Authors: Kel and Scetti
email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Summary: For a perfect baby shower, you need some interesting guests
plenty of fruit punch. And don't fret over gatecrashers-the more, the
Disclaimer: The snitch-bitch belongs to us, although you probably know
someone just like her. Everyone you know and love belongs to Fox, 1013,
Keywords: MSR, H, babyfic, Mulderglasses
Classification: Gentle, wholesome fic. Couple of bad words.
Thanks to our betas: This story's been simmering on the back burner
so long, it's hard to remember who gave us a hand. Erin and Emma did
their share of weeding out those embarrassing flubs. Val, thanks for
the read, and congratulations on the black belt. You rock! Linda,
you're a pearl. And Tre, all those little suggestions, etc., that
happened to turn up verbatim in the story? Coincidence, babe.
= = = = = = = =
"Good work-out?" Scully asked Mulder casually.
This was the first time he'd gone to physical therapy without her. Her
initial response, as his car pulled into the driveway, was to meet him
outside and help him into the house, but she forced herself to wait for
him in the family room.
"Great work-out," he told her confidently.
It was two months since his return, six weeks since his release from
hospital. It was Scully's inspiration to use the term "work-out"
instead of "rehab," but these days the sessions really amounted to
ordinary strength and endurance training. Today, for the first time,
Mulder had gone by himself, driven the car both ways.
"Go lie down," Scully suggested. "I'll bring you some iced tea."
"I'm not tired," Mulder announced. "And I can get my own iced tea."
sat down next to her on the ancient leather couch.
"Have it your way," she said lightly. "But I'm going to laugh like hell
when you fall asleep in the middle of Jeopardy."
"Watch your mouth, Scully. There's a baby in the house," Mulder said.
Pre-abduction Mulder was in love with his partner who loved him back,
and that was a miracle, an unexpected grace that had filled him with
gratitude and wonder.
Post-abduction Mulder was a daddy. He and Scully were going to get
married as soon as she deemed him sufficiently recovered "to survive the
Maybe the aliens had returned him to the wrong universe, but he wasn't
planning to lodge a complaint about it.
When Mulder had opened his eyes two months ago to find himself staring
up at Scully from a hospital bed, he'd uttered a hoarse "hey," before
sleep overtook him. Gradually he'd recovered. He was weak and wasted,
but undeniably himself.
As he'd regained his strength and wits, Scully had tried to fill him
and Mulder had listened. She had talked and explained, repeating
herself endlessly. Sometimes he'd nod off as she spoke to him, and
sometimes she wouldn't realize he'd been asleep until he snapped awake.
At the end of the first week she thought she had gotten through to him,
but when he blinked awake from his latest nap, he asked her again.
By the time Scully took him home to the saltbox style house she rented
in Prince Georges County, it had begun to sink in.
Patrick F. Mulder was his infant son.
Mulder came home too late for colic, but in time for those early smiles.
Mulder tired so quickly in those first weeks that he felt like a big
baby himself, barely able to meet his own needs. He'd brush his teeth,
then sit down to catch his breath. He'd get himself dressed in the
morning and then have to wait a good five minutes until he felt steady
enough to descend the stairs.
He would have been furious with himself, only he was too exhausted.
Scully was delighted, beside herself with joy. She didn't care that
Mulder wasn't helping with the feeding or changing. She'd bring him the
baby, clean and fed, and listen, enchanted, as Mulder spun out nonsense
stories full of funny accents and animal sounds.
"You have time for a quick nap, Mulder," Scully urged him again. "The
baby will be asleep for another half hour or more."
"I don't want to sleep, Scully. I've missed so much already," Mulder
"You're here now. That's what matters. And it won't do you or the baby
any good to wear yourself out," Scully said practically.
He didn't reply.
Scully watched his face darken with regret and sorrow. She had been
urging him to get some counseling, to let a professional help him sort
out his experiences. Mulder said he couldn't remember anything and
didn't want to, at least not yet.
That was so unlike him, she thought, but she knew exactly how he felt.
She pulled him to her for a hug. Not a special hug, just the same hug
she might have given him six years ago, when she wouldn't admit he was
anything more than the cute guy she worked with.
"Scully, I wouldn't have gone. I wouldn't have gone back to Oregon,"
said in a monotone.
"I know," she said.
He had told her that before. He didn't know she was pregnant. He
wouldn't have left her.
"I shouldn't have gone. You're too important," he said, his head
against her shoulder. "He's too important."
"Mulder," she said, still holding him, "You went to save the world."
"I love you more than the world. You matter more," Mulder said.
She didn't dispute the point. For years Mulder had carried the burden
of standing alone and fighting a threat that others dismissed as his
lunacy. At last he had succeeded in revealing the threat.
He deserved this peace.
Mulder gave her a squeeze, then broke the hug and the somber mood with
big, goofy grin.
"I missed seeing you in those cute maternity clothes," he said. "You
never sent me out at midnight for pickles and ice cream."
Scully switched gears right along with him.
"Mulder, just because I was pregnant doesn't mean I turned into some
cliché from a sitcom. But . . . here is an exciting bulletin from the
newsroom." She used her hands to frame her face, suggesting a
television screen. "Mom is on the way."
