TITLE: All of Life's Etceteras
AUTHOR: Rae
RATING: R
INGREDIENTS: MSR with a pinch of Angst and a dash of Flippant Humor thrown in for flavor. Stir together and bake at 350 til done. Enjoy!
DISCLAIMER: I just try to make sense of the material given to me by CC and Co. They aren't mine. Not at all. Blahblahblah.


Summary: A husband, children, and a warm and happy home much like the one she'd grown up in had always been a distant concept to her.

A Random Tuesday
Scully's Apartment

Dana Scully took a deep breath, trying to prepare herself. She knew the importance of the conversation she was about to begin. After denying each and every one of his advances, she needed him now. How was that for poetic justice? She should have taken him up on his offer to pick out china patterns years ago; that way, 'Hey Mulder, wanna have a baby?' wouldn't sound so foolish.

When Dr. Parenti had asked her if she'd wanted to start looking through the donor list, she'd declined, saying she already had someone in mind. However, she'd failed to realize just how difficult it would be to actually ask the question.

Mulder had never hinted at wanting to be a parent - not even in the loosest sense of the word. The closest they had ever come to discussing parenthood at all had been in Home, Pennsylvania, when he'd told her he had never pictured her as a mother. The truth was that, until Emily, she had never given much thought to the topic herself.

A husband, children, and a warm and happy home much like the one she'd grown up in had always been a distant concept to her - something she'd always believed would happen one day when all the pieces fell together. After discovering she was unable to conceive as a result of the procedures performed during her abduction, the distant concept had become wishful thinking. She found herself struggling with the fact that any chance of conception would have to take place with her feet in stirrups, the impersonal smell of antiseptic wafting - not quite the romantic candlelit evening she had always pictured.

Parenti had dangled the carrot of hope in front of her. Now that she knew that a child was a possibility, she had to decide whether it was something she honestly wanted. She was a professional, a Special Agent with the FBI. She had a partner, not a husband. She had acquaintances, not friends. While the women she had gone to school with had been getting married and starting their families, she had been climbing ropes and learning to aim a kill shot. "Motherly" was never an adjective Dana Scully had used to describe herself. How could she fit "Mommy and Me" classes into a schedule that hardly allowed time for bubble baths?

But damnit, that's exactly what she wanted. She knew that, now. She was ready to trade in her gun for baby bottles, her high heels for rattles, and her suits for burping rags. She felt the urge to cradle her own child in her arms and slowly rock back and forth while watching the baby slip into a peaceful slumber.

It was all she'd thought about since Mulder had told her that while she'd been fighting her cancer, he had located her ova. She'd fall asleep planning the colors for the nursery she wanted to put in the spare bedroom. She'd decided yellow would work best, because of the amount of sun that corner of the apartment got.

During one of her last visits with Dr. Parenti, he'd given her the first round of hormone injections to prepare her body. He'd asked her when he could expect to meet with the donor, in order to discuss what would be expected of him. She'd just told him to expect a call from Fox Mulder.

She'd gone home that evening and called Mulder, gotten his machine and almost left a message, but had lost her nerve before the beep ended, and hung up. He had no idea that her doctor had given her a thin thread of hope; and she was afraid he'd be the one to break the thread and tell her no, he didn't want to hand over his DNA in a cup to result in splitting cells and a growing embryo.

At her visit to the OB/GYN yesterday, she'd learned she'd run out of time to stall. Dr. Parenti's words still rang in her ears. "The womb is almost ready, Dana. All of the preparations are complete. Have Mr. Mulder call to make an appointment. The sooner, the better, or we'll have to wait through another cycle."


Scully was hiding something from him. He could always tell when she wasn't being completely honest about something: she didn't look him in the eye, and she became so completely quiet and withdrawn that he could have told her he'd had sex with ET last night and she would have just quietly nodded and asked if he wanted more coffee.

Before they'd left the office this evening, she'd asked him to come to her place for dinner. It wasn't exactly an out-of-the- ballpark request. But it was something that didn't happen on a regular basis, and such an event was usually preceded by a week in the field eating nothing but the type of food passed through a take-out window.

If he wanted to be truthful, he would admit that she'd been distant, ever since she'd conceded to trouble coming to terms with her infertility. It'd been difficult to stand there and listen to her as she told him she wasn't ready to give up the idea of becoming a mother...'Scully as a mother. Wow!' Whenever he thought about it (something he'd been doing a lot, lately), he had to stand back and take a breath: a deep, calming breath.

He imagined Scully with a swollen belly and bright eyes, laughing at the ticklish feeling as a small human being did somersaults inside her. *Inside of her.* A baby, growing and developing, inside of Scully. He couldn't think of anything more amazing. Yes, he could. Since he was being honest and all, he would have altered the daydream, just slightly. In the honest version, it was HIS baby as well.

