Protector (PG-13)


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Mulder stood outside the door waiting.  He could use his key, probably should have, but he’d wait.  Now he could hear her footsteps.  They were slower now, heavier with the weight of the child in her body.  That was why he was here.

 

The door opened and she looked up at him, smiling but slightly confused.  “Mulder?”  She was already in her robe and barefoot.  He forcibly turned from the obvious quip.

 

“Hi, hope you don’t mind.”

 

“No, of course not.  Is everything okay?”  She stepped back allowing him entry.

 

“Yeah, it’s good.”  He watched her move slowly to the couch, then closed the door behind him.  “Can I get you anything?”

 

Her brow furrowed.  “No, I’m fine.  Can I get you anything?”

 

He chuckled.  “I’ll get myself some water.”

 

She didn’t comment, just watching him.  She was obviously curious now and he knew he was stalling.  He took his time, filling the glass with ice, then found the pitcher of iced tea.  Smiling he poured himself a drink.  He heard her rise from the couch.  “Scully?”

 

“Bathroom.  I’ll be right back.”

 

He nodded to himself, but kept quiet.  When he heard the bathroom door close he hurried back to the front door and quietly opened it.   He grabbed up the bag he had left just outside the door and brought it inside, putting it behind the couch.

 

He was seated on the couch when she returned.   He watched her move toward him.  He knew he had been gone while her body changed but it was still too sudden for him.  He wasn’t used to this look, this soft roundness, and it fascinated him.  He said once that he’d never thought of her as a mother.  That could no longer be said.  The thought was with him all of the time; he just couldn’t talk about it.

 

She lowered herself carefully, sitting beside him.  “So, not that you’re not welcome, but what are you doing here?”

 

“Yeah, about that . . . “

 

“Mulder.”

 

He glanced down at his shoes, then took another sip of his tea.  She didn’t know whether to be amused or annoyed.

 

“Look,” he said finally, “I know you’re a capable woman - “

 

“Mulder?” her voice was a little harder now.

 

“I’m not comfortable with you being here alone.  Come on, Scully.  You could use some help.”

 

“You want to do my housework?” she asked dryly.

 

He grinned then.  “You think I could meet your standards?”

 

“Frankly, no.  Mulder, I appreciate - “

 

“Please.  I really want to be - “

 

“I’m fine.  You’re not worried about my laundry.  Mulder, I have good neighbors, and I’m still armed.”

 

“That’s not . . . “

 

“What’s this really about?”

 

“It’s a . . . it’s just a feeling, but I, I feel like I . . . Scully, I could sleep on the couch here.  I won’t be in your way.”

 

Her mouth had dropped open at those words.  “You want to move in?”

 

“Is it that distasteful?”

 

“No, no Mulder, I’m sorry.  I’m just caught off guard.”

 

“You let me go to class with you.”

 

Her face colored slightly.  “Yes, I did.  I know you’re not comfortable - “

 

“Comfortable?”

 

“Mulder, you haven’t wanted to talk about, about the baby since you got back.  I’ve accepted that.”

 

“No, Scully, that’s not . . . This is your baby, your child.  I know you’re happy about this.  I want you to be happy, more than anything I want you to be happy.  When I first . . . returned, I know I was distant.  I apologize.  I’d just ‘returned from the dead’.  I wasn’t at the top of my game.”  His smile was pained, but he forced himself to meet her eyes.

 

“But you still don’t want to talk about the baby.”

 

She sighed as she watched him try to hide the wince and she sighed.

 

“Mulder, I appreciate the offer.  Really I do, but it’s not necessary.”  She rose again, but he didn’t.  She waited.

 

He looked around, as though searching for escape, then finally looked up, facing her.  “Okay, let’s talk about the baby.”

 

“Mulder, you don’t - “

 

“Did you ask a friend again, or did you use a sperm bank?  Okay, I admit I looked for a guy, a relationship, but I haven’t seen - “

 

“You’re not my friend, Mulder.”

 

He blinked, caught off guard by her words.  They’d knocked the breath out of him.

 

She stopped, distressed at the look on his face.  “Mulder, you are so much more than a ‘friend’ to me.  There is no other man.  There hasn’t been since I met you.  And I decided a long time ago I didn’t want to use a sperm bank.”

 

“Then, then how . . . “

 

“There was a night . . . “

 

His head came up, his eyes wide.  “That, that night, we . . . “ he swallowed hard.  “We . . . “

 

A small smile caused her eyes to lighten.

 

“Why didn’t you say something?” his voice cracked.

 

“I didn’t know when you were taken, but I tried, when you were first returned to me.  It was clear you couldn’t handle it then.  You were shell shocked, Mulder.  I saw your face when you looked at me.  The kindest way to put it is ‘stunned’.  I wanted to give you a little time.”

 

“Yeah, okay, I know that, but - “

 

“Mulder, I know you have problems with our travel forms and expense reimbursements, but I had no idea you were that mathematically challenged.”

 

“Hold it, I have counted to nine several million times since I was able to process what I was seeing.  It doesn’t compute.”

 

Her eyes widened.  “Oh Mulder,” it was merely a whisper.  “You need to see one of those wheels that doctors use to calculate due dates.  Women are actually pregnant for 10 months, not nine.  So, if you count back 10 months from my due date, then . . . “

 

He swallowed hard.  “We made this.”

 

She nodded.

 

“Does, does anyone know?”

 

“They assume,” she said dryly.  “I haven’t confirmed it to anyone.”

 

“Scully, this is my, our child.  Part of me wants to sky write it over the city, but I don’t think . . . I think you and the baby will be safer if - “

 

“If there’s still that little doubt.  I understand.”

 

“Do you?  Do you know I want to acknowledge this child?” he asked urgently.

 

She smiled then.  “I know.”

 

“I need to be here, Scully.  I won’t leave the seat up; I’ll squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom and put the cap back on every time.”

 

“You won’t leave the seat up?  Because if I fall in now, it’ll take a crane - “

 

His right hand was raised as his left marked an X over his heart.  “I swear.”

 

“I guess it would be nice to have a big, strong, FBI trained man around the place for a while.”  Her smile grew as he quickly nodded in agreement.  “Fine, go get some things and - “

 

He stepped around the couch and lifted his bag into sight.

 

Her eyebrow rose.  “Pretty sure of yourself, buddy.  What if I had said no?”

 

“I would have waited until you were asleep and snuck back in.”

 

Unexpected tears flooded her eyes, even as she chuckled.

 

“You should go on to bed, Scully.  I’ll just borrow a blanket - “

 

She took hold of his hand.  “Come on, Mulder.  We’ve shared the bed before.  Just remember, I take up more space than I did then.”

 

He opened his mouth, then closed it again.  There were no words.  He just followed her into the bedroom.

 

*****

 

He woke the next morning on his back.  He knew immediately that she lay curled next to him, her belly supported against his side, one leg hiked up and on top of his.  This woman and the child she carried, their child, slept peacefully under his watchful protection.  He was home.

 

- - -

 

 

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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.