Mulder smiled. Scully's silly side was still a novelty to him.
"Scully, I'm crazy about your mother," he said. "You're the one who
gets nervous whenever she comes over."
"Maybe because the two of you are constantly conspiring to embarrass
me," Scully laughed. "Who knows what she'll bring this time? Maybe
pictures of my sixth grade graduation or my 'Most Improved' trophy from
"Ballet camp? Scully, you never told me about ballet camp," Mulder
said. "How old were you?"
"Don't go there, Mulder," Scully grumbled.
"Are we talking tutus? Were you a swan?" Mulder persisted.
They were interrupted by Maggie's tap at the front door. She never used
the bell because she was sure it would wake the baby. Scully gave
Mulder a look that meant "stay," and she hurried to answer the door.
"Don't get up," Maggie told Mulder when Scully ushered her into the
family room. "You're looking well, so much better."
"Thanks," said Mulder, accepting her embrace. "What did you bring me?"
She was laden with packages, so it wasn't an idle question. She handed
him a shopping bag.
"You'll have to share, though," she said. "And don't put it in your
"Cool. Thomas the Tank Engine." Mulder opened the box and pulled out
some lengths of track and Thomas himself.
Scully went to bring in some refreshments as Maggie settled next to
Mulder on the sofa.
"I brought some pictures of Dana when she was expecting," Maggie told
him. "From the baby shower."
"Dana had a baby shower?" Mulder asked. "Really?"
"Well, why not?" Maggie countered.
Maggie had considered carefully before throwing the shower. Her daughter
was hardly the type for something as frivolous and traditional as a baby
shower, and furthermore, she was unmarried and all but overwhelmed by
Mulder's disappearance. But Maggie had decided to go ahead with it.
"It just seems so. girly," Mulder said. He gave Thomas a little push
see how he would roll on the wooden track.
"She is a girl," Maggie said.
"Yeah," said Mulder, hiding a self-conscious grin. "I finally figured
Scully returned with a pitcher of iced tea and some fruit and cheese.
"Fox wants to see the pictures from the shower," Maggie said.
"Oh." Scully looked uneasy. "Mom, I never told him about the shower."
"Secrets can undermine a relationship," Mulder said teasingly.
Scully's claim that Mulder delighted in her embarrassment was not far
off the mark. He did enjoy exploring the side of her he only saw when
Maggie was around.
"It's not a secret!" Scully knew she was being manipulated but she
couldn't keep from playing into it.
"I have ways of making you talk," Mulder said huskily, and Scully turned
"There's not that much to tell," she blurted, trying to maintain her
composure. "One day Skinner forced me into his car, drove me to a
cottage in the country, shoved me through the door, and ordered me to
"You should have seen her. When we yelled, "Surprise!" she burst into
the room with her gun drawn," she said.
"It's not generally a good idea to try to ambush an FBI agent," Mulder
"It was a beautiful cottage," Scully told him. "A gorgeous garden in
back, with a little brook through it. She couldn't have found a more
perfect setting." She set the tray of snacks on the coffee table.
"Except for one thing," said Maggie.
"You couldn't have known about that," Scully assured her.
"Look, ladies, forget the story, I want to see the pictures," Mulder
said, settling back in the couch.
"Just show him a picture of me," Scully said. "He wants to see how I
looked as a blimp."
"Oh, here's the cute one-"
"Mom! Not the one with the hat," Scully said.
"I want to see the one with the hat," Mulder chanted.
"Here!" Scully pulled a picture from the pile and handed it to him.
"That's me wearing a tent, okay?"
Mulder took the picture and studied it.
He whistled in awe.
"Wow, you were big," he said.
"Fox," Maggie said reproachfully. She had expected him to show some
sensitivity about this unflattering photo. Dana's pregnancy had been
almost undetectable until the fifth month. By the time of the baby
shower, however, the poor girl had the neck of a heifer and elephant
"You were huge," he repeated. "I mean, you were still beautiful, but
you were really big. Look, even your face. And your fingers-like
"This is how he gets when he won't take his nap," Scully explained to
her mother, seating herself in the boston rocker near the couch.
"Whoa, who is that?" Mulder asked. He whistled again.
"Fox, maybe a nap is a good idea," said Maggie.
"Who's that woman next to you?" Mulder asked. "Those can't be real."
"She's a friend of yours, Mulder. Don't you recognize her?" Scully
"I think I'd remember," Mulder said.
Scully snickered. Maggie tried to restrain herself, but it was
"What's so funny?" Mulder asked defensively, looking from one to the
"I think I'd better start at the beginning," Maggie said. "Once I
decided to have the shower, I called Mr. Skinner to see if he could
Mulder looked at Scully with real sympathy.
"Yes, she did," Scully confirmed.
"He gave me a stack of cards from your Rolodex," Maggie said. "He was
only supposed to give me cards from friends, but he didn't do very a
"Skinner raided my Rolodex?" Mulder asked. "He violated my Rolodex?"
"Our Rolodex," said Scully.
"Of course, that was the problem," said Maggie. "I really didn't know
who I was calling. And so many of your friends have passed on."
"Skinner just handed over our sources?" Mulder asked again.
