New! BBQ Series 18: Welcome Back, Mulder
Date: Thursday, December 30, 1999

Category: Vignette, MSR, ScullyAngst, MulderAngst, MulderTorture

Rating: PG-13 for language, inferred images of torture and abuse.

Spoilers: Let's just say through season 7, to be safe. This could almost
maybe possibly fit into CC's timeline…(Okay, let's use our imagination here,

Summary: Coming home to face the family, afterwards.

Archive: Yes

Disclaimer: The names you recognize belong to 10/13 productions and Chris
Carter. I'm just borrowing them, and since I've learned to play nice in the
sandbox, I promise to return them in one piece.

Author's notes: It picks up in the Barbecue Series Universe and follows # 17.
It would probably make more sense if you knew what makes this universe go
round by reading the prior stories.

Thank you, Vickie Moseley, for taking a gander at yet another one! And yes,
it is a vignette in the Proto scheme of things....<G> Oh, and I promise to
deal with sleeping arrangements in the next one! <EG>

Feedback? Feedback? Yup, I *need* the stinkin' feedback! Feedback is
definitely therapeutic!

Barbecue Series 18: Welcome Back, Mulder
By Susan Proto (

Part 1/2

December 26th, 1999
Maggie Scully's Home

We pull up to the driveway and see Skinner's car there, but no one else's. I
breathe a small sigh of relief.

I've just been placed back on active duty as a Christmas present from Dr.
Shapiro, my therapist extraudinaire. I'm not too sure if it's the wisest
move on any of our parts, given the fact I'm so grateful it's just Skinner's
car that's parked in the driveway.

I honestly don't know if I'm ready to handle the whole Scully clan in one
fell swoop, though I do know they'll be arriving in dribs and drabs later on
this evening. I know both Charlie and Bill and their respective families
were going to be out and about visiting various local friends.

I suspect my future mother-in-law has planned my visit just so I can readjust
to the large crowd in increments. So, it's with only a small amount of
trepidation that I walk up the familiar driveway and up the front steps to
the front door. As Scully reaches up to ring the doorbell, the door swings
wide open.

"Dana! Fox! Oh, I'm so glad you're here!" cries out a smiling Maggie.

"Hi, Mom," greets Scully as she reaches to hug the woman. When they release
one another from their embrace, Maggie looks straight at me.

"Welcome home, Fox," she says. I think I'm going to burst into tears right
then and there.

Right. I'm ready for field work. God help us all.

"It's good to be home, Mom," I reply in a slightly choked voice, as I reach
out to her envelop her in my arms. I'm always amazed at how perfectly these
Scully women just fit so neatly into my arms. I sigh in contentment.

"All right you two, let's get inside before I freeze my butt off!" admonishes
Scully in a teasing voice.

"But it's such a cute butt to have frozen for posterior-ity," I say, not
being able to resist the horrible pun.

"Oh, Fox, that's awful," says Mom who's chuckling anyway.

We enter the front hall and remove our coats and jackets. While Mom hangs
them up in the closet, I hear a deep voice call from the kitchen, "Anyone
want some eggnog?"

"We'll be right in for our rations, Walter," Mom calls back. She and Walter
Skinner have become quite the item. I still don't quite see it, but she
brings out his soft side and he makes her happy.

There's nothing more that I want to see than the Scully women happy.

We follow Maggie into the kitchen where Skinner has poured four cups of the
thick libation. He has the bottle of rum in one hand and asks us if we'd
like it spiked a bit. Both Scully and Mom indicate they could handle a bit
of the dark liquor, but after a quick glare from Scully, I beg off. I'm
still taking some mild tranquilizers and realize it probably wouldn't be a
really good idea.

Dr. Shapiro suggested I remain on the meds for a while, at the very least
until I return to active field status. I didn't think it was necessary at
first, but then Scully reminded me we weren't going to be the only ones
paying Maggie a visit today.

Charlie Scully has been a great ally for the most part; there was one
incident where I wondered a bit, but for the most part, he's really been
there for me.

