Title: Another Gray Morning
Feedback: Yes, please to above email
Distribution: Anywhere you like, as long as you let me know
Spoilers: Requiem, minor others
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
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
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
"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
<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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
"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
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
"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
"We'll just add new definitions as we go," she promises, and kisses him again.
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
Comes the Dawn
and...coming soon, Domestic Disturbances
like it? not? please let me know: email@example.com