"Some of those people had no idea who you were. Bambi Berenbaum? She
didn't remember either one of you."
Scully threw Mulder a satisfied smirk.
"I guess we're just lucky she didn't invite Marita," Mulder said.
"Wait, it gets better," said Scully. "When my mom plays hostess, well,
you just don't know what to expect."
"Now hold on!" Maggie protested. "You seemed very happy to see Ellen
"I was," Scully agreed. She turned to Mulder. "Ellen is my friend from
way back. And Amina is a professor of biology I met in Africa. She was
in the States for the summer, working with someone at the Smithsonian."
"You know, Scully, I've never met any of your friends. Oh, except years
ago, when I met Kathy at her cello recital," Mulder said.
"I tried to invite Kathy," Maggie explained.
Mulder shook his head.
"I think she was a little peeved at us. She thought we'd ruined her
concert," he said.
"She definitely had an attitude," Maggie said. "Told me she didn't have
a thing to wear 'in Kevlar.'"
"Long story short," Scully said, "after Mom discovered I only had two
friends in the world, and one of them from another continent, mind you,
she began to invite random people." Scully poured out three glasses of
"Dana! That's not how it was," Maggie protested.
"Yup," Dana reaffirmed. "She invited Colleen Azar. Do you remember
her, Mulder? She was your crop circle expert."
"My crop circle expert, huh? As I remember it, she had some other
expert opinions," Mulder said.
"She did," Scully agreed with a nod. "I suppose it was fitting that
came to the shower. She brought her lover, Carol, which made Mom very
happy because she was desperate for warm bodies. She was starting to
invite her own friends by this time."
"You're exaggerating," Maggie said. "The real reason I invited Maureen
was so that she'd let us use that beautiful cottage in the country.
Besides, she's not just any friend, she's practically family."
"That explains Maureen. Now tell him about Cherry," Scully said.
"Dana, you make me sound like an idiot. Do you think it's completely
impossible that you'd have a friend named Cherry Tart?" Maggie asked.
"Cherry Tart? That sounds familiar," said Mulder. He cut a chunk off
the wedge of Gouda.
"Mother, even if by some cruel twist of fate I did have a friend named
Cherry Tart, why in the world would this friend have a one-nine-hundred
number?" Scully asked. She passed her mother a glass of tea.
Mulder was suddenly very quiet. That nap was starting to sound like
"I think she added a lot to the party," Maggie said bravely, trying
convince herself as well as her daughter. "A lot of personality and
"I agree. I'm glad she was there." Scully stared at Mulder until he
started to squirm.
"Scully, you talked to her?" Mulder asked nervously. "What did you talk
"Don't worry about it, dear," Maggie tried to reassure him. "She spoke
in the most general terms."
"About what?" Mulder asked quietly.
"Oh, just her observations. About men," Maggie said.
"Men in general," Scully said. She leaned closer so he would hear her.
"Relax, she didn't remember which one you were."
"It was funny, because Cherry really hit it off with my friend Maureen,"
Maggie said. "It turned out they had a lot in common."
"Yes, they both thought men were scum," Scully observed wryly.
"Okay, now I know the cast," said Mulder. "I want to see the pictures."
Maggie looked at him apologetically, but she continued to clutch the
"There was one additional player," she said. "Dana, let me tell this
"Go ahead," Scully told her. "I'm curious myself."
"Fox, I've explained that Maureen is a dear old friend, and that she
owns that beautiful little cottage," Maggie said. "She also has a
daughter, Jean. She and Dana practically grew up together."
"I think she was the first person I ever hated," Scully mused.
"Nonsense. They were inseparable," Maggie said flatly.
"Especially after you and Maureen decided we had to go to the same
summer camp," Scully said.
"I thought you'd enjoy dance lessons," Maggie said. "It was a way for
you to build up your skinny little legs. And you were so cute in that
ruffly pink tutu."
"Jean's always been perfect," Scully said. "Her clothes were spotless.
She never broke curfew."
"She didn't ride home from the prom on a fire truck," Maggie said.
"She had a nickname in high school," Scully said. "The snitch-bitch."
She pantomimed a telephone and mimicked: "Mrs. Scully, was Dana home
sick today? We had a very important test today in English class. And
Dana wasn't there." She took a sip of her tea.
"So you invited Dana's dear old friend Jean," Mulder concluded.
"No, I didn't invite her. But when we got to the cottage, to set up
party and wait for Dana, we discovered that Jean was staying there. It
seemed she was trying to get away for a while, and she didn't tell her
mother she was using the cottage," Maggie said.
"Get away for a while. That's one way to put if," Scully said,
exchanging glances with her mother.
"Got it," said Mulder. "When everyone assembled for their afternoon
female bonding and male-bashing, the snitch-bitch was there to join in."
"That's not quite fair. Colleen said that men were fine, just as good
women. They said that any kind of love was worthwhile and ennobling,
even the love of a woman for a man," Maggie noted.
"Amina noted that the violent, aggressive tendencies of young men often
mellowed into something approaching tolerance and wisdom in the later
years," Scully added. "And Carol said that males could be beautiful and
should be appreciated in their own way, for what they were."
