Hurricane Season, by rah & beduini
Hurricane Season
by &

Notes, Rating and Disclaimer
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8
Day 9
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Saturday, Mid-September

"Bad news Scully, April showers might bring May flowers but it also makes for lousy baseball..."

He was barely inside the front door of her apartment when he met her most severe 'shut up, I'm on the phone' look, thrown at him with an arched brow from across the warmly lit room. Closing his mouth and tossing his car keys onto the nearest table, Fox Mulder shrugged out of his wet jacket, hanging it on the nearby coat rack as she turned her back to him.

Round hips, slim waist, shoulders straight. Scully's stance was tense, while her voice remained familiar. "I know," she said softly into the receiver.

He cataloged her smallest gestures and intonation, trying to get a quick read on what he had just walked into. Neck stiff, economical movements. She was talking to someone close, probably a family member. Probably her mother. She was picking up small items around the apartment and putting them back down again, muttering her responses unintelligibly. He deduced that whatever the subject, it was something she didn't want to discuss. Probably him, their Amazing Undefined Relationship, the baby's christening, or...

"I don't want to talk to him right now." Her tone sharpened emphatically, and he heard each word clearly.

Okay, he qualified - the subject of the conversation was not him as in Mulder him. It was him as in -

Her head bowed, Scully pressed a palm to her forehead, closing her eyes. "Yes, I received Tara's card."

- Big Brother Bill him.

"It doesn't make up for the things he sa-" She took a breath. "I know, Mom. No, it's not because of that. He's not even going to be there, is he? No, as I said, this just isn't a good time for us." She had a hand on her hip, pacing across the living room like a caged panther. Her voice dropped in volume, and her shoulders hunched. "I'm sorry. No, I know you do."

She glanced up with an apologetic look, and Mulder offered her a faint, supportive smile. Straightening her back, her tone changed. "Mom, Mulder's back, I gotta go..." The convenient escape from an inconvenient conversation, he thought wryly as she hung up the receiver with a reserved, "I love you too."

"Why am I always the excuse for getting you off the phone?" he voiced his thought aloud when she turned to face him.

She let out a long huff, her shoulders visibly dropping. "You're not. But I just put Wim down to sleep and she knew that so I had to think of something else."

He crossed the room toward her, thinking a little support might be in order. Just as he reached out to lay a hand on her shoulder, she glanced up at him and commented, "You're wet."

Dropping his hand back to his side, he nodded mutely as she turned and stalked into the bathroom. She reappeared a moment later carrying a clean, off-white bath towel.

"The game was rained out," he said in response to her questioning look. He accepted the towel and rubbed it over his damp head until his dark, cropped hair stood up on end. Outside, he could hear the soft rhythm of the rain hitting the windows as the storm grew in intensity.

"Did you say something about flowers?" she asked, distracted from the conversation, probably by the sound of the rain.

He shook his head. "Nothing important. It was a joke – and a bad one, since it's September, not May."

She took the towel from his hand and gently dried his damp face, draping the towel around the back of his neck so each end hung down on either side of his chest. When her eyes met his, they relayed her sympathy. "I'm sorry about the game, Mulder. I know you were looking forward to it."

"So am I ," he replied softly, watching her face grow focused as her attention diverted and she brushed her thumb over a drop of water slowing forming a rivulet under his chin. She pursed her lips slightly, and he smiled, caught mid-breath by a familiar pang of affection. "Actually...that's not entirely true..."

Raising her face, her eyes met his with a quizzical look. "Oh?"

"Yeah," he whispered, pulling her gently forward by the lapels of her untucked shirt. "C'mere..."

He leaned toward her, slowly capturing her lips between his, feeling her mouth respond and part under the gentle quest of flesh against flesh. When they pulled apart, she let out a soft sigh.

He nodded his head toward the telephone. "You wanna talk about it?"

