When Linda emerged from the examining room both men were waiting. Mulder had been lent a set of scrubs, but neither man looked like he had moved, could move. "Sheís going to be okay guys. Sheís suffering a little post-traumatic stress. Women arenít meant to give birth quite like that."
Mulder shuddered slightly. "The baby?" Skinner asked.
"Iíll check on him now. He was doing okay when you got him here. Try to relax."
"Can we see her?" Mulder wasnít convinced Linda had been totally honest, he desperately needed to see her.
"After they move her to a room. Sheís out now anyway and needs the rest. Come on, letís check on the baby." They stood at the window while Linda went in to check on the status of the infant. She was back shortly. "Three pounds one ounce. Heís breathing on his own, but theyíre supplementing oxygen. He looks pretty good. You can go in one at a time."
"Iíve already met him, you go on." Mulder spoke dryly. Linda smiled slightly, the most either of them had ever seen when Scully wasnít present, and led Skinner into the nursery.
When she returned she touched Mulderís arm and headed toward the patientsí rooms. "Oh Fox, just for your information women quite often shake like that after giving birth. She wasnít seizing Ė file that away for your next delivery."
"Yeah, right. Let me see her. Please!" She looked up at him. He needed this, as much as Walter needed to see the baby.
"Come on." She said grudgingly. "Wake her and you die." He nodded.
She was in her room now, hooked up to an IV and oxygen. Mulder sank into the chair beside her. Theyíd have to drag him out.
He sat there for quite a while, trying his best not to remember what had transpired in that car and usually failing. When she finally stirred he was on his feet, holding her hand.
"Mulder?" She hadnít opened her eyes.
"Right here. Are you okay?"
"The baby? Is he. . . ?"
"Heís doing fine, three pounds one ounce according to Linda. Heís breathing on his own and theyíre giving him oxygen to help out. Walterís with him now."
She nodded and tightened her grip on his hand. "Thank God you were there." He didnít say anything, just leaned over and kissed her forehead. Thatís when he realized tears were escaping from her eyes.
"Are you okay? Do you need. . . "
She shook her head and took a deep breath. "I have everything I need."
"Go back to sleep. Iíll be here."
He was there when she woke again, but asleep in the chair. Walter was beside her this time. "Mulder?"
"No, Dana, its Walter. Heís asleep. Do you need anything?"
"Walter. Is the baby okay? I need to see him."
"I know. Heís doing great. You make beautiful babies Dana. Heís too little to come to you, so youíre going to have to wait until morning. Linda said after she checked you, sheíd probably let you go to the nursery." He wanted to kiss her, hold her, but held himself back. "Do you need anything?"
She shook her head; there was nothing she could do about anything right now, so she might as well not push it.
"Dana?" She looked up at him, he sounded so serious. "Thank you, thank you for my son. I would never have put you through that if Iíd known, but. . . "
"Our son. Iím just glad heís here. Itís okay Walter." What was wrong? He wasnít himself. "Walter, are you telling me the truth? Is he okay?"
That startled him, "Yes, Dana. I swear. I was with him until they threw me out. I knew you wouldnít be alone."
Oh. That was bothering him? Of course it was, he was her husband. Sheíd been pretty good about pushing that away during the pregnancy. Now it was going to be an issue again.
As though he had read her mind he caressed her cheek. "Donít worry about anything now Dana. Just get your strength back, you and the baby are all that matters." That brought tears to her eyes. "Dana?"
"Hormones, donít mind me. You should go home, get some rest."
He glanced over at Mulder asleep in the chair. He wouldnít be leaving, not as long as she might need him. He felt her squeeze his hand. "Will you call me, if you need anything?"
"I promise. Get some rest. Donít worry about him, he never sleeps anyway. Walter. . . "
"Nothing. Be careful driving home." He bent down and kissed her cheek and slipped quietly from the room.
When Linda bustled in the next morning she found Scully already awake. She examined her and when Mulder still hadnít woken, walked over and kicked him. He came to his feet reaching for his gun.
"Some night nurse youíd make." Linda snorted at him. "Fortunately sheís okay, no thanks to you."
He glanced over at Scully fully contrite and she laughed at the look on his face. "If I had needed anything, youíd have known Mulder." She turned back to Linda. "I have to see my baby."
Linda nodded. "I know. How about now?"
Scully closed her eyes for a moment in relief.
"Iíll get a wheelchair." Mulder took a step toward the door.
"She can walk it." Mulder turned back, gaping at Linda. "Close your mouth Fox. Sheís doing wonderfully and needs to be up, getting her strength back."
