By Mary Kleinsmith (Buc252@aol.com)
Classification: Post-Ep (sort of), Angst, Therapy, but only for the author
Spoilers: William, and anything up through that episode
Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, William, Walter Skinner, and everything related
to them belong to Chris Carter and 10-13. I'm only borrowing them.
Summary: Scully's fate after her decision regarding her son is something
she never expected.
Feedback: If you so desire. I really don't expect much on this one
Acknowledgments: Thanks to Sally and Michelle for the beta, and Deb for
helping me formulate the story aspects and have a desire to even want to work
out this one.
Author's Notes: Okay, those of you who are close to me - and you know who
you are - have had to listen to me rant about CC, Scully, and the atrocity
that was the episode William. Call this my bit of therapy to get past it. No
guarantees it'll work, but if I can't fix the story, and CC will probably
refuse to, I had to find a way to rewrite it. I'll warn you that this is not
a nice story , but it was something I had to do for myself. If you disagree
with my depiction or ideas, I'm sorry, but this is the way I saw it.
Betrayal and Absolution
By Mary Kleinsmith (Buc252@aol.com)
She wasn't sure what had caused her to read the obituaries that day. She
never read them. At least, not since she retired, over ten years ago now.
But something had told her to do it today, and sure enough, the listing was
there in the Chicago newspaper, as if beckoning to her.
It wasn't that she didn't expect that he'd die some day. He'd managed to get
through a long career with the FBI without getting killed or permanently
maimed. He'd retired a full director with a distinguished career despite the
support he'd given a pair of very unorthodox agents. So distinguished that
his obituary would be listed even in this paper, half a country away. She
couldn't remember the last time they'd talked. He'd moved to the sunshine
state after retirement, and their contact, scarce as it was, ended
completely. It was the last in a string of desertions, and she was truly
Her mother had died a few years ago, and they hadn't been close for some
time. Maggie Scully was a great woman, but she was no saint. She'd never
been able to put aside her scorn of her daughter's decision regarding her
grandchild, feeling as betrayed by Dana as Mulder must have. The strain on
their relationship had been too much.
Bill and Tara shared a tiny house in upstate California, where people rarely
visited and they could complete their lives in peace and quiet. Their
children were spread across the US map, out of touch with a distant aunt.
Through all her conflicts with Bill, she'd always been shocked that the one
thing that had finally broken their bond beyond repair wasn't her
relationship with Mulder, but her lack of one. She couldn't explain exactly
what it was Bill expected, or if he understood their position. He was a
simple man with simple morals - and she hadn't fit into his idea of family
for a long time.
Walter Skinner was dead. Her wandering thoughts drew back to the obituary
once again. He'd lived in Florida for over fifteen years. Reading the
listing more carefully, she saw the wake, not being held in his most recent
home city, but in the nation's capital. He was to be buried at Arlington
National Cemetery, with all the honors due a hero of the Marines and then the
Federal Bureau of Investigation. If anybody deserved such an honor, he did.
She hadn't been back there in ages - she couldn't remember the last time.
She remembered so little these days. So, it was with a certain amount of
hesitation that she called and arranged for an airline ticket. It wasn't
that she was going alone, just that she was going back to where there were so
She'd long since grown accustomed to attending such events by herself. A
life spent in virtual exile from the world on a personal level equipped one
to be self-sufficient at the very least. Not that she hadn't had
opportunities, but she'd quickly found that she didn't want anybody in her
life except Mulder. Mulder, who had returned from hiding only to find his
son gone. It had been the single, defining factor in the downfall of their
relationship. What little of it was left was destroyed by this final act of
betrayal, as he saw it. In looking back on it from twenty-five years of life
experience, she wasn't so sure he had been wrong.
She'd begged for his understanding, but he'd been unable to forgive her. By
now, he was probably happily retired with a wife he felt he could trust and a
handful of kids happily giving him grandchildren.
Why was she thinking about him after all these years? She hadn't gotten as
much as a Christmas card from him over the years, and she hadn't gone out of
her way to find him to send him one. He'd made it perfectly clear when he
left: Dana Scully was as much a person of his past as Diana Fowley or Phoebe
Green. One of the women who'd betrayed his trust, broken his heart - only
she'd done even worse.