There, he'd finally said it; that is, thought it. To say it aloud would have meant he couldn't retract it at a later date. But, he'd actually admitted it. He wanted Scully to be pregnant with his child. He wanted to be there when she gasped in wonder upon feeling the fluttering of their child within her womb for the first time. He wanted her to reach for his hand and place it on her belly so that he could feel their miracle. He wanted this to belong only to them, a bond no one else could share.

He found himself smiling stupidly at that thought right before the bubble burst, leaving him bereft - it was only a daydream, after all. It was something they could never achieve. It was a biological miracle that her body was unable to produce. And that fact broke his heart.

He wasn't sure what Scully's thoughts on children had been before. Before her abduction. Before her ova had been harvested. Before she'd found Emily, or after she'd buried her. All he was sure of was that she had responded immediately when he'd told her about the vial of stolen ova he'd found.

He often wondered what her doctor had told her about the ova. When he'd told her they weren't viable, Scully had insisted on another opinion. She'd never told him how that had gone, but he was convinced it had something to do with the mood she'd been in lately.

He suspected she'd asked him over tonight to let him know that she would be resigning from the Bureau. He imagined two scenarios. The first: the doctor confirmed what he had been told - the ova are useless - and she'd decided to make a fresh start somewhere else, where she could lick her wounds. Or, the second: she and Mr. Mystery Man were going to be proud parents of a bouncing medical- miracle baby in about nine months. He wasn't sure which would be the lesser of the two evils.


She looked across the table and took another deep breath. She opened her mouth to ask THE QUESTION, but then filled it with a forkful of salad. That went well.

She wondered whether she would be able to accept the disappointment when he said no. IF, she meant, IF he said no. There was still an equal possibility he'd say yes. She hoped he'd say yes.

She wondered if he'd ever entertained the thought of being a father. Was it something he just kept promising "one day"? Or, had he decided years ago that it was not something he wanted in his life? And, IF he had planned some day to become a father, she wondered whom he pictured as the mother.

They were close. The two of them were about as close as any two people could get without the benefits of a romantic relationship. They often flirted, each waiting for the other to take the lead. But who could say, if they became involved, that it would work and that they would both be happy? That fear, compounded with the want of a child...welcome to her life.

Not only did she want his DNA; she wanted him as well. Which subject should she broach first? 'Mulder, I want your body.' Too forward? 'Mulder, I want your baby.' Too presumptuous? 'Mulder, I want you to be the father of my child AND the man I lie down with each night.' Too, too,...too not how she wanted the conversation to go. Just how did you invite the man you love into your bed and your future? And who the hell was she to think that he would be open to either one?


If he were a man with a backbone, he would just come right out and say it - 'Scully, I'm pretty sure you might have an inkling of how I feel for you, but I'm tired of us skirting this relationship. I love you. Do you love me? Great! Let's have that fairy-tale kiss I've been imagining forever - you know, the one where you fall breathless into my arms, tears of happiness and joy streaming down your face. Or, better yet, you can respond as the vixen I've often imagined: ripping off your clothes leaving only black, lacy thigh- highs and those fuck-me heels you're so fond of, hardly taking the time to get my clothes off before you ravish my body.' Oh yeah, he could just imagine the black eye she'd give him.

Instead of putting his heart on the line, he put down his fork and wiped his mouth, after noticing there wasn't any more food on his plate. Scully asked if he wanted more, but he graciously declined. 'No more steamed broccoli for me, Scully. Just break my heart by telling me you're having a baby with a Popsicle, so that I can mourn our nonexistent relationship and get on with my life. No reason to drag this out any further.'

He looked up and saw her studying him. Really studying him, as if she was considering challenging him with something, or trying to decide whether he would match up with expectations she had. He picked up his coffee when she suggested they move into the living room; he felt an ice-cold stab of fear when she told him she had something serious to discuss with him.


She decided to ask for the baby, see how well that conversation went before she decided her next course of action. At least that way, if he told her that fatherhood was not something he envisioned for himself, she could quietly slink back to Dr. Parenti's office and ask to see the list of donors.

If Mulder wasn't willing to do this with her, though, she wasn't sure that she wanted to do it at all. Ever since the doctor had given her this morsel of hope, she had pictured Mulder with her at every step. How do you tell your child you never knew his father? 'Sorry, kid, not even a one-night stand - it was me, the doctor, and a turkey baster. Now, go say your prayers and don't forget to ask God to bless all the sperm donors in the world.'

She sat down on the couch, putting exactly one full seat cushion between herself and Mulder. She was going to need some space to do this. Besides, she wanted to make sure he had plenty of room to bolt to the front door without tripping over her on his way out. That would be embarrassing.

She took a sip to fortify herself and went for broke.

"Mulder, I have something I need to discuss with you and..."

She let her sentence run down, and realized she'd lost her train of thought. Maybe it would just be easier to seduce him first and then ask him to father her child.

She looked down and saw the glint of gold on her neck. It had been so long since she last flirted. Well, intentionally, anyway. Should she start playing with the necklace, trying to draw Mulder's eyes to her chest?

