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Dill Waters Run Deep

By tuatha
tuatha@caloundra.net

Category: MSR. Babyfic. Hopefully not too schmoopy.

Rating: Kiddie safe, PG at the most.

Spoiler warning: For TXF in general and Existence in
particular.

Feedback: Would be appreciated if you have the time and
inclination, and I'm happy to hear constructive criticism
and comments as well as
anything you do like about the story.

Archive: Scullyfic improv archive only, anywhere else by
request.

Disclaimer: The X-Files, Mulder and Scully and all other
characters from the show belong to CC, 1013 and Fox and are
used without permission. No profit is intended from their use.

Author's note: Huge thanks to Marasmus for her continued
support and beta assistance. Thanks also to Ptero who went
missing in action this time, but whose support has been greatly valued in the
past, and hopefully will be again in the future. : )

This is a Scullyfic improv story, the elements used are
listed at the end.

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"No, Mom."

Mulder looked up at the sharp tone in Scully's voice. He'd
heard it a few times before and he knew that it signified a
line drawn in the sand. Anyone who crossed that line was likely to be
surprised by how forcefully such a petite, normally considerate and politely
spoken woman could assert her will.

However Maggie Scully was unperturbed by her daughter's
stubborn mood and continued arguing the point. "I don't understand why you're
so against the idea. It's not like it could do any harm."

Mulder extracted William from his carrier and began moving
toward the bedroom. Maggie knew her own daughter, but he wasn't taking
any chances of being caught in the firing line, especially when Scully
crossed her arms and opened her mouth in preparation for an argument.

Behind him he could hear the clatter of dishes as the two
women cleared the table. Maggie obviously got in before her daughter fired
another salvo. "And you never know, it might help."

"Actually I think I do know. There is absolutely no medical
basis for..."

The sound of her voice in full lecture mode was shut off by
the closing bathroom door. Mulder made a sympathetic face at little
William who was starting to scrunch up his face, in preparation for yet
another crying jag.

"I know how you feel, slugger."

He tugged at the strings holding the baby's bib on, and
rinsed it under the tap while William stuffed his fist in his mouth, the sound
of his crying muffled and almost bearable as a result. It didn't help that
he had to wipe around the fist to clean his face, and did his best to clean
the hand as well. What he missed with the cloth he figured that Will
would suck clean anyway.

He held him up against his chest and glanced into the mirror
above the sink, surprised to see himself looking quite comfortable with a
baby drooling onto his shoulder. He wasn't as surprised by how tired he looked,
the dark circles beneath his eyes a matching pair for Scully's
similarly haggard look.

Will had been a perfect baby for the first two months, so
much so that he had begun to imagine the possibility of him sleeping through
the night. It had soon become apparent that was not going to be the case.
He had just begun to entertain the idea of spending a whole night in bed
with Scully when Will had begun screaming regularly within an hour of
being put to bed.

And after being fed, changed, soothed to sleep, and put down
again he had continued to wake and cry with clockwork regularity. All
night for the last four nights in fact. The first time it had been Mulder's
turn to roll out of bed in the dark and stumble his way to the crib, and he
had panicked when William had continued to bawl after being changed. He'd
rushed in to Scully who'd roused herself and was half sitting up and loosening
her top, but when she'd heard the tone of his cries she'd wakened completely.
She'd put her hand against his brow and frowned.

"I don't think he's hungry..." He'd nodded agreement while
she'd slumped into the pillows again, and he'd walked three times around
the living room before giving up and returning to the bedroom. Scully had
tried to feed him again with little success, while Mulder crashed out. The
next morning Scully had informed him that she'd had to rock him for nearly an
hour before he'd finally succumbed to sleep, and that was how the pattern of
their nights had continued.

He had started to dread the evenings, and it was clear that
William was working up to another round of family insomnia, starting to
fuss immediately after dinner. He sighed and rubbed the baby's back as he
returned to the living room, and hit the remote.

He surfed for a few moments until a 'Hoooooowwww
HowHowHowHow Hooooooowwwww' made Will lurch in his arms. He
couldn't imagine a more mournful sound, except for the sound
of a baby crying at three in the morning.