She sighed again, more audibly this time, and reached up to grasp the ends of the towel. "Mom has taken a beach house in North Carolina for a week and she's encouraging us to join her." There was emphasis on the word 'encouraging,' accompanied by a soft tug on the towel, telling him everything he needed to know about how much Maggie wanted them with her at the beach. He wondered briefly who was included in the 'us,' of us, and decided that it meant him as well. "Where in North Carolina?" he asked.

She paused, and he saw the glimmer of realization in her expression. He had told her a little about his mother's family the day they drove to Raleigh for her memorial service, and no doubt she had made the connection. The Kuipers had lived near Raleigh, but spent their summers on the Carolina shore.

"Cape Hatteras," she replied. "You've been there, haven't you?" The inflection in her voice made it sound more like a statement than a question.

"Not in a very long time."

He had spent some time in Hatteras, but not since he was nine or ten. The Mulders had grown away from his mother's family, spending all of their summers on Martha's Vineyard during his adolescence and teens. Not wanting her to feel pressured by this tenuous connection to his mother's relatives, he reached out and brushed the backs of his fingers over her cheek. "I don't have any strong associations one way or the other about it."

"I told her it wasn't a good time for us," Scully hummed, leaning into his touch, and leaving her explanation at that. Mulder felt the weight of her words – both said and unsaid - as his hand caressed her cheek. Not a good time.  With the wealth of issues unspoken and unresolved between them right now, spending a week under the same roof with her conservative Catholic mother probably wasn't the best idea; spending a week under the same roof with one another was problem enough.

Their son was already four months old, and they still kept separate apartments. Sure, he spent most days and nights at her place, aside from a night or two when he'd gone home to his own empty apartment, feeling alone and misplaced. They hadn't spent a night apart in well over two months, but letting go of his residence was a subject they had yet to broach, and their current situation felt anything but permanent. This non-arrangement was just one of many ties to their past and their shared work, that - like their future - had become a subject they carefully avoided.

He nodded in assent, and slid his hand behind her head to draw her closer, wrapping her in his arms. Touching was something they both used in lieu of words like 'future' and 'commitment,' even if neither of them could imagine life without the other. Giving voice to those feelings was much more difficult.

Scully closed her eyes and slid her arms around his waist in response, raising his body heat and summoning his extremities to take notice. It had been some time since they'd shared anything more intimate than a hug and a kiss; their physical relationship had been on indefinite hold as Scully recovered from the trauma of childbirth and they both grew accustomed to the endless responsibilities of parenthood. But here they were, alone and wrapped in one another's arms. Wim was asleep, having just gone down for a nap, and probably wouldn't be up again for at least an hour. It wasn't the amount of time Mulder would have liked, but it was something.

Even as he calculated the odds of such a rare opportunity, he could tell how tired she was just by the way her entire body seemed to melt into his.

"Did you get any rest today?" he asked, tilting his face down next to hers and shifting his hips slightly. He didn't want her to feel pressured into sex just because he couldn't stop his body from responding to the feel of her in his arms. They stood that way for a long moment, holding each other in the uncharacteristically still apartment, lulled by the constant patter of the rain.

"Some," she replied in a non-committal tone.

"Did you have another dream?" he prompted, knowing that since Wim was born she'd been experiencing disturbing dreams, all with the same recurring theme: someone or something takes Wim away from her and she is unable to move. Considering the way that he had been brought into the world, and the circumstances surrounding his birth, Mulder knew that her concerns were not unfounded. But there had been no actual incident more serious than diaper rash since then, and they had no reason to think that their safety was in question now. No reason except old fears and a whole lot of history.

She was silent a moment, then nodded. "I woke up before it went too far," she said. He pressed his lips against the top of her head, stroking his hand over her hair.