Or, she could pretend to get warm all of a sudden and undo the top two buttons on her blouse. That was sure to draw an eye from the man. Damn, this was so embarrassing!

Scully felt the heat rise to her cheeks and brushed her hair back from her face. She was so caught up in her own thoughts that she hadn't realized Mulder was speaking to her.

"And?"

"Huh?" She looked up and saw Mulder looking at her, waiting for her to continue. What was the last thing she had said?

"You were saying you had something to tell me, and then you just kinda left me for a minute or two there. Where did you go? Are you feeling..." She held up her hand to stop him, cutting him off mid-sentence. The man could get carried away sometimes. It was so hard to keep up with her own thought process without having to try to unravel his as well.

"Mulder, this is actually kind of hard for me. I just need to, um, I have to ask you something."

"Okay. Go ahead, Scully. Ask away."

She placed her mug of coffee on the table in front of her and clasped her hands in her lap to keep them from shaking before starting again.

"Do you remember when I told you I wanted a second opinion on the viability of the ova you found?"

He nodded.

"Well, I took them to my doctor and he feels that there's a chance of a successful pregnancy."

He nodded again.

"If I start now."

He said nothing.

"Which I have."

He blinked.

"But I've gone as far as I can on my own and now need something from you."

He blinked again.

"Do you understand what I'm asking you, Mulder?" Had he stopped breathing? She couldn't tell. He just sat there and continued to stare at her.

She noticed him start to shake his head, but before he could open his mouth to respond, she rushed ahead, in hopes of convincing him that "Yes" was the only thing he wanted to say. Really.

"I know it's a lot to ask - especially since this came out of left field and there is a bit of a rush - but please understand that I wouldn't be asking you..."

She stopped and looked out the window, not seeing anything through the blackness of night.

"Scully?"

"This is important to me, Mulder."

Her fingers began to ache from the constant twisting-and-turning torture she'd been putting them through. She grabbed her coffee from the table, gulped the remaining liquid, and continued.

"You can be as involved in everything as you wish. This will be your child too, of course. What I'm saying is that if you decided to do this with me, I wouldn't expect anything else from you. Just because I'd have a baby doesn't mean you would have to play up the whole father thing. I do realize I've just dropped an awfully big bomb on you."

He opened his mouth to respond, but she stopped him once again.

"Why don't you take some time to think about it before making a decision? This is a lot to take in when you were only expecting dinner. Please, Mulder, just take tonight to think about it. Or take longer, but at least tonight. I would hate for you to feel pressured about this."

"You just said there was a bit of a rush, and now you're telling me to take my time."

"I just want you to think about it. I want you to be absolutely certain because, either way, there isn't much room for backpedaling."

"Scully, you do know that ummm, that uh..."

"Please, Mulder. Go home and think about it."

She got up and led him to the door. After he stepped into the hallway, he turned around and she stepped up onto her toes and kissed him gently on the cheek.

"Good night, Mulder."


Him. She wanted him. Or, at least she wanted part of him. But it was the part that counted. He had been about to say yes when she cut him off and told him to go home and think about it. What was there to think about? The evening had gone far better than he'd expected.

A baby. If she was willing to make him such a grandiose offer, maybe a deeper relationship between the two of them wasn't such a far-fetched idea after all. However, in the end, the only thing that mattered was Scully's happiness.

He would give her whatever she wanted. Tomorrow, he'd drop by, tell her he'd love to help her have a baby, and then they'd take the rest of the relationship one day at a time.

The fact that she had told him he could be as involved as he wanted was not lost on Mulder. He understood that Scully had been giving him an out, letting him know that she could do everything on her own - after she was pregnant, of course. But he was also pretty damned sure she was hoping he'd want to stick around.

He'd known for a long time now that his future was with Scully, now they could start building that future together.


The Friday following the Random Tuesday Outside of Zeus Genetics

Mulder did his part. He called the doctor, set up an appointment, shot his future son or daughter into a cup, and went home feeling more hopeful about his future than he had since, oh, many long years before a little redhead walked into his office. He was so damn happy, he even found himself whistling as he walked out of the clinic.

Dr. Parenti had told him during his visit that, "Dana needs to eliminate the stresses in her life. Her body needs to be relaxed and open in order for the implantation to work. We have only a limited supply of ova, so we really can't take any chances."

The guy had obviously been thinking of a different Dana Scully. Parenti's version apparently didn't wear a badge and wave a gun around, refusing to admit that she had feelings too, dammit! Yeah, they had been discussing two different people.

However, the good doctor had made it clear that it was his responsibility to keep an eye on Scully, make sure she didn't go overboard at work and rested as much as possible while at home. Little did the bearded man know that no one dictated anything to Scully. When Mulder had questioned what the doctor had in mind, Parenti suggested that he take her out to dinner, rub her back, and just make her feel special and loved.