Shaking her head, she tried to put her former partner out of her mind. She
needed to get packed in order to make her flight. Skinner had always been
supportive of her, up until the time when she quit the bureau and returned to
her long-abandoned medical practice. They'd met a few times after for lunch
or even a dinner, but life went on, and their circles of friends grew in
different directions. They HAD exchanged cards each holiday season for many
years, always with a scribbled note as to how they were doing. In his later
years, he'd finally found happiness with a good woman who valued him for what
he was instead of what she wanted him to be. She briefly wondered if she'd
get to meet her at the funeral. Hell, she could have been dead already by
the time Walter Skinner passed away.
Dammit, she had to stop thinking about the past. There'd be enough of that
when she landed in Washington. Perhaps, if she was feeling particularly
masochistic, she'd even take a tour of the J Edgar Hoover building before
returning to Chicago.
As she sat in the plane, she again let her mind drift back to that time. The
circumstances she didn't like to think about most of the time. The day
Mulder returned to her . . . and then left again. She could remember clearly
Mulder's words to her, as if it were just yesterday. At the time, she was
full of self-righteous indignation. From the perspective of time, she
marveled at her own hubris.
She wasn't sure what had awoken her, perhaps that inimitable silent
communication they'd shared. She'd been expecting him, of course, but
weariness had won out over her excitement at seeing him, having him return to
her everyday life and to her bed. The consortium was no longer a threat, and
Mulder had assured their safety.
She didn't want to startle him, so she watched him from under hooded eyelids
as he drank in her welcoming form. She was here, and she was safe, she felt
him reassuring himself. Expecting him to come to her, she was surprised when
he turned to move down the hall.
Rising silently, she reached the hallway just in time to see him go into the
spare bedroom, formerly the nursery. Oh, God . . .
By the time she walked through the bedroom doorway, he'd drawn up beside the
bed. He was familiar with this bed from so very many years ago while on so
many cases. Nights spent sick and hurting, when Scully had nursed him back
to health and sanity.
It was all wrong. This room was not how it should have been, Mulder knew,
and felt his heart sinking. Surely if something had happened to their son,
she would have told him. He felt in his heart that the child was alive and
well - knew it with the empathy of a father for his beloved child. It was a
tether he had never had with his father, and had been thrilled to realize
he'd had it with his son. Their son.
But there was no crib. No changing table. No mobile or dresser full of baby
clothes. He found his mouth dry, his throat catching, making it hard to
"Where's William?" he choked out.
Oddly enough, she couldn't remember exactly what she said to him. How she
broke the news of what she'd done. Where his son, the product of their love,
was. She'd tried to draw him out of the room, to sit on the couch while she
revealed everything, but he'd stood rooted to the spot like the tallest oak
tree, and she'd been forced to tell him standing there in the darkness of an
She'd never seen him so angry, his anger starting low and quiet. "You
"Mulder, I know this is hard for you . . ."
"You have no idea how this is for me! I work and strive, and live in the
loneliness and the filth and the degradation so that I can be sure it's safe
for both of you when I return to you. Did you not read any of my emails
telling you how badly I wanted to be with the two of you? Do you really care
about me so little that you'd give away my son like he was yesterday's
garbage?" His rant was growing now, loud and harsh. "Or is it just that you
found out from Jeffrey Spender who my real father is and didn't want any part
of having that genealogy in your life? Didn't you think I'd ever come home
and want my own? The life I left behind?"
"But . . ."
"I'll admit it, Dana. I really didn't expect you to wait for me. If I'd
returned and found another man in your bed, I wouldn't have been happy, but I
would have accepted it. But even if we weren't together, I always believed
that I'd have my son. Our son, or have you forgotten that little fact?" And
then he'd turned to leave.
"Where are you going?"
"Do you care?"
"Yes, of course I care, Mulder. I love you."
"Well, you've got a hell of a way of showing it," was the last thing he
angrily said before he fled the apartment.
She'd never seen him again A box had been delivered to her doorstep a few
days later, containing all the mementos she could remember sharing with him
during their relationship. Even his beloved "I Want to Believe" poster was
enclosed, a green post-it note stuck to the front with Mulder's scrawl on it.