Feeling suddenly drained and in need of rest himself, he said, "Why don't you lay down right now while he's sleeping. I'll keep an ear out for him just in case." She took a step back and with a ragged sigh, glanced up at him for reassurance. He offered her an encouraging smile, taking her hand and entwining their fingers. "Maybe I'll join you for a while, as long as you promise not to hog all the covers."
 

 

Late afternoon turned to night while Scully slept, curled on her side while Mulder read beside her. When the baby woke and began to fuss for his bottle, Mulder got up gently and took him to the kitchen so he would not wake Scully.

Wim drank hungrily, nestled in his father's arms as Mulder paced the apartment, padding softly from room to room, making slow circuits around the space that was becoming - by default if not design - his home. He breathed deeply as his gaze wandered among the familiar comforts each room, and he wondered exactly when it was that he had stopped feeling like a guest in this apartment. He felt more at home here than at his own apartment anymore, although perhaps that was not saying much. Despite a few vaguely inspired attempts at decoration, his existence there had been the example of bachelorhood at its most Spartan and neglectful, and his comfort had never depended on more than knowing where his things were. There had always been too many other things to occupy his thoughts. But living at Scully's was different. In ten years at his own place, he had never achieved the kind of comfort he'd felt in the last four months at her apartment.

Of course he had brought over the necessities - his favorite shirts, his books, his razor – and there was evidence of his habitation in every room; his jacket draped over the kitchen chair, his laptop and papers on the table, his toothbrush in the bathroom. The rest of his things waited in dusty silence for the occasional visits he made to collect his mail and check the answering machine; so far only the fish tank had made it out, and now looked much more at home on her sideboard. Other than that, he had not put anything in a box, had not given more than the most passing thought to moving out. Not yet. Perhaps not ever.

The bottle drained, he propped Wim up against his shoulder, tapping his tiny back lightly to release any air he may have swallowed. Wim burped - twice - and burrowed into his father's shoulder, lulled back into a somnolent state, content for the time being. Mulder continued his circuit, listening to the rain dripping from the trees outside, Wim's soft grunts, and Scully's slow, heavy breathing in the other room. He stopped in the doorway to the bedroom. With his hands wrapped gently but firmly around Wim's sleeping body, he surveyed the dimly lit room. His shoes lay on the floor near the closet. The jeans he'd worn the day before were still loosely folded on top of the small chair, the books he was reading piled and scattered around his side of the bed. Beneath and around Scully's somnolent form, the sheets and covers were thoroughly rumpled, the pillows marked with the imprint of his head as well as hers.

His side of the bed.

It had not started out that way, but that's how it had become. One bed. Their bed. Their bedroom. He brought Wim to the small crib set within easy reach of Scully's side of the bed, and lay him down. Then, moving lightly so as not to wake mother or son, he moved to his side of the bed, switched off the reading lamp, and settled down to join them in slumber.

He hadn't been asleep for long when he awoke with a start, aware that Scully had left the bed. Fog-diffused light from the street lamps outside bathed the room in non-dimensional yellow-gray, blurring the shadows so that he had a hard time distinguishing the walls from the furniture from the damp air. He blinked, breathing in and out through his nose, and peered through the dim slats of the crib. She had taken the baby with her.

The rain had stopped, leaving the world outside heavy and dripping. Mulder walked out to the kitchen, raking his scalp with his fingers. This was becoming ritual; each creak of the floorboards was like a familiar greeting. He stopped in the doorway.

Scully stood with one hip against the counter, her back to him, her silken figure silhouetted in the blue light from one of the stove's burners. The rose-gold of Wim's head was just visible over her right shoulder. Mulder stopped and let out another breath to alert her to his presence.

"Is everything okay?" he asked.

She turned, her chin skimming over the baby's head as she glanced back at him, and he knew, in the instant it took for her face to crumple and two quick tears to slip over her cheeks, that everything was not okay. She'd had another nightmare; the remnants of it clung to her like shadows. Shuffling forward, Mulder rounded the table and pulled her and the baby into his arms.

