Title: Could've Been

Author: RogueAngel

RANGEL7@wanadoo.fr (please note the new email addy)

RATING: PG-13-R for some bad words

CATEGORY: SRA (my favorite!)

SPOILERS: Momento Mori, I guess. Big one for Emily.

ARCHIVING: Yes, please. Just let me know where.

SUMMARY: Scully has something interesting to tell to Mulder.

DISCLAIMER: They aren't mine. They belong to CC and FOX. I am making absolutely no money. What a shame.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Well, I'm finally settled in France, my life is settling down and I'm up to my old tricks again. <g> Maybe someday I'll try writing some other type of story. This one just came to me while I was working on Nine Hours. Don't worry, I'm still working on NH, it's kind of gotten out of hand, but I am making progress. I gotta let my muse do what she wants to do, or she gets really pissy. I'm sure some of you out there understand.

:-) Besides, I have a goal. I want to be on the Natasha's Novel Archive! Anyone want to make me a dust jacket? Just wondering. <g> THANKS: As usual, to Cheryl for being a great friend and editor. And to Jeannie, for being my beta-reader.

 

Could've Been

by RogueAngel

 

"Mulder, I'm pregnant."

I can't speak. It feels as if my stomach is somewhere around my toes, and that my heart has firmly lodged itself in my throat, making me incapable of speech. Hell, I can hardly breathe. She is....I can't even think the word so bad is my shock.

When she said that we needed to talk, I thought she was finally going to tell what has been bothering her. It's been six months since Emily's death, and while she's rallied better than most expected, she's still not the Scully she was before. Not that I expected her to be like she was when she first started in the x-files, all enthusiasm and innocence. No, I realize she can never go back, though I would give just about anything for her to have never lost her faith in her fellow man as I have. But that's not what I was referring to. I'm talking about the spark, the inner fire, that *is* Scully. It's been gone for awhile now, though I've seen flickers of it on one or two cases, or during one of our 'debates.'

I thought she was ready to tell me what was going on. I never in my wildest dreams - nightmares - thought that she would tell me she's....

"Earth to Mulder." Scully's hand is waving in front of my eyes. I feel myself blushing. I guess I didn't cover my shock very well. "Didn't mean to shock you speechless," she tries to grin, but it never reaches her eyes. Scully is not particularly happy, I can tell. Now the question remains, is she not happy about telling me - leaving me - or is she not happy about having the baby.

Baby. Scully is having a baby.

*Baby.*

With a jolt my mind begins working again. She's not supposed to be able to have children. I saw her eggs myself, was with her when she received the call from her doctor telling her that the tests had confirmed her infertility. I was there dammit! Holding her hand. This isn't possible.

"But, I, it....it's not supposed to be...," I stammer. Jesus, is that really my voice? It sounds raw. I suppose trying to talk with your heart lodged in your windpipe is a bit hard on the vocal cords. "The doctors. They said..."

Scully is nodding. She's expected this, my denial. "I know what they said, Mulder." She tells me, finally sitting down in her chair and looking at me over my desk. "But the fact is, I *am* pregnant." Her blue eyes are piercing me, trying to read what is going through my mind. I hope she can figure it out, because I have absolutely no idea.

"Uh, how?" I ask, trying not to sound stupid.

This time the smile does reach her eyes. I can see the teasing glint. "After watching all those videos you *don't* own...." She shrugged, her smile fading. "The usual way, Mulder. Nothing magical or mysterious about it."

My stomach turned to lead. I hadn't actually thought about it - yet, but now that I know that she is in this...condition, because of the 'usual way,' I have to face the fact that Scully actually *slept* with someone.

She had sex; with some guy - who wasn't me.

I wonder if it's anyone I know. No wait. I don't think I can handle that information right now.

I look up at her. She is watching me. I know that she can see my shock, I just hope she can't see my jealousy. "So," I try for a normal tone. "Are congratulations in order? I mean, this wasn't supposed to happen - or so we thought."

"I guess I'm happy," she tells me, looking towards the door, not giving me a chance to look into her eyes.

"You guess?" I can't help but question. I want Scully to be happy - always.

She looks at me. Her eyes almost gray, a definite sign of confusion. "Yes, I'm happy I'm pregnant." My gut clenches at the mention of *that* word. "I had resigned myself to never having children, and after Emily," she shrugs, the pain evident in her tortured eyes, "the topic of children hurt too much." Her voice fades away as she stares off at some unseen tableau. Talking about Emily still has the power to wound me, it must tear Scully apart. I notice as she draws a deep breath, steadying herself.

"So," I find myself asking, though an inner voice is screaming at me to stop. "Who's the lucky guy? Anyone I know?"

I can't believe I did that. I want to bang my head against my desk. How stupid can I be? I don't really want to know, but I couldn't stop myself. Must be the masochist in me.

Her blue eyes cut to me, but I see no accusation in them, only pain, and maybe sadness.

She turns away before she answers. I don't expect an explanation from her. And I don't want to antagonize her. Honest. But, I can't stop myself from being curious. After all these years as partners, I thought we had an understanding about things like this.

"This wasn't exactly a planned event," she tells me. "I didn't plan for this to happen - any of it. I just didn't." I can tell how rattled she really is now. Scully never repeats herself or rambles. She is efficient in all things, speech included. "I haven't been coping very well with Emily's death. I mean, I survived my cancer only to watch my daughter die before my eyes - how fair is that?"

I can hear the anger now. "Scully," I try to interrupt, to offer her my support.

She smiles sadly at me. "Its okay Mulder. I've learned to live with it, its just that sometimes it gets the best of me." She visibly pulls herself together. "But since her...death, " she forces the word out, "I've felt like I've been living in a vacuum. I couldn't enjoy anything, couldn't laugh. Even smiling felt false, as if some part of me was missing." She shrugs, her eyes bright. "I felt like my life wasn't worth anything, didn't have any meaning." She paused, staring off behind me at my 'I Want to Believe' poster.

