Title: Baby's Breath
Author: Gillyholia
Rating: PG. Innuendo and unoriginal fluff, oh bless you fluff.
Setting: Existence/NITH era
Classification: MSR
Feedback: Please! gillyholia@hotmail.com
Archive: Ja, but let me know where it's going!
Spoilers: all things, Existence, Nothing Important Happened Today I, trustno1
Disclaimer/suck up time: Trust me, I'm poor. I'm making no money from my excursions into the lives of Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, and the baby. They're owned by Ten Thirteen Productions, who are more than welcome to pop me in the opening credits *big winning smile here*. Otherwise, you can just label me pathetic and marchons, marchons, qu'on sang impur abreuve nos sillons.

At some point during the 1990s, I came to internally experience the antithesis of what society would consider the normal emotions for a given situation. I would be worried when I should have been relieved; calm when I should have been terrified.

Such was the case my first night home from the hospital. I anxiously expected Mulder to disappear again; to discover on a trip to the crib that our baby didn't exist. That nothing had been real since I fainted in front of the Gunmen, at the notion that Mulder was next.

But I turned to my left on my bed and he was there, staring right back at me. I felt my heart flip-- imagine that, Agent Scully's heart flips--and closed my eyes with a small smile. Air escaped from my nose and I felt pressure that developed easily in me release just as simply.

Mulder had graciously taken off his shoes as well as his jacket before he sat next to me, when I was nursing William. I felt quite self- conscious to be honest and tried to keep things as discreet as possible after William was finished.

I could hear Mulder snort as I tried to cover myself quickly. "Scully."


"I've seen them before. Multiple times."

I paused at the `multiple' and then remembered Antarctica. "Mm, true," I replied with a cynical tone. "I'm sure frozen little me was quite the sight to see."

"Gave new meaning to ice queen."

"Shut up."

I grinned down at William, who was napping somewhat Comfortably in the cradle of my arm. I carefully swung my legs over the side of the bed and carried him to the crib. After I carefully laid him down I looked over at Mulder, propped up against the headboard and watching us, though his gaze looked distant. His arms were crossed over his chest.

"What?" I asked.

Mulder blinked and shook his head. "Nothing," he replied. It was silent for a few moments before he continued. "It's amazing though." He changed the focus of his eyes to reflect mine. "We did it," he said with a growing warm smile.

"We? I don't seem to recall you going through that labor or even there to see-" I stopped and saw his smile fade. "I'm sorry," I said with regret in my voice. "I know you would have been there earlier if you could."

Mulder nodded. He inhaled sharply and fidgeted, clearly wanting to say more. "But I wasn't referring to just the birth. We finally... well, I did."

Talk about vague. I reviewed what he said a few times in my head and tried to make some sense out of it. My trail of thoughts led to what had happened no more than half an hour ago, and then I understood.

The truth we both know.

"Ahh," I said with a smile. Then I felt self- conscious again and looked down with a frown.

"Don't tell me we're going back to square one, Scully." Tension immediately settled in the space between us.

My eyes closed. I breathed in a ragged breath and felt tears gather behind my eyelids. I brought my head up and looked at Mulder through blurred vision. I could feel my heart fill with love, knowing that I'd defeated my fear earlier and acknowledged his words, the truth, and it was amazing. Beyond wonderful.

But old habits die hard, and my instincts to keep my impulses in check at all times for eight years were still taking their toll.

I let the tears come as my shoulders and head drooped. I looked weak and I knew it. I didn't care. Mulder slid off the bed and walked over to me with open arms. I wrapped my arms around his neck and put my forehead against his chest.

"Scully," he said quietly. "Don't be scared of this. It's okay. It's... more than okay, it's what it should be."

"I know," I replied, my voice thick with tears. "I know," I repeated with more certainty.

"God. Scully... Dana... would you look at me?" I obliged, tilting my head back to find his face a deliciously small distance from mine. Then he suddenly looked scared, and I smiled sadistically. He grinned too, then gathered himself up again.

"Okay I'm going to say this on the count of three," Mulder said quickly. "And this time you better appreciate it. One. Two. Three."

"I love you."

We said it at the same time. I knew it was coming.

We barely had time to smile again before we impulsively kissed. It was the best start to a kiss yet--we were getting better at it after a pathetic record of experience for either of us during our partnership. My frustration during those droughts had been so pent up that I sometimes envied the corpses I examined, thinking they probably had had action much more recently than me. And then I'd feel guilty and remember it had been awhile since my last confession.

