Amanda's Identity |
By Mary Kleinsmith (Buc252@aol.com)
Spoilers: Season 7 in a way, but nothing major
Summary: Doting parents learn more about their little girl than they ever dreamed.
Classification: MSR, Babyfic
Archive: Yes, anywhere
Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, and everything related to them belong to Chris Carter (the jerk!) and 10-13, with magic added by David and Gillian. I'm only borrowing them, especially since the fic writers have a better sense of what to do with Mulder and Scully than CC and Company does. Still, I'm not making any money on this.
Author's Note: This is the third in my "Amanda" series. For those of you who were kind enough to write and tell me you liked the first two installments, I hope you enjoy this one. Feedback: Please, please, please, please, please, please, please?
By Mary Kleinsmith (BUC252@aol.com)
There was no denying it. Margaret Scully was quite probably the best cook on the entire planet. And as much as he loved his wife, Fox Mulder had been looking forward to this family dinner all week. He felt sure that Maggie would be serving his favorites - all those things that he'd gobbled down when she served them in the past.
Of course, Scully would properly chastise him, citing once again how eating like that was a bad example for their daughter. He could hardly believe that the eight-month-old was eating baby food already. She still fed at her mother's breast, but it was supplemented now by tiny jars of fruits and vegetables, potatoes and meat. Not that it could be identified as such unless you read the label. What Amanda ate was pulverized into a thick pseudo-liquid that she could eat without chewing. After all, she barely had two teeth!
Mulder pulled the car up in front of the house one-handed, the fingers of his right hand still entwined in his wife's. He'd never realized that married life could be this wonderful. He had everything his heart desired, except possibly his sister, who, he knew, was in safe, comfortable place herself and no longer needed protecting by him. Now, his protectiveness turned to Scully and Amanda. They were his world, he thought as he watched his wife extricate Amanda from the car seat.
"Can you get the diaper bag, Mulder?" Scully asked rhetorically.
"Don't I always?" he grinned, sliding the strap over his shoulder and noticing the increased weight that the jars of food caused. Soft mewling coming from Scully's arms indicated that their daughter had been asleep, and was none too happy to be suddenly taken from her rest. "Is she going to fuss?" he asked.
"I don't think so. She's settled down already." Mulder stepped in front of Scully and knocked on the door, realizing that her hands were too full to do so herself. Maggie must have been standing right next to the door, he thought, as the door was opened almost immediately.
"Dana! Fox!" she greeted as she enfolded them in her loving arms. If the noise bothered Amanda, she didn't show it, remaining asleep through the changing of hands when her grandmother held her while her parents divested themselves of coats. "Dinner won't be ready for a couple hours or so," she advised, leading them into the warm livingroom.
"What the heck?" Mulder laughed as he took in what was normally an open space, but now was piled with stacks of books.
Maggie looked on, smiling, as Dana's face showed her dawning realization. "Mom, these look like our old family photo albums!"
"That they are, honey. I went up into the attic and got them earlier today." Scully looked at her questioningly, so she added, "Well, you've been promising to show Fox some of your baby pictures, so I figured it was the perfect time."
"You didn't have to go to so much trouble," Mulder said, taking a seat on the couch as Scully lowered herself and Amanda to the cushion beside him.
"It was no trouble, Fox. Besides, it gave me a chance to reminisce a little, too. There are a lot of fond memories in those books. Now I've tried to stack them by date, so if you start with that pile there," she pointed to the one closest to the sofa, "you'll be able to go in order. If you'll excuse me for a moment, I'm going to check on dinner."
"Of course," Mulder said, smiling warmly. He still couldn't believe he was part of the Scully family. There had to be more than 40 photo albums stacked around the room; he doubted there were more than five from his childhood, and a good deal of those pictures had been destroyed by his mother before her death. He still didn't understand why she'd taken it on herself to do so, and it hurt to think of her final act being to burn every picture of he and his family she could lay her hands on. He hadn't told Scully for weeks afterwards that he'd found their family photo albums empty. The frames were apparent immediately, but the photo albums had broken his heart. He knew he'd never know why she'd done it, and most of the time it was easy enough to put it out of his mind, given the new status of his life, but every once in a while . . .