Bill, on the other hand, remains an enigma to me. One moment it seems like
he's making an effort to behave like a human being towards me, and the next
moment he turns into a 14karat gold pain in the ass. If it weren't for the
fact I really get along with Tara and adore their kid, I don't think you
would ever catch me in the same city, much less the same room, as Bill
Scully, Jr. It's not that I hate the man; that's the strangest thing of all.

For some reason, I don't. He just hates me, for which there's not a helluva
lot I can do. So, I learn to deal.

And I take some Valium on the advice of my therapist.
We sit and chat quietly for the next couple of hours or so. I feel really at
home in this room, the kitchen. I'm nursing my third eggnog, which Mom
graciously refills over and over again; it has something to do with her
maternal need to fatten me up, I guess. Don't care what the reason, I'm
enjoying the hell out of her mothering.

I've finally come to terms with my own mother's ability, or rather lack of
ability, to 'mother' me. I wish she could, but my recent discovery that the
woman actually loves me, albeit in her own, strange, somewhat dysfunctional
manner, allows me to be more accepting of my adopted mother's offerings of
love than I'd ever felt before.

And Maggie Scully does love me, too, though she certainly shows it in more
conventional ways than Mrs. Mulder has in recent years.

"Oh, Fox, you must be tired," Mom says suddenly. I must have a surprised
expression plastered on my face because she goes on to explain, "You've been
yawning for the last five minutes, dear."

"Am I?" I hadn't realized it. I guess my stamina isn't quite up to par
which leads Skinner to mention he plans on keeping me on desk duty for as
long as necessary. He doesn't want me out in the field until I am fully
recovered physically. I can only nod in agreement; if I can't keep from
yawning after two hours of conversation and three glasses of unspiked eggnog,
how the hell can I be expected to cover my partner's back effectively.

"Why don't you go and take a quick nap upstairs, Fox?" You can lay down my
room for a little bit," Mom offers.

"Oh, I don't know_," I begin, but Scully cuts me off.

"It's not a bad idea, Mulder. Bill and Charlie will be back pretty soon with
the kids, and you know they're going to want to play with their 'Unc-key
Mulder,' right?" she asks with a smile.

I can't argue with this. Suddenly, I really am feeling exhausted. This is
probably the most energy I've exerted since my release from the hospital. I
mean, sure I've been to the market and to the various doctors' offices, but
I've always returned home within a couple of hours and collapsed into bed to
take a nap.

Today is no different, so I figure I might as well take advantage of the
opportunity while it's still available. When I agree readily to Mom's offer,
Skinner looks at me a little funny and suggests that it might be a wise idea
to start back at the office on a half-day basis.

I smile and say, "Whatever you say, Sir. You're the boss."

Skinner laughs at this and says, "Tell me you're turning over a new leaf and
making it your millennium resolution to be more agreeable to your superior's

"Absolutely, Sir." I smile as I say this, so everyone present knows that
what I say is to be taken with a certain grain of salt but then the need to
go lay down and regain some strength becomes all too powerful.

I stand up and am surprisingly a little wobbly. Scully stands up immediately
and offers to walk me upstairs, but after my initial dizzy spell, I find that
I feel fine. "No, I'm okay; sit and finish talking with Mom and Walter."

She nods and reaches up to kiss me lightly on the lips and then sits (I think
reluctantly) back down. I turn and go up the stairs that lead directly from
the kitchen to the second floor bedrooms.

I find Mom's room quickly and decide it best to use the bathroom before I lay
down. Three cups of eggnog would do that to anyone, I suppose. I go into
the master bath and turn on the light. I make a quick observation and do a
double take. I see a men's travel case on the sink.

Holy shit.

Now, I know Maggie Scully is a mature, fully grown adult, and that the same
can be said for Walter Skinner. So, how come I feel so damned uncomfortable
with this new knowledge? How come I wish to be kept in ignorant bliss over
this particular aspect of their lives?

I can't help but wonder if Scully knows, and if she does I wonder if she's as
uncomfortable with it as I am? Then again if she does know, I wonder how the
hell come she hasn't told me?

I finish my business, wash my hands, and take a moment more to look around
the master bedroom. I wonder how long he's been sleeping in her bed? I look
for clues to help me determine whether this has been a long term or short
term situation.

