April 2022

Scully closed the front door gently and leaned against it with a deep sigh. The room was dark aside from the lone light left on for her late arrival from her shift at the hospital. Dropping her bag and shoes by the door, she locked it and walked wearily and with purpose up the stairs.

Glancing at their bedroom door and hearing Mulder's soft snores, she bypassed it, and instead quietly turned the knob on Faith's door and stepped inside.

The room had changed in the past two and a half years. The two dark blue walls had been repainted a soft teal, the other two remaining the color of sand. The crib, changing table, rocking chair and footstool had been replaced with a full sized bed, a nightstand, a child's size table and chairs, and a house shaped bookcase.

Two old fashioned steam trunks sat open under the bookcase, full of dress up clothes, toys, a tea set, and little items Faith found special. Long floor length cream colored curtains with vibrant colored butterflies hung by the window. The table and chairs had little heart cut outs which Faith had loved. One look from Mulder, and Scully had known they would be buying the set.

The gray rug with the white stars was still in the room, Faith not wanting to part with "my stars" and get a new one. The nightstand matched the table and chairs with the heart cut out, on top of which sat a rainbow light that was kept on at night.

Her new "big girl" bed had been a bit of a discussion. Scully had thought a twin bed would be a better choice, the room not being overly large, but Mulder had insisted on a full size bed.

"What if we want to lie down with her? We are taking out the rocking chair and we will need a place to read stories at night," he had said and she had agreed. Smiling with happiness on that first night, they had all snuggled in the new bed to read a few bedtime stories.

Scully looked around the room, taking in the stuffed animals sitting in the chairs with a large pile of plastic food in the middle of the table, the new drawings pinned to the wall, and the bowl of pine cones on the nightstand. She took a deep breath before covering her mouth as she tried to hold back her tears.

Stepping closer to the bed, she looked down at Faith as she slept; her long dark hair across the pillow, her favorite stuffed animal, a grey alien with a pink belly, held in her arms. Scully pulled back her grandmother's quilt which Faith had fallen in love with, loving all the different colors and swatches, especially the ones with white bunnies, and laid down beside her.

Scooting closer, the second she had an arm around Faith, the tears began to fall. She buried her nose in her hair, smelling the strawberry shampoo Faith had picked because it was pink, and the unmistakable scent of Mulder.

Closing her eyes, she cried silently into Faith's hair. She ran her hand across her small body, feeling the perfectness of her limbs and the rise and fall of her chest. Opening her eyes, she stared at her small hands, running her larger fingers over Faith's tiny ones.

"God," she sobbed, holding her close, closing her eyes again and drawing comfort from the warmth of her little girl.

"Scully."

She jerked awake, opening her eyes, confused by where she was.

"Honey, what are you doing in here?" She turned her head and saw Mulder behind her, his hair rumpled from sleep. She looked back at Faith, still sleeping soundly beside her. "Come on, Scully."

Moving her arm carefully, she kissed the top of her head, slid from the bed, and stood in front of him.

"You're still wearing your coat. What are you doing in here, hon?" he asked softly, and her eyes filled with tears. "Hey, hey." He pulled her in for a hug and she clung to him, her tears wetting his shirt.

He led her from the room and shut the door, bringing her to their room and closing the door. He held her as she cried, humming softly as she wrapped her arms around his waist.

"Do you want to talk about it?" he whispered and she shook her head, crying harder. "Okay. Okay." He rocked her slowly as she tried to stop her tears. "How about a bath?" She nodded as she swallowed a sob, and he guided her into the bathroom. She sat on the toilet to wait as he turned on the water and began to fill the tub.

The jingle of metal tags announced the arrival of Bella, her whole body wiggling with happiness as she came closer to Scully. Her excitement mellowed however, when she stood in front of Scully and laid her head on her lap, whining as she raised sad dark eyes up at her. Scully rubbed her long soft ears, tears falling faster as she rested her forehead against Bella's head.

"I'm going to make you some tea while the tub fills up. I'll be back in a few minutes," Mulder said, stroking the top of her head and she nodded, hearing him leave the room as she continued holding Bella's face in her hands.

Taking a deep breath, she kissed Bella and lifted her head. "You're a good dog, my sweet Bella. A good girl." Rubbing her ears once more, she stood up and wiped her eyes.

Taking off her coat, she dropped it to the floor, the rest of her clothes following, before she stepped into the tub and sank down into the warm water. Dunking under, the sound of the running water covered the screaming sadness in her heart.

Rising up, she laid back, breathing hard, her tears mixing with the bath water. Bella whined and Scully looked at her as she laid her head on the side of the tub.

"A really good girl," she whispered, running her fingers up and down her muzzle. Bella whined again and sat down beside the tub.

