Agent Doggett opened the door quietly and looked in. She was, of course, still beside him, watching every breath. Her eyes were still red, but no tears were flowing now.
She looked up at him and smiled. He couldn’t help but return it, in the months he had known her, smiles had been rare. Now she couldn’t seem to stop.
He glanced over at Mulder. The man was resting comfortably, a slight smile also gracing his damaged face. Even in sleep his hand gripped hers.
John moved closer and bent down to whisper in her ear. “Dana, you need to take a break, go home, take a nap or something.”
She shook her head, still smiling. “I need to be here when he wakes up.”
“I know how you feel, really I do, but you are seven months pregnant. You need to look after yourself too. At least come stretch your legs a little”
She glanced back at Mulder. John had a point. “Just for a minute.”
He nodded and took her elbow. She realized she needed it to get to her feet. She had been sitting in one position too long. She touched the bed to help steady herself, then grunted slightly and bent over.
“Dana!” He kept his voice low, but she could hear the fear in his tone. His arm went around her.
“I’m . . . I’m okay, John. The baby was just letting me know he agreed with you. I’m fine.”
He didn’t release her. She’d actually grown pale at the ‘protest’ the child had made.
“Dana, you’ve got to get some rest. Real rest.”
She closed her eyes and actually allowed herself to lean against him slightly as she attempted to calm the baby with caresses to her stomach.
“Why don’t you ask them to bring another bed in here? Then I could - “
“Spend all of your time getting up and down to check on him. That’s not what I would call rest, Dana.”
He was worried about her and she did appreciate it. She patted his hand. “I wouldn’t get any rest at all if I left, John. Come on. Walk with me a little.”
He bit back any comment. At least she was unofficially admitting she wanted a steadying hand for a few minutes. He’d have to pick his battles. She was an adult.
They walked first to the ladies room and he waited for her. Then he had her walk up and down the hall a few times. He remembered this from when his wife had been pregnant. She grew steadier as they walked, and he finally allowed her to steer them back to Mulder’s room.
“I’m going to get you a tray, then check on that bed.”
“I do appreciate - “
“Hey, I just want you to be okay. Go on, I know you need to see him.”
She smiled then and let herself back into his room. She was barely seated before he began to stir. His hand already searching for hers.
“I’m right here, Mulder.”
His eyes opened at the sound of her voice and he turned toward her smiling. “You’re still here.”
“And where else would I be?” Her smile broadened.
“Talk to me, Scully. Tell me what’s going on.”
“What?” She brought his hand to her lips.
“Come on. The last thing I remember, I went back to Oregon with Skinner. That had to be awhile ago.”
“Why do you say that?” What had he figured out?
“Your hair.” He touched it lightly, then had hold of her hand again.
Of course. He might have been . . . ill, but he was still Mulder. “Yes, you were, were missing for awhile.”
“Define ‘awhile’.” He was watching, he would know if she lied.
His eyes widened at that, more than he had expected. His free hand came up and touched his cheeks. He blinked as he felt the wounds there. She reached up and pulled his hand away.
“What happened to me?”
She gave him an ironic smile, “Abducted by aliens?”
He did smile then, though it hurt a little. “Maybe I should go looking for the real Scully, that certainly didn’t sound like her.”
“It’s been a long six months.” She didn’t realize her eyes had grown moist.
He sobered at that. “What else?”
She looked the question at him.
“Come on, I know there’s more. I can feel it.”
“You’ve been very ill, Mulder. You don’t - “
“Yes, Scully, I do. It’s affected you. What was it you said when you were returned to me? I’m back, we have to get past this. Right?”
“It’s a little - “ the baby took that opportunity to jab her forcefully in the side. “Mmmm.” She moved, trying to give him a little more room.
“Scully, what? What’s wrong?” His grip tightened and he started trying to rise.
“It’s okay, I’m fine.”
“Don’t start that already Scully. You looked like you were in pain.”
“No. No, Mulder, not in pain. I was just surprised.”
“Surprised? By what?” He glanced around the room. “Scully, please.”