Right. He couldn't even ask her out on a date, and here they were supposed to start acting like a couple. The doctor was obviously out of the loop on the relationship thing.

He nodded anyway and promised to rub her feet, carry all the groceries and other heavy bags, and let her pick all the movies. Oh, and by the way, Doctor, just how many chances did they have?

Three.

Well, actually there were a total of three possible implantations, with four to five embryos implanted each time. There had been a total of forty-five ova in that one little vial; but when all was said and done, they had a total of twelve to fifteen chances of becoming parents.

Mulder waited outside for Scully to finish with her part of the procedure. He didn't want to make her uncomfortable and ask to hold her hand while she had her legs propped up in stirrups.

When she finally emerged, Mulder tried to act as normal as possible when he held the door to the car open for her. On their way back to her place, Scully asked him to stop at the first church they passed. He followed her in and watched silently as she lit fifteen candles and silently prayed. Mulder only hoped that at least one of the possible fifteen chances were actually given the opportunity to test his or her own faith in this world.

He was counting on the fact that Scully would have enough faith for both of them, because he had given up on the idea of religion around 1973, when his sister disappeared out the front window and no amount of praying had ever brought her home. And then it had just gotten worse.

On his way back from dropping Scully off at home, Mulder stopped at the church once again. He sought out the Priest and appealed to the higher authority and asked him to pray as well. He figured God might listen to a man he heard from on a more regular basis.

When Mulder finally arrived home, he donned his Gibson jersey, picked up his favorite wooden bat, and headed to Miller Field. He called Scully and told her he had a very late or very early birthday present for her and asked her to meet him at the ballpark.


"Glorious Saint Gerard, because, like your Divine Master, you bore without murmur or complaint the calumnies of wicked men when falsely accused of crime, you have been raised up by God as the patron and protector of expectant mothers. Preserve me in the dangers of motherhood, and shield the child I now bear, that it may be brought safely to the light of day and receive the sacrament of baptism."

The child I now bear. Should she have said children? At that moment, there were five embryos floating around in her uterus, looking for a suitable place to attach themselves so that they could comfortably grow and develop over the next nine months. She altered the prayer slightly and repeated the verse, over and over again.

"Preserve me in the dangers of motherhood, and shield the children I now bear, that at least one may be brought safely to the light of day."

She wasn't sure how long she lay on that table, but was startled when a nurse entered and told her she could get dressed and go home.

But shouldn't she lay there until they were certain it had worked? Wouldn't the laws of gravity work against her once she stood? She'd figured it hadn't worked the first time because she'd stood for too long afterwards, trying to hit the stars out of the sky with baseballs. She was determined to lie still longer this time. Over-cautiousness was completely within her rights at this point in time - even if it was bordering on the absurd to her scientific mind.

Ten minutes later, the nurse came back and told her they needed the room for another patient. She nodded and, so very slowly, pulled her feet from the stirrups, sat up on the paper-covered table and began to rise. She placed a protective hand over her lower belly as she made her way to the cab the front desk had called for her.

She did everything she was supposed to do. She didn't go to work on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. She stayed in bed and placed a couple of pillows under her butt and legs to try to help Mother Nature and Medical Science in their joint effort at Babymaking 101. She even let Mulder play the part of the doting soon-to-be father when he showed up at her place promptly at 5:30 and stayed until she fell asleep again, fluffing pillows and making tea in between.

When she showed up for work Thursday morning, she almost asked him to hold her while she mourned their loss. But when he looked at her, and she saw that he knew, she ran from the office and barely made it to the bathroom before her blueberry-muffin-and-coffee breakfast spilled across the floor. Her entire body was obviously waging a war against her. She just wished she knew how to fight back.


Two months later Another Tuesday evening

He had, once again, lost his patience with the Holy Men.

That Priest had obviously been no help at all. Neither was the Rabbi, nor the Minister, both of whom he'd appealed to during the second attempt. How hard could it be, people? All you had to do was say a couple of prayers, throw in a chant or two and kiss the heavens. He wouldn't have made such an effort at it, but he'd seen Scully's rosary lying around the apartment, within easy reach. And he was almost certain she'd never attended church twice on Sunday the whole time he'd known her. He figured that if praying to the deities was the way to assure their place in The Parenthood Club, then he'd do his part.

Even though they hadn't worked, he wasn't quite ready to give up on the prayers just yet, so last night he had worshipped in his favorite bar, and given sacraments to the God of Tequila and St. Whiskey.

Now that the final hour was upon them, Mulder had decided his prayers might be better heard if he worshipped in The Temple of Scully's Presence. He held her hand and pushed the hair back from her face while Dr. Parenti went to work between her knees.

He hadn't planned on being there, but Scully had appeared through his drunken haze early that morning and asked him if he would hold her hand during their last attempt.

He thought she had drifted off to sleep and was startled when she asked him a question. It was whisper soft and he was sure that only he had heard her.

"Do you feel lucky tonight, Mulder?"