Scully began talking again, it took me a moment to catch that she had switched topics - kind of. "I have a history of running the wrong way whenever something goes wrong in my life. It used to drive my parents crazy - when they found out about it. They always did." She looked over at me, her eyes piercing me with their intensity. I had the feeling that she was trying to tell me something, but I have no idea what. She continued. "I mean, I knew growing up that I could tell my parents anything, ask them anything. Deep inside I knew that I should go to the ones I love, the ones who understand me best and ask them for help when I need it." This time I knew that she was talking to me specifically, and I felt my heart tighten in my chest. "But it's so hard," she paused, looking for the right word. "So hard to be vulnerable."

I sat back in my chair. Scully was admitting to being vulnerable. This shocked me almost as much as...the other situation. I could hear Scully talking, but not all the words were registering. She was saying something about Ahab and problems and being strong. It wasn't until she repeated her comment about having a history of running the wrong way when she was having problems that I finally emerged from my stupor.

One name came to mind immediately. Ed Jerse.

Definitely not one of Scully's brighter moments.

Mine either, for that matter.

Now, I realized not long after the incident that good ol' Ed was Scully's knee jerk reaction to me and a lot of the issues that were between us at the time. Issues that I don't really want to get into right now - thank you very much - because I'm still not exactly sure what they are. I've tried, believe me, but Scully's not always very forthcoming about what is bothering her (case in point) and hey - I'm male. I was not issued a user's manual for the female brain. So sue me, okay? As much as I understand and can predict with a high percentage of accuracy, the actions of Dana Scully, Special Agent, the thoughts and feelings of *Dana* are lost to me.

Suddenly the fear that all this was my fault engulfed me. I mean, a tattoo is one thing, but a baby is totally different. "Did I...Is it something..." I managed to stutter.

When did I start being unable to string a sentence together? Oh, yeah. Right about the time she told me she was.....you know.

"Oh Mulder," she looks at me with sad eyes. "This isn't your fault. You are not the reason this happened." She's looking at me as she says this and I can tell that she is lying. And I know that she knows that I know, because she quickly looks away.

Being the glutton for punishment, I push on. "But Scully," I say, "is there something I did, or, or didn't do..."

She sighs, her shoulders slump. I get the impression that she didn't want to get into this now. But damnit, I want some answers!

"Mulder," she starts, her voice low, staring at her hands. "This isn't like before - like with Ed." Now she looks at me, a small grin touches her lips. "Don't you ever listen to me?"

Uh oh. I must have missed something earlier. "Of course," I say, though we both know that its not true.

She pauses, thinking of what to tell me, and then shakes her head. "Its not your fault. I was just at a low point, and I guess I thought a, uh," she glances at me briefly, and I swear that she is blushing, "a one night stand might....." she fades away, and then shrugs, as if she's said enough.

I guess so. My cool and logical Scully having a fling because she's having a bad day? Unbelievable. Okay, so look whose calling the kettle black. I've been known to indulge for even less reason than that, but not since one very bad mistake with a quasi-vampire - but give me some credit. I felt like my world was ending. What's so big about a fling with a vampire wannabe when you don't care what tomorrow brings?

And if we're keeping score, Scully's one up on me.

My shock turns to anger, my stomach clenching with its' intensity. I thought we had an understanding - especially after Ed. I mean, we're partners.....

The anger fades just as quickly as it started. This isn't about me, I realize that. I do, really. It's just so much easier to be angry. That way this whole situation doesn't hurt so much and I don't have to think that Scully is carrying someone else's...uh, yeah.

I take a deep breath. So we've established that Scully is in this condition because she has been having a bad year and decided to have a fling, but it's not my fault - even though she was lying when she said that. And she managed to side step my question about who the father is. I don't mind though. I don't really want to know - especially if it is someone I know, like one of the guys in VCS that are always staring at her, or some puppy dog like Pendrell, or......oh god! What if it's Skinner?

I shudder at the thought. I mean, Skinner's a nice enough guy. Very stable. But with Scully? I just can't stomach the idea.

Time to change the topic. Fast.

"So, what are you going to do?" I ask. "How far along are you?"

Suddenly she's staring at me intently. What did I say? "I'm keeping the baby, Mulder," she tells me in a soft - but firm voice.

I almost flinch. I didn't mean.... "I know that Scully," I tell her, the hurt evident in my voice. "I was just curious and I was wondering what you were going to do about work." When are you going to leave me? "That's all."

She cocks her head to the side as she studies me. I try to keep my face impassive, but I'm not sure how successful I am. Did I voice my real worry, I wonder. I don't mean to sound selfish, but the idea of not having Scully around every day scares me. And it's not just the work.

"I'll always be around Mulder," she tells me. Yep, she saw right through me. The Mulder insecurities are well known to my Scully.

"I just meant..." I try to recover some dignity here.

"It's okay, Mulder," she says, shaking her head. "I know what you mean." She reaches into a file on her desk and hands me a grainy black and white picture. I look at her questioningly - we're going to talk about work *now?* Nodding at the picture she begins talking, and everything suddenly comes into focus.

I am holding a picture of Scully's unborn son. Something very, very precious. I actually feel my eyes begin to burn with tears.

"I'm 23 weeks." I look up at her, shocked. 23 weeks is over halfway! Even us single guys know that it takes 40 weeks. "Like I said, I didn't plan for any of this to happen, and the thought that I could actually be pregnant didn't even dawn on me. I haven't been feeling bad, and my clothes have only just begun to get tight - I had lost so much weight from the cancer that I thought it was good that I was gaining." She shrugs.

"So how did you find out?" I ask, but my eyes remain on the photo in my hand. It's grainy, and it's pretty hard to make out what it is exactly - I mean, if anyone else would have handed this to me, I would have been sure that it was proof of the existence of aliens. Not that I would tell Scully that. But right about now, because Scully gave this to me, I think its the most beautiful thing in the world. It - he's - part of Scully.

