Title: Breathe
Author: gwinne
Feedback: gwinne@yahoo.com
Website: http://www.dreamwater.org/xfileluv/gwinne/gwinne.html
Archive: Ephemeral, Gossamer; otherwise, please ask
Keywords: MSR and a pinch of angst
Spoilers: set between and during "DeadAlive" and "Three Words"
Disclaimer: I claim only to love these characters.

Summary: "Just remember to breathe."


"Keep breathing," the voice says from the front of the room."Listen to your body breathe."

Scully inhales slowly, raising her arms above her head, stretching back. Then she exhales, a long eight counts, lowering her arms until her palms meet in front of her breasts. Drowsy, she opens her eyes. Amy, the teacher, kneels beside her and breathes.

"Bend forward from the hips," Amy says, "and keep your breathing going. Imagine your arms are still moving up and down. Move with the breath. Slowly."

Her back cracks as she leans forward, belly resting heavily against her thighs. Scully feels gentle pressure on her lower back as Amy pushes down, willing her spine to lengthen. Her forearms rest on the padded mat in front of her and she exhales."Good," Amy says. The floor creaks as the teacher stands and moves back to her mat at the front of the room.

"Relax your hips," Scully hears. "Relax your shoulders. Relax your hands; let them soften like a cat's paw." Amy's voice melts like cotton candy, and Scully feels herself melting with each breath, her body softening. She needed this; it's been a long day. It's been a long year.


When she left the hospital, Mulder was asleep, his dinner untouched on the bedside table. She didn't want to leave until they'd talked--really talked-- about the baby, but Doggett insisted that she go home and get some much- needed rest.

"You're not doing anybody any good sitting here scrunched up like that. And you're almost as pale as he is." Doggett gestured toward Mulder, his chest rising and falling with each breath.

She'd sit there all night, just to watch him breathe. "Go get yourself a hamburger and take a long, hot bath."

"A hamburger and a bath?" She'd been sitting so long that her hips ached, and she stumbled a bit when she stood.

"Trust me. I know a thing or two about pregnant women," Doggett said, steadying her with a quick hand to her upper arm.

She nodded slowly and palmed the upper curve of her belly. Since Mulder first spoke his first tentative words, the baby hadn't stopped moving. "Maybe," she said, clearing her throat, "maybe when he wakes up you could give him a few pointers?"

"I get the feeling he'd rather not hear the what to do when you're expecting speech from me."

"Yeah, probably not the best idea I've had today."

"You okay, Agent Scully?"

"I'll be fine, Agent Doggett. Thanks." She left both men she calls "partner" in the quiet hospital and walked into the cool spring night.


On her back, Scully watches the sky become a deep midnight blue through the skylight. The class is in shavasana, and she knows she shouldn't remain in the posture for long, as the weight of her uterus threatens to compress her aorta and vena cava. When she first started taking yoga, back in her first trimester, it was still light in early evening. Then, after Mulder's funeral, nights lengthened and she made sure to place her mat directly under the skylight so she could watch the constellations change; the rest of her classmates closed their eyes while Scully looked for the brightest star, imagining that it was Mulder's eye, looking down on her.

Shavasana, the corpse pose, the rigored position of her partner's body for a long three months. Her empty stomach churns, and the irony leaves the bitter taste of bile in her mouth. She rolls onto her left side and pushes herself back into the cross-legged easy pose, breathing deeply. She concentrates on the sound her breath makes as her diaphragm expands and contracts, but all she hears is the hiss of the ventilator in Mulder's hospital room.


"You look different," Mulder said when he woke for the second time.

"Hmmm?" she asked, opening her eyes.

"I said, 'you look different,'" he repeated, stroking her hand with his thumb. "Your hair is longer."

"Mmmm," she said, blinking slowly.

"And your face looks. . ," he paused, and she watched his eyes become clear and wide with recognition. "You were sick," he said, "when I left."

"Yes, Mulder, I was." She nodded, stalling. As many times as she'd imagined telling him she was pregnant, she never imagined him finding out like this, after spending her second trimester sealed in a coffin in Raleigh. "But I'm okay now. We'll all be okay now."

Someone, probably Doggett, had thought to cover her with a standard-issue hospital blanket while she slept, and, as she leaned forward to rest her head again on Mulder's chest, the blanket bunched at her waist. Ta-da, she thought. "We got your miracle, Mulder," she said, squeezing his hand.

"Miracle? What are you talking about?"

"A baby. I'm pregnant, Mulder." Folding the blanket, she stood, laying it across the foot of the bed. Then she took Mulder's hand and pressed it against the hard ridge under her navel. The baby rolled back and forth, a small boat unmoored in an amniotic sea. Mulder pulled his hand back quickly, as if scalded.

"How long?" He swallowed hard.

"You were gone for nearly six months. I'm due in nine weeks."

She noted the energy it took for him to do the calculations in his head, a simple equation that would have been effortless before Oregon. "So you were pregnant. That day in Oregon, you were pregnant."

"Yes."