Suddenly, I wonder if Bill or Charlie knows? I suppose seeing the expression
on Billy's face when he learns of this little tidbit would be absolutely
priceless. However, I sure as hell don't plan to be the one to tell him.
Not if I value my life, that is.

I am so physically and emotionally drained at this moment that I feel as if I
could fall asleep the moment my head hits the pillow. One problem, though, I
simply can't get myself to sleep in this bed.

I know I'm being childish about it; actually, I'm probably being a complete
idiot about it, but I can't help it. I am so uncomfortable at the thought of
sleeping in the bed that Mom shares with __, with my _boss_. Oh jeeze, this
is nuts. I have to get the hell out of this room.

I go into the first bedroom on the right and before I even realize whose it
is, I practically fall into the bed and close my eyes. I've got a pulsating
headache at the moment, which I know will be alleviated with a short nap. I
think I must have fallen asleep within moments of closing my eyes.


"Unc-key Mulder!!!" screams the toddler's voice gleefully. Unc-key Mulder!
Wake up! It's me! It's me!"

My eyes jerk open in terror as I can't imagine who or what is attacking me in
my sleep-filled stupor. I then feel the small hands patting my face and when
I finally get my eyes to focus, I realize it's Matthew Scully who seems
intent upon raising not only me, but long dead, ancient ancestors as well.

"Hey Matty," I whisper in a voice hoarse from sleep.

"How come you sleeping in Daddy's room?" he asks curiously.

"Daddy's?" I echo in astonishment. Shit. How could I not realize this was
Bill's room. Shit. Now he's got something else to piss and moan about.

"Yeah, Daddy's," affirms a much deeper voice. "What the hell are you doing
in here, Mulder?"

"Hello, Bill," I say in as neutral a tone as possible. "I was starting to
tire out, so Mo__, so Maggie suggested I come upstairs to catch a quick nap."

"Why the hell are you in here, though?"

"Umm, it was the first room I came to, Bill. I'm sorry if I've put you out.
I'm getting up now anyway," I say in an attempt to placate him a bit. I
stand up, tell Matty I'll meet him downstairs, and then go down to join the

When I enter the room, I hear Charlie and Karen's voices as well as Tara's.
Briana and Daniel are sitting quietly drinking some milk and eating leftover
Christmas cookies. I hear footsteps right behind me and realize Bill and
Matthew have followed me down.

"Oh, good, look whose joined us! Did you have a nice nap, Fox?" Maggie asks

"Yes, it was just what I needed, thanks."

"Unc-key Mulder was sleeping in Daddy's bed!" Matthew announces through a
myriad of giggles.

"Oh, but Bill's bed isn't nearly as comfortable as my bed is, Fox. I could
have sworn I told you to use mine," admonishes Maggie lightly.

"Oh?" I say and shrug my shoulders. I hope the subject will drop at this
point, as the last thing I want to discuss at this moment is my comfort level
regarding my future mother-in-law's sex life.

"So, how have you been, Mulder?" asks Charlie as he comes to my rescue.

"Pretty good, Charlie, thanks. I go back on active duty tomorrow as a matter
of fact. Millennium madness and all that, I guess," I reply.

"It's desk duty, Mulder, and don't you forget it," reminds Scully sternly. I
nod and say in my best, henpecked voice, "Yes, dear."
Scully gives me a love punch, but I don't mind.

Charlie nods his head to that and then hesitates. I suppose he's debating
with himself as to whether he should ask about my latest travail or not.
Personally, I'd just as soon he left the subject alone, but I'll certainly
address it if he brings it up. I'm just hoping he thinks of something else
to talk about. Hey, how about those Yankees?

"So, what the hell happened to you this time, Mulder?" asks Bill coldly.

So much for those damn Yankees.

Charlie's head snaps up in Bill's direction, as does everyone else's in the
room. Charlie was weighing whether it would be appropriate to question me
about the abduction, as well as how he could ask me in as tactful a manner as
possible. That's Charlie; he's really a class act.

On the other hand, there's Billy.

"Billy, this is neither the time nor the place," intercedes Scully in an
equally cold voice.

