Mulder looked up at the tap on his door. An interruption, good. He wasnít the administrative type, and this was becoming more and more his job. Kevin stuck his head in the door.
"Mulder? Four men have just shown up, they say theyíre old friends of yours."
"Then theyíre lying, I didnít have any friends except Scully." Mulder smiled and rose to his feet, stretching his back, and checking that his weapon was in place. He headed out of the small office that had been created for him off of one of the older cabins. He walked into the main room and stopped dead still. Kevinís hand went to his own weapon; heíd never seen Mulder react like this to anyone.
"Skinner? Byers? God, where did you guys come from! My God!" He was moving toward them and Kevin relaxed a little. At least he knew them. Mulder touched Byersí shoulder, and Langlyís, and actually ruffled Frohikeís hair. Then to his surprise as well as the others in the room, threw his arms around Skinner and hugged him. They all relaxed visibly and Skinner returned the hug.
All four men had lost weight, hell most people had in the year since the virus. Life had gone on and while the population was way down, humans still existed. There were pockets of civilization in a lot of rural areas. The aliens had taken the cities for the most part but an uneasy calm had settled between the two for the time being.
"I thought you were dead. When I lost communication I just assumed. . ." Mulder didnít have to finish that sentence. "I canít believe youíre here. Scullyís going to be so happy to see you."
"Scullyís okay? Sheís here with you?" Skinner asked that question. She had been on his mind more or less constantly since she and Mulder had vanished.
"Yes. Sheís the doctor of our community and way too busy, of course. Let me see if sheís in the clinic."
"Sheís not." Kevin interjected. "She went to check on Jerryís leg, said she didnít want him walking on it to come in."
Mulder sighed and turned back to his friends. "She hasnít changed and sheís working too hard, but she doesnít listen to me any better than she used to."
"My sweet Dana. It was visions of her that got me here." Frohike sighed.
"My sweet Dana. You will leave my wife alone, Frohike."
"Wife?" That came from Frohike and Skinner simultaneously.
Mulder grinned as he held up his left hand to show the ring, "Yeah. Hands off." Congratulations, hand shaking and back thumping went around the group. Mulder finally remembered his manners and headed them all over to his home where he had them take a seat and brought them each a beer from the home brew that was a closet industry in the community.
They sat, catching up and waiting for Scully to appear. At one point Mulder excused himself to go stir the ever-present stew on the stove and Skinner followed him.
"Are things okay here Mulder?"
"Yes, they really are, for now anyway. Iím too involved in administration for my own good and right now Iím a little worried about Scully, but. . . "
"Whatís wrong with Scully?"
"Probably nothing. Like I said sheís working too hard and I think sheís fighting a bug right now. Not that sheíd tell me if she were feeling bad. She still keeps a lot to herself. I know she worries about her family. We donít know if any of them survived or not."
"Well you look good, marriage obviously agrees with you. It looks like a thriving community."
"Yeah, who would have thought I could handle mundane stuff like this? But if I can talk you guys into staying, I can feel the burden shifting already. As for marriage, I should have done it a long time before I did."
Skinner grinned. It would be nice to stay. It had been hard this past year. Everything had, food rationed, fuel for personal cars gone. He was in the best shape heíd been in since heíd left the marines. Riding a bike and walking had taken off those few pounds he had allowed to adhere to his frame. And, he would admit only to himself, seeing Scully would really give him a lift. Even if she was Mulderís wife now.
He followed Mulder back toward the main room where they had left the guys, still recuperating from the trip here. They hadnít been in the same shape he was and were paying for it. He heard the door open and Scullyís voice.
"Oh my god! Byers? It canít be!" Mulder entered the room to see her approach the men, touching their faces as they rose to greet her, even planting a kiss on each of their cheeks. The welcome was obviously a relief to them and Byers squeezed her hand. Frohike wisely kept his own hands to himself.
She turned when she heard Mulder at the door and then spotted Skinner behind him. "Walter!" She fairly flew into his arms. Mulder brushed aside the frisson of pain that caused. She was just thrilled to see an old friend, one they hadnít know was alive for months.
Skinnerís arms closed around her. "Itís good to see you Dana."
"Oh Walter, I. . . "
"Scully?" His arms tightened around her as she sagged against him.
"I think I need to sit down a min. . . " And she went limp against him. Even before Mulder could reach for her, Skinner had lifted her into his arms.
"Here, on the couch." Mulder shoved the cushions aside. He should take her to the bedroom, but for some reason the thought of Skinner carrying his wife in there was more than he could stand. Heíd have to analyze that later, she was top priority now. "Scully? Scully can you hear me?"
She was already stirring. He rubbed her hands and felt of her forehead. No fever. "Scully?"
"Mulder? Iím okay." She tried to sit up, but Mulderís hand restrained her. "I was just a little overwhelmed. Iím fine, really." She watched him exchange glances with Skinner. "Really, Iím only embarrassed."