"I went in for a check up. The usual stuff. It came up in my blood work, and upon further exam it was obvious that I was pregnant." I'm so focused I don't even cringe at the word. "I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't figure it out. I thought I should just cut back on Mexican food," she jokes halfheartedly. I manage a smile.

"It's not that surprising Scully," I tell her.

"Everybody was telling you that it was impossible. And you don't even show." Saying this, I try not to stare at her belly. The fact that there is another little human growing inside of her, another Scully, blindsides me. I mean, I know how all this pregnancy - see I can say it now - stuff works. I took biology. I just wasn't remotely prepared to deal with it happening to Scully.

A self-deprecatory smile spreads across her face as her hand unconsciously splays over her stomach. "I'm wearing my baggiest clothes now. Give me a couple weeks and it will be obvious. Trust me."

Whoa. Yet another image for my mind to formulate.

I smile at her. "This I can't wait to see. So, will you be eating salads for two now?" I tease.

She smiles in return. "Salads aren't what I've been craving. Peanut butter, potato salad and orange juice seem to be the order of the day - at least lately."

"Well, you know I don't sleep much, so anytime you have a late night craving and the cupboards are bare, give me a call. I'll be there in a flash." I said this jokingly, but I mean it - and so much more. And Scully being who she is, knows that I don't just mean I'll bring her food. She nods, but doesn't say anything. Maybe it's because her throat is as tight with tears as my own.

I think we've met the emotional quotient for this office for the next 20 years.

I clear my throat to break the silence. "So what are you going to do?"

"I have a meeting with Skinner in," she glances at her watch, "five minutes. I'm going to ask to be put on administrative duty here in the x-files for as long as possible. That should take me up to my due date. And after that...." she fades off.

I know what she's trying to say. "Quantico is always in need of good teachers," I say woodenly, trying to let her know that I understand that she won't be returning to the field. "It'll give you more time with junior. Nine to five and all that."

She smiles weakly as she stands. "Sounds like a vacation." She starts moving towards the door, but then stops. Slowly she turns back towards me. "I won't be in tomorrow." I raise a questioning eyebrow. "The doctor wants to do another ultrasound. I'll see you on Monday, okay?"

"Is everything all right?" I ask, suddenly worried.

Didn't she just have an ultrasound?

"Fine," she says, heading out the door. "He just wants to be sure. Bye." And then she is gone.

I don't know how long I just sat at my desk staring at the ultrasound picture that Scully had left. It was so unreal. I am happy for Scully. She had been so upset by the news that she was unable to have children. She tried to hide it, but I know her well enough to see the pain in her eyes whenever we happen upon children or babies. And after Emily, well, her pain became her armor. But now she's finally been given her chance. I am happy for her. I just wish......I don't know what I wish.

I wish this burning pain inside me would go away.

I sit here and stare at this picture, and I feel so much - love? - towards it. It's only a picture, but it is a part of Scully.

And some guy.

I guess that's what really burns. I have never had to share Scully in this way. And now I'm going to have to.

The phone finally jolts me from the study of Scully's unborn son. It must be my lucky day. Skinner wants to see me now. Probably wants to make sure I'm not going to go off the deep end with Scully gone. I'm not giving him any guarantees.

Kim, his secretary, waves me in. Must be serious. Normally he likes to make me sit and stew for a couple minutes - to think over my sins, I suppose. When I enter he is working on some paperwork, but puts it aside immediately, takes off his glasses and waves me to a chair. He has his serious-but-caring look on his face. This should be good.

"Agent Mulder," he begins. "I just got out of a meeting with Agent Scully."

"I'm aware of that, Sir," I tell him, willing to play along with the routine.

"She's asked to be put on administrative duty, then to teach at Quantico."

Like this is news to me? Didn't Scully and I just have this conversation? "Yes sir. I'm aware of Scully's plans."

He leans back in his chair, doing his best to look paternal. "Are you okay with this?"

What can I say? I shrug. "What other choice do I have, sir?"

Skinner nods silently. Pretending that he understands what I'm going through. As if. I shift uncomfortably in my seat. I don't like the way that he is watching me.

"I take it that congratulations are not in order?" he finally says.

I'm confused. "Sir?" I ask. Why is he asking me? "I know that this came as a...surprise to Agent Scully, sir. It wasn't supposed to happen, but it did. She is happy. And I'm happy for her." Didn't they already go over this?

"No, Agent Mulder," he says, placing his elbows on his desk and leaning towards me. "I meant, are congratulations in order - for *you,*" he clarifies.

Oh. *That's* what he meant. Scratch Skinner off the list of possibilities. I can feel my face start to redden. "Uh, no. I'm not the...I'm not....No, Sir. Congratulations are not in order," I manage to stutter. The fact that I wish that I should be the one congratulated, isn't a total shock to me.

Skinner looks away. I think he actually looks - disappointed? "I was afraid that was the case," he says softly. "I thought after...." he breaks off, realizing that he probably said too much.

I perk up immediately. What does he know that I don't? "After what, sir?" I prod.

Now he looks distinctly uncomfortable. But I'm not about to let him off the hook. He clears his throat.

"I hear rumors, Mulder. And after

Scully's.......actions," he finally says, "at the awards banquet in February," he shrugs. "I thought you two might have come to an understanding."

"Understanding?" I can't help but interrupt. I definitely missed something. "What awards banquet?"

Skinner looks at me disapprovingly. "The one that you managed to find a way to miss, leaving your partner to represent your department on her own."

Oh, that one. I never have liked FBI functions, but if I had known....

Skinner looks away from me. "I was hoping that she didn't follow through with what it looked like she intended to do and that the rumors I heard were just talk."

"People have been talking about Scully?" I ask, angry that anyone would say anything against her.

"The FBI is one big gossip mill, or haven't you noticed that yet?" he says sardonically.

I guess I have, but I've been out of the loop for a long time now. Scully usually keeps me informed about the really interesting stuff. Guess this little tidbit just slipped past her. I shrug in response.

