jlmfromnyc (jlmfromnyc) wrote,

The Game

Title: The Game
Author: JL
Rated: PG
Keywords: Mulder/Scully, fluff, family
Summary: Mulder and Scully put the truth on trial.
Disclaimer: I don't own Mulder and Scully although I do have temporary custody of the kids while they hunt for the truth in a tiny little canoe in the middle of the ocean.

Thanks to A, J, and especially my cohorts at the Upright Citizens (mostly for indulging me.)

Author's Notes reserved until the end. (Oh, and enjoy!)

Light Moves (2001)
Shadows of Winter (2001)
To read Team Building (2008) in its entirety, scroll to the bottom of the main page, to part one. Clicking "next" at the top right-hand corner will take you to the next part.


The Game
by JL

"The moves of a game correspond roughly to the strokes in a ritual. As in any game, the players become increasingly adept with practice. Wasteful moves are eliminated, and more and more purpose is condensed into each move. "Beautiful friendships" are often based on the fact that the players complement each other with great economy and satisfaction, so that there is a maximum yield with a minimum effort from the games they play with each other."
- Games People Play, Eric Berne, M.D.

Mulder/Scully Residence
Arlington, VA

Scully awakened to a wail of static as if from a demented short-wave radio and turned to find herself face to face with a walkie talkie where Mulder should have been.

"Special Agent William to Special Agent Mom, Special Agent William to Special Agent Mom, come in Special Agent Mom, Over."

Scully closed her eyes and counted slowly back from ten. The walkie talkie hissed at her impatiently, and in her mind was that first evening with Mulder, the both of them so anxious and awkward, so hopeful yet inept without the benefit of a bogus investigation or a philosophical argument, Mulder dead asleep on one side, Scully wide awake on the other, a vast well of space between them like a checkerboard before game-play. The next morning, when Mulder's alarm went off, an intrusive sound so unlike Scully's own intrusive alarm, she'd burst up from the pillow like a diver gasping for air, disoriented and eager for stable ground - where was her phone, her badge, her gun, her glasses, her goddamned nightstand! - and finding only an unfamiliar form beside her, an interloper in the bed, she'd shoved him hard, startling him out of sleep and to the floor. For a moment he just lay there, fumbling for the edge of the mattress as if searching for leverage on a rock wall. Then, in a voice still rough with sleep: Scully? Maybe now would be a good time for us to disclose some of our more annoying personal habits.

"Special Agent Mom," repeated the walkie talkie. "Come in. This is Special Agent William, code yellow."

Scully's eyelids fluttered against the remnants of nighttime chaos, where yellow was -

- a legal pad, an old dented filing cabinet, a post-it note, a scrap of paper upon which a set of coordinates had been drawn, a pair of boxers upon which Mulder had painted an obscene happy face, the bright sun over a desolate stretch of highway where the two of them had double-backed into a cornfield; the circle of Mulder's arms from behind, the low hum of his voice near her ear - I know this isn't the same as our freedom and our son, but - and between the spaces of his interlaced fingers, a sunflower as yellow as that unforgiving sun, the stem of which he twirled like an inappropriate mustache -

"Oh, come on, Mom!"

- her son's baseball stats notebook, her daughter's new pencils, the digestive acids of a plant that drugged its victims into complacency and then swallowed them whole -

Scully peeked out from under one eyelid.

"Code yellow," repeated her son. Then: "All of life in the Milky Way Galaxy and probably some other galaxies that don't exist yet depend on you waking up and coming downstairs." Woeful sounding static followed.

With her face buried beneath Mulder's pillow, Scully reached for the walkie talkie with stunning accuracy, like a well-trained soldier under fire, and fumbled for the plastic button as if trying to read Braille. After a long moment, she managed, "William, unless the - "

"House is being attacked by shape-shifters, hundred year old liver eaters or supersoldiers, please wait a half hour or ask your father because I know he's awake already." There was a pause, then: "It's like I'm psychic, right?"

"You're not," mumbled Scully, "I promise you."

