He wandered into the bedroom to see her struggling with her skirt. "What are you doing?"
"I canít get my damn skirt buttoned."
"Scully, of course you canít. Stop that! Youíre going to hurt yourself."
"Iím huge! How am I supposed to go to work? I want to keep this quiet Ė "
"I think you look beautiful and you are not huge, youíre barely showing, but you are beginning to show. This isnít the kind of thing you can keep secret forever you know." His hand trailed down her arm as she sank onto the bed. How could he make her understand what he was seeing when he looked at her? His voice was soft, almost a caress.
She fought against the pull of it, he already had so much power over her Ė she couldnít lose herself in him. She had to be strong. "I need to talk to Skinner."
"We need to talk to Skinner. And then maybe you need to go shopping." She looked away but finally nodded.
Skinner looked up from his meal to see Mulder and Scully standing before him. He sighed and decided not to lay down his fork. "Iím off duty Agents, so Iím not going to ask what youíre doing here."
"We need to talk to you." His heart sank, it was Scully talking, he might be able to blow off Mulder, but not her.
"I was at the office all day. You couldnít talk to me there?"
"No sir. This is personal and confidential, we need to talk off the record."
"May we join you?" Mulder finally spoke and Skinner looked over at him. Whatever this was they werenít going away. He sighed again and motioned to the other side of the booth. They slid in but then seemed at a loss.
"Well?" His mood was plunging just sitting here. He truly enjoyed being alone in the evenings, eating, reading, shucking off the day. His evening was ruined now.
He noted that Mulder was looking around the room, ensuring that no one was close enough to overhear their conversation. What the hell was going on here?
"Sir, I . . . " She took a deep breath. His level of concern rose, had her cancer returned? "Iím pregnant." She spoke low, just above a whisper even with their isolation.
His eyes automatically went to her body even as his brain was processing the words. Mulder found his body tensing as this man placed her body under such scrutiny. He realized his fists were forming as the gaze continued for what seemed forever.
Finally his head turned as he looked at Mulder. "Iíd assumed you were more responsible than this."
Scully jerked forward, her mouth opened to protest when Mulderís hand closed over her arm. She looked over at him; his expression hadnít changed though his jaw was tighter. Was he not going to respond? Her expression was questioning but still he didnít speak.
After a tense moment Skinner leaned back, "What are your plans?"
Scully dragged her eyes away from Mulder. "We wanted you to be aware of the circumstances but I plan to continue my work for several more months."
"You want to continue field work? Now?" Again he looked over at Mulder. "Do I need to remind you how many times you alone have put your partner in danger? Youíre willing to continue this and put her in danger as well as an unborn child? Your unborn child Iím assuming."
"Why are you not speaking to me?" Scully spoke before Mulder could. "This is my career weíre talking about. Working with a known partner Ė "
"You wonít be working with a known partner. The Bureau Ė "
"The Bureau has no jurisdiction over this." Skinnerís eyebrow rose. "Iíve checked the regulations. There is no reason for us to be separated."
"No reason . . . "
"The regulations state that married couples cannot be partners in the field. Weíre not married." Again Skinner looked over at Mulder. This time Mulder wouldnít meet his eyes at all.
"Am I to infer that such plans are out of the question?"
"Until the Bureau updates itís antiquated regulations, yes."
"Antiquated. Okay, you two have succeeded in spoiling my dinner one more time. I think itís time you left and let me think about what youíve told me. And Iíd like to spend the rest of my evening without either one of you." He turned toward Scully as she opened her mouth. "I know, confidential. Do you mind?"
Without another word Mulder rose from the booth and stood waiting for Scully to rise. He didnít face Skinner, but took Scullyís arm and led her toward the door, his hand finding its accustomed place on her back, and out of the diner.
He didnít speak, just pulled away from the curb. After a couple of blocks she couldnít take it any more. "Well, arenít you going to say anything?"
"I think you pretty much said it all."
"What the hell does that mean? I thought we had discussed this."
"Actually you discussed it and I listened." He hadnít turned to look at her, keeping his eyes carefully on the road. She bit her lip, this wasnít the place. She wasnít sure she could make him understand anyway.
When he pulled up in front of her apartment she didnít open the door. "Are you coming in?"
"Maybe we ought to Ė "
"Iím not getting out if youíre not. We need to . . . nevermind, maybe we donít have anything to talk about after all." She pushed the door open and was out hurrying toward her building. He caught up with her before she made it to the steps.
"Scully, Iím sorry." He had hold of her arm. "We do need to talk and you need to listen to me for a change." She was stiff under his hand but she didnít pull away. They entered her apartment and he led her to her couch.