"Hey, I'm just a concerned future brother-in-law, you know?" he retorts.

"Oh Billy, please," pleads Tara, "not now. It's totally uncalled for."

I knew I liked this woman for a reason. How she ever hooked up with Bill
'the lug head' Scully is beyond me.

"I just can't help wondering why the guy my only surviving sister falls in
love with is in the hospital more times in the span of a year than I am in my
entire life," he retorts angrily. "Explain it to me, Mulder. How come
you're such a magnet for trouble? What the hell happened to you this time,
for Christ's sake?"

I hear Scully begin to say something, but I cut her off. "Scully, shh," I
say gently. I have to put this to rest now. I don't want to start off the
year 2000 with Billy the Asshole Scully looking for new ways to make Dana's
and my lives miserable. He wants an answer to the question, I'll answer it,
but on one condition.

"I won't speak of it with the children present," I state quietly but firmly.

End of Part 1/2 ( )


The Barbecue Series 18: Welcome Back, Mulder
By Susan Proto (

Disclaimers in Part 1

Part 2/2

"Daniel? Take Briana and Matty into the other room and put on the Toy Story
video you got for Christmas, okay?" asks Billy.

Daniel looks over to his dad and I see Charlie smile at his oldest child and
nod. He mouths a 'thank you' to the child and Daniel herds the two younger
children up into the other room without further question.

"Okay," Bill says snidely, "the children are no longer an issue. So? What
the hell happened to you this time? Little green men come and steal you
away? Did you go for a ride in a flying saucer? What planet did you land
on, Mulder? Mars? Jupiter? Alpha Centorie?

"Or did one of those damned psychos that you make my sister chase after
escape and decide to come back and get his revenge on you. Maybe he tied you
up and knocked you upside the head a few times? Did he knock any sense into
you, asshole?" Bill asks with clenched teeth.

"William Scully, Jr.!" Maggie cries out. "How dare you speak to someone in
that manner in this house! Just who the hell do you think you are? How
could you?"

"Mom, don't," I say gently. "I told him I would answer his question. It's
okay." I know she doesn't believe me, but in all honesty it is. Of course
the fact that I took another Valium before I came down does help the

"To be honest, I don't know exactly what happened to me this last time, Bill.
I wish I did, because then I'd probably have some clearer answers for your
sister and how she'd disappeared for three months out of her life," I begin,
but Billy's snicker cuts me off.

"Right, like you could ever give us an excuse for her disappearance!" he
practically growls at me.

"Excuse? No, I never said I had an excuse for her disappearance," I say
softly. I am working with a great deal of effort to keep my voice as calm
and as neutral as possible. I want him to hear my words and not dismiss me
simply because I'm Fox Mulder, 'a sorry sonofabitch.'

"No, I only can hope that someday I may have an explanation, as I hope to
have an explanation for why I was __." I pause here. The memories I do have
are still too damned painful and as much as I want to relay this to Bill the
Compassionless, I have to take a moment to collect myself. I sense Scully
wants to put an end to this now, but I won't let her.

"I'm okay," I say softly, but firmly, as I look directly into her gaze. A
moment or two passes, and I see her nod her head. I breathe a small sigh of
relief and then I continue.

"I was taken from the area of the Viet Nam Memorial. I'm not sure how,
though I'm positive it wasn't a serial killer out for revenge. I can safely
say it was people who I've had dealings with in the past, though. I also
believe there was some unexplained phenomena involved, Bill. I don't think I
was abducted by conventional means, but I do believe ordinary men were
involved in the aftermath of my abduction."

I take a breath here. Well, I've got the audience mesmerized, that's for
sure. I see Charlie and Karen listening raptly as well Tara. Skinner has
heard this before as has Scully, but Maggie is sitting with wide eyes mixed
with both wonder and fear. Only Bill sits with an incredulous expression on
his face.

"Oh, this is the biggest crock of bullshit, Mulder! You're telling me you
think little green men came down and kidnapped you?" guffaws Billy.

I don't answer at first. I don't know how to make him understand; I don't
know if it's worth the effort. Well, apparently Skinner does.