"I know I'm not," said William. "I only said it's like I'm psychic, not that I actually am. Everyone knows you can't be psychic if your brain is too busy traveling through time - that would just be retarded - and I'm pretty sure the time traveling thing is true." Another burst of static, then, "Are you gonna come down, or what? Your services are needed. Over."

Scully rolled onto her back and closed her eyes, imagining a version of herself that had developed the ability to travel back in time to the peak of her REM cycle. She blinked and threw her arm over her eyes and thought of New Years Eve, of she and Mulder huddled on the roof, curled together like strands of licorice, the two of them deep inside a nest of hot water bottles and heavy woolen blankets. Mulder had been murmuring far-fetched limericks involving Skinner, Kersh and the Sea Kelpie into her ear as midnight approached and bottle-rockets exploded in the distance; meanwhile, the unmistakable sound of valuable objects breaking came from inside their new home. She'd mumbled into Mulder's mouth, I won't play this game with them, and then turning him for better access, finished, My New Years resolution, as Mulder mumbled his incoherent agreement to the music of their children hurling wild accusations at one another against the sky bursting joyfully with the newness of the year.

"I'm just saying," William was saying, "That if my bad feeling is like, the echo of a past event doomed to repeat until Grandma's crystal bowl doesn't break and you don't ground me, then we could actually be the intrinsic piece of a larger paradox easily corrected by taking back the very punishment that caused the rift in the first place."

William paused, gasped for oxygen as if preparing to jump into a riptide, and glanced at the inside of his elbow, where words had been scribbled and crossed out in ballpoint pen.

Wordlessly, Scully crossed the room to Mulder's desk, dug into the top drawer, and pulled out a bottle of aspirin, dry-swallowing the remaining pair. She slammed the empty bottle back down on the hardwood and thought of young, boyishly arrogant Mulder, still so new to the idea of romance and daring her to out-Tequila-shot him, certain as he'd ever been about any of his far-fetched theories that she'd somehow be an easy competitor - at least in terms of alcohol. Unsurprisingly, she had matched Mulder's arrogance and raised him a last laugh, slamming down the little shot glass five, six, seven times, at first laughing with him and then collecting half of his paycheck on his own backfired bet - a satisfying game right up until she'd drunkenly admitted, for the first time, that she was in love with him, and then tripped sideways over an empty rum bottle on her way to the bathroom. If you throw it all back up that means I win, Mulder declared weakly, right before he lost consciousness.

"Hey." Mulder frowned. "I was saving those for later."

"It's before seven," said Scully.

"Yes," agreed Mulder.

Scully frowned. "So why are the two of you - "

"Battlestar Gallactica on the Sci-Fi channel," said Emma, who sometimes spoke like a flight attendant calmly directing a meelee of passengers to the emergency exits. She sat cross-legged on the floor by Mulder's desk, swallowed up in a jersey of Mulder's that had been stolen from Scully's top drawer. She waved her crayon like a laser-pointer. "It starts in a half hour. I told him he just should do some work when he wakes up this early, but you know he never listens."

Mulder bent down and peered into Emma's wide green eyes. "How is it that childhood is wasted on you?" he asked, and then stood and nodded his chin at his son. "Young Jedi," he said, "I'm assuming there's a reason you pilfered a pair of walkie talkies from the backpack in the hall and woke your Mother early enough to steal all my drugs. And please note that verbal torture is not a viable answer."

"I have plans," said William. "The hockey game. Remember? You both said I could go and then you said I couldn't go, and then you said I could go but that first I should think about what I did and why I did it, and so I thought about all of that and I still think my conclusion makes more sense than your conclusion."

Scully wandered over to the bookshelf and picked up her empty coffee mug. She peered inside like a man in the desert unsuccessfully trying to conjure a mirage. "Tater," she said, "Can I please just - "

"It's William, Mom. Okay? And this is important." William pushed his glasses confidently back up the bridge of his nose. "Please?"

