Title: Mulder's Penance
Category: MT, MA, H.
Spoilers: None. Set in Season 6.
Summary: Mulder owes Scully big time. Heaven help him when he agrees to co-host her friend's son's birthday party.
Archive: Gossamer, any other good home. Please ask.
Feedback: Let me know, good or constructive criticism, firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, The X-files are owned by Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen Productions, and Fox Studios. I do not earn money from this. I do not mean any copyright infringement. They're on vacation, so I just want to bring them back for this story. Maybe a few more.
2360 Hegal Place,
Sunday, 9:17 a.m.
There have been many things I have been subjected to in my career which have left me near death, left irrepairable wounds to my mind and soul, and even caused me to question the humanity of my colleagues and relatives. I have been shot at, drugged, beaten and bound. The childhood trauma of my sister's disappearance was only the first of many terrible things to affect me so utterly deeply, fighteningly, and depressingly, that I adopted the motto, "Trust No One".
In all my years as a profiler and defender of our rights and freedoms, you could say I am ready for institutionaliztion or a Purple Heart: it's a toss-up, really.
I have been regressed by a controversial therapist, bound and gagged, subjected to horrible experiments in Tunguska, taken to the far corners of the Earth and even slugged by someone who looked amazingly like my parter during a wild ride in the Bermuda Triangle, transported to the past.
Why is it that right now, as I shampoo the carpet of my car for the twentieth time, I feel I am truly in Hell itself?
I was sitting at my desk, reading a freshly completed report, and being a good F.B.I Agent when the whole predicament was about to unfold. Scully walked into the office in her crisp, yet alluring navy pantsuit, smiling away. "Hey, Mulder."
"Hey yourself, Scully." My usual reply. Oh, I had forgotten something, and I think that's one of the reasons I'm still suffering. But be patient, I will get to that. "So, how was your weekend?"
"The wedding went off without a hitch, and I survived the reception without a date."
Yes, I was supposed to let her know whether I was going to escort her to the wedding of one of her dearest friends from college. Oops. "Oh, I forgot, Scully," I said in my most pained voice, and slapped my head. "After I took Mark Kendel to the penitentiary in Seattle, I was... supposed... I was supposed to call and say I wasn't able to go. I'm so sorry, Scully."
She was staring at the wall behind me, then gave me a glare that would have burned down the Chrysler Building. "At least you could have called, Mulder. We always keep in touch, just in case, remember? And you gave your word you were going to let me know if you were going to show. Bill freaked when I told him you were coming. When you DIDN'T show up, he freaked again! It was embarrassing, Mulder!" She sunk into her chair and checked for e-mail.
"Well, I know there's no excuse for that, and I did say I was sorry. After that little excursion, I got home five hours after I would have been there with you, and no one answered the phone where you were staying, so I looked through... some old... would you believe X-Files from the late 1950's?"
She looked up from the monitor. No, she frowned. Burned a hole right through my head with those eyes of hers. This woman can show you her fury without uttering a word. "Well, you have a chance to make amends, Mulder!"
"Really, Scully! That's very gracious of you. Oh, wait. What do I have to do?" I didn't dare finish my question with the words "for my punishment".
"I've been asked to host a birthday party for my godson, and his mother and father won't be there this time. His great aunt is dying, and they want to be there for her in the hospital."
"That's... I'm sorry, Scully. So, how can I help?"
"I think this occasion calls for some reinforcements, and since I have only you because my other friend and her husband are honeymooning in the Bahamas, it would be of great help to me if you could be there to help host the party."
"Sure. Beats ruining my shirt in bile, being injected with experimental antivirals, having my memory erased and losing my gun." She's still not smiling. That is not a good sign.
She deleted a few messages, muttering something unrepeatable and barely audible about spam, and then the silence was broken. "Can you really handle ten nin-year-old boys and girls, Mulder? Because believe me, they can be a handful."
Well, I did have to think about that one. But hey, I learned about kids that age in Developmental Psychology. Granted, it involved very little practical work, but I did know something about kids that age. "Yeah, I think I can handle it, Scully. My services are available. When is this party?"
"Next Saturday afternoon. I'll pick you up and drive you there myself. This time, our calendars are both clear, barring the unexpected. So, don't read any weird tabloid articles your buddies send you. You owe me big time, Mulder. Big time. Especially since I have saved your life many times over."
"Yeah, you have. Many times over," I repeated softly, in my most charming voice. Well, I needed the points. "For which I am eternally grateful. Speaking of eternity, we have a meeting with the bean counter in twenty minutes."
"My sentiments exactly. So, that's why I have all the receipts sorted by category this time. It'll be short and sweet."
The week passed without incident. We had some re-filing to do, a crime stats meeting and the usual briefings. There was nothing to stop us from going to the little guy's birthday party except one thing: Scully's car had been broken into on the Thursday night. I drove her in to the office Friday, and we headed out to New Rochelle, New York. We were booked into a motel by midnight, and nothing further happened to us except a good night's sleep.
New Rochelle, NY
Saturday, 11:49 a.m.
Scully and I arrived at the suburban house at noon to have lunch with the family and help set things up for the party.
"Mulder, I'd like you to meet Jane Kirk and her husband Ken."
While I shook their hands, Jane Kirk smiled and said, "So I finally get to meet this gorgeous hunk you'be been working with... "
Scully's jaw dropped, then she promptly smiled awkwardly and nodded. My face must have been some deep shade of red.
Well, I tried to break the ice. "So, where's the birthday boy?"
