Title: Another Gray Morning

Author: ML

Email: msnsc21@aol.com

Feedback: Yes, please to above email

Distribution:  Anywhere you like, as long as you let me know

Spoilers: Requiem, minor others

Rating: PG

Classification: A, MSR

Summary:  Don't be put off by the title. Try it, I think you'll like it.

 

Author's notes:  This is part of the "Another Gray Morning"  series. You

don't have to read the other stories to get this, but I hope you do anyway! 

Additional disclaimer: I chose the baby's names for their meaning, and no

other reason. Really.  Go to Babynames.com and see for yourself! <g>


Beloved Protector by ML

 

They are having a rare moment of quiet.  Skinner dropped them off and

declined to come in, Scully's mom has gone home again, and wonder of wonders,

the baby is asleep.

 

Mulder fiddles around in the kitchen, making tea.  Scully is in the living

room, looking at the day's mail.  It's all so strange, yet somehow

so...right.  He can't think of a better word right now.  Domesticity was

never something he'd craved, at least not since he reached adulthood, but

he's finding it soothing.  Granted, it's only been a few days since he's

returned from wherever he was, but for now it's nice. 

 

He and Scully are feeling their way, slowly but surely, back into a sort of

partnership.  Their initial reunion had been all about feeling and emotion,

but by the next day, both were back in an assessing mode.  They both stood

back a little, taking a long hard look at each other, figuring out what to do

next, taking refuge in their respective personae.  He can't seem to stop

cracking dumb jokes, and Scully, when not in mother-mode, is back to being

her enigmatic self, and hell-bent on getting some answers.  She has a right

to some answers; she's the one who got left behind while Mulder got his

all-expense-paid trip to Reticulan.  Or wherever.  He's still having trouble

wrapping his mind around the idea of so much missing time.  It's a phrase

he'd thrown around almost casually ever since discovering the X-Files, but he

feels differently about it now that he's experienced it.  Almost a whole year

gone, justlikethat.  One minute he's sticking his hand where he shouldn't,

the next minute Skinner finds him spitting leaves and mud, and tells him he's

been gone for *ten months.*   It's one thing to investigate an X-File.  It's

quite another to *be* an X-File.  He's not sure he likes it.

 

He takes the tea into the living room, clutching the mug handles in one large

hand while he grasps the honey bottle and spoons in the other.  Scully is

sitting on the couch, intent on a small paperback book.

 

"What's that you got there, Scully?"  he asks, setting the hot mugs down

carefully and shaking his hand to cool his fingers off.

 

"It's a book, Mulder.  You could have used a tray, you know,"  she says,

without looking up from the page she's scanning.

 

"I know, I know, but we manly men don't like to mess with all that fussy

stuff," he says, and sits beside her, looking over her shoulder.  It's lists

of names with short definitions after them.  He flips the cover up.  "1,001

Baby Names," he reads.  "Need some ideas, Scully?"

 

She looks up at him.  "Mom left this.  I think it's a hint.  He's almost two

months old, Mulder.  Don't you think he should have a name by now?"

 

"How `bout we just call him Baby until he's old enough to object, then Kid

until he's old enough to be called Mr. Mulder."  Scully doesn't say anything,

but her eyebrow raises.  "Mr. Scully?"  He smiles winningly.

 

"Mulder."  She doesn't have to say anything more.  He knows that look and

that tone.

 

He takes the book out of her hand.  "You could've named him if you wanted,

Scully.  I mean, it's nice that you waited, but I'm pretty sure I would have

forgiven you, as long as you hadn't named him Fox Mulder, Junior."

 

"Well, what's your choice, Mulder?  What name would you give him?"  She looks

at him with that same expression, which tells him he won't get out of this

any longer.

 

He'd started this himself earlier today, so he has only himself to blame. 

He'd been trying to tease Scully out of a somber mood after Skinner had been

here, spreading his own brand of dour charm.  Scully recognized it for the

ruse it was, and refused to be drawn into his game at the time. 

 

"As long as it's not Fox, I'm not picky," he says now.  "What do *you* want

to name him, Scully?"

 

She says matter-of-factly, "I thought William would be nice."

 

William.  His father's name.  He rolled it over in his mind.  Does he like

the idea of his son named after his own father?   The man who allowed his

sister to be abducted, who'd lied to him most of his life, who may or may not

have been one of the authors of the invasion he fears may now be imminent? 

He shakes his head to himself.