"Mulder, where did you go?" Scully asked, shaking his arm with a gentle hand. He realized he'd been zoned out, deep in thought.
"Sorry," he answered, embarrassed. "I was just thinking about . . . well, about how different it is to be a member of the Scully clan."
"Well, you are, and you always will be, so you'd better get used to it," she answered warmly, kissing him on the cheek.
He returned the kiss with relish, placing one on Amanda's sleeping forehead, too. "So where do I begin?"
"Mom's pretty organized. I'm betting she has the oldest on top." Mulder pulled over a book and opened the cover to a black and white photo of a beautiful, dark haired young woman in a white dress and a dashing man in a naval uniform. "Mom and Dad on their wedding day," Dana supplied, leaning into him as the book was balanced on his knees.
"She was almost as beautiful as you were on ours," Mulder said, blushing slightly.
"Maybe, but considerably less pregnant," she laughed, blushing as well.
"You were ravishing, and it didn't even show," Mulder said, adding, "not that it would have mattered if you did."
Scully's eyes had returned to the book. "Dad was such a handsome man. Until I met you, every man paled in comparison to him."
"But I didn't?" he smiled devilishly.
"I knew you were gorgeous from the moment we met in the office. I remember thinking I'd never seen anybody so handsome. Or so frustrating," she laughed. "But it was more than that. Just something about you drew me in." Her eyes returned to the photo. "I wish he could have met you."
"I wish I could have met him. Maybe I'd have gotten the courage up to propose a lot sooner. It takes a brave man to ask a woman to marry you right after returning from a dangerous mission. Based on the dates, they must have been married right away, huh?"
"A couple weeks, I believe," she answered quietly as she was thinking about what he'd said. "Wait a minute . . . how did you know how my father proposed to my mother? We've never talked about that."
"Maybe your mother mentioned it," he said, blushing, just as Maggie returned to the room.
"Mentioned what?" she asked, taking the baby from Dana's lap. "Why don't I hold her for a bit while you guys look at the photos." Scully gave her up easily, comfortable with her mother's caring for her granddaughter.
"Mom, did you tell Mulder about the day that Dad proposed to you?"
"No, we never discussed that. Any time we talked, it always seemed to be about you - even in the early years." Maggie's eyes went to her son-in-law, noticing that his blush was even more severe than when she'd entered the room. Dana Scully eyed her husband.
"Mulder, honest answer . . . how did you know about that?"
"Okay, okay! I was there. At the funeral," he admitted quietly.
"You came to my Dad's funeral? At the seashore? Where it was supposed to be just family?"
Afraid he was in trouble with both his wife and his mother-in-law, he began to stammer. "I . . . I didn't . . . I mean, I wasn't trying to . . . I just wanted to be sure you were going to be okay. You'd been so . . . when I saw you at the office that morning. So when you left the office, I followed you." He was scrambling now, trying to excuse his actions. "Don't worry, nobody saw me. I stood behind something so I wouldn't disturb the service. I didn't want to intrude, but I just had to . . ."
"You were worried about me, Mulder. It's okay." The look she was giving him was loving, and not at all angry. When he looked at Maggie, her eyes were brimming.
"I'm sorry, Maggie. I couldn't stay away."
"Fox Mulder," she said, sniffling. "Do you think these are tears because you were where you weren't supposed to be? Where you weren't welcome?" She waited, and Mulder half nodded. "These tears are because you were where you belonged without being asked or invited. You and Dana are meant to be together, and you were acting on your instincts of that. The only thing that makes me sad is that you felt you had to hide."
The look Mulder turned to Scully also found her eyes filled. "I love you, Mulder," was all she said as she hugged him briefly and wiped her eyes. Trying to lift the mood, she added, "at this rate, we're still going to be looking at this one book at midnight." The three of them laughed as Mulder turned the page, finding another picture of Scully's parents, this time holding a pair of infants. "Bill and Melissa," she stated.