The kiss gradually came to a full and complete stop after a few minutes and I rested my head on his shoulder against his cheek, our arms still wrapped protectively around each other. We were silent for a time. Our specialty.

"So what now?" Mulder asked finally. I breathed in and nervously considered the simple yet heavy question, my eyes losing focus. I started with reviewing the past to bring about a quick hypothesis of where we were now. Thoughts of running, hiding, and bargaining for my life around the country and across international borders intertwined with images of Mulder and myself that fateful night in his apartment. I have to admit, I was impressed with my brain's ability to make my life into a movie trailer.

And then after the intense passion my mind gave way to the simpler times, when Mulder would guide me with a gentle hand on my back towards the door or tap my chin a bit to get my attention or sleep against the passenger side door during an overnight drive to our next investigation, his shirt rumpled and hair disheveled over his forehead. But I wouldn't want any other way--in the quiet and illuminated by moonlight, it was a breathtaking sight every time.

I calmly removed myself my reverie.

"I have an idea," I said slowly, "And I'm not sure how necessary it is at this point consid-"

Mulder's cell phone cut me off. William immediately cried out. I let go of Mulder so he could go answer it while I tended to the baby.

"Mulder," he greeted. "Yeah." An extended pause while he listened to the other end. "Yeah right. Since when do you give practical advice, sir?... Sorry... Yeah, yeah, I understand. But when?... Okay. Look, I need to think this over. I'll call you back." Mulder hung up.

"Think what over?" I asked.

Mulder hesitated. His hand holding the phone twisted nervously before he told me.

Mulder had been told by Kersh to leave town. Danger was nothing new for us, but this was different. Things were much more fragile since Mulder was returned. These supersoldiers were unstoppable. What I doubted most was Kersh as the adviser. He had never seemed the type to care what happened to Mulder--in fact, I knew he couldn't care less. So it was either a trap or a request done only because the purest form of risk was at hand, when those who supposedly hated showed there was actually a heart beating beneath their cold exterior.

Either way, it shook me. It killed the naivete that had blissfully settled in earlier that night. Things were never perfect, and I cursed myself for ever believing they could be. I put William back into his crib and reassumed the alpha role.

"You're going to go," I said relatively calmly. My inflection gave room for Mulder to object, which he did.

"Scully, I'm not leaving you-"

"Yes you are. You will *not* risk your chances here. You don't have nine lives, Mulder."

"Only two."

"Right." I smiled a little at the insanity of how true that was.

"But it's not just you anymore, Dana." I was surprised to hear two Danas in a row. It was unfamiliar and an awkward feeling, but I had never said my first name was off limits. If it made him feel closer to me, then he was welcome. "We have this child now to protect."

"I know. But I can take care of him while you take care of yourself. And when it's safe for you to return, we can raise him together. Please, Mulder. Protect yourself."

It struck me then how reliant we'd become on each other, how strange it was to encourage him to be in charge of his own safety. For me not to watch his back and vice versa.

"Why can't you go with me?" He asked. He sounded like a boy on his first day of kindergarten who didn't want his parent to leave him. But I understood.

I thought about it. "It's not logical, Mulder. We can't afford to travel around together for long considering you're no longer employed and maternity leave pay doesn't last forever. And it'll be harder to find one person versus three."

I stopped. Those were the only two reasons I could think of at the time.

"That's it?" Mulder asked.

"Y-yes," I stammered lamely.

"And you won't even entertain the notion of going."

I hesitated. And apparently it was all the answer he needed.

He stared at me in an angry shock for a moment, then looked down at the floor beside the bed. He reached for his shoes and started to put one on.

"Mulder, stop," I said and walked over to him.

"Oh, so now you want to stop me, I see," he said.

"Knock it off! Mulder!" I stopped and gathered my thoughts. "I don't want you to go--you need to go. I want to go with you but I need to stay here. And I don't like the thought of involving our newborn in a manhunt. That horrifies me." I knew what he would to say to that so I quickly added, "And I'll be terrified knowing you could be in danger at the same time I'm thinking about you. But please think of it from a different perspective, that by leaving us here you're saving your son's life."

A pause. "Leave him with your mom."

I sighed. I still thought about it for a moment but knew it wasn't right. "Mulder, if it was any other child, I would. But he was a baby born in extremely stressful surroundings, not to mention he's not even a week old yet. I need to be with him. I need to know he's fine at all times."