"I do remember a hockey game," Mulder said. "Although I also remember a basketball flying down the stairs and smashing your Grandma Maggie's favorite piece of china. Scully, help me out here because I'm still stuck on Astral Projection. That perhaps the basketball didn't necessarily throw itself, but was instead wrenched from the closet and then thrown from the second floor landing by an otherworldly being."

"Interesting," said Scully. "But if I could insert my point of view - "

"Always," said Mulder.

"Please stop," begged William.

"I believe the basketball was purposefully aimed at the antique china by an unruly child and not a poltergeist."

"Intriguing," said Mulder. "But do you have proof?"

"Well, as a matter of fact - "

"Mom! Dad!" William stomped his foot. "Can you please not investigate me? I totally know what you're doing, I'm not a stupid kid anymore."

Scully's brow arched. Mulder folded his arms across his chest. Their wary glances met and they crossed paths like a pair of defensive point-guards, like they so often did at work, moving forward and back and past one another in sync, in perfect harmony. A well-rehearsed dance. Of course, the problem with the home was that it didn't compare to the incredible pressure of that little interrogation chamber where this dance was most natural; the uncomfortable heat, the oppressive lighting, the sharp-edged metal chairs; everyone wanted out of that room so badly, the game of who would break went quick, if not much more predictably. The home, however, created the most difficult environment; the home was filled with variables like extra players and tricky hiding places and blind spots that made conclusions infinitely harder to calculate.

"Okay," said Mulder to William. "Hit me with your best shot."

William re-adjusted his glasses as if aiming for a fight. He breathed in deeply. "I looked up Occams Razor," he started. "Because you told me to really think about what I did and come up with a better story, so I came back and suggested that maybe a rip in the space time continuim occurred at the exact time of my punishment, because like, that stupid bowl was old and destined to break and would have found a way to break anyway, right? But when I told my theory to Mom suddenly I was the unreasonable one."

William gasped for air. Scully pressed her knuckles against her forehead in an attempt to push her brain back into her skull. She wistfully recalled a time when a vacation day meant at least one satisfying cup of coffee and five solid minutes of silence before Mulder needed to be bailed out of federal prison. Haunted houses and hallucinations and unknown pathogens and level five quarantines filled with restful comas and more privacy than a person could ask for, and endless UNO tournaments with Mulder in open-backed hospital gowns. God, those were the days.

"Occam's Razor," Scully managed, massaging furiously at her temples, "Concerns a method to the truth involving the fewest possible assumptions. What you're suggesting - "

"Isn't exactly impossible," interrupted William. "Because sometimes, the simplest answer is really the more complicated answer and vice versa. Right? And the search for that answer is what makes your work both possible and awesome. Right?"

Mulder and Scully exchanged loaded glances.

"No, seriously," said William.

Mulder scratched at the stubble on his chin and leaned against the desk as if considering the details of a particularly challenging psychological profile. "Okay," he said, "Why the hell not? William, please tell your mother and I why we are awesome."

William looked pleased.

Scully, meanwhile, sagged against the half-empty bookcase and closed her eyes, imagining a deck of UNO cards fanned out across a crisp white bedspread, the curl of strong fingers around hers as she shut her eyes, the burrow of soft blankets, the comforting knowledge that Mulder couldn't go anywhere because his IV didn't reach that far - peaceful memories that lacked the ability to present outrageous counterarguments.

"Firstly," began William, "You're not afraid of how weird the truth is."

"I see," said Mulder. "Go on."

"And the truth," continued William, "Is I had crazy Deja-Vu when I woke up this morning - everything was so familiar, it was like I'd woken up like that before. So I came downstairs and read the file on that one case you'd had where that guy was going to rob the bank but his girlfriend was waiting in the car and then you just knew that the robber had been carrying a bomb because your day had been repeating and you had been leaving yourself these cool mental cues - "

Scully's mirage burst and she opened her eyes.

"Mulder?" she said, "I thought you edited that part out of the report."

Mulder glanced sideways at Scully, and then at William, who lobbed back a cocky grin.