"Then Ellen said you couldn't make babies without them," Maggie
remembered. "And that some babies were male."
"It got a little ugly," Scully said. "I felt I had to say something."
"Dana made a speech," Maggie explained. "She said it was unfair to
condemn all men when some of them were selfless and dedicated."
"Thank you, Scully. On behalf of the men of earth," Mulder said with
"Your friend Cherry reiterated that men were all alike, interested in
one thing only," Scully said. "She was quite emphatic. And old Maureen
backed her up. Loudly."
"Dana tried to shout them down. Mr. Skinner came in to investigate,"
Again Mulder gave Scully a look of pure compassion.
"Wait," said Scully. "We still haven't explained about Jean."
"Or the punch," said Maggie. "It seems that someone spiked the punch."
"Cherry spiked the punch. I'm sure of it," said Scully. "Everyone was
quite nicely pickled by the time Skinner forced me through the door."
"Dana, you were so late getting to the party! We had nothing to do but
sit there, stare at each other, and sip fruit punch," Maggie explained.
"Mom, you must have known that it was alcoholic," Scully said.
"Couldn't you taste it?"
"It tasted perfectly normal to me," she said. "Amina didn't care for
it, but the rest of us were enjoying it."
"And Perfect Jean? Was she drunk too?" Mulder asked.
"Jean kept to herself," Maggie said. "Maureen and I came early, to set
up, and there was Jean, working in the living room. She had printouts
piled everywhere, and a long cord running across the room, because the
only phone jack is in the kitchen."
"I'm sure you and Maureen observed how studious she was, working so
even on vacation," Scully said cattily.
"No, Maureen seemed shocked. Apparently Jean hadn't been keeping in
touch," Maggie explained.
"I wish I could have seen Jean's face when you told her I was pregnant,"
"You would have been disappointed. She congratulated me and said she
was sure that you'd be a wonderful mother," Maggie said.
"I bet she said you looked too young to be a grandmother. And she
probably adored your dress," Scully predicted.
"She's always had lovely manners," Maggie agreed. "Once we explained
that we were throwing a party, she said she was so sorry, but she had
work to do, and she moved all her stuff into the bedroom."
"It would have been fine if she would have just stayed in there," Scully
sighed. "But of course she didn't." Scully stood and began to pace the
living room restlessly.
"I thought she kept to herself," Mulder said.
"Oh, she did, for the most part," said Scully. "But first she came out
and told me I looked fabulous. That other women looked so matronly with
jowls, but somehow it suited me."
"I really don't think she put it that way," Maggie said. "And when you
snap at her, Dana, you only make yourself seem ungracious."
"You wouldn't want to seem ungracious," Mulder remonstrated.
"You are a trouble-maker, aren't you?" Maggie asked him affectionately.
"She wanted my computer!" Scully exclaimed, spreading her hands wide.
"She was having trouble with her Compaq, she asked if she could borrow
"You brought the laptop to your baby shower?" Mulder asked.
"Skinner told me we were going to a conference," Scully said. "I had
all my data in there, and I was trying to draft an outline in the car."
"You would have thought she had the lost gospel of Saint Peter, the
she was guarding that thing," said Maggie.
"Mom! I had sensitive material," Scully whined. "And you made me give
her my laptop!"
"Dana, there was no reason not to let her use it. She was just in the
"I felt like I was back in kindergarten," Scully said. "I had to share
my best toy."
"Did the AD help you defend the honor of the Y chromosome?" Mulder
asked, and Maggie laughed.
"Judge for yourself," Scully said, shuffling through the snapshots until
she found the ones she was after.
"Holy shit," said Mulder. "I mean. gosh."
A graphic series: the AD sitting close to a full-breasted woman with
platinum hair, learning toward her so that his ear was by her mouth;
then a shot of the notorious Cherry Tart perched on Skinner's knee; and
finally one where Cherry had her arm around his neck, holding a glass of
punch to his lips.
"They became quite friendly," Maggie said dryly.
"Skinner was a hit with all the ladies," Scully said. "Ellen and Amina
fell over each other refilling his glass."
"These pictures are priceless," said Mulder. "We'll have to order more
"He's awake," Scully said suddenly, smiling broadly.
"Are you sure? He's not crying," Mulder said.
"Can't you hear him?" she asked. "He's babbling to himself."
"I'll get him," Mulder said.
Scully leaned over and gave him a kiss, then glanced over at her mother
shyly. Maggie smiled; she knew Dana was funny about things like that.
"Just rest, I'll bring him to you," said Scully, and Maggie followed
out of the room.
Mulder stretched, crossed his legs, and leaned back against the couch.
Yet again he was struck by the unexpected turn his life had taken. At
home with Scully and their baby. Sooner or later it would sink in, but
so far it still seemed like an impossible dream.
His reverie was broken by the ring of the telephone, and Mulder couldn't
help smirking when he recognized the voice of Skinner.
"Checking in on you," Skinner said. "I've extended your leave and
Scully's, so just let me know when you're ready to come back to work."
"Good," said Mulder. "We're both totally incapacitated."
"Enjoying yourselves, are you?" Skinner asked.
"I'm a lucky man," Mulder said very seriously. And then, more lightly:
"I see you were busy while I was gone."