She met his eyes. He needed to know. It wasn’t exactly like she could keep this a secret from him. “Please.”
After a moment she nodded. “Okay.” She tried to smile and nearly succeeded. His eyes darkened with worry.
She put her hand on the bed to help herself to her feet. The gesture wasn’t lost on him and his worry increased. Had she been injured somehow, looking for him, while she had no one to cover her back? Then she rose to her feet and his eyes widened, unable to absorb the sight in front of him.
“Mulder?” She asked tentatively.
He swallowed, trying to work some moisture back into his mouth.
There was no denying what was happening in her small body. She was pregnant, enceinte, expectant . . . with child, with child, with child. But it hadn’t worked! None of the ova had been viable. One must have been, and she’d found . . . oh god! With child . . . whose? Whose child!
She saw the panic in his face, could see the retreat from her in his eyes, his posture. “Mulder - “
“Ah, Mr. Mulder.”
She jumped slightly, she hadn’t heard the door open. The older man approached the bed, his hand out. “I’m Dr. West. I need to do a quick exam, okay?”
“Dr. West,” she spoke up, “Now is not - “
“Ms. Scully, we’ve been extremely lenient regarding the visitation policy. You’ve had a great deal of time with Mr. Mulder. We need to do this now.”
She stood frozen, could the man not see what a bad, what a horrible time this was? The nurse approached her and began moving her toward the door. “Mulder, I’ll be right outside, okay?”
He didn’t answer her. He was scrambling mentally to get back to that tiny safe place in his mind, the place ‘they’ hadn’t been able to penetrate. But it wasn’t safe anymore - she wasn’t there waiting for him.
“Mr. Mulder, your blood pressure is slightly elevated.” But he had tuned the man out, hearing the voice of another man.
“Dana? Dana, are you okay? What’s wrong?”
He realized someone else was in the room, but kept his eyes closed, his hands under the sheet where no one could touch him.
“Mulder? You awake?”
Skinner. He relaxed slightly and opened his eyes.
“Hey man, it’s good to see you.” Skinner’s voice was tight and he looked choked up somehow. Mulder retreated into his familiar mode of protection.
“You’re not going to kiss me are you?”
Skinner relaxed a little more and smiled, “No, you’re still not my type, Mulder.”
“That’s a relief.”
Skinner’s smile faded a little, “Mulder, I . . . I’m sorry. When I lost you that night - “
“You didn’t lose me. There was nothing you could have done.”
“I saw the ship, Mulder. I saw it with my own eyes. I can’t deny it.”
Mulder just watched him, waiting.
Skinner managed a small grin, “Things have changed around here. You converted me, I believe in all things Mulder now.” He took a seat and drew the chair closer to the bed. “Look, I don’t know what you’ve been told, but when we found you . . . Mulder, no science could find any sign of life. Scully refused to let anyone do an autopsy. It was, “ he swallowed, “It was obvious you’d been through enough.”
Mulder said nothing, just listening.
“We buried you Mulder.” He saw the man’s eyes widen then. “In Raleigh, next to, next to your mother.”
“Must have been a small funeral.”
“You’d be surprised.” Skinner managed a small smile that slipped away almost immediately. “Then things happened, Mulder. I . . . I had you exhumed.”
Skinner nodded, “You, you weren’t quite as dead as we’d thought.”
Mulder opened his mouth for another quip, but Skinner kept talking. “I don’t know what happened to you, Mulder. I can’t imagine, but I was here, I saw what Scully went through. Whatever happened to you, what happened to her was worse. I don’t mean . . . I don’t think any man could really know, really understand what she was going through, but . . . Mulder, you’ve got to let her back in. As much as you need her, I think she needs you more. I honestly don’t know how much more she can take.”
He saw the concern blossom in the man’s eyes and relaxed. At least one universal constant still held, Mulder loved Scully. They’d get through this, it might not be easy, but when had anything these two had to face ever been easy? Maybe it was going to be okay.
Skinner didn’t stay long; he didn’t want to wear Mulder out and he could tell the man wanted some time to think.