Bless her heart. Their entire future would be determined over the next several hours. Everything depended on those five little cells, and she was cracking jokes with poor pick-up lines.

"Everything will work out exactly as it's supposed to, Scully. You know more than anyone that God has a plan."

"I think He erased me from his planbook, Mulder. I think I used up my share of miracles a long time ago."

Fuck!

"C'mon now, Scully. I'm a little out of my league here. I was never really big on the God Concept, but I'm pretty sure that you aren't given a predetermined number of miracles. And besides, we're right where we're supposed to be."

"How do you figure?"

"We rarely do anything right the first time. Or even the second time. We both like things to be perfect. It's taken some practice, but now that we've got it down and know what we're doing, we're going to have the most perfect child ever born."

He found one of the vertebrae of his missing spine and bent down to softly kiss her forehead, right at her hairline. He noticed she didn't pull away.

"How do you do that, Mulder?" "Do what?" Bolstered by her acceptance of the first kiss, he gently kissed each closed eye.

"Take the most horrible, dire situation and make it so it's not so terrible." "I just believe." "You and your blind faith." He was about to go for gold and drop a kiss on her lips to see if that would award him any reaction, but suddenly stopped halfway there. She opened her eyes and he saw the tears and the uncertainties and the fear, all right there in an instant.

He wanted to drop to his knees, right then and there, and swear to God that he hadn't given up on Him at all. Just please, please, please let this work this time. But, he was afraid God would see his hypocrisy and punish him for it by not giving them their child, so he kept his pleas to himself.

"We'll have our miracle, Scully."

"I want to believe."


Sunday

Miracle? Who was she kidding? Mulder had convinced her. It was their last chance. It was going to work. It HAD to work. There were no other options. For an instant she had believed him. For just a second, she had thought that God had not forgotten her. Silly woman. God apparently enjoyed testing the faith of His believers.

She woke up this morning not feeling quite right. She couldn't explain it, but she knew she didn't like it. She called Parenti's office and made an emergency appointment. When she arrived, she went into the bathroom and denounced God, wondering if He was even there to hear. Had He ever been?

She had arrived home an hour ago, but couldn't bring herself to go inside. She knew he was there, waiting for her. With the other chances, he had distanced himself, forcing her to search him out to give him the news. How could she face him to tell him that miracles were nothing more than fruitless exercises in wishful thinking? Might as well tack them to the wall of the office, between the UFO poster and pictures of Bigfoot.

She stood to go inside, but at the last moment chickened out and got back in her car. She drove aimlessly through the neighborhood. It was a beautiful autumn day; the air was crisp and the sky was blue. Children played in the park, calling out, "Olly olly oxen free!" while mothers rocked their babies in strollers, reflecting on life and sipping from coffee cups.

She parked in front of a big maple tree, stepped out of the car and perched at an empty picnic table. A redheaded girl with pigtails and freckles ran, screeching, from an older brother. She threw herself into the pile of leaves that surrounded the tree like a skirt flared on the ground.

The young girl sat up on her knees and threw an armful of colorful leaves into the air, shrieking as they rained down around her. She proclaimed herself to be Queen of the Mountain and dared anyone to try to overthrow her from her reign.

Scully tried to put Mulder's eyes and her smile on the face of the girl, but instead, Emily's round face with her bright blue eyes flooded her vision. At that moment, she felt a need to curl herself on her daughter's grave, wanting to be as close to her only child as she could get. She thought of moving the tiny grave to her side of the world, so that she could do just that whenever she needed.

She rose from the bench, and walked over to the swings that hung empty in favor of monkey bars and slides. She sank down on the soft rubber and picked up her feet, feeling the motion of the swing as she drifted back and forth.

She remembered how she had loved the swings as a child. Always asking her Daddy to push harder. "I wanna go HIGHER Daddy! Push more, more, more! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!" "You're going as high as you can, Starbuck." "No, Daddy. I wanna touch the clouds and fly with the birds. Higher!"

She began to pump her legs, leaning back on her way down so that her hair dragged along the dirt. Faster and faster she swung. She started to feel the tickle in her stomach. It was the same feeling she would get when she was afraid that her father would push her right out of the swing, yet still wanted to go higher and faster. So she pushed herself harder, making the swing pick up speed. She watched her toes kick the clouds and wished that she could take flight, if only she pumped herself high enough.

She felt tears start to run down her cheek, and told herself it was from the wind in her eyes. She tried to laugh, to convince herself that life would go on and that she could be happy never knowing the joy of a life growing within her. The sound that escaped surprised her when it came out sounding more like a sob than a cheer. She pumped harder as the tears came faster.

She swung until her hands ached from grasping the chains, then admitted defeat and put her feet back on the ground where they belonged. Her throat ached from crying and her eyes, now dry, red, and puffy, felt like holes filled with sand.

The sun was high overhead. She had left her house at seven in the morning. Mulder would be worried if he didn't hear from her soon. She decided to walk home, giving the air time to cool the heat from her cheeks and the redness from her eyes. She could always blame the runny nose on the coolness of the air.