"Wait a minute," Mulder asked, surprised. "Bill and Melissa were twins?"
"Sure! Didn't I ever tell you that, Mulder?"
"No. I always thought that Bill was the oldest, and then Melissa."
"Well, technically, that's correct," Maggie said. "Bill, Jr., was born five minutes before Melissa made her appearance. It was a different time, then, though, so when Bill went off on assignment, he'd always tell Little Bill that he was man of the house."
"It sort of went to his head," Dana added, smiling.
"Tell me about it," Mulder laughed, returning to the book. Several pages showed the twins as they grew, photos of baptisms and first birthdays and grandparents. Suddenly, the pictures had a new feature: Maggie Scully with an enlarged stomach.
"Let me guess," Mulder said. "That's you!" He pointed to a picture of Maggie's bloated tummy.
"The one and only," Scully answered laughed. Turning the page, she added, "this is a much better picture of me, though.
The photograph was obviously taken on the day of her baptism, little Dana Katherine Scully all decked out in the purest white of her Christening gown. She was beautiful.
A few more pages and a little boy entered the family. "Charlie," Mulder noted, studying the small, happy child. They all looked happy.
It took them about half an hour to get through the first stack of books, and as they moved onto the next, Maggie noticed that the baby in her arms was awake, her eyes wide open. "Well, good morning, little Angel," she said, kissing Amanda. She was content to bounce on her grandmother's knee for a few minutes, but when Mulder moved to sit on the floor closer to the next stack of albums, she noticed the motion and immediately stretched her arms out to her father.
"Good morning," Mulder said to her as he took her into his arms. "How's my girl?" Amanda giggled as he kissed her on the nose and drew her close to his chest.
"She has good timing," Maggie said, rising. "I need to go do some things in the kitchen for dinner. You guys keep at it." As she left the room, she noticed Mulder sitting Indian style on the floor with his daughter in his lap. He was a natural at this.
The time went quickly, with Mulder deriving great pleasure in seeing the Scully family, his wife included, as they matured. Pictures from high school graduation, college, medical school. Even an official photo when she graduated from the FBI Academy had a special place in the family albums. And as he progressed and the time of the pictures drew closer to current day, he was surprised to see images of himself from time to time. He remembered very few from before he and Scully had admitted their love for each other.
Finally, they were on the final album, obviously newer than the rest and in purest white. The first picture in this album was their own wedding picture.
"One of the three happiest days in my life," Mulder said, admiring the picture. His voice was mesmerized, lost in the memory of that day.
"Only one of three?" Scully questioned, lowering herself to the carpet beside him to look at the photo more closely. But she was smiling and he knew she was just giving him a hard time.
"Sure. I can manage to reduce it to three," he responded, wrapping his right arm around her waist. "The day you agreed to marry me, the day we were married, and the day that you gave us Amanda."
She was obviously stunned, probably that he hadn't included anything related to his own family or Samantha. But as much as he'd loved her, his thoughts of her had brought only sorrow and guilt in the over twenty years since she'd disappeared. These three things he'd listed were purely happy occasions.
There were a few more pictures of them on holidays and at family get togethers, Scully's stomach growing with each shot until she finally looked almost as wide as she was high. "God, you were radiant," Mulder whispered, running reverent fingers over her image at nine months.
"Being pregnant was more incredible than I ever dreamed it could be," Scully said, kissing Amanda on the head. "The feeling of carrying another life in your body, a little human being who is part of both of us. It was unbelievable. I never thought I was the type, but I don't think I'd mind being pregnant fifty times!"
"Fifty!" Mulder said in astonishment. "That's a lot of heavy breathing. I don't know about that, but we can hope for at least a few more times." He grinned at her, knowing that they both hoped for a large family of love. They were only too happy to welcome any gifts that came their way, letting nature and God decide when the time was right for them to be parents again.