"I don't...I don't know what to say."

"It's okay, Mulder. We'll have plenty of time to talk. Why don't you get some rest?" When she leaned over to kiss him, he swiped his knuckles across her abdomen.

"I wouldn't have gone, Scully, if I'd known about him."

She gulped back the latest round of tears and nodded, walking out the door with a fist tight against the small of her back.


The next time Mulder mentioned the baby was at home, in the safety of his clean Apartment. "I think I know how much that means to you," he said, gesturing toward her abdomen with his chin.

She wanted to scream, so she clenched her fists until her nails cut crescents into the flesh of her palms. Through three months of searching and three months of grieving, only their child sustained her. After all the tests and all the prayers, she knows without a doubt the child is theirs, and he ripped at the scabs of her worst fears with the jagged edge of the single pronoun "that."

"I'm having trouble processing all this," he said. If she were someone else, she would have lifted her sweater and placed his hand against the taut, warm skin of her abdomen. If she were someone else, she would have shown him exactly how he fits in, how they fit together like puzzle pieces that night the baby was conceived, mouth to mouth, hand to hand, hip to hip. Instead, she swallowed the sounds, ready to spill dark and hot as burnt coffee from her lips. She focused on the insistent ache in her back, feeling it travel up her hips and settle between her shoulder blades.

"Take as much time as you need," she said and turned toward the door. "I'll be back later."


She remains hunched forward in an awkward child's pose, knees open to accommodate her growing belly, forehead resting on the blue and pink kindergarten mat Amy shoved toward her when they moved into posture. Her classmates are putting on their coats and shoes, gathering car keys and purses, but Scully just rests and breathes and feels her baby move. It's so much easier to breathe than to go back home where she knows Mulder is waiting.

"Dana?" Amy says, placing her hand against Scully's shoulder."Are you okay?"

"Yeah," Scully says, shifting to her hands and knees. Amy's strong hands help steady her as she unfurls her spine to stand."Just tired."

"Being pregnant will do that, for sure." Scully knows Amy and her husband don't have any children; still, she always thinks of her yoga instructor as a Mother Earth Goddess, with her soothing voice and gentle hands, her tall frame and wide hips, hips her own mother would say were meant for bearing children.

She toes on her shoes, doing a few tentative neck rolls to work away the lingering tension. "Dana?" Amy calls as Scully opens the studio door. "Just remember to breathe."


When Mulder decided to go back to work, she wanted to believe that their lives would return to some semblance of normalcy--that despite a new partner in the basement and a small tenant in her uterus, they could still be Mulder and Scully of late nights and Indian take-out, unexplained phenomena and cult films. How wrong she was, she realized that night in her apartment when Langly asked about Mulder's involvement in her "blessed event." Nothing would ever be the same again.

When Mulder agreed to father her child, he'd said he feared this possibility. But that was before, before the IVF failed a first time, a second time; before they became lovers one late April night. They aren't lovers anymore, but they are partnered in the most intimate sense of the word.

In the days since he's been out of the hospital, they have shared meals and stilted conversation. They have watched must-see TV and laughed about old cases. He hasn't once said he loves her, that he wants to be there when this child is born. When she left Doggett standing on the street, when she walked back into her apartment and saw Mulder hunched over his work in the dim light of her living room, she wondered if he would ever be that interested in their son.


"Scully?" The sound of Mulder's voice in the living room distracts her, but she keeps breathing, arms overhead, palms pressed together. She hasn't seen him in days, not since that awful night at the FSC.

She hears him stop in the doorway to her bedroom. Still, she breathes. "Is that some new-agey Lamaze thing I should know about?"

She inhales and opens her arms wide, raising her chin to the sky.

Then she exhales slowly, slowly, bringing her hands back to her chest and lowering her face. She leans forward slightly, cradling her belly.

She feels Mulder's warm hands on her back, his lips at the nape of her neck. "You're tense," he murmurs, placing a single kiss on her bare shoulder. This is the most intimate they've been since he woke from the dead, and she's self-conscious in her black unitard. She knows he can see every curve of her body.

"I wanted to apologize," he says. He sighs and rests his head on the bony crest of her shoulder. His thumbs circle her lower back, prodding for knots and working them slowly. How she's missed this, all these months. "I know I haven't been the most supportive."

"Shhh," she says, exhaling.

He pulls her back against his chest and hefts the weight of her belly. The baby jabs at his father's hands. "Wow," Mulder says.

"Mmmmm."

"Tell me what to do, Scully."

She has plenty of words. She's been saving them up, turning them over in her mind for days like the most precious snowglobe. As she relaxes into Mulder's embrace, she envisions each snowflake settling at the bottom of tinted glass. She knows that with a single flick of her wrist they will rise up again, but, for now, everything is quiet and still.

"Breathe with me," she says, resting in Mulder's arms as their child's kicks soften and slow. They sit together as day turns to night, this small family, just breathing.

Fin


To my dearest Bonetree for Christmas. Merci beaucoup for elements and more.

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