"I was there, Bill. I can attest to the fact that something out of the
ordinary occurred which coincided with Mulder's disappearance," begins Walter.

"So, there was a great big ball of light, right?" jeers Billy.

"As a matter of fact, there was a very bright light, and then there was the
matter of some missing time," he responds. Walter then goes on to describe
how he'd discovered I was no longer in the area once he'd turned around, even
though it had felt like only seconds had passed. "When I happened to look at
my watch, I noticed almost ten minutes had elapsed."

Next, he explains what had happened when everyone realized I wasn't where I'd
said I would be that Veteran's Day Weekend. Last, he details how they'd
found me, paralyzed with pain, back at the Memorial freezing my buns off in
just my boxers.

Everyone's eyes are on Walter as he finishes the details of the story.
Somehow, I don't think Bill will allow it to end there. Somehow, I know he
will demand to know what happened in the middle.

"Yeah, so what did they do to ya?" he asks.

I think I'm going to become a professional prognosticator.

"Can I have something to drink, please?" I ask quietly.

"I'll get it," begs Tara. I suspect she wants nothing more than to dig a
hole for her to escape into, in order to get away from her husband. It's not
her fault; I know she realizes I could never fault her. I guess it doesn't
help much at the moment, though.

"Thanks," I say, and I watch her disappear into the kitchen. I remain quiet
until she returns a few minutes later with a big pitcher of eggnog and
glasses for everyone. All I really want is a glass of water, but I remain
quiet. I just don't want to give Bill Scully any ammunition.

'You're stalling, Mulder.'

'What's the matter, my wife's offering isn't good enough for you?'

I know it's absurd for me to leap to these conclusions, but after dealing
with Bill Scully for all of these months, I can't help it. The man runs so
hot and cold on me that I'm never sure how he's going to react to anything I

So, sometimes I take the chicken shit way out and say nothing at all.

I take a good long swallow of the eggnog. It tastes very smooth going down.
Very smooth indeed.

I look at Bill and I begin my recitation of the events that occurred in
between my abduction and my return.

"I was strapped to an examining table. I was put in five-point restraints.
I couldn't move my hands, feet, chest or head. I was restrained for the
entire time, from what I can remember."

I take another swallow of the eggnog. I realize something as I relay my
experience. Bill Scully wants to know if I was hurt, because it would give
him satisfaction to know I was in pain.

I pick up the glass again and I finish the contents. Tara, without being
asked, pours another glass for me and hands it to me. She hands it to me and
looks at me with eyes that express such sorrow; I don't know for whom I feel
more sympathy, her or me.

I take another sip and then I decide to give Bill his jollies.

Merry Christmas, Asshole.

"I remember the table being cold. It was metal, and there was no cloth or
bedding of any kind. I was totally exposed. Yup," I say, looking directly
at Billy, "I was buck-naked on that table." I swear I can see the beginnings
of a smile form on the bastard's face. He's actually enjoying this.

I feel my tongue loosening up and I continue my tale of woe. "So, I'm laying
on this cold, metal table, freezing my naked ass off, and _," I hesitate for
a moment because this is the part which still gets to me every time, ''__and
I'm fully conscious the entire time. Every time I begin to fall asleep, they
inject me with something to wake me up again."

I don't even realize I've started talking in the present tense. I'm feeling
a bit lightheaded, and as I relay the story I feel as if I'm reliving the
damn thing all over again. Scully realizes this though, and she grasps my
hand. She calls to me, but I'm back in the examination room.

"I'm not allowed to sleep at all, and I'm not allowed to rest or recover from
__, from whatever tests they conduct at any given moment."

I stop. I drink. I swallow. I wait.

"Tests?" asks a tentative Charlie. "My God, Mulder, what kind of tests?"

"I don't know; they won't tell me," I whisper in response, "but it hurts. It
hurts so bad."

Now even Billy has the good graces to look a little uncomfortable, but not
nearly as much as Tara, Charlie and his wife, Mom and Skinner. Scully of
course is ready to jump out of her skin at this point.

But I'm in the zone. I can't stop myself now; I have to talk.