Leaning forward, Scully turned off the water and leaned back, closing her eyes as she pet Bella once again. The door creaked open and Mulder touched the top of her head. Opening her eyes, she looked at him and he smiled softly.

"I have your tea, the sleepy time one. I think you need it, but it's a little hot. I've set it behind you and you get it when you're ready." He rubbed Bella's head and made to leave.

"Wa… don't…" she sobbed out and reached for his hand.

"You want me to stay?"

She nodded, tears running down her face and he took her hand and squeezed. He sat beside Bella, who turned to look at him with a low whine.

"I know, girl," he said, petting her head again. "We got this." He smiled at Scully and she cried softly, covering her eyes. He squeezed her hand again and she exhaled a large breath.

Water stirring, Bella's low whines, and Mulder's breathing became the sounds she focused on to keep her from breaking completely. She moved her hand from her eyes and looked at him, his eyes soft as he watched her.

"Would you like your tea now?" he asked, squeezing her hand. She nodded and he smiled as he stood up to get it. Handing it to her, she smiled slightly at the mug he had chosen; bright yellow with a rainbow smiley face.

"Thought you could do with a little happiness," he said softly and she nodded, taking a sip and then a bigger drink when she found it was not too hot. He took it back when she had drunk about half, setting it back on the shelf.

She stared at him and he reached for the shampoo. She leaned forward and he sat on the edge of the tub, squeezing the shampoo into his hands and then began to wash her hair. She cried as she drew her knees to her chest and his fingers massaged her scalp.

He used the yellow duck rinser they had bought for Faith, removing all the shampoo before he added the conditioner, clipping her hair up and reaching for a washcloth.

Softly, he ran it up and down her back, across her neck and down her arms. He knelt beside the tub and she leaned back, letting him wash her legs and her feet. He dipped the washcloth in the water and wrang it out before gently wiping her face, her tears flowing freely.

He laid the washcloth on the side of the tub, reached for the rinser, and unclipped her hair. Rinsing it clean, he set the rinser down and handed her the mug of tea.

"You finish that and get out when you're ready. I'll have some pajamas waiting for you." He kissed her forehead and looked from her to Bella, silently asking if she wanted him to take her out with him. She shook her head and he nodded, leaving them alone.

As soon as he left, Bella sat close, her head resting once more on the side of the tub. Scully rubbed her head and took a deep breath.

"Thank you, Bella," she whispered and Bella let out a low whine.

When her mug was empty, she sighed, holding it in her hands. Letting out a breath, she sat forward and stood up, setting the mug down and reaching for a towel. Stepping out, she dried herself and her hair, as Bella lay on the rug in front of the tub.

Brushing her still damp hair, she then shook it out, running her fingers through it before walking out of the bathroom, her towel wrapped around her body.

True to his word, there was a pair of pajamas waiting for her on the bed, but no Mulder. Dressing in the pants and long sleeved top, she went in the bathroom and laid her towel on the tub.

As she walked back into the bedroom, Mulder came through the door with a small smile on his face. He searched her eyes and she nodded as he sighed in relief. Gesturing to the bed, she nodded again and he pulled the blankets back, waiting for her to lie down. When she had, he covered her and stroked her hair.

Telling Bella to go to her bed, he came around to his side and lay down. He stared at her and she bit her lip, feeling tears at the surface again. He stroked her cheek and waited.

"We are so lucky, Mulder," she whispered, her voice breaking as her tears began to fall. "So many… there were so many things that could have gone wrong with the pregnancy. Because of the past, the struggle to even become pregnant, my age…" She shook her head and he wiped her tears away. "So many… so many chances for there to be an obstacle to overcome, but she's… she's perfect, Mulder." She cried harder and he pulled her to him and said nothing.

"The children at the hospital," she whispered into his neck. "The deformities, the health problems… Mulder…" Shaking her head, she thought of Faith's beautiful smile and her determination to do things on her own. "I see such horrors that have happened to the sweetest children and I… it was hard before, but now… I see her in them and I… I'm so thankful and then I feel so guilty."

She clung to him and sobbed, thinking of how often she had thanked God that Faith was whole and not lacking, even as the guilt crept in. He rubbed her back, his hands warm, strong, and familiar; her safe place to break, knowing he would always catch her.

"We lost a little girl today," she choked out, seeing little Aria in her mind. "She was… she was so small. I thought she was about Faith's age when I met her, but she was six. So small." She shook her head and cried, still not believing she was gone. "She had osteogenesis imperfecta, brittle bones… and she had been in many times before I came back to work. We all loved her."

He hummed and she pulled back, remaining close as she shook her head. "She had a severe form of the disease and her rib cage… it was hard for her to breathe. She was on oxygen, but it wasn't enough and…" She began to sob again, his arms pulling her close to him.

She cried until she was sure she was out of tears, her body beyond exhausted. Drawing in a deep breath, she licked her lips, and let it out.