Additional pictures showed Amanda in her new parents arms, barely two hours old, of her in the hospital nursery, and of them bringing her home for the first time. It seemed only yesterday.
Mulder laughed aloud at the first picture of little Amanda in his own arms. He looked so uncomfortable, awkward - frightened and awestruck all at the same time.
"Hey, Mommy," he said over Amanda's head. "Remember this one? The day she was baptized?"
Scully leaned over to examine the picture. "Y'know what I remember about that day, Dad? I remember Ellen saying 'I told you so' about fifty times."
"About what? Despite her being your best friend, along with my daughter's Godmother, if you remember, I'd only just met her."
"Are you kidding? She'd been trying to get us together since the first year we were working together. I might've realized she was right a lot sooner if I wasn't so busy resisting her!"
"Dana, honey," a voice called from the kitchen.
"Could you come here and give me a hand with this?"
Without answering, Scully adorned her husband and her daughter with a kiss before heading for the kitchen. Her back to them, she didn't see Mulder's yawn.
She was only gone about ten minutes, but when she returned to the livingroom, she was warmed by the sight of the love of her life napping with their child seated contently in his lap. Amanda didn't seem to mind that she'd been figuratively left alone, as she tapped on the photo album of her own baptism with tiny fingers. Mulder still tended to be slightly sleepier than was usual for him, a holdover from his bought with the flu, she figured. Kneeling beside him, she began to wake him for dinner.
"Mulder, it's dinner time," she whispered in his ear before kissing his cheek. He stirred slightly, but didn't wake. "C'mon, honey," she said to Amanda. "Let's get you in your high chair before we wake Daddy the rest of the way."
She pushed the currently-open photo album from Mulder and Amanda's lap, lying it open on the floor before removing the thin one underneath it. The absence of the books in front of him was enough to begin to bring Mulder around. Dana, in the process of returning the finished volume to the pile, spun when she heard her husband's gasp.
Seeing the Baptism album open in Amanda's lap again, Scully repeated to her husband what she'd said to the child. "I need to get her into her high chair, Mulder. You can finish looking at that after dinner." Before he could object, Scully had removed the book again and this time laid it on the coffee table. This time, three sets of eyes, including Maggie Scully's, observed as the volume, as if by magic, moved from the coffee table and returned to it's previous place in front of Amanda. The adults were frozen in stunned silence as they listened to the little girl giggle.
Mulder recovered first, but his voice sounded far away. "Scully, did she just . . .?"
Scully was shaking her head in denial, but couldn't find the words to say. How could she deny what she'd just seen, regardless of how much she wanted to?
"Fox, please tell me that I was just witness to a practical joke. Otherwise, I think I'm going to have to insist you call for help because I'm hallucinating."
Stunned, Mulder answered nonetheless. "It was no joke, Mrs. Scully." His gaze moved from Maggie to his giggling daughter to his wife. "Scully, you're white as a sheet. Say something, honey."
The endearment seemed to bring her out of her shock. "I'm okay," she claimed, rising to her feet. She disappeared for a moment, leaving Fox and her mother exchanging glances, while she went to the nursery and returned.
Kneeling down about four feet from where Mulder and Amanda sat, Scully held her daughter's beloved tie-dyed teddy bear behind her back.
"Amanda," she called, getting no reaction from the child, who seemed engrossed in the baptismal photos again.
"Amanda," Fox added, whispering in his daughter's ear while he surreptitiously covered the album with his hand. "Amanda, where's Mommy?"
The baby raised her eyes, letting them fall on her mother just a few feet away. Scully smiled at her beloved daughter. "Amanda, look what I've got!" She showed her the bear, grasped tightly in her fingertips. It was obvious from the look on Mulder's face that he knew what she was doing and encouraged it. Maggie just looked confused.
"Sweetheart, do you want the teddy bear?" Amanda reached toward her with pudgy fingers. Scully changed her grip on the toy, sitting him loosely in the palm of her hand. "Can you get the bear, Amanda?"