"You've left me nothing to believe in. I should have listened when Deep
Throat said, 'trust no one.'"
At first, she'd been angry. How dare he lay this all on her. But as time
went on, she'd settled into a new routine. One alone. She worked, she
survived, but, now, she wasn't sure that she'd ever have called it living.
Sure, she had regrets in her life - everybody does, she admitted to herself.
But she'd lived a productive life. Helped a great deal of people, garnered
some loyal contacts. She could be proud of her life, she though.
As the plane touched down at Washington-Dulles Airport, she wondered if
coming here was a mistake. But she'd begun this, and now, she was going to
When had Walter Skinner gotten so old? That was the first thought that occurr
ed to her as she approached the open casket in the nondescript funeral
parlor. A flag draped the coffin, a sign of his dedicated service to his
Taking a place on the kneeler, she tried to bring forth a prayer for the soul
of her former boss, but nothing came to her. She'd long since given up on
prayer - it didn't do any good. So instead, she took in the body. Not that
it looked all that much like him. Bodies never did, and she wondered briefly
who had ever decided that trying to make the dead appear alive again was a
She stayed in her place for what she thought was the proper amount of time,
then rose carefully. Turning, she scanned the room, wishing she recognized
even one person there. Instead, it was a sea of unfamiliar faces. She
wished she knew how she felt about that. In a way, it was a relief, but it
made her feel even more alone than she usually did.
Suddenly, her attention was drawn to the room's entrance, and a tall, slim
figure in a charcoal gray suit making his way into the parlor. It's HIM!
Shouted in her brain. He scanned the room in that way he'd always had,
taking it all in and storing it away for reference at a moment's notice. His
glance had begun at the other end of the room, giving her ample opportunity
to study him. Copious hair more gray than brown, he was thinner as well and
walked with a pronounced limp. His gate was slower than she expected, his
She waited eagerly, holding her breath, until she could see his gorgeous
eyes. Finally, it happened. She saw the recognition in his face, and a
warmth she hadn't felt in decades filled her. It made her smile, and take a
step forward . . .
Only to see him determinedly turn his back and leave the way he'd come. She
didn't know what compelled her, but she went after him as fast as she was
capable. Reaching the hallway just in time to see him exiting the funeral
parlor, she was caught up short when a new, tall figure stepped in front of
Her eyes were less than five inches from the dark, sedate tie held in place
by a tie tack that looked slightly familiar. Following the tie up the
six-foot-plus frame, she was taken aback by the features. Plump bottom lip,
strong nose, dark brown hair, and deep blue eyes which, now that she'd gotten
to them, held bitter scorn. Before she could speak, the young man
"Leave him alone."
"But I . . ."
"I know who you are, and I'm telling you to leave my father alone. Isn't it
enough that you've ruined his life? Do you want to put him in his grave as
well?" He rushed on, not giving her the chance to respond to his rhetorical
questions. "My father has a weak heart; he's had one attack already. That
shouldn't surprise you, though, especially since you're the one who broke
In a split second, not only did what he was saying sink in, but how he was
saying it. He'd referred to Mulder as his father. Had Mulder found a woman
who bore him a child after their relationship ended after all? He most
assuredly bore a striking resemblance to her partner, but there was other
blood there as well, represented most clearly in his vibrant blue eyes. A
shiver went through her, and he obviously noticed.
"What, don't tell me that the ice queen can actually feel something! Yes, I
found out about that nickname, although Dad said it didn't suit you. I think
he was wrong. It fits you very well. Are you trying to convince me that that
was a little spark of emotion I saw there? Too bad you didn't have any human
feelings when you ripped me from my father's life!"
Scully gasped in realization, heaving a sigh. "William," she whispered.
"No! You lost your right to call me that twenty five years ago. I am Mr.
Mulder to you, Dr. Scully." She felt her eyebrows shoot up. "Yes, I took my
father's name when he found me. It took seven years of searching before he
finally discovered me with the couple with whom I'd been placed. And while I
cared, and still care, for them, I knew the instant he came into the room
that this was my real father. The parent I was meant to be with. My adopted
parents understood and saw that, too. We all stayed in touch. And when I
was old enough, he told me about you. Although he didn't tell me all of it.