"I hope you're not taking notes, kiddo." He murmured into
the baby's ear as he settled into a chair.

An earnest female voice explained the perils of encroaching
civilisation on the habitat of the wolf, then the pictures switched from
forest to grassland and a chittering sound filled the room. Mulder had been
watching Will wave his arms, sudden punching movements that led to a squalling
of emotion that drowned the barking sounds of the prairie dogs that bobbed
up and down on the screen, warning of approaching danger.

Mulder stood and hefted the boy in his arms, while the sounds overflowed
around him. The long and short squeaks of the animals on Discovery were as
incomprehensible as the ululations that emerged from Will. Like the tapping
sounds of morse code, or the radio emissions from distant galaxies, they
were just noise in the absence of the key to decode and understand their
meaning.

He closed his eyes, swaying slightly and rubbing the child's back, almost
asleep on his feet. He kept wondering 'How much longer can we cope with
this?' but he had no answer. 'As long as it takes' was about the size of it,
and he knew they'd do it, he just wasn't sure how sanity remained in the
equation.

"I'm heading off, Fox." He opened his eyes and smiled at her.

"Goodnight, Mrs Scully. Drive home safely."

She came close enough to rub William's head gently, whispering 'be good' and
dropping a kiss on his scalp before turning and hugging Scully, who'd
emerged from the kitchen behind her mother.

"Goodnight, Mom."

"'Night sweetie. I'll call you tomorrow." She gave her daughter a meaningful
look, one that Scully had no choice but to let pass, since she was in the
midst of taking the baby from his arms, a delicate operation that they'd
finally honed to an artform after weeks of practice. While Mulder locked the
doors and checked the windows she retreated to the bedroom, and in the
blessed absence of annoyed-sounding baby he found himself suddenly awake
again.

He sat at the kitchen table and eyed the bottle that rested there
critically. It didn't seem particularly offensive, certainly not enough to
cause the altercation between Scully and her mother, an argument he'd been
glad to retire from without having to venture an opinion on the possible
efficacy of the proferred cure for William's colic. Scully had vetoed its
use without a second thought, citing a lack of medical evidence and the
opinion that the only ingredient that was likely to have any effect was the
alcohol content.

Mulder stared at the row of tap dancing horses on the label of the bottle
of 'Happy Horse Dill Water Tonic' and wondered if it really was as good as
Maggie had sworn it was. She'd explained how Bill and Melissa had been no
trouble as babies, but Scully had been so 'highly strung' that Billy had
taken to calling her 'Crybaby', a nickname that had stuck through Dana's
pre-school years. Mulder reflected that such an unhappy circumstance might
have played no small part in the development of Scully's stoic facade as an
adult. It was at that point that Scully had given her mother 'the look' and
that had been when Mulder had determined to flee the kitchen as soon as
humanly possible, and leave them to it, taking William with him.

The horses bared their teeth mockingly at him, their top hats at
rakish angles, and he contemplated just taking William and dosing him with
the tonic regardless of Scully's veto. He hadn't yet asserted any control
over the day to day decisions about the care and feeding of the baby,
deferring to Scully's opinion on whatever was best.

She and the baby had seemed completely absorbed in each other for the first
few weeks, a symbiotic bond that had excluded him, and yet seemed completely
appropriate, and amazingly beautiful to observe. He'd have hung around just
for that, to see Scully so *happy*, even if he hadn't felt the need to
maintain the relationship they'd fostered through so many obstacles.

He'd come to realise that he was no longer the most important person in
Scully's life and that from now on her first thoughts would not be of him
but of her child. That too seemed right, and he was surprised by how little
it bothered him knowing he'd been displaced so elementally in her
affections. It seemed so much saner a choice for her. At the same time that
he was learning a new appreciation for Scully as a mother, he was also for
the first time seeing himself as a father. He now had a role to live up to,
and was finding himself strangely eager to prove himself capable and mature
enough to complement her seeming innate mastery of motherhood.

