He touched his cheeks, and winced slightly. Memories, horrible ones, flooded his mind.
He heard the door open. “Mulder, you okay?”
He rose and turned toward her, carefully focusing on her face. “For a guy who was in a coffin not too long ago, I think I’m doing pretty damn good. Don’t quite have my legs under me, yet.”
“You might want to consider sitting down when you hear what we have to tell you.”
“No, it’s uh, it’s good news. It’s miraculous news.”
He could hear her talking and tried to concentrate. She was saying something about what was killing him. It was gone? The scars were healing? He tried not to flinch when she mentioned his face. He didn’t need a mirror. Good news, she was bringing him wonderful news, why was he having trouble looking at her.
He knew exactly why.
He wanted out of here. He wanted some privacy, time to get his thoughts together without anyone walking in. “If . . . if I’m all well now, when do I get sprung from this place?” Scully and the doctor exchanged glances. “What?”
“We’ve . . . we’ve talked about that Mulder. You’re not ready to stay alone.”
“Wait a minute - “
“No, Mulder. That’s not negotiable. I’ve got room for you.”
“Your . . . your place?”
She nodded, “you don’t have a lot of choice if you want out.”
He managed to grin. “So when do I get out?”
“This morning. We can stop by your place to get some things, then . . . “
“Let’s do it.” He managed to smile and only she could see that his eyes look haunted.
She opened the door to his apartment and he followed her inside. She was carrying his bag over his protests, but it was a light bag. He hadn’t needed much at the hospital. Otherwise he never would have allowed it. He moved past her, looking around. “Must feel good to be home.” She offered.
“Something looks different.”
“That’s it.” He grinned, but it didn’t cover the awkwardness. He turned toward the fish. “I’m missing a Molly.”
“She wasn’t as lucky as you.”
Oh god, he’d given her an opening. Not now, not yet. He couldn’t talk about this yet. He leaned against the desk and looked in her direction, if not at her directly.
“Mulder. I don’t know if you’ll ever understand what it was like. First learning of your abduction, then searching for you and finding you dead, and now to have you back.” She took a deep breath.
“Well, you look like you’re surprised.” The joke fell flat; you could touch the awkwardness.
“I prayed a lot and my prayers have been answered.”
“In more ways than one.” He hadn’t meant to say that.
“Yeah.” She looked down at herself again.
“I’m happy for you. I think I know how much that means to you.” He dropped his head and she saw his turmoil, but didn’t understand.
“Mulder - “
“I’m sorry.” He interrupted her, “I don’t mean to be cold or ungrateful. It’s just I have no idea where I fit in right now. I just, uh, I’m having a little trouble processing . . . “
She looked confused. Did she not know how much her request for him to father her child had meant to him? Had she thought he was doing something like that, that important, as just a favor? She looked like she wanted to say something, but he pushed himself up from the desk and turned toward his bedroom. He didn’t see the tears in her eyes, or the way she squared her shoulders. He would have recognized the second, if not the first. Tears had always been rare with Scully - Pfaster, Modell, that was about it. But the shoulder thing, he’d seen that hundreds of times. Right now, he was too deep inside himself. He could feel the self-pity growing again and fighting it was beginning to tire him.
He moved toward the bedroom. He hated to admit what a shit he was, she was happy about this pregnancy. It was what she had wanted, what he’d wanted for her, for them. Now she had it. She didn’t need him, hadn’t needed him.
The bedroom was clean too, the bed made. It almost didn’t look like his bedroom. He heard her steps coming toward him. He’d heard her footsteps so many times, but they were different now, heavier because of the child. He closed his eyes.
“Mulder? Are you okay?” Her voice sounded husky. He didn’t realize that was because of the tears.
“Yeah.” Again he wouldn’t face her. “Scully. I know you don’t think I’m strong enough to stay here alone - “
“Scully, listen.” He forced himself to turn toward her, again focusing on her face. “I haven’t been alone since you rescued me. I need some time, just a little while. You’re . . . you’re probably tired too. Why don’t you go to your place? Let me hang out here for a few hours. I’ll take a cab over to your apartment in the morning. I'll be okay."
“Mulder, I don’t think - “
She looked up at him then, really looked at him and saw his need. She tried to suppress her hurt, tried to feel what he must be feeling. He’d been gone for six months. Things had gone on in his absence, life had gone on. Her hand came up to soothe the child as it moved within her. Yes, life had gone on.