"What are you talking about?" asked Skinner.
Over the years Skinner's relationship with Mulder and Scully had evolved
significantly. Scully and Skinner sometimes spoke in ways that revealed
an element of loyalty, even devotion. The bond between Mulder and
Skinner was equally strong, but their conversation rarely reflected it.
"Scully's baby shower. Maggie showed me the pictures," Mulder said.
Mulder thought he could hear a gulp.
"Mulder, I want you to understand that everything was handled
discreetly," Skinner said at last. "I filed a complete explanation on
Scully's behalf, and Maggie was never charged. They were both issued
official apologies, as were the rest of the guests. In fact, your
friends from that conspiracy paper turned down a very lucrative
Mulder blinked in surprise. Obviously Scully and her mother had omitted
some important details when they told him about the baby shower. The
role of the Lone Gunmen, for example.
"I suppose you think that covers everything," Mulder said, hoping that
Skinner's response would tell him more.
"Believe me, Mulder, I hold myself responsible for what occurred,"
Skinner said. "I don't know what else to tell you."
"I'd like to hear your version of what occurred," Mulder said, trying
hide his curiosity.
Another pause, and then Skinner called his bluff.
"I'm sure Scully can fill you in," Skinner said evenly.
"I'd prefer to hear if from you," Mulder said.
"I doubt if that would be Scully's preference," Skinner said. "Take
up with her."
"You're sounding well, Mulder. Good day."
The dial tone sounded and Mulder clicked the telephone off.
Maggie Scully returned to the room.
"Tara sent some of Matthew's outgrown outfits for Patrick," she said,
reaching for one of her shopping bags. "I think these will fit him
"Hand-me-downs? For my son?" Mulder asked.
"Look at this," she said. "Great condition, and top brands."
She pulled out some clothing for his inspection.
"Nike, Gap, Champion. Okay, he can wear these around the house," Mulder
"At least until you get a chance to take him to Brooks Brothers," Maggie
She replaced the items and picked up the bag.
"Wait, Maggie, I want to ask you something," Mulder said.
She looked at him inquiringly.
"What really happened at the shower?" he asked.
"What really happened?" she echoed, as if to clarify the question.
"Besides the traditional events, and the surprise appearance by Perfect
Jean, and the spiked punch. What else happened?" he asked.
"What makes you think there was something more?" Her face went blank
and she was totally still. She looked a lot like Scully.
"Well, how come the Lone Gunmen were there?" he asked in frustration.
"The Lone Gunmen?" Again the innocent stare. "Oh, your friends from
the security company. They. just. showed up." She picked up a white
stretchy with a giraffe appliqué and began to study the washing
instructions on the tag.
"They just showed up? They crashed the baby shower?" Mulder asked,
looking into her eyes.
"They." Maggie seemed to run out of guile. Only the basest and most
misbegotten could lie when Mulder captured their conscience with his
"All right," Maggie replied sharply. She sat down on the striped chair
by the potted ficus tree, and Mulder knew she was about to unburden
"You know about Jean," she began.
"The snitch-bitch. Yes," said Mulder.
Maggie grimaced, because she hated the "b" word, but she continued:
"Jean was using Dana's laptop."
"Yes. She borrowed the laptop and took it in another room," Mulder
"I don't quite understand what she was doing with it," Maggie continued.
"Some kind of 'hacking' thing." She enunciated the word as if it was
the clinical term for some practice she didn't care to imagine. "I
guess she couldn't make it work on her own computer so she tried again
"Okay," Mulder said, nodding his encouragement. Most people felt better
after they told him the truth. Decent people, anyway.
"This is how Ringo explained it to me," Maggie said. It took Mulder
moment to recognize Langly's first name. "Some companies hire
specialists to protect them from computer "hackers". So when Jean broke
into the system, Ringo and his friends could see it happening."
"The boys caught her in the act," he summarized. The Gunmen had never
mentioned their sideline, but computer security was right up their
"Yes. But they could see that it was Dana's laptop, and that confused
them," Maggie said.
Mulder nodded again. "Because of her IP Address," he said.
"They traced her to the cottage easily enough, from the phone line.
They came charging through the door," Maggie said. "Melvin raced over
to Dana as if he was going to defend her from the others. He was
talking about stress and hormonal changes and not being responsible.
Then he said that the hat was the final proof-no one in their right mind
would wear a hat like that."
"I want to know about this hat," Mulder said. He wondered if Scully's
African friend had brought her some kind of symbolic headdress, or maybe
old Maureen had gifted her with a tasteful little pillbox.
"It wasn't a hat, of course, it was a paper plate," Maggie said
"Scully-Dana-was wearing a paper plate on her head?" Mulder asked. "Is
that some kind of Irish custom?"
"You've never seen that?" Maggie asked. "You take the bows and ribbons
from the gifts and you tape them onto a plate. Then the guest of honor
has to wear it as a hat. Dana was trying to be a good sport about it,
but when her friends burst in she tore it off."
"Embarrassed, huh?" Mulder thought Scully was practically irresistible
when she got that silly, self-conscious expression, but in this case he
was overwhelmed with sympathy.