"I will not spread rumors about Agent Scully - even to her partner," he says before I can protest. "If the rumors are correct or not, it's up to Scully to tell you what's going on. I just hope that you will be on your best behavior when she is finally transferred out. The X-files are more important than any one agent. You do realize that, don't you Mulder?"

I nod, unable to speak. I don't want to hear about Scully being transferred out - even if it's inevitable.

Skinner puts his glasses back on and reaches for his papers. A sure sign that I'm being dismissed. I stand to leave, but he stops me before I reach the door.

"Scully informed me that she will be having another ultrasound tomorrow and will not be in. Will you being needing some time off too?"

Now I'm confused. "Uh, I don't think so, sir. If you're wondering if Scully asked me to take her to her appointment, she didn't. She says everything is fine, the doctor just wants another look, or something."

Skinner actually snorts at my comment. "There is nothing routine about a second ultrasound performed two days after the first, Agent Mulder," he informs me. "Especially if it is a level 2 ultrasound which this one is. Obviously Scully is planning to carry this baby to term - but don't you wonder why she told you about the baby now - and not after the second ultrasound, when she'll be more sure of the baby's, and her own, condition?" He let the question hang in the air for a moment while I try to find something to say. "That will be all, Agent Mulder," he officially dismisses me.

Okay. Now what was that last part about, I wonder as I head back to my office. I have to admit he has a point. I know nothing about ultrasounds and other pregnancy stuff, but having two so close together sounded odd to me too. I suppose if I hadn't been so distracted by the picture in my hands, Scully's response of 'fine,' would have activated my Scully radar.

So, her appointment tomorrow isn't as routine as she made it sound - I'll trust Skinner on this one. The question remains: why tell me now, and not later, when she has all the answers. That would be the typical Scully MO. What's different now?

Suddenly the conversation from earlier comes to mind. 'I have a history of running the wrong way when things go wrong,' I hear her voice repeating in my mind. She might have run the wrong way the first time, but now she is running to me. Scully was asking me for help. Not directly, obviously. But by telling me now, she's giving me the opportunity to support her.

Wow. I'm getting better at this stuff. With Skinner's help. But better late than never, and I'll still have plenty of time to finagle my way to the doctor's with her.

My satisfaction of having figured this out turns quickly to concern. Scully must really be worried about tomorrow, if she's breaking her code of silence about not telling me anything until she has all the facts. The joy that she is finally going to have a baby tainted by the possibility that something could be wrong - it's got to be hard on her. Everyone has a breaking point. I pray that nothing happens to push Scully closer towards hers.

We are definitely making progress. She didn't ask me outright, but she did drop enough hints. Honestly, I probably would have found a way to see her tomorrow, but whether or not I would have found the balls to invite myself to her doctor's appointment or not is doubtful. But now, now, I have the equivalent of an engraved Scully invitation - decoded of course. Somehow, I don't think she's going to turn me away when I show up at her door tomorrow morning. I wonder what time her appointment is?

The phone is ringing when I open my door. I pick up Scully's extension as I carefully look over her desk top for any hints as to where and when tomorrow. I pause. No need to invade her privacy. Skinner just wanted to let me know that Scully's appointment was at 9am.

I should really buy that man some flowers or something.

**

Next morning

8:24am

I've been sitting outside Scully's apartment for an hour now, alternately watching her progress as she gets ready for the day - bathroom light on, then the kitchen light - and staring at the ultrasound picture from yesterday. I'm confident that she won't turn me away, but I'm still nervous. I don't want to be too pushy, but I want to be there for her - and Junior.

I guess it's now or never.

I don't even have to knock on the door. In fact, I almost knock on her forehead, she opens the door so quickly.

"I was wondering when you were going to come in," she says. She turns away quickly, leaving me standing - chagrined - in the open door. "Do you want some coffee before we leave?"

"Uh, sure," I respond, stepping inside and closing the door. I walk into the kitchen and she hands me a cup.

"So, how long were you sitting out there?"

"When did you see me?" I counter. Her back is to me as she as she washes the few dishes that are dirty and I can't tell what she is thinking. Best to tread carefully.

Turning to face me, she offers me a small smile. "I saw you down there about 30 minutes ago. After I got out of the shower. Why didn't you just come up?"

I grin and shrug. "Didn't want to intrude."

She snorts as she pushes away from the counter.

"We better get going. Do you want to drive?"

"Sure," I say, following her to the door. "Uh, where are we going?"

"You mean you don't know?" she teases. "Don't worry, I'll give you the directions."

The drive to her appointment is quiet. Only Scully's occasional directions breaking the silence. I'm relieved that it is a comfortable one. Scully's not upset that I'm here, I can tell. I can also tell that she is not as calm as she would like me to think. She keeps on touching her necklace. Something she only does when she's upset or nervous. I'm glad I came.

The doctor's office is in a small medical complex near Georgetown. The waiting room is tastefully, if a bit blandly, decorated. But at least the magazines are fairly recent. I sit down and flip through a Cosmopolitan - it was either that or Redbook, and I don't really need to know 25 ways to redecorate my bathroom on a budget. Scully sits down next to me, but still doesn't speak. That's fine with me. We can get to that later, I'm just happy to be here. Besides, I wouldn't know what to say.

"Dana?" a nurse says from a doorway, about five minutes after we first sat down. "Are you ready?"

Scully nods and stands, walking towards the door. Then she does something I didn't expect. Turning back to me she says, "Are you coming?"

"Sure," I say, obviously startled. "If you want me to."

She holds out her hand. "I wouldn't have asked if I didn't." I stand and take her hand, following her back into the exam room.

"Okay, Dana," the nurse is saying as we enter. "You know the drill everything off from the waist down, socks are okay, of course. Just place the blanket over your lap. This will all be external. Andy will be running the machine, but Dr. Howard will be supervising this time. Oh!" she exclaimed as she finally turned around and caught sight of me. "I'm glad you brought someone with you."

"Jeannie, this Fox Mulder," she introduced me.

"My.....friend."

