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Title: "Aunt Dana's Daddy"
Author: Angela W.
Rating: PG-13
Category: MSR/Humor
Summary: Mulder and Scully baby-sit for her nephew.
Timespan/Spoilers: Set immediately after "The Amazing
Maleeni", but it really doesn't have much to do with
that episode other than the fact that this story and
the episode are both sort of lighthearted and both are set in Southern California. Also mentions events from "The Unnatural" and, in an indirect way, from
"Millennium".
Disclaimer: The characters in this story do not belong to me. They are the property of Chris Carter and 1013 Productions.
Archive: Feel free to archive anywhere!
Feedback: If it's nice or contains *CONSTRUCTIVE*
criticism. If you just don't like the story, I don't
want to hear about it.

Special Agent Dana Scully grinned at her partner and
said, "Okay, Mulder, we've agreed you owe me, right?
For dragging me all the way out to California on a
wild goose chase?"
 
"Yeah, Scully, agreed. What have I let myself in for?"
 
"You'll see," she replied. "Give me the car keys."

Special Agent Fox Mulder reluctantly handed his
partner the keys to their rental car. He trusted her,
of course. Implicitly. But she had an impish, teasing
glint in her eyes that he'd only seen a couple of
times before. Generally, she was the serious one. As
they headed south out of the Los Angeles area, Mulder
began to experience a sense of foreboding. Unless they were going to Mexico, which seemed unlikely, the only thing due south of L.A. was San Diego and San Diego was where her brother lived.

"Scully, please tell me we're not going to visit Bill
Junior!"

"Not unless you brought snorkeling equipment, Mulder!
At the moment, he's a thousand miles off the coast and a thousand feet underwater with the crew of the
submarine he's stationed on!"

Mulder relaxed a little, until they approached a
familiar Naval base. "Scully, you tricked me! We *ARE* going to your brother's house!"

"I never said we weren't, Mulder. I said we're not
going to see Bill. We're going to visit Tara and
Matthew."

"Oh," said Mulder, only partially mollified. "Why?"

"Why not?" Scully replied with a shrug. "She's my
sister-in-law and he's my nephew. Tara happened to
call me the other morning, right after you'd told me
we would be investigating a case in Southern
California. She suggested that, as long as we were in
the area, we could come by for dinner if time
permitted. Since we finished up the case this
afternoon and our return flight isn't until tomorrow
morning, I thought we'd do it."

"You could have just dropped me off at the hotel,
Scully."

"The invitation was for both of us, Mulder. For a
reason."

"Do I get to know what it is?"

Scully was quiet for a moment, then she nodded. "You
were the subject of a rather intense. . .discussion
when Mom and I were visiting Bill and Tara over
Christmas. As you know, Bill Junior doesn't like you.
But, of course, Mom and I both lo, er, like you. Bill
expected Tara to be a good little wife and take his
side of the argument, but she remained neutral. The
only time she ever met you was right when Matthew as
born and, understandably, she had other things on her
mind. So she figured a chance for her to visit with
both of us, while Bill was at sea, would allow her to
form an opinion."

"So I'm to be on my best behavior?" Mulder asked.

"I don't expect you to be something you're not,
Mulder. But if you could refrain from discussing
aliens or suggesting military complicity in
governmental conspiracies, it would probably help."

"What am I supposed to talk about?"

"Normal stuff. Sports. Movies. Things like that."

"Scully, the only kind of movies I watch are. . ."

"Okay, not movies! Music, maybe. Or England."

"England?"

"There's a chance Bill and Tara may be transferred
over there next year. Since it's where you went to
college, maybe you can give her some hints for
adjusting."

"Okay," Mulder nodded. "Apparently this was really
important to Scully, he realized. While he didn't
share her faith in his ability to do "normal" he'd at
least give it a try.

Tara greeted them, but before she'd done more than say hello, a pint-sized whirlwind attacked Scully. "Aunt Dana, Aunt Dana!" screamed Matthew.

"Hi, Matthew!" Scully replied, scooping him up and
rubbing noses with him.

"Who dat?" Matthew asked, pointing a sticky finger at
his aunt's partner.

"Mulder."

"Hi, Matthew," Mulder said.

"Dinner will be ready in about twenty minutes. Can I
get you two something to drink?" Tara inquired.

"Iced tea will be fine for both of us." Scully
replied.