 

"Mulder, what?  Don't you like that idea?"  She is plainly puzzled by his

hesitation.

 

"It seems an unfair burden to lay on a kid, to name him after someone like my

dad," he says.  "I don't want him named after my father."

 

He can see the hurt in her eyes, and realizes even before she speaks that

he's made a mistake.  "It's my father's name, too," she reminds him softly. 

Then she adds,  "and it's your middle name."

 

He makes a little grimace.  "I know, I'm sorry, Scully.  I just know

sometimes a name can be a burden."

 

"I guess you would know," she says, and touches his hand in understanding. 

"But you said your father tried to atone, in the end."

 

He sighs.  "Yeah, I know.  Let's just not make it his first name, okay?"

 

Scully nods.  "I can accept that," she says.  "But now it's your turn.  You

have to come up with an acceptable first name."

 

He starts to say something, to protest that he doesn't want that job alone,

when she gets this listening look in her eyes.  "It's the baby," she says,

shifting gears into mother mode.  "It's time to feed him."  She squeezes

Mulder's hand and leaves him alone with the one thousand and one baby names.

 

It seems an impossible task.  He's already rejected the traditional means of

naming, but doesn't really have an alternative that either of them would find

acceptable.  He knows from his own personal experience that an unusual name

can be a curse.  Giving a child a name to live up to, or one with unpleasant

associations, is just as bad by his reckoning. 

 

He turns the book over in his hands.  He starts to leaf through the pages

methodically.  <Start at the beginning, see where it takes you.>

 

Aaron.  Abbott <heyyy Abbott! No>.  Abe, `father of a multitude' <talk about

burdens!>.  Abel.  Nope.

 

He skips to the Bs.  Baba, `born on Thursday.'  <Hmmm.  how about Ba-ba

Booey?  Don't think the committee will pass it.>  Or Baby, means `baby.' . 

Bahari, `Sea Man.'

 

It's hard, just as hard as he thought it would be.  Sometimes a name 

interests him, but its meaning puts him off.  He wants to find a name that

has some meaning, but that will not place an undue burden of expectation, or

cause ridicule. 

 

<Maybe it would've been easier if we had a girl>, he thinks.  Then we'd just

be arguing over which name was first, Samantha or Melissa>.  He looks up

their names.

 

Melissa, a honeybee.  Samantha, the listener.  This gives him pause for a

moment.  His memory plays back Samantha, her eyes wide and dark, listening to

their parents argue from the top of the stairs.  He shakes his head to rid

himself of the unwelcome picture.  He looks up Dana and Katherine. 

Katherine, pure and virginal.  Dana, mother of gods <wonder if she knows

this?>.  Dana Katherine, the pure and virginal mother of gods.  He likes the

sound of that, but doubts that Scully would.  He looks up Fox.  A fox, is all

the book lists. <At least it's simple, no hidden meaning there.> 

 

Finally, he looks up William.  `Desire to protect' is the definition.  Well,

according to some, his father did what he did to *protect* his family, not

destroy it.  At a guess, from what Scully has told him of her own father, it

fits William Scully to a T.  Likewise Bill Scully Junior, he supposes.  That

overbearing attitude does stem from a desire to protect his baby sister from

her partner. 

 

Mulder knows the desire to protect is strong within him.  Desire isn't

enough, though.  He wanted to protect Samantha and he couldn't.  Once he met

Scully, protecting her became a priority, though he knows he hasn't done a

very good job of *that*, either.  Will he be able to protect her any better

now?  Will he be able to protect their son?  He begins to have a glimmering

of understanding.  His father probably did want to protect him and Samantha,

and maybe he really thought he was doing the right thing.  Desire isn't

enough.

 

He shakes his head again.  It will do him no good to go down that road right

now.  *He* will do his best.  He will do better than he's done in the past,

he vows.  He will do better than his father did.  He turns back to his task.

 

<I'm going about this backward,> he thinks.    The book is no help with this;

there is no cross-reference for meaning and he's starting to feel impatient. 

He goes over to Scully's computer and logs on.

 

After a few false starts and a few distractions, he finds a baby names

website.  He starts plugging in words and reads the names connected with them.

 

Truth.  <Can't believe Scully's not listed here, even though it's mostly

female names.  What does *that* mean?  The only masculine name on the list is

Emmett.>

 

Seeker.  <Moriba or Zita are my choices here.  I don't think so.>  He sits

back and rubs his eyes.  Investing so much meaning in a name is placing a

large burden on both the name and the bearer of it.  What he really wants is

a name which can somehow convey how he feels about this child, a child he

never thought he wanted, the child neither he nor Scully thought she'd ever

have.