He had arrived in Georgetown at 7:30, armed with bagels and decaf coffee. He felt panic seize him when she failed to open the door. He let himself in, saw the note she'd jotted down telling him she'd be home later after she had some time to herself. He assumed she'd gone to church and wondered how long after mass 'later' would be.

He surfed the channels, looking for something other than the political forums and gospel music that flooded the airwaves on Sunday mornings. He stopped when he found Scooby- Doo and Shaggy getting in over their heads in their latest caper.

As the mask was pulled from the head of the local librarian on the cartoon, Mulder imagined a young boy sitting beside him, asking how Fred knew the monster wasn't real. From there, the dream expanded.

His daughter was perched on his shoulders, reaching up to try to touch the giraffe on the other side of the fence at the zoo. He closed his eyes and saw he and Scully lying on a picnic blanket, watching their son play Frisbee with his best friend: Scout, the Black Labrador he had talked them into getting for him even though the boy wasn't strong enough to take his dog for walks and, therefore, Daddy had to do it.

He rolled onto his side and continued to daydream. A little girl, standing on his feet as he walzed across the living-room floor, both in their white socks. Scully sitting on the couch, an open medical book in her lap, looking up when the child called out, "Look at me, Mommy; I'm dancing!" Then, Scully got up and asked to cut in. The child pouted as he pulled her mother into his arms, kissing the tip of her nose, so he bent and pulled her up, resting her between her parents, and danced with his two girls.

He envisioned hockey games and t-ball; a miniature, three-foot basketball hoop standing beneath one of regulation height attached to the garage at the top of a driveway. There was soccer practice and ballet lessons. Loud drums and crazy music meant to drive parents out of their minds.

He dreamt of long weekends at the beach, laughing as Scully sat huddled under umbrellas and slathered in sunscreen while he and their daughter built sand castles and braved the waves.

He saw himself holding onto the back of a bicycle, running to keep up with the increasing speed as his son pedaled faster and faster, finally letting go and standing on the street with pride as the child rode without assistance for the first time. He looked up in confusion as Scully ran from the house with a bottle of peroxide and gauze, and he realized that his son had fallen from the bike because he hadn't taught him how to brake.

As the morning wore on, he became scared. He lay on the couch and disaster after disaster played out in his mind - everything from the mundane to the catastrophic.

Midnight trips to the emergency room because fevers wouldn't break. Tears at not being invited to the birthday party of a schoolmate. A child's hand reaching up and touching a pot hot enough to blister the tender skin immediately.

He envisoned missed curfews, as he and Scully paced the carpet wondering whether their child was safe. Would alcohol and drugs be introduced at a party? Putting an excited teenager behind the wheel of a car and hoping that all the drunks would steer clear of this one vehicle.

But then, the nightmares faded. He was in the stands of a high-school stadium, cheering as his son sank the winning basket and the timer buzzed, ending the game. Using an entire roll of film to capture his daughter in her prom dress and her mother's pearl earrings he had given her for their last wedding anniversary.

He saw himself walking his daughter down the aisle at her wedding, lifting her veil and kissing her cheek as she prepared to start her new life. Scully, quietly crying as their son said, "I do," loud and clear, making sure everyone knew he was certain this was The One.

Looking through the pane of glass, trying to pick out his first grandchild without cheating and looking at the namecard at the foot of the bassinet.

He felt secure in the knowledge that in the life he'd envisioned for himself, he and Scully crawled into bed at the end of each day. They might argue over which religion they would raise their child in or what time bedtime should be, the merits of a bath before bed to save time in the morning, and if fifteen was too young to go to a concert. But there would always be love. And if they lost sight of the love between themselves, he knew they would never forget about the trials they went through to bring their child into the world. That one common thread would always bring them back to each other, each of them vowing never to give up on the other, on them.

Around eleven, his empty stomach won the quiet standoff he'd been having, and he ended up eating both of the bagels. He began to worry that Scully hadn't gone to Mass as he'd originally thought, because he was sure that Mass didn't last three hours - not even on a High Holiday. He waited another half-an-hour to call her cellphone, and got a message telling him the subscriber he was trying to reach was not available.

At noon, he called her mother. No, she hadn't been at church this morning. She hadn't spoken to her daughter in over a week and wasn't sure if she had made plans to do something this morning. Had he noticed that Dana was a bit more quiet than usual lately? Please have her call her mother when she returns home, Fox.

At a quarter-to-one, he pulled on his jacket, and then realized he wasn't sure where to start looking, took it off, and sat back down on the couch.

As two-thirty quietly slipped into three o'clock, he became sick with worry and called her doctor. Of course, the answering service picked up, because it was after noon on a Sunday.

He had just decided to drive aimlessly through the streets until he found her when he heard her key in the door. He rose from the couch as she walked into the living room. One look at her face, and he immediately pushed every thought of babies, roller skates, piggyback rides and butterfly kisses to the far reaches of his mind. He'd never hope again.