At that she did sit up and swung her feet off the couch. "I want to know everything!"
"Take it easy, Scully. Theyíre going to stay, hopefully for a very long time. We can catch up over dinner. I thought they could sleep in the loft until we can find housing for them."
"Perfect. I hope you will stay." Her look took them all in. It was only his imagination that she lingered longer on Skinner. Well, she knew him better, the others had been friends of his more than hers.
The group refused to let her lift a finger over the meal, making her sit with her feet up and watch them, despite her protests. It was better than old times, visiting and catching up. Telling stories on each other. She had tears rolling down her face at Byersí rendition of Skinner hooking up with them, and actually taking over the group as it were. She had not realized how much Lone Gunman lurked under that bald exterior.
With the food finally in front of them she asked, "The virus? Before we lost credible communication it seemed to be slowing down. Is it still. . . ?"
"No, Dana, " Skinner responded, "It ended almost as quickly as it began. Thereís no overpopulation anywhere as far as I can tell, but the people left behind are all healthy. The virus took amazing segments of the population." Langly and Byers nodded at that. "Anyone that could be considered a drain on society is virtually gone Ė the aged, the infirm, the handicapped, AIDS is history, diabetes. Anyone with a Ďconditioní that was life threatening is gone. I donít know what happens when we hit the age where weíre no longer productive, but right now it doesnít look like there will be another massive die off. They seem to want us healthy and containable.
"As far as I can tell, theyíre leaving the people in these outlying areas alone, at least for now. In the cities there are restrictions, but not harsh ones. Violence is way down. Itís hard to tell them from us, theyíve made sure of that. You shoot one of them in error, big mistake. Youíre the one going to die, not them. They donít treat anyone who is injured attacking them, so you get exposed to the green stuff, youíre dead."
Mulder nodded, not surprised. They continued to talk until Mulder caught Scully stifling a yawn. "Thatís it guys. Enough for tonight. Iím taking my wife to bed. Thereís room upstairs to stretch out and weíll start on permanent arrangements in the morning. Donít think Iíll be letting you go."
They all agreed that wasnít in the plan and politely thanked Scully for her hospitality. "You did all the work. Family like you can be here anytime."
They all positively beamed at that. Their happiness at being there obvious for all, but being part of family, that made the trek to find them more than worthwhile.
Once they were alone in their bedroom he took her hand, "Scully, whatís wrong? Really."
"Mulder, Iím fine."
"Iíve known you for eight years. Weíve been through hell and back together. Iíve never known you to faint before. Iím concerned. You didnít eat a thing tonight."
"I did too." She began to protest.
"No, Scully. You moved food around and you pretended to eat, but you didnít. Youíve lost weight, youíre exhausted all the time, you havenít had your period in two months."
"Youíre keeping up with my cycle?"
"Youíre my wife Scully. I keep up with everything. Even I know thatís a sign of malnutrition."
"Mulder, I am not malnourished. Itís also a symptom of stress, exhaustion. . . "
"Youíre making my case for me, Scully."
"Mulder, drop this. Letís just go to bed. I want you to hold me." She reached out her hand to him.
"Fighting dirty?" She grinned at him then and he pulled her into his arms. She tugged at his t-shirt.
"No Scully. Not tonight."
She had married a gem. He saw through her, to her exhaustion. She nodded and moved toward the bathroom.
Once in bed he enfolded her in his arms again. He kissed her forehead. "Skinner was awfully eager to put his arms around you."
"I didnít enjoy seeing you in another manís arms."
"Then maybe itís a good thing he came." His arms tightened around her. "Weíre an old married couple now. With Skinner around maybe you won't start taking me for granted."
"You really worried about that?" He nuzzled her hair, pressing all of him against her.
She smiled and sought his lips.
He made sure she slept late the next morning, taking the clock with him when he slipped out of the bed. He made coffee and the guys drifted down and out to look around. Still she slept. Finally concern sent him back into the room with her cup.
She stirred when he entered, smelling the coffee. "Bout time Sleeping Beauty."
"What time is it?" She glanced at her watch. "Mulder!" She jerked the covers aside to rise.
"No." He sat beside her on the bed.
"Iím late. How could you let me sleep so long?"
"You needed it. Now Iím going to fix you breakfast."
She looked away, but he saw her expression. "Scully?"
"Iím not hungry, and I need to get to the clinic."
"You didnít eat any dinner either." He reminded her, ready to argue the point if necessary.
"Mulder, donít start."
"You need to eat." Now he was becoming insistent.
"Look, Iíll come to your office at lunch time, assuming you let me up by then, and eat with you. You can measure every bite. Okay?"
"Not okay, but itís the best Iíll get isnít it." She smiled and nodded, taking the coffee from his hand and kissing it as she did.