That’s what he did, trying to reconcile, hell, recognize the emotions in him. He was still reeling from the changes his time away had brought. She’d been through a lot, she had grieved him.
His thoughts were shattered at the sound of voices outside of his door.
“Dana, you need to go home for a while. You need to rest, really rest. I’m concerned about you. He’s stable. You should look after yourself now.”
“John, I know you’re concerned. I appreciate it, but I can’t leave. He’s not okay, maybe physically, but he’s . . . I can’t leave.”
John? Who the hell . . . or did he already know. Was John the . . . Oh god. He turned away from the door, pretending to be asleep. He heard the door open and kept still.
“See, he’s asleep. That’s what you need to be doing. And I don’t mean in that chair.”
He heard her sigh and then the door softly snicked shut. He kept his eyes closed, the pain too much to face right now. Skinner might be right, she had been through a lot, but she hadn’t grieved, at least not for long.
When the doctor came by that evening, Mulder was waiting. Almost before he was in the room, Mulder sat up and swung his legs out of the bed.
“Whoa, Mr. Mulder. Let’s take it a little easy.”
“I’m healing. I’ve been up several times already. I want to go home.”
The doctor blinked, “Go home? Mr. Mulder, you can’t be serious.”
“Perfectly serious. I might need some physical therapy or some kind of treatment, but not anything that I need to stay here for. I can come in or, look I need some time alone. I need to process what’s happened.”
“We have therapists here that can - “
“No. I don’t need a therapist, I just want some time. You and I both know that I don’t need your permission. I’m an adult.”
“You might be an adult, but you’re not the best judge of your own condition right now. We still don’t even understand why you’re alive.”
“And I don’t intend to hang around and be your science project.”
“That’s not - “ They both stopped when the door opened.
Her smile at the sight of him dimmed when it went unanswered. He turned back to the doctor. “Why don’t you get my paperwork ready.”
“Paperwork? What’s going on?” Scully looked at the doctor.
“Mr. Mulder has decided he wants to leave the hospital.”
“Mulder, no. You need - “
“I need some time. This is not up for debate.”
She pulled back slightly at the look in his eyes, and he noted her hand come up to caress her stomach.
“Let, uh, Mulder let me talk to the doctor.”
He looked away, but didn’t stop her. He was going home, if she could smooth the way, why not. They stepped out into the hall. He rose from the bed and began getting dressed. Regardless of their decisions, he was leaving. He couldn’t stay here.
If she was a little surprised that he was dressed when she came back into the room, she didn’t mention it. “I talked to your doctor. He’s not happy, but as long as I keep an eye on you - “
He opened his mouth to protest that, but her eyebrow stopped him. He looked away but kept quiet.
She unlocked the door to his apartment, then stepped back and let him enter. She hadn’t even let him carry his bag, but it wasn’t heavy. He hadn’t had that much at the hospital. He looked around the place as she watched him. She gave him a tentative smile. “What?”
“The place looks different.”
“It’s clean.” She quipped.
“Yeah, that would do it.” He tried to smile back, but failed, stepping over to the aquarium. “I’m missing a Molly.”
Scully nodded, “She wasn’t as lucky as you. Mulder, I - “
She stopped, waiting.
He took a deep breath, “I appreciate the ride home, but I . . . look, I . . . Scully, you should head home. You’re probably tired.”
“Mulder - “
“Look, I’m . . . I’m happy for you. I know how much this,” his hand moved indicating her body, “means to you. You should look after yourself. I’m fine.”
Her mouth had dropped open, “means to me . . . “ But he was moving toward the door again. He opened it and waited for her. The dismissal couldn’t have been more blatant. She started to speak, but the baby moved inside of her and she paused. He wouldn’t meet her eyes.
She looked away herself. He was right about one thing, she was tired, tired and emotional. This wasn’t the time for either of them to get into a confrontation. She nodded, trying to hide her tears.
“I’ll call you tomorrow. See if you need anything.”