He was bitter and angry when the subject of you came up, but he didn't want
me to have bad feelings for my birth mother. Well, that was one thing I
couldn't give him.
"You see, his first heart attack occurred just after my high school
graduation. He was in the hospital, and I was searching through his closet,
trying to find the insurance policies and government pension paperwork when I
found them. His journals. Volumes and volumes of his thoughts, his pain,
his loneliness, and his hurt. You cheated him out of the happiness every
person deserves. I hope you've had a life as painful and lonely as his has
been because, as far as I'm concerned, you deserve every bit of it. He gave
me everything, and you gave nothing. Nothing to him, and nothing to me."
He was panting heavily from his rant by now, shaking with his fury and the
desire to keep his words from disrupting all the guests at the wake. He
angrily delivered his final verdict.
"You're not only a poor excuse for a mother, you're a poor excuse for a human
being. We may, by chance, run into each other again some time, but I promise
you, this will be the last time you will EVER hear me refer to you as my
mother. Because you weren't. You didn't care for me, and you didn't care
for my father or our feelings. I can't even believe that a woman as loving
as Grandma Scully raised you."
"How did you know . . .," Scully said, stunned.
"My father brought me to meet her. When her health started to fail and she
began to grow weak, I finally asked him, for the first time, if I might meet
her, and he agreed. He never tried to keep anything from me that I felt I
needed unless it could do me harm. And you know what? My grandmother was a
wonderful, loving woman, to both me and my father. When she passed away, we
mourned for her. Both of us. Alone. We couldn't even go to the funeral and
pay our last respects because we knew you'd be there. We missed her, and we
miss her still, as do so many others. It's too bad that the same won't be
said about you when you die."
The venom in his words was striking, a knife through her heart that she
wondered was her own heart attack. She had done this, she realized, and
there was no fixing it or undoing it. Her eyes began to water.
"Oh, now you're going to try to convince me you're capable of emotion? I
think the only emotion you're capable of is selfishness. Well, that's fine
with me. We got along without you until now, and we'll continue to get along
without you. I'm going to take my father home."
Scully was shaken. "But the wake . . ."
"Oh, don't worry. Mr. Skinner is being laid out tomorrow too. We'll come
back then to pay our last respects. Do us all a favor, Dr. Scully, and don't
be here." And with that, he turned on his heels and stomped out of the
funeral parlor and into the darkness of night.
It seemed that the only things he'd inherited from her were his eye color and
his temper, she thought as a sob broke from her chest. Fleeing to the
restroom, she locked the door behind her and looked at the woman who stared
back at her from the mirror. He was right about everything, she realized.
She just hadn't thought. She hadn't been strong enough, or considerate
enough of all the other people who loved William when he was a tiny infant
just as much as she'd claimed she had.
Digging in her purse for a tissue, she had nothing else to do but think.
She didn't deserve love. She didn't deserve life . . .
And then she saw it, in the bottom of her purse, secreted there for
protection should she ever needed a defensive weapon. Chuckling
sardonically, she wondered if she now needed protection from herself.
She'd ignored the disaster she'd made of her life, as well as the lives of
those she claimed to love, for far too long. She couldn't take the
responsibility any longer. Carefully, she raised the small hand pistol to
"Dana . . ."
Her head jerked around, but the room was just as empty as it had been when
she'd entered. She swore she'd heard her name. Shaking off the feeling, she
raised the gun again.
"Dana . . ."
"Okay, who's there?" she demanded.
Suddenly, from nowhere, there was a shimmering presence beside her. It spoke
to her in a voice that was neither male nor female. "Do not fear me, Dana."
"What are you? Some kind of alien or ghost or something?"
"You might call me that, while others may call me by one of many other names.
What I am called is not the issue at this point. I'm here because of what
you were about to do."
Dana laughed bitterly. "What is this? Some bad rip-off of It's a Wonderful
"Your life is not a movie, Dana, and there will be no rewinding if you do
what you planned."
"What makes you think that I'd want to undo it?"
"Because you still live. And I've come to offer you an opportunity."
Her tone grew immediately suspicious. "What kind of opportunity?"
"An opportunity to exonerate yourself. To save your life. To make it
better. But you will be in full control."