"Its nice to meet you Fox," Jeannie nodded. "I'm glad that you're here for Dana. This isn't something you should go through alone." She pats Scully encouragingly before leaving. "Everything will be fine."

After Jeannie leaves and closes the door, Scully starts dropping her pants. I turn around quickly trying to look nonchalant. I know I pulled the same stunt on her once - just to see if I could throw her off balance - but this is different.

"What's the matter, Mulder," Scully asks me, her amusement evident. "It isn't anything you haven't seen before."

"I beg to differ," I retort, trying to sound dignified.

"I haven't seen *yours* before."

"Well, there's always the first time for everything," she taunts. I can hear her clothes rustling as she folds them.

I like this teasing Scully, it's been awhile since I've seen her. I know she's doing it to keep her mind off of things. "So Scully," I say in a sly voice. "Are you a real redhead?"

Her movements pause - Gotcha! - then she starts moving towards the exam table. I hear the blanket rustling. "Why don't you turn around and find out?"

Tempting, I must say, but I count to five to make sure that she is fully covered. "Aw shucks," I say in mock disappointment, snapping my fingers. "My one chance!"

She smiles at me. "Oh, I'm sure you'll have other chances." Now that is an interesting prospect. I'm still trying to think of a proper response when the doctor walks in after a brief knock.

Dr. Howard is a stately looking man. Thinning gray hair perfectly combed, his shirt and pants neatly pressed without a wrinkle. Shoes polished. Teeth perfect. Skin tanned, probably by the time spent on some golf course.

"Hello, Dana," he says, his teeth white against his tanned skin. "I'm Dr. Howard. It's nice to meet you." Scully nods in response. "As soon as Andy gets here, we'll get started. OK?"

"Yes." Seeing the doctor looking at me, she introduces us quickly. I can tell that her mind is focused elsewhere. There is a little frown between her eyebrows.

"Fox, its nice to meet you," he says, giving me a firm handshake. Andy walks in and begins setting up whatever he needs to set up. "Have you ever been to an ultrasound?" I shake my head. I'm feeling really weird here. He's treating me like I'm the...Like Scully's...you know. Scully's not saying anything - her frown lines are getting deeper - so I just play along. "Well," he continues, pulling a chair over to the exam table. "You sit here - or stand if you prefer - by Dana. Andy will get this contraption working and he and I will take a look-see at the little one. This is a level two ultrasound, so it will be pretty detailed, but, before we display it on the screen up there," he points to a small monitor above the foot of the table, facing Scully and I, "Andy and I are going to do some checking first." He pauses, waiting for me to agree, so I nod my head again. "I don't know how much Dana has told you, but there was enough suspicion of - an abnormality in the placenta and uterine lining that we wanted a better look. Baby's fine, but better to be safe than sorry, right?" He cheerfully claps me on the back.

I sit down next to Scully, then stand uncomfortably. This all feels surreal. It even gets more strange when Andy spreads some goo onto Scully's stomach. I am briefly amazed by two things. The first is that she actually does have some roundness to her once flat belly, and two, because of the shifting of the ultrasound probe, I discover that Scully actually is a redhead.

My quick amusement fades when I feel Scully's hand grabbing mine. There is nothing dramatic or forceful about it. She doesn't squeeze tightly or anything. She just seems to need the extra contact as we await Dr. Howard's decision.

It is definitely odd to see Scully as a patient. Even after her abduction and during her cancer, she was always talking with the doctors, asking questions, wanting clarification. That she isn't doing this now, scares me.

A muffled 'harrumf' by Dr. Howard, causes Scully's hand to tighten on mine. I glance at her, but she is concentrating on the two men at the computer console. It's probably only been 5 minutes, since this whole thing started, but it feels like forever. Did he find something? Why isn't he saying something?

He mumbles and points at something on the screen and then turns to face us. Scully's hand tightens. She's expecting the worst, but nothing in her expression shows it.

"So Dana," Dr. Howard begins, "have you been feeling a lot of movement lately? Since your last visit here?"

Scully nods. "Yes. The movement is the main reason that I made an appointment with Dr. Thomas."

The doctor's eye's light up. "How is Brad doing? I haven't seen him in a couple months. Not since he beat me on 9 holes." He laughs.

What planet is this guy on? Who cares about Brad and his golf game?

"He's fine," Scully answers in a tight voice.

"I'm sorry, my dear," Dr. Howard says, realizing his lack of bedside manner. "I shouldn't be gossiping right now." He turns to Andy, who has been busily studying the screen in front of him. "How's it going?"

"Looks fine," the technician answers.

Howard turns back to us with a smile. It has to be good news, right? If he's smiling? Scully's grip doesn't change, but her body is tense. Waiting.

"So, Fox," he addresses me. "Do you have a preference?"

Why the hell is he talking to me?! "Preference?" I ask, confused.

He nods. "You know, preference. Boy, girl. What do you want?"

I'm a bit dumbfounded by this line of questioning. Scully's tight as a bow string, waiting for this guy's verdict on the health of her child and he's asking me - her partner! - what *I* would prefer.

"Healthy," I manage to say.

"Good man," he says, reaching to turn on the monitor for us to see. "Everything looks fine Dana," he finally tells us, holding up his hand to stop Scully from asking her questions. "Fox, Dana. I'd like be the first to introduce you to your son - and daughter." Scully and I stare at the TV in shock. Her hand is squeezing mine almost painfully, and I squeeze back. When I can finally pull my eyes away from the sight before me, I see the tears pooling in Scully's eyes. Nothing's wrong - she's just having twins. I let out a breath I didn't know that I was holding.

She looks up at me and I see the joy and happiness in her eyes. I am very glad that I came.

Unlike the picture she gave me yesterday, this one has much more resolution and color. I mean, he - they - still look like aliens, but I don't have to guess what body part I'm looking at. And I can definitely see two little heads in there. And two little hearts beating.

"The little girl was probably hiding behind her brother during your last visit. And today she's decided to come out and show herself." Dr. Howard is smiling at us, but neither of us are paying him much attention. "The abnormality that Andy thought he saw was probably one of her appendages, or her placenta shadowing his."