He'd stayed on the fringes long enough to find ways of being useful, picking
up groceries and dry cleaning, forays for food and occasional trips home for
his own laundry, but always with a reason to return to her apartment. He'd
carefully skirted around observing how late it was getting each night, and
she'd participated in their mutual self deception, turning her own blind eye
to his tentative incursions into her life, encouraging him with a silent
acceptance of his presence.

He suspected that Scully was as much put out by embarrassment at her
mother's revelatory story than by the product itself. At least he hoped so,
and if it worked he figured she'd come round just out of sheer relief.
Especially if he acted as though he'd never heard the 'crybaby' story. He
rested his head on the table for a few moments, and was vaguely aware of
remembered scenes from B grade westerns populating his mind, filling him
with visions of horse doctors and charlatans promoting liniments and
cure-alls before being run out of town on rails.

The horses clacked their teeth together, or was it their hooves? A sound he
knew was not normal for horses, but he realised they were trying to
communicate something important to him so he listened carefully, his head
bobbing up and down. That was right, he needed to keep scanning the horizon
for predators, it was how he needed to protect the mother and young within,
to stay aware and alert for danger.

He jerked awake suddenly, and wondered how long he'd been
asleep. It had been long enough to have numbed his jaw and ear where it
rested on the hard wooden surface. He rubbed his ear where it stung from the
returning blood flow and realised the sounds from his dream was resolving
into something else entirely.

He stumbled to the doorway to see Scully lying back on the couch with
William face down across her stomach. The tv was on with the volume set low,
and the sound he'd heard had been her voice singing along to the 'No, no,
no,' of Notorious. The tv screen cast flickering shadows across her
body while William contributed a bluesy undertone of 'Wah Wah Wah's' that
made his head hurt.

"Here, give him to me."

When he leaned over and rested his hands gently on the baby's back ready to
lift him, Scully's eyes opened slowly and she gave him a warm tired smile that distracted him from his purpose. He leaned over to softly kiss her mouth, and felt a peacefulness, a calm certainty stealing over him despite William's grumbling sounds.

The additional pressure of his hands on the baby's back must have dislodged something, because an enormous belch rose out of the tiny body, rumbling beneath his hands, and sounding much more adult than any baby had a right to. He looked down at his son, shocked and slightly envious, his mouth opening in surprise.
When he looked up at Scully she was wearing the same wide eyed look.

"Did you hear that?"

She nodded solemnly, looking at him like they'd just discovered the secret of
the ages. He grinned at her. "I really hope that came out the top end."

She looked at him bug eyed for a moment while her mouth twisted, then she
laughed, a mirthful peal that was cut off short at the sound of William snoring lightly and evenly for the first time in days. With her hand covering the curl of her lips and her eyes twinkling with humor he felt himself falling for her again, endlessly longing for the woman who he'd loved and admired for years, until their little bundle of joy had turned her into a walking zombie. The glimpse of that woman was enough to send him reeling again with affection and desire.

"Oh God. Put him to bed, please." The naked appeal in her eyes was echoed in
his heart as he gently lifted the child, turning him carefully in mid air.
The thought of two or maybe even three hours uninterrupted sleep exerted a
siren call that was impossible to ignore. He lowered William into his crib
with exaggerated care, covering him with his blanket gently before returning
to haul Scully off the couch.

He slid into the bed beside her with a sigh of contentment, his thoughts
flowing endlessly down like water through a drain, his arm coming to rest
against the warmth of her waist. He curled into her side and breathed the
soft curls at her nape. He was sure he would sleep like a baby tonight.


The End.


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The improv elements that were included in this story at the
request of Scullyfic members were:

a big ole fight between Scully and her mother (from
Beach2329)

A tap-dancing horse (from Indi)

Mulder finds out about Scully's brief stint as a Duran Duran
groupie, back in the day (from Taramonk)

and an endangered prairie dog community that appears to be
sending messages in Morse code. (from Lil Barb)


Unfortunately the following element didn't make it in to the
story:

Some character riding one of those ever so popular Razor
scooters. And not just for a few feet, but for a good distance. (I'm sorry.
They stayed indoors. My apologies and virtual cookies to Kat for the
omission.)

Thanks for reading.


tua : )
tuatha@aus3.com

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