"Just stop the poetic rhetoric and tell me what you've got to offer," she
"We, myself and others like me, have the ability to affect time and space.
My offer is simple: I will send you back to the key moment in your past. It
will be as if none of this has happened, and you will have no memory of the
intervening years." He didn't say it, but she knew that he/she was speaking
of the moment she gave William up for adoption. "If you make the same
decision you made this time, you will be instantly back here, at this moment
in time. If, however, you choose a better path, a righteous path, time
itself will alter and it will be 2002 once again. You'll be able to move
forward into eternity, a better person with a better life."
"None of this will have happened?"
"That is correct. But you will be faced with the same choices in the same
circumstance. We're giving you a chance most people never get, Dana Scully.
A chance to correct an error you made in your past."
"Do I have a choice about this?" she questioned, suddenly uncertain.
"The wheels are already put into motion. I am only here to explain what will
"Okay, since I really HAVE no choice, when will this . . ."
Staring down at her baby in his crib, she wept for how precious and special
he was. She'd been so stupid to think she could protect him here, like this.
She'd been foolhardy with his safety, allowing strangers into her home
unsupervised. She obviously wasn't up to the task of caring for him the way
he needed to be.
She rushed Monica and Agent Doggett out the door, then moved to the phone,
choosing the appropriate speed dial number. The tones sounded in her ear,
and she was greeted by a warm voice a moment later.
"Mom," she sniffled into the phone. "I need to see you. Right away." It
was all she could do to keep from openly weeping. But, as usual, her mother
was there for her.
"Where are you?"
"I'm at home."
"I'll be right over - stay where you are."
She paced the room, not stopping for more than a moment in the twenty five
minutes it took for her mother to arrive. Not giving herself the time to
think. She exhaled a held breath when the doorbell finally rang.
"Mom!" Her mother was barely in the door when Scully collapsed into her arms.
There was nothing so comforting as a loving mother's embrace.
"What is it, sweetheart? You're scaring me."
In between sobs, she explained the recent events to Maggie, leaving her
mother stunned and slack-jawed.
"Dana, honey," she finally said. "I know better than most just how dangerous
your job is. God help me, I've seen it first hand. What ever possessed you
to leave somebody you didn't know alone in your apartment with my
grandchild?! I really thought you had more sense than that. And if not,
that Fox had taught you better."
"I don't know what possessed me, Mom! That's what I'm saying. I'm just not
equipped for this."
"What are you saying, Dana?" her mother asked, the concern clear in her
"I'm saying that I'm wondering if William wouldn't be better off with another
set of parents. Someplace where he would be loved, have a simple life, and
where I'd not have to worry about our enemies harming him."
A few moments of silence passed between them, and then her mother looked at
her with astonishment. "Are you saying that you're thinking of giving up
"I think it might be best."
"Dana, you're being very selfish, don't you think?" Maggie said coldly.
"You're not the only one who loves that little boy, and you're not the only
parent he has. Have you given half a thought to how Fox would feel about
Scully was silent, realizing that she hadn't taken anything into account.
"I guess that means the answer is no. There's got to be a way you can keep
him safe without sacrificing him. Fox would never forgive you."
"He emailed me awhile back, you know," Scully said wistfully. "He sounded so
alone, it nearly broke my heart. All he could do was beg me to let him come
home to William and me. But I couldn't let him do it. I know he thinks he's
protecting us, but actually, it's the only way that I can be sure HE'S safe."
Maggie's eyes brightened and her eyebrows shot up. "Dana, that's it! That's
"Send William to be with Fox! He won't be alone anymore, the baby will be
safe, and when the danger is past, you can all be together again. It's the
only solution, Dana."
"I don't know how that can work, Mom," she said. "Mulder is on the move
constantly. And even if he could do it with a baby, and even if we were able
to set up a 'meet' so he could take William, They would follow me right to
him. I've been at this too long to believe that I'm not being watched."
"We can do this, Dana. We can work out the details. Do you have a way to
get in touch with Fox?"
"Yes. We have anonymous ID's on line, and one of us posts a message
containing new names we will set up and IM with at a given time." Her mother
chuckled. "I know it sounds cloak and dagger, but this is important."