"Are they healthy?" Scully finally asks.

"As far as this shows," he responds, "yes, they are as healthy as any other child at this stage of development." It's a carefully worded answer, but I don't care. I'm watching their little teeny tiny hearts beat. "Do twins run in the family?"

"I have some cousins on my mother's side, and I think my great-great grandmother had a twin." Scully has yet to look away from the screen. The frown lines and tension are gone, replaced by a small half smile.

"So what do you think, Mulder?" she asks me.

What do I think? What do I think? I'm in awe. Of the two little bodies on the screen before me. Of the woman currently holding my hand. Of the feeling of pride racing through my body - even though I know that they aren't mine. What do I think, she asks!

"I think," I say, clearing my throat to get past the tightness. "I think there's going to be a lot of cigars to pass around."

Scully looks up at me, her cheeks wet with tears, and squeezes my hand. I reach out to wipe away her tears, happy to be able to touch her.

"Thank you," she whispers, resting her cheek against my hand.

"For what?" I whisper back.

"For being here. For...everything."

"I wouldn't want to be anywhere else," I say this, and its true, but I'm afraid of going to far. Of stepping over whatever boundaries Scully has constructed in this new evolution of our partnership. "Besides, you're buying lunch, right?" I joke.

Scully smiles. "I suppose lunch is in order."

**

Scully's apartment

9 weeks later

10:27pm

It's been two months since that first ultrasound. Scully is now 32 weeks pregnant, and the Wonder Twins are growing like weeds. Her little pouch of a stomach I first glanced in the exam room has grown considerably. And Scully has never looked more beautiful. She's still here in the X-files with me and having her do the paperwork is great, though she still makes me do my share. She's taught a few seminars at Quantico, and I've gone on cases. But it's just not the same.

My only saving grace has been that we have been spending a lot of free time together. Okay, most of it. I've gone to most of her doctor appointments, and all of the follow up ultrasounds. I'm even her coach for Lamaze classes starting next week. All the doctors and nurses assume that I am the proud father and neither I nor Scully have said anything to dissuade them. It's not really our style to explain ourselves anyway, but at least I can nurture the belief that Scully wants me as the father figure - even wishes it was me - and not this other guy. It's not like her to be afraid of what people would think of a single mother with no paternal support. Besides, I'm more than happy to be involved.

As for the paternal question, it hasn't come up since that first time in our office. Scully hasn't offered, and I haven't asked. I like living in my little dream world, Scully and me, and baby makes - four. You know what I mean.

Rumors around the office are dead even between me, some guy - Greg Jeffries from the New York field office - and alien implantation. Who says the guys in the FBI don't have a sense of humor? I've known of Jeffries, and his possible connection to Scully for a couple weeks now, but I just don't have the heart - or the guts - to either ask her, or do a background check on the guy.

We're sitting quietly in Scully's living room doing some paperwork and eating pizza - with artichokes, no less - when Scully drops another bomb on me.

"I left a message for Greg today. I figure he has a right to know. I've been putting it off."

Okay, can you say left field?

For a moment I'm speechless again. Why does she do this to me? I guess she figures I already know who he is, which I do, but only his name. I can feel her eyes on the me speculatively. I swallow. I guess it's time for this conversation.

"So, 'Greg' is the......." I can't say the word so I nod to her stomach.

She raises an eyebrow questioning at me. I don't know exactly what she's referring to - my lack of verbal ability, or my hesitant reference to Greg.

"Don't tell me you haven't heard of Greg." Is it just me, or does she sound a bit defensive? "I'm surprised you don't have everything about him, from kindergarten to his latest case - and a full color glossy"

Yep, I'd say she's defensive. She knows me too well. And I'll admit, I was tempted, but in the end I just didn't want to know. She's looking me with that expression - you know the one - the one that says 'I know you did something to piss me off so why don't you confess.' Hmmm, how do I respond? We've come so far, I decide to just tell her the truth and not play the little defensive part I usually do in this situation.

"No, Scully actually I don't know anything about him - except that he works for the New York office. He's the one?" I ask again.

She looks at me for a minute and then looks away. "Yeah, he's the one." She's quiet. "I thought, I mean, after I spoke to Mary Ellen in personnel......." She shrugs. "I'm sorry. She said you asked about him a couple of weeks ago. And I just assumed you checked up on him."

"I did ask, but I didn't - couldn't - check on him."

Okay that was a bit more than I wanted to admit.

"Well, I thought I should just get things out in the open. It's about time, too, I guess." She shrugs again.

"When were you going to tell me?" I can't help asking. "When were you going to tell *him*?"

"Never?" she says with a small, humorless laugh. I don't know what she saw in my face, but she immediately apologizes. "I'm sorry. I would have told you, and I suppose that eventually my conscience would have bugged me enough to tell Greg. I've been putting it off for no good reason. You both have the right to know. You especially, after all that you've done. I just didn't want to complicate things."

I think about this for a minute. It's not like Scully to run from a difficult situation. What didn't she want me to find out about this guy? "So," I begin, "what are you going to do? What did you tell him?"

"I haven't told him anything yet. Just asked him to give me a call when he got back from his case." She's looking off over my shoulder, her expression blank. "I guess I'll tell him that I thought I couldn't get pregnant and that I did. I don't expect anything from him, so I don't think that will be a problem."

"You don't think he'll challenge for custody."

She laughs humorlessly again. "I don't think so. He's not exactly the family type." Then she adds softly, "I hope."

"Well, I'll be there for you whenever you meet with him." I figure the two of us approaching the guy is better than just Scully alone, and if he assumes that I'm taking over - so much the better in my opinion.

"No!" Scully says, quickly. I look at her, startled at how vehement she sounds. "No, that's okay," she says more normally. "I'd really prefer that you two don't meet. It would just make things...difficult."

"Okay," I say, but now I'm really curious.

