"William Revisited" By Andra Marie Mueller

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This vignette takes places after the 9th season episode "William". "The X-Files" and all its characters are the legal property of mighty mucks that don't treat them as well as they should.

"A friend is someone who reaches for your hand and touches your heart." - Anonymous

Silence. She had almost forgotten what it was like. Once upon a time, returning to the quiet stillness of her apartment at the end of the day was her haven in the insanity of her life on the X files. Yet now it was salt in an open wound. No cries of hunger to greet her, no gentle laughs to make her smile. Her last tangible bond with Mulder - the miracle of life that was their son - was gone.

How am I going to live the rest of my life without him? Scully mused sadly.

It had been barely forty-eight hours since she relinquished William to the woman from the adoption agency, and signed the final papers ensuring that he would spend the rest of his life in safe anonymity, while she would spend hers mourning the sacrifice of her only son. Part of her heart screamed at her for willingly letting him go, while another assured her that he would be allowed the life he could never have if he stayed with Scully. Placing herself in jeopardy was one thing, but allowing her son to become a target was another matter entirely, and she silently prayed she had made the right choice.

Please, God; keep him safe. Don't let all of this be for nothing.

The chime of the doorbell interrupted her plea, and Scully made her way to the front door. "Who is it?"

"It's me, Agent Scully," Doggett's gravelly voice responded.

Curiosity flickered across her refined features as she pondered the reason for his visit. A little late for a social call, she mused.

Sliding the chain lock out of its latch, Scully opened the door and stepped aside to allow Doggett entry. He took a few steps into her living room, and took a cursory glance around the room before focusing on Scully.

"I apologize for showin' up unannounced," he began, "but I wanted to talk to you, and given the topic I thought it'd be better if I came here instead of Quantico."

She nodded. "What can I do for you, Agent Doggett?"

Doggett sighed, and hesitated briefly before saying, "Skinner told me about William. I wanted to stop by and see how you're doin'."

"About as badly as you'd expect," Scully admitted, "but I appreciate your concern."

"I know what you're goin' through right now; I went through the same thing when I lost Luke. And knowin' how much it hurt to have him stolen from me, I can imagine how much worse it was for you, havin' to give him up by necessity."

Scully managed at faint smile at his phrasing. "You're the first person who hasn't said I gave him up 'by choice'," she remarked.

He smiled back. "Between you and me, Dana, in situations like this I've learned that most people open their mouths only far enough to stick their feet in 'em," came the wry reply. "After I lost Luke I wanted to punch every person who told me that they knew what I was goin' through."

"Now there's an option I hadn't considered," she responded lightly.

"I don't want to increase your pain over losin' Will, but as much as it hurts now, you gotta know that you did the right thing. I only came by cuz for whatever it's worth I wanted to let you know that I respect your decision, and I admire you for havin' the strength to follow through with it."

Scully flashed him a warm smile. How could I ever have not wanted this man as my friend? she wondered to herself. Aloud she said, "It's worth a lot, John. Thank you."

"Well, it's late and I'd better get outta here," Doggett replied. "If you need anything, I want you to call me, even if all you need is someone to talk to who's been where you are."

She nodded in silent agreement, and Doggett made his way to the door. Just as he opened it, however, Scully called to him.

"John, wait."

He glanced at her expectantly and she walked over to stand in front of him, then to his surprise she engulfed him in a hug.

"Thank you, for caring, and for being such a good friend. We may have started off on the wrong foot, but I wouldn't have survived this last year without you."

"I'm glad I could be there for you, Dana."

Scully at last released her hold on him, and graced Doggett with a final smile before he let himself out of the apartment.