"Oh, dear God," Maggie whispered as the bear flew from Dana's hand onto the table top, then sliding the rest of the way until he seemed to leap from the coffee table into Amanda's lap. As if she didn't have a care in the world, the little girl grasped the bear and held him tightly.
You could have heard a pin drop in the room, the silence was so intense. Mulder realized that his thoughts were moving so fast, he couldn't pin down any single one. What they'd just seen their daughter do was incredible!
"Mulder, do you remember the name of the doctor who treated you when you were having all that unusual brain activity?" Scully, of course, instantly in control of the situation.
"I'm sure it's in the file at home, but why do you want it?"
"Because he's the only doctor that comes to mind who can test her and assure us she's not in any danger from this . . . ability she has."
"You're worried that she could be developing the same thing that I had back then?" At Scully's nod, he shook his own head. "I don't think that's it. She's been fine, no disturbances in the way she's been acting at all."
"Except for the fact that our child is moving things with her mind!" Scully's exclamation made Mulder laugh.
"True, but now that I think about it, she may have been doing this for awhile now. Remember how the bear would move all the time? And all those other things we couldn't explain?" He noticed the distant look in his mother-in-law's eyes. "Are you okay, Maggie?"
She shook her head as if to clear it and looked intently at the little family. "Oh, I'm fine. I was just thinking. I can't believe it, but so many things that happened during the day make sense now. And here I thought I was getting senile because I didn't remember moving this or that!" She laughed, scooping her granddaughter into her arms. "And now to find out that it was just my mischievous little girl! What's grandma going to do with you?" She nuzzled Amanda's neck, eliciting another giggle.
"That's a good question," Scully said, taking her husband's hand. "What are we going to do about it?"
Dana breathed a sigh of relief as she shut the door behind her. She'd just left Mulder and Amanda to go to the Psychology department of the university after being assured that there was nothing to medically endanger their daughter. She still couldn't believe what she'd seen her own flesh and blood do!
She hoped that it wasn't too much to put the little girl through in a single day. She'd completed a full battery of medical tests this morning: EEG, MRI, CAT scan, the works, and other than a slightly more active brain than most people, she was normal. None of the terribly frightening signs that had preceded Mulder's medical condition had appeared present in Amanda's tests. Most people's brains only had five to ten percent that was truly functional, while Amanda's approached the 15 percent level. Unusual, but nothing earth shattering except for what she was able to do with that extra five percent.
It had been a battle at first, convincing the neurologist to administer the tests without telling him exactly why they wanted them, but given her father's medical history, they were able to more easily than they'd feared. But where Mulder's brain activity had been sporadic and unpredictable, Amanda's increased activity was consistent at all times, with no fluctuations.
At least Amanda was safe. Her health was in no jeopardy. Mulder had begged Scully to let them test her psychologically, and Scully had finally given in. Truth be told, she was as curious as her husband was as to how their daughter managed to do these things. She couldn't help thinking that she'd been beamed into a bad repeat of Bewitched as she'd watched Amanda moving that teddy bear without ever laying a finger on it. And while it was true that Scully was much more open to extreme possibilities than she once was, telekinesis was still a little out of her realm of experience.
Dana's first inclination was to hide Amanda's gift, but how do you explain to a one year old that she's not to do something. It wasn't like she was old enough to reason or argue logic with.
With a sigh, she decided that she and Mulder could talk about this more when he got home. For now, she had the house all to herself, and a new bottle of scented bubble bath just waiting to be tried out in a darkened room full of candles.
Of all the rooms in their new home, Dana had to admit that the bathroom was one of her favorites. It had everything - two sinks, a lighted mirror, lots of storage space, and last but not least, the most luxurious bathtub she'd ever experienced. It was extra deep, big enough for two even, and sported three pairs of jets . . . perfect for soothing tired muscles after a long day. She remembered fondly the photo Fox had shot their first week here, both Amanda and Scully with bubbles up to their chins, playing and bathing at the same time.