"Then do it. I'm going to make a few phone calls, and we'll be set by the
time he meets you on line."
It went smoothly, although Scully still wasn't sure what her mother had
planned. Hours later, the three of them were finally talking.
"Okay, Mom, we're ready. What is this plan of yours?"
"You're coming to dinner tomorrow night."
"Yes, you are. You and William are coming to dinner. When you leave that
evening, you'll have one of your old dolls in the baby carrier, and William
will stay with me. I talked to my friend Frank at the used car lot, and he's
going to lend me a car with dealer's plates. He'll come and pick me up the
next evening, pretend we have a date, but instead, I'll drop Frank off at
home and drive to meet Fox with the baby."
"But Mom, you'd be endangering yourself. And how will Mulder have time to
care for him?"
"Just type my plan to Fox, dear, while I explain. I have to be honest, I
haven't really felt fulfilled for a long time. I no longer have kids to care
for. I don't have a job. You can only do so much volunteer work."
Dana's eyes grew, her face astounded as she realized what her mother was
proposing. "You're going to stay with Mulder and William?"
"That's what I want, sweetie. And I pray you and Fox will let me do this for
"Mom, you've seen some of the things I've gone through, that Mulder's gone
through. You've watched what happened to Melissa. If you do this, you'll be
putting yourself in grave and imminent danger. Do you understand this?"
Maggie didn't hesitate for even a second. "Dana Katherine Scully, I have
lived a long, full life, and no, I'm not done with it yet by a long shot.
But I can think of no better way to die, should it be my time, than in caring
for my grandson and reuniting him with the man my daughter loves. But that
doesn't mean I won't fight like hell to stay here with all these people. The
three most important people in my life."
"We'll have to talk to Mulder, and we need a contingency plan," Scully
stated, turning from the keyboard.
"Then do it," Maggie said with a smile as Dana cheerily returned her
attention to Mulder, continuing to speak over her shoulder.
"I love you for doing this, Mom, but I won't needlessly endanger you or
Mulder or William. If something goes wrong when you go to meet him, I want
to know that you're going to get to Bill's or Charlie's where they can at
least protect you. Or to the nearest police station, for God's sake."
"Dana, honey, I love you. But you haven't exactly been thinking with a level
head since Fox left. Please, let me do this. I DO have a level head. And
you might be surprised at just how covert I can be." Maggie smiled and
enfolded Scully in her arms, whispering in her ear. "Now get back on that
computer and talk to my future son-in-law."
Walter Skinner was dead. He'd lived a long, happy, healthy life right up
until the end, but they still realized that his presence from their lives
would be sorely missed. Dana Scully latched onto her husband's arm as they
entered the funeral parlor, looking up at him lovingly. He was still as tall
and stately as ever, even if, at 65, he had an occasional need of the dashing
walking stick he always carried.
"Let me get that for you, Dad," a handsome young man said from behind him,
stilling his father's in reaching for the door pull. No mother was ever more
proud of a son than she was, she admitted to herself. He'd grown up kind,
considerate, loving, and extraordinarily intelligent. A psychologist, like
his father, only specializing in abused and abandoned children. How close
had she been to abandoning her own son all those years ago? Thank God it had
been a fleeting thought, and she'd found the better path for all of them.
Together, the small family approached the coffin. "Amanda was so disappointed
she wasn't going to be able to get home from college in time to be here,"
William Mulder said to his parents. "Remember how I always used to kid her
that she had a crush on Uncle Walter? He was always her favorite."
"Yes, and remember how I always warned you about teasing your sister? When
all is said and done, family is all we have," Fox Mulder said, hugging his
"Skinner was like family - always there for us, even years before you were a
gleam in your father's eye," Scully said with a warm smile and a wink to her
"I know. He told me such stories. . ."
"Yeah, some of them I would have rather he hadn't," Mulder laughed. "Despite
all the sordid stories of your old mom and dad's past, you managed to grow up
to be a good kid."
"A damn lucky kid, I'd say," William said with a laugh of his own. "Hey,
there's grandma. I'm going to go say hi."
Watching their son William speak to his elderly but beloved grandmother,
Mulder and Scully realized how lucky they were. And how they truly must have
taken the right path to be here together.