She kept her word and took a break at lunchtime. She ate everything he put before her and when they had eaten, surprised him by locking his office door.
"This is a place of business Dr. Scully. Just what do you have in mind?" She pulled the t-shirt from his pants and proceeded to unbutton his fly. She then showed him exactly what she had in mind.
She certainly seemed to be feeling well now. Maybe she had just been tired. His afternoon was a lot brighter until one of her assistants knocked on his door. Just a few words from her had him on his feet, racing to the clinic.
Scully was sitting on the examining table when he entered. She turned to Beth, "You didnít!"
"Oh yes she did and Iím damned grateful. Iím taking you home. Donít expect her in tomorrow Beth." He tossed the comment over his shoulder as he reached to help Scully down from the table.
The timid young woman nodded, embarrassed that she was the focus of the attention of both of them.
They didnít speak as he held her arm and escorted her home. Once inside the house she turned to him. "I feel fine Mulder. I had a dizzy spell. I didnít faint, and I am fine."
"Are you hiding nosebleeds from me Scully?"
"No! No." She repeated softly as she saw the true fear in his eyes. "I wouldnít do that Mulder. Iím not hiding anything from you."
"You seemed to feel pretty good at lunch."
"I did." She smiled at him. "And I feel fine now."
"Well I still want you to lie down. Take a nap. I told the guys I would help them set up in their place, but I wonít be long."
She sighed, but knew it was an argument she would lose, so she nodded. He literally helped her lie down, which she accepted with good grace.
She was still asleep when he returned. He stood watching her sleep, feeling the despair creep up on him. She was his whole world. If she were ill what would he do? She was the doctor. He was lost in tormented thoughts and didnít realize she was awake and watching him.
"I love you Mulder." He turned to her, his love for her plain in his eyes. "Come here." He sat beside her on the bed.
"Donít tell me not to worry about you. Arenít there any tests you can take? Blood work, something? Byers could do them. We have those home tests."
"Those are diabetes tests, a couple of pregnancy tests Mulder."
"Well we could rule that out."
"Thereís no need to waste one of them on me."
"Scully, nothing for you is wasted. Thatís something we could do tonight."
"Will it calm you down?"
"Maybe. Scully. . . "
"Okay. Theyíre aging out anyway. Tomorrow Iíll do a blood test. Maybe Iím anemic." Anything to get him to relax, she was fine but no way was he going to believe that now.
"Could that cause your symptoms?"
"Maybe, itís not likely. Come on, let me up."
He rose and held out a hand to help her from the bed. She took it, but made a face at him at the same time. He grinned and watched her as he sank back down on the bed. Thinner, certainly, but she looked wonderful. How could she be sick and look like that?
He waited in the bedroom while she disappeared into the bathroom. She was gone a long time. He was ready to come in there after her when he heard the door opening.
She was pale and avoided looking at him. Not good, he could feel his blood pressure rising as he rose and went to her. "What? Please!"
"The pregnancy test was positive." It took a few seconds for her words to register to him.
"Scully!" The joy on his face was unmistakable. Heíd never dared entertain the thought. He reached for her to take her into his arms.
"No!" She held up her arms to ward him off. "Donít touch. . . I need some time. I need to be alone." She was backing toward the door.
"Donít. . . just donít." She was out the door and running from the cabin. He was at a total loss. Heíd never seen her act like that, never. He desperately wanted to chase after her, but for the first time in his life was afraid to pursue her. What would she do? He sank onto the sofa, as confused and frightened as heíd ever been.
Thatís where she found him when she returned over an hour later. He was sitting in the dark, staring out at nothing. He didnít move when she came in. She sat on the sofa as far from him as she could get.
"Scully." He still didnít look at her, "I always thought that your being unable to have children haunted you. I had always assumed you wanted to have a baby. Was I wrong, or is it just my baby you donít want?"
She rose without a word and headed toward the bedroom.
"No. You had your time." He did rise then and caught her arm. "Talk to me Scully."
"I donít know what to say." He pulled her around to look at him then, and she saw the pain in his eyes even in the dark. She didnít try to pull away. "I always wanted your baby Mulder. But not here, not now. The virus, the aliens, no civilization - what kind of world would our child have now?" He let go of her; afraid heíd hurt her he was so tense.
"Weíre both immune Scully. He could inherit that."
"Yes, thatís a possibility but not the rest." Shaking her head, not looking him in the eye.
"So what does that mean? Do you want to get rid of it?"
"No! No." She sank down onto the floor. He sank to his knees beside her.
"Scully itís not the ideal world. Itís not even as good as the screwed up world we grew up in, but we grew up. You had parents that loved you. This baby would too. I want this Scully. I want a baby with you. Iíll do everything in my power to keep him safe, give him a good life."
She turned away from him again and entered their bedroom. He closed his eyes against the pain. He gave her time to get settled then went into the bedroom to check on her.