He saw the movement out of the corner of his eye and felt the darkness that threatened to overwhelm him rise again. He had to get her out of here.
“Scully, you have my word, if I need anything, anything at all, I’ll call you.” It was a lie, but he needed time, time alone. “And I’ll get a cab over there first thing in the morning.” He managed to smile. “Come on Scully.”
That smile, how she had prayed to see it again. “You promise - “
“I swear, Scully. I’ll be there by 8 a.m.”
She rolled her eyes then, and he chuckled. “You watch. I’ll be there.”
She looked down at her swollen body and he looked away. “Okay, Mulder. But if you’re not there at 8 a.m. I’ll put out an all points bulletin, revoke your parole and probably shackle you to my kitchen table.”
“It’s a deal. Will your mother bring food?”
She smiled then. “Most likely.”
“Go home, Scully. Get some rest, I know you’ve been trying to sleep at the hospital, but we both know that’s not very restful. Go on.”
He crossed his heart and turned her toward the door. He opened it and placed his hand on her back to urge her out. She stopped again and turned toward him, to look into his eyes.
She was used to him invading her space, but neither was used to her girth now and her stomach grazed him as she turned. It took everything in him not to jerk away. He realized she had to have seen at least some of his reaction.
“I’ll see you in the morning, Scully.”
She swallowed hard and nodded, then moved toward the elevator without looking back.
He slipped the door closed, not waiting for her to leave the floor. He couldn’t take much more.
He made his way to the couch blindly, sinking down onto it and reclining. Damn, it smelled like her. How much time had she spent here? Probably not that much. He closed his eyes.
He’d been dead, in a coffin dead, for six months. And missing for weeks prior to that. Things had had to continue, the world didn’t stop revolving just because one Fox Mulder was no longer around.
But it all seemed so fast to him. Overnight. Well, one long nightmare filled night. He touched the scar on his chest again. How could he blame her for moving on? He had been dead, she had buried him. His death hadn’t stopped her biological clock. She’d wanted a child. He couldn’t help her out, so she’d found someone who could. Now she was having that child.
Had she met the guy? Gone through a sperm bank? Found another friend to help her out? He groaned at that thought.
If only the in-vitro had worked for them. The thoughts of having a child had actually begun to feel right - with her as the mother. Another dream shot down forever.
Get a grip Mulder! He wasn’t meant to be a father. Maybe she’d allow him to be an uncle to this child. That caused a wave of pain that almost pulled him under. He should never have allowed himself to even consider fathering her child.
He had to get past this. She was happy; she’d had a dream come true. The fact that he wasn’t involved was not the important issue. She obviously still had feelings for him; they were partners, friends. He was happy for her - god, he was! She’d spent all that time at the hospital with him.
They could remain friends. Hell, he’d be her third brother if he could just still be in her life. Thoughts of her, memories of their time together had held him together, kept what little sanity he now possessed intact. He wanted to be over at her place right now. He’d thought about it, dreamed about it. Then he’d seen her, seen her body and the dream had shattered into a million pieces.
He lay his arm over his eyes. He could do this. He could be happy for her and her baby. He could give her the support she needed, at least what she’d take from him. If the baby’s father allowed it, he’d take the kid to Little League or soccer; maybe she’d even trust him to baby-sit. He could learn to change diapers. He’d be okay; he’d make this work and accept whatever she gave him. He didn’t realize tears were running into his hair until he heard one hit the couch. No one would ever know he’d cried himself to sleep.
He was at her place at 7:45, so as not to worry her, even though she’d shown back up at his place with Skinner last night. That had gone surprisingly well, they had acted as though things were almost . . . normal.
He was a little surprised when Frohike answered the door. It was great to see these guys - he’d answered Frohike’s hug with one of his own and some quip. He sounded like himself, good.
He shook hands with Byers; “I think it goes without saying that we’re all, uh tremendously relieved.”
Then took the hand Langly offered. “And not just because we have big questions about your involvement in a certain blessed event . . .”
What? What had he said? He looked over at Scully, stunned. These guys thought he was the father? She looked back at him, her expression unreadable.
What did that mean? What was that enigmatic expression saying? And how did he get up the guts to ask? Not now - he had to get his act together first, find out about this Doggett character. And then, if he found the nerve . . .