"Not as embarrassed as Mr. Skinner," Maggie said. "He still had a lap
full of Cherry Tart. Ringo and John were embarrassed too, because Ellen
got the idea that I'd hired them as male strippers, and she was
criticizing my taste."
Mulder would have had more questions, but they fled from his mind when
Scully came in carrying Patrick.
For Scully, there had been a period of months to adjust, to understand.
For Mulder, there had been only days. In one moment he didn't know the
baby existed. The next moment he was awash with love for him.
Intense love, but also fear and doubt. He felt inadequate to protect
this helpless innocent whom he loved more than life, more than himself.
"Do you want to go to Daddy, Sweet Potato?" Scully asked. Patrick was
willing, and Daddy was already reaching for him.
"Hey, Rick! Hey, you big guy! Did you sleep good? Did you have a good
Mulder had a real talent for entertaining babies and Patrick was
"A-ba-ba-ba-ba," he said.
"Scully! He said it! He said Dada! Come on, Rick, say it again!"
The baby giggled and a line of drool began to fall from his mouth.
"You heard it this time, didn't you?" Mulder implored her.
"Yes, Mulder, I heard it," Scully assured him, wiping her thumb across
Patrick's lips, whisking the drool away to some secret motherly place.
"That's one of Matthew's, isn't it?" Maggie asked. Patrick was dressed
in a yellow stretchy with a big "34" on the back.
"Rick!" Mulder crooned. "Why aren't you wearing your Knicks jersey?"
Scully answered for him in a Tweety-Bird type voice.
"I got stinky poo-poo on my Knicks jersey, Daddy. Does Daddy want to
wash the stinky laundry?"
"You did? You got stinky poo-poo on your Knicks jersey?" Mulder asked.
The baby was losing interest, Maggie noted, trying to keep from rolling
her eyes. That proved how intelligent he was.
"He's hungry, Mulder," Scully said. "Why don't you try to give him a
"He never wants it," Mulder sighed. "He's a confirmed tit-man."
Scully shot a glance at her mother, who showed no visible reaction.
took the baby back from Mulder, and Patrick wasted no time in finding
"No more trouble with cracked nipples?" Maggie asked, and now Mulder
"No, but I'm still leaking like a cow," Scully said. She had opted for
breastfeeding for all the medical and scientific reasons, but once she'd
overcome some early discomfort, she found it satisfying and convenient.
Patrick enjoyed it too. He gazed up at his mother and patted her breast
with his chubby hand as he sucked.
Mulder was gaining a whole new appreciation for breasts. He admired
utilitarian ease with which they satisfied an infant, and once he got
over his surprise, he liked the way they could dribble or even squirt,
often at very inopportune times.
"That's a beautiful sight," Maggie said.
"Yes, it is," Mulder agreed. He liked to watch, and Maggie could watch,
too, if she wanted. It drove Mulder nuts, though, when Scully would
nurse the baby in front of Skinner or the Gunmen.
"It's normal and natural," Scully had said when he voiced his
All logic and no common sense, Mulder thought.
"So is jerking off," he'd retorted.
"Feel free," she had told him. Scully started using a baby blanket as
shawl when she'd breastfeed with company around, but that was her only
Patrick drank his fill and then began to amuse himself by making noises
against his mother's breast, smacking his lips and growling, then gazing
in her eyes and giggling.
"Such a silly boy," Scully cooed at him. She repositioned him and
rearranged her clothing in a smooth, practiced motion. "My silly Sweet
Mulder had been looking forward to playing with his son, maybe getting
down on the floor to introduce him to Thomas the Tank Engine. But it
wasn't a good idea. He'd come home from physical therapy feeling loose
and strong, but he was losing the high and now he could feel his
fatigue. If he got down on the floor, he knew he'd need Scully's help
to get up, and that was unappealing at the moment.
He found a different toy in a corner of the couch, a little rubber
Patrick took the toy and began to gum it. Scully placed the baby in
Mulder's lap and arose from the couch.
Maggie reflected on the evolution of the ideal of fatherhood, since
time her children had been small. Her husband had embraced his role as
an educator and role model, but he'd never communed with a child in this
Dana wasn't exactly whispering, but she was hoping to get Maggie's
attention without distracting Mulder.
"Where are those photos?" she asked.
Maggie gave her the packet, and Dana sorted through them hurriedly,
handing back about half of them.
"Take these home, okay? Or just get rid of them," she said.
"Dana, I told him," Maggie said quietly as she accepted the pictures.
Dana gave a little shrug.
"It's okay. I was going to tell him eventually," she said.
"Sh!" Mulder whispered to the baby as he bounced him on his lap. "Mama
and Grandma are telling secrets."
Dana started examining and re-folding the hand-me-downs from her nephew.
"These are like new," she told Maggie. "They grow so fast at this age,
they don't have time to wear things out."
"Ricky wants to see the pictures," Mulder announced. "Ricky wants to
see Mommy's funny hat. And Uncle Frohike's strip-tease."
"Is that what you told Daddy?" Scully cooed at the baby. "Did you tell
Scully moved back to the couch and wiped Patrick's drooly chin with
"You two will have to be careful when you go back to work," Maggie
commented. "I can just imagine an interrogation with one of you asking
the Unabomber if he'd been a bad boy."