Back in the old days, when she and Mulder had been forced to live like paranoid gophers, constantly fleeing from one hole in the ground motel to the next, Mulder had driven her crazy with his celebrity Texas Hold'Em obsession. Just look at Robert Goulet's poker face, he'd say, TV remote in hand, as she reorganized notes and charts dedicated to their collection of survival items. He's not gonna give up, Scully. He'll bluff like there's no tomorrow but he won't fold. And with that hand? It's actually kind of admirable in a really stupid way.

Mulder sighed. "I may have made a copy of the original version before you shot it full of plot-holes and handed that one over to Skinner."

Scully sighed.

"I'm sorry?" suggested Mulder.

Scully shook her head and turned her attention to William. "I still don't see what time travel has to do with anything, Spud."

William huffed. "It's William, Mom. Okay? William. Or Will. Or Mulder."

Scully's eyebrow shot up.

"And all I'm saying is, if a time loop was the simplest answer before, a time loop can be the simplest answer again."

"William," she said, "Please tell me you aren't serious."

"Do you see?" said William to Mulder. He waved his arms for emphasis. "Totally close-minded."

Scully supposed this newest strategy of William's was at the very least preferable to his previous strategy of storming off to the tunnels beneath the house, which, since the incident with Emma at Christmas, had been flooded with a series of construction lamps like the path illuminating a dangerous mine shaft. Still, Scully felt out of place rushing down there after him, as if logic and reality ceased to exist in a secret passageway, and depending on the time of day, could even be exchanged for a singing candelabra, pitchfork, or one of the seven dwarfs. But perhaps this reaction in general was foolish; given her background, one might have assumed that a career spent chasing monsters through the labyrinths of a government underworld would have better prepared her for a second career chasing after her own children through the labyrinths beneath her own living room. And yet...
Inevitably, Scully felt that "And yet..." would be the quote carved beneath her name on her headstone.

"Mulder," she asked, rubbing the bridge of her nose, "Can you please?"

Mulder nodded, then glanced down at Emma as if seeking a co-pilot or a partner for doubles tennis. "What do you think about all this?" he asked.

Emma's brows pinched as if she'd been asked to identify her favorite Indiana Jones movie, and she stood and turned in place for several moments like a board-game spinner. Finally, she stopped, seemed to spot buried treasure, and scrambled to the other side of the room where she unearthed a wipe-off board. In William's messy black scrawl, the words "You Are Here" had been written over what appeared to be the surface of the moon.

"Mrs. Murphy makes us write on the board when we need to show our work," she explained as she handed it over to Mulder, who wiped the surface clean and stared at it. He rapped fingers against the underside of his chin in deep thought.

After a few silent moments, Mulder grabbed a pen from the desk, and on the far left side, wrote SCULLY, and on the far right, wrote WILLIAM. Beneath both names he drew a line, and then another down the center.

Scully's eyebrow shot up. "No, seriously, Mulder."

"Dad. Come on. We both know it's unfair for me to be punished if technically an extreme possibility also exists. Right?"

Mulder turned to Scully, bleary-eyed, as he raked fingers through his bed-fresh hair, and managed, "I can't believe you stole my last two aspirin."

Scully sighed. "Okay." She turned William's shoulders and bent until they were eye to eye. "The issue of death creates a lot of insolvent assumptions," she began. "For instance, if you continue to play basketball in the house even though I've asked you not to, you will, in all likelihood, force me to kill you. Now. Assuming, at this point, that William Mulder from the future has already traveled back through time to bust you out of your theatrically desperate circumstances - even though you could theoretically just take responsibility for breaking your grandmother's antique china - the William Mulder from the future will cease to exist the moment I kill the William Mulder who exists now. A Paradox."

Scully took a deep breath.

William blinked.

"Smart is sexy," declared Mulder, and he drew a tally mark beneath SCULLY.

William sagged against the doorjamb in defeat.

"I can't believe you went with time travel," said Emma. She cleaned up her crayons from the floor and dumped them back into Mulder's desk drawer.

"Oh?" said William. "At least I didn't tell them a ghost came up through the secret passageway and broke Mom's picture of Grandpa Scully."