“Yeah, okay.” God this was hard. Why did he need her so much? She wasn’t his anymore. He’d get past this, hell, he’d gotten past death. She moved slowly to the door. She hesitated but he still wouldn’t meet her eyes. She straightened her spine and let herself out of the apartment. He closed the door behind her. She didn’t allow herself to stop, moving to the elevator and on to the car without looking back.
He stayed away from the window until he was sure she was gone. He moved around the apartment touching things, rearranging others. It was clean, almost sterile. He moved into the bedroom. There was an indention in the pillow, the only thing out of place. He moved closer and picked up her scent on the pillowcase. He sank onto the side of the bed. Why? Why had she laid on his bed? God, why everything?
He buried his face in his hands. Why?
She’d taken her shower, getting ready for bed. She missed her baths, but getting in and out of the tub alone was becoming difficult. She shook her head, she knew she was avoiding thinking about him. He was so confused and . . . and distant.
Sleep seemed a long way away, but she needed it. At least that’s what everyone kept saying. Why didn’t anyone understand that what she needed was Mulder. Her expectations had been shattered. Tears came to her eyes again and instead of fighting it off this time, she sank onto the couch and gave in to it.
He had changed. He had been through too much and his mind . . . Why wouldn’t he let her . . .
The knock on the door startled her. Who would come over here this time of night? She rose and made her way to the door, and looked through the peephole. She jerked the door open. “Mulder? How did you get here?”
“A cab. May I come in?”
“Of course.” She moved aside and followed him to the couch. “Are you . . .” No, he wasn’t okay, but at least he’d come to her.
He sank onto the couch and she lowered herself more slowly beside him. She waited but he sat staring at the coffee table.
“Would you like some tea?”
“Uh, sure.” He seemed relieved for the diversion.
He watched as she rose from the couch, but didn’t reach out to help her. He couldn’t make himself touch her, as much as he wanted to.
When she returned, he took the glass from her, brushing her fingers with his own. He jerked away, spilling a few drops of tea on his jeans. He put the glass on the table without tasting it.
“Mulder - “
“When are you due?”
That wasn’t a question she’d anticipated. She sank back down onto the couch. “May 7.”
He blinked at that, his mind racing. “You, you were pregnant before I left.”
“Well of course I . . . “ Her eyes widened. “You . . .” Anger suddenly took over as her predominate emotion and without conscious thought her palm connected with his injured face. Then she was up as fast as she could get her body to move from the couch and hurried to her bedroom.
He sat there, unable to move. Of course? But . . . a new fear took over him and he forced himself to his feet. He approached her room and pushed on the door with a trembling hand.
She was seated on the side of the bed, her face buried in her hands. She didn’t look up when the mattress dipped with his weight beside her.
“Please talk to me.”
“Now you want to talk?” She looked up and he flinched from the look in her eye.
“I’m drowning here, Scully. Please don’t throw me out.” He reached for her, but she pulled away. He nearly groaned at her actions. She walked away from him again, leaving him sitting on her bed. Again he followed her, this time into the kitchen.
“Scully, please. I know I don’t deserve it, but - “
She turned then, causing him to back up suddenly. “How could you? How could you even think it?”
His expression was desperate, “The in-vitro didn’t work.”
“No. It didn’t.”
“Then how . . . “
Again her eyebrow rose.
“You and I, we did this?”
“This? Yes, we did this.” The anger was plain in her voice.
His face paled and she wondered for an instant if he was going down. She took his arm then and led him back to the couch. He sank down and watched her sit beside him.
She didn’t speak, he wanted to talk, fine. She didn’t have to help, not this time. She waited.
“Scu . . . Scully.” He swallowed, trying to get some moisture back into his mouth. “I, I don’t know what to say. Everything is . . . Scully, who is John?”
“John?” That caught her off guard.
“He was with you at the hospital. He was looking after you, he was there just about every time I woke up.”
“That was John Doggett. He’s an agent. He, he was assigned to find you, then after . . . he was assigned to the X-Files.”
“He’s your partner?”
After a slight hesitation she nodded. He winced at that.
“We work together Mulder. That’s all.”