"You think she should walk to the nursery?" Mulder just couldnít believe her words.
"Mulder, sheís right. Come here and let me lean on you." He moved to her side with no hesitation.
"Scully. . . "
"I need to be on my feet. I have a baby to look after." He shut up then, unconvinced, but he knew from that tone arguments would not be entertained.
He held her and made sure she was steady on her feet, but did not release her and she did not pull away. He waited until Linda stopped to speak to the nurse before whispering to Scully, "This is insane Scully. I was there yesterday. I saw exactly what you went through." He barely suppressed the shudder that memory invoked. "You should not be on your feet."
"Thanks to you I can be. Women go home sooner than this after a normal birth."
"That was not Ďnormalí."
"Actually it was Mulder. Fast and of course he was premature, but within the parameters of normal. Maybe not something I would plan," she smiled at him, "but with you there. . . "
He shut up then and just enjoyed the feel of her against him. At the nursery they were handed the yellow paper gowns and led into the neo-natal section. Skinner was already there, holding his son. Mulder settled Scully into the rocking chair provided and watched as Skinner approached and placed the tiny boy in her arms. The gesture felt like a kick in the gut. They were examining their son, a child created by them. He backed away, drawing no attention to himself. He had to get out of here, he couldnít watch this.
"Heís beautiful Dana."
"But so tiny. I didnít realize how tiny."
"Dana, the steroids helped. His lungs are working. We just need to fatten him up."
She turned to the pediatrician. "When can he go home?"
"Five pounds. With no complications two to three weeks. Heís really doing quite well for his size." She beamed at him and Walter.
"Mulder, look at what you. . . " She turned to look for him and realized he had slipped from the room. "Walter. . . "
"Iíll find him." He headed for the door and spotted Mulder standing at the window, looking toward the babies but not really seeing them.
"Dana wants you to come back."
"Walter, I. . . "
"She wants you." Mulder closed his eyes and straightened his shoulders.
"Sure." He donned another of the sterile gowns and proceeded Skinner back to Scully. She was watching him, but she couldnít read his expression.
"Want to hold him?"
"Heís uh, heís awfully tiny Scully."
"No more than yesterday." Their eyes locked and he moved forward, reluctantly, to take him from her.
"Have you named him yet?" He gazed down at the infant sleeping in his arms. He could pretend couldnít he?
"William Sergei Skinner."
"What?" Now he looked up at Scully. Sergei he understood, but William?
"My father was William, so was Walterís. And, of course, this guyís god-father."
Mulder looked over at Skinner, who nodded. He looked back down at the boy, the only truly safe place to look right now.
"We need to put him back in the unit now, Mrs. Skinner. We donít want to push him too hard."
"I know." She reached up and touched the babyís face again, in Mulderís arms, and watched as he surrendered him to the nurse. "I think Iíd like that wheelchair going back." Mulder nodded and left to find one. Walter knelt beside her.
"Are you okay Dana?"
"Except for the hormone overload, I think so." She reached out and squeezed his hand. He was quiet, she really didnít seem to want to speak. When Mulder returned with the chair Walter helped her to her feet and into the wheelchair. Mulder stepped back to allow Walter to guide her to the room. He shouldnít be here. She didnít need him now; she was recovering from the weeks in bed and the actual birth very nicely. His job was really done, all excuses to hover over her gone. He felt the emptiness consume him.
At the door to her room he stopped them, "Listen, I need to head on home, shower, change, you know. If you need anything, just give me a call."
"Okay. Iíll talk to you later." Scully watched him as he turned to walk away, then realized Walter was watching her. She looked up at him and smiled.
"Come on, letís you back in bed." Walter pushed her on in the room and assisted her into the bed. She sighed and eased herself back against the pillow. "You okay?"
"Iím fine Walter. Just a little more tired than I thought I would be from that short a walk."
"You werenít exactly at the top of your game before you went into labor."
"True, I guess I should be glad it didnít go on for hours. But a little longer might have been nice." Walter smiled at her and took her hand.
"You need to rest now. Iíll go by the office, but Iíve got my cell phone. Please call me if you need anything."
She smiled at this wonderful man. "I promise. Iím going to rest until theyíll let me go back and visit Will again."
"Will." He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it. "I can never thank you enough for him." Before she could respond he turned and headed for the door. There he stopped and looked back at her, shaking his finger at her. "Rest. Thatís an order. Iíll be back in a couple of hours."