"Uncle Ted was a bad boy," Mulder intoned.
"A very, very bad boy," Scully agreed.
"Oh, brother," said Maggie
Patrick flung his little basketball to the floor.
"A-ba-ba-ba," he complained.
Mulder brought the baby up against his chest and patted his back
"Did you hear that?" Mulder asked. "He said 'ball.'"
Once she'd resigned herself to letting Mulder see the snapshots from
shower, Scully felt it best to supervise the viewing so that she could
provide suitable narration. She plopped next to him on the couch and
oriented the stack of pictures so that he could see them.
"Here's me with the hat," she said with good-natured pique. "Happy
Mulder remembered something about farmers using straw hats to protect
plow horses from the sun, but he wisely refrained from mentioning it.
"This is Amina, my friend from Africa," she said. "She's the one who
gave us the fennel tea and the bone china teapot."
She was a striking woman, Mulder thought, but he did not say so.
"This is the snitch-bitch," Scully said, and Maggie grimaced again.
Jean's smooth blond hair was brushed back, and she wore a navy blue
jacket and knee-length skirt.
"I would have guessed," said Mulder.
"Me and Ellen," Scully said, moving the snitch-bitch to the bottom of
the pile to reveal the next shot.
Mulder looked at her without speaking, letting his face ask the
"She was a tiny bit smashed, remember," Scully explained. "She was
going to show me how to use the breast pump. And here's where I got
revenge on Mom for all the pictures she took. Here she is with her
"What is Grandma doing? Look at your grandma, Rick!" He lowered the
baby from his shoulder back onto his lap.
"That's the frug," Maggie laughed. "Dance talent runs in the family."
"Ah, this must be crop-circle Colleen, and I would guess that to be
Significant Other," Mulder ventured.
"Yup," said Scully. "And they brought a wonderful rutabaga-ginger
chutney. I got the recipe from them."
"I knew I had something to live for," Mulder muttered.
"Might as well give me the rest of the pictures," Scully told her
mother. Maggie looked surprised but brought out the second pile of
"I thought it was pretty gutsy how Mom kept that camera snapping after
the Marshals stormed in," Scully said.
"I was terrified," Maggie admitted. "I thought they were going to kill
"They should have identified themselves," Scully said somberly. "And
Skinner should have been watching my back."
"Jesus Christ," Mulder exclaimed. "What the hell happened?"
"Fox," said Maggie reproachfully, looking at the baby.
Patrick had not understood the words but the tone must have gotten
through to him, and the corners of his little mouth drew down as he
decided whether or not to cry.
"Sh, it's okay," Mulder said. "Mommy's going to tell Daddy all about
it, and show him the pictures."
"I thought you told him, Mom." Scully said.
"I did," said Maggie. "But I guess I didn't mention the U.S. Marshals."
"If it's just too painful for you to recall I can go over to the lone
gunmen and put a choke-hold on Frohike. Or drop in on Skinner and beat
it out of him," Mulder said. Patrick continued to look pensive. Mulder
passed him to Scully and rose to his feet.
Maggie couldn't read Mulder's mood. Perhaps this was just part of the
normal give-and-take of the working partnership, or else Mulder was
growing genuinely exasperated as he worked to cut through the
"Would you like me to take the baby out for a walk?" Maggie offered.
"It's okay, Mom. Mulder's just going to pace around for a while and
look sullen," Scully said, moving the pictures away from Patrick's
"And when your daughter has had her fill of being smug and enigmatic,
she's going to tell me what happened," Mulder said
"Oh, get over it," Scully said. "It's a funny story, really, isn't it,
Mom? Sit down, Mulder, you'll laugh."
"Ha ha," Mulder deadpanned. "Give me the pictures."
Scully allowed him to take the photos, and he sat down again. She said
nothing as he studied them one by one.
When he'd examined the whole series, he mystified Maggie by reaching
back to poke around in the crevices of the couch.
Mulder found his glasses and wiped the lenses on his shirt before
putting them on. Then he perused the stack of pictures a second time,
regrouping them as he went.
At last he spoke:
"I would have figured Frohike for boxer shorts."
"Ah! A-ba-ba-ba-!" squealed Patrick, reaching for the glasses. Patrick
loved Daddy's reading glasses as much as he loved Mommy's earrings.
Mulder stuck his glasses back into the couch, and Scully distracted the
baby with some entertaining buzzing sounds.
"Boxer shorts, that's exactly what Ellen said," Maggie remembered.
"Then she stuffed five dollars in his briefs."
"Just a tiny bit smashed," Mulder quoted back to Scully.
"Auntie Ellen was afraid Uncle Frohike would get naked. And Auntie
Ellen didn't want him to do that," Scully explained, mugging for the
baby. "So she paid him."
"What a silly boy!" Mulder said. "Why did he do that? Why did Uncle
Frohike want to show off his hairy ass?"
Patrick was highly entertained, unlike his grandmother, who stifled
"When Ringo realized that Dana was not trying to hack into Valuation
Technology Corp, and that he and his friends had crashed her baby
shower, he just wanted to get away," Maggie explained. "But then Ellen
asked if they were the strippers. And Ringo said something about
stripping Byers naked-"
"Which he attributed to you," Scully told Mulder.