"Scully, I need to know why it would be so horrible for you to let the world know weíre together. To let everyone know that I want to acknowledge this baby, hell, Iím anxious to acknowledge him. Iím not trying to take you away from your work; Iím not even asking you to take my name. I donít expect you to stay home and cook and clean. Youíre probably the best agent at the Bureau, without me youíd be heading the VCS by now, but thatís not how it went. As for fieldwork, yes I believe you should cut back, I admit it. If that makes me a chauvinist then so be it. Scully we never thought youíd get pregnant. It wasnít a possibility, hell it wasnít even a hope. But itís happened and I think you should Ė"
"No one expects you to cut back, take it easy because your child is going to be born." He ran his hand through his hair. Why wouldnít she hear what he was saying? He wanted to shake her. He knew part of her felt the same way, but she wouldnít admit it. This was the most important thing in either of their lives Ė their love had created a new life. He took a deep breath. Sheíd throw him out if he started talking like that.
"Scully I didnít say it was fair. But I do know that if I were carrying our baby Iíd do whatever it took. Just for a while."
"You donít have a clue how hard it is for a woman to be taken seriously at the Bureau. Weíre tolerated but thatís where it ends. I have to prove myself every day. If I cut back, it just proves that I canít handle my job. Canít you see that?"
He shook his head in defeat; maybe she had a point. But why couldnít she hear him? This baby was more important than any career and he knew she felt the same. But Dana Scully wasnít going to give in and show any weakness. He could only do whatever he could to take the burden from her and hope she knew what she was doing.
They were packed now, Mulder was feeling good. Heíd been right about the guy. He grinned as Scully looked up from her suitcase. "We all ready to go?"
"Yep." She smiled back at him. She loved the way the way his mind worked. It kept the others guessing and though she usually fought him on his theories, she was proud of their work together.
"Iím not getting in any car with you for three hours until you go to the bathroom one more time." She stuck her tongue out at him but turned back to the bathroom. He did have a point.
Mulder grinned as he closed the suitcases and latched them, then lifted them off the bed and placed them at the door. He turned as he heard the door open and looked up at her.
She looked terrible, pale; he was at her side in two steps. "Scully? Scully, whatís wrong?"
"I, uh, there was, there was some bleeding."
"Yes, I Ė "
"Come here, lie down. Do you want . . . should I take you to a hospital?"
She let him lead her to the bed, lifting her legs and placing a pillow under them. "Maybe I ought to call Linda." He nodded and pulled his own cell phone out of his pocket.
She was put through immediately. Mulder paced as he listened to her side of the conversation. "No, not heavy. No, no cramping. Yes, yes I understand. No, Iíll give you call. Thanks." She disconnected the phone and handed it back to him.
"She, uh, she said this kind of thing happens periodically. Itís a good sign that Iím not cramping. She wants to do an ultrasound when we get home. Iíll lay here for a while, and then we can get started."
"No. I donít think itís a good idea for you to take a three-hour car ride, not now. Weíll stay here tonight and see how you feel tomorrow."
"You were right, I shouldnít be out here doing field work." Her voice sounded foreign, toneless.
"Stop it. Youíve done nothing wrong, nothing that would cause this or hurt the baby. Tell me what I can do."
"You could hold me."
He was already shucking his coat and shoes. "Itís what I do best."
He held her, smoothing her hair, kissing her forehead.
"Iím scared." She whispered into his chest.
"I know." He tucked her under his chin, "but we donít have anything to be scared of yet. I want you to get some rest. Iím right here." He placed his hand on her swelling belly. "Just relax."
"You were right. What are a few months off the job if it means the baby is okay? Iíll take it easy, I promise and . . . and if the offer is still open and I donít lose the baby, I will marry you."
"That, uh, that implies that I only asked you to marry me because you were pregnant. I only used that as an excuse to screw up the courage. I want to marry you regardless."
"Thatís easy. Iím in love with you. Always have been. Relax, I have you, I have you both. Go on to sleep for a while."
She cuddled in next to him, letting his arms cradle her against his chest. He thought she was asleep when she suddenly tensed in his arms.
"Oh my god." Her hand went to her stomach.
His heart sank, but he managed to keep his voice steady. "Should I call Linda back?"
"It, it moved. I felt the baby move. He moved."
"He?" It was the first time sheíd used that pronoun. It had been a joke until now. His throat closed up, his emotions too much for him. This was so far outside his experience he had no reference points to even grasp at. His hand jointed hers, the movement was too faint for him to feel but he could imagine it. Heíd feel it soon for himself. And sheíd agreed to marry him. He buried his face in her hair, almost afraid to believe this was happening to him, to them.
"You ready for this?" She nodded without looking at him, just reaching in his direction for his hand. He took it and squeezed. "Iím right here."
She let go of his hand and opened the car door. He had his hand on her back and he could feel her reluctance. Mrs. Scully had been cool towards them since finding out about the pregnancy. No, to be honest sheíd turned cool when she found out they werenít getting married, the baby had thrilled her.
