Title: The Family G-Man: One Fine Summer
Authors: FelineFemme & Neoxphile
Summary: Three weeks in the lives of Mulder, Scully, and their extended families during the summer of 2004.
Authors' Note: If you're wondering if this story can be read as a stand-alone, the answer is that it probably won't make a lot of sense to you that way. You'll have missed a lot of births, deaths, and adverted disasters/deaths (plus a major career change) that are vital to understanding what the heck is going on here. We won't stop you if you want to try to read this without reading The Family G-Man first, though =)
So...once upon a time we told you we thought about shorter sequels. Show some love and maybe this sequel won't be an only child.
Vacation: Minus One Day
When the lights the studio shut down it feels like an eclipse and Mulder blinks, trying to get his bearings. It's also immediately cooler, so he's not surprised to notice that both Scully and Dr. Green are shivering despite it being early August. Aldus Reed is practically made of ice so it doesn't bother him in the slightest.
"Well, that's a wrap!" Wayne Federman, Jose Chung's The Truth Is Out There's host/producer declares just in case the lack of blazing light on them isn't clear enough. "Enjoy your summer!"
"You too," Mulder and his female costars reply. Aldous Reed doesn't deign to be that nice.
Instead Reed looks down his long nose, sneering at Mulder and Scully both. "Three weeks of kiddie pools, I imagine?"
Once Mulder might've bristled over Reed's condescension, but he's used to the author's snideness. "I'm sure there will be some of that," he replies blandly.
"How many are still in diapers?" Read inquires, almost sounding interested in someone other than himself.
Mulder is taken by surprise, so he answers. "Just the youngest two." Zoe and Brianna won't be two until Halloween, so no one is pressuring them to brave the potty just yet.
"At least you stopped making more of them," Reed says before walking off.
Dr. Mary Green apparently overheard given she shoots him a sympathetic look. "Aren't you glad there aren't any little Aldus Reeds out there running around?" Green, a mother of two teenagers herself, never sides with Reed's comments about who should or shouldn't breed or how much.
"Thank God he's obnoxious enough to scare off women despite his money and slightly above-average looks," Scully blurts out.
Mulder smirks at his wife. "The Tweed professor look does it for you? I had no idea. Maybe he can tell me where I can get those fetching sweaters with suede patches on the elbows-" he shuts up, ducking out of her reach when she glares at him.
When Scully and Green begin to discuss summer plans, Mulder finds himself thinking about a conversation he and Scully had had years before: they joked that it was their civic duty to produce intelligent children, but Reed makes him wonder if kids who are smarter than the average bear but also prickly as Reed would be a net gain to the world. He supposes not.
Three weeks without Reed will be nice, Mulder thinks, wondering how long it will be before the ladies finish their conversation and they can leave.
On the drive home Mulder begins to spin a fantasy about how he will spend the first night of their vacation. However, his daydream about spending a relaxing evening sitting in a lounge chair, watching the kids play, dissolves when they pull into their driveway and Scully says, "I guess we better start packing before we pick up your mother."
He has to stifle a sigh; the daydream was so real he could practically taste the lemonade and feel the sleepy weight of one of their toddlers dozing on his lap.
"I guess we better," he agrees, resigned.
His wife shoots him a concerned look. "Are you having second thoughts? I know Bill is far from your favorite person-"
He summons up a smile for her. "I'd much rather spend a week with your brother than with Reed."
"That's not saying much," she complains.
Mulder leans over and gives her what he hopes is a mollifying kiss. "You want to finally see your brother's babies in person. The kids can't wait to play with Mattie. Packing isn't my favorite thing, but you're right, we need to do tonight so we can make our flight tomorrow afternoon."
Before they can continue their conversation the front door opens and several children pour out, followed at a distance by the hardest working nanny in DC. Michelle waves when she catches their eyes.
When Michelle reaches them, Mulder takes a sniffling William from her. "The babies are down for their nap," Michelle reports. "But this guy refused and is overtired as a result. And Page and Sammy decided to get a jump on packing, not that they know where their suitcases are."
Mulder rubs his youngest son's back, then hands him to Scully when he swarmed by three children all saying "Dad! Dad! Dad!"
Scully turns to Christopher, who has been quietly waiting to be noticed. Speaking to the four-year-old she asked, "Christopher, how about you, William, and I go pick out some toys to take on the plane?"
His small face lights up. "Okay, Mommy."
