She finds him at the batting cages as she knew she would. She knows he had been coming here for years alone on this day. She watches him bat. He swings at every ball, making contact, sometimes hitting wildly, sometimes -when the pitch is right-hitting the perfect home run style hit. The sound the ball makes with the bat is hard, jarring, a collision. His shoulders are squared. His arms and back are muscular. She can see the tension within him. Boom, boom, boom. Each hit is accompanied by a grunt from him of disgust, triumph sometimes, maybe, but no joy. There is none of the ligh joyful play in this game he so loved and had once shared with her. There is only starring down and conquering another foe- the ball.
He sees her watching out of the corner of his eyes and yells “Scully, go away.” She remains. “I don’t want you here.” She watches him miss a ball and then another. Dejected, he exits the batting cage.
He stands facing her now. She sees the remnants of the tears that had freely flowed down his face while batting. “Why are you here, Scully?”
She answers with her own question. “Why don’t you want me here?”
He shakes his head. “I need some time for me. It’s not about me blaming you like you always think I do. It’s not that. It’s that your pain overwhelms mine -as it should. I don’t begrudge it- a mother’s deeper pain and most of the time I can put it behind me, but once a year I need to feel the pain- to remember that I lost him too when we... ” Mulder pauses and looks away from Scully “made our choices.”
Scully moves to be in his line of sight. “When I gave him up.”
He looks directly at her. “Because I wasn’t there for either of you.”
After a moment of intense eye contact, they look away simultaneously.
“17 years. Even when we were on the run and only had each other, on this day every year we always managed to be apart and distant. For 17 years.”.
“It’s not like it wasn’t always there between us every other day of the year, Scully.” Mulder instantly regrets his words. He truly never blamed her for her decision; only for her desire to remain frozen in the moment of time the decision was made.
“He’s probably driving and dating now, Mulder.”
“Playing baseball and planning for college,” Mulder bends his head down to speak softly while peering into her face. “He can do those things because your decision made him safe.”
Scully hates that Mulder said that when he doesnt believe it. His obsession with aliens and the conspiracy and the truth was always about needing to know what had happened to the people who had been taken away from him- his sister, Scully for a while, his son. How had she conceived? Was their child part alien? William!
Yet she has not come here to blame Mulder or herself,but to reach out for the only truth she knows.
“17 years not being together on his birthday, but now we are apart. We’re not a couple and that seems so wrong.” She is on dangerous ground here. She had left him and, while they were finding their way back to each other through the work again, she isn’t ready to come back yet. “I just, ” her voice cracks and she pushes down on a sob “ really want to be with my baby’s father on my baby’s birthday.”
Mulder sighs. He steps back inside the batting cage. He gestures with his head for her to come hither. He hands her the bat and puts his arms around her. He whispers into her ear “Do you remember hips first?” She leans back against him. “I remember.”
The game doesn’t have the lightness it did for them in a park so many years previously, but at least they are swinging the bat together.