"I had to see her when I got home," she whispered with a sob. "I had to see that she was okay, to know for certain. I needed to feel her perfectly formed body and hear her breathing. Oh, Mulder." She cried again and he sighed heavily, his arms tight around her.

They were quiet for a while, her tears slowly subsiding. She pulled back again and looked at him, his eyes full of emotion. He nodded and let out a breath as he shook his head.

"I'm sorry sounds so hollow, but I am so very sorry. For you, for her, her family. I understand your need to see Faith, I really do." He stroked her cheek and sighed. "I worry about you, honey. This isn't the first time you've come home upset like this. Well, maybe not to this extreme, but similar." She nodded, knowing it was true, and she closed her eyes.

"I would never be so presumptuous as to tell you what to do, but Scully…" She opened her eyes and stared at him, his eyes so full of love. "Is it too hard for you?"

She nodded and then shook her head. "The whole way home, I told myself that it was too much, and maybe I wasn't cut out for this anymore," she whispered. "I screamed and yelled, not understanding God for the millionth time in my life, and I thought about giving up." He nodded and waited, his thumb stroking her cheek. "But, Mulder, those bad days, the ones when I might cry or need to hug her a little tighter… those days are outweighed by the good ones." He smiled, nodding again, as she took a deep breath and gave him a shaky smile.

"I battled with going back to work, but I know it's what I need to do. It's only been six months, and it's only three days a week. I have slowly eased into it and it's been wonderful," she said, scrunching her chin and sniffling. "Tonight, when I thought of not going back, I thought of Patrick, this little boy I play checkers with when he is there for his therapy. He always finds me after he's finished and we play a game. His eyes are so green and he has the cutest smile." She started to cry again, but they were happy tears. "And Molly. She's nine and wants to be a doctor when she grows up. She has so many questions for me when she sees me. She has notecards and takes notes at my answers. How can I walk away from them?" She sniffled again and he grinned.

"You can't, nor would I expect you to. That's not my Scully," he whispered, and she nodded. "I know that it's hard, how could it not be when your heart is all in, wanting to help those children?" He smiled slightly and she nodded. "The good outweighs the bad, Scully. It always has and it always will. Tonight… tonight the bad won and heavily tipped the scales, but it can't stay that way. If it did… we would all give up, and then where would we be?" She tried to laugh but it came out as a sob. He smiled and sighed. "I'm so sorry about tonight."

She nodded and burrowed into his arms, letting out another sob as she found comfort in his words and his embrace.

As she fell asleep, her thoughts were of Aria, praying her sweet soul had found peace. Imagining her laughing as she ran and jumped, blowing hundreds of bubbles and laughing and laughing, her body now unbreakable.

"Mommy. Mommy."

Scully opened her eyes and saw Faith's face a couple of inches from hers; her blue eyes intense and her dark hair its usual nesty morning mess. Scully smiled and pulled back the blankets.

"Come in, my love," she whispered and Faith smiled, climbing onto the bed, her grey alien clutched in her hand. Covering them both up, Faith pushed her feet between Scully's knees, something she had done after hearing how Scully used to do it to Melissa.

"I put my feet in your oven," Faith said with a giggle and Scully smiled, wrapping her arms around her as Faith pushed her toes in further. "Like you did to Auntie."

"That you did." She breathed her in, smiling as she closed her eyes.

"Is your heart sad?" Faith asked suddenly and Scully froze, her eyes flying open.

"What? Why would you ask me that, sweetheart?"

"Hearts can be sad. And happy," she said nonchalantly, holding her alien close.

"How do you know that, honey?"

"Daddy told me. He said hearts have love, lots of love, but it can be happy and sad."

Mulder's arm wrapped around her as he moved closer to her, and she smiled into Faith's hair.

"Daddy told you, huh? Well, he's a smart daddy."

"Yup. He knows lots of things."

Scully smiled again as Mulder hummed a short quiet laugh in her ear. "Yes. He does know lots of things. I suppose we're lucky to have him to tell us all those things he knows."

"Uh huh."

"Daddy is right, my love, hearts can be sad. My heart was sad last night, but today it's feeling better. It's very happy that I have you and daddy to be with me when my heart does feel sad."

"Yeah, it's good."

Mulder's arm tightened around her and she breathed deeply as Faith turned over and snuggled in closer, her little body fitting in like a puzzle piece.

"It's good, Scully," he whispered in her ear and she nodded, closing her eyes again.

Last night the scale was heavy, the good hidden in the very bad. In the light of day, literally surrounded by love, the scales began to lift and push away the bad. The sadness still lingered, of course it did, but it was no longer an all consuming feeling.

Lying between the two people she loved most, the three of them warm and cozy, the darkness did not stand a chance.

The good outweighed the bad. It always had and it always would.