"Matt, Bridgit, wait for me!" Dana Scully called to her niece and nephew. Matt Scully, ten years old, looked a lot like his Father, Bill Scully. Tall, strong and over-bearing, it was likely he'd follow in his Father and GrandFather's footsteps and join the Navy. He was already expressing interest. Five year old Bridgit Scully, the daughter of Dana's younger brother Charlie, looked like Dana. She had red hair, though a pale shade of strawberry blonde and not the ginger shade Dana and Charlie had when they were young, and blue eyes.
"Aw, come on, Aunt Dana! The park's right there! You can see it from here!" Matt whined as he and Bridgit came to a tentative stop. Matt had brown eyes and crew cut dark red hair. He looked like a bully, and like his Father he could be, but mostly he was a sweet-tempered boy.
"Please, Aunt Dana?" Bridget added, casting her wide blue eyes up at her Aunt. "It's not that far, really!"
Dana sighed. She could see the top of the monkey bars and Jungle Gym from where she was and it was only going to get closer. "Alright, alright." she called to her niece and nephew, who exchanged grins and took off. "But no farther than the monkey bars!" Dana called, smiling and laughing to herself and shaking her head. She'd been taking Matt and Bridgit to the park every Satuerday for the last few months. It was good to get away from the house and get out, and not have to work. She always asked Mulder to go, but he always said no. He was distant lately, moody. She knew what his problem was; he felt like he had no purpose. Though he cared about her a great deal, he wanted more out of life than a relationship. His work on the X-FIles had been important, had helped people. He was languishing now with nothing to do.
Dana walked along the dirt path, brooding, and didn't notice the red ball bounce by her. A second later a small boy slammed into her, knocking her back a step and knocking himself on his back. The kid sat up and Dana stared. The mouth and nose were her own, the same she'd seen in the mirror every day of her life. There was no mistaking them. But the eyes, his eyes were what made her completely stop. So many times, over so many years, had she looked into those deep, intense eyes, shining with intelligence. Beautiful hazel eyes that seemed to contain the secrets of the universe. She was looking into Mulder's eyes. They stared back at her with the same intensity she herself stared with.
"Billy! Billy, are you alright?" A woman calling broke the connection between Dana and the little boy. "Billy, what happened?" a dark haired woman in her early forties asked as she hurried over to them. Her face was lined with worry as she helped the boy up.
Dana felt like something was squeezing her heart inside of her chest. It felt like it was swelling and being crushed at the same time. "Billy? WILLIAM?" she thought, refusing to believe it, that William could have been so close all along, that he could be in front of her now. Her son. The little boy she gave away to keep safe. Her William.
The dark-haired woman, clearly the boy's Mother, knelt down. "Billy? What happened?" she asked, her voice becoming hard from worry and fear. "Billy, what's wrong?"
Billy looked at Dana, seeming to be mesmerized. Than he finally looked at the dark-haired woman. "My ball. It got away from me, so I had to run after it, so I wouldn't lose it. I didn't see the lady, and I ran into her." Billy looked back at Dana and gave her a sheepish smile that broke her heart into a thousand pieces and made it soar above the clouds. It was Mulder's smile. "Sorry lady."
"It's alright, Billy." Dana whispered, barely able to get the name out.
The dark-haired woman sighed in relief and laughed nervously. "Oh, Billy, you scared me half to death!" she said, standing up and smiling at him. "Disappearing like that, and than I see you on the ground and you won't answer me..." She gave the little boy a quick hug. "Hurry up, go and get your ball, Silly-Billy. And answer me next time, alright?"
Billy grinned at her. "OK, Mom, I promise." he said and jogged off to get the red plastic ball from the bushes where it landed.
The woman looked at Dana and smiled. "Sorry about that. He's only six even though he looks so much older, and full of energy. My name is Gloria." she said, extending her hand to Dana.
Dana felt herself smile involuntarily and take Gloria's hand. Her brain felt frozen, and she was moving on autopilot. "Dana. It's nice to meet you." The two women shook hands as Billy returned with the ball. The three of them continued towards the park, Dana trying to find her way through the maze that had suddenly sprung up in her mind. "William? Could he really possibly be my William?" she thought to herself. "What?" she asked, looking up as Gloria stopped walking.
"I asked if you were here with your children?" Gloria replied, smiling. "I asked three times, you must have really been out there."
Dana smiled awkwardly. "I'm sorry, I guess I was." She cleared her throat. "No, I uh, I don't have any children." Li-er! Dana thought to herself, brushing the thought away quickly. "I'm here with my niece and nephew. We come here every Satuerday." she explained.
"Oh, that's so nice of you! We just moved here from Wyoming, it's our first time at the park. My husband owned a farm, but we just couldn't make it anymore, with the way the country's been going. We moved here when he took a job at the Washington D.C. Zoo." Gloria explained as Billy ran ahead and jumped up on the Jungle Gym. She and Dana walked to a bench and sat down. "He works with the farm animals in the petting area.":
"Did you get lost on the way, Aunt Dana?" Matt called, waving from the top of the Monkey Bars. Bridget was playing in the sand box nearby.