"It was my last chance!"

He pulled her close and felt her tremble because she wouldn't allow the tears to fall. He held on tight, promising that it would be okay as long as she stayed right where she was. Forever.

He drew back slightly, kissed her head and smelled the shampoo she'd used this morning. And then he said something even he could no longer believe.

"Never give up on a miracle."


She stepped out of his embrace, excused herself, and made an exit towards the bathroom. She dared the tears to fall now that she was alone. Not even her lashes became wet.

When she was certain that she had everything under control, she made her way back to the living room. She thanked him for everything, apologized for getting his hopes up over something he probably never really wanted to begin with, and told him she'd see him tomorrow at work.

When he refused to leave - out of some misguided sense of chivalry, she thought - she walked into her bedroom, closed the door, pulled down the blankets on the bed, and climbed in, with her shoes still on her feet.

She heard him pace outside her door.

She watched the numbers change on the clock.

She recognized the instant the birds stopped chirping for the day.

She realized she hadn't eaten anything all day, but didn't care.

She did not cry.

She did not hear the front door close when he left.


He didn't want to leave her, but she obviously wanted to be alone. He had waited five hours for her to come out of the bedroom. He had stood on the other side of the door for two hours, listening for her to call out to him - even if it was in her sleep. He hadn't even heard a hiccough letting him know she was crying.

Why the hell did she need to be so poised? Why couldn't she need him? He wanted to hold her as she cried.

He wanted to need her. He wanted to bury his face in her hair so that the reddened strands would catch his tears. He wanted to grieve.

But he didn't. If she wouldn't cry, then neither would he. He would be at work tomorrow when she arrived. He would pretend that they didn't just spend the last few months trying to start a family. Hell, he'd even crack a joke at her lunch selection of yogurt and bottled water as if all were right with the world.

He let himself into his apartment and headed right for the shower - he felt dirty, for some reason. He stood under the spray of the water, letting it cascade down his face. Underneath the spray, he could hide the wetness of his tears; tell himself that those weren't tears. Nope. Just the water from the shower. He stood there, never moving, not even when the water ran cold.

Miracles were for sissies, anyway.

He pounded out his grief on the tiled wall. If it hurt, he didn't feel it. He was surprised when he saw blood swirl around the drain before disappearing into the pipes. He wondered where it had come from and then noticed the cut across his knuckles. He gave one last punch for good measure, shut off the water and began to shiver.

He stood in front of the mirror that wasn't fogged and convinced himself that he wouldn't have made a good father, anyway. What kid wanted a dad who ran after lights in the sky?

He was already the butt of every joke at the Hoover. He'd hate to lay that kind of shame on his kid. "Hey Spooky, has your old man phoned home to Mars this week?"

Besides, the bad guys would just find a way to use a child to control him and Scully. How could he ever face her if her child disappeared into the night? She'd never forgive him. He had spent the first half of his life looking for his sister; he was pretty damned sure he didn't want to test his odds with a galaxywide search for his child.

So, he conviced himself that it all worked out in the end.

Still slightly damp, he stumbled into his bedroom and fell onto his bed to wait for morning.


She opened her eyes and was confused. The clock read five-twenty-seven. It had only been nine-oh-four before she'd blinked her eyes.

The apartment was quiet. Too quiet. An empty quiet. She listened for the television, or Mulder's sawing snores, and was disappointed when she heard nothing. He must have gone home.

The air was full of electricity. It was unnerving. She felt as if there was someplace she needed to be, something she needed to do, but couldn't put her finger on it. It was that feeling she got when she was afraid she'd left the stove on. She crawled from her bed and shuffled into the kitchen. The room became bathed in bright light as lightning flashed across the sky.

The day matched her mood. It was the perfect beginning to the rest of her life.

She went through her morning routine on auto- pilot. An hour later, she stepped out on the sidewalk and remembered she'd left her car at the park. She pulled out her phone, intent on calling a cab, but dialed Mulder instead.

He said he'd be there within the hour.

He honked when he arrived, and she pulled the apartment door closed behind her. After she climbed into the car, she took out her phone, called Skinner, and told him neither she nor Mulder would be in until later in the week.

When he looked at her questioningly, she told him to take her to Dulles.

They arrived in San Diego and stopped at a florist's on their way to the cemetery. She felt him standing behind her as she knelt at Emily's grave. She almost started crying, but then felt him put his hands on her shoulders. She breathed in deeply and leaned back, letting his legs support her.

She wondered whether any of the embryos had continued splitting and growing once they'd left the petri dish. Had she sentenced all of her and Mulder's children to death? Was her body an instant coffin, or had they thrived at all - even if only for a moment? At least one? She had to believe that one lasted longer than any of the others.

She looked heavenward, and asked Emily to shelter the souls of her nameless brothers and sisters.