"I can't keep doing this," she said against his chest, her voice thick, breaking on a sob. The baby whined, squirming between them. "I can't..."

Mulder wrapped his hands around Wim's middle and stepped back, taking the baby onto his own shoulder just as Wim let out a long, brittle cry. Scully put out an automatic hand, but let it drop when Wim quieted almost immediately. Mulder cast a rueful smile at her over the baby's head, but she had turned away, snapping the burner off and leaning back against the counter with a ragged sigh. She looked exhausted. He glanced at the bottle warming in the pan on the stove. "Go on back to bed," he said, bouncing gently. "I'll feed him."

She looked up at him, eyes dark with fatigue. "I can't sleep anymore." Her voice held a trace of amazement and more than a little helplessness. She shook her head. "I'm just so tired," she said, crumpling anew.

Reaching out with his free hand, Mulder touched her shoulder and folded her against him again. He had them both, his heart and his soul, trapped within the safe enclosure of his arms. He swayed them slowly, pressing his cheek to Scully's smooth hair.

"Can you tell me?" he asked, meaning the nightmare. She didn't like to tell him about the specters that disturbed her sleep more often even than Wim. Mulder knew that she felt self-conscious about her seemingly irrational fears, and that, beyond her chagrin, there was also a reluctance to add to his worries. He had been through nightmares of his own since his recent return from the ranks of the missing and the dead - most of them waking - but he also knew that old habits died hard. For the better part of eighteen months, Scully had been her own bastion, had held her crumbling world together by sheer strength of mind and will. She had forgotten how to lean. She didn't know how not to be the strong one. He slid his hand along her spine, his fingers sifting through her hair and cupping the back of her head.

"Tell me," he said.

"It's always the same," she said. She was silent for a moment, drips from the sodden trees outside punctuating the darkness.. Wim began to fuss again, and she moved out of Mulder's arms. "I don't want to think about it," she said. She turned and lifted the bottle from the pan on the stove, rolling it experimentally between her hands.

"It might help," he said, watching as she nudged a chair away from the table with her foot. "If you brought it into your conscious mind, you'd be less likely -"

"Here." She cut him off brusquely, her arms held out. He shut up, taking the hint. She was too tired to listen to his lame psychology, and too polite to tell him to shove it. He took Wim from his shoulder and handed him to her.

"You need to get some real sleep, Scully," he said, shifting to sit on the edge of the table. She sank onto the chair, settling Wim into the crook of her arm. Mulder felt a familiar fondness creep over him at the sight of them. They were always beautiful to him, but there was no ignoring the dark circles under Scully's eyes. "You're exhausting yourself."

She looked away and let out a heavy breath, an impatient breath, as she teased Wim's lip with the rubber nipple. Wim fussed, turning his head away from the offered formula with a hitching, petulant cry. Scully let out another frustrated sigh and set the bottle down on the table, hard.

"Scully..."

"Take him."

"Scully, it's okay -"

"Just take him -?"

Wim was in full-throated protest now, and Mulder leaned down to take him. Scully got up immediately and walked away from the table, her hand pressed against her lips. Mulder didn't know when he had ever seen her this anxious, this fundamentally upset. He could feel her tension like a vibration in the room. Bouncing the baby against his shoulder, he watched as she paced the kitchen floor. He waited until Wim was quiet again before he spoke.

"When was the last time you were out of the apartment?" he asked.

She looked up in surprise. "We went out yesterday," she said.

"No," he qualified, reaching for the bottle. "I mean by yourself. Without this guy."

She didn't answer him, her face blank. It was a rhetorical question, after all. They both knew she had not been away from Wim for more than a few minutes since his birth. She brought him with her everywhere; when they went out, she kept him close to her body, bundled into a carryall slung over her chest; inside, she carried him with her from room to room in his car-seat. She wouldn't even step into the shower unless Mulder was there to watch him for the few minutes it took her to lather and rinse - he doubted she allowed herself the time to repeat.