As soon as Tara had returned with the drinks, the
phone rang. She answered and it was quickly apparent
from her hushed tone and solemn expression that the
news was not good.

"Tara, what is it?" Scully asked as soon as the other
woman hung up. "Is Bill. . .?"

"No, not Bill. My best friend's husband. He's a
chopper pilot, was ferrying supplies out to a carrier. They've just received news that the helicopter went down. Nobody knows who's injured, who's dead, who's okay. . ."
 
"Go," Scully said in a tone Mulder instantly
recognized. It was her I'm-not-putting-up-with-any- arguments-so-just-do-as-I-say voice.

"But I invited you and Mulder. I don't want you to
just leave."

"We're not. We're going to stay here and take care of
Matthew. Go to your friend, Tara. She needs you."

Tara nodded. "Thank you, Dana."

"Mama bye-bye?" Matthew asked as soon as the door had
closed.

"Yes, honey, Mama's gone bye-bye for a little while,
but Aunt Dana and Mulder are here. And I think that
dinging noise means dinner's ready."

As soon as Scully and Mulder had gotten Matthew into
his high chair and located plates and silverware, they sat down to eat. But the little boy held out his hands and said, "Pay".

Mulder was on the verge of saying, "It's not a
restaurant, kid," whe Scully murmured, "Oh, of course. I almost forgot." Scully made a quick, graceful sign of the cross while Matthew made a clumsier one and Mulder sat bemused. Then Scully grasped both Mulder's and Matthew's hands and softly but clearly offered up a prayer. Mulder recognized most of the words as a traditional Catholic meal blessing, but at the end his partner added, "and please allow all the men aboard the helicopter to be safely reunited with their families. Amen." She then squeezed their hands gently and made the sign of the cross again.

When dinner was over, Matthew had managed to get equal parts of his meal in his tummy, smeared onto his face, hair and hands, and strewn about the kitchen.

"What's your choice for clean-up duty, Mulder?" Scully asked with a smile. "You want the kid or the kitchen?"

"I'll take the easy way out and go with the kitchen,"
Mulder answered. "You deal with Matthew.

Once the kitchen was clean, Mulder followed the sounds of laughter and splashing to an upstairs bathroom. Scully had managed to get Matthew clean, but gotten herself soaked in the process. Unnoticed, Mulder leaned against the door jamb and watched his partner bather her nephew. God, she looked happy. He tried to remember the last time he'd seen her like that. The night they'd played baseball, maybe.

As Scully lifted the toddler out of the tub, she
noticed Mulder standing in the doorway. "Hey!" she
said with a grin.

"Hey, Scully. I like the wet T-shirt look on you." For once, Mulder didn't bother to hide his interest,
letting his gaze wander openly across the thin cotton
plastered against her breasts. He fully expected
Scully to respond with her customary, "Shut up,
Mulder" so what she did next caught him by surprise.

Whipping the shirt over her head, she threw it at him, the saturated material hitting him directly in the face. "Go put that in the dryer while I locate pajamas for Matthew and a T-shirt of Tara's for me to wear."

Mulder smiled at his pretty partner, who was now
wearing nothing but a lacy bra above her waist. "Yes
Ma'am!" he answered.

Scully went into the master bedroom and grabbed a
T-shirt out of one of the drawers. She noticed that
her bra was soaked, as well, so she removed it before
slipping the shirt over her head.

Mulder was at the bottom of the stairs when he heard
Scully's voice call out "Hey, G-Man!"

"Yeah, G-Woman?" he asked, looking up.

"Toss this in the dryer with my shirt," she said,
dropping her bra on his upturned face.

Mulder laughed and nodded. By the time he had located
the dryer and put the items in, Scully and Matthew
were back downstairs, playing with blocks. Mulder
joined them, but couldn't resist teasing her. "You
know, Scully, it's been a long time since a woman
threw her undergarments at me. But if memory serves
correctly, once a lady starts tossing her lingerie in
a gentleman's direction, it usually indicates that she wants to,"

"Mulder, shut up!" Scully said.

"No, no, Aunt Dana," Matthew scolded solemnly. "No
tay tut up. Not nice."

"Oh, am I not supposed to say that?" Scully inquired.

"Tay torry," Matthew commanded.

Scully glanced over at her grinning partner, who was
obviously getting a huge kick out of watching her be
corrected by a toddler. She remembered a trick from
her childhood days with her siblings: when backed into a corner and forced to apologize, overdoing it is more dramatic than underdoing it.

