A/N - I know the following is kind of out-of-character for The X Files as a whole, but the scene sort of wrote itself, and it seemed like the proper ending for this little story. I hope you enjoy it despite its out-of-character-ness. Thanks for reading, feedback is always welcome.
A week later, it's all over. The results of the blood tests Scully has conducted can't be more conclusive. Laurie and Anna are hesitant at first, but eventually William bids goodbye to the children in the orphanage and moves in with them. They are both wide awake pretty much throughout his first night with them, pacing outside his door, listening to his breathing.
It's almost hard to believe how fast they've all adjusted into being a family. The next day it's like he's never been away from them. Of course, they have spent a lot of time together from the moment they found him, but it's different when they're all under the same roof, when nothing or no one can take him away from them again. For the first few days, they keep pretty much to themselves. It's not like they have that many people to tell, but still; they want to rediscover their son with no prying eyes.
Margaret Scully is the first person they call as soon as they receive the final results. She goes on the first flight from Washington half an hour after her daughter has called her. Skinner joins them for dinner as well, eager to meet the miracle child of his two former agents, the one he has protected even before he was born. The huge dinner they have that evening is partly in his honor; he was the one who got Scully special access to the FBI labs, which allowed her to conduct the most extensive blood work, and with such speedy results.
They spend the most incredible evening together. Margaret is amazing with William; somehow it was obvious to him that this would be the case. Watching Skinner with William, he's surprised his former boss has never had kids of his own. They hit it off immediately, and he and Skinner spend the evening recounting anecdotes of some of the more bizarre cases they've had over the years, much to Scully's dismay. It appeared William enjoyed their ongoing bickering, just as much as Skinner seemed to.
As Scully and her mother tuck William in, he walks Skinner to his car so he can make his midnight flight back to Washington. He gazes at the dark road long after the car of his former boss disappears into the night. The front porch is awash soft yellow and he lingers there. The swing creaks a bit underneath his weigh as he sits down. Exhaustion fills him completely. The silence that wraps around him is comforting. It feels as if his life is about to resume its hectic pace. It takes some getting used to.
In many ways, tonight has been the most normal evening he's had possibly all his life. Everything is falling into place in a way he could only dream of. This is the happy ending he has always yearned for. He can hardly believe this is for real.
There's one last thing he needs to do to get his life in order. He's been thinking about it for years, but these past few days have sealed his decision. He's been looking for excuses to put it off for months, possibly even years. God knows he's had plenty of opportunities. Even this evening, he has been stalling shamelessly. He touches his shirt pocket and it's still there, its presence mocking him. In all these years of chasing aliens and trying to prove government conspiracies, this is by far the hardest thing he's ever got to do.
He looks up at the sound of an opening door and smiles wearily at Scully as she goes out of the house and comes to sit beside him. She tucks her feet underneath her and pulls the sleeves of her cardigan over her palms before laying her head against his shoulder. The swing sways ever so slightly, creaking a little as it goes.
"Is he asleep?"
"Yes," she replies and sulks at him, although he can definitely detect a hint of a smile fighting its way to the surface. "Although he refused to close his eyes until I told him everything about the supposedly invisible Anson Stokes."
He laughs softly at the reproach in her tone; she almost killed him when he mentioned it during dinner. "He was invisible, Scully."
"Sure he was, Mulder," she says through a yawn. It's a relief to know that even though she seems to know exactly what she's doing when it comes to raising their son, she's exhausted as well. For so long, they have maintained their own pace in life. Getting used to the very lively pace of their eight year old is definitely going to be a challenge.
But he's stalling again. So silly. He might as well get this over with.
Her eyes are closed when he's reaching for her hand, but she's smiling when he's lacing their fingers together, pushing the soft material of her cardigan slightly back. She seems distracted enough. He slips his other hand in his pocket as warily as he possibly can, then coolly, idly, as if he knows exactly what he's doing, he slips the ring onto her finger.
Immediately, he feels her tense against him. Her eyes snap open and fly up to meet his. He shrugs, flashing a crooked smile at her, but doesn't reply the endless questions in her eyes. Slowly, hesitantly, she looks down and starts as though she truly hasn't seen it coming. The ring rests on her finger, a perfect fit, as though it has always meant to be there, and in many ways it has. Even through their darkest times, it couldn't have been anyone else.
"It was my mother's," he says, embarrassed by the tremor in his voice. "Which is probably not the best symbolic token considering the way my parents' marriage ended."
She lets out a little gasp as though she wasn't really sure where he was going with this until he uttered that word. She seems as if she wants to say something and so he continues, abruptly. He can't lose his nerve now.
"I know it's not really necessary. We've been living like a married couple for the best of the last decade and we've done so more successfully than most married couples out there. I just thought… now that we got William back… that we might as well do it."
She cocks an eyebrow, clearly amused. "We might as well do it?" she echoes incredulously. Then she shakes her head, laughing softly. "That's not a very good proposal, Mulder."
"Cut me some slack here, will you? I have no idea what I'm doing and it's unnerving."
"Well, there's a fifty-fifty chance I'll say yes," she says shyly. Her cheeks are bright pink in the dim light. She looks just like she did when they first met. He remembers that day, that moment, as though it's happened yesterday.
"I can't stop the darkness from coming. I think we've been under its wing for so long it just knows where to find us easier than it does other people." He's just rambling now, but he doesn't care. It helps easing the stress. Kind of. "But I can promise to be there and protect you from it. And William. I can – "
She rises, all but sitting in his lap, as she wraps her arms around his neck. He swallows and feels his heart at the back of his throat. What has he meant to say?
"Mulder," she whispers, her breath hot against his neck. "Just ask it."
There's laughter in her eyes as she backs away an inch, but not too much for him to keep a clear mind. His hands rest against her waist. She tilts her head ever so slightly, her smile a mix of encouragement and anticipation.
Ah, the hell with this. It's only four words.
"Dana Katherine Scully," he pauses, but quickly gets a grip. He can do this. "Will you marry me?"
He fights the urge to close his eyes as soon as the words are out. He feels like such a cliché. Only he doesn't get a chance to do so. Her smile is softer now. She places her lips close to his ear again. "Yes. Yes, I will."
And while a part of him has anticipated her reply, he is stunned into silence. He just stares at her with awe. She giggles, and there's an edge to the sound. "Were you expecting a different answer?" she asks, teasingly poking his sides.
He grabs her hand and slowly kisses each finger, letting his lips linger against the ring. "No, Mrs. Spooky, that's just the answer I was hoping for."
"Mrs. Spooky," she mock groans. "I guess we really are living the dream now, aren't we?"
He chuckles and holds her closer, and his mind drifts again to that night in Roswell. But he doesn't remember hopelessness now, or despair, only hope. It fills him now too. Something is coming. The future is looming closer and closer, but whatever it is bound to bring, he is fearless. He knows now what he wasn't sure of back in Roswell. He can embrace the future or fight it, so long as she was beside him. So long as they have William. There's nothing to it, really. They'll be alright.
"Come on," she says, and gently pulls him to his feet. "Let's go to bed."
Tonight will be peaceful, he thinks as he follows her inside. There will be no dark dreams, no ghosts, no nightmares. The truth is out there, and it has come to him. They'll be alright. So long as they're together.