Advice from a Friend
Keywords: MSR, Scully/Doggett Friendship. Mulder/Doggett Friendship
Spoilers: Season 8, and any previous that I fee like
Archiving: Ephemeral, Gossamer, SWLD, XFMU, Azar anywhere she feels like, ALL OTHERS MUST ASK!
Feedback: Yes, if you have something worth-while to say. No, if you plan to send flames.
Summary: Doggett dispenses his fatherly wisdom to the new parents
Disclaimers: Mulder, Scully and Doggett are X-Files characters belonging to and created by Chris Carter, in association with FOX and various writing teams. I do NOT OWN them nor do I make such claims. I am making no money from this, and the only reward is knowing that *someone* might like this story.
Author's Notes: Thanks to Azar, for introducing me to Agent John Doggett... and for NOT letting me go totally over to the Dark Side, even though she might have secretly enjoyed a 2nd conversion. ;-)
"Advice from a Friend"
Many things weighed heavily on Dana Scully's mind as she tiptoed from the nursery. Her son was sleeping peacefully, unaware of the turmoil in his mother's life.
For one thing, there was work. Dana had planned to return to the FBI after her maternity leave... but one look at her son's precious face had left her many doubts. Could she still do her job while caring for a child? Could she promise her son she'd always come home at night and never put herself--or him--into danger? These were questions that she couldn't find easy answers to, no matter how hard she thought about them.
And then there was William's father... Mulder. Scully sighed. Mulder was...
A knock on the door brought her away from her thoughts. "I'm coming," Scully called out as she headed for the door. Opening it, she found her new partner, Agent John Doggett, hold a large cardboard box. It looked heavy. "Come in," she told him, stepping aside.
"Thanks," Doggett said as he entered. He looked around tentatively, taking in the surroundings of the small, three-bedroom house his partner had recently purchased. There were a few boxes left to unpack. "Looks like you could use some help here."
Scully chuckled ruefully. "Yeah, I guess I could."
"I though Mulder was helping you. Wasn't this house his idea?"
"Yeah, well, Mulder..."
Mulder sat at the bar, fingering the shot glass in front of him. He was so wrapped up in his own thoughts that he hardly noticed it when someone sat down on the stool beside him. Likewise, he was barely aware of the bartender asking the newcomer what his pleasure was.
"A beer," said a familiar voice.
Mulder looked up from his glass to finder John Doggett sitting next to him. Not really wanting company, he started to stand. Doggett stopped him by placing a hand on his arm.
"Don't go, Mulder," he said. "You and I need to have a talk."
"We do?" Mulder countered, but as he did, his heart began to sink. He knew why Doggett was here. Scully. He wondered if she had sent him, or if Doggett had come looking for him of his own accord.
Doggett nodded. "I stopped by the new house today. It looks nice, but our partner could use some help unpacking." He stressed the words "our partner" very heavily, reminding Mulder of the connection they both shared with Dana Scully. His voice was a little harsh and very accusing.
Mulder sighed heavily, his heart sinking further still. He knew how this must look to Doggett--that he was ditching Scully when she needed him the most. But he couldn't help it. When he woke up that morning, he'd had every intention of helping Scully move into the house they'd picked out together. But when he got in the car to go pick her up, his cold feet wouldn't let him do it.
"I suppose I deserve your disapproval," he said to the man beside him. "But you don't understand."
"I don't?" Doggett laughed bitterly. "I think I understand more than you do, Mulder." Doggett looked him square in the eyes and, for the first time, Mulder was struck by the haunted look in the other man's eyes.
He blinked, trying to think past the alcohol he'd recently consumed and say something meaningful.
"I love her," he said at last. "I even asked her to marry me..."
"But?" Doggett pushed.
The drunken former FBI agent took a deep breath. "But... that was before..." His voice trailed off. Before what? He asked himself. Before his abduction? Before his "death" and subsequent resurrection? Before he lost his job? Or... before William? Was there an easy answer? Hw wasn't so sure. All he was sure of was the butterflies in the pit of his stomach and the fear that clutched at him when he thought of that little three-bedroom house and what moving into it with Scully truly meant.
"You're not sure you're ready to be a father," Doggett stated as if reading Mulder's mind. Mulder shook his head in agreement. "I thought that was it." Doggett took a swig of his beer, then set the bottle on the bar. "Neither was I," he said, his voice sounding as haunted as his eyes.
Mulder silently devoured the meaning in the simple admission.
"What was it like?" he asked, the words slipping out before he realized that Doggett might not want to talk about his son.
"Being a father?"
"Yeah... I mean, if you don't me asking," he added.
Doggett shook his head as if to say he didn't mind. "It was scary... and also the best thing that ever happened to me. When you hold your son in arms for the very first time and look down at his perfect face, you can't help but give your heart away."
Mulder nodded. "I'm sorry," he said.
"Are you?" Doggett asked. "Then do me one thing--don't screw up. Don't waste this gift you've given, Mulder. You and Dana... you have the chance for something real... something special. And you have a wonderful little boy. Don't blow it because you're scared."
"I don't know how to be father," Mulder said.
"No one does the first time," Doggett told him. "You'll learn."
Mulder looked down at his shot glass, studying the way the lights over the bar danced in clear liquid. He knew what he had to do.
When Scully opened the door, she was surprised to see Mulder standing there. And even more surprised to see the roses he held out to her.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I've been such a jerk."
Dana laughed. "Who am I to argue with that?" She held open the door for him and watched as he entered. "Planning on staying long?" she asked in a soft, hopeful voice.
"Forever," Mulder told her, dropping the roses on top of a cardboard box and gathering her in his arms. From the nursery, William cooed softly in his sleep, as if he somehow knew that his daddy was home for good.