"I watch them raise the hypodermic up over my stomach and I hear them discuss
where they should place it to withdraw the samples. They've taken marking
pens and marked the locations on my stomach and __, and groin.

"I can't see where they're going to inject me first, because my head remains
restrained. But I feel it. Oh God, it's huge and it hurts," I cry out and
now I really feel as if I am reliving the damn thing all over again and I
feel the pain as if they were doing the tests at that very moment. I start
keening like a wild animal in distress, but I can't help it.

"Mulder, sweetheart, listen to me," Scully calls to me.

I hear her voice, but I can't react to her. I'm still in my kaleidoscope of
pain and every nerve ending feels as if it's going to explode. The fire of
pain that I'd felt when Skinner and Scully first found me back at the
Memorial has returned and I'm paralyzed with fear that if I move even a
muscle, I will feel the excruciating pain of that day.

"Mulder, it's over. You're safe and you're with me. Come back to me,
sweetheart, please."

I want to tell her I'm fine, but I can't. I want to tell her I believe her;
I know I'm safe when I'm with her, but I can't. The pain is unbearable; if I
move even my eyelids I feel as if I'm going to pass out.

"Mulder, why are you doing this? Please, Mulder, remember where you are!
You're here, safe at Mom's home. No one can hurt you here!" pleas Scully.

Mom? My mom is here? Mom, help me. Please, help me; I want to cry out, but
I can only shout it in my mind. I want my mother to hold me and tell me it's
going to be all right. It hurts that my mom is fully aware of what is being
done to me; it hurts that she doesn't attempt to stop it. But I still want
her to hold me. I still need her.

I want my mother. I need my mom.

"Fox, I'm here, sweetheart," says a loving voice. "I'm right here."

I know she must begin to reach out to me, but I hear Scully yell, ''No! He's
feeling too much pain. Be very careful."

I feel someone gently stroke the top of my hand with feather touches. It's
an odd combination of pleasure and pain all rolled into one. I suppose the
best example is when you have an itch that is driving you crazy and you begin
to scratch and scratch until you rub the skin raw and now it's actually
painful to scratch but the itch is still there, so you do it anyway.

That's what I'm feeling now; and I don't want it to stop. The constant
strokes lull me to sleep.


I open my eyes to find myself alone in the living room stretched out on Mom's
fancy couch. I have no idea how long I was sleeping; it could have been ten
minutes or ten hours. All I know is, I actually feel a little rested. I
actually feel pretty good.

I flex my arms and legs a bit and feel no pain. I can't help but wonder if I
was dreaming before, but I don't think I was. I'm not sure why I was
reliving the abduction experience, but I'm glad it's over and done with. For
now, at least.

I move gingerly to sit myself up on the couch by swinging my legs over the
side onto the floor. I scrub my face with my right hand and then lift my
left one up to try and note the time. I've apparently been sleeping for the
last three hours. I wonder where everyone is; especially Scully.

Next I stand up and remain stationary for a moment to get my bearings. Then
I listen for any sound of voices and realize I hear them coming from the den.
I walk towards the room and hear the television on low mixed in with adult

When I appear at the door, I see Briana and Daniel are asleep on the floor,
while the youngest little bugger, Matty remains wide awake with his eyes
glued to the screen. I chuckle out loud at this scene and Matty is up like a
jackrabbit and barreling towards me.

Tara tries to refrain him from causing me any more bodily harm, but she's a
little too slow on the upbeat. Nonetheless, Matty makes his way into my arms
before I even have a moment to think about it.

"Hi Unc-key Mulder! I want you to watch this movie with me, okay?" he says
very seriously. I nod and he then burrows his face into my neck, and quite
frankly other than Scully's face, I can't think of anything that feels better.

Scully pats the space next to her on the couch and I sit down next to her
with Matty still snuggling in my arms. I don't think the child has any
intentions of watching any more of this movie. I suspect he'll be in la-la
land within the next few minutes.

"How ya feeling, G-Man?" asks Scully softly. She's made the same assumption
I have and doesn't want to wake Matty up from his half sleepy stupor.

"Fine, actually." When Scully gives me her patented raised eyebrow, I
quickly assure her, "Really. I actually feel rested." I see her nod her
head at this, but then I have to ask, "Umm, what happened earlier?"