“It sounded like . . . he cares about you.”
“He got stuck with a grieving, pregnant, hormonal partner. He had to learn to adapt.”
At the word pregnant, his eyes had gone to her abdomen and she saw his hand move toward her involuntarily before he could stop himself. She melted at the gesture, her anger evaporating.
“You can touch me. He is half yours.”
She was startled at his gasping sob and took his hand, placing it on her stomach where she had last felt the baby move. They were both stunned when the baby surged into his hand.
“He, he’s never done that before.” She finally said. “He knows you.”
She was stunned into silence again by the longing in his eyes. They sat that way for several minutes, before he even tried to speak. “You, uh, you know it’s a boy?”
She shook her head. “I didn’t want to know. I just don’t want to call the baby an ‘it’.”
He nodded then. “Scully, I . . . can you forgive me?”
Her shoulders slumped and he held his breath. “I can’t know what you’ve been through. I don’t remember what happened to me but you do, don’t you?”
He looked down at his hands, but nodded.
“Oh Mulder.” She reached for him. He hadn’t wanted her to touch him since he learned about the baby, but that reticence was gone now. He came willingly into her arms, holding her tightly against him as well. Finally he allowed himself to let go, sobbing in her arms.
She held him as he gave himself up to his emotions, holding and rocking him. Neither knew how long it was before he began to get some control again. Finally he moved to sit upright and started to apologize.
“Mulder, relax. Just sit here with me.” He nodded, pulling her against him this time. She snuggled in and took a shaky breath.
He woke as she stirred against him and he realized they had fallen asleep on her couch, both exhausted from the emotional release.
“Scully,” he whispered in her ear. “You should go to bed. I’ll see you in the morning.”
She stretched, rubbing her back.
“Are you okay?” He asked quickly, guilt coloring his voice as he watched her.
“I’m good Mulder. I don’t remember the last time I slept so well.”
He nodded, not quite believing her, but not wanting to pursue it. He rose and lifted her to her feet, holding her until she was steady.
“Go on to bed Scully. I’ll lock up when I - ”
“I don’t want you to leave.”
He looked at her a long moment. “I could sleep here on the - “
“I want you in my bed.”
The words sank into his psyche, healing him in a way he hadn’t realized was damaged. His eyes grew moist again. She took his hand and tugged him toward the bedroom.
He stood watching as she sat on the edge of the bed. Finally she spoke, “I don’t think you can sleep in all that.”
He nodded and toed off his shoes, then undid the button at his waistband. He met her eyes which smiled slightly, so he lowered his jeans and stepped out of them, pulling off his socks at the same time. Then he moved to his side of the bed and pulled down the covers. He reclined a little stiffly and she did smile then.
She reached over and plucked at his t-shirt. “When did you get so modest?”
“My body’s . . . changed.”
“And mine hasn’t?” She smiled at him then.
He answered her smile, “Okay, but you’ve gotten even more beautiful, I’ve . . . not.”
“I disagree. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more beautiful than you returned to me.”
He blinked at that, but took the hem of his t-shirt and slipped it over his head. Her hand went immediately to his chest, her finger lightly caressing the scar there. “It’s healing.”
“It was a lot angrier looking a few days ago.” She touched his face then, “Mulder, I’m not asking you . . . I just need to hold you, be held by you tonight.”
He pulled her down beside him then, “Good. I’m not sure how good I’d be just now.”
Her chuckle seemed to have a waver to it that time. He moved closer to her, holding her gently to him. “Sleep Scully. I’m right here.”
“You’re the one recovering.”
“I’ll recover just fine in your arms. You’re supposed to be sleeping for two.” He turned her then, so that he could spoon around her, letting his hand caress her stomach. The baby again rose to meet his hand.
“He knows your touch, his father.”
He closed his eyes then, and swallowed hard, but didn’t attempt to speak.
In spite of her desire to just be in his arms, she couldn’t stay awake, drifting off in the comfort of him. It took him longer. In the back of his mind was still the fear that this was a dream they had put in his head. If it was, he didn’t want to wake, ever.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.