"That's because a ghost did come up through the secret passageway and break Mom's picture of Grandpa Scully."

Scully's skeptical gaze met Mulder's and a strange shot of triumph flowed through her. Rare was the occasion in which the two of them were skeptical simultaneously.

"It's like watching the death of truth," said Mulder. "Scully, I do believe you've given birth to the antithesis of my life's work."

"Dad," said William. "I'm not lying, I'm just saying, Mom's paradox is, at best, impossible. And if Mom's paradox is impossible then my theory could totally be true. At the very least, it can't be proven untrue. Anyway. I'm adorable and Mom could never kill me."

Mulder tilted his head as if slowly processing a radio transmission. The last time Scully had seen this exact variation of fascination on him, Amanda Nelligan had just told him that Luke Skywalker had fathered her monkey baby. His lips twitched accordingly. "Bold," he declared, and drew a tally-mark under WILLIAM.

"William," said Scully, "I would first of all caution your optimism. And I should second of all point out that if anyone in your scenario were to die for any reason completely unrelated to how adorable you are, the paradox would occur again. And again. And that, my child, is one of the many reasons why time travel, according to Occams Razor - and points for trying, by the way - "

Emma took the pen from Mulder and drew another tally mark under WILLIAM.

" - will always remain a construct of Marty McFly."

"Doc Brown, Mom."

"How is that different from what I said?"

Mulder shook his head, took the marker back from Emma, and drew another tally mark under WILLIAM.

"Ha," said William.

Scully's arms crossed. "I'd really like to see a copy of these rules, Mulder."

Mulder smirked. "Now, Scully," he said, "Aren't you always telling me to double-check the accuracy of all my references and facts? While your argument in regards to the space-time continuim is indeed compelling - and I agree, the boy's incarceration may best serve our current timeline - I'm concerned that you lack vital knowledge of 80's science fiction movies."

"You're losing and not as cool," clarified Emma.

"Or," said Scully, and without warning she lunged for the dry-erase pen.

Mulder dodged recklessly behind the file cabinet and Scully advanced on him as Emma, always delighted to throw herself into the center of any meelee between her parents, ran between them like a cat, knocking both off balance. Mulder, meanwhile, always delighted to capitalize on the distraction of his children, pinned Scully against the window. He dangled the pen close to her earlobe and teased, "Looking for this?" as Scully, heart pounding, used the distraction of her proximity against him, hooking her calves behind his and spinning them both. Out of breath, they gazed at one another as if waiting for a counteroffensive. Neurons in Scully's brain fired all at once, the adrenaline far too powerful and razor sharp, and she brought up her palm to his cheek, murmured, "Don't make me wrestle you for it," as they-

"UGH. Seriously? Can you not?" William shielded his eyes as if looking straight into a solar eclipse.

Scully backed away quickly, her pulse still thready, as Mulder's hand lingered for a moment at the center of her back, where he drew gentle instructions for her with his thumb and index finger; a language she understood. Still tingling, Scully nodded at Mulder to continue and Mulder circled the desk like an attorney.

"Apologies for our disgustingness," he said, and bowed with a sort of ridiculous flourish. "Please. By all means, Spud. Present the rest of your case."

"Dad." William sighed. "You're not helping." He cleared his throat, continued, "Mom admitted time travel was true in her college thesis. You yourself told me how Mom wrote all about Einstein and that she believed how like, people could move through time and space faster than the speed of light and then come back to Earth in the future and not have aged at all, and - " William sighed. He looked troubled. "I don't get it. You used to be so awesome, Mom. What happened?"

Mulder uncapped the marker and drew a tally mark under WILLIAM.

Scully jabbed Mulder with her elbow, and Mulder leaned in close, his lips brushing her ear: "What kinky new rule is this?"

Scully resisted the urge to elbow him again.