"John refused emphatically, but Melvin decided it would be a good way
put some life in the party," Maggie finished.
"Cherry Tart was cheering him on," Scully said. "And Maureen kind of
staggered over to Skinner and said, 'How about you, big guy?'"
"Scully, did you drink any of that punch?" Mulder asked very seriously.
He doubted if mere alcohol could explain why Skinner would agree to
disrobe. And the photo of the AD in handcuffs, bare-chested and belt
unbuckled, indicated that he had.
"Not a drop," said Scully.
Relieved, Mulder reverted to his suitable-for-babies style:
"Uncle Walter didn't have his shirt on when the Marshals came to visit."
"Uncle Walter was swinging his shirt around over his head and doing
something funny with his hips when the Marshals came to visit," Maggie
said, succumbing to the baby talk.
"The Marshals were very frightened of Uncle Walter, and they made him
wear pretty bracelets when they took him away," Scully said. "And they
took Mommy's gun and Uncle Walter's, and they said everybody had to get
into their big, black cars."
"I was furious," Maggie said in her normal voice. "They just broke in,
shouting and threatening us. It's frightening to think of armed agents
running wild like that, going wherever they please, with no regard for
"Bunch of cowboys," Mulder agreed.
"They were outrageously abusive," Scully said, keeping her tone neutral
for the baby's sake. "They were trying to intimidate us with stories
about prison. Asked if any of us wanted to spend ten-to-twenty with a
dyke for a roommate."
"That must have had the crop-circle girls shaking in their sensible
shoes," Mulder said, breaking into a grin.
"No, but their lawyer found if quite significant," Scully said.
"Those 'cowboys' were looking for Jean. They said she was a fugitive!"
Maggie still found that notion shocking. "And she would have escaped,
except Dana reminded the Marshals to check the bedroom."
"You snitched on the bitch?" Mulder asked.
"That's going to be his first word," Maggie said resignedly.
"Mommy told the pig posse where the bad lady was hiding," Mulder
explained to Patrick. Scully continued with the story:
"After the Cowboys took us for a ride in their big black cars, they
Patrick squealed with delight, and Scully broke her narrative to "oops!"
for him again.
"They said 'Oops!'" Scully hammed it up for the baby. "You are free
"And you went wee, wee, wee, wee, all the way home," Mulder picked up
the thread of the story.
"But first." Scully paused for effect. "They told Auntie Jean, 'Tag!
You're it!' And they took the key and locked her up."
"Because Auntie Jean was very, very naughty. But everyone else lived
happily ever after," Maggie sing-songed.
"And Grandma and Uncle Ringo became the very best of friends," Scully
said. "Every Wednesday afternoon they play bridge together. But
sometimes they get cranky and they squabble." She pursed her lips into
an exaggerated pout.
"But Mommy was the luckiest of all," Maggie continued unperturbed.
"Because Mommy had a very special meeting with a very special person.
The Attorney General!"
"Yes I did! Oh yes I did!" Scully declared, raising Patrick up, and
shaking her head into his belly.
"Scully?" Mulder inquired.
"Yes. Skinner and the marshals and me. And we all had to attend a
week-long workshop about cooperation," she explained in normal tones.
"But the Marshals had to spend another week learning about sensitivity
to women, minorities, and the Ivory Coast."
"Goodness," said Maggie. "What about the Bill of Rights?"
Mulder gave her a blank look.
"Never heard of it," said Scully.
"You two are very amusing," she said, "but I believe it's time for me
to get going." She picked up her purse.
"Grandma's going to hit rush hour," Mulder warned her in his Patrick
"I'll take local roads," Maggie said in her own voice. The joke was
"Thanks for the clothes, Mom. I'll give Tara a call and thank her too,"
"No more Lakers shirts! Or I'll cry," said Mulder.
"But, Daddy, the Lakers are the NBA champions! And the Knicks get so
many boo-boos." Scully whined.
"No! Me hate Lakers," Mulder protested, thumping his chest with a fist.
Patrick giggled happily at his parents' antics.
"Bye-bye, Patrick. Take care of your silly mommy and daddy." Maggie
shook his little hand and gave him a kiss.
"Grandma not stay for dinner?" Scully asked.
"Grandma drive car in big, big traffic," Mulder warned again.
"Good-bye, Patrick Before Grandma have to toss her cookies."
Maggie smiled at the scene of domestic bliss, but it was time to leave.
She knew the way out, and as she headed the door, she could hear her
daughter, the gifted medical doctor who had chosen a career in law
"Is Grandma going to hurl? Is your grandma going to hurl?"
And the reply of Dana's partner, by reputation a dour loner with a past
full of mystery and sorrow:
"Like this, Rick! Grandma barf like this! Blaaaah! Gaaach!"
Maggie opened the door to the sound of Patrick's response.
"He likes it, Mulder! Do it again."
Patrick giggled. Maggie closed the door firmly behind her.
Patrick Mulder--do you like the name? We weren't sure, but we had to
pick something. Of course, if the baby's a girl, Patrick won't do at
What do you think?