"Promise me, Mulder. Promise me you won't try to seek him out or investigate him, okay?"

I actually have to think about this for a moment. I mean, I know deep inside, that I won't go against what Scully wants, but I'm burning with curiosity. What doesn't she want me to know about the guy?

"Mulder...."

"I promise Scully," I finally tell her - and I mean it.

"Good, now if you'll excuse me..." she lumbers off towards the bathroom, after levering herself off the couch.

I can't help smiling as I watch her waddle away. If she's this big now, what is she going to look like in 2 months when she's supposed to deliver? She's so tiny to begin with that I'm already worried - especially since she told me that she wants to do this naturally, if at all possible. Crazy woman.

Scully is barely gone a minute when there is a loud knock at the door. It's 10:30 at night, who the hell is knocking now? I get up and answer it and get my second shock of the night.

Standing in the hallway is a man - I can only assume that it's Greg Jeffries, call it gut instinct. He's about my height, but maybe 10 pounds heavier. He's probably younger, not so many lines on his face, but his dark hair is already thinning. Maybe I should find out who his barber is, whoever it is seems to be a bit better at the weedwacker than the guy I use. His eyes are brown, and his lips are full, but his nose is smaller than mine - lucky guy. Topping it off, he's wearing my favorite outfit - black jeans, t-shirt and a black leather jacket.

I'm staring at a younger, slightly heavier version of me - with a smaller nose. Suddenly I know why Scully didn't want me to meet the guy, or do any digging.

He is me.

And then another realization hits me.

All of this. Scully, the babies. It could've been mine.

"Who the fuck are you?" Jeffries demands loudly. I can smell the alcohol on his breath. "Where's Dana?"

"Dana," I say, crossing my arms across my chest, trying to be intimidating, "is busy. Can I help you?"

It seems that our similar appearance has finally hit the guy, he's staring at me, his eyes boggled. "Who the fuck are you?" he asks again, but this time in a lower voice, his amazement obvious.

"Fox Mulder, Dana's partner." The guy is obviously smart. On hearing my name I can almost see the smoke trails as his mind begins to assimilate all the implications. Similar appearance, one night stand. The guy was used - big time - and now he knows it.

"Jesus," he laughs, but I hear no humor in it. "Did she ever pull a whammy on me. The guys tried to warn me. Told me she had the hots for Spooky - but hey, she was a good lay." He shrugs, a sneer on his face. "Can't say that I would have done things differently if she'd told me the truth. She was one hot little number in that black dress."

My hands have shifted to my hips. I'm ready to punch this guy, his comments about Scully deserve at least a broken nose. At least.

"So what'd she want?" he continues, a derisive sneer on his face. "You still won't fuck her so she want me to........Oh My God!" he fades away, staring over my shoulder.

In my anger, I had obviously missed the flushing of the toilet. Scully's startled gasp finally alerts me to her presence. I still don't take my eyes off Jeffries.

"Hello Greg," she says calmly, but I can hear the small tremble in her voice. "I was expecting you to call me back, not show up."

He shrugs, still staring at her. "I was in the neighborhood." He glances between me and her. "Jesus, no wonder you wanted to keep the lights off." He smirks at me. I'm ready to haul off and hit the bastard, but as usual, Scully stops me.

"Mulder, can you wait outside? Just for a few minutes? I want to talk to Greg alone." She looks calm, but I'm not deceived. I know all of Scully's tricks.

"Are you sure, Scully?" I have to ask.

She nods, offering me a small smile. "Yes. It won't take long."

I stand back, snidely waving Jeffries into the living room, as he passes, I whisper softly: "You hurt her, I kill you, understand?" I've got to give the guy some credit. He barely paused, but did manage a small nod. He's not as drunk as I first thought.

"I'll be right outside," I tell Scully unnecessarily.

She nods, as she and Jeffries sit down.

I close the door and wait. I can't her anything for a few minutes. Then Jeffries' muffled, "You Bitch!" rings out, muffled only slightly by the door. Scully must be talking, but I hear nothing, ready to spring at a moments notice.

"Damn right!" Jeffries declares, and this time I hear footsteps. "Don't expect anything from me, got that?! Fucking bitch!" My hand is on the doorknob when he pulls it open. His face is red with anger, he stopped abruptly at the sight of me. "You can have her man. Don't even think of asking for a penny, hell, don't even put my name on the birth certificate." He looked back over his shoulder, "You got that Bitch?" Then he storms down the hallway and out of the building.

Scully hasn't moved since Jeffries opened the door. She is still seated on the couch, her back to me, but she is slumped back into the cushions, her head forward. I close the door softly, still fuming from what I'd heard from Jeffries. With careful steps, I walk around the couch, opting to sit on the coffee table in front of Scully. It is with a lot of relief that I see that Scully isn't crying. I decide to wait and let her talk first.

"Well, that could have gone better," she finally says, a wry smile on her lips as she looks up at me.

"Are you okay, Scully?" After all the things that bastard had said.....

"I'm fine, Mulder - really," she adds before I could question her again. "He was rather....verbose, but he didn't say anything that I didn't deserve."

I beg to differ. "Scully, he had no right to say all that he said." I begin, but she just smiles at me. I'm confused.

"I'm actually relieved, Mulder," she tells me. "He doesn't want anything to do with me or the babies. Doesn't even want to be on the birth certificate. Do you know what a relief that is for me? I've had nightmares of him coming in and demanding custody, or visitation, but now it's obvious that he doesn't want that. I'm free of him, and so are my babies. I can just put 'unknown' on the line for father and be done with it."

She actually does look relieved and relaxed. More relaxed than she looked when she first brought up his name. And now that she's explained things fully, I can understand why she feels that way. Good riddance. She can get a lawyer to make a document saying that Jeffries gives up all rights to the babies, he signs it, and that's the end. The kids don't even have to know.......

I look at Scully, she's smiling softly and rubbing her belly. She's focused inward. "You don't have to put 'unknown' on their birth certificates," I say softly, afraid that she won't hear me, and afraid that she will.