"Mulder, I'm so very, very, sorry for saying that to
you," she said in a breathy whisper, while leaning
close to his face. "Can you ever forgive me?"

"Of course, Scully," Mulder said.

"Give a kiss," Matthew ordered.

Your Dad ever gets wind of this, son, he's going to
ground you for life, Mulder thought with a grin. He
put his hand to the back of Scully's neck and tugged
gently. She kissed him lightly on the lips, then
smiled and redirected her attention to Matthew.

A few minutes later, as Mulder was stretched out on
his hands and knees, reaching for a block that had
skittered under the couch, Matthew clapped his hands
and said, "Horsey!"

"Huh?" asked Mulder.

"He wants you to give him a horseyback ride," Scully
explained. Without waiting for her partner to respond, she lifted Matthew up onto Mulder's back. The little boy grabbed Mulder's shirt and hung on.

Mulder began roaming around the house, making
appropriate neighing sounds while Matthew chuckled
with glee. Scully watched with a smile on her face.
God, Mulder looked happy. She tried to remember the
last time she'd seen him like that. The night they'd
played baseball, maybe.

Eventually, Matthew gave a huge yawn. "What say we
pick up the toys, then I'll read you a book?" Scully
suggested.

Once Matthew had selected a book, Scully settled
comfortably in the rocking chair with her nephew on
her lap. She read the story, then murmured softly to
Mulder, "Turn off the lamp". She rocked Matthew
quietly in the dim light, until his even breathing
indicated he'd fallen asleep.

"Want me to help you get him up to bed?" Mulder asked
softly.

"If you can just help me out of the rocking chair, I
think I can handle it," she replied.

Mulder slid one hand to the small of her back and
grasped her upper arm with the other, and she stood up without loosening her grip on Matthew. Scully carried him upstairs to bed and dropped a light kiss on his forehead, then returned downstairs.

"I'm going to grab my clothes out of the dryer, then
return Tara's shirt to her room. Back down in a
minute," she said.

When Scully returned, Mulder was sitting in the
rocking chair. He reached out and grabbed her wrist as she walked by, tugging gently to pull her into his
lap. Scully smiled as she snuggled against him. "Are
you going to rock me to sleep now?" she asked in an
amused voice.

"Maybe," Mulder said calmly. Then he added, "You know, Matthew's a smart kid. He had the common sense not ask you to sing to him."

Scully giggled and punched her partner lightly on the
shoulder. "Mulder, shut up!"

"Ooh, Scully! I think you did that on purpose. You
*KNOW* what the house rules penalty is for saying shut up!"

"Matthew's not awake," she pointed out.

"He could overhear. You never know with kids. And if
you didn't follow through it could cause him to be
maladjusted or something. Trust me, Scully, I'm a
psychologist."

"You're a sneak, that's what you are," she replied.
"But. . .okay. Mulder I'm *VERY* sorry for saying that to you." Then she leaned in and kissed him on the mouth. This time the kiss was longer and deeper than the previous one. Of course, this time they were
lacking their pint-sized audience!

When they finally came up for air, Scully smiled
softly into Mulder's eyes, then settled her head on
his shoulder. "This is nice," she said softly.

"Mmm?" asked Mulder, not sure exactly what she meant.

"Kissing while I'm sitting on your lap. It's easier
this way than when we're standing up. I don't feel
like I'm about to break my neck!"

Mulder chuckled. "Yeah, that ten-inch height
differential can be a killer."

Scully was silent after that and Mulder presumed from
her even breathing that she had, indeed, fallen
asleep. Her ability to fall asleep in odd places and
under unusual circumstances never failed to amaze him. It was such a contrast to his own frequent insomnia. It was kind of sweet actually. The fact that she was willing to sleep beside him - even in a strictly literal sense of the word - indicated a trust that he valued. He moved his hand up to her brilliant hair and stroked it gently.

"Love you," Scully murmured.

"Huh?" Mulder asked. Had Scully really said what he'd
thought she'd said? Even if she'd said the words, was
she speaking to him? For all he knew, the familiar
surroundings of Navy base housing had triggered a
dream of her childhood. Maybe she thought it was her
father stroking her hair.

Scully smiled against her partner's neck. Not going to let me get away with murmuring it while pretending to be asleep, are you, Mulder? she thought.

