He didnít want to risk waking her, so he didnít turn on the television or music. He wandered around the apartment, touching things, familiarizing himself again with the only place he viewed as a home. When he heard her stir he poured her a cup of coffee and tapped on the bedroom door.
"Come in." She sat up and adjusted the pillows behind her, then accepted the cup he offered. He started to pull a chair closer to the bed, but she patted the mattress for him to sit beside her.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. Is Mom here?"
"No, she needed to run some errands. She told me . . . she told me to look after you." He managed a sad smile. "I guess she doesnít know . . ."
"She knows we had a falling out." He wanted to laugh at that, such an understatement should have been funny.
"She obviously didnít tell you what was wrong with me."
"No. She said we had to Ďwork things outí. I know thatís not
possible, but Iím here. Scully, what is wrong, if itís not the cancer, why did
you take a leave?"
She sighed, this was inevitable but still, "I went into pre-term labor. They were able to stop it, but my doctor put me on full bed rest for now."
"Pre-term . . . " For the first time he allowed himself to look at her, really look at her. His eyes widened and he paled slightly. "Is it . . .?"
She was watching him closely, not entirely sure what she wanted to see. "Itís yours. Thereís no other possibility."
"But how . . . " He watched her eyebrow rise though she made no comment. "I mean, I thought you were . . . oh hell."
"I know." She finally gave in and took him off the hook. "It wasnít something I expected. ĎMy theoryí is the chip in my neck, when it sent my cancer into remission it also Ďcuredí other things. But itís not something that I would have thought to check."
"And you kept it, even after . . . "
"Of course I kept it. There was never a decision to be made in that area."
Now his eyes were locked on hers. "Why didnít you tell me?"
She looked away from him then, adjusting the sheets, nervous for the first time. "I was in denial for a long time. When I finally . . . I didnít know how youíd feel, I didnít want you to think I was after child support or . . . or anything."
"Oh god, Scully. Did you really not know how Iíd feel? Did you really think I wouldnít want to be part of this, even though I know I donít deserve to be."
Her shoulders relaxed, "Mulder, what happened? What happened that night?"
He rose then, pacing as he thought. "I have tried to figure that out for months. The drinking was no excuse, but it was a catalyst. Seeing Jessie touching you, kissing you, so casually as though heíd always done it. As though you belonged to him. Then you came over to my apartment and I could smell his aftershave on you. I went crazy Ė years of frustration just came . . . this isnít an excuse Scully, itís not even a good explanation, itís just . . ." He glanced heavenward, there was nothing he could say to fix this.
"Itís just the truth." He looked over at her then and nodded. "Mulder thatís just Jessieís way. Iíve known him for years, but he would probably have put his arm around you if Iíd had the chance to introduce you. By the way, heís gay."
"Oh god." He slumped down on the foot of her bed. "Youíre not serious?" She nodded, with something very close to a smile in her eyes. As he watched her she shifted, and brought her hand to her stomach. "Are you okay?"
"What? Oh, yeah, sheís just kicking." She was unprepared for the look of naked hunger in his eyes at that remark. "You . . . you want to feel?"
"May I?" His voice was shaking but he didnít care.
"Sheís half yours." He moved closer and held out his hand tentatively. She took it and placed it on her stomach. "Feel that?"
Her eyes teared at the look of awe on his face. "She?"
"Yeah, weíre having a girl. Hope thatís okay with you." He looked up startled and saw that she was smiling now.
"You donít . . . you donít hate me?" He was floundering here; he certainly hadnít expected any degree of acceptance. Heíd come because he couldnít stay away, not when he knew that she was ill, but heíd expected to be met by a gun at the very least.
"No, I donít hate you. It wasnít exactly my dream encounter, you hurt me and worse, you scared me. But you also gave me something I never . . . something Iíd given up on wanting." She touched the gray hair at his temple. "Youíve punished yourself much more than anyone else could have."
"Does," he had to clear his throat, his voice was so weak he wasnít sure she could hear him even this close. "Does that mean youíll allow me to be a part of this?"
"Do you really want to be? Youíve never talked about children."
"You couldnít have them, there was no need." Her eyes widened at that. "Besides, I donít have any experience, even any model to follow for fathering. But I want to try Scully. Please."