"Earlier?" she echoes.

"C'mon, Scully. What happened to me earlier? Everything is really hazy, but
if I'm not mistaken, I think I haired out before, didn't I?"

"Mulder, it was my fault," interjects Tara.

"Your fault? Tara, I don't understand," I say quite honestly.

"Oh, Mulder, I'm so sorry. I didn't realize you were on any kind of
medication, so the eggnog I'd given you kind of did you in. Sweetie, that
was one helluva potent potable. I'd laced that pitcher with ninety proof and
I was really quite generous. I had a feeling everyone could have used a
drink at that point," she says contritely.

"I suspect you're right about that," I murmur. So, I was feeling the effects
of the alcohol mixed in with the Valium; that was the reason for my trip down
memory lane. My body always has reacted strangely to certain combinations of
drugs; I suppose I can add rum and Valium to that list. I look over at Tara
and realize she's feeling terrible about what has happened and do my best to
reassure her.

"It's okay, Tara, really. I think I just took something akin to a power nap
as a result of my mixing the meds and alcohol, and quite frankly, I feel
great. So, don't give it another thought, okay?" I smile as sincerely as I
can, and I think Tara begins to relax.

She stands up and holds her hands out to me. "I think," she says in a
whisper, "our mighty Matty has finally conked out. I'm going to take him and
put him to bed."

"Would you mind if I did it?" I ask. "He's snuggled in really well, and I
don't want to disturb him any more than necessary. I mean, we wouldn't want
to wake him up at this point, right,?"

Tara smiles and lends me a hand in getting up off the couch. "He's sleeping
in the guest room in the little junior bed with the rail." I nod and leave
the room to bring him upstairs.

After I've tucked him in and watch him nestle in under the comforter, I hang
back and watch him for a few minutes. He looks so peaceful, so content.
He's a beautiful little boy. God, I love this kid so much.

I finally turn to leave the room when I notice a shadow right outside the
door. When I step out of the room I see the tall redhead waiting for me.

"I was just putting him down for sleep," I say defensively. Why I give this
man an excuse for my actions is beyond me, but I do it instinctively. I
guess some might call it 'survival skills.'

"Yeah, I know. I was coming in from the kitchen getting a soda when I heard
you and Tara talking." He hesitates and finally makes the first real eye
contact with me while we're standing here, "Thanks for helping him fall
asleep. Tara and me, we thought he'd be up all night."

I'm not sure if my jaw has dropped totally to the ground floor or not, but I
tell him he's welcomed. I figure I won't push my luck, so I say, "Well, a
drink sounds like a pretty good idea to me about now. I think I'll go get an
iced tea."

"Mulder, wait," Bill calls out to me hastily. When I stop, I hear him clear
his throat, so I turn around. "I __, I, umm, just want to tell you __, umm,
__, sorry."

He's actually trying to look me in the eyes. Whoa. Mark this date with a
red star. Now, where's a witness when you need one?

"Right," I say succinctly. I decide it's not going to get us anywhere to
belabor the point. Besides, to be honest, I don't remember everything that
happened earlier. My head was really fuzzy from the booze and drug combo, so
I don't consider it necessary to continue this conversation.

But as I begin to move past him, Billy grasps my arm. He's doing the macho
thing a little more than necessary, but he's not trying to hurt me; he simply
wants to get my attention.

"I shouldn't have been egging you on like that. I shouldn't have been __."
He does stop and look like he's groping for the right words. Finally, he
confesses, "I shouldn't have been enjoying your pain so damned much. That
was wrong of me."

I nod my head and then watch as he pushes past me. I remain standing there
for a few moments more. I'm not sure if anyone would believe what just
transpired. I'm not sure if I even do; I wonder if the alcohol and Valium
are still doing the cha-cha in my bloodstream?

After a minute or two more, I decide to accept Bill Scully's words for what
they were worth. Tonight he meant it; until the next time that is, so I
think I'll simply accept them and enjoy them.

And for now? I'm going to go back downstairs and enjoy being back home with
the family.

End of part 2/2
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