She was in the nursery when he arrived, rocking and feeding the baby. He stopped just to watch her before she realized he was there. He snapped a quick picture and she looked up startled. "Sorry. I couldnít resist. I figured it was time we had pictures of him. Your mother was already freaking that she wasnít here."
"I know, I spoke with her a little while ago. Sheís torn between leaving Tara or leaving me. I told her we were all fine and to relax. Faxing a couple of pictures would reassure her greatly. Besides, Tara feels alone out there and Iím surrounded by people to look after me. You want to hold him?"
His smile grew and he took the baby from her arms. Only yesterday morning he had worried if he would ever feel comfortable doing this, now it seemed the most natural thing in the world.
"He gained an ounce. They say heís feeding very well. Itís about the only thing he wakes up for."
"Why isnít he all red like the other babies out front?" Walter couldnít tear his eyes away from him as he asked.
"Jaundice. Itís okay, theyíre watching it closely." She responded to the look of fear that took over his face. He relaxed slightly, new fears he had never considered before in his life were now part of his vocabulary.
She sat watching him with his son. He was going to be an excellent father. So why was she worried about it? Maybe she was suffering post-partum already. It had been a hell of a delivery. She should be delighted at this all-consuming interest his father was displaying in him, instead it was giving her a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. Sheíd have to talk to Linda about this, it just wasnít her field.
She walked back to the room with Walterís help when the nurse took Will from them. They ate together but she was quiet and eventually Walter urged her to once again rest. He stood to leave when Linda tapped on the door and entered.
"Dana, Iíve gotten all your test results back. Iím throwing you out of here tomorrow."
Walter took Danaís hand. "Are you serious?"
"Yes. Sheís doing great. Her blood pressureís fine, the bleeding has almost stopped. And I imagine Iíll be seeing you every day anyway when you come to see the baby." She smiled at Dana. "No driving for at least a week. Think you can get a ride?"
"Yeah, Iím not worried about that."
"Okay, Iíll check you one more time in the morning, then release you. Get a good nightís sleep Ė let the nurses feed the kid tonight, okay?"
"No 2 a.m. feedings. I promise, for now."
Linda nodded. "Rest, Iíll see you in the morning."
Once she was gone Walter turned back to Dana. "Iíll pick you up. Weíll spend some time with Will and then Iíll take you home."
She smiled and nodded. He kissed her cheek and let himself out. She was surprised to find tears on her cheeks a few moments later. She couldnít get to sleep, but didnít realize she was waiting until she saw the hall lights dim. Then she finally admitted the cause of her pain. Mulder hadnít returned.
He was silent for a moment. "Are you okay?"
"What? What is it? Is the baby Ė " His voice was rapid, worried headed for frightened.
"Heís fine Mulder. So am I, physically." Another silence followed. "I thought. . . Mulder, I thought youíd come back this evening."
"You guys needed some time to bond. You didnít need me hanging around."
"Donít what Scully? Give you time with your husband and son?"
"Theyíre releasing me tomorrow."
He missed a beat there at the change in subject. "You canít be serious." Now he was sitting up on the couch, the first time heíd sat up since collapsing there that afternoon.
"Iíll be here every day anyway, so Lindaís sending me home."
"Well, Iím sure she knows best." He retreated from the conversation as he had retreated physically earlier.
"Yeah, I guess she does. Look, Iím sorry I disturbed you. Good night Mulder."
"Scully, damn it, Scully!" But sheíd broken the connection. He dropped the receiver back in the cradle and reclined again, his arm over his eyes.
She was dressed when Walter arrived the next morning. They headed immediately to the nursery. Thatís where Linda found them. She walked Scully back to her room, leaving Walter with the baby.
"Whatís wrong Dana?"
"Nothing. Iím fine. I hate leaving here without my son."
"I know that, but thatís not it. I do this for a living Dana, talk to me."
She shook her head. "Thanks Linda. Maybe in a few days."
Once home Walter made her comfortable on the sofa. She refused to lie down again, arguing that she had to get used to being upright sometime.
"Comfortable? Can I get you anything?"
"Donít fuss over me Walter. Iím fine, it just feels strange not to be pregnant and not to have a baby to look after."
"Heíll be here before you know it. You should rest all you can now." She smiled at him, then looked away afraid she would cry again.
"Dana, this isnít the right time, but I want to talk to you before he does come home and I need to give you time to think." She looked up at him puzzled. He was so solemn.
"Walter whatís wrong?" She reached out to take his hand and he grasped hers. He sat facing her, drawing the chair closer to the sofa.