Instead, she turned to William. "William," she said, "While I'm flattered that you've been poking around my old college dissertation, I can promise you that at no point did I ever claim to believe in time travel. And in fact, at a later date, I'd be more than happy to tell you exactly what scientific principles I applied in my research - we can even make an afternoon of it. I'm sure that'll really thrill you. However. Speaking of papers, why don't we instead talk about why, in all your vast time-traveling, you failed to return to Friday afternoon and correctly answer the essay questions about photosynthesis on your midterm. Didn't we study for that on Thursday?"

"Ouch," said Emma.

"Mommy plays to win," said Mulder. He drew a tally-mark under SCULLY.

"Okay," said William. He quickly studied the tally marks, pausing as if to regroup. "Okay. Look. Um, I didn't want to say anything at all, but I guess if I have to I have to."

He took a deep breath.

"Mrs. Peabody is a replicant, Mom. An Alien. Replicant. I saw the marks. They were just like the marks on Billy Miles' back from that case you first worked on with Dad. I looked it all up. And since I'm your miracle baby, I have to be careful. Right? How do you know my science teacher won't use trick questions to try and turn me into one of Them?"

Scully imagined William, all of six months old and screaming at the top of his tiny lungs from inside his bassinet, somehow spinning his mobile as if able to command spacial energy at will. Sometimes, Scully still wondered how far back neurological muscle memory went; what did William actually remember, and what part of him was perhaps still part of something larger, some sweeping chess match that could never be understood? While these days, William's superpowers (had they ever really existed) were mostly nonexistant, an ancient memory as unsettling as any, Scully often mused to Mulder that William's desire to forcibly spin his mobile had never dissipated; William just continually found more interesting ways to do it.

"Fascinating mix of guilt, truth and insanity," mused Mulder.

"I wonder who he takes after," muttered Scully.

"Awesome," translated Emma, who took the pen from Mulder and drew a tally mark under WILLIAM.

William grinned and high-fived his sister.

Scully shot a dirty look at Mulder, then bent to face William. "I hope you realize that making up these wild stories will never lead you any closer to the truth - if that's really your goal."

Mulder nodded and took the pen from Emma. He drew a tally mark under SCULLY.

"If the truth looks like Mrs. Peabody's essay questions, I'd really rather go to the hockey game."

Emma took the pen back from Mulder and drew another tally mark under WILLIAM.

"This point system," said Scully, "Is very suspicious."

Emma shrugged.

William, however, looked delighted.

"Your objection has been noted," said Mulder, "Although it has also been overruled. I'm sorry, Scully, but because the chart here states that you are clearly much less awesome than the prisoner, you must take all the blame and call Grandma Maggie right this very moment. So consider yourself unfairly judged. As an aside, Scully, didn't that bowl once belong to your father?"

"You mean my dead father?"

William paled.

Mulder snapped his fingers. "That'd be the one," he said.

Scully bit her lip to hide a smile.

"Uh," said William, as if suddenly uncertain of his fate. "Would that make Grandpa Scully angry with me? Like... if he were really a ghost and hanging out here at the house, would that make him want to play tricks on me?"

"Oh, calm down, Bog Monster. Ghosts aren't really real," said Emma. "Right, Mommy?"

"Interesting," replied Scully. "Especially since I thought you said a ghost broke Grandpa Scully's picture frame. But how can that be true if you don't really believe in them?"

Emma's cheeks flushed. Mulder grinned and stole the marker back and drew another tally under SCULLY.

William glanced at Emma as if they'd just had their magic carpet yanked out from underneath them. He wrung his hands and jutted his chin. Took a deep breath. Cleared his worried expression and exchanged it for his poker face. Scully glanced at Mulder, who winked back at her. Ridiculously, she thought of Robert Goulet and a motel TV bolted to the armoire. Scully, Mulder was saying in her head, seven episodes into an all-night marathon of Texas-Hold'Em. Would you stop obsessing and just relax?

"Okay, fine," said William. "I get your game, Dad. So why don't you just tell me what the timeline unfairly wants."

"Yes," agreed Scully. "I'm interested, too. What does the timeline want, Mulder?"

"Excellent question," said Mulder, "I'd have to say, according to the wipe-off board here, that the timeline wants your officially more awesome first born son to go free and for you to be punished in his place."