Her face grew serious again, "Mulder, I saw a side of you I didnít know existed. After nearly eight years, and suddenly you . . . I donít know if I can . . . trust you the way I did before. I have to protect my daughter, your daughter. I have to do whatís best for her now."
"I know. I agree, but Scully I need a chance to earn your trust again."
She drew a deep breath, "I have to ask, I have to know, did you ever do anything like that before?"
He touched her hand and looked her straight in the eyes. "No Scully. Never. I would have sworn to you that I wasnít capable."
"Your other relationships - "
"You know both of my other Ďrelationshipsí. Youíve met Phoebe and Diana. They had a lot in common actually, besides me. They both excelled in deceiving me with other men. For Phoebe it was a game to see how many times she could win me back. Diana, I wasnít enough for her either. I donít know what she needed, but it was more than me." He found her hand in his. "Scully, I never had a relationship like the one I had with you. You are the only person in my life who has never betrayed me. When I saw Jessie hold you, kiss you I was back - it threw me into a nightmare. I believed you were doing what they had done and I realized . . . I knew then that I had never loved them, not like I did you." Her eyes widened and her mouth fell open. "I wanted to hurt you, because you were doing what they had done, but it was so much worse coming from you. It matters with you."
"Mulder it was a simple kiss."
"No. He was kissing you. I snapped Scully. Thatís what I canít forgive myself for Ė I should have trusted you. I should have Ė "
"Mulder, we canít change it." She gave a slight smile, "I donít want to change part of it."
"We shouldnít be doing this now. You should be resting. I promised your mother." She took a deep breath and nodded, settling down in the bed. He pulled the covers up around her and stood. He stopped at the tap on the door.
"Dana, Fox, I know Iím back earlier than I said, but I needed to . . . " She sighed. "Have you had any contractions?"
"A couple. Very mild."
"Wait, wait a minute Ė youíve had contractions since Iíve been here? Why didnít you say something?"
"Because I knew youíd freak."
"Shit, Scully, I . . . " He remembered Mrs. Scully too late, "Sorry."
"Itís okay. Dana, you should have your legs elevated. Fox, why donít we let her rest for awhile?"
"Mom, Iím doing better, really."
"I can see that." Maggie glanced over at Fox and smiled.
"Mom." Scully rolled her eyes, matchmaking, now?
"Regardless, you need to rest. Iím pulling rank." She tugged Mulder to his feet.
"Youíre not . . . are you leaving?" She couldnít quite look him in the eye.
"Not until you throw me out." He was looking her in the eye now. She nodded and he was willing to swear she actually looked relieved. The tension in his shoulders decreased visibly.
"Come on Fox." Maggie led him from the room. "Iím going to fix you some lunch, come help me."
He ate with the first real appetite heíd had in months and she let him enjoy it, not forcing any conversation. When he sat back finally and turned to her, she sat waiting for him to speak.
"Is she okay? I mean really?"
"Youíre the best medicine she could have. She looks better already Ė thereís good color in her face, she says sheís only have a couple of contractions. Her doctor was very encouraging. You didnít know about the baby when you came here, did you?"
"I donít know what she told you . . . "
"It doesnít matter, youíre here now."
"If I had known Iíd have been here sooner."
"I know that Fox." She patted his hand.
"Mulder!" He was across the room before Maggie processed the sound.
"Scully, Iím here. What . . . " Thatís when he realized she was asleep. He slowed, afraid again suddenly. Was she having a nightmare about, about what heíd done to her?
"Mul . . . " She opened her eyes and scanned the room, spotting him near the door. "I didnít dream it, you are here."
"Is that a good thing?"
She sighed, "Yes. She needs both of us now. Iím, Iím glad youíre here." He didnít attempt to speak as she reached out her hand to him. Maggie retreated when she saw the gesture. They didnít need her right now.
He was reading the paper when Mrs. Scully returned. He took her bags from her and carried them into the kitchen. They visited as they put away her purchases. He reassured her that there had been no problem while she was gone and that when he had checked on her last sheíd been peacefully asleep. Heíd barely finished his sentence when they heard her.
"Mom!" It was half cry, half moan.
"Oh no." Mrs. Scully tried to put the box her was holding on the counter and rushed from the room. Mulder caught the box before it could hit the floor. Sheíd called for her mother, but he couldnít stay away.