Without looking at Mulder, she told him that she wanted a marker in the cemetery behind St. Catherine's.

"I want to be able to visit Emily without having to fly across the country to do so."

"Okay, Scully."

"If she can have an empty grave 3,000 miles away, she can sure as hell have one 3 minutes away."

"Okay, Scully."

"I would just feel better knowing that she was closer to me."

"Okay, Scully."

"And I want to put up a marker for the other ones as well. Just one marker for all of them."

She waited, but he never responded.


He dropped both of their bags on the floor in his room. They were the ones they kept in the trunk of his car; there were similar ones in her trunk. They contained just the essentials - toothbrush, clean underwear, and something comfortable to throw on once they were at the hotel.

He saw her pick up both their bags and head into his bathroom. Fifteen minutes later, she emerged from a puff of steam, wearing nothing but his Knicks t-shirt. Scully did that sometimes - went through his bag, opting to wear one of his shirts that fit her more like a nightgown. He guessed they were in for the night.

It was only a quarter after three.

She slid onto the bed and lay on her back beside him.

He kicked off his shoes and took off his tie.

She slid over and touched his arm with her pinky.

He clasped his fingers together and put them behind his head, cradling his head in his palms.

She rolled over onto her right side, and placed her head on his chest, right over his heart.

He stopped breathing.

Her hair, still wet from the shower, soaked through his shirt. He decided that he didn't care, unclasped his hands and put his left arm around her.

"I loved them all, Scully. Each and every one of them were part of you and part of me. But I loved them for the fact that they were part of you."

He heard her sniffle, and pulled over the blankets from the half of the bed they weren't lying on, to cover them. They didn't reach far enough to cover him, but he wasn't cold.

"Being asked to share a child with you was the most endearing offer I've ever had. Not because I was being asked to be a father, but because I was being asked to father YOUR child. You will never know what that did for me, Scully."

He felt her play with the buttons on his shirt and watched his arm rise when she took a deep breath.

"I wanted that baby, Mulder. I wanted it more than I've ever wanted anything. And, when Dr. Parenti told me that I'd lost our last chance, I felt as if I'd let you down. I drove around until I came to a park. I sat at a bench and watched the children play, imagining they were ours. All of them were ours."

"You could never let me down, Scully. You want to hear something funny?"

"What?"

"I never wanted kids. I was always so careful about it. I knew that I didn't want to have any chance of ever becoming my father, and the best way to do that was avoid being a father altogether. But when you asked me, right then and there, I knew there was nothing in this world I wanted more."

"And I can't give it to you."

"But that's okay, Scully. You have to believe that. You have to trust me when I tell you that I'm okay with the fact that we won't be parents." "I don't know if I'm okay with that, Mulder. I was so sure that the last one was going to work."

"We'll make it okay. Together."

He rolled, so that she once again had her back to the mattress and he was partially lying on top of her.

"Is this okay, Scully?"

"Yeah, Mulder. It's okay. It's more than okay."

"Scully?"

"What?"

"I want to kiss you."

"I want you to kiss me."

"I want to make love to you, Scully."

"Yes."

And so he did.

End Part 3


Epilogue

Six months later St. Catherine's Cemetery

She looked up and noticed how blue the sky was. It was almost as if God were mocking her. How do you bury all your children when the sun is shining?

She kissed her fingertips and gently placed them first on top of one stone, and then the next. As she pulled her hand away, she placed it over her belly, protecting the secret within. She felt tears track down her face over the unfairness of life.

She reminded herself that she and Mulder had overcome so much and had come so far. She rubbed circles over her unborn child and swore that she'd find Mulder before the end of her pregnancy. She promised their baby that he would know his father.

She promised because she believed.

The End


My Notes:

First and foremost I have to bow down, waaaaaaaaay down, to the greatness that is Gail. She made me work and re-work and then go back and work some more so that this story read as evenly and smoothly as it did. I cannot thank her enough!

I also have to send some thanks out to Artemis. She was willing to take a look at this in the beginning and encouraged me to continue with it.

Sallie usually acts as Part 2 of my beta team. However, since I wrote a story that isn't Sallie-safe, she could not participate in the beta process. I missed ya, honey! Hope to catch ya with the next one.

I have no idea what possessed me to write *another* post Per Manum - especially since I have TWO stories I have been working on since the beginning of time, and would really like to finish. But then that Super Soldier guy gave us that "one lonely night" line, and...such is life.

Being the non-religious person that I am, I pleaded to my listmates for a prayer one would say when hoping for a healthy pregnancy. Gail, my beta genius (I really don't think there is an end to her wonder- ness), pointed me to this site that had a prayer for just about anything you could think to pray for. The prayer Scully says in Part II is the Prayer of St. Gerard.

http://www.catholic- forum.com/saints/patron00.htm

Thanks for reading. I'd love to hear what you thought: ultimatexffan@aol.com That's so you don't have to scroll all the way back up to the top. ;)




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