She answered the door and smiled at them, but the warmth wasnít quite there. Not like before. "Dana, Fox."
"May we come in?"
"Of course you can. Youíre always going to be welcome here." She stepped aside.
Mulder waited, this was her mother. He hated this distance between them and being responsible for it only made it worse.
"Donít you want to sit down?" Mrs. Scully motioned toward the living room.
"We, uh, we came to see if you were busy tomorrow afternoon."
"I donít think so. Do you need me to do something for you?"
"Well, yes." Scully glanced over at Mulder as though for courage and Mrs. Scully melted a little. They did love each other and they were both thrilled about the baby. Why were they being so stubborn about getting married?
Mulder spoke up when Scully continued to hesitate. "Weíd like you to be a witness for us. Weíre getting married."
Her eyes widened and the smile grew on her face. "Youíre serious? Youíre getting married tomorrow?" Scully nodded, not sure her voice would be steady. "Youíve talked to Father McQue?"
"Well, no. Mrs. Scully, weíre going to the courthouse. I hope Ė "
"Nevermind. Thatís not important. The fact that youíve decided to get married is enough. I guess itís too quick to invite your brothers. Donít look so relieved Fox." He couldnít help but chuckle. He could already feel the atmosphere warming up.
"What are you planning to wear?"
Scully gaped at her mother. Wear? She really hadnít thought about it, whatever would go around her. "I hadnít, I donít know. A suit I suppose."
"Oh Dana, no. This is one of the most important days of your life. You have to have something very special to wear. Why donít you and I do a little shopping right now."
"Mom, thereís no Ė "
"I donít have to pay for a big wedding, this is the least I can do. Please Dana, let me do this."
Scully turned helplessly to Mulder, only to find him grinning at her and obviously no help at all. She closed her eyes and sighed.
"Well, I guess you ladies donít need me this evening." He rose from the couch.
"Just donít overdo it." He grinned down at her.
"I wonít let her wear herself out, Fox. Trust me, Iíll bring her home safe and sound."
Scullyís look of exasperation followed him to the door. Mrs. Scully walked him out. "Iím very happy Fox. Iím so glad you asked her."
He turned to look at her; did she honestly not realize heíd been after her to marry him for months? She was watching his face, he must be revealing too much. It was better that she think the holdup was him, not her. "Yeah. I should have done it years ago."
"Keep an eye on her Mrs. Scully. She wonít admit sheís tired."
"You and I need to talk sometime Fox." She put her hand on his arm as he opened the door. He shrugged, not committing to such a conversation. She rose onto her toes and kissed his cheek. "Iím so glad she has you in her life Fox. So very glad."
His eyes lit up like a Christmas tree and she saw that his step was lighter walking to his car.
When Scully returned to her apartment that evening he was watching TV in the living room. "You owe me big, Mulder."
"Do I get to see the dress?" She had laid the bag over the couch.
"No, not until tomorrow. Orders from Mom. I know you wonít go against her wishes now that the two of you are so buddy-buddy."
"Now Scully, think about it. We cheated her out of a big formal wedding and Father McQue."
"Cheated her!" She turned back to him ready to fight and saw the grin. "I agreed to marry you? What was I thinking?"
He was up then, looming over her. "What were you thinking?" One hand was cupping her breast, the other pulling her close, his lips nipping at hers.
"No fair. You know my hormones are overcharged." She pressed herself against him, her annoyance disappearing rapidly.
"What was your excuse for craving my body previously?"
"Besides the fact I was tired of just watching you walk away from me for pleasure?"
"Why Agent Scully, did you check me out?"
"Like I would admit something like that and increase your already over-inflated ego."
"A little respect, woman." He had her in his arms now and was headed toward the bedroom where they both proved their Ďrespectí for each other.
He held her as she came back to herself, "Am I forgiven for abandoning you to your mother?"
"Not yet, but youíve made a good start. Will the guys be there tomorrow?"
"Yeah, but they donít know why. You really not going to let me see the dress?"
"Go to sleep Mulder."
They hadnít been out in several weeks and they both agreed, finally, on a movie, so they had an early dinner and saw a show. When it was over, after one attempt on her own, she held out her hand to be assisted to her feet. He grinned and helped her up. Her eyes widened as the baby protested. Mulder put his hand on her.
"He doesnít like me to sit for so long."
"Obviously not, doesnít that hurt?"
"Of course it does, but itís a good hurt. I need to go to the ladiesí room."
"Big shocker." She swatted him and went on. He waited outside and took her arm when she emerged. He noticed her wince again.
"He still pitching a fit?"
"Um hum." She often spoke in monosyllables when he was this active.
"Look, you wait here. Iíll bring the car around."
"Iím okay, Mulder."
He leaned down and kissed her forehead. "If I didnít think so, do you think Iíd leave you to get the car?" She smiled and shook her head.