Dana smiled and waved at Matt, rolling her eyes at him. Just like her brother Bill... She turned her attention back to Gloria. "Wyoming, you said? That's a pretty big change, from there to here. How's Billy coping?" Dana asked, hoping she didn't sound intrusive. She had to figure out if he was her son, if he was her William.
Gloria just smiled at her. She was a kind and open person who appreciated the concern for her son. "Dan, that's my husband, and I were worried about that at first. We sat him down and explained to him why we were moving, and where to. He was nervous at first, but there wasn't anyone in Wyoming for him to play with anyway, no one nearby, just a few friends from school. There's so much more to do here. He seems much happier."
Dana smiled and nodded in reply. She watched the little boy play. Matt struck up a game of tag with Billy and a little girl who seemed like a tomboy, and Dana thought "He could be playing with his cousin! They could be cousins, and not even realize it..." Dana tore her eyes away from Billy to look at Gloria. She squinted in the bright sun light. "That's good. At least he's adjusting well. My Father was in the Navy when I was a girl, and we moved often. None of us really enjoyed it except my brother Bill, but my brother Charlie always had a terrible time with moving. It can be rough."
"Yes, it can." Gloria replied in agreement. "I've never cared for it much myself. But Billy has always been adaptive, ever since he was small." Gloria paused and her eyes seemed to darken for a moment. "I was never too worried, to be honest. I just knew he'd be fine. If I really thought he'd have trouble, we wouldn't have moved. It took Dan and I so long to get him, we do whatever we can to make him happy. Without spoiling him too much." she added as an after thought, smiling a bit embarrassedly at Dana. "But you can't avoid spoiling them completely, can you?"
Dana's heart pounded in her chest. Here, here was a chance to find out if Billy was Gloria's biological son! If he was, she knew that already she would be disappointed. And if he wasn't... Well, it didn't mean he was her son, it didn't even make it likely. But the possibility was there still, and that was what mattered to her at the moment. The possibility of having William back in her life, to watch him grow and know he was safe, even if she couldn't raise him herself. "No, I've heard you can't. My husband and I have had a lot of trouble conceiving too. We're starting to consider adoption now." This wasn't exactly true. She and Mulder were not married, and they were not thinking of adopting. But, she had had difficulty trying to conceive, at least.
Gloria took the bait easily. Her eyes lit up when Dana mentioned adoption. Nodding enthusiasticlly, she glanced up to make sure Billy wasn't within earshot before leaning closer to Dana. "Adoption is a wonderful option, if you really want a child you should go for it!" She looked around for Billy again before continuing. "My husband and I were'nt able to have children. We tried for years, we went to counseling, to doctors, we took so many prescriptions, and we never even conceived once. Billy is adopted, we adopted him when he was 8 months old. We're planning on telling him when he's older, but for now we feel it's better he doesn't know. But it's the greatest thing we've ever done, the most rewarding experience in the world is having a child." Gloria gushed.
Dana smiled painfully. "Yes, I've heard that, and I have to agree with it. I think it would be very rewarding. The most wonderful thing in the world."
Gloria noticed the forced, pained smile. "I'm so sorry." she said quietly. "I guess that really wasn't very thoughtful of me, was it." Gloria said quietly, touching Dana's arm lightly. "I understand how hard it is, believe me I do. It took 15 years before my husband and I considered adoption. But in the end, I really wish we would have done it sooner. We adore Billy, there's no way we could love him more if he was our biological child. Blood doesn't really mean so much."
Dana nodded, hating herself suddenly for the game she would play with this woman, just to get close enough to find out if Billy was the son she'd given away, and than if it was him, just to see him grow up so she could know absolutely that he was safe and happy. The woman obviously loved him, and he her. Why jepordize that? But she already knew she would. "You're absolutely right. I just wish it could be different." Dana said simply, appearing to close herself up to this woman who was really a complete stranger.
Gloria noticed and dropped her hand from Dana's shoulder. "I know. I know how it was with Dan and I, at least. If you have any questions or want to talk, I would be happy to help."
Dana latched onto the offer quickly. "Thank you. That's very kind of you, really it is." Dana gave Gloria a genuine offer. "My husband and I may very well take you up on that offer." Dana glanced down at her watch. She was suprised to see how long she and Gloria had been talking. "I should be going now, actually." she told Gloria, standing up and beckoning for Matt and Bridgit. "My brother is having a dinner party tonight and my niece has to get ready.
Gloria stood up and shook her hand again. "It really was very nice to meet you. You said you come here every Saturday, didn't you?"
Dana nodded. "Yes, usually between 1 and 2, right after lunch. We were a little late today."
Gloria smiled. "Good. Billy and I will see you next Saturday than. He seems to get along very well with your nephew, he'll be happy to see him again."
Dana agreed and said good-bye. Bridgit and Matt talked the whole ride back to Bill's house, but Dana rode mostly in silence, thinking, trying to get used to the idea. What would Mulder say when he found out their son might be living in the same area code?