The doctor entered the room looking efficient yet instantly friendly. She was in the standard white coat and was holding a clipboard that presumably contained all manner of charts and analysis of Will’s treatment. Mulder knew there was going to be a new doctor taking over the lead of Will’s care – they had come in specifically today to meet with them. And for Will to be poked and prodded by yet another medical professional no doubt.
Though on first glance this new doctor was the furthest thing away from her predecessor the old, fusty Doctor Evans. She was much younger, much more vibrant, and much, much more attractive.
“Okay, you must be William?” The doctor asked, addressing Will who was sitting up on the bed. Mulder sat up a little straighter in his chair – her voice, Jesus, her voice.
“Will.” Will corrected quietly.
“Will. I’m Doctor Scully or Dana if you prefer to call me that.” She held out her hand to Will and he shook it. “It’s very nice to meet you.”
Mulder looked over at his son and tried to conceal a smile at the wonder that was painted on Will’s face. Will couldn’t stop looking at Doctor Scully and really he couldn’t blame him. She was disarmingly beautiful. Mulder knew his thought process was bordering on the inappropriate but it had been so long since had thought about anything other than Will and the cancer that it was quite pleasant to realise he was still capable of other thought processes.
“And you must be Mr. Mulder?” She turned to face him and then, after glancing down at her clipboard, corrected herself: “I’m sorry – Professor Mulder.”
“Just Mulder is fine.” She gave him a strange look.
“He doesn’t like his first name so he makes everyone call him by his last name – Mulder.” Will suddenly piped up. Mulder looked at him in surprise. Usually getting Will to say anything at all during a hospital appointment was as difficult as drawing blood from a stone.
“And why doesn’t he like his first name?” Doctor Scully asked as turned back towards Will, talking about him as if he weren’t in the room. The look that she and Will shared was full of conspiracy and he had the instant feeling he was going to like her. She was already interacting with Will more than Doctor Evans ever had.
“He says it’s silly but I don’t think it is.”
“Well now I have to hear it!” She exclaimed. Will glanced at Mulder to make sure he wasn’t about to commit a betrayal but Mulder smiled and nodded. He’d happily fall on his sword for his son in any way he could. He spotted Doctor Scully clocking the look between him and Will, her own smile growing at their silent exchange.
“Fox.” Will stated proudly.
“Well… it’s certainly unusual I’ll give him that.” She turned and smiled at Mulder and he could swear he actually felt his stomach clench. Get your head in the game Mulder. “But I agree with you Will, I don’t think it’s silly either.”
“See?!” Will asked of him. He chuckled. His beautiful little boy.
“And what do you think he should call me? Dana?”
“No.” Will decided instantly. “He should call you Scully, just Scully, so it’s fair.” Scully’s eyebrows rose.
“Standing up for equality. A man after my own heart.” He could tell Will was slightly bemused but it didn’t stop him looking at her as if she had just hung the moon. Scully turned toward Mulder once again and offered him her hand. “Scully.”
“Mulder.” He replied, shaking it.
“Okay Will, how are you feeling today?” She asked conversationally. Mulder saw his son’s mood sour a little at the change of topic. But it was only a little and that was something – the tone Scully had chosen had gone a long way.
“Okay.” He answered at once. It was an improvement on the incredibly moody I’m fine that Doctor Evans had always got. “A little bit tired.” Will conceded after a moment’s silence.
“Okay. So, I need to just give you a quick once over if that’s okay with you? And then I will release you back into the wild while I talk to your Dad – Mulder, not Fox.” Her little joke went even further and Will nodded his agreement.
Mulder followed Scully into her office. They’d left Will quite happily catching up with some of his friends in the ward dayroom. As he walked behind her Mulder couldn’t help but notice the way Scully’s long red hair stood out against the white of her coat as it trailed down her back. It made his mind wander to other white things it would also stand out against like his bedroom pillows for example. He cleared his throat in an attempt to also clear his head. His thoughts were fast moving past slightly inappropriate to full on lecherous.
“Please.” Scully said, indicating to one of the chairs opposite her desk as she closed the door behind them. She sat on her side of the desk facing him. “So I suppose the first thing I should do is apologise.” Mulder frowned. “I know it must be jarring to have had one doctor in charge of Will’s treatment all this time and now suddenly to get a new one.”
“What happened to Doctor Evans, if I may ask?” He couldn’t say that he was sorry for the swap but he was genuinely curious. It had all seemed very sudden and Evans was a good few years from retirement.
“He has parted ways with the hospital. There was… a disagreement.” Scully answered cryptically. The look on her face however suggested it was a disagreement she found distasteful at best.
“Oh god, it wasn’t the kids was it?” Her eyes widened and she shook her head at once.
“No. No, there’s no evidence to suggest that. Think more in the realms of the young med students.”
It was Mulder’s turn to widen his eyes in surprise. Surely she was not supposed to have told him that. The hospital must have had a more palatable company line. Evans though, shit. He suddenly felt validated for never really liking the guy.