 

He hears Scully with the baby in the next room.  She's singing, he thinks. 

He can barely hear, so he gets up quietly and goes to the bedroom door to see

what's going on.

 

Evidently she's just changed him, and she's leaning over him on the changing

table, playing with his hands and feet, making him laugh.  She *is* singing,

very softly under her breath:  "Baby love, my baby love..."

 

Another, more recent memory invades him.  Scully, holding the baby in Oregon,

smiling and playing with him.  He remembers how sad it made him, thinking she

would never have this for herself.  He surprised himself by realizing that

not only did he wish he could give Scully what she wanted so badly, but that

he wanted it, too.  Not just for her.  He'd never  thought much beyond the

next case, hadn't processed the changes in their personal relationship or

what the future might hold.  He worried about Scully, and wanted her to go

back to DC where he thought she'd be safer.  He wanted to protect her.  He

tried to express this to her, tried to couch it in less personal terms so she

wouldn't feel crowded or threatened by what he said.  Maybe he should have

been more personal, expressed his own fears and desires as well.  He didn't

even tell her how afraid he was of losing her until the eleventh hour.

 

Maybe it's not too late to let her know this, to let her know how he feels

not just about her, but about their son.  Not his, not hers, but theirs. 

Their son.   

 

He goes back to the computer and types another word in.  After a moment, a

name appears.  <This is a good name.  I could live with this name.  No

unpleasant associations, doesn't belong to anyone in my family I can think

of, and there's nothing weird or unusual about it.>

 

Scully appears in the doorway, holding the baby, still humming under her

breath.

 

"Hey Scully, what do you think of this one?" He gestures her over to the

computer.  She looks at the name and its meaning, and smiles.  She looks at

Mulder and smiles, and he shrugs and grins a little.

 

"I like it, Mulder," she says.  "Did you name him for you, or for me?"

 

"I named him for both of us," he tells her.  "I think it's how we both feel."

 She smiles again, and he sees the baby's resemblance to her.  Already he

smiles like his mom.  He hopes he'll get to see both smiles a lot more.

 

"So is it official?"  he asks.  "Do we have a name?"

 

"Let's ask him,"  Scully says whimsically.  She holds the baby up and looks

him in the eye.  "Well, David William, what do you think of your name?"  she

asks.

 

The baby smiles--<that's a smile, isn't it?> he thinks--and blows gooey

looking bubbles as he tries to grab for Scully's nose or hair or anything

else within reach.

 

"I think that's a yes," Scully says judiciously.  She sits with him on the

couch, cradling him in her arms again.  Mulder comes and sits down beside her.

 

"And how about you?"  he asks a trifle anxiously.  "Do you like it?"

 

"You did good, Mulder," she reassures him.  "I was afraid you might pick

Melvin or Walter."

 

"I'm sure they'd both be touched," he said, "but though I'm grateful to them,

I'm not *that* grateful."

 

He looks down at little David William, and holds a finger out for him to

grasp.  The baby takes it in his tiny fist.  His grip is surprisingly strong.

 He waves his other fist around and smiles his toothless smile at the two

faces staring down at him.

 

"It's not too late--I could change my name," Mulder offers.

 

Scully shakes her head.  "You'd never let me call you by your first name,

anyway.  Besides, I like Mulder."

 

"But what does it mean?"  he persists.  "I don't think we'll find it in the

database."

 

"What do you want it to mean?  I can tell you what it means to *me*."  Scully

smiles her little half-secret smile.

 

"Tell me, Scully.  What does my name mean to you?"  Asking this question also

makes him anxious, more than he wants to admit.

 

She brushes her lips against his cheek.  "Truth-seeker.  Loyal friend. A

brave and good man."  She gives him little kisses between each phrase, the

last one square on his lips.

 

He feels like grinning and waving his fists around, just like David William,

but he settles for kissing her back, and asking hopefully, "How about `great

lover'?"

 

"We'll just add new definitions as we go," she promises, and kisses him again.

 

end.

 

I hope you liked this little bit o'fluff.  I used Babynames.com to research

the names, pretty much the way you see them in the story here.

 

Other stories in this universe:

 

Another Gray Morning

Transfigured Night

Comes the Dawn

and...coming soon, Domestic Disturbances

 

like it? not?  please let me know: msnsc21@aol.com