Mulder watches them go, momentarily ignoring the waist-high Greek chorus. Once the door to the house closes, he looks down and asks, "What? What? What?"
David gives him a reproachful look. "We wanted to talk to about baseball." Jared and April nod in vigorously in agreement.
"What about baseball?" Mulder asks warily. Somehow he's sure they don't want to talk to him about how the Yankees or Mets are doing.
As he predicts, the "baseball" in question is T-ball and Little League. "We're going to miss games! Daddy, our teams need us!" Jared declares earnestly.
Their parents hadn't been the slightest bit surprised when David and Jared had begged to be on the local T-ball team because the twin boys have enough energy for sextuplets, but they had been startled when April had asserted her wish to play Little League too. They'd been even more surprised that she still wanted to even after they explained that being older would mean that she wouldn't be on the same team as her brothers.
"When we signed you up, we talked about missing games when our vacation came up. Do you remember that?" Three heads nodded reluctantly. "So..."
"We're afraid they're going to be mad at us," April explains. Her normally shoulder long red hair has been cut to a chin length bob because she got sick of threading a ponytail through her baseball cap and Scully reluctantly decided it was her decision.
"Who would be mad? The other kids?" Mulder asks.
"And the coaches."
"The coaches will not be mad," he promises them, but they look unconvinced.
"How do you know?" David asks suspiciously.
"Because they've known your vacation schedule for a while, and most kids miss some games. Remember that Jaden missed a game because his big sister graduated from middle school? And Conner had to spend a week at his grandma's?"
"Good-" he starts to say, pleased that he seems to have reasoned with them. At least until April interrupts.
"But this is two whole weeks," April protests worriedly.
"Did the coaches get mad when Jack and Ava missed two weeks to go to Disney World?" Mulder asks, thinking he knows entirely too much about the lives of his children's teammates.
"No..." April says slowly.
"So why would they be mad at you?"
"Because I'm better than Jack or Ava," his daughter blurts out. The boys shrug and nod. They play their games before hers, so they've watched her play plenty of times.
"I'm sure the team will muddle along without you," he says, fighting the urge to smirk over her undisguised arrogance. It reminds him of his own youthful feelings about his basketball abilities. "Right?" he prompts.
They sigh in resignation. "Right."
"Good. Let's go find your suitcases."
The kids troop inside and he follows a few paces behind, just in case one of them tries to make a break for it rather than buckle down to an admittedly boring task. He passes Scully, noting that William is in her arms, his eyes shut, thumb in his mouth. "No luck getting him to pick out toys?" he asks quietly.
"Actually, he did pick a few before finally giving in to sleep."
"Do you want me to take him?"
"No, I'm afraid he'll wake up," she explains, hitching William a little higher on her hip.
"You're the boss," he says, watching her head for the stairs.
It goes by so quickly, he finds himself thinking wistfully as he remembers when Sammy had been the little red-haired boy sleeping in their arms after finally wearing himself out. Sammy and Page both already show promise of being taller than their mother and nearly come up to her shoulder already. Sammy also anxiously waits to reach and exceed the one inch of height his older sister still has on him.
"Dad?" April appears at the top of the stairs. "We found our suitcases in the hall closet, but they're hard to reach. David wants to use his desk chair to-"
Mulder doesn't even let her finish the sentence before hurrying up the stairs. Just in time too, because his son is already wheeling a chair that's great for sitting at but horrible to stand on into the hallway.
"Un uh, no," he says sternly, pointing back at the twin boys' room. "Do we need a new rule? I think we do. Fine. New rule: we do not stand on chairs with wheels. Put it back."
As soon as he's sure his son has returned the chair to the bedroom, he opens the closet door. Their suitcases are stacked neatly on a high shelf, and as he reaches for the first one, he wonders when the last time they were all used was. Not since before he and Scully left the FBI, he's sure. Even before then they brought the older kids with them less on cases because of school.
"Dad!" Jared complains, apparently tired of waiting for his.
Mulder pushes his and Scully's aside for the moment and pulls down the rest of the kids'. Then he brings theirs to their bedroom, leaving the other kids' suitcases in the hall where they can reach them. Trying not to sigh, he props his own suitcase open on the bed and listlessly begins to try to figure out how many pairs of socks he'll need. Eventually he decides that he can hit up Walmart if necessary, and begins just dropping a random number of them into the suitcase.