Mulder's gaze turned towards his feet, one covered by a shoe and the other just a sock. I could see him smile a little at the ridiculous sight through his anger.

"And I'll need to know you're okay," I reassured him. "Whenever you have the opportunity, whenever you know it's safe you have to contact me. Okay?"

Mulder bit his lip, still looking in the direction of the floor. "Yeah," he said eventually.

"Thank you," I said. I started doing calculations in my head. "So, Kersh said no more than forty- eight hours. We have to get everything out of your apartment so it'll be safe, and you have to book your own arrangements because I won't let you tell me that information. That's a lot to do in two days. I think your insomnia will prove useful."

He smiled ruefully. "And we're going to plan a return schedule too. I'm going to be waiting to come back here as soon as I leave." He paused. "And I do mean here," he added, his voice a softer tone.

Mulder living with me. A shock entered my system, but not enough to distract me from the warmth and excitement his words stirred in me as well. "Mm, well there is room," I said nonchalantly, looking pointedly at the side of the bed he'd earlier staked his own.

He noted my gaze and looked over his shoulder. "Good," he said. "Hmm."

In one fell swoop he looked back at me, picked me up like a groom with his bride over the threshold and easily moved me the few feet to the bed, throwing me and himself on top simultaneously.

"Forty-eight hours is longer than you'd think," he said demurely. "I think we can spare a little time."

"A little? That's all you need? Aww," I said, pouting.

"I'm sorry."

"Quiet," he said sternly and covered my mouth with his. I laughed, the sound muffled, but it didn't seem suppressed and neither did I. I felt free, for the first time in a very long time, maybe ever. I was in love more than I could ever justify, I could trust completely, and despite the constant risks to our lives, I felt safe.

Two days later

I walked from the bathroom to the living room and surveyed the bags. He was ready to go it would seem, but I knew he wasn't, and neither was I. But it had to be done, or he would become nothing but new prey in the hands of an indestructible and apathetic predator. There was no choice; the only option was to try to survive.

I was going to be strong for him. I would not let him see me as shaken as I knew I would be; I would not let him change his mind.

I went to check on the baby and found him awake, staring at his star mobile intently.

"You like that?" I said, spinning it with my hand. I smiled at him and watched his eyes follow the mobile's revolutions.

I heard the water shut off in the bathroom; Mulder was done with his shower. I waited with anticipation for him to walk back to us. A mix of anxiety and excitement derived from both shameless lust of seeing a wet Mulder, wearing nothing but a towel, and a nervous dread that soon he and the bags in the other room would disappear for a what could be a brutally long separation. After the horrors of how he was returned from the abduction, my tolerance for these partings was nonexistent.

I heard Mulder's footsteps approach but kept my eyes on the crib, enjoying my impromptu test. I soon felt him slip his arms around me and tuck his head next to mine. He passed with flying colors.

He sighed. "This is all I want. Honestly. Just us and our baby, right here." He paused. "We're a family."

I smiled. "Yeah," I said in a near whisper, my smile growing. "We are."

A transfixed image of the three of us brought my mind back to two days ago when I had my little vision and had started to answer Mulder's "So what now?" inquiry.

"And ah," I continued casually, "I must say that our family was created in quite the unorthodoxed fashion. People frown upon this kind of thing you know, unmarried parents."

I felt Mulder stiffen. "Are you saying what I think you're saying?"

I grinned and released myself from his grip, turning so I could face him directly. "I want to marry you," I said confidently. Mulder started to say something but I shushed him. "But not now-- you leave in a few hours and we don't need to risk receiving additional attention before the trip even begins.

"But I'm also not letting you go empty-handed," I continued. "I'm giving you a commitment that you probably sensed years ago but could use confirmation of. I'm yours, Mulder. You have me as long as we live. Beyond that, really."

Mulder's face was that of pure adoration. "Thank you," he said in a breathless daze. "And that goes for me too. But... Dana?" I could tell the transition from `Scully' wasn't quite complete.


"You ended a sentence with a preposition."


"You said, `but could use confirmation of'. Improper English."

"'Improper English' is a fragment. And scientists aren't typically English experts. Haven't you ever encountered a math teacher who can't spell well?"

"You can't take a joke, can you." "Mm, not without analyzing it, no."

"Well I'll miss that, not to mention everything else."

"So will I." I felt emotions well up inside and knew I was about to cry. I suspected he felt the same.

And I was right.

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