"Try to relax Dana, stay calm. Iíll call Linda." She met Mulder at the door. "Stay with her Fox. Iíll be right back." She didnít wait for a response, moving past him.
"Scully, Scully hold on."
"Mulder Ė "
"Iím not going anywhere."
He watched the tears overflow her eyes and took her into his arms. "I donít want to lose this baby. I thought the problem was over. Mulder, I want her so much."
"Just relax Scully. Iíll do the worrying now. Let me hold you." She continued to cry, but as he reclined beside her, let him hold her, comfort her. He placed his hand on her stomach. "Let me look after you." She closed her eyes, allowing him to soothe her.
When her mother reappeared in the doorway he looked up and shook his head, motioning for her to be quiet. She was relaxed now and hadnít had a contraction since heíd taken her in his arms. Mrs. Scully nodded and retreated a short distance to continue talking on the phone
She woke slowly, her hand automatically moving to touch her stomach. Her hand met his there. "Mulder?"
"Yeah. How are you feeling?"
She paused then, doing a mental inventory of her body. "Good. I feel pretty good." He smiled down at her. "How long did I sleep?"
He shifted to see the clock. "A little over seven hours."
"Seven? And . . . you stayed?"
"Thereís no where else I want to be, Scully."
"The contractions . . . "
"If youíve had one it was too mild for me to feel. Maybe she just wanted me here." Her chuckle was cut short as the baby moved under his hand. "I think I need to hang around." She nodded, unsure what to say. "Scully, thereís something else. I know youíre going to think Iím crazy, but just listen Ė just for a minute." He looked so earnest, and . . . and more than a little frightened. "I want to marry you. Wait, Iím not . . . Iím not asking that you be a wife to me. I would never force myself on you again, but Scully, she deserves two parents. I donít want her born out of wedlock. This way sheíll be legitimate, if anything happens to me, sheíll be protected legally." He felt her tense up. "Scully?"
"Happen to you? What do you think Ė "
"Nothing. Scully, nothingís going to happen to me. Or to either of you. But I want her protected, and you. Everything of mine will be yours."
"You want to . . . to marry me?"
"Yes. Scully, lying here, holding you . . . I mean it, I expect nothing from you. You donít have to take my name; we donít have to share a room. I just want to look after you and her."
"Mulder, I . . . I donít Ė "
"I know Iím springing this on you. Now isnít a good time, but . . . Scully I need you to be thinking about it. Please."
She was quiet for so long he felt his confidence vanish. Twice he started to speak but managed to stop himself.
Finally she spoke, not turning to look at him. "Mulder, I . . . I understand what youíre trying to do, and I appreciate it."
He felt the final prop go out from under his shattered life. She couldnít even give him this. "Mulder, Iím able to support her financially. Thatís not what I . . . Mulder, she needs a father. I donít want to get married to have a meal ticket. I want to get married because I love the person. I want the person I marry to want to be with me."
What? What had she said? "You . . . you think I donít want . . . "
"Well, it doesnít sound like it. You want to support the baby, but you donít want to share my bed." She closed her eyes. Where had she gotten the courage to say that? He wasnít offering a love match. He was doing what she had feared Ė child support. He was offering child support.
"Scully," He was afraid to speak, but even more afraid not to. " Would you ever allow me to share your bed?" She turned then in his arms, startled. "Scully I said I would never force you. I never said I didnít want to share your bed."
There was another long pause as she read his face, probed his eyes. "We should . . .we should wait Ė see if Iím able to carry her."
He shook his head. "I need to be here for that. Together, I think together she has a better chance."
A single tear escaped her eye. "Iím afraid." It was a breath, barely audible.
"I said I wouldnít push you, but here I am, doing it again." He shook his head, and started to move away, give her space.
"Donít." He stopped, watching her.
"Tell me what you want Scully. I accept whatever you say."
"I want you to stay. I need you to stay. We can . . . we can work out the rest."
He nodded and gathered her against him, breathing easier than any time in months. She was giving him a chance. It was more than he deserved. He wouldnít risk messing this up again. Sheíd allowed him this close Ė he would earn more. He had to Ė this woman and the child she carried were the most important things in the world. He knew it and heíd admitted it to her. She was right; they could work out the rest.
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