It scared her to think of the normalcy of it all. When she'd talked about stopping the car all those years ago, she'd never dreamed it would end up like this. Of course, she'd also never dreamed that her daughter would be more of a miracle than they originally realized.
The sound of the back door closing resounded through the house, seemingly louder in the silence. Knowing it couldn't be Mulder so soon, she was torn between calling out to see if her mother had let herself in with her key and maintaining her silence so a perpetrator breaking into their home didn't suspect her presence. She tried to remember where she'd left the cordless phone in case she needed to call for help. It occurred to her as well that she should have brought the lock box that held her gun into the bathroom with her. You could never be too careful after their experiences of the past nine years.
She breathed a heavy sigh of relief when a pair of hazel eyes peeked around the corner. "Up for some company?" he grinned devilishly.
"Mulder, you scared the hell out of me!" Scully said, but her chuckle belied the reprimand. "What are you doing home so soon? I thought the tests were going to take several hours."
Mulder came in and took a seat on the commode after lowering the lid. "The kid is down for her nap," he informed his wife, even though she hadn't asked. She wondered if he was avoiding the subject and pushed him further.
"Mulder, what about the tests?"
He blushed crimson and dipped his head in the way she always found so endearing. "I cancelled them," he said simply.
"But Mulder . . . I thought you said this had to be done right away! You were so worried."
"I got to thinking on the drive to the university, and I think we need to talk about this a little more."
"What's got you so concerned?" Scully asked, forgetting the scented bubbles caressing her shoulders.
"How about Krycek? Or CGB Spender? Or any one of the possible consortium members who escaped being burned to death three years ago? Amanda could be in danger if they ever found out she had special abilities."
Scully was dumbstruck for a moment. What was going through her husband's mind? When she found she could speak again, she said, "are you saying that you think Amanda's ability to move things has something to do with aliens? With the Consortium? The experiments?"
"No, I don't," he assured her, reaching to take her hand. "But I don't think that our enemies are above using her abilities to get what they want. A child is notoriously easy to convince, especially when you raise her from so young. It wouldn't take much to convince her in a year or two to open a bank vault, unlock an armored car, or whatever - if somebody she trusted asked her to."
"So you want to hide what she can do?"
"Yes. I can do some tests here, get some books from the library on the phenomenon and see how far it goes, but nobody outside the family should know." He smiled at her, moving to kneel beside the tub. "It'll be our little secret."
"We'll have to talk to Mom, you know that, right? Explain to her why this has to be kept under wraps?
"Of course. She's already seen first hand what's happening. I hope your mother's good at keeping a secret, Dana."
"You have no idea," Scully laughed, thinking of the past. "We never once were able to guess what she was planned for any given holiday. It'll be okay."
"We can talk to her tomorrow afternoon. We're still having our afternoon together, right?" The following day was Saturday, and Maggie Scully had made it a point to be available for babysitting one Saturday each month so her daughter and son-in-law could have some private time to themselves, and they'd taken to it like fish to water. They loved their daughter beyond reason, but they understood the time needed for just them. Maggie liked to call it their Saturday "date", but Mulder always found that funny since they'd never really dated even before they'd been married.
"Of course we're still having it. When we pick up our little angel, we'll try to make her understand how quiet this has to be kept." He kissed the bubble-covered hand he'd taken, but Scully was lost in thought.
"Mulder, how do you think she ended up this way? How did she get this . . . power?" She wrinkled her nose at the use of that particular word - it just sounded too outrageous.
"I've thought about that a lot," he pondered, seeming to drift a thousand miles away. "I don't think we can ever truly know how people with extra-ordinary psychological abilities get them. But in our cases, there could be a lot of mitigating factors. We both have genius-level IQs. I had that deal with the alien artifact. Your intuitive levels have always been exceptional, and your mother's are even more so. Did I ever tell you that she knew you'd been abducted before anybody told her? Before she even got to the scene or anybody could tell her? And then there's my profiling. I can't explain how it works, just that it does, but it could have something to do with latent abilities of the mind. All of this, added together, could theoretically produce a child with telekinetic abilities."
