't had the strength to tap into her memories at that time. It could wait.

And then he'd disappeared, and all that while, the box remained hidden in the back of his closet. For whatever reason, Scully had maintained his apartment and even after he'd been found, and declared dead and buried, she kept his place as if he'd walk in the door at any time.

And one day he did.

And the time to discover what his mother chose to keep in that box, labeled "children," had arrived.

Mulder stared at it. He realized his hands shook slightly though he truly wasn't sure why. It was just a box. It held just things. Just things. Didn't it?

He pulled at the clear tape that his mother had methodically wrapped around the folds of the box and pulled open the flaps. Inside he saw wads and wads of newspaper, which he slowly began to pick up and separate from empty crumples of newsprint to those used as protective covering for some object of the past.

He rummaged through the box, almost as if it were a holiday grab bag of sorts, and picked up something that turned out to be rather large and heavy. It was heavily wrapped in newspaper, and when he'd uncovered it he laughed out loud. Bronzed baby shoes. He couldn't believe his mother had actually done it, much less kept them all these years. He noted that even at such a tender age, he had big feet. The base on which they were presented had an engraved sign, 'Fox's First Steps." Only his shoes were preserved in such a way; by the time Sam was born the tradition of bronzing baby shoes was pretty much out of vogue. He wasn't sure if he was going to save them; he couldn't think of any really good reason. They were his mother's memory, not his. He put them aside.

He shuffled through the carton some more and found a soft, flattened object. As he uncovered it he saw that it had been wrapped yet again in what was once white tissue paper that had since turned a dull gray. But it had well protected the treasure inside; it was a baby's christening gown, which remained crisp and white even after all these years.

Mulder chuckled aloud lightly at the memory of seeing his baby sister all ready for her Christening Day, only to have discovered that the long, feminine looking gown had first been worn by him. He remembered he'd protested vehemently how impossible that little fact was. 'He was a boy and boys didn't wear dresses,' he'd cried out to his mother.

His mother had brushed off his cries of distress and the next thing Mulder remembered was being led to the altar of the church. He remembered her cries as the priest held her over the basin while he poured the holy water over her forehead. And he remembered grasping her tiny hand into his small one. She calmed down immediately.

He was her protector.

As he laid down the gown he briefly considered offering it to Scully for her baby's ceremony, but he quickly rejected the idea. He knew one of the great joys of a family was either handing down a much loved item such as this or shopping for a new one. With all of the Scully children in her family, Mulder was quite sure that Mrs. Scully would have saved her children's Christening gowns and that Scully would most certainly want to use one of those.

Mulder reached back into the box and knew immediately what was in his hand though it was completely under wraps. He actually felt his heart start racing a bit as he tore at the paper that had protected it. His glove. His first, real baseball glove. He smiled at the fond memories he held of his father and he going to the sporting goods store to pick out the perfect glove. He remembered the arduous process of breaking in the glove and trying to follow every single direction his father had given him to do it just right.

He oiled it. And he rubbed it. And he placed the baseball inside to make the perfect pocket and flinched slightly at the memory of how his hands stung when he'd tried to wrap the rubber band around it to hold the ball in place and the band snapped and stung him to the point of tears. He remembered his father found him whimpering slightly, and gently guided him into his den, all the while telling him he had just the thing to keep that ol' ball in place. His dad pulled out the biggest rubber band he'd ever seen; Mulder smiled at the sweet memory of being so taken with something so simplistic.

He also remembered that Sam had come bounding into their dad's den and cried how she wanted her own glove too. Even then, Samantha always wanted to follow in her brother's footsteps. It was never a question of jealousy; Mulder knew his sister simply wanted to do whatever her big brother did. Both he and his father recognized this and so they'd gone to the store and his dad purchased a cheap, vinyl glove that fit Sam's small hand perfectly.

Mulder remembered how Sam insisted that she had to break in her glove just like his own. He also recalled vividly how upset his mom had been when the glove oil that had absorbed so well into his own leather glove dripped all over her kitchen floor as it escaped his sister's slippery vinyl one. But he dutifully placed a small, pink rubber Spaulding inside of it to form a pocket and wrapped a rubber band (which he'd had no trouble with given the small size of the glove) around it.