He was barely gone when the man approached her. "Dana Mulder?"
"Youíre Kurt, Kurt Crawford." Her entire body was on alert, the babyís motions subsided with the flood of adrenaline.
"I answer to that."
"What do you want?" She stepped back from him, her hand automatically going to her stomach. His hands went out from his side.
"Iím not here to hurt you. You need to know theyíre watching you."
"I think you already know."
"Iím not in the X-Files anymore, and the staff was expanded. Why bother us now?"
"You conceived a child they thought would never be. Theyíre not happy."
"My baby? Is anything. . . ?"
"Iím sure heís fine. Youíve had excellent care."
"The child has reached viability. Our suggestion is not to return to your apartment." He handed her an envelope. "This is cash and a key to an untraceable car parked in J54 at Dulles long-term parking. You need to disappear."
"You canít be serious." She stared at the redheaded man incredulously.
"I assure you we are. With that money you shouldnít need to use any credit or ATM cards."
"Why are you . . .?
"Heís our little brother, Dana. Please donít let them have him."
Before she could respond, he turned and disappeared into the shadows. She took a couple of steps to follow, but she was in no shape to go after him. She stood there, her mind trying to process everything sheíd heard. She was unaware that Mulder had driven up until he got out of the car and took her arm. She started violently.
"Scully! Whatís wrong? Are you okay?" Sheíd been fine when he left. He scanned the sidewalk, nothing that should upset her.
"Get in the car, Mulder. Come on." He helped her in, waved at the guy honking at his obstruction of traffic and pulled out.
She shook her head and reached for a pad of paper. She wrote Ďdrive to Dullesí, but said, "Iím not ready to go home yet, Mulder. Could we drive around for a while? I havenít been out for just a drive in ages."
"Sure. Anywhere in particular?" She was watching the rear view mirror, so he began to check as well for a tail. She was really making him paranoid, and he was out of practice.
"I saw a house for sale, I thought we could drive by. Even in the dark we can check out the neighborhood." She reeled off an address and kept watching. They both continued the inane conversation until Mulder pulled into the long term parking at Dulles. When he stopped the car, she was out of it so fast she stumbled.
"Jesus, Scully! Whatís going on? You need to calm down." He held her arm firmly.
She rapidly brought him up to date on the conversation sheíd had with the Kurt Crawford clone, handing him the money and the key.
"Scully, you canít be serious. We canít just take off. It could be a hoax, why would you believe him?" But he found himself searching the parking lot to make sure no one was around that could hear them.
"Are you willing to take that chance?" She nearly kept her voice from shaking.
"Scully, you are seven months pregnant. No self-respecting airline would even let you board a plane. Itís not a good time to go underground."
"But heís right, the baby can live without me. It would be the right time." She was trembling now.
"First thing, youíre going to calm down. Look, weíll use their car and go off for a day or so. Howís that? We can check into some motel and if nothing has happened, we can just explain it as a quick vacation before he comes."
She nodded, too close to tears for words. He held her close trying to calm her, and when she was more composed turned her toward the aisle where the car should be parked. It was there and the key fit. It was a completely nondescript family car, mid-size and navy. From where they stood, they could see at least three others just like it.
"I want you to lie down in the back."
"No, Mulder. Iím too keyed up."
"Thatís why I want you to lie down. Do you want me to call Linda?"
"No! Mulder, please, Iím fine. Letís just get out of here."
"I donít even know where to go."
"Head west. Weíll find a motel on the highway and stop later." She opened the front passenger door.
"Not too much later. I want you to rest."
She did actually doze off after a while, for which he was grateful. He kept playing what she had told him over in his head. His son, they wanted his son. He couldnít go through another Samantha, not and keep even a semblance of sanity. She was right, better to treat this as fact and regroup later.
When he crossed into Pennsylvania he picked the first Holiday Inn he came to. It would go perfectly with the car and since she was asleep, no one would see her at the desk for identification. When he had parked in front of their room, he opened her door and woke her. She looked so peaceful; he wasnít about to let anything happen to her, or the baby.
"Scully?" He woke her gently. "Wake up, Sweetheart. Iíve got us a room."
"Mulder, I didnít mean to fall asleep. We werenít followed?"
"No, Iíve kept a close watch. Let me help you." He had to hold her until she could steady herself. He was beginning to think the baby was going to be as big as she was. Not a comforting thought. He sat her on the bed and removed her shoes.
"Mulder, Iím not an invalid." She was only slightly annoyed, she could tell how worried he was.
"Just go back to sleep. Weíre okay here."
"I canít believe I donít even have a toothbrush."
"Weíll get what we need tomorrow. You have to rest now. Do you want anything?"
"You beside me."
"No problem. Scully, donít worry. Please. Let me handle all the worrying for now." He pulled her into his arms and watched her sink back into sleep.