Scully sighed, but knew Mulder sensed the humor that lay beneath. "Here I was worried about ending up in a bad repeat of Bewitched. Now I'm more worried about it being The X-Men!"
"Hey, I loved that movie," Mulder said smiling. "Jean Grey was always my favorite - there's just something about a redhead . . ." He leaned forward to capture Scully's lips with his own, his hands moving to her bare shoulders.
"Y'know, Fox," she responded when they broke apart for breath, "I could really use somebody to help scrub my back." The sparkle in her eyes grew brighter as her husband's belt cleared each belt loop, finally dropping to the tiled floor before being joined by the rest of his clothes. Who was he to make his wife do without.
It had been a wonderful afternoon, full of private moments between them. The colloquially-accepted dinner hour was just past as they pulled their car up in front of Maggie Scully's home. There was a car they didn't recognize parked just in front of them, and a silently exchanged look communicated their curiosity. Well, they'd know who owned the car soon enough.
Three knocks and then a few moments of quiet preceded the door's opening to reveal a smiling Maggie. "Oh, you're earlier than I expected!" she exclaimed, hugging the couple. "I expected you to let me have at least another hour or so with my granddaughter."
"We missed her too much," Scully said, smiling and looking over her mother's shoulder for Amanda.
"She's in the living room - why don't I take your coats." She waited while they laid the garments in her arms, taking them to the coat hooks on the basement stairway. Returning to their sides, she led them into the adjoining room. Both agents stood in shock as they beheld their boss, Walter Skinner - Assistant Director in the FBI and ex-Marine - sitting on the floor with Amanda, making faces at her. She reached up her pudgy fists to grab his bottom lip in one and his shining eyeglasses in the other.
Nevertheless, he seemed to catch sight of them out of a corner of his eye. "Good afternoon, Agents," he said as best he could without full use of his lower lip. Mulder couldn't resist smiling.
"Good afternoon, Sir," he responded, watching as the man tried to disentangle the baby's hands from his face. "What are you doing here?"
"And when did you get a new car?" Scully added. Leave it to Scully to get all the details straight.
"I had a free afternoon and thought I'd look in on my Goddaughter," he said, lifting the baby into his lap. Mulder didn't think he'd ever get used to the idea of his gruff superior holding his daughter. "And as for the new car, I picked it up earlier today. Took a lot longer than I expected to sign the paperwork, the dealership was in the neighborhood, so . . ."
Mulder couldn't help but feel there was more to it than that, but he let it lay. He turned to meet his wife's eyes, the communication clear.
Tell both now? Or Maggie later? Blue and hazel pairs of eyes said both.
Fox took a step back, indicating wordlessly to Scully that she should take the lead, which she did with her usual aplomb.
"Mom, we actually need a few minutes to talk with you anyway. And since Walter is here, we'd like to include him, too."
Maggie's face grew concerned, but she motioned the couple to the sofa, taking a seat in the chair across from it. Skinner seemed content to maintain his seat on the floor with Amanda.
Once they were settled, Maggie asked, "what's the matter?"
"Mrs. Scully," Mulder began, "before we get into this too far, we need to know . . . I mean, did you tell Walter . . ." The ability to speak left him as quickly as it had come. Luckily, Scully stepped in.
"Mom, remember what happened the night we came over for dinner and to look at photo albums?" Maggie nodded silently. "Have you talked about that with . . . anyone?" Scully's eyes moved to their boss, making it clear that he was included in the "anyone" of which she spoke.
"Actually, no, I haven't," she said practically. "Not that I made it a conscious decision, but I just didn't think anybody would believe me anyway." Her eyes then moved to Skinner, thoughtful. "I do think that he deserves to know, though. He is her Godfather, after all."
"We do, too. But first, we want you to know that we've put a lot of thought into this, and we've decided that we don't want anybody outside of the four of us to know. It could endanger her if the information fell into the wrong hands."