He had brought it up before, briefly, when she had refused her mother's offer to sit with Wim while they went out to eat. The ferocity with which she had rejected the idea had startled all of them, and in the end Maggie had left, her feelings bruised, and Mulder had walked down the block for take-out. He watched Scully now, waiting for her reaction.

Scully sagged, her shoulders slumping, her head thrown back in an attitude of defeat. Mulder set his foot on the abandoned chair and lay the baby along his thigh, plying the nipple to his rosebud mouth again. Wim scrunched his face, refusing the bottle with another irritable grunt. Mulder jogged the knee under him gently, crooning "Okay-okay-okay-" and glancing up at Scully.

"Maybe we should go," he said. No emphasis. No intonation. Just a suggestion. She picked her head up and regarded him closely.

"To Hatteras," she clarified.

He nodded, hearing the hint of acceptance in her voice. He knew the idea was tempting to her. Otherwise, she wouldn't have mentioned it to him earlier, her voice masked with studied nonchalance and aggravation. Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea. He hadn't worked since he'd resigned from the Bureau, and she was officially on maternity leave until the end of October. Time wasn't an issue. Maybe a week at the beach was just what they needed.

Scully let out a breath, not ready to give in. "I don't know..."

"You need to get away from this place, Scully," he said, glancing down at the baby. Wim's eyelids were drooping, low and sleepy, fluttering as he fought to stay awake. Stubborn, Mulder thought with a grin. Just like his mom. "You've been stuck in this apartment for four months now," he said. "And it might be nice - a week at the beach." He paused and looked up at her. "I'm sure we can take whatever precautions needed to make it safe, if that's -"

"No," she said, shaking her head. "No, it's not just that."

He watched her. "Your mom, then?"

She rolled her neck, shrugging. Straightening up, she moved toward them and laid her hand gently on Wim's head. "It's my mom, it's my brother..." she glanced up at him briefly, "it's Wim...it's us..." she stopped, her hand sliding down to grasp his knee. "It's a lot of things," she said. "I don't know."

He nodded, saying nothing. He was tempted to ask her what she meant by 'us,' even if he already knew. She meant all of the things they hadn't talked about - all of the questions and problems and issues and hopes and fears that hung, untouched, unresolved between them, including and compounded by the fact that they had carefully avoided the conversation any time it came up.

Like now.

"Your brother will be there?" he asked, creating the habitual diversion. The thought of spending a week with Bill Scully was not one that Mulder relished. Bill Scully had detested him from the first moment they met.

"No," she replied, pursing her lips. "We just have differences that my mother wants to see ironed out, and I know it will come up..."

He reached out to touch her face and bring her eyes back up to his. "I think we should go," he said. She stared at him, taking a deep breath in and holding it. "I think we should go," he said again. She let her breath go.

"My mother would still be there with us," she warned.

"I know."

"She's going to bring up a lot of questions I - we - may not be able to answer -"

"Well -" He brushed his thumb across her cheekbone still damp with tear-tracks, careful to keep his voice toneless, light. "Maybe that's not such a bad thing, Scully."

She was quiet. She dropped her eyes, gazing down at Wim, who had finally given in to sleep. She smiled down on him before she looked back up at Mulder.

"You're sure?" she asked, bringing her hand up to his cheek, reflecting his own gesture. Her thumb smoothed his sideburn. "You're sure you wouldn't mind?"

He turned his head to smile into her palm, and laid a gentle kiss there. "Tell your mom we're coming," he said.

She sighed then, a sigh of relief, and he watched as some of the tension built up around her neck and shoulders found release in it. She stepped forward and pressed her lips to his, once, twice. "Thank you," she whispered.

He drew her close and held her to him with one arm. "Come on," he said when they parted. He scooped Wim gently against his shoulder and got up from the table, bringing them both back to bed.

Continue to Day 2

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