“You didn’t hear that from me.” He motioned the crossing of his hear and she smiled at him. “Anyway, I’ve looked over Will’s file and I think I’m up-to-date with everything. You guys have been through the ringer.” She said with genuine understanding.
“Yeah, I guess so.” He answered quietly. The ringer? The last few months had been hell on earth and it didn’t look like there was to be any let up in the near future.
“You’ve had two rounds of chemotherapy so far?”
“Yeah. And a go of radiotherapy in between.”
“And the next round of chemo is scheduled to start the week after next.”
“If you think there’s a point.” The words had left his mouth before he could stop them, each letter laced with bitterness. He saw Scully was taken aback by the bluntness of his question but she recovered quickly. “It’s just the treatments have made him so, so sick and there’s absolutely no evidence that they’re doing anything at all to help him. I don’t want to keep putting him through that if…” His voice broke off abruptly as the emotion rose in him at the idea his words were hedging around.
Scully continued to watch him intently but she did not interrupt. When it was clear she was not going to respond until he finished his thought he forced himself to take a deep breath and continued:
“I just don’t want to keep alive longer so he can suffer longer. If it’s all going to end up the same way anyway.”
He was amazed he was able to finish the sentence. They were the hardest words he had ever said. And this was the first time he had ever said them. He had tried to discuss it with Doctor Evans but he had always been shot down before he got very far. Now that the truth of his thinking was laid out bare in front of him he found it utterly terrifying. His entire body was shaking and he was fighting the strongest of urges to flee; to run, to cry, to scream into the oblivion.
“I understand what you are saying.” Scully said slowly. And when he looked up he saw that she was waiting for him to do so, so that he would see the honesty of her statement. “We have only just met but I plan to start this relationship the way I intend to continue it – by being entirely honest with you even if that is painful to hear.”
“Please…” Mulder gestured for her to continue. He needed the truth. No matter how soul destroying it might be, he needed to know the truth.
“Will’s cancer is rare and it’s fairly aggressive. I know you guys have been through it already but the truth is you’ve got a long way to go. This may need to get worse, a lot worse if Will stands a chance of getting better. We need to fight the aggression of the cancer with aggression of our own which means we keep hitting it with more rounds of chemo, as much as Will can take. And then we wait to see what effect it has. I promise you as soon as we are able to accurately tell if the treatment is being effective we will run the tests and move forward from there.”
Again Mulder could see nothing but honesty and integrity in her eyes. She was telling him the truth, she was going to do everything she could to fight this and he needed to do the same. For the first time in months he felt as if he had someone he could truly trust. Inexplicably he just knew – they were in this together.
“Thank you.” He replied quietly, unable to express anything else. Scully nodded in acknowledgment.
“So, Will looked good today. The break from the treatment he’s having at the moment seems to be doing the job. It should make him stronger for the next round. Are there any ongoing problems or side-effects you wanted to talk about today?”
“Err… the nausea is pretty bad. It used to just be directly after the chemo but it stays with him longer and longer after each go.”
“What is he on for that?” As she was talking she started tapping away at her computer. She looked efficient to the point of frighteningly so. Mulder couldn’t tell if he was more intimidated or impressed by her. He rolled off the name of the drug Will had been prescribed. “Hmm…” Scully nodded, still staring at her screen, clearly thinking. “That is the most common thing we would prescribe for a patient of Will’s age. But there are a couple of alternatives we could try. I’ll write you a script for one now, hopefully you’ll get on better with that.” With a few more clicks the new prescription was printed and signed and Scully handed it over to him. “You can have that made up on your way out?”
“Yeah, great. Thanks.”
“And here is my card.” She passed him over the card. “It’s got my direct office number on there. If you have any issues or questions please do call me.”
“That’s great. Thank you.” Mulder repeated. He felt as if he wanted to say it a thousand more times. Perhaps a new doctor was what they all needed. A new perspective, a new drive, and somehow within it he’d found just a little bit of new hope.
“If Will’s Mom would like to meet with me please pass on my details and we can set that up.”
“Will’s Mom is not in the picture.” He answered at once, perhaps a little too harshly. “It’s just me and him.” Scully gave him a look he didn’t quite understand, but he knew it was not the usual one of discomfort or pity.
“What about other family? Grandparents or aunts and uncles?” She asked gently.
“No. Why?” He could not help the defensiveness of his tone but she didn’t appear put off by it.
“Only that I can see Will has a great support system in you. And I hope that you have a support system of your own. You need to look after yourself too – you’re no use to Will if you’re not functioning properly.”
“I know. I’m doing okay.” Mulder answered in a softer voice. Though he wondered how true that was.
“Okay, then my lecture is over.” And then they shared a smile that him feel as if he had known her for years. Scully stood and lead him to the door, opening it before turning back to him and offering him her hand. “Although the circumstances are the furthest thing from ideal, it was a pleasure to meet you, Mulder.” They shook hands and this time he found he enjoyed the feel of the soft yet strong fingers that were gripping his own. The fingers that might just save his little boy.
“Likewise, Scully. Thank you.”