Scully raised her head and looked into Mulder's eyes,
a soft smile playing about her lips.

"Mulder," she began, only to hear the sound of the
door opening.

"Dana? Mulder?" Tara called.

"We're right here, Tara," Scully said, getting up and
switching on the lamp. "What happened with your
friend's husband?"

Tara sighed and smiled. "He's going to be okay. He was able to get down real low before the chopper crashed. The whole crew survived. They've got a touch of hypothermia, but otherwise are fine."

"That's great," Scully said. "We really probably ought to get going. Our flight back to Washington leaves early tomorrow morning."

"Would you rather just spend the night here?" Tara
asked. "Matthew wakes up the whole household at the
crack of dawn, anyway, so you should be in plenty of
time to make your flight."

Scully glanced at Mulder, one eyebrow raised.

"I think it would be better if we went ahead and drove to L.A. tonight," Mulder said. "The traffic will be lighter now than it would be in the morning. Not to mention we don't have our suitcases with us."

"Bye, Tara," Scully said, kissing the other woman on
the cheek.

"Bye, Dana. Thanks for everything. Bye, Mulder."

Later that week, Scully spoke to her sister-in-law on
the phone again. After exchanging pleasantries, Tara
said, "You and Mulder made quite an impression on
Matthew. He's been talking all week about how the two
of you played with him and read to him and stuff."

"We had fun. I'm just sorry you didn't get to spend
more time with Mulder. I enjoyed seeing Matthew, of
course, but the whole point of the evening was
supposed to be for you to get a chance to form an
opinion about my partner, and you barely spent five
minutes with him."

"Dana," Tara said softly, "Matthew clearly adores him. And my son is a pretty good judge of character."

"Better than your husband?" Scully asked lightly.

"In this particular case, I'd say yes. There was
something else I wanted to say. . .to kind of
apologize for."

"Tara, we didn't mind you going to your friend.
Honestly."

"Not that," Tara said. "Later when I came home and
offered to let you spend the night. I should have made it clear that I wouldn't have been. . .judgmental about your choice of sleeping arrangements."

"Huh?'

"Well, as you know, we only have the one guest
bedroom. With a double bed in it. I wouldn't have
insisted that one of you sleep on the couch."

"Tara," Scully began, then hesitated. Better not get
into trying to explain the complex, shifting
relationship between Mulder and herself. Especially
when she wasn't sure she understood it herself!
"really, that had nothing to do with it. It was just
that we didn't want to wake up in the morning without
being able to brush our teeth or put on clean
underwear."

"Okay, then. I hear Matthew waking up from his nap, so I'd better be going. Tell Mulder we said hello. Talk to you later."

"Bye."

A couple of weeks later, Bill Junior returned home.
The second day he was back was a Sunday and, as was
the family's custom, their blessing at dinner was
somewhat longer than it was at weekday meals. In
addition to thanking God for their food, they also
thanked Him for Bill's safe return and for various
family members such as Granny and Granddad, Grandma,
Uncle Charles and Aunt Dana.

"And Mudder," Matthew chimed in.

"Mother?" asked Bill Junior.

"No. MUDDER!" Matthew insisted.

"Who's Mudder, honey?" Tara asked her son.

"Aunt Dana's Daddy," Matthew explained, obviously
confused as to how his parents could be so dense.

"Oh. Mulder. Yes. Thank you, God, for Mulder."

Bill Junior rolled his eyes, but added a quick "Amen", made the sign of the cross and began to serve.

Later, after dinner, Bill asked Tara, "Would you
please explain to me why we're now adding my sister's
lamebrained partner to our family prayers?"

"I told you. He and Dana came by a couple of weeks ago when they were on a case in Los Angeles. I invited them to dinner, but ended up pressing them into service as babysitters when Joe's chopper went down."

"Yes, I know all that. But why does Matthew think
Mulder is Dana's father?"

"He doesn't."

"Tara, I heard him. Matthew called Mulder Aunt Dana's
Daddy."

"Bill, Matthew thinks you're *MY* Daddy! And he thinks my father is my mother's Daddy. Children his age don't grasp the concept of husbands and wives. They think every couple - even ones without children - consists of a "Mommy" and a "Daddy".

"Are you trying to tell me Matthew thinks Mulder and
Dana are married?" Bill demanded.

"Apparently," Tara answered with a smile.