"Dad, what are you doing?" a voice asks from the doorway.
He looks up to see his oldest child, nearly ten-year-old Page. She's already beginning to become gangly, her limbs at least eager to get on with the process of growing up. "Doing my best to be a good role model and not a hypocrite," he says. His daughter gives him a look that clearly conveys her opinion about how weird grown-ups are. "Did you find your suitcase in the hallway?"
"Yeah. But Uncle John is here to see you."
"Oh, okay." Doggett and his family have been regular visitors since moving into the neighborhood the year before, so he isn't surprised.
"He said something about the van?" Page adds.
"Oh, right!" John had asked him about it weeks earlier, but he forgot all about it.
Mulder finds John Doggett waiting for him in the driveway, though he's not sure why he didn't just come in like he usually does. Before he can ask about that, he notices a tape measure sticking out of Doggett's pocket and figures he knows why he was outside then.
"Hey Moldah," Doggett greets him.
"Hi. What's up?" Mulder looks around but doesn't see anyone else with Doggett, so he suspects it'll be a short visit.
Doggett looks slightly uncomfortable, like he'll be bringing up a topic he'd rather not. "Are you sure it's okay that I borrow your van to bring the boys to school?"
"I'm sure. After two weeks spent traveling, I think that'll be as much family togetherness that anyone can stand, so a few days of not being able to haul all the kids around somewhere will be fine. I can't imagine needing to take more of them than will fit in Scully's car anywhere since I'm tired of making grocery shopping an all hands on deck project," he adds, thinking that he ought to ask Scully about only bringing a couple of kids with him at a time given it's taken longer the gather everyone back up lately than shopping alone would have.
Doggett looks relieved. "Thanks. I really appreciate this."
"Hey, it's not like you're asking me to drive Luke and Gibson to Boston," Mulder tells him with a smirk. "What made you decide to do that anyway?"
"I want to spent a couple more days with my sons before they're gone until Thanksgiving," Doggett explains simply.
"Are you sure you want them to come to Lake Tahoe with us, then?" Mulder asks, suddenly concerned.
Before their baby daughter was born at the end of February, Doggett and Reyes had intended to join them too, but plans changed after that. Now the plan is that the boys and Hannah will fly to Lake Tahoe themselves.
"Yeah. They've been looking forward to this all summer. It's only a few days," Doggett says, but the look on his face says that he's not thrilled about the idea all the same.
"It must be rough, having two of them go off to college at the same time," Mulder commiserates. Luke and Gibson are only a few months apart, so they'd both graduated from high school in June.
To Mulder's surprise, Doggett stares at him like he has two heads. "Come on, you can't tell me that you haven't thought about what it will be like."
"And you're going to have it happen twice, even. First David and Jared will go off to college, then four years later Zoe and Brianna will too."
"Five years later," Mulder corrects him anxiously. "They won't be allowed to start first grade until they're nearly seven because of the age deadline."
"Okay, five years later. But you really haven't thought about this?" Doggett still sounds surprised.
"Allow a guy to keep his head in the sand as long as he can, would you?" Mulder asks weakly.
"Yeah, all right." Doggett looks at the van again in a way that makes Mulder sure he's trying to size it up to make sure it'll fit two dorm rooms' worth of stuff. It'll fit a dozen people, so he himself doubts that they need to worry about that. "So," Doggett says, "You're really flying nine kids to California tomorrow?"
"I really am."
"Why on eart-"
"Dana has put up with a lot from me over the years. If she wants to see her brother's new babies, it's the least I can do," he says stoutly. Scully has had to put up with him for two lifetimes worth of him being a pain in the butt, so he really does owe her a lot.
"Good point," Doggett replies.
For once Mulder doesn't feel happy to be being agreed with. "Thanks," he says, not entirely able to keep a sour note from his voice.
"I totally understand you wanting to support Scully's desire to see the new babies, but wouldn't it be easier if Bill's family came here?"
It's Mulder's turn to stare at his former partner like he's completely clueless. "Seriously?"
"Isn't the biggest reason you're not joining us because how Monica feels about packing Rebecca up and flying somewhere with her?" Mulder asks. Rebecca Doggett, John and Monica's infant daughter, is a month older than Bill Scully's new babies.
"I don't think-"
"I know. You just suggested Bill pack up younger, medically fragile babies and do what you don't want to with a single perfectly healthy baby. In what way would them coming here be easier?" Not only are they younger, Bill's little ones only have been home from the hospital for a few weeks.