"I hope you know how much I love you Dana. This past year and a half has probably been the best of my life and now, having Will, itís beyond anything I ever dreamed." He cleared his throat and tightened his grip, "Which is why I want you to have what you need to make you as happy as youíve made me. Iím offering you a divorce Dana. Iím not going running out to get one without discussing it with you this time."
"Walter? What have I Ė "
"Youíve done nothing but be the marvelous person you are. But you need Mulder as much as he needs you. I have to admit I didnít know relationships like yours existed, and to be honest I donít think they do for other people. But you two. . ." He took a deep breath, "I want to be a hands on father, Dana. I want Will to know me, to know who I am in his life even though heís living with you and Mulder. I want to attend all of his games and school plays and whatever."
She was crying freely now. Why couldnít she love his man as much, need him as much? But he was right, as much as she did love him, Mulder was necessary for her very survival.
"Itís not like Iíll be out of your life, Dana. I hope Mulder can handle that. We have a permanent connection and I want you to know you can always come to me for anything. Dana? Dana honey, calm down." He moved to her side taking her in his arms and rocking her.
"Donít be sad, Dana. Weíll make it work. It will be good arrangement. I know you love me, Dana, donít ever wonder about that. Now calm down, no more crying. Okay?" He lifted her face to his and kissed her gently, wiping her tears away with his handkerchief.
"I know Iím springing this on you, but I figured the details needed to be worked out before Will came home. Iím not sure Mulder has room for him in his present apartment and I canít see him wanting to live here. Why donít you give him a call and get him over here. Iíll make myself scarce so you two can talk."
"Walter, I. . ."
"Iím going to miss you Dana. If Mulder can handle it, maybe sometime weíll get him to baby-sit and go out somewhere."
She chuckled through the tears. "Itís a date. I promise."
"Good. Go splash some water on your face and then call him." He helped her to her feet and she put her arms around him. He held her for a moment then disengaged her hands and turned her toward the bedroom.
When she returned he made her comfortable again and handed her the phone. "Iíll be at the coffee shop on the corner, and Iíll have my cell phone." He kissed her forehead and let himself out of the apartment.
"Yeah." Not even a hello, he didnít care.
"Mulder, itís me. Can you come over?"
"Isnít Walter there?" Seeing her was the last thing he needed right now. He needed the time to adjust to this new arrangement, where he was unnecessary, just a friend of the family.
"No, he had to go out."
"Heís left you there alone? Now? Shit, Iíll be right there." What the hell kind of a jerk was she married to? It didnít sound like Walter, but damn if heíd give him any credit right now. Leaving her alone, now, shit!
He lost no time in reaching her apartment and let himself in with his key. He found her sitting in the living room, her eyes still puffy and red. "Scully, what?" He was on his knees in front of her.
She took his hand and tugged him up on the couch beside her. "When did you get a key to this place?"
"Oh, Walter gave it to me with the pregnancy got complicated. We didnít want you having to get up to let me in or anything."
She closed her eyes and rested her head against him.
"Tell me whatís wrong. Why are you crying? You wouldnít be here if it was Will."
"Youíre right. Willís fine. Mulder, Walter has offered to give me a divorce so that I, that you and I. . . " She saw the hope flare in his eyes and relaxed a little.
"So that we can be married?" He bent down to look her directly in the eye.
"Yes, if you want me, us. I guess Iím a package deal now."
"If! Scully, youíre not jerking me around, this is for real? Walter is going to let us be together?" His grip on her tightened, he wanted to draw her into his arms, but fear held him off.
"He says we will be whether heís part of the picture or not. But Mulder he is Willís father, heís always going to be with us, part of our family."
"I donít care about that Scully, I donít. I just have to be with you and whoever you bring with you, big bald guy or little one. When?"
"Well, thatís why he brought it up today. He thought we should make some arrangements before Will comes home, so he wonít be disrupted." She was watching his eyes and loving what she was seeing.
"Right, right. Weíll need a two-bedroom. I think I know of one. Yeah." His mind was racing with what he needed to accomplish. He couldnít bring a family into his apartment. A family! He was going to have a family and be with her. Last night heíd finally allowed that dream to die and now here it was coming true. He couldnít keep his lips from hers another minute, pulling her against him and feeling her in his arms and knowing she belonged there.
He owed Walter so much and heíd find a way to repay him, later. For the first time in over a year, since heíd personally shoved her into another manís arms, she was his again. Now he just wanted to savor this.