"Auntie Dana! Auntie Dana!" A brown-haired, blue-eyed little boy ran up the sidewalk to greet us. I mean Scully. "It's my birthday today!"
Scully knelt down and hugged the little boy. "It sure is! And you're gonna be ten years old, Christopher!"
"You didn't forget, did you?"
"No, I didn't forget. I have the present in the car. Christopher, I'd like you to say 'hi' to my F.B.I. partner, and friend, Mr. Mulder."
"You work for the F.B.I.? No kidding?"
"Yes, I do. Do you play basketball?" I had noticed the hoop over the garage door, and was itching to play.
"Sure I do. But it's my birthday today and we haveta stay clean till after lunch, and after everybody gets here. Right Mom?"
"Right, kiddo. So come in and let's eat. We've got a lot to do!" Jane was quite delighted to see that Scully had brought me. I wondered whether Scully had spoken about me, or if the woman was just glad Scully brought a tall reinforcement.
To my dismay, the Kirks were vegetarians, so it was a light but huge serving of spinach salad generously peppered with chopped almonds. I could have gone for at least a glass of milk, but passed on the offer when I found out it was soy for the boy. Soy milk. Do people dip cookies in that?
By the time we had decorated the house with balloons, streamers and a pinata, it was nearly time for the guests to arrive, so Christopher's parents left for the hospital. Christopher leaned over the back of the livingroom couch hoping to see his first guests arrive.
"Are you sure you're up to this?" Scully was checking to see if I was ready to run, no doubt.
"I said I was and I am. I can do this, Scully. I'm an F.B.I. Agent." Surely she wasn't serious.
Scully sighed and looked up at me with that doubt in her eyes. "Well, don't say I didn't warn you, Mulder, because there's nowhere you can run now."
The doorbell rang.
We allowed Christopher to greet his guests.
"Hey! It's Adam and Sandy from across the street! C'mon, I'll show you the neat model plane I got already!" Up the stairs went the three boys, and Scully and I were left to answer the door.
Three minutes later, the doorbell rang again, and Christopher wasn't coming downstairs, so I answered the door. "Hi, c'mon in."
A little blonde girl peered all the way up and screamed, "It's Herman Munster!"
Luckily for me, Scullly put her arm around the girl, whispered something into her ear, and she giggled. The girls entered the house and went into the playroom.
"What did you say to that kid, Scully?"
She tried to stifle a smirk, but lost the fight. "I told her you were the Jolly Green Giant."
Okay. When we finally had all the guests downstairs at the dining table, it was time to sing Happy Birthday and watch Christopher open his presents.
"Wow! Cool! Pokemon Cards! Thanks, Greta!"
"I like you, Christopher," a shy brunette giggled.
Christopher ignored her declaration and opened his next gift. The expression on his face pretty much said it all. "Spiderman underpants," he said with a glum, sad face. "Thanks, Todd".
A sad, skinny, red-haired little boy whined. "It isn't MY fault. My Mom did it."
Scully hugged that little boy. I kind of felt for him, too. "I'm sure your Mom meant well," she said with a smile. "And I bet she knows Christopher likes Spiderman."
"Yeah. But not on my BUM!" Christopher yelled.
Time for the Jolly Green Giant to step in. "Don't you think you're a pretty lucky guy with all these friends and all the trouble they went to to get you presents?" I asked him.
"I think Spiderman's the coolest!" A little guy at the far end of the table shouted. "And he can be on my bum any day! He's there already!" This brought down the house.
We were about to cut the cake after Christopher made his wish and blew out all ten candles, but Todd, the proud provider of the underpants, ran for the bathroom and puked.
Scully pulled me aside and asked me to see if the little guy was okay. "Me? C'mon, Scully. Don't I get enough just watching you slice and dice at work?"
"I need to get these kids their cake and ice cream. We need to keep things going smoothly. I'm sure it's just the excitement."
I can do this, I told myself. So, I bravely went to the powder room off of the kitchen to check on Todd. He was in a bad way. I gave him a cloth and he washed his face. Then I gave him a paper cupful of water and he rinsed his mouth.
"Thanks, Mr. Mulder. I feel hot all over."
Scully bounded into the bathroom. "Mulder, what on earth..." She felt the boy's forehead. "I think I should find a thermometer." She took his temperature and felt his lymph nodes under his neck. "Well, I think he needs to be checked out at the hospital. Todd, what's your phone number?"
As Scully took the information, I took a look at the other children. Everyone seemed to be enjoying their cake, laughing and calling each other "booger-head" or "stoopid". But then another kid, a little girl, ran into the bathroom, and that's why I'm scrubbing the carpet in my car for the umpteenth time.
For their year-end class party the day before, the kids and their teacher went to the nearby famous arches restaurant and had burgers, fries, shakes, and the whole nine yards. It just so happened that the three kids I ended up hauling to the Emergency Ward had food poisoning. We took off as soon as the Kirks returned home, and didn't bother looking back. I threw a blanket over the mess on the floor in the back, and we got the heck out of that town. Scully went to the trouble of buying me a can of carpet shampoo, at least.
Did I mention the pants that I had to wash out six times? Thank God I usually don't do this sort of thing. They WERE my favorite cargo pants. Their cremation was an hour ago.
Fox Mulder. F.B.I. I chase sex offenders, kidnappers, oddities of nature, flukes and alien/human hybrid clones. I don't think I'm cut out to work with children or animals. Guess I just don't have the... uh, the stomach for it. And now Scully owes me big time. I mean BIG TIME. This is my penance for all I've put her through, but so help me, I will make her pay.
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