"Oh." Doggett looks slightly abashed before brightening. "Have a safe flight!"
Mulder shakes his head, but he's still smiling. "Several flights. But thanks. See you when we get back."
"Are you going to be able to relax tonight at least before you go?" Doggett asks, obviously about to leave.
"Actually no. We have plans for the evening."
"That's rough," Doggett says sympathetically.
"It'll be fine."
As Mulder watches Doggett leave, he repeats that to himself that it'll be fine in a rather unconvincing fashion.
Even as they gather the kids up to leave, Mulder realizes that it's going to be a long night. Since neither his mother nor Missy's family are planning to go with them to California, they've agreed to spend their first night off with them both. The venue? A play Emily has a role in at the community theater.
In what he considers an interesting turn of events, Missy has invited her sister's mother-in-law to Emily's play, and Teena eagerly agreed to come. This surprised him at first, but then thinking back to family gatherings in the past, he realizes that his mother has always been moderately fond of the little blonde who no longer reminds anyone so much of Page.
"Daddy," David asks from the middle row of the van when they're halfway to his mother's house. "How come Grandma Teena is gonna see Emily's play? She's not Emily's grandma too, right?"
Like their older siblings before them, David and Jared have recently realized that their cousins only share one grandmother with them, and that Emily and her siblings in fact only has one living grandparent at all. Alex tried to explain to them that his parents died long ago, before any of the kids were even born, but this still doesn't seem to have quite sunk in for the boys yet even though they understand that they didn't have a maternal grandfather at birth, either. Mulder thinks it's the fact that neither of Krycek's parents are living that's confusing them.
"She's not, but Grandma Teena likes plays," April suggests. "Right?"
"She does like plays," Scully agrees. "And she likes Emily too. When you like an actor or actress, it's important to support them by seeing them in their plays whenever you can."
"If your show was a play, we'd come every day!" Jared exclaims, making both of his parents grin.
"But we've got to go to school," Sammy objects. "So we couldn't go every day. There are laws and stuff about how much school you can miss."
"Oh. Every day we didn't have school, then."
"Would we have to take a bus?" April asks then. "Or would Michelle drive us?"
"Guys, our show isn't a play, so you don't..." Mulder trails off when his wife shakes her head. He shrugs. They don't need to work out the logistics of a hypothetical, but he's sure that Scully's point is that it's good for their cognitive development, so he lets them continue to explore the idea without further comment.
The door to Teena's house opens the second that Mulder pulls the van into her driveway, and he's not surprised to see her come out wearing a big smile. It's the fact that it's not a surprise that she instantly crouches with open arms to welcome the kids running to her that makes him feel happier about his mother's extended life than he could ever have imagined. Teena is clearly making the most of life after her brush with death, not that he has ever told her that in another when she didn't think she had enough to live for to mount a battle for her life.
Sometimes, in the moments when he's especially kind to himself, he allows himself to wonder if somehow he was worth more to her this time around, for himself, not just for giving her most of her beloved grandchildren.
That happens at times like this one, when she looks up from hugging Christopher and Jared and says "Fox, I'm so glad to see you before you go off on your vacation."
"I'm glad to see you too," he tells her, absolutely meaning it.
"Before we leave for the play, I want to show you something I found."
"Sure, Mom." With that he follows Scully and the kids into the house.
Just seconds after they walk into the living room, Scully begins to speak to Teena. "Any chance that you've reconsidered coming to Lake Tahoe?"
"No, dear," Teena says placidly. It still startles Mulder a little that his mother has grown to like Scully a great deal. In the past she didn't give Scully much thought, and in the early years of their marriage she wasn't much warmer. Many things changed for the better once Samantha rejoined the family.
"Are you sure? You're more than welcome to-" Scully starts to say, but she stops when her mother-in-law shakes her head. Then her shoulders slump. Mulder has never gotten her to explain why it's so important to her that his mother be included, but he suspects that she feels some guilt that the kids have spent so much more time with Maggie.
"Bill enjoyed the vacation to Hawaii that you all took, but I'm afraid that I've never been much of a traveler. I've always slept poorly in a bed that isn't my own."