Walter Skinner had obviously been willing to side idly by while he was talked about, but when the subject of Amanda's being in danger arose, he felt the need to say something.
"What happened?" he asked simply. "Do we need to assign a guard to you for protection for awhile?" His protective tendencies were clicking in, and he couldn't resist them. Before he could ask more questions, Maggie spoke up.
"I don't know that much about your work, as you know, but I think that it would be in Amanda's best interest to keep it quiet for as long as we can. It's her only hope to live a normal life."
Relieved that Maggie had agreed, Mulder turned to his boss, uncertain how to go about telling him just what it was they planned to keep under wraps.
"Sir, a few weeks ago, we discovered that Amanda is a bit more advanced than most babies her age. Much more advanced."
"So? Even a bachelor like me knows that all babies develop at their own rate."
"It's much more than that," Scully said, blushing. "You know me, sir. I'm not one to blindly accept every idea as gospel, but this is real. Amanda has intellectual abilities beyond even my imagination."
"What, are you going to tell me she can name all the presidents in order or something?" he chuckled nervously. They couldn't resist joining in.
"Well, not that we know of, but maybe we can test that later," Mulder said, smiling. "Maybe the best way to explain is to demonstrate?" a raised eyebrow questioned Scully.
She nodded and rose from the couch. "Mom, where's Amanda's bear?"
Maggie had been quiet up to this point, allowing her daughter and Fox to give their news in their own way. So far, she approved. "It's in the nursery, honey," she said, adding, "Walter brought her out here to play just a few minutes before you arrived after she awoke from her nap."
Dana disappeared for a few moments, returning with the beloved tie-dyed bear. She knelt beside Skinner, asking him to turn toward her, Amanda still seated in his lap. He followed her instructions, not understanding what was happening.
"Amanda, look what Mommy's got!" Mulder said, and the girl's eyes moved first to her father, then to her mother, growing in happiness as they fell on the bear. "Do you want him?" Scully asked her. Immediately, Amanda's arms stretched to grab the toy, but they couldn't quite reach. Instead of handing it to the baby as expected, she withdrew and set the bear on the nearby mantle, out of reach.
Not understanding, but frustrated for the child's sake, Skinner's voice was stern. "Scully, give it to . . . her . . ." His voice faded away as Amanda's arms reached toward the fireplace, and he looked on with stunned acceptance as the toy moved as if by magic into her waiting arms. She hugged it tightly and laughed.
Now having Skinner at a total loss for words, Scully and Mulder explained what they knew so far about Amanda's abilities and intelligence. When he expressed concern at the aborted psychological tests, Mulder assured the concerned Godfather that they'd be doing some of them in private. So far, the very few they'd done seemed to only indicate an unusually high intelligence level for a baby of her age, but little else.
"They didn't tell you anything more?" he asked.
"We didn't have time to do a lot since we only finished the physical tests yesterday. We'll keep you updated. But for now, we know that she's perfectly healthy physically, and we would very much appreciate your not telling anybody about her."
"She's a miracle," Maggie looked on with glowing eyes. "She's our miracle." She lifted the baby from Skinner's lap into her arms, hugging her tightly. Her eyes overflowed, tears christening her cheeks.
"You'll get no argument from us," Mulder said, smiling, his own eyes shining as he wrapped an arm around Dana.
"Me neither," Skinner added lastly, raising a tentative hand to wipe the tears from Maggie's face. Mulder was distracted by the gentleness of the act, and nearly missed the added, "but do you really think you can keep others from finding out?"
"We're hopeful," Scully said. "So far, she seems to have pretty good discretion in her timing. She's only done it in front of people twice, but we know it's been happening for a very long time. I can't even begin to explain why, but if we can keep her from doing it too often, we may keep it quiet until she's old enough to understand how important it is to keep this to herself.
"In other words, we're going to teach her not to show off!" Mulder laughed.
"We're going to try our best. And if the little angel cooperates, it'll be a piece of cake."
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