Oh yeah, she definitely heard me. Her blue eyes fill with tears as she stares at me, open mouth, in shock. "Oh, Mulder," she whispers, her voice catching on my name, her face flushed red. "I didn't mean...I, I didn't want to..." Once again my Scully is fumbling for words. My face feels as red as hers is.

"It's okay, Scully," I mumble, standing quickly, trying to hide my embarrassment. Why did I say that? "I didn't mean......It was...." I trail off. How do I unsay what I just said without tearing apart everything we have going now? I run my hand through my hair, thoroughly disgusted with myself.

I hear Scully clear her throat. "I guess you know why I didn't want you two to meet, huh?" she says, trying to force some levity into her voice.

I grimace slightly. "Took me about 10 seconds." The reminder that this whole situation could have been avoided if I had been more available to Scully, more understanding of her situation, more aware of what was going on with her life and feelings was painfully obvious. If I had gone to the damn awards ceremony instead of ditching Scully to go it alone, all of it could have been mine. Scully, the babies, happiness. It could have been mine. And I blew it. See, I knew she was lying when she said it wasn't my fault. If I'd have been a better partner, a better friend, things would be much different. Hell, we probably would be discussing china patterns by now.

Damn it. I think I'm going to cry.

"I'm sorry Mulder," she says, her voice thick. "I'm so sorry," she says again, her voice under control. "I just didn't know how to tell you, or what to tell you. It's kind of embarrassing. It was hard enough to tell you that I had a one night stand and got pregnant. How was I suppose to tell you that it was with a guy who was a dead ringer for you?"

My gut clenches. That's my Scully. Let's put *all* the facts out on the table.

"Nothing to be sorry about, Scully," I manage to say. "You're allowed to have a life."

Her hand is now on my shoulder. I can feel its warmth sinking through the thin fabric of my shirt. I still can't turn around and face her.

"I'm sorry that I ran the wrong way. I'm sorry that I didn't run to you. I'm so sorry that..." her voice catches, and her hand moves away. "I'm so sorry that these aren't your babies too." She whispers this softly as she turns away from me, but I still hear it. And it breaks my heart and heals my soul.

"Scully," I say, stopping her from walking away. I still can't face her, my head is hanging and I'm fighting off the tears that want to fall. "Tell me now if you don't want me around. It'll be the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but I'll do it. I'll walk away and let your live your life with....the twins." My voice nearly breaks at the thought of not being in their lives. "Because if you don't say the words now, I won't be able to walk away. Whether you put no name, or Jeffries', or...or mine on the birth certificate, I will always consider them mine. Can you understand that?" The tears are running freely down my face now, as I wait for Scully to say something.

I hear a muffled sound. Scully must be crying. I didn't mean to make her cry, I didn't mean to upset her, but I have to know where I stand. I'm too involved to pull out now, but I will if she wants me to - I'll try. Why did she say she was sorry that they weren't mine? Because I'm convenient, a known - benign - person in her life, or because she *really* wanted it to be me.

"Mulder," she says, her voice unsteady. "I never meant to make you feel obligated. I was selfish. I needed someone, you, with me. To see me through. I don't expect you to take responsibility...." I close my eyes and tilt my head back, trying to control the tears. She's giving me the kiss off - 'Your a great friend and I needed your support, but that's all it is' speech.

I nod slowly. "You want me to go." I start walking towards the door.

"No, I don't want you to go," she tells me, once again touching me gently. I stop, waiting. "I don't *want* you to go, but if you want to stay because Greg looked like you, or because I was selfish and involved you in everything and now you feel obligated, or simply because you are my partner - then I don't think .....I shouldn't allow you to stay. You deserve a life too Mulder. I used Greg, he was right about that. But I've been using you too. Letting myself pretend that everything was okay, that Greg Jeffries didn't even exist. That's not fair to you."

I let out a soft groan. If she could only see my video collection. I've 'pretended' with her more times than I'd like to count. I clear my throat, I've got to try to make her understand where I'm coming from, because from the sound of it, we're both on the same path here, just afraid that the other is there for the wrong reasons.

"When you told me you were pregnant, I was shocked. And then I was jealous. So jealous that my stomach was burning. Then you gave me that ultrasound picture and I was in awe. That picture, that little life, was a piece of you, how could I not love it instantly?" I laugh hoarsely. "Did you know that Skinner actually asked me if I should be congratulated too?"

"No, I didn't," she whispers.

"It was then that I realized that I *wanted* to be the one congratulated. And it hurt that I wasn't. And tonight after Jeffries." I shrug, at a loss for what to say. "I've fucked up Scully. I saw him and I realized that it all could've been mine. If I hadn't been my stupid, self-absorbed, usual self you might be carrying my children right now."

I hear Scully take a shaky breath. "You're right. The twins should be yours, but it s not your fault. I knew that I should go to you, talk with you about how I was feeling, what I was going through, what I wanted, *needed,* from you. But I had built so many walls to keep you out - to keep me from depending on you, that I ended up trapping myself inside. But if I hadn't met Greg, then the twins might not have been, and I don't want you to come to....resent them..."

I turn around to face her finally, my cheeks wet with tears. "No, I will always love them, just like I will always love their mother." Scully begins silently crying again, and I pull her unresisting into my arms. Her arms wrap around my waist and hold me tight.

"So, can I stay?" I whisper into her hair.

She nods silently into my chest. Pulling away slightly, she looks up at me. "I never wanted you to leave."

"Good," I whisper, as I cup her face with my hands.

"I never wanted to go."

And then I kiss Scully and all is right in the world.

 

The End

Okay, that's it. This was my first try at first person *and* using my 'Mulder Voice.' Please tell me what you think - Good, Bad, and/or Ugly.RANGEL7@wanadoo.fr

Also, during our move, I lost my email address book, so forgive me if I haven't gotten in touch with those of you out there who I promised to keep updated on my adventures in Europe. Drop me a line, tell me what you think, and I'll bookmark you again!

ttfn

RA



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