As she says this, Mulder's brain summons up the image of his mother in a hospital bed after she collapsed in her yard. Then she'd been quiet and still but he supposes that being unconscious and having a restful night's sleep aren't really the same thing at all. God knows how many times he got released from the hospital in a state of sleep deprivation himself. Giving his mom a covert glance, he wonders for the first time if he got his insomnia from her. There were plenty of nights after Samantha disappeared that he woke up and found her pacing...
"Oh, okay," Scully replies, her tone one of unhappy defeat. She brightens a little when he puts a hand on her shoulder, so he knows that she's aware that he appreciates the effort she's made to make his mother feel wanted.
"Now that that's settled," Teena says briskly, looking around at the kids who don't seem to be paying much attention to the adults' conversation. "I have a proposition for the two of you."
"What's that?" Mulder asks as expected.
"I was wondering if it would be acceptable to eat in a non-traditional timetable," she says, and it's clear from the looks on even Sammy and Page's faces, none of the kids understands what she's getting at. "Inverse," she concludes.
He and Scully trade a look. It doesn't bother him if they have dessert before they go to dinner, so he shrugs. Scully nods slightly. "That's acceptable."
"Oh, good. In that case, who wants cake?"
"Me, me!" Sammy and Christopher cry excitedly. To Scully's disappointment, none of the kids obsessed with cake have ever wavered in their devotion to it.
"Come on, then," Teena invites, pointing at the kitchen. None of the kids have to be coaxed, even those who probably wouldn't kill for cake.
"Why are we having cake, grandma?" Page asks, trailing behind her siblings to talk to Teena.
"There are a lot of birthdays coming up, aren't there?"
Page thinks this over. She and four of her brothers have birthdays over the next few weeks. "Yup. And you're not going to come with us, so you'll miss some of them?"
"Not mine, though," Page says, looking pleased to be the one whose birthday won't fall until the following month. "But does this mean you're going to have presents now for Sammy and..."
Mulder notices that his oldest trails off when she notices a pile of wrapped boxes on the sideboard.
"Yes. You won't feel left out, will you?" Teena looks concerned, perhaps interpreting Page's truncated question as jealousy.
"Oh no. We'll see grandma when it's my birthday, won't we, Dad?" she asks him over her shoulder.
"That's the plan, kiddo."
"Nope. I'd rather get a present on my birthday."
Teena smiles at her. "I thought you were grown up enough to have that opinion."
Mulder and his mother exchange a smile when Page puffs up with pride. Sammy hasn't begun to become concerned with appearing mature yet, but Page certainly has. At the back of his mind Mulder wonders if this is because she's the oldest or if it's because girls really do mature faster than boys.
In the kitchen Scully stands holding the cake protectively, making Mulder imagine a swarm of sharks for a moment despite the fact that none of the kids are circling her. There has to be a reason she hasn't simply left it sitting on the table though.
"Can I cut that?" he asks, taking it from her. She casts him a grateful look. Eyeing his over-excited children he asks, "What's the rule about cake?"
Christopher scrambles onto the nearest chair before saying "Only people sitting nicely get cake."
"Uh huh," Mulder replies, watching the rest take their seats like a poorly planned game of musical chairs. "Okay, then."
"Can I have a flower?" April asks, eyeing the confection made of frosting.
"I think we'll have to ask the birthday boys," Mulder tells her gently, and she looks slightly disappointed. He suspects her desire to have one of the flowers is born more of an interest in flowers than frosting.
But she perks up when Jared wrinkles his nose and says, "She can have mine, Daddy. I don't like flowers."
"Thank you, Jared."
Sammy, however looks slightly alarmed. "I like flowers, though," he asserts.
"So that means I get one?"
"Yes, it does."
"Page can have mine," David declares in solidarity with his twin. "Flowers are for girls. And Sammy."
For a second Sammy glares at his younger brother, then shrugs. Extra frosting is extra frosting he's apparently decided. Looking up at him, Sammy asks, "Dad, I know there are man eating plants, but are there man eating flowers? That'd be a pretty tough flower."
"Sammy," Scully interrupts. "There aren't really man eating plants."
"But what about in Journey to the Center of the Earth?" Sammy asks earnestly.
"Do we need to talk about the difference between movies and real life again?"
"No..." Sammy mumbles. He looks unconvinced though, as if his mother is just trying to protect him from something by not admitting it's real until he's older.
"There are man eating fungi, though-" Mulder starts to say.
Chastised, he busies himself cutting the cake. That story will have to wait for a time when Scully's not around.