When the day had come for them to take off the bands from their gloves and try them out, both brother and sister were equally pleased with the results. He because the pocket that had formed was true, and she, because her big brother had 'said' that her glove looked great, 'just like his.' It didn't matter that the vinyl reverted back to its original shape shortly after the removal of the rubber band. He watched out for his little sister.

He was her protector.

He found only one more object in the box and Mulder couldn't help but sigh a little at the thought of so few memories in such a big box. But as soon as he lifted the final, mystery object, he drew in a quick breath. He knew what it was. He didn't have to look. He couldn't believe his mother had found it, much less saved it.

Mulder remembered a time when his sister's seventh birthday was coming up. He wanted to buy her something special, something she really wanted. He'd actually been saving up his allowance for just that purpose though he wasn't sure why, since they'd never exchanged store bought gifts before. He never did determine why it was so important to him to get her that gift in that particular year, but it was.

He'd gone to the toy store, and waited a few minutes before entering. He had to make sure that none of his friends were around; it wouldn't do for any of the guys to see eleven-year-old Fox checking out the doll's aisle of 'The ToyBox' toy store. He knew Sam had wanted a new one, but he'd never known just how many choices were out there.

He saw a Thumbelina doll and a Chatty Cathy doll, but they seemed to be just too much doll for what he wanted. Besides, he'd saved some money, but not nearly enough to cover the cost of either of those. He checked out the Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, but Sam already had one of each. Finally his eyes fell on the small rag doll that sat in the corner. Mulder remembered thinking that it looked so forlorn, as if it were pleading for him to pick her up and bring her home.

He shook his head when he saw the price. How could a rag doll cost that much? Mr. Danforth, the proprietor of the store, saw that he'd been in a bit of a quandary. When Fox had explained he wanted to buy the doll for his sister's birthday, but that he was short a couple of dollars, Mr. Danforth told him that he believed Fox was good for the money and to bring it to him when he had it. Mulder shook his head at the notion of anyone doing that for him in today's day and age. There was something to be said for living in a small town, he thought fondly.

Mulder remembered bringing it home and wrapping it up as best he could. He was so damned proud of himself; it was the first present he'd ever bought for anyone by himself with his own money and without his parents' help. On the day the family celebrated her birthday, and after Sam had opened all of the 'family' presents she'd received, he'd surprised everyone when he brought out his own awkwardly-wrapped present. She'd told him later she'd thought it was the most beautiful package in the world, even though the wrapping paper stuck out at all angles and he'd must have used a whole roll of tape to wrap it up.

He smiled as he pictured his sister tearing open that present. When she picked up the doll, all she said, as she hugged it close to her heart, was it was just what she wanted. He'd beamed. Mulder remembered as he did now, that he had a smile on his face the entire rest of the evening as he watched Sam carry that doll around with her from room to room.

It soon became evident that that doll was never going to leave Sam's arms. She carried it everywhere she went, whether it was on errands with their mom or trips to a friend's house. It didn't matter that she was seven years old; her brother, Fox, gave her that doll and it was her baby, her lucky charm, and only good things happened when it was with her.

He pulled off the newspaper that protected it all of these years and the dulled white tissue paper that was a second skin as well. He sighed as he remembered a time when she hadn't had her lucky doll with her.

They'd left for Quonochontaug very late that Friday night in an attempt to beat the weekend traffic. Sam had actually fallen asleep, and their dad had to pick her up and put her in the car carefully so she wouldn't wake up. He'd already packed up the suitcases and their mom and Fox grabbed the smaller items that needed to be put in the trunk.

When Sam had woken up, they were already within a mile of the summerhouse. She'd groped about in the back of the car, disturbing Fox and causing him to scold her to stop pawing him, when she cried out for her baby doll. Teena and Fox stared at one another; eyes that carried with them the certainty that the 'other' one was supposed to have grabbed the beloved doll.

It was left at home in Chilmark. Sam's lucky charm wasn't there to protect her. But now, as he stared at the small face that once again seemed to call out to him to find her a home, he remembered how well his sister loved that doll. And now it was time for a new baby to be loved and protected.

By the doll.

By him.


The end.

Feedback gratefully received at: STPteach@aol.com