William frowned. "Uh. That doesn't really sound - "

"Dead Grandpa Scully," continued Mulder, "Will just have to understand."

William's gaze darted furiously from his mother to his father.

"Gosh, Spud," commented Mulder. "You look a bit worried. Did you have something to add?"

"No." William bit his fingernails.

Scully's eyebrow arched.

William sighed.

"Ok, fine," he said glumly. "The china didn't break because the timeline wanted it to."

"Oh?" said Scully. "And what do you know about this?"

William scuffed at the carpet. "I may have been playing basketball in the house."

Mulder nodded and took the pen from Emma, marked four tally lines under SCULLY, circled all of them, and capped the marker. Scully's head tilted to the side and she smiled. A sharp electric current passed between them, the feeling of lying in bed with Mulder, William and Emma on a rare, quiet Saturday evening, and playing Texas Hold-Em for M&Ms and chocolate covered pretzels; first adults versus children, then believers versus skeptics. Afterwards, she and Mulder alone, arguing cases and telling secrets in the dark, their legs and arms mingled in the center of the bed, where the game was most fun.

William gaped. "But - " His cheeks burned bright pink. "But - " He pointed with fury at his side of the board. "But I was just winning! I had more tallies! You set me up - the two of you set me up!"

"Now," said Mulder. "Why on Earth would we do that?"

"Oh, pick me - I know!" said Emma.

William shot his sister a look.

"William," said Scully, "If life was fair - " She picked up her empty coffee mug from the bookshelf and peered inside, and sighed. "If life was fair, I would not be arguing the space time continuim this early without the aid of coffee. However, I can tell you from personal experience that you have a much better shot at fair if you just tell the truth the first time."

William made a face and slumped into a chair. "Whatever. I hate the truth." He pressed his finger to the surface of Mulder's antique globe and spun it more forcibly than necessary. "Just so you know. Also, this is where I'm moving." He jabbed at the globe. "I'm moving to The Galapagos Islands."

"Okay," said Scully, "If that's really what you want. But just remember that if it involves leaving this house today, you might want to go with your original time travel strategy."

"Sure," grumbled William. "Fine. Whatever."

Emma held up a hand to Mulder. "Can we please have breakfast now?" she asked.

Mulder answered by scooping her up beneath her knees and throwing her over his shoulder in a fireman's hold. "Breakfast soon, Battlestar Gallactica now," he answered, and leaned down to kiss Scully on the cheek. Emma squealed and shrieked and Mulder spun her until she threatened to vomit on him, and then he finally hauled her out, like a duffel bag, leaving Scully alone with a sulking William.

"I'm running away," her son insisted.

Scully sighed. "Tater - "

"Mommy, I swear, I will make the both of you start calling me Mulder. How does that sound? And then you will have two Mulders to deal with and you won't be able to ground both of us!" William turned on his heel and stomped out of the room.

Scully glanced again at the clock: 6:20am. Saturday. Still. She sagged against the wall with her empty coffee cup.

"Hey Scully!" called Mulder from the kitchen. "I have a pot of coffee going and the children are mangling some eggs and waffles."

"Special Agent Mom!" yelled Emma. "Come on! William promises he won't run away till after Daddy makes breakfast!"

"Whatever. You're just lucky I like waffles!" added William, against a background symphony of plates and glasses and silverware rustling and cabinets slamming.

Scully smiled to herself and peered into her coffee mug, empty now but always capable of being filled.




Author's note: Because as a writer I am obsessed with the question "what if?", and because I love the idea of Mulder and Scully raising children - it just seems completely insane and hilarious - (and because I will gladly set aside real life writing for total madness any day) I decided to write another piece in the Light Moves/SOW/Team Building universe. I just couldn't help myself. Additionally, this was a challenge issued to me by real life friends and cohorts (the prompt was "boardgame.") So please send feedback if you enjoyed yourself and think you might want to see more. Feedback keeps the creative juices flowing. Also, it fills my obsessive need to be liked.

Thanks again!
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