"Are you coming to bed?"
"In a little while. You go on to sleep."
"Thatís all Iíve done all day."
"Then you needed it. Iíll be in soon." She nodded and rolled to her side. He retreated to the living room at a loss for what to do. He couldnít let his mind wander where it wanted to, but it was a physical struggle to think of anything but her lying in their bed, his child growing unwanted within her. It was hours before he did join her in the bed and then kept to his side, not touching her for probably the first time since theyíd started sleeping in this bed. It was not a restful night and he was up again before she woke.
She found him in the kitchen. "Did you come to bed last night?"
"Yeah, it was late and you were asleep."
"Mulder, I. . . "
"I still donít think you should go to the clinic today."
"No. I wonít. I donít want anyone to know about this."
"Whatever you want. I better get to work." He kissed her forehead and turned away. He didnít see the hand she raised to stop him and headed for the door.
She wilted from his distance and when he was gone turned back toward the bedroom. She sank onto the bed and dropped her face in her hands. As her sobs grew she curled around his pillow and gave in to her grief.
Skinner tapped on the door; he wanted to catch up with Mulder before he went to work. He wanted to offer his services, make this his home. When no one responded to his knock he pushed the door open. He started to call out when he heard her crying in the other room. He stepped inside and closed the door behind him. He hesitated at the threshold of her bedroom, then squared his shoulders and went in.
"Scully? Whatís wrong?"
He stood before her and after a moment put his hand on her shoulder. "Scully, talk to me."
She rose to a sitting position. "Walter, Iím sorry."
"No. Donít apologize. Scully, Dana, Mulder is scared to death that somethingís wrong with you. Are you ill?"
"Iím not ill Walter, Iím pregnant."
He gaped at her. "Pregnant? But I thought. . . "
"So did I." She wiped her eyes.
"Then whatís wrong? I mean, I would have thought Mulder would be ecstatic at this news."
"Then what?" He brushed her hair back.
"Walter, what kind of world will I be bringing a child into? What kind of life can it have?"
"A wonderful one Dana! With two parents that love him. You and Mulder will be incredible parents. And this kid will also have his Uncle Walt and the guys to love him as well. No child will ever be more loved. You have to know that." She looked up at him, her tears slowing down.
"Youíll be here?"
"As long as youíll put up with me. It felt like I came home when I got here Dana. Thereís nowhere else I want to be. Go wash your face. You need to see my new place and spend time with my Ďroomiesí."
She was able to give a small smile at that. He stood and took her hand, helping her to her feet. She placed her hand on his cheek. "Thank you."
"No problem. Go on, fix your face."
She obediently made her way to the bathroom while he retreated to the main room so she could get dressed. Great, not only was he attracted to a married woman, now he wanted a pregnant married woman. He needed help, and Mulder was probably the only psychologist in town.
When she was dressed he took her arm and escorted her to his new home.
Mulder couldnít remember ever having a worse day. Okay, maybe when he thought heíd lost her to cancer, but . . . He couldnít settle down. Heíd even snapped at Kevin. He had apologized but still. . . This couldnít continue, he needed to talk to her. Hell, she was carrying his child. A dream heíd made a point of never exploring. He could make her want it. Well, no he couldnít make her do anything, but when she saw how much he wanted it, surely sheíd feel better about it.
Yes, that was it. He rose from the desk and walked to the door. Heíd just tell Kevin heíd be out for the afternoon. Kevin wasnít outside the door, so he headed out to find him. Thatís when he saw them. Scully and Skinner, she was holding his arm and smiling. He was leaning down, close to her, to hear her better or to sniff her hair.
He felt something break within himself. He would almost swear he heard it break. After they had moved on, out of his sight, he returned to his desk and threw himself into his work. He couldnít allow himself to think about this. It was too painful.
He was late leaving that evening. It was almost dark when he finally couldnít put it off any longer. Even Kevin had gone on home. He found his steps lagging even as he approached the cabin.
She looked up when the door opened. "Hi. I was getting worried."
"Sorry, I had a lot to do."
"Not really. Kevin brought in sandwiches."
"Oh." She didnít even know what to say. He seemed so distant, cut off from her. She had hurt him more than she realized.
"I thought you were going to stay in today, rest."
"Yes. Except for when I went over to see the guyís place." She smiled slightly. "I think Walter might be rethinking the living arrangements. Being on the road with them was one thing, settled might be more than he can take."
And it would be easier to see you without a lot of people around, his mind supplied.
"Listen, Iím going to be up for awhile. Why donít you go on to bed."
"Mulder?" He did meet her eyes then, but with no expression. "Fine. Goodnight."
"Nite." She turned and left the room and he sagged against the sofa. They hadnít even mentioned the baby. Did Skinner know? Sheíd asked him not to say anything. Shit.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter,10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.